Clarins Repair, Detox, Energy Booster serum review, photos

Friday, September 9, 2016


The products: Clarins Repair, Detox, and Energy Boosters

I know I’ve been writing a lot about skincare recently, but there have been a LOT of really cool new skincare launches this season, okay?

Take the new Clarins Boosters, for instance. They’re designed to serve one purpose, so you’re not hefting over $600 for an anti-redness, anti-shine, anti-ageing, anti-death serum. You can use them whenever you want to; as a pick-me-up or as part of your skincare regimen. Whatever works for you.


The packaging: The Clarins Boosters are tiny, with really brilliant packaging. You just press on the soft, curved bottom “button” to dispense drops of product, and you can dispense as many or as few drops as you want. The entire design concept is SO MUCH smarter than awkward eye dropper-style bottles, and it’s just a joy to us.


The boosters: These three different booster serums can be mixed and matched,  and are made to be blended with your moisturizer whenever you need them. The orange Energy Booster is meant to help with tone and radiance using ginseng extract, and it’s the least hydrating of the three boosters. It’s easy to use, but I didn’t see a huge change after 2-3 days of use. (These are designed to be single-day-use if needed, so I’ve tested them as such!)

The green Detox Booster is the one that I’ve been using the most, and honestly, it’s pretty phenomenal. The green coffee extract is intended to detoxify and plump the skin after over-indulging, and while I don’t really believe in antioxidants and stuff, it certainly does make my skin look fuller – I can actually see the difference in how plump the skin around my eyes is.


Finally, the blue Repair Booster is meant to strengthen your skin barrier and reduce discomfort. It feels very protective when my skin is irritated, but it’s very sticky and contains a generous portion of glycerin. I’d recommend it primarily as a preventative measure, but it also contains mimosa tenuiflora extract and allantoin for epidermal repair and soothing.

Clarins recommends that you use 3-5 drops of serum mixed into your moisturizer or mask, but that was way too many for me. 2 drops seemed to be the best balance for my face; any less and it wasn’t enough, but any more and my skin would feel tacky for hours.


The verdict?

I really like the idea of an as-needed booster instead of a mandatory daily serum, and the Clarins Detox Booster is excellent.

And hey, skincare industry? If you could just go ahead and package everything in droppers like these… That’d be cool of you. Thanks.

Availability: $39 USD/$40 CAD at, Sephora, and Nordstrom.

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Lashing up with the new Annabelle #ABMascaras range

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Annabelle Expandable mascara

Are you subscribed to the Annabelle newsletter yet? You should be… ;)

Annabelle (one of my favourite cruelty-free companies) dropped something BIG: an entire new lineup of mascaras. They released not one, not two, but FOUR totally new mascaras in addition to the three favourites in their old permanent collection.

And that new range? It’s nothing short of stellar.

Annabelle lash launcher, supernova review photos swatches

Why would anyone need seven mascaras?!

My first thought, of course, was “why.” Seven mascaras in a single range seems excessive, but strangely enough, once you try out all of them, it makes sense. Each one serves a very different purpose, and none of these mascaras look alike on the lashes. Even of my two favourites from the new Annabelle lash line (Expandable and Supernova), I wouldn’t dream of replacing one with the other.

There’s very much a mascara for every preference in this range, and I’m quite impressed with the way that Annabelle has curated the collection to have zero redundancies. 

Annabelle blast off, bigshow, outlash mascara review

ABmascaras review photos

Because the effects of a single mascara can differ so much from lash to lash–and even application to application–I didn’t take mascara swatch photos to share with you today.

Instead, I thought I’d go old school and simply describe the wear and application of each. I tested all of them again and again over the course of the month, and my notes on them definitely give a better depiction of the lash than my photos did (at least in my opinion!)

Unfortunately, I lost the photos that I took of Expandable and Supernova on my lashes in an incredibly frustrating computer blip, so I’ve borrowed my old swatch photos of Expandable and will be featuring Supernova in an eye makeup look soon.

Annabelle Expandable x theNotice

The mascaras

The new mascara range is divided into two halves: BigShow Mascaras, with lots of volume and drama, and Lash Launcher Mascaras, with lots of definition and length.

Best for VOLUME – BigShow

BigShow ($9.95 CAD) – BigShow gives a nice, sooty lash, but I find that it smudges on me within 8 hours. It’s a little clumpier and more “traditional” than the rest of Annabelle’s mascaras, so if you like a lot of volume, it’s a good choice.

BigShow Waterproof ($9.95 CAD) – BigShow Waterproof is very similar to the original. It holds a curl well and is super pretty, but I find that it smudges on me every few hours. If I had to choose, I’d recommend BigShow over BigShow waterproof; the latter still smudged on me, but was a pain in the butt to remove on top of that.

Expandable ($10.95 CAD) – Expandable has been my favourite mascara for years, and I still love it. I use it with the wand scrunched-up for more length than volume, and it produces a full, natural-looking lash.

Outlash ($9.95 CAD) – Outlash’s twisted brush does a great job of packing mascara onto the lashes while also giving great separation. It wears for a full 12 hours on my lashes (quite the feat!), but it’s too heavy for my stick-straight lashes – it really takes the curl right out of them.

Annabelle mascara wands - bigshow, expandable, outlash, lash launcher

Best for LENGTH: Lash Launcher

Lash Launcher ($9.95 CAD) – Lash Launcher is very much a length-based mascara, which isn’t really my cup of tea – I need more curl and volume. It offers a lot of length and separation, but I’d definitely recommend it most for those who have naturally voluminous lashes to begin with.

Supernova ($9.95 CAD) – Okay, this green tube is my new favourite thing ever. It gives serious false lash-like length, with good separation and volume as well. The falsie-like length is really natural-looking, too – more like a small set of extensions than a criss-crossed false lash strip. I get anywhere from 8-12 hours of smudge-free wear from this, and I would highly recommend it!

Blast Off ($9.95 CAD) – Blast Off is a little heavy for my tastes, and it brings my lash curl down quite a bit. The formula smudges wildly on me, but might work better for someone with very curly lashes to begin with.

Annabelle Expandable mascara review

Annabelle Expandable mascara review – old packaging (bottom) vs new (top). The brush is unchanged.

The verdict?

If you’re lucky enough to live in Canada and can pop over to your nearest drugstore for a mascara fix, consider yourself lucky. Annabelle has brought its entire game to their new mascara range, and if literally all other brands stopped making mascaras tomorrow, I think I’d feel just fine about it. 

I’ve loved Expandable for years and still adore it, but the new Supernova mascara may be even better. If you’re looking for something with mega volume that still wears well & looks natural, I’d definitely recommend those two to start with!

Availability: $9.95-$10.95 CAD each; permanent as of July 2016. Available at drugstores and mass market retailers througout Canada and online at (US & Can), where the entire #ABMascaras range is currently on sale.

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KYE for Shu Uemura collection review, swatches, photos

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kye for shu collection review, photos

The products: KYE for Shu Uemura Summer 2016 collection

The KYE for Shu collection is this summer’s Shu Uemura capsule collection, designed by fashion designer Kathleen Kye. It’s inspired by the “new era fashion culture and hype beauty,” and is chock full of trendy products and things that could basically just be summed as “edgy but also fresh.”

I’m not always taken by celeb-designed makeup collections, not even Shu Uemura’s, but the KYE collection really gets me. It feels very authentic, and I love that it celebrates a youthful energy and gender fluidity. 

Kye for shu uemura eyebrow palette cappuccino, dark rose review photos

kye for shu “cappuccino/dark rose” brow:palette review

The brow products

The KYE for shu brow products are all about graphic, edgy eyebrows – and in this case, that means colour. 

I tried out the Shu Uemura Eyebrow Manicure in Dark Violet ($26 CAD) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose ($55 CAD), and you know what? I really liked both of them. Shu does brows well, and these tinted versions of their regular products really hit the spot for me – although I wouldn’t give you $55 for the brow powder.

shu uemura violet brows swatches review photos

kye for shu swatches – ME pink 12 and M white 91 on eyes, eyebrow manicure in dark violet (left) and brow:palette in cappuccino/dark rose (right)

The Eyebrow Manicure is really where it’s at. The formula is easy to apply and doesn’t leave too much product on your skin, giving you definition and shape without really adding visual weight. And Dark Violet? It’s gorgeous. It brushes up gently against the skin, leaving a muted lilac brow that glistens in its wake... it’s a really lovely way to do colourful eyebrows while still looking totally daytime-appropriate.

(Yes, really!)

KYE for shu uemura eyebrow manicure dark violet review photos swatches

kye for shu “dark violet” eyebrow manicure review

Kye for Shu xxxxx

kye for shu “glow in pink” sheer colour balm review

The cheek & lip products

Okay, so full disclosure: these two product formats happen to be ones that I’m predisposed towards, so I’m maybe being a little lenient here.

I love alternative blush formats, so the KYE for Shu Fresh Cushion Blush ($39 CAD) caught my eye immediately. Hibiscus Orange is full of silicones and the sold-out Hisibscus Pink one would almost certainly look better on me, but the formula is just so cool watery, sheer, shimmer-free, and dewy. It’s a very Korean-inspired blush, right down to the names, but I hope we see more cushion blushes from Shu in the future.

For the lips, I also really liked the Shu Uemura Sheer Colour Lip Balm in Glow in Pink ($36 CAD), but I think they’re overpriced. The KYE Sheer Colour Balms are all translucent, pH-adjusting neons, and they’re really comfortable… but at the price, they’re not a must.

Shu Uemura kye collection swatches review

kye for shu swatches in indirect sunlight: hibiscus orange cushion blush, glow in pink sheer colour balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91 drawing pencil, ME pink 12 drawing pencil.

Kye for shu hibiscus orange blush review swatches

kye for shu hibiscus orange fresh cushion blush review

The eye products

I tried out two of the KYE Drawing Pencils ($28 CAD each), which are eyeliners from Shu’s regular collection done up in adorable KYE packaging.

I’ve never been a fan of the Shu Drawing Pencil formula, and these are consistent with my past experiences. The matte M white 91 is a gorgeously opaque white eyeliner, but it snapped off on me the second I tried to swatch it. (And then again, and again, and again.)

The intense, metallic ME pink 12 fared better, but it too is very soft – the metallics are so buttery that you have to re-shape them as you line your eyes. However, they’re also a total pain in the butt to smudge or remove, so if you have any upcoming end-of-summer pool parties planned, ME pink 12 is pretty much mandatory. It’s like glittery indelible ink for your eyes!

Kye for shu eyeliners M white 91, ME pink 12 swatches review

kye for shu drawing pencils in M white 91, ME pink 12

kye for shu collection swatches

kye for shu swatches: hibiscus orange blush, glow in pink lip balm, cappuccino/dark rose brow:palette, dark violet eyebrow manicure, M white 91, and ME pink 12 eyeliners

Everything else

The KYE for Shu collection also includes a few cleansing oils and conditioners, but as they’re just re-packaged classics, I won’t be reviewing them here. I will note, however, that the pink Porefinist Fresh Cleansing Oil ($38-82 CAD) is my favorite Shu cleansing oil, though, and that the KYE packaging is even cuter in person!

Kye for shu uemura absolute conditioners review

kye for shu art of hair conditioners

The verdict?

Shu Uemura releases a lot of really big makeup collections, but the KYE collection is my favourite Shu release in recent history. There isn’t a single product that disappoints (well, the eyeliners are a pain, but they wear like a champ as long as you pretend they’re gel pots), and the prices are very reasonable for Shu.

My top recommendations are the Dark Violet Eyebrow Manicure and Fresh Cushion Blush, but you really can’t go wrong with anything here!

Availability: Limited edition summer 2016 at,, and in-stores at select Holt Renfrew & Sephora locations.

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Marcelle Pink Lace, Berry Blossom, Show of Pink review, swatches, photos & more | Fall 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Marcelle fall 2016 collecdtion review

The products: Marcelle Fall 2016 collection – Rouge Xpression Lipstick in 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink; Ultimate Easy Lash and Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascaras; and Face Powder in Translucent Medium

Have you ever looked at a makeup collection and thought, “Okay, this is me. They made this collection for me? Because that’s exactly how I feel about Marcelle’s fall collection this year.

The collection contains a new Flawless foundation and concealer that, unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover because they contain silicones, but I am all about this collection aside from that. It features three really wearable lipsticks, a couple of mascaras, and my favourite face powder ever, so I knew the second I saw it that I was going to be a fan.

Marcelle rouge xpression 2016 review photos swatches

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks

Three new Rouge Xpression Lipsticks ($11.95 CAD each) are being launched this August from Marcelle, and though the Rouge Xpressions aren’t my favourite Marcelle lipstick formula (give me Rouge Vitality or give me death!!!!), I still quite like them.

The Rouge Xpression lipsticks are creamier and more slick than the Rouge Vitality lipsticks, and they feature a fragrance-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free formula with omega 6 fatty acid-rich avocado oil.

I’ve been getting the most wear out of Pink Lace, a really wearable pink-nude that’s just a shade lighter than my natural lip colour, but the cool pink Berry Blossom and coral-pink Show of Pink are lovely options for bolder shades. I don’t know – I’ve been feeling the muted lip pretty hard recently. Maybe it’s all the 15 degree days we’ve been having this August.

Marcelle Rouge Xpression pink lace, berry blossom, show of pink swatches review photos

Marcelle Rouge Xpression Lipstick swatches: 840 Pink Lace, 875 Berry Blossom, and 960 Show of Pink

Marcelle Pink Lace nude lipstick review swatches photos

Marcelle Pink Lace – a really easy, wearable nude lip

The mascaras

I’m too busy trying out all of the new Annabelle mascaras to test these right now (more on that soon), but I love that they released two separate Ultimate mascaras. Mascara is one of those products that’s really subjective, so it’s cool that they’re recognizing right out of the gate that some people are going to prefer an easy everyday lash while others will want that full-on fringe.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect mascara review

Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash mascara review

A good eyeliner is a good eyeliner across the board, but what constitutes the perfect mascara could be either a really natural looking lash, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Easy Lash ($9.95 CAD), or something with as much volume and length as humanly possible, like in the Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect ($12.95 CAD).

The ingredients listed online are the same for both, so I’m guessing that these two mascaras feature the same formula with a different brush (à la Eyeko). The Easy Lash mascara has a traditional bristled brush with short bristles on one side and long bristles on the other, while the Ultimate Fringe mascara has a springy, flexible silicone brush with short bristles all around.

Marcelle translucent medium face powder review

The face powder

Marcelle’s loose face powder got a black-and-clear makeover a couple years back (the original featured a white lid), and seeing it being re-promoted to bloggers makes me happy beyond words. I LOVE Marcelle’s Face Powder ($14.95 CAD), and I can’t even begin to tell you how many other makeup lovers I’ve converted over the years.

It’s just so good, you know? It looks totally natural and has a transparent “skin” finish, but it instantly makes your skin look better than normal. Whether you’re trying to make your base product look more like skin or you’re just trying to make your own skin look totally flawless, this stuff just magically makes it happen.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Tunakitten may not know what pants are, but he still knows what’s cool. 

It lasts forever, too – I’ve had my jar of Translucent for half a decade and have spilled huge amounts of it twice, but it’s still half full. For $14.95, it’s a crazy good deal.

(My only complaint? The new packaging is really squeaky, and it makes the experience of using it way less luxurious. I wish you would go back to your old factory, Marcelle!)

Collection availability: Marcelle is available online (US/Can) and in drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada.

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Diptyque Face Oil, Jason Wu x Caudalie, and more: New 27/08/16 | Steals & Deals with Groupon

Saturday, August 27, 2016

sponsored post

Okay, so here’s the thing. You know Groupon? I’ve been using their site for years*, and I recently found out that they do more than just coupons for in-store deals. They emailed me a couple weeks back and asked me to check out their site, and like… did you guys know that they have pages for web coupons, too? Because they do, and it’s awesome.

The Groupon Coupon pages have everything from % off deals to free shipping, and they have them for all sorts of sites – Nordstrom, Namecheap, even Ebay. Literally everything in the box above comes from a Groupon Coupon site. (In other words: ALL THE MAKEUPS.)

If you do a lot of online shopping, they’re worth checking out!

Sunday Riley calrifying face oil

*Okay, technically my mother has been compulsively using their site for years and the rest of us are just getting sucked into the vortex, but it’s lead to a surprisingly affordable Marble Slab addiction for all of us, so I’m cool with it. 

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review, swatches, photos SX02, SX05 | Silicone-free beauty

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kevyn Aucoin SX02 review photos swatches

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX02

The product: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX02 and SX05

I’ve raved about the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (known to makeup addicts simply as Kevyn Aucoin’s SSE) for ages, but I realized the other day that I still hadn’t posted a review of it!

So, without further adieu, here is not only a review, but also a comparison, some swatches, and a blending guide. For anyone out there still seeking their perfect silicone-free foundation, I hope this is helpful!

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX05 review

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer review – SX05

The formula: The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer formula is thick, creamy, and VERY pigmented. It’s packaged in a tiny plastic jar (which somehow manages to look luxe all the same), and it’s bigger on the inside. Sure, it’s a third of the size of the NARS foundation sitting on your countertop, but it’ll last you three times as long regardless.

SSE is notorious for being more pigmented than most concealers, so you need only a “rice grain” amount (paired with lots of blending) to cover your entire face. It can cover everything from dark circles to severe acne scarring, and it wears well without a need for reapplication. It’s like a tiny pot of really sophisticated photoshoot makeup.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before after SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer before & after with SX02

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer silicone free foundation review packaging

The SSE formula seems to work well for most, but I do have some issues with it. For one, it’s heavily fragranced with a powdery scent; for another, it can catch on dry patches. I’ve moved away from using SSE in favour of the new Rodial Airbrush Make-Up, simply because of the way that the Sensual Skin Enhancer looks unnatural in areas where I have lines from dryness.

If you have normal, oily, or even well-primed dry skin, the Sensual Skin Enhancer formula should work well for you. However, if you have eczema or similar patchy-dry skin, be aware that this will emphasize it.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX02 SX05 swatches review comparison

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer swatches on my summer-tanned arm: SX02 (lightly/heavily), SX05 (lightly/heavily)

The shades: The Kevyn Aucoin SSE range carries far more shades than the comparable Rodial Airbrush line does, so while I think the Rodial formula is actually a bit better for dry skin, I would still recommend SSE for most. Rodial makes a meagre four shades, all very fair; Kevyn Aucoin makes 16.

I was initially matched to SX05, but it turned out to be a bit too dark for my preferences – it matches the perimeter of my face well, but I mostly wear foundation through my T-zone and under my eyes, where your skin is naturally lighter. I exchanged it for SX02 shortly thereafter, and it’s an excellent match.

SX02 is fair with clear winter undertones, while SX05 is light with beige undertones. The shades don’t ascend with any undertone demarcation, unfortunately, so both SX03 and SX04 are too golden/warm yellow for my olive skin.

Foundation mixing

silicone-free foundation blend

Silicone free foundation recommendation tinted moisturizer

How I wear it: I’m really into the ten-minute-face this year, so I mostly wear my SSE as a liquid foundation unless I have something big going on. It’s easy to apply without a mirror, and as long as my face isn’t having a flare-up of dry skin, it’s totally invisible.

Of course, I’m so lazy that I can no longer be bothered to mix my foundation every morning, so I mix up a batch at a time and put it into a tube. My current HG blend contains a dollop of SSE, a portion of moisturizer (Embryolisse in the winter or Aveeno Fresh Essentials Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 in the summer), a touch of pomegranate seed oil, and a fair amount of Deciem Hylamide SubQ Serum.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review SX05 silicone free foundation ingredients

Kevyn Aucoin SSE review – SX05

The verdict?

If you’re searching for the perfect silicone-free foundation, the Kevyn Aucoin is my top recommendation for a cream product. (The Rodial shade range is laughably small, and my beloved Pür Minerals 4-in-1 is a pressed powder). Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer is an amazing concealer, foundation, and tinted moisturizer… you name it, it can do it. It’s expensive, but it’s such a flexible product that it’s worth it. 

Because the shades are so pigmented, however, it’s important to find a seamless match. If you can’t find your perfect match in real life, I’d recommend trying Tinder sampling it through Camera Ready Cosmetics (that’s what I did, and my $4.99 USD sample lasted me weeks), or even buying two shades to blend – it’s worth the investment.

Availability: $48 USD/$58 CAD at Sephora, Nordstrom (limited shades), and Space NK. In Edmonton, you can also find this at Lux Beauty Boutique.

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