For reference, my hair is 3a-b coarse, moderately porous, thick, and bra strap length. I have been following modified curly girl method for about 2 years, meaning I will occasionally use water soluble silicones and that I use sulfate free shampoos to cleanse as needed. I am always on the hunt for silicone free, protein free deep treatments that I can buy "over the counter," so to speak. E.g., not have to order on the web. I found this at Whole Foods, and everything on the label looked good, so I decided to try it. Stupidly, when I got home, I threw the receipt away with the bag (huge mistake). I shampooed my hair with Queen Helene Royal Curl Shampoo immediately before using this product. I'll cut to the chase: this product is horrible. It comes out of the tube looking and feeling like a worm made of mayonnaise. I find mayonnaise nauseating, therefore the texture and appearance of this product was quite disgusting to me. I won't let something as little as texture put me off, though, so I went ahead and applied it to my hair. I had noticed it didn't have that great of a smell when I opened it, but I didn't think it was anything horrible, until it actually hit my head. OH MY GOSH. The only way to describe the smell is wet dog. Maybe wet dog with some dirt mixed in, I don't know. However you want to describe it, I had to fight my gag reflex. I pushed through in the name of product experimentation, and began trying to work it through my hair. I had applied approximately a golf ball sized blob to my head and smeared it all over the length of my hair. When I tried to finger detangle like I always do, my hair wouldn't budge. This product has NO SLIP at all. I had to pull and tug and go a fraction of an inch at a time to get through my poor tangled hair. It hurt, to be honest. I ended up glopping on another golf ball sized blob of this stuff, hoping to lubricate my hair a little more to see if that would help. It did a little bit, but not a whole lot. It took me about 5 minutes to work through my hair completely with my fingers, when it usually takes me about 30 seconds to a minute. I put my hair up in clips to give the product time to sink in (1-10 minutes is the recommended time on the bottle) while I shaved my legs. By the time I was done shaving, not only was the smell unbearable, but my scalp was actually starting to burn mildly. When I rinsed this crap off, it didn't even rinse all the way out. It left a coating of waxy residue all over my scalp and down the length of my hair. Plus, the wet dog smell permeated my hair. It was DISGUSTING. The burning wasn't going away, and I had actually started to develop a fine rash/small hives on my shoulders and arms where my hair had touched it, so I just said forget it and re-shampooed my hair with the QHRC poo. I followed with my regular conditioner, Sally's GVP Conditioning Balm, and a dab of leave in conditioner at the end, and my hair was okay. This product is nothing short of HORRIBLE. I immediately threw it in the trash. I wouldn't even use this product to condition the hair on my long haired dog.
Lotions/ Creams -The Body Shop - Almond Body Butter
finch96 1/22/2013 11:38:00 PM
I have very dry, sensitive skin that requires tons of extra moisture, especially in the winter. Every single product in my shower and on my vanity has "hydrating" or "moisturizing" somewhere on the label, because my skin is always thirsty for more. I am also a nurse, and winter is particularly brutal on your hands when you are a nurse, due to the fact that you wash your hands 1000 times a shift at work. My hands were forever dry, I always had hangnails, I always had dry cuticles, I always had little splits at the tips of my fingers. This is even with using paraffin baths and creams as rich as Nivea and Aquaphor. Then I tried Almond Body Butter. I am ADDICTED, and my hands are in the best shape they've been in since I can remember. First and foremost, the smell is lovely. A soft, sweet almond scent that is not too cloying and not too overpowering. Slightly less than Jergens original lotion cherry almond scent, for reference. The butter is rich, but soft and smooth and spreads easily into the skin. It does leave my hands and arms greasy for about 5-10 minutes after I put it on, but this is probably due to the fact that I use a large dollop (about the size of a marble) each time I moisturize. Regardless, I personally can get past the greasy phase because of what this product has done for my skin. Even with constant hand washing, cleaning, taking care of 2 kids, and dry winter air heated with gas heat (which is even more drying than a heat pump) and no humidifier in the house, my hands are soft and crack free, with no hangnails. My cuticles are supple and actually look like they're supposed to look. I got this tub on sale at Ulta for $15. I liked it so much that when The Body Shop had a sale the next week, I got 2 tubs of the Cocoa Butter for $5/each and one mini tub of the Coconut Butter for $6, free shipping. For the price and the quality of the product, I give this 5 lippies all around. It is a truly fantastic product.
This is a white, slightly thick primer that comes in a slender, narrow round tube. The brush is a synthetic fiber "teddy bear" brush, large, and generally easy to work with. The way I use this product is to apply it to my lashes, wait about 20-30 seconds, then go ahead and apply my mascara while it is still slightly tacky. It has caused no irritation to my eyes, and is easily removed with standard eye makeup remover. The real miracle is that this primer, when used under ANY mascara (and I do mean ANY...even the cheapest drugstore brand), will make that mascara bullet proof for 12 + hours for me. I don't even get that kind of wear with water proof mascara. If I use this primer, my mascara will not run even after a crazy, sweaty, run-my-butt-off 12 hour shift at work (I'm a nurse). I will not have smears, flakes, or smudges of any kind. No raccoon eyes. The true testament to the value of this product, however, has been demonstrated this week when we have had temperatures consistently in the 100 degree fahrenheit range this week, and my mascara STILL has not run or smudged. Even with constant wiping of sweat (I have kids who do not understand the concept of not playing outside when the sun is hot enough to bake your brain) off my face and eyes, my mascara miraculously remained intact. The air has been soupy with humidity, too. I am simply amazed. I love, love, LOVE this stuff. Worth every penny. Run to your nearest Lancome counter and pony up the cash for this little gem. You won't be disappointed.
Hair Removal -Unlisted Brand - Skintimate Moisturizing Cream Shave - Dry Skin
finch96 7/19/2011 11:16:00 PM
For reference, my skin is sensitive, combo/dry on my face, but for the most part dry on my body. I burn easily (even through spf 50), and require heavily moisturizing products constantly in my skincare regimen, even during the humid summer months (I live in the south). I have been using this shave cream for about 2 months now, after reading the reviews here, and it is flat out fabulous. It is, hands down, the best shave product I have ever used. When I shave with this product, afterward, not only do I have a silky smooth shave, but my skin feels like I have applied lotion to it as well. My legs feel hydrated and soft, not dry and tight, like they do even with shave cream that is supposedly formulated for "dry skin." The scent of this product is DELICIOUS. It smells like vanilla and candy. I absolutely adore the scent. I'm sure some may find it a bit cloying and sweet, but for me, this scent is right up my alley. The bottle that this comes in is quite handy, and I find it easy to use. I like the fact that the dispenser opening is on the bottom, and it is easy to squeeze out. I squeeze out about a quarter sized amount to shave one leg, and have zero problems with my razor clogging (I use a Venus razor). If you encounter clogs, just give your razor a flick every couple of passes to get the excess product off and keep shaving. No harm, no foul. The price is not bad at all, around $3.50 USD, and I am finding that one bottle lasts me about 1 month if I shave every other day (I have 2 kids....this is my reality). If you want to get a really super smooth shave, I highly recommend doing a sugar scrub first (I like Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub), then shaving. Your legs will be so smooth and so glossy, even YOU won't be able to stop touching them. Overall I think this is a great product, and I will definitely repurchase.
For reference, my skin is dry/combo, sensitive, NC/NW (jury's still out) 25-30 (usually 25 but I accidentally tanned :/). I wear NW25 in MAC and Soft Bisque in Clinique Soft Finish, if that gives you a better idea of my coloring. My hair is darker brown, my lips are lightly pigmented. I bought this color on a whim because it looked pretty in Ulta, and I'm a lipstick hoor. Turns out, I find myself reaching for this color every day now. It is a mauvey brownish pink color that looks, well, just perfect on me. It gives my lips a deep, brownish mauve tone that I just love and that just enhances their coloring and shape without overpowering. The texture is silky smooth, glides on very nicely. It is the perfect "neutral" color for me. As for the staying power, it's interesting. Yeah, the product slides off when eating and drinking, of course. However I notice, after 1 or 2 reapplications, the pigment pretty much stays on my lips after that. Almost like a lip stain. At any rate, I think it's a lovely color, and am delighted to have picked it up, and will surely stockpile tubes of it lest NYX do something evil and discontinue it, as we know makeup companies like to do.
Styling Products -Unlisted Brand - Botticelli Botanicals Flax Gelee
finch96 6/19/2011 6:00:00 PM
I have used this product for going on 2 years now, and have privately recommended it to many fellow curly girls, so I thought it was time for a formal review. This is a hair styling product specifically made by a curly girl for curly girls. It is a flax seed based "gelee," which is essentially a watery gel, and meant to be used as a curl enhancer/primary styling product used in conjunction with a hard hold gel on top. It comes in both 8 oz. and 16 oz. size bottles, with a pour spout bottle top. I use about a silver dollar sized amount on wet hair by raking it through and then scrunching it in. I then add hard hold gel and/or serum or whatever on top and diffuse dry. If you don't use a hard hold gel with this, there is not much to hold the style, but the upshot is that there is zero "crunch," and your curls will be soft to the touch when dry. One of the best things about this product is that each bottle is 100% tailored to your specifications. You pick the added ingredients (for example, I add coconut oil, agave nectar, and just a *pinch* of magnesium sulfate to mine), and you pick the scent. Her scent list is extensive. She even has the Burt's Bees Baby Bee scent, which is a scent I ADORE. I have had my gelee scented with that before, and it was practically edible. You can have her tweak the formula to whatever works best for your hair. Her products are protein, silicone, and sulfate free. The only cons to this product are availability (available on Etsy only), price ($15 for an 8oz. bottle), and packaging. I would prefer a pump, but I believe if she (the manufacturer) changed to a pump bottle, it would cause the price of the product to rise significantly, so I am content with the less than convenient packaging. I don't like the price, and it is steep for me, but IMO worth it because it is such a quality product. Not being able to walk into a drug store or salon and buy this product also sucks, but isn't that always how it is with the really good stuff? Online only? Erin is a very professional, polite businesswoman, and wonderful to deal with. I highly recommend giving her products, especially the flax gelee, a try. The store on Etsy is Botticelli Botanicals. Link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BotticelliBotanicals
I bought the #20 from Sephora for $38 USD, after multiple recommendations from the nail board ladies. It pained me to spend so much, but I did it, because the Ped Egg changed it's blade and it was no longer working at all. I am happy to report that as usual, the ladies on the nail board were right. The Diamancel made the Ped Egg it's b**ch. Here's why: 1. It takes off the dead stuff much more gently, so that you're not afraid you're going to shave your foot bloody like you are with the Ped Egg. You can go over the "tender" areas on your foot without fear of hurting yourself. 2. It takes off waaaay more actual dead skin than the Ped Egg, not live tissue, if that makes sense? I can tell after using it that the Ped Egg kind of goes too "deep" when it shaves. Tons and tons and tons of dead skin came off (sorry, gross I know), and at first I didn't feel like it was doing anything because my feet didn't immediately feel that squishy soft like they do when you use the Ped Egg. Then I walked on my feet afterward, and could DEFINITELY tell a difference. THEN I put AHA lotion on my feet and it was obvious. This thing takes off the dead stuff and leaves your feet smooth without leaving them vulnerable. 3. This thing is seriously heavy duty. You can tell it's going to take a beating and still stay sharp and effective. 4. It's so slim and tiny!! You can just slip it into your pedicure supply basket or whatever and it doesn't take up a ton of room. :D What I DON'T like about it: 1. It doesn't have that nifty little cup that the Ped Egg has to catch the shavings. Ew. Do your feet over a towel or something, 'cause DAYUM. Nasty. 2. Because it DOESN'T shave your feet down the way the Ped Egg does, you really are going to have to use it probably every other day or even every day to start with (if your feet are in bad condition) until you get your feet to a "maintenance" point. Unlike the Ped Egg, you can't use this to go to town on your nasty feet once or twice a month. It's a maintenance tool. So there ya go, that's my take, fwiw. YMMV, batteries not included, stunt driver on a closed course, please wear your seatbelt, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Misc Beauty Tools -Japonesque - Precision Lash Definer/ Metal Lash Comb
finch96 4/7/2011 1:05:00 PM
This is a metal lash comb that has a short plastic handle and a small hard plastic cover to go over the head of the comb when not in use. The handle is approximately 4 inches long and gently curved to fit ergonomically into your hand in the exact position to comb your lashes. The metal teeth of the comb are flat and thin, and softly rounded at the end, so unlike other metal lash combs, there is not the danger of painfully stabbing yourself. The teeth are smooth to the touch and do not hurt, yet comb through lashes effortlessly like you would expect a metal lash comb to perform. There is a small hard plastic sleeve that fits over the head of the comb to protect it when not in use, and this sleeve slides over the end of the handle for safe keeping when you are using the lash comb (if you forget this little trick, it says to do this right on the box). I found this comb at Ulta for $8 USD. It is great quality, and I would definitely repurchase. Great little find.
I like my holos to be strong, linear, and in your face like a rabid little chiahuahua that won't let go. GOSH Holographic is all of that. It's an in your face, jumping up and down screaming "LOOK AT ME" awesome linear holo that packs a solid enough punch to take down even the crowned Chanel Holographic. It is so full of awesome that you will wonder how they packed all of it into that teeny little bottle. Here are the technical details you need to know: 1. You MUST use a special base coat for this polish (and all holo polishes, really). A cheap alternative is to get a matte top coat and apply that as your base. It works just as well. 2. Holos will "drag" with the first, and sometimes even the second coat. They are frustrating to work with at first if you expect instant payoff. The color will smooth out with each successive coat. This one requires 3 coats to be smooth. Be patient, and let each coat dry before applying a new one. This is not a manicure you can do a rush job on. 3. You cannot use just any old top coat with a holo, either. It will kill the holo effect or at least dull it. The safe top coats to use with this polish (other than GOSH top coat) are either Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in the red bottle with the white cap, or Seche Vite. This is a fantastic polish, especially for the sunny months. If you like the "wow" factor on your nails, then this is what you're looking for.
I have been a loyal Seche Vite user, but was still getting a lot of shrinkage and tip wear, and my manis were not lasting more than a day or two before chipping, regardless of how careful I was. I got my first bottle of ME in a swap, and it was like a miracle hit my nails. For the first time ever, a manicure lasted 4 days with only minimal tip wear, and no chips. I have seen this result consistently with ME, no matter what polish I have used. I apply one coat of ME as my first top coat over mostly dry polish, then a coat of SV as my quick dry after that, and I see no shrinkage. I follow with a coat of ME each day thereafter to maintain the manicure, and I get no chips and minimal tip wear. My manicures last for DAYS. Bear in mind, the bottle says, "quick dry," but ME alone takes approximately 2 hours to dry, hence the reason I use SV on top. Since SV is prone to causing shrinkage, the secret to avoiding that is to apply to ME to a fresh mani that has mostly dried first, THEN apply the SV on top. As for the price, it is expensive if you buy it at Ulta or CVS or Barielle.com. The secret is to find it at Ross, TJ Maxx, or Marshall's. I found 2 bottles at Ross for $3.99 USD each. Taking the time to hunt down this gem at those stores is totally worth it, as it will give your manicures much longer wear and shine. Highly recommended.
Treatments -Unlisted Brand - Cuccio Sicilian Nail Whitening Paste
finch96 1/12/2011 8:57:00 AM
I purchased this product based on the review of a nail blogger (she was not paid for the product review). My nails do not have horrible staining, but have some yellow staining towards the ends, and are not presentable for wear without polish because of this. This product can be purchased at various places online, from amazon to the beauty clutch to the nail superstore. Prices and shipping vary; I paid $9.99 USD for a 1.75 oz. tube with free shipping, for reference. The product itself is very very VERY thick, and difficult to dispense. I found that kneading the tube (with the cap still on) for a couple of minutes prior to use made it much easier to dispense. The primary ingredient in the product is calcium carbonate, which is the main component of things like eggshells and seashells, if that gives you any indication of how thick this paste is. I used a miniature toothbrush to scrub my nails with this paste, and put a tiny dab of paste on each nail prior to scrubbing. I scrubbed well, but was not "wowed" by the results the first time around. I had to go ahead and scrub them all over again to really see an impact. The blogger whose review I read did not state how many times she had to scrub to get her nails white again, but I suspect it was much more than once. Another nail blogger stated she had to do it 3 times before she saw success. The bottom line is that that product works, and it works much better than soaking in whitening mouth wash or other stain removal tricks that I have tried. Since I only use a small amount at a time, despite having to go through 3 scrub downs, the tube will last a good while because the product is so dense. For me, it is worth the money, as I only do stain removal about once a month or so on my nails. For others, YMMV, depending on how much you are wanting to whiten and how badly your nails are stained. Overall, I think it is a decent product and worth checking out.
Conditioner -Unlisted Brand - Generic Value Products GVP Conditioning Balm
finch96 12/16/2010 9:02:00 AM
For reference, my hair is moderately coarse, wavy/curly, and bra-strap length. Because it is wavy/curly, it is "thirsty," and requires tons of moisture year-round. I have been using this conditioner for well over a year now. I was introduced to this conditioner when I started the curly girl routine, because this co is silicone and protein free, plus it is very rich and readily available. All things that are pluses in my book. The consistency is extremely thick and waxy, and unless the bottle is stored upside down in your shower, dispensing it will be a problem. Storing the bottle upside down (they make shower organizers specifically designed to hold bottles inverted...I own one just for my GVP conditioner) makes dispensing a snap. Because this conditioner is silicone free, there is not nearly as much slip to it as there is in silicone-based conditioners, and if you're used to silicone based conditioners, this will take some getting used to. To ensure even distribution through your hair, rake it through with your fingers or use a wide toothed comb in the shower. Although this conditioner does have some problem areas (bottle type, not available in gallon sizes for those of us who use tons of conditioner), the fact is that it is a very rich conditioner that does the job of moisturizing my thirsty hair extremely well, and it does it at a fraction of the cost of other silicone/protein-free conditioners that I would have to special order. I got a Sally's club card exclusively because of how much of this conditioner I buy, if that tells you anything. It was worth every penny.
This is a cool toned bright green glitter polish that is available at Five Below (aka the dollar store on steroids). It comes in an oddly shaped elliptoid bottle with a long handle and medium width brush. Application was somewhat difficult with the first layer, as the glitter is quite chunky. However, once I learned the polish with the first layer, the second layer went on nicely. Because the polish is so thick with glitter, it is not runny and does not pool. However, this also means it is a little difficult to spread, so you have to work quickly and carefully to get even distribution. Once it dries, the finish is somewhat mattified, which I have found to be true with all of my Funky Fingers polishes for some reason. This is easily remedied with 2 coats of Seche Vite topcoat. Perhaps the thing I love the most about this polish (other than the price...can't beat $2 USD a bottle) is that it contains holo glitter, which gives it such depth and makes it absolutely sparkle on the nail. For such an inexpensive polish, it certainly packs a punch in the "wow" department. It is a wonderful polish that will easily transcend the holiday season and look great year round.
I am one of the unfortunate souls who had a horrible outbreak of pimples from biotin. I chose to take biotin to help my peely, flimsy, slow growing nails grow out more. Unfortunately, I didn't do my homework here first, or else I would have perhaps chosen a different brand or even skipped taking biotin all together. I used the Spring Valley brand (available at Wal Mart) in the 5000 mcg dose. My previously dry, sensitive skin that had only occasional outbreaks of one or two zits a month turned into an oily, pimply, white head riddled landscape. I even got zits on my scalp. It was horrible. I had never suffered such horrible breakouts, even as a teenager (I'm 37). Did my nails grow? You bet. Biotin certainly works and lives up to it's reputation in that area. If you choose to take biotin, I would say buyer beware, and read all the reviews here first. Do your research, see what brands aren't breaking people out and which ones are. Biotin definitely works and will make your nails and hair grow, however it can have unwanted side effects. Use with caution.
For reference, my skin tone is NC/NW 20-25, sensitive and leans dry/combination. First, the color. This color is a rich, black/brown based metallic cranberry red. It is very very rich and heavy looking, and has a subtle shimmer to it. It is really like the lip gloss version of Illamasqua's Scarab nail polish. It is simply gorgeous, and very flattering with my dark brown hair and brown eyes. The formula applies easily, however, it isn't like a traditional lip gloss Once applied, it dries to a feel that reminds me of the Revlon Colorstay lipsticks. It feels like a traditional gloss going on; e.g., that slightly tacky/sticky feel, but then it dries to feel like you might need to apply a balm over it for moisture. I chose not to apply a balm, and one application lasted several hours without the need for touch up. The applicator is a clear plastic slanted tip, which I really like. It makes application easy, and you can see exactly how much product you are dispensing. Overall, this is a fantastic product, and I highly recommend it.