Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Sara Happ Almond Creme Lip Scrub
Sara Happ Almond Creme Lip Scrub

Still Lovin’ Ya: Sara Happ The Lip Scrub

Sara Happ Almond Creme Lip Scrub ($24.00 for 1.0 oz.) is an excellent way to keep lips soft and supple for those of us who like a little convenience in our lives.   This particular one has a nutty vanilla scent, sweet like dessert, but not cloying nor does it linger, since you don’t keep it on your lips.  Sara Happ’s scrub is very basic but effective; the granules are large enough to do the job but not too coarse that they feel rough against the lips.  The oils and petroleum base make it solid enough that it keeps the scrub on your lips and not all over your face (or sink).  If you wipe away with a tissue, then some of the oils and petroleum are left over and lock in moisture.

For me, if I have to DIY something, I just know that I won’t make it part of my routine, because I’m too lazy busy and can’t be bothered.  It’s one of those things that I remember to do when I see the tub of Lip Scrub in my drawer, and I go, “OH! Should do that…”  If left to my own devices to concoct it myself, I don’t see myself doing it often, if ever.  That’s just me.  Some of us are born to be product developers, others of us are born to be product testers.  I am the latter! :)

I actually still have my original pot of Lip Scrub, which I’ll be tossing (I think that sucker is three or four years old), and I never even got halfway through it.   I love the little brown box and white ribbon it comes in, but the tub itself is pretty basic–could be a little more luxe for the price tag.  The fact that it’ll be difficult to get through a tub of this quickly saves the value grade, though.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: This is one of my favorite lip scrubs, because the sugary bits actually stay on my lips while I massage the granules on my lips, and then they rinse (or wipe) off pretty easily.  There’s just enough residual base left to give a bit of moisture, too.  For those who are less apt to splurge on a lip scrub, check out the ingredient list (in the photo) to DIY.

AVAILABILITY: Kiss and Makeup

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

The Mysterious Case of Tired Face

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($16.50 for 0.30 fl. oz.) has been a product I’ve felt compelled to test for the past two weeks straight. I don’t like to review a product until I have a good handle on how I feel about it, and I’m not big on reviewing anything that I’m waffling over.

Admittedly, I’ve been sleeping a lot less and not nearly as well as I usually do, which is good news for concealer-testing purposes, given that my under eye circles are more prevalent this week than they normally are! Often when I’m running on low sleep, I suffer from a phenomenon I’ve named TIREDFACE. The primary symptom is tightness around the eye area (at least for me). So, one of the things I’ve had going on has been this feeling of tightness when I’ve been wearing this concealer, and I wasn’t sure whether it was due to the concealer itself or more to the exhaustion. For about three days, I wore concealer under one eye and none under the other. The concealer does contribute to some of the feeling of tightness.

The concealer does last a miraculous twelve hours, though, without creasing or budging. It is a very dry product, and if you have a lot of dryness around the areas you’re trying to conceal, I think this may emphasize those areas rather than hide them. I felt like it pulled a little underneath my eyes (which is where I used it most of the time), which is why I felt that tightness despite no discernible dryness in the area.  It conceals good, though for the heaviest of dark circles, it may not be enough, and it’s difficult to layer this product for additional coverage due to its fast drying time.

It has a creamy feel when dispensed, and it’s not too thick–there’s a good consistency to it, but it dries quickly, so you’ll have to work just as quickly. I actually recommend doing one eye at a time, because if you don’t move fast enough, it can be difficult to blend out! I also liked using a flat concealer brush like the 195 for application; the 217 seemed to sheer it out too much. I have noticed that it will settle a little into fine lines if you don’t blend out the area first. Once you’ve blended it out, though, it won’t creep back in.

I originally tried this in NC30, but it’s definitely a little on the orange side. I received a sample of NC20, so I figured I might as well give that a shot, though I’m ultimately thinking that NC25 or even NW25 might be the best match for me (I am NC25). NC20 seemed like a pretty good match, but next time I’m at the counter, I’m going to grab samples of NC25 and NW25 to see if either of those is a better match.

I was incredibly frustrated by the inclusion of a pump that–wait for it–pumps out enough to cover half your face in concealer. If the technology is not available to create a pump that easily distributes just enough for the product’s purpose, why use something inferior? It is certainly possible to get just the right amount out, but after two weeks of use, I couldn’t do so consistently. Sometimes I got just enough, sometimes a nice blob that went down the sink. If you’re having pump troubles like I have had, I recommend pumping once or twice into a small sampling jar. No need to pump it all into there, just whatever excess–that way you can go back and use that during the week and not let it go to waste.

All in all, this concealer does last all day long for me. It doesn’t crease later on during the day, and this is a big deal for a lot of us. I do feel a little tightness around my under eye when I wear this, though, so I probably won’t wear this every day.  It’s definitely worth trying out for its long-wearing prowess–but if you can, grab a sample, so you can find your shade and decide if you like it without having to purchase from the get-go.

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you have really dry skin that you’re looking to use this concealer on, I think this may be too drying and end up just looking cakey on you.  The wear of this is fantastic, and the coverage is good for light to moderate under eye circles or blemishes.  If you have really heavy under eye circles, this might not be enough coverage.  Overall, it’s worth a try, particularly if you’re able to grab a sample.

AVAILABILITY: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

MAC Plumful Lipstick
MAC Plumful Lipstick

Maybe Not Sultry, But Still Pretty

MAC Plumful Lipstick ($14.50 for 0.10 oz.) is a muted medium pink with a touch of plum, which gives it a slightly darker overall appearance. It has a lustre finish, but it delivers a surprising amount of color pay off (semi-opaque). I originally bought this to use in the Sultry Season, but it’s just not vampy and dark and sultry enough for that purpose! However, it is a gorgeous shade of pink without being milky, candy, or bright. I think it’s very wearable for both cooler and warmer skin tones, though it leans slightly cool. I don’t know how I went this long without Plumful in my stash!

Lustre finishes are supposed to be more moisturizing but can be somewhat drying (but Plumful wasn’t), but they’re often on the sheerer side; I’m happy that Plumful isn’t, just because some of the lustre shades barely show up at all. All MAC lipsticks are vanilla-scented but have no discernible taste. I typically get four hours of wear out of MAC lipsticks, with some of the darker shades going as long as five.

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Chanel Insolente Rouge Allure Lipstick
Chanel Insolente Rouge Allure Lipstick

Bright Pink That’s Wearable

Chanel Insolente (65) Rouge Allure Lipstick ($30.00 for 0.12 oz.) is brightened medium pink with subtle blue undertones. It has next to in noticeable shimmer but has a soft sheen. Like other Rouge Allures, it has opaque color, feels comfortable on the lips, and wears well. I typically get five to six hours of wear with brighter/deeper shades like this one. I wouldn’t describe the formula as overly creamy or moisturizing, but they never dry out my lips and always apply evenly and smoothly.

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  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: Insolente is a happy medium of brightness in a pink. It’s not neon, and it’s not the most traffic-stopping pink ever made, but it’s also a whole lot more wearable, too.

AVAILABILITY: Chanel

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

NARS Vintage Nail Polish
King Kong, Mash, Zulu, Midnight Express, Full Metal Jacket

NARS Vintage Nail Polishes see the re-release of five coveted NARS shades. As of late last night, Zulu was back in stock, actually, though it was sold out for a time. These are all limited edition, and each shade retails for $16.

  • King Kong is a orange-toned molten copper bronze with copper shimmer threaded through the base color. This was the most pigmented shade out of the five; I used two coats. This applied evenly and smoothly, and it didn’t show brushstrokes too much for a metallic finish.
  • Mash is a darkened olive green base with green and gold shimmer that warm it up. This was my favorite color out of the bunch. You’ll definitely need three coats, and some brushstrokes ended up showing for me, so be patient.
  • Zulu is a deep, dark blackened green jelly. It’s very inky and solid and virtually black in low lighting. In the sunlight, the green of its base is more apparent. You’ll need at least three coats, if not four, to get full, opaque color. I’d also recommend slightly thicker coats, because those thinner coats seem to cause some streaking.
  • Midnight Express is a deep, dark blackened navy. Just like Zulu, this shade is mostly black in low light and brightens up to its bluer form in sunlight. I did three coats, but you may find four better. The application for this shade was exactly the same as Zulu for me.
  • Full Metal Jacket is a bluish silvered gray with silver shimmer. It is the most metallic of the five, and it is incredibly prone to showing brushstrokes. Patience is key with these kinds of metallics–you want to minimize the pressure and the number of times you brush the polish on the nails. Three coats.

The application issues make me wary of recommending these. Part of me wants to tell you to scoop up any shades that catch your eye before they’re sold out or gone for good, but the other part of me just wants to say, well, they don’t seem super-freaking-awesome as some shades have been hyped up to be. (Zulu, I’m looking at you!) It can be fun own a piece of history, as it were, though, and with some patience and a steady hand, all of these shades are workable. Mash and King Kong were good, while the rest were decent, so they kind of balance out. What also saves these polishes is that they’re not easy to dupe, which makes them even more covetable.

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  • Product: 25/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t normally purchase $16 nail polish, these might not be the best ones to go for first. They’re not as easy to apply as your average nail polish. Also, if you can’t be fussed to be careful and wait between coats, you’ll probably have a poor experience with these.

AVAILABILITY: NARS

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Monday, October 4th, 2010

Urban Decay Potion
Greed, Sin, Eden, Original

Urban Decay Little Sins Eyeshadow Primer Potion Set ($29.00) is new for the holidays and contains miniature sizes of the three existing Primer Potion varieties: Original (invisible), Eden (matte nude), Sin (shimmering champagne). It also contains a miniature size of a new and (currently) exclusive shade: Greed (pearly gold).

  • Greed is a shimmering slightly paled gold with definite yellow undertones. It’s not really an opaque base, and it’s not as pigmented of a base as Sin. It also has more of a shimmer than a frost base, unlike Sin. I think warm-toned beauties will find this works really well as a base as well as an all-over color for quick looks.
  • Sin is a beige-nude with a high frost sheen and champagne micro-shimmer.
  • Eden is a yellow-toned light nude with a matte finish.
  • Original is virtually invisible, though I’ve always found it has a slight shimmer to it.

I think one of the more frustrating marketing strategies that pops up during the holiday season is when a brand brings out one new, exclusive/limited edition shade amongst a set of several other permanent shades.  (And don’t get me wrong, many brands employ this strategy.)  I don’t want to have to buy the three other Primer Potions just so I can get Greed. This is how I end up with doubles or triples of certain eyeliners, pigments, etc. — none of which I’ve ever used up the original! I really do like Greed, though, so I’m crossing my fingers that Urban Decay releases it on its own.

I find that the Original Primer Potion has a tendency to crease on me after about seven hours, though Eden and Sin both seem to hold up better.  Greed didn’t give me any creasing problems after wearing it on three different occasions for over eight hours on each.

Each contains 0.13 oz., which means you’re getting 0.52 oz. of product in sum.  This translates to $55.77/oz. while a full-sized version ($18 for 0.34 oz.) goes for $52.94/oz.  It’s a nice opportunity for those who haven’t tried our the brand’s line of eyeshadow bases yet.  It may also be worth it for those who are devotees, because you’ll likely run through your tubes eventually and need replacements… ta-da.  Plus, the travel-sized versions may be more convenient for those treks to Mom and Dad’s house for holiday dinner.

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

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

RECOMMENDATION: It really depends on two things:  whether you have any of the full-sized versions and how badly do you want Greed?  (I suppose I should have said how greedy are you to have Greed…)

AVAILABILITY: Sephora

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