Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Scrub: Review

While a lot of people seem to be obsessed with homemade scrubs (made out of sugar, olive oil, and the like), I prefer to spend the money and get them from stores. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but the few scrubs I tried to make myself were a fuss to prepare, and unpleasant to use. They left my skin oily for long hours, made a slippery mess on the shower floor, and went bad very quickly. Although I enjoy using natural products for other purposes, I don't plan on venturing into scrub-making again, especially now that I have found one that I really (really!) enjoy: the Brazil Nut Body Scrub from The Body Shop. It costs C$20 for 200ml here in Canada, but I never buy The Body Shop products at full price, as they often have amazing sales where you can get their products for 50% off (plus the 10% discount offered with the Love Your Body rewards card).

First of all, the scent is heavenly. The company describes it as "sweet and nutty", and it is, but those two alone words do not do it justice. You really need to smell it for yourself to understand; and, if you did, tell me if you love it as much as I do. It is sweet and warm, without going overboard like other sugary and artificial smells of baked goods. It is pleasant and comforting, especially well-suited for the colder months. The texture is lovely as well. The scrub manages to exfoliate and feel hydrating at the same time, as the creamy product is mixed in with "evening primrose seeds" and "crushed walnut shells". The latter are quite large and rough (in a good way), while the seeds are hardly felt at all: the overall experience is not irritating and the slightest, and leaves my skin soft and smelling great, all of this without any oily residue. Would I repurchase? For me, it's a definite "yes".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes (with White Tea Extract): Review

I do not use cleansing wipes daily, and I know they don't have the brightest reputation in the beauty world, but I enjoy having a pack of them around. They can be of great help in certain situations: when I'm sleeping over at a friend's place, for example, and don't want to carry a bottle of make-up remover and cotton pads in my bag. Then, there are the days where I'm too lazy/tired to go through my entire routine and would gladly shorten it by a few minutes. I also work as a movie extra from time to time, where I get my hair and make-up heavily done. When the shoot is over, the first thing I do is run to the closest bathroom and wipe away the layers of foundation and powder that have been applied and reapplied throughout the day. Last time, I had bright blue eyeshadow and bold eyeliner on, and I was glad to have something to clean my face before taking the subway home! In short, I think that make-up removing wipes can be handy for occasional use, and I like to test out a different brand every time I repurchase a pack. My latest choice were the Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea Extract from Burt's Bees (around C$10 in drugstores for 30 towelettes).

What did I think? For one, the packaging is very nice. I love when make-up wipes come with a plastic cap instead of a flimsy sticker. When a product is a staple for on-the-go skincare, its packaging should stay put while being tossed around in a woman's handbag, and this one definitely does. It also deserves extra points for being cruelty-free. But that's about it.

Don't get me wrong, these wipes are not awful; but their 3/5 overall rating on MakeupAlley is well-deserved. While they don't irritate my skin and, with some effort, manage to remove my make-up, I will not be repurchasing. The make-up I wear day-to-day is very light and easy (no foundation, no eyeliner, no waterproof products), so it should not be a hassle to take off, and I'd rather not be pulling on my lids so much just to remove mascara. In this case, it would be quicker to soak a cotton pad in make-up remover, which defeats the purpose of the product. These towelettes are a touch too dry for my taste, and a more saturated version would probably be more effective. I also have to mention the smell: a strong, sweet fragrance that brings a glass of lemonade to mind. And, while I love the drink, the scent of this product is more overpowering than refreshing.

What are your favorite make-up removing wipes?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chanel Charming Ombres Matelassées de Chanel (Holiday 2013 Palette): First Impressions and First Try

What better way to inaugurate my new blog than to introduce my most recent make-up splurge? It is none other than the lovely limited edition Charming palette, the highlight (in my opinion) of their Holiday 2013 collection: Nuit Infinie. Yes, it is another one of those "natural eye" palettes, a gradation of "safe" shades of beige and brown and grey. However, since I am far from being the most diligent eyeshadow wearer there is, this kind of color selection never fails to sway me. I have never owned Chanel eyeshadows before, but the gorgeous colours and luxurious feel of this palette managed to break my resolve.

Of course, the presentation is flawless. I always thought that Chanel packaging was the most beautiful of all, greatly surpassing that of Dior make-up, for instance. A classic black case, their iconic logo, a nicely-sized mirror: practical and elegant at once. These shadows are particularly nice to look at: embossed as they are with a familiar quilted pattern, they bring to mind, among others, the brand's famous bags. As for the price, it is excessively high. From what I saw while browsing other reviews, it is sold for $80 in the United States. Here in Canada (precisely, at The Bay), it was slightly lower: C$75, which as we speak amounts to around US$71. An unexpected price difference, considering that it usually goes the opposite way for us Canadians, who have to pay more for most products (if you know why this palette is cheaper in Canada, then please let me know!). To be honest, I would not have bought it at either price – but I had a C$30 reduction saved up on my HBC Point Card, and decided to use it to bring down the price to C$45. Still expensive, I grant you; but much more tolerable.

The contents of the palette are as follows: 9g of shadows, and two double-ended applicators, which I don't predict I will use unless I won't have my brushes at hand. You can get a closer look at the pretty shades in the picture above; sadly, I'm completely incapable of swatching things, so you can click over to The Beauty Look Book or Temptalia for an accurate look at how each shade looks on the skin. Except for the golden color in the middle, which has a fair amount of festive shimmer (but looks gorgeous, and not overpowering, on the eyes), the shadows only have a hint of it, subtle and wearable. 

I attempted to create a first eye look using all five shadows (#1 as highlight, #2 all over the lid, #3 as a touch of shimmer at the center of the lid, and #4 and #5 in the crease). This was the result:

Make-up worn in these pictures: Chanel Charming palette, MAC eyebrow pencil (Fling), Maybelline Volum' Express mascara (Black/Brown), Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch concealer (Ivory) and Nivea Lip Butter (Vanilla & Macadamia).

I personally really like this first attempt at a look, and I can say I truly love this palette. The shadows are smooth and easily blendable, and I find that the color selection suits my eye and skin color very well (although it also looks stunning on darker-skinned and chestnut-eyed girls, as demonstrated by Radhika from The Weekend Ramblings). You can work with the colors as you please, leaving the eyes very natural or, on the contrary, creating a full-on smoky eye. Now, is it worth the price? As I said previously, I would not have purchased it for $75 or $80, even if it is the ideal palette for me. It is simply too much, especially if, like me, you own similar colors in other neutral palettes. However, I'm really glad I got to use my discount on this, because it is a beauty and I can already see it becoming a staple of mine. So, if the price doesn't bother you, or if you don't have something similar in your make-up drawer, then by all means, go for it! But do it fast, because they're selling out: when I purchased mine last Tuesday, my counter had only 4 of them left.