Cult Favorite Beauty Products That Aren't Worth the Hype

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grab your torches and pitchforks, because today's post is all about what are probably your favorite beauty products and how they totally don't work for me. I'm talking smack about such beloved cosmetics that criticizing them is borderline socially unacceptable. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to love each of these, but for one reason or another, they just don't work for me. For some, I'm deeply convinced that "It's not you, it's me", and for others, I wonder how they ever achieved cult status in the first place. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to join the Witness Protection Program.



1. By Terry Baume de Rose: If Sara Happ The Lip Slip and Smith's Rosebud Salve had a baby, this lip balm would be it. Thickish, colored-like and rather sticky like Sara Happ, but with the slip and rosiness of Smith, this is the combination of two much-loved lip balms--it's just a shame I don't like either one. I've written about my dislike of Lip Slip here (post), and I never got on with Smith, either, but the thing with Baume de Rose is that it just doesn't seem to do anything special for my lips. Sure, it gets the job done, and I like that it lasts a reasonably long time for a lip balm, but it doesn't heal or cure cracked, dry lips. This works best as a sort of sealant I put on before heading out for the day to keep my lips hydrated so they're not a raggedy mess when I come home. I like it and use it fairly regularly, but I think it's totally overrated and overpriced for a lip balm that doesn't do anything way cheaper alternatives do. I know some people swear by Baume, but I'll be totally fine living without this. If you want a fantastic lip balm, though, my favorite is Jack Black Lip Therapy (reviewed here), which is $52.50 cheaper.



2. Embryolisse Lait Creme-Concentre: For starters, I can totally see the appeal of this. It's the sort of everyman cream I like to have in my stash that suits all skin types, dries to a comfortable finish and can be applied morning (topped with SPF!) or night. I have no problem using it and everything, and friends who have tried it said the same, but here's what kills me: it contains mineral oil. What. the. hell. People rave about this moisturizer, Jane Birkin used this moisturizer, people go to France specifically to buy this moisturizer and its second ingredient is mineral oil?! For the cult status this has and how romanticized it is, I'd like to see "super expensive, rare, fancy French spring mineral herb water that women in Cote d'Azur fight to the death to wash their faces in" instead of mineral oil on the ingredients list. For the record, mineral oil usually makes me break out in milia, and while I haven't noticed that with this moisturizer, I did see a bit of subtle bumpiness in my skin's texture. But even if my skin didn't react, the ingredient would still bother me (in case you couldn't tell). Now, this product just feels like a very well-marketed tube of completely ordinary face cream that probably cost all of $1.25 to mix up. Probably the biggest beauty product-related letdown I've ever experienced. 



3. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil Liner: This pencil has convinced me so many times that something must be wrong with me. Every time I try to use this universally-adored eyeliner and it smudges all over my crease and comes off on the back of my eyelash curler, I'm deeply convinced that the problem is with me. "Maybe my skin's too oily, or I'm probably not applying it right..." But here's the truth: this eyeliner does not work for me, and it never did. I've written about my experience with this before (here), and again, with me, the 24/7 Glide-On name is so wrong it's almost funny. It's hard, it tugs at my eyelid, it's not smooth to apply, it comes off on the back of my eyelash curler, and it smudges into my crease. That had me thinking it was meant for the waterline and not on my actual lids, but I tried to tightline with it, and had the worst under-eye smudging I've had in a while. Literally every six months or so, I'll see this eyeliner in my collection and give it another try, because everyone else I know (or virtually know) loves it. Let's take this as proof that beauty products really are subjective, and maybe I'll learn to keep this liner shelved.



4. GlamGlow Youthmud Treatment: There is a GlamGlow mask that is absolutely worth the hype, but this isn't it. This is the original mask that launched the whole brand's cult status, but it never really did anything for my skin. My skin feels softer after I wash it off, my pores look a bit smaller, and that's it. No radiant glow, no reduction of acne or blackheads, no smoother skin texture. I'm honestly surprised that this is the mask that made GlamGlow famous, as it's their SuperMud Clearing Treatment (the white one) that is absolutely fantastic. Whereas the Youthmud just feels like a slightly scrubby, totally normal black clay mask that doesn't pull that much out of your skin, SuperMud is a lifesaver. I don't always see results in my bulbous acne after a clay mask, but I always wake up to better skin, and way less visible pores after a round of SuperMud. I've never tried the Hydrating Treatment and don't especially want to, but if you've been eyeing the SuperMud, you need to get it. Tip: don't buy it at Sephora, since it's a whopping $25 cheaper on Amazon. Here's the link!



5. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm: I'm in two minds about this. For one thing, once the product is actually onto my lips the way I want it to be, the color, moisture, and comfort of wearing it is absolutely unbeatable. That's when I adore these lip balms, but it's the procedure to get there that annoys me. These balms are heavy on the moisture, so their texture is extremely creamy and slippy. Apply slightly too forcefully, and you'll smush your stick. Leave it in your pocket in July and it melts. Worst of all, even when you're just applying it normally, it's incredibly easy to apply too much, and then the balm clumps up on your lips and the edges of your mouth. This isn't something I can just slick on, I need a mirror and then a tissue to blot those little clumps and excess product away. That's not a dreadful task, but it's annoying, and I just think these lip balms aren't quite as easy to work with as everyone says. If these balms were just a bit harder, had a bit more hold to them, I think they would be absolutely phenomenal and worthy of the hype.



6. The Clarisonic: Yes, I'm one of those people who sees no results from the Clarisonic. I've written a whole blog post about my experience here, and even though I re-incorporate this into my routine every now and then, I still don't notice any change in my skin. It doesn't get rid of my milia, or my acne, or give me any sort of ethereal glow. I've been checking out the Foreo LUNA online, but honestly, after wasting money and getting my hopes dashed with the Clarisonic, I've been put off from face exfoliating gadgets. 



7. L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray: No, just no. It doesn't "disappear with the stroke of a brush", it's hard, it's not flexible at all, it makes my hair stiff and easily crunchy, and it smells of grandmothers. (Literally in my case, since my grandmother was once addicted to this hairspray, so the scent always reminds me of her). I just don't understand how it ever got to be so popular, since it feels so uncomfortable to have in your hair, and even the hold is nothing extraordinary. I say skip this and pick up the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Working Hairspray. It's easy to work with and build, flexible, and truly doesn't make your hair stiff. I've even reviewed it for Temptalia (three years ago!) here

If you liked seeing this kind of thing (even if I did just knock your favorite products), I'll be doing a Cult Favorite Beauty Products That Are Worth the Hype probably next week!

I've got an Asian Beauty Haul and a Nail of the Week post coming your way!

Hope you're well!

The Only High-End Dry Shampoo That Just Might Be Worth the Money

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I don't want to brag (cue braginess alert), but I like to think of myself as the queen of dry shampoo--self-appointed, of course. My "shampoo Monday morning, oily by Monday night" scalp means I rely on dry shampoo more than any other beauty product, so I've tried a lot of different ones. As you might know from my massive drugstore dry shampoo comparison post, I prefer drugstore cheapies since I go through cans of this stuff like you would not believe.

For years, I've held to my old faithful and very favorite Batiste (post), but I've recently started exploring some high-end options to see if they were worth the extra cash, and almost all across the board, they weren't. (We're talking Drybar, the new Alterna one, Oscar Blandi, TIGI, and a few others. For the record, I do think Klorane is ever so slightly better than Batiste, but the two are honestly so similar that the considerable price difference isn't worth the negligible quality difference). 


I thought I'd seen it all in terms of different types of dry shampoos, but then the Rene Furterer Naturia walked into my life and pleasantly surprised me. My biggest complaint with dry shampoo, or with any other hair product, is with the consistency and texture it has--and how uncomfortable that is to feel in my hair. I can't stand the ones that tangle up my roots and feel stiff, but a lot of them are also a bit too powdery for my liking. Even with my beloved, can't-live-without-it-Batiste, there's a bit of dustiness in my scalp.

The wonderful thing about this product that potentially makes it worth the money for me is that it's not a very powdery dry shampoo. Something about this formula clings to the hair, and it feels like a not-as-powdery-powder, like it's a touch creamy or along those lines. It really helps hang onto the scalp and roots which means no dusty fallout, and also makes it a hell of a lot more blendable. Best of all, when you run your fingers through your roots post-application, your hair feels extremely natural--pretty clean, and not at all like you've put dry shampoo or any other powder into it. Again, I'm very finicky about texture, so this is kind of a huge deal for me.

The one thing that worries me is that this stuff comes out a funky shade of beige-orange. It doesn't have any effect on my pitch-black hair, as it easily blends out, but I imagine if you're very blonde, or whiteish-blonde, you could have a problem with that. Again, it completely blends in, but if you're one of those types who is very particular about the color of dry shampoo in relation to your hair, you might take issue with this. 

Naturia is definitely a great dry shampoo, but as per usual, it all comes down to value and value for money, compared to the cheaper options. Batiste is anywhere from $7-$10 (whether you get it at TJ Maxx, CVS, or Amazon) for 5 oz of product, and Rene is $24 for 3.2 oz. Obviously, Batiste is a way better value, but I still think there's a spot for the Rene on the market and in everybody's bathroom cabinet. 

Yes, it's more expensive, but I really think that the texture and the way it blends out is singular and unparalleled to anything else on the market. 

Honestly, I'm on too much of a budget and go through dry shampoo way too quickly to spend this kind of money on such a utility product. However, if you're willing to spend more on hair products and are finicky about dry shampoo and texture, this is a fantastic option. Otherwise, go right ahead and stock up on some Batiste!

If money were no object, I would probably mostly be using the Rene Naturia dry shampoo, with a few cans of Batiste every now and then. I won't even lie, that sentence was a bit heartbreaking to type.

There you have it, folks! Straight from the mouth of a (self-appointed) dry shampoo queen. 

Hope you're well!

Cheapie but Goodie: NYX Invincible Foundation

Monday, April 14, 2014

As you might know, I've been on the hunt for the perfect medium to full coverage, long-lasting, mattifying foundation for my cousin's upcoming wedding. After an embarrassing number of weeks spent searching, and trying Marc Jacobs, Laura Mercier, Hourglass, and MAKE UP FOR EVER, I have found the right foundation. 

It is $12, and from NYX. 

Take that, uppity foundation snobs! (Which I admittedly can sometimes be). 

This glorious, high-coverage stuff has all the qualities I loved best from my varied foundation hunts and experiments. It's got medium to full coverage that I would say leans slightly more towards full, looks reasonably natural on the skin, goes on evenly, keeps me matte for most of the day, and lasts like you would not believe. It's damn near invincible (see what I did there?!) on its own, and topped with powder, this stuff is almost bulletproof on my insanely oily skin. I've gotten used to watching my base break down towards the end of a 15 hour or so day, but I haven't experienced that with this foundation (and if I have, it's been minimal). I can even apply this on top of whatever greasy sunscreen I'm wearing (getting to be that time of the year!) without a mattifying primer underneath, and it still keeps my oils at bay. 

It's very buildable, so you could totally start out with a thin layer for some medium coverage and work your way up as you add more. If I'm in a rush in the mornings (approximately 100% of the time), I'll go medium all over, and then build it up on areas where I've got some pigmentation and acne issues, skipping concealer entirely. I've applied this with my fingers for speed, and that works fine, but a foundation with this kind of pigmentation is almost always best with a brush--I typically go for my Sigma F80 (review post here). 

There are obviously a lot of things I like about this base, but right up there with its longevity and mattifying abilities is its finish. Whereas a lot of these kinds of foundations are super-matte and tend to suck the life out of your skin (looking at you, Becca Ever-Matte Shine Proof!), Invincible has a really nice, matte-but-not-dead type finish that I can't get enough of. It's slightly satiny (not quite full-on satin), with just enough of an umph to keep you from looking dead. (This might be the same finish as their Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation, though I haven't tried that one). 

I didn't notice this clinging to my odd dry patch, but given how mattifying this is, it's definitely more for the normal/oily crowd--I can't imagine dry skin types being really into this. 

Honestly, I don't have many complaints where this foundation is concerned, but it's not quite as comfortable to wear as I might like. Obviously, how natural it feels and looks on the skin is something that gets sacrificed for this kind of coverage, which is what generally keeps this a "special occassion" foundation for me. If I want good coverage that feels natural for everyday, I'll reach for my Marc Jacobs Marvelous Mousse (reviewed here). 

I thought it'd be helpful to run through a quick comparison to a few other popular foundations, to help you get an idea of where the Invincible stands. 

Compared to...

Revlon ColorStay (for Normal/Oily): Invincible is not as runny and thin, is more creamy, way easier to blend, looks more natural on the skin. Both are not super comfortable to wear, but I think the NYX is slightly more natural-feeling. 

Laura Mercier Silk Creme: Invincible is more mattifying, more long-wearing, less natural looking and feeling on the skin, and is slightly harder to blend.

Marc Jacobs Marvelous Mousse (reviewed here): Invincible is longer-wearing, much more mattifying, less comfortable on the skin, and looks less natural. 

MAKE UP FOR EVER Matt Velvet Plus: Invincible has better coverage, is actually more long-wearing, is creamier (not as liquid) and holds up better. 

Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder: Invincible's coloring isn't nearly as orange, it looks slightly less natural, they're about the same in terms of mattifying, and Invincible is slightly less comfortable to wear. *Hourglass also oxidizes on me, but Invincible doesn't. 

Estee Lauder Double Wear Light: Invincible has higher coverage, blends a bit easier, is more mattifying, and long-wearing and looks slightly less natural. *Double Wear oxidizes on me, but Invincible doesn't. 

NYX is a solid makeup line across the board, but this foundation puts it into a whole 'nother ball park for me. 

I think another trip to Ulta is in order!

NOTW: Sephora Formula X Extraordinary

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Damnit, Eva!

My obsession with everything Eva Chen posts on her Instagram is still in full swing, so when she 'grammed a shot of her OPI I Vant to Be A Lone Star manicure, I craved a similar color on my nails, STAT. This was right around when I was wondering what to purchase during the Sephora V.I.B sale, so before I knew it, I had my first Sephora X nail polish!

(Yes, that is a disgraceful sentence for someone obsessed with nail polish to write, but I've really been off my game for the past few months). 



I Vant to be a Lone Star is clearly paler and more pearlescent-silver, but I wanted to keep more of the blueness and pastel, so Extraordinary was the perfect choice. A dusky soft washed-denim blue with just enough gray to keep it a neutral, this is extraordinarily (see what I did there?) wearable. I love the look of milky pastel nails for spring, but with my yellow skin tone, find them hard to wear. I would probably find that true of Lone Star, but again, the grayness of Extraordinary keeps the color flattering and easy to wear. 

As for the formula, I don't quite see what all the crazy hype surrounding these polishes is about. Maybe it's just this color, but while the nail polish goes on smoothly and has a good amount of pigmentation, it doesn't seem like anything special. That description could fit a lot of nail polish formulations, so I'll give a few other Sephora Formula X shades a try to make my final verdict!

Updates!
  • Sorry this post is up a day late but it's officially wedding week in my family now, and everyone's schedule has been thrown into chaos. (Ex: it's 2:45 a.m., and I'm blogging on my cousin's computer, while crashing in another cousin's bed). 
  • Fellow Game of Thronies, what has happened to our pretty Daario Naharis with the radiating sexual tension and long hair that totally worked for him? This new guy's not hard to look at (wouldn't be on the show if he was!), but he doesn't have the same swagger, if you know what I mean. 
  • Finally went to Target today and got my paws all over the Charles Worthington line! Not sure if I'll review them, considering how much the line has been covered already, but we'll see how it goes. 
  • Speaking of British imports, I've also noticed that I can get Boots Botanics in a lot more drugstores now. I'm thinking I need to purchase some things and then do a Budget Skincare Review?

So many blog posts coming up this week--I've got a ton of product to report to you on! Not quite sure what I'll actually end up posting, but here's what it's in the works: Laura Mercier's new concealer, NYX's incredible new foundation, a fantastic high-end dry shampoo, and my shameful Sephora V.I.B haul.

Let me know if you'd be especially interested in any of those!

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

Found: The Best Aluminum-Free Deodorant

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

So what if it's for men?

No joke, I got the inspiration for this blog post from last night's episode of The Mindy Project, when Mindy is in a locker room and someone accidentally switches their women's deodorant with Mindy's "military grade men's roll-on."

My spirit animal, everybody!

I've been using the Nuxe Men 24 Hour Protection Deodorant (yes, it's a roll-on too) for a few weeks now, so fantastic Mindy reference or not, this blog post would have been going up anyway. You'll know from this post that I refuse to use a deodorant that contains aluminum, as the ingredient can cause cancerous tumors in your underarms, and I've reviewed more aluminum-free options here. I've found some good deodorants in my search (mainly the LaVanila one everyone talks about, and the Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus), but this one is light-years ahead of both.

I'm something of a sweat-er, so while I probably don't need a military grade deodorant, I do need something reasonably powerful (the things I write on the Internet...), and this is just the thing. Don't get me wrong, the LaVanila and Malin + Goetz are good and can get me through most of my day, but this Nuxe option actually sees me through 24 hours quite comfortably! (The exclamation point is for the marketing shtick on a beauty product actually holding true, which almost never happens).

It glides right on, goes on transparent, dries down quickly and keeps me dry and fresh all day long--no easy feat, especially for an aluminum-free deodorant, which I typically find to be weaker. It's a total match made in heaven, but there's a catch...it smells like men's deodorant.

I happen to really like masculine scents (once told a friend I would marry the first man I met who had a puppy, wore L'Eau D'Issey and let me smell his neck whenever I wanted), so this doesn't bother me at all. It's actually a nice and clean manly scent too--not too spicy, with a bit of something fresh mixed in to stop it from veering into Old Spice territory. It's not too strong of a fragrance once you've applied, but it does linger and I can still catch a whiff of it into the 24th hour.

Again, I don't mind it, but if you do, I've noticed a couple of spritzes of your preferred fragrance on top kill the scent of the Nuxe, so if you're a bit shy about it, no one even has to know you're wearing men's deodorant! But you'll know in July, when everyone else is trying to hide their sweat-stains, and you look like you don't even know what glistening is.

You can find Nuxe at Duane Reade and other drugstores now, but I've found it on Amazon as well--feel free to ignore the bad review it has like I did. Link!

Get it for your menfolk, and/or get it for yourself, and don't let the boys give you any crap for using men's deodorant!

If Mindy Lahiri does it, we all can, and in case you couldn't tell, this doesn't bother me at all.

Then again, I wasn't bothered in high school either, when I stopped buying women's razors and "borrowed" my brother's Mach 3 for all of four years (and lied every time he asked if I did).

Apparently, we've come full circle!

NOTW: Marc Jacobs Fluorescent Beige

Friday, April 4, 2014

Somehow, it's been months since my last Nail of the Week post, and I have no idea how that happened. Actually, it's been a mix of trying out gel nails, giving my nails a break by going polish-free, and then wearing the same two shades I've already shown. But you're totally going to forgive me because I'm back with a polish that's a real stunner.

Totally understated but perfectly sophisticated, the effect of Fluorescent Beige is what I call Princess Hands. Not the slightly creepy, yellow-nude of Mannequin Hands, and not a sheer wash of pale pink that can feel a bit dated and '90s, this baby trumps them all. A fawny, pinky nude with almost a bit of lavender in it, this shade reminds me of Essie's Ladylike in tones, only Fluorescent Beige is even prettier and more flattering. This color not only elongates your fingers and makes your hands look fabulously groomed, it somehow manages to bring light to your skin. I've tried to describe this kind of effect before with the same lack of success, but something about the slightly cool tones of this shade (probably from that lavender?) makes your hands look brighter--like you've been doing scrubs, applying hand cream and SPF on the regular. See? Princess Hands, because nobody else has that kind of time (though admittedly I should get on the SPF thing...).

Normally my problem with these types of shades (and my problem with Ladylike) is that they can run flat, but Fluorescent Beige has a gorgeous pinky-gray pearlescence running through it. It's not quite noticeable enough to be shimmer, but it adds a beautiful iridescent, mother-of-pearl dimension to what could otherwise be a boring nail polish.



In case you couldn't tell, I'm in love with this shade (as is my mother, who keeps "borrowing" it from me), but the formula falls short. This is my first Marc Jacobs nail polish, and despite the generally wonderful things I've heard, Fluorescent Beige runs sheer. I prefer these beautifying, nude-ish polishes on longer nails, and unfortunately, the polish doesn't have enough pigment to cover the white tips. Two coats was enough for the base of my nails, but you could totally see my white tips through the color. I added a third coat, and even then you could still see some of the tips. You could probably let it go at that, but I'm a stickler for opacity, so I sort of touched up the very edges of my nails and applied more color there. (I don't like applying more than three coats of polish, as it tends to build up around my cuticles). I've also done two coats of polish and then adding more color at the tips, which has worked surprisingly well--the formula tends to smooth itself out so each nail looks reasonably uniform.

Fluorescent Beige is the kind of color I think everyone needs to have on hand (for work, job interviews, meeting the S.O.'s parents--basically any time you need to be a grown-up), so I'm disappointed that it's not pigmented enough. Still, the polish is smooth, glossy and lasts well, and the sheerness isn't impossible to work with, so I'll deal with the formulation for such a beautiful color.

Updates! I've missed spouting my random nonsense at you all!
  • In case you were wondering, yes, I did get this nail polish specifically for my cousin's upcoming wedding/the event of my year, so far. 
  • I couldn't get Instagram on my phone for most of this week and am honestly horrified by how traumatic it felt. Definitely time for an insta-vention. 
  • NARS is reformulating their lip glosses! Tell me they got rid of the terrible, plasticky smell and made them less sticky, and I just might have to finally pick up Ophelia. 
  • J Crew Factory's website is the best thing that's happened to me this week. Amongst my haulage are my two new favorite spring accessories, a pretty pink stone necklace, and the sweetest and softest scarf with juicy tangerines splashed all over it. 
  • Tried three new foundations this week (Hourglass Immaculate, Estee Lauder Double Wear Light, and MUFE Matt Velvet Plus) and none of them are right for my cousin's wedding. I have a feeling I'll end up mixing Revlon ColorStay with Nearly Naked on the day of... 
  • After mentioning my lately unloved jar of coconut oil in my last blog post, I slathered my hair in the stuff last night, and wow! Completely forgotten how damn good that stuff is--totally incorporating it back into my haircare routine. 
  • Confession: if I had the time to do it, I would have about 50 Pinterest boards dedicated to Emma Watson. 

I've really missed writing these posts, so hopefully this is the first in a resurgence of NOTWs!

Have a wonderful weekend!

It Just Didn't Work Out Between Us 4/14

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm back with another round of disappointing products--told you I've been experimenting with a lot of new items recently! Today's edition of unfortunate cosmetics features a popular eye cream, a Refinery-recommended deodorant, and a couple of hair products that completely miss the mark. 

P.S. You might notice a different style of photography in this post. I've had an epiphany where natural light and angles are concerned--you know, just becoming a regular Richard Avedon. =)

Let's start with the eye cream!


1. Indeed Labs Eysilix Eye Cream: This has gained a bit of a fan following since Queen Hirons has been recommending it, due to its 10 peptides for all around under-eye care and health. I believe that it contains a good amount of skin benefits, largely because if Ms. Hirons says so, it must, but I just can't get on board with the texture of this. It's lightweight and sort of shrinks as it dries, and makes my under-eye area feel tight. If you're not a big eye cream person, this could be a good one for you, but I like thicker, richer eye creams that really make that delicate area feel plumped up and fabulously hydrated. While I'm sure it's doing good things for my skin, this one doesn't have that rich consistency that I love, so I won't be repurchasing. I'm using it up by applying it in the mornings, under my concealer and it works alright under makeup, though it doesn't have enough slip to it to be a good under-concealer product. P.S. how is it that I can get my hands on this in Duane Reade, but Hydraluron is nowhere to be found?!


2. Amika Oil Treatment: I hauled this recently, and after playing with it for a few weeks, am not surprised it was on sale. I love the smell of this stuff and all other Amika products, but something about this oil is just wrong. It doesn't apply smoothly and evenly through my hair, and when I do manage to work it through, it doesn't seem to do anything. It doesn't smooth or add shine or moisture, it kind of just sits there--it doesn't even make my hair smell good! Sometimes, when I've had a really hard time running this through my hair, it almost makes my locks feel rougher somehow, or less smooth, if that's at all possible. Definitely a miss!


3. Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes: I'm so late on these, but considering how many eyeshadow pencils I have, I didn't think I could justify getting this any sooner. I picked up Whomping Willow (technically it's Whopping Willow, but I think we can all agree that they meant Whomping), a gorgeous khaki-green shade. It's such a beautiful color that it's an even bigger shame that the formula has absolutely horrendous staying power. I understand the angle of these is quick, easy, soft and natural eyeshadow, but there's a big difference between soft and "will melt off your eyelids and crease like hell about half an hour after applying" which is what happens to me. I tend to romanticize products that don't work for my skin type (oily), so this, along with really glowy foundations will always be something I'll try to work with, and inevitably end up disappointed. If you are looking for a good eyeshadow pencil, by the way, the CoverGirl Flamed Out Shadow ones are fabulous and $6 (review post here). 


5. I Love My Armpits Deodorant: If you've read this post or this post, you'll know that I use strictly aluminum-free deodorant, and love trying new ones. Refinery29 recommended this recently, and I can't imagine what the hell they were thinking. It smells earthy and natural in a musky, unfortunate way, doesn't do a whole lot to prevent sweating, and very worst of all, it makes your underarms green. Green! Sure, it's aluminum, paraben and gluten-free, but who in their right mind wants a deodorant that makes you look like you've been sweating Shrek-bullets?


6. Aveeno Clear Compexion BB Cream: I'm really into the idea of tinted moisturizer/BB cream topped with some mineral powder (eyeing the Laura Mercier one) for a spring base, and gave this one a try based on how much I used to use their moisturizers. This gives a decent amount of coverage, but oxidizes so terribly on me that by the middle of the day, my face and neck are at least 3 shades apart. I'll pass this off to a friend, but does anyone happen to know why some people are more prone to makeup oxidizing on them? I've tried three foundations in the last week that all oxidized terribly on me. 


7. Weleda Oat Replenishing Hair Treatment: Since my discovery of the Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light (reviewed here), I've been slowly trying to get into natural products. (I've had a massive tub of coconut oil that I've been using on and off since God knows when). I should have known better than to try this, since natural hair products never really work out for me, but of course, I did anyway. A bit like the Amika oil, this stuff makes my hair feel rough and tangly, like I haven't conditioned it at all. It's not totally unbearable--probably slightly better than the Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco conditioner--but you can bet it's at the very bottom of my pile of in-shower products, and I'm having a hard time making myself use it up. 

Nail of the Week post (my first in a while) will be up Friday!

Hope you're well!

Most Valuable Products: March 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This month's favorites post is a bit odd, because the first half of the month was spent re-shopping my stash, and the second half was all about hunting for the "perfect" beauty products for my cousin's upcoming wedding. (And you thought I was exaggerating about how much I think about her big day!). I know I've been a bit slack this month with blog posts--seems to be a recurring trend--but I've got a whole slew of products in the testing phase, so I think I can safely promise a very blog-heavy April!



1. Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Cleansing Cream: I ordered this off Sephora.com a while back, convinced that if Jessica Alba uses this brand, I needed to try it. Normally I have about 3-5 cleansers going at once, but this has been literally the only face wash I've used since I got my hands on it. It's a lightweight cream with a really silky texture and consistency that gets my face clean while feeling very comfortable and soothed. My skin always feels incredibly soft and nourished afterwards, but even though this can be used as a makeup remover, it feels like a waste to use it on anything but bare skin. I've got tremendously oily skin, and it's been wonderful for me, so I feel fairly confident saying it would be good for any skin type. It's expensive, and you do need a bit more product than you would with a traditional foaming cleanser, but I've been so happy with this that I just might have to repurchase. I've now got my eye on the entire Oriental Plants skincare line, especially the Deep Moisture Mask! What have I always said? Nobody does skincare like the Asian companies.



2. AmLactin Ultra Body Cream: I will talk about this product until I am blue in the face and you're ready to kill me if I mention it one more time. It is just.that.good. Here's the post I wrote on the original AmLactin, and here's where I first reviewed this product recently. For anyone getting their feet ready for sandal weather, skip the foot scrubs, soaks, sprays and whatever else--you may not even need a pumice stone. Slather this glorious stuff all over your feet before bed, throw on socks, wake up to gloriously soft, brand-new feet. At some point when I write my Holy Grail, I Don't Want To Live Without These Products post, this will be on it. Forever.



3. Clinique QuickLiner for Eyes Intense: I don't really think much about Clinique as a brand, despite their new, highly praised blushes. Ever since I stopped using the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (years ago!), I just haven't been into their products. I tried this liner off a friend's recommendation, and apparently I need to get back into Clinique. It's not the most long-wearing pencil liner, but holy hell, is it the absolute fastest to apply. Quickliner is the perfect name, since between its stellar pigmentation and ultra-smooth formula, I can literally swipe one line across my lashline and be done with it. No need to go over it again, and you even have time to smudge it with the rubbery bit if that's the kind of look you like. The liner will last through most of my workday and transfer a bit, but I've found myself reaching for this even when I'm not crunched for time in the morning. This is probably the smoothest, creamiest pencil liner I've ever come across, so I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of wear-time for an ultra-happy application.



4. Rituals Ginkgo's Secret Extra Rich and Caring Hand Balm: Rituals finally has a store in New York, and I stopped by last month for a snoop. Surprisingly, I didn't really take to anything, but picked up a hand cream because I have an addiction to it. This is slippier and more silicone-y than my usual hand creams, but I've been using it constantly this month because it's so moisturizing and there's something satisfying about that slip. I don't hear a lot about this particular Rituals scent, but it's beautifully fresh and a bit sweet without being overboard. It's definitely been my most-used hand cream this month (that means a lot!), as this tube is just about on its last legs. 



5. Marc Jacobs Marvelous Mousse Foundation: I just wrote a whole review post on this, but every single time I've worn foundation this month, it's been this one. (Except for yesterday and the day before when I was playing with Laura Mercier Silk Creme!).



6. CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm in 225: People have been talking about these for a while--they're not new--but I'm referencing this shade specifically. Normally I'm all about warm, peachy-pink lip colors since they're the closest to my natural lip shade, but 225 is a gorgeous, cool-toned, slightly purple-pink. Dare I say, it's even something of an orchid shade--look at me, getting all trendy here! It's such a surprisingly flattering lip color that brings life to my face in a way that's reminiscent of MAC's Well Dressed blush, not to mention how gloriously spring this shade feels. I haven't been able to wear blush recently (cries) due to too much acne/acne scarring on my cheeks, but a swipe of this really puts color and lift back into my face. Plus, with all the moisture in it, this has been a great, ultra-comfortable lip for this half-winter, half-spring business. 



7. Benefit Gimme Brow: I really hate to mention this as YouTubers and bloggers who are frequently sent Benefit products have hyped this up so much, but it really is a good product. I tried to side by side with my Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel, and the Benefit actually is a different, and superior product. Whereas a normal tinted brow gel just puts down some color and locks your brows into place, the Gimme Brow really does have those fancy fibers that creates the effect of slightly thicker, more 3-dimensional brows. I do think the Anastasia is better at keeping my unruly brow hairs in place, but I still prefer the Gimme Brow overall, and will probably stick with it from here on out. 



8. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse: Bringing this baby back! There was a time when everybody was buzzing about this, and I tried it and wasn't really into oils, but with the weather being as hellish as it's recently been, this stuff has been wonderful for my parched skin. I still don't like it for daytime, but I'll spritz a few squirts on after a nighttime shower, and let it absorb before pulling on some sweatpants just to make sure I don't get any residue on my bedsheets. It's really taken care of my dry patches, not to mention how much I love the signature Nuxe scent. It's getting more humid now, so I won't be able to use this as much, but I'm thinking about starting dry brushing and incorporating this oil into that routine.

I'll have an It Just Didn't Work Out Between Us post up on Wednesday, followed by a Nail of the Week post featuring a gorgeous princess nude nail!

Hope you're well!

Beauty Cravings: March 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Right now I'm supposed to be continuing my sad job search in the hopes of actually having some form of employment lined up by the time I graduate (2 months away---@#*%!!!). I've been working away at this self-esteem draining process for a few hours now, and have decided to take a break and cheer myself up by writing a blog post and drooling over all the shiny beauty products I'm currently lusting after. This is my second break, by the way, as my first one was 45 minutes long and spent sweating and cursing through trying to learn a 2-minute work/interview-apporpriate updo.

It eventually came out like this.


Adulthood is going to be fun.


1. Malin + Goetz Dark Rum Candle: I stopped by Malin + Goetz last week to pick up one of my favorite deodorants, their eucalpytus one (reviewed here), when the sales associate lit this candle and I immediately swooned. The name is right on the money, as the fragrance is a perfect blend of spicy masculine notes swirled with distinctly feminine sweetness--this is right on the nose unisex. I almost burned my hair trying to drink in as much of the scent as I could, when she told me that they did a perfume version as well. I was already grabbing for my wallet when she told me it was $150, at which point I thanked her, quietly paid for my deodorant and left. The candle is $50 so the overpriced theme is running strong, but I could justify it by burning it only on special occassions. This is the kind of thing I expect would be fragrant enough on its own, and in any case, it would never be far from my nose.


2. Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm: I've entered a new obsession called, "If It's a Beauty Product (or Bag) on Eva Chen's Instagram, I Want It". The Lucky Editor-in-Chief features a lot of products, but a recurring favorite is this lip balm. Happily, it's much cheaper than the candle (and perfume, obviously!) and if it smells like mojito, then it's only a matter of time before this baby is mine.


3. Laura Mercier Enlightenment Eye and Cheek Palette: I'm actually surprised that I want this as badly as I do, as limited edition palettes are usually not for me. But I swatched the shades of this gorgeus thing in Sephora over the weekend and it's an absolute stunner. There isn't a bit of matte in the whole thing, but the shadows are creamy, buttery and the most beautiful, flattering and distinctly springtime colors. I don't own shades like them at all, but can't really justify another palette, so I'm still on the fence about pulling out my wallet for this. 


4. Alterna Caviar CC Cream For Hair: One of my new favorite YouTube girls to watch is TalkBeckyTalk, and she and her sister have been raving about this stuff. I'm a total hair oil convert, but people really seem to be loving this stuff, which may mean temporarily giving up my Macadamia and Shu oils. It sounds a bit like It's a 10, but from what I've seen online, allegedly better.


5. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant: I tried this years ago and don't remember what I thought of it, but between Lisa Eldridge's new video on her skincare routine, and Refinery's post on powder cleansers (okay, it was on Eva Chen's Instagram too), I'm ready to give it another try. I'm probably not exfoliating as much as I should be, and hopefully a cleanser like this will give my skin the right kind of kick to do its thing. 


6. Hourglass Script Precision Liquid Liner: My cousin's wedding is coming up and I've gone from playing with really elaborate eyeshadow looks for the occasion to suddenly wanting to pare things down and keep it simple. I don't have enough lid space for eyeshadow to make an enormous impact anyway, and as much as I love piling on the makeup, I'm feeling something pretty and clean. The look I have in mind (which will probably have changed 3-5 more times by the day of the wedding), is clean, but with quite minimal eyeliner, one or two eyeshadows to define my crease, and maybe some crazy lashes because God knows I can't resist the occasion to wear them. From what I've heard, this is the liner for the job in question, and as it's waterproof and supposedly ultra long-wearing, it should be able to hold up for what will definitely be a long day.


7. Rene Furterer Dry Shampoo: I had a travel size of this a while ago and remember really liking it, but can't remember how it stacked up next to my darling, beloved, Holy Grail Batiste (post). I'm thinking of doing a post on high-end dry shampoos worth the money, only there aren't any contenders on the list so far except for potentially this one. I hate to spend the money on it, as I've gotten used to spending $8 per can of dry shampoo, but a verdict must be reached!


8. Dejavu Fiberwig Extra Long Mascara: My cousin in Taiwan is coming for the wedding, which means it's time for me to request my list of Asian beauty products--usually, it's an order of 5 Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash King mascaras (seen here), 2 V Rohto EX Eye Drops (here), and some sheet masks. This time, I'm adding this new mascara to my order, as it's the fibers in the Lash King mascara that keep me addicted to it. My eyelashes don't really need lengthening, but I'm hoping the tubing effect will provide some fluffy volume as well. I just can't say no to Asian makeup technology, especially where lashes are concerned!


9. Pixi Natural Brow Duo: I saw these somewhere recently (may have been Refinery?) and they look perfect for my eyebrows's exact needs. I like waxy pencils like the Hourglass Arch Sculpt, but my unruly hairs really need a gel to keep them in place, and this baby's got them both. I've had a look online and they even do a shade for black hair which is rare for "drugstore" brands--looking at you Revlon Brow Fantasy! I'll definitely be picking this up on my next trip to Target.  
10. NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation: My skin occasionally has reasonably good (or as good as my horrendous skin will get) days, and on those blessed mornings I don't feel like covering it up with a foundation, or even my It Cosmetics CC Cream. As someone with incredibly oily skin, I'm a natural contender for powder foundations, but I typically prefer liquids since I sometimes feel like powder doesn't sit well on my skin. In any case, powder foundation is worth re-trying, and I hear great things about this one (largely from EmilyNoel83). Plus, if the texture of it doesn't work for my skin, I'm only out a few dollars!

Back to the job hunt, but March Favorites will be up Sunday!

Recently Discovered Favorite Hair Products

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The title of this post borders on ridiculous, but I couldn't find any other way to describe this group of haircare goodies. I always feel kind of silly calling favorite products "favorites", because inevitably in two months I'll have a totally new group of "favorites." I can't call this a hair routine, because I have way too much product that I switch in and out of a lengthy and weird haircare rotation, though I might do a post on that rotation at some point. Let's just call this a group of hair products I've recently come across and am really into at the moment, hm?


Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo Anti-Oil Astringent: I still can't believe how much money I paid for this, but it's actually been worth every last penny (and it was a damn lot of pennies). You know I'm a nut about texture, and the consistency of this unique product is absolutely lush. It's a thick, but very clean-feeling oil, sturdy enough to make me feel like it's really doing something for my hair, but not at all greasy or anything unpleasant you could associate with an oil. It's such an interesting and comfortable consistency, and makes my scalp feel fabulously clean and content without ever being stripped. You might know that my scalp is painfully, annoyingly oily, and while this doesn't quite cure me of that (nothing else I've ever tried has), it visibly helps. I still have to use dry shampoo the morning after a wash, but the amount I need is dramatically reduced. I have a hard time making myself use any other shampoo when this stuff is in my shower, as between the texture, oil-reducing abilities, and the gorgeous fresh smell, I've become addicted. Even though it goes a long way, buying this is still a good chunk of money to part with, so I'm going to hold off on repurchasing this as long as I can--which I suspect won't be long at all. This is further proof that Shu can do no wrong in my books. 


Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Conditioner: From an expensive shampoo to an el cheapo conditioner, this pairing has resulted in a lot of good hair days. Seriously moisturizing, softening, and smoothing, this ticks every box for my ideal conditioner and still doesn't weigh my hair down. I do notice that my waves lose a bit of texture if I leave it in for a really long time (one of those mornings when you kind of fall asleep in the shower), but it's nothing significant. The thick lotiony consistency is almost that of the beloved Terax Crema conditioner, but at a fraction of a price. I haven't been this happy with a conditioner in ages, and the fact that I can get it at any drugstore for $5 is just the icing on the cake. Dove, if you're reading this (like hell you are), I'll be needing this in a Costco size. 


Pantene Weekly Deep Cleanse Purifying Shampoo: I used to use the Neutrogena Clarifying Shampoo when I wanted a good scalp cleanse, but never used it too often since it made my hair so squeaky it almost turned rubbery. I kind of went off clarifying shampoos after that, but this recent discovery has been fantastic for making my constantly dry shampooed scalp feel thoroughly clean without any uncomfortable squeakiness. I never used to use this kind of thing weekly (it was more of a "whenever I remembered" type thing), but the pleasant results I get from this shampoo have me using it every Monday morning. As sad as it sounds, I've actually started to look forward to starting my week with a happily clean scalp and a bit of extra volume to my hair. 


Tangle Teezer Aqua: I still prefer The Wet Brush to the Original Tangle Teezer (comparison post here), but this Aqua version is unmatched by anything else on the market. I always thought combing my conditioner through with a wide-toothed comb was sufficient, but with my hair being as long and tangly as it currently is, this plastic, breathable brush is an absolute necessity. I might be losing slightly more hair in the shower than I normally do, but as a constant shedder that doesn't really bother me, and I do feel like my conditioner is really being distributed properly. Plus, whereas using the wide-toothed comb would still result in post-shower knots, I've never had anything close to that issue with this baby. This has safely kicked my in-shower wide-toothed comb to the curb, and is quickly becoming something I need with me on trips away. 


Sally Hansen Hyper Hydration Spray Serum: Another fabulous innovation, you can use this before a hot tool to help protect against heat damage (according to the packaging), but I like it best for after I've heat-styled my hair. Whether I've used a blow dryer, InStyler (to pretend like I'm a round brush + hair dryer genius) or curling iron, a few spritzes of this into my 'do give incredible shine, softness and allegedly heal the damage. I've previously mentioned that I thought I liked this product because it made me feel better about frying my hair, which is still true, but I really do feel like it gives results. As someone whose life goal is hair so soft it would make people weep, I adore how soft this makes my hair feel, especially since my hair isn't the type that likes being heat-styled. Anytime I take a hot tool to it, my hair rebels by turning dull, stiff, and unmanageable (my hair and skin are in competition over which can be the bigger b*tch), and this spray restores the look and feel of healthy, happy hair. 

Speaking of hair, as much as I love playing with my long mane, I'm getting a bit tired of the length. I never thought I'd be admiring something on a Kardashian, but I'm actually really into Kim's new haircut, and how low maintenance it could be.  


I'd have to massively contour (turning into a Kardashian already!) to fake the cheekbones to pull it off, but what do we think?

P.S. I'm feeling grouchy about beauty vloggers and ethics, so there may be a Let's Discuss post on that sometime soon!