Friday, September 30, 2011

Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil Review

Bobbi Brown's Cleansing Oil is a light, gentle, gorgeously fragranced cleansing oil made with olive oil, jojoba oil and ginger root extract. It claims to dissolve all makeup, dirt and oil, leaving the skin refreshed and moisturized, no matter the skin type.

I bought two bottles of this at the Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale I attended back in June where they were selling it 2 for 1 at the price of $25 (regularly, a bottle is $39 USD) and I've been using it almost every day since. 

The way you use it is to pump it into your hands and apply it to your dry skin, massaging it gently all over to break down the makeup, oil and dirt on your face. You can work it a little more over areas like your eyes and lips where mascara and lipstick tend to hang on for dear life. Then you add a little bit of water to emulsify it and massage a little longer. Finally, splash warm water to your face to rinse. Your skin should feel clean, smooth and soft. 

I was surprised that using an oil didn't leave my combination skin feeling oily at all. In fact, it's soothing and moisturizing. It does a great job of completely removing my makeup at the end of the day and it smells just lovely. 

The Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil is 6.7 fl. oz/200 mL and I'm about a third of the way through my first bottle. I use 1-2 pumps depending on how much cleansing my face needs, so it's lasted about three months which is pretty good value. 

The only complaint I have with the Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil is with the bottle itself. With a pump you'd think that the oil wouldn't get all over the bottle but it does. There must be an issue with the mechanism because there is a oily residue all over the bottle and it can stain any natural surface such as wood. 

Has anyone else tried the Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil? 


Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System vs. Clarisonic Skincare Brush

Olay as part of their Pro-X line, recently put out their version of the motorized skin care brush, a gadget made popular by the high end brand Clarisonic. I have personally been using the Clarisonic now for the past 3 years and so was interested to know how the Olay version stacked up to the Clarisonic. The Olay brush was sent to me for review by Olay, the Clarisonic Skincare Brush was purchased.

As with any good comparison, it's helpful to look at the stats:

1. Price - this is where the most dramatic difference occurs. Olay's brush retails for approximately $34.99 CA, which is a whopping 84% cheaper than the standard Clarisonic ($218.00 CA). As well, Olay's version, being a drugstore purchase goes on sale every now and then. In fact London Drugs recently had it on sale for $24.99 CA. The best you can do with the Clarisonic is purchase it when Sephora has 10 or 15% off for Beauty Insiders/VIB's. In addition the replacement heads for Olay's brush are approximately $9.99 CA, while a single replacement head for the Clarisonic is $25.00 CA.

2. Brush Head Size - The head of the Olay brush measures1 1/4" in diameter, while the Clarisonic measures 1 9/16".

Clarisonic Skincare (top), Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing brush (bottom)

3. Body Size - The Olay systems body is about 5" long, and 1.5" wide, which makes the tool feel on the small side in your palm. The Clarisonic's body is about 7" long and 2.5" wide, which makes it feel on the medium large side.

Clarisonic Skincare (top), Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing brush (bottom)

4. Power - Olay's system is powered by 2 AA batteries (which are included), while the Clarisonic is fully rechargeable by the included wall charger.

5. Speed and Programs - Olay's brush has two speeds and one way of moving which translates into the brush head simply rotating either slower or faster. The Clarisonic has a built in timer which tells you how long you should use the brush on different areas of your face, and two different types of motion - some areas of the brush rotate while others oscillate back and forth.

6. Claims 


"Designed by a team of dermatologists along with Olay, the Advanced Cleansing System is as effective as a system sold by skin professionals for nearly $200.* (system with normal/dry cleanser) Professionally and clinically designed to cleanse 6 times better** (than basic cleansing), the Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System also sets your skin up for supersonic anti-aging moisturization. ( Helps maximize the immediate hydrating effectiveness of your anti-aging moisturizer.)†"


"The sonic frequency moves Clarisonic's soft, gentle brush back and forth at more than 300 times per second, thoroughly clearing pores and skin surface. Here are some of the benefits this revolutionary skincare tool delivers: removes makeup six times better than traditional methods, clears pores and reduces the appearance of pore size, cleanses so thoroughly that skincare products absorb better and creates noticeably healthier looking skin."

The Verdict

Please bear in mind this is my opinion based on my experience only. I have no scientific way of verifying a) the standard claims of either brand, and b) my own observations. That being said here are my findings:

1. Both brushes made my skin feel smoother and better exfoliated than normal cleansing (washing with hands only). I do find that my skin feels the smoothest after using the Clarisonic.

2. The Clarisonic definitely has more "guts", that is to say the brush head moves much faster and with greater power than that of the Olay tool, which means more exfoliation. The Olay brush seemed very slow and weak in comparison to the Clarisonic.

3. The Clarisonic, with it's larger brush head covers a greater area than the Olay brush, which again contributes to greater exfoliation.

4. When I cleanse with the Clarisonic, I do notice that other skincare products I use are absorbed better. The best example of this is with the Differin XP Gel I use. Differin XP can cause slight peeling and I feel like this exfoliating action is far greater after cleansing with the Clarisonic (as opposed to hand washing).

If you want a tool to help you clean and exfoliate your skin beyond regular washing, the Olay brush is a good place to start. It definitely provides more thorough cleansing and exfoliation than washing with hands alone. In my opinion, the Olay Pro-X brush offers good value and is practical in its affordability. However, having used both, I cannot say they are equivalent tools. The Clarisonic, with it's oscillating head and greater power, gives my skin a polish the Olay brush didn't. To put it another way - the Olay Pro-X brush achieves cleansing and exfoliation beyond washing with hands, but I think you could get close to the same level of cleaning if you diligently used another exfoliating tool, such as a microfibre cloth or a manual cleansing brush. The Clarisonic, in my opinion, offers a thoroughness of cleansing that would be impossible to get with any other type of manual exfoliation. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Original Beauty Blender Review

The Original Beauty Blender is an update on your typical wedge makeup sponge. It's a teardrop-shaped sponge that claims to give you a flawless application of foundation, concealer and cream blushes. I was sent one recently to try out by

The Beauty Blender was created by Hollywood makeup artist Rea Ann Silva and has (or at least has been used on) a host of celebrity endorsers including Beyonce, Shakira, Betty White and Queen Latifah. Included with the Beauty Blender includes an instructional/promotional postcard (above and below).

Included with the Beauty Blender is a custom-cleanser as the sponge needs to be washed after every use.  The Blender Cleanser can be used to clean regular makeup sponges as well as makeup brushes. 

The cleanser comes with a platform pump which you depress to get the cleanser out. I'll talk more about the sponge-cleansing process later.

You can buy the Beauty Blender in the Beauty Blender/Blender Cleanser duo ($37 CDN), in the Beauty Blender duo (two sponges) ($28 CDN) or on its own ($21). The 5 oz. cleanser can also be purchased on its own ($19). You can buy the Beauty Blender products on the Beauty Blender website, or

The Beauty Blender comes in one colour - hot pink - but is otherwise fairly similar in texture to those little wedge-shaped makeup sponges. 

The Beauty Blender website has an instructional video on how to use it and it's worth taking a look at before you use it for the first time. There are instructions on the postcard that comes with the Beauty Blender as well.

You have to dampen the sponge before using it. Otherwise it'll soak up all your product. The Beauty Blender swells when it's wet, as shown below.



You can see how much it expands when it's wet.

The sponge is egg/teardrop-shaped which makes it easy to hold onto and use. The rounded bottom is great for your cheeks and forehead while the pointed end is good for getting into smaller corners such as under the eye and around the nose. 

Beauty Blender instructions:

There is also an instructional video telling you how to clean the Beauty Blender. You press it down onto the applicator platform on each "dirty" end to make sure there is cleanser inside the sponge. Then you work it gently to lather and loosen the product inside. Then you rinse and rinse again until it's completely clear of cleanser and product. Then you let it air-dry.

Whew! OK, that was a complicated explanation and that's my first point to make about the Beauty Blender. What a complicated little tool! Does a makeup sponge really need to be so high-maintenance? 

As for how it works, I do find that it does blend out my cream and liquid makeup very, very nicely. I used it with my tinted moisturizer, primer and to blend out concealer and it really gives a smooth, soft, blended appearance to the product application. Even if you prefer to use your fingers or a brush to apply your product to your skin, you can use the Beauty Blender to smooth and blend afterwards. The Beauty Blender can be used with any cream or liquid product, including cream blushes, cream and liquid highlighters and cream bronzers. Anything you want to blend, really.

I do find that I need to clean it after each use, which is a bit of a pain. It takes a bit of effort to clean and another note is that the colour of the sponge comes out with each cleaning. This isn't good if the colour comes out when you're using it on your face. You don't want to tinge your foundation or concealer with hot pink.

The Beauty Blender can be recycled via the Beauty Sender recycling program.

Overall, I would recommend the Beauty Blender, although I don't think I would personally buy this. It elevates your product application and is definitely an improvement over using a cheap latex makeup sponge but I don't see much of a difference between using a makeup brush to apply your product and this one. It seems unnecessary if you already use a brush.

Have you tried the Beauty Blender? Tell us what you love or hate about it!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OCC Lip Tars: Grandma, Queen, Trollop and Hush Review and Swatches

I've been very anxious to try OCC lip tars since I first saw them. I finally broke down and bought some recently after agonizing over which colours to order. 

OCC lip tars are a cross between a gloss and a lipstick. They're described as a liquid lipstick and they are INTENSELY pigmented. Creamy, opaque and vibrant, they're a wonder to play with as you can mix shades to create your own colours! Hence my agonizing about which shades to get. Do I choose the colours I can play with or straight-up colours I can wear?

I opted for the latter and I chose three brights as well as a nude shade that I could use to play a little and tone down the bolder shades. 

OCC Lip Tars are available on the OCC website and retail for $13 USD each. They contain 8 mL of product and a very little bead of lip tar goes a long, long way, so these are great value. They're also vegan.

A tube of MAC lipstick next to a tube of OCC Lip Tar to show size.

And here are the colours I chose (bear in mind, I'm still learning how to apply these):

Grandma, an oddly named "clean and classic true coral". This was my first choice, I knew I needed to get this shade. I love a great coral. This shade, of the four I bought, is the most wearable. 




Queen, is an "intense, nearly-neon red/pink". It's one of OCC's Fall 2011 colours and oh, is it intense. I had to reapply and rephotograph this swatch three times and I still didn't get it quite right. The Lip Tars take some effort to apply since they're like a very, very pigmented gloss. I think I applied a bit too much too.




 Va va voom, right?

Trollop is a "pink, cranberry coral" that photographs far more subtly than it appears in person.




And finally, here's Hush, a "fleshy, natural pink". This I figured is a very neutral, pale pink I could wear on its own or could use to mix with the others to create new shades. Here it is on its own.




OK, so it's definitely not an everyday lipstick but I might wear this with a dramatic black smoky eye for a night out. 

I wanted to show you how you can mix these so I used Queen and a bit of Hush. In the below photo, there's about 2x as much Queen as there is Hush, but I ended up using equal amounts of each. I also used waaaay too much, it's easy to do that with the Lip Tars, a little goes a very long way. 
Queen + Hush

Queen + Hush

There's enough of this new shade for about six applications. Ooops. Ah well, it's a learning experience. The finished shade is a bubblegum pink. Fun!

The finished shade.

Ah, OCC Lip Tars, I think I love you! You're going to take a little work but you're a lot of fun. 

What I learned:

OCC Lip Tars work like a lipstick. You can apply once, blot and then apply again. I did that with the Grandma swatch above. The other three I did only one layer. Going forward, I know to be less anxious.

OCC Lip Tars are long-wearing. The glossiness fades away but these can last and last and last. They're definitely high-maintenance though, you'll get smudges and smears like with any lipstick or gloss. 

OCC Lip Tars have a minty scent, flavour and tingle to them. 

Have you tried OCC Lip Tars? Tell us!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September Luxe Box

My September Luxe Box arrived a little late this month, but that means only a short wait before my October one arrives! But I shouldn't get ahead of myself, let's look at what goodies came in my September Luxe Box.  (You can also check out my first three Luxe Boxes here, here and here!)

Hurrah for the return of the chocolate! A little Hershey's Kiss was included. Yum.

Méreadesso Face + Neck Toning Gel

A single-step solution for your face and neck full of incentive to toss every other moisturizer, toner, serum, primer, day cream, night cream and eye cream you own. This lightweight gel-lotion's globally sourced ingredients include 16 botanical extracts, 8 minerals and enzymes and over 20 antioxidants. Easy to apply, quick to absorb and impossible to give up because the longer you use it, the less you'll need it.

Méreadesso Face + Neck Toning Gel 50 mL/1.7 oz bottle retails for $120 CDN.  

Pür Minerals Mineral Glow

Try the Mineral Glow pressed mineral powder to get that radiant, sun-kissed look all year. This micronized mineral powder with golden undertones is infused with antioxidants to keep your skin looking healthy and glowing. This mineral powder formula does not contain oil, alcohol, fillers, fragrance or chemical dyes. Known as the "I don't know why you look so good...but you do!" in a compact, Mineral Glow pressed mineral powder is pür-fect for all skin tones and types. 

Pür Minerals Mineral Glow .35 oz/12 g retails for $23.50 CDN.

The Laura Mercier Perfecting Water - Rich has been renamed as Perfecting Water Moisture Mist. This moisture mist provides a surge of hydration helping the absorption of key ingredients, moisturizers and serums into the skin.

Laura Mercier Perfecting Water Moisture Mist 6.8 fl. oz./200ml retails for $38 USD.

The Original Moroccan Oil Treatment

Photographed in my hand to show the size of the sample.

Moroccan Oil Treatment is an ultra-light formula which is absorbed by the hair instantly, resulting in a natural, silky finish and brilliant shine without leaving a residue. Moroccan Oil Treatment has the ability to restore over-processed hair damaged by environmental factors and chemical procedures.

Moroccan Oil Treatment 100 mL retails for $42 CDN.

So what did you get in your September Luxe Box? Did you have to wait for yours too? Are you happy with your Luxe Box? Share!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Benefit Cosmetics CORALista Face Powder Review and Swatches

CORALista is one of Benefit Cosmetics newest boxed face powders, one of their top-selling products. You may have heard of Benefit's Dandelion, Thrrob, Hoola, Bella Bamba, 10, Sugarbomb or Dallas box o'powders. They're all fairly sheer, shimmery powders that can be worn as a blush or an illuminating powder and cost $32 CDN. They come with a wooden handled flat brush for application, and while you don't have to use them, they do work well for these powders and are easy to use, not to mention highly portable since they sit inside the box in a little tray on top of the powder. 

CORALista is a warm coral-pink face powder with lots of shimmer. On my skin tone it works as a shimmery blush and I can also layer it on top of a blush for added colour and shimmer. I got a sample from Sephora on a recent visit and was impressed by the sample! You don't normally get blush and eyeshadow samples simply due to the fact that they'd need to be made especially. Check it out!

CORALista blush sample

CORALista blush sample
It's 0.1 oz (the regular size is 0.28 oz) so it's a decent size and will last a few uses. Of course, the regular size comes with the little wooden brush for application, but any blush brush will work for this sample.

CORALista blush sample

CORALista blush sample
Benefit claims that CORALista wakes up the skin, which is an astute claim - most shimmery coral blushes will do exactly that. And so CORALista does, see below.

I'm wearing only CORALista in these photos to show how much pigment it has (which is not a great deal), but for me it works for a sheer pop of colour and quite a lot of shine. A bit too much for work look which is what I'm wearing in these photos but it'd be very appropriate for an evening look.

CORALista, as with all of Benefit's box o'powders, a pleasant perfumey fragrance which might offend some users, but I don't find it overwhelming at all. Dior mascaras, for example, have a strong fragrance that I find offensive. 

There's a lot of talk in the blogosphere about CORALista being a dupe to NARS' legendary Orgasm blush. I haven't ever tried Orgasm apart from swatching it at Sephora, so I can't say for sure if they're dupes but our fellow bloggers can't be too far off. You get more for your buck with CORALista so it's simply a matter of preference which you choose. As I said before, a shimmery coral blush is going to be extremely flattering and give the skin a pretty, soft glow.

Have you tried CORALista? What do you think? Do you have any favourite Benefit box o'powders?