Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things I Love: Drugstore Edition

     So, I realize that I have become quite the make-up snob. Yes, I do prefer mostly high end stuff, but if it wasn't for my job, I wouldn't have the money or the access to all the cool products I use. And honestly, I'm a college student- I know that a $20 mascara is not a realistic price range for most people.

     SO! This post is going to be all about the stuff I love from the drugstore lines! This includes make-up, skin care, and hair products.

     Also, I know not everyone has oily skin like I do, or wants the strongest hairspray EVER. But what I figure is that if I have good things to say about a line, then perhaps you will be able to find something from said line more suited to you specific needs.

     And here we go!

Maybelline Line Stiletto Liquid Eyeliner- a black liquid liner with a felt tip brush. Easier to use than a basic liquid liner because the tip can't separate like brush bristles. Also, a very nice deep black, has a nice gloss to it. 

Ardell False Eyelashes- I am in love with these. They are well made, they have a million different styles, and they can be reused as long as you keep them clean. I bought a pair of Urban Decay lashes for about 4x as much, and I ended up liking these better. (Hint: Use DUO brand glue! It's nice and tacky, holds the lashes on, but isn't a pain to remove.)

L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara- This has a nice full brush, so it builds volume nicely.

Cherry ChapStick- Do I even need to explain this one? I love the taste, I love how it feels, and I like the pretty light pink tint it gives your lips. Pretty much perfection.

Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Powder Foundation- The closest thing to Bare Minerals without the price. This is what I use every day. It gives really nice coverage, won't irritate your skin, and they also have Matte finishes now. Love it!

CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara- It's all in the brush with this one. It gives great separation so you can put on multiple coats without the clumping.

L'Oreal Powder Mineral Concealer- I love this stuff for two reasons. Since it's mineral powder, it doesn't make my acne worse when I'm trying to hide it. And two- it actually COVERS. 

Revlon Superlustrious Lip Gloss- I love the selection of colors and finishes available. They have shimmery, glittery, and opaque. They have some really awesome colors, ranging from your basic reds and pinks to bright oranges and purples. Finally, they don't dry out after 20 minutes.

Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Stains- It looks like a sharpie for your lips. They have a lot of pretty colors, and they really do last. I tried the lip stains from Revlon also, and I have to say, I like these better. They smell nicer, and have better color payoff. The only thing annoying about stains is that they can dry out your lips, so just keep a gloss or a balm on hand.

L'Oreal H.I.P Eyeshadows- The H.I.P. stands for High Intensity Pigments. And they aren't kidding. These are the only eyeshadows that I feel give a color payoff compared to the higher end cosmetics. They have brights, metallics, mattes- all sorts of colors and all sorts of finishes.

Maybelline The Colossal Volum' Express Mascara- This mascara has the best of both worlds- the full brush adds volume, but the bristles are still staggered enough that it won't get clumpy. This is actually the mascara I used in my "after" picture in my Long Stem Lashes review.

Organix Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum- Anyone who knows me knows all the terrible things I put my hair through. Bleaching, heat styling, all sorts of nasty things. I can't say enough nice things about this stuff. I'm pretty sure this serum is the only reason I still have hair in my head. It saved my dry, straw like hair and made it soft, healthy, and shiny. Plus it smells awesome! I know this line carries other serums for different hair types as well. 

Aussie Instant Freeze Extreme Hold Hair Spray- Out of all the hair sprays I've tried, this is the only one that dries INSTANTLY, like it claims. I know I spike my hair to high heaven, so the drying time is very important- if it takes more than a few seconds then the hair starts to fall, defeating the purpose. The hold is awesome, and I really like how this stuff smells. 

Caress Glowing Touch Body Wash- This gives really nice lather and feels very moisturizing. But for me, it's ALL about the smell! It's not really supposed to be scented, but the Shea Butter in it gives it this wonderful clean scent. That's the only way I can describe it- the epitome of clean. I could sniff it all day. P.S.- the scent DOES last all day.

Earth Therapeutics Loofah Complexion Pad- This is awesome for exfoliating. You put whatever cleanser you use on it- whether it's bar soap, cream cleanser, liquid, what have you- and wash your face with it. It's all natural, it cleans out your pores, and you don't have to change your products to use it. Like a washcloth, it just works better.

Purpose Gentle Cleansing Bar- A deep cleaning bar soap that won't irritate your skin. I'm very acne prone, and when I use this it doesn't aggravate my skin- which is AWESOME, because anyone who gets acne knows, your face gets super sensitive. But I think my favorite part about this soap is after you wash your face, your skin literally SQUEAKS. Now that's clean!

Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick- Contains Salicylic Acid to clean out pores. It also contains alcohol, so yes, this stuff can burn a little (burning=WORKING). However, the burning doesn't last long, and this is the only product I've found that can knock out those really awful, tough pimples. This is meant to be a spot treatment, so don't use it all over your face or the alcohol can dry out your skin.

Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets- Great for those with oily skin. Removes excess shine and oil without taking off your make-up. Perfect size for carrying in your purse for quick touch ups- because no one likes to look shiny.

AcneFree Sulfur Mask- Not only for those with acne, this product is great for anyone with oily skin. Oily skin leads to clogged pores which leads to acne- if you do a drying mask such as this one once every week or so, it will really help in preventing breakouts. 

Almay Eye Makeup Remover Pads- Super easy to use, and they even take off waterproof mascaras and eyeliners. Also available in moisturizing pads.

     Thus ends the longest blog ever! Hope this helps! <3

Monday, September 13, 2010

Product Review: Too Faced Long Stem Lashes


     Long Stem Lashes by Too Faced cosmetics is a lash growing serum. What's awesome about it (well, one of the things anyways) is that it won't change the color of your eyelids or actual eye like others can. Long Steam lashes is double sided- one side contains a black liquid liner that contains the serum. The other side is the serum by itself. 

     Alright, before I get into explaining this stuff, it's a before picture time! (Note: I am wearing mascara on top and bottom lashes so the length can be seen.)


     I am in LOOOOOOOVE with this product. Seriously. I have been using it for 8 weeks now and definitely notice a change in the length and volume of my lashes. You can use the serum up to twice a day- once in the morning or once at night. However, it doesn't matter if you only do it once a day. The eyeliner is obviously more daytime appropriate (unless you want to wear black liquid liner to bed!), but you can use the serum instead of the eyeliner for daytime too. Also, the serum can be used on top and bottom lashes- some other serums direct to use the serum on the upper lashline only.

     This product boosts some serious stats too:
     72% of participants reported appearance of longer lashes after four weeks
     81% of participants reported increase in the appearance of lash thickness and fullness after eight weeks
     74% of subjects reported the appearance of having more lashes, overall

     Okay, but I'm going to let you decide. After picture time! (Note, I'm wearing mascara top and bottom again. This time I'm also wearing black eyeliner versus purple.)

     Pretty impressive, no?

     So as a final grade I give this an A! It's $38 a tube- most others start at $60 and move up into the hundreds. My only complaint is that I wish it was all serum instead of the black eyeliner. Once the serum is dry, you can put make-up over it. But constantly wearing the black eyeliner gets kinda boring.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Product Review: Maybelline Volum' Express "The Falsies" Mascara

     "The Falsies" is a new mascara by Maybelline. It claims to give the appearance of false eyelashes. According to the website, 
"the patented spoon brush and Kera-fiber formula instantly build 8x more volume without clumping. [The] unique flexible wand helps to lift and separate lashes to provide the look of 300% more lashes."
Those are some pretty big claims. Now, for anyone who knows me, I'm all about making my eyes look as huge as possible. And a big part of the "doe-eyed" look is the long, pretty fringe framing the eyes. I mean, what's more flirty than batting eyelashes? Nothing, I tell you! So as someone who wears falsies from time to time, I was intrigued. I would much rather swipe on mascara than sit around messing with the glue and placement of false eyelashes.

     I am wearing this mascara as I type this. Does it live up to its hype? No. But is it the worst mascara I've come across? No. So here's the thing- I've been using an eyelash serum to grow my lashes (product review for this to come!) so I don't really need tons of help with length and volume. But considering I have a pretty decent set of lashes, this mascara didn't really do much to show them off. I didn't get very good separation of lashes- it didn't look super clumpy, but I did have a few triangles of lashes stuck together. I mean, what's the point of wearing mascara to show off your lashes if it's going to make it look like you only have five or six of them? However, the spoon brush does do a good job of lifting the lashes, which in turn does make your eyes look bigger. If you curl your lashes and maybe comb through them then this mascara would probably do a better job. I always curl my lashes, but in the morning I don't really want to have to take an extra step of combing my lashes out to avoid spider lashes. 

Final Grade- B-. If you're willing to work with the comb, you'll get better separation. But it does add lift like it claims, and considering the price, it's not the worst mascara out there.  

     I have a few mascaras that I really like that I would recommend over this one-

     First is the Too Face Lash Injection mascara. This mascara is an all-in-one: it builds volume, lengthens, thickens, and adds some curl. What's so cool about this one is that it actually builds tubes around the individual lashes, so it extends the length past your natural lash. When you wear it you can pull of the little lash tube tips, which shows that it's actually doing what it claims. It's pretty cool.

     Next is the Bare Escentuals Flawless Definition mascara. What's great about this one is the separation you get! It makes your lashes look so full because it combs them all out. You can also use multiple coats to really build up the length- and it won't clump when you do this!

     The final one I would recommend is the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara. If you want the look of falsies, THIS IS THE ONE TO USE! Tarte calls it the "push-up bra for your lashes." It's a four-in- one mascara that adds length, curl, volume, and it conditions your lashes. What's great about Tarte is that they're a very natural brand, so it has less chemicals in it that could cause bad reactions. But what I love in particular about this one is the volume you get- you're lashes get so full that it really does look like you have on fake lashes. Seriously. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Scoop on Hypoallergenic Make-up

     Hypoallergenic. What the heck is that? What does it have to do with me? Basically, hypoallergenic is a type of make-up that is less likely to cause allergic reactions. But be warned: just because it's labeled this way does not absolutely guarantee that it will never cause reactions. All different people have all different skins with all different allergies. If you have sensitive skin than hypoallergenic is the best way to go because the formulas are more simplified and are made without perfumes and fillers that can aggravate skin. If you try a make-up brand and have a reaction to it the best thing to do is look at all the ingredients and work with a doctor to figure out what exactly you are allergic to. Then you can avoid the culprit with later purchases.

So what are some good hypoallergenic brands to check out? In the lower price points there's Almay and Physician's Formula. Almay has nice make-up removers and I really like Physician's Formula's mineral foundation. Mineral make-up is good for the skin because it has a lot less of the fillers used in other products. Often its these weird fillers and preservatives that cause adverse reactions. As for the cheaper skin care options Aveeno is a good choice. It strives to be as natural as possible so it's more gentle on skin.

For the higher price points Bare Escenutuals and Pur Minerals are awesome choices. I loooove the Buxom lipglosses from Bare, and they carry beautiful eyeshadows. Foundation-wise Pur and Bare are pretty similar, except one is a loose powder versus a pressed powder. Bare Escentuals also carries a very nice skin care line with cleanser, blemish treatment, eye cream, etc. Clinique is also fantastic. It has both skin care and cosmetics. I love their eye makeup remover too! I wear all waterproof and that remover really does a good job. And what's great about the Clinique skin care line is that it's more customizable to your skin's needs, whereas Bare only has a few options to choose from.

These are just a few of the brands out there. All and all, the best way to figure out what's right for you is to try things out. I know I pick and choose what I like from different lines, and I know I'm not the only one who does so. So just be conscious of the labels and experiment and you'll find things that you love!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting My Butt Back In Gear!

     Wow. So I basically fell off the Earth for about two months now. BUT DON'T WORRY! I will be writing again soon! This is just a quick note to let people know I'm not like, dead or something. Stay tuned for what's to come!

-Hypoallergenic products: What they are and what are the options?
-Skin 101: What's your type and how to care for it, both inside and out.
-Crazy for Colors- The best brands for the bright, intense rocker colors.
-And MY FAVORITE- I'm doing a product review on Too Faced Long Stem Lashes (it JUST came out!). Similar to Latisse, it promises to grow your lashes, adding both length and volume! (Added bonus? It WILL NOT dye your eyelids or the actual iris like Latisse can!). The only thing is you see full effects after EIGHT weeks, so this blog won't be up until around September!

Don't worry, I have other ideas floating around too! And of course, feel free to ask me any questions! I'll be glad to help you out! Thanks for hanging in there!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To Prime or Not to Prime

     Since working at Ulta, I've discovered many new things that I've previously never tried. One of these products is facial primer. I've heard about facial primers, but I've previously been afraid to try them. Since my skin is oily, I've worried that putting on an extra layer would cause my skin to break out. Recently, one of my co-workers gave me an extra bottle of primer she had to try out.

     There are many different types of facial primers from many different brands. The purpose of facial primers is to prep the skin to receive foundation. They smooth the face out and help diminish impurities among other things. There are different formulas for mattifying, tone correcting, and even erasing fine lines.

The primer I tried was the Studio Gear Prime Objective Skin Perfecting Face Primer with SPF 20

     According to the website, this primer "helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays while priming the skin in much the same way as a painter primes a canvas. PRIME OBJECTIVE SPF 20 is a silicone based face primer that provides an effective broad-spectrum SPF 20 sunscreen while acting to “retouch”, or visually diminish, imperfections in the surface texture of the skin. PRIME OBJECTIVE SPF 20 contains a sustained release liposome system with retinol that can help promote cell turnover and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as a milk protein complex to help to balance and protect the skin from environmental stresses. The ‘skin-perfecting’ effect of this state-of the- art formula is further enhanced with optical diffusers."
     Since this primer wasn't mattifying, I was expecting much from it. I washed my face and applied my moisturizer, then applied the primer (the primer DOES NOT replace moisturizer! It does not penetrate the top layer of skin, so there are no moisturizing benefits). Once applied I was surprised by how smooth my skin felt. And it didn't feel heavy or sticky, which was my main concern. I used Bare Minerals foundation, which is a loose powder. It applied MUCH better with the primer, and I actually had to use less to get the coverage I wanted. But the real test was how the make-up would wear through the day. I worked a six hour day and checked out my makeup when I got home. What I noticed right away was how matte my face looked. After  a long day, by the time I get home, my face is incredibly shiny and the majority of my foundation has worn off. But with the primer, I had a little shine on my nose but that was it. My blush, foundation, and brightening cream were all in place. And, again, this primer wasn't even mattifying! I was incredibly happy, and I highly recommend it.

Some other primers:

Benefit "That Gal" Brightening Face Primer: Good for dull complexions.

Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primers- apricot for dark spots, green to reduce redness, and purple to counteract yellow, sallow skin.

     Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion: Pore Perfecting- Good for oily skin.

L'Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base- A cheaper price point than those above, also a mattifying.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Product Review: CoverGirl Smoky ShadowBlast

     The Smoky ShadowBlast is a new product from CoverGirl. They have recently come out with a few new products, along with other drugstore brands such as Maybelline and and Loreal. Because these brands are trying to compete with the higher end stuff, they have started using better ingredients and stronger pigments. And because I enjoy a deal as much as anyone else, I gave this a shot.

     The purpose of this double ended product is to achieve the smoky eye look without the muss and fuss of different colors, brushes, etc- since it is a cream shadow, it glides on easily. The lighter, rounded end is applied from the lash line all the way to the brow bone. Next, the darker, tapered end is used in the crease and as an eyeliner (the box has a diagram on the back explaining how to apply it- it tells you to put the eyeliner on the top lash line, but I also put it on the bottom- the whole point of the smoky eye is to be very dramatic).

     Starting with a primer (NOTE: you should ALWAYS use an eyeshadow primer!!! It preps the eye for color, and makes the colors more true to life. It also helps the color to last all day long. Also, as someone with really oily skin, I know it also has an added bonus- it prevents creasing.) I applied the color as described above. I actually broke off the brown end right away! Because of the shape of the tube, you have to raise the shadows up a good amount so they can be applied without the plastic part being in the way. And since they aren't very strong, it snapped right off. Not a good sign. Once applied, I was immediately disappinted by the color pay off. I used "Purple Plume", which is a pinkish-purple color used all over, with a deep brown for the crease/liner. When it was on the light shade almost matched my skin tone, and the brown color was very soft. Not very smoky at all. I went about my day and checked it after work- I put it on at about 4:00 p.m., and when I got home at 10:30 p.m. all the color was smushed into my crease- even with a primer!!! That's only a six and a half hour day, and with regards to eye-make up, that's not very long. When using powder shadows with a primer I've had my eye-make-up last upwards of 10-12 hours.

   So overall, don't waste your money on this one. The problem I've always had with cream shadows is creasing, so most of the time I don't even bother with them (Stila Smudge Pots, however, are fantastic! The are designed as a gel eyeliner, but I've worn them as an eyeshadow and have never had an issue with creasing. Also- they have some fabulous colors! If you like brighs, check out the Stila Barbie collection.) When it comes to powder, if you're worried about a stronger pigmentation, high end is the way to go. Yes, it's more money, but it's more money for a reason. The colors will alwasy be brighter and they will last longer (my all-time favorite eyeshadows- Urban Decay). If you're worried about price, CoverGirl does have a lot of powder shadows- worn with a primer, they should last a good eight hours or so, just be aware you will have to pile a lot of product on to get the desired color.

Final Grade: D+

The Beginning.

     This blog is for anyone who loves make-up, or has no idea what to do with it. Anyone who has stared at an eyelash curler and winced internally. Anyone who has ever nearly poked out an eye trying to apply eyeliner. Anyone who has spent hours and hours looking for the perfect shade of lipstick. I want to help you.

     I was recently offered a job at Ulta (which, for those of you who may not know, is a cosmetics store that carries both drugstore and high end make-up. They also have skin care, fragrance, a salon, personal care items such as blow dryers, flat irons, etc- in my mind, it's everything anyone needs to feel beautiful) as a make-up artist in the prestige department. Prestige is the higher end make-up and skin care such as Stila, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Bare Escentuals, Murad, and the like. I literally get to spend my work day playing with make-up. It's fantastic.

     Every day I get to learn new things. Whether it be application techniques, learning about the newest products, newest ingredients, it's all in a days work. And like I said before, it's probably the greatest situation I could have ever landed in.

     So with all this said, I started this blog to help those who want to learn (want to learn how to do a smoky eye? Lean what the best skincare is for your face? Which eyeliner will last the longest without melting down your face?). I will do product reviews, tutorials, anything you want. By helping you, I am helping myself to be a better artist and to be more knowledgeable.

     So go ahead, ask me anything.

"That's why I began doing makeup in the first place: I was hoping that through helping people see the beauty in themselves, I could try and find it in me."
-Kevyn Aucoin