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