Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Philosophy: Peppermint Hot Cocoa Shower Gel
Philosophy: Peppermint Hot Cocoa Shower Gel

Philosophy Peppermint Hot Cocoa Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath ($16.00 for 16 oz.) is a fun, holiday scent from Philosophy’s Holiday Collection.  The first time I lathered up with this product, I was instantly reminded of peppermint mochas from Starbucks.  It’s that chocolaty sweetness mixed with a pop of peppermint.  I think Philosophy nailed the scent, and the name is perfectly suited to it.  It’s a good mix of chocolate sweetness and richness and peppermint where neither scent overpowers the other.

Philosophy describes this scent as, “a minty spin on a chocolaty holiday favorite. this super-decadent, new peppermint hot cocoa shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 16 oz. will surely become your favorite shower-time treat. the ultra-rich formula provides a moisturizing lather from head to toe to gently cleanse and condition your skin and hair. it even comes in a giftable holiday box.”

I am a big, and a long-time, fan of Philosophy’s 3-in-1 gels.  I only use mine as shower gels (I prefer other products for shampoo, and I rarely take baths), but I love these for two reasons:  1) sheer variety in scents available and 2) they lather up so easily and quickly and feel great when you’re using them in the shower.  I think these are affordable products, because one 16 oz. bottle lasts me about three or four months, easily.  You don’t need much to lather head to toe or to get the scent to fill your shower.  The only thing I don’t like about these is I find the bottle packaging to be of a very hard plastic, so it isn’t as easy as I’d like to squeeze out the product when it starts getting empty–requires a little strength!

Bottom Line: If you prefer shower gels that give you a lingering scent after the shower is over, Philosophy’s aren’t really designed for that purpose (they actually advertise them as scents that don’t linger past the shower/bath).  If, however, you want to enjoy a burst of scent in the shower in various fun scents like Peppermint Hot Cocoa, but don’t necessarily want to walk around smelling like that, these are amazing.

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:  As with most Philosophy shower gels… if you like this kind of scent or it sounds like one you might like, I urge you to give it a whiff!

Availability: Philosophy, Sephora

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


Guerlain: Rubis Rose KissKiss Gloss

Guerlain Rubis Rose KissKiss Gloss ($29.00 for 0.17 oz.) is a lovely semi-sheer shade of plummy brown with gold and plum shimmer throughout from Guerlain’s Holiday Collection.  KissKiss Gloss is one of my favorite gloss formulas, so I’m always excited to see what new, limited edition shades are launched by Guerlain.  It’s a non-sticky, moisturizing gloss that runs sheerer rather than ultra pigmented, but some shades are ultra sheer while others are semi-sheer and provide decent color to lips.  Rubis Rose is one of the latter types — it’s dark without being too dark, so you can wear it alone or over another color to add more depth.

It has a rose-floral scent, a slightly perfume-y scent, which I know some people really dislike, but I like it (I don’t love it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t bother me).  What I like about the KissKiss Gloss is that it lasts a good amount of time for a lipgloss when its worn on its own — I get about four to five hours of wear before it starts to fade/disappear.  I’ve always loved the sparkle factor, too, which is noticeable and bright and fun.

Price-wise, these aren’t the best bang for your buck, and by their nature, they’re not something everyone is going to rush out to buy.  To each their own, I say!   Price analysis tells us that Guerlain’s KissKiss Glosses are some of the pricier high-end lipglosses, being more expensive than many of its direct competitors like Dior and YSL, but still less expensive than Stila and Smashbox, by the ounce.

Bottom Line:
The packaging is pretty and elegant, the formula is stellar, and the color itself is perfect for the fall/winter seasons.  The only downside is the price, and I think Guerlain fans won’t find the price to be much of an obstacle.


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

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

Recommendation: If you love the KissKiss formula and are looking for a nice plummy shade, check out the new Rubis Rose!

Availability: Nordstrom, Sephora.com

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara
Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara

Rimmel Sexy Curves Mascara (Waterproof) ($7.50) is designed to give you full, curled lashes.  It purports to give you “70% curlier” lashes, and lashes look “lusciously curled, plumped and defined.”  Rimmel also advertises that you’ll see 7 times your natural volume and the curl will hold for a full twelve hours.  I gotta say, Rimmel is making a lot of very big claims about this mascara!

Unfortunately, my experience didn’t really live up to Rimmel’s claims of fuller, well-curled lashes–at least not to the degree that they advertised.  I’d say that my lashes are, perhaps, have a slight lift to them, but it’s not much–it’s just more pronounced by the lengthening of the mascara and slight volume it adds.  It just neither gives me fuller nor more curled lashes really.  I’d still feel like I needed to use an eyelash curler to really get the curl I’m looking for, and the mascara performs pretty average in all other aspects.

Out of personal taste, I tend to like incredibly rich black shades–the darker the better–so Rimmel’s level of blackness in pigmentation just doesn’t do it for me.  My lashes do look better when I use it, they just don’t stand out like they do with other mascaras that I have loved.  To be honest, I can be a harsh critic when it comes to mascara, because I always judge a mascara on how well it performs relative to the claims the brand makes about what it should do.  It’s great if it still turns out to be awesome in some other way, but usually if they fall flat on their claims, then it’s just so-so and nothing stellar.  This is definitely the case with Rimmel’s Sexy Curves mascara.

I will say that one thing I did really like about this mascara is the brush separated lashes really well and kept them from clumping despite layering on three coats of mascara.  The brush is relatively easy to use, and the packaging is definitely eye-catching in that bright, metallic teal tube.  (It does, however, hold finger prints, so big boo from me.)

Bottom Line: I’d say to skip this mascara.  It performs fairly average at the end of the day, because it really doesn’t do much but add a smidgen of length (and maybe a little volume).  It just looks like I’m wearing mascara, but it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a very good one!

Anyone like this mascara? I could have sworn some readers said this was their favorite!

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  I’d pass on this mascara–it just doesn’t live up to the lofty claims Rimmel makes about it at all.  I normally expect mascara claims to be rather outlandish, but I feel like this one doesn’t even get close.

Availability: Walgreens

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009


MAC Wild ‘Bout You Lipstick

The Scarlet Season: MAC Wild ‘Bout You Lipstick

MAC Wild ‘Bout You Lipstick ($14.00 for 0.10 oz.) was a limited edition shade of amazingness launched with the Rockocco Collection back in fall of 2006. MAC described it as a “rich raspberry with pink pearlized pigments” with a matte frost finish (who knew you could have a matte frost!).  This shade is almost not quite a red, but I couldn’t resist including it, because 1) it does have a red tinge to it, and 2) I tend to reach for it when I’m feeling like wearing red.

It’s a very amped up raspberry red with kind of an icy pearl fuchsia-pink sheen, but otherwise, the lipstick itself is matte.  I will also say that Wild ‘Bout You is a particularly dry matte, so it’s not the easiest to use on imperfect lips.  Because it does have a tendency to be quite dry, I usually wear it with a gloss on top, which makes it look and feel the way I like it to.  Don’t forget – you can see looks/lip combinations of me wearing this lipstick here.

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!

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


Wearing Guerlain Parure Gold Liquid Foundation

Guerlain Parure Gold Fluid Foundation ($78.00 for 1 oz.) is a recently released liquid foundation by Guerlain that’s designed to add a bit of a glow to skin with medium coverage. The product itself is also supposed to have a bit of skincare in it, as Guerlain says it should, restor[e] luster and revitaliz[e] skin in the long term, thanks to the exclusive double-sided Gold Radiance Pigment” along with “the regenerating properties of Myrrh Oil, and the lifting and smoothing properties of Peptides, long-term results include the diminishment of fine lines and smoother, softer skin.”

First, as I feel it’s necessary to do in any reviews relating to a product with anti-aging properties, I’m 23. I’m still in my so-called youth, so I don’t have too many signs of aging yet (thankfully), and I think it’s important to note that. It’s a lot harder to see a measurable change when there are few areas that might even get changed. I have some fine lines around my eyes, but these tend to be exacerbated if I don’t drink enough water or get enough sleep. Personally, I don’t seek out anti-aging products in my skincare regimen at this time. I feel the best regimen is preventative care vs. reversal care, for me, and at this stage in my life.

I’m just not going to be able to give you much insight on whether this product actually diminishes your fine lines with much substance. I will say my skin has never looked better since using it, and I do feel like my skin has a healthier look when it’s au natural. I used to be a little more self conscious about going out nekkid faced, but after using this pretty consistently (I did/do alternate with tinted moisturizer), I like the way my skin looks. With most things, it’s easy to create causal links that may not really be there–skin is so faceted, so it could be a change in hormones, better diet, getting sick (seriously, my skin never looked better!), etc.

What’s more important to me is how well it acts as a foundation, and it that area, I can definitely tell you, from my experience, that it excels. It’s a great lightweight, medium-coverage liquid foundation that makes skin look smoother, softer, and very, very natural. It’s not heavy, never gets cakey, and is so easy to smooth onto skin. I don’t normally like foundations that purport to give you a “glow,” because it tends to translate to oiliness for me. I’m normal-to-dry, and typically, “glowy” foundations make me look oily, which is so not my thing. Parure Gold doesn’t. It really does give you that natural glow. Just that little, “Oh, did you cut your hair?” kind of glow that people don’t attribute to your foundation. It feels like heaven on, and it hasn’t broken me out after using it for these past few months (always a good thing!).

Application: I always apply my liquid foundation in the same manner: apply the foundation in spots all over my face with a concealer brush, then I spritz a fluffy brush (I’m loving MAC 109 for liquid) with plain ol’ water. I then work the foundation out and all over my skin and the brush both applies and blends at the same time. If that was confusing, I did do a video tutorial for applying foundation with the 109 brush. I use this method with Guerlain’s foundation, because it stretches out the product (I just find it’s so easy to overwear foundation, and the water stretches it out and gives you a more natural look where you can go back and apply more in the areas you need it) and makes it incredibly easy to blend and smooth onto the skin.

It has the traditional sort of perfume-y scent of most Guerlain skincare/face products, though, which may be something those who are more sensitive to perfumes and scents can’t tolerate. The price tag is another obstacle for some, as it is considerably pricey at $78 per ounce. I’ve sinced swapped this for my previous find DiorSkin Nude Liquid Foundation, which was also a bit more expensive at $45 per ounce. I imagine the price hike is attributable to the skincare properties in the foundation itself (which isn’t a bad idea, considering you often wear foundation for eight hours or more).

It is available in six shades: #02 Beige Clair, #03 Beige Naturel, #04 Beige Moyen, #05 Beige Intense, #06 Beige Profond, and #13 Rose Naturel. The shade I’m currently using is #03 Beige Naturel, which I think matches my skintone quite well (I’m around NC25/NC30 in MAC foundation, for reference). The packaging does hold some fingerprints, which can make the product itself look messy, but it comes with a pump, and I use one to do my whole face.

Bottom Line: For a splurge foundation, Guerlain Parure Gold Liquid Foundation gives amazing coverage, feels lovely on, and looks even more amazing. I’ve loved it enough to have stuck with it for the past two or three months, and it’s my go-to for liquid foundation. I do wear a lot of tinted moisturizer, just because if I’m not doing a full face of makeup, tinted moisturizer is all I need (but to be honest, I do go bare-faced quite often). The only real drawback (to me) of the product is the price tag.

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: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation:  A stellar liquid foundation that covers well, feels like nothing on, and looks fantastic — if you can get past the price tag, there’s a lot of great things to say about this foundation!

Availability: Nordstrom, Saks

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Lippmann Collection Funky Chunky Nail Lacquer ($35.00 for 3 0.5 oz. lacquers) is third polish from Lippmann’s Celebrate Set, which also contained my new polish love Ruby Red Slippers and the gorgeous Superstar.

I had several readers ask me why I didn’t review this polish alongside the other two, and the simple reason is it looked unexciting in the bottle, so I didn’t reach for it when I was trying out the other two, much more eye-catching shades! A follow-up to that would be that it’s such a subpar lacquer from Lippmann that it’s such a real disappointment–not just within the set, but overall. Lippmann has such a fantastic formula and color selection, I’m quite surprised at how dismal Funky Chunky is.

Funky Chunky is a black jelly base lacquer with black hexagon glitter bits. It’s very similar Ruby Red Slippers, but it lacks dimension, pizazz, and pretty much anything that would make it pop. It ends up looking like a sloppy black polish, because the glitter is nearly undetectable in terms of sparkle – it just looks uneven and messy. The black base doesn’t go opaque in two coats either, so you do need to go for three thinner coats for better coverage.

One of the big reasons this product just doesn’t hit the mark is that the chunky glitter actually makes the black base look sloppy and messy–uneven without any reason as to why it would be that way.  Glitter polishes always tend to have a bit of an uneven texture and feel to them, but you can see the glitter so it’s all good.  Since you can’t visibly see the glitter here, it just looks like you don’t know how to paint your nails!

Normally, a Lipppmann lacquer is priced at $16 a pop, so you pay an extra $3 for the other two and you do get this polish. It’s disappointing, but maybe you can add some extra glitter and make it pop for fun. Call it a chance to experiment!

Bottom Line: It’s a bad sign when glitter isn’t even detectable with flash photography (which can always amplify the sparkles of glitter!). This polish is just a total miss for me, and if you could purchase the other two separately, I’d advocate for that, but since you can’t, I still think the set is worth every penny for the two standout shades Ruby Red Slippers and Superstar.

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

  • Product: 15/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 3/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: I don’t recommend this shade whatsoever on its own, but I do recommend the set it comes with overall, just because the other two shades are amazing.

Availability: Beauty.com, Nordstrom