Friday, October 28, 2011

Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream - Review

I'm currently on the prowl for a new moisturizer, and, as luck would have it, Bzz Agent offered me an opportunity to try a new product from Burt's Bees, their Daily Moisturizing Cream. While I received a full size for free, I am not compensated in any way for using the product, nor providing any sort of positive, or negative, feedback regarding the product.

The cream comes attractively packaged in a white cylindrical pump-top tube. The full size is 1.8 fluid ounces. The MSRP is $15.00, which seems high for a drugstore brand, but, since coupons are available for this brand, you may not have to pay full price. The big draw to this cream, it seems, is that it includes cotton extract, which is an extract I had never heard anything about. A quick googling of "cotton extract gave me more information than I needed. Here are some of the highlights:

Anyway, Burt's Bees uses the extract to improve the skin's repair mechanism. Here's the word from Burt's Bees:
Clinically proven to moisturize sensitive skin all day without causing redness or irritation, this nourishing day cream is formulated with softening Cotton Extract to help skin replenish its outer layer and minimize the effects of potential irritants such as harsh soaps or cleansers. All while Rice Extract moisturizes and Aloe soothes your skin. Naturally gentle for daily use, it’s what your sensitive skin has been waiting for. 
    Softens and helps replenish skin's outer layer with Cotton Extract
    Moisturizes with Rice Extract
    Does not cause redness or irritation
    All day formula
    Fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic
    Allergy-tested and dermatologist-tested
I've used this cream for 2 straight weeks now, so I've had a great chance to see how I like it. And, well, it's sort of meh. It moisturizes okay, I guess. It doesn't irritate my skin, has no real noticeable scent (to me). I felt that 1 full pump was a bit too much for me - I always had a little too much, so I'd just use whatever was left on my neck. I didn't feel this moisturizer left me greasy, which is a plus for my oily T-zone, but I also didn't notice a difference in my skin day to day. Once I removed my makeup, my skin still felt the same as it did if I skipped this moisturizer. I guess I could've been removing it with the rest of whatever I was wearing but, still, I would've liked to have my skin feel different, otherwise, what's the point of this product? The surface redness on my cheeks was not diminished in anyway after using this product (but, honestly, nothing except MUFE's HD Microperfecting primer does).

It did absorb nicely into my skin, not leaving me shiny (which is a plus). 

So, would I buy this? Probably not. It's nice, and I may find I like it later on when the air starts to get dry inside from being heated by fireplaces or furnaces, but right now, it's a bottle of meh to me. I think if you have dry skin, though, you may really like it, since it didn't leave me oily. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sleek Pout Polish Pink Cadillac - Review

I miss MAC Tendertones. They were the best lip gloss/balm ever. The flavor/scent was great, the colors were beautiful (although, sort of pointless, since very few had any pigment at all. *sigh* Why did they stop bringing them out in favor of those terrible Sun Tint things?

I'm happy to say, however, I believe I've found an adequate replacement from Sleek - their Pout Polishes are pretty darn good. I've used Pink Cadillac almost every day for the past 2 weeks, and I'm really digging it.

Sleek says:
A tinted lip conditioning balm formulated with natural oils such as Almond Oil, Shea Butter, Avocado Extract and Vitamin A, C and E to help condition the lips and lock in moisture.

It also includes SPF15 to help protect the lips from sun exposure.

Using a lip brush or fingers, apply a small amount to the upper and lower lips for a sheer wash of colour and gloss.

Pink Cadillac is a scary-bright pink in the tube, and even on the lips you can definitely see the color, but it's softer, almost a jelly-type finish, that's sheer. No sparkle, and it's not super glossy, either. This shade produces enough shine to catch the light, but that's about it, which is refreshing. The texture is thin (although you could totally build the product up, if you wanted, but why?). These aren't really sticky, although I would say they're a tiny bit tacky, and they don't last forever on the lips, either. I get about 2 - 3 hours wear, without eating and minimal talking, with this. I haven't really experienced any stain-effect from the balm, so as it wears off, the color appears to go with it.

The lasting effects of the moisturizers, though, is great. My lips feel soft, smooth and moisturized (just like a Tendertone!). The scent is sort of blah - a creme brulee-type scent. There's a touch of something sort of unpleasant there, though. Most likely, it's the SPF interfering with whatever flavor Sleek put in these.

Overall, I really, really like this. I believe all of the available shades would like work for pretty much anyone who wanted to try them, because they're sheer. The SPF inclusion is pretty awesome, too. Those of us that are not lucky enough to live in England can buy these direct from for $6.50 (plus a slightly unreasonable $10 or so for shipping). 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Benefit They're REAL Mascara - Review

I think a lot of us are always looking for the next best mascara, never minding the umpteen mascaras we've already tried, and the countless good, great, and perfect mascaras we've already tried. So many of us don't have the time or talent to apply false lashes everyday, so we are seeking the one mascara that looks like falsies without the required time. I believe that's why any new mascara that promises false-lash effects are so popular and instantly wanted - and makeup companies know and feed upon this (because, you know, they want us to buy their products and whatnot).

Benefit's They're REAL mascara makes bold claims, and uses a nifty, if not obvious double entendre, in the marketing campaign supporting it's release. My husband is a big fan of the promotional image, a woman with low cut dress and Christina Hendricks-sized breasts that look like they would be painful to the woman they're attached to, yet he doesn't wear makeup, and is likely not the demographic Benefit hopes to attract (I think). The packaging is rather spiffy, though - a gun metal tube in a curvy shape.

Regardless, here are the claims, per Sephora:

This mascara features an exclusive brush specially designed to maximize the performance of the long-wearing, glossy formula revealing lashes you never knew you had! Staggered bristles grab close to the root, boosting length and volume beyond belief. The precision bristles on the custom-domed tip lift, define, and curl even your tiniest lashes. The end result is luxurious, silky lashes that won't smudge, clump, or dry out.
Research results:-94% saw dramatic length and volume*
-90% saw base-to-tip curl*
-94% saw visible lift*
-100% saw long-wearing results*

I think the formula isn't really the star of the show in terms of lengthening and definition, the brush is. It's a hybrid of the rubberized-bristle brush I dislike, and the Givenchy Phemonen'eyes medieval-mace style wand. The tip of the brush has bristles that fan over it's crown, that you're supposed to use to apply and "fan" out your lashes. This is how you're supposed to apply the Phenomen'eyes mascara, as well, and why I loved that particular product - the definition you get from this application technique is simply astounding. The rest of Benefit's brush is pretty good, too, for the type of brush that it is. 

The formula it's self isn't bad, though. It's not water resistant at all (I managed to cry it off my lower lashes relatively quickly, due to some crappiness at work [note: surprisingly, it's not really easy to get off - and I use a eye makeup remover prior to washing my face!]). It's build-able, to an extent, which is why the brush and application technique works - a super thick formula would clump like no one's business before you had chance to apply it properly. It can over-volumize, however, which leads to clumping. It doesn't flake or smudge, and seems to set within a reasonable amount of time. My lashes still feel soft, not crunchy, once the mascara has set.

What I'd be remiss to not discuss, however, is how long it takes to apply. Because you're essentially doing multiple coats (which is probably normal for most people), you wouldn't expect this mascara to be any different than whatever you're currently using. What I failed to consider was how long it would take to use the tip of the wand to apply mascara, comb my lashes, and fan them out a bit. That takes a while. I usually don't do all of my lashes, just the outer third or so, but I if I were to attempt to do all of my lashes, I might drive myself crazy. I don't bother using the tip to go over my bottom lashes, since, you know... who wears falsies on their lower lashline?

Over all, I like this mascara. It's $22, though, which is spendy. I'll be very curious to see how this formula works as it dries out, over time. I have a feeling it may get clumpy as more air is introduced in the tube. Due to this one nagging fact, I can't say I'd repurchase today. I may need to wait until I've used the mascara for more than a month to be sure it'll work out for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inglot Eyeshadows - Overview

As noted in my last haul, I had an amazing run of swaps. One of my best swaps was for a complete 10 pan palette of Inglot's neutral shadows. I've been playing with them for the past 3 or so weeks, and have finally decided they're pretty awesome.

Let's first review the palette it's self. It's extremely well made, heavy, and thick. MAC's palettes feel flimsy when compared to this, and very cheap. The top, or lid, of the palette is held in place by very strong magnets, one in each corner, and several palettes can be stacked together, and held together by the same magnets. Pretty nifty. My only beef here is how hard it is to remove shadows from the palette. I had to use a thumbtack to leverage the shadows out of their cells.

With regards to the shadows... I'm extremely impressed. MAC may need to step up their game. 9 of the 10 shadows I have are pigmented, creamy, blendable, etc. The only one I have issues with is Matte 378, and those are minor (it's a touch chalky). Pearls seem to be my favorite finish. I wish they shadows had names, but, with a seemingly endless number of shadows, I can appreciate the simplicity of numbers in this case. I also find Inglot's website to be a little... irritating. I couldn't find a description on their website for some of their proprietary finishes... like "Double SP" and "AMC." At least MAC describes what veluxe pearl means.

Color descriptions! Yay! I took pictures of each set of swatches with and without flash, because the pearl finish is like the veluxe pearl finish from MAC - metallic and beautiful. Shine 110 is a lot like Shroom on me - not visible, but the effect is lovely. A soft, sheer, slightly golden glow. Pearl 430 is a very true gold. Pearl 406 is a bronze with a touch (a very light touch) of taupe. Double SP 460 is a slightly chalky purple-brown. Pearl 423 is a shimmery version of Double SP 460. Here they are with the flash:

Pearl 393 reminds me of MACs Nylon shadow, only not as pigmented (which is good for me). It's an orangey highlight. Pearl 405 is a peached or rose gold. Matte 360 is like a more pigmented version of MAC's Wedge eyeshadow. Matte 378 is a little chalky on the swatch, darker, cooler version of Matte 360. AMC 53 is a satiny brown. In the pan, the sparkles looks sort of blue, but that does not translate. Here they are with the flash:

Pricing on these is all sorts of awesome. No, really. Buying potted eyeshadows means you'll have to pay $12. Buying them as part of the "Freedom System," what Inglot calls their palette system, is a much better deal. Eyeshadows like what I have are $5 each. Yes. $5. The palettes range in price from $6 for a 2-pan palette, to $35 for a 40-pan palette. MAC, for comparison, asks for $15 for a potted shadow, and $11.50 for a propan, plus $7 for a 4-pan palette, or $16 for a 15-pan palette (gah, when was the last time I bought a palette? I don't think I've ever paid more than $12 for one!).  

Rereading this review, it seems I used the word "awesome" so much that it needs a vacation. But, honestly, these shadows are worth the hype. They're cheap, the quality overall is great (and even those I noted as chalky are absolutely workable). Their texture is divine, and their color selection cannot be beat. I'm sold on them. Am I swapping away my abundance of MAC shadows? No, but I don't forsee buying any MAC colors that are not unique to my collection. Inglot's minimum for free shipping is rather high ($150), but their standard shipping fees aren't outrageous ($7 - $10 to me). They current sell online to the US, the UK, and Australia. They also have a handful of stores in the US, including a counter in a New York Macy's. I assume they're more plentiful in Europe, especially in Poland, where the brand originated.

Overall, these are worth it. If you're trying to find a variety of finishes, shades, and like the idea of palette systems, Inglot is definitely the way to go.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sleek Suede Blush - Review

I've been waiting to try Sleek Cosmetics for a long time. Makeupalley has repeatedly discussed this brand, and their releases, for what seems like an eternity. When I had the chance to swap for the highly anticipated "Nude" collection, I jumped on it.

Sleek is a UK-exclusive brand, however, the rest of us can order from their website with quasi-reasonable shipping prices, currently $10 to the US at this time. Blushes retail for $6.50, and there are currently 13 shades available. I have two, but today I'll discuss the newest color, Suede.

Sleek uses a combination of MAC and NARS packaging styles, with a little flair of their own - it's typically black, with minimal decoration. Some colors or palettes do have special designs on them, though, if they're part of a collection. The Nude  is a collection with a nude-toned decoration/flower thingie on all three pieces of the collection.  

The back has a list of ingredients, the name of the color, and the usual fair. These blushes come with a clear plastic wrap around them, which is why they have this information printed on them, unlike brands that utilize boxes or other types of outer packaging. To look at the packaging, you may assume it's very similar to NARS, but it's not so rounded, and it's not made from that obnoxiously weird rubberized stuff. It's smooth black plastic, like MAC. 
Each compact comes with mirror, and, of course, a pressed blush. Suede is a neutral nude-pink. It's pigmented, not exactly soft, and a great, true, neutral with a matte finish. Pink blushes often look a little off on me, because I'm a warm toned gal, and pink seems to always lean cool, but I find this wearable. I've heard a few people say this blush is similar to NARS' Douceur. Any thoughts? I need to get to Sephora to see what I think... Douceur is on my wishlist.

I'm sort of glad this blush isn't particularly soft. Virtually no powder is kicked up by my brush, which is great. My only issue is it can take some pressure on the brush to pick up the blush. Maybe this blush was over pressed or something. I'll need to see if my other Sleek blush is the same (no, I haven't used it yet... I wanted to try this one so bad, I've been using it for the last 2 or so weeks, since my swap partner received her part of our deal!).

So far, I've been pleased with this blush. It's wearable, it lasts 12 plus hours on my face, and looks natural. What's not to love? If possible, I'd strongly recommend this blush, or others from the range.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sonia Kashuk Beautifying Blush in Melon - Review

I can admit when I have a problem - I love peachy-pink blushes. Love. As in, I must own them all. Must. Somewhere during my travels, I believe I had read that a dupe for MAC's very popular Ripe Peach blush ombre was available at Target, as part of Sonia Kashuk's line. Naturally, I couldn't remember the name of the Sonia Kashuk product, but this blush caught my eye while I was searching. After mulling it over for a grand total of 30 seconds, this blush found it's way into my basket.

One thing that's always deterred me from buying Sonia Kashuk's products is their price. They're not cheap, for example, this blush retails for $8.99. Now, I can live with elevated drug store prices, because they go on sale regularly, right? Well, not Sonia Kashuk. The best deal you're going to find is 10%, sporadically. Because Target is the exclusive retailer of this product, they have no reason to put it on sale the same way they need to occasionally have Revlon on sale, or Cover Girl products. Even those are usually on "sale" for 10% off. ..::end rant::..

Anyway, this blush delivers what I wanted. Peachy-pink goodness. It's matte, which is great since I don't need to be shimmery all the time, and lasts a reasonable amount of time. It's decently pigmented, so I don't need to pack on a ton of product. Melon blends well, too, which is always a plus. It seems a bit small, though. Especially for $9. There's 0.15 oz (or 4.2 grams) of Melon in a pan, compared to 0.21 oz (or 6 grams) in a MAC frost finish blush (just one that I grabbed, not a particular shade). For another comparison, however, Smashbox's blushes are 0.07 oz (or 2.04 grams) - gah. What a rip off. They're nice, though. Back to Sonia Kashuk's blushes though. Of these 3 options (Sonia Kashuk, MAC, and Smashbox), SK is a better deal. Maybe they're just physically small?
Blushes are packaged in a slim, white compact with a silver band. This blush states it's made in the US, which is kind of neat (seriously, when was the last time you bought something made in the states?). The compact doesn't feel cheap, but is light, which makes sense. It's completely plastic. The top of the compact is clear, so you can see the color of the product. No mirror is included.

Would I repurchase? I dunno. I'm leaning towards no, only because of the price (never mind the fact I have yet to use a blush). It's a solid product, and performs well, but I would rather not support a company that doesn't put things on sale. (Totally kidding). I am truly conflicted, though. Melon isn't really a unique color, you know? And the formula is as nice as any other blush I own.