Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Guerlain #847 Kiss Kiss Gloss

Quick Reviews:  Guerlain Champagne Pearl Kiss Kiss Gloss, La Mer The Hydrating Facial Mask, Urban Decay Razor Sharp Finishing Powder

What are quick reviews? I’m glad you asked!  Quick reviews are products that I just haven’t gotten around to reviewing but either photographed, swatched, and/or tested.

Guerlain Champagne Pearl (847) Kiss Kiss Gloss ($30.00) is a sheer, sparkly peachy beige with champagne and gold shimmer. It’s definitely a sheer wash of color on lips, but it provides tons of sparkle. I like it better over a lipstick, because it can bring out the depth of a lipstick that way, rather than just being a wash of shimmer on lips.  Rating:  B+

La Mer ‘The Hydrating Facial’ Mask ($250.00 for 6 applications) is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I’m getting a spa facial at home. Granted, I’ve only had about two facials in my entire life, but I felt like I might have spent a little time on cloud nine when I relaxed with this on. There are two parts to the mask–an upper and lower zone–and together they infuse skin with moisture. My skin felt as amazing as it looked, and I definitely wished I had more than one mask to try, ha! The price is steep, but it’s La Mer–not surprising. I still find it completely funny that my Mom, who is not a beauty junkie, LOVES La Mer and says she can tell the difference when she uses something else I’ve given her. At least every gift giving occasion for Mom is easy :)  RatingB+ — love the product, value drags it down a bit.

Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder ($30.00) is a nice, translucent powder to help set your makeup, but I really hated the delivery system. It annoyed me so much that I only used it twice and completely forgot about it. It’s a sponge that goes over the “nozzle” that disperses the powder. It just strikes me as particularly unsanitary, but aside from that, I much prefer a brush for a delicate, soft application. I feel like this presses more product onto the skin than necessary to set, but it can also smudge or over-blend your makeup if you’re not careful. I tried to twist/pry off the whole contraption on top, but to no avail, and thus why it’s taken me three months to review.  Rating:  B- — the product itself is decent, the packaging drives me batty.

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Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Urban Decay Urban Defense

The Tinted Moisturizer Challenge:  Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 ($32.00 for 1 oz.) is new for summer from Urban Decay. It’s a sheer, lightweight tinted moisturizer that provides a touch of color to even out the skin tone with a slightly dewy finish.

Active Ingredients: Octocrylene (8.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%)

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-40 Castor Oil, Glycerin, Silica, Dimethicone, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Litchi Chinesis Pericarp Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Montmorillonite, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyenthanal. May contain CI77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI7749/77492/77499 (Iron Oxides).

On the SPF front, octocrylene is a chemical sunscreen that covers the UVB spectrum and short UVA (but not long UVA). The formula also contains dimethicone, so those who are sensitive to silicone-based ingredients may find it irritating. It’s high enough on the list that I was a bit concerned for myself, but I didn’t notice any skin issues (well, no more than usual!) after using this for a full week.

Urban Defense feels and looks natural and doesn’t feel greasy. It absorbs and dries down quite fast, and if you have very, very dry skin, you’ll still want to use a moisturizer first before layering this on. However, even though it feels lovely on, it does have a bit of a dewy finish. In real life, I think it reads dewy, but in photos, I found it made me look oily. Either way, I still preferred it with a dusting of translucent setting powder on top! (Check out the before and after photos at the end of the post!) It also lasted me six hours or so without ever looking greasy or fading (I never seemed to wear it longer than that while I was testing it!), which was definitely nice!

There are four shades, and while none seemed overly warm-toned to me, they did seem a little more yellow based. I think those with redder or cooler undertones may find that these aren’t perfect matches. I would recommend trying in-store (or buying from a retailer with a good return policy) if you have particularly red, pink, or cool undertones.

  • Halo is the lightest and I think is neutral enough to work on both cool and warm toned skin, but it may not be light enough for our ultra pale friends.  I think if you fit into MAC’s NC/NW15-20 range, this would be the best fit for you.
  • Bodyguard is the next lightest, described by Urban Decay as “medium light,” and it’s the shade I use. I’m NC25 in MAC, and I find Body Guard to be a decent match, if a little light. Ideally, I’d probably mix a bit of Bodyguard and Bulletproof together, but since the pump is such an issue, it’s not really possible.
  • Bulletproof is a medium shade, but it’s actually a big step from Bodyguard. It didn’t work for me as NC25, so I’d imagine it’s more around those at the NC/NW30-40 level.
  • Forcefield is described as medium dark, and it’s not too much darker than Bulletproof. It’s noticeably darker, but it doesn’t seem as big of a leap as from Bodyguard to Bulletproof. I would say this would suit shades around the NC/NW40-45 level.

But the biggest issue and problem with this product is the packaging. It is a pump packaging that dispenses about 10 times too much product with a single pump. It takes a very gentle hand and patience to pump out just enough (and still, often a bit too much) for your needs. I did one solid pump and it was tinted moisturizer for DAYS… enough to cover my body.

This was a pretty big deal to me, because it squeezes out a ridiculous amount. I think this product would have been much better in a tube or in a pump that doesn’t squeeze out a week’s worth at once.  (Personally, I also don’t dig the label–seems like the printer was low on ink!)

I’d also love to see a more expansive shade range, because fitting so many varieties in skin tone shades and undertones into just four is a bit frustrating for some.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

Recommendation:   The feel and coverage of Urban Defense is right on, but the packaging is such a disappointment that it really takes away from the product itself.

AvailabilityUrban Decay

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Monday, April 12th, 2010

Urban Decay De-Slick in a Tube

Mattify Oily Skin with De-Slick… in a Tube

Urban Decay De-Slick In A Tube ($28.00 for 0.67 oz.) is a mattifying gel as a follow-up to De-Slick Mattifying Powder ($30.00 for 0.40 oz.). Both products are designed to help those with oilier skin combat oiliness by providing a matte finish.

What’s interesting is that when you compare the ingredients, there’s nothing (at least not to me–I’m no chemist) in common. One thing to note is for those who prefer their products paraben-free, De-Slick in a Tube is just that. While the Mattifying Powder is supposed to have a translucent finish, it does seem to show up a bit on those with deeper skin tones (think medium and deeper). This makes the new Tube formulation a better option, because it’s not a powder. In fact, it really feels and seems like a mattifying primer.

Ingredients in De-Slick Mattifying Powder: Talc, Calcium Carbonate, Tricaprylin, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid, Propylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butylparaben, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate. May Contain: CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet).

Ingredients in De-Slick in a Tube: Aqua (Water), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Propylene Glycol, Allantoin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance.

This feels like a gel-to-powder kind of product–it doesn’t have a traditional silicone-feel, and I didn’t notice the product pilling on my skin, either, which is something that may happen with silicone-based primers. After reading the ingredient list, it looks like De-Slick uses a clay-based ingredient (Magnesium Aluminum Silicate) to help absorb the oilies. It feels thick when you squeeze it out, but it applies smoothly, evenly, and feels incredibly lightweight. One problem I had with application, though, was the product dries down pretty quick, so I’d advise working in small areas, rather than the whole face at once.

Even though I like it best as a primer, you can use it over makeup for touch-ups throughout the day, if you need to. It’s kind of cool that you can do that without smearing your makeup all over the place. I do find it’s better on places without color product (e.g. cheeks), but it’s pretty workable as a touch-up product. Personally, I’d opt for a powder for touch-ups, just because this tube is pretty small and you shouldn’t need much touching up if you use this in the AM.

De-Slick in a Tube works well to provide a smoother, silkier surface for applying your makeup, and I definitely felt like I got better, longer wear out of my foundation as I went on past hour eight–though I am more normal-to-dry with just a little oiliness towards the very, very end of the day on my T-zone. De-Slick definitely made my T-zone less noticeably oily (though still somewhat) at the end of the day. I’d say that instead of being noticeably oily after eight hours, I didn’t notice any oiliness until after twelve hours.

It is pricier than I’d expect from Urban Decay–at least for the amount you get. For reference, Smashbox Photofinish Primer is $36/1 oz., Make Up For Ever HD Primer is $32/1.01 oz., and Korres is $28/1.01 oz. For $28, you’re only getting 0.67 oz. — not totally dismal, but it’s noticeably less than other high-end brands.  I find I use just as much product with De-Slick in a Tube as I would with other primers, so I really would have liked to see this better priced or the quantity bumped up to a full ounce.

Oh, and psst, Smashbox Anti-Shine is $27/1.01 oz. and the ingredients are very much the same (but it does have parabens).  I haven’t tried it myself, but now I’m curious about it, since you’ll get 0.33 oz. more for a $1 less.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 6/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you have particularly oily skin, De-Slick in a Tube makes a great mattifying gel-based primer that will help keep the oilies at bay for a few hours longer than without. Those with drier skin may want to avoid this primer, as the matte finish may accentuate dryness.

Availability: Urban Decay (Sephora in May)

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Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener
Before / After

Concealer Reviews: Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener

Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener ($38.00 for 1.5ml) is a lightweight concealer/eye brightener.  This is a long-standing product, but it was recently repackaged into a pen delivery system.  The original version was available in a pot form, which some found a bit messy.  It always did a nice job of covering up undereye circles and instantly brightening the eyes on those hurried mornings, but I feel like the product in the new packaging just doesn’t do it for me–on all points!

Even though the pen makes it much more portable and easier to use on-the-go, because you don’t have to use a separate brush, and you also don’t have to worry so much about it drying out… It can also allow for more bacteria growth, since the product is coming into more direct contact with your skin and if you don’t clean or wipe off the brush, it can cause build-up.   For that reason alone, I’ve just never been a huge fan of brush-type anything (gloss, concealer, whatever!).  Because the product gets twisted up and delivered by being pushed up onto the brush, the product itself feels like it’s much thinner/runnier than the original pot version.  I find this almost makes it easy to over-apply, because you don’t have the same level of control over how much squeezes out of the pen.

My last complaint is the size — they really reduced the amount of product you get and upped the price.   It takes me awhile to get through a concealer (read: never), but I imagine for more dedicated concealer users, it can get pricey real quick.  (It used to be $32 for 7ml as compared to $38 for 1.5ml!)  I can get down with new packaging costs, upward costs, but this was a severe reduction in quantity (it’s not just 10%, it’s 7ml to 1.5ml — 5.5ml less!) along with a significant increase in price (it’s not just $1, it’s $6). If it was the same as it was before, in terms of quality, it might still be worth it, but it’s not!   Bobbi Brown is not YSL (the most direct comparison I could find), which is $40 for 2.5 ml, so I wouldn’t expect Bobbi Brown to be priced higher than YSL (by the ml).

It performs nicely–it brightens and lightens my under eye enough to give me a fresher, more awake appearance.  It doesn’t settle into fine lines or crease throughout the day, which are definitely two important necessities when it comes to an under eye concealer!   It’s a little on the thin side, though, so while it certainly feels lightweight, those with darker under eye circles may find this doesn’t give them enough coverage.

I would skip this, to be honest.  It’s not quite as good as the pot version, plus with the price increase and severe quantity decrease, it’s not good enough to fork over $38 for it.  Though I haven’t tried it myself, I’ve heard good things about Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer, so I’d probably recommend that if you were looking for a concealer from Bobbi Brown!  Surprisingly, the Bobbi Brown website has a review system in place, and based on 52 reviews, the new Tinted Eye Brightener only has 3 stars–the Creamy Concealer has 282 reviews and 5 stars!

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 4/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

Recommendation:  Keep the new packaging in mind–it may or may not be your cup of tea; and the price may keep you on the hunt for a different concealer–maybe Bobbi’s Creamy Concealer instead…

Availability: Bobbi Brown

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Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Korres Makeup Removing Wipes

Makeup Remover Wipes: Let’s Talk Korres

Korres Pomegranate Cleansing & Make Up Removing Wipes ($12.00 for 25 wipes) are a rosy-floral scented makeup wipe that will remove makeup decently but doesn’t get off every trace of it.

These wipes don’t get the job done when it comes to long-wearing, water-resistant, or otherwise “stubborn” makeup like mascara and eyeliner. I also found that my pack seemed a little dry, so I put a little water in it and turned it upside down (my trick for keeping wipes moist!). The best part about the Korres’ wipes is that it’s a non-greasy, non-oily makeup remover, so it won’t leave you feeling greasy nor do you need to rinse after you use one.

I actually like these more for a post-workout wipe down than removing my makeup (just because I do often wear more long-wearing products). They’re extremely refreshing, and since they’re not at all oily, it takes care of your skin without adding anything to it. Really gives me a clean feeling without the tightness.

Price-wise, the Korres’ wipes work out to be just under $0.50 each, so they’re a little pricier than I’d like. At the end of the day, though, say you used this nearly once per day, it works out to about $12 a month as a cost–not necessarily make-or-break, you know? Less than a MAC Lipglass! I wish they’d have a better closure device on the Korres’ wipes, but it’s just a peel-back sticker/closure that you press close (which just isn’t as secure as something with a “click”).

My favorite wipes for makeup removing are MAC Wipes (available for $26 for 100, works out to be $0.26 each), because they’re effective without being drying. However, they’re not designed to be used around the eyes (no, seriously), and I know that I can’t use them for eye makeup removal, because they’ll burn/sting around the eyes.  Korres’ wipes don’t burn around the eyes, so that is a huge difference between the two for me.

MAC Wipes, though, are one of my beauty blogging staples (along with an awesome camera!), because it’s so easy to remove even stubborn eyeliner that’s been stuck on your arm for hours.  I tried Korres for this task, but it just couldn’t get everything off as cleanly or smoothly as MAC Wipes.

Korres’ Wipes are decent, but they’re not superb.  They work well if you wear more minimal makeup or stick with less long-wearing makeup.  One sheet will remove the majority of my tinted moisturizer.  They smell lovely, too, with that rose-ish scent (I know, it’s supposed to smell like pomegranate, but I get a lot of floral when I sniff it!) and didn’t irritate my skin (always a plus!).

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

Recommendation: If you need something to help refresh you after a workout at the gym or you only wear a little makeup, these are nice to have in your arsenal.

Availability: Beauty.com, Korres, Nordstrom

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Tinted Moisturizing Balm with SPF 25 Review, Photos

Bobbi Brown EXTRA SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm ($50.00 for 1 oz.) is a thick tinted moisturizer that comes in a glass pot with a black screw-on lid. It’s available in eight shades: Alabaster (lightest), Extra Light Tint, Light Tint, Light to Medium Tint, Medium Tint, Medium to Dark Tint, Dark Tint, and Deep Tint.

It is described as, “A lightweight foundation alternative for dry, dehydrated skin, this formula is ultra-rich, and blends easily, giving skin a dewy look with light coverage. SPF 25 helps protect skin against damaging UVA/B rays. Dermatologist tested.”

Bobbi Brown also has a SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer (not so thick) that retails for $40.00 for 1.7 oz. (but I haven’t tried it myself beyond squeezing a drop or two out in-store, so I can’t give you direct comparisons). According to the Bobbi Brown website, though, the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer is ideal for Normal to Dry skin types, whereas the SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizing Balm is recommended for drier skin types.

EXTRA feels like a cream and looks like one, too, in the jar, but you have to remember that it’s a tinted moisturizer and not use it as a cream–seriously, if you use it as a cream, you’ll end up with far more product than you need! Whether you use fingers or a brush (or a clean spatula, whatever!), you really don’t need more than a pea-sized application to cover the entire face with a sheer, lightweight layer of tinted moisturizer. It also has a lovely lemon-y citrus scent that’s dreamy (very tarte, not sweet).

This tinted moisturizer does have a distinct dewy finish; it was too dewy for my taste by itself, so I had to set with powder to minimize some of the dewiness–then it was just fine for everyday wear. It’s also definitely a sheer coverage product; I’ve tried some tinted moisturizers where coverage is a bit more than sheer (more like a light coverage foundation), but EXTRA is sheer. It’s like “your skin but better,” because it’s not going to hide too many skin imperfections, but it will help even out your skin tone. This is, though, the very nature of tinted moisturizers, to be sure!

When I’m on a good skin kick, EXTRA is just enough for me to wear on a daily basis, even with full makeup elsewhere (eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, etc.). With the dryness of the winter season, my skin is definitely more normal-to-dry, so EXTRA is just moisturizing enough to help keep my skin hydrated throughout the day. I do, though, tend to use a moisturizer in the morning, because I often shower in the morning but not apply makeup until a few hours later. I don’t find it too heavy, though, doing that double-duty moisturizing.

I do think this may be a little too rich for those with normal or normal-to-oily skin types, just because it such a thick, rich cream-type tinted moisturizer. I would recommend trying a sample to see if it works with your skin type. Most tinted moisturizers feel more like a lotion or a thickened liquid foundation, but this feels just like a face cream, so it does feel quite nice when applied to skin. I would also recommend waiting five to ten minutes for it to dry a bit before layering any makeup on top (like blush or bronzer).

Bottom Line: I like it a lot, but I’m more of a matte-finish kind of gal, so the dewy finish is just not my style. I did receive several compliments from readers when I wore it in some looks this past month–some saying it looked better than my usual tinted moisturizer (Kiehl’s, lately). It’s a good tinted moisturizer for those with drier skin who are only looking for sheer coverage to help even out skin tone. It is also significantly pricier than Bobbi Brown’s regular Tinted Moisturizer–EXTRA costs $10 more and you get about 35-40% less. To be fair, a pot of EXTRA is going to last you at least a few months since you need so little per application, though.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’ve been looking for a more hydrating tinted moisturizer, Bobbi Brown’s EXTRA may be the one to quench your skin’s thirst!

Availability: Bobbi Brown

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