Cerave cream is a high tech cream that in my opinion lives up to its marketing claims and has become a much loved part of my routine. It's designed to help improve the skin barrier, which is a very very thin layer on the topmost of the skin that helps to keep out the outside world. Once your skin barrier stops functioning the skin will typically become irritable, dehydrated and often very reactive. Part of Cerave's special powers is that it contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid which is pretty amazesauce for making the skin less dry. The ceramides have been shown in studies to help repair the skin barrier, which in time can help make the skin more resistant, better sealed and less prone to losing water. By improving this you will improve the skin's function as opposed to just coating it in something comfy. The HA works to attract water to the skin, which helps to keep it from getting dehydrated and keeps it moist. Cerave also contains both petrolatum and dimethicone which are very functional as far as sealing in moisture and being good barriers. HA is a top notch humectant, it holds many times its weight in water making it potentially very effective. It is said to pull water from both the deeper layers of skin as well as from the air around it. If you want to improve the performance of it, then employing a humidifier at night is a potential way to boost it. I do notice that during a humid climate it works extremely well. I personally use it on damp skin after washing, which allows me to sheer it out as needed over more oily areas. It also works on non-damp skin, I also use it that way too when I need to top up. This will work either way, unlike the popular dry skin products like Vaseline or Aquaphor which do not contain much actual wetness or humectant powers -- and therefore work best on damp skin to trap water inside. I have also found it comfortable to use around the eye area, and I've often seen it recommended for this. It has a pleasant not-too-heavy almost 'whipped' texure that is easily spread, layers nicely and is fantastically cheap for what you get. It is suitable for both face and body and does not contain fragrance. This is an OTC product that competes with other very expensive prescription barrier creams, and I am pleased to say it's scandalously cheap by comparison. My dermatologist tipped me off to the fact that effects are typically felt in about 2 weeks of use, and I would concur. The jar packaging is one of the weak points of this product, however there is a workaround: Cerave sells 2 packs of travel sized tubes which are ideal if you mainly use this on face and hands. Currently they can only be ordered online, and it does cost more than buying a big tub per weight -- but it's very convenient. I can see why they picked a jar however, because people with very extensive body eczema may wish to cover a very large area quickly -- and a jar is certainly the easiest way to do this. Regarding the complaints of breakouts I'm afraid it's *extremely* YMMV in this regard. One of my very acne prone friends can use it without this problem, whereas one of my bone dry friends gets quite zitty from it! There seems to be no way to predict, it's something you can only find out by patch testing. At the very worst you may end up using it up as a splendid body moisturizer. For myself, I use it on dry parts mainly and don't find acne to be a problem there. INGREDIENTS: Water (Purified), Glycerin, Ceteareth 20, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, Behentrimonium Methylsulfate/Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 11, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Phytosphingosine, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum NOTE ABOUT PARABENS: I actually prefer them over other preservatives. While it's possible to have a paraben allergy, they are statistically less irritating and allergenic than most other preservatives and have a very long history with lots of data to back them up. To be honest I don't really care for the preservatives which are replacing them -- many of which are either irritating or virtually untested, which makes me uncomfortable. BONUS USE FOR HAIR GROOMING: I sometimes also use a tiny dollop of Cerave as a hair product in place of a grooming creme, and it works quite well against flyaways and static. If you already have some, why not give it a try! BONUS USE AS A FACE-MASK: When I first started using it my skin was so traumatized that I didn't dare use it the normal way. Instead, I chose to use it for short contact therapy in small areas much like you would use retin-As if you were starting out and trying to build tolerance. Eventually this lead me to discover that it also functions nicely as a hydrating facial mask!
I must admit this has been an HG of mine for years now. I first discovered these little pots of lip butter when I got the Pomegranate Korres one. I fell in love with it for being a richly pigmented butter -- which this product is not. It imparts very little pigment on my fair rosy lips, on me personally it's barely perceptible. It seems to just mute the colour slightly while imparting a tiny hint of pinkness. This is not what makes this product HG for me, although I do like the look of it... What makes this product HG for me is that it reliably restores my lips when used overnight and is really pleasant to use. It also reliably does not give me me lip zits, which a majority of lip butters do when used to excess. I am very prone to these, and regular oily products like Badger type balms will literally do it overnight. This one, I can slather on generously, and it will not irritate or break out my lips. It is not overly heavy, which means that when my lips are flushing madly it doesn't trap the heat and make them feel unbearably hot. Heavier textured lip products have been guilty of being rather uncomfortable when I am experiencing angry rashy red lips in the past. For this reason I really treasure this tiny pot of understated butter. The texture is somewhat waxy and forms a pleasant cushiony film that can be built up to a lush texture without being gloppy. People who like a very thick slippy Vaseliney texture may not like this as much, this is more like an emollient wax than a heavy duty coating. The smell is quite pleasant and mellow to my nose: a gentle caramel smell, fairly agreeable and natural smelling, with just a hint of Jasmine in the background. This follows the tradition Korres has of pleasantly scenting their little lip butter pots to match the name, but this one is less strongly scented than some of their other ones (Quince, I'm looking at you!) For this reason the scent doesn't seem to bother my particular skin, and in that regard it's slightly less joyless to use than Aquaphor (which is magical indeed but doesn't have an entertaining scent.) Because it also doesn't have much pigment, it doesn't have any kind of irritant or drying effect on me personally... I love the tinted varieties but they could not be used as an overnight treatment on my mouth, as these highly tinted products tend to dry me out ever so slightly. The downside of this product is the obvious thing: having to dip your finger in the pot. For this reason I prefer it as an at-home product, when my hands are recently cleaned. On the other hand, Korres addressed this problem by releasing a tube version of a Korres Jasmine lip butter which I also have -- the latter not being near as nice for my needs as the original. The tube version is convenient, reasonably well moisturizing, has a hint of shimmer (original does not) and is scented lightly of a different vanilla-type smell. For whatever reason, the original in the pot *works* better on my particular lips, as far as actual moisturizing is concerned. I do like the tube product a lot for purse use, but the Jasmine butter in the pot holds a coveted place next to my bed. I will definitely rebuy unless the company tampers with it, and have done so numerous times. On pot seems to last me a surprisingly amount of time, and the substance seems to keep quite well (ie: not turn.) Not something I can say for my many previous oily health food store lip balm purchases, which sometimes go rancid in 6 months or less. I would recommend this product to someone who wants a subtle hint of colour, a nice bit of lip moisture without being too heavy and anyone struggling with dry lips that doesn't tolerate heavy oils and butters very well. It's probably also best for people who care for a light pleasant smell don't mind butter in a pot. All in all a solid 5 lippies for me. Of the many dozen lip thingies in my stash, this is the one I hit pan on the fastest of all. INGREDIENTS: Polybutene, Trimethylolpropane Triisostearate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Polyethylene, Hydroxystearic Acid, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Sucrose Tetrastearate Triacetate, Jasminum Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Wax, Tocopherol, Flavor (Aroma), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides, Red 7 Lake
Shampoo -Garnier - Anti-Dandruff Dry Scalp Shampoo
elf_107 10/10/2012 5:51:00 PM
In the last year or two Garnier introduced an anti-drandruff line to directly compete with drugstore brands such as Head & Shoulders, in my opinion this is a very welcome addition to the usual DS offerings of pyrithione zinc shampoos (which in Canada are few.) Since I've just finished one or two bottles, I figured it was time to review it. This is a 'dry scalp' formula, and as such it isn't as horribly stripping as your average dandruff product (which are typically formulated for serious de-greasing, since seborrhea is one hallmark of dandruff problems.) The business end of this formula is the 1% pyrithione zinc, which is my favourite non-prescription anti-dandruff agent. This formula also includes some other handy ingredients such as salicylic acid to loosen scale and flakes, and niacinamide to help rebuild the skin barrier of a impaired scalp. These are kind of a novel combo for a DS shampoo IMHO. What this formula does not contain is Methylisothiazolinone which recently seems to have become the preservative of choice to replace parabens in shampoos and conditioners. I have a strong suspicion that my DH is allergic to this stuff, and besides it has a reputation for being irritating -- so I seek out formulas that avoid this (which is getting harder and harder.) The shampoo itself is well tolerated by my irritable scaly scalp prone to itching, crusting and scaling when I don't treat it religiously with anti-dandruff agents. I have seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, which is like a more serious / intense variant of dandruff -- and I require a rotation of gentle / dandruff shampoos to manage it. This one is a regular staple in my rotation, along with a medicinal prescription product (Stieprox) and a very mild low-irritation product (Free & Clear / Cliniderm.) Note that I never leave the shampoos on for very long periods of time like they recommend on the bottle. I find they work just fine with a quick pause followed by a thorough rinse -- and that greatly reduces the change of getting a reaction for me. Surprisingly, the fragrance in this shampoo doesn't bother my nose or my scalp. Like many 'Fructis' brand offerings it's a light / bright / fruity kind of scent. It smells reminiscent of green apples and meadows. Part of how I picked this shampoo was to sniff out the whole line to see which one was the least egregious and I found this one to be most tolerable. I actually get headaches from fragrances sometimes... I was very surprised that I can use it so easily, because I normally shun fragrance whenever it's practical. It's also not too drying a formula for me, and contains dimethicone which my fine oily hair likes in moderation. Finally, this shampoo has replaced Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care for me. I used to use the H&S for years, which worked on but I didn't love it. Then they reformulated it and it became much more irritating to me. I also didn't like that in Canada the H&S is sold without a clear ingredients list on the bottle (which I thought was actually not allowed, but anyway. Mystery!) In any case once H&S stopped working I was relieved to see other companies bring zinc pyrithione products to market in my region and hit a winner with this one after some serious label-reading. Yay! Note: Just because something works for me, doesn't mean it will work for you! YMMV and all that, sensitivities are so incredibly idiosyncratic etc. This is especially true for more 'medicinal' products like dandruff shampoo IMHO... In this case I think I suspect this product will suit moderately tolerant people with fine hair and greasy scalp who need to control mild dandruff or want a nice DS product to add into their 'rotation' or shampoos (seborrheic dermatitis is said to best be treated by a rotation of products.) ABOUT ME: I have very moody, easily angered skin which is worst in my face and cheeks. I have Rosacea, Seborrheic Dermatitis, hormonal acne and skin that is both prone to being extremely oily and bone dry. My hair is fine, fairly full and I have a greasy scalp that sometimes gets so angry it bleeds a little bit. I have a history of being very itchy and intolerant to many hair and scalp products. I don't typically tolerate fragrance well on my face, but tolerate some milder ones on my hair and scalp. INGREDIENTS: Active Ingredient: Pyrithione Zinc (1%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide MIPA, Coco-Betaine, Glycol Distearate, Sodium Chloride, Dimethicone, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Salicylic Acid, Carbomer, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine HCI, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citric Acid, Linalool, Limonene, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Methyl Cocoate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, CI 42090, Parfum.
Sunscreen -Bioderma - Photoderm MAX Lait SPF 50 PPD 35
elf_107 7/11/2012 10:03:00 PM
Let me start off by saying I now have very severe UVA solar hypersensitivity. While my face, ears and upper self are most affected by this problem, my body is pretty quick to complain in the sun as well. For this reason I have purchased probably over 50-60 sunscreens in the last year alone, and Bioderma Photoderm Max 50+ is easily one of the best body sunscreens for my needs. In a nutshell, it feels moist, non-irritating, non-drying, spreads quickly and gives excellent protection. Note that the version I have advertises PPD38 and was sourced from France. This sunscreen is also photostable, for anyone wondering, due to the presence of lots of Tinosorb and Octocrylene. This product contain both Tinosorb S and M to give excellent protection across the spectrum, these filters are among the best sunscreen ingredients currently known to man. While this could be considered an all-chemical formula, the Tinosorb M is actually considered a hybrid chemical-physical filter. Scent wise this product is fragrance free, and does not smell like gross chemicals like many domestic sunscreens. It smells slightly fresh. It also contains some interesting compounds (such as rhamnose and others) which I believe are part of what Bioderma calls their "Cellular Bioprotection". I don't know for sure, but I suspect these may help to boost the UVA protection of the product or otherwise help sun affected skin, as many reputable sunscreen companies are adding their own cocktail to try to maximize effectiveness and boost PPD lately. Texture wise I find this product quite pleasant. It comes out of the tube whitish, with good spreadability for smearing large areas quickly. It feels soft, moisturizer like and dries down relatively quickly. Applying it too generously can leave some slight tackiness but it isn't too egregious in that department. It's somewhat substantive and is advertised as being water resistant, but it isn't as tenacious as some of the thicker more plasticky feeling type products. It may be slightly whitening on darker skin tones, but I don't notice that on my pale body. It is less whitening than many all-physicals I've tried, but not completely clear. It does not leave chalky texture on the palms of my hands after application. It is slightly dewy, so not completely matte, but on my body I really do not notice. I find it's overall pretty cosmetically elegant relative to the high protection it offers (i.e.: the higher the protection, the less likely any given SS is going to be elegant in my experience... Though there is more to it than that of course. ;-) If I didn't have another SS I love for my face, I would definitely consider using it for that and would say it's worth a try for paler drier skin types. It's likely best suited to skin types that aren't overly dark, and worth a look for people who are sensitive to certain chemical sunscreens but not to others. It's also definitely recommended for people with sun sensitivity conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, polymorphous light eruption and other UVA sensitive conditions -- as it will give much superior UVA protection to most garden variety random drugstore products. In terms of packaging and price I have no real complaints. I feel the price is very reasonable given the volume of product and the increased protection. The packaging is solid, sturdy and I really like the stand-up tubes. The one improvement I can think of is if the hole was slightly smaller so that the flow of product was easier to control. I do not like wiping the opening of the tube with my fingers for hygienic reasons, and I find these large body-tube size openings allow less control. On the upside, it encourages people to dispense more sunscreen (and hence more protection) which is probably a pretty smart move. INGREDIENTS: water (aqua), dicaprylyl carbonate, octocrylene, methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, cyclomethicone, c20-22 alkyl phosphate, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, ectoin, mannitol, xylitol, rhamnose, fructooligosaccharides, laminaria ochroleuca extract, c20-22 alcohols, decyl glucoside, pentylene glycol, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer, xanthan gum, propylene glycol, citric acid, caprylic/capric triglyceride, disodium edta, sodium hydroxide, chlorphenesin, phenoxyethanol.
This lotion is my go to hand-lotion now for years. It leaves a bit of a film through several washings and therefore I find it quite handy before a session of house cleaning that takes a greater than average toll on skin. I like that I can buy it in a handy pump, having sometimes kept this at work to share relatively hygienically with everyone. It's fairly priced and easy to find, something easy to count on. I find I can layer coats and coats of this on my hands and it just keeps soaking in. It dries down fairly fast, and I like the finish of it overall. Not too greasy but not too dry, forming a nice barrier. I think the dimethicone in the formula adds to its nice finish. Often suggested for years as a go-to lotion irritable skin, it's advertised as containing no lanolins, parabens and fragrance but this is not exactly accurate. It contains farnesol which is a compound commonly present in many essential oils and used often by perfumery in formulating scent. The inclusion of this ingredient is probably what makes it smell better than average for a 'scent free' lotion, but that may also put it in the fragrance-containing category for anyone with allergic skin that needs to avoid such things. It also contains benzyl alcohol, which is an ingredient that is a frequently listed as a Rosacea trigger in the list of ingredient no-nos for people with this condition. For myself, I cannot use this on my face because it does in fact trigger my Rosacea. It will suitably moisturize, but also provoke an angry red face complete with stinging and burning -- especially if I sweat. It also seems to slightly irritate my eyes if I happen to rub them soon after applying the lotion to my eyes. For this reason I do not recommend this lotion for anyone with a hypersensitive face, but I still continue to enjoy it as a simple and non-stinky body/hand lotion. Edit: I have changed my rating to 3 stars from 4 by virtue of the fact that 1) I personally object to them advertising it as being super gentle and fragrance free while still using benzyl alcohol and farnesol in it, which are known irritants and 2) Since discovering the Cerave line I can safely say I vastly prefer Cerave for sensitive skin -- and those are the products that Cetaphil appear to be directly competing with. There is really no contest in that regard, since Cerave has vastly superior technology and doesn't make my face cry. ;-)
Lotions/ Creams -Eucerin - Aquaphor Healing Ointment
elf_107 6/7/2011 7:41:00 PM
Aquaphor is a little miracle worker in a tube. Previously having found that Vaseline didn't agree with my face (causing my Rosacea to burn uncontrollably) I was reluctant to touch Aquaphor but I'm glad I did. Since it got such huge raves for dry lips, I was excited when I finally saw it in Canadian drugstores. Due to my checkered past with Vaseline I use this only in small areas as an intensive treatment: dry winter lips, chapped nostrils during colds, small fissures and cracked fingertips. For the latter, I tried every type of remedy I could find. Cetaphil, Olive oil, various nut butter waxes and balms -- to no avail. Finally I tried the tube of Aquaphor I'd been eyeballing for some time... And success! Literally overnight my fingertips were sealed off and healed! I've never seen anything like it. I found the same was true for my lips as well, practically overnight relief. A very tiny bit goes a long long way and it is just not the same as Vaseline. It spreads much more easily, has a nicer smell and has a less plasticky texture on skin. It's also more soothing and dries to a nicer finish. The flip to tube is a great way to dispense it. You literally need as much as a head of a pin to make a difference on lips. For this reason one tube should last an absolute eternity and I would consider this a great bargain. Definite re-buy, if only mainly as gifts!
Sunscreen -Peter Thomas Roth - Instant Mineral SPF 30
elf_107 4/1/2011 7:37:00 PM
I have to give this sunscreen props for being the only one I've been able to tolerate for years. My skin is hyper/photosensitive and therefore often keeps me trapped under hats, scarves and indoors. This sunscreen is very gentle and I can tolerate most of the summer, but not when I get dry cheek eczema in the dead of winter. Then, I can tolerate nothing but my moisturizer, typically. Some people are complaining of the brush being scratchy. I don't personally buff it into my skin, I sweep it very gently, and therefore don't find it to be a problem despite having sensitive skin. I like that it's not a thick cream base, so it doesn't trap the heat of my rosacea, and I like being able to reapply quickly throughout the day. I also find that the mineral SPF does work (as opposed to not using it at all.) I do agree that a powder is not the IDEAL delivery system for reliable sunscreen, because it's easy to miss a spot. Since it's so incredibly simple to reapply, I would say that helps to make up for its shortcomings. It's translucent with a very slight tint to prevent the chalkies. It works nicely to control oil actually, which is another reason it's ideal for summer. Unfortunately on me it sometimes oxidizes by the end of the day in hot climates, giving my face a darker ever so slightly orangey cast if I've piled it on. In actuality I am very very fair, so this tint will work for most average skintones and not appear chalky. The only downside of course is that if they ever discontinue it I'll be really really really screwed. And also possibly that it contains a titch of vitamin A. The EWG has been fussing about vitamin A in sunscreens possibly accelerating sun damage, though I don't know if this is really true. It may be more ideal not to include vitamin A, but I am sure people use vitamin creams all the time and go in the sun unprotected, which definitely concerns me more. I would suggest not breathing in the powder when you use it, because it does contain silica. Silica is popular in lots of face powders, but it has been associated with lung disease in occupational settings with larger doses.(Google "silicosis" if you want to know what I am talking about.) I don't see this as a reason not to use silica at all, but I do hold my breath and close my eyes when I apply to be on the safe side. (The eyes are so it doesn't get into my contacts!) Personally I find that it helps me a great deal, and I've purchased it dozens of times, and will keep repurchasing. I would say this falls into the can't-live-without-it category. Edit (Jul 2012): Having developed severe sun sensitivity and now discovering / requiring the strongest high PPD protection I can tolerate -- I can no longer in good conscience give any powder sunscreen 5 stars. Powder sunscreens cannot be used in 1/4 tsp quantities and therefore don't function as advertised. Furthermore since this is all-physical it cannot provide good UVA protection, even when used to excess. For this reason I have dropped this product to 4 stars, though it is still a very good powder product.
I had given up on curling my fine stick straight downward-pointing caucasian lashes, as the curlers I tried would snag my full eyelid, break my lashes and leave me with weird 90 degree stumps. I used to watch in amazement when ladies would deflty bend the length of their lashes gradually working outward from the base. It seemed a feat impossible to reproduce, until I bought myself a Shu. This curler is a godsend if you are a klutz, have smaller eyes, bad vision, fuller eyelids or just want a great design. The flared top edge of the curler allows me to gently push my skin back while angling my lashes up, which allows me to get very close to the roots. The crimping is effective without damaging my lashes and it's very ergonomic in my hand. Because of the ergonomics I can easily work the curl along the length of my lashes. I find I have to do this a few times to get a stunning result, and then I instantly look awake. Thanks to Shu I have become a curling ninja. I give it five lippies overall, for producing a previously unattainable result. As far as the fact that it needs replacement and only comes with one extra pad, that is a real shame. I hear a rumor that one can use Shisheido pads, which I will try... But due to slowly drifting alignment after frequent and vigorous use, I will most likely happily rebuy this every couple of years. :-)
Lotions/ Creams -Lavanila - Vanilla Coconut - The Healthy Body Butter
elf_107 1/24/2011 5:19:00 AM
I have rebought this body butter 6-7 times since first receiving a deluxe sample from Sephora and it's now my HG body moisturizer. I am extremely picky about scents, favouring natural based ones over all others. Every time it smells slightly different to me, always good, but the variance I think is due to the natural ingredients which by their very definition will change in accordance to weather, season, growing conditions... The smell is a delicious and comforting blend of coconut, tiare flower and vanilla with some added woodsy notes. To my sensitive nose it smells only reminiscent of suntan lotion, while being something entirely more exquisite. It does not have the nauseating quality if cheapo synthetic or adulterated vanilla IMHO. It leaves a fairly scensuous base vanilla note that I will sometimes notice in the shower the next day. The texture is thick and emollient while still drying down pretty fast. It leaves only a very slight waxy sensation, as opposed to most natural oil and wax based creams which tend to often leave you with very oily hands. It soaks in quite well and provides ample moisture for my needs. I have not found it to break me out or irritate my highly sensitive skin that is often intolerant to fragrance. Really, I have no complaints about this product. Only that I keep using it up and having to rebuy!
In my opinion this foundation/TM is not suitable for people who are looking for a 'hypoallergenic foundation', people who are avoiding fragrance or people with oily acneic skin. Despite being advertised as being 'fragrance free' it contains the fragrant essential oils of Rosewood and Rose Geranium which are usually contraindicated for anybody with skin sensitivities. Rosewood is not traditionally regarded by aromatherapists as one of the few suitable for sensitive faces, so why it's in this formula is beyond me. I suspect they were chosen for their preservative properties and/or lovely smell. This product also has a very oily texture, probably due to the jojoba and sweet almond oils. People with oily skin will find the sweet almond oil will most likely break them out. It spreads fairly well and has an earthy rosey woodsy scent. The shade selection is quite extensive for a product that really behaves more like a tinted moisturizer than a foundation. I like the packaging because it has a little window to see the real shade while still keeping most of it from light damage. While I think people will be attracted to this product due to the truly natural formulation and the lack of parabens, I would caution people on the oils and scents. It actually failed a patch test on my cheek within minutes -- leaving me with an irritated angry bright red streak for days to follow. While I rarely return cosmetic products, this one went right back to the store due to poor product labelling by Almay since is it neither really suitable for sensitive skin nor fragrance free.
Single worst MU item I ever bought. On the plus side, it doesn't have a painful stinging effect - which isn't saying much. The product was chalky like applying liquid concealer to lips, which isn't what you expect from a plumping product. It also doesn't really do a good job of concealing or priming the lips at all. It doesn't seem to be emollient enough to have a smooth appearance which makes it looks dried out and chalky and doesn't spread evenly. Settles into creases, which is crazy because I have some of the least creased lips ever. In other words, doesn't behave like a plumper, a primer or a good concealer. I'd take a pass on this one.
WAY more pigmented than last year's Vanity Palette! What you heard about this year having better quality product is actually true. The e/s are more finely milled, 'creamy' and pigmented than last year's. What a nice surprise! The matte shadows had a very pleasant texture. A few of the standout e/s shades are the bright matte purple, the dark matte chocolate, the shimmering olive, the shimmering lighter turquoise blue. A few of the very dark shimmer shades don't swatch true-to-pan, they swatch a little on the darker side and more similar to each other -- kind of like a black or grey with a bit of colour tone sheen mixed in, which is a shame. The face colours are very nice, the bronzer is slightly shimmery and true to pan. The highlighter is a beautiful pale pink tone, and very smooth. I can see this one getting a lot of action. The blushes all look like nice wearable colours, though a couple of them have microscopic light catching particles some people might find objectionable in certain lighting. I personally don't mind this. The darker blush shades are extremely pigmented. The lip colour selection looks more appealing than last year as well. It's a more wearable mix, and there are more 'cream' shades with no shimmer. I think they are above average for pan gloss (which is typically lame), as I tried the darkest red and it was pigmented and moisturizing. These are unscented and don't have the plasticky taste or smell I've noticed in other pan gloss (probably due to the more natural formulation.) The packaging, though less likely to damage the product than previous Tarte holiday sets, is less likely to stay closed. When you tip the box forward, the box wants to fall open. The magnets in the lid are connecting to magnets in the drawer. The drawer naturally wants to slide out when you apply the forces of gravity, which means the box starts to open. As long as you don't tip it forward, you are ok -- so not recommended for travel. It is preferable over past designs however, as the layers are less likely to gouge each other. I personally find the jewels sewn on the top of the box to be cheap and cheezy looking, which is a shame because the MU is a lot higher quality than the gems suggest. Overall definitely a spectacular value and a great buy. Aside from the packaging and the few shades of e/s that were not as expected, all the products exceed my expectations so far. I love the addition of the matte e/s layer, and I am excited about the variety of colours and the face colours, especially the highlighter. This set may appeal to a broader age range, due to more texture variety. I think with 32 full-size e/s, plus all the rest, you really can't go wrong. Definitely will consider to re-buy for gifts!
Palettes -Urban Decay - Book of Shadows Vol. II [DISCONTINUED]
elf_107 10/15/2009 6:51:00 PM
The Book of Shadows II is gorgeous. It's a thing of beauty. The LE shade Jinx blew me away. SO pigmented. I also love the LE AC/DC, Homegrown and Misdemeanor. The liners of course we already know to rock, and the tiny UDPP is absolutely darling and probably as much as I'd use in a year since I only apply a raindrop per eye. All the shadows are wonderful - the only mark against it is the hateful Midnight Cowboy Rides Again e/s which is like glitter packed in a pan with a bit of binder. Overall I recommend it.
Eye Shadow -Urban Decay - Deluxe Eyeshadow - Scratch
elf_107 8/18/2009 10:25:00 PM
This is my ALL TIME favourite eyeshadow. It is comfortable to wear, doesn't irritate my eye and looks great. It's a silvery pink champagne shimmer colour which is suitable for many uses. it is very finely milled and has the amazing pigmentation that all the deluxe UD shadows seem to have. It works well as a browbone highlighter, or an all over lid colour. Used on my whole lid, I find my face looks more awake and refreshed. It's very versatile and I recommend it.
Lip Gloss -Alba Botanica - Terra Gloss Shimmering Natural Color
elf_107 11/25/2008 3:51:00 AM
I've tried the Terra Gloss in many shades now. My favourite shade is Bloom, which looks fairly natural on me. It's a semi-sheer glossy earthy pink neutral. This gloss has has an ingredient list that looks more on the 'natural' side and does not contain parabens. It has a strong sweet cake-batter vanilla smell and actually also tastes slightly sweet. The sweetness is nice, although I prefer my gloss to be more subtle in the smell department. It has a completely unsticky texture that is quite slippy and somewhat runny. It has quite a pleasant texture on the lips and has pretty good spread. I like the lack of stickiness, but that also means it hasn't got tons of lasting power and goes on a bit thin. Because of this I have to reapply more frequently. Attempting to apply it more thickly can result in sort of runny looking lips which I don't like. I find application tricky because it's runny enough that it's hard to control how much comes out of the flat plastic slant-tip applicator. Normally I really like slant-tip applicators for easy mirror-free application, but because it's so runny and the tip is flat plastic (and not the fluffy stuff) I find this one difficult to control. The other thing I don't love is that the gloss tends to want to separate inside the tube. It may even look slightly separated in the tube when you buy it... I think this may be somewhat normal for this formulation, but it always makes me wonder if it's gone bad or something. What what would make it better for me is if it had a fluffy applicator (either doe foot or slant tip) so it could grab the formula a bit more and keep it from running, and if the texture was a bit thicker. That would make it a lot easier to use. Overall I would recommend this gloss mainly if you are looking for more of a 'natural' type product. It is definitely usable and I like that it is not sticky. I like it better than many crappy drugstore glosses I have tried over the years. In terms of performance, however, I have tried some other high end glosses which I felt gave a better result and were easier to use, so I think I will stick with those for now.