Thursday, March 20th, 2008

theBalm timeBalm Concealer ($17.00) is a combo product that includes anti-wrinkle properties within a concealer. It comes in six shades ranging from fair complexions to tan complexions, which is important when you want to appeal to a broad audience. I found that the product worked decently, but the packaging was not my cup of tea. It is merely a clear plastic screw-top jar that feels very “DIY” rather than a product that is available at major retailers like Sephora.

What is good is that I didn’t find that this concealer settled into any of the subtle lines underneath my eyes and blends seamlessly with my regular foundation. I didn’t really dig the included sponge, just because it was so flimsy and small that it was too much work in order to use. I found a concealer brush worked a lot better, and then I used a buffer brush to blend everything together. The product itself easily dries out if you aren’t careful about your jar top being on tightly, but it concealed my dark circles and light acne scars well, but

Find this at Beauty.com or Sephora.com.

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation ($28.00)

The face is like a fresh canvas — Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation provides the ideal base for transforming the face into a masterpiece of color.  The consistency is lightweight and buildable, allowing women to determine their own preferred coverage level and desired color impact.  With a sweep of the brush, the multitasking powder-based foundation glides on easily, blends seamlessly and hugs the skin for long-lasting coverage.  Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation controls shine and instantly conceals minor skin imperfections, helping to create a glamorous finish like those produced by professional makeup artists.

What I liked: First, I found that Beige 2 was a good color-match for my skintone, and I always seem to have trouble finding a suitable shade when it comes to mineral makeup, so that was a pleasant surprise.  You get a nice amount for the price, and I feel like the jar would last me at least six months, if not more.  Since it is a powder, the shelf life is even better than a liquid foundation, since it is harder (almost impossible) for powders to harbor bacteria (which like wet and moist environments, e.g. liquids).  It is incredibly fine milled, making it easier to pick up and buff onto the skin. The biggest secret to mineral makeup is buffing it into the skin, rather than just placing it on it. The more you buff, the more it works into the skin and becomes “one” with it (ha!). It is a soft, buildable mineral foundation, though I would say it tops off at light-medium coverage, so those who want heavy coverage should probably still opt for heavy creams and/or liquids.

What I didn’t like: Nothing stuck out about this that made me go, “Grr!” The packaging could be a bit more sleek/aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but I think that’s such a minor (and not to mention, superficial!) detail that can easily be overlooked. I think they should promote a buffer brush with this, just because I find that works much better than any other powder brush!  The color range only includes six shades, which makes it fairly limited in my eyes, so I’m not sure how our lightest/darkest ladies will fair in finding an appropriate match.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

While I was in New York for Fashion Week, Megan over at Clinique made sure I had a sample of Clinique’s Almost Powder, a new foundation, that also comes with build-in SPF 15.  This product utilizes new technology in pressing and processing that ends up making production take twice as long as a normal powder would.  It’s even produced exclusively in Japan!

I’ve been wearing Almost Powder for the past week or so, and I have to say, I do like it.  I don’t think it is going to replace my holy grail Studio Fix Fluid (liquid), mostly because I like liquid foundation and the coverage.  However, there are many days where SFF is just a tad too heavy, or I’m not really needing a foundation of that nature.  I find Almost Powder perfect for everyday, incredibly natural-looking skin.  The powder is incredibly silky, and it feels lightweight.  The compact includes a sponge, but I also tried Clinique’s powder brush ($30.00) with it.  I found the sponge was better at reducing any “powdery” spots, and it was a lot faster.  I’m personally not a fan of sponge technology (just seems like it is a bacterial growth zone!), so I tend to opt for the brush method.  The brush was SO soft, and I liked it for initial application and buffing later with a buffer brush.

The coverage you get is lightweight to light-medium coverage.  It basically gave me natural coverage, so I didn’t look cakey or really like I was wearing any foundation–which is always a plus.  I would definitely need to look into concealers if I wanted to wear this on more acne-prone days, though, since it covers, but not quite enough (though not many lightweight foundations do this, so it’s not really a negative).

What sells this foundation is how soft it is and how nicely it settles into the skin.  If you’re looking for a more polished look, without looking like you’re wearing makeup, this is right up your alley.  This is perfect for those on-the-go, and anyone who wants to keep foundation light, minimal, but something that works and really evens out skin tone.

Availability: March 2008 at counters and www.clinique.com, but currently available for preview at QVC.

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

DHC recently launched a Salicyclic Acid Acne Treatment System that includes a Salicylic Acne Wash ($13.00), Salicylic Acne Toner ($14.00), Salicyclic Face Milk ($19.00), and Acne Spot Therapy ($12.00). The wash is a non-drying cleansing gel that foams to gently exfoliate, while calming skin with aloe vera and green tea. I find that it’s fairly gentle, despite being an active acne-fighting product, so my eyes handle it well if any gets in them on accident. The toner works well for those who are oilier, but I found myself skipping this part of the four-step routine when I was pressed for time (that’s probably a big oops, right?) because I felt like I didn’t need it. The Face Milk is a lightweight moisturizer that is  targeted to help reduce acne because of the salicyclic acid in it, but it ensures hydrated skin while doing so. Out of the system, I think one of my favorite products was the Spot Therapy, because I felt like it did help to minimize redness caused by new blemishes in a short amount of time. Many acne-fighting products tend to dry out skin, which is why I liked the DHC system, because they recognize that and make sure to infuse their products with hydrating ingredients to give skin the balance it needs while breaking down blemishes.

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Creme ($250.00) is a product I recently received to test. I want to put it plain that I did not purchase this product, so there is no confusion. I am by no means on an unlimited cosmetic budget, so for me to test a cream of this standard is a real treat, but I always desperately hope not to love it, and secretly desire it to fall flat on its face. Why? Because a face cream for $250.00 is not friendly to my budget. I preface this review with so much attention to the price because I now face a huge dilemma: there is something about this cream that has performed a small miracle on my face in the past three weeks of continuous use.

What it’s supposed to do: Resveratrate is the trademarked ingredient dubbed “The Youth Molecule” by Estee Lauder. It “is a more potent, stable, and time released form of Resveratrol.” This product is meant to extend the skin’s youthfulness so that time “stands still.” According to Estee Lauder, the skin will increase in its clarity, tone, and fine dry lines will be plumped by the moisturizer. There is science clearly involved, and they talk about “longevity genes” that regulate the lifespan of skin’s epidermal cells.

What it actually does: Based on testing it for three weeks as both a day and night moisturizer (and let me be honest, there were a few times I misplaced it, so I substituted, but generally speaking, I used this pretty religiously). After one week, I noticed something very impossible happening–my acne was vanishing. Now, this is not an acne-preventing product, it is an anti-aging product geared towards women in their late 20s and older. My diet hadn’t undergone any real change, water intake didn’t increase, and I hadn’t added any other products to my daily facial regimen.

I have never suffered from severe acne, but I get enough that it can be annoying, and there is always one that’s far too noticeable for my liking. Since using the Youth Creme, almost all of my noticeable acne has disappeared. I am not 100% clear-faced, but in my eyes, this is about as close as I could ever get. My skin looks much improved because of the blemishes being gone, but it is also more even and healthy looking. Every time I see my Mom, no matter what, she mentions how pale and sickly I look–but she didn’t say that when I saw her last week (first time since using the Youth Creme). She asked if I did something different with my makeup, because I looked healthier. Application is easy, as you don’t need much to cover the entire face, and it feels lightweight, but it still moisturizers quite well (despite wintry patches of skin). I also love that it dries quickly! There is no strong, overpowering scent, either – it kind of reminds me of a very subtle organic, maybe a touch of oatmeal scent that you can only distinguish if you put your nose in the jar. So to me, it’s nearly fragrance-free once it’s on my face.

So as I said, I face a serious dilemma: how am I going to be able to afford this in the future? I would like to note that the jar still seems mostly full, despite using it twice a day for three weeks. It gives me hope that I can stretch the jar over four to six months.

Do I recommend this product? I do and I don’t. I recommend it because it worked well for me, and the acne-miracle it worked for me would make it worth the price (how much money do I spend each month on products that only work minimally?) as the product jar should last me multiple months. I don’t, because I fear for your poor wallet if you fall in love with it as I have! You know that whole saying, “You can’t miss what you never had?” Exactly. So basically, I do recommend this product, but know that you may find yourself addicted!

Available now at www.esteelauder.com and Estee Lauder locations.

Have you encountered a similar dilemma before? What product led to your downfall? Did you become a loyal re-purchaser or have you been hunting for a less expensive alternative?

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Prescriptives Instant Gratification Skin Renewal Peel ($45.00)

Get instant gratification for tired, lackluster skin with this all-in-one dermabrasion-peel treatment that improves clarity, renews tone and immediately uncovers a smoother, more radiant complexion. Oil-free. Non-acnegenic. Ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested. No fragrance.

GET THIS PRODUCT. I am rarely impressed so much by a product that I am compelled to write the review immediately after using it. Seriously, as soon as this product was rinsed off my face with lukewarm water, I was like, “OH MY GOD!!” I ran to my boyfriend and made him feel how utterly soft and smooth my face was (of course, I made him wash his hands before he did this!). I couldn’t stop feeling my own face, because I just could not get over how amazing my skin looked and felt right after using it. I really appreciate a product that is honest about what it can do, and I was skeptical of this living up to its name of “Instant Gratification,” but I am quite happily proven wrong. I did wait 48 hours before writing up the review, just in case there were any side-effects–there were none. Just smooth skin! I can handle that!

Instantly your skin will soften, feel smoother, and even look a bit brighter, healthier. You would think with such amazing results that there would be a complicated application process, but you would be completely off the mark! Put a little product on your finger tips (a dab will do you) and massage onto damp skin in circular motions for about thirty seconds. Leave the mask on for five minutes. Wet fingertips with lukewarm water and massage in circulation motions for an additional thirty seconds. Rinse off using lukewarm water and pat face dry with a clean towel. That’s it! Now you have ultra silky soft skin that will be the envy of every person around you. You only need to use this product once a week, so please don’t let the price tag put you off. I think I will get at least 3 months worth of applications out of the tube (if not more), because you only need three pea-sizes worth (left cheek, right cheek, then forehead/nose/chin) or less.

Definitely check this product out if you have the chance; it is something I wholly recommend–so much so that it is now a staple in my beauty regimen.