Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray

The ProductBenefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray

The Review: Benefit markets their Stay Don't Stray as an eyeshadow and concealer primer. They claim that it fights the signs of aging with sodium hyaluronate and vitamins A and C, minimizes fine lines, brightens the eye area, comes in a universally flattering nude shade and blends seamlessly into your skin. If you don't believe me, you can check out its Sephora page. To me, this primer is like a bad boyfriend- sooooo many promises, getting your hopes up, and then very little follow-through, leading you to bouts of drinking and self-loathing... Ok. So this primer isn't that bad, but I like to err on the side of the melodramatic. What do you expect of a girl who went to school for opera? See? All my ridiculousness makes much more sense now.

Anyway, I like some things about this primer. When I wear it, my eyeshadow doesn't crease and I think it makes the colors a little more intense. Also, it conceals the crap out of my undereye circles when I blend it correctly. On the other hand, there are a lot of things I dislike. First off, the dispenser pump dispenses WAAAAAAY too much. With this product, you need only a tiny little bit for both eyes. The bottle dispenses enough for, like, 5 people's eyes. I wish I was exaggerating on this one, but I'm not. Even when I'm careful, I still wind up with way more product than I can use, and I hate how much gets wasted. I heard that Benefit might be changing the packaging so that it'll have a doe foot applicator. We shall see...

Second off, this is a very high maintenance primer. The primer itself goes on tacky and pretty damn opaque, so you have to be very careful, go slowly, and blend the shit out of it to keep it from looking like a bad concealer accident (I call this the "reverse raccoon eye." Also, based on this pic, I wonder if this isn't the favorite product of Eva Longoria). I like to call it my eye spackle. Oh, and you also have to let it dry a minute or 2 before applying your eyeshadow. Oh! And make sure your face is well moisturized beforehand or it will highlight every little minute line and look cakey. Basically, if you like to throw on your makeup and run, this is not the primer for you.

Lastly, all these damn claims. Like I said, if you're not well moisturized beforehand, it will NOT "minimize the appearance of fine lines." The product is heavy and opaque and definitely not "lightweight," although I suppose it will eventually "blend seamlessly onto skin" if you work on it long enough. The "universally flattering nude shade" is only flattering if you're a universal shade of pale. I could barely make this work on me when I had a tan, so I can't imagine anyone of Indian or African descent getting this to work for them. I also have yet to see any anti-aging benefits. Maybe you have to use it for years? Eh. I never trust anti-aging claims. Also, word of warning. Other reviewers have mentioned that the product sometimes separates after a couple months, deeming it useless.

Honestly, there are a lot of great eyeshadow primers out there. Smashbox, Urban Decay, and Too Faced all have some decent ones that aren't half as high maintenance and annoying as this one. From what I've read, this primer tends to be favored by pale ladies with extremely oily eyelids, so if that is your situation, maybe you'll like this primer. However, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a company claims a product will do all these wondrous things, even though it's flat-out bullshit. Maybe if they had kept it simple and only claimed that this primer would "make your eyeshadows REALLY stay put", I would have been more lenient.

Rated Beauty Grade: C+

Price: $26

Where to Buy: Your local Benefit counter, Sephora

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cosmetics Review: ModelCo SHINE Ultra Lip Gloss

The Product: ModelCo SHINE Ultra Lip Gloss

The Review: I got this lipgloss in my November Birchbox, and I have to say that this is the reason why I keep getting Birchboxes- once in a while, you get a full size product that kicks ass, like this lovely lipgloss from ModelCo. Oh, how I love this gloss. I got it in "Showgirl Red," which is kind of misleading because it's not red. It's more like a sheer reddish watermelonish pink that tints your lips the my idea of the perfect amount - you can tell that you're wearing it, but it doesn't broadcast itself. Think of it more like highlighting your lips rather than shining a giant spotlight on them.  It is SUCH a gorgeous color and I can see it looking good on pretty much every skintone. It's the type of color that not only can you wear it by itself every day, but it looks AWESOME over every lipstick shade I've tried with it- reds, peaches, plums, a random brownish shade, peachy gold, you get the gist.

As for the gloss formulation itself, it's not got any nasty flavor (or really any flavor) and it smells like those strawberry candies you get at Christmas. YUM. It doesn't seem to dry out my lips at all, and it's quite long lasting for a gloss. If I don't drink too much coffee at work, I can go at least 3 hours before I feel the urge to re-apply. This is impressive, because I am a chronic re-applier of the lip products. Lip balm? Like every hour. "Long lasting" lip gloss? Same thing. I think part of it is the texture. It's a little thicker and has a very emollient feel to it with a teensy bit of stickiness. It's like a waaaay improved version of Lancome's Juicy Tubes, which are super thick and very sticky.

Another thing I love? The packaging! I never get all that excited about packaging, but this gloss has a built-in mirror on the side of the tube, which is clear and quite classy-looking, in my opinion. So cute.

All in all, this is a great gloss and I've been wearing it every day for the last 2 weeks. I think it's definitely worth the money and plan on buying it again once I run out.  However, if you're the type of person who absolutely can't stand any hint of stickiness, I would suggest avoiding this one.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $16

Where to Buy: Birchbox

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Tarte Smooth Operator Micronized Clay Finishing Powder

The ProductTarte Smooth Operator Micronized Clay Finishing Powder

The Review: Whoooo, it's been a long hiatus there, guys. Sorry about that, but I got super busy at work for the summer months. Now, I'm back to being bored and am super enthusiastic about makeup again, due to all the phenomenal Christmas palettes and limited edition stuff coming out. Right now, Sephora is basically my idea of expensive makeup heaven. So many pretties! Omg.

Anyway, to kick off my foray back into blogland, I figured I would give you all a review of this nifty little product. It got it in a Tarte set not too long ago and never really used it because my skin is never all that oily after applying my mineral foundation. However, I decided to try it on a no makeup day after applying one of my more oily moisturizers. Shabam! Matte face! No shininess remained, so I was quite impressed. I thought it made my skin feel a little like I'd just put chalk powder on it, but if I was a person who regularly struggled with oily skin, I think it wouldn't bother me. Decent product, did what it was supposed to, but since my skin's not that oily, it got thrown on my pile of "products I will never use."

Then, one day, my side bangs were super greasy, due to my not washing out an oil treatment well enough the night before. I had just run out of dry shampoo and I was in a hurry to get to work, so I thought, "Eh. What the hell. This  Tarte stuff absorbed oil on my face, I'ma stick in on my bangs!" I didn't have high hopes. Really, all I was expecting was a slight improvement that would keep my coworkers from noticing. Instead, just a little bit of this powder applied at the roots and brushed through made my hair look as thought I'd just taken a shower. Mind. Blown. No, my hair wasn't as shiny, but that's easily fixable and honestly, I haven't run into a dry shampoo product that worked better on my hair (for reference, I have dry, dark, fine hair). Use a little shine serum/spray and poof! Good as new.

Now, I've officially sworn off normal dry shampoos and have devoted my greasy hair days (I try not to shampoo every day, because it's supposed to be better for your hair) to this product. I figure if it's safe enough for my face, it's definitely better for my scalp. Plus, it's unscented so it doesn't clash with my other hair products. Lastly, even though it's $28, a little goes a loooooong way. That little sample I got in that Tarte set has lasted me almost 2 months, (I use it once or twice a week), and I definitely plan on buying the full size product after I run out.

Long story short, it rids both your face and hair of the greasies. Hooray, multipurpose!!!

Rated Beauty Grade: For face, A-. As a dry shampoo powder, A

Price: $28

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: Benefit Cosmetics Bella Bamba Blush

The ProductBenefit Cosmetics Bella Bamba Blush

The Review: This is one of the products that I'm on the fence about. So, I'll start out with the positive. In bullet points. Because dammit, I'm in a bulleting kind of mood (and by that, I mean I just did a bunch of bullet-pointy emails at work and no longer know how to write any other way...).

  • The packaging is super cute. So, so cute! It's purple and sparkly with a flip-top lid, has a mirror on the interior, and comes with an adorable little brush. While the flip-top lid can be a little annoying, I like it better than a regular plastic case, because I don't have to worry about it breaking in my purse. 
  • The color of this blush is quite lovely. They describe it as "watermelon-pink blush laced with shimmering gold undertones," and I completely agree that description. I didn't find it to be too shimmery and the pink is very complimentary, especially for olive-toned skin. 
  • It's pretty decently pigmented. You don't need too much, but it's buildable if you want a more dramatic look or have darker skin. Fair-skinned ladies will probably need very little.
  • It smells nice. Kind of fruity. I don't mind it. 
And now for my dislikes: 
  • The blush is really, really powdery, and it's not as finely milled as you'd expect for a $28 blush. The texture feels kind of low quality, which makes me suspect you're paying more for the adorable packaging than for the product itself. I am not cool with this.
  • It doesn't have staying power. I've tried wearing it with foundation, just over primer, and with everything but the kitchen sink. No matter what way I try, it doesn't last for an entire day. But the color is so pretty that I keep wearing it and reapplying it when I get home, before going out again.
So, do you see why I'm torn? I mean, the color is SO ADORABLE! If it were a child, I'd coo over it. And I don't even like children. I love wearing it, because I love how it looks on me, but I hate that I have to reapply it and that the texture is more reminiscent of E.L.F. than NARS. Sigh. I also hate recommending a product that I think is of inferior quality for the price, so... just try it before you buy it? 

Rated Beauty Grade: B-
Price: $28
Where to Purchase: Sephora

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. At first, I got really busy at work with my new job duties. Things seem to have calmed down a bit this week, but I'm pretty stressed out and just not in the mood to post about makeup. Which is weird, because you all know I LOVE makeup. I think a big part of it is that I just haven't found any products of late that have really wowed me. Everything I've tried in the last couple weeks have been varying shades of mediocre, and it's really boring to write about lots of products that are just... OK.

I'm still going to review them. I just need a little bit of a break from it though, because my day job is mediocre enough as it is. Blogging, to me, is something that is fun that I use to escape the mediocrity of office life. When it stops being fun, I need something else to do to entertain me when I'm bored off my ass. When I'm bored at work, my only option other than reading random shiz online is to write, so I've started a new blog where I am free to write about whatever want, whenever I want. And you are all free to check out my rantings (some funny, some serious, lots of f-bombs. Because I swear like a sailor in real life when I'm not being a polite receptionist/customer service monkey. Just a warning, in case your eyeballs are easily offended).

I will, of course, still be ranting/raving about makeup on this blog, though. I just need another week or so vacation to get my enthusiasm back up. After that, I will have lots of reviews for Tarte, Benefit, Buxom, Smashbox, NARS, and other random stuffs for your perusal. Starting next week-ish, I think. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Get Almost-Free Nailpolish!

Signing up to become a Julep Maven is basically the same thing as signing up for a Birchbox, just $10 more expensive and for nailpolish. Except for this month, where you can get your Maven box for $0.01. I got mine yesterday, which had 2 nailpolishes and a full-size glycolic hand scrub. It really was only a penny (although in some states, you will have to pay shipping and handling. Not in MN, though!). Thus far, I love the hand scrub, which smells like oranges and is super gentle, and the nailpolish is really, really nice. So if you're interested, head on over to Julep and use the code "SHAREONMARCH" before the end of the month. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Smashbox Hyperlash Mascara

The ProductSmashbox Hyperlash Mascara

The Review: So, just to catch everyone up on where the hell I've been... I got a promotion at work, so I've actually been kept busy for once. I am so sick of spreadsheets. Oh my god. You have no idea. Anyway, today has been another godawful day full of spreadsheets and help desk tickets, but I figured I'd try to get another post out of myself, even though I'm tired and my brain feels like it's been put through a pasta machine.  Therefore, I won't mince words:

This mascara flakes. A lot. Like, I had mascara flakes/chunks on my cheeks after around an hour. Wtf? I thought mascara formulation had advanced past this. This isn't the 90's, Smashbox. Get with the effing program. I mean, if the mascara didn't flake so much, I would love it. It made my lashes all pretty, perfect and separated. Unfortunately, no one likes it when their lashes are dandruffing all over their cheeks. It's icky. And it sucks balls when you work as a receptionist, you're stuck having people stare at you all day, and you have no idea your mascara is shedding all over your face. And, of course, no one told me this was the case. Screw you, Smashbox! (JK. I love most of their products. Every brand has to have a dud, I guess...)

But in all seriousness, no mascara that flakes should come with a $21 price tag. That's the shiz I expect from the crappiest of all crappy drugstore mascaras, you know?

Rated Beauty Grade: C-

Price: $21

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Eye Rock Designer Liner

The ProductEye Rock Designer Liner

The Review: I love liquid eyeliner. LOVE IT. I've had years to perfect my application technique, but I'm always up to trying new/weird stuff. Like this product. Stick on liquid eyeliner? So weird. But I got it in my Birchbox, so I tried it out. I mean, it's supposed to be easier than applying liquid eyeliner, so I should love it, right? I mean, check out Birchbox's video. They make application look so simple!

Wrong. This is not what applying this stuff is like. THIS is what it's like (skip to the 3:30 mark and watch her struggle):

I had pretty much an identical experience, except worse because I don't have big lids. This is kind of an older picture (I'm at work, so facebook is all I have for pics. I have much longer hair now), but you can see how I have tiny lids:

This product will not work if your lids are similar to mine or smaller, because they're extremely thick near the outside corners. However, even if you do have the perfect eyeshape, I think they'd still be horrid. First off, these are stickers. Flat out stickers. They're not very bendy, and they're a bitch to apply because you have to snip them to get the correct length, you can't have on any makeup beforehand, and it's really hard to get them aimed correctly. I think it took me 4 tries, and by that point, they weren't sticky anymore, so I had to use lash glue to glue them on. Because the "liner" is so thick near the outside edges, they wouldn't fit properly on my lid and had to go on top of my crease, which was horribly uncomfortable whenever I blinked. I guess they feel exactly how you'd expect it to feel if you put a sticker on your eyelid. And they don't look like real liquid eyeliner at all. Pretty sure if anyone got close to you, they'd be able to tell it's a sticker.

Overall, I hated, HATED this product. I think they'd only work if you have average-to-large lids and an extremely average eyeshape. And if you don't like applying any eye makeup other than liner. Plus, it would take a lot of practice to get to the point where applying these stickers would take under 5 minutes. I can put liquid liner on and get it perfect in under 2. Liquid eyeliner, I love you.

Rated Beauty Grade: D-

Price: $13

Where to Purchase: Birchbox

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Too Faced Glamour Gloss

The ProductToo Faced Glamour Gloss

The Review: This gloss is pretty interesting. It's moisturizing, long-lasting, and leaves you with a pleasant cooling sensation that lasts a surprisingly long time. I guess that's because it's supposed to plump your lips and what-not. Anyway, I currently own it in "Flirt." Basically, it's a slightly darker neutral nude with more pink. I got it because it's really close to my natural lip color and looks good with pretty much everything else I stick on my face. Aw, yeah. Totally wearing it right now.

Anyway, enough of my bitching about color details. This gloss is pretty decent. Is it epically mind-blowing? Eh, nah. But it's still a great gloss. I love it because it's glossy without being too shiny, stays in place, and lasts for around 3 hours before I have to reapply. The texture is a little thicker and a little more sticky but not in a way that's uncomfortable. Also, I love the vanilla scent. It makes me think of those vanilla tootsie roll things.

Let me see that tootsie roll! (God, I hate that song)

On the downside, the taste is kind of blandly gross. Like vanilla chalk. You will also not like this gloss if you hate your lips feeling tingly and minty fresh. Personally, I like the sensation, but that's because my mom raised me on Carmex, and I've been a fan of lip stuff that tingles ever since.  But some people hate that, and if you do, don't get this lipgloss. Also, it's supposed to plump your lips. I already have full lips, and I'm pretty sure it hasn't made them noticeably bigger. Otherwise, I would have freaked out. Therefore, I'm calling gimmick on this one, but maybe other people's lips react to minty tingling more than mine I do.

Rated Beauty Grade: B

Price: $19

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Monday, March 5, 2012

Skincare Review: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

The ProductDermalogica Daily Microfoliant

The Review: This is, hands down, the most awesomely innovative exfoliation product I've used thus far. I got a travel-sized sample from Birchbox and have been using it almost obsessively ever since. It's just so much fun to use, and it makes my skin and hands ridiculously soft.

Basically, it's a fine powder that contains enzymes, rice bran, salicylic acid and colloidal oatmeal. After washing your face, you wet your hands and sprinkle a small amount onto them, rubbing them together to create what looks like a slightly foamy cleanser. Then, you massage it all over your face, rinse it off, and behold! Super soft, exfoliated skin!  Because the treatment uses enzymes instead of hard particles (ground up almond shells, salt, sugar, diamonds, etc.), dead skin is dissolved rather than scrubbed away, which is much better for your face. It's also super easy to wash off and leaves no residue.

Thus far, I have had zero bad side effects. I don't use it every day, because my skin doesn't need it, and I can honestly say my skin has never liked an exfoliation treatment so much. I think the last time my skin looked this glowy and pretty was after I got a facial. The only downside is that it's so damn pricey, but unlike other products, I think this one is totally worth it. You don't need a lot of product, and any excess product can be rubbed onto your hands for a quicky hand treatment so none goes to waste. All in all, it's awesome and is probably the best skincare product I've ever used.

Rated Beauty Grade: A+

Price: $50 (although I found it on Amazon for $31)

Where to Purchase: Birchbox (Are you a member? If not, click here!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Revlon PhotoReady 3D Volume Mascara

The Product: Revlon PhotoReady 3D Volume Mascara

The Review: I was kind of hoping to find a budget version of Benefit's They're Real! Mascara, and this Revlon mascara had a really similar brush with the little spikey bristles at the end. So, I bought that shiz. And now I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Here's the positive: This mascara will give you really great separation and length. It's fast-drying.  It doesn't flake and it stays on nicely all day long. It makes my eyelashes look very "there," but it's not so crazy-dramatic that I can't wear it on sparse makeup days. There are day mascaras and night mascaras, and I feel like this one is a happy-medium of both. Plus, it doesn't clump too badly, when it's behaving.

Here's the negative: Some mascaras have tubes with narrow openings that scrape away excess product whenever you remove the wand. Not so with this one. Sometimes, I pull out the wand and am faced with an ungodly gloopy mess of a brush with huge chunks of mascara all over it. And no matter what I try, the end bristles that are supposed to be used on the inner corner lashes turn into a blob of mascara and are completely unusable. Here's a pic I found of what the brush looks like on a good day:
Still kinda clumpy, but it could be a LOT worse... 
Also, the formula won't hold a curl to save it's life. I always curl my lashes pre-mascara, and this stuff makes the curl disappear almost every time. LAME. I mean, they still look nice, but they're just not curled and perfect. You also get very little volume, which sucks because that's what the company claims this mascara will provide. And don't touch your lashes after it's applied, because they'll start sticking together. Last but not least, there are strips on the brush without any bristles, so you have to double check and make sure your lashes are lined up properly, which I find annoying.

Overall, if I manage to get the brush de-clumped, super-curl my lashes to make up for the curl-killing aspect of the formula, and don't mess with my lashes after application, the ending effect is pretty good. However, this product is too high-maintenance for me to endorse. I'd suggest saving your money. Oh, and it's not even close to being a good copy-cat of Benefit's They're Real. Darn...

Rated Beauty Grade: C+

Price: App. $8

Where to Purchase: Drugstores

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint

The ProductJouer Luminizing Moisture Tint

The Review: This was one of the super fun thingers I got in my February Birchbox. Thus far, I really like it. It's hypoallergenic, oil free, fragrance free, and water resistant. I was especially grateful for the water resistant bit, because I got rained on during my walk into work this morning. Amazingly, my makeup survived, mostly unscathed.

There are a lot of tinted moisturizers on the market. What makes this product unique is that it's extremely light-weight and protects your skin with SPF 20 without making your face feel gross. I know that doesn't sound all that special, but considering you get that along with a tinted moisturizing formula with shimmer incorporated to even out your skintone, I think it's pretty nifty. Best of all, Jouer doesn't go with a one-shimmery-tint-fits-all philosophy. There are currently 6 shades to choose from, giving you more options that other brands.

The only thing that concerns me about this product is that in all the shades, the shimmer in the product is largely a warmer gold, so they may not work as well for someone with very cool/blue undertones. Just something to watch for. The little glitter particles are pretty tiny, so maybe it won't even matter. But all in all, I like it. It's not one of those absolutely must-have products for me right now because it's winter, and I want more coverage than it provides. However, it's awesome for no-makeup days, and I think it might be indispensable for me in the spring and summer when I want to be all fresh-faced and glowing (code for "I don't want to look like I just sweated all my makeup off").

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $38

Where to Purchase: Birchbox, Jouer, Amazon

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Product Updates

Much to my eternal chagrin, I have had to revise some of my original reviews. Here are the revisions:

L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand CreamL'Occitane has done away with the amazing honey-almond scent and replaced it with a god-awful ylang-ylang, jasmine floral perfume. Both my roommate and I tried it and our consensus is that this once perfect hand cream now smells like old lady with a hint of diaper. And it's not subtle. If you have scent allergies, it will give you an insta-headache. This product used to be my idea of hand cream perfection. Why, L'Occitane?? WHYYYY??? I have now had to change the grade from an A+ to a B-. If you like the smell, it will be an A+ for you.

Make Up Forever's Aqua Eyes EyelinerThe last 2 pencils I purchased were not up to par. I never, ever had smearing issues when I first started buy this product, but with my last 2 pencils, I've had a hard time getting my liner to last all day. I changed nothing else in my routine, so I suspect a formula change. Also, there's something up with the manufacturing, because the liner has started to break easily. Really easily. They became really annoying to sharpen, and if you're going to spend almost $20 on an eyeliner, you don't want to be neurotic about sharpening it. I've had to downgrade it to a B instead of an A.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss

The Review: This lip gloss wonderful. I can't believe I've gone so long without it. Currently, I have it in Illume, which is a sheer, light, slightly shimmery beige with a hint of pink. I love how it feels, how it wears, how it looks.  Most glosses tend to be either long-wearing and goopy/sticky or pleasant-feeling with no staying power. This gloss feels awesome on and lasts for a surprising amount of time. It's a lot like Jouer's gloss in that respect but slightly cheaper with a more exciting array of colors. 

In my opinion, this is a high-quality gloss. The texture is a little different from most glosses. Instead of being sticky, it's almost oily-feeling. Sounds unpleasant, but it's not. Or at least, I didn't think it was; I prefer a texture like that over heavy, goopy glosses. In addition, it has a very pleasant, faint vanilla scent and no flavor. Best of all, it's very moisturizing and won't dry out your lips. Totally worth the money. 

Just a side note: I've only tried the sheer. This gloss also comes in a full-color version that some reviewers on Sephora complain about, due to the smell. I haven't stuck my nose into it yet, so I have no idea. I'll sniff it the next time I'm make-up shopping and will let y'all know.  

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Price: $18

Where to Purchase: Sephora

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cosmetics Review: e.l.f. Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder

The Producte.l.f. Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder

The Review: If you haven't noticed by now, I'm on a huge drugstore make-up kick. I got a couple Target giftcards, and I love finding cheap make-up that's as good or almost as good as department store products. Who wants to spend $30+ when you can buy something close to identical for $8? Right? So much fun! It's like treasure hunt for me. Anyway, I was kind of excited for this product. Temptalia claims it's a 95% dupe for NARS' Orgasm/Laguna combo, and I've read about it countless times, so I had high hopes. Sadly, they were dashed.

First off, the color of the blush and bronzer are NOT 95% close to being a perfect match. I'd say more of a 70% match, and whoever claims otherwise will get an extremely raised eyebrow from me. The e.l.f version is a sparkly-ish pink with a darker-than-normal bronzer, but that's where the similarities end. However, I'm going to try to review this objectively and save the make-up snobbery for later.

For a $3 blush/bronzer combo, it's a really good value. The bronzer is pretty great for contouring but will probably be too dark for lighter skintones. The blush will give you color and a hit of shimmer. I think it should work for most skintones. However, it's powdery and not highly-pigmented, so you definitely need more of the blush to get decent color. It doesn't have great staying power, and at the end of the day, I can't really tell I had blush on. However, it's cheap, so I think that should kinda-sorta be expected. It also comes in a sleek compact, which is pretty awesome. All in all, I think this is a functional product and worth the $3. Great if you're on a super tight budget.

Now for the snobbery: In my opinion, it doesn't come close to NARS. It is not a double. It's not even close. It's like saying Covergirl blush is the equivalent of Dior. I don't know if Temptalia's Dupe list is only for color. If it is, I could see how, strictly eyeballing it, someone could confuse NARS Laguna and e.l.f's version. But not the blushes. Orgasm is a rich, fascinating pink with gold shimmer. E.l.f.'s is flat, boring, and not even close. But they're both pink, so I guess that counts for something?

Then again, even if the color was pretty close, I would bitch about it, because the product is not up to my standards. NARS is like the magical unicorn of blushes to me. The quality and texture of the powder, the pigmentation... It's just so... mythical. And then you have people saying e.l.f. can live up to that. It's like saying, "You know what's just as awesome as a real, live unicorn? This here stuffed turtle!" Nothing against stuffed turtles. I mean, they're adorable. But they're just not as awesome as a unicorn. Anway, I'll stop ranting, because at the end of the day, this blush/bronzer combo is great value and will put decent color on your face.

Rated Beauty Grade: B-

Price: $3

Where to Purchase: Drugstores

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner

The Product: Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner

The Review: Last week was the week I ran out of just about everything I normally use on my face. First the foundation, then eyeliner, then mascara. Wtf? All before a concert. Ugh. Anyway, I bought this eyeliner because I completely forgot to buy some on my Sephora run and figured that if I was going to buy something I didn't trust, it had better be cheap. All I needed it to do was survive a performance.

Much to my surprise, I actually like this eyeliner. It doesn't go on as effortlessly as some of the pricier brands, but it's well-pigmented and smudges reeeeally nicely. Some waterproof eyeliners wind up being kind of waxy, but this stuff isn't. It's perfect for smudgy, sexy looks and lasts all day long. I didn't notice any fall-out, and it even stayed in place when I forgot to take my makeup off before bed (it's a bad, bad habit, I know...). Also, it's super easy to use for lining your waterline. Thus far, I am really impressed by it. Who would have thought such a cheap eyeliner would be so reliable?

While I really like the liner itself, the packaging leaves much to be desired. It's supposed to be a normal retractable eyeliner pencil, but the design is defective. Unless you get lucky, the actual liner won't stay in the pencil or will jump out at you when you try to retract it. The first one I bought wouldn't retract or vice-versa without the liner jumping out of the pencil, so I immediately returned it and got another. The second one I got seemed fine at first, but after a week of using it, it's started doing the same thing, just not as badly. I thought maybe my Target got a bad batch, but I've read other reviews by people who had the same experience. So, if you decide to purchase it, make sure you test it in-store after buying to make sure you have one that actually works.

Just a heads up, posting will continue to be slow for a while, because I am one sick mofo. I was fighting what I thought was a cold last week, and this week, it's a full-blown sinus infection. I feel like I spent the weekend head-butting a mountain goat. Everyone's like, "Get a neti pot!" but those things scare me...

No matter how hard she tries, neti potting will never be sexy.

Rated Beauty Grade: C, B+ if you get a pencil that actually works.

Price: $6

Where to Buy: Drugstores

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Sephora Mineral Foundation Compact

The ProductSephora Mineral Foundation Compact

The Review: Last Sunday, I had to perform as a soloist for Mozart's Requiem, which meant I needed to have makeup that looked awesome under bright stage lights. Of course,  I finally ran out of my Lancome mineral foundation (which is decent, btw. I noticed no difference between it and the Ă”scillation Powerfoundation) the week before the performance, so I had to hunt down another foundation in time. I thought about getting the same thing again, because Lancome was running their gift-with-purchase promotion, but I didn't want to spend the $42. So, I went to Sephora and found this little gem.

This foundation rocks my socks. Or my face. Whatever. First and foremost, it's not a loose powder. It's pressed powder. A mineral foundation in pressed powder form!! Praise the heavens!!! I was so sick of getting powder all over the sink. My roommate also uses mineral foundation, so our sink always looks like we just bathed a clay-covered baby in it. Now that I no longer use loose foundation powder, it will look like only half a clay-covered baby was bathed in it. Hooray!

Would you want to wash this in your sink? 
Secondly, the coverage is surprisingly good and on par with Bare Minerals. With both brands, my skin looks completely even with no hint of shine. They render the redness in my cheeks and my freckles close to non-existent. When I was in the store, I covered half my face in the original Bare Minerals foundation and half with Sephora's version. When using a brush (and in general), it takes a little more effort to get as much coverage with Sephora's as Bare Minerals provides, but not enough to make a case for Bare Minerals being superior. My friends couldn't even figure out which side was which after they were both applied.

Thirdly, it performs well. It comes with a mirror and dual-side sponge (one side for light coverage, one for heavier), so I've been taking it to work with me for touch-ups. Thus far, I haven't had to reach for it once, and my makeup still looks great at night. When I had my performance, I layered more on for heavier coverage and was impressed that it pretty much covered every flaw in my skin without looking like I was wearing a foundation mask or making my skin feel smothered in makeup.

I think the only thing I dislike about this powder is that it does take a little bit more effort to get fuller coverage. I guess you could call it more "buildable"? Considering that after it's applied it performs as well as mineral foundations almost twice the cost, I don't think that's such a huge deterrent. Keep in mind that it's only $4 cheaper than Bare Minerals, so if you're not really saving an incredible amount of money if you choose Sephora's (however, the compact makes up for this in my opinion). I also find it incredibly annoying that it costs as much as the Buildable Cover Complexion Kit, which is $22 for a primer, concealer, full-size foundation, and brushes. I would have bought that, but they're out of mediums. Ugh. So, if you have light or tan skin, definitely get the intro kit instead of the single foundation. It's a MUCH better deal.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $22

Where to Buy: Sephora

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Do's and Dont's of Monochromatic Eyemakeup

There is a right and wrong way to do monochromatic eye-makeup. You can go for the natural look and use a subtle, lighter eyeshadow that's close to your natural skintone (I prefer pale, shimmery, neutral golds) with mascara, preferably with a little eyeliner on the upper lid thrown in:

Angelina Jolie looks so lovely here. I miss the old days. When she didn't look like a bobble-head.
You can highlight your eyes with a single color, just on the lid, being careful to blend properly: 

Frieda Pinto's makeup artist knows how to work that blue eyeshadow. 
Or you can get all dramatic with a single bold color:
Rihanna always has fun makeup looks. 
But you know what's more fun than looking at celebrities with great makeup? Looking at celebrities with really horrible makeup. I now present to you celebrity examples that will teach you exactly how not to do the monochromatic eyeshadow look:

Alecia Keys, with pink eyeshadow
 all the way to her eyebrows. 
Alecia is so beautiful, that she almost makes this work. Almost. However, the color is too opaque and inexpertly applied, so it's reminiscent of a junior high schooler experimenting with her sister's makeup stash. I'm pretty sure the only time you can get away with using a single color to your eyebrows is if it's a sheer highlighting color or a neutral base color. Or if it's black and you're trying to look like a panda. Speaking of pandas:
Taylor Momsen: Panda or raccoon? 
Edgy, dark rock makeup is hot. So hot. But this? Every time I see this girl, I can't take her seriously, because she looks like she got her makeup inspiration from a panda documentary. Smearing black eyeshadow half an inch below your eyes is never a good idea.

Scarlett Johansson with an awful teal eyeshadow job. 
I normally love Scarlett Johnasson. She used to look flawless pretty much all the time. Awesome styling, great makeup... And then she got divorced and dated Sean Penn, which somehow killed her hotness mojo. Scarlett. Stop fighting the hot. STOP IT. And please, never combine that awful teal eyeshadow with pink lipstick again. Attempting a toned-down Mimi look is not sexy.  

Leanne Rimes like her eyes to match her dress... 
Silver eyeshadow blended with other colors looks awesome. Silver eyeshadow on its own looks juvenile. Especially when paired with bright lipstick. Eesh.  I used to wear my makeup like this in Jr. High. Not gonna lie. So glad I grew out of that awful phase. Sadly, some people never do...

And last but not least:
Lindsay Lohan looks like this now...
Holy mother of god. This girl. I want to attack her, dye her hair a more flattering color and remove every single effing bronze eyeshadow and bronzer from her makeup arsenal, (and undo all the cosmetic work she's done to destroy her face). Biatch needs bronzer rehab. Google her. You'll see what I mean.

 In this pic, her whole makeup job is horrid, but the eyeshadow is the worst. Here, she's used a coppery color on her upper lid and then used the same shadow to line her lower lashline. While bronze/copper does make blue eyes pop, this shade looks abysmal with her skintone and makes her look like death. She's only 25. Isn't that kind of mindboggling? Especially when she used to look like this:

Back when Lindsay looked human. 

Aaaaah... fun times. And with this parting image, I will leave you to get happy hour drinks. Because it's Friday, and it's time to get that weekend started.

Our poster child of sobriety lures you with her sexyface. Awww, yeah. 

Disclaimer: Most likely, the pictures I chose have people with more than one eyeshadow on, but I've tried all the do's on myself, and it's totally doable to achieve all those looks with one color. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips

The Product: Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips

The Review: I think Physician's Formula is one of the most underrated drugstore brands, and I rarely see their products on the make-up blogs I frequent. Personally, I think this is a pity, because they have some really great stuff. Like this bronzer. I think I currently own it in "Sunset Strip," and have used up the "Riviera Strip" and the "Waikiki Strip." I loved all of them and found them versatile and kind of interchangeable.

Long story short, I've used these bronzers for years, and the reason I keep coming back to them is because they're both highly pigmented and highly versatile. You can use them as bronzer, eyeshadow, or for contouring and highlighting. I use them primarily for contouring my cheekbones, because I have had a hard time finding another bronzer that is dark enough. The only problem is that the product formula is very shimmery, so I always apply it under a matte foundation. That way, the shimmer is controlled and adds dimension rather than screaming,"Shimmer party! Wheeee!" Then again, they are "shimmer strips," so I guess it should be expected...

Anyway, other than the tons o' shimmer, the powder is fairly fine, highly pigmented and long-wearing. I don't need very much to get the looks I want, so one compact lasts me around 6 months or more, even though I wear it almost every single day. They also come in both warm and cool swatches for both darker and lighter skintones, which is very convenient. I love that they don't do a "one color fits all" approach.

Another thing I've noticed is that this product looks almost identical to Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Bricks, which I have not yet tried. The Physicians Formula version definitely came first, so I want to see how they compare. I'd assume Bobbi Brown's would be better, but I could be wrong. Check out the similarities:
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze
Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips in Riviera Strip

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Price: App. $13

Where to Buy: Physician's Formula, Drugstores

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cosmetics Review: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter

The Product: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter

The Review: I love a good bargain. Bargains make me happy. Kind of like unicorns make small children happy (I watched Despicable Me the other day. Don't judge). Anyway, this lip butter stuff is my new favorite bargain find. Unlike other lipcolors that claim to feel awesome on your lips but suck all the life out of them instead, this stuff actually does feel really, really nice without being drying. Plus, it provides just enough color to make your lips pop, but not enough that your coworkers can't stop staring at them. I bought the "Sugar Plum" color, which was one of the darkest-looking ones at Target. I can build it up pretty nicely, but it never looks dramatic. Maybe you can go semi-dramatic with some of the other colors, but I doubt it, because they're meant to be sheer. In other words, they're a great choice for looks like this:

Rachel McAdams is so adorable, I want to adopt her.
However, they don't have enough color for looks like this:

Megan Fox thinks your soul looks tasty.   
And now for the technical stuff: As I've basically stated above, these lip butters provide sheer-to-medium coverage and color. Their texture is rich and creamy without drying. Overall, I find mine to be quite long lasting and it doesn't transfer as much as other lipbalms do. Long-term, I haven't noticed any strange side-effects, and it does not dry out my lips. In addition, there is very little to no scent, which is great for those with sensitive noses. The only thing that I don't like is the packaging. I have to pull stupidly hard to remove the cap on mine, and it makes an audible noise. Not great for subtle retouching in a dead silent room... However, other than that, there's nothing else I dislike about this product. Drugstore bargain win!

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Price: Around $8

Where to Buy: Anywhere where Revlon products are sold, like Walgreens or Target

Friday, February 3, 2012

Skincare Review: BeautyMint Resurfacing Treatment with Retinol

The Product: BeautyMint Resurfacing Treatment with Retinol

The Review: Basically, the product is a sort of cream-colored rich serum that you apply to your face at night (retinol makes your skin more susceptible to sun damage if you put it on during the day). This is the only part of the BeautyMint system that I genuinely liked, because it works. I have a  feeling that any improvement I saw in my skin during my month of BeautyMint was due to this product.

After the first week of using it, I noticed results. It faded my freckles and made the faint lines in my forehead a bit less noticeable. Also, it made my skin a little softer (my skin didn't feel as nice when I left it out of my regimen for a couple days). I'm pretty impressed with it. Plus, it smells kinda nice. BeautyMint claims all their products are unscented, but this one had a definite scent to it- sort of a light, floral, herbal smell that I thought was pleasant. It wasn't enough to aggravate my scent allergies, so I was totally cool with it. On the downside, it slightly stung my skin the first couple days I used it, but I no longer have any issues with it. I guess my skin adjusted?

Overall, this is the only product in the BeautyMint line I would buy. If I could customize my own system, I'd get this, the cleanser and maybe the Ultra Replenishing Serum. Sadly, they don't let you do that, so I won't be continuing on with their beauty regimen. I'll also have to find a retinol treatment that works as nicely. Yay, more fun things to try!

Rated Beauty Grade: A

Where to Purchase: BeautyMint

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Skincare Review: BeautyMint Sculpting Treatment With Peptides

The Product: BeautyMint Scultping Treatment with Peptides

The Review: And yet another BeautyMint product I'm not all that impressed with. The product is this clear, sticky-ish gel that you slather on your face. They suggest you put it on last, but it makes my face feel tacky and sticky, so I put it on before the moisturizer when I'm using it during the day. Otherwise, I use it under the Resurfacing Treatment with Retinol at night, which I'm not sure you're supposed to do, but I haven't noticed any weird side effects, so I'm going to keep doing it.

They claim this sculpting treatment "targets visible signs of aging like diminished firmness and tone", has "ingredients that help promote vibrancy," and contains "botanicals like acai and green tea that contain protective properties." I've been using this product for a month now, and I honestly don't think it does a thing. It doesn't add any moisture. I haven't seen any added "firmness" to my skin or noticed any change in my fine lines that could be blamed on this specific treatment. Really, I think it's one more gimmicky product. It hasn't hurt my skin, but it hasn't done anything beneficial either. All it does is make my face slightly sticky.

Also, what the hell is vibrancy promotion? I would really love to know. God, I hate it when businesses use ridiculous jargon to make their product sound more impressive. In my opinion, if you have to resort to those cheap sales tactics, your product probably isn't worth it. I could be sucked in by "ingredients that revitalize and rejuvenate" or "ingredients that improve skin's radiance." Throw "elasticity" in there somewhere, even. But "promote vibrancy?" BeautyMint, please. Look up words before you throw them around. "Vibrancy" is a word that connotes action, movement, energy, enthusiasm. Would you describe your skin as enthusiastic and full of energy? Um... No. But that is how I describe my boyfriend's puppy.

Ok. Rant over. Sorry about that. I'm calm now. And caffeinated, which I think is part of my problem. Anyway, long story short, after a month of using it, I have concluded that this product doesn't really do all that much for my skin. That's not saying that it won't work for yours. Maybe you will find your skin more energetic and full of movement after use, but I didn't see any change.

Rated Beauty Grade: C-

Where to Purchase: BeautyMint

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Skincare Review: BeautyMint Renewing Moisturizer with Elastin

The Product: BeautyMint Renewing Moisturizer with Elastin

The Review: Here is what BeautyMint claims this product does, straight from their website:

Our body’s elastin keeps skin supple and vibrant, but time can diminish it. This lightweight, elastin-rich cream contains anti-aging ingredients delivered to skin with our patented technology designed to maximize benefits.

  • Jojoba esters and Hawaiian macadamia nut oil hydrate
  • Vitamins C and E are known to function as extraordinary antioxidants
  • Light-diffusing properties help promote a luminous glow

Here is what it actually does: NOTHING. This is hands down the lamest moisturizer I have ever used. It makes your face feel slightly more moisturized for around 10 minutes. Then, nothing. It's like you didn't even use a moisturizer. The Ultra Replenishing Serum did more to moisturize my face than this crap did. I mean, this stuff is absolutely useless. I even tried rubbing some on my hands to see if I was just being nitpicky bitch, but nope! It sucked even as a hand moisturizer. And this is supposed to be the more moisturizing of the face lotions BeautyMint offers. I don't even want to know what the Strengthening Hydrator is like... UGH. 

I'll start ranting from the beginning. When I got the set, I was astounded at how freaking TINY the moisturizer was. I think the tube is .5oz, which is not much, considering that it's not one of those face lotions where a little goes a long way. No, this product is very weak and sort of thin-looking for a moisturizer, and you need a decent amount for your face and neck. And it doesn't do anything! I tried doing the BeautyMint regimen, using the lotion on only one half of my face, and I saw no difference on the lotioned side. 

Last but not least, I have to laugh at the "light diffusing properties" part. I've used "light diffusing" moisturizers before. They leave a subtle sheen on your skin. This moisturizer goes on clear and leaves nothing. Well, maybe they got confused and thought that moist skin = a luminous glow? All in all, this is the worst product of the set, and I can't imagine having to use it every month.

Rated Beauty Grade: D

Where to Purchase: BeautyMint

Monday, January 16, 2012

Skincare Review: BeautyMint Ultra Replenishing Serum

The Product: BeautyMint Ultra Replenishing Serum

The Review: As far as moisturizing serums go, this one is decent. It's much more impressive than the cleanser, and if it came in a normal sized container, I think I'd consider buying it. Personally, I wouldn't buy it at department store pricing; it's more of an upper-level Target sort of buy, because it really doesn't do anything except moisturize. I guess I could see it doing more for me long term as a wrinkle preventative, but right now, as far as I'm concerned, it's just another moisturizer.

As for the details, the serum itself has a creamier consistency than what I usually expect from a serum. A small amount covers my entire face and neck, and I thought it absorbed quickly, leaving no weird residue-y feeling. There's also not a whole lot of scent- just a light, slightly herbal fragrance. Other than that, there's not a lot to report. Overall, I found the product to be pleasant and moisturizing but not mindblowing.

Rated Beauty Grade: B

Where to Purchase: BeautyMint

Friday, January 6, 2012

Skincare Review: BeautyMint Essential Cleanser with Aloe

The Product: BeautyMint Essential Cleanser with Aloe

The Review: I wish there was a lot of interesting things I could say about this cleanser, but there's not. Well, other than the fact that it's paraben, oil, and fragrance free. I find that to be very nice, but to me, it's just a boring, normal cleanser. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with that. However, if you like your facewashing to be an "experience" full of fun scents, bubbles, and tingly sensations, this is not the cleanser for you, because it's the epitome of bland.

Essential Cleanser with Aloe is very gentle. Pretty sure it was formulated for people with extra-sensitive skin, like my sister, who is incredibly allergy prone. While it does have a slight, almost sterile, scent, it wasn't enough to freak out my nose, so that's a plus. Also, without the "harsh lathering agents" (their words), it doesn't really lather. It does, however, get your face clean without drying out your skin. Yay, for products doing what they're supposed to. And that's all I can think of to say about it. It's a cleanser. It gets your face clean in the most boring way possible with no detrimental side effects.

My only issue with the product itself is that it's so gentle, I'm not sure it would work effectively on people who have super oily skin. People with combination skin, dry skin, or sensitive skin should be fine with it. But people with oily skin? I'm not sure it would be enough.

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Where to purchase: BeautyMint

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BeautyMint Review Continued

Alrighty. I've used the BeautyMint products for about a week now and feel like I can give a better review now that my skin seems to have adjusted. I think I'm going to make individual posts for each of the products and use this post to detail my overall experience with BeautyMint as a whole, because otherwise, this post is going to be ginormous. Plus, the products are supposed to be used together, so it makes sense to me to do a review of the set as a whole before I get into the nit-picking details.

When I first started using the products, my skin was NOT happy. It felt dry, tight, and I started breaking out a little bit. Some people get breakouts from having skin that's too oily, but I get breakouts whenever my skin gets too dry (dry skin cells clog your pores, leading to pimples). Also, there was a little stinging at the end of all the product application, of which I was not a fan. At first, I was trying to follow the little card they gave me: Essential Cleanser with Aloe, Ultra Replenishing Serum with Marine Collagen, Sculpting Treatment with Peptides, and Renewing Moisturizer with Elastin during the day, and the same regimen with the Resurfacing Treatment with Retinol instead of the sculpting treatment at night. This didn't work for me, because it left my skin too dry. Since I can get away with washing my face only once a day, I decided to use all the products together at night to see if it made a difference, which it did.

I'm not sure if I'm technically supposed to be able to combine all 5 products, but it's working for me. I'm no longer breaking out and my skin doesn't have that tight, annoying dry feeling. I'm also seeing some improvement in my skin's texture, because while it's still a little dry, it's quite soft. Also, my freckles have faded quite a bit. Impressive! But I'm not seeing any real difference in my fine lines, which, if anything, are only being enhanced by the dryness of my skin. All in all, I think I'll continue to use them, because I love that my freckles are disappearing and that the products are largely unscented. However, I don't think they're worth $49.99 (I got the pricier set).

After using them for a while, I have come to the conclusion that the set I received was definitely worth the $29.99 I paid and not worth the $49.99 I'll be charged for my next set. The products perform, but I don't think they perform to the level that they're advertised. Also, the packaging is cheap. Really cheap. They come in this little BeautyMint travel bag (apparently it's also biodegradable?) that, in theory, should neatly display your products and hold them upright for easy access. In reality, if you try to display your products as they want you to, the bag topples over. Since it's closed with 2 flimsy plastic snaps, once it falls over, it opens up and all your products roll right out. The products themselves are in cheap packaging as well. The pumps for the serums dispense varying amounts of product and the caps fall off constantly. It's incredibly annoying, especially when you're supposed to be getting "$150" worth of product with every order. Pfffft. Speaking of that...

I just went to BeautyMint's website, and all of the pricing information has been removed. Um... Whaaaaaat? They used to have a couple references to your BeautyMint set being $150 worth of products. In November, they were all like, "Look at how affordable we're making these products for you!" and now... Nothing. Smart on their part, because you're literally getting a travel-sized/sample sized set of products, and I can't find a single $150 skincare travel set on Sephora. I find the disappearance of pricing to be extremely interesting, because it seems to coincide with their Plumdistrict deal, where people were misled, in my opinion, to think they were getting an amazing deal. Instead, they were getting the same $20-off deal Beautymint was offering to all new members.  I'm sure tons of people bitched them out for it...

At the end of the day, the products have faded my freckles and my skin seems improved, if a titch drier than normal. I love that they have very little scent and think they'd work wonders on people with combination or mild-moderate dry/oily skin. People on the more severe end of the dry/oily spectrum should probably look elsewhere. For me, these products aren't worth $50 a month, and I'm not impressed with their program as a whole. I'd much rather get a full-size set that works with my skin type and lasts me 3-6 months.