Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tarte Haul and Lights, Cameras & Flashes Statement Mascara

Tarte had a deal that I couldn't pass up recently called the Gift or Get Beauty Set ($59). I found it impossible to resist because (a) it was customizable, (b) it contained the airbuki brush, and (c) all of the items were full sized.  The value of of the set was $163, not counting the makeup bag.  Today I'll be showing the Lights, Cameras, & Flashes Statement Mascara ($23).
Dressed in a gold lamé snakeskin jacket, Lights, Camera, and Flashes aims to make a statement with it's ultra-black matte pigment and the supposed ability to increase the volume of lashes by 752%.  That's quite a claim there, gold lamé jacket or not.
The brush has a mixture of short to long rows of spikes which are supposed to deposit (short spikes) and then comb through (long spikes) as you rotate the brush.  The mascara spreads easily enough as it's on the wet side, and the longer spikes did help brush out what would have been lots of clumps otherwise.  My biggest issue was that the large brush and longer spikes tended to deposit color on my eyelid if I'm not rather delicate with my application.  I've got small eyes and that's a problem for me more often than not, but larger brushes are particularly at fault.
I also found the large brush difficult to maneuver on my bottom lashes and  the mascara had a tendency to smudge there anyhow.  However, I liked how black and matte the mascara was on my top lashes, so I can use another mascara for the bottom.  The formula does feature some ingredients to help strengthen lashes, namely:
  • Provitamin B5: vitamin B derivative that helps treat and thicken lashes.
  • Beeswax: a protective barrier between the skin and the environment that has been known to naturally stimulate collagen production.
  • Mineral pigments: soothe and soften lashes.
Bottom line, I'll use it as long as I don't get frustrated with the large brush with it's mess-making potential on my small/narrow eyes.
Fragrance of the day:  Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Gingerbread Snake with it's gingerbread and exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.  I needed something that would go well with Bubble & Bee's Sugar and Spice body butter, a favorite of mine for this time of year (full review here), and Gingerbread Snake fit the bill.  It's time for a new Sugar & Spice, which I better get soon as it's only available for a limited time each year.

Song of the day:  We've had our first cold snap and I'm resisting turning my heat on.  It was 56 in my house this morning, but it will be getting back up into the 70's later this week so I think I can tough it out.  Why do I do this?  I do not know.
Cold by Annie Lenox (partial lyrics)
Winter has frozen us 
Let love take hold of us
(Cold cold cold)
Now we are shivering
Blue ice is glittering
(Cold cold cold)
Worth viewing for her purple eye shadow alone, but the song is also fabulous.

Monday, November 23, 2015

From Uber Affordable to Harder on the Wallet: Skin Toners in My Rotation

Disclaimer:  I purchased these.
Toners.  I've been using toners ever since waaaay back in my teens.  I was a big devotee of the skin tingling Sea Breeze "no other clean feels quite like this" (and dubbed the most skin irritating product EVER created by Paula Begoun) before I graduated to Clinique's more expensive Clarifying Lotion 2. Here's a blast from the past for you:
Now I know it's better to not assault my skin, which no doubt only aggravated an already volatile situation.  I'm not gonna lie though, I do miss the tingle that came from the peppermint, clove, and eucalyptus oils in Sea Breeze's original formula and the menthol in Clinique's 1980's blend.  However, here are my better educated choices for gentle but effective toners for my oily skin, starting with the least expensive and finishing with the most. Let's see if more money = a better formula.
Thayer's alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel (currently $7.99 at drugstore.com) is a gentle toner that I don't mind dousing my cotton pad with due to it's huge size and low cost. I tend to use it more in the morning than evening, as I find the moisturizing aspects of this nice prior to applying my makeup. Featured ingredients are Thayer's proprietary non-distilled extract from the Witch Hazel shrub, which is supposed to have the highest level of therapeutic tannins.   Interestingly, Witch Hazel not only rids skin of excess oil, it also helps eliminate water loss to improve the hydration of the outer layer of skin.

This version of Thayer's also includes hydrating aloe vera and glycerin along with rose flower water, which has a multitude of skin benefits (you can read more about them here) including healing wounds and soothing sunburns. There are a variety of Thayer's Witch Hazel formula's available, making it very easy to customize for your own skin needs.
Thayer's has been around since 1847, making it the oldest US company in the natural products and health food store industry.  I'm not sure what ingredient in the formula makes it bubble when shaken, but it does :-)
CoxRX's AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner ($13) is the newest to my rotation and the one that's been seeing the heaviest use in the past few months.  I purchased it as part of the CosRX Memebox (full review here), and it's a standout with it's gentle skin acids in both AHA and BHA formats. It comes in a spray bottle format and I've used it as both a facial spray and by spraying it on a cotton pad and swiping it all over my face. I've already bought a second bottle, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is.
Next is Kate Somerville's Clarifying Skin Treatment Toner ($26), which is a nicely formulated toner with an interesting application cap that took me longer than it should have to figure out how to use.
The top has a concave disk around the opening where you place your cotton pad and then depress, which dispenses the toner into the disk and wets the cotton.  I kept turning it upside down while depressing, wondering why it dripped when I did that and thinking the whole thing was stupid. Until I figured it out, duh.  You will notice witch hazel, glycerin,  and  aloe vera in this formula (just like Thayer's), along with exfoliating Phytic and Lactic Acids. I tend to use this one more in the evenings after dual cleansing and before serums/moisturizers.  My skin likes it.

Ingredients:  Water/Aqua/Eau, Methyl Gluceth-10, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Phytic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Water, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Lactic Acid, Panthenol, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Carbomer, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Oleanolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA-Copper, Chlorphenesin 
Last up is luxury brand Le Métier de Beauté's Daily Refresh Tonic ($50), which I received in my July 2014 VIP subscription box and am about to finish up. It's got some unique ingredients, including:
  • Hemolymph Extract: absorbs oxygen from environment and delivers it to skin Peppermint, Cinnamon, Thyme and Geranium Oils: mildly stimulate with a gentle warming effect.
  • Rosemary: gently cleanses skin
  • Cypress Oil: balances the skin with soothing properties
  • Anise Oil: provides a cleansing and warming effects on the skin
  • Vitamins E, A and B: condition and protect
The distinctive bottle works well with it's pump top and the formula does a good job of cleansing without stripping my skin. I find the price cost prohibitive but I'm glad I got to try it out as part of the VIP subscription service.
I've been using Rite Aid's Premium Square Cotton Pads for both toner and to remove my nail polish, as one side is smooth and lint free. They are not particularly thick but do get the job done.
Of these four toners, I've got to say that the less expensive Thayer's and COSRX versions are my favorites.  I'm just not seeing the point of paying big money for a toner when there are some really good formula's out there at much better price points!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

bbrowbar Brow Definer in Cinnamon Spice

My November Birchbox was a bit of a snooze fest for me when I initially opened it, but I've found a sleeper item that I'm really enjoying:  bbrowbar's Brow Definer in Cinnamon Spice ($25 for full size).
When I first saw the name I thought "uh oh, too warm and dark for me", but I was wrong.  It works quite nicely on my fair skin and is the lighter of the two shades listed on Birchbox's site, with the other being Indian Chocolate.
Quick and easy to use, the super slim and extra precise nib is retractable, providing a matte finish. The slim tip covers even the tiniest of gaps in every brow. Waterproof and smudge proof with natural anti-ageing antioxidants, Vitamin E and C. (Source)

My brows are just okay.  On the plus side I don't have to do much tweezing at all.  On the negative, they are not particularly defined and have some sparse areas that definitely benefit from a brow product.  For the past month or so I've been gravitating towards pencils over my usual go to Giorgio Armani Eye & Brow Maestro in Medium Brown (full review here), mainly because they are a bit quicker/easier to apply.
I like the control and preciseness that the small tip gives and find that it lays down smooth color with small strokes (unlike what you see in the swatch picture where I was drawing a long line).  I've got oily skin and this stays where you put it, but to be honest most brow products do that for me.
So, the moral of this story is boring ≠ bad, and I am happy to have received this!

Fragrance of the day:  Rem Reminiscence, a floral aquatic with notes of sea water, rose, lilac, jasmine, fenugreek, patchouli, musk, tonka bean, and vanilla.  I wanted an aquatic to mark all the rain and thunderstorms we were getting.  Sadly, it faded much quicker than the storms did.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blood and Judgement So Well Commedled Pefume Oil by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Blood and Judgement So Well Commedled ($23) is part of the Lilith 2015 limited edition perfume oil collection, created to celebrate the birthday of the daughter of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's (BPAL) creative force of nature, Elizabeth Barrial. I say force of of nature mainly because of how prolific she is in creating a myriad of scents that continue to bring me back each year to acquire a few more. BPAL's catalog is truly staggering.
This year I wanted to venture outside of the traditionally Halloween influenced or gourmand scents and expand my horizons, which resulted in taking a chance on Blood and Judgement so Well Commedled. Here is a glimpse of what inspired this particular blend:
This year, Lilith started cultivating a love of Shakespeare, especially Hamlet. Man, this kid loves that play. I assumed, when we started talking about Shakespeare’s works, that she’d love the comedies, particularly Midsummer Night’s Dream and all its attendant fairies. Nope; it’s all about the mopey Prince of Denmark and his teen angst. 
When she started at her Shakespeare summer camp this year, one of her teachers asked which characters she liked best. She replied, “Horatio.”
“Horatio? But he doesn’t have many lines, does he? Why do you like him so much?”
“He’s Hamlet’s best friend, he’s always there for Hamlet, and he’s the only one that doesn’t die.”  A little kid’s interpretation of Hamlet’s BFF. A scent of kindness and devotion, friendship and loyalty.
Lilith watching Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet with her trusty sidekick, Wednesday. (Source)
Notes:  soft brown leather and brushed suede with bourbon vanilla, toasted almond, tonka bean, and amber.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this one, having not tried any of BPAL's leather scents. I'm a fan of amber and almond seemed fairly safe, so I tossed the dice.  And, I won. This one plays nicely with my skin chemistry and it truly smells like suede to me:  soft, brown, comforting, and unisex.  

I cannot tell individual notes and it does not morph wildly on me, although reviews on BPAL's forum are all over the place. Some people smell gasoline, some cherry almond, and there were more than a few comments on it smelling sharp, but I had none of those issues. There is no accounting for skin chemistry, I guess.  My favorite comment from the BPAL forum:
"There's a touch of sharpness from the bourbon vanilla and/or almond if I get close, but basically I'm trailing a cloud of "I am a good person" smell." -a little too imp-ulsive
I like mixing my BPAL oils with jojoba oil and applying them on still damp skin fresh from the shower, and when I do that I get an all day but soft fragrance. Blood and Lust So Well Commedled does not overwhelm even straight from the bottle and has good longevity but low throw.  I'm very happy I stepped outside of my comfort zone with this one, definitely a nice addition to my collection.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Le Métier de Beauté November VIP Box: Liquid Gold

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Le Métier de Beauté's November VIP offering is a liquid luminizer named Gilded and their angled foundation brush.  I'm enamoured with both.  I've been on a acquiring new brushes kick this month and liquid luminizers continue to be my favorite way to use highlighters, so, win/win :-)

Gilded is a true yellow gold with small flecks of mica that are visible on the skin if you are close enough to say, lick someone.  At a socially appropriate distance however you get subtle illumination.  The texture of Gilded reminds me of a dry oil in that it applies like a liquid but then dries down (evaporates?) quickly, leaving behind a golden sheen.

Lightly blended

Completely Blended

I like mixing liquid luminizers with my liquid foundation, and the two I've tried it with thus far have worked well. It does not add any weight or oiliness to the foundations or seem to interfere with them at all, which is nice.
The formula is similar to Giorgio Armani's Fluid Sheers in consistency, although Gilded has more visible shimmer flecks than the two I own, Fluid Sheer #2 and #5.

While Gilded is a limited edition item made exclusively for the VIP subscription program (as far as I know), the angled foundation brush ($50) is part of Le Métier de Beauté's regular catalog.  I don't have another brush like this one, and the flat synthetic brushes look like they will be useful for initially blending foundation, especially in harder to reach crevices and crannies.  I imagine I'll still want to buff my foundation out with something like Tarte's the Buffer foundation brush, but for spreading?  This one.
Here is Gilded blended with Becca's Matte Shine-Proof foundation in Sand.  I'm getting to where I no longer care for matte foundations (in spite of my oily skin) due to how flat they can look, but that does make them prime candidates for pairing with a liquid luminizer.  It still looks flat to me, however.
On my lips I'm wearing Buxom's Bambi (top of picture, doesn't seem to be available in the regular lineup anymore) over LMdB's Nudite lip pencil ($36).  I find $36 to be ridiculous for a lip liner, but I do like it.  It's not any better than Essence's $1.50 lip liners, IMO though.
Buxom Bambi, Buxom Sashi, LMdB Nudite
Bambi + Nudite
In this one I'm wearing Gilded mixed with BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel in Natural 05.  I think my skin looks more alive here, although lighting/time of day does seem to factor in with my photos.

On my lips I'm wearing Nudite again, this time topped with Buxom's sheer shimmer gloss Sasha, which I can't find in the general catalog anymore either. I'd forgotten how much I love Buxom's glosses, but I do.
Sashi + Nudite
Perfume of the Day:  Pumpkin I by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (full review here), with it's notes of pumpkin cream, cardamon, black tea, allspice, and ginger milk.  Because it's that time of the year.  I've been using this one in my fragrance burner for all around ambiance.
Song of the Day:  Something More Besides You by Cowboy Junkies.  I can't seem to get enough of them right now.
Something More Besides You (partial lyrics)
This morning I awoke,
the bed warm where it once was cold
Small blessings laid upon us
Small mysteries slowly unfold
Yet I still wonder is there a point
to what we do?
'Cause I kind of doubt
there there is something more besides you

Monday, November 16, 2015

Head Over Heels Blush by Makeup Geek

 Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Makeup Geek was running a sale at the end of October where you could get 9 of their blush pans for $45, making them $5 as opposed to their usual $9.99.  Having read such nice things across the board about these blushes, I made my first Makeup Geek purchase.  I've been having fun playing with these blushes ever since, and today I'll be showing you Head Over Heels.
Everything arrived packed uber securely, with each individual blush in a cardboard container with an inner sleeve.  You can also purchase the blushes in a compact for $12.99.  I'm keeping mine in a Z Palette, although only 8 will fit in the regular sized version.
Head Over Heels is a light bubblegum pink with a soft shimmer.  The pigmentation is quite good with all of these blushes, and I find just tapping my brush on the pan is the best way to pick up the powder and apply, building up color as I go.  Head Over Heels applies smoothly and is easy to build up without going chalky or cakey - it's a really nice formula that is both talc and paraben free.
I decided to go with a similar toned lip for this FOTD, pairing Laqa & Company's Honeypot Sheer Lip Lube (full review here) with Bite Beauty's lilac hued shimmer gloss 2001 from the limited edition 15 Shades of Sephora set (3rd from the left, full review here).
Makeup Geek appears to be having another sale of the pan blushes right now, with a set of 9 for $54.  Still a steal and worth checking out.
Perfume of the Day:  Nirvana Black by Elizabeth & James, no doubt influenced by reading The Non-Blonde's review while in bed that morning.

Song of the Day:  Lay it Down by the Cowboy Junkies, whose lyrics alternately amuse me or break my heart:
Lay It Down
He told his children those little white lies
the truth would only paralyze them
He told himself those little white lies
the truth would only paralyze him

Lay it down, lay it down

He sold most of what he cherished,
the rest he let them steal
Shot his dog out in the open field,
the rest he let them steal