Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $30

First, I want to cover holiday gift sets, kits, palettes, and value sets specifically and exclusively. There are several more posts to come, including items from holiday color collections as well as permanent products and more. I tried to take into account the incredible input I received from readers, so the whole guide is broken down by price with special attention to different categories of products (e.g. lipgloss vs. eyeshadow), as well as I tried to provide commentary on who the gift might work for.

A Few Money-Saving Tips

  • If you’re on a tight budget this year but feel you absolutely must buy something to gift, consider doling out more on a single value kit/set but then breaking it up. For instance, a kit with ten lipglosses can be split and gifted to two or three or even ten people. You can buy festive holiday ribbon at a local crafts store to tie around the gloss, or you could include a few holiday candies or homemade baked goods.
  • Splitting up sets is also a great idea if you’re looking for stocking stuffers or you want to do more mixing-and-matching of gifts for your favorite pals (say a gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick).
  • When it comes to getting the most for your money, pay attention to the amount of product you’re getting and compare to the full-sized version (and its price).
  • Consider nail polish sets and kits; some come around for the holidays (but availability online may be difficult), there are lots of fantastic brands for $2-5 a pop, so you can get a good variety without breaking the bank.

Eyes: Snag two travel-sized eyeliners (which are usually around 0.03 oz., compared to 0.04 oz. for full size) in Oil Slick and Rockstar in Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Duo ($14.00); there is also one in Bourbon and Ransom. Bare Escentuals Strike It Rich Prime Time Collection ($28.00) contains five miniature-sized versions of the brand’s colored primer, which I’m a fan of; the only way the kit could have been better is if they included Urban Nature!

Cheeks/Face: Trial kits like Benefit One Prime Day ($10.00) are great for personal use but also to give, because you’re giving someone the chance to try new products they might not otherwise buy, but if you’re not totally sure they’ll love them, neither of you will feel bad. I’d give this to a friend who complained about their oily skin! Something else to consider is Benefit’s Powda WOWza, which consists of three top-selling face powders (and two that I love): CORALista, Bella Bamba, and Hoola.

Lips: This is an easily one of the best places to get a lot of bank for your buck when it comes to holiday sets–there are numerous lipgloss/lipstick kits available. I love the sheer, tinted hydrating lip shines, and the Philosophy Much Mistletoeing Lip Shine Set ($20.00 for 4×0.50 oz.) is a good value (these are full-sized!) and already comes in festive packaging. Korres has a great lipgloss formula in their Cherry Oil Lipglosses, and for the holidays, they have a Cherry-Picked Cherry Oil Lipgloss Quad ($28.00 for 4×0.20o oz.) set–and don’t let the word “quad” fool you, because they’re four individually packaged glosses that are full-sized. For lip balm, you know I’m loving and have to recommend Jack Black Balm Squad Lip Quad ($25.00 for 4×0.25 oz.) includes four full-sized lip balms of my very favorite formula in four flavors (there is also a lip balm/hand cream duo for $12, and both formulas TOPS!).

Skin/Body: Badger Three Bold Balms Set ($15.99) is a fabulous balm for healing dry, cracked skin, and this set gives you one to help with sore muscles, another for everywhere, and one scented to help you sleep–a totally classic multi-purpose balm but in a cuter set for the holidays. Bliss Winter Wonder Hands ($11.00) is a duo of hand creams that are purse-sized and fit easily into stockings. It’s not my very favorite hand cream, but it’s a good one! Burt’s Bees Healthy Hands Repair Kit ($12.99) is perfect for someone who works with their hands or loves to do their nails (and is therefore meticulous about their hands!).

When it comes to body care, my favorite go-tos for gifts are Philosophy and Bath and Body Works. Philosophy has numerous gift sets available (from all categories they offer), but a few of the ones I like best are Sugar Plum Frost Set ($18.00), Candy Cane Trio ($22.00), and Fun in the Frosty Air Trio ($25.00). Similarly, Bath and Body Works has tons of various baskets and sets. Giving body products are excellent gift ideas for people who enjoy relaxing (think baths and long showers) or for those you don’t know well enough to be able to pick a specific color for. If you’re unsure about someone’s scent preferences, food-based scents tend to be most generally applicable, so long as they’re not cloyingly sweet.

Fragrance:  They may be teeny-tiny, but you’ll be surprised at how many uses you’ll still get out of Tocca’s Love Yourself Collection ($18.00 for 7×0.05 oz.). Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Take Me There Set ($18.00) contains travel-sized versions of the scent’s rollerball perfume, body butter, and body wash, which would be a great layering kit, especially for someone who enjoys fruitier, tropical scents.

Do you have any suggestions for readers on the prowl for affordable holiday gifts this year that came out just in time for holiday gift-giving?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

Benefit Watt’s Up! Highlighter

Benefit Watt’s Up! ($30.00 for 0.33 oz.) is a “champagne” hued cream-to-powder highlighter that’s designed to work on all complexions. Benefit suggests applying it to cheek and brow bones and use the soft blender to sculpt and blend out the protect. It can be used on its own or over existing makeup.

It’s a shimmered champagne beige that almost seems like it’ll be too much, but once it’s blended out, it results in a beautiful, glowy sheen that’s luminous and lit-from-within. It sits on top of makeup well without looking heavy or caky, though it certainly works well against the natural skin. The consistency is creamy without being thick or greasy; it has enough glide to apply without bunching up in places, but it stays where you put it.

I like blending out the product with fingertips, but the included applicator (on the other end of the tube, which feels like a plush sponge) will work, too. I’m just wary of washing it, but it would do in a pinch, and I think it smears around any underlying makeup.  I was really pleased with the wear, because it lasted for a full eight hours and didn’t settle into pores or look uneven after a long day.

The Glossover

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Benefit Watt's Up! Highlighter Review, Photos, Swatches

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Benefit's latest highlighter really impresses--it delivers a luminous glow that looks natural, soft, and effortless... because it is as close to effortless as one can get! The creaminess makes it easy to apply and blend, while the cream-to-powder finish delivers good wear.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

10/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

5/5

Results
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Thursday, October 6th, 2011


Benefit Holiday 2011 Collection

Limited edition holiday sets and kits! :)

POWda WOWza ($28.00) (Limited Edition)

3 x 0.10 oz. Face Powders in Coralista, Hoola, and Bella Bamba.

I’m Glam… Therefore I Am ($36.00) (Limited Edition)

0.25 oz Girl Meets Pearl (pearly golden pink), 0.18 oz Eyeshadow Palette in Pink Fancy (pale pink), Icy Lilac (silvery light mauve), Posh Amethyst (soft plum), Precious Pewter (steel gray), Double-Ended Sponge Applicator, 0.07 oz Glamming Face Powder with Brush (soft rose/ peachy pink sheen), 0.14 oz A Little Bit BADgal Lash Mascara in black, 0.18 oz Lip Gloss in Life On The A List (bubble gum pink)

Ticket to Glossytown ($24.00) (Limited Edition)

6 x 0.1 oz Lipgloss in So Frisk Me (gilded berry), Nudie-Tude (goldspun twist), Spiked Punch (vibrant coral), Kiss You (clear fuchsia), Life On The A List (bubble gum pink), Foxy Lady (diamond rose)

Brighter & Badder ($29.00) (Limited Edition)

This set features Eye bright, a “nap in a stick” that revs ups eyes for a wide-awake look; and BADgal lash mascara, which pumps up the volume for the lushest-ever fringe.

The Big 10 ($32.00) (Limited Edition)

0.1 oz Dandelion (soft pink), 0.11 oz Erase Paste in No. 2 Medium, 0.08 oz Benetint (rose), 0.08 oz High Beam (luminous pink), 0.08 oz Posietint (poppy pink), 0.08 oz Ooh La Lift, 0.08 oz Stay Don’t Stray, 0.25 oz That Gal, 0.25 oz The Porefessional, 0.1 oz Bella Bamba (watermelon pink)

Project Flawless ($32.00) (Limited Edition)

0.25 oz Girl Meets Pearl (pearly golden pink), 0.14 oz A Little Bit BADgal Lash Mascara in black, 0.17 oz Ultra Shines in Foxy Lady (diamond rose), 0.28 oz Bella Bamba (watermelon pink)

availability: October 2011

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Sunday, June 5th, 2011


Benefit They’re Real! Mascara for July 2011

This jet-black, long-wearing formula won’t smudge or dry out. A specially designed brush reveals lashes you never knew you had!

It’s available only in black and will retail for $22. It is available for one-day only at several Benefit locations on June 10th, before officially launching in July (see above!).

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Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Benefit Cha Cha Tint
Benefit Cha Cha Tint

Benefit Cha Cha Tint

Coming in June, Benefit Cha Cha Tint ($29.00 for 0.42 fl. oz.) is described as a “mango-tinted lip & cheek stain.” It has the same feel and formula as Posietint (in contrast to Benetint, which doesn’t look creamy or milky). Though it looks rather bright and orange when you initially remove the applicator, it’s a much subtler color when used. It’s a very gentle blushing of peach with orange underpinnings (no pink here!). I patted the color on my cheeks with about three light pats, then lightly blended with my fingertips.

This is a great product for summer months when the weather gets hot, activities head outdoors, and traveling picks up. It wears all day (12 hours) as a soft, peachy flush and really does look natural–just as a stain should. What’s nice about Benefit’s Cha Cha Tint formula is that there is just enough to blend it out without having to worry about waiting for it to dry. It works well over or underfoundation as well as on bare skin. If you plan to wear it under foundation, just remember you’ll want to build the color up to slightly more than what you want, as foundation over it will mute some of the color, depending on the coverage level of your foundation.

The texture is that thickened water–it’s relatively thin and liquidy. The color is buildable by layering the color or applying more (again, I used three soft, tiny dots of color on my cheeks). It won’t get quite as intense as the color looks in the heavier swatch, but the formula is supposed to be sheer and add just a flush to skin.

It can also be used on lips, and it works well there–better than Posietint for me. It added a surprising amount of color to my lips, though; kind of a brighter, apricot pink. Because of my natural lip color, the color it tints my lips isn’t quite the same as my cheeks! It wore well on lips, too–about eight hours.

The Glossover

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product

Cha Cha

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For quick and easy summery color, Cha Cha will make a nice addition to your makeup bag.

Product

9.5/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

9/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4/5

Results
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Monday, April 25th, 2011


5 Long-Wearing Cream Eyeshadows

It seems like a lot of readers are looking for cream eyeshadows that are also long-wearing on their lonesome, and these are five of the best I’ve personally tested and reviewed!