Thursday, March 25th, 2010

EcoTools Bronzer Brush

Cruelty-Free Brushes:  EcoTools Bronzer Brush

EcoTools Bronzer Brush ($9.99) is a large, dome-shaped bronzer brush that’s really more of a multi-tasking face brush than specifically a bronzer brush.

It’s great for pressed or loose powder, buffing, bronzer, and even liquid foundation if you don’t mind washing it often! The brush is so dense that it feels more like a kabuki brush, actually. I personally liked to use it for buffing and application of loose powder to set my makeup. It’s easy to clean and wash (and no funky smell or bleeding dye!), though expect a longer drying time with such a densely-packed brush (much like any kabuki!). Your best bet is to wash it after you use it, so it’s ready for the next day.

I appreciate the earth-friendly packaging, but I do feel like the handle is a little too thick. I could go for a slightly thinned out handle so it doesn’t feel chunky in my hand. Otherwise, I can’t think of any complaints about the brush itself! The softness and density of the brush itself make it nearly fool-proof to use to apply your favorite powder products.

EcoTools makes their brushes with sustainably grown bamboo for the handles, recycled aluminum for the ferrules, and Taklon bristles, which makes them 100% cruelty-free.

Celebrity makeup artist Meredith Baraf uses the bronzer brush in this video…

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’ve been wanting a kabuki/buffer brush but haven’t wanted to shell out $40+ for one, EcoTools makes an excellent, affordable alternative.

Availability: Drugstore.com

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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Sigma Makeup Brushes vs. MAC Brushes

Make sure you check out my standalone review for Sigma Brushes, which considers them on their merit and by themselves, not as an alternative to MAC specifically.

Q. Are they on the same level as MAC? Or are they a more affordable alternative, but not as good?

The majority of brushes are not on the same level as MAC, and there are some subtle differences that translate in application that makes me think Sigma really would be better off having their own numbering system and designing original brushes and improving upon their existing designs or similar-to-MAC brushes. Though the numbering system has made me hesitant to review Sigma since I first heard of the brand (because I don’t like copycats, diversion, knockoffs, etc.), I think they could do just as well without the MAC numbers. I think it automatically invites very tight, very critical comparisons between the two brands.

Sigma Makeup brushes are definitely a more affordable alternative to MAC brushes or any other high-end brushes. They are good, but not always great and sometimes just so-so. Like all brush ranges, not all brushes are made equal. Some brushes aren’t as soft, others not as useful. I have all of the currently available MAC brushes, and there are certainly brushes that I have no use for and some that I don’t love or even like. To expect every Sigma Makeup Brush to be outstanding or to surpass MAC or other high-end brands is a very tough expectation to meet.

I think if you go in with “this is an affordable alternative” rather than “this is exactly the same or better” mindset, you won’t be disappointed. (Of course, also make sure you’ve read my thoughts on the brushes themselves, because some might still disappoint you–e.g. 187!)

See brush-by-brush comparisons, photos, and more Q&A… Continue reading →

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Sigma Makeup Brushes Review

In mid-January, I asked all of you what do you want to know about Sigma Makeup Brushes. Instead of my usual review format, I’m going to go through and answer your questions, because at the end of the day… my review would have answered the majority of those questions anyway, but this way you can look for your answers more easily.  I am reviewing the brushes I have tried, which include: SS109, SS150, SS168, SS182, SS187, SS188, SS190, SS194, SS208, SS219, SS224, SS239, SS266, and SS275.

This post is a review for Sigma Makeup Brushes on their own merit, aside from MAC, not compared to MAC. I will post a follow-up shortly comparing the two as requested.

  • Brushes I liked: SS182, SS190, SS219, SS224.   I found these were the brushes that really stood out to me both in quality and in use.  I think all of the brushes are of good quality, but inevitably, they’re not better or different (and thus meet a different need!) than brushes I already have in my collection!
  • Good value for the money: these are worth getting if you are keen on building up your brush collection faster and without breaking the bank.  I would definitely love it if you could purchase more brushes individually, so you didn’t have to pick up brushes you didn’t like or weren’t going to use often.  Sigma offers quality brushes are a more affordable price point, and I can understand that not everyone wants to or can spend money on high-end brushes.
  • Read reviews and buy the brushes you need that also work well.  Not all of Sigma brushes are super-fab, some are good brushes (regardless of looking at price!) but some don’t hit the mark on what you expected to use the brush for.  e.g. the 187 isn’t stiff enough to stipple but it still works fine for applying blush with a softer, more diffused look.
  • My recommendation: I like Sigma Makeup brushes for the short-term.  There are a few (the ones I mentioned I liked) that are worth picking up not just to get your hands on more makeup brushes, but I think they’re a good starter set.  It’s a good way to get to know makeup brushes, learn what you need and like, and if you love one brush, maybe consider upgrading that one or others you use often later on down the road with something pricier.

See review and photos… Continue reading →

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Temptalia is extraordinarily pleased to be able to bring you an exclusive review of the Clarisonic by renowned skincare esthetician and expert Renée Rouleau! It’s a very informative and thorough review and read with invaluable information for improving your skincare routine and ensuring it is doing the most for your skin.  You can visit her blog for more skincare advice and tips!

Is Clarisonic harmful or helpful? Renée Rouleau gives a review….

Let me start by saying that I normally don’t do reviews of other skin care products. I use my blog as a place to talk and share my thoughts on what I know to be true about skin from being an esthetician for 22 years, but I leave product reviews for all of the great beauty bloggers out there.

My reason for doing a review on Clarisonic is because I have observed changes in my client’s skin that use the brush, and some of the changes have not been beneficial to the health of their skin. Since my goal is to offer helpful skin care tips to allow you to become a smarter skin care consumer, I feel that this is important information to share.

Read all about proper exfoliation and how to use your Clarisonic to avoid damaging your skin! Continue reading →

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Affordable Makeup Brushes:  Sonia Kashuk’s Twist of Fate Brush Set

Sonia Kashuk Twist of Fate Brush Set ($19.99) is a limited edition holiday brush set with six brushes housed inside a gorgeous, shimmering black clutch.

The six brushes you get are: blush brush, foundation brush, blending brush, small eyeshadow brush, smudge brush, and lash/brow groomer brush. The only brush I felt was kind of a throwaway was the lash/brow groomer – it’s just not a great brush, and it certainly couldn’t comb my lashes worth a darn, so I wasn’t pleased with it. The other five brushes, however, are much better and certainly more useful.

Sonia Kashuk is an extremely reliable, trustworthy brand, particularly for beauty tools. Whenever someone asks me about a budget-friendly brush brand, Sonia Kashuk is my go-to for a reommendation. These brushes are soft, fluffy, and useable. They’re not as good as my MAC brushes overall (I would say MAC brushes are softer, particularly for face brushes), but they’re around 75% there. Close, but not the same – but much more affordable.

In comparison, I would say the blush brush is similar to MAC’s 129 (a little bigger and not as rounded), the foundation brush is closest to MAC’s 190 (but a little smaller and thicker), and the other brushes don’t have as close matches. If pressed, I’d say the small eyeshadow brush is similar to MAC’s 239, while the blending brush is similar to MAC’s 222. Finally, Sonia Kashuk’s smudge brush is closest to MAC’s 231.

Even though the brushes are totally great for the price (and pretty good, period), my favorite part about the set is the CLUTCH. I usually hate the bags, clutches, etc. that come with brush sets and never use them again (they just sit around collecting dust, because I feel guilty tossing them), but this one is really fun and perfect for the holidays. It’s big enough to actually be used as a clutch and looks elegant and festive. I’d probably pay $19.99 just for the clutch!

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

  • Product: 28/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 5/5

Recommendation:  For affordable brushes, Sonia Kashuk always has you covered!

Availability: Target

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Monday, September 7th, 2009

Clarisonic MIA

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System ($149.00) is the latest launch from Clarisonic. It is a miniature-sized version of the original Clarisonic, and it is also $45 cheaper. It’s also available in pink.

You may wonder how this possibly can be part of Money Saving Mondays… because I know the Clarisonic can be a hefty investment for some who really want it, this does offer you a way to get it for less. It is also just as effective as the original, more expensive Clarisonic, so it represents true savings.

First, Clarisonic has a really useful comparison chart for the four models: Mia, Classic, PLUS, and PRO. The Clarisonic Mia is about an inch and a half to two inches smaller the the original,and it doesn’t feel as bulky. The Mia comes with a pLink charger whereas the Classic used a cradle charger, which makes it a lot more compact. The Mia brush head is the same size as the Classic, so you don’t lose anything in how well it cleans or the area it cleans.

Surprisingly, the Mia feels heavier compared to the Classic, but not by much (note that neither are, by any means, heavy). When you opt for the Mia, you have only a single speed setting, whereas the Classic provided you with two. Since I’ve used the Classic forever now, I can say that it’s not a big deal, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t even know you had two speeds on yours! The Mia also only lasts twenty minutes on a full charge compared to the Classic which lasts thirty minutes. Again, this is not really an essential difference to me; twenty minutes is still ten or so uses, which is plenty on a single charge.

I recommend you read my original review for the Clarisonic to get a more in-depth look at why I really love the cleansing system and recommended it even at $195. In brief, it is an easy, efficient way of cleansing the skin. It helps with skin turnover and keeps my skin clearer and smoother looking overall. I’m not often sold on advertising claims, but the Clarisonic is one beauty gadget I can’t live without!

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

Recommendation: If you want to get your skin its best shape, the Clarisonic can help. It gives skin a softer, smoother appearance while deep cleansing every time you use it without irritating even sensitive skin. If $145 is still out of your budget, consider looking out for F&F sales at Sephora where you can save another 10-15%. Or put it on your wish list!

Availability: Sephora

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