Product Reviews

Review: Bare Minerals Insider’s Kit (with Cheek Tint and Color-Shift Eyeshadow)

A few months ago, a friend and I sat down at ULTA and had little mini-makeovers, just for fun. This particular friend has a very busy telecommuting job and two small children, so she has had neither the time nor the external motivation to keep up her makeup routine, and I think she misses being girly. Anyhoo, she was fine with getting a little eye makeup done, and a little lip gloss, but when the brave ULTA sales associate advanced on her with a fan brush loaded with a startlingly pink neon blush (Smashbox, I think), she suddenly made a valiant effort to climb out of her skin in order to get away from the brush. Her eyes were as big as saucers! Undaunted, the SA flicked the fan brush over the apples of her cheeks and deposited a sheer flush of color that looked simply AH-MAZE-ING. (Even my friend agreed, after she had calmed down and had a martini to get over the shock.) Although at the time I didn’t end up buying that blush, I kept thinking about how good it looked — so when I saw this kit at Sephora with a super-bright pink cheek tint and a new “color-shift” eyeshadow, I grabbed onto it with my grimy little paws and would not let it go.

Sephora has a couple of Bare Minerals kits on offer right now, two of which contain this mysterious “color-shift eyeshadow.” By the way, the Bare Escentuals store that is about 50 yards away from the Sephora in one of my local malls had never heard of the stuff, which is slightly worrisome. As of right now there are two colors available, and each one is only available with purchase of a kit (in other words, you can’t buy just the eyeshadow, more’s the pity). Fortunately this particular kit had some other stuff I was drawn to, so it worked out.

In this particular Insider’s Kit, you get the following: Cheek Tint (Bare Minerals’ first cheek stain, as they call it) in shade Flirt, a color-shift shadow in Panache (a bright peach, which, upon buffing, acquires a lavender duotone), liner shadow in Twilight Violet (a sort of purple-gray with sparkles), Natural Lipgloss in Cherry Bomb, and a dual-ended brush.

The cheek tint is frighteningly bright in the container. And when I say “frightening,” I mean “sleep with the lights on”, “put a baseball bat under your bed”, “have your teddy bear on speed dial” frightening. Please DO NOT drop this on your carpet, as it will stain. Unless, that is, you already have a hot pink neon carpet, in which case I want to come to your house and see it. I admit that I have not tried applying the cheek tint with the provided brush. This is because I am terrified that I will go from zero to Krazy Klown Face in less time than it takes to say “Krazy Klown Face,” which isn’t really very much time at all. Instead, I’ve been using a fan brush, and this has worked so far. Like the blush the ULTA SA put on my friend, it delivers a sheer pop of bright color. Because it is sheer, it’s wearable for pretty much everyone. If I can pull it off, anyone who has darker skin than me (which is to say, almost everyone) can probably also do so.

The color-shift eyeshadow is the surprise winner here. In general I’m a skeptic about these kinds of things, but Oh My Goodness Gracious Me It Looks Fantastic. There are two things I really like about it: 1. the peach shade by itself is a lovely eye brightener, and 2. when you blend it out into purple, the transition is very nice (it passes through a pinky stage) and the two colors both look good together and are surprisingly easily incorporated into an overall look. Just for grins, I tried it wet to see what would happen, and the peach color turned into a neon sort of pink. In general I think dry application is better than wet here. The swatches below don’t do it justice; I found it hard to capture the purple tones on film. (Well, digital film, but whatev.) I’m surprised by how nice it is on my eyes. There is another shade available in another kit, which goes on a kind of dirty greenish-gold and buffs out to a fairly intense sky blue.

The lipgloss is … meh. It doesn’t do anything for me, but it won’t hurt you. I wouldn’t have bought it on its own. The color in the tube is fantastic, but on lips it doesn’t have much of an effect. Maybe this is just my lips.

The shadow liner is best worked with wet rather than dry. If you use it dry, there is a lot of fallout. Wet, it’s a nice shade of gray with hints of purple, and the glitter stays where it’s supposed to stay. And unlike the color-shift eyeshadow, when you wet this one it stays the same color it was originally. I’m not a huge fan of it, but I don’t hate it either, and I’m sure I’ll use it from time to time.

The brush is nice, but as I said earlier I haven’t tried to use it with the cheek tint. YMMV.

So in the kit, the winners are the cheek tint, the color-shift eyeshadow, and the brush. The gloss and liner shadow are OK but I wouldn’t have bought them separately.

Swatches!

Closeup of the color-shift eyeshadow in Panache.

 

This is how Panache goes on…

 

… and this is what happens when you buff it. It was incredibly hard to capture the lavender tone on my camera; this is kind of a fail.

 

Cheek Tint in Flirt.

 

Swatch of cheek tint in Flirt, with a sprinkle of powder on the left and a blended-out bit on the right.

 

Liner shadow closeup

 

Swatch of liner shadow (left) and lipgloss (right).

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Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Insider Introducing Cheek Tint: $36 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Would have preferred to purchase products separately.

Purchase again? N/A, but I’d buy other kits if they had what I wanted.

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

Review: Chanel Blush Horizons Blush Éclat Douceur

I am so glad to see the return of blush for spring. Not that it ever totally disappeared, but the seasonal focus is so often on lips or eyes that poor blush gets the bum’s rush.

It is Land of Blush in the Voxpartment. There are blushes everywhere. Because you never know when you might be, say, watching TV, and suddenly need to put on some blush. Also, they are pretty and I like to have them around. Anyway, I have a couple of gems from the spring collections. (Did you hear that? SPRING COLLECTIONS! YAYAYAYAY!!!!)

 

 

Watch out for that last one. It’s a doozy. I suggest wearing earplugs.

In the grab-it-while-you-still-can department, Chanel’s Blush Horizon compact for Spring 2012 is flying off shelves. Not by itself, obvs. This is the compact for those of us who were too stupid to rush out and buy Guerlain Blush G Serie Noir blush last year. [whacks self on head]

Like the Guerlain product, Chanel’s compact features several different shades of blush arranged in horizontal stripes. While technically I suppose you could try to get a brush in them singly, let’s be realistic. You’re going to mash your brush up in there and mix all the colors together. Right? Because who has time for being soooo finicky with blush?

Besides me, I mean. What? No other hands up? Barbarians.

One of the very first luxe products I ever owned was a Chanel blush, which I now think was probably the wrong shade for me, but which filled me with frissons of indulgent delight whenever I used it. I want to be more in love with the aesthetics of the Blush Horizon compact than I am, but sadly, I’m not. It’s slightly too “Ladies Who Lunch” for me. However — the product inside is one of the best powder blushes I’ve used in a long time. I love cream and liquid blushes so much that a powder blush has basically got to feed Africa, calculate the square root of 2139, and name all fifty state capitals in alphabetical order before it can tempt me. I went several rounds with this blush in the store, visiting it over the course of a couple weeks and testing it. With a lot of effort, I managed to convince myself it wasn’t worth buying. “Too sparkly,” I said, and “remember you don’t like powder blushes anymore,” I said, and “stupid Guerlain Blush G, being so awesome.” Well, only that last one is really true.

It’s not too sparkly, which is nice. It’s a lovely shade of pink, more pigmented than I thought it would be from the swatch, but lighter in pigmentation than most Chanel blushes, which is a good thing. Still, the first time I used it, I almost ended up with Crazy Clown Cheeks. There is a bit of shimmer, but it’s very subtle — and I am paranoid about shimmer on cheeks, so if even I think it’s OK, you are probably good to go. It wore remarkably well all day, much better than some of my other powder blushes.

Color-wise, it is definitely cool (I’m speaking of the color you get when you mix all the stripes together), but not untenable for warm-toned beauties. There is a bit of melon in the bottom stripes, so if you want a slightly peachier tint you can finagle the brush in there accordingly.

If you want it, get it now. Seriously, FLYING off shelves.

Close-up and swatch!

I had to pile it on fairly thickly for the swatch so that it would really show up.

 

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Chanel Blush Horizon de Chanel Blush Éclat Douceur: $58

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Poor. Come on, I love Chanel, but $58 for a blush is outrageous.

Purchase again? Hopefully I will never hit pan.

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

 

Review: Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

OMG, you guys, I have picked up so many unexpectedly fabulous products lately that I can’t stop squeeing as I put on my makeup in the morning. If you hear a sound like a stuck pig coming from somewhere in the Midwest, that’s me.

I also feel a little bit guilty about it because I’ve bought a couple of things from brands I’ve previously decried — and what’s worse, I like them. Oh, bad Voxy. Hopefully you will be able to forgive me. And by the way, that doesn’t mean these brands are back in my good graces. It’s the “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” phenomenon. One of these is Benefit. I KNOW! I hate Benefit. Hate ’em. Except for a couple of products — and not their famous ones, either. Here is one of those stopped-clock products: their Watt’s Up! highlighter.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: no matter how you slice it, this product name is improperly punctuated. It’s either a question (“What’s up?” -> “Watt’s up?”), in which case it should have a question mark, or it’s an exclamation (implying that “watts” may be used in the same way “volume” is used: turn up the volume -> turn up the watts -> watts up!), in which case it shouldn’t have an apostrophe. Of course, you don’t say “turn up the decibels,” which are units of loudness, so I don’t know why you would say “turn up the watts” either. I have a feeling that they were going for the first option, a play on “what’s up?”, but that their marketing people told them that exclamation! points! are! more! exciting! than! question! marks!!!!!! — and they probably figured no one would notice. Or care. Which is pretty much true, except for those of us here in this corner of the interwebz. Stay strong, ladies. Don’t let the haters bring you down.

Watt’s Up (I refuse to put in the exclamation point) is a cream highlighter, a type of product which up until now I have had zero use for. I couldn’t figure out why, if we spend money and energy on products that are supposed to make our faces less shiny, we would then want to turn around and buy another product to make them shiny again. And I don’t really understand the whole “it’s not shine, it’s GLOW” euphemism. There are plenty of celebrities whose skin in photos is described by the media as “glowy” and by me as “a giant sweaty oil slick.”

So why I ever picked this up in the store and tested it on my hand is kind of a mystery. But I did — and it was a lovely shade somewhere between peach and champagne, and not terribly shiny glowy. I am fair-skinned and highlighters have, in the past, given me something of a Tin Man look, which is frankly unappealing except as a Halloween getup. This looked like it actually might work on my skin. Maybe now I would be able to enter the Elysian Fields of highlighter love, in which lissome models scamper about with glowy skin, frolicking with butterflies. (I think this is also where they film perfume commercials.)

Alas, no Elysian Fields guest pass included. BUT this has turned out to be a really nice product, especially once I figured out how to apply it. Often, People Who Know About Makeup will say that highlighter should be applied last, but this inevitably leads to Shiny Tin Man Face for me. What has worked nicely for me with this product is to put it on over my foundation (cream/liquid/stick) but before my setting powder. This way I can blend it into the foundation, and then the setting powder takes the edge off the shine. One end of the applicator is a little round sponge, which you can use for blending. The other end of the applicator is the highlighter itself, which is a creamy stick of product the same diameter as the small/deluxe-sample Tarte cheek stains.

The other big problem with highlighter is where to apply. Conventional wisdom says some combination of the following: above the cheekbones, above the brows, below the brows, on the temple, on the forehead, on your nose, on your Cupid’s bow, and under the lip. I usually use it in only three of these places: above the cheekbone, below the brows, and either on my Cupid’s bow or below my lips. One or the other, not both. If my face were more angular, and my forehead and nose smaller, I might try it other places, but as it is, highlighting those areas doesn’t do much for me. But above the cheekbone at the end of the orbital socket, it’s very nice.

If you’ve been curious about highlighters, but don’t really know where or how to use them, this is a good product for experimenting with. I was really surprised by how much I liked it.

Swatch!

See? Subtle. Nice!

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Benefit Watt’s Up! (!) highlighter: $30

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. $30 is $30, and a highlighter is really an optional product. I wish it were cheaper.

Purchase again? Probably won’t need to.

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

Guest Post! Review: Nails, Inc. Magnetic Polish in Trafalgar Square and Whitehall

Guest post by Chaos!

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This is the fastest-drying nail polish in the world.

OK, so I haven’t figured out the drying time of all the nail polishes in the world, because a nail polish review needn’t be so scientific, but this stuff dries very quickly. This is awesome, and definitely contributes to how easy it is to use. I didn’t think it was super-easy to apply the first time I used it, but having since re-applied it many times (to experiment with different colors underneath, not because it chips easily – it lasted up to six days on my nails before it chipped, and I was working in the lab, which usually means I have to touch up my nails every other day), I have changed my mind. Once you get used to handling the magnet, this is a look you can create in under fifteen minutes.

Instructions for use are as follows:

“Firstly, remove any oil from your nails by cleaning your nails with nail polish remover. Then take off the over-cap which contains the magnet. You will find that there is an inner cap that you can use to apply the magnetic polish. Then apply one coat of your selected nails inc base coat. Follow with one coat of your chosen magnetic polish on all 10 nails and leave to dry for a few minutes. Then create the magnetic effect, one nail at a time. Apply a generous coat of magnetic polish to the nail and immediately hold the cap that contains the magnet, over the nail.

There is a small lip on the cap which should be placed just below your cuticle allowing the magnet to be positioned perfectly over your nail. Hold very close to the nail but take care not to touch the nail with the magnet. Hold the magnet for 10-15 seconds and move away to reveal the stunning effect. Repeat on all 10 nails. After a few minutes, apply one coat of nails inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat to seal in your nail design and to create an ultra-glossy, salon finish”

I find that it is best to sit on the floor with my hand on a table to apply the magnet, so I have my nail and the magnet at eye-level. Otherwise, it is very easy to hold the magnet too close to the nail (even if you do not touch your nail with the magnet, if you hold it too close, the magnet is strong enough to lift the polish off a bit and messes up the design). For me, holding it about 4mm above the nail produces a nice even design, which does appear immediately after magnetizing your nail, but is more defined if you hold the magnet in position for 10-15 seconds as per the instructions. You can also vary the intensity of the design by changing the thickness of the top layer of polish – more polish tends to create a darker design. I did use a Nails Inc. base coat and top coat the first time I applied this nail polish, but I imagine that any other base coat and top coat would work just as well. Since the first application, however, I have just used top coat; not using a base coat has made no difference to how long the polish lasts without chipping (4-6 days). I’m also not patient enough to really clean and buff my nails before applying new nail polish, so it might last even longer if you take the time to do that first as well. I would not recommend skipping the top coat; along with increasing the wear length of the polish, it also enhances the metallic shine of this particular nail polish. It’s difficult to visualize in pictures, but when you move your nails in the light, the polish has an almost holographic effect.

It is really important that you do the magnet stage on all of your nails individually. The magnet only works when the polish is wet, and because it dries so quickly, if you add your second layer to all your nails at once your second nail will be dry before you’ve finished creating the design on the first one. There are some instructions, however, that you can ignore if you want to change the look a bit. The instructions mention that you should hold the magnet with the lip on the cap just behind the cuticle, but if you want to change the design, you can also hold the magnet sideways across the nail. In addition, you can hold the magnet with the lip at the tip of your finger to create an inverted design. I have also tried this nail polish over different base colors instead of just using the polish itself as a base color, and although this takes slightly longer as regular nail polishes do not dry as quickly as this one – and the base has to be really dry before applying the layer you are going to create the design with, otherwise it kind of peels off – this also works very well. The base color is visible through the design, allowing you to create different colored looks with just the one magnetic polish if you don’t want to purchase it in all the available colors.

Overall, I highly recommend the magnetic polish if you are looking for a ‘special effects’ nail design that you can achieve with minimal effort. If you’re anything like me, the ‘minimal effort’ thing is one of the biggest advantages. Some of the other special effects polishes (Sephora by OPI “Shatter”, I’m looking at you) tend to require a whole lot more removing and reapplying before you get all your nails looking nice, never mind all looking the same. I didn’t have that problem at all with the magnetic polish, and also people have asked if I had my nails done by a professional, which is definitely a sign of a good nail polish. I will add, though, that the design is definitely better on long nails as you get more ‘bands’ from the magnet, so if you have short nails or want to paint your toenails, the design might not come out quite as well. I did try it on my toes and while it did work, it wasn’t as nice as it is on my fingernails.

This comes in four different colors on the Nails Inc. website; Trafalgar Square and Whitehall (pictured), Houses of Parliament (which is a deep purple shade; I also own this one) and Big Ben (gold) for £13. Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and Whitehall are also available at Sephora (both in-store and online) for $16, however Sephora does not have Big Ben and, unfortunately, Nails Inc. does not ship to the US (though this product is available on eBay). A new raspberry shade, Kensington Palace, will be available for purchase from nailsinc.com starting next week (23rd January) and I suspect that it will also be available in Sephora stores shortly afterwards. Layla Cosmetics, an Italian company, also produces metallic polishes in a wider range of colors, but I have not tried any of these so I can’t say anything about their quality. The Layla polishes are also around $16 on Amazon and eBay.

Photos!

Trafalgar Square (magnet used sideways):

Trafalgar Square (magnet used not-sideways):

Trafalgar Square, again:

Whitehall:

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Nails, Inc. Magnetic Polish: $16 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. It’s quite expensive for a nail polish at $16 (although this works out cheaper in the US than if you buy in the UK for £13) but it is really, really good nail polish and you would spend a lot more to get an equivalent look in a salon.

Purchase again? Well, I bought three, so I think that answers this question.  

Have you tried this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a shout-out in the comments!

Review: LORAC Co-Stars Long-Wearing Lip Color in French Kiss, Hot Kiss, Steamy Kiss

Geez, I need a cigarette just after typing the title of the review. And I don’t even smoke.

I’ve had two of these clunking around in my lipstick drawer for awhile: French Kiss and Hot Kiss — which is why the brushes on those two are clearly not entirely white in the top photo. Sorry; I normally don’t photograph used products, but I had forgotten just how good they were until I came across them the other day. And since ULTA is having a sale through 1/21/12 and these LORAC Co-Stars are reduced in price to $9.99 from their normal price of $20, at 50% off you should definitely consider picking up a few.

Like most iterations of the “long-wearing” variety of lip color, this is a double-ended wand with a stain on one end and a gloss on the other. You apply the stain first, then gloss. Ideally, the only maintenance they should need throughout the day is a gloss touch-up, but  if you need it to perform perfectly from 8 am to midnight, you’ll probably want to touch up the stain as well as the gloss at some point. These formulas tend to be pretty effective at delivering long-lasting color, but the danger is that they tend to be drying on lips. These avoid that pitfall pretty well. There’s no way you could  call them “moisturizing,” at least not with a straight face, but they’re reasonably comfortable to wear; I find these more comfortable than MAC’s Pro Longwear Lipcolor by a long shot. And besides, it gives you such a good reason to expand your lip balm collection. (See? I’m helping. I’m a helper.)

French Kiss is a dusty rose, Hot Kiss is a terracotta color, and Steamy Kiss is a pinkish red — vivid but not blinding. French Kiss and Hot Kiss photograph more similarly than they appear in life, so I’ve put a few comparison photos in at the end.

Application is reasonably easy; the stain end has a doe-foot wand and the gloss end has a brush. Because the color is a stain, you will want to be careful applying around the edges of your lips; lip pencil helps a lot here. The stain on all three of the ones I own is very long-lasting indeed. It wears pretty evenly for the most part; the French Kiss is closest to my natural lip color so when that one starts to wear it’s not very noticeable. Hot Kiss starts to look a bit patchy after about 5 or 6 hours, which is still pretty darn good. I’ve just bought Steamy Kiss, so I haven’t tested its all-day wear yet, but school is starting again, so that’ll happen soon. In any event, you will definitely get a full evening’s wear out of it (or an MLA interview, just sayin’) with no touch-ups and no smearing.

Since the colors are almost opaque, they apply pretty true to the color that’s in the tube, which is a nice surprise. You don’t have to use LORAC’s gloss, of course; you can use any one you like. I haven’t noticed any difference in performance between LORAC’s gloss and any of my regular go-to products.

Swatches!

French Kiss:

Hot Kiss:

Hand swatch. L-R: French Kiss, Hot Kiss, Steamy Kiss:

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LORAC Co-Stars Long-Wearing Lip Color: $20 (on sale through 1/21/12 for $9.99 at ULTA)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair if full price; excellent if on sale!

Purchase again? Yes. More colors plz.

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


Review: Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora

Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder, once opined that women buy lipstick during shaky economic times as a quick and inexpensive way to make themselves feel better. (I think he meant “inexpensive” as compared to, say, a fur coat, not an ice cream cone.)

Although things now are economically better than they were a few years ago, retail makeup therapy still works an awful lot of the time, especially in or after stressful situations. I recently had one of these, and we don’t need to go into details except that it involved me and three other cars and everyone is OK. Also, buy Toyota.

So after a harrowing experience, I think it’s totally natural to have indulged in a little lip splurge, even though yes, yes, Sephora is just about to have a VIB 20% off sale and wouldn’t it have been smarter to wait until next weekend. To which I say, “Pthhhhbbbttt,” and “Pffffffft,” and “shut up, I was just in a car accident and I will buy whatever I like.”

This lippie wasn’t originally on my to-buy list, though I did swatch it in the store when I did those red lippie swatches a few weeks ago, but it was awfully cheerful, and the person I was with swore it wasn’t too bright for me. (You may make your own decision below. Most of the time I’ll end up buffering it with a gloss of some sort, because really it is very bright.)

Kat von D “foiled” lipsticks are so named because they have a metallic finish. It’s a pity Kat wasn’t making these in the 80s, because I think Pat Benatar would have happily worn this onto the battlefield, or at least in the music video. I think she and Joan Jett might have gotten in a catfight over them.

Adora is what I would call a light red. That is not the same as pink, although in both the hand and lip swatch photos I took, it pulls distinctly pink. When I look at myself in the same lighting, it’s clearly red. Yes, it’s a blue-based red, but it’s definitely red. The metallic finish not so much a frost or a chromelike gleam but rather a sheen, like stainless steel. Because of the finish, I can’t call it either matte or glossy. It’s neither drying nor particularly moisturizing on the lips.

I haven’t given it an all-day go yet, but these foiled lippies stain like nobody’s business, so I would be very surprised not to get several hours’ wearlength out of this. The swatch I put on my hand for the picture below was on my hand for maybe five minutes in total and left a pink stain that hours later I haven’t been able to get rid of even with diligent scrubbing. On the lip, after I removed what I’d put on for a lip swatch, I got beautiful results by putting balm over the remaining stain. Although it looks terrifyingly bright when applied full-force, it turns out to be surprisingly versatile when coupled with other products. It would also make a gorgeous, gorgeous blush if you needed a quick touch-up. (You will, obviously, want to apply very lightly!)

Swatches!

Hand swatch:

(This definitely pulls pink in the swatch. In real life it is redder.)

Naked lip:

Lip with Kat von D Foiled Lipstick in Adora:

(Sorry, I was a little crooked there. Oops.)

 

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Kat von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora: $18 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Less expensive than many other similarly-positioned brands.

Purchase again? Sure, if I found another color that worked for me.

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


 

Review: AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment

Or, why I actually think you should consider spending $35 on a lip balm.

This is going to be the Winter In Which Voxy Finally Decides To Stop Ignoring Her Unattractively Dry Lips. No, for realz this time. Yes, I know I said that the last three years. But this year I really really mean it, pinky-swear.

To this end I have a variety of products winging their way to me, but this is one I discovered last spring that I think is fantastic. Yes, it is $35. Which means that if you apply that first, and then a Guerlain Rouge G lippie on top, you have an $82 lip.

I don’t know why I mentioned that.

Anyhoo, this product is the best lip balm I have ever tried, which given the price tag is a good thing. There are two great things about it: 1. it clings to lips like no other balm I’ve tried, and 2. it is just glossy enough to make it look like you’ve put something pretty on even if you haven’t. Of the two, #1 is the reason it’s worth the money. It feels like it just wraps itself around your lips. It’s not goopy, it’s not sticky, it’s not oily, and it’s not waxy. It’s perfect.

So of course you are asking “if it’s so perfect, why do you still have a dry lip problem? Huh? HUH?” and the answer is that it’s my fault because I am very bad at proactive dry skin care. Instead, I wait until it’s an emergency and my lips are cracked and bleeding before I decide to do something about it. (See resolution, above.) Since the Sephora Friends & Family sale is still on until 11/2, if you want to give it a try, you can pick it up for 20% off, so it will only run you $28. If your lips are desperate for some help, and I mean threatening-to-go-on-strike-and-walk-off-your-face desperate, this is a lifesaver.

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AmorePacific Moisture Bound Lip Treatment: $35 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Come on. I have to say Poor, because even though it is an excellent product, it’s 35 frigging dollars.

Purchase again? I just did, since I thought I lost my original tube. Fortunately, I found it, so now I have one for home and one for the purse.

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


Some Red Lipstick Swatches

For those of you from Over There who have been asking about red lipstick, I thought I would swatch some when I was at Sephora the other day. After seeing all of these on my hand, the friend who was with me said something to the effect of, “you know, they all look pretty much the same, don’t they?” and I had to say “yes, yes they do.”

There are a couple of pictures in different lighting, none of which are studio or light-box quality. For reference, my skin tone is NW20 in MAC, which is medium fair and pink-toned.

 

 

The third picture (the unlabeled one) is probably the one that shows the texture/opacity of the various shades the best. The two on the far right on the bottom “row” (I use the term loosely) are the two foiled lipsticks from Kat von D. Adora is a bright but light red; Beranice is pinker. Of all of these, those two left the most stain, even a full day and several hand-washings later.

I know these swatches are messy and untidy, but I thought they might be useful. And I do intend to buy one of these that I swatched, but you’ll have to guess which. ;)

Review: bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage

Gee, do you think bareMinerals took (let’s say “borrowed”) a page from Bobbi Brown in terms of product titling? Bobbi Brown Spring 2011: “Pretty Powerful” campaign; bareMinerals Summer 2011: “Pretty Amazing” lipcolor. Huh. Pretty Suspicious, if you ask me.

People tend to be either lovers or haters when it comes to bareMinerals. As usual, I am the outlier. I really like some products and really dislike others. (Love: bareMinerals Multi-Tasking Face powder concealer in Bisque and SPF 15 Matte Foundation — even though I have to buy two different shades and mix them together to get a match for my skin tone. Hate: Original “dewy” SPF 15 Foundation, All-Over Face Color [no “face color” should be “all-over”], pretentious capitalization.)

I’m mostly on the bM bandwagon for the “Pretty Amazing” lipcolor. I have maybe one foot trailing on the ground in terms of caveats, but I’m mostly on the wagon. At the mo’ there are eight shades of this liquid lipcolor available, in colors ranging from bold to bright to unwearable. (Srsly, who looks good in ghostly pink? No one. Sorry, MAC Viva Glam Gaga — NO ONE looks good in this color.) Do NOT buy this product unswatched. And don’t buy based solely on some swatches you saw on the internet (including here). Go to the store — Sephora, ULTA, a bareMinerals store, wherever — and swatch it on yourself. These lipcolors are almost opaque, and when you see how that color that sounds so lovely really looks on your skin, you may be surprised. “Courage” was not the shade I intended to buy, but it was one of only two shades that were wearable for me. The one I’d originally had in mind would have looked fuglicious.

It’s a comfortable product to wear — not drying like some longwear lipcolors can be, and the wearlength is really very good (at least four hours in my timed trial, after which point I forgot to keep checking). Touchups or a midmorning dollop of gloss are not strictly necessary but do help the color wear evenly. Blotchiness as the product wears off is a built-in problem for opaque lipcolor, but these manage it reasonably well. Because they are so opaque, you’ll have to finesse it with lip pencil if you don’t want a hard lip line, and you’ll have to find a color that really matches. (For “Courage,” I’ll recommend UD 24/7 lip liner pencil in Paranoid, and not just because I like the juxtaposition of those two words.)

And speaking of the juxtaposition of words, I have to share with you the bM blurb about the product.

“The innovative hydrating glaze of our Pretty Amazing Lipcolor cocoons your lips in opaque high-impact lipcolor. The cushiony texture, insatiable shine and seriously polished appearance will propel you into an elevated state of gorgeousness. And our precision applicator handles like a racecar, cornering, sculpting and accentuating every curve of your luscious lips for enduring color with real staying power. Pretty Amazing.”

1. What is “high-impact” lipcolor? Is it like high-impact aerobics? Do I need to buy it sneakers and a Jane Fonda leotard?
2. “Insatiable shine.” What? What is that? You know that “insatiable” already has a meaning, right? And that in this context, that meaning makes no sense? Right. Just checking.
3. This is my favorite bit. The applicator handles like a racecar. Let me guess: it zooms around your mouth at speeds of up to 200 mph, you can only move the applicator to the left, and if you get bumped by the person next to you at the ladies’ room mirror while you’re applying, you will flip over and die in a ball of fire. (P.S.: “Cornering” also has a meaning — several, in fact, and none of them is appropriate to putting on lipcolor.)

Swatches!

Naked lip:

Lip with bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage:

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bareMinerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Courage: $16 for 0.13 oz

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good.

Purchase again? Probably, but they’ll have to come out with some more shades that are wearable.

UPDATE! Bare Escentuals is having a Friends & Family sale from Thursday 6/16 through Sunday 6/19. Get 20% off with code LOVE at checkout.

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

Review: Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++

You are not seeing things. I am actually reviewing a Benefit product, in spite of my professed boycott of the brand for overly aggressive guerrilla marketing techniques. (That’s probably redundant, huh? Do there exist guerrilla marketing techniques that are “appropriately aggressive”? I doubt it.)

That I would investigate a Benefit product after ranting about them just shows you how desperate I have been to fill this particular hole in my skincare regime. Desperation will make a girl do strange things.

The story of the hole in my skincare regime is this: several years ago, I had a spray container of an MMPi product by Patricia Wexler. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was very light and was like a toning emulsion: slightly thicker than plain water and milky in color. I loved this. It was the perfect thing for putting on post-cleansing to make my skin drink in the moisturizer I was getting ready to put on. After I ran out, I discovered that it had been discontinued (WHYYYYYYYYYY?????????) and I started desperately searching for a replacement.

[Author’s note: This space originally contained a film-noir style dramatization of my desperate search. It was gritty and highly dramatic, and involved a black 1947 Frazer Manhattan. You are better off without it.]

In the end, I picked up this new Benefit product because — and I am so embarrassed by this — the packaging is SO CUTE. Am I so frivolous that fanciful frippery can sway my resolve to not buy any of their products? Apparently, yes I am. This is depressing. I did also test it in-store, though, so I knew it was the kind of product I wanted. But I still yelled at myself all the way home.

Although not watery enough to put in a spray bottle, Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion is a light cream that is just the kind of transition product I wanted. It is not thick or heavy enough to be a stand-alone moisturizer for me, but it works well as a preparatory cream. Why is that a good thing? Two reasons: it enhances whatever other moisturizer you put on top of it, and (more importantly) you will use less of your expensive luxe moisturizer when your skin has been properly prepared underneath. Also, it’s nice that this is SPF 15/PA++ — that’s not a huge amount of sun protection, but it’s a good way to get at least some sunscreen on the bottom layer of everything else you’re going to be putting on your face.

The packaging is, as previously stated, adorable. It’s real glass; very retro-pharmacy. I love it. The “cork” in the bottle top is not really cork, but rather a plastic cap that lifts off to reveal a little pump. How well will this pump work as I get down to the bottom of the container, I wonder? The cream has a light but noticeable fragrance — it smells like “spa.” A little aquatic, a little cucumber-y, a little floral. I want to listen to soothing music and drink a glass of lemon water while I’m applying it.

Do you need this product? That depends on whether you have a hole in your skincare regime that this could fit. Honestly, I don’t think it’s really practical as a stand-alone moisturizer; it’s so light that I don’t think it would cut the mustard on any serious dry skin. For layering under something else, though, I like it a lot. If you’re interested, it’s part of a suite of skincare products Benefit has recently released called “b.right!” that also includes an eye cream (which I have a sample of — meh), a regular moisturizer, and about five other products. Interestingly, there is something specifically called a Moisture Prep Toning Lotion, which you would think would be exactly what I would want. I haven’t come across it in stores yet to check the ingredients, and Benefit doesn’t do consumers the courtesy of listing their ingredients on their website (which is so often a sign that they would prefer you to believe their marketing language rather than their ingredient list) — but they do say that this product can’t be shipped internationally due to hazmat restrictions, which says to me that it must have alcohol in it. Definitely a no-no.

In case you are interested, at the Benefit website you can also download wallpaper of the main ad for the line, which features a woman with a lampshade on her head. I have no comment. Oh, wait, yes I do. I hope that this means that Benefit employees will now be required to wear lampshades on their heads at all times, which will at least make them easier to spot as they rush at you in a department store and try to drag you to the Benefit counter.

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Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion SPF 15 PA++: $28 for 1.7 oz.

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair to good.

Purchase again? Maybe. Something better might come along! If not, then yes, I’ll repurchase. Unless Benefit pisses me off again.

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