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