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Product Review – Crest Vivid White Toothpaste

Posted by Karen on April 20, 2007


Product: Crest Vivid White Fluoride Toothpaste in Refreshing Mint
Use: A whitening toothpaste
Price: $3.99 for a 4.1 oz tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A+

I have a slight obsession with teeth. It’s not freaky or scary or potentially debilitating (I hope), but I have to admit to loving vigorous flossing and Sonicare brushing a little too much. It hasn’t always been this way. It started when I met my current dentist Dr. Y – a total character and diva extraordinaire. When I first sat in her dentist’s chair she immediately asked me who made my suit (it was bebe.) She then told me to check out the Versace store down the street – “They have similar cuts in their clothing and it’s very flattering for petite women. Plus, I get a discount!” Just when I thought that I met the coolest dentist ever, she frightened the bejeebus out of me by giving me a totally scary lecture on the importance of gum health. There were many, many, many frightening pictures of gingivitis and swollen gums. It ain’t pretty, folks. I’ve been touting the virtues of mint floss ever since.

A few months ago when I told Dr. Y I was getting married the first thing she said was, “Congratulations! Is this your first?” She was the only person who had that reaction, but then again she’s been married three times. But whose keeping track? The next thing she said was that for my wedding gift she’d hook me up with Zoom teeth whitening. Woo hoo!

The process of Zoom whitening itself was pretty painful – and to be blogged about in sordid detail in a future post – but in the end I got a set of really nice, white teeth. However, the teeth whitening was in June so it’s been a while. I’ve started to do things to keep my teeth from re-staining, like drinking coffee and red wine with a straw (I know, I know, it’s kinda tacky-looking in public but I don’t care!) but I still noticed in the past few months that they aren’t as white as they used to be.

I asked one of my best friends, Mary Anne, a superb dentist as well and all around cool gal (sorry fellas, she’s taken), and she recommended Crest Vivid White Fluoride Toothpaste in Refreshing Mint. Mary Anne told me that it’s probably the best whitening toothpaste you can get at the drugstore, and after three weeks of use I have to agree – this stuff is the shizz for getting those canines white!

The formula doesn’t make my teeth feel tingly or weird. It has a refined mint taste. The biggest pro: it actually works. The whitening effect is subtle yet noticeable. Granted, if you’ve been smoking for 20 years and sip coffee through your front teeth I don’t know how white your teeth are gonna get. It’s a tube of toothpaste, not a Christmas miracle, people.

It’s pricy for toothpaste. My good old stand by toothpaste, Colgate Total, is the same price for a tube that’s twice a big, but ultimately I don’t mind because I don’t use a lot and it works really well.


Posted in Drugstore Beauty Finds, Product Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Product Review- Origins Spring Fever Body Souffle

Posted by Karen on April 14, 2007


Product: Origins Spring Fever Body Souffle
Use: As an all-over body lotion
Price: $26.00 for a 7 oz jar
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B

A few months ago I got a Macy’s gift certificate so I decided to splurge on this body soufflé. I like that this really does smell spring-y. When I wear it I get a floral scent combined with a citrus scent. This body lotion has an accompanying fragrance, also called Spring Fever. I find that my skin doesn’t wear the fragrance well because the citrus scent becomes too sharp, which is why I ended going with the lotion. This product includes Olive, Grape Seed, Apricot Kernel and Rice Bran Oils to soften and smooth your skin.

The smell. It’s really uplifting, and great after a morning shower. The scent also fades nicely and isn’t cloying. I like that the product absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave my skin feeling sticky or greasy.

The moisturizing properties aren’t enough for the dry skin on my legs or elbows. However, the moisturizing properties would probably be just right if I lived in a warmer, humid climate like Hawaii. Also, I hate the having to dig my fingers into the jar – yuck. I wish it came in a pump or tube. The biggest issue I have is the price! If the moisturizing properties were better I’d probably buy this product again because I really love the smell and you get a lot in that big ole’ jar, but it’s just too dry here to make this product last over a long period of time. If you live in a warm, humid climate, or just don’t need heavy moisturization then you might really like this.

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Product Reviews – DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% With Tea Tree Oil and H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment (aka, My New Favorite Acne-Fighting Combo!)

Posted by Karen on April 12, 2007


Product: DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% With Tea Tree Oil
Use: Acne treatment
Price: $24.00 for 2 oz. tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B+

Product: H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment
Use: Hydration for oil-prone, dry or combination skin types
Price: $34.00 for a 1.7 fl oz jar
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B

My new favorite acne-fighting combo!
A few weeks ago my skin went a little nuts. I got a few small pimples on my forehead, and my Poor Woman’s Proactiv wasn’t getting rid of them. I looked inside the drawer in my bathroom where I toss stuff that I buy and don’t end up using and found a tube of DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% With Tea Tree Oil. I think I bought it a year ago and stopped using it because it was just too drying and actually gave me more pimples than I started with. Just for the hell of it I tried using it again, figuring my skin may have changed since then. I put on a small layer over my entire face (except for the eyes, of course) for three nights, and noticed that my skin was starting to clear up but still felt tight and dry.

Once more, I dug into the magic drawer and found a moisturizing gel sample of H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment. I got this a few months ago in my goody bag after attending a fashion show at San Francisco Fashion Week. After I put on the DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel, I let it dry for 10-15 minutes and then slather on the H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment over my entire face (including my eyes.) I’ve been using this combo for the past two weeks and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that it actually works, woo hoo! The pimples on my forehead cleared up and I’m not getting any new ones from switching to the new products (knock on wood). These two products are one kick-ass combo!

The Combo Pros and Cons

If it weren’t for the price then these products would get an A. You know me, dear readers. I am a cheap-ass (aka frugal) these days when it comes to throwing down the cash for skin care products I won’t do it unless it’s proven to rock my world. Despite the price of each product, you get a lot for your money. The tube for the DDF Gel is big – if you use just a pea-sized amount of the gel it could easily last you at least 6-8 months if you apply only at night. (I don’t know how tough your skin is, but for me, putting this on in the morning and the evening would probably be overkill because I find it can be drying.)

The H2O+ website describes the H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment product as: A penetrating liposome delivery system and Sea Mineral Complex™ help attract, transport and distribute moisture equivalent to eight glasses of water. Marine extracts of wakame, sea lettuce, and sea fennel, provide vitamins A, C, E and Provitamin B nourish and protect the skin.

It comes in a jar, which I’m not too crazy about because you have to dip your fingers into it and you have to be careful about not scooping out too much. H2O+ products are also not readily available for purchase – there’s only two stores here in California, and fortunately one is in San Francisco, which is where I bought my jar last week. You can purchase it online, and the H2O+ website says that they have free shipping on orders over $100 dollar with no-hassle returns. The smell of the product is really strong – it’s got a faux-oceany marine smell, so if you are scent-sensitive (try saying that fast ten times, ha ha ha!) then you might not like it. Also, some might find the consistency of gel a little too sticky. I don’t mind it so much.

While I’m not sure about how much of this product’s effectiveness is due to these sea-derived active ingredients, I have to say that this stuff really works for me, even better than my previous favorite moisturizer, Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin. This moisturizing gel does what it claims to do – hydrate your skin – and you don’t need to use a lot of it. I’m estimating that this jar will last me at least 6 months.

Another added plus? You can also use it as a moisturizing mask. Spread a thin layer over your face and neck, let it absorb for 5 minutes and then massage in the excess.

Posted in Product Reviews, Skin Care | Leave a Comment »

Product Review – Sephora FACE Eye Makeup Remover

Posted by Karen on March 30, 2007


Product: Sephora FACE Eye Makeup Remover
Use: To remove eye makeup
Price: $8.00 for a 4.22 oz bottle
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: C

After trying a ton of different eye makeup removers (including Lancome Bi-Facial; Clinque Take The Day Off, Rinse Off and Naturally Gentle eye makeup removers; Nuxe Démaquillante Make-Up Remover and Maybelline Expert Eyes Eye Makeup Remover, just to name a few), I finally found my holy grail with Sephora’s FACE Eye Makeup remover. Well, it was my favorite eye makeup remover until Sephora changed the bottle to this new one with the black cap. Not only is the new bottle is smaller than the old one, they’ve also increased the price. Now you pay more of your hard earned money but get less product – boo!

Along with the bottle change came a formula change. I find the new formula doesn’t work as well as the old one at removing long-wearing and waterproof mascaras and eyeliners. With the old formula, it was just a few quick splashes on the cotton ball and everything was off easily. Now, I have to use so much on a cotton ball – I have to practically get it soaking – just to take off regular eye makeup.

Some things haven’t changed – it still doesn’t sting my eyes (a big plus) and it has the same gentle rose smell. However, the bottle that’s sitting in my cabinet will be my last. Back to the drawing board for me!

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Foundation Quest 2007 – Laura Mercier Flawless Face Products: Oil-Free Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Foundation, Silk Crème Foundation, Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Posted by Karen on March 26, 2007

Foundation Quest – 17 years and counting
After 17 years of makeup wearing, I’m still trying to find a foundation that works for me. I’ve spent a good chunk o’ change on my quest to find the perfect foundation (aka Foundation Quest) and unfortunately much of it was spent on foundations that were too dark, too yellow or too pimple-causing. Is it too much to hope for a miracle foundation that that evens out my skin tone, doesn’t feel cake-y after a few hours and keeps me zit-free?

Why I keep trying to find the perfect foundation
Despite all of the disappointing attempts, I’m determined to find something that works because the perfect foundation does so much in achieving the look of a “finished” face. These days, I’m especially eager because I’ve noticed that as I’m getting older my skin is changing – it’s less oily, uneven in color, and I have fine lines and freckles. The minimal amount of makeup I can get away with on a day-to-day basis is changing, so I’m a woman on a mission!

Why I don’t wear MAC Foundations
You might be wondering why isn’t this self-professed MAC junkie using foundation from her favorite makeup line. I’ve used MAC foundations in the past – Select SPF 15 and Select Tint 15 – and they just don’t work for me. They’re too yellow and they break me out. Select SPF 15 gave me cystic acne along my jawline, which took almost a year to get rid of, and Select Tint felt heavy and oily on my skin. You can see why I don’t like to go there any more.

What happened during my last failed Foundation Quest attempt
The last time I bought foundation was during a trip to Disneyland in August, when I went makeup crazy at the Sephora in Downtown Disney because they carried the Paul & Joe line. The Sephora closest to me in SF doesn’t carry Paul & Joe, and I was totally suckered in by the cute packaging. The Sephora makeup artist matched me with Protective Fluid Foundation in the 05 Fonce color, which I happily purchased along with the Protective Foundation Primer SPF 30. When I made it back home after the trip and tried out the products, I was really disappointed because the primer cast an ashy tint on my skin and the foundation was too yellow in natural light. I don’t know what happened – I think my need to believe that this foundation was THE ONE sent me into a Paul & Joe makeup induced trance! I threw the products into the Makeup-I’ll-Never-Use-Pile and decided to do more research when the itch to go on Foundation Quest hit again.

Makeup artist tips I found digging around the web
This time around I did a bit more preliminary research. I found that many makeup artists suggest that you should try to get away with as sheer coverage as possible, and the formula you choose should vary with your skin type and age. I knew I wanted to find a sheer-to-medium formula that I could build up for more coverage if I had to take pictures. After some more digging, I zeroed in on two lines: Georgio Armani and Laura Mercier. Since there isn’t a Georgio Armani counter nearby, I decided to head up to the Nordstrom’s in Corte Madera to hit the Laura Mercier counter.

I was really interested in trying Laura Mercier’s Oil-Free Foundation because a few years ago it was rated as one of InStyle’s beauty favorites. And after checking out the website, I became really excited about the type of makeup looks that were shown. The makeup pictures showed pretty, sophisticated and modern makeup – great looking skin, with tasteful use of color on the eyes, lips and cheeks. It wasn’t as basic as Bobbi Brown (which bores me) yet not as “out there” as MAC can be sometimes.


A Look From Laura Mercier Eyes Wide Collection


A Look From Laura Mercier Starstruck Collection

What’s the big deal with Laura Mercier foundation

Laura Mercier pioneered the look of the “Flawless Face,” which uses multiple products to create the look of beautiful skin. So what is the Laura Mercier flawless face? The website says:

Laura Mercier believes that a beautiful look begins with great looking skin, and has developed key products for the face that allows every woman to achieve an incredibly even, smooth – yet natural-looking complexion.

“Before applying any colour, I always create a fresh canvas – a flawless finish. Making your skin look perfect is the first and most important thing you can do to achieve a truly great look. The key is to enhance your natural beauty – whether you use all products together one day, or just a little Secret Camouflage and Setting Powder when you are on the go.”
– Laura Mercier

These are the products that her line uses to get this look:

Step 1: Foundation Primer
Step 2: Foundation
Step 3: Secret Brightener
Step 4: Concealers
Step 5: Secret brightening Powder
Step 6: Setting Powder
Step 7: Secret Finish

Well, I know myself pretty well and I there’s no way for me to have enough time in the day to do all of these steps, so I decided to go try the foundation primer, foundation and the powder.

What my counter visit was like and my plan of attack
I got to the counter early on a Thursday, wearing minimal eye makeup (filled in brows and concealer) and nothing else. My plan this time around was to tell the salesperson up front what my foundation problems were: nothing too yellow, too heavy or too dark.

What happens when the makeup artist hasn’t had coffee or sleep
I should’ve been alarmed when I realized that I might’ve caught the makeup artist at a bad time. She was very helpful, but was acting forgetful (and slightly crazy), like her coffee hadn’t kicked in or she didn’t have enough sleep. I know how it feels to be ambushed by clients first thing in the morning before your caffeine starts working its magic, so honestly, so I didn’t think it was a big deal – I thought she nice, but a little out of it.

I told her I wanted to try the Oil Free formulation, and immediately she tried to talk me out of it and said that the Silk Crème formula was the best foundation that they had. The Silk Crème formula comes in a tube. The consistency of the foundation is like a mousse (looks almost like you could eat it!) than a cream. It’s easy to blend, contains no SPF (which is good for picture taking) and offers sheer-to-heavy coverage, depending on how you apply it. She put the color Hazelnut Beige on my chin and had me go to the entrance doors to check out the color in the natural light. I felt like the formula was really great but the color was just slightly off. Because Hazelnut Beige was the darkest Silk Crème formula available, she then pulled out some of the Oil-Free colors, which has a wider selection of colors.


Silk Creme Foundation


Oil Free Foundation


Oil Free Foundation Primer

She cleaned off my face again and added foundation primer, which smelled good and felt cooling on my skin. Laura Mercier makes three versions of the Foundation Primer, Regular, Oil-Free and Hydrating. Foundation primer helps to smooth out your skin so that the foundation adheres to a smooth surface to give your foundation a more finished, even look.

The MA put on the Regular version of the primer on my face, and I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the formula I wanted to buy until I looked closely at the tube, so I made a point to tell her that I wanted to purchase the Oil-Free version. “Oh sure, okay,” she replied.

She then pulled out three Oil-Free colors and proceeded to put the wrong color foundation on my face. I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but she was halfway done when she stopped and stepped back and said, “Opps, that’s my fault. I put the wrong color on you.” She wiped it all off and we started all over again. She then put on what I think might have been Suntan Beige (it was all a blur of beige foundation stimulus), using a wet sponge to work the foundation into the skin.

(Side note: I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining about experience but honestly I think the MA was really nice but just really spaced out.)


Translucent Setting Powder

She then finished with Translucent Setting Powder and applied all over my face it with a large, soft puff in a slight rolling motion. The powder is made out of “Fine French Cashmere Talc,” she explained and is colorless because Laura Mercier believes that the color should come from the foundation, not from powder. I love powders, but I’m not usually a fan of translucent powders, because on me they rarely are translucent, and deposit a white/grey cast on my skin.

But when she had me check out the results in the natural light my previous ideas about translucent powders changed because my skin looked great. This powder gives a soft-focus quality to my skin and I didn’t notice a grey cast at all. Plus, the color of the foundation looked just right. I happily handed over my credit card and then went skipping off with what I thought was the Oil-Free Foundation Primer, the Oil-Free Foundation, the Translucent Setting Powder and a sample of the Silk Crème Foundation in Hazelnut Beige (I liked the formulation so much wanted to try the color again in other light situations.) When I got in the car I checked out the results in the rearview mirror was really happy.

What happened when I got home

Immediately when I got home I took a picture:


Me wearing the Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Foundation and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

After I took this pic I opened up my Nordstrom bag to open up my goodies and realized that she had totally given me the wrong products. I ended up with the Regular version of the Foundation Primer and an Oil-Free Foundation that was at least 2 shades to light for me. I thought, hmmm… well, maybe this is the color that she intended to give me. I had to rush off to work, so I didn’t really think about it again until I checked my makeup at the end of the day. The color she put on me changed – it looked like it was darker than it was in the morning, and there was a significant difference between the color of my face and the color of my neck. I wasn’t as sold on it as I was earlier in the day.

Later on that night I tried the lighter color to see if it was indeed the color she intended to give me. The texture made it hard to blend and work with. It has a gel-like consistency, and you really have to work it in with a damp sponge to get it to blend. Just for fun I built it up see if it still looked good with heavier coverage. When I saw the results in the mirror I knew that she had definitely given me the wrong color – my skin looked ashy and grey. Sigh. Well, it’s a good thing I like to go to the mall, because I didn’t really mind going back to return the stuff.

What happened upon my return
When I returned the next morning there was another makeup artist there, and she took one look at the color of the foundation and said, “Uh, this is the wrong color. The makeup artist you worked with yesterday is really good – I can’t imagine her giving you this color on purpose. Did she mix it with another color? Or add a bronzer? There’s no way that this is your color.”

She kept asking me what color I may have originally been matched with and for the life of me I couldn’t remember. After trying two more Oil-Free shades – Golden Beige (too yellow and light) and Sunset Beige (too dark) she convinced me to try the Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. She matched me with Almond shade. When I looked at the color in the natural light it looked pretty good, and she said that if I wanted lighter coverage I could apply it with a dry sponge and if I wanted to build up the coverage I could use my fingers. At least it will be easier to work than the Oil Free, and on days when I’m in a hurry I can just slap a quick layer on. I ended up getting the Almond Shade and a tube of the Oil-Free Foundation Primer, and I took this picture when I got home:


Me wearing Oil-Free Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Week-long test
This week I tried both the Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer in Almond and the Silk Crème sample in Hazelnut Beige on alternating days. The Tinted Moisturizer is really easy to get to apply – I used both the MAC 190 Foundation brush and Rite Aid makeup wedges. After, I used my MAC 180 Buffer Brush to apply the Translucent setting powder.

Pros and cons of the Tinted Moisturizer

I’ve noticed that if I put too much TM on my skin, the products start to feel too heavy on my skin after a few hours. I also still feel like Almond shade is a touch too dark and too pink when I build it up. It’s probably not currently noticeable to anyone else but me (in fact, I got a few complements this weekend from friends), but I’m still not 100% sold on it. I’m going to keep trying it for the next few days, to see if it breaks me out and if I can master the application so that it doesn’t feel heavy on my skin. If my skin stays clear may just keep the Almond for summer, when I tend to get more tan because when I’m running around outside.

Pros and cons of the Silk Crème Foundation
I was really surprised to find that I liked the Silk Crème Foundaiton. I initially thought the coverage would be too heavy, but it goes on surprisingly sheer with a wet sponge, and looks really natural. It doesn’t contain any sunscreen, which is actually a plus for me – I currently don’t own a foundation that is appropriate for picture taking, and foundations without sunscreen (Titanium Dioxide) are supposed to be better for photos because they don’t leave a white cast on your skin. Turns out the Silk Crème is closer to my skin tone than I initially thought and I liked how it seemed to cover just enough to even out my color – it also doesn’t feel heavy after a few hours. I’m going to keep trying the sample out for the next few days and if I like still like it when I finish I might also buy a tube!

What I think about the products so far
All in all, despite all of the confusion with the mixed-up products I like this line so far. I like the colors and the textures of the products and they seem to be high quality. And I haven’t broken out (knock on wood), which is a plus. I have realized that I probably won’t ever find a color that will match my skin absolutely perfectly, but I can get pretty close.

Laura Mercier makeup event on Friday!


Laura Mercier Peaches and Creme Collection

This Friday, I’ll get to try more Laura Mercier products because I signed up for a free makeup lesson with a “Laura Mercier Specially Trained Premier Artist.” Laura Mercier is releasing new products under the “Peaches and Crème” line, which includes two new Stickgloss shades, one Crème Cheek Colour and a new Peach Mosaic Shimmer Block. I’ve never tried any of these, but I’m especially looking forward to the Stickgloss and the Crème Cheek Color. I’ll probably pick up the tube of Silk Crème foundation then, and probably with a few more goodies. I can’t wait!

Posted in Laura Mercier Makeup, Makeup, Product Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Garnier Skin Products Finally In The U.S.

Posted by Karen on March 22, 2007

Garnier Regenerating Eye Moisturizer

Garnier Purifying Wet Cleansing Cloths

I was wandering around Long’s yesterday and found that Garnier has some new skin products available for the face. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m going to pick up the Regenerating Eye Moisturizer and the Purifying Wet Cleansing Cloths when my next paycheck comes in. I’m really excited that Garnier has finally released some skin products here. I went to England in 2005 and while I was in a Boot’s store I randomly purchased a bottle of Garnier’s Body Cocoon Lotion, which isn’t available in the US. I kid you not – it was possibly the best lotion I’ve ever tried . It smelled light, absorbed easily and provided excellent moisture. I hope that they roll out body products in the future. I’ve been jonesing for this lotion for two years!!!

Garnier’s Body Cocoon – Possibly The Most Awesome Lotion Ever

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Drug Store Skin Care – Queen Helen Mint Julep Masque

Posted by Karen on March 15, 2007

Queen Helen Mint Julep Masque

Product: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque
Use: To exfoliate or purify acne-prone skin
Price: About $3.50 for an 8oz tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A+++++++++++

Before I started writing this entry I slathered on a thick layer of this green, minty, clay mask and as I’m waiting for it to dry I can feel all of the gunk being sucked out of my pores. This really is the raddest mask ever, and it’s a must-have in any acne-prone person’s routine.

What it does
The tube says that Mint Julep Masque “helps dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads, and shrink enlarged pores.” And for once, I think the marketing folks weren’t just trying to sell hope in a jar (or tube), because this stuff works. Granted, I didn’t witness any miraculous skin revelation after using this once – I’ve had this in my skin routine for about two years, and I think with consistent use this product really helps to keep my skin clear. As the mask dries I can feel my skin tightening up and after I wash it off I can see all of the whiteheads that are brought to the surface. Gross, I know, but strangely fascinating.

How I use it
I use this mask once a week, right after I get out of the shower when my pores are opened up. I slather on a thick, even amount and avoid the eye area. Then I walk around the house with the scary green mask and try to scare my husband or any other person in the vicinity, ha ha ha! Actually, I’ll let the mask dry as I do other stuff like put on lotion, iron clothes, etc., and after 15-20 minutes I rinse it off with just water and follow up with a toner.

While this mask is great for oily and acne-prone faces, it might be too harsh if you tend to dry out easily. Also, the packaging is not cute at all. And I’ve noticed that if I have a tube for a few months, the mask consistency gets thicker and harder to manipulate out of the tube.


Still, you can’t be the cheap price and the effectiveness of this product for acne-control. I’ve shelled out many dollars for high-end at-home masks from Dermalogica, DDF and other brands and nothing compares to this stuff. Try it, use it, love it!

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MAC Select Moisturecover Review – The Search For The Perfect Concealer Continues

Posted by Karen on March 13, 2007

Mac Select Moisturecover Concealer

Product: MAC Select Moisturecover concealer in NW 25
Use: To cover dark circles
Price: $15.50 for a tube
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B

This weekend I finally picked up some MAC concealer – Select Moisturecover in NW 25.

Select Moisturecover is the latest addition to my concealer arsenal. I’m a concealer junkie, and currently I’m rotating Make Up Forever’s Lift Concealer in Dark Beige 2 with Biotherm’s Forget It Concealer in 30.

I decided to try using a pink-toned concealer because at the MAC seminar I attended a few weeks ago, the instructor told us that most people (even those with yellow undertones) should wear a pink-based concealer underneath their eyes. Also, in this month’s Allure there’s a brief feature on Bobbi Brown, and she suggests wearing a pink-based concealer underneath a yellow-based concealer.

I really like the color of Select Moisturecover concealer on my skin. I was afraid that the pink tones would make it look obvious, but the pink tones really seem to cancel out the dark circles. It has a good consistency – not too thick, not too thin – and I like the doe foot applicator. Plus, when I blend it in with the 252 Large Shader Brush it looks great!

However, the looking great part doesn’t seem to last long. Unlike Biotherm or Make Up Forever’s concealers, which don’t budge and can last throughout a sweaty dance class, within a few hours I Select Moisturecover starts to slip off my face. Ugh! My concealer quest continues.

The fact that I can make it work when I layer one of my other concealers over it saves this concealer from a lower rating. I plan on keeping it because I like the color so much.

If your skin isn’t as oily as mine you might really like this concealer. And if you’ve got dark circles then you might want to try a pink-toned concealer, I think it really works wonders.

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Garnier Nutrisse Product Review Plus Tips For At-Home Hair Color

Posted by Karen on March 8, 2007


Product: Garnier Nutrisse Permanent Color
Use: At home color to change your current color or cover up grays
Price: about $7.00 for a one application box
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A

I can justify spending $75 on a haircut because I have naturally wavy hair that’s really hard to tame – I’ve had so many bad haircuts resulting in everything from the poofy mushroom to the rats nest look – so I never skimp on getting a good haircuts.

Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I was also willing to spend money on salon color. I went through all sorts of hair color phases, changing my naturally brown-black hair with red highlights, light brown and blonde highlights. It’s so much fun to change your hair color, but now that I’m living on a writer’s paycheck it’s really hard to part with $120 every three months to get those roots done, especially when the do-it-yourself color boxes at the store are $7.00.

During my year of living cheaply (wait, what am I talking about, I’m still living cheaply) I gave up getting my hair colored at the salon. I was a little nervous about doing it at first because the last time I did at-home hair color was in high school. I mean, what if my hair turned orange? Or what if I accidentally fried it somehow and it started breaking off? Or what if I ended up with scary too-dark Halloween hair that looked like an Elvira-Mistress-Of-The-Night wig? The mishap possibilities were endless.

I wish I could say that it all went perfectly from the get-go, but I can’t. Like with any new skill, I made a few mistakes along the way but thank god it didn’t really result in anything too horrific. One time I started from the roots because I got really freaked out about seeing gray hairs at the front of my head, so I piled on globs of dye on the roots like a crazy person and I ended up with light roots and dark ends. And another time I used a too-dark color that I left in too long which resulted in scary dark Elvira-Halloween hair for about a week until most of the color washed out. But in the grand scheme of things, these mistakes weren’t *that* bad. They weren’t noticeable to the majority of bystanders, unless I pointed it out (which of course I didn’t).

Now I color my hair every month, and it’s as easy as pie. I use Garnier Fructis Permanent Hair color. The smell is pretty strong, but in comparison to other at-home dyes it’s not bad. It also doesn’t dry my hair out, which is one thing I hated most about Feria, the dye I used in high school. If you have dark hair like me and want to go a few shades lighter, Garnier is a good choice, because it does a pretty good job of lifting your hair color a few shades.

Here what I do to make at home hair color work for me:

    1. I wash my hair in the morning with a clarifying shampoo. Right now I use Alberto VO5 Kiwi and Lime Squeeze shampoo. It’s cheap and gets the gunk out. I use a lot of gel so I shampoo twice to get my hair squeaky clean and don’t put any conditioner afterwards.

    2. I then let my hair air dry during the day so that I can dye my hair in the evening.

    3. When it’s time to dye, I put on an old t-shirt and sweatpants so I don’t ruin any nice clothing. I also grab an old wash cloth and wet it. I use this to immediately wipe any dye that accidentally gets on my face or my neck. I don’t have to use this as much now, because I’m getting less messy with practice.

    4. Garnier gives an estimated time of how long you should leave the color in. I start the clock the moment I being the coloring process. If the box says 35 minutes, then I take into account total dye time from start to finish. I do not dye my hair and then wait for 35 minutes – the one time I did the color ended up being too dark, which resulted in the Elvira-Halloween hair mishap. Ugh!

    5. If I’m using a new color, I always start from the ends and put the color on the roots last.

    6. I never pile the hair on top of my head while I’m coloring. I just let it hang down (hence the wearing of the crappy t-shirt).

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Product Review – Drugstore Mascara

Posted by Karen on March 6, 2007

I know some people who will only use a certain brand for all of their makeup products, but I like to use a mix of high-end and drugstore makeup. I’m really picky about what products I spend my money on, so while I’m willing to pay more for products like powders, concealers and brushes, I’ll spend less on things like blushes, cleansers and lipliner. Ultimately whatever products are worth my hard-earned cash do the same three things: perform well for the price, complement my coloring and don’t break me out.

One makeup staple that I usually don’t spend a lot of money on is mascara. The shelf life of a tube of mascara after it’s opened is three months, so if you’re good about replacing it every three months, that’s four tubes a year at the minimum. And if you buy your mascara from Sephora or from the makeup counter chances are you’re spending from $20-40 a pop – that’s $80 worth of mascara every year, ya’ll!

Besides its short life span, another reason I don’t spend lots of money on mascara is that even though I’ve tried several high-end mascaras by Dior, MAC, Bourjois, Lancome and Clinique (just to name a few), I’ve still yet to find one that I think is worth paying a lot of money for because drugstore mascaras work just as well. (Sidenote: This weekend I’m going to pick up a tube of Benefit’s Bad Gal lash in blue, so we’ll see if that statement changes.)

The closest I’ve ever come to high-end mascara nirvana is Diorshow, but it’s $23 and I think Max Factor’s 2000 Calorie mascara works just as well (if better) for only $6.00.

In fact, my two current favorite drugstore mascaras are all by Max Factor: 2000 Calorie and Stretch & Separate. Each provides a different look and great performance for the price. Color selection is somewhat limited, so if you like crazy colors then they might not be your cup o’tea.
Product: Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara Straight Brush in Rich Black
Use: Volume
Price: about $6.00
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A+

This mascara is my everyday, go-to mascara, and it SERIOUSLY. ROCKS. MY. WORLD. It thickens the lashes without clumping, and two coats make a dramatic difference without looking spidery. This performs similar to Diorshow, except that it’s even better than Diorshow because it doesn’t smudge. It comes in four colors: Rich Black, Soft Black, Black Brown and Deep Auburn. ROCKS!

Product: Max Factor Stretch & Separate Mascara in Deep Blue and in Rich Black
Use: Length
Price: about $6.00
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: Deep Blue – B+, Rich Black – A-

The marketing people weren’t messing around when they named this mascara; it indeed lengthens and separates very well, and does so without clumping or smudging. Whenever I wear this mascara I feel like a 40s film star because it makes my lashes super long. This would get an A but the blue isn’t really that blue. It shows up as black on me. Also, my lashes aren’t super thick, and this formula doesn’t provide enough volume. If you have really thick lashes then you might really love this. Comes in: Rich Black, Deep Blue, Soft Black and Black Brown.

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