This highlighter is an ultra-flattering champagne color, and you get TONS of it! A single pan clocks in at 8.5g for ~$24, whereas a full-sized NARS blush runs you ~$27 for 4.8g. One pan will probably last me for years, even with daily use. As for the product itself: it's a finely-milled, translucent muted golden sheen with bits of micro-glitter thrown in. With a light hand, it gives my parched skin a look of dewiness and luminosity. It works great with my NC25-complexion, but the color is so neutral and sheer, I imagine it can work well on practically any skintone. Mary-Lou Manizer is the one product I use everyday when I go out: I apply a little to the tops of my cheeks with a fan brush to get a nice, subtle glow. I've found that you really need a light hand with this product, otherwise the bigger bits of glitter will be too obvious, especially during the day. You can always ramp it up for a night out, though! It stays on all day, too; I wear it for 8-10 hours a day and almost never need a touch-up except during exceptionally bad weather. All in all, great product, great value. If you don't already have a highlighter, you really can't go wrong with this one!
Fusion gives both volume and length, but not as much as either Lash Blast (LB Volume or LB Length) would do on their own. It imparts a fairly natural look, and is relatively hard to mess up and get clumpy lashes. It's drier than LB volume (the one that comes in the orange tube), so if you want a more dramatic effect, you'll have to layer it on a bit more. That said, I've found that it's a happy medium between length and volume for my short, sparse, downward pointing Asian lashes. It actually adds quite a bit of a curl to the ends of my lashes, enough that I don't feel compelled to use a curler on them as long as I have this mascara. Like the other Lash Blasts, this is a fiber mascara and is a lot easier to remove than traditional mascaras. I generally don't have to worry about it leaving me with raccoon eyes, which is pretty great because it saves my poor under-eye area from abuse! I've had no real problems with flaking, despite wearing it for 10-12 hours a day, unless it's really muggy or rainy out.
Three things I love about Urban Decay's Naked palette: 1) Great colors -- If you're looking for a set of neutrals, this is it. The shades flatter both warm and cooler skin tones, and can be used in an endless variety of combinations, with the added bonus that this palette also contains different finishes ranging from matte to shimmer to glitter. You can go with a perfectly natural look, an intense, smoky eye, or anything in between! 2) Great quality -- Each color packs a punch, with impeccable pigmentation across the board. These shadows are soft with relatively little fallout, and wear for the entire day if you use a primer at the very least. 3) Great value -- You get twelve FULL-SIZED pans in this palette for $44 retail. One pan of UD eyeshadow usually costs you $17, making this palette a great buy even if you only like half of the colors (which is unlikely. Refer to #1!). I recommend this to anyone in the market for eyeshadows. It's a good thing that this is part of UD's permanent line, because I will definitely repurchase!
Definitely a diamond in the rough! Adds noticeable volume without clumping up (unless you wait too long between coats) and isn't half bad at holding a curl. I've had no problems with its staying power, never had to reapply it. My favorite part, however, is how easy it is to remove: a little bit of makeup remover and it's gone without smearing or tugging.
In my quest to find a 3-free alternative to Seche Vite, I stumbled upon MAC Overlacquer. While I can say that SV still holds the gold for drying speed, Mac Overlacquer still performs very well. Overlacquer has become my go-to refresher/repair coat. I NEVER use more than one layer of SV because there is usually shrinkage that gets worse and worse with every layer. On dry polish, Overlacquer dries lickety-split and with no noticeable shrinkage, even after 2-3 layers, and leaves a high gloss finish. On its own, I've found that you have to wait for polish to dry before applying Overlacquer. Unlike SV, Overlacquer doesn't really penetrate wet layers and dry them-- it usually just sits on top and dries quickly on its own, but the layers underneath can still be soft and susceptible to dings and ripples. Oddly enough, because it's thinner, it can also leave very faint brush marks if you use it on "damp" polish, but that's nothing a second coat won't fix. All in all, Overlacquer is a good buy, especially if you're trying to avoid toxic toluene in SV! It dries quickly (on its own), doesn't shrink, coats well, and leaves a lovely, glassy finish.
My go-to blush for everyday looks! A rosy pink with a matte finish, finely milled and packed with pigments. The shade leans on the subtler side, but it imparts a very healthy, youthful glow. It's a great deal, too: $21 for a 0.35oz brick of quality blush. NARS blushes run for $26 for 0.16oz, half the size! Plus, you can find theBalm on sale more easily than NARS. Combined with the fact that you only need a pinch of Down Boy to get appreciable color, one pan will probably last you a good, long while.
Moisturizers -Neutrogena - Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin
binkari 9/12/2010 11:55:00 AM
For some reason, facial lotions with SPF gives me headaches-- I don't know if it's the smell or the coverage, but wearing it just makes me feel awful. Thus, I began a quest to look for an AM/PM moisturizer that didn't contain any SPF ingredients, but was still affordable. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin normally retails for about $10 for a 4oz bottle with a pump. That's not a bad price considering that one bottle will last you about 2-3 months if used twice a day, daily. A full pump delivers a generous amount that's enough to cover most faces and even a good portion of your neck, but you can always dispense less if you're not looking for full coverage. The consistency of the lotion leans on the watery-side, which isn't unusual for non-creme products. Ideally, the particles found in facial moisturizers are smaller, so they sink into the delicate skin better. The lotion is easy to spread and absorbs quickly, but it takes about an hour or two for it to really sink in and feel like nothing's there. As far as moisturizing power goes: it does its job. It relieves the tight feeling you get when you come out of the shower and it prevents water loss throughout the day and night. It's good at maintaining good skin and definitely helps sooth dry skin as well. It's not transformative, though; on very dry days, I'll still get flaky patches along my cheeks that moisturizer alone won't fix. In those cases, I'll apply moisturizer as needed, then spread some Vaseline over the trouble spots, locking in the moisture even more. Works like a charm! I've had no problems with breakouts or irritation (not even in the undereye area), though everyone's skin is different. Overall, Neutrogena's Oil-Free is an affordable, capable moisturizer that's worth checking out!
I'm a sucker for subdued colors, and find that true mauves feel too 'mature' for me, but I like a bit of color instead of straight beige. Enter Demure Vixen. To be honest, it definitely leans more towards the 'demure' part with its looks-like-creme-from-a-distance behavior, but the lilac shimmer gives it some subtle depth. My go-to color for when I don't know what else to wear and don't have the time or patience to do a typical French. It's part of Essie's Summer 2010 collection, but I can see this being appropriate for all seasons.The polish itself covers in two coats (three if you want to be really thorough), and dries to a semi-gloss finish. You'll need to layer on a top coat if you want the shimmer to show.
A really lovely, barely muted, cornflower blue. It's eye-catching and unique, but not overpowering, a summer shade that doesn't rely on a super-saturated / neon punch of color to be admired. The formula is a little streaky. but thankfully the consistency isn't really goopy. Two coats usually does the trick, but you might need three to cover up bald spots. Considering that this is part of the Summer 2010 Resort collection, my hopes of this becoming part of the permanent Essie line are slim, but I can still dream, can't I?
$20 for 88 colors isn't bad: it comes out to be around 25 cents per pan, and each pan lasts for a good while. I've spent 4x that amount on only a dozen (disappointing) colors from drug stores. Makeup beginners like me, who still have trouble picking out the right colors, can find real value in this palette. A good chunk of the colors are pretty bold and unwearable on a day-to-day basis, but you definitely cover the entire color spectrum with this palette. The shadows are predominantly a matte finish, but there are a few shimmers here and there. What I like about the shimmers is that they actually have color, not just a silver powder held together by different-colored chalk. The quality of the eyeshadows ranges from crummy kiddie makeup to pretty darn good, and overall, they're easy to work with. I haven't had much luck getting good color payoff from the yellows and lighter blue/teals (unless you have the patience to layer), but the red, fuchsia, and neutrals are crazy pigmented. Plus, you always have the option of mixing colors together, which gives you above and beyond the 88 you get. All in all, if you KNOW what colors work for you, then you can probably skip this palette. If you're like me and like to fiddle around with new looks but don't know where to start, Coastal Scents 88 Palette might just be it.
Bordeaux's brighter, warmer, redder cousin. At two coats, it actually looks about the same as Bordeaux, but it really brightens up on the third with a wet-look finish. I actually prefer this to Bordeaux (if only because A-list is a little less vampy), but both have their place in my heart as really classy reds! Best of all, it has that jelly-like quality to it that a lot of Essie polishes have, which gives it this jewel-like glow because the light can penetrate the layers and scatter around a little. Word of advice: being a deep red, this polish is a little on the unforgiving side. Wear one or two layers of a base coat to prevent staining. While I found that it got excellent wear, be sure to wrap your tips because any chips or dings along the tips will be really obvious.
Conditioner -TRESemme - Vitamin E Moisture Rich Conditioner
binkari 8/3/2010 7:27:00 PM
This is my everyday conditioner-- the one I use between weekly Matrix Biolage pick-me-ups-- and it holds up pretty well. It smells nice, not overly fruity or floral or chemical, and it does help retain moisture. Will it bring thick, heat-frazzled hair back to life with a single use? Probably not, but it does a great job keeping moisture in once you put it back with some other product. Considering how easy it is on the wallet, I really have to tip my hat to TRESemme!
Every time you open up a bottle of Seche Vite (or any nail polish, for that matter), the solvents (liquid) in the bottle start evaporating, leaving everything else behind. When enough of the solvent has evaporated, you get a messy sludge because there isn't enough liquid to keep everything suspended and well-behaved. Seche Restore basically puts the solvents back. Here are 3 reasons to buy Seche Restore if you use Seche Vite: 1) Saves your top coat - A 0.5oz bottle of Seche Vite top coat gets pretty gunky about a third of the way in. This thickening increases the appearance of bubbles and, of course, renders it unworkable. Bubbles upset the finish, and I don't think I need to elaborate on why a goopy top coat is unpleasant to spread! 2) Saves your manicure - Seche Vite top coat shrinks when it dries, and the older and thicker the top coat gets, the worse the shrinkage becomes. A few drops of SR minimizes shrinkage by restoring the original formula. 3) Saves your wallet - A 0.5oz bottle of SV costs $5-$9. Without SR, you'll probably wind up throwing half of the product away. SR costs about the same, but you only need 4-5 drops to recover an old bottle of SV, so one bottle of SR will last you a good while. Some other notes: - To keep SR from evaporating, I wrap parafilm around the lid to keep it airtight. Saran wrap works well, too! - SR is NOT 3-free. Its main ingredient (after butyl acetate) is toluene. Keep that in mind if you add this to 3-free formulas. - Don't put in more SR than you need. SV is pretty thick when it's fresh, so there's no need to thin it out too much. Doing so seems to cause it to bubble a lot more.
I picked this up hoping it'd be an adequate dupe to Essie's Shorty Pants (which I totally missed out on long, long ago). Based on online swatches, I'd say this yellow isn't quite there, though that's not to say it's a bad color. It's a warm, sunny yellow that isn't neon, which is definitely a welcome change. The formula was a bit tough to work with. While pigmented, it's thick and goopy, making it difficult to get even coverage. I ended up having to use three coats to cover up bald spots. I won't be picking this up again; not because the application was spotty (I'm willing to put up with a lot if I like the color!), but the yellow just doesn't suit my tastes.
Top/Base Coats -Seche Vite - Ridge Filler Base Coat
binkari 7/29/2010 4:33:00 PM
Didn't fill ridges any better than two layers of a cheaper clear coat, though the translucent sparkles certainly gives you the optical illusion that it did. Plus, this stuff has loaded with toluene-- while I'm perfectly okay with that in the Seche Vite top coat, I'm reluctant to put it on bare nail where it might actually have a better chance of seeping in. I don't foresee myself using up the bottle anytime soon, but if I do (or when it gets too old), I won't be going back for more.