This is a staple in my bag and at home; I repurchase it routinely. In the summer my hands are never dry, but when winter rolls around...Also, I work in a restaurant kitchen and wash my hands constantly (my hands look about 10 years older than I am), so this stuff is a godsend. I never leave home without it. The only hand cream I've tried that compares is L'Occitane's shea butter cream, which is too expensive for me to be a mainstay like Glysomed. My only con is the smell, which I find distractingly herbal/floral.
Smooth, slightly floral skin musk with hints of fruit, woods, and incense. Similar to Narciso Rodriguez for Her, although less vivid and blaring, and a tad less animalic. Lovely tips a hat to the classic floral musks of yesteryear while remaining modern and effortlessly wearable. There are times when nothing but a simple, pleasant musk will do, and Lovely fits the bill while maintaining interest throughout its development on the skin. This won't shake the Earth or have men buzzing around you like flies, but it is sensual and sophisticated, unfussy, and a textbook example of a "your skin but better" scent. Blessedly free of sweetness, vanilla, and/or sharp, heady floral notes - the hallmarks of a typical celebrity fragrance (not to mention some designers). This one is in a different class altogether. If Narciso is too much for you, give Lovely a try. (It's also more reasonably priced than the former while not smelling at all "cheap".)
Lush's practice of offering their entire perfume line in solid versions is pure genius, and I wish more fragrance companies would follow suit. What a fragrance loses in solid form - projection, longevity, and euphoric, nose-tingling top notes - it makes up for in sheer ease of use, portability, and cost-effectiveness, and Lush's solids have the added benefit of being 100% true to the spray versions in terms of scent. You could buy solids of the entire Gorilla Perfume line and have enough fragrance to last for eons without breaking the bank. They're a great way to "live" with a perfume for a while before deciding to upgrade to the full-size spray if you so choose. I'm sold on solids! Anyway. Karma is an open-armed, giddy blast of sweet orange, pine, lavender, incense, and patchouli, bursting with bohemian joie-de-vivre and utterly charming in spite of its raw, distinctive character. I used to loathe Karma, and my first few trips to a Lush store left me wondering why anyone would want to smell of the stuff, let alone wash, moisturize, and shampoo with it. My mercurial tastes being what they are, I've recently come around to Karma and am now completely smitten. It puts a smile on my face, and its outdoorsy, sweet/earthy character is a perfect accompaniment to those sunny summer days when the sky seems to want to swallow the earth. I find it a little fresh and herbal to wear comfortably in the winter, when I want something a little more sedate and soothing, but in wamer weather Karma really comes into its own. It's more complex than it might seem at first sniff, and it never smells exactly the same on me from day-to-day. If I could sum it up in a blurb, it would be "orange creamsicle in a forest". Sweet, citrusy, yet green and sharp, with a delicious patchouli and lavender undercurrent. It's not a scent for everyone, but even its haters would probably concur that there is nothing else like it. The Karma solid is slightly more relaxed and easier to wear than the spray version, due to its lower concentration of fragrance oils. The longevity on me is okay, not spectacular - a few hours before I have to put my nose right up against my wrist to smell even a faint whiff. (The spray version lasts longer, but it's not nuclear by any means.) The packaging for the solid is a push-up tube, so when you screw the cap back on the solid gets pushed back down. Be gentle with it so the solid won't get squished or broken apart. The scent, as described above, is almost identical to the spray version - less intense, and with slightly less of the soapy lavender/pine bite of the spray, but otherwise the same.
So you love Lush's Karma, but everyone around you hates it, and you don't plan on forsaking society and living as a nomad so as not to offend such sensitive souls. What to do? Enter Karma Kream, a body lotion that forfeits the nostril-searing medicinal punch of the perfume but retains the overall character. For those unfamiliar, Karma is essentially sweet orange jazzed up by patchouli, lavender, pine, and lemongrass. The lavender and pine lend a soapy, outdoorsy freshness to the sweet/earthy interplay of the patchouli and orange. The contrast between the orange-creamsicle top and the forest-floor base gives Karma a compelling yin/yang quality, similar to the patchouli and cotton candy tug-of-war in Thierry Mugler's Angel. There are subtle but barely perceptible variations in the scent between all of Karma's forms - liquid perfume, solid perfume, cream, soap, shampoo, etc. Karma Kream strikes me as a hair sweeter and more vanillic than the liquid, with slightly more perceptible lavender, but I'm splitting hairs. The lotion is strongly scented, as it should be, but not obnoxiously so, and in fact is probably the most approachable form of Karma for those wary of its love-it-or-hate-it reputation. And fans of the perfume will have an obvious use for the Kream - it offers all the sprightly, quirky character of the liquid while keeping the sillage low and the more strident notes in check. And, hey, it moisturizes well, too.
Moisturizers -Equate - Complete Beauty Lotion with SPF 15 - Sensitive Skin
subhuman85 2/4/2012 3:40:00 AM
I would never have purchased this product without reading a review of Olay's Complete SPF 15 that recommended the Equate version over the "real deal", due to Equate's inclusion of zinc and physical sunscreens rather than chemical. Sure, whatever - I'm not a chemist or dermatologist, but I'll take MUA's word for it. I stumbled upon this at Wal-Mart recently while looking for my usual Olay Complete lotion, and the price for the Equate version couldn't be beat - $6.50 vs. $11 for Olay at Wal-Mart, and the Olay goes for $17.99 everywhere besides Wal-Mart here in Canada. I figured I'd give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. Right away, I notice a difference between this and the Olay Complete lotion. Olay leaves an oily sheen on my already-oily skin; this doesn't. Olay takes a while to "sink into" my skin and look natural; this sinks in right away and gives a nice matte finish, the likes of which I've never seen from a moisturizer. Like the box promises, Equate's lotion feels like it's barely there, but it moisturizes adequately and leaves no residue or "thick" feeling on my face. The SPF is gravy, and the fact that I can re-apply if needed without turning my face into a grease-pan is brilliant. I would never have found this gem without MUA, and I highly recommend it for those with sensitive, naturally oily, or anything-in-between skin. This one's a keeper.
O-M-freakin'-G. Here's the deal: My hair hates shampoo. Every time I wash it, it's guaranteed to frizz, poof, and generally look embarassing, with or without conditioner. As such, I try to avoid washing it more than 3 times a week, but I have an oily scalp and my hair gets greasy-looking about 2-3 days after washing. Bottom line: I can't avoid shampoo, but I need one that won't turn my hair into an unmanageable frizz-ball. Enter Redken. During my most recent trip to the salon, my hairdresser washed and conditioned my hair with what turned out to be a couple of miracle products. I was gobsmacked at the results. My hair had never felt softer, smoother, and more manageable, and I chalked it up to a stylist's expertise and that mysterious "old salon magic". (She didn't do any fancy stuff to my hair, just a basic wash, cut, and quick blow-dry.) But I asked her what she'd used anyway, and she told me it was All Soft. I'd never heard of it. A quick MUA search told me it was by Redken, and after a trip to my local Trade Secrets, I held a $15 bottle of the shampoo in my hands. (Ouch.) I fully expected to be let down by the results at home. I wasn't. All Soft is frickin' brilliant. I shampooed and skipped conditioner - something I haven't done since I was a teenager with a buzz-cut - and was blown away when I stepped out of the shower. My hair felt soft, silky, smooth, and every other covetable shampoo-commercial adjective you can think of. I let it air dry, and it didn't frizz, puff out for miles, or feel straw-like and brittle. I immediately renounced all drugstore shampoos and conditioners and swore allegiance to Redken. Beginner's luck? Time will tell. Yes, Redken is costly. But my experience with All Soft strengthens my already-firm belief that when it comes to hair products, for the most part, you get what you pay for. I'm happy to pay for genius in a bottle, especially when it garners these results. HG to the max.
This one grew on me. I used to think it was harsh, bitter, loud, and obnoxious. I still think it's obnoxious and bitter, at least upon first spraying. But the drydown...oh, sweet Jeebus. Caramel, coffee, dark chocolate, patchouli, and leather. Absolutely luscious. Completely unisex, btw - if you find the women's Angel too sweet or cloying, give the men's one a try. It's darker, more "roasted", and less heady but still rich and sweet. Not for all tastes, but I think it's fabulous.
After trying gels both high- and low-end, this is the only one I'll allow near my hair these days. It doesn't make my hair stiff, crunchy, dry, or frizzy; it keeps the texture and definition I like in a gel but brushes and washes out easily; and it holds but still lets my hair move. The alcohol-free formula keeps my hair feeling soft and almost "conditioned". It's also lightweight, and unlike most drugstore gels, a little goes a long way, so my bottle will last a while. It's worth the extra $. I avoided trying Exxtra for a while because of harsh reviews of other Nexxus products and the fact that they're no longer a salon-exclusive brand, so I assumed the formula and ingredients had cheapened and dropped in quality. But the truth is that every Nexxus product I've purchased from the drugstore has impressed me and worked wonders on my tough-to-manage hair. I shouldn't have doubted the effectiveness of this gel. HG material, and I'll definitely repurchase.
Fragrances -Thierry Mugler - Angel Comet Eau De Toilette Refillable Spray
subhuman85 12/16/2011 10:21:00 PM
Mugler's iconoclastic classic gets the Bath and Body Works treatment with this lighter, fresher, cleaner interpretation. Angel's signature caramel and cotton candy is here, but buffeted by a soapy, fruity/floral heart accord that calls to mind a scented candle from the mall, or a shower gel named something like "Berry Passion". Clean patchouli and a wisp of cedar admirably keep the sweetness in check, and like the original eau de parfum, Angel EDT manages to use gourmand flourishes without smelling literally edible. An easygoing alternative to those who can't stomach (so to speak) the brash original, but I can't help feeling that this "Angel with manners" misses the point of the whole enterprise. Angel is crass by design, and that's what makes it so fun to wear; this toned-down EDT comes off as a less memorable imposter rather than a worthy update. Pleasant but boring. (Three lippies for terrific lasting power and a spectacular bottle.)
Intriguingly sophisticated, "perfumey" scent geared toward young women who have outgrown (or perhaps not) the slick, sugary, banal likes of Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren, or Escada. Coco Mademoiselle smells like a proper Chanel perfume should - polished, powdery, floral, and elegant to the extreme - but with a sweet, youthful glow that's irresistible rather than obnoxious. The drydown is comprised of a notably musky patchouli-vetiver combo that smells divine and austere on some, cloying and bug-spray-esque on others (including me, sadly). Try before you buy, but as it stands, Coco Mademoiselle is a perfectly agreeable 21st-century addition to the classic Chanel canon.
Moisturizers -Olay - Active Hydrating Cream - Original
subhuman85 11/23/2010 6:05:00 PM
I was looking for a no-frills moisturizer for my naturally oily, acne-prone skin; I use the 3-step Proactiv system, which works well but leaves my skin a bit dry. Came across this Olay cream and decided to give it a go, and I like it. It doesn't make me break out, and it gives my oily skin a nice matte finish that lasts for longer than I expected (my face is usually shiny by mid-day no matter what I use). Nothing fancy here, no anti-aging or UV-blocking extras - just "does what it says on the can". Moisturizes and leaves skin soft. I've repurchased it twice.
My new favorite hand lotion, after getting fed up with those that a) leave my hands soft and "silky" but don't actually moisturize all that well, so I have to reapply a half hour later, or b) leave a greasy, shiny residue that takes forever to rub away or air dry. I tried my mom's Jergens classic lotion and it absolutely fits the bill - absorbs quickly, but leaves my hands noticeably moisturized for hours. My only problem with this product is the scent. Yes, that classic Jergens cherry-almond thing....aggh. If you love maraschino cherries or amaretto liqueur, you'll probably love the smell of this stuff, but I find it cloying and overpowering. It dominates every other scent within a 5-foot radius of my body! Still, the quality of the lotion itself is worth a repurchase. (Maybe there's an unscented version?)
My deal: Severe acne since age 13, naturally oily and acne-prone skin. Went on Accutane for a few months at age 18, worked like a charm, but dried my skin out and required too much time and effort scheduling dermatologist appointments and getting blood tests. I needed something to maintain my clearer skin after the Accutane, so I tried ProActiv for the second time (I'd tried it prior to my Accutane usage with good but not dramatic results). The general concensus from the reviews here seems to be that ProActiv either works for you, or it doesn't. It works for me. The Renewing Cleanser (step 1) is the only cleanser for acne-prone skin I've ever used - and I've used just about everything, from drugstore to fancy - that doesn't give my face that horrid "squeaky-clean" feel after washing that tells me my skin is overdried. On the contrary, after washing with the Renewing Cleanser my skin feels almost baby-soft, but with no residue or artificial "smoothness". For a few months I stuck to just using the cleanser and moisturizing afterward, and this routine gave my skin consistent clarity with only the occasional pimple. I think the cleanser is terrific and, at least for me, worth the money. It's sold in packs of 3 for $60 Canadian. Pricey, but every time I try to switch to another cleanser, no matter how good the reviews, my skin revolts and demands its precious ProActiv. If it keeps my skin clear, I'm happy to oblige. As for the Revitalizing Toner (step 2) and Repairing Lotion (step 3): I've started using the full 3-step system again after shunning steps 2 and 3 for a while, then switching to a generic cleanser and leaving ProActiv behind entirely. (It was a mistake. Massive breakouts.) The toner and lotion are giving me rather better results than I remembered from the last time, but I'm still not convinced they're crucial steps to the system, at least not for me. Once they run out I'll probably just repurchase the cleanser and go back to my old routine. Bottom line: Try it, but take the infomercials and word-of-mouth with a grain of salt. ProActiv could be your solution...or it could not.
Wholly unique, fabulous creation that smells like nothing else in the women's perfume department. I didn't grow up smelling Opium everywhere I went, so I've only experienced it in the here and now, with my untainted-by-the-'70s (though more's the pity) nose. My thoughtful, thoroughly researched conclusion: Daaaaammnn! This is a perfume with a capital "P"; no mamby-pamby girly-girl sweetness or sheer freshness here. It's strong, spicy, herbal, resinous, sweet, woody, floral, and smoky all at once, and at various stages of its development. It's incredibly complex, showing off various facets of its personality each time it's worn, but somehow instantly recognizable as itself. The eau de toilette starts off sweet, citrusy and herbal, but thick as a wet carpet, and dries down to a smoky, leathery (rubbery?), slightly vanillic essence with a hint of something green and earthy, like vetiver. The eau de parfum is even thicker, sweeter, more vanillic, and less rubbery (leathery?). Both are sure to make themselves known and are not to be worn under any circumstances where subtlety is required. Don't go thinking that because Opium is a classic, it can be be worn anywhere. This stuff was the Angel of its day: loud, obnoxious, but irresistible and undeniably well-crafted. (It's also easily wearable for men these days, given its carnation-rich heart and woody rasp that calls to mind nothing less than Old Spice. Seriously, wear them side-by-side and try to tell me they're worlds apart and undeniably gender-specific.) Brilliantly constructed, distinctive, and delicious. This Opium is as addictive as the real thing.
Cotton candy and caramel combined with armpitty patchouli and musk, in a bizarre tango that shouldn't work but somehow does. Masuline and feminine in equal doses; works just as well, and smells just as raunchy, on both sexes. The definition of a "love it or hate it" scent: if you love it, you REALLY love it, and if you hate it, words cannot express how much. Inarguably a must-sniff for patchouli fans, gourmand groupies, and anyone who's ever wondered what a cotton candy body spray would smell like on a porn star after the director yells "Cut!".