Thursday, July 31, 2014

NEW Clarins Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream

This post features a press sample.

Guess how many cleansers Clarins has. Seriously, guess.

I thought that it was about 7 or 8, but according to the Canadian website, the total is 13, including this new giant addition. They take face-washing very seriously, as do I... but how is it even possible to come out with another way to cleanse the face? This one is quite hefty at a whopping 200mL, priced at CAD$44. It's either magic or ridiculous, right? Or, perhaps, a little of both?

Size comparison with the Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed, an old favourite of mine (reviewed):

This Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream is targeted for skin challenged by a polluted urban environment. For a large Canadian city, the air in Toronto isn't too bad. But after a full day out, in and out of public transit, multiple highways and coming home to a neighbourhood not that far from the city airport... sometimes I think, 'Yes, poor skin. It ain't the coal mines, but-- MAH POOR BABY.' And then I slather half a dozen different potions until I simply run out of energy and hope for the best. Well, this new cleanser makes a lot of promises that I was initially quite skeptical of:
  • Enriched with extracts of purifying Moringa and nourishing Shea and mango, this rich cream cleanser is ultra-effective and restores skin's purity, radiance and beauty, while providing ultimate comfort. For use on face and eyes.
  • Perfectly removes make-up and impurities while providing ultimate comfort.
  • Rids the skin of traces of pollution. Detoxifies the epidermis and protects the skin from the harmful effects of pollution.
  • Nourishes, softens and hydrates. Restores the skin's biological balance to preserve its youthfulness.
  • The Clarins bonus: A professional cleansing method that is as simple as it is effective, available for viewing on the Clarins website. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to view video.)
  • Dermatologically tested. Non-comedogenic.

That's a lot of good stuff right there. And as always, I needn't have doubted, because Clarins hits it out of the park. Again.

The application technique takes a bit of practice, but I prefer to massage my face during the cleansing process rather than afterwards, so this thing is right up my alley. I dispense about a quarter coin size worth of product into my left palm, then slowly mash the dollop between both palms to warm it. After about 30 seconds, I separate the palms that are coated with the cleanser and apply to either side of my face in slow patting motions, starting with the cheeks, temple, forehead, and then using fingertips to gently pat down the nose and smaller areas. The cleanser will feel thicker and stickier during this process, which doesn't sound very appealing in words but feels quite novel and relaxing in execution. This is when you can also do some deep-breathing exercises and let the day's stress drain away with the makeup and dirt being removed by the cleanser and accompanying technique. If you're a fan of white florals like moringa and tiare, you'll love the gentle and elegant fragrance of this cleanser as well, transforming a dull night-time routine into a spa-like experience in the comfort of your home.

To be honest, I broke out into giggles the first time I watched the video and tried the technique, but it really works -- if you employ the technique as prescribed. It's important that you begin with dry hands and dry face in order to remove the makeup fully, because trying to lather it in quick motions with wet hands will defeat the entire purpose. (I do, however, like to use it in a quick dash manner in the morning because it feels so lovely and gentle.) I think that fans of Clarins will really enjoy this new cleanser, but it can be too much work for those who prefer quick foaming cleansers to get the job done. The price tag corresponds with the entire concept of the product, which is basically multiple facials packaged into a convenient tube, but I do wish that Clarins would offer a smaller size for less committed customers who are curious to test it out in shorter duration. But let me tell you once more: Clarins is very good at what they do, and I have yet to try a skin care product from them that I didn't like. I look forward to testing out their 14th cleanser in due course. ;-)

CAD$44, 200mL. Made in France. Available at Clarins online and in-store worldwide.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sorbitan Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Butylene Glycol, Betaine, Squalane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, PEG-100 Stearate, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Oil, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Parfum/Fragrance, Xanthan Gum, Bisabolol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Methylsothiazolinone, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, CI 14700/Red 4. [VI815A]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Potted cremes of delight from MAC, Benefit, Maybelline and Givenchy

It's time to confess: I've got a thing for potted cream eye shadows, and I can't -- won't -- give them up. My experimentation with Asian eyelid tapes for monlids having failed spectacularly (detailed review to come), I went scurrying back to the land of eye shadows. And before I knew it, I had replaced much of the hoard I parted with earlier on in the year. But this time, I decided to forget the "barely there" shadows and intensify as well as vary the shades.

Looks like a pretty decent moody fall palette, doesn't it? Left to right: Maybelline Color Tattoo in Shimmering Sea (limited edition), MAC Paint Pot in Indianwood, Givenchy Ombre Couture Cream Eyeshadow in #5 Taupe Velours, and Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Skinny Jeans.

Maybelline Shimmering Sea - I've tried a few Maybelline Color Tattoos and wasn't very impressed. I hear they stay put well for most people, but I need to layer with primer and even then sometimes they slip and slide all over the place. Not so the case for this limited edition beauty! The pretty gold and blue duochrome was difficult to resist, and I'm glad that I didn't. It shows equal parts blue and gold on me, depending on the light and the tilt of my head. It's one of those magic unicorn products that work well across all skin tones. See it on Maggie and Toya, for example. (And on me, below, at the end of the post.)

MAC Indianwood - I consider it a MAC classic. My pot of Soft Ochre is ridiculously old and yet it looks and feels as fresh as the day I first opened up the box. So, I'm inclined to think positively of MAC Paint Pots in general, although I have noticed that their shimmery shades can dry out faster. But all things considered, they're smooth, creamy and wonderful to pat on top of eyelids for that quick dash of something-something. Indianwood is a shade that I've been admiring forever, and its bronzy antiqued gold looks awesome paired with coral/orange lips in the summer.

Benefit Skinny Jeans - It's an old love that I foolishly parted with a couple of years ago, and we are now blissfully reunited. *flower petals fall from air* I'm not a big fan of the repackaged pots (what was wrong with the old pots anyway?) as they are wider and bulkier and overly cutesy for my aging taste, but the fantastic shimmery pewter is as gorgeous as ever, and I forgive the fact that it's not completely creaseless as the name claims and we will live together in harmony and bliss forevermore. *birds chirp, rainbow appears*

Givenchy Taupe Velours - Looks how ridiculously smooth and soft this virgin pot looks. I can tell you that it does indeed feel as soft and smooth as it looks. The glide is amazing. This, folks, is why we shell out the extra bucks for a tinier pot from a designer. I've been wanting to try something from Givenchy lately, and at a surprisingly restrained $25, it's not a huge blow to the wallet and in fact well worth the money. In the pot, Taupe Velours appears more mauve than brown in person, but on the lids, it translates to a beautifully soft teddy brown.

Swatches of all four, from left to right: Taupe Velours, Skinny Jeans, Indianwood, Shimmering Sea.

Zooming in on Taupe Velours and Skinny Jeans:

Indianwood and Shimmering Sea:

At a time when stick and crayon shadows are all the rage, I still gravitate toward pots like a child to cookies. There's just something about the way they're packed into the weighty glass jars, beckoning fingers to dip. The joy that I get from using these is a quiet thrill that I look forward to in the mornings. I may add a few more vibrant shades to the mix, but for now, I'm perfectly happy with this small collection.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Summer Lovin' Tag

Hope you're all having a great summer! Denise recently did the tag that's been going around YouTube, and I thought that it would be fun to do as well. It's rainy and cool here all week, so I have to actively remind myself that it's still summer and that I should hold off on fall makeup and fashion. (Leather boots! Vampy lipsticks!)

1. Summer lipstick you're loving? I'm taking a break from the usual summer-favoured oranges and find myself reaching for bright pinkish lips. Nothing groundbreaking in the beauty world but a huge change of pace for me, personally.

Swatches left to right: Smashbox Fuchsia Flash Matte (reviewed), MAC Zen Rose and Joe Fresh Baie Sauvage (to be reviewed).

2. Summer nail polish you're loving? JINsoon Kookie White. I love head-to-toe whites in the summer, but stark whites on fingernails make me think of middle schoolers painting with White-Outs. JINsoon is becoming one of my favourite nail polish brands, and Kookie White is an interesting shade that has just the slightest hint of blue-grey mixed with white to give it an interesting dimension to a classic summer accessory.

3. Summer blush you're loving? Definitely BECCA Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle in Papaya/Topaz (reviewed). Gorgeous shimmer and colour in one swipe.

4. Favourite summer drink? The question originally asked for a favourite summer frappuccino from Starbucks, but that is so limiting. Their caramel crunch ribbon massacre is quite good on those days when I can't decide between having coffee or ice cream, but lately I just prefer a nice refreshing glass of mint and lemon infused water.

5. Favourite fake tan? I prefer real tans. I never pass up the chance to soak up more Vitamin D. It's the only way I can survive living in a place that is winter for half the year. But FINE. If I had to choose a fake tanner, I'd go with the one released by Clarins this past spring. It's pretty much foolproof because you mix a couple of drops into your regular night moisturizer and just apply before bed. Wake up to a subtly darker skin that looks perfectly natural. I use it on my neck and decollete because they're paler than my face. (Press sample featured.)

6. Favourite summer song? I think all Canadians are Olaf, hahaha!

7. Favourite summer accessory? I rarely wear jewellery, so my accessories consist of a pair of sunglasses (need a new one), light scarves and wrist watches. I'm really liking the scarf I picked up down at Carmel.

8. Favourite summer fragrance? Still loving Guerlain Terracotta. Click here to read about my long chase to find it.

9. Summer book you're loving? This isn't really a "summer" book, but my favourite light read this summer has been The Rosie Project by Gaeme Simsion. I didn't expect much from it, but it seriously made me LOL more than a few times and that's a pretty rare feat nowadays. A book that I've loved for years with the word "summer" in it is Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn. It's a sweet but not overly sappy coming-of-age story set in a medieval/fantasy world. It's like an anti-Game of Thrones, if you will.

10. What are you most excited to do this summer? It's difficult to top drinking wine non-stop for six days in California, so I'm not very excited for whatever is remaining of this summer, lol. August is shaping up to be mostly about personal planning which isn't the most fun. But I'm looking forward to two more months of fine weather/patio season and maybe catching King Lear at the Stratford Festival. (It's my favourite Shakespeare play and I've yet to see it performed live in a theatre.)

Peju Winery, Napa Valley

Do the tag if you're so inclined, or tell me in the comments below. Would love to see what your answers are! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Not that naked and not that flushed: Urban Decay NAKED Flushed in Strip

As I was preparing for my trip to San Francisco earlier this month, I developed a sudden longing for a sleek all-in-one face palette. I actually love the process of packing but despise weighing down bags with more than necessary. What was supposed to be a quick dip into Sephora found me circling the makeup aisles for a ridiculous length of time, trying to decide between the wildly popular Urban Decay NAKED Flushed palettes and the ever-so-tiresome trio of Laguna/Orgasm/highlighter newly packaged as The NARSissist Cheek Kit. The thing is, I'm a big fan of NARS Orgasm Blush and was looking for an excuse to put something NARS into my basket. On the other hand, UD NAKED palettes have a strange power to entice even the most anti-UD shopper. The shades looked pretty and the compact thin and sleek. Two out of three SAs voted for the UD, so I chose Strip, which contains a deep bronze shimmery bronzer, golden shimmer highlighter and deep mauve blush.

As blush fiends are wont to do, I chose Strip over Native and Naked because of the pretty blush. (Streak hadn't yet landed at that point.) I was attending a wedding in San Fran and spending the rest of my time in the Bay Area in casual mode. I thought that a neutral blush like this would suit for all purposes and didn't bother trying on any of the shades on my face. Mistake number one.

As you can see, it all seems fine on the arm swatches. The blush indeed is matte while the the highlighter and bronzer are quite shimmery. Now, I don't mind a bit of shimmer or bling even, but after I applied the highlighter, I felt like I needed to wear sunglasses. And while the shimmer in the bronzer seems more contained and not as obtrusive, this particular shade of bronzer ended up looking highly unflattering to my skin tone, making everything appear muddy even when very lightly swept all over. The blush itself was curiously muted and deadening as well, instead of adding a rosy flush. MUCH DISAPPOINT.

I also intensely disliked the texture of all three powders, as they kick up a lot of dust, and the lack of dividers in the pan wouldn't keep the shimmer from the bronzer and highlighter from floating into the blush, rendering its matte texture quite useless. Given how popular these palettes are, I was taken aback and thought that perhaps I was being too critical or somehow not using it properly. But no -- I like what I like, and what I like are powders that feel harder in the pan and more refined on the face.

I definitely kicked myself for not testing it out more thoroughly while at the store and promptly returned the palette after returning from SF. (I didn't bother taking it on the trip.) And I felt quite gratified to see that Sabrina of The Beauty Look Book had pretty much exactly the same feelings about these palettes as I did, although she tested the shades Native and Streak. Before this, I've never read a less than stellar review of these NAKED Flushed palettes, but as it often happens with makeup, it all boils down to preference. I'm not saying that it's a horrible palette, because thousands of other people think that these are amazing -- but the lesson learned here is that nothing beats first-hand testing, and I will not be making this silly rookie mistake again when it can be helped.

CAD$35, available at Sephora and select Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Philosophy Full of Promise for Eyes (+ Time in a Bottle)

This post features press samples.

Um, so a year ago, I was approached by the Philosophy PR to test out Full of Promise for Eyes, and lovely woman that she is, she told me to take my time to thoroughly test out the product and familiarize myself with its effects. I don't think that she quite meant for an entire year to pass, and I've been sitting on this review all this time because it's surprisingly difficult to review eye creams. In fact, before Full of Promise, I never really used an eye cream with much regularity.


It's not that the product is life-changing or anything hyperbolic. But life is changing. I've definitely felt effects of aging this past year, in ways that aren't as subtle as they were in previous years. One of the changes is a definite loss of moisture in the body. My eyes were always dry due to daily wear of contact lens, and now my once super oily and supple face suffers from noticeable dryness and dehydration if I don't moisturize diligently. That's where Philosophy stepped in to help.

Restoring Eye Duo for Upper-Lid Lifting and Under-Eye Firming

According to Sephora:

What it is:  A targeted eye treatment duo that helps lift the appearance of the uppereye area and firm the appearance of the undereye area. 

What it is formulated to do:  Full Of Promise™ For Eyes offers a breakthrough two-in-one solution for aging eyes in need of visible lift and firmness. The upper-lid lifting gel helps improve the appearance of droopy upper eyelids for a more youthful, awake look. The undereye firming cream helps replump and firm undereyes while noticeably smoothing the appearance of crepey looking skin. The entire eye area is deeply hydrated, feels supported, looks replenished, and radiates a more rested appearance. 

It is also formulated without parabens and sulfates and has been ophthalmologically tested for safety. Sounds good, right?

I really like the simple and sleek packaging, and there's a cute little picture on either end to tell you which side is which. Personally, I'm partial to heavy glass jars just because they sit more nicely on counter tops and vanities, but the airtight pumps should be a big bonus for those who care to preserve the integrity and performance of the product for as long as possible.

Lower Eye

Upper Eye

The gel for the upper eyes is almost balmy in consistency and instantly feels smooth on the skin without feelings of heaviness or greasiness. I don't have particularly droopy lids yet and wouldn't rely solely on a skin care product to take care of that issue, but for those who are looking for an eye cream that won't melt under makeup, you might find that this balm is just the right texture. I don't find it particularly hydrating, but it almost acts like an eye makeup primer when applied in the morning, without pilling or balling up as some skin care products are prone to.

For me, the real star of Full of Promise for Eyes is the lovely cream for lower eyes. It has a nice fluid texture without being watery or too thick and absorbs nicely into the skin with gentle finger pats. In fact, I liked the feel of this cream so much that I started to apply it on both upper and lower eyes, disregarding the firming aspect of the upper gel almost completely. My normal routine was to apply the upper gel to the upper eyes in the morning and use the lower cream for both upper and lower eyes in the evening. My orbital areas were pretty happy with this treatment, especially throughout the long Canadian winter when I was plagued by odd dry patches. I found half a pump of the lower cream for each eye was more than sufficient, and I was satisfied to see absolutely no sign of those dreaded milia that form due to eye creams sometimes being overly rich. Used daily, I would say that the tube lasted a good 5-6 months.

I was never a believer in eye creams before, and I'm still not really when it comes to claims of being able to tighten and lift sagging flesh. I think that we should treat the skin more gently and keep it well hydrated without using products that are irritating or potentially harmful -- and for that purpose, I find Philosophy's Full of Promise to be a very good eye treatment despite not being able to fulfill its primary claims of lifting and firming. I know that sounds pretty crazy, but it works really nicely as a simple eye cream for plumping and hydration, and I simply do not believe any cream in the world can fight gravity and constant muscular activity which produces emphasized lines. Anyway, this tube is currently used up to the last drop and sitting in my empties bag, and I keep looking at the price tag and considering a purchase. The only reason I haven't immediately replaced it is because I have other press samples to test out and I'm not crazy about the drier texture of the upper eye gel. But if that lower eye cream were to be sold separately -- mine, mine, mine.

CAD$79, 7.5mL/0.25oz per each side. Made in USA. 

Ingredients (upper eye gel): aqua/water/eau, butylene glycol, glycerin, silica, kaolin, bifida ferment lysate, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, angelica archangelica root extract, citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) peel extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, coffea arabica (coffee) seed extract, pongamia pinnata seed extract, kigelia africana fruit extract, tocopherol, sodium hydroxide, 1,2-hexanediol, acrylates/c12-22 alkyl methacrylate copolymer, lecithin, mica, ascorbyl glucoside, disodium edta, pisum sativum (pea) extract, caprylic/capric triglyceride, adenosine, pentylene glycol, sodium citrate, alcohol, phaeodactylum tricornutum, sodium benzoate, tin oxide, acetic acid, maltodextrin, magnesium aluminum silicate, xanthan gum, lactic acid, peg-8, citric acid, sclerotium gum, sorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbic acid, caprylyl glycol, phenoxyethanol, titanium dioxide (ci 77891).

Ingredients (under eye firming cream): aqua/water/eau, cyclopentasiloxane, butyrospermum  parkii (shea) butter, glycerin, butylene glycol, hydrogenated polyisobutene, glyceryl stearate, behenyl alcohol, ascorbyl glucoside, peg-40 stearate, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, silica, squalane, dimethiconol, secale cereale (rye) seed extract, hydrolyzed soy flour, kigelia africana fruit extract, aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) seed extract, pongamia pinnata seed extract, tocopherol,  acetic acid, acetyl dipeptide-1 cetyl ester, hexapeptide-11, angelica archangelica root extract, citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) peel extract, bifida ferment lysate, caprylyl glycol, 1,2-hexanediol, vinyl dimethicone/methicone silsesquioxane crosspolymer, sodium hydroxide, polysorbate 60, glycol distearate, mica, cyclohexasiloxane, sorbitan stearate, lecithin, citric acid, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, disodium edta, caprylic/capric triglyceride, adenosine, alcohol, phaeodactylum tricornutum, laureth-3, tin oxide, sodium benzoate, coffea arabica (coffee) seed extract, hydroxyethylcellulose, maltodextrin, magnesium aluminum silicate, lactic acid, peg-8, sclerotium gum, sorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, caffeine, phenoxyethanol, titanium dioxide (ci 77891).

Daily Age-Defying Serum

To start, you can read all about it on Sephora, and to end, in greater detail on an excellent blog post by Maggie (Maggie's Makeup). I was sent a small bottle of a pre-mixed lab sample, so I can't speak to its long-term performance. But in general, I quite liked it and was sufficiently intrigued enough to consider a full size purchase. Not wanting to overdo it, I chose to use one small pump to pat all over the face as a serum before moisturizing at night only, and I did feel that the face felt plumper as well as brighter during the times it was used with regularity. Serums were also something I never used much prior to this past year, and these days I'm of the thought that it's a must-have for my skin type in its current condition and age. My general preference for serums is lightweight, water-based formula with plenty of antioxidants, and Time in a Bottle certainly fits the bill.

CAD$79, 40mL/1.3oz. 

Ingredientsaqua/water/eau, dimethicone, alcohol denat., bis-peg-18 methyl ether dimethylsilane, cyclopentasiloxane, peg-8, butylene glycol, polyethylene, glycerin, dimethiconol, methoxy peg-18, camellia sinensis leaf extract, coffea arabica (coffee) seed extract, pongamia pinnata seed extract, angelica archangelica root extract, citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) peel extract, punica granatum fruit extract, plankton extract, ptfe, bifida ferment lysate, peg-40 hydrogenated castor oil, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, squalane, ascorbyl palmitate, silica dimethyl silylate, tocopherol, polysorbate 60, lecithin, sclerotium gum, hydrolyzed soy flour, retinyl palmitate, propylene glycol, caprylyl glycol, micrococcus lysate, bacillus ferment, magnesium aluminum silicate, maltodextrin, trisodium edta, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, disodium edta, sodium phosphate, sodium hydroxide, potassium phosphate, potassium chloride, sorbic acid, adenosine, sodium benzoate, citric acid, parfum/fragrance, 1,2-hexanediol, silica, xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, sodium chloride, alcohol, acetic acid, phenoxyethanol, bht, mica, titanium dioxide (ci 77891).

In Canada, Philosophy skin care products are available at SephoraHudson's Bay and select Shoppers Drug Mart.