Thursday, November 7, 2013

Algenist Retinol Firming & Lifting Serum

This was a tough one for me to review partly due to my bad habits.  I'll explain.  I received a 10 day sample of this from Sephora.  It claimed you would see results in that time.  I used it for about 6-7 days but, going against one of my cardinal rules, I used another new product.  One of the two made me breakout so I stopped using both.  I used the last few days once my skin cleared up and it was the other product that was the issue.  I thought my skin looked a little better but I still wasn't sure.  Luckily they were still having the promotion so I ordered another 10 day sample.  I used that for several days and then didn't wash my make-up off one night so didn't use it, then had a trip and skipped several days.  By the time I got back on it, I still had 5 packets.  They say each packet was for one day but you could get almost two days out of each one so I started again and this time used it religiously.  At the end, while the results weren't spectacular, there was definitely a difference.  My skin was smoother and brighter and, well, just nicer in general.  I don't have very deep wrinkles that I could use to judge and it was hard to pinpoint specific things.  I just know that a couple times after washing my face, I would look in the mirror and think, "wow, my skin looks really nice."

The downfall of this product is the $98 price tag.  I will not be buying the full-size anytime soon but if I had the money, I would give it a shot.  The active ingredient, in addition to Retinol, is called Alguronic Acid and is said to have anti-aging properties.  Maybe it does or maybe it is the Retinol but this is one of the few products where I could see a visible difference.  As with any Retinol product, there was some minor redness especially the first few days but it was nothing bothersome or overly noticeable and it went away with continued use.  Also, as I mentioned, a little goes a long way.  I would bet it would last you quite some time which may help reduce the sticker shock.  If anyone does try it, I would love if you would post a comment about your experience.

Friday, October 4, 2013

SEPHORA COLLECTION Illuminating Bronzing Oil

I have a small problem with Sephora having its own brand because I think it takes space away from other products which, I thought, was the point of the store.  However, they do have some decent products at more reasonable prices.  This is one of them.

I bought it as an "add-on" to get free shipping and it was half-price, $7.00.  I was a little skeptical because I don't want to look like an Oscar statue.  It doesn't give a lot of color but it gives your skin a nice glow like it's lit from within.  Although it has some shimmer, it's not too much.  Definitely more subtle than the Charlotte Ronson!  I have two complaints about this but neither will stop me from using it.  First, the smell is a little musty.  Not the scent a single, forty-something woman wants anywhere below the waist.  Luckily it fades after an hour or so.  Second, it doesn't really give any moisture to your legs which is surprising since it has several oils in it.  Maybe the ingredients for the shimmer cancel it out.  However, I think this could be easily solved by keeping your legs moisturized or applying a small amount of moisturizer first.  It is easy to apply (although check any nearby surfaces after applying for overspray) and dries quickly.  The best part is that the shimmer/sparkle/glitter doesn't rub off much on hands or clothing. 

I plan to use this product any time I show my legs in the spring, summer and fall.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tarte Brazilliance™ skin rejuvenating maracuja face and body self tanner with mitt

Earlier this summer I posted about Jergen's Natural Glow self tanning lotion.  While I liked the product, I am essentially lazy and did not want to have to apply it every day.  I wanted something that would give faster results (I want it all and I want it now!).  I chose Tarte's Brazilliance based on other reviews and the fact that it came with an application mitt which I've never used before.  It's expensive at $37 a bottle but I think it is fairly large (5.5 oz) and a little goes a long way.

This is a tinted self tanner so it makes it easy to see where you are applying it and helps to keep you streak and splotch free.  Although I read some complaints that the mitt soaks up too much of the product, I did not find that to be the case and I think the little bit it does soak up is outweighed by the ease and thoroughness of application.  It has a lovely scent that only smells slightly like self tanner hours after using it and washes away completely with one shower.  It only takes a few minutes to dry and doesn't rub off on fabrics.  I like to apply it in the evening and let the color develop while I sleep so I can wash off any lingering scent in the morning.  I wake up with nicely tan-colored legs about 2-3 shades darker than I had when I went to bed. Maracuja oil is from the Amazonian (where all the good stuff grows) passion flower and is said to have essential fatty acids and vitamins.  I'm not sure it rejuvenates my skin exactly but it doesn't dry it out.

This says it can be used for face and body so I tried it once all over with the help of this "handy" little tool.  I liked the color it gave on my body and face (although my torso was still lighter since it never sees the sun anymore) but I think it made me breakout and I haven't been willing to take the chance again.  However, my skin is very sensitive to breakouts, so, if you're isn't, I wouldn't hesitate to try it.  It did not get into my pores like others have in the past.  All in all I would say this is one of the best self tanners I have used.  The only con is the price but I think it's worth it for a quality product that performs as advertised.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dr. Brandt Blemishes No More Oil-free Hydrator

Even at my age (which we'll just say is "out of my 20s") I still get occasional breakouts.  Usually it's when I am out partying like I'm still in my 20s and don't remove my make up before bed.  I was looking for something that would help and wouldn't give me shine, an on-going battle in my life. 

Dr. Brandt is another dermatologist to the stars who released his own skincare line.  I like the idea because I feel like they are more involved in actually creating the product unlike a model, actress, or fashion designer.

This is an oil-free product with Dr. Brandt's Active Impurity Shield.  The main acne fighting ingredient is salicylic acid.  There's really only one other that I know of, benzoyl peroxide.  On my skin (ok my back!) benzoyl seems to work better but, on my face, I like salicylic acid.  There is no rhyme or reason, it's just what I've found.  So, if you use products with one and they don't seem to work, try the other.

It's a light moisturizer and it doesn't have any serious anti-aging properties.  I don't use it every day but when I have a flare up, I find a couple days of using this calms everything down.  And lately, since it's been so humid, I find myself using it more and more.  I like it enough that I just ordered a second tube.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eye shadows by Clinque (chubby stick), Bobbi Brown and Sephora

Every now and then I decide I need to start wearing eye shadow again and start searching for the perfect one.  This time I ended up with three. 

First was the Chubby Stick for Eyes by Clinique.  It comes in 12 lovely shades and I went with the Portly Plum.  The color is beautiful and I like that you just turn it to get more (instead of using a sharpener) but otherwise it didn't live up to my expectations.  It is a sheer color that is supposed to be buildable but I found it did not go on smoothly or evenly.  Even when I tried to rub it in, it didn't really work.

My second try was Bobbi Brown's eye shadow in Cement.  BB has a great reputation but I've never really gotten around to trying her products.  This color in particular got very good reviews as a great neutral color.  It is described as a grey-beige and I would say it leans toward the beige side.  It's a nice color although maybe a little too dark for me if that's all I'm wearing (my dark circles are on my eyelids as well so sometimes colors are hard to see).  It goes on nicely and has pretty good staying power.  I haven't tried it with a primer but I'm sure it would only help.  It definitely did not have the problem of the Sephora brand below.

Last was the Colorful Eye Shadow from Sephora in Coffee Shimmer.  The color was nice but when I was applying it, it crumble and ended up under my eyes and on my face.  It got returned right away.

So, for now I've mostly given up on eye shadow.  Out of these three, the Bobbi Brown is the only one I'd try again, I'd just get a different color.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Urban Decay Vintage De-Slick mattifying powder

Since I often refer to my face as an oil slick, trying this product was a no-brainer.  It is a lavender tinted powder that comes in a groovy purple case.  The puff that comes with it sticks to the mirror when you open the case which is kind of cool for no apparent reason.  The puff is a little on the thin side and, because I use it over my BB Cream, it gets color on it pretty quickly.  I've switched mine out for a sponge puff and it works just as well.  I equate this product to powder blotting papers without the size limitations.  It really takes away the shine.  Even though it is a little tinted, I think this could be used on most skin shades.  You just have to be careful to rub it in well so it doesn't show.  There really are no cons to this product in my opinion and it has become a new staple.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jergens Natural Glow Self Tanner

In general, I am not a big fan of sunless tanning products (including many bronzers).  I feel like they just can't quite get the color right.  And I've tried everything from over-the-counter, to professional spray tans, to Mystic tan.  Even if I don't end up looking like John Boehner, it seems to get in my pores causing tiny dark dots.  Like blackheads.  NOT the look I am going for!

While on a beach weekend recently, I noticed that a very pale friend of mine's legs were darker than mine.  Not that that is difficult to do but this chick is even fairer than I.  She told me she'd been using Jergens Natural Glow.  Not one to let past failures stand in my way, I went and bought some right away.  The first thing I noticed was that it didn't have the smell of many self tanners.  I used a Suave version that you could still smell after a shower.  It went on just like a regular moisturizer and didn't take very long to dry.  I woke up the next morning with my legs a shade slightly darker than death.  I used it for three days in a row and, as advertised, the color grew gradually darker.  After the 3rd day I didn't use it that night.  Not too much fading the next day but by the 2nd day, it seemed to be turning an orange-y hue as it faded.  However, using it again took care of this.  There was also no streaking or splotches even around my ankles and toes.  I used the fair to medium option since I don't want to stray too far from my natural skin tone.  I am just looking to make my legs match my arms.  The color does not look 100% like a natural tan but it's the closest I've come.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream and Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector

It's that time of year again when we think about sunscreen protection even though we should think of it all year round!  I've been looking for one product I can put on in the morning to give me a little color, protect me from harmful uv rays and help keep oiliness at bay.  During my search I came across a new BB cream from Shiseido.  I have never used their products although I am aware of their great reputation and they are one of the oldest skincare companies.  As I was buying this, I was telling the sales clerk about my issues and she said she used the Urban Environment Protector because it was water resistant and helped control oil.  Unfortunately I had already made my purchase and decided to do ahead since I had read some good reviews.  It is a decent product and not exorbitantly priced.  It only comes in two colors (but I think a lot of products limit their selection during the "first release" phase).  The color was a little dark for me and it didn't spread very smoothly so I had to be careful to blend it into my neck so I didn't have "kabuki face."  It gave decent coverage and seemed to last but alas, it did not control my oil well enough.

I returned it and was looking at some other products when a saleslady offered me a sample of the Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector.  I bought something else and took both home.  This one comes in three colors and the medium was a nice match.  It spread a little better than the BB Cream but other than that I had the same problem.  I don't feel it had any better oil control than the other.  In the end, if I were to recommend one, I would say try the BB Cream.  Even though it was a little harder to apply I think it gave better coverage and a nicer finish.  And I would recommend trying it if you don't have oily skin.  Keep in mind that it is all about what you are looking for.  If you are using a BB Cream to replace moisturizer and primer, you have a lot more choices.  But, if you're like me and want one product to provide those things plus sunscreen and color that gives a matte finish, you have to look a little harder.  And I will!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Philosophy Purity Made Simple face wash

Somehow I have managed to not review one of my favorite products ever!  I think I've even mentioned it in other posts and I guess I assumed I had already written about it.  You know what they say about assumptions; they make an ass out of u and, uh, mptions?  That's not right. 

This is my longest-used product and one that would be a contender if I had to pick only one I couldn't live without.  It was so long ago I can't tell you how I discovered it but I'm so glad I did.  The first thing you will notice is that this is a non-foaming cleanser.  Although I can't get past that with hair products, I got past it pretty easily with Purity.  It literally melts the make up off your face leaving you with a clean, but moisturized face.  I even tried the toner test to see if there was any residue or make up left over but there wasn't.  I have one friend who said it was too drying for her.  Of course not everything works for everyone but based on reviews I've seen, she is in the minority.  It even removes eye make-up which is a huge plus in my book.  It also has never made me break out and that is a big problem for me with many face products.  With my adoration for this product, you can imagine how happy I was when they started making a cleansing cloth.  I try to stick to a routine and take good care of my skin but some days that whole, bending over the sink/splashing water thing is just too much.  It is a little pricey but it lasts a LONG time and comes in different sizes so you can decide how much you want to spend (I recommend the 16 oz, which will last 3-4 months, for every day use).

Oh, and for those of you who just can't feel clean without foam, they make a foaming gel version now too but you'll have to let me know how that one is if you try it.,en_US,pd.html

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guerlain Maxi Lash mascara

I have a new love.  Like most loves, it isn't perfect but, the good so outweighs the bad, it can't dampen that "new relationship" feel.  It started with a deluxe sample.  I've only ever tried one Guerlain product, their Terracotta Skin Health Glow Foundation (also a sample), which I loved but when I went to buy it, I was talked into Giorgio Armani Face Fabric.  The Armani is still in my rotation but I've never purchased the full size Terracotta skin.  Anyway, I digress.  I can't believe how much volume and length this mascara gives!  It is marketed as a curling mascara but I don't really see it doing that.  Luckily for me it's not a problem but if it is, I'm sure you are already adept at handling a lash curler so don't let that stop you.  Just a few swipes is all you need.  I feel like it almost looks like false eyelashes only, you know, not false.  Check it out:
I am wearing a bit of black eyeshadow applied with an eyeliner brush on my lash line and the mascara.  And this is before I remembered to comb them out!  I think they look even better (less crunchy) in person.

Now, that tiny flaw I mentioned?  It does smudge a little.  But really, just a little.  Having to wipe my eyelids once during the day and once in the evening seems a small price to pay.  Besides, it gives me an excuse to look in the mirror and admire my lashes :-)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector

If you've read my other posts, you know that my biggest concern is my undereye area.  Between genetic dark circles and wrinkles (which are called cross-hatching but I prefer to use the term "fairy trails"), they are the number one thing that makes me look my age.  I am constantly searching for a miracle.  Unfortunately this isn't it.  This product is fine.  It is slightly tinted and goes on smoothly.  It seems to hydrate well enough but does not do anything for my dark circles or make it any harder for the fairies to find their way.  I did use a sample of this and not the full size product but even their own description says it "is clinically proven to visibly lighten dark circles by 30% in 12 weeks."  Only 30% in 12 weeks?  I didn't use it that long but that doesn't seem like a great deal to me.  I guess that is better than claiming miracles overnight.  As always, Clinique's prices aren't as crazy as some of the other skincare companies and they do make a decent product.  I, however, needed better results in a shorter time.

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer

I was so excited to get this new concealer based on the reviews that I placed an order just for it.  It seemed like a dream come true.  A hydrating, creamy concealer that helps to mask imperfections while also treating the skin!  When it was delivered, I put it on that very night.  To say the least, I was shocked.  It not only did not hide my fairy trails, it made them more visible and made my undereyes look dry.  I can't say if it covered dark circles because it didn't blend enough to be able to tell.  This is one of the worst concealors I've ever used.  I can't understand how it can get any good reviews at all.  The only positive thing I can say is that it comes in 10 shades and the shade I bought, honey, was a nice match.  However, it could come in 100 shades and it still wouldn't make it a good product.  I really expect more from this company.

Stila Stay All Day® 10-In-One HD Bronzing Beauty Balm

I can sum up this review in two words:  oompa loompa.  Bronzers are probably one of the trickiest products out there.  The idea is great on paper but, in my experience, rarely translates to the face.  This product is no exception.  You might be able to use this if you already have a tan but that's not really the point, is it?  I won't give up trying to find something that gives a little bit of color to my winter, deathly pallor but the answer isn't found here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creations by Alan Stuart Women's Pedi-Couture Sandals

Today's post is a little different.  With warmer weather trying to asset itself, it's time to start thinking about getting your feet pretty.  If you're like me, you probably don't pay much attention to your toenails in the winter.  That can make for some pretty gnarly piggies come sandal time.  I mostly do my nails at home but I like to to get a pedicure to kick off the summer.  Whether you do it at home or in a salon, the problem is always keeping them nice until the polish dries.  You could wear the toe separators but it looks kind of silly and flips flops work pretty well but you can still smudge your polish.  I saw these in a catalog and they seem like a great solution.  They are cute enough to wear while going about your errands.  They can also be used therapeutically to help stretch out your toes.  Great for people with bunions, crowded toes, or just tired feet.  I haven't tried these yet so they aren't Beauty Scoop Diva approved but I just wanted to pass along the tip.  If you have them or do try them, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

I was very excited to get this deluxe sample because it gets such rave reviews on their site and Sephora (although all their products have no less than 4 stars on their site which I find a little suspect).  I got the original, colorless formula but they have many different takes on it - color correcting, luminizing, hydrating, dark spot correcting and with spf.  The original goes on smoothly and gives a nice powdery finish that alone makes skin look a little more even and "soft."  Not all primers are made for oil control but in my opinion, they should work that way.  I also believe that any primer should be able to be used alone for that purpose if you already have good skin that is just sometimes shiny.  I didn't use this one alone because I need a little more color.  It was easy to apply my Smashbox BB Cream over top.  I usually finish with some kind of powder.  All of that sounds good but I really wasn't impressed with its staying power.  By the middle of the day I would be very oily in my T-zone.  The one thing I can say is that, after blotting, it looked nice again and lasted for a few more hours.  I don't think any product can be perfect but it was the amount of shine that swayed me.  Any good primer should help control it better than this.  Unless I just have the oiliest face known to man, I really don't see what all the hype is about.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Blinc mascara

This mascara has pros and cons but the biggest plus is that it WILL NOT smudge.  Even during the most torrential cry storm, the tubes (explained later) may come off but you won't end up with streaks and smudges down your face.

I first tried this mascara shortly after it first came out in 1999 when it was still called "Kiss Me" mascara.  I loved it's staying power but wasn't too happy with how it looked on.  It made my lashes look long and spidery.  I believe they have changed the formula or the brush (maybe both) since then although I couldn't find any confirmation of that.  I've also learned some tricks and patience when applying mascara.

This mascara forms a tiny tube around your lash that somehow seals onto it.  You can't pull it off and it doesn't come off with a small amount of water.  However, when you want to take it off, you just splash your face liberally, in the shower or over the sink, and they slide right off.

You need to take your time when applying it.  Once it sets you can't add coats.  I feel it gives you more length than volume but you can get it to look pretty decent.  It doesn't clump much but you can use an eyelash comb before it sets for separation.  If you don't like the way it looks alone, you can try another tip from their website.  Just brush on a coat over your regular mascara.  I did that today and so far it's been good.  If I squeeze my eyelashes and gently tug on them, no color comes off. 

It seems that other brands have gotten into the mascara "tubes" game including L'Oreal which sells one for $10.95.  Look for a post on that in the future.  And Blinc has come out with an "Amplified" version although the reviews weren't very good but there are some other choices out there.  So then, if you have problems with  smudging, are going to a wedding or even just a tearjerker movie, this is the mascara for you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Diorskin NUDE BB Cream

Apparently Dior thinks people only come in four shades - white, whiter, whitest, and tan.

I found this BB cream by searching all BB creams on Sephora and sorting by highest rated.  This had an amazing 4.5 stars with 47 reviews and was the first one listed.  I checked out the reviews and the only negative ones were about dryness which is not a problem for me.  I wasn't confident choosing a color online so I went into the store to buy it.  I am pretty pale but I had to get the 3rd darkest one.  I'm not sure if vampires use BB cream but the lightest color might not be too light for them.  The only reason I was looking for a new BB cream is because the shine kind of wore off my Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream.  It still worked but I thought I could find something better.  Well, I did get the shine back.  Unfortunately it's on my face.  I couldn't be more surprised after reading the reviews about it drying out skin.  It goes on fine, pretty sheer coverage but it's buildable.  The color is nice and it did even out my skin tone.  However, by the time I got to work, the shine was already coming through.  And putting powder over top only helped minimally.  This morning I tried washing my face before applying (I've changed my skin care routine and usually only splash my face with water in the morning and then add extra eye cream before BB cream, foundation, tinted moisturizer/treatments, etc.) and there is no difference.  I thought about seeing how it worked with a primer but then I realized, why should I have to make up for a product's deficiencies?  I shouldn't.  It should work as it claims to.  So this will be going back to the store and I will be going back to my Smashbox until I see something else that intrigues me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Garnier FructisTriple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil

Well it's a good thing my New Year's resolution wasn't to post more!  I had all these plans to do a 2012 year-end wrap up and I've got a bunch of new products to review.  However, the holidays, laziness, and a trip to Puerto Rico got in the way.  But enough about my shortcomings, let's turn to the shortcomings of this product.

Back in October 2012 I reviewed two dry oil sprays from Organix and Alterna.  Although I slightly prefer the Alterna because of the scent, I am addicted to the Organix because of the price.  I get nervous when a bottle starts getting low.  I wanted to take a fresh bottle to PR (although, as a side note, the humidity there was almost non-existent) but was unable to find it in Walmart, Target or CVS.  Apparently I am not the only one who has discovered this miracle product.  Out of frustration and my impending departure, I picked up this Garnier Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil.  The key word, as in the others I reviewed, being "dry."  The triple part comes from the combination of avacado, olive, and shea oils.

The first thing I noticed when I sprayed it on (two days before I left for my trip luckily) was that it didn't diffuse as well as the others.  It was more like a stream that just hit a small area of your hair.  I took an empty bottle of Organix and poured it in there.  I then continued to spray it like normal.  Normal for me is very liberally.  I immediately noticed this was much heavier than the Organix or Alterna sprays.  It's hard to explain how I could tell on wet hair but I could.  I stopped spraying and combed it through.  After letting my hair air dry for an hour, I went to blow dry it the rest of the way.  I kept drying and drying but my hair still was wet.  Eventually it dried most of the way but was so oily it still looked wet.  When I ran my hands through my hair, you could see the oil on them.  I had to wear my hair in a ponytail to work the next day and wash it again the next night.  Total disaster.

Now, you might think that a product you have to use less of would be better then one you have to use more.  In most cases I would agree.  However, with the Organix, you don't have to use more but you are able to if you want.  You can tailor it to your needs.  And don't forget, if you use this out of the original bottle you will probably end up with greasy looking spots on your head.  The only thing I can think that this might be good for is a pre-shampooing treatment.  You can spray it in your dry hair, leave it for a few hours and then shampoo it out.  At least it's a way to finish the bottle.  I've tried it once and it was fine but I think I'll stick to my regular routine and my liquid gold.