DECIEM Toronto HQ Tour | Beauty behind the scenes

Monday, July 27, 2015

DECIEM review

The energy at DECIEM is really infectious, and it (along with the rest of my Toronto experiences) really has me re-thinking the way that I approach beauty blogging. Like a lot of other bloggers, I’ve been struggling to find my–for lack of a better word–muse over the past few years, and I think it’s been hurting the quality of the content here at theNotice.

Entering the Deciem front doors feels kind of like getting punched in the face by Regina George. (I hear she does car commercials… IN JAPAN.) You step in and you’re immediately hit a wall of great smells and good vibes — it’s a really collaborative, creative space full of people who love what they do.

DECIEM ten brands

DECIEM HQ

Hair is Fabric DECIEM

The table in the lobby area is topped with artfully squished Hair is Fabric tubes, matte black candles burn along one wall, and everything is open-concept — I don’t think I saw a single solid wall in the entire building. The guy who makes videos for all of the Deciem brands sits just down from the girl who packs and ships everything; the chemists who formulate products in the lab are (literally) within spitballing distance from the factory area, where you’ll find workers bickering and tinkering.

BEAUTY FOR EVERYONE [HERE] – Deciem products are tested on people, not animals, and can be purchased online at deciem.com, where full ingredients lists are available for every product! Express shipping is FREE within Canada (or worldwide, depending on the product) and you have a year to return anything that doesn’t work for you, but you can find in-store locations here if you must.

DECIEM Mira and Eric

The lovely Eric & Mira (who spearhead Deciem’s social media and PR, respectively)

DECIEM Toronto lab

I think everyone dreams of having an in-house lab, no?

DECIEM factory tour

Production, packaging, and storage happens just around the corner!

Hylamide Eye Serum DECIEM review

Lookit all the tiny little SubQ Eye Serums waiting to be packaged!

It’s clear that the people here love what they do, which I’m crazy about — they have a lot of freedom to experiment and try out different things (there was literally a tiny explosion in the lab while I was there; apparently someone was playing with a morsel of magnesium that should not have gone poof but totally went poof anyways), and it’s reflected strongly in the products they create. Their goal was to make 10 products to change the face of beauty, and barely two years in, they’re currently working on their 11th brand.

What I really want to do is take a little bit of that energy with me. I want to work with other bloggers who love what they do; I want to get excited again about taking pictures and tweaking them juuuust until I feel that little rush of ooh, that actually looks really good.

Hand Chemistry review

The brand’s [first] big hit

DECIEM--13

Hand Chemistry on Mira’s model-hands

Inhibitif DECIEM

Yes. They are absolutely making the joke you think they are.

I want to have new sensory experiences — for me, that involves a lot of smelling fragrances that are really well-composed and complex (thank you, Frederic Malle), but it’s also things like eating an entirely new-to-you food (this year: foie gras) or taking in that first breath of clean, crisp air after a rainstorm. It’s about what will expand the way you process information, but I think fresh experiences play a big role in that. (Why else would so many people feel the constant pull of wanderlust! Nothing expands like your metacognitive abilities like culture shock. Or psychedelics.)

But back on topic.

DECIEM assortment

What am I crazy about from DECIEM?

Well, I’m going to be posting reviews as I finish testing products (of course), but if you need a teaser, I’m really excited about:

  • Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist ($20 CAD) – This is my favourite Deciem product right now, hands down. Over the past 24 hours, I’ve told four different people about it in person, and three of them immediately went, “oh my god, where can I get that.” (The third doesn’t even own a cleanser, so really, a mist was never going to happen.) It sprays a fine, dense mist, is powered by air (not CFCs), and penetrates really far into your dermal layers — even in areas that are callused or chronically dehydrated.

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist DECIEM review

NIOD Copper Amino Isolate review DECIEM

  • NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1.00% ($60 CAD) – Because how cool is having to mix a fresh product that’s 100x more potent than what you usually get in consumer serums?
  • NOID Photography Fluid, Opacity 12% ($30 CAD) (and Hylamide Photography Foundation ($20 CAD), which provides a little more coverage) – This stuff is SO good. It’s a foundation that isn’t a foundation; think Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders to the nth degree. Photography Fluid goes green and then disappears into the skin, leaving you with less redness and with a really gorgeous, photo-ready glow. (It’s apparently particularly great under natural sunlight!)

NIOD Photography Fluid review DECIEM

NIOD Photography Fluid swatch review

Photography Fluid (magic in action)

Fountain The Green Molecule review DECIEM

  • Fountain 03 The Super Green Molecule ($28 CAD) – Contains kelp, alfalfa chlorophyll, and hyaluronic acid. 1 teaspoon is equal to 6 bowls of dark, organic leafy greens. See all of the molecules here.

DECIEM A Tannery in Tuscany

Something lovely is inside.

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie review: Hammam, Gommage, and Deep Tissue Massage | theNotice goes to Toronto!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toronto spa review hammam Caudalie

The Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie is located on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La Hotel, but you’d never know it by the decor. This spa is a cozy, Middle Eastern-inspired haven from city life decorated with low lights, exquisite dark wood cutouts, and gently curving furniture that warms and welcomes you in from the busy city streets.

Note: I lost all of my photos of this gorgeous location, so unfortunately, you’re going to have to re-live my experience through photos provided by the spa! (And, okay, edited rather extensively by me because when do I not.)

Miraj Hammam Caudalie Alahambra Lounge review

The relaxation lounge within the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie

The Hammam & Gommage (30 min/$130 CAD)

What makes the Miraj Hammam Spa unique is their private hammam (Turkish bath) rooms, which contain a high intensity steam chamber inside of a warm, low mist chamber.

The spa’s Hammam & Gommage treatment begins with 10 minutes in the steam room, which is a really intense experience — it’s literally so heavy and dense with steam in there that I had a bit of a claustrophobic panic going in (and I’m not even claustrophobic). It opens your pores right up, and I was left warm, tingling, fresh-faced, and dripping with condensation! Facials have nothing on this.

Miraj Hammam steam room spa review Caudalie

One of the two steam rooms, sans steam

I wasn’t crazy about the gommage, though I know a lot of other reviewers have loved it. For this part of the treatment, you lie (preferably naked) on Jerusalem gold marble in the low-intensity steam chamber, and a spa attendant scrubs you down using tingly, eucalyptus-infused black Moroccan soap on exfoliating gloves — no grit-paste involved.

My gommage treatment left me feeling wonderfully raw and smooth, but… also kind of like a horse. I mean, the woman who preformed my treatment was fantastic, and my back feels suuuuuper smooth, but I’m thinking that getting literally hosed down by a stranger might just be too clinical for me.

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie services menu

The Deep Tissue Massage (30 min/$90 CAD)

My second treatment of the day was the spa’s 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage, which uses pressure techniques to target stressed muscles and increase circulation. It left me feeling limber but not sore, and my (registered) massage therapist used mostly pushing and pulling movements, not kneading ones.

The finishing touches for this massage were great, too: the table that you lie on is heated (perfect for the winter), you’re covered by a warm, heavy blanket where you’re not being massaged, and a Caudalie candle burns quietly on the side table. You can also choose from unscented, orange blossom, or clove-enriched grapeseed oil for your massage (I chose the clove, of course!), which is great for those with scent sensitivities.

Miraj Hammam by Caudalie spa review gommage massage

The Alahambra Lounge

The Alhambra Lounge

Finally, every visit to the Miraj Hammam Spa ends in their Alhambra Lounge, which is a gorgeous, dimly-lit room walled with what can only be described as relaxation cubicles. The room has a very soothing, intimate feel to it, and you’re served a perfectly-spiced shot of sweet chai tea along with (a hilarious) three grapes and a piece of baklava.

» Can we talk about that baklava for a moment, though? Because I swear, it was the most delicious piece of baklava that I have ever had in my life — it was small, light, and syrupy, and reminded me a lot of jalebi (aka the best thing ever).

Once you’re ready to leave the Alhambra Lounge (if you’re ever ready, that is), it’s back to the change rooms, where the showers are equipped with rain-style and handheld shower heads and the shelves come stocked with Caudalie products.

Caudalie spa review Toronto

The verdict?

I can’t believe I’m saying this about a spa, but: yes, I would absolutely go back. The hammam is a must-experience (you can add it onto any service for $25), and the atmosphere at the Miraj Hammam Spa is just so welcoming and relaxing – even for an awkward twenty-something.

For a luxurious treatment that really will leave you feeling fantastic, I recommend the Hammam & 60 Minute Personalized Massage ($195) as a serious indulgence, or the 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage with a 15 minute Hammam booked separately ($115) if you’re just feeling a little under the weather and want to come out glowing. 

Keep reading! »

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash, Moisturizing Cream reviews, photos

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aveeno Eczema Care body wash moisturizer

The products: Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash & Moisturizing Cream with colloidal oatmeal

Winters in Edmonton are — well, let’s just say that I run my humidifier pretty much 24/7 and still wake up with dry, cracked skin. So, as soon as I was finished testing that gorgeous Osmia Organics soap, I switched up my shower routine and started testing AVEENO’s Eczema Care Body Wash ($13.99) immediately.

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash review photos

Aveeno Eczema Care Body Wash

Steroid- and fragrance-free, Aveeno’s Eczema Care line is made to help treat the signs and symptoms of eczema — things like itchiness, roughness, and irritation. (They also have Skin Relief and Intense Relief lines for dry skin). It’s estimated that 10-20% of Canadians suffer from eczema, and I recently found out that I was one of them, so I had high hopes for these products!

(I mean, I’ve always had eczema, I’ve just — denial. Denial and years and years of painfully dry skin.)

Aveeno Eczema Care review - body wash, moisturizing cream

Anyhow. I couldn’t test the AVEENO Eczema Care Hand Cream ($9.18) because it has ‘cones, but I am really enjoying using the Eczema Care Body Wash! It uses oat essence, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides to help soothe itchy, rough skin, and I think it’s doing a pretty decent job of it for $10-ish. It’s very gentle and slippery, and feels kind of like washing yourself with lotion — smells like it, too.

All in all, it’s kind of a weirdly clinical experience, but I’m happy with it. This is not the range to try and treat serious eczema with on its own, but it’s a nice, sensitive-skin-friendly way to round out your skincare regimen without spending a lot of money.

Availability: The AVEENO Eczema Care range is available for $7.47-$12.99 CAD at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator review, photos, comparison | An eco-friendly, body-friendly way to get off

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Je Joue Uma vibrator review

The product: Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator

This February, I introduced you guys to one of my favourite gadgets ever made: the Je Joue MiMi Soft. So, today (you know, before the Christmas shipping deadlines), I thought I’d show you a little bit more from the line.

Je Joue is one of my all-time favourite tech brands–when you create a motor that rumbly, you get to be classed as a tech brand rather than a toy brand–and the Uma is no less well-made or well-packaged than the rest of the line. If your partner is still grasping at straws to try and find out what to get you this holiday season, send ‘em this review and tell them to get you something from Je Joue. (You’re welcome.)

Also, yes, I did just learn how to code that in for this post.

Je Joue Uma G-Spot Vibrator review

The specs

Like the Je Joue MiMi Soft that I reviewed in February, Uma is 100% waterproof, silicone, and rechargeable (via two little magnetic charging points on the end, which also serve as insanely stiff +/- controls). It’s fully submersible for and features five vibration levels and six independently-controlled patterns.

Why you want… SILICONE – non-porous and completely stable, silicone toys won’t leech chemicals into your body (or trap bacteria beneath the surface). WATERPROOF – safe to use in the bath, and easy to soap up and clean thoroughly after every use. RECHARGEABLE – no additional costs over time (basic AAA batteries are $12 for four!), and they help keep used-up batteries out of landfills.

Gently curved, the Uma measures in at 7″ long and 1.25″ at its widest, and comes in four colours: purple, light lilac, fuchsia, and the matte black pictured here. If you look at it from the end, it looks a little bit like an adorably confused sloth.

Sloth Uma

Je Joue Uma review comparison - lelo, we-vibe

I really love Je Joue’s silicone, which has a velvety matte finish and doesn’t pick up too much lint — it definitely screams luxury, and is safe to use with both water-based and natural oil-based lubricants (I recommend Sliquid Sassy and Yes Organics, respectively). But unlike some other luxury brands, you really do get what you pay for with Je Joue: their silicone is flawlessly seam-free, and their battery holds a charge well over time.

Je Joue interchageable charger

The experience

Uma comes inside of a sturdy, discreet set of boxes, and features the usual ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh Je Joue motor — which, yes, is just as strong, deep, and rumbly internally as it is externally. It’s gently curved and narrower in the centre, which never catches on the pubic bone (ouch) and gives a degree of maneuverability that I think most will appreciate. I mean, except for those who prefer extremely pinpoint g-spot pressure, though really, do those people even exist.

(I’m just kidding; those people do exist, and they should opt for the G-Kii instead.)

Je Jou Uma curve

Side view of the Je Joue Uma

The Uma is extremely lightweight despite its impressive motor (which is slightly quieter here than in the MiMi), and my only complaint is that I would have liked to see it with a Soft option: Je Joue has proven that they’re able to add a very realistic texture without dampening their vibrations, and I think the Uma could have been a must-have with that soft, bouncy finish.

Uma’s length makes it easy to use internally with either a rocking or a thrusting motion, but I’d say skip it if you want to use it externally more than, like, 20% of the time — that length makes it awkward to use close-up.

Je Joue review - Uma internal vibrator

The verdict?

When it comes to sex toys, “your mileage may vary” is a term that can’t be taken seriously enough — but things like aesthetics and quality are still irrefutable. I personally prefer Je Joue’s MiMi Soft ($95) to the Uma, but I know some of you skipped the MiMi last year because you wanted an internal/external toy. For a mix of both worlds, Uma is great, and an easy toy to buy online: there’s no secondary arm to poke you in weird places, the curve isn’t so severe as to be uncomfortable, and Je Joue’s silicone is so smooth that there are literally no seams to be felt.

For a discreet, rechargeable internal vibrator with a kickass motor, Uma is an awesome toy to have on hand… but without Je Joue’s Soft finish, it’s just a nice-to-have, not a must-have. You definitely need at least one of the two, though, so choose as you will!

Availability: $109 USD at SheVibe (US) / $110 CAD at Come As You Are (Canada) / £74.99 at Lovehoney (UK) with free delivery within the country at each. Special thanks to the ever-wonderful SheVibe for sending this in for review!

Remember to buy before the end of this week for delivery by the 25th.

Additional photos & more »

We-Vibe 4 and Tango reviews, photos | Bedroom Essentials (and not-so-essentials)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WeVibe 4 Tango review

The products: We-Vibe 4 Wearable Remote Control Vibrator and Tango Waterproof Discreet Vibrator

After how well-received February’s Je Joue MiMi Soft review was (thank you so much, you guys!), I had to follow up with another sex toy review — or two.

I handpicked this duo for two reasons: (1) the brand’s reputation for making high-quality, durable toys, and (2) the We-Vibe 4 and Tango’s rather singular designs. Whether you added the MiMi to your bedroom repertoire or you’re still looking to start your collection, I think these will serve a purpose unique to themselves!

We Vibe 4 Tango couple's  vibrator review

The “Bedroom Essential”

The rechargeable We-Vibe Tango recently got a waterproof update, and now comes in fuchsia and this lovely, slightly-desaturated blue. It’s now a little bit longer and just a hair wider than it used to be (source), but should still be able to replace any sad, weak bullet vibe — which takes it from “great starter toy” to “bedroom essential” status.


We Vibe tango bullet review

Powerful and quiet, the Tango is a great option for a small, discreet clitoral vibe. It runs for up to 2 hours (I find it lasts for less than that) and features 8 vibration modes (4 speeds/4 patterns), with a low battery warning that flashes through its base. But, while it’s not as rumbly and cushy as the Je Joue MiMi, it can also be used in place of your standard bullet.

And the thing is — the Tango is strong. At $80, it’s relatively affordable for a luxury sex toy, but it’s more like two toys in one: your basic clitoral vibrator, and something that’ll super-power anything with a bullet cavity (cock rings, vibrating dildos, harnesses, the base of a strap-on, most things Tantus, etc.)

We Vibe Tango review

We-Vibe Tango (Waterproof) in Blue

The Tango is made out of body-safe ABS thermoplastic, and its plastic finish means that it doesn’t pick up too much fuzz or create too much friction when being inserted into another toy. (Add a bit of water-based lube to ease a tight fit). It has the same motor as the line’s discontinued, cult-followed Salsa, but features a slightly different tip.

We Vibe Tango charger

The “Nice in Theory”

Despite testing this one for (literally) months, I just couldn’t get it to work well for me. That said, however, it is a really unique kind of sex toy.

Made for solo or partnered play, the We-Vibe 4 features the brand’s first “echo” vibe — that is, there are two separate vibrators in this device (one for the clitoris and one for the g-spot) that vibrate in alternate patterns at three different speeds & three additional patterns. It’s waterproof and relatively flexible with a soft, safe silicone finish, and comes with both an on-vibe control and a battery-operated remote.

We Vibe 4 dual vibrator review

But, even though I like everything We-Vibe has included in this toy (especially its 3 hour battery life and space-agey stand-slash-charging-station), it just doesn’t fit my anatomy — which is a risk that you always run with any dual-stimulation vibrator, no matter the style.

So, here are my recommendations. If you really want to try a couple’s vibrator, choose this one. LELO launched the Ida to compete with the We-Vibe last year, but based on the reviews I’ve seen, it’s a sloppy, painful imitation of a couple’s vibe. If you really want to try a wearable vibrator, choose this one. Like all wearable vibes, it’s not perfect (too loud for a library, and the remote has a garage-door range), but it packs way more of a punch than your typical vibrating panty or remote-controlled bullet.

We Vibe 4 couple's vibe review

But here’s the thing: if your ladyparts are on the small side, skip this one. It turns out that I have a fairly short set of muscles with an extremely retroverted uterus (which, by the way, makes getting an IUD excruciating), so the We-Vibe 4 can be pretty painful when I use it. Plus, I mean, the clitoral arm goes way past my clitoris.

Honestly, though, I don’t think most people will have this problem. The We-Vibe 4 probably won’t be perfect for everybody, but I think it’ll be a pretty good fit for most — just give it a pass if you’re really petite down there. (Note that having a small frame does not necessarily translate into having short bits or vice-versa! Lady-parts are kind of like dicks in that way: you get what you get, height be damned.)

We Vibe 4 review base charger

The We-Vibe 4 in its charging base/case (lid at left) and remote (at right)

The verdict?

If you have to have a remote-control vibrator or couple’s vibrator, I say get the We-Vibe 4 – it’s probably your best bet. BUT that said, I don’t think it’s worth the price, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who didn’t have their heart set on this type of toy already. The clitoral vibrator is just placed too far forward, and at $160, I would have liked to see far less visible, uneven seams.

The We-Vibe Tango, on the other hand, is definitely a toy I’d recommend. It would be my top pick for a bullet vibe, and my fondness for it sits about on-par with my love for the Je Joue Mimi Soft (which delivers more satisfying vibrations, in my opinion, but is larger, more expensive, and a little bit louder.)

Availability: $79.99 USD (Tango)/$159.99 (We-Vibe 4) at the awesome SheVibe.com, who sent these products in for review. Both of these toys can also be found at PinkCherry (Canada) and LoveHoney (UK).

Tip: These both charge via USB, so consider buying one of those $0.99 USB power adapters on eBay while you’re at it! (I have this one — no sense paying $10 for a brand-name copy, you know?)

Keep reading! »

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