Finally!!! I have found a natural, aluminum-free deodorant that actually works!!! After coming across several positive reviews about this product, I finally decided to take the plunge and fork out the $20+ for this deodorant. The smell is great: very clean, citrusy, and well suited to my tastes (it actually works well with my perfume). I have been wearing it for the last few days - and while I fully expected to have to wait a bit for this deodorant to adjust to my body chemistry before it started working completely, I was happy to notice that it starting working very effectively after just one application. I apply just as much and just as often as I do with conventional deodorants (once daily, or after every shower). So far, excellent - and it is very hot and humid around here now. Unlike the LUSH, Lavanila, Tom's, Sanex, and countless other natural deodorants that I have tried to date, Dr. Hauschka's delivers. I will definitely re-purchase (despite the cost), because I admire the company and feel much safer using this product.
Since I live in the States where this particular product is not available (I regularly curse Chanel and its tendency to make my favorite shades and products Asian exclusives...grrrrr), samples of this item were hard to locate. Well, after a few months of trying I finally got my grubby little paws on some of this in 30 Beige Cendre (I am MAC NC35/Warm Natural 4.5 in Bobbi Brown Natural Finish at my palest, for reference). 30 Beige Cendre is definitely a shade that will work best on individuals with strong yellow undertones and warm skin. That said, this has been a banner year for me in terms of HG foundations, as this one has turned out to be a complete and utter winner in my book - though truth be told, I suspect that the 30 is a bit too light for me, so I will try the 40. The powder is very finely milled and keeps shine at bay for hours (I should add though that while my combo skin definitely tends to get shiny, it is not extremely oily, either), and application is incredibly easy. In fact, in terms of ease of application it puts every other foundation I have tried to shame. The deluxe samples of this come with a tiny little sponge, and somehow this manages to look stellar even when I use that! If you are capable of blotting your skin with pressed powder, then you can apply Mat Lumiere Extreme successfully - no fancy brushes required. Coverage is easily buildable, especially when you wet the sponge a little bit, but if you have pretty clear skin dry application is certainly sufficient. This product has no scent - at least none detected by my bionic nose - and every single time I wear it, I receive compliments on my skin without fail. (I should note here that I have been applying it over Murad's new Hybrids primer, in either the matte or the dewy finish - it works wonderfully with this product). It leaves my skin matte, but without the flat, artificial matte finish that characterizes so many powder foundations in my experience. I also appreciate the fact that you can purchase refills for this product as opposed to purchasing an entire new compact every time. My sole issue is that this particular shade will only work for me at my palest...for the rest of the year I will need to purchase a darker shade. Time to go sample hunting again - but at least now I know that it will be well worth the effort. This is a wonderful product, and worth every penny. Now if I could only convince Chanel to sell it in the States...
I admit, I have stayed away from Urban Decay until very recently, thinking that it was a line that specialized solely in the type of unforgiving glitter-bomb shadows that tend to look hideous on anyone over 21. (But then again, I didn't feel comfortable wearing those shadows when I was that age, either). This was a clear case of truly.flawed.thinking. (I am referring to my narrow-minded view of Urban Decay here, not my fear of glitter-bomb eyeshadow). But I digress. Jones is a simply *gorgeous* shadow - just the right amount of shimmer and pigment to render its medium orange tones truly wearable and particularly flattering for blue eyes. I especially love orange, peach, and rust-colored shadows and this one is among the very best that I have tried to date, both in terms of its buttery formula and the shade itself. (I far prefer it to another shade that's gorgeous but definitely more difficult to work with: MAC Rule). Jones is suitable for both day (yes, it could easily been worn to work) or night, and is lovely paired with ivory, honey-colored, brown, or burgundy shadows. Try it as a light wash on the lid with a rich dark brown in the crease and a warm ivory/yellow highlight like MAC Creme de Miele and you will discover just how wearable Jones can be. This summer I have been making up for lost time with Urban Decay eyeshadows and I have to say that so far not a single one has proven itself less than stellar. (I still stay way from the glitter-bombs, though, so the jury is out on those). Excellent shadows in this color family are difficult to come by, but Jones has given me hope! Highly recommended.
After years of being a devoted fan of MAC, Laura Mercier, and Chanel brushes,I have rapidly become an enthusiastic fan of this much more economically-priced line. Besides the concealer brush, I now own the Bronzer, Foundation, Retractable Kabuki, and Eyeshadow brushes, and have another LE set on the way. Like all of the other EcoTools brushes I have tried, this one does not shed, is sturdily built, green (yeah!), and wonderfully soft. As it says on the package, this brush is suitable for both concealers and cream eyeshadow. I purchased because my MAC 242 and Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Brush (my two favorite concealer brushes) were starting to look a little sad after all of the love that I have lavished on them. I would have to say the while the Laura Mercier brush is still in no danger of losing its place in my heart, the MAC 242 now has some serious competition. The EcoTools concealer brush is every bit as good as the MAC 242 and the LM brushes, with one key exception: this is not a brush suitable for precision concealing in the least. The brush head is simply too large for that, and picks up too much product. So if you are someone like me that is very particular about concealers and likes to apply a very controlled, precise amount on specific areas on your face, then this is not the brush for you - LM's is a much better bet in that case. However, the EcoTools is an excellent choice for larger areas like the under eyes or eyelids (I personally will be using it just as I have always used my MAC 242 - to apply my Bobbi Brown Corrector under my eyes, or for applying emollient shadows that don't require very precise application). Would I repurchase, despite that issue? I would have to say yes.
I should start my review by saying that I normally don't wear bronzer - in fact, I have not owned one for years. This might have something to do with the fact that I find most bronzers far too shimmery or too flat when applied. Nor am I willing to fork out the $50+ required for the very few bronzers that I do find attractive in the pan, such as Guerlain's. Urban Decay's Toasted Baked Bronzer, however, manages to fulfill all of my bronzing requirements and then some: it's a decent price for a lot of well-pigmented product, it contains a *very* minimal amount of shimmer, and it's not quite matte (although it is described as a "matte bronze"). The slightest dose of shimmer gives it some nice dimension, in fact. This shade is very natural on my (untanned) olive NC35 face - I wore it for the first time recently and instantly received compliments. I far prefer it to the other bronzers by NARS, Guerlain, Too Faced, and other the brands that I tested out before purchasing this one. I would recommend applying this with either an EcoTools Bamboo Bronzing Brush, or, if you are very fair, with a Smashbox #22 fan brush for lighter precision application. I apply this to the bridge of my nose, the sides of my forehead and my cheekbones. My only complaint? The packaging. Each of UD's bronzers comes nestled in a silver foil muffin cup lined with a thick piece of styrofoam (they are in muffin tins since they are "baked" - get it? But then again, "baked" means so many different things in UD land. Most of the UD product label jokes are best suited for 14 year old boys ca. 1970, unfortunately). I don't really see the need for extra packaging in this day and age, much less packaging that incorporates styrofoam, as this one does. Not very environmentally responsible for the otherwise wonderful cosmetics company that gave us the Vegan Palette and the Sustainable Shadow Box. That said, while I doubt that I will run out of this product anytime soon, I would certainly be inclined to repurchase.
Add me to the list of the many, many enthusiastic fans for this brush. I finally tracked one down at Ulta several days ago and have been absolutely thrilled with it. I am using it for my UD bronzer at the moment - though I am sure that this brush could be used for all sorts of products - and I have never liked the way bronzer looks on me as it does now. (In fact, I haven't owned any bronzer for years until I bought some to use with this brush, if that gives you any idea). It deposits color very evenly, and grabs a good amount with just one light swipe across any product. The bristles are soft as can be, the handle is sturdy and very substantial, and it washes like a dream (as in no shedding at all). Another fantastic brush from EcoTools that is well worth the price - and then some. I think I may have found a great birthday gift for my sister! ***Edited two add: not too many weeks after I purchased this brush (which I was loving, as my original review indicates), the ferrel and brush came completely unglued from handle. I tried fixing it with a few different types of glue, but had no luck. I will not be repurchasing.***
I just bought this lipstick after swatching it on my hand at Sephora. I absolutely love (and I mean ***love****) this color, it is incredibly flattering on my olive skin and ranks among the very best orange/coral lipsticks I have ever seen. In fact, I purchased it instead of a Guerlain KissKiss lipstick (Peche Fougueuse 541) - which is significant, because I adore Guerlain lipsticks for their high quality, texture, and unique shades. 5150 is a deeper coral with the perfect dose of shimmer, and just what I was looking for - it also cost nine dollars less than the Guerlain, so what's not to love? Well, aside from the amazing color, there is one thing that I definitely do NOT love about this lipstick: the taste. In one word: hideous. It is very bitter, certainly the worst-tasting lipstick I have ever experienced. I'm actually laughing as I type this, because once I applied 5150 on my mouth at home I came to check out the reviews on it here, just to make sure that I had not received a defective product. It appears that I am not insane. I could also do without the "creme brulee" scent of this lipstick (I prefer unscented cosmetics, or at least those that don't smell like sweets), but mercifully that fades quickly. The packaging, while certainly gimmicky (it's a very thick round tube with a small dagger coming out of one end), is at least original. That said, this color is so gorgeous that I may just keep it. Maybe. Let's see how willing I am to suffer for my art. ETA: Okay, I give up (sort of). When I attempt to wear this lipstick I end up having to brush my teeth after a few minutes to get the horrific taste out of my mouth. But I am in such love with the color that I have taken the drastic measure of contacting Three Custom Color (it's a service in NYC that custom blends makeup shades - it's generally used by people when they want to copy a color that's been discontinued). I have requested that they make me a few tubes of lipstick with the exact color and finish of 5150, but without any scent or flavor. I figure that while the service is not cheap, it may just save me money in the long run since this would definitely be an HG shade. I will update here once the lipsticks arrive in a few weeks!
Sunscreen -Kate Somerville - Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen
mecepeda 8/2/2010 10:50:00 PM
I recently received a deluxe sample of this from Sephora. I am so happy that I tried it, and I am definitely going out to get the full-sized product in the next few days! I have combination (normal/slightly oily - definitely not dry) skin with significant hyperpigmentation problems. Therefore, I have to wear sunscreen on my face all year around, and the higher the SPF, the better. I love the way this serum melts into my skin, the lack of any residue or greasiness, and the fact that it is oil-free. I also did not find that it left my skin any shinier than usual. No, it is not cheap...but then again, I figure that the alternatives (skin cancer, laser treatments for hyperpigmentation, drastic wrinkle treatments) are far worse - so I prefer to invest in a good sunscreen that I know that I will wear on a daily basis now!
If you only knew how many dozens of products (both prescription and OTC) that I have tried in an attempt to tame the hyperpigmentation, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that plague me. They are my single most nagging skin care concerns, and I have been dealing with them since I was in my mid-teens. Like most Latinas, I tan very well, but when I expose my face to the sun I have a tendency to develop what we call "manchas" (literally, "stains") - I also get them after pimples, scratches, cuts, or any sort of trauma to my skin. They are a darker brown than the rest of my skin, and are very, very difficult (if not impossible) to remove. So....some years ago I started wearing SPF everyday, no matter what the weather, and avoiding prolonged sun exposure - and if I have to go in the sun, I wear a big hat. (I don't care if I look funny, either - at least I won't look like a wallet by the time I'm 50 or have to worry about skin cancer!) But I digress. I am writing this review to say that other than simply avoiding the sun and packing on the SPF (which you should do anyway) this is the *only* product that has worked to fade the darker patches of skin on my forehead, cheeks, and jaw. I have been using it for 2 weeks as directed (applying twice daily), never once skipping the SPF. And I do notice a difference, unlike my previous experience with Clinique's Even Better Clinical Spot Corrector and dozens of other products, which did not work for me at all. (DDF Fade Gel 4 and the Clinique product are comparable in price, by the way). The texture of the DDF Fade Gel 4 is light, and it absorbs quickly into the skin. It also has a slight alcohol smell upon application that quickly fades (in fact, SD alcohol 40 is listed as its second inactive ingredient). My combination skin has not been aggravated in the least by this product, which contains 2% hydroquinone, kojic acid, and salicylic acid, all ingredients known to fade dark spots. My lone complaint about the DDF Fade Gel 4 is that it appears to be staining my sheets a bit...so make sure that it dries completely before you get in bed at night! I also have to agree with the other reviewers who notice how effective this product can be at eliminating pimples - maybe it's the salicylic acid? Whatever it is, it works. Conclusion: this product is well worth the price, and I will continue to purchase it. Please just make sure that you use it as directed to achieve the best results possible, though. ETA: I have continued to use this product and happily also continue to notice an improvement in my skin. I am amazed at how well this product works, and I have already repurchased it. I am happy to plunk down the money for this item because it is quite frankly a bargain in comparison to prescription lighteners.
Misc Beauty Tools -Sephora - Refillable Lipstick Palette
mecepeda 7/30/2010 10:00:00 AM
This is a new item from the Sephora Colllection, and as soon as I saw it online, I pounced - I recently broke one of my favorite lipsticks (and a pricey one, at that) and I hated the idea of wasting such a gorgeous color...so this palette seemed like the perfect answer. (The fact that I *love* to do crafty stuff with my hands was admittedly another sellling point). This palette costs $15 US and contains a eight wells for lipstick or gloss, a matching brush, a miniature spatula, and a small silicone bowl for melting the lip products that you wish to transfer to the palette. The palette itself, while thin and sleek, is actually more substantial than I had expected - and the interior mirror covers the entire underside of the lid, which is a nice touch. I also tested out the accompanying miniature lip brush - and while I am admittedly biased against most travel brushes - and particularly unimpressed with Sephora makeup brushes in general, I found this one pretty decent. This, my friends, is where the fun ends. Apart from these few thoughtful touches, this is a very poorly designed palette for a variety of reasons: the spatula included, while fine for scooping the remaining lipstick out of the tube, is pretty much useless for anything else, given its miniscule size. Perhaps the most problematic part of this palette, however, is its interior - the lipstick wells are so tiny that it is virtually impossible to transfer melted lipsticks to them from the silicone bowl without making a greasy, colorful mess. (Which is precisely what I did). Be forewarned as well that unless you have only a miniscule amount of lipstick left to put in the palette, one of this palette's wells will not be nearly large enough to accommodate that lipstick (another minor detail). Finally, if you are brave enough to attempt to fill this palette, be forewarned that the one minute microwaving suggestion in the instructions is quite off - even with a decent microwave, my lipstick took more like 4-5 minutes to soften up sufficiently. Needless to say, I will not be repurchasing - rather, I am returning this right away.
This review specifically focuses on the YSL Dessin Du Regard Haute Tenure eyeliner in #10 (Purple Silk). I absolutely adore the overall aesthetics of all things YSL, and this liner is no exception. The color alone - a very vivid yet simultaneously soft and wearable matte lilac - would prompt me to repurchase this pencil. It reminds me of the gorgeous pastel eyeliners that Delux Beauty (which unfortunately no longer exists) used to offer in offbeat shades like matte turquoise, bright pink and lilac, in fact. In fact, this color is a bit of a surprise coming from YSL, which tends to be a bit more conservative in its color palette than comparable lines such as Chanel Beauté. This shade earns me compliments, yet I can only imagine how amazing it would look on someone with brown eyes (mine are blue/yellow). In terms of presentation, this liner also earns high marks. Like all YSL beauty products, the packaging is sleek and luxe, and I appreciate the smudging sponge at the opposite end of the liner, as well as the included sharpener. On the negative side, the formula leaves a good bit to be desired, especially for a liner at this price point. It tugs upon application a fair amount, more so than any of my other liners. (And it is my understanding that this is reformulated product - so I can't imagine how much it tugged before!) My idea of eyeliner heaven would be this color offered in the Urban Decay 24/7 formula. Someone needs to get on that one, ASAP!
Makeup Brushes -MAC - 226 Small Tapered Blending Brush - BBR Collection
mecepeda 7/28/2010 7:47:00 PM
This is one of a select few brushes that I would take with me to a desert island - yes, I love it *that* much. I purchased it last fall when I got back into MAC after a long hiatus and it single-handedly improved my makeup application significantly. (I really can't stress this enough, in fact). Soft and just the perfect size and shape for getting deep into the crease, the 226 also blends beautifully with virtually no effort. Even if all I have the time or energy to do is apply a soft wash of color over my eyelids, I always then reach for the 226 to apply a nice deeper tone or touch of shimmer to the crease. It makes all the difference. This brush also washes beautifully, and does not shed. It truly mystifies me just why MAC does not make this item a regular offering - I will certainly be purchasing a back-up next time it rolls out, however.
Makeup Brushes -MAC - #275 Medium Angled Shading Brush
mecepeda 7/28/2010 7:39:00 PM
Poor little unassuming MAC 275. I was frankly surprised at the sheer number of reviews on this brush, since it tends to receive such little attention on most of the online beauty sites that I consult - especially in comparison to MAC stars like the 226, 239, and 219, for example. This was one of my first MAC brushes, and I adore it - in fact, I love it so much that I own two, so that just in case I am doing a more complex eye look I always have an extra clean one just in case to keep the colors unmuddied (crazy, I know - but *so* worth it). This brush is silky, sturdy, and has not shed a hair despite frequent use and washings. I use it to apply eyeshadow anywhere from down right near the lash line up to the brow bone, and it deposits color evenly and effectively (I only use it with powder shadows, however - I would not recommend it for use with emollients). The 275 also works wonderfully with foiled shadows - just a tiny spritz of Avene Thermal Water or MAC Fix+ does the trick, and my shadows are transformed. No, this is not a fancy brush, but it is a workhorse in terms of quality and range of uses. I would definitely repurchase.
Lotions/ Creams -Malin & Goetz - Vitamin b5 Body Moisturizer
mecepeda 7/28/2010 6:07:00 AM
Any lippies docked from this product are purely a result of its flawed packaging, and certainly not due to the product itself. That said, I really like this lotion. A lot. It has everything that I look for in a lotion for my dry arms and legs: it absorbs quickly, smells fresh and clean (but not overpowering), and effectively hydrates my skin all day. It is on the expensive side, but I do not even mind the price tag given the product's performance. I am a fan of Malin + Goetz products and their general approach towards personal care products - much like other relatively low-key brands such as Kiehl's and Mario Badesco, Malin & Goetz puts little energy towards advertising and complex packaging, instead devoting itself to developing a line of straightforward, highly effective products. Normally this approach appeals to me a great deal. In this case, however, Malin Goetz should have dedicated a bit more thought to packaging design. To make a looooong story short: I am barely through the top third of this bottle of lotion, but it is a struggle to get any more product out of the small opening at the top of the bottle. The lotion is so thick that it gets stuck in said opening - I literally have to squeeze the bottle with all of my strength to get any product out at this point. Annoying, especially at this price. Annoying, particularly when the lotion works so well and I would love to use it. I would definitelty repurchase, though - if they would repackage it in a tub with a screw lid. Until then, I will just sit and stare longingly at my 2/3 full bottle of Vitamin B5 Body Moisturizer....at least until I depot it!
This has quickly become a favorite in my ever-growing collection of Glossimers (I am obsessed with Chanel's lip products). I bought it from an Asian website a few months ago, but only recently began using it - truth be told, the color struck me as rather boring in the tube at first, so I didn't feel the need to bust it out right away it out like I do with most of my new makeup toys. Silly me - this rather plain neutral beige gloss with a slight dose of shimmer is like one of those dresses that doesn't impress much on the hanger, yet is very flattering on...in much the same way, Muscat is particularly gorgeous when layered over Chanel's precision lip liner in Natural (I can imagine that it would also look lovely on top of Chanel's darker Nude liner, or nude MAC liners such as Spice, Subculture, Beurre, or Sublime Culture). Layered on top of one of these liners, Muscat creates the perfect sophisticated nude lip, and as a bonus makes my teeth look very white. No complaints here. While Muscat is not readily available in the States (I believe that it is an Asia exclusive), it is occasionally offered by Nordstrom's and on Asian makeup websites. It is well worth the thrill of the hunt.