Monday, June 14th, 2010

Benefit Stay Don't Stray

Packaging Woes with Benefit Stay Don’t Stray

Benefit Stay Don’t Stray ($24.00 for 0.33 fl. oz.) is a creamy, smooth neutral eyeshadow base. It’s a light beige, which will be a little tinted on the fairest of skin tones, but it will be very flesh-toned for light to medium skin tones. It reminded me a good deal of MAC’s Beige-ing Shadestick, which was always a popular eyeshadow base. Stay Don’t Stray has a near-matte finish, but there is an ever-so-subtle satin-sheen to it that’s really difficult to see when applied on the eyes.

Stay Don’t Stray is a fantastic product – it gives your eyeshadow something to adhere to without muting those eyeshadows and never creased, smudged, budged, or faded when I used this as an eyeshadow base. For those with imperfections or require some color-correction, this is the kind of base that excels in that department. It’s opaque–this is not a sheer, invisible base in the vein of TFSI and UDPP. This is much more like MAC’s Paint Pots, but it has the consistency of a liquid, rather than a thick cream.

For primer underneath a concealer, it worked well, but I think medium to dark skin tones may find it doesn’t work right.  It seemed to accent my concealer to the point where it didn’t match me at all.  It also was best applied before foundation, but then the foundation covers it up quite a bit.  It works in terms of keeping concealer put, but the color of it makes the concealer stand out a little on my skin tone (like the concealer appears darker – like the base is accenting the color, rather than blending it in with my skin tone).  It works best with cream concealers rather than more liquid-y ones, as well.

Where Stay Don’t Stray fails is in the packaging. I’m completely astonished that the packaging made it through R&D and testing, because one pump and you have more than enough to cover your entire face. The label around the packaging is cute, and I like that it stands up, and while the idea of a pump might be great (less contamination), it distributes far too much. Ridiculously too much! It’s such a shame, because inside is a product that really holds its own amongst eyeshadow bases, but the subpar packaging is so frustrating.

If you wanted to use this, you’d have to pump into a separate jar so you wouldn’t end up wasting a lot of the product–you don’t even need very much at all to get full coverage of both lids, let alone as much as a pump (or a half-pump, or a quarter-pump!). I tried on multiple occasions to ease the product out of the pump, but it’s just not easy to get as little as you need.  More often than not, I ended up with far too much product and nowhere to apply it to!

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 1/5

RECOMMENDATION: Make sure you read where this product really failed on, because it might not bother you. The product itself is excellent, but you’re just not getting as much as I’d expect for the price tag, plus the packaging is poorly executed.

AVAILABILITY: Benefit, Sephora

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Monday, June 14th, 2010

Smashbox Naked Beauty Lip Gloss Collection

Truly Barely There Lip Gloss with Smashbox

Smashbox Naked Beauty Lip Gloss Collection ($25.00 for 8 x 0.04 oz.) includes eight shades of sheer, barely-there lip gloss. The lip gloss itself is smooth, not too thin (but not thick), and non-sticky. They last about one to one and half hours on lips for me.

This set is part of Smashbox’s summer collection, and I did lip swatches but forgot to write down the order I did them in. Normally, I can figure out which shade is which, but these were all so sheer, most of them were indiscernible from the next. I planned to re-do the lip swatches, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet, and I’d like to at least review it in part before it’s no longer available for sale! (I guess you could say that since these ran so sheer, I was less than enthused at re-doing them.)

  • Buff is a sheer pinky-nude with white shimmer.
  • Sunkissed is a sheer reddish brown with gold shimmer.
  • Exposed is an ultra sheer, milky pink.
  • Bare is an ultra sheer pale, pastel milky pink with iridescent pink shimmer. This looked like clear gloss with very subtle shimmer on my lips.
  • Nude is a sheer, darkened peach-nude with gold shimmer. I found this one brightened up my natural lip color just a smidgen, but it was pretty colorless.
  • Naked is a pale gold with white gold shimmer. Like the other shades, it’s very sheer and looks like a colorless gloss with shimmer on lips.
  • Pure is a sheer watermelon pink. It looks a lot more pigmented in the swatch than it does on lips. What’s nice about this one is the pink does play-up the natural pink tones of your lip color and gives them a juicier look.
  • Natural is a sheer red-coral. Like Pure, it has that juicy look when worn, but the color is very, very hard to distinguish.

I think the set is a good value, and if you’re not necessarily a gloss person or you enjoy ultra sheer glosses, it’s worth a look-see. If you like gloss that’s pigmented, or you hate when items are limited edition, it’s not for you. Each lip gloss is pretty small (I’d guesstimate at 4-6 uses per container), but I didn’t see any of these show up in Smashbox’s permanent lip gloss ranges. Once you’re out, you’re out! They’re very travel-friendly, though, since their compact size makes them easy to toss anywhere without taking up much room at all. (Knowing me, I would easily lose these and find them in the couch!)

They definitely represent the theme of “Naked Beauty” quite well–they range from the ultra sheer to the sheer. Some have jelly-like appearances where there is no real shimmer, while other shades look frostier on lips. They all have a great glossy shine, though. I want to reiterate that Smashbox fully intended for these to be very sheer–they’re described as “barely there shades”–and they did exactly that. It’s not my cup of tea, but the product delivers exactly what it sets out to do.  I do wish that they’d varied up the shimmer more in the gloss — at least so the effect would be different, even if they didn’t add much color.

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

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’re a barely-there gloss girl, you may enjoy these ultra sheer to sheer non-sticky glosses by Smashbox. If you’re looking for some color or enjoy more opaque glosses, don’t even think twice about passing on this set.

Availability: Sephora

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Monday, June 14th, 2010

Dolce & Gabbana Fuchsia Shine Lipstick
Dolce & Gabbana Fuchsia Shine Lipstick

The Summer Season: Dolce & Gabbana Fuchsia Shine Lipstick

Dolce & Gabbana Fuchsia (#150) Shine Lipstick ($30.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a beautiful softened fuchsia-pink (actually, it strikes me as a peony pink!) with iridescent light pink shimmer and a glossy shine.  It almost has a glow to it.  It’s not a true fuchsia, because it’s really quite pink and doesn’t have the purple tones that most fuchsia lipsticks have.  The color pay off is excellent with complete opaque color.  I get around four to five hours of wear with this shade, and it’s moisturizing from start to finish.  Dolce & Gabbana Lipsticks are rose-scented, so those with more sensitive sniffers may find it a bit too much.

Is this the right pink 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 →

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Sephora Sun Kit

Trial & Error is Easy with Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit

Every year, Sephora puts out a Sun Safety Kit ($25.00), which includes a whole platter of trial-sized sunscreens to try. What I really like about it is it gives you an opportunity to find the right sunscreen for you–not just the SPF level, but the consistency, finish, and how it feels on skin. The kit also contains a pink makeup bag and UVSunSense UV monitoring bracelets (2).  It’s a great way to try out various sunscreens without forking over a ton of money to buy full-sizes or deal with returns.  They’re also travel-friendly, so you can take ‘em with you for short trips, too.

Though I noted it where applicable, I know my skin reacts poorly with high concentrations of silicone, so I did not test those sunscreens on my face and only on my arm.  So while my skin may react one way, and I may be overly cautious by avoiding products altogether that contain it high-up on the ingredient list, your skin is inevitably different from mine–that is to say, don’t write off a product merely because it breaks my skin out.  For instance, I’ve worn both Shiseido’s SPF 55 and Neutrogena’s Dry Touch during previous summers and never thought they were acne-causing culprits.   I also regularly wear Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation, which also contains dimethicone and other silicones.  Like many things in life, it may be about finding the right balance or mix–aka not layering on a sunscreen, primer, and foundation that all have it!

This year’s kit includes:

  • Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15 (0.14 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (3.0%), and oxybenzone (2.0%). The full-size contains 0.5 oz. and retails for $67. It’s a lightweight cream that absorbs and dries down quickly, and it doesn’t feel greasy on the lid, but still provides all-day hydration for the eye area.
  • DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew UV Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.23 oz.) contains avobenzone (2.0%), ensulizole (1.0%), octisalte (4.0%), and octocrylene (1.25%). The full-size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $40. I couldn’t test this one on my face, as it uses dimethicone (aka Temptalia’s nemesis) quite a bit. Instead, I tested it on my arm — it has a very lightweight, smooth consistency and dries down quickly. It has a soft finish that’s not greasy but not totally matte, but I did notice the “sunscreen” scent, which may put some off.
  • Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Lemon and Chamomile (0.10 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and avobenzone (3.0%). It’s a thicker lip balm in a squeeze-tube, but it’s very, very hydrating with a cooling sensation from the mint. I can apply this before I go to bed (around 10pm), and even at 5am, I can still feel a little left on my lips. (Normally, nothing is left on my lips!) The full size is $7.00 for 0.25 oz.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Defense Lotion SPF 30 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (5.0%), meradimate (5.0%), oxybenzone (3.5%), and avobenzone (1.0%). The full size contains 1.7 oz. and retails for $42.00. It’s a nice non-greasy formula that applies easily, but it takes about five to ten minutes to sink in and absorb fully.
  • Kate Somerville Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen (0.16 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (6.0%), octisalate (5.0%), and avobenzone (3.0%). It also has titanium dioxide in the ingredient list. The full size contains 2.0 oz. and retails for $45.00. It’s lightweight, doesn’t leave behind any greasy or sticky feel, and absorbs quickly. I really liked that this was scent-free, too.
  • Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse SPF 15 (0.27 oz.) has a whipped cream texture that’s designed to give skin a natural, gradual tan. I couldn’t find any active ingredient (sunscreen) for this one, though. I did not try this one (I don’t use self-tanners myself!). The full-size includes 4.2 oz. for $42.00.
  • Cover FX BritePrep FX SPF 50 (0.16 oz.) contains octocrylene (9.0%), octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (3.0%), and titanium dioxide (1.5%). The full-size contains 1.0 oz. for $45.00. It’s lightweight and absobs quickly. I did notice that a good shake or two of the product was necessary to make sure everything was as it should be, though. I think this is more suitable to dry to normal skin, but oily skin may find it feels just a tad greasy.
  • Bliss Best of Skintentions Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 (0.34 oz.) contains avobenzone (3.0%), homosalate (8%), and oxybenzone (3.5%). It has a very lightweight despite its thicker consistency, and it absorbs quickly. It has a smooth, velvety finish. It does have dimethicone in it, so I didn’t test it on my face, just my arm. There’s a light lemon-y citrus scent to it, but it doesn’t linger once its on the face.
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 60 PA+++ (0.23 oz.) contains zinc oxide (16.3%), octinoxate (7.4%), and ensulizole (2.0%). The full-size contains 3.3 oz. for $39.00. It is designed for the face and body, but to be honest, given the amount in this product and the price tag, I would go with a more affordable body SPF (it’s recommended you use 1 oz. for your entire body — aka 1/3 of the bottle here). It has a thin, liquid-y consistency, and it feels a lot like the original SPF 55 version but doesn’t dry down to the same near-matte finish for me. I think it’s better for normal to dry skin, but those with oily skin may find it a little greasy. I used to use Shiseido’s suncare very, very often, but after discovering that their formulations contain dimethicone, I’ve been more hesitant to start using it again on my face. Argh!
  • Ole Henriksen Herbal Day Cream SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%), oxybenzone (2.0%), meridamate (3.0%). It has a lightweight feel and absorbs quickly once applied. It also has a herbal-ish kind of scent, which isn’t off-putting and doesn’t linger.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 (0.25 oz.) contains octinoxate (7.5%) and octisalate (5.0%). I only saw the “To Go” size on Sephora, which is 0.5 oz. for $17.00. I didn’t try it on my face (dimethicone–can you see why this is frustrating? it’s in everything!), but on my arm, and it has a lightweight texture and absorbs in about thirty seconds to a minute. It does feel very smooth and not at all greasy or thick. However, I think in order to use this as sun protection, you’d really just have to use way more than is necessary for a primer.
  • Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Multi-Tasking Face SPF 20 (0.02 oz.) contains zinc oxide (20%). The full-size contains 0.08 oz. for $18. Summer Bisque was a surprisingly good match for my skin tone (NC25-ish), though a little on the darker side. As far as a SPF product goes, I definitely prefer a cream/lotion rather than in makeup (whether it’s foundation, powder, primer, concealer, etc.). Since this is a concealer base, I just think it’s a nice addition, but it doesn’t substitute for a face sunscreen.

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

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  If you’re still in the market for that perfect sunscreen, this kit is one way to trial several without having to purchase full-sizes.

AvailabilitySephora

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

KenzoAMOUR

Travel-Friendly Beauty: Kenzo Amour

Kenzo Amour Ryoko ($29.00 for 0.7 oz.) is a travel-friendly fragrance. L’eau Par Kenzo Pour Femme and Flower by Kenzo are also available in the new, travel-friendly packaging. For men, L’Eau Par Kenzo Pour Homme and Kenzo Homme are also available. Each scent is housed in a plastic box, and then in a plastic, curved oval-ish “rock.” They actually look a bit like a computer mice to me, actually. They fit well in the palm of the hand, and the plastic packaging means less chance for breakage as compared to the glass bottles of many perfumes.

RYOKO means travel in Japanese and Kenzo takes fragrance into uncharted territory with this airline-friendly, pocket sized nomad spray. The slow and sensuous journey of a couple through Asia, punctuated by encounters, bursts of laughter and smiles, soft sensations, pictures and perfumes brimming with life. A bird accompanies them, symbolizing the flare of love and the freedom of traveling.

KenzoAmour begins with a sweetened floral burst before it dries down to a soft vanilla and musk, with a hint of woodiness. It’s exactly the kind of scent that I’m personally into it. I love musky, woody scents coupled with the sweetness of vanilla (but not sugary vanilla). Amour is never cloying or sticky-sweet–this is sweetness without being overwhelming–it’s not the kind of sugary sweetness you smell when you walk into a bakery (or Coldstone, ha!).

Notes: Frangipani Blossoms from Bali or Borobudur, Cherry Blossoms from Japan, Tanakha Wood, Incense, Thai Rice Steam, Vanilla of La Réunion, White Tea from China

I don’t think this scent is particularly revolutionary or over-the-top–it’s soft and sweet and very feminine. It wears well without degenerating as the day wears on. It’s a scent that’s easy to wear and appropriate for day time as well as night time.  I really loved that I could detect the musky sweetness as well as I could at eight in the morning as I could at eight in the evening.

P.S. — When are we gonna get scratch ‘n sniff computers?

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: 5/5

RECOMMENDATION:  If you love vanilla-based scents (not food-y vanilla, though!) with a little woodiness/muskiness, you should give Amour a whiff next time you’re near a counter.  The scent is available in all the traditional variations, in addition to the travel-friendly Ryoko style.

AVAILABILITY: Kenzo

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Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Korres #47 Orange Brown Lipstick
>Korres #47 Orange Brown Lipstick

The Summer Season: Korres #47 Orange Brown Lipstick

Korres #47 Orange Brown Mango Butter Lipstick ($18.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a semi-opaque, muted orange. It has very subtle shimmer, but it gives off more of a slight gloss finish than it does a shimmery one. It’s surprisingly pigmented–the swatch makes it look rather sheer, but on, it delivers beautiful coverage. It also makes lips look fuller without emphasizing lip lines. It’s a very moisturizing and smooth-feeling lipstick that lasts about three to four hours on me. It also has SPF 10, which is always a nice bonus!

Is this the right orange 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 →