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FAQ: Review & Rating System
This post is designed to help readers understand more about how I review products, what characteristics I’m looking for in products, what criterion I use for different aspects of a product, and the like. My goal is to qualify my review process in such a way that helps readers understand why a product receives a certain score. Ultimately, I hope that this FAQ reduces any confusion and gives everyone a better understanding of the rating system and how best to use it.
Read the FAQ on how I review and what the rating system means to me… Continue reading →
When the Sephora Friends & Family Sale starts (20% off – use code FF2009 at checkout), I always get an influx of questions about what people should buy. To me, there are three categories of products to consider whenever a decent sale rolls around in the beauty world. Otherwise, it’s really a matter of what your budget is like, what you need, and what you want. There are so many amazing beauty products that I think are worth checking out, but I couldn’t even begin to compile a list for you, since it definitely matters what you’re looking for! So here are some of my suggestions on how to whittle your lists down…
More expensive purchases that you’ve otherwise held off on make great buys during big sales. I know that I often delay pricier purchases until I’m really sure I want/need it. If you’ve been drooling over something for the past six months, this is an item you might want to consider splurging on. For me, if I lose interest by the next week, I know I made the right move by using what little patience I have waiting.
Products like the Clarisonic fall right into this category of sale possibilities. It’s a product that’s been well-received by many beauty addicts, but it’s also one of the pricier purchases you might make this year. (I do recommend the Mia for those on a tighter budget — performs just as well as the full-size version.)
And it doesn’t have to be that pricey–just pricier than you feel comfortable paying on a regular basis–like Guerlain Rouge G Lipsticks. They’re overpriced, though fabulous, and with 20% off, it brings the price down to a more palatable $36. It’s all about you and what you consider a splurge — for me, a splurge is Rouge G. For others, it may be an Urban Decay Lipstick at $22!
I always like to use beauty sales to stock-up on my favorite makeup and skincare staples. For me, that means Philosophy shower gels and pricier skincare like Kate Somerville. Don’t forget about things you use often and go through within the year, like cleansers, makeup removers, mascara, etc. These are always good purchases, because you know you’ll use them and aren’t just buying them because there’s a sale.
The third category of products are all of the gifts and value sets that various brands put together for the holiday giving/receiving season. I like these because they usually represent a better value than if you purchased the included pieces individually, so then when you save 20%, you’re really saving even more. Totally love that! Plus, as a beauty addict, my stash is only going to grow, so I don’t necessarily need full sizes of everything–sometimes the gift set size is perfect. I love being able to try multiple products for the same price as one or two full size products!
Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long Wear Gel Eye Liner in Indigo and Cocoa
Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long Wear Gel Eye Liner ($8.99) is SK’s answer for longwearing, smudge-proof, budge-proof gel liner. It’s available in three shades: Cocoa (deep brown), Ebony (deep black), and Indigo (deep blue). I haven’t seen Ebony yet, but I did get a chance to play with Cocoa and Indigo.
Indigo is a rich, vibrant dark navy blue (I wouldn’t describe it as Indigo, personally) with slight shimmer but not a lot of shininess. It applies evenly and opaquely with an angled eyeliner brush (I like MAC’s 208). Cocoa is a dark, slightly warm-toned chocolate brown. It has a very creamy texture, and it has a slightly wet look to it, though it does dry down and has an overall matte finish. I’d say that Cocoa is comparable to MAC’s Rich Ground fluidline, but it has a more matte appearance and probably a touch warmer, too.
Both of these gel liners wear incredibly well throughout the day with no budging, smudging, or fading. They stay in place and last all day long on the lower and upper lash lines. They’re also thick and creamy and pack plenty of color, so you can easily create defined eyes with a flick of the wrist. The quality of these is most definitely comparable to Bobbi Brown’s Gel Liner and MAC’s Fluidlines. The packaging isn’t as nice (just feels a little cheap) as either of the high-end brands mentioned, but ultimately, it’s the product that counts.
Bottom Line: If you’re on a tight budget, or if you’ve merely wanted to try your hand at gel liners, Sonia Kashuk provides a solid option. The only real drawback to the line is that it is an extremely limited shade range and may be difficult to find, as it’s only available at some Targets and not currently available for purchase online.
- Product: 27/30
- Value: 9/10
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Packaging: 3/5
Recommendation: For those who’ve eyed MAC’s Fluidlines or Bobbi Brown’s Gel Liners, Sonia Kashuk’s DDLGELs are awesome, affordable options.
Availability: Target (Local)
See additional photos and swatches… Continue reading →
This Week’s Topic: SHOWER GEL!
Your Mission: Tell us what you love, hate, or are otherwise indifferent to about shower gels and all that those entail.
NYX Jumbo Lipstick Pencils: Hot Red, Hera
NYX Jumbo Lipstick Pencil ($3.50 each) is available in thirty different shades, as listed on the brand’s website, from browns to pinks to reds. I recently tested out two shades: Hot Red and Hera. Hot Red is a vibrant shade of orange-based tomato red, while Hera is a shimmery pink raspberry color.
I found Hot Red to apply quite opaque and has a very solid look to it. Hera, on the other hand, was sheerer and applied unevenly when used as an all-over lip color. Ironically, I didn’t find that the Jumbo Lip Pencils were stellar as lip liners, but they did make for quick and easy lip color. I’m not entirely sure what their official purpose is – is it to line lips and make them look defined? I want to say no, it can’t be, because they’re just too jumbo to work well for that purpose. The size alone makes them more suited for filling in lips entirely than actually providing definition. Plus, it is a Lipstick Pencil, so I think the idea is more of a two-in-one lipstick and liner combination, but it works better as a lipstick.
I found this to be true through trial as well, because neither shade I tested gave me clear, crisp definition. In fact, Hot Red feathered quite a bit, and I’d definitely use a lip liner before applying the pencil itself in the future. Hera didn’t feather as much, but it was decidedly uneven compared to Hot Red as well. I think the shimmer/frost of it makes for a less opaque product. The product itself feels fairly soft and creamy, with Hot Red definitely creamy and Hera only mildly creamy. I do, personally, detect a bit of “plasticness” to the taste/feel of the products, but it’s not really noticeable.
I really wish NYX’s website had a better showcase of color swatches, because the majority of the lip pencils actually look unappealing (seems like a lot of browns/mustards almost!), so I’m not sure if I’ll try additional shades or not. I also didn’t like how messy the pencil itself got when you use it directly – lip color kind of smudges and smears on the pencil edge, so it looks fairly dirty.
Bottom Line: For the price, I don’t think you could go wrong if you were looking for a product to use to create layered lip color. Alone, they didn’t have that precise application needed to really pull it off, but they could certainly be layered or used in conjunction with a lip liner for better definition.
- Product: 24/30
- Value: 10/10
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Packaging: 3/5
Recommendation: If you’ve been curious about more opaque lip color, NYX Jumbo Lipstick Pencils are an affordable way to try out different shades. For those with naturally defined lips, these are an excellent choice for lip color. Others may want to double-up and use a lip liner for more intense shades like Hot Red.
See additional photos and swatches… Continue reading →
Philosophy Holiday 2009 Collection
ah, our first snow so fresh and beautiful. carolers arrive, like graceful, holiday angels to sing silent night and share my winter joy. the sugary smell of grandma’s angel cakes reaches my window seat, while i continue to gaze… watching pairs of snow shoes & mittens carve snowy trails.
the guests will be arriving soon. mom pulls out the cookbook and calls me into the kitchen. together, we bring the gingerbread man to life with frosting buttons and a happy heart. all the treats must be decorated for the cookie exchange we’ll have later by the fire.
jumbling pots and pans make music, and i laugh. it sounds like the bake shoppe down the street! eyes will light up over the holiday spice and everything nice in our home-baked goodies. after the cups and cookie crumbs are collected, i sneak back to my window to watch friends make the winter escape.
i hope dad hurries in. he promised to read ‘twas the night before and make his special peppermint hot cocoa. he calls it fireside indulgence, which make mom giggle. my little brother is two, so he’s telling everyone he meets to have a cherry christmas!
i draw a candy cane in the fog of my window as grandpa plays holiday songs to remind us of the spirit of giving. grandma said i was “a darling, little holiday hostess” to our guests, and maybe on new year’s eve i can be a party girl with my older cousins!
mom loves her gift; she called my dad the miracle worker for topping last year’s present. i just love how she smells… so pretty, so soft like amazing grace.
mom comes up behind me and wraps me in a big hug. she asks, “what do you see out your window?” i answer, “magic.” she kisses my forehead and looks at me, “magic, you say?” “i asked each snowflake to take hope to everyone, and they’re delivering it. isn’t that magic?”
a season of and hope philosophy: find the magic in every moment, the hope in every day
First Snow ($25.00)
- snow body lotion 2 oz., snow shower exfoliating gel 4 oz., snow kiss lip shine .5 oz. gift set
Angel Cakes ($20.00)
- high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 8 oz., lip shine .5 oz. duo
Snow Shoes + Mittens ($20.00)
- snow shoes miraculous foot cream 4 oz., snow mittens miraculous hand cream 4 oz. duo
The Cookbook ($35.00)
- 6 recipe-inspired shampoo, shower gel & bubble baths 2 oz. gift set (pumpkin spice, red velvet, hot cocoa, warm pear cobber, gingerbread and cinnamon buns)
The Cookie Exchange ($30.00)
- 4 delectable, cookie scented high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble baths 4 oz. gift set (lemon cookie, coconut macaroon, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin)
Gingerbread Man Hot Salt Scrub ($25.00)
- gingerly hot salt scrub for tub & shower 23 oz.
Holiday Spice & Everything Nice ($16.00)
- high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 8 oz., lip shine .5oz
The Bake Shoppe ($30.00)
- pink frosted layer cake and raspberry mousse high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 4 oz., raspberry mousse lip shine .5 oz., sweet creamy frosting lotion 2 oz. gift set
The Winter Escape ($25.00)
- peppermint hot cocoa high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 4 oz., melting marshmallow cream body soufflé 2 oz., lip shine .5 oz. gift set
‘Twas the Night Before ($20.00)
- milk and cookies high-foaming shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath 8 oz. duo
Party Girl ($35.00)
- pomegranate bubbly exfoliating shower gel 4 oz., shimmer body lotion 4 oz., lip shine .5 oz.
Holiday Hostess ($20.00)
- cinnamon buns award winning, ultra rich shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath, body lotion 8 oz. duo with pumps
Amazing Grace ($50.00)
- amazing grace perfumed shampoo, bath & shower gel 8 oz.,, perfumed body butter 2 oz., spray fragrance 2 oz.
The Miracle Worker ($85.00)
- the microdelivery exfoliating wash 8 oz., purity made simple one-step facial cleanser 8 oz., hope in a jar moisturizer 2 oz., hope in a tube eye and lip firming cream .5 oz., the microdelivery peel vitamin c/peptide crystals 1 oz. and activating gel 1 oz. set
Shower Gels ($16.00)
- Silent Night
- The Gingerbread Man
- Peppermint Hot Cocoa
- Have a Cherry Christmas
- Candy Cane
- Pumpkin Spice Muffin
- Caramel Apple
Availability: Sephora.com, Philosophy.com
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