Eyeliner -L'Oreal - Extra-Intense Liquid Pencil Eyeliner
skim1017 9/22/2012 3:06:00 PM
If you want the intense, smudge-free look of a liquid eyeliner, but don't have the patience or steady hand required to apply it, or if you're tired of getting raccoon or even panda eyes by the end of the day with regular eyeliner, this is the perfect eyeliner for you. This is basically a liquid eyeliner in pencil form, so you have the best of both worlds. Here are the pros: (1) it's very creamy, gel-like, and glides without any pulling or tugging; (2) once it sets, it has remarkable, if not frightening, staying power (I tested it out on my hand a few times, and couldn't get it off with soap and water); and (3) the color is super intense (the black is more carbon or onyx than your typical black eyeliner, and even the gray and brown are more like charcoal and espresso). Now for the cons: (1) it tends to flake off, so you might suddenly find yourself with annoying flecks of black eyeliner on your undereye area; (2) if you get it on your eyelashes, which is unavoidable, it tends to clump and harden your lashes like mascara does; (3) if you wear contacts and you get bits of the eyeliner in your eyes, you sometimes end up with a stubborn, waxy, protein deposit-like film on your contacts that blurs your vision (the trick is not to apply the eyeliner too close to your lashes, but even then, just blinking alone can introduce particles of the eyeliner into your eyes). I'm not sure why some people have a hard time sharpening this eyeliner. I use a regular eyeliner sharpener by L'Oreal, and haven't had any problems (I sharpen it each and every time I use it). The only thing I can think of is that the product is very creamy, so it can clog up your sharpener quickly. When that happens, your sharpener won't work properly. Also, I've noticed that certain batches are softer than others, as if they were out in the sun for too long. If you don't want to bother sharpening your eyeliner, a good alternative to this product is Clinique's Quickliner for Eyes Intense, which is a mechanical eyeliner that will give you the same intense, smudge-free finish. The only drawback to that product is that it doesn't have a very fine point and you can't sharpen it. Summary: Despite the cons, I think this is the best drugstore eyeliner. It's even better than most department store eyeliners I've tried.
I bought the Totally Neutral trio to replace a more subtle (as in more office-appropriate and, admittedly, boring) neutral eyeshadow duo by Clinique that was apparently a special edition and no longer available. At first, I was afraid that the darker shades would be too khaki or olive on me and not as neutral as I would have liked, but I've really grown to love this trio. It's the perfect everyday neutral eyeshadow palette because of the range of shades (very light, medium, and dark neutrals) and the texture (velvety with just a hint of shimmer). In addition, it seems to have better color payoff than Clinique's eyeshadow duos, so a little bit goes a long way, especially if you're fair-skinned. While I use this primarily for my daytime/work look, you can also easily use it for a more dramatic, brown smokey-eye look.
I bought this powder to replace Lorac's Evening Out, which was discontinued last year, and I still can't decide if I like this product or not. Here are the pros: it's oil-free, fragrance-free, doesn't break me out, has excellent coverage for a foundation powder, and gives you that soft, flawless look that we all want. But then there are the cons: it comes in very limited shades (7 in total) and tends to get chalky or cakey. I have this in No. 1 and No. 2 because I'm in between shades. The No. 1 is too yellow and light for me, while the No. 2 is too pink and dark for me. Right now, because it's summer, I can get away with wearing the No. 2 by itself, but otherwise, I have to blend the two shades. I don't mind doing that, but what bothers me is that the powder tends to get chalky. It does eventually "melt" into your skin, but even then, it still looks a bit cakey and settles into your pores (and I have small pores and wear a primer). I never had that problem with Evening Out, and I'm surprised that a foundation powder that gets such rave reviews would do that. To minimize the caking, I apply one layer of the powder with a kabuki brush. If I apply two layers, I get more of a flawless look, but then up close, the powder looks cakier, so I generally stick to one layer. This powder would probably look better at night, but in daytime or bright lighting, I feel that I have to check my face in the mirror more often.
Pressed Powders -LORAC - Evening Out Complexion Kit
skim1017 6/20/2012 4:08:00 AM
I don't understand why Evening Out was discontinued. This was a foundation powder + two different shades of concealer all in one convenient compact. Sure, the packaging was a bit bulky, but that's only because it contained both the powder and concealers, not to mention the powder puff and the mini brush for the concealers. I was very disappointed when this powder was discontinued because I always thought the quality of the powder was excellent (satiny, smooth, and natural-looking) and I was never able to find a suitable replacement for it. Plus, it was oil-free, fragrance-free, and didn't cause me breakouts. I ended up buying Laura Mercier's Foundation Powder as a replacement, but I still prefer the texture and finish of Evening Out because the Laura Mercier powder can get chalky if I apply more than one layer. Evening Out never got chalky on me and looked natural even after I applied a few layers. Luckily, I was able to find this online, so I stocked up. I have it in Light, which is the perfect shade for me.
This was my favorite drugstore make-up find this year. I had always been afraid to try out Revlon lipsticks because I thought they would have that old-lady lipstick scent to them, but after reading all the glowing reviews of this shade, I just had to try it. Fortunately, there is no scent, and the texture is surprisingly nice and creamy for a drugstore lipstick. As for the color, it's a poppy/orange/tomato red that looks great on fair/light skin. I can see how it wouldn't look so great on darker or olive skin tones, but it's very flattering on fair skin (either cool or warm). I also bought the Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss in Firecracker and layer that over this lipstick for a more finished look. Orange red is a hot color right now, and the Pantone Color Institute just named orange red, or "Tangerine Tango," as the defining color of 2012. This is a happy, bold color that brightens your face and lifts your mood. Of course, the best part is that I got it for only $5 at my local drugstore.
I have this lipstick in Corset and love it. Corset is a beautiful shade that strikes a nice compromise between coral and red. It's similar to Niagara by Nars (which I love), except it's more intense and matte. It's what I wear when I want bold lips, but don't feel quite bold enough for fire-engine red lips. I've had terrible experience with matte lipsticks in the past because they would inevitably dry out my lips. Surprisingly, while this lipstick has a matte finish, it doesn't feel like your typical matte lipstick and has more of a satin-y texture.
This is a demure, everyday peachy-nude blush that would look best on fair/light skin tones. While that may sound boring, it's surprisingly pretty. Some of the reviewers have described the shade as a peachy pink, but I disagree because there is no pink in this blush. If you're familiar with the Rose Petal blush by Laura Mercier, this has the same color payoff and intensity, except it's peachy-nude instead of pink. I normally don't wear blush in this shade and was afraid that it would make me look washed out (or even worse, orange-y), but I was looking for a peachy blush that was office-appropriate and didn't scream "Orgasm" (as much as I like that wildly popular blush, it's just too shimmery for me for a daytime look). If you're looking for a subtle and matte blush that will add a warm glow to your cheeks without the shimmer, this would be a good product for you.
Pressed Powders -Laura Mercier - Pressed Setting Powder - Translucent
skim1017 12/3/2011 5:53:00 PM
Without question, this is my favorite powder and the one I keep going back to. Recently, I've tried other powders by Lorac and Tarte, but no other powder gives me the flawless look that this powder does. I normally apply it with a powder brush, but the secret to a truly flawless, almost airbrushed look is applying it with the big Laura Mercier powder puff (sold separately) in a rolling motion.
I've always had the hardest time finding the right sunscreen. Physical sunscreens containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide inevitably clog my pores and break me out, even though they're supposed to be "natural" and better for you. Chemical sunscreens don't break me out, but they can sting and burn, especially if they contain high levels of homosalate (for some people who experience stinging and burning from chemical sunscreens, the culprit may be avobenzone, but for me, it's homosalate). In addition, I've noticed that the higher the SPF, the more irritating it is on my skin, so I've never been able to use anything higher than SPF 30 on a long-term basis. It's very frustrating. Anyway, during my latest search for a sunscreen, I came across Kiss My Face Face Factor SPF 30, which contains a combination of chemical and physical sunscreens (octinoxate - 7.5%, octisalate - 3.0%, and zinc oxide - 3.0%). While it's not oil-free (it contains sunflower seed oil), it's paraben-free and fragrance-free. I've only used it a few times so far, but it seems to be working out for me. I haven't experienced any breakouts or irritation, and I like the fact that it's moisturizing enough to use alone (although it's probably too rich for the summer). UPDATE: I've used this for about two weeks now, and I haven't had any breakouts or other problems. UPDATE #2: I've used this for 10 months now, and I still haven't had any breakouts or other problems. Unlike most chemical sunscreens, it doesn't sting or burn. And unlike most physical sunscreens, it doesn't clog my pores or leave that whitish cast on my skin.
This is an interesting powder that "melts" into your skin, giving you a natural, soft, and glowing look that makes you look like you have your own personal lighting crew following you around. It is neither too matte nor too shimmery. It can be worn alone or over foundation, but I prefer to wear it alone. Coverage is sheer to medium, depending on how many layers you apply. I like to apply a single layer for a more natural look. If you apply two layers, it will cover more blemishes and flaws, but you will also look more "made-up." I like how there are three shades in the pan (unifier, sculpter, and illuminer), and you have the option of applying each of the three shades separately or swirling them together for a more glowing look. Having said that, there are three downsides to this powder for me. First, I have it in the lightest shade (20) and I wish they had it in a slightly lighter shade. If I mix the colors together, it's a bit too peachy for me, but if I wear the base alone, it's too flat and beige for me. Second, it's a mineral powder, and my skin generally doesn't tolerate mineral powder very well (titanium dioxide makes me break out), so I can't wear it every day. Third, while the glowing look is beautiful and flattering, it's not so great when the weather is hot or when your skin gets oily, so I wear this only in the fall/winter. UPDATE: This product must be discontinued. Sephora doesn't seem to carry it any longer, and I don't see it on the Dior website, either.
I went to see a dermatologist a month ago for some minor discoloration/hyperpigmentation on my face from the sun. She didn't recommend bleaching cream or chemical peels for me, but prescribed Finacea instead. I was surprised to find out later that Finacea is normally prescribed for rosacea and acne, but I can see how it would work for discoloration since it inhibits melanin. Anyway, during Week 1, I didn't notice any of the side effects other than slight stinging/burning and drying. By Week 2, however, I began experiencing the purging and breakouts that so many reviewers have written about. This was extremely annoying and discouraging since I was using the product for discoloration and was afraid that the breakouts would cause even more discoloration! What was even more frustrating was that the breakouts were often painful, red cysts, which I normally don't get. Around Week 3, the purging subsided a bit and I began to notice some improvement. The discolored area looked a bit lighter and smoother. Other than the discolored area, my skin looked smooth, so I felt encouraged. Now, it's Week 4, and I'm still experiencing the purging, which is suddenly worse than it was before. At the same time, the stinging/burning and drying are also worse than they were before. Last week, at least my skin was smooth and I had no issues other than the discoloration, but now, it feels like every blackhead and whitehead is being brought up to the surface. My skin feels rough and dry. I know these are all common side effects and that it's normal for your skin to get worse before it gets better with Finacea, but it's still very frustrating. I can't imagine using Finacea for acne. I've read that the purging can last for 6-8 weeks. When do you start to see any any improvement? UPDATE #1: It's now Week 7 for me. The breakouts and purging have subsided once again, and I no longer feel that each and every blackhead and whitehead is being brought to the surface. I'm still getting the red cysts that I was getting around Week 2, but not as many as I was getting before. Overall, the surface and texture of my skin is back to normal, and not rough and dry like it was during Weeks 2 and 4. Still, I'm very frustrated because I've had more breakouts from using Finacea than I have in my entire life. I've been very patient and disciplined with this product because I was told that it would work slowly and I knew about the side effects. However, considering that I was prescribed this product for minor discoloration, I don't know if all these breakouts, which could potentially lead to more discoloration, are worth it. UPDATE #2: After using Finacea for a full 3 months, I haven't noticed any fading of my discoloration. If anything, all Finacea did for me was break me out in cysts, which in turn led to scars that I didn't have before and more discoloration.
Despite hearing good things about Clarisonic, I was very skeptical about this product because I didn't think that a skin care brush would make that much of a difference in the way your skin looks. I certainly didn't think that any skin care brush would be worth $150. After using the Mia twice a day for a month, however, I have to say that this is the best skin care purchase I've made in years. Sure, it's pricey, but think of it as an investment. You can use it with any cleanser, and it actually makes ALL of your skin care products work better by helping your cleanser to really clean your pores and prepping your skin for better absorption of serums and moisturizers. If you find that your favorite skin care products stop working for you after a while, this will be a great booster for your existing products. As for the people who are experiencing dryness or breakouts, you might be scrubbing too hard with the brush. Alternatively, you might be using the wrong type of brush for your skin. I have the brush for sensitive skin, and I haven't experienced any problems at all. In addition, it takes time to see a noticeable improvement in your skin. I didn't notice any difference in my skin at first, but after using it consistently for two weeks, I began to see smoother, clearer, and more radiant skin. I'm glad I purchased the Mia and can't imagine going back to manually washing my face now.
Foundations -Stila - one step makeup [DISCONTINUED]
skim1017 7/18/2010 4:09:00 AM
I had initially planned on buying a powder foundation (to replace my Cargo Wet Dry Powder Foundation) when I saw the Stila One Step at Sephora. A primer, foundation, concealer, and powder all in one product sounded like a great time-saver, but I was afraid that it would be too matte, too drying, and too heavy-looking on me. Fortunately, my fears were never realized. This product looks great on my skin, giving it a flawless, airbrushed look throughout the day. I apply a small amount with a foundation brush and set it with my Laura Mercier translucent powder. The finish is neither dewy nor matte, but somewhere in between, and the coverage is buildable from sheer to medium. Update: I had originally bought this in Light, but it was a bit too orange-y on me, so I had to exchange it for Fair. Now, it's perfect.
Skincare - Face -MD Formulations - Illuminating Serum
skim1017 5/21/2010 4:48:00 AM
I used this a few years ago and began using it again recently after a disastrous experience with Clinique's Even Better Clinical, which clogged my pores and broke me out (apparently, many reviewers had the same reaction to that product). This won't do anything for severe hyperpigmentation issues, but it evens out your skin tone and keeps your skin clear without being too harsh. It stings slightly when you first put it on, but I've never had any adverse reactions to it. It also helps to use it in conjunction with other MD Formulations products, such as the Facial Cleanser and Moisture Defense Antioxidant Creme. As a few reviewers wrote below, it may seem that this product stops working after a while, but you will notice a substantial difference in your complexion during the first few weeks of use.
Dandelion by Benefit was my favorite pink blush....until I discovered this Rose Petal blush by Laura Mercier. It's a subtle, pretty shade of pink that brightens up your face without being too bubblegum pink or shimmery. I liked Dandelion, but I was looking for an alternative because the packaging was too bulky and it contained too much fragrance for me. Rose Petal comes in a small, sleek compact that is easy to carry around in your make-up bag or purse, AND it contains no fragrance.