Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Kate Somerville

Oh, ExfoliKate, How I Love Thee!

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85.00 for 2 oz., $175.00 for 5 oz.) is something I’ve been wanting to write about but have no real idea about how to go about doing it.  I just don’t know how to explain WHY I love this product so much, and it’s not exactly something you can easily show. I also struggle with what to say in regards to this product, because I love it, and it’s not cheap. While I worry about any recommendations I may make (I worry that you’ll hate what I loved!), I stress out over bigger ticket items in particular!  Anyway…

The product itself is a thin, green-tinged (think seaweed, perhaps–moss? anchovy paste… no!) mixture of enzymes and acids (which is kind of redundant, but whatever).  This is not a scrub–this is like a cleanser meets mask meets scrub.  To apply, you squeeze out about a pea to nickel-sized dollop onto fingers, then gently apply in circular motions to damp skin.  Let it sit for about thirty seconds (based on your tolerance), and then rinse off, towel dry, and enjoy the pretty glow it leaves behind.   I don’t think you need much, but considering the price tag, I still find myself ensuring I don’t over-use.  (Though my boyfriend suffers no such affliction!)  It’s meant to be used once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s needs.  I usually use it twice a week myself.

I love the ridiculously soft feel of my skin post-ExfoliKate.  It’s so, so smooth.  It’s not dry, tight, or red after using it, and it’s not rough against my skin at all.  I know that ExfoliKate also comes in a Gentle formula for those with more sensitive skin, but I really didn’t feel much tingling (from the enzymes!) even from the get-go.  When I had my boyfriend try it for the first time, he felt the tingling much, much more than I, but after two or three uses, he didn’t seem to have any issues with it.  My skin looks and feels renewed and refreshed after each use.

One itsy-bitsy tube has lasted me about four months (I bought my first tube back in October ’09 but didn’t start using it right away), but I’ve definitely had lapses where I’ve only used it once a week or less… but then again, the boyfriend has definitely used more than copious amounts in the time I’ve had it in the bathroom!  All in all, I do think the 2 oz. tube lasts a good while, so it won’t be as if you’ll run through a single tube in a month or even two.   Not to say it’s cheap stuff, though!

There is one thing I have learned after having acne-prone skin for several years now–good skincare is worth it.  If you find something that works, it’s probably worth sticking to, rather than hunting for something cheaper and just as effective.  That’s just my motto nowadays; it’s worth the investment in my skin.  A good product doesn’t have to be expensive, either, but if it is and it works (and obviously, you’ve tried more than just that!), I see no reason to go elsewhere.  Once you find a solid skincare routine, you can plan to stock-up during sale events or triple points or whatever.

I like that it’s really easy to use, and you don’t have to set aside a large chunk of time to get a nice, enzyme-based exfoliation session in.  I love masks and all those kinds of products, but too often I completely forget about using them, but I always have a few minutes to spare for quick and effective exfoliation.    The packaging is simple, but I’ve found it works.  It dispenses product without a fuss–you don’t have to worry about getting too much out–and it’s pretty hygienic.  I could see that a pump might work better, but given my recent experience pump-packaging, it’d likely dispense way too much.  And this isn’t a product I want to waste a single drop of!

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: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: I am always hesitant to recommend anyone to shell out so much for so little product, even if I’ve experienced good results with it. If you can, I’d definitely try a sample OR purchase from a retailer with a solid return/exchange policy in case you really don’t get any magic out of it. I still can’t commit to buying the big daddy size, though I’ve purchased this product twice now.

Availability: Sephora

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Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

MAC Crosswires Lipstick

The Summer Season: MAC Crosswires Lipstick

MAC Crosswires Lipstick ($14.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a lovely shade of coral-pink–it’s not super bright like Vegas Volt, but it’s not so muted that it ends up looking washed out.  It’s easily one of my favorite corals amongst MAC’s permanent line, too.  The cremesheen formula gives Crosswires a soft glistening sheen while still giving a good deal of color coverage on lips.  It’s about as opaque as a lipstick can get on my lips!   It even has this almost-there golden sheen.  It’s very, very subtle, but it’s most noticeable in the sunlight.

Is this the right coral lipstick for you? Would you wear it?

The Summer Season is a series of posts featuring bright, vibrant shades of coral, orange, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for a summer of fun — that runs through July 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Korres Orange Blush

Korres #44 Orange Blush ($24.00 for 0.21 oz.) is a beautiful shade of rich coral-orange with a soft golden shimmer-sheen.  This is one wickedly pigmented blush, and it’s perfect for a pop of color on the cheeks during the summer.  It’s truly a stunning shade — I see this working better on warmer skin tones, particularly on deeper and tanner skin tones.  The powder is smooth, silky, and it wears well (no issues with surprise! no more blush mid-day).  I love the luminosity this shade of blush lends to cheeks–it’s glowy and healthy and lovely.  I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about this blush, to be honest!  Korres even gives you plenty o’ product for your buck, too — around 0.05 oz. or so more than your average blusher.

Psst, you can see it in a look here!

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

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

Recommendation:  If you love coral or orange blushes, I definitely consider this a must-have!

AvailabilityKorres

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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Estee Lauder Peach Nuance Blush
Estee Lauder Peach Nuance vs. MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre

Estee Lauder Peach Nuance vs. MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre — Dupes?

Estee Lauder Peach Nuance Blush ($26.00 for 0.25 oz.) may have escaped your notice, but it is now highly touted as a perfect dupe for MAC’s Ripe Peach. I was quite confused at the hype over Ripe Peach after it came out, to be honest. It’s pretty, but I am completely surprised at how collectible it has become. When murmurings began comparing Estee Lauder’s Peach Nuance, I knew I had to find out for myself.

Peach Nuance is incredibly close, but I found it was a little lighter and a smidgen pinker–it also doesn’t have the shimmer-sheen of Ripe Peach. It’s close, truly, but it’s not a perfect dupe to me. When worn on the cheeks, the difference is much, much subtler, but when swatched, the difference is more noticeable. Peach Nuance is a lightened coral-pink with a very silky, nearly matte finish. If you want to get closer to Ripe Peach, stay more on the coral side of the blush and avoid the lighter side, which does most of the lightening.

This is all to say that Peach Nuance is a lovely color, worth getting if you missed out on Ripe Peach and would love a gradated coral blusher. (Estee Lauder also carries several other Nuance shades, which seem to all have the gradated look.) It’s smooth and easily blended, though the color is soft and sheer and needs to be built up for a more intense look. It’s a great coral for both cool and warm skin tones, though, so it’s a very universal shade.  It could be a little more pigmented, but it’s on par with the pigmentation of Ripe Peach.

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: Completely worth picking up if you’ve been trying to find your own Ripe Peach or refuse to pay $70 for one on eBay. Worth picking up if you’re a coral fiend, period!

Availability: Nordstrom

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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

NARS Pro-Prime:  Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base

NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base ($24.00 for 0.26 oz.) is much-needed primer addition to NARS’ core range. In addition to the eyeshadow base, NARS also launched their Pro-Prime Face Prep ($30.00) (which, at this time, I am not planning to review).

I picked up a sample tube of the primer with a recent Sephora order, and the sample tube allowed me about four or five uses. From the images I’ve seen online, the packaging is similar–just a longer tube for the full-size version. They both have a doe-foot applicator (like the kind you see in lipgloss). It has an incredibly thin, slightly creamy consistency. When applied, it looks white on the applicator, but it is virtually colorless. This colorlessness is actually my only–albeit marginal and nitpicky–complaint.

It’s so colorless, even from the get-go, that it is difficult to determine where you’ve applied the primer. This makes covering the entire lid a little more difficult than when one would use a colored, even subtly so, primer. I’ve noticed that if I’ve missed an area, that area will look duller and flake, since there is no primer there. The problem is just it’s really difficult to tell if you’ve missed an area!

Aside from that, if you’ve covered your entire lid, it works really well. It lives up to all the claims NARS makes about it: lightweight, extends the wear, smooths the surface, and maximizes color. I didn’t experience any budging, smudging, creasing, or migration when I used this as a primer underneath my eyeshadows. It is a clear, matte primer that merely smooths over the lid and acts to hold and bond all the eyeshadow together. Colors definitely didn’t look muted at all, and they held their intensity throughout the day.

NARS Smudgeproof is most comparable to Urban Decay Primer Potion and Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The consistency is very similar–they are all very thin and a little creamy.  However, NARS definitely feels more velvety once it dries–which is very quickly.  They are all nearly colorless, though NARS is definitely truly colorless–UDPP has a slight nude tone to it and TFSI even less nude. I’ve always found that UDPP seemed to have a slight shimmer to it, and NARS is completely matte (which is a good thing, if you want to keep your matte eyeshadows matte!). Of course, the major difference between the two is the price — UDPP goes for $18 for 0.34 oz. while NARS is $24 for 0.26 oz and TFSI is $17 for 0.35 oz.

Between the three, I’d actually go NARS. I really didn’t think I’d like it more than the other two, but I would. One of the issues I have with TFSI is the product can separate a bit in the tube. I do really like that you can squeeze out what you need and easily apply with a brush. Both NARS and UDPP have doe-foot applicators, but NARS is a simple tube, so it’s not nearly as wasteful as UDPP is. I’ve never finished a bottle of primer in my life, so even if $24 is a higher upfront cost, I really don’t see it not being worth the investment, since a tube should last you many, many uses.

Fun Fact: Ironically, since I revisited my TFSI review, which was made back in 2008–OMG!–TFSI, at the time, was $1 more than UDPP, which was $16.  The whole point?  UDPP has raised its price $2 in two years and is now more expensive than TFSI.

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

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

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a lightweight, colorless eyeshadow primer that stays on all day without budging, smudging, or fading, you may want to give NARS Smudgeproof a try.

Availability: Sephora

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Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Milani Magenta Madness Lipstick

The Summer Season: Milani Magenta Madness Lipstick

Milani Magenta Madness Lipstick ($5.00) is a darkened magenta-purple with a violet sheen. It’s like a much more purple, almost downplayed version of MAC Show Orchid. It’s as if MAC Violetta and MAC Show Orchid had a baby, actually. Magenta Madness has good color pay off and applies evenly and smoothly. If you’re not sensitive to scents (synthetic ones, in particular), Milani is a great brand for highly pigmented lipsticks at a budget-friendly price.

Is this the right purple lipstick for you? Would you wear it?

The Summer Season is a series of posts featuring bright, vibrant shades of coral, orange, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for a summer of fun — that runs through July 2010.

See photos and swatches… Continue reading →