Lipstick -Estee Lauder - Pure Color Lipstick- Tiger Eye
Enkida 9/15/2012 2:06:00 PM
I received this as part of a free gift. I don't like this lipstick very much, so I will try to make this review concise. The good: quality of the lipstick, excellent packaging, comfortable texture despite the large glittering particles. The base color is also a nice peachy tone, what little you can see of it that is. The bad: the glitter. This is not a lipstick with a subtle glean or shimmer. The finish is frosty, extremely light reflective, and the glitter - yes glitter - particles are HUGE. When I tried to wipe this lipstick off and then rinsed my mouth with water, I ended up with a very noticable "glitter beard" all around my mouth and chin as well as my fingers and obviously, lips. This was after an application of one swipe on the upper and lower lips. Apart from the glitter and the incredible glitter "fallout," I personally found the fragrance of the lipstick to be very strong, persistent and unpleasant in the sense that it smelled like chemicals trying to pass as florals. This would normally not bother me in a lipstick, except that the smell did NOT fade after a minute or two. To be fair I find this scent problem in most Estee Lauder lipsticks as well, not just "Tiger Eye." I can say nothing about the wear of this lipstick because I simply couldn't keep it on my lips long enough to give it a trial run. If you are a fan of peachy lipsticks with a very frosty finish, and young enough to wear glitter lipstick, AND you don't do things like wipe your lipstick off before drinking from a glass or eating your lunch, you may like this. As I said, the colour is not terrible at all, a nice neutral for fall. Also for having so much overwhelming glitter in it, the texture is amazingly smooth (for a glitter lipstick. It still won't stand against creamy and moisturizing finish lipsticks). For those reasons one extra lip. But definitely not for someone of my age, olfactory sense or lipstick wearing practices. If you do wear this especially in a professional environment, you really have to watch out for fallout if your lipstick smears; I imagine the glitter would easily transfer to dark clothing as well.
Misc Beauty Tools -Bobbi Brown - Brush Cleaning Spray
Enkida 9/13/2012 3:09:00 PM
I bought this cleanser in Germany, where it retails for about 23 Euros, and have almost finished my first bottle. With almost daily use on my assortment of brushes, it lasted about three months for me. First and foremost, the most important thing to note about this formula is that it claims to be alcohol-free. As any painter could tell you, using alcohol regularly on brush bristles, particularly natural hair bristles, will kill them more quickly than you could say "I would never use rubbing alcohol as a hair conditioner in the shower!" Also, as noted, it is a very "oily" formula, which most of us know is the basis for some of the oldest hair conditioning recipes in the world (think olive oil). These two ideas combined make this an excellent daily spot cleanser, because it will allow you to clean your brushes quickly and regularly without ruining their texture - especially if you have expensive, high end natural hair bristles. If you use this as directed - spray on a tissue, swirl your brush gently against it until it stops releasing makeup, and wash your brushes regularly with some kind of shampoo, say, once a week in addition - your brushes will stay soft and supple despite the constant "washing." The biggest downside is the price - at 23 Euros for such a small bottle, it's not as cheap as making your own brush cleaner from scratch, or buying something from the drugstore. You really pay for that lack of alcohol. Another downside is the "oiliness" of the formula - while it's fine for your brush bristles (and your face - not enough oil remains in the bristles to even leave a mark in powdered makeup pans), it can soak right through your cleaning tissue after a while. The problem with this is that the surface area you lay your tissue on will subsequently also become oily and/or stained after repeated usage. Or to put it another way, the time you may save cleaning your brushes you spend cleaning your countertop instead. While I own good quality makeup brushes, they are not expensive brushes and also mostly synthetic hair. For that reason I am going to give homemade brush cleaner (which contains alcohol) a try after I finish my bottle of Bobbi Brown cleanser. However, if I owned expensive, very fine quality natural hair brushes, I would repurchase this spot cleanser without hesitation for daily use. I simply don't have enough time to do a castile soap-or-baby shampoo wash and dry every single day of the week, and I would consider this cleanser a good way to protect both my expensive brush investments and my face.
Cleansers -Olay - Sensitive Skin Foaming Face Wash
Enkida 9/11/2012 4:43:00 PM
I finished my first tube of this a few weeks ago and was satisfied with its cleansing properties, but not completely with the mildly stripped feeling my face had afterwards. For starters, I have at the moment very dry skin due to my pregnancy. I was looking for a drugstore facial cleanser to use after cold cream makeup removal, and had heard that Olay's foaming facial wash was less drying than other comparably priced drugstore cleansers. Being extremely sensitive to perfumes, that it came in a perfume-free sensitive skin variety and at that particular price point was a big plus. I bought this in the tube, rather than the pump packaging, as the amount of product to price ratio was slightly better than the pump, at least at the Target I had gotten mine from. I'm a big fan of tube packaging for things like facial cleanser: it's just as hygenic as a pump, but wastes much less product. The tube stands upright on its large head readily for easy storage as well, so that was a plus for me. While I used it, I felt no stinging or other bad reactions on my skin, though it did irritate my eyes if I accidentally let some run into them. It foamed adequately, although for a sensitive facial product that was a bit of a disappointment - the chemical agents used to produce the purely cosmetic "foaming" properties are usually things that are unnecessary to the actual cleansing of the skin, and can often be irritants for extremely sensitive skin. But, for those of us who are not overly sensitive and like to see where we've washed our faces before rinsing, the foam is handy. It didn't irritate my skin, at the least, and they do advertise that it foams right in the name of the product. While my skin wasn't irritated during the wash, I did notice that my face felt a little bit tight and dry after using it. Nothing terrible enough to make me want to stop, however. I've tried sensitive facial cleansers that didn't leave my skin feeling tight and dry, but irritated my skin during the washing process. I have to say I much prefer Olay's lack of irritation, and curing the "dry" feeling with a good moisturizer afterwards, rather than putting up with any sort of irritation whatsoever. Still, because it isn't as gentle as it could be on dry skin, I knocked a half point off. The other half point is because this product is not available in the "sensitive" formulation in Europe, where I live, and costs at least twice as much for a much smaller bottle as well. The bottle I finished is the US version, but availability and pricing in Europe made me knock it down by another half point. Still a solid performer that I'd recommend and if I could go back to the US, I would definitely buy another bottle to bring home.
Lip Treatments -Jack Black - Intense Therapy Lip Balm spf 25
Enkida 9/11/2012 4:13:00 PM
I own this in the "mint" flavor, and weighted my price rating with a neutral "3" since my experience was going through 2 free sample tubes that were gifted to me from family members. I find this lip balm to be average at best. I like the high SPF it contains, and that it doesn't wash out your lips with a white cast despite that. I don't like that it leaves my lips feeling greasy, since I like to wear lip balm underneath my lipstick. If I was just using it as a lip balm with nothing else, it would be fine, however. Texture-wise, as someone else stated, it reminds me a lot of simply smearing flavored, SPF-containing vaseline on the lips. It leaves a bit of a tingly feeling after application - NOT irritation, more like the "brushing your teeth" tingle - I had guessed this comes from the "mint" portion of the balm. I don't have anything really negative to say about the balm otherwise, but for my personal preference I like using lip balms that are a little more waxy and solid, as it feels less like they're sliding around on my lips or rubbing off easily on anything I eat or drink or touch to my lips. For that reason alone, I wouldn't actually seek out and buy this product, but I will finish what I have. A solid performer as a lip balm with sunblock, however I feel your level of enjoyment will depend on how much you like the texture.
Moisturizers -Cerave - Facial Moisturizing Lotion - PM
Enkida 9/11/2012 4:02:00 PM
I just finished my first bottle of CeraVe PM lotion, and am satisfied with the results it produces on my dry skin, but not necessarily the "finish" on my face. Then again, as it is marketed as an overnight lotion, the "finish" it leaves is the least important thing about this product! The good: Performance to price ratio. For a drugstore product it runs a little bit expensive, but on the other hand, it performs solidly, more solidly than a lot of high-end overnight moisturizers, which makes it a great value for the money. Plus, you can find it easily in drugstores or the like. It comes in a functional pump bottle, which wastes a little product but ultimately is a big plus for me because it's easy to use and hygenic. Plus, you can actually unscrew the top and get some of that "last little bit" out. The moisturizing properties of the cream are excellent, and it doesn't irritate my skin. I originally started researching nightcreams because I'm extremely sensitive to perfumes (this is perfume-free), and when I settled on CeraVe PM, I found out that it was the same brand that had been recommended to my rosacea-suffering, sensitive skin, 70+ year old mother by her dermatologist. I highly recommend it for people suffering from unusually dry skin, as I am during my current pregnancy. The bad: As I said, the "finish." It's not important what the cream makes your face look like when you're just going to sleep in it, but I know some people consider this for a day cream as well. I would advise against it, unless you have really, really, Sahara-dry skin, and even then to use caution. If used liberally, as you're advised to do, it leaves a moist, hydrating layer on the skin that you can actually see and feel. A bit like a sheen of water, or heavy sweat, which lasts for hours. I'm not sure if you would get the same hydrating benefits of the cream by using it sparingly enough to avoid the "shiny, wet" finish it leaves behind, but it definitely isn't something I would use under my makeup during the daytime; it's simply too "wet" and stays that way for a long time. All in all, I highly recommend this as a good budget night moisturizing cream. I would prefer if it didn't leave the "hydrating film" on my skin, but for overnight that could actually be considered something of a plus for people with dry skin.
Concealers -Chanel - Eclat Lumiere Highlighting Face Pen
Enkida 9/5/2012 2:40:00 PM
I own the Chanel Eclat Lumiere in "20 beige clair." I bought it in Germany, where it costs 33 for 1.2ml of product. First of all, while this is not unique to Chanel, in general I abhor highlighting pen applicators with brushes attached. The brushes waste product - something you can't really afford to do when you have less than 2ml of product to begin with - and it's unhygenic and practically uncleanable. I solve this problem by simply cutting the brush attachment off right from the start, whether on a high-end or low-end concealer, but since I have to modify the product casing at all, I knock a point off for that. The second negative point here is the price. As said, 33 euros for 1.2ml is bad; not only that, the tube is opaque black so you can't even judge how much product you've used. Additionally, most highlighter pens come with at least 1.5ml, but I actually hunted the amount included down, and it really does come with less than the "standard" despite costing more. To be expected from high-end brands, but still a little disappointment that they couldn't include that extra .3ml for us plebeians. ;-) That's the only negative things I have to say about this highlighting pen. In every other aspect, it outperforms every other highlighting pen concealer I have ever tried to date. It illuminates, but doesn't sparkle too much; it conceals, but it's not cakey. I do find I have to blend it twice to keep it from settling into the fine lines under my eyes, but once I've patted it down for the second time, it stays on for roughly 6 hours. This staying power without touchups beats all other highlighting pen concealers I've tried hands down. It could potentially last even longer if I were to powder it down, but I like the illuminating effect that keeping it free of powder creates, and I have dry skin, so I try to avoid powder when I can. Most importantly, in Germany - the land of drastically reduced colour choices for the darker-skinned - this came in a good match for my skin tone. If the price-to-product amount were anything better than what it actually is, I would stick with this product for concealing my undereye rings. Alas, being what it is, this is something I'd save up to buy for a special occasion - weddings, anniversaries or the like - rather purchasing it for my everyday consumption. Even if I'm not on a tight budget, 33 Euros for a month or two of product just won't cut it for me.
I own essence Stay Natural Concealer in "04 soft honey." After running out of my US version of Maybelline's Dream Lumitouch concealer, I realized I had a serious lack of colour options to choose from in Germany. I ended up with a high-end product that had my colour match but cost a whopping 32 euros for 1.5ml of product, and went on an affordable drugstore dupe search a short while later. Happily, essence Stay Natural was one of the few concealers that had a passingly acceptable colour for my skintone, and for the more than affordable price of 1,95 euros for 1.5ml. That's about where the good news ends. First of all, the packaging: this is not unique to essence, but I truly abhor highlighter pens with the brushes attached. It wastes product - something you just can't afford to do when these tubes come with generally less than 2ml of concealer in them to begin with - and it's unhygenic. I get around this problem by simply cutting the useless brush off, whether on this product or even my 32 euro high-end. Still, having to modify the packaging at all on any product knocks the rating down for me automatically. Much more to the point, while the concealer was an okay color match to my skin, after about 20 seconds of wear it began to mildly sting underneath my eyes. Not enough to cause any redness or lasting irritation, and the sting faded after a few minutes as well. Still, I have at this point tested enough low, mid and high-end concealers to realize that something in the ingredient list wasn't working well with my generally non-sensitive dry skin. This is the only illuminating undereye concealer I have tried to date that I ever had a reaction to, and I can't help but think it's because of cutting corners on ingredients to achieve that dirt-cheap price. Lasting power was fairly mediocre, and it did crease on me. I gave it two uses before giving up on it - for a few euros more, I can get much better and non-painful products of the same type from the drugstore, and with the price tag, it didn't hurt to just chuck it. Obviously, not a repurchase for myself. Normally I would recommend a product like this younger people looking to experiment with illuminating concealers for the first time, because it's not bad and dirt cheap, but in this case I'd advise others to stay away. I don't have sensitive skin at all and I reacted to this product; even if you don't have sensitive skin and don't react to a product with questionable ingredients, repeated use of an irritating chemical can LEAD to sensitive skin problems in the future. For one or two euros more, I feel you can find something safer for your delicate undereye skin.
First of all, I own "Maybelline Jade The Colossal Volum' Express Mascara 100% Black" - the German version of this mascara. The biggest difference between the US version is the price; Maybelline counts itself as a "higher end" drugstore brand over here and this mascara can cost between 8-9 Euros per 10.7ml tube. While this may be a "cheap" mascara in the US, it's more on par with L'Oreal or Max Factor over here in Germany as a mid-range product, and my rating takes the European price into account. I bought this mascara because it was time to change my tube of Max Factor Xperience mascara and I was looking for a cheaper drugstore alternative. I was lured in by the "Test winner" label this had from a reputable consumer testing company in Germany. I have relatively long, black, straight asian lashes and ever since finding Max Factor mascara, have taken to wearing volumizing mascara every single day to make my lashes appear thicker. On the promise of providing volume, this mascara meets its claims - it pumped my eyelashes even more than my previous mascara. However, it came at the cost of making my lashes look very fake and made-up. I like having more volume, but I don't like the slightly thick, goopy, almost clumpy coated-lash look that The Colossal uses to achieve the volume. For someone who wants a dramatic effect and/or does not have naturally black lashes, this mascara would be fantastic. For someone with already black lashes just looking for a fuller, soft, natural look, this mascara will come off as much too artificial. The best words I could use to describe the effects achieved by this mascara would be "fuller, thicker, artificial" and "brittle." Staying power is okay - slightly worse than Max Factor, but still a good 8 hours in there - and I was using the non-waterproof version. The packaging is for my sensibilities horrendous, but I'm not a fan of fat yellow non-modular casing; I like my lashes natural and my mascara cases sleek. ;-) I understand that without the COLOSSAL brush included in this mascara, the volumizing effect wouldn't be as dramatic, but on my asian eyeshape, I found the brush to be very unwieldy and difficult to control to reach corners and the lower lashes, simply because of the sheer size of the thing. German women generally love this product, and from reviews with pictures I have seen, this mascara looks pretty good on them, and not nearly as unnatural as it did on me. I suspect having thick black lashes to start with is actually a disadvantage with this mascara, because it coats each lash so thoroughly. So if you've got thin lashes, this may be the answers to your prayers. For myself, I will not be repurchasing; I think the product delivers on its promises, but I realized it wasn't what I was looking for in a mascara.
I own every single Summer 2012 color this gloss is available in, and enjoy using them all. For a cheapie lipgloss these perform admirably and have a great glossy non sparkle finish. Lighter glosses are pigmented enough that I can use them to subtly change tones on my nude lipsticks for variety; darker glosses are pigmented enough to wear alone as lip stains, especially if you blot them. But why would you blot, with such a great finish as they give? Surprisingly, I think they look great on my more mature lips, precisely because they give that pleasant shine without the teenaged sparkle. It makes my lips look plumper than they are, especially if strategically applied to only the center of my (lipstick wearing) lips. The brighter colors only look shocking in the tube; I find on sunny days even the cherry red "Kiss Kiss Kiss" is completely wearable with an everyday casual look. The wear is pretty good, though no one should expect miracles from any lipgloss compared to lipstick, and the price is unbeatable. If they ever release any more colors, I'll be over the new releases like white on rice! I will say they have two downsides, and that is a cheap applicator and tacky color names. The former is a common problem to all drugstore lipglosses, and the latter I can live with, pink is pink no matter what they try to call it.
Toners -Shiseido - The Skincare Hydro-Nourishing Softener
Enkida 8/22/2012 3:48:00 PM
I have fairly dehydrated skin, and this is the first toner I have ever used that actually helps treat it, despite the fact that the formula contains alcohol. It also contains sodium hyaluronate, which is supposed to allow skin to absorb more moisture, as well as some form of parabins as preservatives. Let me start off by saying I am not scared of chemical preservatives in makeup; I think they're necessary, in fact, and agree with KarlaSugar.net - natural is not always best for the skin, and chemical can be beneficial. Hey, I like science and technology. ;-). The segway being that I feel that is what you're paying for in this toner. I truly can't believe how gentle it is on my dry skin despite containing alcohol; there is no stinging or astringency at all when I rub it on with a cotton pad. In fact, after a couple of days of using the free sample I had received, I noticed it *reducing* the stinging sensation I felt when using other follow up products, such as anti-aging serums or tinted moisturizers containing retinol. I use this with many other skincare product brands, not as part of a greater Shiseido lineup, unless you count their Ultra N sunblock. I never believed in toners as a necessary step in my facial routine because so many that I tried just *stung* so much, without any visible benefits I could see - even when I had oily skin. This is the only toner that has actually felt like it helped heal / protect my skin from the other products I use that I do feel are necessary; my skin feels as though it's absorbing more moisture from my serums and moisturizers after I use this than it normally would be. My face also doesn't feel as tight and dry at the end of the day after wearing foundation, as it did before I started using this product. The only thing keeping this from being a Holy Grail for me is the stiff price, but even that, compared to the rest of the Shiseido lineup, is fairly reasonable at about 34 for a large, hygenic pump bottle that will last for a long time. The sample alone took me nearly 5 days to burn through, and that was after I had poured an excessive amount into my hands thinking it was a plain old moisturizing lotion the first time I used it. You really need just a little to get great results.
I mainly need concealer to cover dark under eye rings, not blemishes or redness. Since moving to Germany I have noticed a severe lack of drugstore end colors suited to my darker skintone. When my US- bought Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch concealer finally ran out, I found they didn't sell my shade in Germany, so I went hunting and found this affordable palette instead. I figured even if a shade didn't match, I could self mix something together that would pass, or perhaps even use the darkest flesh tone shade as a contouring cream. The good parts of this palette are obviously, the price - at under 4 for an entire palette you get a real steal. The texture of the product is soft and creamy and smooths onto the skin easily. I had no adverse skin reactions to using the concealer. Aaaand.... that's about where the pros end. The biggest con this palette has is that the concealer shades are basically useless for my warm, darker tan skintone. The very darkest peach shade is almost a perfect match for my face, making it useless for contouring. If I had blemishes to cover or redness, the green might be useful, but those sorts of problems are so mild that my foundation does enough to take care of things alone. The real problem is the dark brownish circles under my eyes. The pink concealer is near useless for this purpose; it highlights "a little bit" but compared to the Dream Lumi I might as well be wearing nothing; if I wear it under my foundation the highlighting effect disappears completely. If I wear it over my foundation it's much too pink and visible, and with a radically different texture and finish to the rest of my face. I have a very light hand when applying my foundation (Diorskin Nude), so I don't think it's an over-layering problem. Mixing lighter peach shades to try and achieve a more blemish-hiding-like coverage of my circles was completely useless; even using the lightest shade alone, those brown bags shone through as if I had done nothing to them. Layering pink and peach tones together in an attempt to get fuller coverage only resulted in an obvious caked on makeup look - and I could STILL see my circles clearly! All color theory aside, this also settled very obviously into the fine lines around my eyes, even with the use of primer beforehand. It actually made those lines look worse than they really are. Disappointing. I can see how this palette could be useful for someone younger, with a lighter skin tone than myself, but for my medium-tanned Filipino skin it was a bust simply because the coverage was too sheer and in the wrong tones to hide my undereye circles. If you can get it to work for your skin it's still a great value, but darker toned ladies are going to have to go high end for passable concealers (and foundation) in Germany.
I own this in four colors: soft copper, soft candy, soft murano and soft cardinal. This is my current HG blush. I've developed dry skin over the course of my pregnancy so I decided to switch from powder to cream blushes. I didn't want to spend too much money on a high end product, because I never really thought of myself as a real blush fan, and cream blushes seemed a little intimidating and hard to control. Additionally, most drugstore cream or mousse blushes I swatched just looked and felt... well, cheap. Max Factor cream blushes completely changed that for me. Granted they are not at the low end of the drugstore price scale (I get mine on sale for 5/pot), but they are the best cream blushes I've yet found in the drugstore, and have left me with results satisfying enough to not even be curious about high end products. While (some of) the colors look shocking in the pots, they actually go on quite smoothly and blend even more easily than powder blushes for a very subtle, refreshing look. None of them have any shimmer that I could notice; these are pure pigment blushes, not illuminators. I use soft copper, a peach tone, as a neutral accent for bright, sunny summer days. Soft cardinal, a bright pink, is actually a nice, healthy flush on the cheeks for days where I feel tired or haven't gotten enough sleep and need a visual pick me up to fake an energetic and awake look. Soft murano, a mild plum, is something I use on overcast days or when I generally want a richer, slightly more flushed look. Soft candy, a red tone, is something I reserve for those days I want to wear a red statement lip or have a more wintery, flushed cheek look. All of these colors are very subtle and complimentary on my warm tan skintone, which I wasn't expecting at all; I can wear them with either neutral makeup or bold statement lipstick without feeling overly done or obvious. The key is to use only a tiny bit; it may seem like a poor value for the price you pay (I believe the pots are 5g each), but you really need so little to get a great look because the pigmentation is excellent. Those 'tiny' pots will last you the whole year, if not more than that! There are cons, of course, the biggest one being the packing. It's cheap. It looks cheap, it feels cheap, and the pots are tiny enough that they're difficult to close properly - something important to make sure you do if you don't want your blush to dry out. The price is as stated, rather high for a drugstore blush. The color selection is limited, though I do enjoy every single one I have been able to find. And of course, if you apply this regularly with your fingertips there could be hygiene issues, as with all cream blushes / finger dipping products. I personally use a clean Sonja Kashuk flat topped brush to apply this blush; perfect size and bristle texture for the product, it's like the two were made for each other. ;-) Even with all the cons, I love this blush to death. It takes so little product, and also so little work, to get the perfect amount on my cheeks for a natural flush. I always struggled with the 'is it too much/too little?' problem with my powder blushes, whether they were pigmented or not. The MF blushes are practically foolproof by comparison; they're so easy to blend away if you pick up too much, yet you don't have to squint at the mirror in 4 different kinds of light to see a color return on your cheeks. The one problem people with oilier skin might have is fading; as a dry skinned person, though, a light setting with a powder blush (especially if I want to add in a light shimmer) after the initial application keeps this on my cheeks for upwards of 8 hours, even with the constant contact my face gets from my toddler, my dog or my own hands. Highly recommended, especially for more mature women or those with dry skin.
Mascara -Max Factor - Xperience Volumising Mascara
Enkida 8/12/2012 8:23:00 AM
Preface: I have naturally black, relatively thick and long eyelashes, and by most accounts I don't actually "need" to wear mascara for an everyday look at all. I like wearing mascara because my eyelashes tend not to hold a curl well, and I like masking the inevitable "dust fallout" from my brighter shimmer eyeshadows and returning my lashes back to their natural black state. What I look for in a mascara is volume enhancing properties that still manage to retain a very "natural" look after application. Length, drama, and the false lash effects are exactly what I don't want to see. With my preferences established onto the mascara review: This Max Factor mascara is to date the best one I've found for my purposes: to achieve an enhanced natural eye for subtle everyday wear. I will candidly admit that it's probably due 99% to the shape of the brush applicator more than anything else, but the formula is no slouch either. Pros - the formula is not heavy or sticky at all, it's a very rich black which suits my natural color perfectly, and it's not waterproof, so it doesn't stress or weigh down my lashes too much, and comes off painlessly at the end of the day with a gentle oil based eye makeup remover (Pond's Cold Cream), without taking my lashes with it. I find one careful coat to be enough to enhance my natural eyelashes, but with the combination of nice brush + smooth formula, I have managed to get two coats without any serious clumping or spider legged effects. I will stress that the brush has to be clean for this flawless natural effect; the lash bristles are so short, that any excess product, dried flakes or thickened mascara clumps will affect the application. Then again, if the product clumps up like that on the wand, it's time to get a new mascara anyway. I haven't yet had any problems with the formula drying out too quickly on me, but I have sensitive eyes and follow very strict rules with my mascaras: always seal them tightly after use, make sure the brush is clean before sticking it back in the bottle; work quickly so the open bottle doesn't have much air exposure; never pump the wand, but rather swirl; and most importantly, a shelf life of 3 months maximum once opened, full stop, no exceptions. In that sense I've never had problems with any mascara of any brand drying out on me, so Max Factor is not "special" in that regard. Last but not least, the great shape of the wand with its fine bristles and small tip mean you can even get into corners and your lower lashes, if you want to be thorough, without too much stress and acrobatics. This leads to the biggest and only critique I have of this mascara: it is really, really damn expensive for a drugstore brand. Normal priced, I would pay about 14 for the bottle; I wait for 20% off sales from my favorite drugstore to get the price down to "just a little more expensive than every other mascara in the store". Considering that I replace mascaras every 3 months, that's 45-50 / year for drugstore mascara alone. One thing that might mitigate the prohibitive cost is to buy this mascara once, use it up, and then thoroughly wash, disinfect and keep the wand for later use with a different, cheaper mascara brand; as stated above the fantastic results on my eyelashes are due mostly to the shape of the wand, after all. I haven't personally tried this yet, as I like the formula as well, but it's something to consider if you're on a budget, and healthier and safer than trying to keep any mascara alive for more than 3 months at a time. Would definitely buy again, so long as I don't run out of money in the beauty budget.
This review is for 501 Nude Ingenue and 503 Seductive Beige. I bought mine in Germany; the formula is the same, the packaging different than in the US. I guess I'm in the minority here, but I actually found these to be overall drying on my lips, and the color return was poor, although this is probbly due to the nude colors I chose to test. It's an okay lipgloss but for a glossy effect I prefer actual lipgloss, and for a moisturizing effect I prefer actual lipbalm. For a tinted lipbalm I think the soothing properties of the colored Neutrogena balms are much better, although the color selection with Neutrogena is much more limited and the packaging isn't nearly as sexy as L'Oreal. First of all the international difference: in Germany, the packaging is silver with a clear plastic top. It looks cheap to me, so that's a minus point, considering it cost about 10 which is expensive for a drugstore lipstick, let alone a lip balm. On the other hand, unlike most tinted lipbalms the color range is fantastic, there really is something for everyone here. As a lip balm, it goes on lightly, soothing and moisturizing. It doesn't feel heavy or "fatty" on the lips at all, which is a nice plus. Unfortunately, I have dry lips which tend to peel easily. The soothing balm properties of this gloss wear off in under half an hour, and what's left is a gradually tightening, drying feeling on my lips that leaves them ultimately just as chapped, if not moreso, than when I first put this on. Constant reapplication helps keep the problem at bay, but by that I mean every hour, if not less. If I start with less than perfectly healthy lips - any bit of peeling or cracking , no matter how minor, for example, these only make the problem worse by the end of the day - the exact opposite effect of what I experienced with the tinted Neutrogena balms. So while it is a good temporary soother, I would classify it a failure as a moisturizing lip treatment or balm. In fact even my Max Factor Colour Elixir lipsticks leave my lips much more moisturized and treated than these do, at the end of the day. As a colour treatment, these are very subtle and light. I bought these in nudes because I was looking for a good nude lipstick; now I regret it a bit because you can barely see them on my relatively pigmented lips. Still, for people who want a natural look or just a hint of tint without the stickiness and mess and overly obvious shine or glitter of a gloss, the colors and formula on these are unbeatable. In hindsight I would have really enjoyed testing a more vibrant color to see how it looked, but the prohibitive price versus the balm effect on my lips will keep me from experimenting. In terms of wear, these don't last long at all. I noticed (what little color I could see) fading very rapidly after about an hour, even without eating or drinking. The color effect did stay longer than the balm effect, which is probably what gave my lips the drying out sensation towards the end of an hour. Constant reapplication means you go through the product relatively quickly, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how tempermental you may be about changing your lipstick colors. ;-) As a last note, the first one I purchased, Nude Ingenue, had a production failure in the lipstick. Somehow the pigments were not blended into the formula correctly, and I found myself running into small, deep pinprick wells of pure silver, pure black and pure red pigment in the stick which also showed clearly as colored streaks on my lips. I was able to return and replace the "damaged" product without any issues at my drugstore, so it wasn't a problem; still, for such an "expensive" drugstore brand I was expecting better quality control. I would not purchase these again mainly because of the price - Neutrogena or Max Factor perform better for me, for less cost - but also because of the drying effect on my relatively sensitive lips.
For the price you pay, this is an excellent blush. The positives: lovely "universal" color, and great for beginners or the uncertain at blush application. The shimmer in it isn't overwhelming. Highly recommended to those on a budget. And it doesn't contain bismuth oxychloride, unlike many similar colored but more expensive blushes, so it's less likely to irritate your skin. Putting price aside completely, however, it turns into a mediocre blush, at least for me. The negatives: it isn't very well pigmented, which means getting it to show up on my medium-tan skin can be a challenge sometimes. For a light subtle shimmer in the sunlight it's great, but if I pack it on enough to actually see the coral undertones, I start getting a "obvious powdery" look on my cheeks. Also, the gold particles are not particularly finely milled, so when I do pack it on to that extent, the "subtle shimmer" turns into something more like "obvious sparkle" - which is not really something a 30+ year old needs to see on her face. I have gotten it to show color on my face before, but the transition from "barely there" to "circus clown" was so sudden and uncontrollable that I ended up just blending it all away. It is the first blush I started using on my own, the first one to have a serious dip in the pan, and I still think it was a fantastic way to learn. I've since graduated to cream blushes, however, as they give much better - yet still subtle - color payoff with much less work. I now use this blush as a way to "set" my cream blushes and add that subtle shimmer / golden highlight to them.