Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: BeautyMint

So... Ordered my set of BeautyMint products last week. BeautyMint, for those of you not familiar, provides monthly subscribers with a month's worth of "personalized" skincare products based off of your answers to their "skin consulation," which is basically a short quiz. At first, I was excited about the whole concept, because I was hoping it would be like Sole Society and Birchbox, just with skincare products. But it's not, and I found myself underwhelmed with the way the whole program is designed. Here are a couple of my issues with it:
  • Current customers get no referral perks. Sole Society and most other shoe clubs have referral programs to help you earn free pairs of shoes. At Birchbox, you get points towards free product. BeautyMint? Nothing. Any if you buy the $49.99 set, you're paying just as much as you would at SoleSociety. Birchbox gives you even better perks (discounts and opportunities for point bonuses) than SoleSociety and they're only $10 a month. 
  • Lack of flexibility. After taking their quiz (I refuse to call it a consultation. It's a quiz. And the answers don't even matter much! More on that later), you are given a set of products that you're supposed to order every month. But say you get your month of products and hate one of them. Too bad. Unless you retake the quiz, you're stuck getting that product with your normal order every month. Say you ran out of only 2 products. Too bad. You have to reorder the whole set, because they don't let you purchase or pick and choose individual products. You can manipulate your prescribed skincare set by retaking the quiz a bunch of times, but that only goes so far. 
  • Lack of options. BeautyMint has very few products, meaning they use a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, there is only 1 cleanser, so it doesn't matter if what type of skin you have; you're stuck with that cleanser. Since there are so few product options, you can take that quiz over and over with different answers and basically get the same results each time. Sometimes, you can put in the exact same answers a couple times in a row and get different results (I wanted to know what other people with different skintypes or concerns would get, so I took the test around 20 times and know this from experience). 
  • Their claims. They claim you're getting $150 worth of product with each order, but in reality, you're getting a travel-sized set of products in cheap packaging. There's no way your monthly set is worth $150. Their listed prices of $39.99 and $49.99 are far more accurate, and even with that, I think they're overshooting. There's a reason they can afford to have so many $20 coupon deals...  
So, those are my main issues with their program in general. The more I found out, the more hesitant I was to try out the products, but they were offering a coupon and a BeautyBox with a bunch of freebies at the same time, so I caved and got the more expensive set for $29.99. I received it a couple days ago, and lets just say I am so glad I didn't spend any more than $30. I love the products in the Beauty Box waaaaaay more than I love any of the BeautyMint skincare products, thus far. However, I'm going to use them for a couple more days to let my skin adjust before I make my official reviews. 

However, I will say this. In my consultation, I put that I have very dry skin and am highly concerned with fine lines around my eyes. Did I get anything specifically targeted for the eyes? Nope (I could have dinked around with my answers to the quiz for a while, but I was sick of doing it at that point).  For 3 days, I've used the Essential Cleanser with Aloe, Ultra Replenishing Serum with Marine Collagen, Renewing Moisturizer with Elastin, and alternate using the Sculpting Treatment with Peptides and Resurfacing Treatment with Retinol. After 3 days, my skin has gone from feeling and looking hydrated to feeling rough with some pimples. And the moisturizer is TINY. There's no way it would last a person with dry skin a month. Anyway, I'll keep using it for a couple more days, see if my skin stops feeling gross and then start reviewing them all in detail. 

Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Covergirl Lashblast Length Water Resistant Mascara

The ProductCovergirl Lashblast Length Water Resistant Mascara

The Review: Ugh. I regret buying this mascara. I like the LashBlast Volume mascara quite a bit, but they were out of the black I wanted, so I got this stuff instead. I'm not impressed. I mean, it makes your lashes longer, but it clumps way more than any of the other Covergirl mascaras I've tried. Also, the formula is dull and matte. Now, I'm not saying I want shiny lashes, but matte mascara is just not as flattering, and to make it all worse, this isn't even a waterproof mascara. It's supposed to be water resistant, but I've worn regular mascaras that held up better in the snow and didn't cover the tops of my cheeks in little mascara chunks/flakes.

The only good thing about this mascara? The brush is great. So great! It's one of those silicone ones that I love so much and the bristles really are spaced perfectly for lengthening your lashes. Sadly, it's wasted on a crappy, crappy mascara formula. If you're looking for a cheap mascara, don't buy this stuff. Get the LashBlast Volume (good everyday wear) or VolumeExact (better for dramatic looks) mascaras instead.

Rated Beauty Grade: C-

Price: $7.19 (at Amazon)

Where to buy: Target,, etc. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Nightly Skincare Routine

This is how I don't wash my face. 
Skincare in general is something I find really interesting, because everyone has a different routine. I was watching Kandee Johnson's and found myself cringing at the idea of doing some of the stuff she does. A scrub? To get rid of eye makeup? OH GOD THE HORROR. But it works for her, and I'm sure some of the stuff I do to my face would freak some people out as well, so I figured I'd share. Just for funsies.

Step 1: First, I remove my eye-makeup with a bi-layer makeup remover (like Lancome's Bi-Facil) formulated for the more hardcore waterproof mascaras. But I don't put it on a cotton ball. Noooo, I put it on a damp washcloth, hold it against my closed eye for a couple seconds, and then slowly wipe all the mascara away. I think I got into this habit in college during a cottonball famine in my dormroom, and it's stuck ever since. Plus, it works better for me, because removing mascara with a cotton ball takes a lot longer in my opinion. And I HATE getting cotton fuzzies on my eyelashes. 

Step 2: After I get all the eye makeup off, the face washing commences. I rinse out my washcloth and use it to wet my face. Then, I rub whatever facial cleanser I'm using at the time all over my cheeks, nose, etc. A couple times a week, I add a combination of sugar and baking soda into the mix for a cheap, gentle exfoliation treatment. All normal boring stuff, except that I use a washcloth to rinse everything off with very warm water, because I don't like immersing my face. Never have, probably never will. Thus far, I have experienced no negative effects and like to think that it gives my skin some extra exfoliation. 

Step 3: When my face is all clean and shiny, I apply toner before my face is dry. And I apply it by rubbing a couple drops between my hands and smoothing it over my whole face. Again with the cottonball aversion. Before the toner is dry, I usually apply an anti-aging serum, following it with a heavy-duty moisturizer. Someone told me to do that some time last year, saying that applying all the additional stuff while your skin is still damp helps it absorb much better. I've done it ever since, and it works wonders, leaving my skin insanely soft and hydrated. So, Ima keep doing that. 

Step 4: After the moisturizer, etc. has absorbed, I usually put a thin, barely there layer of cocoa butter vaseline all over my face. However, I think I'll switch to the Alba un-petroleum Kandee uses in her video, because I would like to find something that works like Vaseline but isn't made of chemicals. 

Step 5: Before I go to bed, I always slather on a super moisturizing, thick lipbalm or lip treatment

And that's my nightly facial care routine. Thus far, I think it's working really well for me, because I'm a couple weeks away from becoming a quarter of a century old and my face isn't yet showing any signs of wear or tear. What facial care routine works best for you guys? I'm curious! Also, here's Kandee's video. She has awesome skin (which, with her job, she really should).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Amika Obliphica Hair Treatment

The Product: Amika Obliphica Hair Treatment

The Review: This is another product that came in my Birchbox this month, and it's another winner. I absolutely love this hair treatment. In order for my hair to have any semblance of order or volume, I have to blowdry it. Otherwise, it air dries with random waves and curls all over the place. I suppose that sounds all sexy-messy on paper, but in reality, it looks pretty bad. Limp with random wavy curls and cowlicks does not for sexy hair make, so it gets blowdried, and I always take time to put in a ton of product to prevent my hair from getting fried. Heat protection products can be really hit or miss, in my experience. Sometimes, they protect your hair from heat styling, but damage it in other ways. Sometimes, they make your hair look dull in lifeless. And once in a while, you can find a product that does exactly what it claims.

Amika Obliphica Hair Treatment is one of these coveted products, because it follows through on its product description and gives you soft, shiny hair with no residue to speak of while protecting your hair from heat styling. Every time I've used it (4 times now), my hair has looked gorgeous, with or without my other hair products. And it's so easy to use! You just use a couple drops, rub your palms together, smooth it through your damp hair and finish with a quick comb-through for even product distribution. Then, attack your hair with your dryer and enjoy the results. Don't blowdry your hair? You can also use the oil on dry hair to add shine, keep your hair healthy, and reduce frizziness. I've noticed my hair is infinitely less staticky on days that I use it, which is impressive, especially considering that I live in MN and after November, you can hardly touch anything with being slightly electrocuted.

It's a little weird, but my favorite thing about this product isn't even the results I get from it. It's the smell. Oh my god. It smells so good! It has an exotic, floral scent that isn't too cloying or heavy. Most florals tend to be really heavy on the jasmine and ylang-ylang and wind up reminding me of diapers, but this scent is, in my opinion, perfect. I want to use this oil as an entire-body-moisturizer, take a bath in it, spray it all over my apartment, put some on my cats, it's that good.

I know it seems a little pricey, but keep in mind that you only a tiny, tiny amount. I have lots of long hair that's prone to dryness, and considering my little sample bottle isn't even half-way gone, I'm pretty sure the 3.38oz full-size bottle would last me 3 or more months. Well, maybe less than that if I decide to make my kitties smell like pretty, pretty princesses...

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Price: $34.00

Where to Buy: Birchbox, Amazon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink

The ProductJouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink

The Review: I got this lipgloss in my December Birchbox, and I absolutely love it. It's made with Vitamins A, C & E, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil and Pomegranate Seed Oil, so it's very moisturizing and actually good for your lips. There are a lot of lip products out there that are manufactured to feel amazing on your lips that actually dry them out, meaning you have to apply more product, but that's not the case with this lipgloss. Instead, it looks and wears like a gloss but moisturizes like a good, soothing lipbalm, perfect for the cold winter months. Best of all, when it wears off, your lips still feel soft and pleasantly hydrated.

Other than containing great moisturizing ingredients, this gloss has quite a few things going for it. Firstly, I'm really impressed with the texture, because it's thick without feeling too heavy or becoming too sticky. Secondly, it lacks any smell or any real discernible flavor, which I consider a bonus (as much as I love my fruity lipglosses, I hate it when they smell amazing and taste like rubber grossness). Thirdly, I adored the Birchbox Pink color I tried out. I am not a fuchsia girl whatsoever, but this lipgloss has made a convert of me. I guess the story behind it was that Birchbox was trying to find the perfect fuchsia in gloss form, failed, and contacted Jouer to make a custom color for them. Birchbox Pink is the result, and it's lovely.

To be completely honest, I wasn't expecting to like the color. Jouer glosses are sheer, but the Birchbox Pink was so ridiculously pink in the tube that I was sure I would hate it. But I actually love it. I think it creates a more perfect shade of pink for my lips than even the Smashbox gloss did, and if you add a couple extra coats, you can get enough of the fuchsia to create a less subtle look. In addition, I think it would work perfectly over lipstick, which is something I plan on trying in the near future. When I'm not too lazy to put on a full face for work, that is. Maybe for Christmas?

I've never tried any Jouer products. I've seen them featured in magazines here and there, but didn't really pay them much attention for whatever reason. However, now that I've been exposed to them, I want to try out more of their product line, because they're a company that tries to make quality cosmetics that look beautiful on everyone. Plus, I really want their gloss in just about every color.

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Price: $20

Where to Purchase: Birchbox, Jouer

Monday, December 19, 2011

Birchbox Review

Kind of funny, but I discovered Birchbox through the little adsense ads on my blog. Google actually got it right that time! Anyway, it's a wonderful site that offers high-quality products from brands like Jurlique, StilaKiehl's. The selection isn't as huge as many of the other cosmetic sites out there, but all the products are top-notch; Birchbox seems to be very picky about which vendors they choose to work with and only offers products that have been thoroughly vetted by their employees. What makes this site even more awesome is that they make it very affordable and convenient to vet the products yourself before committing to buying the full-size through their Birchbox subscription, a program that sends you a selection of 4-5 deluxe samples a month.

The Birchbox subscription works like a magazine: they are set to be mailed on a set date each month. In this case, Birchboxes are shipped on the 10th. Signup is really easy, and you can choose how you want to subscribe- Full year, 3 month, or monthly. You even have the option to gift a subscription to a friend. I chose the monthly subscription (but as soon as I have a spare $110, I am upgrading to yearly), so for $10 a month, I am provided with 4-5 samples from their monthly sample selection on their site. Yep, you can preview your potential Birchbox before you commit, and when you sign up and fill out a questionnaire about your beauty preferences, they choose your Birchbox samples based on your replies.

I got my first Birchbox last week. And I LOVED it. The packaging is so adorable! It was shipped in a fuchsia box, which I thought was a nice touch, and the Birchbox looks almost exactly like the picture above, except I got white tissue paper instead of pink. One of the products (or was it the product description card? I can't remember) was wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a silver ribbon. I mean, how cute is that? And the products I received were wonderful. I got a travel-sized Ahava Mineral Body Lotion, a mini Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink, a vial of Amika Obliphica Hair Treatment, 2 hands worth of the Incoco® Nail Polish Appliqué, a couple strips of Showstoppers® Designer Fashion Tape in Nude, and a sample packet of EBOOST Orange Natural Energy Booster, all of which will be getting their own reviews on here. All of that for just $10, which fits even my insanely-restricted budget.

I don't make much at my current job and am on a canned-beans and ramen for every meal kind of budget (don't feel too sorry for me. I could find a better job, but I love my boss so much, that I stay in spite of the poverty factor). Therefore, I rarely spend any money on myself, especially around Christmas. But I wound up having some money left in my Christmas fund after buying everyone else presents and figured getting a Birchbox subscription was more than justifiable and too cheap to turn down. More products to try for the blog that doesn't involve sales pitches from commissioned make-up girls/boys! Hooray! And it turned out being hands down the best purchase I've made for myself in ages for the least amount of money. For frugal girls who still like little tastes of luxury, this is for you! And everyone else who likes beauty products, of course.

One more thing before I go: Birchbox has a point system similar to Sephora where you get a point for every dollar spend. For every hundred points, you get $10 to spend on products. If you're a Birchbox subscriber, you get 50 points/$5 for every person you refer who purchases a Birchbox. YAY! Free product!

And enough of my gushing. If you're interested in signing up for your own customized Birchbox or just checking them out, you can do so here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cosmetics Review: e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Mascara

The Product: e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Mascara

The Review: I grabbed this mascara on a whim when at Target the other day, because it was only $3 and people seem to love the e.l.f. brand. I'm not above buying drugstore products that work well, but I get a little leery about products that are that cheap, I'll be honest. However, I was surprised at how nicely this mascara performs. The brush is amazing! It's one of those nice silicone ones, of which I am a huge fan because they tend not to clump as much. And this mascara does not clump. At all. I think it's the least clumpy mascara I've ever tried, and my lashes were perfectly coated and defined. Do you ever try on a mascara and the ends of your lashes stop being tapered and start resembling little twigs? This mascara left my lashes looking perfect, even after I combed through them with the brush a ton of times to see if I could get a more dramatic look. I couldn't, which brings me to my only major critique of this product.

The downside of this mascara is that while it defines wonderfully, it doesn't add volume, curl, or much length. Really, all the formula does is enhance your natural lashes by making them darker, well-separated, and maybe a teensy bit longer. Therefore, it's not an option if you want everyone to notice how amazing your eyelashes are, but it's a great choice for a daytime, natural look. When you need a more subtle mascara, this is a great product. The formula isn't too shiny or matte, it doesn't smell horrendous, and it doesn't flake off or smudge. I can attest to this, because yesterday, I took a nap and somehow smeared my eyeliner, but my mascara didn't go anywhere. For $3, that's impressive, no?

Some people complained that e.l.f.'s mascara formula took too long to dry and was sticky, but I didn't have a problem with it. However, I also don't apply mascara to my lower lashes (I think it looks weird on me) and only curl my upper lashes before applying mascara. Maybe if I did, I would experience problems? Then again, some people also claim that this mascara is clumpy, which kind of boggles my mind because I tried to get this mascara to look clumpy, and it took around 4 coats before it started looking kind of wonky.

Rated Beauty Grade: B

Cost: $3

Where to Purchase: Drugstores, e.l.f. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Skincare Review: Lancome GÉNIFIQUE Youth Activating Concentrate

The ProductLancome Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate

The Review:  For the longest time, I was a Lancome whore. I suppose still am, but I'm trying to branch out for the sake of this blog and have been restraining myself from buying their products for a while. However, I have tons of their products to use up, so I decided to give the Youth Activating Concentrate a second go. I'd tried it when it first came out, and remembered feeling kind of blah about it. But it was ages ago, so I figured I'd give it another go as I had a couple jumbo samples to use.

Yet again, "Eh" is the only word that comes to my mind when describing this product. After over a month of using it, I don't see any difference in my skin. It doesn't feel any more "refined" than it did a month ago, it hasn't become any softer, and I didn't notice any tightening effects under my eyes or elsewhere. It certainly didn't hurt my skin as it didn't give me any breakouts or change the quality of my skin for the worst, so that's a good thing. But other than that, I don't think it did anything for me. Granted, I'm just one person with one type of skin, so maybe it works wonders on other people. However, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say its a placebo effect kind of thing, because I've seen other people use it over a period of time and never noticed a change in their skin either. Even though they swore it was doing wonders for them.

As for the product itself, it's a thin, milky colored fluid that you apply to your face before your moisturizer. It feels exactly like you'd expect a thin, milky fluid to feel- wet. And then it dries. Yay. How groundbreaking. Other than that, there's really not much to describe, and it inspires no strong feelings other than that I love the packaging. The black and silver bottle is just so luxe, no? But that's all this product does for me- look pretty in its bottle. Outside the bottle, it's just so blah... And it kind of reminds me of the main ingredient the ladies of Nip/Tuck used to create their "face cream" in that one episode... Urk.

Long story short, maybe this works for some people. Maybe it is just a placebo effect. I just know that it didn't do anything for me and there's no way I would tell someone to shell out $78 for something that might work. My suggestion would be to get a sample of it and try it that way first before committing.

Rated Beauty Grade: C-

Cost: $78 for 1oz

Where to Purchase: Sephora, Lancome

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Smashbox O-Gloss

The ProductSmashbox O-Gloss

The Review: I heard about this product the first time from Smashbox's Facebook page. A gloss that adjusts to your skintone to create the perfect shade? Awesome! Since I read a ton of beauty magazines and stalk websites for new products, I was amazed I'd somehow never come across this stuff. What with being a lipbalm/gloss addict and all, I had to try it ASAP to see if it lived up to its claims. And it totally did.

Two of my friends tested out the original O-Gloss. The gloss itself is initially clear and begins to darken within a couple seconds. I was a little slow putting my sample on and noticed that it began to turn pink on the applicator while I was dawdling, so maybe it doesn't have anything to do with your body chemistry after all? Anyway, after I applied a fresh sample, my friends and I compared. And it looked like all of us were wearing different shades of lipgloss. It was bizarre! One friend looked as though she was wearing a slightly pinkish nude,, the second seemed to be wearing a light pink, and my lips wound up being a slightly darker rose color. Best of all, the shades of pink we got really did look great with our individual skintones, and we were pretty impressed with how one gloss could look so different person-to-person.

In addition, the product feels amazing on your lips. I tend to be a little skeptical of the more gimmicky sounding ingredients, like "Goji Berry C Complex," but this gloss also has pomegranate seed and avocado oils, both of which are incredibly moisturizing and good for your skin. After wearing it for a bit, I felt that it made my lips feel more moisturized than other popular moisturizing glosses, like Clinique's Super Balm. I also appreciated its thinner texture; I'm not a big fan of super goopy-glosses, because I feel they tend to migrate onto my coffee cups in a bit too hardcore of a fashion. Anyway, long story short, I LOVE this gloss. In fact, I loved it so much that I had to try on the other colors as well.

There are two variants of the O-Gloss: O-Gloss Noir and O-Gloss Gold. The Noir comes out of the tube quite black and turned to a very pretty plum shade on me. The Gold is actually my favorite of the three, because it comes out the tube a bright gold and adjusted on me to a lovely peachy-pink with a hint of gold shimmer. But all three colors are wonderful. In fact, I plan on getting them all at some point, because the colors are subtle enough to wear for any occasion. You can just pick whichever one works best with your makeup color scheme of the day and go do your thing. So convenient! If they were cheaper, I would probably get them for all my friends as stocking stuffers for Christmas.

However, while the gloss looked different on all three of my friends, we also do have different lip colors. I have to wonder, if we all kissed the same piece of paper after applying the gloss and waiting for it to stop darkening, would the lip prints be identical shades? Or different? These are the things I ponder when at work and bored...

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Price: $22

Where to Purchase: Sephora, Smashbox

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Make Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer

The ProductMake Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer

The Review: I'm very picky with primers, because I don't like the slippery, silicone feel that most of them give my skin. The best primer I ever found was from Sensaria. It made my face insanely soft, kept my skin hydrated, and kept my makeup in place. Then, the company went under, and I've been trying to find a replacement ever since. I tried a super nice one from Korres, which I will eventually review, but since I recently reviewed the concealer from the same line, I'd much rather review this stuff instead.

Anyway, back to reviewing. There are quite a few things I love about this primer. For starters, it doesn't have that gross, slippery-dry texture when on the skin like, oh, Lancome's primer (which is, for the record, a good product, albeit pricey). Instead, it goes on like a serum and locks in the moisture from your moisturizer, leaving your face soft, like you just applied a light face cream. However, like a lotion, you need to wait for it to dry all the way before applying your makeup. Performance-wise, I didn't notice any pilling or oddness when combined with my foundation, concealer, or eyeshadow primer (Yes, I used eyeshadow primer on top of this primer. Because I like to overdo things for the sake of science). Everything else went on smoothly as well, and, when I checked 8 hours later, all my makeup still looked great. Yay!

In addition to working decently and making my skin feel nice, it also comes in a variety of shades for skin tone correction. Have rosacea? There's a redness-cancelling green version. Is your skin too yellow? There's a mauve primer for that. Want to brighten your complexion? There's a color for light, medium and dark skintones as well. But I haven't tried any of them, since I decided to start out with the clear version. I am, however, quite intrigued by all the pretty colors, so let me know if you've tried any of them.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $32

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Friday, November 18, 2011

Skincare Review: Vaseline Cocoa Butter Pertroleum Jelly

The Product: Vaseline Cocoa Butter Pertroleum Jelly

The Review: Since the last post was full of god-awfully pricey products, here's something that's cheaper than the average fancy mocha: Vaseline with cocoa butter. Now, I'm not a huge fan of normal Vaseline and don't understand the cult following. I think it has its uses, and I regularly use it on my feet in the summer so that I don't burn through my nicer foot products too quickly, but I hate the plasticky, gross smell and the greasy texture. But this stuff... this stuff is awesome.

Gone is the sticky, greasy texture. Gone is the terrible odor. Instead, ordinary petroleum jelly has been transformed into a rich, creamy gel-like moisturizer that melts into your skin and smells like slightly chocolatey vanilla. Just the smell alone makes me want to slather it everywhere, and I find it much more effective at moisturizing than ordinary vaseline, because it actually absorbs into your skin, rather than sitting on top of it and forming an impenetrable grease layer. Who would have thought that a little cocoa butter would completely morph normal, crappy petroleum jelly into something that feels so luxurious?

And the best part? It's so cheap. I got mine on sale for $2. It's usually $3.99. Since it's Vaseline, a little goes a looooong way. This stuff will last me months, even if I use it every day, which I plan to.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Where to Purchase: Local Drugstore

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Wish List

And now for something completely different...

I am having so much fun looking at all the gorgeous holiday offerings from the big-name cosmetics companies! When it comes to the holidays, I love seeing who comes up with the most innovative and interesting cosmetic gift ideas. Here are some of my favorites:

# 1. NARS Naguata Kabuki Set:
NARS Nagauta Kabuki Brush Set, $225
NARS wins for originality. Hands down. The kabuki themed gift collection is so great, I almost put every product in this post. Isn't this brush set gorgeous? And so creative! I mean, it's not every day you find makeup brushes that look like works of art themselves. These are almost too pretty to use. Almost. 

# 2. NARS Hanamichi Eyeshadow Palette

NARS Hanamichi Eyeshadow Palette, $65
I'm really, really in love with the kabuki theme of this collection. It's unique. It's classy. The colors are stunning.  Look at the detail on this eyeshadow! And it comes with a gorgeous eyeshadow brush! I am so sold. I have no idea when I'll ever wear red eyeshadow, but I don't care. I can use all the other colors and just leave the red part intact. Really, I just want it so I can stare at the pretty flowers.

#3. MAC Dazzlesphere

MAC Dazzlesphere, $32.50
I think this is a cute idea. I buy eyeshadow quads all the time, but none of them have ever come in a cute little ornament. But is it an ornament? I can't really tell. I do think it would be a cute stocking stuffer, albeit a pricey one. 

#4: Guerlain Parure du Nuit Powder Compact
Guerlain Parure du Nuit Powder, $67

For whatever reason, makeup companies go insane over highlighting products for the holiday season. I guess they want your face to sparkle like a cracked out Christmas tree? I'm not complaining, because the limited edition highlighters are some of the most beautiful products you can find. This highlighting powder/blush combo from Guerlain is my favorite thus far. The peacock feather design is so lovely and elegant, and I'm fascinated by the edition of teal. Teal! In a highlighter/blush and not an eyeshadow quad, no less. Definitely the most interesting color combination I've seen in a highlighter, and this is the most innovative of the face powders this season, in my opinion. 

#5. Smashbox Click You're It Holiday Palette
Smashbox Click You're It Palette, $49
I adore all the colors Smashbox chose for this palette. They're so vibrant, rich, and there's enough variety that you can come up with some really creative looks for the holidays. Plus, it comes with my favorite eyeshadow primer! Yay.

#6. L'Occitane Hand Cream Bouquet
L'Occitane Hand Cream Bouquet, $50
I adore L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream. It's one of the few products of which I want a life-time supply, because I never want to be without it. Therefore, I am 99.9% sure I was adore this set of various hand cream flavors. Plus, all of the scents (Cocoa Flower, Desert Rose, Hibiscus Flower, Pivoine Flora, Shea Butter and Vanilla) sound amazing.

#7. Yves Saint Laurent Holiday Golden Gloss Trio
Yves Saint Laurent Golden Gloss Trio, $59

Ok, so I'm not actually sure that I'd want this. I tend to run away from putting lavender colors on my lips, but I'm assuming that once this stuff is on, you can't tell there's much of a tint. If that's the case, then I'd want it. Either way, it's making the list because its an interesting choice of color and the gloss has 24 carat gold in it. I just think that's nifty.

And I think that's enough for now. I'm sure as more cosmetic companies bust out the crazy holiday products, I'll have more eyecatching, pricey, limited edition thingers to show you, but until then, I'm going to call it a morning and get back to helping banks figure out how to turn on their computers. Because my job is glamorous like that. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nail Polish Review: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color

The ProductSally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color

The Review: I'm a chronic nail biter, and the only thing that gets me to knock it off is a nice nail polish. I think it's because if I have it on, I can't perceive that my nails are filed unevenly and don't feel the urge to even them out. With my teeth. God, that sounds creepy... Anyway, Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri is my new favorite line when it comes to nail polish. I love that it dries extremely fast, because whenever I paint my nails, I'm prone to finding creative ways to smudge the hell out of them before they've dried. When I use this stuff, the polish on my left hand is usually close to dry by the time I finish painting the nails on my right. Nail Polish: $5. Cheap nail buffer: $3. Not having to reapply nail polish 5 times, due to klutziness/short term memory failure? Pretty damn awesome.

Since speedy application is a must with polishes that dry as fast as these,Sally Hansen tried to make it easier for us with a wide, flat brush. I'll admit it took me a little getting used to, because it holds waaaay more polish than a normal brush, and it's easy to apply too much. Now that I've made friends with it, the flat brush makes it easier and takes less time to achieve a nice, even coat. I think I prefer it over the normal version, now that I think about it.

In addition, this line comes in a variety of pretty colors that range from trendy to classic. Personally, I am always on the lookout for a good red nail polish, because most colors come and go (can those blah grey polishes just be gone already?), but a gorgeous, red polish is always in style. Therefore, I instantly gravitated toward "Wined Up," which is my new favorite red (and the banner pic). It's a rich, lovely, garnet that isn't too dark or too bright and has a touch of shimmer that makes it far more interesting than your average red. It also has enough pigment to achieve opacity in just one coat, one of the top things I look for in a nail polish.

There are only 2 downsides to this product: First, the product in the bottle dries out, becoming thicker and more viscous rather quickly, due to its fast-drying nature. Second, the wear time isn't all that great. Even with a good topcoat, I can't get it to remain unchipped for more than a couple days. But that's ok, because it just means I have to experiment with other colors, right?

Rated Beauty Grade: B

Price: $ 4.99

Where to Purchase: Ulta, anywhere that carries Sally Hansen products

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Chanel Inimitable Mascara

The Product: Chanel Inimitable Mascara

The Review: I love mascara. If I was cursed to wear only 2 makeup products for the rest of my life, I'd pick lipbalm and mascara, because without anything on my lashes, my eyes look pretty small and squinty. However, the perfect mascara continues to elude me. I have quite a few that I like, but I whenever I finish a tube, I'm always hunting for something new because I can't seem to commit to one brand. I'll be honest- I tend to prefer cheap drugstore mascaras, like Covergirl LashBlast, because they get the job done on a budget, don't clump, and make my eyelashes noticeable. Could they be better? Sure, but I have been trying to find a high-end mascara that provides results worth their price tags, and most of them aren't worth it. Chanel Inimitable almost makes the cut. Almost.

I got a sample of this mascara, and at first, I loved it. It's hard to find mascara that you can put on a bare face that doesn't scream, "Hello, my eyelashes have shittons of product on them," but this mascara made my lashes look amazing, even without any eyeliner to balance it out. They were defined, long, soft, curled and looked almost natural. But in a lovely, dramatic sense. I thought it was my dream mascara and was tempted to run out and buy the waterproof version right away. Fortunately, I decided to use my 2 sample tubes up first, and I am so glad I did. Why? Because the product dries out so fast, it's depressing.

After just a couple uses, the product started getting clumpy and stopped being magical. It actually dried out to the point where it was hard to get enough product on the brush to coat my lashes. At first, I thought it was a faulty sample, so I tried the second one I got at a different store. Same thing happened. Long story short, there is no way am I going to drop $30 on a product that dries out that fast, especially when I can spend $9 on a product that lasts me months. If the formulation held up better, I would probably dump my boyfriend and marry this instead, but sadly it was not to be...

Rated Beauty Grade: A for effort. D for long term use.

Price: $30

Where to Purchase: Chanel counters

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Clinique's Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss

The ProductClinique's Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss in Black Honey

The Review: This lipgloss has become one of my purse staples (along with about 5-10 other lip products, because we all know I need a 12 step program for my lip balm addiction). I'm wearing it right now, actually, because I was in the mood for something glossy at work. As much as I love lipbalm, sometimes, I get bored with it and like to switch up my routine with either a nice lipstick or a subtle gloss. Today, I'm rocking some super awesome Lancome indigo and gold eyeshadow, so I wanted something with a hint of color, and this gloss is perfect for these situations.

When it comes to glosses, I find they either dry out too fast or migrate onto coffee cups. However, this gloss has the staying power of a good lipbalm and stays on for a quite a while, as long as I'm not eating something. It has a very pleasant emollient texture that feels moisturizing without being sticky. Is it actually moisturizing? I'm not so sure. I've been buying this stuff for around a year, and it certainly feels moisturizing when you have on, but I'm not so sure it makes my lips any less chapped. However, it doesn't make them feel any drier afterward, so I'm totally fine with it.

In addition, this product has no scent and no flavor. Not good if you think everything you put on your lips needs to taste like a fruity extravaganza. Awesome if you have bad scent allergies and don't want to be tempted to lick off all your lipgloss the second you apply it. All in all, I consider this to be a plus, because there are times when you want a lipgloss that looks awesome but doesn't alert the entire room of your presence whenever you apply it. I speak from experience. I was at an event once, applied this super-fruity smelling lipgloss, and then a couple strangers wanted to smell my lips... it was awkward...

As for the color, Black Honey is raved about like crazy. It also happens to be the color I own, and I can honestly tell you that I'm not sure what the hype is about. I mean, it's a decent sheer, neutral-ish berry color that slightly enhances your natural lipcolor, but doesn't that description sound like every other sheer, tinted gloss? Um... yeah. This gloss comes in quite a few other colors, and all of them fit that description because they're sheer and blend right in. I've tried a couple other colors and like them just as well. I will admit that the Black Honey color might have a titch more tint to it, though.

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Price: $14

Where to Purchase: Sephora, Clinique

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Korres Quercetin & Oak Antiageing & Antiwrinkle Concealer

The ProductKorres Quercetin & Oak Antiageing & Antiwrinkle Concealer

The Review: I have a weird love-hate relationship with concealer: I love the idea of my sleep-deprivation-induced dark circles disappearing and my zits being hidden.  I hate how no matter what type I try, it never quite blends into my skin tone, resulting in my spending buttloads of time using foundation and whatnot to get it to look natural. I think part of the problem is my weird skin-tone. It's kind of neutral, and I think most concealers wind up looking too pink or too yellow on me. This concealer, however, is one of the few I've tried that I could see myself committing to.

I love the texture of this concealer. It's so creamy and moisturizing that it almost feels like an undereye treatment. I really appreciated that Korres actually had a concealer color that worked for me, but I was most impressed with how nicely it covered my dark circles without looking too obvious. I didn't find it to be too greasy or matte, just a nice happy medium, and it worked well with my foundation. No sinking into the creases. No fading after a good eight hours. And, while it has a ton of pigment, it blended well and didn't give me a case of the dreaded Reverse Raccoon Eye, a most terrible makeup affliction. Not familiar with RRE? Well, look no further. Eva Longoria's here to educate you:
Never, ever piss off your makeup artist... 
All in all, I thought this was a great product. I can't say anything about the anti-ageing and anti-wrinkling properties and have a feeling it's probably a gimmick, but since it is pretty moisturizing for a concealer, it certainly shouldn't make your fine lines look any more pronounced.

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Price: $22

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Revlon CustomEyes Shadow & Liner

The ProductRevlon CustomEyes Shadow & Liner

The Review: First off, sorry I've been kind of MIA lately. I got some new responsibilities at work on the IT side of things last week, and I needed some time to adjust to my new duties. I am now in charge of a new program that lets me check whether or not my company can connect to TCF's computers. If the program shows that we can't connect, I call and harass banks to turn on their PCs. I has the stalking power!! Behold, the mighty Level 1 Help Desk Tech/Receptionist!

Yeah. Ok. So, it's not that exciting. That's why we have makeup! And oh, how I love makeup. Especially eye makeup, because I like to play up my slightly slanty half-native eyeballs. Dramatic eyes help balance out my big, almost-Angelina-Jolie-sized lips. Speaking of big lips, have you ever seen a big-lipped person try to do the duck face in pictures? I did it in the mirror once, just for funsies. Oh my god. I just about peed myself laughing. But I digress. Back to makeup...
The "Smoky Sexy" colors
I went to Target a couple days ago and got Revlon CustomEyes Shadow & Liner in "Smoky Sexy," because it was on clearance for $5. The colors in this line are so effing pretty, and I've had my eye on them for a while now. Naturally, I was super happy to get them on sale. And I'm so glad I didn't pay any more than $5. In theory, this eyeshadow palette is a great concept. Liner, brow highlighter and lid shades all in one? Oh, the convenience! Sadly, the idea and visual presentation is the only thing this eye shadow has going for it.

In the compact, the eyeshadows have the rich, vibrant color you see in the high priced brands. It's what drew me to them in the first place. Sadly, when you put them on, they have maybe half of the color you were expecting. They are sheer, sheer, sheer. You have to layer the hell out of them to get even close to the original color, and even then, it's disappointing. And trust me, you don't want to layer. These shadows are so powdery, any attempt to apply them will leave you with eyeshadow all over your lashes and cheeks. It doesn't matter how you try to apply it: brush, foam applicator, fingertip... I tried them all, and each tactic left me with blue on my cheeks, a look that is only appealing to a smurf. Or Avatar larper.

Long story short, if powdery, poorly pigmented eyeshadow works for you, you'll probably like this product. But if you're like me and want your drugstore eyeshadow to live up to your high-end makeup standards, go for Revlon's ColorStay 12 Hour Eyeshadow Quad instead. It's so much better and there is a great variety of colors to choose from. I have both the "Neutral Khakis" and "Nude Elements" quad, and I quite like them.

Rated Beauty Grade: D

Price: $8.99

Where to Buy: Most drugstores

And, just for funsies, here is the Avatar LARP vid if you had no idea what I was referencing earlier:

I've Been Awarded!!!

I've been awarded my very first blog award! YAY! The Shoe Doctor has bestowed the Liebster Blog Award upon me. It's given to blogs with under 200 followers to help them gain recognition for their awesomeness, so I am extremely happy to receive it. Especially from such a blogger with such excellent taste in footwear

Now, according to the rules, I get to find 5 other blogs that I deem deserving of this award. Since most of the blogs I stalk have well over 300 followers, it just means I have to find new fun blogs to read and enjoy. I'll post the award winners as soon as I find them all. :) 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Estee Lauder's Pure Color Long Lasting Lipstick in Sugar Honey

The Product: Estee Lauder's Pure Color Long Lasting Lipstick in Sugar Honey

The Review: I have a giant lipstick collection. It's kind of funny, because I don't wear lipstick all that often. Which is why it lasts me FOREVER. I have naturally pinky lips anyway, and I'm usually too lazy in the morning to go hunting through my purse/makeup pile to find my favorite lipsticks when I have lip balm on hand. However, when I have time and don't have to worry about potentially kissing people, I do love a good lipstick. Hence, the sizable lipstick collection.

I love Estee Lauder's Long Lasting Lipsticks, because they always smell nice: fruity, without being overpowering or having that gross clay/plastic smell some lipsticks have (I hate that smell!). They also don't dry out my lips as much as other long-lasting brands, which I appreciate, and can survive the work day with few reapplications. If you aren't eating or drinking much during the day, it lasts quite a while and doesn't make your lips feel gross and chapped after a couple hours. It also has a pretty nice consistency and has a slight hint of shine without being too much. Personally, I think this is one of the best lipsticks I've tried for everyday office wear.

This line has quite a nice selection of colors. Sugar Honey is my go-to color for warm  makeup looks, because it's a really pretty pinky, rose-gold color that is pretty close to my natural lip color. Just with more... gold. (Yeah, I'm eloquent. My brain has been fried by customer service calls today, so don't judge me.) Personally, I think everyone needs to have a couple utility lipsticks for their day-to-day makeup looks, and this one is the one I use whenever I choose to use golds, browns, and greens for my eyes. It's also subtle enough to wear with dramatic smokey eyes and even transitions well between seasons.Yay, versatility!

On the downside, I think they might actually be a bit overscented for people with scent-allergies. I have scent allergies which are triggered by floral scents and, since this has a fruity scent, it doesn't bother me. However, I can definitely see it bothering others.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $24

Where to Purchase: Estee Lauder counters

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cosmetics Review: NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna

The Product: NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna

The Review: Much like NARS' Blush in Orgasm, this bronzer also has a cult following. Since I love the blush so much and it comes in cute combo duos and highlighting trios with Laguna, I wanted to get all up on this bronzer and become one with the cult. Sadly, after trying it, I don't have the urge to place it on a pedestal in my bedroom's makeup shrine.

The good: Laguna is made with high quality powder. It's incredibly fine, so it goes on smoothly and blends easily. In theory, you should need much of it. Also, this color has no reddish tones, so it won't make you look orangey. It's also pretty matte. Perfect for those of you who aren't fans of the shimmer.

The bad: I don't get the hype with the color. Good lord. Everyone is all, "OMG! Best bronzer EVER!," but when I put it on, I literally could not tell I had anything on. So I put on more, and it just looked like I had extra powder on my cheeks. So not impressed. It's not like I have really tan skin (I'm actually quite pale for a semi-native chick).  It's not like I want to have super dark cheeks. I mean, I sure as hell can't use my Clinique Sunkist Bronzer for contouring, but I like it just fine. Also, when you look at Laguna in the compact, it looks darker than just about any bronzer you can find. So why doesn't this color exist on my face? Lame.

The verdict: This is a good quality bronzer, but the color is better suited to someone who doesn't have much color to their skin. Fair-skinned girls, this bronzer is for you! Even though it doesn't look like it, because the product is misleadingly sheer. In the compact, it looks dark enough to be a contouring bronzer. This feels a little like false advertising to me, because if you're already tan or have darker skin, this stuff won't look as impressive as you'd expect it to. However, if you're addicted to the delightful texture of NARS blushes, quite a few people have said that the bronzer in Casino is a better option for people who think Laguna is too pale. I haven't tried it yet, but when I do, I'll let you know.

Rated Beauty Grade: B- 

Price: $33

Where to Purchase: Sephora, NARS counters

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Lancome's Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

The Product:  Lancome's Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

The Review: I love this stuff. So much. It's the best waterproof eye makeup remover I've ever used, because it gets off the all my waterproof eyeshadow and lip stains with almost no rubbing. Not only that, but it never stings my eyes and has the loveliest rose fragrance. I don't know why, but having that bit of rose scent makes taking off eye make-up a much more pleasant experience. Maybe it's because I love roses so much. Hmm... Anyway, if you don't use waterproof makeup, you probably won't need something as heavy duty as this. But if you do, it's pretty damn magical.

While there are quite a few imitation products on the market that are much cheaper, I keep coming back to this one because it smells so nice and outperforms the rest. When I was in college, I had to wear hard-core, insane stage makeup for operas, and this product managed to easily remove even the most caked-on, waterproof makeup. It never fails to impress me. I do, however, have only 2 critiques of this product. Firstly, it claims it doesn't have residue, but it does. To avoid that slightly oily feeling, use it before washing your face. Secondly, it's a little overpriced. I mean, it's a make-up remover. There's no reason it should cost so much when you can get really similar products for a fraction of the cost. On the plus side, Sephora and Lancome often give free samples of it, and it comes with every single Lancome gift-with-purchase, so you can get it through that route if you don't want to shell out the $26 for just the remover. 

If you never buy Lancome and want some alternative products that work just as well, Clinique's Take the Day Off Make-up Remover is almost as good. Neutrogena's Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover is a really cheap alternative, but it's a bit more drying and stings a little if you accidentally get some in your eye. Just to warn you. 

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $26

Where to Purchase: Sephora, Lancome counters, Amazon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cosmetics Review: Smith's Rosebud Salve

The Product: Smith's Rosebud Salve

The Review: This is another one of those products you'll see in magazines all over the place. It's touted as a miracle balm that works wonders on your skin and lips and does everything but walk on water and heal the blind. But is it really the Jesus of lipbalms? It could be, but it all depends on what you prefer in a lip balm. Personally, I really like it. It has such a nice texture- not too thick, smooth, and without a hint of greasyness or stickiness. It's not matte and has a barely-there tint that enhances your natural lip color and makes your lips look kissable, even if they're chapped as hell. It also works well as a cuticle remedy and spot treatment for dry patches, because it both protects and moisturizes.

Since I will buy and rebuy this product probably until I'm 90, it passes the test. I love the way it feels on my lips and feel it does a good job keeping them from making me miserable, especially in the winter months. Sometimes, I wear it by itself. Sometimes, I layer it under lipstick or use it in tandem with other lip balms. The only thing that bothers me a little is the smell of the original, which took a little getting used to, because I don't really like flowery scents on my lips. The manufacturers have fixed this by offering a couple different formulations, like Strawberry, Mocha Rose, and Brambleberry Rose, my personal favorite.

However, while I like this lip balm an awful lot, I don't think it's as miraculous as people build it up to being. It simply does a good job without a lot of frills, it's convenient, and it's cheap. The original rosebud salve is only $6 for a tin that will last you forever. And I mean forever. Months and months and months. I always lose my tins before I finish them, actually. And then I wind up stealing some from my sister whenever I see her; she's a fan of the salve as well. And, in case you're like me and tend to plot out Christmas gifts waaaaay in advance, it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Cost: $6 for the original, $7 for the flavors

Where to Purchase: Sephora has the Original and Strawberry. Beauty Habit has all of them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Affordable Eye Creams

I have a confession to make. I don't use eye creams unless I get samples of them. Which isn't very often. I know, I know. I'm supposed to use eye creams, and they're supposed to be good for me, etc. I just find most of them to be overpriced and don't want to shell out the money when I don't have major problems with puffiness, fine lines, or dark circles.  However, my bestest friend requested some eye cream reviews, so I'm going to do my best to provide some decent options that won't impoverish you.

Since most of the eye creams I've tried have been over $40, I did some research to find some that have decent ingredients, good reviews and are decently priced. I basically went through Makeup Alley and tried to find eye creams that had lots of reviews and high repurchasing rates. Here are the results:

Neutrogena's Ageless Essentials Continuous Hydration Eye Cream, $12-17: I had high hopes that I would find some kick-ass drugstore eye creams, but the reviews on Makeup Alley were lukewarm at best for the majority. This cream has pretty decent reviews stating that it's excellent for hydration and de-puffing with the potential for dark circle reduction. 80% out of 37 reviewers would buy it again.

Burt's Bees Repair Serum, $18: It's all natural and is supposed to be great for fine lines, puffiness and dark circles if applied at night under your normal moisturizer. Apparently, it also has a strong lavender smell, which bothers some people, and one small vial can last you anywhere from 6 months to a year. 70% of 277 Makeup Alley reviewers would buy it again. That's pretty impressive considering that Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Recovery Complex ($46.50) also had 277 reviews and only 47% would rebuy it.

Weleda's Skin Food, $18: You can use this stuff all over your body, but I've found quite a few reviews of people who use it under their eyes instead of pricier eye creams who find it to be extremely effective. It's a really rich, intensive cream and should probably be applied a bit before you apply makeup so it can sink into your skin all the way. You could also apply it before bed. It comes in a 2.5oz container and you can get it for much cheaper on Amazon, so I think this is one of the best deals so far. 80% of 477 Makeup Alley reviewers would buy it again.
And, sadly, these were the best I could find that were under $20. I was hoping there would be more, and there were quite a few that looked promising, but they were either out of the price range or had reviews that were way too conflicting. I'm not going to post about a product that has a ton of "OMG! It's so moisturizing!" reviews, coupled with a bunch of "It dried out my eyes and gave me milia!!" reviews without testing it on myself first. Also, I see tons of products that claim to reduce under eye circles, but I think your best bet is to use a good anti-wrinkle eye cream and a concealer. The only products that get rave reviews for healing dark circles will cost you an arm and a leg/first born child.

If you happen to be on an insane budget, like moi, another option is to put vaseline under your eyes before bed and after moisturizing. People like Tyra Banks swear by it. Personally, I'm not that impressed, but it works as a last resort.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cosmetics Review: BareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow 4.0

The ProductBareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow 4.0

The Review: A couple days ago, my roommate and I went to a Bare Escentuals store and let the sales girls attack our faces. My roommie loooooves BareMinerals products and wants to convert me, so I'm happy to test their products out. I don't think I could make a conversion though, because there are so many damn powders and a separate brush for each one. And I like things to be not so... powdery. And I like variation in my daily routine. However, I will admit they have some good products that are totally review-worthy. This eyeshadow compact was one of my favorite products that I tried.

I have light-ish brown eyes and dark hair, so I tend to play up the whole half-Native thing by going with darker, smoky colors. The colors in The Dream Sequence compact are not colors I would normally wear, which is why I'm glad the salesgirl picked it out. The four colors in the quad are 500 Thread Count, a pinkish light cream; Romp, a gray-ish shimmery lilac; Boudoir, a bright pinkish amethyst with a hint of shimmer; and Nightcap, a slightly darker, matte violet. At first glance, they looked really garish to me. I'll be honest, after they were applied, the first thing I thought was, "Oh my god, it's so purple!" But once I had eyeliner and mascara on, the colors looked much softer and really brought out my eyes. I was surprised that it didn't look too over the top for day wear, actually, and I think the colors in this compact would work fine on people with both warm and cool skin tones.

My roommate tried out The Elements quad:
I think this is the most innovative of the 4 color sets. It comes with Air, a shimmery pale taupe; Fire, a muted orange; Earth, a bluish slate gray; and Water, a smoky teal. Normally, I would think, "Orange and teal eyeshadow? Hells no." But together, the colors work really nicely and aren't at all over powering. Instead, they're eye catching, flattering and perfect for fall.

Texture-wise, these shadows are wonderful. They're smooth, long lasting, blend easily and don't crease. They're also highly pigmented, so you don't need much to get the exact same color you see in the compact. Plus, the company claims they have anti-aging properties. All in all, I'm very happy with them. You can see better images of them and the other quads in this series on the Bare Escentuals site.

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Cost: $30

Where to Purchase: BareEscentuals/BareMinerals, Sephora

Cosmetics Review: L'Oreal Paris' Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner

The Review: I love liquid liner and have been wearing it since high school. I've tried quite a few different brands, and I keep coming back to this one. Why? Because you can get a really crisp, perfect cat's eye look with it in just a couple seconds that lasts all day and all night. And I mean, all night. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled all-nighters with this stuff in college and had it still look good in the morning.

As with all eyeliners, liquid or pencil, reviews vary person to person. Whether you'll love an eyeliner depends on your technique, your skin type, and your personal liner preferences (matte or slightly wet-looking? Smudgy or precise? etc). This liner is for those who like precision and a slightly wet-looking liner. Think this:

Or this:

Not matte and smudgy, like this: 

But the best thing about this eyeliner? It's almost identical to Lancome's Artliner. Actually, I prefer L'Oreal's version, because the Artliner formulation stung my eyelids whenever I applied it and flaked a bit throughout the day. The L'Oreal version lasted longer, never stung my eyelids and didn't cost me $30, so I will buy this over Lancome's pricey Artliner any day. 

While there are a couple other colors you can test out, I only get the Carbon Black. I'm an eyeliner purist like that. But if you want to try out the other colors, be warned that some of them may be sheer and require multiple coats, according to some reviews I've read. I've never, ever had that problem with the Carbon Black, though.

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Cost: $8.99

Where to Purchase: Your local drugstore

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sole Society Rave

I'm going to take a break from random cosmetic products for a bit to rave about the customer service at Sole Society. I work in customer service. It's often a thankless, shitty job and most of the kindnesses you do for people go either unnoticed or unrewarded, potentially turning you into a cynical bitch with no hope in humanity. If you work in retail, you often get verbally abused or are requested to do unreasonable things by your customers and have to take it with a smile. Yesterday, I was at the mall with my roommate, and we were chatting with a really bored employee in one of the stores who once was required to refund a guy trying to return dirty underwear. EW. As for me, I've been yelled at, threatened, and had one lady throw shoes at me when I worked at Macy's. When you do customer service work over the phone or email, you often deal with unbearably stupid and impatient people and have to maintain a polite tone of voice/phrasing at all times. It's... character building. So when a company has consistently amazing customer service, I'm always super appreciative.

Have you heard of Sole Society? If you haven't, it's a free members-only shoe service that provides it's members with gorgeous shoes at $49.95 per pair. It's a lot like Shoe Dazzle or JustFab, but with much higher quality shoes (lots of them have real leather!) and no annoying Kardashians. You can actually find a lot of the Sole Society shoes in stores under the Jessica Simpson, BCBG and Kenzie Girl brands, because apparently, they're all made by the same manufacturer. The difference is that instead of shelling out anywhere from $60-100 for a pair of BCBG heels, you can get them at Sole Society for $50. So awesome.

They also have the most amazing customer service. Around a week and a half ago, I returned a pair of gold Brittania flats because the left was a lot smaller than the right. Shoe defects happen all the time in most brands, so I didn't think much of it. I just figured I'd wait patiently for the order to be credited back to my account, so I could exchange them for a different pair. Much to my surprise, they not only credited my account the full amount, but they also gave me a coupon for a second free pair of shoes. How amazing is that?? Now I'm stuck debating if I want to get 2 pairs this month or wait til the November styles come out. Seriously, they made my day. Even if the shoes weren't as great as they are, the customer service alone is reason enough to me to be a Sole Society member, because they clearly value their customers and want to keep them happy. Every time I've had to deal with their customer service reps, they've always been so sweet, helpful and nice to work with. I hope they stay that way.

If you're interested in becoming a member and want to see your options, check out my friend Chee's blog,  Shoe Doctor, PhD. She has comprehensive lists of all the Sole Society shoes, finds really great deals on gorgeous shoes from other designers, and holds regular contests for free pairs of heels.