Cleansers -Neutrogena - Oil-Free Acne Wash Foam Cleanser
HelenClaire 9/22/2010 9:15:00 AM
This product contains AHAs! Neutrogena has done a terrible job advertising this fact in its packaging. I only noticed this because I read all the info on the back of the bottle before purchasing. I found the (BHA only) gel to be a touch drying and prefer this product. I use once a day (morning) with 0.5 to 1 pump to wash my face. I massage into my skin with the pads of my fingers and let sit as long as possible before rinsing.
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Benzoyl peroxide is pretty basic stuff, but it seems that some basic user info is needed so here it is, summarized from Wikipedia with my comments in brackets:
- BP is a bleaching agent like most peroxides. It will lighten many fabrics as well as your hair if you glop it all over the place. [I've never experienced this because I only use VERY THIN layers directly on problem areas.]
- It is commonly drying and sometimes irritating, though skin will generally grow tolerant to it in a week or so. [I get around this by applying a VERY THIN layer 2-3 times a day directly on spots. This seems to mitigate most of the drying effect.]
- A small percentage of people are very sensitive to BP, experiencing burning, itching, peeling, and sometimes swelling. [I've noticed some peeling if I apply more than a VERY THIN layer at a time, or if I get cocky and use it all over as an acne preventative. I do much better using BP only on trouble spots.]
- It is a marvelous antibacterial as well as a peeling agent, increasing cell turnover and clearing pores. Like any exfoliating product, it's a good idea to wear SPF during use. [I've never been sunburnt as a direct result of using BP, possibly because I use it sparingly and only when necessary.]
- Because it is commonly available in the US in concentrations from 2.5% to 10% AND research has not shown concentrations above 2.5% to be signifigantly more effective at treating acne, it makes sense to START AT A LOW CONCENTRATION especially if you have a history of sensitive or intolerant skin.
PACKAGING: Standard little squeezey tube.
PRICE: $5-$6 if I recall correctly. Most drugstore chains (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) make a house brand of this product for sometimes half the price, so I'd recommend buying that instead. I've tried J&J's version and found it to be no different from CVS's just as "Triple Antibiotic Ointment" is no different than Neosporin.
PROS: A better widely-available, OTC antibiotic topical there could not possibly be.
CONS: Can be drying if care is not taken.
SUMMARY: I love benzoyl peroxide. It's as close to a magic fix as I've found and it gives me reliable results with none of that it-worked-for-a-week-but-then-my-face-exploded nonsense. I've found that I must exercise diligence and restraint to obtain good results. BP is strong, especially at 10%, but I've used it to great effect on my already dry skin.
WILL buy again.
217 is an excellent neutral pink that looks great against my very warm, pale skin. The consistency is a bit thicker than I'm used to seeing from drugstore polishes, but it doesn't streak and is wonderfully self-leveling. It dried more quickly than I had expected with a shiny finish to rival Orly and nary a scuff nor smudge. Two coats on my toes gives me that model-y, clean glow like I'm bursting with vim and vigor. Perfect. PACKAGING: Standard rectangular polish bottle with removable square cap (aesthetically pleasing!) hiding a comfortably sized round cap. The EXCELLENT brush is on par with Essie and OPI. PRICE: About $3.00 USD at drugstores and big box retailers. PROS: Cheap. Smooth. Shiny. Great colors. Did I mention cheap? CONS: Applying the thicker consistency may be a bit difficult for more inexperienced users. SUMMARY: N.Y.C. 217 is my Marshmallow + Ballet Slippers, my I'm Not Really A Waitress, my Vamp; it is, Dare I say it? my HG. WILL buy again.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Bathed and Infused - John Smith
HelenClaire 2/25/2007 4:31:00 PM
B&I describes this sent as follows:
An adventurous and commanding fragrance, John Smith is earthy and bold. Oak moss and sweet grass with rich veins of loam and black currants. A sexy scent for both men and women.
I wholeheartedly agree. On my wrists John Smith smells loamy and green, like a summer spent laying in the grass catching crickets. The clear grass fades quickly into a warmer dirt/loam/skin scent that is incredibly sexy. Not only do I love this on me, but I think it'd be amazing on the SO as well : )
PACKAGING: Since I ordered this fragrance in a sample, it came in little snap top container in lotion form. Cute. Practical.
PRICE: $8.95 for 10 ml oil-based roll on or $6.95 for 5 1/2 oz lotion samples at bathedandinfused.com
SUMMARY: Earthy, different, beautiful.
WILL buy again!
A white (but not weak or wimpy) floral with a backbone. It's summery, but the musk lets it transistion as a fall fragrance; I see it more as an Indian summer, falling September leaves kind of thing. Light and lemony at first, with a wonderful cedar kick, it's sporty and assertive, confidence in a bottle. It's a one-two punch, very sexy, in a subtle and mellow, they'll never see you coming kind of way. I could see a confident (& incredibly sexy) guy wearing this too.
Sicilian citron, bluebell, granny smith apple, jasmine sambar, bamboo, white rose, cedar wood, amber, musk
WILL buy again.
Absolutely amazing quality.
I continue to purchase this blush because it is a constant performer that is 1/10 the price of comparable products. It is not very pigmented, but is highly buildable. I inherited a vibrant pink, almost neon, shade from my mother that makes an excellent winter flush. I have found all shades to be very useable.
It is one of the silkier drugstore blushes. The texture is so-so in the package, but with a good brush (I like Chanel 7 Contouring or MAC 129) it goes on beautifully. The large product surface area makes even brush pick up easy and lasts forever. Very small amounts of shimmer give a gorgeous skin finish.
I have had several shatter, so beware dropping, jostling, or transporting. Unfortunately, there is a very small shade selection. I tend to pick them up when I'm at the drugstore and see a color I do not have. While you're over in the cheapie makeup section, check out BonneBell Gel Bronze (I love both shades) and Caboodles Tahiti, which are other amazing products.
PACKAGING: Ugly, cheap looking, impractical. Tiny, unusable mirror. Dust accumulates in corners. Throw out the brush.
PRICE: $2.99 USD at CVS. Sometimes 2 for 1.
PROS: Beautiful finish. Lots of product.
CONS: Breaks easily.
SUMMARY: DIRT CHEAP. Do not fear the color in the package. Snatch up!
WILL buy again and again.
EDIT 2/19/08: Lowered overall rating to 3 out of 5 (from 4) and would no longer buy again. Experiencing truly good formulations with good color matches in Becca and Stila has made me realize that I wouldn't even consider using this product again as it is too pink, too dark, and too sheer. Just not my cup of tea. See the original review below. Bought this in Amande, a medium, defiantly pink shade. The Chanel Lady painted me up at the counter and I looked wonderful in her hand mirror, but the next day when I tried to apply it at home I ended up orange. (BAH!) Us warm-toned folks have no luck. This foundation is incredibly sheer and moderately buildable if you let it dry completely between layers. It is water-based and has a unique texture so bring your foundation brush along to the counter to make sure it is compatible, i.e. has manmade bristles. Ignore protests of Chanel Lady. On a positive note, Voile Universel looks faboo over my fake, winter "light tan" but is too pale for my summer "dark tan". PACKAGING: Weirdly cheap looking; I expect better from Chanel! 1 fl oz (30 ml). PRICE: $40 USD at department stores, chichi boutiques, etc. PROS: SPF 15. Cute double C logo on cap. Featherlight coverage. CONS: Super sheer. Pink! Très chère. SUMMARY: Great for days when I just need to even out my skintone. WILL buy again (If I ever run out).
Styling Products -Garnier - Fructis Style Surf Hair
HelenClaire 7/1/2005 9:47:00 AM
I have long blonde (natural but highly color treated), heavily layered, super-fine hair with a lot of natural wave at the ends. After eyeing this product for the better part of two months I finally bit and couldn't be more pleased.
I have VOLUME! And TEXTURE!
I took a small glop, say, nickel-sized, rubbed it between my hands, and raked it through my hair, starting with the layers underneath, from ends to midshaft. I even dared to put a tiny bit on my roots where it gave me volume and definition, not greasy clumps of ickiness.
My hard-to-smooth hair looks cool-wavy instead of unkempt and it stays up in a loose bun much better. The cream does does mattify a bit, but I believe a shiny finish would look greasy with this texture.
PACKAGING: Squat yellow and lime plastic tub filled to the brim with a thick cream.
PRICE: $3.50 USD at Kroger.
PROS: Amazing texture and volume. Easy-peasy. Lovely apple-citrus-beach scent.
CONS: Some may dislike scent. Leaves (washable) film on hands.
SUMMARY: Wonderful, wonderful. If you are unsure as to whether this product will work for you I recommend shelling out the $3 and giving it away if you dislike it.
WILL buy again.
Highlighters -BeneFit Cosmetics - Hollywood Glo [DISCONTINUED]
HelenClaire 3/30/2005 9:49:00 AM
Being, as always, immensely intrigued by BeneFit's marketing and packaging, I tested at Sephora first on my hand, then on my cheek. I am the possessor of the palest shade of yellow skin you will ever come across and this stuff looked terrible. On the back of my hand it looked odd, not at all skin-colored, but I figured I could maybe use it as glowy blush; not so. Because it is so close to what may be considered a skintone, it does not look at all appealing unless it blends well with your skin. The color has been described as "J-Lo-ish" and I believe this is perfectly accurate. A pink-toned bronze shade with large pieces of glitter, all color coming from the glitter itself and not from the carrier liquid. Perhaps someone with a more standard "Caucasian" skintone (read: pink undertones) or a tanner lady would look lovely in this. I look terrible. Thus continues my search for the perfect bronzer.
I give two lippies not for the color (which is not for me), but for the poor quality of this thin slop BeneFit dares to sell for $22 an ounce.
PACKAGING: Large bottle that looks cute in advertising, but looks cheap and is unweildy and hard to control in real life.
PRICE: $22.00 USD at Sephora, BeneFitCosmetics.com, etc.
PROS: Might look good on someone with ruddy or tan skin.
CONS: Smells horrible, overpriced, watery texture, big chunks of prepubescent glitter.
SUMMARY: Wouldn't touch with ten foot foundation brush. As with all BeneFit products, test before you buy.
WON'T ever buy.
Polishes -Maybelline - Wet Shine Diamonds - Peach Glimmer
HelenClaire 2/28/2005 10:14:00 AM
Peach, yellow, and orange sparkles in a translucent peach base; definitely made for layering. I don't like the look of just this on my nails, but it looks nice and cute with a pale skin pink base and I absolutely adore it with Maybelline Wet Shine in Juicy Tomato (gives a Chinese New Year sparkler effect). Tends to go on thick with LOTS of glitter, perfect summertime-going-out shade for my toes.
PACKAGING: Crappy! The lid broke so it's kind of hard to use, but it isn't drying out.
PRICE: Something like $3.00 USD; I think I got it on sale at CVS.
PROS: Cute, sparkly.
SUMMARY: Cute, cheap, lovely.
WILL buy again.
Polishes -Revlon - ColorStay Always On Nail Enamel [DISCONTINUED]
HelenClaire 9/18/2004 8:56:00 AM
I am absolutely ANAL about chipping nail polish; I refuse to have it on my nails for more than a second after it starts to go, and usually end up chewing it off :-/ before I can get to polish remover. For that reason, this stuff is my holy grail, my secret weapon, my Godsend. My at-home pedicure with the Forever Scarlet (fire-engine red) lasted 4 weeks with no chipping or peeling. The color goes on smoothly and evenly, and dries very quickly. It smells more plasticky than your standard nail polish and dries very quickly. Two coats is all I ever need to give myself hand model quality manicures. They do mean what they say on the packaging about not using any base or other top coats. If you're concerned about nail ridges showing, buff before you polish. I find that I become a bit depressed when I finally have to take this polish off (not because of chipping, but because unpolished nail is showing at the nail bed from growth). I don't recommend using more than 3 coats of the color because I've found that: 1) it's unnecessary, 2) the drying time increases exponentially after 2 coats, and 3) it makes the polish near my cuticle look weird.
PACKAGING: Great! Nary a shatter nor crack through many drops. They do look rather small though, and I end up with a lot more bottles of top coat than color coat.
PRICE: About $5.00 USD at drugstores for color and top coat.
PROS: Super-de-duper long lasting, quick dry time, very shiny and fresh looking even two weeks later. Worth the five dollars (five!).
CONS: Only 18 shades, but I plan on buying them all and sending lots of nice letters to Revlon about increasing the color range.
SUMMARY: Super shiny, long lasting, smooth, cheap, it must be love.
WILL definitely buy again.
This stuff actually smells GOOD. I can barely discern the standard icky remover scent, it smells more like really pretty soap. (One time right after I'd repainted my nails, one of my friends grabbed my hand, smelled it, and asked me what hand cream I had on.) It also doesn't dry out my peel-prone nails as much as the standard strength stuff seems to do.
PACKAGING: Tips easily. A "friend" of mine knocked it over and spilled more than half on her stone floor without apologizing. I am very protective of my beauty supplies, and as she didn't seem at all repentant, I hope it messed up the floor : ) (Just kidding.)
PRICE: About $3.00 USD for an 8 oz. bottle at drugstores.
PROS: Cheap. (I like that...) Smells delish.
CONS: Easy to glug out half the bottle if you knock it over. Quick reaction time is key, ladies!
SUMMARY: Holy Grail polish remover. Just F.Y.I., it's the green bottle.
INGREDIENTS: Acetone, Water, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Ethoxydiglycol, PPG-12-PED-50 Lanolin, Benzophenone-3, Fragrance, Proplyne Glycol, Methylparaben. MAY CONTAIN: Green 3, Blue 1, Yellow 5.
WILL buy again.
I like to use this as a moisturizer, odd as it may sound. I wash my face (usually with Noxema) and then rub this in, let it sit for a little while, then tissue off. It works wonderfully for my super-dry skin, takes off any eye makeup that refused to budge, and makes my skin soft and glowy. It's dirt cheap (I think I paid about $8 US for my huge tub), and it lasts since a very little goes a long way. This is one of my HG products and I'll continue to buy it over and over again.
Skincare - Body -The Body Shop - Cocoa Butter Creamy Body Wash
HelenClaire 8/28/2004 9:24:00 AM
I just got this at a newly opened Body Shop (I had to buy something to get a discount card) so I asked an SA what would be best for my super dry skin and she pointed this out. A little goes a long way: a quarter sized drop is enough for my whole body. It barely lathers, you more smooth it on than scrub it in, but it gets all the day’s dirt and icky feeling off. This body wash smells wonderful and leaves my skin very soft and smooth. It smells exactly like cocoa butter; I'd describe it as a raw, green yummy scent. It's not obvious Hershey’s chocolatey, but there's a hint. The scent isn't very strong, but it lasts on my skin, and doesn't interfere with any other scents I'm wearing. My brother and I share a bathroom, and he (who usually objects to anything smelling too "girly") likes using this stuff too. So much so that I’m going to have to buy him his own bottle so that he stays out of mine. The texture is very creamy, a bit thicker than you'd expect from the way it pours.
PACKAGING: 250 ml (8.4 fl oz) cute little sturdy bottle of very high quality plastic. I could feasibly pack it in a suitcase without worrying that it would pop open. The label doesn't rub off or smear in shower (something I've had happen to other products.) The hole that the product comes out of is very small, but you don’t need very much to begin with.
PRICE: $10 USD at The Body Shop.
PROS: It's fabulous!
CONS: Some people may not like the scent, so sniff before you buy.
SUMMARY: This is great for skin that is easily dried out by soaps or shower gels. I will definitely buy this product again.
INGREDIENTS: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, PEG-5 Cocamide, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Coco-Glucoside, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Crosspolymer, Sodium Cocoa Butter Amphoacetate, Acrylates/Steareth Methacrylate Copolymer, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Disodium EDTA, Tocapherol, Caramel, Red 4, Yellow 6.
This mascara is more lengthening than thickening, and the effect is very natural, but you can build it up with multiple coats. It separates my lashes nicely and leaves very few clumps (and is dirt cheap). I find that it has the fewest clumps when I put on a coat with my eye closed from above the lashes and then immediately from underneath the lashes with my eyes open looking up.