Illamasqua Infinity Precision Gel Liner swatches, review, photos

Monday, November 10, 2014

Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner review

The product: Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner in Infinity

Today, I ask you this: what makes a gel liner? Because in my mind, gel liners have a gel texture; they’re smooth, and slick, and lock down like a waterproof liquid liner once set. What they’re not, however, is creams.

But therein lies the problem. See, I liked this liner (a lot), but it read 100% “cream eyeliner” to me — not at all a gel.

Illamasqua gel liner review

Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner in Infinity

The texture & application: Illamasqua’s Precision Gel Liner applies like a dream – better than any liner I have ever tried before. It’s easy to sneak in through the lashline; easy to line your upper and lower lashes with; easy to create a tiny, tiny wing with. It’s very smooth, and goes where you want it, and pairs beautifully with a thin, angled liner brush (my weapon of choice).

The thing is, it also applies… like a cream. It picks up on my brush with more soft-creaminess than gel-like slickness, smudges around like nobody’s business, and leaves a trace of colour wherever you smudge it off of (if, say, you’re using a q-tip to tweak a just-applied line). Yes, perhaps it’ll seem more gel-like in a few months when it begins to dry out, but right now: it’s acting very, very cream-like for a gel liner.

Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner Infinity swatch

Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner in Infinity swatched thickly/thinly

The shade: Infinity is a simple, cream-finish matte black. It goes on very opaque, but isn’t quite as black as many of my other liners — especially as it smudges throughout the day, it appears quite charcoal-black rather than super-intense-black.

That said, Illamasqua makes no promises that this will be the blackest black liner to ever black, so I don’t have any issues for this shade. It definitely does give a “smooth, rich black line,” (no chalkiness here!) but if having the blackest black is important to you, then skip this one.

Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner Infinity review

The wear: And here! Here’s the rest of the issue. See, Illamasqua’s Precision Gel Liner applies precisely (though with softer lines than the Annabelle Smudge Paints I loved so much), but it smudges — a lot. In some cases, that’s a great thing, because it gives an instant, super sexy smokiness to my eye area, but for a “precision” liner, it’s a bit of a problem.

If I wear this with eyeshadow overtop and an eye primer beneath, I can only manage to get about three hours’ wear from this formula before it tracks on my upper lid — something I’ve never even seen from a drugstore gel liner. This is the other reason why it feels more like a cream liner than a gel one, to me; it just doesn’t have the wear time you’d expect from a gel liner.

Illamasqua Infinity Precision Gel Liner review

The verdict?

We could have had it all, Illamasqua. I loved this product as a smokey cream liner, but as a “precision gel,” it seriously under-preformed. Its edges were just a little too soft to be properly precise, and its wear time before smudging (2-3 hours, without fail) was a huge letdown.

If you want a gel liner that won’t budge, then this is not the droid you are looking for. (Am I allowed to make movie references about a movie I’ve never seen?) But if you want sexy, smudgy liner that creates itself, then this one is PERFECT. I’ve been wearing it pretty much every single day for the past week and a half straight, and it looks amazing. I mean, it’s a complete mess, but it’s a really attractive complete mess.

Availability: £18.50/$30 USD at Illamasqua and ASOS

Keep reading! »

eos Sweet Mint, Summer Fruit, and Blueberry Acai lip balm reviews, photos | The best lip balm under $5

Thursday, November 6, 2014

eos-smooth-sphere-lip-balm-review

The product: eos Smooth Sphere Lip Balm in Sweet Mint, Summer Fruit, and Blueberry Açai

I don’t typically re-review products, but in the case of eos’ Smooth Sphere Lip Balms, I think I have to change my tune.

When I reviewed these the first time around, I focused on Honeydew Melon — which, as it turns out, is kind of the runt of the litter, scent-wise. But I’ve been leaning on these since my Beautycounter review in June, and they’ve really stepped up to the plate: the 95% organic, 100% natural formula doesn’t make me feel so bad about how much lip balm I probably ingest, and they do their job when it comes to keeping my lips hydrated from day to day.

I have a whole friggin’ bunch of these, but here: these are my three favourites of the moment.

eos sweet mint smooth sphere review

eos smooth sphere lip balm in sweet mint

Sweet Mint

What really started off my current Smooth Sphere obsession is the line’s Sweet Mint variation. No less hydrating than its fruity counterparts, Sweet Mint is, well, both extremely minty and (like all eos lip balms!) sweetened with all-natural stevia. It’s thinner and more slippery than a Burt’s Bees lip balm, with a different peppermint scent — it’s sweeter, and smells less like peppermint patties.

The thing about Sweet Mint, however, is that it goes bad really fast. I’ve gone through two of these so far, and I find that they can only make it through one summer before starting to smell “off” — despite the fact that I’ve had other eos balms for twice as long (or longer). At this price, I’ll keep re-buying anyways, but it’s worth noting.

(Also available in stick form!)

eos Sweet Mint lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Peppermint Oil, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Tocopherol, Limonene, Linalool.

eos summer fruit lip balm review

eos smooth sphere lip balm in summer fruit

Summer Fruit

As much as I love Sweet Mint, I have to admit: it’s not an ideal choice for irritated lips. So, on days when my lips are really raw, or when I’m just hankering for something sweet, I’ve been turning to Summer Fruit. Its scent is hard to describe (it’s a blend), but “summer fruit” is a pretty good way to put it.

This lip balm smells bright and fruity, in a delicious way that never strays from juicy into saccharine-synthetic. And, uh, have I mentioned that it smells super, super tasty?

eos Summer Fruit lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Natural Flavor, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Tocopherol, Sunflower Seed Oil, Blueberry Fruit Extract, Strawberry Fruit Extract, Peach Fruit Extract, Linalool. 

eos blueberry acai smooth sphere review lip balm

eos smooth sphere lip balm in blueberry açai

Blueberry Açai 

Blueberry Açai isn’t the fruitiest Smooth Sphere, but to me, it’s the most believable. Unlike Honeysuckle Honeydew or Summer Fruit, it’s identifiably blueberryish and sweet-smelling, like a blueberry pie or compote. For those who love berries but not that zing! pop! of most fruity scents (which, admittedly, I totally adore), this one is one to own.

eos Blueberry Acai lip balm ingredients:

Olive Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Natural Flavor, Shea Butter, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Blueberry Fruit Extract, Acai Fruit Extract, Limonene, Linalool. 

IMG_0657

The verdict?

While I still think these fall short of a superhero lip balm, I’m loving them a lot more than I used to. With regular, generous application, they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping my lips in shape, and the domed shape make them easy to use.

At the same price as a crappy Chapstick, these are the best affordable, all-natural lip balm out there — and they’re a great buy even if all-natural isn’t important to you. They’re not going to fix super-chapped lips, but for day-to-day maintenance care, these are hands-down my top lip balm recommendation.

Availability: $3.99 at most drugstores in Canada & the US or online at drugstore.com and Beauty Bridge.

In other news, I have got to get my hands on the SPF 15 Lemon Drop version of this lip balm! Lemon, you guys. Sun protection and also lemon.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix, Top Coat review, swatches | A look at lampless gel polishes

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel no lamp nail polish review

The product: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix and Top Coat

The promise: This summer, Sally Hansen announced that they had solved the Big Question — of the nail world, that is. How do you get the wear time and look of gel nails, but without a trip to the salon?

The new Miracle Gel system promises to be the answer, delivering up to 14 days of wear and a gel that cures using natural light (there’s a photoinitiator in the top coat), no lamp necessary. It’s a two-step polish-and-top-coat process, but the polishes are available in a whopping 45 shades, and the system promises soak-free removal with acetone-based or even acetone-free nail polish remover.

So now the question is… does it work?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish – Sugar Fix review

The polish: I tested Sugar Fix for this review, a milky, vibrant light blue. It’s a cream finish shade (and unfortunately I haven’t tried any metallics or shimmers from the line), but even considering this, it was pretty underwhelming. The formula is extremely thin, needing four coats to even come close to opacity, and even then I find that it goes a bit streaky unless you’re careful.

The top coat: Despite this, though, I actually really enjoyed using the Miracle Gel Top Coat! It applies smoothly and quite thickly, immediately giving a very “gel” look to the nail. I find that it goes on without disturbing the polish at all, but like any good top coat, it also makes your colour look instantly smoother — which is perfect for someone who gives as shoddy a manicure as I do.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Sugar Fix review swatches

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Sugar Fix swatch (four coats)

Sally Hansen OMGel nail polish review

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish in Sugar Fix: 1, 2, 3, and 4 coats (L-R)

The wear: I actually tested these twice: first, I had a friend try out the system for me, and then I repeated it on my own. She saw barely 24 hours of wear before her polish began to form little cracks throughout, but I’m told that this could be because she used a base coat — so, if you give this system a try, NO BASE COAT! None!

When I used this set, however, I saw about 2 1/2 weeks of wear on my pedicure with no chipping, wearing, or cracking… in either the Miracle Gel polish or my control group nails. Once they did wear, I noticed the following things:

(1) There was no difference in wear between Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel polish and their Complete Salon Manicure polish,

(2) The Miracle Gel Top Coat presented no chipping over three weeks (dude) but did develop tip wear near the end,

(3) The Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Top Coat nails lasted the longer than the Miracle Gel Top Coat nails by a day, but then showed major chipping.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat review

The verdict?

This is the most rigorously I have ever tested a product (what? I really wanted it to work), so it is with reasonable confidence that I can say: don’t buy into marketing hype. The Miracle Gel system is, in my opinion, not worth investing in at $20/duo… but that includes the polishes.

The Miracle Gel Top Coat, however, is a different story. It delivered on its promise of durability and a gel-like look, and though I did see tip wear, it came with zero chipping and super easy removal. If you do like the look of gel nails and want a top coat that will wear well (caveat: but not as well as a true gel manicure), I’d say get the Miracle Gel Top Coat, but skip the polishes. 

Availability: $8.95 USD/$10.95 CAD each, for both the polishes and top coat.

Keep reading! »

NSPA Hot Cloth Polish, Melting Cleansing Gel review + giveaway! | New & noteworthy at the drugstore

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hot Cloth Polish cleans exfoliate review budget

The products: NSPA Hot Cloth Polish & Melting Cleansing Gel

I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL this week, dear readers! But I plan on making it up to you today with a double-review of two rather unique new products and a giveaway, so… please don’t be mad.

» I already know I want these. Cut to the chase; take me to the giveaway! «

NSPA Hot Cloth Polish ($15.97 CAD/150 ml)

NPSA Hot Cloth Polish reiew

NSPA Hot Cloth Polish

This Hot Cloth Polish was the thing that made NSPA, a cruelty-free British brand that’s new to Canada, stand out to me. I’ve wanted to try one of these since the Liz Earle hype blew up, and I gotta say: NSPA makes it worth the wait. 

Past the perfect scent (this is exactly what my brain thinks the archetypal cold cream would smell like), it’s a really interesting experience: a finely-woven muslin cloth (included), a very thick, white cleansing butter, and an exfoliation experience that removes your makeup without totally stripping your skin. 

NSPA Hot Cloth Polish review photos comparison

I wasn’t expecting the product to be as hard as it was (think very frozen ice cream, not summer soft serve), but it did spread nicely, and the thickness helps turn the Hot Cloth Polish into a spa-like, luxurious experience. The muslin cloth feels a little cheap, but the cloth-polish duo is $15 and full of good stuff like cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, and avocado oil – I think I can handle a flimsy seam for all of that.

Compared to the iconic Liz Earle at $36.75/100 ml, which I will admittedly likely now never try, NSPA’s Hot Cloth Polish is a steal at $15.75/100 ml. And hey, you won’t even need to pay import fees on it.

The NSPA Hot Cloth Polish ingredients: 

Aqua, Cocoa Seed Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cetyl Esters, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Beeswax, Sweet Almond Oil, Parfum, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Apricot Kernel Oil, Avocado Oil, Neroli Oil, Vitamin E, Pro-Vitamin B5, Sodium Benzoate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Linalool, Limonene.

NSPA Melting Cleansing Gel ($15.97 CAD/125 ml)

NSPA Melting Cleansing Gel review photos

I also tried out NSPA’s Melting Cleansing Gel, because I’d never used a melting gel before and I like new stuff. (What? Who doesn’t like new textures and technologies?) And, to my surprise… I liked this one even more than the Hot Cloth Polish.

Keep reading! »

Wantable Beauty Box review (AKA the ONE beauty box you should be subscribed to)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wantable Beauty Box review contents october

The product: Wantable Makeup Collection Beauty Box

A long time ago, a reader told me that what they loved about theNotice was that it always features something different — a product that no one else is talking about, or a brand that they’d never heard of before.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get back into that “something different” mentality, and I’m going to keep at it over the coming months. So, today, while everyone else is reviewing Memeboxes and Julep Maven subscriptions…. here’s the one beauty box that you haven’t heard of, but totally need to buy. 

Wantable Beauty Box review

The process

This Wantable box is from about a year ago (oops), which was both intentional and not: for a beauty box, I think part of what you pay for is the surprise. (But seriously, sorry that it took me SO LONG to finish this review). So, when you order yours, the selection of products will be different — but hopefully no less great.

Wantable review - subscription beauty makeup box

Wantable subscription review questionnaire

Parts of the Wantable customization process

Wantable boxes are a little more expensive than others, but they’re curated with 4-5 full-sized products for you. When you sign up, you complete a questionnaire about what products and shades you do and don’t like, and the box that you receive will contain plenty of what you tell them you want, and none of what you tell them you don’t. 

This, if you ask me, is the big difference between Wantable and other beauty boxes: the value of the box is actually relevant to you, and isn’t just a large price tag attached to a bunch of crap that you don’t care about.

Susan Posnick Colour Eye Define review swatch Copper Bronze

Susan Posnick Color Eye Define in Bronze/Copper (bronze liner end shown)

The box

My box came with five full-sized products and one sample (that, honestly, I didn’t care for). But the full-sized products were all products I never would have bought but loved anyways, including an angled liner that is altogether unique in my collection, a lipgloss in one of my favourite formulas, and a beautiful, vintage-y lipstick that I have lusted after for years.

The box also introduced me to two new brands, Mia Bellezza and Susan Posnick, with a lip pencil EDIT: JUST KIDDING THAT IS AN EYESHADOW; OOPS; EMBARASSING and a gorgeous brown angled liner. (Edited again: HOLY CRAP, that’s not a liner, that’s a liner-and-shadow and I feel like such a fool right now.)

Lise Watier Rouge Catwalk Haute Couleur gloss review swatch

Lise Watier Haute Couleur High Coverage Lip Colour in Rouge Catwalk, Echo Vie All Natural Lip Balm free sample

The contents of this particular box:

  • Echo Vie All Natural Lip Balm ($16 USD; sample shown, not swatched)
  • Susan Posnick Colour Eye Define in Bronze/Copper ($26 USD) – beautiful bronze-browns with gold shimmer. Only the liner (Bronze) end is swatched here, because I was an idiot and didn’t even realize there was a pigment (Copper) on the other end until after I took these photos! (The pigment is, if possible, even more gorgeous than the liner, and much more densely pigmented.)
  • Cailyn Shimmer Powder Eyeshadow in Charming ($12 loose) - beautiful periwinkle with pink shimmer; sub-par formula. (This swatch was layered five or six times with a damp brush!)

Susan Posnick Copper Bronze liner shadow review swatches

Susan Posnick Bronze/Copper Eye Define – eyeshadow end (aka my “holy crap” moment)

Lise Watier Rouge Catwalk, Susan Posnick Copper Bronze swatch review

Swatched L-R: Susan Posnick Copper/Bronze (Bronze liner end only) x 2 , Cailyn Charming, MiA BelleZZa Argento, Lise Watier Rouge Catwalk, Besamé Noir Red

  • MiA BelleZZa Color Stick Eyes in Argento (?) - non-greasy cream-to-powder formula. Pinky-peach with a beautiful golden sheen à la NARS Orgasm or MAC Nymphette.
  • Lise Watier Haute Couleur High Coverage Lip Colour in Rouge Catwalk ($23 CAD) – perfect. Perfect. Fruity scent and just a gorgeous, juicy red shade with subtle shimmer.
  • Besamé Classic Color Lipstick in Noir Red ($22 USD) - enough said. Vanilla-scented, bullet-shaped, and incredibly dense with pigment. An exquisitely executed semi-matte deep plum.

Besame Noir Red swatch Classic Color Lipstick review

Besamé Classic Color Lipstick in Noir RedBesame Classic Color Lipstick review swatches

*quiet whimpers*

The verdict?

If you’re looking for more than just a cheap thrill, then yes: I would absolutely, 100% recommend Wantable. It’s a great way to discover new brands and actually get your money’s worth out of a beauty box with value that’s actually relevant to you (not just a dollar sign), and I definitely want another one! My box contained about $90 worth of makeup, and three of them were products that I already wanted but would never have let myself indulge in on my own.

Also worth noting is that, for $36/month, you get 4-5 full-sized products of about a $20 value each — which I think is better than spending $15 on five deluxe samples or minis. It’s comparable to buying a set of beauty crackers for the holidays, except it’s not going to cost you $120 for six products, and none of them will be another !)@#%#^ sample-sized mascara.

Availability: $40 USD for one box, or $36 per month if you’re subscribed. Boxes ship for free to the US or for $6-10 to Canada, the UK, and Australia, and customs fees are charged at checkout if applicable, not at your door. Get it now at Wantable.com.

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