March 26, 2013

Clarins Rouge Éclat Lipstick - Woodrose

Clarins has come out with a new line of lipsticks for Spring/Summer, to coincide with the Rouge Éclat limited edition collection. Like another recent addition to the line (the BB Cream), the Rouge Éclat lipsticks are supposed to have anti-aging and protective qualities. They are full of good-for-you ingredients - the kind of stuff that I probably should be eating, but hey, I like my Gilmore Girls diet, so I'll stick with rubbing virtuous ingredients on my face. :P

According to the website, these ingredients include: phytosphingosine, which promotes ceramide production, tocopherol, which has an anti-radical function, and gamma oryzanol, which boosts micro-circulation and restores radiance.

I was sent this lovely browned rose, called Woodrose, to test out.

Clarins Rouge Éclat Lipstick Woodrose

Clarins Rouge Éclat Lipstick Woodrose

I really like the elegant, swanky packaging, with the combination of metal and semi-clear casing. You guys know I like my bling classed up, and this definitely fits the bill. The metal casing is a magnet for fingerprints, but I like patting my makeup lovingly, so I can sneak a little polish in as well.

As to the performance: it glides on, feels incredibly rich and smooth, and hydrates nicely.

It reminds me a bit of the Nude lipsticks from Dior, albeit more creamy and less slippy, with better adherence to the lips and somewhat more opaque pigmentation - not full, but definitely more of a lipstick than a lip butter, despite the moisturizing feel. It doesn't slide around or bleed, and it has good payoff with one swipe. It lasts about as long as most lipsticks do on me (4 hours), and fades evenly. The finish is a satiny cream, that loses some of the satin over time.

There are fifteen colours currently available, all eminently wearable. It does have a sweet, sort of fruity fragrance. It 's not faint, though it does dissipate after a while.

Clarins Rouge Éclat Lipstick Woodrose swatchClarins Rouge Éclat Lipstick Woodrose swatch

Availability: At the Bay, Pharmaparix/SDM, Murale, Nordstrom. Price is 26$ USD and 27$ CAD.

Pros: Beautiful medium pigment and creamy, hydrating formula. Natural, flattering colour range. Easy and very comfortable to wear, while looking polished.

Cons: The packaging, while chic, does attract finger smudges. The fragrance may be problematic.

(The item was sent to me by the brand to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

March 20, 2013

Spring Sakura ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils

Does cleaning your face with oil sound counter-productive and strange? If so, I understand. I felt much the same way until a few years ago, when I first discovered the traditional Oil Cleansing Method. It turns out that when done right, cleaning your skin with oil is an incredibly effective way of removing impurities and clearing pores, while maintaining the natural PH balance of skin (and therefore the skin barrier that allows us to retain moisture).

It took me some experimenting with a few different products and methods to land on what works best for me. For one, I had to forgo the traditional method of using hot water and a washcloth to remove the oil. It's far too rough for my sensitive, redness-prone skin. Instead, I found cleansing oils that emulsify with water, which are massaged onto dry skin, then moistened and massaged a little more, and then rinsed cleanly off. Discovering these was a complete game-changer for my skincare, and I have been loyal to oil cleansing ever since.

I've tried a few different brands over the years, and have coveted the Shu Uemura oils for nearly as long. After all, the Shu version is one of the originators; the first one was introduced to the Japanese market it 1967, based on an oil cleanser Mr. Uemura discovered while working in Hollywood during the 1950s. I was ridiculously thrilled to be offered the chance to review part of the ob for Shu Uemura set.

There are six different cleansing oil formulations currently available, with four being offered in the limited edition ob packaging. I received the following three to test:

Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/O Advanced Formula (green bottle/box) for aging concerns, Whitefficient Clear Brightening Gentle Cleansing Oil (blue bottle/box) for dull skin, and Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil (pink bottle/box) for combination and oily skin.

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

The boxes and bottles have artwork that represents three different, mythological tales.

The pink is the story of Sakura Hime, the Cherry Blossom Princess, who sleeps through the seasons, only to awaken to Spring and to dance the flowers to life. The green is the story of Midori Hime, the Forest Princess, who nurses wounded animals (and humans) back to health. The blue is the story of Umi Hume, the Ocean Princess, who is sweet by nature but fights to protect her realm.

I think the art and the stories are sweet and lovely, but if the style is not your cup of tea, all of the oils are also available in the regular, unadorned packaging.

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

ob for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils spring 2013

But lets move on from form to function, shall we? I should mention first that all of these oils contain mineral oil as the primary cleansing oil. I have no problem using mineral oil on my skin, but if that is a concern for you...well, this may not be for you. (Personally, I think that allergies and preferences aside, the concerns about mineral oil are not at all in line with actual scientific data on its effects and performance. But that's a rant for another time.)

I tested each of these oils for a period of four days each, morning and night, to get a decent idea of how they work.

Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil (pink bottle/box) for combination and oily skin.

Contains sakura leaf extract for its anti-inflammatory effect, salicylic acid for exfoliation, and cherry extract for more exfoliation.

This is my personal favourite. Let me be clear: I LOVE THIS. SO MUCH. You-will-pry-this-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands love.

 It is extremely light-weight, slips right over the skin, and has a faintly floral fragrance. The pore-cleansing effects were immediately visible - when I towelled off my skin, I saw that the clogged pores had diminished drastically, and overall the pores looked cleaner and smaller. This is honestly the only cleanser I've ever used that has had such a dramatic and apparent effect on my pores. It's like a little micro-hoover went around sucking out all the ooky stuff.

This also took off my makeup with ease, and left my skin feeling silky-smooth, though still in need of moisturizer.

Whitefficient Clear Brightening Gentle Cleansing Oil (blue bottle/box) for dull skin.

Contains prune extracts to lower melanin transfer from lower layers of the skin, algae and vitamin C to brighten skin.

This was similar to the Pore Clarifying Gentle Cleansing Oil in terms of overall texture and performance. It removed makeup and cleaned my skin as thoroughly. I did not notice that the pore-clearing effect was quite as strong, though my skin felt just as smooth afterwards. I actually like the scent of this a little more - it's a fresh, watery, very faintly floral. I would love to have it in perfume form.

I can't really speak to the long-term brightening effect, as I did not test it long enough, but my skin did look refreshed.

Cleansing Beauty Oil Premium A/O Advanced Formula (green bottle/box) for aging concerns.

Contains ginko leaf extract for its antioxidant and micro-circulation properties, and green tea extract to revitalize skin.

This is a heavier, cushy-feeling oil, which is expected as it is rich in a variety of plant oils, including jojoba and macadamia. Both of those are excellent for moisturizing dry skin, especially jojoba, which is the closest oil to our natural skin oils. If you have dry, dehydrated, mature skin, I think this is probably the ideal cleansing oil for you. After using it, my skin felt softened and like I needed less moisturizer than usual. I prefer the pore-busting effects of the other two oils, but for skin that needs some pampering to go along with the deep-cleaning, this is perfect. If you have oilier skin, or are prone to clogged pores, this may be too rich. I will be passing it on to my mom, who will revel in its skin-loving qualities.

It has a more herbal scent, which is in line with the concept of a Forest Princess, but which was my least favourite of the three.

Overall, I am SO happy that I had the chance to try these guy out, and I am especially blown away with the Pore Clarifying/Cherry Blossom Princess Cleansing Oil. Combined with my BHA/AHA exfoliating regimen, it is going to kick ass and take names over the next few weeks!

Availability: On the Canadian Shu Uemura website, as well as the US one, though it seems the Premium A/O is not currently up with the ob packaging. Prices range between 79$ CAD and 98$ CAD.

Pros: Cleans skin and takes makeup off like nobody's business, with various levels of pore-clearing strength. Doesn't leave skin feeling stripped, with a range of options for dry to oily skin. Ridiculously cute packaging.

Cons: Contains mineral oil, which for some is a deal-breaker. The scents may be a problem if you're sensitive, or if they're not your preference. I can't think of anything else - just make sure to pick the right formula for your skin type.

So what about you guys? Have you tried cleansing oils? Are you already fans of the Shu versions, or are there other staples in your beauty closet?

(The items were sent to me by the brand to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

March 18, 2013

Spring Sakura ob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine - Princess Coral

First of all - how awesome is it that Shu Uemura finally has a Canadian e-commerce site?? They do carry Shu at some Holt Renfrew locations and at the Sephora in the Toronto Eaton Centre, but it's so nice to have an easy ordering option for those that are Shu-obsessed and not geographically-blessed. My own experience with the brand was sadly limited, with only a palette, some eyeshadows and an eyelash curler under my belt. All things I love, by the by, so when I was sent a few things to try out from the new limited edition collection, I about fell over from excitement.

Today I want to show you one of the items, a lipstick from the ob for Shu Uemura collection. If you've read Tracy's post over at Beauty Reflections (and if you haven't, go take a gander), you might be familiar with the concept behind the collection. If not, this blurb from the site should give you an idea:

"On a constant quest for innovation and beauty, shu uemura invites you to a magical world for spring 2013. Inspired by Japanese artist ob and the young creators of her generation comes a limited-edition collection that celebrates the rise of a new era in art. in-between reality and a dream beckons you into ob’s creative universe, a world that appears normal at first sight but is filled with fantasy and delight; a world that showcases the emerging vision of a generation of creators who came of age in a radical new digital world."

I love the idea of makeup (itself a form of art and expression) and art being interlinked, and I almost always enjoy artist-themed collections. This one is no exception, a dreamy wonderland of pastel shades and whimsical design. The packaging (especially for the Cleansing Oils, review coming soon!) and colour scheme is so perfectly suited to spring.

The Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine in Princess Coral:

ob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine Princess Coral

ob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine Princess Coral

ob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine Princess Coral

Princess Coral is, true to the name, a light coral pink, with milky undertone taking the brightness of the coral down a notch. This is beautiful on fair skin, and would look fantastic on tanned skin - a modern take on the 60s California Beach Girl lip.

The pigmentation is about medium, with substantial though not fully opaque coverage on the first pass. I was surprised by how closely the swatch on my arm matched up with the shade on my lips, since my natural pigmentation tends to mess with a lot of lipsticks. (The tube colour actually looks a lot darker in the pictures than it does in real life, especially the middle picture. The last one is closest to the way it actually looks.)

This is a very creamy, slick-feeling lipstick with a hydrating effect. It feels incredibly smooth upon application, gliding so easily that my tendency was to over-apply and get smeared out borders. The best application method is to dab it on the centre of my lips, and then finish off the edges with a lip brush. The look then is soft, shiny and precise. The lasting power is shorter than average for a lipstick due to the ultra-creamy, glossy finish.

ob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine Princess Coral swatchob for Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine Princess Coral ok

Availability: At the Shu Uemura website. Price is 36$ CAD and 30$ USD.

Pros: Adorable packaging, beautiful springtime shade. Cream/gloss finish that is easy to wear and flattering across the board. Comfortable, hydrating formula.

Cons: High slip factor may require some initial care in application, with longevity being less than average.

(This item was sent to me by the brand to consider for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)

March 11, 2013

My week in Youtube - Haul, Drugstore Lip Palette and Perfume Collection

I just posted a youtube video featuring my most recent acquisitions. Can I just say that the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipsticks are by far my favourite drugstore lipsticks? The cream finish ones, anyway. Also, if you're keen to see me almost have a coronary due to a makeup mishap...

If you like to travel with multiple lip options but don't have room for 7 tubes of lipstick, this drugstore version of a lip palette might be an option for you. Also works for those annoying little last bits of lipstick, where you want to throw out the tube but don't want to waste the product.

And then there's my perfume collection. Yeah. (Of course, I completely forgot to include one of the clips, so my Arcana perfumes box is missing.)

March 03, 2013

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25

Clarins has officially jumped on the BB bandwagon for Spring/Summer, with their brand new BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25. The press release indicated that this cream "illuminates, smoothes and creates a more even skin tone" and that "imperfections and red areas become less noticeable". It's also chock-full of skin-benefiting ingredients like organic kiwi extract, katafray bark extract, and hyaluronic acid, and boasts a 100% mineral, broad-spectrum sun protection filter.

Those are some pretty awesome claims and ingredients. Does the promise hold true?

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25

In a word: yes.

The Clarins BB Cream feels amazing. It has next to no tangible weight or texture, and appears to vanish like air as you rub it into your skin. I literally couldn't tell I had anything on, whether by weight or by touch. I assume this is due to the silicone content, but it doesn't have that greasy-dry feel that some silicone-heavy formulations lean toward. 

The finish is demi-satin, meaning it will slightly mattify oilier areas, while adding a natural radiance to the skin overall. It's not moisturizing as such, but the moisture-attracting properties of Katafray bark extract and the hyaluronic acid likely contribute to the slight plumping effect I noticed around my eyes, which seemed to make the dry, fine lines less apparent.

The coverage is light, just enough to smooth out redness and some general unevenness. Something about the finish seems to lightly blur out fine lines and pores. Your skin doesn't look like a blank, lifeless canvas, but like a better version of the natural you. It's not likely to meet your needs if you need to cover significant discolouration, but if you want boosted, naturally luminous skin and can make do with concealer for the problem spots, this is fabulous. 

It does have a scent, sort of fresh, slightly floral and beachy. If you're sensitive to added fragrance, this would be an issue. Personally, I loooooove the smell and wish it came in a body splash. As it is, I was trying to huff my own face, which made for some awkward looks from strangers.

This is also by far the best-feeling sunscreen option I have ever tried. I can't think of many sunscreens that are this weightless while not being drying, and I love that the SPF is broad-spectrum, non-chemical and strong enough for everyday wear. I feel like this will be my go-to in the summer, when I want that SPF and as little coverage as I can get away with, especially with a tan.

And actually, that brings me to what might be problematic for some people - the shade options. I received this in 01 Light, which is darker than my NC 20 skintone. Once it's blended in it gives a nice, sun-kissed effect to my skin that I love, and heightens that blurring of imperfections (much like a real tan tends to do). But it looks best if I work it down my neck, otherwise there is a visible difference in certain lighting. Not quite at the level of a foundation mismatch, because it is such a sheer product, but like I overdid the bronzer.

I think this will work best for folks a shade  deeper than I am, but those of a porcelain persuasion will likely have to work with this a little more, or use it specifically to give their skin a golden glow. There appear to be three shades available on the Clarins website, including 02 Medium and 03 Dark (03 Warm in the US), so there are good options for those in the medium to medium-deep range. Now there appear to only be two, in 01 Light and 03 Warm.

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25 swatch

As you can see, it applies a bit too dark to be a perfect match, though the difference doesn't read as obvious once it's on the skin and blended down the neck.

Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25 swatch

The before and after shot above should give you an idea of the coverage level, the slight mattifying effect and the general look of healthy radiance it has to offer. If you click on the pictures to see the bigger image, you will also see how it smooths out the fine lines around my eyes.

Availability: It's already out at The Bay and on the Clarins website, and should be at Pharmprix/SDM and Murale locations soon. Price is 40$ USD and 43$ CAD.

Pros: Incredibly lightweight nonexistent texture. Optically reduces the look of redness and imperfections. The ingredients work to keep moisture in the skin, making fine lines look less apparent. An excellent sunscreen option, as it has a broad-spectrum, non-chemical SPF agent, and is utterly weightless.

Cons: The shade range won't work for very pale skin. It's not an all-in-one if you need more than a light coverage level. The scent may be bothersome if you prefer (or require) products to be fragrance-free.

(This item was provided by the brand to be considered for review. This post is not sponsored or compensated.)