concealer

Review: Jane Iredale Circle/Delete (Shade 2)

Ah, concealer. Whene’er thy sweet siren song reaches my ears, I cannot help but be seduced. I think someone is going to have to lash me to the mast and stuff cotton in my ears in order to stop me from succumbing to the lure of each new concealer I pass by.

Today it’s Jane Iredale’s Circle/Delete, and it has gone to the top of my list for vanquishing undereye circles.

The gimmick of this product is that you can control and mix the colors yourself, and if you’re a control freak like me like me, then this will be right up your alley. Lots of products offer these sort of mix-your-own-shade options (I’ve reviewed the Redpoint and DuWop versions already), but where the Jane Iredale edges both of those out is in the color and texture of the two creams. They’re opaque enough to cover but not look plasticky, and when applied over an emollient eye cream (right now, it’s Skin Nanny), they soak right in, blend nicely, and don’t settle into fine lines.

I use the salmon-colored one for undereye circles — I apply it immediately after eye cream and let it soak in with the eye cream. If, when I’m putting on my makeup 15 minutes or so later, I find I need to apply a bit more or blend it out, then I do. Often I can just let it soak in and it blends itself out just fine. At first I tried to come up with a custom blend of the two colors but the more I use it the more I realize that the salmon color all by itself is pretty much the shade I need. It does dry with some lingering shine, so you will want to run a brush over it before leaving the house — I use an Ecotools mineral eyeshadow brush that I’ve already used with an eyeshadow (MAC Brule) to set my MAC Painterly paint pot; the tiny bit of Brule on it is enough to mattify the undereye without depositing loads of powder.

I find the beige concealer better for evening out skin tone in areas than for covering up blemishes. It’s a bit too creamy for blemishes for me and it tends to slide off, even when set with setting powder.

Just so you know: The product comes in only 3 shades: two for lighter skins (one yellow-toned, one pink-toned) and one for darker skin (which looks to contain both a pinkish brown and a yellowish brown if the swatches are accurate).

Swatch, showing the two colors separately and then blended together in roughly equal proportions:

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Jane Iredale Circle/Delete in Shade 2: $29 at SkincareRX and other retailers (you cannot purchase from the Jane Iredale website)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent. The product performs very well.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Redpoint NOC-Out Cover-Up Compact

I tripped over Redpoint Cosmetics, which I previously hadn’t heard of, while wandering through DermStore’s sale pages in hopes of finding something that was just expensive enough to put me over the “free-shipping-upgrade” mark. (Yes. I am shallow that way.) Everything was half-off, so it seemed like a good time to try an intriguing-looking product: the NOC-Out Cover-Up Compact, which I bought as part of a 3-piece introductory set that also includes an “age-minimizing line-filler” (read: primer) and a Hydraboost Firming Powder (read: powder foundation). All of these are mini sizes, but they are quite generous.

Here’s the thing about Redpoint: they are very slowly going out of business. So all of their stuff is half-off, everywhere. It has been for several months now, but they haven’t managed to sell out yet. Why am I posting about products from a company that’s going out of business? Because you can still get most of the products, at a great price, and some of them are really, really good. So if you’re curious, now would be a good time to try them out.

“NOC” stands for Neutralize, Obliterate, and Conceal, and each of the palette’s three shades is designed to fulfill one or more of those roles. According to Redpoint, the yellow color is to eliminate redness in the skin, the salmon-pink color is to cover discolorations and hyperpigmentation, and the beige color is for eyelids undereye circles. But I say use ’em however you want to. For me, the salmon-pink color is the best for purple undereye circles, and I like that I can use the three colors to custom-blend a shade that suits me exactly. They apply easily with fingers or brush and I haven’t had any problems with caking so long as I apply to well-moisturized skin and do a good job of blending. This compact is one of the best concealing products I’ve used.

But.

There is a really weird thing that happened in the last couple of years in which Redpoint’s name has been mentioned, and it almost makes me not want to put up this post. But I think there is a way to avoid any trouble. The weird thing is this: Redpoint’s parent company, Intelligent Beauty, also is/was the parent company for Glow.com, which offered “free trials” of various products with small-print instructions for returning products and opting out of future auto-shipments that were so draconian and byzantine that they basically guaranteed that you would not be able to return the product in time to avoid being charged for at least one shipment. Although there don’t seem to be any complaints about Redpoint in particular, there are plenty of complaints about Glow and the other sister companies whose products were offered on trial in this way. (See here if you want more details.)

What that boils down to is this: I really like this product and the others I have gotten from Redpoint. But I did not buy them from Redpoint — I bought them from DermStore, at the same 50% off price, and I highly recommend you do the same if the products interest you.

(Tomorrow’s post will feature the other Redpoint product I really like: their Blushwhips! You have to make your own whipping noise, though.)

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Redpoint Age Management Essentials Kit (3 pc. set mentioned earlier): $14.98 via DermStore. Larger size NOC Compact sold separately for $19.00.

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent.

Purchase again? Yes, if the brand is still in business….

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Beauty on the Cheap: The $50 Drugstore Start-Up Makeup Challenge

Gauntlet for the Left Hand by unforth.So, a few weeks ago, Froggy challenged me to put together a start-up kit of makeup, using drugstore products, for $50. (Well, using the word “challenged” makes it sound like she came to my house, called me out, threw a gauntlet on my front steps, and told me to pick my second as we would be dueling at dawn the next morning. It wasn’t like that. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Froggy owned a gauntlet. ;) )

I am pleased to report that I did it! and came in $1.50 under to boot. OK, so I didn’t count sales tax. And I did the majority of the shopping at Target and (hides face) Wal-Mart. I know! I know! But getting a whole face full of stuff for under $50 is hard! If you don’t want to shop at Wal-Mart, you can call it an under-$60 challenge and do it wherever you like. I live quite near a Wal-Mart but I didn’t realize how small the beauty department at this particular store was; only two aisles, and short ones at that. So you may have even more options than this!

Below I’m going to give you the basics and what they cost. Tomorrow, there will be suggestions for adding on to or changing products out of this collection.

For $48.50, according to prices in-store and online, you can get a foundation, a concealer, an eyeshadow quad, an eye/brow liner, mascara, a blush, a lipgloss, and brushes. That’s pretty darned good, I think.

Foundation

It will be no surprise to regular readers that I’m going to go for the Almay SmartShade Anti-Aging Foundation (SPF 20) for $10.97. I use this myself and like it very much; the sunscreen does not break me out, the product does not clog my pores, and the shade matching works very well. (I reviewed an earlier version of this product here.) It comes in only a few shades, but the color-matching technology is good enough that it should suit most people. If you prefer a mineral powder foundation, I’m opting for L’Oreal Bare Naturale, which I’ve also reviewed previously; this was available at my Wal-Mart for $10.50.

Other popular drugstore foundations at the moment include Revlon ColorStay ($12.99 at drugstore.com) and Cover Girl Advanced Radiance ($10.99 at drugstore.com).

Concealer

Again, sticking with a on old standby that has worked well for me for both undereye circles and for blemishes: Cover Girl CG Smoothers concealer stick, $5.99 at Target.

Eyeliner

There are a few products on the market that do double duty as eyeliners and brow liners. (Obviously, they are brown.) Brown eyeliner looks good on anyone, and if you get something that also matches your brow color (or, preferably, is a tiny bit lighter), then you’ll in effect be getting two products for the price of one. Can you use a regular brown eyeliner, one that’s not specifically made for brows, as a brow pencil? Sure — but because those formulas are usually a little creamier, it might smear.

Because cost was a primary concern, I went with Cover Girl Brow and Eye Makers 2-pack for $2.86. The package even comes with a sharpener, which is handy. Maybelline makes a comparable product which does not require sharpening and costs $4.48. Getting this one instead will put you 12 cents over the $50, but I have to say I think it’s worth it. For the sake of the challenge, my official pick is the CG for $2.68, but I strongly suspect the Maybelline product is superior. I have to admit that if I weren’t aiming for a $50 target, I’d probably have recommended separate eyeliner and brow powder/pencil, just because it’s hard to get something that’s the right texture for both different uses. Prestige Cosmetics makes excellent inexpensive eyeliners in a variety of colors (if you go to their website, don’t be distracted by the fact that they are picturing lipliners instead of eyeliners; they look just the same and the color selection tab at the bottom works properly to show eyeliner colors); they are $5.39 at ULTA but can usually be got cheaper elsewhere.

Eyeshadow

In terms of mileage for the buck, you can’t do much better than a nude trio or quad. Most lines make some version of these, so you’ll have options. In general I think neutral shades are safe to buy in the drugstore; I tend to go high-end if I want something that’s bright, bold, or highly pigmented. (And, I admit, it is luxurious to have some high-end neutrals too.) Here I’m going with Rimmel’s Color Rush eye shadow in Smoky Brown (or Smoky Brun, depending on whether you’re looking at the product or the display!). You get two lid colors, a highlighter color, and a crease color, all for $4.28. You don’t have to use all four; you can just use one lid color and call it a day. But at least you get options.

I chose the nude quad because everyone looks good with a natural eye. But if you’ve got some brown shadows at home already and are looking for something different, you can get similar sets of mauve- or blue- or grey-tinted neutrals. And take your skin tone into consideration — some lines’ nudes lean a little warm, and some a little cool. Again, I’d stay away from the ultra-brights if you’re just starting out.

Mascara

This is a category I thought a lot about, and I have to confess that my eventual recommendation is not actually a mascara I’ve tried, but it’s one that’s gotten very, very good reviews, and quite a lot of them. For several years I used Maybelline Lash Stylist, until it was discontinued, and around that time I switched to Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes!, which I love and so I don’t see myself going back to drugstore mascaras anytime soon. Because I stuck with Lash Stylist for a few years, I missed a lot of the other mascara releases that happened during those years. So, take it with a grain of salt, but know that I read a lot of reviews.

The product I’ve picked for this challenge is Cover Girl Professional All-in-One Curved Brush Mascara, which retails for $3.99 at Target. It also comes in a waterproof version for the same price, if you prefer that, but I don’t tend to recommend waterproof mascaras as a first option as I find they are more likely to irritate my eyes and are harder to remove. (And at Target, if you want to get the straight brush instead the curved one, you’ll save another 10 cents! Srsly — it’s $3.89 while the curved brush is $3.99.)

Right now there’s a lot of buzz about Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara, which is a little pricier, but one of the things that people commonly complain about in regards to Lash Blast is that the enormousness of the brush makes it difficult to control application of the product. If you’re looking for a starter set, it’s probably better not to get something that hands you a steep learning curve straight out of the package.

Blush

Here I went with Maybelline Expert Wear Blush ($4.48), because they offer a wide range of colors: 13 blush colors and 3 bronzer colors if you prefer a bronzer instead of a blush (same price). Revlon also offered some nice-looking blushes, but the color range wasn’t as wide and prices were in the neighborhood of $8-8.50 instead of $4.50. They do look like interesting products, though, and they offer cream, powder, and mineral formulas, so if you don’t find anything in the Maybelline aisle that suits you, I wouldn’t hesitate to hop over to Revlon.

Lips

For someone who’s new to makeup, a gloss is IMHO a much better bet than a lipstick or lipstain — easier to apply, less worry about smearing or smudging, less worry about the color being too strong, etc. Glosses do come in a wide range of pigmentation (more is better) and stickiness (less is better), and after carefully perusing the options, I went with Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss, which Wal-Mart had for $5.94. I actually purchased the Cherries in the Glow shade I’d mentioned the other week in the Drugstore Red Lippies and Glosses post, and like it very much. It’s very sheer and I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t wear it. It definitely does not scream “HELLO MY LIPS ARE VERY RED!” like some lip products can. They also have a variety of other tones: pinks, corals, and nudes. P.S. — Dear Revlon, I still hate your website. Plz fix it. OKthxloveyoubye! — Voxy.

Brushes

So, since you’re going to throw out all the applicators that come with those packages (right? you are, aren’t you?), you are going to need some brushes — at least for the blush and eyeshadow, and possibly to smooth out the foundation or apply concealer in hard-to-reach spots as well. Fortunately, there is a perfectly priced set of Essence of Beauty brushes available at CVS (their exclusive retailer, so you won’t find them elsewhere): a six-brush travel pack of face brushes for $9.99. This package contains the following: powder brush, blush brush (either of these can really be used for blush), eyeshadow brush, shadow eyeliner brush (in case you want to use the dark shade out of your quad as an eyeliner), smudger brush (so you can blend the colors in the quad together), and concealer brush. Voilà! Everything you need. Like Ecotools, Essence of Beauty brushes are far better than their price point might lead you to believe. I just bought two sets of EoB brushes for myself — not the travel set I’m mentioning here, but a two-pack eye brush set and some dual-ended face brushes.

So, where do we stand with the math?

Almay SmartShade foundation: $10.97

CG Smoothers concealer: $5.99

CG Brow and Eye: $2.86 (but really, think seriously about the Maybelline; I’ll send you the twelve cents. If you get the straight brush mascara instead of the curved brush at Target, there’s a dime right there, so you’d only be TWO cents over!)

Rimmel eyeshadow quad: $4.28

CG Professional mascara: $3.99

Maybelline ExpertWear blush: $4.48

Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss: $5.94

Essence of Beauty brush pack: $9.99

TOTAL: $48.50

Note: In addition to tomorrow’s post on possible additions to or substitutions for items in this list, I’m planning to do another one of these kind of posts for higher-end products, probably a $100 Sephora challenge. (I can’t do it on $50.)

Review: Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer

I recently read some internet posts by Benefit sales associates describing Benefit’s aggressive sales practices (as in: your job is to go forth into other departments of, say, Nordstrom’s, and come up to women while they are looking at, say, shoes, and pull them over to the Benefit counter and try to sell them, say, makeup) that make me not really want to buy anything else from this company, and that kind of make me regret having bought the few Benefit products I already own. I don’t want to encourage any company that advocates such aggressive sales tactics. It’s rude.

Nevertheless, I thought I should finish this review I started of Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer, and we’ll see how likely I am to buy or review Benefit products in future.

I am a staunch fan of Too Faced Shadow Insurance eyeshadow primer (which I have reviewed previously), so it would take a lot to get me to abandon that product. However, when I swatched this product at Sephora, I was impressed by the coverage, and so I thought I would add it to my arsenal. (My TFSI was a little jealous at first but has gotten over it.)

Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray primer is supposed to be a combination primer and concealer, which is what’s attractive about it. According to Benefit, you can use it both on the eyelid and on the undereye area. Whereas TFSI goes on a sheer cappuccino color but dries nude, Stay Don’t Stray goes on a sort of light camel color (definitely more yellow than pink) and stays that way. It’s relatively opaque. TFSI does not offer anything in the way of coverage, really, but does provide a nice smooth canvas for eyeshadows and helps the color stay fresh.

The pump takes some getting used to, as it is really better thought of not as a “pump” at all. If you use it like a regular pump, which is to say by putting your finger on the top of it and pressing down, you will get far, far too much product, even if you try to use a very light touch. Instead, tap the top of the pump with your index finger several times, like maybe 10-20, until you start to see product appear at the spout. You can keep tapping to get the amount you want. It seems weird, but it works. (The very first time you use the product, you might want to try the traditional pump method, just to make sure product is flowing all the way up the pump, but after that, the tapping method works infinitely better.)

If you have oily skin, or are eighteen and have perfect skin, you will probably like this product a lot. If, like me, you are not eighteen (shocker, I know) and/or have drier skin, this may not be a good choice for you. With TFSI, eyeshadows apply very smoothly. Stay Don’t Stray leaves the lid much drier and very matte, so I have a harder time getting a smooth application. Similar complaints about dryness are often made about Urban Decay Primer Potion, so I suspect it’s a deliberate choice of formulation on Benefit’s part rather than some sort of weird unanticipated side effect. Due to the trouble with blending, I haven’t tried it with any complicated eye makeup looks, just with a simple 2-shade look (lighter on the lid, darker in the crease) and with pencil and gel eyeliners. Shadows do not seem to wander off my eyelid, but I don’t think the staying power is any better than TFSI. Because Stay Don’t Stray is yellow-toned and opaque, however, it does brilliantly cover redness/purpleness at the upper lash line, which I sometimes have in the morning after a bad night, so I’m definitely keeping it around to cover that.

It does cover undereye circles if they aren’t too dark, but I’ve had trouble combining it with other products, again because of the dryness. It makes any other concealer that I’ve tried with or on top of it (liquid, cream, or powder) get dry and crusty and settle into lines — but by itself it isn’t quite enough for me. Maybe in the summer, when dryness is less of an issue, this will work better for me. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep it for covering severe red/purpleness on the upper eyelid near the lash line, but I’m sticking with TFSI as a shadow primer and sticking with my regular undereye concealers for dark circles.

For this amount of money, I’d say skip it unless you either a) are a Benefit-aholic, or 2) have eyelids that are oily enough that TFSI doesn’t work for you.

And watch out the next time you go to a department store shoe section! You may be ambushed by a Benefit sales associate hiding behind the clearance rack. Bring pepper spray.

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Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer: $24

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Given how little you use, it will probably last a long time. Wish it were about $5 cheaper.

Purchase again? Probably not; other products serve my needs better. Also, feeling pretty anti-Benefit at the moment.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Foxalicious Fundamentals: Concealer 103 (undereye circles)

Today’s Topic: Concealer 103 — Using Concealer to Cover Undereye Circles

This is the other reason that concealers were sent down from heaven. I’m going to try not to ramble much here and cut to the main essentials.

You will need:

— Concealer brush.

— Cream or stick concealer. In this post I am using the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer (cream) and the Cover Girl CG Smoothers concealer (stick). I did not go through the exercise of covering undereye circles with the rest of my concealers because these will give you the idea and they are also the best ones for me to use.

— Your fingers.

Ready?

The following photos go step-by step through the process. I have not fully figured out how to take good photos of myself to show products, so the photos don’t all quite have the same exposure or angle. Also, I realized that the lights were at a horrible angle for this, but oh well. I am still learning. I will also admit that I did do one little bit of retouching — my eyes happened to be fiercely red today, so I took some of that out so that you weren’t distracted by it. (No, I wasn’t smoking anything; this is an ongoing issue for me.)

1. Start with clean and moisturized skin. See? Circles. Yucky.

2. Apply primer and foundation, if you use those things.

3. Using your concealer brush, dot some cream concealer in the inner corner of the eye and extend it down into the circle area. Here I’m applying concealer to the right eye (and this was taken in a mirror, so that actually is my right eye) and leaving the left alone so you can see the difference. (I seem to be cross-eyed here for some weird reason.)

4. Blend out the concealer with your brush and then blend the edges lightly with your fingers so that you get an even transition.

5. Do the other side (here I did the left eye with CG Smoothers).

So now both undereye areas have been treated. Since the Pan-Cake makeup look has not been in vogue for some time, it’s usually not a good idea to try to keep applying concealer until you have totally covered the darkness. This is what makes people look like they have reverse raccoon eyes. In this set of photos, I still have a tiny bit of darkness under there; most days my circles are not this bad, and most days I’m not sticking my face in a tungsten light tent either. This is invisible in the light in my bathroom, in natural light, and in the light in my office.

The other part of making dark circles less noticeable involves putting them in the context of stronger features.

6. Here I’ve added brow color and eyeliner — I’ve only done the top; you’ll see the full eyeliner in a minute. Just doing this helps define the features more and make me look a little more put-together, even without eyeshadow.

7. In this step I added a neutral eyeshadow (this is ULTA shadow in Cocoa), lined the bottom lash line, and added mascara. I think it was around this picture that I realized I should also probably finish putting on my foundation — I had originally only put it on under the eyes).

8. Just for kicks, I decided to smoke out the eye a little bit. I used a LORAC charcoal gray/black pencil to bring the dark color of the eyeliner up towards the crease, added a dark purply-brown shadow in the crease, and used a light neutral shadow as a highlighter right under the brow. I don’t have those shadow names because they’re from my Smashbox palette and they’re unnamed. I set the whole face with Make Up For Ever HD powder, which gives a nice soft focus (a review of this product is going up tomorrow).

Key points in shopping for undereye concealers:

1. Go for a cream (in a pot, not a tube) or a stick concealer. Liquid concealers are too thin, and powder ones can easily cake and look kind of gross. You can (and should) use a setting or finishing powder to remove any residual shine from a cream concealer after you have blended everything in thoroughly.

2. Choose a color that is about one shade lighter than your skin tone. Do not get a super-ultra-light concealer if you are olive-skinned, no matter how dark your circles are!

3. Apply only where your circles are. In the above photos I was done blending out the concealer by the time I reached the center of the eye; I applied no concealer to the outer eye area. Since fine lines and wrinkles start showing up at the outer corners of the eyes first, it’s better to avoid putting concealer there unless your circles actually extend that far. If your whole undereye area is darkened, you might want to check out a corrector in either a yellow, salmon, or pink shade (depending on the color of the circles and the color of your skin; you’ll have to try a few to see what works best on you) that would go on before foundation. You could then use a less pigmented concealer on top if you find that you still need some coverage.

4. Blend well. Start with the brush and blend out the edges with your fingertips. The warmth of your skin helps melt the concealer enough to get a really smooth transition. Conventional wisdom is to use your ring finger, as it is a weak finger for most people and thus you’re less likely to pull the skin harder than you need to. I say use whatever finger you want, because I think you’re probably smart enough to figure out how to control the pressure you exert.

5. As with blemishes, less is better than more — something that looks natural but still shows a little darkness is better than something that is so opaque it looks like you put it on with a trowel and you can’t see the skin tone underneath it.

6. Covering up undereye circles can sometimes give you a little bit of a masklike appearance, especially if the coverage is thick. Drawing attention to other strong features, even by just using a little bit of eyeliner or brow color, helps prevent this.

Review: Borba HD-Illuminating Eye Specialist

borba eye thing Sometimes you get things at Marshall’s that are a total steal and you can’t imagine why they ended up there, and so you buy six.

And sometimes you get things at Marshall’s that look totally awesome, and then you get them home and find out exactly why they ended up at Marshall’s in the first place.

I have one Borba product in each category. OK, I didn’t buy six of the product I liked, only two, but I seriously thought about buying a third. But I’m not talking about that product today. I’m talking about the other one, the HD-Illuminating Eye Specialist.

If this hadn’t been at Marshall’s, for a low low price (I think I paid $9.99 and the list price is $55.00), I doubt I would have looked twice. But it seemed too good to pass up, especially considering that the reason I was in Marshall’s that day was to pick up five more jars another jar of the Borba product I’d found on my first trip and gone all ZOMG over. That one is made of fabulous, and was even a better bargain, and I’m going to tell you all about it … later. Suffice it to say that I was enthralled enough by Product #1 to hope that Product #2 would be equally amazing and I was going to be laughing all the way to the Bank of Borba.

You know where this is going, right?

The Borba HD-Illuminating Eye Specialist is a good idea that doesn’t quite pan out in actual life, at least on my skin. One side contains a “brightening serum,” which is supposed to fight fine lines and dark circles and luminize the area around the eye, and the other is an “enlightening cream,” which (theoretically) helps to cover up whatever dark circles didn’t get knocked out by the first side. It also moisturizes and reflects light.

The thing about this is that it’s a good idea, and the product has great ingredients in it, but for some reason it just doesn’t work. Here’s how the Borba website describes it:

STEP 1 – BRIGHTENING SERUM:

The Brightening Serum treats stubborn signs of aging such as wrinkles, darkness and discoloration over time. This translucent treatment is powered by Silver Plasma technology, DMAE, Glycosaminoglycans, Peptides plus a proprietary blend of Silk, Collagen and Elastin Fibers for uplifting support.

STEP 2 – ENLIGHTENING CREAM:

The Enlightening Cream cushions skin with healthy moisture as it instantly camouflages imperfections to light up the entire eye area. This plush, sheer-tinted cream is infused with Glycerin, Kojic Acid, Açaí & Grape Seed Antioxidants, Multivitamins and Diamond Light Diffusers to instantly diminish even the most hard-to-treat signs of aging around the eyes. The shade of this formula is innovatively universal so it complements any skin tone, taking the guesswork out of shade selection.

The Silver Plasma is (at the moment) a Borba thing, though “plasma” is a word that’s starting to crop up more and more often in fancy skincare, but the rest of the components are all good, solid eye cream ingredients. DMAE? Check. Glycans? Check. Peptides? Check. Silk, collagen, elastin, glycerin, kojic acid, antioxidants, vitamins, and little light-diffusing particles? All check. The only reason that I can come up with that this shouldn’t work is if the product “contains” all of these things in the same way that a very dry martini might be said to “contain” vermouth when the bottle of vermouth has merely been waved in the general direction of the glass.

In the three weeks that I used it, I didn’t notice any improvement in either dark circles or fine lines. Now you might argue that that’s not long enough to really see results, and I agree. However, the product was not nearly as moisturizing as I needed it to be, and so I invariably had to put on other products over it anyway. The “enlightening cream” was also far too sheer to cover up my dark patches, so I had to put something else on top of that as well, and then there was caking, and wrinkling, and blotching, and all of that other unpleasantness. In short, this just does not seem to be a product that will ever work for me on its own. Perhaps if you are of a more robust skin tone than I, or your skin tends towards oily rather than dry, or you don’t have little lines, or you don’t have dark circles (in which case I will give you mine for free), this would be an adequate undereye moisturizer and concealer. If this product really works for you, please let me know in the comments, because I would love to hear from someone for whom this is a success.

The other thing about it that bothers me is the packaging. I know I just talked about packaging the other day, and while I’m glad to say that unlike Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes!, this product does not come wrapped in fake purple snakeskin, the Borba folks are egregiously guilty of over-packaging, which is not very environmentally-friendly for a brand that touts its commitment to natural ingredients. Here’s an end-shot of the box in which this product comes, with the product itself tucked up in the right-hand corner and enough space left over to house a family of four:

borba packaging

???

So this is a FAIL for me both in terms of the product and the packaging. However, as I said above, I also have one Borba product that I love and think is fantastic. And that’s true of many lines for me: there are things I like and dislike in just about all of them. So don’t write off Borba just yet — but you can probably give this product a pass. Enlightenment is more fun to get in fortune cookies than in an eye cream anyway.

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Borba HD-Illuminating Eye Specialist: $55.00

Provenance: Purchased (Marshall’s, $9.99)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor, no matter what you paid, but especially poor if you paid $55.00.

Purchase again? Not this one, thanks.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: DuWop Circle Block

duwop_circleblockDuWop, DuWop, DuWop.

Sorry, I just like saying it.

My Holy Grail quest has always been The Quest For The Perfect Undereye Concealer. I think concealer might be the single hardest product to buy. (Well, the actual buying isn’t so hard — you hand over your money, and they give you the product in a little bag, and you walk out the door. It’s the stuff that comes before the buying that’s hard — which is to say, the choosing, and the trying, and the squinting in the mirror. That stuff.)

I checked this out at Sephora because it was featured in Allure magazine’s Best of Beauty listings, and I thought it was intriguing. The top section contains a “treatment paste,” which is almost the consistency of a cream blush, to be applied to the dark circles, and the bottom section contains a concealer that goes over it. It comes in only three shades (light, medium, and dark), and when I looked at the testers at Sephora I had to ask the saleswoman (twice) whether she was sure there hadn’t been a mistake in the labeling. Allure generously describes the treatment paste as “salmon-colored,” and all I can say is that if Allure thinks that is what salmon looks like, I am not eating dinner at their house. It is considerably darker than salmon — not quite as dark as terracotta, but not too far off. The color of the concealer portion also looked much darker than the “light” shade it was supposed to be (hence my interrogation of the hapless saleswoman). So it was with a healthy amount of skepticism that I patted some of the not-salmon treatment paste onto my dark circles and then covered it up with the not-light concealer.

I’ll be damned if the stuff didn’t work.

I was nothing short of astonished. That treatment paste is as dark as my dark circles. I suppose I thought it was going to lighten them, but it only changed their color from purple to not-salmon. But the concealer covers the whole thing up brilliantly. Brilliantly! And it does blend into my regular foundation, so although it looked dark to me in the pot, it was fine on my face. I do wish that the default application method for the concealer pot weren’t “repeatedly stick your finger in it, thereby potentially transferring bacteria with every application,” but once I’ve figured out how much I need to apply I can scoop that amount out from the pot with a little plastic stick onto the back of my hand and then apply from there.

And, it lasts all day! Really. All day. There seems to be no end to the amazingness of this product.

You must test it for yourself, though; I do think that the shades will not work on some people. Also, you’ll have to make sure that the undereye skin is well-moisturized before you apply this; it’s far from the most moisturizing concealer I’ve used, which is a concern for me as I tend to be dry (especially in the winter).

Shopping Tip: If you’re buying concealer (or anything) at Sephora, do not use the softly lighted mirrors they have scattered throughout the makeup section to check color, coverage, or texture. You could put ketchup on your face and it would look good in those lights. Instead, head over to the perfume displays, which are on mirrored walls with bright neutral white lighting. It’s much less flattering, so it’s much better at showing whether or not a product is the right color or coverage for you. Also, unfortunately, many of us have this color and strength of lighting in the workplace, so you should have some idea of what the product would look like in an actual workday setting. (You can also go outside and check to see how the product looks in daylight, but this is too much trouble for a lot of people. Also, if you’re an iPhone owner, there are apps that effectively turn the iPhone into a flashlight by simply making the screen go white; you can hold these close to your face in a badly-lit store and it will give some improvement, though not much.)

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DuWop Circle Block

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): good

Purchase again? Yes

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)