Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

shu uemura Shusu Sleek Shampoo & Conditioner
shu uemura Shusu Sleek Shampoo & Conditioner

shu uemura Shusu Sleek Shampoo & Conditioner

shu uemura Shusu Sleek Shampoo ($45.00 for 10 fl. oz.) and Conditioner ($55.00 for 8 fl. oz.) is a duo of products designed for “coarse and unruly hair.” The big deal behind the product is the usage of black cumin oil, which is supposed to provide “deep nourishment” and “discipline the hair fiber with a fluid touch.” There is also a Smoothing Treatment ($65.00 for 6 fl. oz.), which seems like a deep conditioner, in the line.

The first time I tried out this set, all I could do was marvel at the scent–it’s very earthy, spicy, and masculine. It was reminiscent of my favorite scent–Tom Ford Oud Wood–in how I reacted. It’s heady, and it lingers, though I don’t find myself smelling it constantly, I do catch whiffs of it periodically during the day that I washed it. The brand says the scent is “gardenia with green leaves,” but I get more of the black cumin oil coming through. (I’d love a bottle of eau de parfum of this scent!)

I liked both products a lot, and they do a fine job of giving my hair a straighter look (it is slightly wavy in places as a result of years of putting it up), assuming I leave it down to dry or blow dry.  I’ve been using the set since the beginning of March, and I definitely have noticed it keeping my hair soft, hydrated, and less fly aways.   I noticed that I was able to achieve better results–really sleek, soft falls of hair–when I blow dried my hair (I used a T3 Evolution). The results were good when left to air dry, but everything just seemed a little straighter and shinier with the blow dryer.

The shampoo lathered well and left my hair feeling clean but not stripped, while it had a thicker consistency.  I actually used just the shampoo a few times alone, and my hair still felt soft and silky without conditioning afterward.

I love that the conditioner comes with a pump (wish the shampoo did, too!), because I always find myself pouring on the conditioner to get enough coverage on all of my hair, so it’s nice to be able to get a feel for how many pumps and be more consistent. The conditioner smoothes on easily, and it does a fabulous job of re-hydrating hair.  For a conditioner, it has a thinner consistency, but I think that makes it easier to smooth on with less excess used.

These are rather rich formulas, though, and so I don’t think they’re the most appropriate for my hair type and as much as I love the scent, I’m not sure I’d make these my go-to personally–but I do think they will help those who are looking to tame fly aways and frizzy hairs, because this product did so well for me in those areas.  I readily admit, however, that I don’t find my hair overly fussy, so I can only review based on my experience with my relatively easy-to-deal-with hair.

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream
Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream

Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream

Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream ($18.50 for 2.5 oz.) is described as an “ultra-rich formula customized for the most dehydrated hands that offers supreme moisture, leaves hands soft, and promotes healthy-looking cuticles.”

Now, despite the usage of “brown sugar” in the title, it’s referring to the inclusiom of brown sugar crystals in the formula itself, but it has nothing to do with the scent. I know when I first tested this product out, I expected something sweet and food-ish, but the scent is actually a stronger, herbal-ish lemon. Distinctly lemon, but it almost borders on cloying and synthetic. I’m actually a fiend for lemon-y scent (seriously, I love all lemon-scented kitchen soaps!), but this smelled a little off.

ingredients: Water (Aqua), Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot), Kernel Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Maltooligosyl Glucoside, Sucrose, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Caramel, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Fragrance (Parfum), Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate Triethanolamine, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Isohexadecane, Lecithin, Sorbitan Oleate, Bisabolol, Panthenol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Xanthan Gum, BHT, Benzoic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Citral, Linalool, Geraniol.

As a hand cream, it’s a decent product: a very thick, luxuriously textured cream that absorbs in a few minutes without leaving behind any greasy residue. It moisturizes well if you have normal skin, but when my hands are at their driest, I don’t find that it to outperform some of my favorites (like Jack Black Hand Healer). It just leaves my hands shy of feeling truly soothed and infused with moisture. This seems to do better at locking in existing moisture while imparting some but not quite enough.

It’s not bad, and it’s better than average, but I don’t think it will work well for those with particularly dry or cracked hands.  I did like the texture and how quickly the product absorbed (which can always be an issue in thicker creams like this one).   If your hands are in better shape and the scent catches your fancy, I think this will do the trick for you.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum ($190 to $465) has been relaunched, along with several ancillary products, for the spring/summer. The eau de parfum is now encased in a translucent aqua-blue glass bottle, which retained the same shape as the scents in the Private Blend collection. The launch added bath soap ($35), shower gel ($65), body scrub ($80), body moisturizer ($65), and body oil ($70).

A modern intercontinental version of an iconic fragrance theme balances luminous citrus oils and floral notes with amber undertones that awaken the senses and leave a splashy yet substantive impression. Notes: bergamot, lemon, mandarin, lavender, myrtle, rosemary, orange bitter, Egyptian jasmine, neroli, orange blossom water, pittosporum, woody amber accord, ambrette seeds, angelica root.

It starts out as crisp orange blossom mixed with spiciness that makes it way to something a little sweeter, more of a fruity and floral mix. The dry down is distinctly orange with amber rounding it out in a way that leaves it just right, not too sweet, not too woody. On my skin, the scent wears well for six to eight hours, with it becoming rather subtle by the eighth hour. It’s a very light scent at all times; not that you can’t detect it, but the scent itself is certainly not as heady as scents like Amber Absolute or Oud Wood (two previous scents I’ve reviewed).

Neroli Portofino is a very lovely scent for summer–it reminds me of salty sea breezes, sandy beaches, and iced tea. It took me a few wears to appreciate it for what it is, but after that, I definitely can see the appeal. At first, it just seemed too simple, but the wear is incredible in the eau de parfum.

Now, I also tried out the body oil and shower gel, and on me, neither lasted for as long as the eau de parfum–it really wasn’t even close. The shower gel faded away within an hour, while the body oil lingers for two to three. Both products worked well aside from the wear time, though, and all three work well layered. The shower gel lathers up without leaving skin feeling dry, while the body oil absorbs quickly and imparts a subtle sheen on the skin.

Both products are housed in the same aqua colored packaging but come in plastic. At first, I didn’t quite get why they’d go plastic, but then as I used the shower gel, I got it–you have to squeeze the bottle to get the product out! Unfortunately, squeezing a square bottle is not nearly as effective as a rounded bottle or tube. I would have preferred if both products had come with a pump mechanism. If the eau de parfum is not in your budget, the body oil gave me better wear over the shower gel, but there is also a body moisturizer available, which may have even better wear–I have not tried, though.

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Monday, May 16th, 2011

Bare Minerals Deep Cleansing Foam
Bare Minerals Deep Cleansing Foam

Bare Minerals Deep Cleansing Foam

Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Deep Cleansing Foam ($20.00 for 4.2 oz.) has been my go-to night time cleanser for the past three months, and I’ve really enjoyed using it. I’ll definitely be keeping it in my to-go-back-to bin (as I rotate through to test out new products, I hold onto ones I really like). Earlier this year, Bare Escentuals rolled out a full range of skincare that has been in the works for years, and the cleanser is the first product I figured I’d try out (I am also anxious to review their Purely Nourishing Cream–which I loved–but I keep forgetting to photograph the jar!).

It’s a rich, foaming cleanser that is activated by applying a pearl-sized amount onto wet skin. One thing I love about this product is just how little you need–seriously, a pea-sized amount is more than you really need. It’s a really thick, rich and creamy cleanser that goes on easily and is easy to move across the skin. There is a subtle herbal-ish scent (it’s not strong at all nor does it linger) that seems due to the ingredients (not fragrance, as it is free from synthetic fragrances, as well as parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, and the like).

My skin always feels really clean without being tight or dry, and it feels so gentle the entire time.  Foaming cleansers can sometimes leave skin feeling stripped, but I never experienced that with this cleanser, which I used even when my skin was drier than normal.  The instructions actually say to avoid the eye area, but being impatient as I am, I didn’t read the instructions before using it the first few times, so I used it on my eyes, but I had no ill effects–no stinging, burning, cloudiness, etc. Not that I would endorse using the product that way, but if you accidentally get a little near your eye, it shouldn’t be the end of the world. It was able to break down all my face makeup, including medium coverage foundation.

I’m totally surprised at the affordability of the range, though, and in particular, this cleanser, because seriously, this tube of cleanser will last me a solid year, if not longer. My tube doesn’t even look like I’ve used it, and I’ve used it nearly every night for three months!  Oh, and for Clarisonic users, this cleanser works fabulously with it!

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Monday, May 16th, 2011

Illamasqua Gamma Nail Varnish
Illamasqua Gamma Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Gamma Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Gamma Nail Varnish ($14.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.) is described as a “neon orange.” They really mean neon, too, because this is a medium-dark, neon orange–it’s traffic cone orange, construction orange, whatever you want to call it–it’s bright and in-your-face orange. It’s opaque in nearly one coat, though I did two for swatches, and it dries to this pleather-like finish–a little shiny, kind of matte, but not quite.  The finish reminded me of Orly’s Plastix, though Gamma is more neon and deeper than Orly’s Old School Orange.  Illamasqua’s formula is richly pigmented, smooth, and easy to apply.  I typically get a full week of wear with Illamasqua Nail Varnishes with minimal tip wear and no chips.

The Glossover

P
product

Gamma

A
If you love your neons, Gamma is an excellent orange to put on your list. The polish flows so well, coverage is phenomenal, and it wears beautifully.

Product

10/10

Pigmentation

10/10

Texture

9.5/10

Longevity

10/10

Application

4.5/5

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Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Milani Purr-fect Purple Baked Eyeshadow
Milani Purr-fect Purple Baked Eyeshadow

Milani Baked Metallic Eyeshadow: Purr-fect Purple

Milani Purr-fect Purple Baked Metallic Eyeshadow ($7.49 for 0.05 oz.) is medium-dark red-toned purple with a silvered shimmer and sheen.  Of the several new shades Milani released, I was disappointed in this one–the pigmentation is just not nearly as intense as it looks in the pan.  The pan looks like a much more vibrant, violet purple with greater depth than is achieved when used (regardless of whether it is used wet or dry).

Milani could ditch that curved sponge/brush applicator, because the bristles are splayed and scratchy, while the sponge is thin and surprisingly scratchy. I did like the switch to a black interior, over the champagne gold from the Runway Eyeshadows. The lid is also quite secure, and I had to pry it open with my nails.

The Glossover

P
product

Purr-fect Purple

B-
The color suffers from sheerness, even when applied dampened, which makes it one of the weaker shades from the recent launch of Milani's baked eyeshadows. The color is also more muted than it appears in the pan.

Product

8/10

Pigmentation

7/10

Texture

8/10

Longevity

9/10

Application

4/5

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