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.

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: 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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Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Lancome Aqua Fusion Tinted Moisturizer

The Tinted Moisturizer Challenge: Lancome Aqua Fusion

Lancome Aqua Fusion Teinte Continuous Infusing Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 ($38.50 for 1.7 oz.) is a lovely light to light-medium coverage tinted moisturizer available in four shades: Naturel 1, Sand 2, Bisque 3, and Bronze 4. The active ingredient for sun-protection is octinoxate (7.5%), which covers the UVB range, but it doesn’t get the UVA range, unfortunately, so you’ll still need a product with an ingredient like zinc oxide or avobenzone for broad spectrum coverage.

My favorite part about this tinted moisturizer is the coverage it gives. It still has an amazingly lightweight feel, but it delivers more than sheer coverage–I’d even go as far as to say light-medium (not quite medium). It covered some healing acne and post-acne marks on my face and gave me a lovely, natural finish. I also love that this moisturizer absorbs and sinks in quickly and doesn’t leave behind a dewy finish. It has a nearly matte finish, so it’s great for my oily-skinned friends, in particular.

It has a mango-ish scent–defintely fruity, but not overly sweet or tropical–and I’d say it lingers for about fifteen to twenty minutes before it fades away entirely (at least to my nose). The packaging is a slim tube, so it’s easy to apply the amount you need, plus it is travel friendly, being under 3 oz.

Even though I love, love the feel and coverage of the product, there are a few noteworthy drawbacks. If you’re pale, I don’t know if you’re going to find a good match. Surprisingly, I’m Naturel 1–the lightest shade–in Lancome’s Tinted Moisturizer. I originally tested out Sand 2, because I assumed it would work well for my medium skin tone, but it was definitely too dark on me. This is why I caution those with paler skin tones to try it at a counter first, if possible. Sand 2 would work for those who are definitely medium or medium-dark, though. I think Sand 2 might work for me after the summer, perhaps, but right now, Naturel 1 is a much better match.

I’d also prefer to see broad-spectrum protection here, because it is moisturizing enough (without being heavy or greasy) to be worn without an additional moisturizer, but since it lacks UVA protection, you’ll need to use another product to get broad-spectrum protection (like a moisturizer!). It’s not advertised as broad-spectrum, so I didn’t reduce points, but it’s certainly something I’d love to see in the future.

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: 4/5

Recommendation: Fabulous coverage for those who want more than ultra sheer coverage that most tinted moisturizers provide but still has the lightweight feel of a tinted moisturizer.

Availability: Nordstrom

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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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