Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Affordable Skincare: Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Cleanser

Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Cleanser ($6.99 for 5.5 fl. oz.) is a foam-based cleanser that feels lightweight, doesn’t dry out skin, and removes most makeup.

This review is one of those short and sweet kind, because the product itself is really simple.  Like many Aveeno products, it’s not about frills, it’s about meeting a need.  If I had to compare this to another high-end brand, I’d consider this similar to Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple (Foaming).  This one comes in a bottle-shaped container with a pump to distribute the foam cleanser.  I find one or two pumps is all I need to feel clean.

It is advertised as a makeup removing cleanser, not just a cleanser, and it’s unfortunate, because it doesn’t quite remove all makeup.  Whenever I have a makeup remover, I test it against the long-lasting power of MAC Fluidline.  This removed some, but it didn’t remove all.  It does remove the majority of my makeup (eyeshadow, non-waterproof mascara, foundation), but it’s not necessarily the best choice for heavier or more long-wearing products.

I do, personally, prefer to remove heavier makeup with an oil-based makeup remover (like Lancome’s Bi-Facil) before I do my nightly cleanser, so it’s not a big deal for me.  It’s just something that does take away from this product’s score, since it doesn’t completely live up to its claims.

It smells like something soft and clean and a little sweet–it reminded me of baby shampoo, to be honest.  When I was trying to describe it, all I could think of was baby shampoo as my descriptor.

Bottom Line: This is an affordable cleanser that works well for daily dirt and grime and light to medium makeup.  If you’re looking for a cleanser to remove heavy eyeliner, you may want to look elsewhere.   I actually really liked it, and I was pleasantly surprised by it overall.  I’ll probably be switching over my boyfriend over to this from Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple when he runs out.  (Well, I’m going to have to see if Aveeno offers a foaming cleanser in this product line that doesn’t have “makeup remover” on it!)

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

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 10/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: For an easy, lightweight cleanser that works well on daily dirt and build-up, this one is worth checking out!

Availability: ULTA

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


Wearing Guerlain Parure Gold Liquid Foundation

Guerlain Parure Gold Fluid Foundation ($78.00 for 1 oz.) is a recently released liquid foundation by Guerlain that’s designed to add a bit of a glow to skin with medium coverage. The product itself is also supposed to have a bit of skincare in it, as Guerlain says it should, restor[e] luster and revitaliz[e] skin in the long term, thanks to the exclusive double-sided Gold Radiance Pigment” along with “the regenerating properties of Myrrh Oil, and the lifting and smoothing properties of Peptides, long-term results include the diminishment of fine lines and smoother, softer skin.”

First, as I feel it’s necessary to do in any reviews relating to a product with anti-aging properties, I’m 23. I’m still in my so-called youth, so I don’t have too many signs of aging yet (thankfully), and I think it’s important to note that. It’s a lot harder to see a measurable change when there are few areas that might even get changed. I have some fine lines around my eyes, but these tend to be exacerbated if I don’t drink enough water or get enough sleep. Personally, I don’t seek out anti-aging products in my skincare regimen at this time. I feel the best regimen is preventative care vs. reversal care, for me, and at this stage in my life.

I’m just not going to be able to give you much insight on whether this product actually diminishes your fine lines with much substance. I will say my skin has never looked better since using it, and I do feel like my skin has a healthier look when it’s au natural. I used to be a little more self conscious about going out nekkid faced, but after using this pretty consistently (I did/do alternate with tinted moisturizer), I like the way my skin looks. With most things, it’s easy to create causal links that may not really be there–skin is so faceted, so it could be a change in hormones, better diet, getting sick (seriously, my skin never looked better!), etc.

What’s more important to me is how well it acts as a foundation, and it that area, I can definitely tell you, from my experience, that it excels. It’s a great lightweight, medium-coverage liquid foundation that makes skin look smoother, softer, and very, very natural. It’s not heavy, never gets cakey, and is so easy to smooth onto skin. I don’t normally like foundations that purport to give you a “glow,” because it tends to translate to oiliness for me. I’m normal-to-dry, and typically, “glowy” foundations make me look oily, which is so not my thing. Parure Gold doesn’t. It really does give you that natural glow. Just that little, “Oh, did you cut your hair?” kind of glow that people don’t attribute to your foundation. It feels like heaven on, and it hasn’t broken me out after using it for these past few months (always a good thing!).

Application: I always apply my liquid foundation in the same manner: apply the foundation in spots all over my face with a concealer brush, then I spritz a fluffy brush (I’m loving MAC 109 for liquid) with plain ol’ water. I then work the foundation out and all over my skin and the brush both applies and blends at the same time. If that was confusing, I did do a video tutorial for applying foundation with the 109 brush. I use this method with Guerlain’s foundation, because it stretches out the product (I just find it’s so easy to overwear foundation, and the water stretches it out and gives you a more natural look where you can go back and apply more in the areas you need it) and makes it incredibly easy to blend and smooth onto the skin.

It has the traditional sort of perfume-y scent of most Guerlain skincare/face products, though, which may be something those who are more sensitive to perfumes and scents can’t tolerate. The price tag is another obstacle for some, as it is considerably pricey at $78 per ounce. I’ve sinced swapped this for my previous find DiorSkin Nude Liquid Foundation, which was also a bit more expensive at $45 per ounce. I imagine the price hike is attributable to the skincare properties in the foundation itself (which isn’t a bad idea, considering you often wear foundation for eight hours or more).

It is available in six shades: #02 Beige Clair, #03 Beige Naturel, #04 Beige Moyen, #05 Beige Intense, #06 Beige Profond, and #13 Rose Naturel. The shade I’m currently using is #03 Beige Naturel, which I think matches my skintone quite well (I’m around NC25/NC30 in MAC foundation, for reference). The packaging does hold some fingerprints, which can make the product itself look messy, but it comes with a pump, and I use one to do my whole face.

Bottom Line: For a splurge foundation, Guerlain Parure Gold Liquid Foundation gives amazing coverage, feels lovely on, and looks even more amazing. I’ve loved it enough to have stuck with it for the past two or three months, and it’s my go-to for liquid foundation. I do wear a lot of tinted moisturizer, just because if I’m not doing a full face of makeup, tinted moisturizer is all I need (but to be honest, I do go bare-faced quite often). The only real drawback (to me) of the product is the price tag.

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

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

Recommendation:  A stellar liquid foundation that covers well, feels like nothing on, and looks fantastic — if you can get past the price tag, there’s a lot of great things to say about this foundation!

Availability: Nordstrom, Saks

See more photos of me wearing this foundationContinue reading →

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Benefit Georgia Face Powder ($28.00 for 0.4 oz.) is a pale, warm-toned peachy pressed powder. Benefit describes it as, “Our “just peachy” face powder leaves your complexion warm and vibrant. Georgia is a dream…it’s peaches and cream!”

Georgia is best used as a sheer, all-over powder on light to medium skin-tones. I think darker skin tones will find this can go on ashy or so sheer they’re not sure they’ve put anything on. It’s really good for brightening and warming up lighter skin tones, so it’s actually a very product for barely-there makeup days. When I’m in a rush, this is something I can easily dust on to make my face look a little more alive and less likely I only slept four hours the night before.

I think only the lightest of skin tones will find this useful as a blusher, just because the color is both sheer and pale. In my swatch, there’s only a hint of product that shows up, so you can see that my NC25/30 skin tone starts to get close to the end of the spectrum for this product’s usefulness. I also think that some people go into purchasing this product expecting to use it as a blusher, and then find themselves disappointed by its sheerness. I do like it as an all-over face powder, but it does have shimmer in it, so if you don’t want shimmer all over your face, this isn’t the best choice in all-over powders for you.

Additionally, this can be used as a highlighter on cheeks alone, too. It’s a more versatile product than you’d think, but I think a lot of us just get trapped into expecting a blush and not getting it. Georgia also feels a bit powdery/chalky, which is yet another reason I think it’s not a workable product on darker skin tones. I find this best applies with a stippling brush (like MAC’s 187) all over the face for a light, warmed up look without too much shimmer or product.

By the ounce, Benefit Face Powders/Blush colors are actually cheaper than MAC! Benefit comes in at $70.00/oz. while MAC is $88.10/oz. Benefit Face Powders/Blushes are actually some of the most bang-for-your-buck in the high-end department. The packaging is cute and exactly what I’d expect out of Benefit. Georgia actually does have a light peach scent to it, though it’s not something I notice while wearing the product–only when I sniff the product itself.

Bottom line: It’s not replacing any products I’m already using, and I’d probably be more apt to use it if it provided more of a peachy blush color than an all-over color.  I prefer other highlighters and all-over powders with setting qualities, as well.  It’s a quality product, but it doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s best used as an easy all-over powder.  I think if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d enjoy this product.  For others, this is nice, but it isn’t a must-have.

  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a sheer, warm-toned all-over powder and you’re light to medium in skintone, this might work for you.

Availability: BenefitCosmetics.com

See more photos and swatchesContinue reading →

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Review

MAC Style Black included two pieces of limited edition skincare — the ever-raved about Volcanic Ash Exfoliator and previously-mentioned-but-finally-released Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask.

I’ve been a big supporter of MAC’s Volcanic Ash Exfoliator since it released.  I loved it.  I sparingly used it so it would last as long as I could manage.  I managed to make two tubs last me a year or so (it was launched in 2008).  I couldn’t even begin to tell you how excited I was for it to be re-released with Style Black!

The re-released Volcanic Ash Exfoliator is slightly different than the original in a few key ways, though the product still feels, smells, and does the same (for me!) as the original version did.  This release of Volcanic Ash Exfoliator uses both sugar (sucrose, specifically) and silica for exfoliating, whereas the original release only used sugar.  Before, when you scrubbed your face with the exfoliator, the sugar particles would eventually dissolve, but with the addition of silica, you’ll notice a slightly gritty texture the whole time.

From what I can tell, MAC was attempting to address some of the problems/concerns the product created when it was originally launched.  The tub packaging was both unsanitary and was not shower-friendly (which is the most convenient place to use this, because it can be messy).  The tub seemed to get a lot of water in it when I had it in my shower, which kind of resulted in the sugar dissolving faster than I’d like–and the heat of the shower also caused some of the sugar to dissolve, I’d imagine.   Since silica doesn’t dissolve, it also makes it a more shower-friendly ingredient when it comes to exfoliation!  The new tube packaging now makes it more hygienic and shower-friendly, as well.

Considering I ended up having half a tub of exfoliator without any exofliating properties because all the sugar dissolved, I’m happy it’s in a tube!  I also think that while it feels thicker, it’s also hard to judge, because before you were scooping it out of a jar so the two processes are different enough.  I also don’t have any of the old stuff left to compare.  It does, though, feel a little thicker.

In the end, it applies and feels like the original.  I’d say it’s a little grittier than it previously was, with the addition of silica, but it still doesn’t feel like a harsh, aggressive exfoliator.  It’s fairly gentle, and it should be used once or twice during the week, depending on how your skin takes to exfoliants.

Product value on this could be better, because they took out about an ounce of product and tacked on an additional fifty cents.  I can handle the slight price increase, but I’m less than impressed with the decrease in the product itself (particularly since it’s 3.4 oz.), since it represents about 20-25% decrease in how much you get for your money.

Bottom line: It’s a mild exfoliator that has an earthy, ashy smell that’s not unpleasant (at least not to me), nor is it like ohhh, yummy! , it’s just kind of the scent I’d expect from it.  It leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and may even give you a lil’ bit of that glow.  I still love it, but I’m not quite as in-love as I was originally (I think that’s more because of all the other exfoliators that I also love).  I definitely still recommend trying it out–ask for a sample if you’re unsure–because it is a fantastic exfoliator!

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

Recommendation:  If you liked the original, I think you’ll still like this slightly reformulated version!  It’s a good, mild exfoliator!

Availability: MAC Cosmetics

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Korres Thyme Honey Cream ($32.50 for 1.35 oz.) is a daily moisturizer designed for normal and dry skin.

Korres is known as a brand that doesn’t use a lot of those “bad” ingredients like parabens, suflates, petro-chemcials, and synthetic dyes. My personal stance is I’m not overly concerned by them, as research hasn’t proven otherwise (at least not to me) — one of my favorite beauty blogs, The Beauty Brains, did a write-up on parabens. So for me, a “natural” product just has to be a good product for me, but I’m not looking for anything explicitly natural. (It’s totally fine if you are, though! To each their own! :) )

This is a medium thick cream that comes in a jar, but it actually feels lightweight and absorbs very quickly. I went through my entire jar in about four or five weeks. It definitely felt a little faster than normal (normally I’ve spent the requisite four to six weeks testing it out, and then I move on and there’s still plenty left). To be clear, though, I was using this both AM and PM and typically I do have a separate AM and PM moisturizer. I’d expect if you just use this as a PM moisturizer, you’d get about two to three months of use out of one jar.

This doesn’t have any SPF, which does make it usable at night (without feeling like you’re wasting the SPF factor!), but consequently, you do need to wear something else that does have SPF. I found it moisturized my normal-to-dry skin very well, and I never felt dry or had any dry patches creep on me.

I will caution some on the scent, which is kind of like an earthy honey scent. It didn’t read synthetic honey to me, but it’s noticeable when you first apply it. I personally didn’t notice the scent linger on after it absorbed, but if you’re not a honey person, I’d recommend you choose one of Korres’ other moisturizers. I liked the scent, though I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t an issue for my nose!

Even though Korres does recommend this for normal skin, I think it’s more suited for those with drier skin, because it is quite hydrating and rich enough to soothe drier skin, it may be too heavy on normal skin. I wouldn’t recommend this one for oily skinned folks, either. If you have normal skin but sometimes need an extra boost in hydration, I’d suggest checking out Korres Thyme Honey Mask instead, as an as-needed intensive treatment.

I’m not a big fan of open-jar packaging. I’m just not keen on using fingers to scoop out product (let’s face it, most of us are not vigilant enough about using a separate, sterile spatula every time we go to moisturize), so I’d rather an airless pump in some form myself. The packaging feels nice (I think it’s glass) and has some heft to it, and the way Korres’ labels their products is cute and functional.

Overall, after using this for over a month (’til I ran out), I liked it, but I’m still on the hunt for something else. I don’t typically use up whole jars of anything, so it is a testament to how much I did enjoy using the product while it lasted. It moisturized and kept my skin moisturized throughout the day without causing breakouts or clogged pores. That’s pretty much what the product is supposed to do, and it definitely did that! I’m trying out Korres’ Wild Rose moisturizer now, will let you know how that works out…

  • Product: 26/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: For those with dry skin, Korres’ Thyme Honey Moisturizer will keep your skin hydrated and soothed!

Availability: Sephora

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Korres Materia Herba Toning Cleansing Foam ($27.00 for 5.07 fl. oz.) is a foaming cleanser that’s touted as being very natural/organic for you. Korres lists it as having 98.9% natural content, suitable for vegans, and doesn’t contain a whole slew of purported bad-for-you ingredients like mineral oil, silicone,s parabens, sulphyates, SLES, synthetic dyes, fragrances, or petrochemicals.

The cleanser is designed to use naturally derived salicylic acid to break up oil, bacteria, while providing mild exfoliation and controlling blemishes, according to the brand. As far as a cleanser goes, I like it, but I don’t love it. It’s a very no-frills kind of product. The packaging is simple, the product itself is simple. You pump the foam in your hands, apply to face, and massage the product into the skin to dissolve and remove daily build-up. The foam itself is white, and there’s no real scent to it – kind of reminds me of something light and airy but not fragrance-y. It just smells “natural” to me.

I like using this as a morning cleanser, because I only need a lightweight cleanser in the AM. It does a decent job at removing makeup, but it’s not excellent at removing heavy makeup (like longwearing eyeliner, mascara, etc.), so that’s yet another reason I use this in the morning rather than in the evening. It leaves my skin feeling clean without any tightness, though it can be a little on the drying side if you already have drier skin. It is great on combination and oily skin, though.

The packaging is functional, clean, and really just simple. The value of the product seems high to me, because I only need one pump of foam to cleanse my entire face. I suppose the only problem with solid packaging like this bottle is not having any idea when you start getting close to the bottom. I point this out because Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple (the foaming version) is clear, so you always have an idea of when you need to buy more.

All in all, it’s a decent cleanser, and if simplicity is your style, this may be more suitable for you. For a morning cleanser, it moves up to pretty good, because it just gives you that nicely clean and refreshed feeling without being more powerful than you need.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you like natural/organic lines and are looking for a simple cleanser, Korres Materia Herba may be something to consider.

Availability: Sephora