Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review! Beyond Belief Vita C+ Facial Serum

I found mine on, but Sally Beauty keeps them in stock, and the price is currently less than $10!  Most serums are HELLO! expensive.  I had been researching other brands, but when I came across this one for so cheap, and with such good reviews, I decided to start with this one instead.  Here is what Sally's has to say about it:

  • Leaves Skin Fresh and Glowing
  • Improves the Texture of Skin
  • Brightens Skin
  • Enhances Skin Tone

Advanced Vita C+ Facial Serum contains a concentration of Vitamin C and Peptides to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This formula revitalizes and nourishes dry skin with lush moisture to improve the complexion’s tone and texture. Use with other Vita C+ Skin Nutrients products for best results. 

I like this serum.  It smells like papaya to me.  It absorbs very quickly, as serums are supposed to do, and does not feel heavy or greasy at all.  I really like that it has a pump dispenser.  I don't like putting my fingers into product, and I have started to shy away from bottles or jars that don't have a pump.  A full pump is way too much serum; I use a half pump (just push the pump halfway down) and it covers my entire face and neck.  If I accidentally use too much, I just smooth the excess on the back of my hands.  After a week of using this, I started skipping moisturizer after applying it, because my skin didn't feel dry anymore, and the serum kept my skin hydrated quite well, and adding moisturizer on top of it left my skin feeling greasy.  As it is the middle of winter, I was very surprised to find that my skin didn't need any more moisture.

Because I haven't used many serums, I don't have much to compare this to.  I did see immediate results with my skin looking hydrated and dewy, and it does look brighter (but not sparkly, there is no glitter in this).  I will certainly continue to use this serum, and the bottle is huge, so it will last quite a long time.  I really like to try different products, so I probably won't stick with this serum.  However, if I was the type of girl who stopped looking when something worked, I wouldn't look further. 

Have you tried this serum?  What do you think about it?  Do you have a favorite that you think I should try?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review! - Laura Mercier Secret Concealer

I bought mine at Sephora, and the Sephora website has this to say:

Developed specifically for use under and around the eye area. Secret Concealer's moisture-rich, emollient formula is specially designed for the dry, sensitive skin under the eye to conceal discoloration and dark circles.

I found that I needed a bit of practice to get the hang of applying this undereye concealer.  It is a different consistency than other creams I have used, and seems to apply best by using multiple thin layers, allowing the layers to dry before adding another.  Two thin layers applied from the outer corner to the inner corner down to the tops of the cheekbones in an upside-down triangle, followed by a third layer targeting only troublesome areas works best for me.  After it has dried, I applied translucent face powder with a big fluffy brush to set the cream in place.  The cream looks a bit... wonky... before adding the powder, so be aware of that, and know that it might take a few practice runs before you get the hang of how much you need.  Seriously, do the practice runs.  This concealer covers quite well, but I think there is a learning curve to use it.


After, before powder:

After, full face (with mascara, but no eyeshadows, eyeliners, or contouring):

After, close-up:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review - Elizabeth Arden Skin Illuminating Complex

This product appears to have been discontinued, and I found it at Marshalls for $13.

This stuff brightens skin instantly!  I'm so sad this is discontinued!  I had been skipping foundations and just wearing this for a few days while I was trying out some pore treatments and cleansers, and my skin looked absolutely radiant!  There is no coverage or color tint, and its main function is as a shimmer cream that has very subtle shimmers, and it also acts as a light moisturizer.

The pore treatment I was trying was a failure, and while looking for an alternative I found that many women had determined their foundation was causing a lot of their issues with their skin's appearance, so I started custom-mixing some products to make my own foundation blend.  I've been using a half-pump of Lancome Teint Idole, two pumps of Lancome LaBase Pro, two pumps of Elizabeth Arden Skin Illuminating Complex, and a small pea-sized drop of BB Cream (any of the Asian ones I've been testing have worked well).  I mix it all together on my fingertips, and apply it to my face, rubbing it in like a moisturizer cream.  I have found that this mix, for me, does the best job I've seen yet at completely concealing my pores, evening my skintone, smoothing out the skin surface, not settling into any fine lines, and wearing very well through the day with an almost dewy finish.

I really like how this can pull double-duty, as a "no-makeup-day" cream, and as an add-in to my custom foundations.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review! The Lure Eyeshadows

I tell you, I wish all cosmetics came in sample sizes!  I love to experiment, but I hate buying huge pans of eyeshadow, lipstick, blushes and bronzers when I know I'm going to want to try something new in another two weeks.  I found my favorite eyeliner, Sormeh, on Etsy, so I started searching for some more makeups, and was hoping to find some sample size products.  I scored!

I found The Lure.

The Lure had a sample sale going on, so I got 5 colors for a dollar! 

I chose:
1 - Fiery
2 - Orange Autumn
3 - Persimmon
4 - Plum
5 - Scarlet

The listing indicated:
These may contain mica, ultramarine, oxides, zinc oxide, sericite, magnesium stearate,kaolin.

**The Lure does not use Carmine, Ferric Ferrocyanide, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, Bismuth Oxychloride, parabens, or talc. Some of these ingredients can cause allergic reactions.

The listing also clearly stated that the eyeshadow was going to come in little plastic baggies, so I was expecting that.  However, I have never ordered eyeshadow in a baggie, so I didn't know that it is kind of hard to deal with eyeshadow in a bag.  I tried applying it with my finger, an eyeshadow brush, and a Q-tip.  I recommend using a Q-tip.  I didn’t have enough control with my finger, the brush picked up too much product, but the Q-tip picked up the right amount, and has the bonus of being disposable.  Since these were sample sizes, I don’t really mind the baggies, especially at the sale price.

The plastic baggies made the colors all looked muted and muddy.  However, once the color was out of the baggie, it looked completely different.
(left to right, Fiery, Orange Autumn, Persimmon, Plum, Scarlett)

Most of the colors applied evenly, and they are all very pigmented.  It didn't take a lot to make my swatches.  Plum was the one shade that applied kind of patchy.  It wasn’t horribly patchy, but it didn’t smooth on as evenly as the other colors did.  It did blend out well, so part of the fault may lie with the Q-tip.  The shimmers are very, very subtle.  The Lure uses an ultra-fine glitter in their shimmers, and there is almost no glittery fall-out.  I prefer a lot more sparkle to my eyeshadows, so I wish there was more shimmer.  I think the amount of shimmer would make these eyeshadows wearable even for ladies who prefer matte.  The shimmers do feel a touch gritty; it is enough to mention, but not enough to deter me from wearing them.

Indoor Lighting:
Natural Lighting:

1 - Fiery is a shimmer.  It is a burnt orange/brick red color, with a hard lean towards red.
2 - Orange Autumn is matte.  I was expecting this color to be bright orange, but it is more of a light tobacco brown that does lean orange.  It is a very interesting shade, I don't know that I've ever seen one like it.
3 - Persimmon is a shimmer.  This is my favorite color.  It is a lovely orange-peach shade.  I don’t have anything like it in my eyeshadow collection, and I’ll probably buy a full-size pot.  While completely unimpressive in its little baggie, I fell in love with it once I tried it on.
4 – Plum is a shimmer.  This color seems to change depth depending on the light.  In low light, it looks very smoky and dusty.  In natural light, there is no mistaking that it is purple, although it is still a muted shade.
5 – Scarlet is a shimmer.  I was expecting a bright red, but this shade is more muted, and actually more wearable than a bright red.  It leans orange.

In my swatches, the color is applied to bare skin only.  The colors deepen dramatically if you apply it over eyeshadow base, or apply them wet.

Overall, I liked all of the colors.  As I mentioned earlier, Persimmon is the one shade I will most likely buy a full-sized pot of, but I’ll enjoy playing around with the other colors until they run out.  There are several applications worth in each baggie, so they'll last a few weeks in rotation with my other eyeshadows. 

The Lure’s  prices are currently $5.99 for one gram of shadow (which is a full-sized pot in her store), so it's affordable to try out a bright, trendy color without breaking the bank or being stuck with a color you might not want to wear for more than a month.

She has lots of colors, but not all of them are currently listed in her shop.  Here are her color charts that were listed in the sample sale, used with her permission:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review! - Make Up For Ever Eyeshadow in Tangerine 18

Make Up For Ever (MUFE) Eyeshadow in 18 Tangerine is sold at Sephora, and Sephora has this to say about it:

The unique texture of MAKE UP FOR EVER Eyeshadow is due to its high pigment density, which makes them last and last. You can obtain maximum coverage with the Matte texture; the Semi-Matte has a silky satiny feel; and the iridescent shades give a transparent sheen.
Dany's Tip "If you have dark skin, try applying a light-colored shadow over the entire lid first before applying a darker color, for luminous highlights."

Sephora is the exclusive beauty retailer for this product.

Tangerine is described as a "vibrate matte orange".  They aren't kidding.  Except about the matte part.  You can definitely see shimmer in the shadow swatches (especially the one over primer), but you don't see it in the pan.  Once it is on the eye, the shimmer is so subtle that most people probably would consider it to be nearly matte.

Without Primer on the left, and with on the right, indoor lighting:
 Without Primer on the left, and with on the right, natural lighting:
Wearing it:

This color is extremely vibrant in person.  I wore it only on my lids, and blended out with Make Up For Ever's Star Powder in Yellow Gold to the brow bone.  At the outer brow bone I put a stronger layer of just the Yellow Gold.  I lined the lower eye with Tangerine from the center to the outer corner, and used the Star Powder in Yellow gold at the inner corner to the center, meeting the Tangerine, and bringing the Yellow Gold onto the water line.  Then I finished out with black mascara.

The end result is eye-catching (haha!), but oddly, it was subtle enough to wear to work.  Pair it with a natural lip (whatever your "my lips but better" color is).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review! - Skin79 The Oriental Gold BB Cream Plus

The Skin79 website says:

PREMIUM BB CREAM PRESENTS REFINED LUXURY Upgraded Gold, Caviar and Tea ingredients are softly absorbed with rich hydration presenting clean skin texture with UV protection while making skin shine and lift through whitening and wrinkle care effects.

For my first application, I applied a larger amount of cream than usual (compared to the other BB Creams I have been testing).  It settled into my pores and made my skin look like the surface of the moon.  It highlighted every pore, every uneven surface; it was extremely unflattering.  At this concentration, it was also way too light for my skintone.  I did something I rarely have to do, I had to wash my face and start over.  Less is more with BB Creams.

Using a normal, pea-sized amount for the next application gave good results.  It was still too pale for my skintone, but it did not emphasize my pores or uneven skin surfaces.  I was neither impressed nor unhappy with the product, but I didn't feel I would want to re-purchase it.

To continue with the tests, I applied it mixing in some of my Lancome Teint Idole foundation, rather than the Garnier BB Cream, and it goes on like a dream.  It does a perfect job of evening out my skintone, the color is a perfect match, and after it sets my face looks nearly flawless.  I love this combination of foundation plus BB cream, even though it is more coverage than I usually wear.  Mixing it with my Lancome foundation brought the color much closer to my skintone, which surprised me because the colors look very similar when they are next to each other.  My foundation must have more yellow in it than I realize, because it pulls this BB Cream from a neutral-leaning-to-cool tone right over to neutral-leaning-to-warm tones.  It does still make my skin look more pale, which I happen to like.  I either like to look very pale, or very tan.

The pictures I have for you are wearing only the Skin79 The Oriental Gold BB Cream, and not mixed in with any other foundations or BB Creams.  In the last picture, when the cream has oxidized, you can see the color contrast between my face and my neck.  It is too great a difference for me to ignore, which is why I started mixing the cream with my foundation.  On to the pictures!


Immediately After.  It definitely has a greyish-blue ashy tint.  I look quite ghostly.:

About 8 minutes after, allowing to oxidize, with eyebrows and mascara (no other makeup).  You can see that it has lost almost all of the ash tone.  In person, it wasn't ashy at all.  This happens to call attention to a photography tip of not wearing makeup that contains sunscreen if you will be photographed, it will make your skin look much paler than it should.:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review! - Dr. Brandt Pore Thing T-zone Pore Tightener

Sephora says this about pore thing with evermat:

What it is:
A treatment gel that reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, smoothes skin texture, and provides a matte finish.

What it is formulated to do:
Formulated for the t-zone, this product gently clears pores, reduces excess oil, and restores pore walls to help snap them back into shape.

Newly opened...

 I used this for about 3 weeks, and I was not impressed.  It did make my pores look smoother, but it was the same effect I get when using either foundation primer, or really blending my foundation into my pores (spackle, if you will).  There was a slight minty feeling to it, probably from the tea tree oil it contains.

I applied it only to my nose, as the rest of my face doesn't get very oily, and I didn't want to dry out those areas.  I tried using different quantities of product, from a very thin application up to very thick, and even tried applying it in several layers of varying thickness.  No dice.  It did nothing to control the oiliness of my nose.  I had to pat my nose with a tissue to blot away excess oil throughout the day, just like I have to do when I don't use this product.

It got mixed reviews on Sephora, and a majority of the reviewers loved it.  I would suggest asking for a little sample to try first (it doesn't take much product at all to completely coat my nose), and then investing in it if it works for you.  At $45 each, it's a splurge, and I expect splurges to work phenomenally, and for me, it just didn't deliver.  Usually, I'll just throw away a product that doesn't work for me, but at that price, I'll be returning this to Sephora.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review! - Fresh Sugar Kisses Mini Lip Duo

Sephora gave this to me (and every Beauty Insider member last year) for my birthday gift.  This was the birthday gift for 2012, so unfortunately this particular set isn't available anymore.  However, you can still buy the full size, or one of their other sets.

It's so cute!  I think they could have used a smaller box, though.  This box was twice as wide as it needed to be.   One thing I really hate, when it comes to anything I purchase, is excess packaging. See those pink flaps on each side of the tubes?  Those are empty slots.  So, either they could have put two more tubes in the package, or made the box smaller.

I love the tubes, they are so sturdy, and feature a lid that actually screws on, so you don't have to worry about the lid coming off in your bag.  I wish all of my lipsticks came in tubes like this. 

They came in two variations, Sugar Rose and Sugar.  Sugar Rose is tinted, and Sugar is not.  Other than that, I thought they were the same.  I didn't notice much of a scent, but the dry air has my nose on the fritz lately, so your experience will probably vary.  On the lip, it felt very slippery, and it was not sticky at all.  It lasted quite a while, around 2 hours between applications.  That's shorter than the staying power of my Lansinoh Lanolin, but much longer than most other lip moisturizers I've used.  Their product description on Sephora says they plump the lips.  I did not experience that.  It did not tingle on the lip, which I appreciate.  Most tingling comes from a mint oil in the product, and I hate mint in lip products.  These melt easily in warm conditions, so be aware of that.  They do not fit to the sides of the tube, so if they melt and fall over, you could have a mess on your hands.  I had mine too close to my computer air exhaust, and they started to lean.  I moved them away from the heat, and they firmed back up.


and Sugar:

Because I love my lanolin, I doubt I'll replace these when they run out.  However, I do like how Sugar feels on the lip, so I am keeping them out on my desk to use during the day.  These are very different from the feel of lanolin; I feel like I have something on my lips when I wear this, while the lanolin soaks in and doesn't leave very much of a layer of anything behind. So, if you tried lanolin and didn't like it, I would recommend giving these a try.  The feel of Sugar is different, and it's not as long lasting, but the moisturizing power is very similar.  The product description at Sephora specifically states that it is formulated without lanolin.

You can check them out at Sephora, and see what Sephora has to say about them:

What it is:
A hydrating treatment that nourishes, protects, and plumps the lips.

What it is formulated to do:
Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 blends reparative oils and waxes with real sugar, a natural humectant, for delectable and dependable moisture. Sweet and tart black currant oil, rich in plumping essential fatty acids, cushions the lips while antioxidant grapeseed polyphenols and vitamins A, C, and E provide protection from wrinkle-causing free radicals. It also provides essential, year-round protection from damaging UV rays. 

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Synthetic Dyes
- Petrochemicals
- Phthalates
- GMOs
- Triclosan