Friday, May 30, 2014

Skincare Review: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum® Vitamin C Collagen Booster

Review: It's been a really long time, and I think I've finally got a decent arsenal of products to review, so I'm going to attempt to start up this blog again. But no promises! We might get attacked by aliens or the zombie apocalypse might occur, and that might put a damper on my plans... Anyway, since I'm stressing myself out way too much about what new facial regimen to buy this week (too many options! I am overwhelmed!), I figured I might as well review all the Ole Henriksen products I've been using for the last couple months (travel sets are the best!). To stay with the Ole regimen or try something new? That is the dilemma.. one that hopefully blogging will help me resolve.

I'm going to start out with my favorite Ole Henriksen product, the Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster. It's awesome and it smells like fresh oranges - not in a fake artificial way, but in a tasty I-would-like-to-eat-this kind of way. The scent fades really quickly, so the scent-sensitive should be fine with it. When you prepare to slather it on your freshly-washed face, you only need about a lentil-sized amount. It's not too watery and it absorbs really quickly.

As with most serums, you apply this stuff under your normal moisturizer. I've used around 3 or 4 different moisturizers over it and haven't experienced any adverse effects. On the contrary, it makes my face sooooo smooth and soft. Way more so than if I just use my moisturizers alone. Also, it fades my freckles to a delightful level of paleness, and I love that it does so without retinol.  You can wear it in the morning, you can wear it at night. YAY! Plus, it's not oily, it absorbs quickly, and it doesn't dry out your skin, so I think it would work for all skin types.

Basically, out of the 7 Ole products I have tried so far, this is hands down the first one I would pay full price for. It's not cheap, but the bottle should last at least 6 months, if not more.

Grade: A

Price: $48

Where to Buy: Sephora, Ulta, etc.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Covergirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher

Product: Covergirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher

Review: I think this is hands-down one of the best mascaras I've tried, and I've tried a freaking amount of mascaras. When I'm not wearing makeup, it pretty much looks like I have no lashes, because they're short-ish, fine, and have no natural curl to them. So, I've been looking all over for a mascara that makes my lashes look long, lush and basically more like my little sister's, who has lashes to kill for. Seriously. Why did I have to get the wimpy lash genes? UGH. So jealous. Anyway...

When I use this mascara, my lashes are insanely long and separated. It looks like I was naturally blessed with perfect lashes, meaning it's versatile enough for dramatic and everyday looks. I always apply it after curling my lashes, using the side-to-side-then-blink method of application and I normally only use the "comb" side first, because I like to control exactly how much is applied.

Thus far, I haven't had any issues with clumping or flaking, which apparently some people have experienced. I have seen a flake here or there if I accidentally mess with my lashes, but that's a given with a lot of mascaras out there, even the high-end ones. If you rub your eyes, you're going to have messed up mascara. It's only logical. As for clumping, I wonder if it's an application thing, because the way I do it, it's pretty impossible for my lashes to clump up. I think it could also be a formula thing, like a bad batch, because my current tube is pretty damn clumpless.

Either way, the brush is awesome. So much length! So much separation! I plan on washing and saving the brushes every time I run out of this stuff, because no brush has ever separated and defined my lashes in such a magical fashion. In my opinion, it does a better job with my lashes than any other mascara out there, because it doesn't create volume by glomping all my lashes together into sad spider legs that I have to spend ages combing out. Winning all around! But not if you get a batch that clumps and flakes excessively, I guess.

Grade: B+ (points deducted for possible manufacturing issues)

Price: $7-ish

Where to buy: Any place with drugstore brands

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Kat von D Lock-It Powder Foundation

Review: I tried this after I ran out of my normal Bare Minerals foundation. It had just come out with rave reviews, so I was excited to try it. This is what it claims to do:

Day or night and everything in between, this budge-proof foundation promises flawless coverage around the clock. The buildable formula evens the complexion and hides imperfections—all without the need for touch-ups. Smudge- and sweat-proof, this foundation won’t cake or crease and the velvety texture wears with a breathable, light touch.

Lofty claims, right? I mean, it sounds like my dream powder foundation. I wanted something with higher coverage that didn't look cakey, because a) I like to disguise my freckles and b) I get really red when I'm angry/embarrassed/drinking an alcoholic beverage. My foundation needs to help combat the flush factor by balancing out my skin, and pretty much every powder foundation I've tried has just been OK for this issue. And I also have the issue of it not lasting for a full 8 hours. Irritating. So yeah, that's my skin background. 

So, let's attack these claims, shall we? Because the product didn't live up to the hype, in my opinion. First off, I wasn't impressed with the coverage. I tried it with a brush, I tried it with a sponge, and either the coverage was too weak or it started to look super powdery, which means it's not actually all that buildable or natural-looking. Second off, it wore off by the end of the work day even with my most hard-core primer. And third, it is totally not sweat proof. I tested that out by doing a light workout to see how it held up. HAHAHA, fail. 

The one thing that it has going for it is that it is matte. Like really, really matte. It will suck up oil like nobody's business. And it slightly balanced my skin tone. Long story short, I feel like this is better off as a finishing powder than an actual powder foundation. If you want a powder foundation, there are better ones out there at the same price point or less. 

Rating: C

Price: $34

Where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash

ReviewOrigins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash

I just realized that although I am crazy for this face wash, I've never actually reviewed it. Whaaat? Yep. I fail. This stuff is amazing and I can't say enough good things about it, because it's a product that actually delivers. When it says it's frothy, it is not lying. It's like a bubblebath for your face! So much delightful foam that smells of delicious minty things! It really does deep-clean and balance out your skin without drying it out. Oh, and it doesn't have sodium laureth sulfate, so those that are SLS-sensitive can go nuts with it.

I think this stuff is fairly flexible when it comes to being effective on different skin types. I have very dry skin with an oily nose, and I adore it. So far, I've seen other adoring reviews from ladies with oily skin, acne issues, and sensitive skin, so it seems to be one of those magical broad-spectrum products that almost anyone can use with great results. Well, unless you're a person who hates the smell of mint, in which case... yeah, this might not be for you.

Another plus is that while this is definitely more expensive than your average drugstore product, you can make it last forever. You only need a tiny, tiny amount to get the foaming action, so you can easily make it last 6 months or more, depending on your face-washing schedule.

The only problems I can really foresee people having are a)sensitivities to some essential oils or maybe another ingredients, b) a hatred of all things peppermint and c)some skin dryness due to lack of moisturizing afterwards. Apparently there are people who get all mad that their skin feels dry after washing their faces because they don't moisturize after. What? Who does that? That is just crazy to me, but then again, if I don't moisturize on the regular, my skin gets tight, starts itching, and I want to claw my face off.

Grade: A+
Price: $20
Where to buy: Sephora

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shaving Cream Wars

I can't believe it's already June! I have been slacking like whoa. Sorry about that, folks. Anyway, I've been trying to find the perfect shaving cream and I think I've finally found a keeper. However, in order to get to that point, I've had to try a ton and have decided to make an entire post devoted to my experimentation.

"Why shaving cream?" you may ask. "What, the stuff in a can from Walgreens isn't good enough for you?"

Um, no. Not it isn't, and I will tell you why in maybe overly candid terms. See, I don't like body hair. What this means is that I don't like looking like a wookiee in a swimsuit, so I shave my ladybusiness. Unfortunately, I am prone to razorburn and ingrown hairs like crazy, so finding a shaving cream that works for me has been a bitch, to put it lightly. I know all of you are probably all like, "Nooooo! TOO MUCH INFO!" but come on now. Forests are out of style. It's not like most ladies haven't tried to "trim the hedge" at some point, right? Anyway, here are some things I've learned during my hunt for the perfect shaving cream for my over-sensitive skin.

Disclaimer: All of the below apply to me and/or ladies like me with skin that has insane ingrown hair potential. If your skin isn't as sensitive as mine and you can use dollar store canned shaving cream/water and razors with no adverse effects, more power to you. Also, I hate you. :)

First off, regular drugstore shaving creams for women fucking suck for anything but legs. I tolerated the misery for years, because I thought that's all there was. Until my friend introduced me to Pure Romance's Coochy, which is soooooo great. It cut down my razorbumps and itchiness by a ton and comes in a lot of really nice scents. It's very girly and I like. You don't get a lather, though, which was a little surprising to me (it's clear and kinda oily), and it didn't completely get rid of the razorbumps, like I was hoping. Plus, I felt that my shaves were never quite as close as they could be. I would give Coochy an 8.5/10.

After using Coochy for a couple years, I decided to branch out and see what else the women's shaving industry had to offer. I tried Whish Shaving Cream in Blueberry. Nooooo! Never again. If I wasn't super careful, it made the razor drag and I had horrible razorburn after. I relegated that crap to my legs only, and even then, I wasn't super impressed. It smelled amazing (pretty overscented though) but worked on par with the Gillette creams and whatnot. A little worse, actually.  So not worth $20. I'd give it a 3.5/10.

I think I tried a couple more random ones from Target that didn't float my boat enough to even make an impression, so moving on...

I decided to try out men's shaving cream. The fancy stuff.  I use their razors so why the hell not? Best decision ever! Whyyyy did I not do this sooner? The first one I tried was Lab Series Maximum Comfort Shave Cream. I got it as a sample from Sephora. Originally, I got it for my boy, but then I stole it and refused to let him use it after I discovered how great it was. Closest shave ever! No bumps, no burn, no itchiness and no manly scent! I give it a 9.5 out of 10. My mind was blown. Sadly, since I shave in the shower and refuse to use products in tubs, I can't buy it from Sephora or Birchbox. Addicted to points, man.  It's going to be my downfall some day.

So, I decided to try out Anthony Logistics Shave Cream, because it was a little cheaper and got great reviews. Also, they had it in-store. It is minty as hell and will give you a case of the tingles, so be forewarned. I got used to it, and it gave me almost as close of a shave as Lab Series. Little bit of itchiness a day later but nothing unbearable and almost no bumpiness. Would buy it again, hands down. I give it an 8.5 out of 10.

I also tried Jack Black Beard Lube Conditioning Shave, cause it was in the deluxe sample selection at the time. At first, I thought, OMG! I have found a Lab Series dupe! Super close shave. But then an hour later I was miserably itchy. It felt like I had a bad sunburn, so another one I will never ever use again. It's great for legs, though! I might have just had a bad reaction, but just in case, I will give it a 6/10. The men can keep this one.

And then finally, I decided to go back to the lady products, because I saw that First Aid Beauty Smooth Shave Cream had hella amazing reviews. I was so leery to try it, because I've had such bad luck with women's shaving products, but I did. And it lives up to the hype! No ingrown hairs, no itchiness, no scent, no  razorburn, and it has a nice, creamy consistency. I think it's the lady's version of Lab Series, and I totally love it. Plus, it's cheaper!!! I would give it a 9.25/10 (the shave is almost as close as Lab Series, but not quite. Sadly, Sephora is sold out at this moment, but you can buy the full-size version here.  Also, a little goes a long way, so the travel size version can last you quite a while.

I'm sure there were a couple that I tried and forgot about, but these were the most memorable. And there you have it! The results of my misadventures in the realm of shaving "sensitive areas." Until next time...

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Tokyomilk Dark Lip Elixir in Salted Caramel

ProductTokyomilk Dark Lip Elixir in Salted Caramel

Review: I got this lip balm as part of Tokyomilk Dark's Tainted Love Tempting Trio during my neverending quest to find my perfect perfume. Just to save some of you time in case you're interested: The perfume rollerball is great and the lotion is strongly scented and is the perfect size for a purse, isn't greasy and is moderately moisturizing. You will like the fragrance a lot if you're into sweeter gourmand scents, like vanilla/tonka bean, and don't loathe sandalwood (you can smell a bit of the sandalwood in the dry-down). It's a great deal, so if that's up your alley, I highly recommend it. Now, for the lip balm, which was my favorite part of the whole thing.

I LOVE this lip balm. I love it so much, I want to buy 2 more (the coco noir and cherry bourbon scents sound amazing to me), even though the tins are huge and it will take me forever and a half to get through them all. These are great value. Each lip balm is $7 and you get a huge tin of the stuff. Have you tried Smith's Rosebud Salve? The tin is even bigger than that one. Awesome. Packaging-wise, the tin is so cute and vintage-y. Some people have complained about the lid, but I've had no problems with it whatsoever. I'm used to tins, though. As for the balm itself, most people seem to either love it or hate it. You will hate it if you hate thick, waxy balms like Burt's Bees or if you hate petrolatum-based or perfumed balms. You will love it if you don't care about balm texture, ingredients, perfume, and just want an awesome cheap lip balm that will last for ages, smells great, and tastes pleasant. Texture-wise, you can expect it to be thick and a little tacky at first, but once it warms up on your lips, it actually feels really smooth and pleasant. It winds up looking really natural with just a hint of shine. Plus, it made my lips really soft.

I have probably over 30 different lip balms (5 are in my purse right now), and while a lot of them are great at keeping my dry winter lips from getting worse or masking the problem, none of them have actually improved the texture. Only exfoliation and night treatments have done that for me. This is the first balm I can remember that actually makes my lips noticeably softer, and I honestly can't understand why this works so well and none of the all-natural balms or balms with super-amazing-sounding ingredients have had the same effect. I'm not saying that this balm doesn't have some nice-sounding ingredients. It's got aloe extract, vitamin E, safflower seed oil, green tea extract, bee balm extract and jasmine extract, but the base is petrolatum, microcrystalline wax and canola oil. Some good, some bad, but I don't really get how it works so well.  I just know that my lips are soft and I guess that's all I care about. Also, the smell of the Salted Caramel balm is awesome. It's like handmade soft caramels mixed with a little maple. Yum. And it's sweetened with stevia, so it even tastes nice. More yum. All in all, I LOVE this balm and it's going to be my new best friend.

Funny story about this balm-- when I first tried it, my lips broke out 2 days later with these tiny, itchy little bumps. The bumps were so tiny that I had to get right up in the mirror to see them, but I could sure feel them.  I thought I was allergic to this balm, which made me so sad, because I had freakin LOVED it up until that point. This weird lip problem has happened to me before, and I'd always just assumed I'd developed an allergy to a lipbalm ingredient, even though I could never pinpoint what it was. But since I hadn't had any issues the first day, I decided to do some research. Turns out, some people who eat mangos are allergic and get contact dermatitis that exactly resembled my little issue. And I'd eaten mango a couple of hours before I noticed the bumps. I started wearing this balm again after the bumps went away and haven't had an issue since! So, now I know I have a mango allergy. Thanks, internet!!

Rating: A- (if you like this kind of balm)
Price: $7
Where to buy: Sephora

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Lorac TANtalizer Highlighter & Matte Bronzer Duo

ProductLorac TANtalizer Highlighter & Matte Bronzer Duo

Review: I've been looking for a great contouring bronzer for a while. I have a medium skintone, and I find that a lot of bronzers are just too light to be great for contouring on me. When I saw this compact came in a limited edition travel-size, I snatched it up right away, because the product description makes it sound like it's specifically for contouring and highlighting and I'm cheap. All I can say is thank god I didn't go and buy the $32 full-size version, because I would have been really annoyed.

First, the good. I like the bronzer well enough. It's still not quite as dark as I was looking for, but it's close and I can get the effect I want on my cheekbones by building up the color. For those of you who think I'm crazy, here is a diagram that is pretty close to what I follow:

I contour and blend like a mofo before applying my foundation, so it's all very subtle and whatnot. As much as I HATE Kim Kardashian, this is a great before and after:

I might someday get to the point where I cave and use a dark concealer/foundation to get the contouring I want, but I just like powders so much more. Sigh. Anyway, back to this product thingy and me liking the bronzer. It's a good little bronzer. Matte, decent pigmentation, pretty decent texture, and not orangey. Soooo glad it's not orangey or sparkly, you have no idea. It's weirdly hard to find, and I totally plan on using this in the summer when I want to look more sun-kissed (I wear tons of SPF on my face, so it doesn't tan, really). Oh, and I also love the compact. It's gold, shiny, and super cute.

Now for the stuff I don't like. For the bronzer, the only thing that really bugs me is that the staying power isn't amazing and it's not as dark as I would like a contouring bronzer to be (but I understand if I'm in the minority in this, due to my contouring preferences). For the highlighter, I really can't think of anything positive to say. Where to start? First off, it's a weird beigey pink color, which is NOT what you want a highlighter to be. You want it to be more of a neutral vanilla shade, like theBalm's Mary Lou-manizer that I loved so much. This is more like an awkward extremely pale blush than it is a highlighter. You should be able to use highlighter all over your face, but the pink undertones look weird under the brows and pretty much everywhere except your cheeks. Also,  the overall product is horrible.

I have tried tons of blushes and highlighters, and this is, by far, the worst because the product will not stick to my skin. Like, at all. I tried it with and without different primers, different brushes, and no luck. I could see it falling off my brushes all over the place, but almost none would get deposited on my face. The stuff that was left, you could barely see and it would just wipe off. It's like one of those horribly crappy powders you get in a makeup-for-kids set. Actually, those might be better, now that I think of it. I thought the Bella Bomba blush was a little powdery. This stuff makes it look like NARS in comparison. I read some reviews that were like, "Oh I love it, it's so subtle!" Yeah? It's subtle because you can barely get any to stick to your face! For a $32 price tag, you should be getting a finely-milled, highly pigmented powder that you only need a little bit of to get the effect you want. This? This is just ridiculous. I have $3 crappy eyeshadow that works better as a highlighter than this stuff. As for reviews where people liked it, I can only think that they have little-to-no experience with real highlighting products, which is a pity, because a good highlighter should be one of the most versatile products in your makeup arsenal.

Verdict? Save your money and buy something better. I regret even paying $12 for the travel size and will probably return it, just because the highlighter makes me angsty and I don't want to own something that crappy.

Grade: B for the bronzer half, F for the highlighter. So... D+?

Price: $32, regular. $12 travel-size.

Where to buy: Sephora