Friday, July 30, 2010

Everyone Loves a Dupe: Stila's Convertible Color in Peony

Back around January, I got a kit containing what were supposed to be some of the best products from Stila - one of which was a tiny compact of their Convertible Color in Peony. The convertible colors are cream products that you are supposed to be able to use for both cheek and lip color.

In the pan, this really doesn't look like anything special, and it actually looked like it would be far too dark for my pale skin. I thought it would end up becoming one of those lonely products that would be pushed to the back of a drawer and forgotten. But now - it's become one of my favorite blushes.

A little of this stuff goes a long way, so this tiny thing will still last me a very long time (6 months and I've gone through less than half), but I'd already begun dreading shelling out for the full-size once this is finished because it's $25.

But lucky me, I think I've found an acceptable dupe.


Next to it, I have NYC's Blushable Creme Stick in South St. Seashell, which runs between 4 and 5 dollars. I know they don't look identical in their packaging (and didn't I tell you they don't look very special there either?), but look what happens when they're applied to the skin.


The NYC creme stick is on the left and the Stila on the right. They're still not identical when applied opaquely, but when they are blended out (as I've done on the bottom of my hand), they fade together.

I do have to say that the formulations aren't identical. The Stila product is much more thick and creamy, while the NYC one is thinner and seems to take a tad longer to blend out. However, the NYC product is easily buildable, and it will blend out without too much effort. (And though the flash in the photos suggests it, there is no glitter or shimmer in either one.)

I've worn both products for entire days without fading or smudging. However, I do wear powder every day which I am sure helps to set them. So, I can't say how well either one would stand up without that.

I would strongly suggest these two products (or a similar shade) to anyone else who has fair, cool toned skin. This shade is like blending together light brown and a rosy pink. I think that the rose in it helps to warm up a fair complexion while the brown keeps the color from making you go 'china doll'.

Like I've said, I know that they don't look like much in the package, but try it out. You might be surprised. I know I was! And now you only have to spend $5 to try it rather than $25!

Who else has to be careful not to go 'china doll' with their blush?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

First Foray Into E.L.F.

Back around Christmas, Target and e.l.f. teamed up to release some limited edition items for the holidays. There were a few different packages that had different combinations of products from the e.l.f. line, but the one thing I was interested was a 'book' that had 12 shadows in it that retailed for $5. Good deal, right? But by the time I decided I wanted to get it (yes, I'd walked past it a few times without picking it up), they were sold out.

So I went online and ordered it thinking everything would be fine, and that I'd soon have my new toy. Well a few months and a few emails about it being back-ordered later, I was informed that they wouldn't be getting any more in stock i.e. my package wasn't coming. Boo.

After the holidays, many Targets started carrying some permanent line items from e.l.f., but neither of mine do, so I still hadn't been able to try anything from the brand.

Last night, I watched a YouTube video by
emilynoel83 where she showed some special Back to School items that e.l.f. was releasing through Target - one being a new version of the 'book' I'd wanted at Christmas. So today I had to run to both of my Targets, but I found what I was looking for - and a little bit extra.




This time, they released three editions of the book.


The 'Neutral Eye', the 'Smoky Eye', and the 'Eye Brights' Editions

I did a few quick swatches to test out the quality of them, and I'm extremely pleased. A few seem like they may be a bit chalky, but they can still be worked with; but for only $5 per book, most of them are surprisingly good.

I also grabbed the two versions of the 6 shade palette they had -



The 'Neutrals' and the 'Smoky' palette.
These were $3 apiece.

They also had some sets again which I passed on. Yes - I do have a little bit of restraint.

The last two things I picked up were only $1 each - a bronzer/blush duo and a lip shine in Fuschia Frenzy.

There is one bronzer/blush duo from e.l.f. in the permanent line that I've seen many people say is comparable in tone to a duo offered by NARS. I don't have the NARS one to compare it to, so I really can't say. I'm not even sure this are the same e.l.f. product they're referring to because the one I've always seen is in a square compact and mine is round. Either way, I'll get to try some face products from the brand.

From the display, I could see that they'd also thrown in multiple single brushes for $1 each, but they were all sold out. Darn! I would've been interested in trying some of those out, too. Oh well.

I've just tried out the gloss, and I don't think I'm crazy about it. It gives a tiny bit of color and a nice sheen, but the formulation is quite thick and sticky... not my cup of tea, but I won't give up on it yet. At least it was only $1!

If you're interested in checking these out, I'd suggest you make a run to Target soon because, based off the Christmas releases, I think these will sell out pretty quickly.

The items are also listed at Target's website if you'd like to check out what else they're offering.

Have you ever tried anything from e.l.f.?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Second Chance Item

Have you ever encountered an item that you talked yourself out of purchasing only to be left kicking yourself later for not bringing it home? That happened to me last week.

On my way home, I stopped at T.J. Maxx - just to peruse, I swear. I think this is one of those stores that people either love or hate. I am in the second category - I like not knowing what I'll find when I go in since everything is always changing.

While perusing, I found two 'dresses' that I really loved hanging on one of the perimeter clothing racks (meaning they were new). I say 'dresses' because they were made so they could also be worn as skirts. There were multiple different prints, but two really stood out to me. So they were versatile, I loved the prints, and they were one-size-fits-all so they would always fit! And yet I talked myself out of them because I am a more slacks and jeans sort of girl and rarely wear dresses... and I began regretting the choice as soon as I got home.

Usually when I leave an item I like at a store, I'll feel a bit sad for the afternoon, but the feeling will have passed by the next day. A week later, and I still regretted not getting the dresses, so I decided I had to go back to look for them.

My heart dropped a little when I saw the rack they'd been on now had something new on them... the new new item. So they could still be somewhere else among the central racks, but where? With the dresses? With the skirts? What size would they hang with? I went all around that store looking for any glimmer of their fabric and wasn't finding them. I was about to give up and resign myself to the reality that I had just missed out when...

I found them! Both of them!


How lucky is that? When I went back for them, I knew there was a good chance they'd be gone. Fate obviously wanted me to have these. At least that's what I'll tell myself to justify the chase.

Have you ever had an item or product get away or had a second chance at getting it?

Random Rambling - Dead Space

As bad as it is, I have gotten to the point where I have so much of something that I sometimes forget what I have. Obviously, that something here is makeup.

The other day I was looking through some of my things, trying to reintroduce myself to items that I may have been neglecting, and I stumbled across a forsaken palette. (Don't you love how I humanize makeup? Admit it, you're starting to feel bad for the palette.)

Anyhow, it's a collection of 48 shadows that I purchased from Ulta almost one year ago. I remember that it was only $10 - one of those items that they display at the checkout counter to force you to make a quick decision. And 48 shadows for that little seems like a deal, yes?

Why haven't I been using this? I thought. I have a few Ulta singles, and most of them are good quality (yes, only most. not all). After a few minutes of playing via hand swatching, I remembered why. The quality is awful! After going through all 48, I can say that not a single one is pigmented. And I don't just mean that they have only medium pigmentation alone - which could be remedied through a primer or good base. No. I mean that a finger-to-hand swatch results in no color. To even get any product on the finger, intense pressure and rubbing on the pan is necessary. Not worth it.

So for an entire year, this little devil has been creating what I'll refer to as dead space in my collection - space that is taken up by something that has no purpose. Space that could have been used to organize items that do get used.

The answer: although I hate to feel wasteful, this is getting tossed. I really did try to think of some use for it, but there is just no hope for pigmentless eyeshadow.

And now I have a little more usable space in my makeup area than I had before, and my life is a little less cluttered.

Do you have anything that's creating dead space in your collection?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Long Have I Had That?

Have you ever looked at the empty container of a freshly finished product and wondered 'how love have I had that'? Even though I've tried to remember when I started using a few items; by the time I actually do finish them, I never quite can. So, I've only ever had a rough approximation of how long something had been sitting on my counter.

But, as there usually is, there's an easy way to get a solid answer. It just took me awhile to think to do it... Label it!!!

I use the small white, round stickers that are often used to mark prices at garage sales and whatnot to mark the date that I start using the product. You can get a pack of 560 for only a few dollars.

I've only done it on a few items so far and just finished the first marked one about a week ago - a lotion that was bought on a whim because it smelled good (and it was on sale).



It took me over a month and a half to finish this thing... I'm not sure if that's good or bad. It lasted a fair amount of time, but this also means that I should think more carefully about spontaneous purchases of body products - it would be very easy to purchase them faster than they are used up.

On another note, I think this little sticker trick would come in very handy with more expensive products. Curious if the price of something can be justified by how long it lasts? Find out!

But now, onto a new product with a new little, white sticker. It'll be interesting to see how much (if any) variation there is between how long similar products last.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Urban Decay Did It Again...

If you've read through my earlier posts, you'll know that, back in January, Urban Decay pulled me in with their Alice In Wonderland Book of Shadows. I'd never owned any Urban Decay shadows before, but the price worked out to a good deal when compared to the price of their single shadows.

Well, they've pulled me in again.

I'd been debating whether or not to get this item since UD posted photos of this upcoming palette on twitter a few weeks ago. While perusing Sephora's website last week, I started looking at it more closely. It'd already been sold out a few times - clearly I was not the only one interested! So when it came back in stock, I had one of those hold your breath and press purchase moments, and it finally made its way to me yesterday.

The Naked Palette



This thing comes with 12 neutral colors, a double-ended eyeliner, and a mini primer potion. Unlike the Alice palette, there are a few shadows that are truly matte to help balance out the shimmer of the others. And, just like last time, a price breakdown was what helped me decide to purchase.

There is 0.05 oz of each shadow - the same amount that you'll get in a full-sized single from them. If you divide the $44 price tag among the shadows alone (i.e. leaving out the liners and mini primer potion), that comes out to $3.67 per shade - a huge savings from the $17 a single will cost you.


Now enough with the economics - onto the pretty pictures.

Here's a look at the overall product.

And a couple of closer ones to get a better look at the colors.


And all the colors are truly gorgeous on. If you want to see a lot more up-close photos and very accurate swatches, check out temptalia's post on it.

The only worry that I have is the packaging... The material on the outside is very soft and velvety; and, while that's extremely pretty and lush feeling now, I'm worried that once I start using it a lot, shadows may transfer from my fingers onto the material and make it look messy. We'll see! Hopefully it won't be difficult to clean well if it does happen.

As I'm writing this, Sephora is out of stock of this again. But, I'm pretty sure that this is a permanent item, so you won't have to break your neck (or spend crazy prices) hunting it down.

And a couple of other things I picked up.

Stila's The It Girl palette.


From the left: lamè, chloe, and kitten.

and the swatches



This little palette was $10 - a good deal for Stila shadow, and its especially good if you've wanted to try out Kitten but don't want to plop down the $18 for the single.

I'm not very fond of lamè because it goes on a bit splotchy and would require some building up to get good coverage, but the other 2 are very nice shades and good quality.

And...

Living Proof's No Frizz Straight Making Styling System


This is a relatively new line that says it will both prevent frizz and help your hair repel dirt so you won't have to wash it as often.

Big words.

The items in this line are a bit pricey, so I chose a set that came with 3 travel-sized products. It comes with a shampoo, conditioner, and a leave-in spray. If it works, though, I'll probably talk myself into buying the full-sized bottles.

I'll do a post on here on the products' performance after I finish the set.

And a closing question: Have you ever noticed how quickly a bill at Sephora adds up? Geez.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thoughts on Dead to the World - the 4th Sookie Stackhouse Book

There are no explicit spoilers here. However, if you truly don't want to know anything about the book, please do not read this because I do allude to a few plot points.

Yes. I finished another one.

If you read my previous posts on the books that I've already finished, you'll know that I am not the biggest fan of Charlaine Harris' writing style.

She sometimes rushes her storyline, doesn't develop her characters enough for my taste, and even left a few continuity errors (aren't editors paid to catch those?) But, somehow, I keep going with them because I really want to know what happens... So maybe Harris is really a genius!

Actually, I think it's because I am so captivated with the TV version. But I digress...

Without giving away plot specifics, Harris has repeated a, in my opinion, literary faux pas. In the last book, I said that an important issue poses itself near the beginning and runs through most of the book. Then, when it is finally resolved, the answer is lackluster.

A similar thing happens in this one... How frustrating. I know that she was trying to create a twist, but it just didn't work. The answer to the mystery isn't very exciting (though the later effects of it may be - we'll see), and the explanation of why it wasn't solved earlier is weak.

Although, as an interesting twist, I am team Eric now, which I didn't think would ever happen. But, part of that is because Bill's character is being made much 'flatter' (if you read it, you'll see what I mean).

As much as I want to know what happens next, I really need a break from Harris. So, I'll be interjecting another author into my recreational reading time before I move on to the next installment of Sookie's life.

And, in the meantime, I'll be watching HBO's version of book 3. They've already made one big addition/plot change, and I'm very interested to see where they take it.

Happy reading, all.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

CoverGirl Smoky ShadowBlast

I'm sure that everyone has seen some of the ads with Drew Barrymore showing a smoky, sultry eye - presumably achieved using CoverGirl's new product, the Smoky ShadowBlast.

In case you don't remember seeing them, here's a quick photo refresher. This one is Citrus Flair.

The CG site says-

The two different, specially contoured ends of our ShadowBlast stick make it easy to create a bold, smoky eye. A duo of expertly paired shades provide the bold, spotlight-ready looks loved by today's hottest makeup artists.

Another site's write-up even says - It's like having a makeup artist at your fingertips.

A smoky eye in just two easy steps - with the quality of a professional? Sounds good, right?

The step 1 side is finished to a curved dome. You're supposed to apply this all over the lid and - nope, that's it.


The step 2 side is finished to a flat ridge. This is supposed to be applied to the crease and along the lash line.


And now you are finished and should have a lovely, professional quality smoky eye. Right? Right???


Psst. Yes, that is my response in a word.

Firstly, let's take a look at the colors after applied. I had to go over my hand quite a few times with the green shade with a fair amount of pressure to get the color to show up well. While I don't mind having to do this on my hand, I would be concerned about all that pressure and tugging on my lid. With the copper shade, there is quite a bit of shimmer. While I'm all for a bit of shimmer, I would prefer it be on the lid rather than in the crease... I can't even wrap my head around shimmer in the crease.


I also have a small issue with the shape of side 2. Firstly, I didn't find that the shape was helpful in applying it. And secondly, even if it was a good design, the shape would get worn down quickly with some regular use, and its shape would become similar to step one's.


The test

So could these 2 steps really be all I'd need to produce a 'smoky eye'? And the bigger question, how long will the look last? Late one afternoon, after I'd removed the day's makeup, I applied the product on freshly cleaned skin to see how long it would last on its own - no primer or shadow to back it up. The product definitely did not give me the sultry Drew Barrymore eyes from the ads, but I pressed on. I don't have oily lids, so I thought I'd be able to get at least an hour or two before creasing set in. I was wrong.

Want to know how long?

30 minutes.

Disappointing.

I also tested it with Urban Decay Primer Potion to see if that would help, and that made it stretch for a little over an hour.

Two easy steps? Again, I say psst.

I can't, for certain, say anything about the quality of the other duos because I have not tried them, nor do I plan to. But I think you could say with some confidence that their quality would be similar to this.

Even though I am extremely disappointed in this product, I hoped to find a way to use it because I really hate to feel wasteful. The green shade is not my style at all, but I did like the copper a bit. I'd hoped I might be able to use it as a color base for shadows, but the texture of the chunky monkey glitter showed through the shadow in a bad way.

Luckily, though, fate and this blog have stepped in. As I was applying step 2 to my hand for the swatch photo, it broke! haha. Now I really don't feel bad about tossing it out.



Thanks, blog!

And a final note to CoverGirl: No smoky eye ever started with lime green!

*I was sent this product for free by BzzAgent. If you'd like to find out how you can sign up to receive free products, visit their site here. I was not compensated for this post.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Clarisonic Dupe?

Although I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, there is a part of me that really wants a Clarisonic. I see rave reviews all the time about how the tool is the best investment some people have made in their skin and how they don't know how they lived without out it. But why embarrassed? Because it would essentially be paying almost $200 for a big toothbrush (it was created the makers of the Clarisonic toothbrush after all). Confession: In an attempt to replicate the Clarisonic effect, I actually do have an electric toothbrush devoted to scrubbing my skin. But tiny brush = bigger time commitment.

But I think it's possible that I may have - dare I say it - found a dupe (or at least something close to it) at T. J. Maxx.

The Pretika SonicDermabrasion Facial Brush

I saw a couple of these boxes sitting on a shelf and thought - hmm, that looks familiar. The box says that it uses "micro-pulsating cleansing technology" (i.e. it vibrates really quickly) and has two settings - one for gentle care and another for "penetrating exfoliation". It beeps every 20 seconds to signal you to change areas on your face and turns itself off after 1 minute. Seriously, does this sound familiar?

So for $30, it was mine (actually $29.99, but who are they kidding with that penny?). I checked the Pretika site and found that this thing retails for $50, so I got a fair deal on it.

The instructions say to charge it for 24 hours before the first use, so I'll begin testing it out tomorrow night. I was a bit naughty, though, and turned it on for a few seconds. The brush does vibrate quite strongly, whereas I know that the Clarisonic brush moves back and forth. The brush also feels a bit rough, but that may be ok since it's only vibrating instead of being moved across the skin.

I will try to do an update on this tool in a few weeks, but I wanted to make a post now in case anyone wants to go hunting for it at a local T. J. Maxx. I actually went to two and saw a few of them at both stores, so it's worth checking if you're interested. I'd hate to not mention it until after you can't find it.

And a little something extra.

Because I seem incapable of leaving that store without finding at least 2 things that I want, I also picked up a bronzer.


It's the Willi Smith Gold Sun Bronzer Compact. I've never seen this brand anywhere outside of TJM, but his clothes are all over that store, and a few makeup items every now and then.
I don't normally go in for the faux tanning and bronzing products, but...
look how pretty!!!


It's a gorgeous golden tan shade - no yellow or orange undertones to be seen. It has a lovely golden sheen to it (not just from that gold overspray), but it really is a sheen, so no one should use it as a bronzer unless they really want to draw attention to their face. And I won't be.

I'll be using this baby as an eyeshadow; and being bigger than my palm, it'll last forever. And it was a deal at only $4.99 (there's that penny again).

I couldn't manage to take a photo that truly gave justice to the gold sheen this gives, but the color in this one was true to tone. So nice, right?

I'll update on the facial brush after I've used it for awhile. If you're interested in it, keep an eye out on here. If you want to see it in person and get it at the discounted price, though, I'd really suggest going to check your stores because it could be sold out before I post an update.

I'm sure I won't be the only person who sees the similarities to the Clarisonic, so I can see it selling out.
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