Treatments (Eye) -Amore Pacific - Rejuvenating Eye Treatment Gel
mecepeda 12/27/2012 6:45:00 PM
Scouting out a decent eye cream for nightly use has become a part-time job for me as of late (or does it just feel like that?) Anyway, I received a sample of this product from Sephora and contrary to my usual style I didn't just through it away or banish it to the back of a drawer. I tried it. And it's amazing. I have combination skin and have been using eye creams religiously since about 20 years of age, I am about to turn 40 and in the past year have concluded that it might be a good idea to invest in something more substantial for my eyes. The first step was to start using an eye cream with retinol, and I settled on Avene's Eluage, which works very nicely but is too strong for me to use every night (hello, flaky eyelids and under eyes). I decided that I should pull back a bit on the Eluage and alternate it with something hydrating, but nothing so rich that it could cause milia, which has been an issue for me with various eye creams. I first tried a gel (Ole Henriksen's Ultimate Life Eye gel - a definite miss), then Caudalie's Pulpe Vitaminee Eye and Lip Cream (which is fantastic but doesn't give me quite the level of hydration I would like). Then along came the much pricier Amore Pacific...this product lies somewhere between a gel and a cream, and it applies like velvet. I love the way it makes the skin around my eyes feel: it's not sticky like most gels, nor is it greasy like most anti-aging eye creams. After one application, my eye area definitely seems smoother, and I have never noticed this from any previous product. My only critiques would be the heavy floral scent (which quickly fades, however - and that's coming from someone who loathes heavy smells) and the packaging. Somehow a tube seems more hygienic, but then again the advantage to the jar is that you are able to use every last drop without having to work for it. So am I going to cough up the $$$ for this cream? You bet.
Lipstick Queen is without a doubt my favorite lipstick brand, and I am a fan of the lip liners as well. Poppy King, the brand's creator, is known for combining innovative concepts with vintage flair, so I was really excited to see this new set. Lipstick Queen was a line originally based on a limited (yet gorgeous) selection of lipsticks in one of either two formulas: the "Sinner" line (highly pigmented, matte, opaque) or the "Saint" lipsticks (sheer yet buildable, hydrating, and less pigmented - though in my opinion far more pigmented than any other sheer lipsticks on the market). The Liptropolis formula is designed to cover the middle ground between these two poles, and it does a wonderful job at this. This three lipstick set, which I purchased for $48 US, is also well-priced in comparison to typical Lipstick Queen lipsticks, which cost about $20 each. The set contains three colors that reference New York City, all housed in a beautiful, sturdy little cardboard "book" (Poppy King takes a concept all the way): Soho, which is described as a "fashionable red;" Upper East, an "elegant nude," and Central Park, "the refined peach." Like virtually all of Lipstick Queen's shades, these are designed to flatter most if not all skin tones. As for the formula, it is excellent, and does exactly as promised: it lands squarely between the opaque Sinners and the sheer Saints, and is fairly hydrating, with impressive color pay-off. The packaging (and I am not just referring to the "Liptropolis" book that the set is housed in) is also top notch as well: each dark gray metal lipstick bullet has a slight grip to it (think NARS lipsticks), yet unlike NARS it doesn't manage to pick up all of the lint in the universe while it's stashed away in your handbag. The color selection is pretty wise as well, though I wondered why King chose to include to such similar shades in the set (nude - more on this below - and peach) instead of replacing one of those with a darker shade like something in the berry or wine range. My only complaint? I think that the official color descriptions are significantly off, and generally lacking in detail. I have worn all three lipsticks, and in the interest of helping others here's what I have found (and for reference, I am NC 35/40 in winter, with pretty pigmented lips): Soho: is a neutral, candy-apple red (in other words, a tad darker than a cherry red like that of Saint Red); Central Park: a neutral, medium peach. I found it flattering, but also noticed that it pulled pretty bright on me after a bit; Upper East: is not *anywhere near* nude...I think that this has got to be an advertising error, in fact. Upper East is definitely a strong medium pink that flirts with fuchsia. I know that color is subjective, but even accounting for that there is no way that this is a nude lipstick. Regardess, it is a very wearable pink and I am happy to have it, as non-fuchsia pinks are difficult for me to find. Moral of the story: if these colors sound appealing to you and you are interested in trying Lipstick Queen, I would certainly recommend this set. Just don't expect any nude lipstick!
I purchased this paint pot with the intention of using it as an eyeshadow primer. Given that I have olive skin (NC35/40 in the winter, a bit higher in the summer), I chose Soft Ochre over Painterly, which has more pinkish undertones. The SA also recommended this shade to me because I tend to wear warm-toned shadows more often, and Painterly workers better as a base for cool-toned eyeshadows. My interest in trying this product was largely motivated by the fact that I was looking for alternatives to Too Faced Shadow Insurance...while definitely an excellent primer, TFSI makes blending many of my shadows very difficult, and I was hoping that the Paint Pot would resolve that issue. Here's what I have experienced so far: Pros: Soft Ochre, while definitely significantly lighter than the skin on my eyelids, does do a nice job of evening out the skin tone there so that shadow colors appear more true. It was also relatively easy to apply smoothly, though since it lacks the silicone feel and transparency of TFSI it is not as effortless to apply as TFSI. However, it did make blending shadows a bit easier than with TFSI, and my shadows did not crease or change color during the day. I also think that the amount of product you receive for the price is pretty fair, given that just a tiny amount is needed for each use. Cons: The packaging...it's not as sanitary as TFIS, and I'm afraid that this paint pot will dry up before I hit the bottom of the little glass jar - this is a non-issue with the TFSI tube. Also (and this is a big negative), if you have any dryness on your lids and/or brow bone, Soft Ochre magnifies it considerably. (I have an eye cream with retinol to thank for the dryness I'm currently experiencing). Once the dryness is under control, though, I think that this product will work wonderfully, both as a primer or all by itself. ETA: Now that the dryness around my eyes has gone away, I gave this paint pot another try and am happy to report that it worked very well to keep eye shadow creases and color changes under control. I would just re-emphasize the fact that a little goes a long way with Soft Ochre, making this an even better buy in the long run.
Lotions/ Creams -Eucerin - Calming Creme Daily moisturizer
mecepeda 12/27/2012 12:55:00 PM
As someone with combination, cystic-acne prone skin that is a side effect from medication, I normally stay far away from facial moisturizers that are not 100% oil-free. However, when I found myself with significant peeling around my mouth from the retinoid cream that I use to fight acne, I tried this cream in desperation (the fact that it was fragrance-free and is designed to calm irritation sold me). Along with some *very gentle* exfoliation, a few dabs of this cream removed the burning dryness and redness after one or two applications - and didn't cause me to breakout in the process (which was my major fear). Whenever I have overly dry patches, this is the product that I turn to now. It's widely available in U.S. drugstores and is well worth the price...in fact, if you use it only occasionally you may be able to get away with buying just the trial size, which is what I did. I'm so glad I tried this, as it works better than far more expensive alternatives.
Treatments (Eye) -Clarins - Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care SPF 30
mecepeda 12/27/2012 12:40:00 PM
I repurchase this product about once a year, and my experience with it has been excellent. I use this light cream on a daily basis for sun protection and a little bit of moisture (if you are expecting something that provides a lot of hydration, however, then this is not the product for you). Having had problems with milia from a variety of eye creams in the past, I can safely report that I've had no issues whatsoever with this product - a little drop is all that needed for each eye, and makeup applies well over it. I use it on the lids, the outer corners, and under the eyes, and simply follow with a bit of shadow primer before applying color (I like Too Faced Shadow Insurance or MAC's Soft Ochre Paint Pot). Just be certain to blend it in well, as it is a white sunscreen. Given that I use it every day and it is oil-free (a big plus for my combination skin), I find the price point very reasonable and will definitely continue to repurchase this product. Oil-free daily eye creams with SPF are practically non-existent at any price, and this is definitely the best in its class.
I resist buying most of the bronzers on the market, simply because I dislike shimmer on my face. The perfectly matte (yet not muddy or flat) Bobbi Brown bronzer has changed my mind, though. As a NC 35/40 with warm olive skin, the SA suggested that I try the Medium shade for winter time. I applied a little bit with Bobbi Brown's bronzer brush (another winner) on my forehead, cheek hollows, nose, and chin - and then followed it up with a little pop of BB's bright Apricot blush on the apples of my cheeks (I used a fan brush for this, so as not to apply too much). The results were impressive; this bronzer/blush combination gives a fresh, alert look to my face that is very flattering. As for the packaging,the compact is a bit large (which generally means you are receiving more product), but it's still minimalist sleek (a plus in my book). This bronzer definitely surpasses my previous favorite, Urban Decay's Toasted, as it contains no shimmer whatsoever as well as no gimmicky packaging. Since this is a product for everyday use, it's worth the price tag.
Fire Red is one of the newer shades added to the fabulous Lipstick Queen brand, and it's available in both "Sinner"(opaque) and "Saint" formulations. This review is for the "Saint" formula, which I have come to truly adore. I own several of these lipsticks, and none of them have been a disappointment. The formula is fabulous: nearly all of the moisturizing properties of a balm, but with much more substantial color pay-off. Fire Red is best described as a red with a healthy dose of orange, and it is very flattering against my warm olive complexion (NC 35/40 at my palest). It makes my teeth looks whiter, and certainly offers more color than most sheer lipsticks or balms (other brands/products that I have in mind: NARS, Chanel, Laura Mercier, and Fresh). It pairs perfectly with Lipstick Queen's red liner, which I like to use to give this color a cleaner look around the edges of my mouth. If you are looking for a lower maintenance sheer red, then I would suggest Lipstick Queen's Saint Red (a cherry red) or for even less fuss I would recommend Lipstick Queen's Medieval (a gorgeous neutral red with a tiny dose of brown). This is a lipstick that is appropriate for work as well as evening, and I would certainly repurchase.
I have to add another positive review to all of the raves that this lipstick has already received. I have medium olive skin (NC 35/40 in winter, and 40+ in summer) and pigmented lips, and this is very flattering shade. It could best be described as a wine-colored lipstick with a good dose of brown, and it pairs perfectly with Lipstick Queen's Berry lip liner. (I also recommend the lip liners from this brand - they are creamy, don't feather, and match the corresponding lipsticks perfectly). Berry is a year-round, all-occasion shade - and it is definitely more pigmented than most sheer lipsticks, as well as more moisturizing. Definitely worth repurchasing.
If someone were to ask me what company consistently makes the best mascaras on the U.S. market, my answer would almost certainly be Lancome. Having tried this mascara, though, I might think twice about that answer, because this is frankly one of the worst mascaras I have ever tried. CoverGirl Lash Blast has it beat by a mile (or two), along with several other mascaras at various price points, including Lancome's other offerings. I am not so sure just what made this mascara so clumpy from the very first day I opened the tube to the day I threw it away in frustration, but the clump factor made it a true nightmare to deal with...and it wasn't helped by the shape of the brush, which I would describe as a little pine tree (Lancome says it's "cone-shaped"). The brush just doesn't worth well with this overly thick mascara formula, leading to clumps galore. In its defense, I can say that this mascara does not run or flake, and it's a nice dark black. That's where the compliments end.
I am generally of the opinion that mascara primers in particular are a waste of money. However, I got sucked into the amazing reviews for this product on the Sephora website (beware) and caved in to the hype. That said, I am very happy that I caved in on this one. If anyone was going to make a decent - no make that excellent - mascara primer, then it was going to be Lancome. Lately I have been using a variety of mascaras in an attempt to use up some free samples that I received, and while all of the mascaras by themselves are not to my liking (hello Bobbi Brown), the Lancome Cils Booster improves every single last one of them. Now I am finally pairing it with my favorite mascara and am thrilled with the results (and the compliments I'm getting). It does add volume and length to all of the mascaras I have tried, even those that tend to have very liquid or thin formulas. Also, the white residue (for lack of a better word - I can't think of anything more appetizing) that the Cils Booster leaves behind disappears rapidly, and provides a nice guide for me as I apply my mascara. I will happily fork over another $20-odd dollars for this product again. It definitely does the job.
Makeup Brushes -Laura Mercier - Secret Camouflage Powder Brush
mecepeda 12/22/2012 1:46:00 PM
I have been using this brush for years - so many that I eventually had to replace my first one after nearly daily use and washings simply because I was worried about bacteria. This is an excellent brush. First, I like its sturdy construction (I wash it a few times a week, and use it every single time I wear makeup but it has yet to shed a single hair - and neither did the previous one). I also like its performance...it is perfect for spot application of loose powder on top of under-eye concealer, for example, or over any areas where I have applied concealer, for that matter. This and Laura Mercier's translucent powder help my makeup last through an entire day. My only complaint is that the brush loses it shape a bit with frequent use (the hairs on the sides tend to stick out quite a bit), but truth be told this does not affect the brush's performance at all. I would certainly repurchase.
Cleansers -Avene - Cleanance soapless gel cleanser for oily skin
mecepeda 12/22/2012 1:30:00 PM
I have been using Avene's products for some years now (I initially discovered them on a trip to Europe), and have yet to find one that disappoints. This cleanser has to be my favorite though, and it has become a staple in my skincare routine. I have combination/oily skin that tends towards cystic acne in some places - it's an unfortunate side effect of a medication - and this product manages to gently cleanse my skin and keep surface bacteria at a minimum without stripping my face dry. The scent is minimalist clean, and you need a very small amount to wash your entire face and neck (the size of a pea or even a bit less). This means that a little bottle of this product is not nearly as costly as it sounds, because it lasts forever. It is also great for travel because you can take a tiny vial with you, even for longer trips. I also like the unusual lid; it twists to the side to open and allows you to dispense precisely. All in all, this is a favorite that I am happy to purchase online at the few Internet retailers in the U.S. that sell it.
With a lovely texture (it's like a balm but with more pigment), this lipstick is a fantastic choice for when you want some healthy color but don't want to be bothered with extras like lip liner and the rest. The closest comparison would be Fresh's balm in Passion, but unlike that product this one goes one more evenly and precisely because of the formula and the shape of the lipstick (Fresh's stick-shaped balm tends to clump up and setlle into the corners of my mouth, and I find that the product tends to melt very easily in general). Medieval's color is lovely...just a shade softer than the cherry popsicle red of Lipstick Queen's Saint Red sheer lipstick, for example, and more neutral in tone. This is a no-brainer choice for me for anytime wear. The packaging is also of high quality.
Primer/ Corrector -Colorescience - Classic Corrector Palette
mecepeda 12/19/2012 8:45:00 AM
Colorscience makes two of these slim yet generously filled palettes, designed for all sorts of correcting and highlighting purposes. The "classic" mineral corrector palette is designed for fair to tan skin, and the "global" palette is designed for darker skin. Since I have medium olive skin (NC 35/40 in the dead of winter, and a few shades higher in the summer), I decided to try the classic palette. Pros: All in all, this is an amazing product, and definitely the best product for spot covering acne and small areas of uneven skin tone that I have ever encountered. I apply it early in the morning and have really no need for touch-ups at all until early evening when I come home from work (and my skin is on the oily side). The color selection is wide, so if one color doesn't work perfectly, you have the option of layering shades or choosing from among a variety of skin tones. I am also happily surprised by the accompanying brush (I usually dislike palette brushes, and abandon them in favor of my full-sized brushes). It does a wonderful job of picking up the perfect amount of product and precisely depositing it where needed (more on the brush below). Finally, this slim palette also packs very easily into my handbag. Cons: If you are of my skin tone (in the tan range), you will find that the vast majority of the colors in the classic palette are too light for you, and the global palette is too dark (frustrating). My solution has been to mix the two darkest colors in the classic palette, and this has been working for the winter months, but I will not be able to use this product in the summer, unfortunately. Another issue is the brush...it is fabulous, but after some washings the top came right off of the handle. This was easily fixed with a bit of glue and hasn't happened again, but it's still an issue that the company needs to work on. Otherwise, it's an excellent little brush. The lack of a true tan shade range and the brush problem are the only reasons why I would not give this product 5+ lippies...otherwise, it is truly wonderful and well worth the money if you are looking for a long-lasting, effective spot concealer.
I absolutely love the look of nude lipstick, but can never manage to find one that looks decent on me (NC35/40+), so I tend to stick with warmer, stronger shades of red, rust brown, orange, and fuchsia. This does not mean that my search for the perfect nude lipstick ever ends, though - so I was happy to see that my favorite lipstick brand Lipstick Queen was offering this shade, as a peachy nude sounds more promising than the grey and blue-based nudes that seem to dominate the market (and make me as though I just ate a stick of concealer). I went for the "Saint" formula in this shade...Lipstick Queen also offers it in a more matte, opaque "Sinner" version, but I love the texture of the sheerer Saint lipsticks so much that I decided to opt for it again. I was not disappointed. For a nude, supposedly sheer lipstick, Peachy Nude offers an impressive amount of coverage without any dryness at all; in fact, it almost feels like a balm. The closest shade comparison would be Bobbi Brown's Uber Beige, which is a nice, darker nude shade but much more drying than Lipstick Queen. My lips are fairly pigmented and Peachy Nude was a good bit lighter than they are...I wouldn't necessarily wear this straight out of the tube (I have yet to find a nude lipstick that permits me to do that), but with a bit of darker nude lip liner (I like Chanel's Nude) and a spot of nude gloss on top for depth, Peachy Nude is absolutely lovely. I find that it makes my teeth look very white (always a plus), and as with all of the Lipstick Queen Saint line the wearing time is impressive, particularly since these are sheer lipsticks. Definitely the most flattering nude lipstick that I have found to date - I'm only lowering the rating a bit to reflect the fact that it requires liner and gloss to achieve its full potential (yes, I'm lazy).