Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

The Mysterious Case of Tired Face

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($16.50 for 0.30 fl. oz.) has been a product I’ve felt compelled to test for the past two weeks straight. I don’t like to review a product until I have a good handle on how I feel about it, and I’m not big on reviewing anything that I’m waffling over.

Admittedly, I’ve been sleeping a lot less and not nearly as well as I usually do, which is good news for concealer-testing purposes, given that my under eye circles are more prevalent this week than they normally are! Often when I’m running on low sleep, I suffer from a phenomenon I’ve named TIREDFACE. The primary symptom is tightness around the eye area (at least for me). So, one of the things I’ve had going on has been this feeling of tightness when I’ve been wearing this concealer, and I wasn’t sure whether it was due to the concealer itself or more to the exhaustion. For about three days, I wore concealer under one eye and none under the other. The concealer does contribute to some of the feeling of tightness.

The concealer does last a miraculous twelve hours, though, without creasing or budging. It is a very dry product, and if you have a lot of dryness around the areas you’re trying to conceal, I think this may emphasize those areas rather than hide them. I felt like it pulled a little underneath my eyes (which is where I used it most of the time), which is why I felt that tightness despite no discernible dryness in the area.  It conceals good, though for the heaviest of dark circles, it may not be enough, and it’s difficult to layer this product for additional coverage due to its fast drying time.

It has a creamy feel when dispensed, and it’s not too thick–there’s a good consistency to it, but it dries quickly, so you’ll have to work just as quickly. I actually recommend doing one eye at a time, because if you don’t move fast enough, it can be difficult to blend out! I also liked using a flat concealer brush like the 195 for application; the 217 seemed to sheer it out too much. I have noticed that it will settle a little into fine lines if you don’t blend out the area first. Once you’ve blended it out, though, it won’t creep back in.

I originally tried this in NC30, but it’s definitely a little on the orange side. I received a sample of NC20, so I figured I might as well give that a shot, though I’m ultimately thinking that NC25 or even NW25 might be the best match for me (I am NC25). NC20 seemed like a pretty good match, but next time I’m at the counter, I’m going to grab samples of NC25 and NW25 to see if either of those is a better match.

I was incredibly frustrated by the inclusion of a pump that–wait for it–pumps out enough to cover half your face in concealer. If the technology is not available to create a pump that easily distributes just enough for the product’s purpose, why use something inferior? It is certainly possible to get just the right amount out, but after two weeks of use, I couldn’t do so consistently. Sometimes I got just enough, sometimes a nice blob that went down the sink. If you’re having pump troubles like I have had, I recommend pumping once or twice into a small sampling jar. No need to pump it all into there, just whatever excess–that way you can go back and use that during the week and not let it go to waste.

All in all, this concealer does last all day long for me. It doesn’t crease later on during the day, and this is a big deal for a lot of us. I do feel a little tightness around my under eye when I wear this, though, so I probably won’t wear this every day.  It’s definitely worth trying out for its long-wearing prowess–but if you can, grab a sample, so you can find your shade and decide if you like it without having to purchase from the get-go.

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  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you have really dry skin that you’re looking to use this concealer on, I think this may be too drying and end up just looking cakey on you.  The wear of this is fantastic, and the coverage is good for light to moderate under eye circles or blemishes.  If you have really heavy under eye circles, this might not be enough coverage.  Overall, it’s worth a try, particularly if you’re able to grab a sample.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Long-wearing is the Name of the Game

MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation ($29.50 for 1 fl. oz.) is the newest addition to MAC’s impressive range (at least in number!) of foundations, and it comes to the market with some pretty lofty claims. It’s designed to give up to fifteen hours of wear in any environmental condition while still being lightweight and delivering sheer to medium coverage. The finish is considered “natural,” which isn’t matte but neither dewy — it’s not Studio Fix Fluid (matte!) nor Mineralize Satinfinish (satin… dewy).

On color matching: I picked up NC30, which was my MAC match for a very long time, and I wasn’t sure if these leaned dark/light, so I figured that just might work. I haven’t been to the MAC store in a bit, so I don’t have full knowledge of the range’s shades, but NC30 was a little dark and a touch orange on me; luckily, it’s almost impossible to tell in the comparison photos. (Phew!) I think I’ll grab NC25 next time I’m at MAC, though. I did, however, compare the shade against some of the other MAC foundations I own. It seems in line with Face & Body (a little deeper, but it should be yellower), a definite shade deeper than NC25 in Studio Fix Fluid. However, when compared to Make Up For Ever HD in 140 (which, according to The Foundation Matrix, is equivalent to NC30-NC35), it’s a little darker but looks almost orange in comparison. All in all, like any foundation, try to grab a sample or get matched in-store to avoid embarrassing foundation face!

Active Ingredient: Titanium Dioxide 4.7%

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Butylene Glycol, Trimethyl Pentaphenyl Trisiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tribehenin, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Bis-Peg/Ppg-14/14 Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Phenyl Methicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Methicone, Tetramethyl Hexaphenyl Tetrasiloxane, Glycerin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Laureth-7, Hexyl Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Carbonate, Alumina, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Dimethicone Silylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin [ /- Mica, Iron Oxides (C) 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (C) 77891, Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288)

On finish: This foundation is definitely one of the best MAC foundations I’ve tried to date, and I do love Studio Fix Fluid, though I don’t currently wear it–but I did wear it for nearly three years. (So many foundations, only one face!) The finish is absolutely beautiful; it’s not flat or matte, but it’s not oily, greasy, or “dewy.” It really is natural; there’s a little of that lit-from-within glow going on here. It won’t accentuate your oiliness. However, if you have very dry skin, I think it may be too close to a matte finish and would advise trying before buying. Coverage is light-medium to me; I don’t think it’s sheer, but it can be built up to a more medium coverage. I find it is similar in coverage to Studio Fix Fluid.

On consistency, feel, transfer: It’s has lightweight feel–lighter than Studio Fix Fluid, heavier than Face & Body–with a thinner consistency than Studio Fix Fluid but not as watery as Face & Body. It dries down quickly (so work in sections or be quick about your business!) and doesn’t feel tacky or sticky to the touch. As far as I could tell, it’s pretty transfer-resistant, even ten hours later. I took a tissue to my face, and just pressing didn’t transfer anything, I had to rub it across my forehead to get any foundation to show up on the tissue.

On wear: But I suppose the best part about this foundation is that is really is long-wearing without being heavy, cakey, or thick. I wore it for twelve hours, and my makeup looked nearly as good then as it did when I first applied it in the morning. Normally, I get a little oily around my t-zone if I’ve worn foundation for eight hours or more. I’d say there might have been a touch more shine after twelve hours than when I started wearing it, but very slight, and it didn’t transfer.

All in all, a pretty stellar foundation!

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: I’d give it a shot if you’re able to sample the shade range and find the best match for you.  It should be suitable for dry to oily skin, but if you have very dry or flaky/dry patches on your face, you may want to try it first, because of the natural finish (which isn’t quite matte but near enough to it) may accentuate dryness.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Friday, July 30th, 2010

Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful
No foundation / Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful

Feels Like a Tinted Moisturizer, Looks Like Foundation

Philosophy Supernatural Superbeautiful SPF 20 ($30.00 for 1.25 oz.) is certainly the hybrid foundation it describes itself as. It delivers a nice, medium-coverage finish that’s just slightly dewy but not oily, but it feels more like a tinted moisturizer than a liquid foundation. It’s even on the moisturizing side (but I wouldn’t skip the moisturizer!).

The texture is very creamy and almost gel-like, though it is a water-based foundation with the first inactive ingredient being water. It’s easily applied with fingertips (again, like a tinted moisturizer) or with a foundation sponge/brush. I found it wore very well, without any fading, settling, or migration over an eight hour period. I have warm undertones and a light medium skin tone (NC25), and I found Beige to be a good color match for me. I think the semi-matte finish of the foundation helps it stay natural-looking, and the creaminess of the product (without being heavy or thick) also helps to keep it from accentuating dryness.

I so rarely think of Philosophy for anything but skincare and bodycare, but the foundation was a definite–pleasant–surprise.  I forgot to take photos of the packaging, and I’ve literally had that on my to-do list for three months along with a bajillion other things, so instead of waiting around for that to happen, I said on with the review!   The packaging is a flat, slim squeeze-tube that’s easy to control–it really looks exactly as it is pictured in retailer product photos.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you like the feel of tinted moisturizer but need more coverage than they often offer, Philosophy’s Superbeautiful might be the best of both worlds.

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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Friday, July 2nd, 2010

On-the-Go Makeup Fixers

MAC Cleansing Tips ($14.50 for 30) are my absolute favorite when it comes to easily fixing any minor application mistakes.  They’re basically dual-ended cotton swabs that have been soaked in makeup remover and are individually packaged (though each sheet has ten, you just tear them off individually).  One side is the usual rounded swab, while the other is tapered and more precise.

I actually really, really love these.  They work so well for cleaning up under the eyes when you work with shadows that have fall out, but they’re great for touching up during the day if you happen to be testing one smudger of an eyeliner, too!  They remove everything without a fuss.  Since they’re individually wrapped, you can just toss one into your purse when you need to (e.g. a special occasion), too.

So, I did not pay attention to how much these run you when I originally purchased them.  These wonder-swabs don’t come cheap!   They end up costing about $0.50 a pop!  Even the small package of MAC Wipes are cheaper ($0.40), while the bulk package of MAC Wipes are half the price ($0.26).  This is so saddening for me!    This is a great product, but it’s not something one should use often at that kind of cost.

They do work incredibly well to clean-up any faded or smudged eyeliner if you’re out and about.  I’ll continue to purchase them as I need to, but I will make myself only use them when I’m on the go or traveling–no more using those at homes.  Gotta go the extra step and use my own swabs and separate makeup remover, LOL!

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  • Product: 30/30
  • Value: 4/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you use them sparingly, they can be an excellent time-saving, space-saving tool to have in your evening bag when you want to look your best. Just don’t use them by the dozen!

AVAILABILITY: MAC Cosmetics

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Saturday, June 19th, 2010

NARS Pro Prime Skin Smoothing Face Prep

How Pore-less Can You Be?

NARS Skin Smoothing Face Prep ($30.00 for 0.26 oz.) is a skin prepping product, not quite a primer, that’s supposed to minimize the appearance of fine lines and pores to give skin a smoother look.

Get closer to an Immaculate Complexion with NARS Skin Smoothing Face Prep. With one application, skin is smoother and the appearance of fine lines and pores is minimized. A truly multi-use product, it may be used before primer to create a flawlessly matte finish or used throughout the day to combat shine and rejuvenate the complexion. Apply to fine lines, large pores or rough spots for an instant smoothing effect. For all skin types.

I’ve seen some mentions about the product size being small for a primer–but it’s not meant to be used like a primer–perhaps a targeted primer, but even NARS describes it as being used before primer or as a blotting agent during the day. It still feels like it’s on the small size based on packaging, but I don’t see using too much per usage either. However, it does very much the same thing as MAC’s Prep + Prime Line Filler ($19.50 for 0.5 fl. oz.) (review here, swatches here), though Line Filler is listed as a primer.

NARS has a better consistency for on-the-go, since it’s almost like the consistency of a candle (yes, a candle!)–it’s thick and solid–but melts a bit when you apply it to the face or use your fingers to apply. It smooths out well against the skin, and it does minimize the appearance of the lines and imperfections on the back of my hand. It can be applied over or under foundation, but I think it may make a nice blot powder alternative, because of the silicone and silica in it, which both will help to give skin a softer, smoother appearance. The whole effect is very much a diffused, soft focus kind of look.

Because this is loaded with silicones, I didn’t (and won’t be) testing it fully on my face any time soon, so this is only a partial review (and why there is no rating) based on testing it on my hand and playing around for consistency and the like. I did notice that my hand slowly but surely made its way back to its usual state of more visible lines and the like after about two to three hours.

I also applied it on top of my cheeks and around my nose to see how it handled pores (I think mine are getting bigger… I never obsessed over them before, but now I feel like they’re about to become black holes and suck all life into them!).  Even though I didn’t test it for wear over time, the improvement in my fine lines and pores really just wasn’t significant.  It did, however, give my skin a very soft, silky feel when I ran my fingertip over the areas I used the product on, and it had a softer look.  Like as if someone blurred the skin there a bit, but the fine lines underneath my eyes were still as noticeable as ever, even if slightly diffused.

If you have the most minute fine lines and just the beginnings of the slightest wrinkle, this may fade those into oblivion, as it does an impressive job on the back of my hand.  It just didn’t show up to the party so much on my fine lines.  When it came to my pores, the side with the Face Prep looked softer and smoother, but the pores were still there.  It worked (hey, NARS doesn’t say it will erase all, just “minimize”), but it’s just not as effective as I’d want it to be in order to justify adding the product into my routine.

Recommendation:  This might be a nice product for those with more oily skin or for those with oilier and drier areas where a full-on primer may be too much on drier patches of skin.  It’s a product that can be applied both under and over makeup, which is nice, and it could definitely work to help keep the oilies at bay throughout the day.  It might be nice if NARS included a little sponge that fit inside the jar for those afternoon touch-ups, though.  If you’re looking for something to miraculously fill in your fine lines and shrink your pores to nothing, I think you may be disappointed.

Availability: NARS, Sephora.com

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Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Soap & Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths

Makeup Removing Wipes: Soap & Glory Style

Soap & Glory Off Your Face Cleansing Cloths ($6.99 for 25 or $0.28/cloth) are slowly becoming one of my favorite makeup removing wipes! Each sheet is well-saturated but not overly so, and the cloth itself is soft and thick enough not to fray or pull when used. It has a slight floral scent, but it’s subtle and I don’t find that it lingers for long. What I like most about these sheets is how refreshing they are. While they’ll get off the majority of your makeup (but may struggle with the most long-lasting products, like MAC Liquidlasts), I really love these for a face wipe-down post-gym, because they have no sticky residue or leave your skin feeling parched.

Ingredients: Amyl Cinnamal, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glucosamine HCL, Algae Extract, Urea, Polyquaternium-37, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Ceteareth-12, Benzoic Acid,Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium ydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Aqua (Water)

The branded packaging is cute, and I like that it has the plastic flip top — it makes keeping your wipes moist way easier than if it simply had a sticker flap. By the by, if your wipes (of any brand) ever dry out, put a little water (maybe 1-2 oz.), close it up, turn it upside down, and wait a day. I’ve been known to forget to close a package or two, and this technique always saves me from having to throw them away! (And yes, they work just as well as they always did!)

My still reigning favorite for all stubborn makeup are MAC Wipes (slightly cheaper, when bought in bulk — $0.26 each), but I think these are better for my post-workout needs, as they feel a little more refreshing. For swatching and removing swatches, I’ll stick with my MAC Wipes as they remove even stubborn makeup quite well.

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  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you can track these down (always sold out at Target; plus Soap & Glory is moving out of Target–said they’ll be in other doors in the U.S. in the fall, but no real word yet…), they’re definitely worth a try.  They remove makeup well without leaving behind any sticky residue–instead, they leave you feeling clean and refreshed!

Availability: Soap & Glory

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