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Archive for the ‘product review’ Category

Dad’s ashy makeup problem solved with Indy’s HG cleanser.

A product is known as a “Holy Grail” when it embodies all the glorious beautifying qualities a consumer has long been searching for. It is often elusive, and has always been yearned for. Everyone’s Holy Grail is different.

It can be hard to choose the right face wash for you. After all, there’s so much to get right. Here’s my checklist of qualities to look for in a good cleanser:

  • Dermatologist-recommended: Self-explanatory.
  • Hypoallergenic: It does not contain ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, many “natural” or “green” skincare products contain essential oils and plant extracts that can cause allergic reactions in unsuspecting users. Keep this in mind when opting for “organic” skincare. A safe bet is to choose “oil-free” cleansers.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin: Same idea as above. I like to look for skincare and haircare products that advertise that they are “gentle as water” or are safe for babies and children. Means it’s going to be safe for me and you too!
  • Non-comedogenic: This one’s an important one for those who are acne-prone. This simply means that the product will NOT clog your pores. Clogged pores can lead to pimples (blackheads and whiteheads).
  • Fragrance-free and dye-free: Fragrances (perfumes, often listed as “parfum” on ingredient lists) and dyes are typically chemically-derived and have no place in cleansers; why expose your skin to unnecessary chemicals? But because these two are nearly impossible to escape in beauty products, it’s forgivable…
  • Paraben-free: Parabens are preservatives that have been shown to have estrogenic effects on girls and women; there is controversy around their usage, with cosmetic safety advocates pointing to studies showing parabens being found in breast cancer tissue; parabens may also be linked to early onset puberty in girls. While there is not enough known yet about these concerns for parabens to have been eliminated from beauty products, it’s worth being cognizant of them.
  • Soap-free: An ingredient in bar soaps that make them “soap” is actually comedogenic (clogs pores), and can dry your skin out immensely. I promise “using soap” is not a synonym for “cleaning”– soap-free cleansers will clean your skin as well or better!
  • Gimmick-free: Try to resist the temptation to fall for bells and whistles– unnecessary ingredients in your face wash, like salicylic acid (you’re washing it off right away anyway!). Special ingredients should be reserved for toners, serums, and/or moisturizers– products that will be on your skin for longer than a minute.
  • It has to be able to remove dirt, oil and makeup from your skin: It has to do the job you bought it to do, right? And if it can function as a sunscreen and makeup remover while it’s at it… super!
  • It should leave your skin feeling fresh

Whew! That’s a lot to ask for. Luckily I’ve found a cleanser that fits my criteria: Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash (available for less than $10 at your local drugstore). I found Purpose after cruising MakeupAlley.com, a product review website which you MUST visit if you haven’t already– I use MakeupAlley.com before buying any beauty product (they have reviews for just about every product, makeup, haircare and skincare, that you could think of). Purpose is one of the highest-rated and most-reviewed products under Cleansers on MakeupAlley, with 900 reviews and a 4.1/5 rating. I knew I had to check it out!

I have tried every type of cleanser, from bar soaps (including Dove) to schmancy cream cleansers from Sephora, to Shu Uemura cleansing oils, to Cetaphil (which I didn’t like at all, by the way– it now functions only as an in-shower shaving cream). Go for whatever type works best for you and leaves you feeling the most clean. I personally prefer that squeaky-clean feeling– and Purpose gives you that.

Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash comes in a very hygienic pump bottle; it’s a liquid-y gel that foams when you lather it between your hands. All you need to do is wet your face, lather, massage it in, and rinse thoroughly! I’ve found, to my surprise, that Purpose is able to remove my zinc oxide sunscreen, eye-makeup, and foundation without a struggle. If you need more hard-core sunblock/makeup removal, I recommend starting with an oil cleanser like MAC Cleanse Off Oil then following it up with Purpose (this is called the double-cleanse method, which I talk more about here).

I use Purpose morning and night. It hasn’t dried out my typically crocodile winter skin, nor has it caused me to break out. If you’re shopping for a no-fuss, do-no-harm face wash, this might be the one for you! Let me know what you think!

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For anyone who likes to have a little (or a lot) of fun with their nails, be sure to try Essie Luxeffects Glitter Top Coat Nail Polish. Above I am wearing the “Shine of the Times” version over a dark purple nailpolish (OPI Lincoln Park After Dark).

Photographs simply DO NOT do this exciting nail polish justice. It looks a million times more sexy in person than it does in my photo above. Angle your fingers one way in the light, the polish looks a metallic emerald; angle them another way, and they shift in color to a metallic blackish-bloody ruby. There are also hints of gold throughout. Not sure why, but the look reminds me of the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park”! Which in my books makes it totally cool. The top coat can be worn over any shade of nail polish, depending on your mood and the effect you’re going for!

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As soon as I applied it this morning, I knew I HAD to share this lip color with you all! My newest makeup craze is LIP STAINS. I think they are the bomb diggity. The one I am wearing here is a new purchase from Ulta: Palladio Lip Stain in Rose.

The lipstain comes in a marker form (so you basically color in your lips with a makeup marker, how fun is that?). It smells yummy, and has no discernible taste. You apply it on dry, bare lips (lip balm underneath will only cause it to slide off or fade, defeating the point of a lip “stain”). Apply evenly, keeping your lips open to allow them to dry. After 30 seconds, feel free to top with your favorite lip balm, and watch as the lip stain lasts ALL day, through drinking, eating, talking, and more– with NO transfer onto coffee cups or spoons! I will let the “Rose” color speak for itself in the pictures. I highly, highly recommend this lip color for any girl with olive, tan, or dark skin. And what’s best, it’s only $5.99!

What do you ladies think? Have you tried a lip stain before? … Have I convinced you yet?

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My favorite new blush is Tarte Cheek Stain in Flush. I have mentioned before that the most important blush for any girl to have is one that mimics her natural blushing color– and this is it! Flush is described as a sheer berry, and goes on berry pink.

The cheek stain is free of synthetic fragrances, parabens, and chemical preservatives. It’s also oil-free and loaded with antioxidant superfruits (including goji and pomegranate).

Flush smells divine (think Fruit Roll-Ups) and is housed in the cutest packaging. Because it is not a powder, it doesn’t oxidize at all on my cheeks– the color stays true AND it lasts ALL day! This blush looks dewy and natural, as compared to powder blush, which can often look dry and cakey. I can honestly say I will not be buying a powder blush again after this!

The product is sheer and buildable, and at 1 oz, will last me forever, making it worth the hefty price tag ($30, Sephora). Perhaps most importantly, it’s very easy to apply and blend onto your cheeks. I simply use the tips of my fingers!

Have you tried a cheek stain before? Let us know what you thought!

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I am a nail polish aficionado.  I love trying new colors and am constantly giving myself manicures.  However, every once and a while I like to go to the professionals.  I’m pretty darn good at painting my nails, but I like having my cuticles taken care of by a manicurist.  When I have my nails professionally done I always have them do a french manicure – the only type of manicure that I’m not very good at doing for myself.  But, unfortunately,  most manicures don’t last for very long and my pretty french-manicured nails are usually gone in under a week.

Enter Shellac.  My manicurist suggested I try this new type of nail polish last week, and since I’m constantly curious about new products I immediately decided to give it ago.  She told me that Shellac is supposed to last for 2 weeks without any chipping, dulling, or fading.  I have to admit I was a little skeptical, but it’s been a week and my nails are still picture perfect.  (The picture below was taken today, a full week after my manicure).  And I wasn’t gentle with them – I cook and clean every day not to mention I’ve been moving boxes from my garage to my basement for the past two days.

So, what is Shellac?  

Shellac was developed by CND (Creative Nail Design) a few years ago.  It’s a celebrity favorite.  It will last for 2 weeks and takes less than 30 seconds to dry under a UV light.  It’s hypo-allergenic and feels exactly like normal nail polish.  It also comes in a multitude of colors.  Also, Shellac is easily removed with acetone-based nail polish removers.

The only downsides to Shellac (as far as I can tell) are the price and the fact that you probably need to go to a manicurist to have it applied.  However, the fact that it lasts so long balances out the higher price.

I would recommend Shellac for women who like having immaculate nails, but have a hard time maintaining their manicures or little patience for repeatedly doing their nails.  I would also recommend getting Shellac if you have a big event, like a wedding.  It’s not the right manicure for someone who likes to change their nail color a lot.  I personally would definitely get Shellac again, but probably only for a french manicure.  It’s the only type of manicure that I know I’ll want for 2 weeks!

Have any of you tried Shellac before?  What are your thoughts?

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I’ve been traveling for the last week and, as we all know, it’s hard to keep up your beauty regimen when you’re living out of a suitcase; you have to eat out (sometimes at greasy joints), you can’t always get your 8-10 glasses of water, and sleep can be compromised.

This week I was so grateful for my new day face cream, the L’Occitane Mom & Baby Cream. This organic shea-butter based cream is just right for my sensitive, dry-to-combo skin for every day. The product is also enhanced with aloe vera and calendula, which are great for calming skin and protecting from environmental damage. The face cream has been designed for mothers and for their babies, so you know it’s going to be super gentle!

The cream is moisturizing, though it can feel a little like it’s hardening on your skin once you’ve put it on. This feeling disappears soon. On my skin it leaves me with a semi-matte glow… my nose isn’t shiny, but my skin doesn’t look dull either (in the way sunscreens often make it look). The smell, provided by naturally-derived oils, is faintly lemony and reminiscent of the Fresh Sugar scent- it fades within a second or two upon application.

L’Occitane’s Mom & Baby Cream is not equipped with SPF; it is not a sunscreen, which is exactly what I wanted when I bought it. You can wear it alone, under makeup, or under a sunscreen.

I recommend you try it! The price in the U.S. as of now is around $18 for 1.7 ounces… making it a STEAL compared to other nice face creams… even the other options offered by L’Occitane itself.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I stayed at a Shangri-La hotel over the weekend and rejoiced at their L’Occitane freebies.  Who doesn’t love L’Occitane, right?  Well, I came home with about 4 mini bars of Shea Butter Verbana Soap.  I’m in love!  And at only $7 for a full bar, I’ll definitely be purchasing more when I run out!

First of all, I love the smell.  It’s fabulously fresh and just the right amount of scent.  Secondly, it’ll get you feeling squeaky clean.  Sometimes I feel like body washes aren’t very strong, but put some of this stuff on a loofa or a washcloth, rub-a-dub-dub, and you’ll be feeling fresh and clean in no time!  Now, most of the time I use bar soaps, I’ll feel clean but then my skin will be a bit dry after I get out of the shower.  Not with this L’Occitane soap.  Your skin will feel soft and smooth, and if you trap all that moisture by lotioning after your shower your skin will be lovely all day!

The added bonus is that this soap is formulated with a 100% vegetable base and enriched with pure, organic L’Occitane shea butter!

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