Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream

Ellen Sirot Hand Perfection Complete Day Cream ($30.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is one of the best hand creams I’ve ever slathered on my paws. My hands take a beating, because I constantly wash them, and I’m less-than-perfect about regularly applying near enough hand cream/lotion to keep them in tip top shape.

With the labrasnore running around, wiggling for attention all the time, and it, of course, being absolutely impossible to resist, I pet him, but then I wash my hands afterward. (Hey, since becoming acne-prone, hand-washing has become a regular ritual.) I easily wash my hands twenty times a day, and I may only lotion up once or twice a day–it just seems so silly to apply lotion and wash most of it off a half hour later.

Additionally, after landing in NYC last February, I found myself with these odd dry patches on my hands and fingers. I just figured that lotioning up more often would cure those dry patches, but to no avail. I saw my doctor after a few months, and she informed it was just eczema. OK, cool.

The only product (out of some ten or more that I tried to moisturize those dry patches) that worked was Hand Perfection. I can’t actually think of any better endorsement for it, because I was starting to feel rather hopeless about it all. My hands were soft, smooth, and they even looked a little less ragged after just a few uses (like two days). It’s a bit more than I’d think to spend on a hand cream, but a little goes a long way, and I’ll often use it as a spot treatment now, and then use something else throughout the day.

It does have titanium dioxide, which can be used for sun protection, but there’s no SPF noted on the product, so I don’t think it’s in a high enough quantity to do anything. For being touted as a day cream, I’d expect SPF in it (hands need SPF protection, too!). The size I have is just the “purse” size, which has lasted me a month now. The full-size is 3.4 fl. oz. and retails for $50.00 (ouch!).

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re still searching for a hand lotion to keep your hands smooth, soft, and moisturized, I definitely urge you to check this one out. The purse size makes for an easier first-time investment without committing to the full kit and kaboodle.

Availability: Ellen Sirot

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana: Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad

Dolce & Gabbana Champagne Smooth Eye Colour Quad ($59.00) is D&G’s take on the smoky eyes palette. It contains four shades of eyeshadow: a pale, silvery-white; a medium-dark matte black; a mauve-tinged silver; and a subdued, cool-toned dark brown.

Like Dazzling, the Champagne consists of smooth, well-pigmented eyeshadows that feel like buttery goodness to the touch. They apply easily and softly, and they never look garish. They blend seamlessly together, and they work well with all of your favorite eyeshadow bases. They also still blend well when used with other brand eyeshadows.

One of things I like about the Dolce & Gabbana quads I’ve tried so far is that the colors go on as they’re pictured. They’re apply and swatch true-to-color, so there is a whole lot less guesswork to be done. I can also appreciate the “honesty” of the palette in that sense, too. Champagne, in particular, works well together, because the shades are diverse enough to create gradients, but they can be worn in pairs of triplets.

For those who find the price a bit steep, D&G is priced competitively with other major high-end brands like Chanel ($56), Dior ($56), and Guerlain ($58). The packaging is hefty and looks like gold (though it does hold fingerprints). It’s sleek and elegant, so it does look lovely when you hold it. If it didn’t hold fingerprints, the packaging would definitely help sway me even more.

  • Product: 9/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of high-end, luxury brands, Dolce & Gabbana has put out a quality line of makeup. Champagne is a great quad to travel with to be able to create several evening smoky eyes.

Availability: Saks

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows
Bobbi Brown Chrome Patina, Goldstone, Starry Night Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long Wear Cream Eyeshadows: Chrome Patina, Goldstone, Starry Night

Bobbi Brown Metallic Long-Wearing Cream Eyeshadow ($22.00 for .12 oz.) is a new product launched this September from Bobbi Brown. They’re inspired by and yet a bit of a departure from her classic Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadows. They seem to be the same on the surface, but when I played with three of them, I found them to be a bit different.

“With these shadows there’s no need to choose function over style. They’re longwearing and come in the most glamorous, eye-catching shades ever.” – Bobbi Brown

The Metallic Long-Wear Cream Eyeshadow is available in eight shades:

  • Antique Gold A deep gold sparkle
  • Black Pearl A medium purple
  • Brown Metal A warm brown sparkle
  • Chrome Patina A golden pewter
  • Goldstone A gold sparkle
  • Mercury A silver sparkle
  • Starry Night A navy blue sparkle
  • Starry Purple A deep purple sparkle

I tried three: Chrome Patina, Goldstone, and Starry Purple. Chrome Patina is a sheer, glittery wash of pewter with gold sparkle. Goldstone is a semi-opaque toned-down gold with a brown cast and brighter gold sparkle. Starry Night is a sheer, glittery navy blue concotion with almost multicolored sparkle.

I’m actually surprised by Bobbi Brown’s introduction of these glittery shadows to her line-up, just because they’re a bit over the top with how glittery they are. I do, however, think they’re fun and will definitely wear them myself, but I can see some avoiding these because the glitter finish feels inappropriate or accentuates signs of aging on the eyes (as frosts and glitters often do).

Sheer or opaque?

It seems like your mileage will vary from shade to shade, because Goldstone had the best finish and pigmentation, going on nearly opaque, while both Chrome Patina and Starry Night were sheerer and therefore the look glitter was emphasized (instead of a more metalized look). I do wish they were more pigmented so they had a much smoother look and were more the metallic finish they’re touted to be than glitter. (I would personally call these Glitter Long-Wearing Eyeshadows from my experience so far.)

How well do they wear?

They wear very well, just like the original Cream Eyeshadows. They are long-wearing and hold up throughout day without smudging, fading, or creasing. I actually wasn’t sure if they would work out, because they feel very wet when you initially apply them, but they do dry down completely and aren’t subject to creasing (even when worn alone). I found it a bit difficult to blend cream shadows on top of this color or with it once it was dry, so you do have to work quickly if you are trying to use cream shadows together. If you just want to layer on powder shadows over the glittery base, there’s no need to be concerned over timing.

Wait — you can wear these as liner, too!

If you aren’t so much a fan of glitter eyeshadow, there is one alternative usage that I actually may find myself using these more for than as shadows — eyeliner!  I think these are excellent to layer over (or for some, worn alone — again, depends on how sheer the shade is) say a fiercely intense black liner for an extra kick.  Ohh!  I’m getting excited just thinking about experimenting now…

Are they worth the price tag?

As far as value goes, Bobbi Brown provides enough product in each pot to make it about as much and priced as I’d expect for the Bobbi Brown product range. Benefit cream eyeshadows are slightly cheaper ($19.00 for .16 oz.), while these are more affordable than NARS cream eyeshadows ($21.00 for 0.1 oz.) and less of an investment as shu uemura’s ($30.00 for .17 oz.). Despite the pot feeling and looking small (reminded me of gel liner sizes), it does hold more product than it seems. The packaging is classic Bobbi Brown: clear, glass with a black screw-on lid. It’s hefty, but I don’t mind — I like seeing non-plastic packaging.

  • Product: 7/10
  • Value: 7/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you love shimmering glitter, you might love these to layer underneath your eyeshadows or as a quick wash of color (at least, some of the more neutral shades). I definitely recommend checking them out in person and seeing how the shade you’re most interested in swatches, because it may or may not be pigmented enough for your liking.

Availability: Nordstrom, Bobbi Brown

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Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Illamasqua Fable Lipstick: Matte Bubblegum Pink

Illamasqua Fable Lipstick ($20.00 for 0.14 oz.) is described as a “matte bubblegum pink” by Sephora.

Fable is an opaque, warmed-up bubblegum pink. I’ve found most bubblegum pink lipsticks to run a tad cool, while I find this one has a definite warm edge to it. I also wouldn’t call it matte, and I’d say it is more of a semi-matte finish, because there is some glossiness/sheen to it that I don’t normally see in matte textures. I do like the way it looks with just the hint of glossiness, because it keeps the lipstick from being too dry (it’s a smidgen creamy) or flat. Illamasqua packs plenty of pigmentation into this tube of lipstick; there’s no building or layering required to achieve the opacity as seen in the lip swatch.

Though a lipstick will cost you $20, the value is still strong, because you get 0.14 oz. for your troubles. Compared to other high-end brands, Illamasqua is just a bit more expensive than MAC ($140/oz. vs. $143/oz.), but not by much. Their lipsticks are priced right in line with other competitors like Cargo and Make Up For Ever, as well.

The packaging is functional and isn’t over-sized (like their eyeshadows/blushes can feel like)–there’s just nothing special to it. I will say I do feel like their labels tend to rub off all too quickly.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Packaging: 7/10

Recommendation: If you like intense lip color, you may find Illamasqua’s matte lipsticks to be just the right kind for you.

Availability: Sephora.com

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Monday, August 31st, 2009

True Blue Morocco Cedarood & Spice Warming Body Scrub is a Bit Cool

Cedarwood & Spice Warming Body Scrub ($15.00 for 6 oz.) is a spicy, exotic smelling body scrub.  It’s designed to warm on contact with the skin to be both soothing and invigorating.

It’s a mild exfoliant with a very fine particles, actually feels fine enough to be more of a body polish than a scrub. I actually found that there was not enough scrubbies in it to really make an effective scrub, just because you either use a ton or you end up having them sparsely on your legs/arms. I did, however, really enjoy the warming sensation! I just wished the warmth would last longer or allow me to spread it out a bit more before the sensation began. I found it worked well in spots, but it didn’t work so well when I wanted to lather and massage it into a larger area of skin (e.g. a leg).

So, if it doesn’t do much scrubbing and the warming sensation is short-lived, what makes me like this product anyway? Because it smells divine! It is a fairly strong aroma of sandalwood, amber, musk, and cedarwood. It’s very spicy and woody–very masculine in a way. I like! I’m just a fan of some of these darker, woodier scents, and it actually lingers on skin all day long. I’ve found most body scrubs and gels to have great scents while I’m in the shower, but they fade shortly after I’ve toweled dry. That is certainly not the case here–the scent is noticeable but not overwhelming; you could layer with a similar scented body lotion, too, but even alone, it works as a very subtle, muted fragrance.

This product has so much potential to be amazing–I really would love to see the addition of more scrub particles so it actually exfoliates well. Even though it doesn’t feel like there is much scrubbing action, it does leave skin soft and smooth wherever you do scrub, and the scrubbing particles don’t disappear/melt away quickly, so you can massage it in a bit. I like more in my scrub, but perhaps there are others who like a much finer, lighter scrub.

  • Product: 6/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 7/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If it weren’t for the heady spicy, woody scent, I might find this product pretty useless. Because I do love the scent and it lingers throughout the day, I do find myself reaching it for often. It can also be nice to use on specific, targeted areas like feet or on a strained muscle to take advantage of the warming sensation.

Availability: Bath & Body Works

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Korres Vanilla Cinnamon Body Milk for Soft Skin

Korres Vanilla Cinnamon Body Milk ($15.00 for 8.45 fl. oz.) is a thin, highly liquid moisturizer for the body. It smells exactly as I would imagine vanilla and cinnamon to smell together. It has the softer, subtler sweetness of creamy vanilla melded with the spiciness and woodiness of cinnamon. Korres describes the scent as “a creamy touch with insistent woody tones.”

The body milk has the consistency of heavy, heavy milk cream, so some might even call it “runny.” I was actually surprised at how thin and lightweight the body milk was, because it quite easily poured out of the container (I have a sample size–just under 2 fl. oz–as the full size versions come with a pump–thankfully!). Despite being incredibly thin, it actually moisturises very well. It kept my legs and arms scale-free all day, and I didn’t feel the need to reapply throughout the day. It absorbs quickly (less than five minutes) and doesn’t leave any greasiness or stickiness behind.

I’m really pleased that the full-size packaging has a pump, because it’s extremely helpful with this product in particular, as the consistency is so thin, it is easy to pour/squeeze out more than you need. The pump gives you much more control over just how much you need, and I have always had a preference for pump-mechanisms for a lot of products. I feel like you can “measure” how much you need by how many pumps you need, so you can be consistent day-to-day. It is also very hygenic!

The price just right, too.  It’s not necessarily the cheapest way to moisturize your skin, but it doesn’t break the bank either.  For me, it is in that perfect position of being affordable but still feeling like I’m indulging–just a bit.

  • Product: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 9/10
  • Packaging: 8/10

Recommendation: If you like spicy/woody scents, Vanilla Cinnamon is fantastic. Smells very natural, not synthetic/perfume-y. The Body Milk is hydrating even on dry skin, and it never feels heavy or greasy.

Availability: KorresUSA.com (Don’t forget — save 30% off your orders with code TEMPTALIA, good until 9/15/09!)