Gels/Soaps -Dr. Bronner's - Baby-Mild Unscented Liquid Soap
annie_b 5/9/2009 3:18:00 PM
Originally, I bought this to use for my 17-month-old daughter's bath after the last baby wash I bought reeked of cloying perfume (an allegedly "calming" scent at that!). Dr. Bronner's soap is really gentle and rinses clean, so I would highly recommend it as a baby wash. But this is really a review of Dr. Bronner's Baby-Mild Unscented Soap as a face wash, so on to the point... I have acne-prone skin that is prone to oiliness in the summer months. I tried this a couple of weeks ago as a face wash after reading the raves here on MUA. It only took a few days to notice a difference in my skin. The acne isn't gone (nothing really clears my skin, aside from Accutane which I won't use again), but it is calmed. The soap seems to help even out my skin tone. What I'm most impressed with is the fact that, after washing, my skin seems to have been soothed. Usually after I wash my face my breakouts are just as noticeable, if not more so, as before I wash. But that's not the case with this soap. Although on my face I get a slightly rubbery feel after washing with this, it dissipates. I don't notice any drying effect. I now have a bottle of Dr. Bronner's lavender scented soap at the kitchen sink. It's really good soap, smells nice, and doesn't dry out my hands. I think I'll be buying this soap for a long time.
Blush -BeneFit Cosmetics - Georgia ] ] [DISCONTINUED]
annie_b 4/11/2009 9:37:00 PM
I received this in a swap, used it a few times, and then set it aside, not sure quite what to do with it. Though my skin tone is very light this barely showed up on me, and at the time I was looking for something with a little more color. Fast-forward a year or two later. I never put this back up for swap because I had agreed to receive it in beat-up condition (packaging, that is) and thus doubted that it would swap well. I'm glad I didn't let go of it after all! I noticed a difference when I applied this over my setting powder, before applying blush. The effect was very subtle but noticeable. My face looked fresher, slightly more luminous, closer to that peaches-and-cream complexion that I have always wanted. This works beautifully in combination with peach, peachy-pink, or beige-neutral blushes. I have used Georgia as a base for Bobbi Brown Clementine, Laura Mercier Orange Blossom, and Lancome Miel Glace, for example, and again, the effect is subtle but it's there. I think it has the effect of softening the texture of my cheeks - the tiny bit of shimmer (shimmer really isn't even the word to describe it) does something to the way light reflects on my skin. It also has a sweet delicate scent, which I like. I have spent a lot of time and words describing a product that I like a lot but consider in no way truly essential. That said, when I run out (which will be a long time given how much product is in the box) I will strongly consider repurchasing. This is a very unique product, and the only comparable products I can think of readily are some of MAC's more subtle beauty powders. I cannot imagine anyone with anything but a very pale skin tone using this with any effect. There is something Georgia does to warm up and soften the appearance of my skin and somehow make my cheeks look prettier with blush on.
I have been using this for a week now and I've decided that I like it quite a lot, even considering the hefty price tag. My skin is pale with yellow undertones, and although I wear Alabaster in Bobbi Brown's Moisture Rich foundation (which runs dark), I was matched to Warm Ivory in Skin foundation. This is a very good match, so much so that I realized my previous foundation was a poorer match than I thought. However, on cool-toned ladies I think even the light shades might run a bit too yellow. Having worn Bobbi Brown's tinted moisturizer (the old and new formulas) in the past, I think I can easily explain some differences between Skin foundation and tinted moisturizer. First, Skin foundation has more coverage than the TM. Although Skin is actually of thinner, waterier consistency than the TM, it is definitely more pigmented and evens out the skin tone to a greater extent. Second, the finishes of the TM and Skin foundation are different. I was pleasantly surprised that Skin gives a nice satin finish - not flat matte, not glowy - whereas I've found the finish of the TM to be a little more glowy. I do tend to have a little shine breakthrough during the day and setting TM with powder is a must for me whereas I could go without powder wearing Skin if I wanted. That said, I still get a little shiny later in the day while wearing Skin, and setting with a light layer of rice powder has been helpful to keep the shine at bay. Finally, the newer formulation of Bobbi Brown's TM has more neutral shades, and I think that the shades in Skin tend to run more yellow (with the exception of Alabaster, which appeared more neutral and even a little pinkish but is VERY light). The SA told me that 2 pumps would cover my entire face and he was right. One pump wasn't quite enough though I can get by with a pump and a half. I apply using a MAC 187 brush and use a foundation brush to reach the undereye area and the contours of my nose. I've also applied with fingers and this works fine. For ladies with sensitive skin, I will corroborate a previous reviewer's statement that this foundation is non-irritating. It's very comfortable to wear and doesn't feel heavy at all. Also, I haven't noticed any increase in breakouts and I have slept with it on my face to no ill effect. But does it look like skin? Maybe I'm thinking about this question too literally, but my answer is no. This product gives a very natural-looking yet polished finish. I don't think anyone who knows anything about makeup would think I wasn't wearing foundation. However, as foundations go this is about as close to natural as I've come. Overall I'm very satisfied and would strongly consider repurchasing.
Cleansers -Olay - Gentle Foaming Face Wash w/ Aloe (Sensitive-Skin)
annie_b 1/19/2009 3:33:00 PM
Wow, I think I've found my new go-to everyday cleanser. I had been using Paula's Choice One-Step cleanser but thought I'd try a drugstore product to save some money. I picked this up at Target for around $3.50 and I've really pleased with it. I have been using MAC Cleanse-Off Oil to remove makeup and following with this at night, plus washing my face with this product again in the morning, and my skin feels clean and soft. This cleanser removes dirt and makeup easily without making my skin feel dry or stripped, and there is no noticeable residue after I rinse. There is essentially no scent, and it doesn't irritate my eyes. It takes a few moments to work up a nice lather, but the reward is a nice cushiony foam that feels really pleasant. I use with a washcloth to exfoliate and that's really all I need. I don't see a reason to buy a more expensive cleanser again. I'm actually kind of annoyed that I haven't discovered this wonderful product sooner. This is definitely a no-frills cleanser, but who needs a bunch of additives that are just going to wash off right away (you don't really think all that stuff instantly "penetrates" your skin, do you)??
Powder -Lancome - Dual Finish Versatile Powder Makeup
annie_b 1/3/2009 12:40:00 PM
I purchased my second Dual Finish compact recently after finishing off my first one several years ago. I guess I didn't repurchase because I went through it relatively quickly (used up faster than liquid foundation, anyway) and because I had a slightly off color match that left me wanting to try something new. Anyway, fast forward to last week.. I went to the counter to return a different foundation (Photogenic Lumessance - not for me!) and I remembered how much I had liked Dual Finish. Most powder foundations don't really work for me (recently I've tried MAC Studio Fix, Prescriptives AnyWear, and several mineral products). It's not that they're terrible, they just don't look right, they accentuate flakes, or the coverage seems weird to me. I generally prefer liquid foundation for these reasons. What separates Dual Finish from the other powder foundations I've tried is that there is no weird powdery finish, it feels pleasant rather than dry or tightening on my skin, it masks imperfections in my skin rather than accentuating them, and overall it just seems to enhance my skin rather than masking it under a layer of powder. For light-medium coverage I use the sponge to pat and blend over my face and I find the result to be very natural-looking. It's still very much my skin, but polished, even-toned, and slightly velvety in appearance. This is a great everyday look for work because I don't look all made-up and artificial. For a more flawless look, say for photography or presentations, I would probably apply this lightly over Studio Fix Fluid or a similar foundation. When I have applied this wet in the past the color seems to darken - no idea why but I haven't tried again since. I'm knocking off a lippie for this product for two reasons. First, the product does noticeably wear off during the day, and while it's easy enough to whip out my compact and touch up, I'd rather not have to. My face becomes a teensy bit shinier than I would like over the course of the day, and though I don't think it's going to make my skin oilier or break me out, I do wish that lovely velvety finish had more staying power. I will try a primer to keep the shine at bay but I'd rather not have to. Second - and this is a minor complaint - I'm not crazy about the smell. But apparently there is also a fragrance-free version of Dual Finish so that is easily enough taken care of. In summary, this is the only powder foundation I've ever used that I could see repurchasing again and again. The shade selection is impressive so I think I'll always be able to find a good match whether I'm pale as a ghost or tan. Though I know I'll use this up more quickly than I would a liquid foundation -- that's just the way it goes with me and powder foundations -- the ease and speed of application is worth it. There is a reason why this product has remained in Lancome's line for many years. It doesn't get a lot of love here on MUA, but the next time you're at a Lancome counter, check it out. UPDATE: Still loving this! I have been tempted to try some new foundations for the sake of novelty but I can't turn my back on Dual Finish. It really improves the overall look of my skin while appearing quite natural. UPDATE 5/09: Still loving. The last SA matched me with a shade that was too dark, though the shade was surprisingly forgiving for such a mismatch (in hindsight). Now matched to Matte Linen I and very happy! My skin looks polished and velvety!
Liquid -Lancome - Photogenic Lumessence Light Mastering & Line-Smoothing Makeup
annie_b 12/27/2008 12:06:00 PM
I went out to buy this foundation after reading the many positive reviews here on MUA. Unfortunately, it is going back to the counter because I my attempts to make it work for me have not been 100% successful, and for this price I want near-perfection from a foundation. I think it's a good foundation but perhaps not the right product for my skin, so I'm not going to downgrade it severely. It all started when I was running out of my liquid foundation du jour (MAC Studio Fix Fluid) and wanted to try something both a little different and appropriate for the winter months when my skin tends to dry out. I asked specifically to be color-matched for this foundation, and that was probably my first mistake as the SA might have recommended a more appropriate product. But I'd done my homework, or so I thought, and the SA followed my lead. I was matched to Buff II after some deliberation and final agreement among myself and 3 SAs. The SA then applied it to my entire face. It looked polished and nice at the counter, though the finish was a little fake, and I felt a twinge of discomfort paying for it. In retrospect, I should have checked my gut and just bought something else to give the kind SA a commission for her time and effort. As I walked through the store I kept catching glimpses of myself in the mirror - it was the color of my skin, the coverage was lovely, my skin appeared pretty smooth and significantly less flawed than it actually is.... but there was something still a little weird about it. The "luminosity" the foundation imparts might look gorgeous on certain skins but not on mine. The effect is subtle, which is a testament to the quality of this foundation but also explains why I wasn't able right away to put my finger on what was wrong with my face. I wish all foundations applied as smoothly and easily as this. Brushing it on with either a foundation brush or a 187 is a piece of cake and it blends beautifully into my skin. Even applying this with fingers would be easier than average. The pump dispenses a very small, reasonable amount with one pump, and I'd say about a pump and a half is plenty for medium coverage. Once on the foundation feels light and pleasant. The fragrance is very subtle. The staying power is a little above average but nothing extraordinary. Despite all of these positive features I did not find this foundation to be "light mastering" - in fact I think it draws attention to some of the more unfortunate contours of my face - and that's why I ultimately decided to part ways with it. I also thought that the foundation did not do a great job of camouflaging enlarged pores. I have used "luminous finish" foundations in the past that have worked better for me, though admittedly I prefer foundations on the less glowy end of the spectrum. Even during a time of the year when my skin benefits from a more moisturizing foundation, this one didn't quite deliver. PROS: Nice bottle, a pump that is both hygienic and dispenses reasonable quantities of fluid, great color selection, good coverage, smooth texture, very comfortable wear. CONS: The luminous finish doesn't work for everyone, apparently.
I got this in a swap more or less sight unseen, but I ended up liking it. The color, a neutral reddish berry, looked scarily dark in the tube but actually looks nice on my lips despite my pale coloring. I would not describe this as "sheer" in the normal sense, though. It is also not especially long-lasting. While I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say this is drying, it certainly doesn't ADD moisture to my lips. To reflect another reviewer's comments, the color is this product's strong point. It was very nice to try but I don't have strong feelings one way or another about it, so I doubt I'll repurchase.
I love lip glosses and tinted balms but I'm so fickle about them, using them for a brief period and then moving on to something else. But every now and then a lip product keeps me coming back, and Prada's tinted Shielding Balm in Shade 2 is one such product. I received one of the tiny tubes of this balm in a swap a while back and after months and months I still carefully dose this out when I want soft, satiny, pretty, natural-looking lips. This product, unlike so many, actually looks decent when I have no other makeup on, but it also enhances my lips to the extent that I can wear it with a full face of makeup. I also love the innovative way that it's packaged in eight tiny tubes that can fit anywhere and have multiple "homes" like your makeup case, your office desk drawer, your gym bag, etc. This is my ultimate my-lips-but-better product and it makes me sick to think that I will have to shell out a ridiculous amount of money once my carefully preserved tube stops putting out. Unless I get really lucky and find it for a steal, which I doubt I will. :(
Palettes -Bobbi Brown - Mauve Face Palette Fall 2008
annie_b 12/13/2008 11:26:00 AM
I had been on the fence about buying this palette for a while, and I finally caved as I was preparing for a trip out of the country for a week. I rationalized that I would need a good fall/winter look that was easy to pack and reliable. Ah, rationalization, the reason for so many of my makeup purchases. Anyway, when I received it I took a look and thought, meh, nice colors but nothing special. So I tried it once before my trip and it totally changed my mind. I love this palette. The powders have a wonderful texture and apply very easily, and the shades are just gorgeous. The 3 eye shadow shades are perfect as a base-browbone/crease-lid/liner trio. The "mauviness" is subtle but it's there. The lip colors are also very pretty, though the two dark ones are a little deeper than I normally wear. The blush is so pigmented that it's surprising but it works even on my pale skin so long as I use it very sparingly. All I really needed to add was foundation, powder, and mascara, so this worked really well for my trip. And now it holds a place of honor in my makeup case despite my early hesitance. I also splurged on the Black Mauve gel liner and it goes really nicely with this look.
Long after the dust settled from the frenzy on MUA after this product originally launched, the CVS stores in my area finally started carrying the SH Natural Beauty line. I snatched this up in Ecru Beige, and it turned out to be a good match for my NC15-ish skin tone. Overall I'm very pleased. The foundation feels good on my skin, isn't drying, and stays put reasonably well. Some reviewers have noted exceptional staying power, but I think it's a little above average at best. I wouldn't say that application is difficult, but I would prefer a more slippery or liquidy product; this was just slightly harder to work with than most liquid foundations I've tried. I don't get very oily with this foundation and it really is natural-looking, so for the $12 it's a pretty good buy. Bonus points for the packaging - simple glass bottle with a pump; this makes it much easier to keep things sanitary.
I've been really pleased with this foundation after having used almost a full bottle, and I think I will be repurchasing. I bought this when I was preparing to return to work after having a baby, and I was aiming for a more polished look than my quick-and-dirty routine while I was home with my daughter. This foundation really delivers. It covers well without being masklike, has a nice finish that is neither overly flat nor shiny, does not make my face oily, and has not aggravated my mild adult acne. I was glad to have purchased this in combination with my 187 brush, which is the perfect tool for application. (I can apply this with my fingers too, but the end result is not as nice. Applied with a regular foundation brush I find this product can look a bit heavy. So for me the 187 is essential for using this foundation.) After applying, I top off with a little Select Sheer loose powder to set and to give a satiny finish to my skin, and I look polished without appearing overly made-up. The price is very reasonable in comparison to high-end foundations that run $40-50+, and I am pleased that this foundation provides some sun protection.
A word about color matching.. I first tried this foundation in NC20, which was way too dark for my skin even though NC20 is about right for me in Studio Fix powder. NC15 was a much better match, though I still use a darker shade of powder to balance the tone. I have heard elsewhere that Studio Fix Fluid shades are wacky, so don't assume that the shade that works for you in one MAC foundation will necessarily translate to your shade in SFF. Aside from that caveat I have no complaints or misgivings about this product. Do yourself a favor and try it out!
I received this in a swap, thinking I'd give it a shot, but I had no idea it would become one of my favorite crease shades. It really is an everyday go-to shadow. The color is pretty and versatile, a taupe with gray and brown tones, and it pairs well with rich colors or with other neutrals. The pigmentation is very good. I have a problem with some of the MAC eye shadow textures being too chalky or crumbly, but thankfully the Satin finish is very easy to apply and blend. It's too bad this was LE because I know I will eventually hit pan on this one.
I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said in these reviews. I received a used bottle of this as a swap extra. I was skeptical - I rarely use drugstore foundations and I had no experience at all with Maybelline foundations - but I was pleased with how easily I could apply and blend this just with fingers. It feels light and creamy, not thick and heavy but not liquidy and streaky either. The coverage was really excellent if somewhat mask-like. The big failure of this product for me was the color selection. Porcelain Ivory was just too pinkish for my light, yellow-undertoned complexion, and when I checked the store there weren't any other options appropriate for my skin tone. I'm not one to downgrade a product just because I happened to get the wrong shade for me -- my issue is that I don't think this the color would natural-looking for anybody. A little color mismatch is OK for a more sheer formula, but when it comes to full coverage it is really important that the makeup LOOK like skin! And I just don't think these shades look very natural. It's too bad because in most other respects I liked the foundation.
Meh. I bought a mini size of this for $1.99 at Walgreens thinking what the heck. After the first try I was ready to throw in the towel and write a scathing 1-star review. But I try not to take the knee-jerk approach to reviewing products, and I went back to this because the brush intrigued me. After using it several more times, I admit that this mascara grew on me a little, but it has some downsides that would discourage me from repurchasing. Lash Matrix has a really nice, larger-than-average brush that gets lots of product on your lashes very quickly. That isn't necessarily a good thing, though, because the formula is a bit gloppy and I found myself fighting large globby clumps. With some care, though, I learned to largely avoid this. I could quickly build up length and volume, but it was really tricky to figure out when to stop because it is easy to apply just a little too much and veer back into Clump City. So, if you do use this, apply restraint and proceed with caution! The other major downside to this product is that, at the end of a long day, I looked in the mirror and was horrified to see flakes under my eyes and on my cheeks. I really expect my mascara to give me more than 7-8 hours of wear before flaking off. This wears OK for the first part of the day, but if I needed to have makeup on through the evening I would have to remove this stuff and re-apply. That alone is a dealbreaker for me. So, despite looking pretty good once I got the hang of application, the flakies sealed the deal - no more Lash Matrix for me!
I agree with other reviewers' assessment of the color in that this did not show up as "dirty peach" on my very light, yellow-undertoned skin. I found this blush to be a dusky pink with a nice glowy finish. It is nicely pigmented, and I was surprised at how easily it could become muddy looking on my pale skin. But used with a light hand and some care the effect is very nice. I wore this on a day that I went for a haircut and so I had a chance to look at myself in the mirror a lot more than usual. I really liked the way the blush brightened my face and gave my cheeks a pretty glow without looking shimmery, shiny, or over-the-top. And I find the color somewhat unique - there is a hint of a plummy or mauve undertone, very subtle, but enough to distinguish Blooming from many of the other pinks out there.