Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review, swatches, photos | A quick, easy, last-minute gift idea

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fresh Sugar lip balm review

The product: Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio

   ↳ Sugar Petal, Sugar Honey, and Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Okay, so: it’s the week before Christmas and you:

a) Get a last-minute invite to a holiday girl’s-night-slash-secret-santa gift exchange,

b) Find out that your distant cousin, twice removed, is going to be at your parents’ this year (and you need a gift for her),

c) Realize that your sister’s gift, while pretty cool, could use an extra dose of awesome.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment review

In any of these scenarios, I’m going to go right ahead and recommend that you snag a Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio from Sephora on your way to… wherever it is you’re headed. I’m a sucker for a Fresh lip balm, so this trio of three minis (which comes in a super-easy-to-wrap box) is a pretty no-fail gift idea, as far as I’m concerned.

The shades: The Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio contains Sugar Petal, a neutral-pink with a touch of brown, Sugar Honey, a medium-nude with a hint of red (for warmth), and Sugar Cherry, an absolutely gorgeous sheer red. The first two are nice, but Sugar Cherry gives the lips a really lovely, natural-looking, “just bitten” effect — perfect for the winter.

Fresh Sugar Petal lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Petal Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Honey lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Honey Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

Fresh Sugar Cherry lip balm review swatches

Fresh Sugar Cherry Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15

The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 formula: The first thing to note about the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments is that, while they have a fairly moisturizing formula, they’re very soft and slippery. It makes the balms comfortable, but also prone to sliding around on your lips & smooshing during application.

Despite being formulated with hydrating oils like meadowfoam seed oil, avocado oil, and jojoba, these aren’t the best choice for an actual “lip treatment” (as opposed to a tinted balm). They’re hydrating while worn, but need to be reapplied every two hours or sooner, making them a good choice for daytime wear but not a great one for overnight. The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment formula has a nice, lemony-sweet scent — sugary without being overpowering and just citrusy enough.

Fresh Sugar Cherry review photos swatches

The tint: Because of the slippery formula, these balms need a minute to sink in. Once they do, however, the colour stops sliding around on my lips, and acts more like a balm with a very light stain. I’ve tried four shades of this balm (Honey, Cherry, and Petal, all featured here, as well as Rose), and all of them deliver exactly the amount of pigment I’d want from a tinted lip balm — more than a Clinique Chubby Stick, less than a lipstick, and definitely enough to give my lips some really natural-looking colour. 

The packaging: Mini sizes of products usually lose out when it comes to packaging, but the great thing about Fresh lip balms is that they don’t. Just as solid, luxe, and well-made as the full-sized versions, mini Fresh Sugar lip balms feature the same coated-metal tube & twist-closure bottom as their full-sized counterparts.

Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio review swatches

The verdict?

I have a no-longer-secret soft spot for Fresh Sugar lip balms, and I think that this set is a worthwhile indulgence. No one needs a 20-something dollar lip balm, but the Sugar lip balms are a really nice treat. The scent is close to lemony biscuits and far from lemon cleaner, and the light tints really do do a great job of adding colour without making it obvious that you’re wearing makeup.

To note, these mini lip balms are 0.08 oz, the same size as last year’s BI birthday gifts. Buying just one full-sized tube is a little cheaper (in listed price, not cost per ounce), but I actually prefer these small(ish) tubes – they’re perfect for throwing into your handbag, and three shades is always more fun than one!

Availability: $28 USD/$32 CAD for the Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Trio (3 x 0.08 oz), or $22.50 USD/$26 CAD for a full-sized tube (0.15 oz).

Additional photos & ingredients »

Clarins Forest Eye Quartet Mineral Palette review, swatches, photos | Clarins Graphic Expression, Fall 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Clarins Forest Eye Quartet Mineral Palette review

The products: Clarins Ombre Minérale 4 Couleurs (Eye Quartet Mineral Palette Long-Lasting) in 11 Forest

Like the Clarins Graphic Expression Face & Blush Palette reviewed earlier this week, the Forest eyeshadow quad launched in Clarins’ Graphic Expression Fall 2013 colour collection. A new addition to the permanent range, it’s a little less gift-able than the powder, but no less lovely.

Clarins Forest Eye Quartet swatches review

Clarins Forest Eye Quartet

The formula, texture, and pigmentation: Introduced this August into Clarins’ permanent range, Forest is a beautifully earthy quad. As a sheer eyeshadow/mixed textures lover, I’ve always been a big fan of the Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palettes, though they’re not for everyone.

Like the other products in the Eye Quartet range, Forest features three hard-but-smooth eyeshadows that lend very well to seamless blending and medium-intensity looks, while layering well over primer or foiling works well to add colour density. I find the shades to be a little butterier and more pigmented than some of the other Clarins quads (the darkest shade in particular), and love that they all have a different finish.

Clarins Forest Eye Quartet review

Clarins Forest, Graphic Expression swatches review

Swatched L-R: Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Forest (4), Clarins Face & Blush Powder in Graphic Expression (wide)

The shades: In the top row Forest features a really interesting, almost dirty khaki with a bit of very fine microshimmer and a very sheer, white-and-gold shimmer (tiny yellow-gold microshimmer and slightly larger white reflects suspended in a transparent base). On the bottom, it features a green-based charcoal with noticeable gold shimmer (it looks black in the pan, but swatches on dry skin as a medium-sheer matte with a greenish cast and gold shimmer interspersed throughout) and a very pretty neutral-brown taupe (frost).

The finishes of this quad, like all Clarins quads, are what really sell me on it: a satin, a glitter, a matte-with-microshimmer, and a frost. Worn together, the textures of the Eye Quartet Mineral Palettes give any natural, demure eye look a really intriguing edge.

Clarins Forest swatches Eye Quartet Mineral Palette review

Swatched L-R: Clarins Eye Quartet in Forest, Clarins Face & Blush Powder in Graphic Expression

Overall, this quad has a warm green vibe to it — something you don’t see a lot of. I think it would be especially lovely on warm olive tones, but it would work really well on beige and neutral skintones, too. It looks a little bit “off” on me (which eyeshadows very rarely do), so I’d say that the only colouring this quad wouldn’t shine on would be cool olive ones (cool pink overtones and light olive undertones).

Clarins Forest eye quartet swatches

Swatched L-R: Clarins Eye Quartet in Forest, Clarins Face & Blush Powder in Graphic Expression

Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette review swatches Forest

The Face & Blush Palette and Eye Quartet Mineral Palette (Ombre Minérale 4 Couleurs) packaging

The verdict?

The Forest quad doesn’t get quite as much of a gold star from me as the Graphic Expression blush/powder, but it’s a very pretty product, too: the same beautiful-but-lightweight gold Clarins packaging, with four wonderful mix-and-match eyeshadow finishes inside.

Forest is a little more pigmented than other Clarins quads, and is a must-have for anyone who wears khakis really well. Unfortunately, that’s one of the few colours that doesn’t work very well at all on my skintone (I photographed a look with it but had to scrap it), but I think it would look like a dream on my sister’s warmer, more olive-toned skin — to each her own, really.

Availability: $42 USD/$42 CAD, and is a new addition to the permanent range.

Keep reading! »

Three gorgeous, out-of-the-box finds for the holiday season | The Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In a month that epitomizes opulence and indulgence, it isn’t hard to find lust-worthy items to gift for the holidays. Finding something just outside of the mainstream, however, is a different challenge entirely.

Here are three finds that any beauty lover would be pleasantly surprised to receive (but would never see coming).

For the skincare lover: STEAMCREAM ($20 USD)

STEAMCREAM original

STEAMCREAM first landed on my radar two years ago, when Lisa Eldridge declared it a “Lisa Loves” product. The brand is designed around what I find to be a really interesting concept: the cream itself never changes, but the tins are all limited edition (excluding Original and, in the UK, Freedom & Discipline). Steamcream is made to be both a skincare staple and a collector’s item — something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Made with ingredients that are as fresh as possible, Steamcream uses a unique, steam-based process to fuse its ingredients together in a loose emulsion. The idea behind this is that, when applied, the product will sink deep into your skin almost immediately, making it lightweight enough for oily skintypes but hydrating enough for dry ones. (I haven’t yet figured out if this is true, but I’ll keep you updated!)

STEAMCREAM Light from Space - Nelly Makeeva

STEAMCREAM Light from Space & Silent Night

Steamcream can be used on the face, body, hands, and hair, and is handmade in the UK and Japan. It’s both vegan and cruelty-free, and if you see a tin that you love, or that someone you know might love — well, you might want to snap it up now, because there likely won’t ever be a second run. I’m smitten with the Light from Space and Silent Night tins, the latter of which has just the most charming design on its side!

Keep reading! »

Clarins Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder review, swatches, photos | Clarins Fall 2013/The Gift Guide

Monday, December 9, 2013

Clarins Face & Blush Powder review Graphic Expression

The products: Clarins Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder

This post comes a little late in the year, but as both this powder and the Graphic Expression Forest eyeshadow quad (review later this week) are still available, I’m hoping you’ll be able to forgive me.

These two gems launched in the Clarins Fall 2013 Graphic Expression colour collection, and would make wonderful Christmas gifts — the quad depending on the skintone of the recipient, and this Face & Blush Powder for, well, anyone.

Clarins Face & Blush Powder review

Clarins Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder review

The formula: Like all of the other Clarins powders I’ve tried, the Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder has the most beautiful, delicate violet fragrance. It’s soft and ethereal, but with this wonderful fruity edge, tamped down by a hint of powder.

I’ve never been able to test their powders for all-over wear, as all of the ones I own are either too dark, too shimmery, or too silicone-y (or a combination thereof), but I’ve never read an outright bad review for them. Christine (Temptalia), for instance, found that Graphic Expression “wore well for eight and a half hours, and it did seem to help prolong the wear of [her] foundation slightly (by about a half hour),” while Karen (Makeup and Beauty Blog) notes that it “does slightly darken on [her] skin over time.”

Clarins Graphic Expression swatches review photos

Clarins Graphic Expression swatches photos review

Clarins Forest, Graphic Expression swatches review

Swatched L-R: Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Forest (4), Clarins Face & Blush Powder in Graphic Expression (blended)

The shade and finish: More peachy than last spring’s pinky-peach Palette Eclat, and much darker than 2010′s apricot-peach Barocco Face PaletteGraphic Expression has a bit of gold shimmer woven through its formula, too. The stripe of gold overspray comes off to reveal a wider pink strip, but the two pink portions carry a hint of finely milled shimmer right down to the bottom of the pan.

Both the light and dark beige/peach strips are smooth and completely matte, with a dry-satin finish. If you use all of the shades at once, the resulting colour is just as surprisingly pigmented as the Palette Eclat was, with a warmer, peachier lean and a very softly frosted finish — but only if you build it up tons, as in a blush or bronzer.

When worn all over, this is, again, warm and peachy, almost orange (but a good orange). The more you buff it in, the more the shimmer seems to come out, but it’s glowy and imperceptible from a foot or more away. If last spring’s palette gave a glow with its rosy tones, then this one gives it with its subtle shimmer.

Clarins Face & Blush Powder swatches review Graphic Expression

Clarins Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder swatches: without & with overspray

Clarins powder blush review swatches photos Graphic Expression

What makes it such a perfect gift: I mean, look at it. If you had to give one makeup item to someone — why not this? More portable and budget-friendly than something like Guerlain’s Meteorites, Clarins’ Graphic Expression powder is almost alarmingly versatile across skintones, functioning as everything from an all-over radiance powder to a blush or bronzer.

The design of the Face & Blush powder changes with each season, but it too is always so well thought-out: intricate and mesmerizing, with strips of colour that go straight down. I really liked spring’s design, but this one really is much more holiday-appropriate — its lines upon lines remind me of ribbons or wrapping paper, and I just think it would make such a lovely gift.

Clarins Fall 2013 review Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder

The verdict?

Clarins cheek palettes are always gorgeous in tone and design, and the Graphic Expression Face & Blush Powder is no exception. I love Clarins powders for their beautiful violet scent, and though their Face & Blush Powders’ tones (typically peach or pinky-peach) suit my complexion better in the summer, they’re wonderful all year ’round on neutral and warm skintones.

As always, I would recommend this powder as a brightening, all-over powder for darker skintones, and as a blush or contour on lighter ones.

While this palette isn’t quite as holiday-perfect as Clarins’ Barocco collection powder was (yes, I’m still in love with its aesthetic, even after all these years), it’s definitely more than holiday-ready.

Availability: $35 USD/$40 CAD, limited edition.

Keep reading! »

LUSH Snowman Invasion (Cinders & Snowman/Butterball Bath Bombs) | The Gift Guide: under $15

Monday, December 2, 2013

LUSH Snowman Invasion review Christmas Holiday 2013

The product: LUSH Snowman Invasion gift set

   ↳ Cinders & Snowman Bath Bombs

When you live in a city that gets as cold as Edmonton in the winter, the promise of an almost-too-warm, wonderfully holiday-scented soak is pretty enticing. So, this year, I’m giving baths a chance. It’s something I haven’t done in years, but the boy is a bath addict, and he’s pretty good at making things sound wonderful.

(Case in point: Animal Crossing. I can’t even, you guys.)

Available at just $12.95 CAD (the same price in the US!), LUSH’s Snowman Invasion gift set is a super-easy, grab-and-go gift for the bath addict in your life. This vegan gift set includes LUSH’s limited-edition Cinders and Snowman Bath Bombs, both of which are returning customer favourites from previous LUSH Holiday collections!

LUSH Cinders bath bomb review 2013

Cinders Bath Bomb ($4.95 CAD/90g)

Scented with cinnamon leaf and sweet orange oil, Cinders is a bath addict’s winter dream. Not only is it made to smell like the holidays, but it’s made to sound like them, too: the popping candies will literally pop while they dissolve, mimicking the pops and crackles of a wood fire.

Kind of kitschy, yes, but so cool. 

Unlike a lot of LUSH’s Holiday range, Cinders isn’t part of their permanent range. Instead, it’s a fan favourite from previous years, hydrating with almond oil and fizzing away with a simple blend of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, and water. I’d kind of have preferred that it didn’t tint the bath water yellow, but for a bit of fun, it makes a great gift.

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Coarse Sea Salt, Popping Candy (Isomalt, Lycasin, Carbon Dioxide), Fragrance, Gardenia Extract, Almond Essential Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Cinnamal, Eugenol, Limonene, FD&C Red No. 4

Note: Cinnamon oil can be an irritant for some. If you’re gifting to someone with very sensitive skin or lots of allergies, you might want to pick a different gift set.

LUSH Snowman bath bomb review 2013

Snowman Bath Bomb ($5.95 CAD/100g alone)

A holiday-shaped version of LUSH’s much-lauded Butterball Bath Bomb, I’m saving Snowman for a day when I can relax for an hour and really enjoy a bath. I have terrifyingly dry skin in the winter, and Snowman/Butterball sounds like the perfect way to combat it: formulated with cocoa butter and scented with vanilla, it promises both relaxation and hydration (two things I think we could all use each December).

Butterball’s vanilla/musk/ylang ylang fragrance was one of LUSH’s first, and I’m looking forward to dropping this low-scent, no-tint bath bomb into my tub this winter.

Also: can we just stop for a second and talk about how absolutely adorable it is?

Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Cocoa Butter, Synthetic Musk , Ylang Ylang Oil, Glycerine, Sodium Carbonate, Cream of Tartar, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl Betaine, Fragrance, FD&C Red No. 4, D&C Red No. 33, D&C Orange No. 4

LUSH bath bomb review Snowman Invasion

Wrapped & ready to go!

Keep reading! »

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