I held off from trying this cult favorite facial scrub for well over 10 years, even though the product junkie inside me really, really wanted to check it out. It just seemed like a ton of hype, and the reviews have always been so mixed. Finding myself at a Bliss spa a few months ago and completely out of any facial exfoliator whatsoever for several weeks, I decided to shell out $50 (!!!) for a tube of Sweep and figured I'd finally give it a go. I've now used the entire tube, and guess what? It's 100% hype. No better than putting baking soda in a milky cleanser. In fact, I think baking soda does a better job of exfoliating. Do not waste your money.
Polishes -Chanel - Le Vernis Nail Colour in Paradoxal #509
empresslilah 12/4/2011 9:02:00 AM
This looks like something really special in the bottle, but looks like mud on the nails. Based on the color in the bottle, I was expecting a semi-dark grayish purple (more purple than gray) with a duo-tone shimmery purple effect in the light. What I got was a chocolatey gray, and you need a magnifying glass to see the purple effect even in direct sunlight. What a letdown. Thankfully, I kept the receipt because this bottle is going back to Bloomingdales.
Without question: The. Best. Basecoat. And. Topcoat, Of. All. Time. Period. I've been getting manicures for eighteen years, and I have NEVER, not once, ever seen a product that worked as well as Truebond. It uses some sort of advanced polymer technology, and it's definitely advised to use the basecoat and topcoat together, but WOW, does this stuff work well. I tend to favor very dark nail colors, and of course you usually only get about 2-3 days before chips appear. With Truebond, my manicure is so fresh-glossy-chipfree-brand new looking a week later when I go in for my next manicure that my manicurist wonders why I'm back. Even with light polish colors, it prevents that roadmap-crack thing that happens in the polish. Without Truebond, my manicure looks glossy-new for about two days and then needs a reapplication of topcoat; with Truebond, I've had people comment on my "brand new manicure" when it had been 10 days or so since I got it done. SpaRitual's nail lacquers are non-toxic and vegan, so this is not like Shellac or that horrid gel stuff that stays forever but destroys your nails. Right now, I've got Essie's Smokin' Hot on, four days into the manicure, not a chip in sight and glossy as glass. Awesome.
Styling Products -Living Proof - Full Thickening Mousse
empresslilah 4/12/2011 11:34:00 AM
I have honestly never had a product work this well before. I have long, fine, textured, naturally curly hair (thinning slightly in the front) which I blow-dry straight with a round boar-bristle brush every other day. My hair doesn't have a lot of weight, so a volumizing product is necessary to help my hair stay straight. I had tried the cream version of Living Proof's Full, but the formulation was too heavy for my hair. Since I've been using the mousse version (about two months), I have lost count of how many people have commented on how great my hair looks, have I gotten it cut, have I gotten it professionally styled, etc. The finished style is unbelievable. I am even overdue for a haircut, and you would never know it. A word to the wise -- you MUST shake this product before dispensing it into your hand. Not doing so will result in your hair feeling somewhat tacky/tangled. Shake it up, dispense some in your palm (around ping-pong ball-ish size for longer hair) rub together and run through your hair...even the roots, seriously. Terrific product, highly, highly recommended.
Skincare - Body -Sally Hansen - Airbrush Legs in Light Glow
empresslilah 5/27/2010 9:45:00 AM
A friend of mine has been recommending this product for years, but I'm super careful about ingredients and a bit of a packaging snob so I declined. I finally bought this yesterday after refusing to shell out $59 for Guerlain's Terracotta spray bronzer at Sephora, used it this morning, and...WOW. Unbelievable! I'm super pale, with even paler legs, and not a fan of self-tanners, pantyhose, or the sun. This product does just enough to give me a healthy dose of color on my legs and arms, without looking obvious, orange or too bronzed. Plus, the color is buildable, so you can start slow and add more if you feel you need it. Some reviews mention messiness in the application, but if you follow the directions on the bottle (which say to spray it in your hand and then apply/blend with your hand) then you won't have that problem. I am not a shimmer/glitter fan, and while this product does give some slight luminescence due to the mica in it, it is extremely faint and actually enhances the look. Also, I haven't noticed any transfer onto clothing. All in all, I'm very happy with this product.
Lip Gloss -Lipstick Queen - Black Shine (Black Tie Optional)
empresslilah 11/17/2009 11:31:00 AM
This probably gets my vote for coolest product of all time. As other reviewers have noted, it's a mostly sheer black-tinted gloss that has substance but isn't nasty/gooey. The best way to describe the effect that this has on other lipstick colors is that it's like sexy black stockings or lingerie for your lips. The effect is incredible! I'm super pale with non-pigmented lips, and even worn alone it's pretty stunning...sort of a semi-sheer purple-tinged black gloss. Not scary or too gothy. I wore it over NARS Masai to a black-tie event last weekend and it totally pulled my makeup together. It was as essential to the outfit as the clutch, wrap and shoes I was wearing! Excellent product.
Firstly, I'm a Dermalogica fan. My skin really likes this moisturizer -- I'm normal/combo with a tendency towards oiliness in the t-zone and towards overall dryness in the Fall & Winter. My skin was needing more moisture in October so I picked this up. I really like what this moisturizer does for my skin, however, it has a very unpleasant smell (sort of plastic with undertones of Robitussin cough syrup) that will probably keep me from repurchasing it. I see that some other reviewers have had the same issue. Like them, I contacted Dermalogica about it, so we'll see how they respond.
Self Tanners -Christian Dior - Dior Bronze Body Self Tanner
empresslilah 7/6/2009 1:12:00 PM
NOTE: This review is for the Natural Glow version, not the Shimmering Glow version. I'm going to put in a good word for this product since I see that the most recent reviews are quite old and probably not reflective of the formulation change in 2007/2008. This is without question the best self-tanner I've ever used, and the only one I continue to use. It doesn't have an evil scent, it's a nice, light caramel-colored gel/cream that glides on and sinks in easily, it doesn't get splotchy, and it produces a buildable, believable tan on my PPP skin. As with any self-tanner, you should exfoliate regularly to avoid uneven color and dry patches, but this is hands down my HG self-tanner. The Natural Glow Face self-tanner is also excellent, and yes, there is a difference between the Body and Face versions...the Body version has alcohol, the Face version does not.
Palettes -Bobbi Brown - Moon Rock Long Wear Eye Palette
empresslilah 11/5/2008 7:13:00 PM
Actually, I rather like this palette. It's expensive, and I won't repurchase it, but I will definitely buy some of the components if they are released as individual products. Yes, the cream shadows are on the sheer side, however - they are completely buildable and they wear like nothing I've ever tried before. Today I wore Gold Drop as a wash from lashline to brow bone with Mineral Dust over the entire lid and into the crease, topped off with the Black Topaz gel eyeliner and some dark brown mascara. I'm writing this at 7pm - I did my eyes at 7am and then spent the day alternating between an air-conditioned conference room and the humid, rainy NYC streets, and there isn't a crease in sight and my eyes still look like they did at 7am. The brush is useless for the shadows (use your finger) but very nice for the eyeliners. And yes, the packaging is a little cumbersome, but given how well the products stay put on your eyes you won't need to reapply or even carry the thing if you don't want to. As for the snap lids, I would much rather have them than not...I spent $55USD on this and don't want everything drying out! All in all? Worth buying once.
Tinted Moisturizer -Dr. Hauschka - Toned Day Cream
empresslilah 8/1/2008 12:29:00 PM
This is probably the only product I have ever used that I would rate as an HG...more like a secret weapon! I am fair with yellow undertones and tend towards slight pinkness in my cheeks. I won't use self-tanners (because of the ingredients) and I prefer to look healthy instead of tan, anyway. This product evens out my skintone and gives the appearance of having gotten a healthy dose of sun. You only need to use a pea-sized amount because it's mineral and very concentrated. It definitely works best on fair ladies like myself, but a light-olive complected friend tried some and it evened her out and brightened her up as well. Don't be scared off by the peanut oil in the ingredients...it is light, non-greasy, non-comedogenic and has never broken me out in over a year of using this cream. Phenomenal product! (p.s. I have worn this to the gym and it does not transfer when you sweat...unlike the Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronze Concentrate.)
Lipstick -Cargo - Cargo - Plant Love Lipstick - Sagarmatha
empresslilah 5/31/2007 6:44:00 PM
I love this lipstick. Let me say that again for emphasis... I LOVE this lipstick. I've made many green and non-toxic choices in my lifestyle, especially where hair, skin and body products are concerned, but no amount of packaging a lipstick in corn-derived material and a box that sprouts wildflowers will get me to buy a product that doesn't work. Well, I am thrilled to say that this lipstick is all that and then some. Great consistency, great color (I am PPP with yellow undertones, brunette with brown eyes), great staying power, great moisturization, great packaging. Do yourself a favor and check out the Plant Love line. If Sagarmatha isn't your color, there are about 12 others to choose from. You'll get a great product, help the earth, and help a great cause (part of the proceeds go to St. Jude's Children's Hospital). I just bought my second tube today!
Moisturizers -Dr. Hauschka - Moisturizing Day Cream
empresslilah 12/28/2006 8:52:00 PM
I'm loving this so far. Just the right amount of moisture without greasiness. My skin absorbs it and is left feeling plump and healthy. I'm a pretty standard combination skin type with oiliness in the t-zone, and I've long since given up on finding that "miracle product" that's going to fix all of my skincare woes. My skin likes this and it doesn't break me out. It's got a mild scent and feels very soothing. The price is criminal, but a little goes a long way. I highly recommend buying the large size, because the small size is 1 oz for $36 versus 3.4 oz. for $60. You do the math... it's almost 3 times the amount!
Lotions/ Creams -Caudalie - Creme Gourmande - Hand and Nail Cream
empresslilah 11/14/2006 10:53:00 AM
This has got to be the best hand/nail cream I have ever used. This is what I wanted Aveda's Hand Repair to be! Non-greasy, thick but not goopy, sinks in right away, moisturizes and leaves hands soft. It smells terrific and the ingredients are almost 100% natural and paraben-free. Also, it doesn't make dark nail polish look like it's covered in a film like some hand creams do. The large size (2.5 oz) sells at Sephora for $19, but Caudalie's website sells a travel sized version (0.5 oz) for $5 that is perfect to toss in the purse. I just ordered 4 of them!
FINALLY, a Viva Glam shade that I can wear! I am PPP with yellow undertones, dark brown hair and brown eyes, and cheeks that tend to have a little pinkness. I usually can't wear much more than a sheer lipstick, and certainly nothing too red or purple, or it can look clownish. A lot of people are saying that Viva Glam VI is "plummy", but on me it's kind of a light reddish plum with a bit of gold mixed in. When I tried it on, the SA at MAC actually thought I hadn't put any on yet -- apparently it wears very sheer on me. She even put a ton on a lipbrush and put more on me, same result. All I know is, the color is beautiful and perfect for my skintone. If you have similar coloring to mine and have eternal difficulty finding a good lipstick color, I highly recommend Viva Glam VI.
What a great addition to the Burt's Bees line. This is a light, non-greasy lotion that moisturizes and leaves skin soft. I don't have sensitive skin, but I'm sure this would be wonderful for people who do. BUT THE BEST PART??? For those of you who love the scent of Burt's Apricot Baby Oil (like I do) but don't always want to use an oil, this smells EXACTLY like it!! My only gripe is the fact that the bottle doesn't have a pump, but the packaging is definitely sturdy. Winner! EDIT (1/8/07) - Unfortunately, there's something in this that causes me to develop a rash on my upper chest and arms. I bought the new Baby Wash as well and it does the same thing. Too bad!