Sunday, February 27, 2011

Want to Try Some Benefit?

Hi, ladies!

There is no review or personal opinion of any sort in this post, but I wanted to share some deals I came across for Benefit Cosmetics when I was perusing Sephora’s website.


Benefit to go

This set contains:
- 0.09 oz. Stay Don't Stray
- 0.11 oz. Erase Paste in Medium
- 0.11 oz. Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in R.S.V.P.

What really caught my attention about this set was the cream shadow. I’ve heard loads of good things about them, but haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the $19 for the full size. What’s interesting is that the full sized cream shadow contains .16 oz. If you calculate what the sample would cost at the same price per oz. of the full size, it would cost $13.06. Just for the shadow! Check my math if you’d like. So, with this set you’ve already gotten more than your money’s worth with the shadow, plus the shadow primer and erase paste thrown in.

I’m also curious about how well the Stay Don’t Stray will work out since I’m pretty devoted to my UDPP; and even though the erase paste may not match me, I figure that I’ll get a good idea about how I like its coverage and texture. And since I’ve already gotten good value for money, I won’t mind if I have to toss it due to a color mismatch.



tints

This set contains:
- 0.13 oz. Posietint (poppy pink)
- 0.13 oz. High Beam (shimmering pale pink)
- 0.13 oz. Benetint (rose)
 
Again, loads of girls swear by these, but the full High Beam is $24 and the two Tints are $28 each. A bit pricey for me. I don’t know why they’re all different (perhaps they're measured by mass, not volume?), but at full size, you get:
  Posietint:  .42 oz.
  High Beam: .45 oz.
  Benetint:   .4 oz..

So, you’re getting slightly less than 1/3 of each product for less than 1/5 of what you’d pay if you purchased all three full sized.


I’ve ordered both sets, but haven’t received them yet. I wanted to go ahead and share these deals with you now though since both are limited edition; so once they’re gone, they’re gone. This way you all will have more time to get your hands on them if you’re interested.

I’ve never used any of these products in-depth (only sampled a few times), so I can’t give any recommendation of which is more worth your time or the better buy (sorry!). Once they arrive and I’ve tried them out for awhile, I’ll be sure to let you know if any of them stand out to me (whether in a good or bad way!).

Let me know if you partake in either of these deals or if one of them holds a favorite product of yours!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My New Obsession with a Classic Look

Everyone loves a classic, right? They’re generally simple to follow since the parameters for them have been definitively set at this point, and they always make you look nice.

One true classic that I may well be one of the only girls to have never sported before is the French manicure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost positive that I’ve attempted to make it happen in the past, but either shaky hands or impatience always made it a bust.

This past week I decided to give it another go, and after a few failed attempts (never underestimate the need for persistence), I finally ended up with a result I was content with.

French Manicure Sinful Colors Snow Me White

Ta da! It’s not immaculate, but I also saved $20 by not paying a professional to do it, so I can deal with the imperfections. And, in all honesty, unless you get very close to my nails, you can’t see that they’re not perfect (and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be looking that closely at my hands).

Part of the reason it took me a few tries to get it right was that I tried the wrong method for me or the wrong polish.


Sticker Pains
For the first go, I went and purchased some stickers that are meant to act as guides for the tip that look like this.



I’d seen a few people recommend them for those who have difficulty with the process, so I purchased a set from CVS by the brand nailene for less than $3. The first thing I noticed with these particular ones was that the stick on them is very strong. I had put down a base coat to help hold the polish, and these things pulled up about half of what it touched. It’s not a huge deal, but something to know – they definitely need to be put down on nothing but bare nails.

The second issue I had with them is the texture they create on the end of the polish when pulled up. If you’ve ever taped off a room before painting it, you’ll have an idea what I’m talking about. No matter how carefully and slowly you pull the tape up, it will slightly pull up the edge of the polish that is meant to stay on the nail. It can be pressed back down to a point, but I found it made the tip look a tad ‘fuzzy’.

However, the ultimate reason I ended up not using them is that the natural curve of my nail is much sharper than the curve of the sticker. I found that I had to place the sticker so far down to cover all edges of my natural nail that it created a painted tip that was too big. This is something I hadn't even considered before, but it now seems painfully obvious in hindsight.

So it was all down to free-handing it. Eep. However, with some patience and always having my hand resting on the table for an anchor, I managed to get through it without too much trouble.


Polish Pains
The other problem I had was finding the right polish. After a few fails with shades I already had, I went to the store looking for the cheapest white I could find that seemed  opaque. I check by pulling out the brush and seeing how much the color shows up on the bristles – if it looks sheer on the brush, it will probably apply sheerly on the nail.

Good news for fellow beauty cheapos, the polish Snow Me White from Sinful Colors is a very good white (only needed 2 coats) and costs $1.99 at Walgreens. You won’t get a better deal than that! It doesn’t have a micro-fine brush, but I found it thin enough to still be easily workable. Add any clear top coat (after the white has thoroughly dried), and you’re done!

Overall Impressions
I have to say that, despite its simplicity, I’ve really enjoyed this look. It’s not showy and doesn’t make a statement like some of my polishes, but I still feel like they look very ‘finished’ and more polished that a bare, buffed nail. To be honest, I couldn’t stop looking at them the first few days I wore them (maybe blame it on the novelty of it?). I’ve also really loved that, although the edges of the tips have incurred some wear over the week I’ve worn them, you can’t really see it since the white blends so well with where my natural tips are starting to show. A low maintenance polish that still looks really nice? I’m there!

It will probably have to come off soon since I don’t want to push my luck with the wear, but I think this look has earned a place in my permanent rotation.

What do you girls think about French manicures? Love them? Or too plain for your taste? Let me know :)

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beauty Basics: How to Sharpen a Retractable Liner

If you were to tell me that I’d have to choose between typical liner pencils and retractable liners to use only one for the rest of my life, I would probably choose the retractable ones. Why? In my experience, they are much more likely to be soft and, therefore, go on opaquely without having to pull and tug at the lid (a big no-no!).

In case you aren’t familiar with the product I’m referring to, a retractable liner is one where you do not have to sharpen it to reveal more product, but rather you just twist it up. Very convenient.

DSC05137

I’ve heard many other people say they enjoy them for the same reason, but then my heart sinks when I hear them say the only thing they don’t like about these liners is that, while they’re gorgeous to use when you first get them with their finely shaped tips, once the tip wears down, you can’t get it back and are stuck working with the entire thickness of the liner. I get mildly frustrated whenever I hear this because it’s simply not true. There is a simple tool that will remedy the issue and, if you’ve gone through a few different liners in your time, you may have had this tool right in front of you and not even realized it.

So where is this magic tool? If there was one provided, then it’s in the pencil!

If you look at retractable liners, you’ll notice that some of them have a seam on the end opposite the pencil tip like these:

DSC05138

What you may not have realized is that seam shows the beginning of a separate piece that pulls away from the rest of the pencil to show a sort of sharpener:
DSC05139

These sharpeners work similarly to typical ones; but instead of having a blade, they are just very stiff plastic that will scrape off product from the pencil to create a fine point.

Not all liners will come with one of these, but good news: once you find one, hold onto it, even after its pencil is gone, and it won’t matter if you always get a new one.

I hope this has helped someone; and if I ever see any of my readers saying that they hate how you can’t get a fresh point on a retractable liner, you’ll get no sympathy from me. No excuses now!

: P Thanks for reading!

**The two liners that I have shown that did come with sharpeners are an Almay liner (though it is old, so I can’t swear they still have them) and a Revlon ColorStay liner (I am almost positive these still currently come with a sharpener).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stila’s Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer

Yesterday morning, I was extremely tired and looking at the front end of a busy day, so I wanted nothing more than makeup that I could do quickly and easily. In an attempt to combine some steps, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try out the Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 15 from Stila. Moisturizer and SPF in one with a little added coverage sounded really good at the time. I actually got this in a well-priced gift set which honestly, I grabbed for the shadows in it, so I hadn’t paid this much mind yet.

1 Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer Shade 01


2 Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer Shade 01 size 
After one (long) day with it, I can’t say that I’m all that impressed. Firstly, let’s talk about the size (and yes, this is a full sized tube). In the photo at left, I have it next to Urban Decay’s XL Primer Potion (.55 oz. or 16.3 ml). The entire bottle is just about the length of my hand from wrist to middle fingertip (though I compared it to UDPP because I believed you all would be familiar with the size of the bottle for a solid frame of reference). The moisturizer only has 1.7 oz. (50 ml), so there really isn’t a lot of product in here, yet it costs $32 when purchased alone. $32! I can honestly say that I was a bit shocked when I looked up its full price on Sephora’s site – no way would I pay that much for this little product.






Secondly, I didn’t find the effect of it all that flattering. It definitely does give an illuminated effect (pretty much what you’d get with any good highlighter), but I found that this looked very strange when it was all over the face. I wouldn’t say it looked like I was oily… more like I went a little overboard with some shimmery powder. Answer this, would you apply a highlighter all over your face? Then why apply the equivalent in lotion form? You could tone it down by applying powder over top, but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the product? I also really didn’t notice that it gave any coverage. As a tinted moisturizer, I did expect the coverage to be pretty low; but this really didn’t seem to give anything.

To make matters worse, a few hours in I noticed that it seemed to be setting into some pores around my nose – making them (much) more noticeable. I consider myself to have pretty good skin, so it’s quite a feat for something to make it look uneven – I did not appreciate it.

And finally, I didn’t feel that it was moisturizing at all. It was just… there.

3 Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer Shade 01 swatch4 Stila Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer Shade 01 swatch blended









There are only two shades (though not an issue for me, could prove very frustrating for many people), and I have the lighter – shade 01. Though a tad darker than my skin tone even when blended out, it wasn’t really noticeable when applied on my face. In the second photo, you can get an idea of the ‘illuminated’ effect on the side with the product versus the bare side. If only applied on typical highlight points, I think the effect could be very lovely, but all over the face just seemed like too much.

However, I do have to say that I seem to be in the minority with my lack of enthusiasm for this product. After scanning through reviews on Sephora, many more people seem to love it than not. Shade 01 on Sephora seems to have disappeared though, and they now only offer shade 02. I checked Stila’s site and the product is gone all together. There is an SPF 20 version available on both sites (in the same 2 shades) now, but I don’t know if this is the same product, just with a higher SPF, or a reformulated version. Unfortunately, the ingredient list is not provided for the SPF 15 one, so I can’t compare them to see if there are any inconsistencies to suggest a reformulation. Regardless, the new version is the same small size at the same big price, so I know I probably wouldn’t be purchasing it anyway.

Since so many people seem to love it; rather than suggest completely skipping on it, I’d say make a point to test it out in a store before purchasing.

If you’ve tried and loved this, please let me know. I get terribly frustrated when I can’t find the good in a product that many people love because I end up feeling like I’m missing something!

I hope this helped some of you.
Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

EOS Lip Balm–a Smidge Overrated

Over the past few months, beauty bloggers and vloggers alike have been singing the praises of the new EOS (evolution of smooth) lip balms. With its novel egg-esque packaging and being made of all natural ingredients, it does sound like the next big thing in lip treatments, doesn’t it?

The product description on their website says:
Can a lip balm make you smile? We think so. That's why we invented this one.
  • Long-lasting moisture
  • Shea butter & vitamin E
  • Smoothes on clear
  • New smooth sphere precisely glides on to lips
  • Twist-off top
  • Gluten-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Petrolatum-free
  • Phthalate-free
eos lip balm is 95% organic, 100% natural, and paraben and petrolatum free. Packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, soothing shea butter and jojoba oil, eos keeps your lips moist, soft and sensationally smooth. (link here)
 
Now, I’m not here to completely go against what other beauty lovers have said and claim that this is a bad product. It’s not. However, I think that it may have been given a bit more credit than it truly deserves.
 
Eos lip balm

The three that I’ve tried are the Lemon Drop (with SPF 15), Summer Fruit, and Honeysuckle Honeydew.

The biggest issue that I have with these is that many people have sworn up and down that these balms are extremely moisturizing and left their lips really soft. I disagree. It seems to me that the balms work well to create a protective layer over the lips and prevent moisture loss, but they really don’t seem able to add any back in. So, if you’re only trying to keep your lips from drying out and protect them from the elements (cold air, wind, etc.), then you’ll be happy with these. However, if your lips are already dried out, and you're wanting something to remoisturize, then you may need to look elsewhere for more intensive help.

My second qualm is actually with the packaging that others have found so fun.

Eos lip balm2

I have been keeping the Honeysuckle Honeydew at my desk in an attempt to work through it – the Summer Fruit one is still close to its original state, so you can get an idea of how much I’ve gone through. When you first start using the product, the packaging is just a nice little novelty; but the closer you get towards the end of the balm, the more it gets in the way. I’m finding that the closer I get to finishing it, the wider I have to open my mouth to not hit my teeth with the casing (that means only applying it when I know no one is looking – awkward…).

I haven’t seen anyone else cite this problem, but I think that’s because most reviews have been given before the reviewer used it this much. Even though there is still a good bit of product left in my Honeysuckle Honeydew, I think I’ll throw it away pretty soon because it’s just becoming too much of an awkward hassle.

Both the Honeysuckle Honeydew and Summer Fruit balms have a light, sweet flavor and the Lemon Drop really does taste of sweet lemon. One good thing that I can say about the Lemon Drop one is that it has no awful flavor that balms with SPF sometimes have.

Despite these having some good points, I highly doubt that I’ll repurchase any of these three flavors. With having other products that I like better with the hassle presented towards the end of the product's life, it's just not worth it to me. However, I know that eos has more recently released a Tangerine flavor that is supposed to be medicated. If I ever find this one in a store, I will probably pick it up and see if it performs differently.

If you’re still interested in trying these out, they seem to be randomly distributed among different drugstores and sometimes Wal-Mart and Target. I’ve yet to find one location that carries all of their balms (many stores that I’ve seen only have the Summer Fruit and Honeysuckle Honeydew – thus why I have them).

If you can’t find them in a store, you can also order them from drugstore.com, target.com, or amazon.com (there are probably others, but this at least gives you a starting point).

I hope this review has helped some of you out; and I feel like I should repeat – I am not saying that this is a bad product. It definitely does serve a purpose; and, as someone who is becoming more aware of ingredients in beauty product, I appreciate that the ingredients are natural and that it is absent of some (possibly) harmful substances. I just don’t believe that is the be all end all of lip products as some seem to.

So what do you think? Have any of you ladies tried it? Loved it? Agree with me? Am I being too critical?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Time With Cover Girl Polish–Not Impressed…

It seems that my quick foray into pink polish has sent me into an extreme retreat to my beloved deeper shades. I’ve already gone to a murky purple, so the next step is an ultra-dark color (obviously).

After a quick look over my collection, I pulled up a shade that I haven’t tried before (I think I grabbed this up during a sale and then plunked it down onto my nail rack without giving it much thought). Time to give it some love, right?

Cover Girl’s Midnight Magic

In the bottle, this looks like an extremely dark blue with loads of micro-shimmer. It looks gorgeous. On the nails though, it might as well be a flat black.

CoverGirl Midnight Magic swatch

In this photo, you can better see the blue shimmer when the light hits it. Apparently the shimmer is temperamental because it never wants to make an appearance on my nails.

CoverGirl Midnight Magic

If the color issue was the only problem, I could forgive and just retire it to be used like a base black under other polishes.

However…

I cannot forgive it for being the consistency of water. No exaggeration – this is the runniest polish I have ever worked with. A smidge too much product on the brush, and I had polish running down the sides of my nail. It’s a complete pain in the butt that caused me loads of messy edges.

The only good thing I could possibly say is that it only required two coats – two messy, runny coats.

This baby may be going in the trash…
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