Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Holiday Glitz: China Glaze Emerald Sparkle Nail Lacquer

China Glaze Emerald Sparkle Nail Lacquer ($3.50 to $6.00 for 0.5 fl. oz.) is a signature shade for the holidays. I remember practically fall over myself trying to track it down without paying ridiculously inflated eBay prices and failing. This year, it is part of the Love You Snow Much Set, which also includes Tinsel (light silver), Ruby Pumps (ruby red), and 5 Golden Rings (pale gold). I love Emerald Sparkle so much, I feel it deserves its own post. I’ll review the entire set tomorrow, so stay tuned! :)

Emerald Sparkle is a shimmery rich emerald green. It is a deep, dark forest green base mixed with brighter, more emerald green shimmer. The combination is absolutely stunning, both in natural light, sunlight, and indoor lighting. It sparkles and shimmers, and it is so suitable for the holiday season. It’s also a dream to apply; smooth and pigmented, it only needs two coats to obtain a rich, lush green that is entirely opaque. This is definitely one of my favorite China Glaze shades to date, and it also has one of the best formulations amongst the brand’s line-up.

Would you rock Emerald Sparkle?

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you love lush green shades for your nails, I’m pretty sure you should be the owner of Emerald Sparkle… and make haste!

Availability: 8ty8beauty.com, Head2ToeBeauty.com, TransDesign.com

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009

MAC Port Red Lipstick
MAC Port Red Lipstick

The Scarlet Season: MAC Port Red Lipstick

MAC Port Red Lipstick ($14.00 for 0.10 oz.) is a gorgeous ruby red with gold sheen. I really love this shade, and it’s neck-and-neck with Queen’s Sin as one of MAC’s better red lipsticks. They aren’t identical, as Queen’s Sin is a little deeper, with more berry as an undertone and doesn’t have the same gold shimmer. I love the gold flecks that you see in this lipstick. Port Red isn’t too orange or too blue, it’s just that right shade of true red. Surprisingly, it was launched in May of 2008 (so you may have to do some hunting to find it, e.g. on eBay), but it’s an amazing shade of red for the holiday season as well.

What about you? Would you wear this red?

The Scarlet Season is a series of posts showcasing and featuring my favorite shades of red lips–from glosses to lipsticks that runs through December 2009. You can sure expect to see a lot of red this holiday season!

See more swatches and comparison photosContinue reading →

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Warm Up Your Mornings: Aveeno Positively Ageless Warming Scrub

Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Ageless Warming Scrub ($9.29 for 4 oz.) is a gentle exfoliator with a warming feel.  It uses shiitake mushrooms in it (this is where you might find your “anti-aging” properties).  Like most thermal products, it heats up when it comes into contact with water.  It has very fine, sand-like exfoliating beads that slough away dead skin without being overly abrasive nor too fine that you’re not sure if it’s doing the job right or not.  I’m not going to discuss the anti-aging claims, because even if they worked, I’d unlikely to be able to tell since I’m 23 and don’t have too many signs of aging yet (thankfully).  The skeptic in me doesn’t really feel that a scrub that you rinse and wash off in a few minutes is likely to turn back the hands of time in a truly significant way either.

I was really, really impressed by Aveeno’s Warming Scrub, and it’s definitely a new favorite and easily in line to become a shower staple.  As someone who pretty much lives and breathes new products, it’s always difficult to actually stick with a staple–but for the sake of argument, if I was a normal consumer, this would totally be a buy and buy again product.  It smells kind of like a more natural version of baby shampoo.  I couldn’t think of a better description for the scent other than that; it’s kind of clean, lightly sweetened, kind of natural.  I liked the scent quite a bit, just because it was soft, pleasing, and relaxing.

The exfoliating bits and bobs in this product seem gentle enough to be used several times a week, and I’ve encountered no problems using it about three or four times a week.  I use mine in the shower, so typically in the AM, so I don’t have to worry about getting off any makeup.  I’ve been a long-time user and fan of Aveeno products, so I’m happy to see this one work out for me as well.  I think I’ll have to pick up a tube and pass it along to my sister and see if she likes it.  (We both grew up using Aveeno skincare products.)

For a very long time, my favorite thermal scrub was Prescriptives’ Instant Gratification ($45.00), with Clean & Clear’s In-Shower Facial coming close as a more affordable option.  Instant Gratification is much more of a mask kind of product, because it’s not something you’re meant to use on a daily basis (I used mine about once a week or less), and it’s more abrasive than both the In-Shower Facial and Warming Scrub.  I really like that I can use the Warming Scrub more often, because I love that thermal/heat sensation that comes along with it.  It doesn’t last long (20 seconds or so), but it’s so relaxing and a great way to start your day off.  Smooth, soft, and radiant skin, courtesy of $9 well-spent!

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

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  For an affordable, thermal exfoliating scrub, Aveeno has you covered!

AvailabilityDrugstore.com

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Long-wearing Liner:  NARS Eyeliner Stylo in Bayou Blue and Nuits Blances

NARS Eyeliner Stylo ($27.00 for 0.02 oz.) was recently released just in time for the fall/holiday seasons as a brand new product by NARS. It is touted to be a long-wearing, quick-drying liquid liner delivered via a felt-tip applicator. With the felt-tip applicator, you are supposed to be able to get precise lines–thin or thick–with “maximum control.” The Eyeliner Stylo is available in three shades: Blue Bayou (blue), Nuits Blanches (black), and Nabucco (brown).

I test drove two: Blue Bayou, which is not quite an electric blue, but much brighter and deeper than a sky blue–but there’s no teal or green in it for me; and Nuits Blanches, which is a very deep dark black.  Oddly enough, I’ve found a lot of black felt-tip liners do show up a bit brown when swatched on the skin, but on the eyes, looks black as it’s supposed to; this also happened here (for reference).  I wonder if, perhaps, it’s how close/magnified the photo is vs. viewing it in person at a real-life size.  Anyway, just something worth noting.

The formula is definitely long-wearing and it dries quickly but not too quickly, so you do have some time to work.  The formula itself is fairly water-resistant as well; I’m not sure I’d say entirely waterproof, but it doesn’t budge or smudge or flake throughout the day and takes a bit of elbow grease to remove.  To be honest, one of my biggest frustrations with this product had to do with Blue Bayou staining my eyelid for three days.  I don’t love products that stain overall, because I do find it annoying the next day, but having this slightly faded, residual blue liner on the outer edges of my eyes for three days was ridiculous.  I know in the past, readers have recommended Make Up For Ever’s makeup remover for staining products, but between my cleansers, olive oil, and Lancome’s Bi-Facil, the staining wasn’t budging.  I found the black didn’t stain nearly as much and seemed to fade away by the next day.

I will say that this the felt-tip applicator is very long and skinny, and those with smaller eyes may find this a little unwieldy.  On my eyes, I felt like I had enough control to create thin, precise lines.  I did find creating thicker lines to create a little more skill, just because the applicator is quite thin and more suited towards thin lines rather than thicker lines.  I think with enough practice you’d find that you could get thin or thick lines without much fuss or frustration, though!   The applicator distributes a good amount of product without it being too much or too little–there’s no drag nor is there excess that you have to worry about.

Bottom Line: I like and would recommend Nuit Blanches, because it works and functions quite well.  I do take an issue with something that stains so intensely as Blue Bayou did, which makes me hesitant to recommend it.  I didn’t take any points off for staining, but it’s something I think is worth noting as a potential problem for some (as it is for me).  I used Blue Bayou last week in a look, which you can view here, to see how it looks in action.

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:  If you don’t mind a product that may stain your eyelids temporarily, these are easy to use, quality felt-tipped pens to give you that liquid liner look.

Availability: NARS, NARS Eyeliner Stylo

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Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Philosophy Pumpkin Spice Muffin Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath Review

Philosophy Pumpkin Spice Muffin Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath ($16.00 for 16 oz.) is yet another fun, aromatic scent from Philosophy, just in time for the fall and holiday season. I already reviewed a few of their other holiday scents, but I knew I was going to fall in love with this one.

I am ALL about pumpkin spice. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte… Pumpkin Spice Creamer (now I can use my beloved Nespresso to make the BEST at-home pumpkin spice lattes!)… Panera Pumpkin Muffins… you name it, if it has pumpkin spice in the title, I’m all over it. Seriously. LOVE IT. It’s so cozy and homey and autumn. Philosophy totally nailed this scent in a way that really blows me away. I was like, “How did they manage to get that pumpkin spice WITH just a touch of muffin in it?” It’s just so on point. It has the exact scent of pumpkin spice, but as you take a sniff, you can totally detect that it’s more of a pumpkin spice muffin you’re smelling. I was just particularly amazed as I was really dissecting the scent last night in the shower.

I love Philosophy’s 3-in-1 Shower Gels, because they lather up quickly and easily, and they smell so good. (If you aren’t feeling pumpkin spice–how could you not?!–they have a variety of scents, mostly food-related.) I personally also love that the scent fills the bathroom/shower, but it doesn’t linger on the skin. This allows me to wear any body cream/lotion or perfume post-shower and not worry about mixing and matching scents. One 16 oz. bottle lasts me about three or four months (for two, maybe more like a month and a half or two), so I’m satisfied with the cost-per-use value I get out of each bottle.

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 love pumpkin spice, I think you’ll love this scent!

Availability: Beauty.com, Nordstrom, Philosophy, Sephora

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Illamasqua Encounter Lipstick
Illamasqua Encounter Lipstick

The Scarlet Season: Illamasqua Encounter Lipstick

Illamasqua Encounter Lipstick ($20.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a matte, bright true-red with a slight touch of orange in its base. While some of Illamasqua’s lipsticks can be drying, Encounter is about as dry as I’d expect for something this matte–but I noticed it didn’t really dry my lips out after wearing it, which is something I do find can happen with some of the drier mattes I’ve tried (e.g. MAC’s Ruby Woo). It also applies very evenly, despite being a matte texture, and it goes opaque in just one layer. I’m personally not a big fan of matte lips, so I tend to gloss things up. This works really well with Illamasqua’s Lily Rose Sheer Lipgloss, as seen here.

What about you? Would you wear this red?

The Scarlet Season is a series of posts showcasing and featuring my favorite shades of red lips–from glosses to lipsticks that runs through December 2009. You can sure expect to see a lot of red this holiday season!

See more swatches and comparison photosContinue reading →