Thursday, January 31, 2013

Empties! Products I Finished in December/January

I powered through quite a few products in the past two months!  Without further adieu, where they are:
  • Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum deluxe sample:  I want to like Juice Beauty products, but I've yet to try any that have wowed me.  
  • DDF Acne Control Treatment deluxe sample:  I liked this!  It is a light moisturizer that also helps combat shine caused by oily skin.  It's pricey at $42, but I'd consider purchasing.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum (full sized):  This was a stand out for me!  I got it in the Fall New Beauty TestTube, so it lasted several months.  This is supposed to be the fastest retinol product available, and is reasonably priced at $21.  I'd purchase again.
  • pssssst! Dry Shampoo (full size):  My favorite dry shampoo to date, will purchase again.
  • Shea Terra shea butter (sample size):  Nice, but I'm swimming in body creams at the moment.
  •  bayberry Naturals Breakout Banisher Facial Cleanser (full size):  I liked this charcoal based cleanser!  It's organic, reasonably priced at $16.95, and lasted almost 7 months of almost daily use.  You can see a full review here.
  • Exfolikate by Kate Somerville:  Another staple and my favorite exfoliator.  You can see a full review here.  I've got several of these in reserve.
  • Oscar Blandi Texture & Volume Spray deluxe sample:  I'd say I hate this, but that is probably too strong of a statement.  I do hate how it makes my hair feel.  Does it provide texture and volume?  Yes.  It also has a strong fragrance that's a bit overwhelming.  Would not purchase.
  • Rainwater Botanicals Natural Deodorant in Jasmine Wind (sample size):  I received this in an Eco-Emi box, and I'm a fan.  I will purchase once I run out of my current natural cream deodorant.  
  • Tarte Clean Slate Creaseless 12-hr Smoothing Eye Primer deluxe sample:  Not the best eye primer I've tried, but I love that it goes on like warm butter.  I've got another sample size and I do find myself using it on a regular basis, so I would consider purchasing a full size.
  • Korres Quercetin & Oak Antiaging Eye Primer (full sized):  Decent performer and I like that it has some skin treatment ingredients.  If it was part of a set I might purchase again.  You can see a full review here
  • Makeup Forever Microperfecting Primer (foil packet sample):  Like a lot!  I've used up several samples and would consider purchasing.
  • Masqueology Advanced 7D Solution deluxe sample:  I liked this vitamin D based moisturizer that I got in my November Birchbox!  Not sure I'd purchase as I've got a lot of facial care products to get through, but I did like it.
  • Alterna  Anti-aging Volume Conditioner (full size):  Good conditioner and I especially like the lemony scent.  I got two at a significant discount, but would have a hard time justifying the full price of $34.
  • Orofluido Shampoo:  Decent, but wouldn't repurchase.  I love the Orofluido Beauty Elixir and will sing it's praises nonstop, however.  You can see a full review of the shampoo and conditioner here
  • Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Express the Truth Creme deluxe sample:  Very nice and became a go to for me during the winter months when my skin needs more moisture.  Would purchase.  You can see a full review here
  • Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel deluxe sample:  I like eye gels and this one was nice, but a bit pricey at $38.  Doubt I would purchase.  
Whew, that was a lot! 

Disclaimer:  I purchased these. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Flush

Tarte's Amazonian Clay blush in Flush was one of the items in my Winter New Beauty TestTube.  I'm a fan of the formula, and if you are not familiar with these blushes, they are supposed to suit all skin types, as:
Amazonian clay minimizes oil in and around pores to balance skin and keep product in place while also hydrating the skin naturally to restore moisture, reducing the appearance of dry, flaky skin.
Flush is a pink berry matte and is highly pigmented.  A soft touch will apply a sheer wash or color or you can easily build it up for a more bold statement.  I find that just tapping my brush on the pan picks up enough color for my lighter complexion, and does indeed give a "flushed" cheek look.  I probably would not have sought out Flush on my own, but I'm really liking it!
It turns out I also have the Tarte gel stain version of Flush, so I thought I would compare the two.  The gel stain required quite a few passes to build up color, but once on, you can see the resemblance to the Amazonian clay version.  The gel stain is softer in color, while the Amazonian clay version is more vibrant. 
Amazonian clay Flush on top and bottom, gel stain Flush in middle
Flush may look intimidating in the pan, but I'm finding it quite wearable!  The Amazonian clay blushes are $26 and Flush is available at Tarte's site or Ulta.com
Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara and Double Wear Stay-in-Place Flawless Wear Concealer

My most used item thus far from the Estee Lauder Lilly Pulitzer Summer Nights gift set has been the dual ended mascara and concealer.  The Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting mascara in black is a solid performer with a brush that I really like.  The formula has lash-thickening fibers while the brush thickens like a brush while defining like a comb - hence the trademarked name BrushComber™.
The Double Wear Stay-in-Place Flawless Wear Concealer in light medium was a perfect match for my skin tone, so I lucked out again.  This has become my go to under eye concealer, as it is richly pigmented, creamy, blends easily, and does not accentuate the fine lines under my eyes.  I've used concealers that blend out to nothingness, but this is not one of them.  I'm really impressed!
It's too bad that the dual ended mascara and concealer is not part of the regular catalog of items, as I would totally buy that as opposed to separates.  The regular sized mascara and concealer both retail for $22.

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Beauty TestTube: Winter 2013

My New Beauty TestTube arrived last week!  For those not familiar with this subscription sampling service, for $38.90 per quarter ($29.99 plus shipping), you receive deluxe and full-sized beauty products to try out as well as the New Beauty magazine.  There are no foil packets here, and sizes are usually quite generous.  They quality of the brands included has been consistently high, and I've been introduced to several great brands I was previously unfamiliar with.  
Tarte Amazonian clay 12-hour blush in Flush (value $26). 
This vibrant berry pink not a color I would have gravitated to on my own, but it's actually something I really like.  Sometimes I need the nudge of receiving something out of my comfort zone to expand my horizon. 

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Cleanser (value $35).  According to the Dr. Brandt web site, this is "a  non-drying, pore refining cleanser that uses the power of tea tree oil, willow bark and salicylic acid to dissolve impurities and decongest pores, leaving skin with a fresh, ultra-clean sensation."  Perfect for my skin type, really excited to try this out.

The Liftactive Serum 10 (value $5.25) was an Allure 2012 Best of Beauty winner and is an anti-aging treatment formulated with Rhamnose, a naturally derived plant sugar, which is clinically proven to improve skin rejuvenation.  Supposedly, after one drop, wrinkles and pores are visibly reduced, skin is lifted, smoothed and more radiant.  Here's hoping!

Liftactive Eyes (value $4.50) also contains Rhamnose, as well as caffeine to reduce the appearance of dark circles and Escine to help flush out toxins and retained water to reduce puffiness.
Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes (value $1.67) contain no alcohol, dyes, perfumes, or harsh irritants and are supposed to be non-drying and non-greasy.  I like cleansing cloths and use them when swatching or on the occasional evening when I'm too tired to do a full cleansing routine.  I've seen this brand advertised but this will be my first time trying one of their products. 

Stila Face the Day multi-use gel cream (value $11.40) contains Hyaluronic Acid and antioxidant-rich stabilized Vitamins A, C & E.  It utilizes something called Alpine Rose Stem Cell Technology to rejuvenate skin cells and provides antioxidant protection while improving skin elasticity and texture.  Sounds intriguing!

In addition to the core tube items that everyone received,there were a few extras included.  I received a Mally Everolor Starlight waterproof eye liner in Midnight (value $15) and a Phyto Phytodefrisant botanical hair relaxing balm (value $5.50).  I've been curious out the Mally eyeliners, although I wish I had received a color other than black as I'm swimming in black eye liners.  The Phyto hair balm is silicone free, so I'm excited to see how it works. 

Total value of the Winter TestTube is $104.36, not bad! 

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Estee Lauder Lilly Pulitzer Face Compact

One of the items in the Estee Lauder Lilly Pulitzer Summer Nights gift set  was a face compact containing a powder foundation, bronzer, and blush.  I love the idea of having three face products in one convenient compact you can pop in your purse, plus the colorful shell design against the white background has brought a bit of brightness to January's dreariness.
Fortunately, the Double Wear Powder Makeup in Ivory Beige was a good match for my skin.  I tried it first as a foundation and decided I needed more coverage than it provided, so it worked better for me as a finishing powder over a BB cream or foundation.  I've got oily skin, and although this does claim to be oil absorbing, I noticed a dewy look less than an hour after application.  So, it may be a better option for those with dry to normal complexions.  I've had better luck with Lancome's Dual Finish Powder when it comes to combating shininess.
The Bronze Goddess soft matte bronzer is indeed soft, but not completely matte.  There are finely milled copper shimmer in it that is quite subtle and lovely.  Bronze Goddess is warm toned without being brassy or going orange on me.  It's a subtle bronzer and I don't have to worry about having brown streaks on my face when I use it it.  Pigmentation is good and buildable.
The Pure Color blush in Pink Kiss is a warm toned pink with a faint gold shimmer.  The shimmer bits in both the bronzer and blush are so finely milled that they provide more of a glow than obvious shimmer.  The result is both flattering and natural looking. Wear time was a solid 7 hours before I started to notice some fading.  Overall, all three products in the compact performed really nicely and I'm particularly pleased with the blush and bronzer.  They will be standards during the warmer months coming up!
Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Showy Toffee by Alice & Peter

Source:  Alice & Peter Facebook
“Irresistible Temptation! Veering on the side of quirkiness, the unmistakable scent of freshly cut grass takes on a lemony allure. Rose, lilac and freesia enchant with whimsical brilliance. Finally, never short on audacity, amber and caramelized chocolate strut arm in arm into a patchouli parade.”
Showy Toffee by Alice & Peter is the fourth cupcake perfume in the series of five that I have sampled, and my second favorite after Bloody Orange.  The name is a bit of a misnomer, as I don't smell toffee in this perfume.  Notes listed are:
Top notes: lemon and fresh cut grass.
Heart: rose, lilac, freesia, water flowers and ozone notes.
Base: amber, vanilla, caramel, chocolate and patchouli.
Bet you weren't expecting fresh cut grass in there, were you?  I know I wasn't, and my nose certainly didn't register it.  However, the first spritz does have a fresh brightness to it that is probably a result of those lemon and grass top notes.  That initial freshness dissipates as the floral notes emerge and are warmed by amber and patchouli.  The scent stabilizes to a warm, slightly sweetened amber essence that has provided a nice atmospheric balance for the rawness of the chilly and rainy days that have predominated this past week.
Showy Toffee also has a bit more sillage and lasting power than the other Alice & Peter perfumes I've tried thus far.  Would that it was longer, however, as after one hour I can still smell it by sniffing my wrist, but it is close to the body.  After 3 hours, I can no longer smell it at all.

I'm fond of amber based scents and do not have negative associations of patchouli (dirty, hippy, BO), so that definitely influences my opinion of Showy Toffee.  There is also skin chemistry to take into account, as when I spray Showy Toffee on paper, it quickly goes stale and a bit sour.  On my skin, however, there is no hints of unpleasantness.  Ultimately, however, the quick disappearance of any scent at all makes Showy Toffee not worth a bottle investment for me.
If you would like to try the Alice & Peter perfumes, a sampler of all five scents is available for $10.

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Nude Peach Fuzz

Nude Peach Fuzz, Pinky Nude
This is my first foray into the NYX Xtreme lip creams, and I've got to say, they are really nice!  Great pigmentation, smooth coverage, creamy, comfortable to wear, and inexpensive to boot. 

Today I've got Nude Peach Fuzz to show you, along with some comparisons to some OCC lip tars.  Nude Peach Fuzz is a light peachy pink cream that is opaque on the lips.  I've been using the doe foot applicator to apply the lip cream on my lower lip, pressing lips together, and then using my finger to smooth and fill in.  I would imagine a lip brush would work even better, as the opaqueness and pigmentation of these requires precise application to look their best.   Once applied, these have a wear time of several hours and feel comfortable on. Towards the end of wear by my lips did feel a bit dry, but I'm addicted to lip balm and tend to reapply throughout the day, so no great surprise.

Nude Peach Fuzz reminded me of OCC's Lip Tars, and they do share the same first ingredient, Ricinus Communs seed oil.  The formulas are different, however, with the lip tars containing higher quality ingredients (IMO), with less chemical sounding names.  The lip tars are also more pigmented and have a thinner consistency, whereas the NYX Xtreme creams have more of a lip gloss consistency.  The wear of the NYX creams is comparable to the lip tars, however, so these are a good low budget substitution at their $5-$6 price versus OCC's lip tars at $16.

Here is Nude Peach Fuzz (middle) compared with OCC's Hush (top) and Memento (bottom).  It is closest to Hush, but not a complete dupe as Hush leans a touch more brown.  I counted 11 shades at Ulta, which is where I purchased mine during a recent BOGO offer. 

Have you tried NYX Xtreme lip creams?  What did you think?

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

African Lemongrass Black Soap Elixir by Shea Terra Organics

Black soap from Africa.  For someone raised on Dove soap, how exciting!  Now, I haven't used Dove soap as a facial cleanser in quite a while, and have used some almost black in color cleansers that are charcoal based, but this is my first venture into soap made from indigenous African ingredients.

Apparently, not every soap that is labeled "African black soap" is the real deal:
Be cautious of soaps that are labeled as black soap or African black soap, but are manufactured in the United States, Europe, or Asia on a large scale. These soaps are not authentic African black soap. It is important to look at the list of ingredients and make sure they do not contain and cheap oils or fats. Also, determine how the black color was obtained. In some cases charcoal or black dyes are added. The dark color of a true, original black soap is obtained by the lengthy process of saponification. In an industrial setting, it is not economical to use the traditional saponification method, and so black coloring agents are added to get the dark color.  (Source:  African Black Soap Revealed)
I've had good success with Shea Terra products, so that was my first choice when it came to trying a black soap.  The Lemongrass Black Soap Elixir contains Yoruba black soap, derived from cocoa pod ash, plantain peel ash, palm kernel oil, and Camwood bark, and is mixed by the Yoruban tribe in Nigeria.  
So what makes black soap special?  Apparently, it is great for exfoliating the skin as well as eliminating acne causing bacteria.  Since I've got oily, blemish prone skin, this is perfect for me!   Interestingly, the instructions say to leave the soap on your face for 5-10 minutes, which I did not do the first few weeks.  I used it as a cleanser with my Clarasonic, and it worked well in that capacity, but I didn't notice anything particularly different from any other cleanser.  So, I decided to follow the instructions:-)  It's actually pretty easy to apply the liquid soap and then go about my business for a while before using my Clarasonic to loosen the dead skin.

Observations when leaving it on longer:  I can feel my skin tingling in certain areas, and I love the lemongrass scent.   After about 10 days, I cannot say that I see any noticeable differences when leaving it on for 4-5 minutes than I do when using it only as a cleanser, however.  I do like it and at $20 for 8 oz., think it's a good cleanser for my skin type.  I do not find it drying and my skin feels clean but soft afterwards.

Have you tried African black soap?  What did you think?

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January Birchbox: Best Year Ever!

I made zero New Year's resolutions, but I do love the feel of starting afresh that the beginning of a new year brings.  So, the sentiment of "Best Year Ever" for this month's Birchbox is one I am definitely on board with!

I thought the variety of products included in January's box was very balanced, as I received:
  • Hot Mama! blush by the Balm (makeup):  sample value $2.82
  • Amika Color pHerfection shampoo (hair care): sample value $1.04
  • My Multi-Purpose mattifying moisturizer (skin care):  sample value $10.20
  • Deborah Lippman Stripper to Go (nail care):  sample value $2
  • Skinny Chic by Harvey Prince (fragrance):  sample value $2.20
Hot Mama! blush is about the size of an eye shadow, and may very well get used in that capacity.  Pretty color that I've heard lots of good things about and have never tried before, plus I love the Balm's retro graphics.

I also look forward to trying the Amika Color pHerfection shampoo.  I've seen amika around but this will be the first product I've gotten a chance to try.  This sulfate and paraben free shampoo sounds like it will be perfect for my color treated hair.

I've been looking for a good mattifying product for ages, so was super excited to see the My Multi-Purpose mattifying moisturizer.  My oily skin has managed to defeat every product purported to mattify that I've every tried, so it will be interesting to see how this one stacks up.
The Deborah Lippmann Stripper to Go got used as soon as I opened the box, as I was almost out of nail polish remover and in no mood for a trip to the store.  Even better, it worked great.  The little finger mitt was saturated enough to remove the polish on all 10 fingers and was super easy to use.  Very cool, I may have to seek these out.
I know that fragrance samples continue to be a bone of contention amongst many in the subscription box world, but I've made peace with receiving them.  Birchbox actually introduced me to some fragrances that I love and have purchased, so now I keep an open mind when I receive one.  This month's scent was Skinny Chic by Harvey Prince, which I hear was causing a bit of negative feedback to Birchbox because of it's name and glorification of slimness.  I will say that reading the description did make me feel a bit put off, as I really don't think we need more marketing aimed at women that perpetuates a body type ideal that may not be realistic or even healthy for some people.  We come in all shapes and sizes, and as long as you are healthy, that should be what matters.  Just my 2 cents.

The value of this month's box was $18.26 and overall I'm quite happy with the contents and look forward to trying everything out!

Disclaimer:  I subscribe to Birchbox for $10/mo.  If you'd like to subscribe you can use my referral link (I get points for anyone who subscribes) or you can go directly to Birchbox and sign up.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crystal Pink Pure Color Crystal Lipstick by Estee Lauder

I'm not really sure why, but I've always preferred lip gloss over lipstick.  Perhaps it's because I associated lipsticks with a more dry feel to my lips, or perhaps it's because I associated lipstick with bolder colors.  Regardless, I'm slowly integrating more lipsticks into my collection.   I recently acquired Estee Lauder's Crystal Pink lipstick in a gift with purchase, and I'm finding it to be a great choice for a subtle pink lip that looks very natural - the proverbial "my lips but better"!
Pink Crystal lipstick by Estee Lauder
The Pure Color Crystal lipsticks are described as having sheer to medium coverage that is buildable and wears for hours while staying true to color.   Pink Crystal is a creme finish that actually looks lighter on my lips than it does in the tube.  It is not a high gloss finish, but neither does it look dry or matte.  It felt creamy on and was comfortable to wear, no doubt helped by the shea butter, apricot kernel oil, and murumuru butter included in the formula. 
I'm a bit surprised that it wears lighter on my lips than it does in the arm swatch or how it looks in the tube, but all these pictures were taken in outdoor light, so should be accurate.
Regardless, I do like it, as it's one of those lipsticks that I can wear like a lip balm, because it is so close to my own lip color.
The Pure Crystal Lipsticks retail for $26 and I counted 10 colors at Estee Lauder online.  

Disclaimer:  I got this as part of a gift with purchase.