SkinCeuticals Simply Clean cleanser review, photos

Monday, February 1, 2016

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser

The product: SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Pore-Refining Gel Cleanser

The thing about SkinCeuticals’ Simply Clean cleanser is that it shouldn’t work for me… but it does. It’s everything that my skin usually hates, from the texture (gel instead of milk) to the target audience (oily instead of dry and sensitive).

But despite all that stuff, Simply Clean works wonders on my skin. I’m not sure how, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably magic. Maybe a crossroads deal; maybe a regular, ritualistic sacrifice. There are probably goats involved or something.

SkinCuticals square

The formula: SkinCeuticals’ products are all formulated with the philosophy of “prevention, protection, and correction,” (AKA science! Science! Science!) and their cleansers are no exception. Simply Clean is formulated with a hydroxy acid blend to gently exfoliate dead skin cells, smoothing out rough texture and removing excess oils.

It’s made for people with oily/combination skin and great for those with acne, but it was recommended as part of my skincare regimen because some of my pores can get a little clogged. My skin specialist told me that it (unlike the brand’s Purifying Cleanser) would help gently lift the dead skin cells from my skin without requiring more treatment products or physical exfoliation, which my super-dry skin often needs help with.

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser review oily skin

The results: My skin burns in response to a good 70% of the non-milk cleansers that I try, but this one caused no reaction, even after weeks of testing. It still delivers a totally makeup-free, squeaky-clean result, and I’ve been really happy with it so far.

I feel like I’ve seen less surprise breakouts and milia since I started using Simply Clean every night, and even though it isn’t the line’s gentlest cleanser, it’s really non-reactive. It’s my only squeaky-clean cleanser that I can comfortably use, and that’s honestly such a novelty for me that I look forward to using this stuff every night!

(Yeah, the Friday nights around here are really wild.)

SkinCeuticals Simply Clean Cleanser combination gel skin review

The verdict?

Simply Clean is a simple, no-nonsense cleanser that will gently exfoliate while cleansing and removing makeup. It’s best for oilier skin types, but it works well for anyone with clogged pores — yes, even us dry-skinned folk.

I’d skip it if you want conditioning agents in your cleanser, or if you have sensitive skin that isn’t clogged (in which case, the SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser would probably suit your skin better.) Overall, however, I am very, very impressed with this little dude! I know that cleansers are kind of boring, but this one performs so well that it’s my favourite product from the line — and the SkinCeuticals range is far from underwhelming.

(Reviews of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, Emollience Moisturizer, and Serum 10 upcoming.)

Availability: $34 USD/$39.50 CAD though dermatologist’s offices (see the SkinCeuticals site to find the one closest to you). Available online at SkinCeuticals, DermStore, SkinStore, and SkinCareRX!

Keep reading! »

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review, photos, comparison

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review

The product: Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

In the world of high-end lip balms, there are few names that are muttered as frequently or as reverently as Rêve de Miel. This dense, potted lip balm has been an iconic product for more than twenty years, and despite the hundreds of lip balms that have launched since then, it remains the go-to lip balm recommendation for many.

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

The formula: The Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm is scented with honey and grapefruit, and smells comforting without smelling sticky-sweet (as I find many honey-scented products do). But what makes it so special is its texture.

I expected this lip balm to be waxy and hard, like my other favourite potted lip balms, but I couldn’t have been farther off the mark. Instead, it’s soft but dense, almost like a bowl of frosting that contains too much icing sugar — it’s mouldable and not at all sticky.

Nuxe Reve de Miel review photos

Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm texture

The wear: This stuff is lovely. It lingers throughout the night, forming a thick, protective layer over your lips and doing a great job of keeping moisture in.

It’s also soft enough that you can use it to treat other dry areas of skin (Nuxe actually recommends it), but I haven’t given this a go — the formula is full of silicones, and I think it may be breaking me out as it is. (Since I started testing it, I’ve been getting a recurrent blemish juuuust along my hairline in the very spot that my lip balm finger touches my face when I brush my hair back. Nowhere else!)

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm review texture comparison scent

The verdict?

It took me far too long to try this lip balm, but my opinion of it is clear: I’m a fan.

I am a fan, however, with reservations. If you’re sensitive to silicones, then I wouldn’t recommend this one for you; likewise, if you’re on a budget, I would try a different potted lip balm. This one preforms on par with or just slightly under the Osmia Organics and Bobbi Brown lip balms that I love, but due to its super-soft texture, a $17 pot won’t last you nearly as long.

However: that soft texture, created undoubtedly by waxes and oils suspended in silicones, is exactly why I would recommend this one as my #1 lip balm for dryness in combination with ageing skin. Its formula has virtually no drag, unlike the others that I have listed above, and will be far more gentle on your lips and lip contour area — a definite plus for many!

Availability: $19 USD/$17 CAD (!) at Shopper’s Drug Mart, Scarlet & Julia, Target (US), and Birchbox (US/Canada).

Keep reading! »

Fountain The Super Green, Hyaluronic Molecule review & photos

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule beauty supplement review

The products: Deciem Fountain 02 The Hyaluronic Molecule, 03 The Super Green Molecule

One of my resolutions for 2016 was to cover more indie brands & weird beauty finds, so today, I thought I’d talk about Deciem’s super-cool liquid supplements.

Beauty drinks aren’t a big thing here in North America, but they’re all over the place in Asia. You can take everything from collagen to sheep placenta (yes, really) in capsule, liquid, or even jelly form, and they’re all designed to make you prettier/plumper/smoother/etc. from the inside out.

Deciem’s Fountain range contains everything from Vitamin B12 to resveratrol, and all of the supplements are sweetened with xylitol, so you don’t have to worry about adding sugary syrups to your morning juice or water! (I push Xyla candy like they’re drugs. Cheap drugs. Drugs that are good for your teeth).

Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule review

The Hyaluronic Molecule ($38 CAD)

The first “molecule” that I tried was the brand’s Hyaluronic Molecule, and honestly, it was a weird experience. It’s really thick and viscous, like slime or phlegm or (according to my cousin) semen, which is a texture that you don’t want to see in a product ever.

Texture aside (once diluted with a full glass of water or juice, you honestly don’t notice it at all), this stuff is pretty darn cool. It contains the only water-soluble, bioavailable hyaluronic acid supplement on the market, and it contains a lot of it: 130mg per serving, which is actually why it’s so goopy.

Deciem Fountain The Hyaluronic Molecule review

“With tequila” is probably not how the Fountain supplements were designed to be taken.

The Hyaluronic Molecule is also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, and it’s said to make your skin softer and smoother, keep your joints mobile, and (again: yes, really) keep your eyes lubricated. Like any other supplement, though, I can’t say for sure if it’s really working, but I do like it. I know that it should be working, and I like the subtle ginger flavour, and that’s enough for me.

(If ginger isn’t your thing, Deciem also make a Fountain 10X Hyaluronic Molecule ($60 CAD), which is Jasmine Silver Tea flavoured!)

Deciem Fountain The Super Green Molecule review

The Super Green Molecule ($28 CAD)

I’m currently taking The Super Green Molecule on days that I don’t eat my veggies (which, for the record, is totally not recommended by Deciem/Fountain), and I am loving this one.

The Super Green Molecule is very liquidy, very green, and kiwi flavoured. The deep green colour of this stuff makes me feel so healthy when I take it, and I know it’s no substitute for actual vegetables, but it’s better than nothing, okay? I mean, a single teaspoon of this stuff contains as much chlorophyll as SIX bowls of dark, organic leafy greens.

This Fountain of Youth supplement is also enriched with vitamins and minerals from sea kelp, and all of that colour comes from alfalfa-derived sodium copper chlorophyllin, which is a readily bioavailable form of chlorophyll that green gurus love for its ability to control body odour, help your body process out toxins, fight off yeast infections, and promote healthy iron levels.

Plus, I mean, The Super Green is super tasty.

Fountain The Super Green Molecule review

The verdict?

You can never be sure what you’re actually getting when it comes to holistic products, but if I had to pick a cosmetic company that I trusted not to trick me into eating ants, it would be Deciem. They didn’t cut corners on these guys one bit, and it really shows: The Hyaluronic Molecule is literally full of so much bioavailable hyaluronic acid that it’s noticeably thick, and The Super Green Molecule is full of so much chlorophyllin that it’ll stain your tongue if you don’t dilute it first.

I’m not recommending these as a food or drug, but as a cosmetic adjunct to your routine, they’re quite nice. I say start with The Super Green Molecule and go from there!

Availability: $28 CAD & up at Fountain.co, which uses Deciem’s universal shopping cart (so you can buy your Hylamide at the same time!) and ships for FREE worldwide.

Keep reading! »

Salcura DermaSpray, Hand Therapy, Shampoo/Conditioner reviews & GIVEAWAY!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray review

The products: Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray, Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, and Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner

Do you ever feel like Europe gets all of the best eczema/dry skin/pharmacy brands? I always have — I mean, just look at things like E45, Embryolisse, and Oilatum.

I have another brand for you guys to add to that list today: Salcura. They’re a (mostly, like 98%) natural brand that uses no SLS, parabens, silicones, mineral oil, etc., and they focus on providing gentle, hydrating care for people with dry skin conditions.

Salcura shampoo conditioner review photos

Salcura Sensitive & Dry Scalp Conditioner & Shampoo (£8.99 each)

What I thought was really cool about the Salcura line is that not only do they aim to treat dry skin on the body, but they have a couple products for people with dermatitis of the scalp, too. Their Sensitive & Dry Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner duo is rich in omega oils and super gentle on the hair, and my dry scalp has been loving them.

With regular use of this duo, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in how peel-y and dry my scalp is — so much so that if I use a different shampoo (even a different one made for dry hair) for a day, I’ll notice more dry flakes and flyaway hair immediately.

I find that I have to use a little more product than usual with this shampoo, but I can good a good foam going if I do. Both products smell a little oily (think grapeseed, not canola), but they leave my hair and scalp looking and feeling super hydrated.

Salcura DermaSpray review photos

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray (£16.99)

Another super cool product from Salcura is their DermaSpray, which is made for daily use on itchy skin. Made with labender, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils, this spray is milky and watery — it provides instant soothing with no oiliness (I can even spray it onto my scalp and my hair looks fine).

I didn’t see strong results with this one on my problem areas, but this spray would be awesome for someone with normal skin who wants totally weightless, easy moisture OR for someone with dry skin (like me!) who is planning on layering it with another moisturizer.

Salcura Winter Skin therapy review hand cream

Salcura Autumn & Winter Hand Therapy Creams (£12.99 each)

Even more exciting than Salcura’s spray and haircare range, though, are their hand creams. I tried the Winter Skin Warming Hand Therapy, which doesn’t actually warm your hands and smells very strongly of ginger oil (one of my least favourite smell so, I’ve since discovered), and the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand a Therapy, which on the other hand was the BEST thing that I’ve ever smelled. 

Salcura says that their autumn scent comes from freesia and pear, and while I can’t pull any distinct notes from it, I can tell you that it smells great. It’s floral, juicy, and fruity, with a scent that lingers and gives me serious heart-eyes all throughout the day.

The formula of Autumn Skin is awesome, too — it’s almost airy, but it’s very creamy, too. It’s quite hydrating (more hydrating than L’Occitane, Neutrogena, or Lush), with a silky, non-greasy finish. 

Salcura Autumn Skin therapy review hand cream

I told the kind folks at Salcura about how much I loved the Autumn Skin Awakening Hand Therapy, and they offered to send one reader not just the Autumn hand cream, but all four seasons! So: please use the giveaway widget below to enter to win FOUR awesome hand creams that are silicone, phthalate, and paraben-free. ;)

The giveaway will be open until Sunday, January 31st at 11:59 PM MST. Good luck, you guys — you’re going to LOVE these!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The verdict?

If you have eczema on your scalp, you need to give Salcura a try. I saw the best results when I used all three of their hair-appropriate products together, but if you love your current shampoo and conditioner, even just adding their DermaSpray to your morning routine will help a ton.

I also think their Autumn Skin hand cream is a must, although I’d take a pass on Winter if you’re making an order!

Availability: You can find Salcura at Boots, Whole Foods, and salcuraskincare.com.

Keep reading! »

How to monetize your blog, partner with brands, & more: The do’s and don’t of blogging

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

» How to start a beauty blog

1. The do’s and don’ts of blogging

2. Working with brands

3. Monetizing your blog

4. Branching out from (or into) beauty blogging

The do’s and don’ts of blogging

Burberry Beauty launches Canada Vancouver Nordstrom

For those of you on your coffee break, here’s a snappy list of the do’s and don’ts of blogging!

Edit: DON’T try to monetize every single sample offer from your contacts. I keep seeing newbie bloggers deciding to do this, and it makes me want to shake them and yell, “TWO THOUSAND HITS PER MONTH IS TINY. SIT DOWN.” Start instead by using affiliate links or selling banner ads (read below!), and focus on creating great content and building relationships, not squeezing naïve small businesses for cash.

DO leave lots of comments on other bloggers’ blogs, and DO leave a link back to your blog in the “url” form field, but DON’T leave a link to your blog in your comment text — I can’t think of a single person I know who doesn’t find that to be incredibly rude!

DON’T get into spats on social media. Someone is always watching, in the creepiest of creepy Big Brother ways.

DO be funny! 

DON’T send your new followers automated messages.

DO use a blogging calendar to keep you on track. I’ve recently started using a sticky-notes-and-tape eyesore, and I love that I can touch it and move stuff around.

new camera 2014 copy

DO learn the difference between HTML, CSS, and PHP. My favourite resource for all three is w3schools.com, which is easy to reference for simple fixes & arranged like a textbook for those who want a crash course.

DO buy a good camera — and editing software. If you’re serious about blogging, I recommend a camera body that gives you room to grow, like the Canon T5 or Nikon D3200. I shoot with a Sony A6000 (the A5100 cheaper option with a 180˚ screen) and an old Zeiss lens, and then edit in Photoshop.

DO proofread. Accidents happen, but if you mix up your there, their, and they’res, I won’t be the only one quietly mocking you in my head.

DO nerd out over your non-beauty interests. This is the easiest way to find other people like you in the herd, whether your special interest is ramen noodles or alpacas!

cats cats cats

My special interest is cats. My special interest has always been cats.

Working with brands 

Okay, so once people start blogging, the big question always becomes, “How can I start collaborating with brands?” Which is a valid question, but like — you have no idea how gross it makes me feel to hear it. It’s like someone asking how to get into your ex-girlfriend’s pants: it’s not that you definitely don’t deserve to, it’s that you really seem like you’re only in this for the sex and you should really be proving that you’re good enough on your own.

I don’t make a lot off of theNotice, and if I had to buy every single product that I tested for the blog & featured here, I would barely break even. But while it’s awesome to have a brand validate your work by working with you, it’s important that you view press samples as a way to help you do your job better, not the reason for doing your job at all.

stop being greedy

So: I’d recommend waiting for at least a year (yes, really) before reaching out to brands. If someone contacts you before then, awesome; if not, it’s worth the wait! That way, you can show brands your archive, stats, and social media following when you do contact them, and your reader base will know that they can trust you — and so will other bloggers.

Highlight whatever YOUR BLOG really excels at. You don’t have to be the biggest fish in the pond to show people that you’re doing great work!

Next, create a media kit in the style of your blog that includes your stats, your blog’s message, and a little bit about you, the person they’ll be working with! It’ll help give you a leg up in the PR department’s inbox, and it’ll work kind of like an online business card for your blog.

One of the best tips I’ve ever heard about creating a media kit is to highlight whatever your blog really excels at (I think maybe it was Natalie?), whether that’s the number of comments you get or the number of page hits. Your blog doesn’t have to be the biggest or the most polished to stand out.

Moody pastels - YSL Spring makeup look

I recommend starting on a brand’s website to look for contact info, or pitching in person if you can. I know bloggers who recommend contacting brands via their social channels or employees’ LinkedIn accounts, but I’ve always found that if a brand really loves your blog, a general email to the company will be enough. Let your work speak for itself! 

The hard part about PR relationships, though is keeping that relationship going. If you want to stay in the loop, you’re going to need to review new launches quickly (most brands prefer to see features within 30 days, which is whiplash-and-a-concussion fast), forward links back to the brand after a review goes up, and always be reachable by email.

Once you’re in, remember that blog-brand relationships are a two-way street, and you do not work for the brand — no matter how well or poorly they treat you. Accepting product for a review is a fair (and industry-standard) practice, but make sure you don’t let your to-review pile overwhelm you. It is a real, breathing thing, and it will suffocate you in the middle of the night and hide the evidence. 

Graphic sunset eye look

Monetizing your blog 

Unfortunately for all of you up and coming beauty bloggers, ambassadorships and sponsorships are a rare thing in this industry. Sure, they exist, but it’s not exactly “cool” for a beauty blogger to post their Amazon Wishlist or have a Patreon.

Instead, beauty blogs tend to survive on the Golden Trio of advertising: sidebar ads, affiliate commissions, and sponsored posts.

Keep reading! »

How to start a beauty blog (and what to expect once you do!)

Monday, January 18, 2016

theNotice layout screenshot

The #1 question that I get asked is how to start a beauty blog. Sure, there are variations, like “How do I transition my current blog into a beauty blog,” or “How can I start making money off of my beauty blog,” but what seems to be on everyone’s minds is how you do the whole, y’know, blogging thing. 

My answer is always the same: don’t. 

Behind the blog - Nov 2015

1. Make the commitment

Now, it’s not that I don’t love beauty blogging, and it’s not that I don’t want to see the community grow — I very, very much do. But I don’t think that anyone should start a beauty blog on a whim. It’s more like adopting a pet than eating a sandwich: you have to be ready to make a huge time commitment, and if you want to blog seriously, you need to be ready to keep it up for years.

We’re talking anywhere from 15 hours a week (for a casual blogger) to 40-60 hours (if you want to make a living off of it) for the next 10 years of your life, with no “paid vacation time” or sick day coverage.

The first step in starting a beauty blog is putting in the time. After that, everything else is easy.

Wordpress Dashboard

2. Pick the right blogging platform

Choose WordPress. 

No, but seriously — it’s not up for discussion. WordPress is a little more intimidating right out of the gates, but it’ll give you the room to grow that Blogger simply doesn’t. With a WordPress blog, each little bit of styling is made to adapt with your layout; with Blogger, each bit of styling is made to be particular to that post only.

I made the mistake of starting out with Blogger back in 2007, so please, for the love of god, learn from my mistakes. 

(The only time you’re not required to choose WordPress is if you go with Squarespace, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)

BlueHost - host recommendation

3. Get your own hosting plan & domain name

Your HOST is where your site lives; your DOMAIN NAME is the url that readers will use to access it.

My other “must” for new bloggers is starting out with your OWN domain name and hosting plan. Paying for your own little space on the web is surprisingly affordable (my current web host offers plans that start at $3.95/month, which is the price of a single freaking coffee), and it offers you a level of credibility and flexibility that “.blogger.com” and “.wordpress.com” just can’t give you.

With a free site on Blogger or WordPress, you’re limited in the kind of ads you can run, the kinds of plugins you can use, and sometimes even the types of content you can publish (Blogger haaates sex bloggers, and WordPress.com doesn’t like it when bloggers make money, too.)

BlueHost control panel

I currently host with BlueHost, who I absolutely love. They make hosting your site super easy, with a control panel that’s basically designed for dummies and excellent (free!) 24/7 tech support online and by phone. I’ve found that Bluehost’s rates are equal to GoDaddy’s and lower than HostGator’s, and since switching over from GoDaddy, I’ve noticed a lot less downtime and faster loading times on theNotice.

» If you’re thinking of signing up with BlueHost, I would love if you could use my affiliate link to show them that I sent you!

You can also buy your domain name through BlueHost (use the widget above to see if your dream domain name is available right now!), but Namecheap also comes highly recommended by bloggers, too. (Namecheap is–you guessed it–a little cheaper, but sometimes having an integrated web host & domain registrar can be handy!)

WordPress org vs com

wpbeginner has a great infographic on WordPress.org (self-hosted) vs WordPress.com (free) here.

4. Make some contacts

In the beauty blogging world, your #1 asset is your friends. If you really want your blog to take off, don’t focus on making money or hooking up with brands — focus on finding bloggers who you respect and admire, and build actual relationships with them.

My favourite thing about the beauty blogging world is the people, and those people are going to be the exact same ones who will help you grow your own blog. Comment on others’ blogs, start chatting with strangers on Twitter, and make sure you send good vibes back out into the blogosphere.

There is no limit to how many blogs one reader can or will read, which makes blogging one of those rare, wonderful industries where supporting your peers wholeheartedly will only ever help you reach your own goals. Take advantage of it: form blogger crushes, collaborate with them, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of learning from others & telling them when you think their work is awesome!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

5. Get writing!

Okay, so I know that I said making the commitment was going to be the hardest thing, but–um. It’s not. What makes that commitment hard is following through on it, not just wishing with all your might.

The beauty blogging world looooves a heavy poster, and while it’s not make-or-break, it’s definitely important. I always chuckle when I see a tweet from my sex blogging friends being all, “oooh, I posted twice this week, kneel before me!” because while that’s an awesome posting frequency for the adult industry, it’s really low for the beauty industry.

If you wanted to blog occasionally, you should have gotten into electronics or types of ash instead. The beauty world lives off of bloggers who post 3-7 times/week, and those making a living off of their blog usually need to post at least twice a day (if not more.) So grab your camera, give up all of your future Saturdays to photo-taking, and start by reviewing the products that you already know and love!

theNotice logo

Still think you’re cut out for beauty blogging? Awesome! Come back on Wednesday for tips on how to partner with brands & more.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave ’em below and I’ll answer as many as I can in my next post. 

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