Tuesday, February 13, 2018

$20 Gets You What? Say Hello to Milani's Most Loved Mattes & Bold Obsessions Palettes

Sorry, Wet 'n Wild. Your buzzed about relaunch of your shadows has been dethrowned by a stealthy release. The first time the brand teased this release was January 17, having only been beaten by Reddit by one week and bloggers first mentioning it on January 15. By contrast, we've all heard about the Coloricon reboot for months.

These palettes retail for $20 each on the Milani website, but I picked mine up in-store at Walmart for $14.97 each. I haven't spotted these at local CVS or Walgreens stores that carry the line. None of my local Targets carry Milani in-store, so I can't speak to availability there. Ulta likewise isn't carrying these as of the drafting of this post.

These come in a box that looks high-end. That's the start of the luxe feel. I think these are priced perfectly although they're high for the drugstore. The box and the palettes themselves are a reflective gold- which, as you know, is a bear to photograph.

These honestly look like Stila palettes. However, I'll readily credit Reddit's detectives for researching that these are the same formula as the brand's existing small palettes.

That $20 nets you 12 1g pans (or, 0.04oz if you prefer). These do contain carmine, meaning that they're not vegan-friendly, but the brand is cruelty free (cross-checked with three sources I trust).

There are two palettes in this release- 01 Must Loved Mattes and 02 Bold Obsessions. Let's go in order, shall we?

Must Loved Mattes comes with the tag "a matte color for every mood." I'd say ok, but only if you're looking for a rosy/nude look!

This is the top of the palette- they're simple, chic, and easy to tell apart. Full information and shades are on the bottom:

From daytime to playtime? I like this theme. Now, let's take a look inside.

That's beautiful and perfectly on-trend. I can see this being a go-to, a palette I eventually pan. Daytime is brown, anytime is mauve and plum, and playtime is rich warm oranges.

To show swatches, I've done top two rows together and bottom two rows together. Let's look at the first two rows:

And the bottom two rows:

I really love this as a base palette. These mattes last all day and blend out well (as opposed to other palettes I've been testing... yes, that's shade. You'll see what I'm shading soon).

I don't have a full eye to show you, but these looked awesome after 13 hours. Bravo!

Now, the other palette- 02 Bold Obsessions.

This is the first one that I picked up of the two- and the palette that prompted me to pick up the other.

Same beautiful packing, same luxe feel.

Now, unlike the other palette, this palette has more than one finish.

That's a mix of mattes, satins, shimmers, and metallics. I think I recognize some of these shades from Milani's classic line (and why I'm decluttering most of the classic palettes in favor of these two).

I've been reaching for these quite often- let's go to the swatches.

Rows 1-2:

Rows 3-4:

Admittedly, I usually foil the shadow going on my lid- those swatches are all dry.

This palette, despite being called bold, can be used for some muted looks:

Side note: only thing not drugstore there is my liner (Inglot). The drugstore has come a long way. And that one rogue brow hair is driving me nuts.

I didn't photograph a bunch of looks due to the lighting challenges I'm up against (winter + leaving before sunrise + crappy weather = bad reflectivity).

Here's the deal on these- they're totally worth it. I can do bold looks, or I can do subtle work looks. I'm a little sad that these aren't a new formula, because I should've been using my palettes all along. Since I'm trying to streamline, these are likely to be the two Milani palettes that remain in my collection- I can do most looks that I want out of them.

I tested these over the course of multiple days using the Smashbox lid primer, not even the Milani primer (which I like and it's great). I think they're great for a more natural look that can be bumped up at the end of a workday for drinks and dinner. They blend well, and the shimmers foil wonderfully. I can see these ending up in my "to pan" pile- and that says a lot.

I know they're expensive, but they're fantastic. They're well worth the investment.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer

I know, another drugstore concealer. I've been testing a few of them, especially since I'm looking to make a few changes in my routine.

Say hello to the most recent viral sensation, Makeup Revolution's Conceal and Define Concealer ($7, Ulta). Call it exceptional timing with other brands that we won't mention setting fire to their own empires, but customers were on the hunt for a good, inexpensive replacement with an inclusive shade range.

There are 18 shades in the range, which promises full coverage and long wear. For your $7, you receive 0.11fl oz of product.

I really love this large doefoot- it does call to mind the high end product they're coming for with their advertising (and admittedly the product I'm having issues with supporting right now). I've been testing a few new concealers and have come to the conclusion that I like the oversized doefoots, especially since I'm usually getting ready pre-dawn. Every second matters.

I picked up two of the shades on launch day from Ulta.com: C1-fair skin, neutral undertone, C3- fair skin, pink undertone.

I'll readily admit that I expected for C1 to be my shade, but at $7 I was willing to take a chance. This time of year I'm NW13.

Yup, C1 for me.

Now, let's do a quick comparison to a bunch of fair concealers in my stash so you can see where these fit in.

It's not as light as Tarte Fair/NARS Chantilly (they're very close in color, it's a formula preference to be honest, and I'm trying very hard to get back into the NARS), but it's a nice natural looking undereye.

Now, let's talk about the wear. I didn't photograph it in-use, but the fact that I've been wearing it every single day under my eyes since I got it should tell you what I think. This performs all day, doesn't crease that much (at my age, everything's starting to crease, and my undereyes were still rehabbing from the damage from the Maybelline Fit Me. Check out last week's post for details.), and is overall a nice concealer. It's more full-coverage than the Smashbox, which is what I had been testing for most of January.

Bottom Line: At $7, you really do need to try this out. It's already one of my favorites in my expansive collection, and it holds serve against high end favorites. I'm sold.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer Shade Extension 05 Ivory

Fit Me Concealer.

Those are three words that most beauty junkies know well, and hold their tubes near and dear. Sadly, the shade range has been pitiful and even your QBB has been unable to test it. The Fit Me Foundation (in the Matte and Poreless version) has probably the most inclusive shade range in the drugstore... but the concealer? Lacking.

We first got inkling of a shade extension on the brand's Instagram at the beginning of the year, and I spotted the expanded range at my local Walmart when they redid the overall displays in January.

There are also two new darker shades in this release.

Finally, I got to play with the formula.

Now, I'm not totally new to the Fit Me formula; I played around with Shade 10 (the second lightest) last summer when I was really self-tanned and liked it. So, the idea of a Fit Me concealer that would work for me year-around? I was in.

I love that brands are starting to put their products in these blister packs. I'm able to buy with confidence that nobody has tampered with it.

The basics: Maybelline Fit Me concealer is a cream concealer with doe foot applicator, and retails for $6.58 for 0.23fl oz. I've yet to see the shade extension other than in-store at Walmart (and this is post-Walgreens reset that I'm writing this, but pre-CVS/Rite Aid).

Shade 05 Ivory is much, much lighter than Shade 10:

And, keeping it in the parent company family, here's how the lightest shade of Fit Me compares to the lightest L'Oreal Pro Glow:

What a freaking joke, L'Oreal. In what universe is that Classic Ivory?

I reference the L'Oreal Pro Glow for a specific reason that arose during testing.

I remember liking the Fit Me formula. I need to do some research to see if it's been reformulated because my reaction was completely different. The coverage is beautiful and I loved how it looked under my eyes. However, I developed serious sensitivity and a possible reaction after using it for two days in a row similar to what some users have reported with the L'Oreal Pro Glow. It felt like my sensitive undereye skin had been burned; I ended up dabbing aloe where the concealer had been.

So, the shade range is getting better. But for a reaction to the formula, this is a hard pass (and why I wouldn't put it back on my eyes for photography- it's just not worth it.).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January 2018 Favorites & Empties Recap

It's been a couple of months since I've done a monthly favorites post. While this will be considered January's favorites and fails, this is really more like a "mid-Winter favorites" edition.

First, a quick note about my utter failure of the brand focus for January. You'll see the best of the best reflected here, but the concept is one I'm not loving. It turns out that the brand that I picked for January (Smashbox) doesn't excite me. I found a few new loves, but my new favorite product out of the bunch was a CCO pick which is discontinued.

Primers, Foundations, and Concealers:

1- Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer (a new discovery), 2- Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Pore Minimizing (rivals Benefit's Porefessional), 3- L'Oreal Magic Perfecting Base (does the job that I hope someday soon injectibles will take over), 4- Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer (a lovely drugstore concealer I've been reaching for), 5- Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Waterproof Concealer (a fantastic discovery), 6- Guerlain L'Or Primer (is a HG, especially when paired with) 7- La Mer The Soft Fluid Foundation (I do love this, despite the price), 8- Kiko Skin Tone Concealer (is my favorite color corrector, sorry to see the local store closed), 9- Lancome Teint Idole Foundation (is too much on its own, but I've found an ideal mate in), 10- Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil (too much on its own but my new favorite mixing oil), 11- Too Faced Hangover Rx 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer and Setting Spray (perfect for winter), 12- Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer- Radiance (one of my new favorite discoveries, I just wish I didn't have so many radiance primers at the moment), 13- ColourPop No Filter Concealer (quite nice, just oxidizes a bit)


1- Maybelline Fit Me! Loose Finishing Powder 05 Fair (the raves were real), 2- CoverFx Illuminating Setting Powder (is part of my project pan but I do like it under my eyes as it turns out), 3- Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light (my HG undereye powder), 4- MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural (my new HG)

Bronzer, Contour, and Brows:

1- Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow (the bronzer is outstanding on my pale complexion), 2- MAC Studio Sculpt Defning Bronzing Powder in Delicates (a new cool-toned favorite), 3- ELF Brow Kit in Light (multitasker-- I use the pomade on my brows and love the powder as a contour), 4- Benefit Browvo! Conditioning Primer (is something I love when I'm using it but always forget to repurchase), 5- Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Whiz in Medium Brown (no words necessary)


1- Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow (has a lovely peach blush that leaves a healthy glow), 2- Smashbox Soft Lights in Prism (my absolute new favorite discovery and I'm gutted that the brand was foolish enough to discontinue it), 3- Physicians Formula Butter Blush in Plum Rose (a lovely nude blush only for fair complexions), 4- Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop (one of my all-time favorites), 5- Chantecaille Cheek Shade in Blush (it's back in the philanthropy collection!)


1- theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (I'm sadly very late to this party), 2- Laura Geller Baked Highlighter in French Vanilla (a true favorite), 3- NYX Love You So Mochi Arcade Glam (a shockingly wonderful new discovery)

Eye Primers, Liners, and Mascaras:

1- Too Faced Glitter Glue (my go-to for glitters and shimmers), 2- Smashbox 24 hour Shadow Primer & Photo Finish Lid Primer (a wonderful duo of primers- one new, one an old favorite- that I've been enjoying), 3- Inglot AMC Gel Eyeliners in 77 & 78 (love these eyeliners and have been loving a teeny wing lately), 4- NYX Slide On, Glide On Eyeliner in Jewel (love this on the lower lash line with pinky looks), 5- NYX Metallic Eyeliner in Rose Gold (a great new Spring 2018 release), 6- Anastasia Beverly Hills Darkside Eyeliner (how did I ever live without this?), 7- Anastasia Beverly Hills Metallic Luster Liners in Liquid Silver and Liquid Gold (so lovely to use on a daily basis), 8- Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer (my favorite lash primer to date), 9-Chanel Le Volume Mascara in Ultra Black (I'm so sorry to see my final tube done and gone. I love this so much)

Eyeshadow Palettes:

1- NARS Wanted Palette (Admittedly, this was an impulse purchase but the roses and pinks just called my name. Look for a full review from me soon), 2- LORAC California Dreaming Palette (this is new to me- I put it away, unused when I was able to nab it on sale. This seemed to be the perfect month to pull it out, and I'm thrilled), 3- NYX Love You So Mochi Palettes (these are the shocker of the spring for me so far. So, so good!), 4- Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette (I've been feeling rosy looks, so this came out to join the mix)


1- NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anita (I was on a pinky nude kick this month and happy to pull this old favorite out), 2- Clinique Pop Lip Color- Nude Pop (this is in promo packaging but this is a lovely nude for daily wear), 3- Shea Moisture Luscious Lipstick in Tea Rose (one of my all-time cool-toned MLBB favorites), 4- Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Primrose (my best discovery of the month), 5- Butter London Sheer Wisdom Lip Oils (Ballet Blush pictured but several shades are stunning), 6- By Terry Baume de Rose (any version- I used the original potted, original gloss, and tinted glosses), 7- Hourglass GIRL Stylo in Creator (another lovely pink), 8- NYX Butter Lipstick in Root Beer Float (my favorite discovery from the Holiday 2017 kit), 9- bareMinerals GenNude Liquid Lipsticks in Smooch and Slay (my two favorite shades of the line, this shows the types of colors I'm into this time of year), 10- NudeStix Intense Matte Lip & Cheek Pencil in Belle (finally, a great discovery from the Macy's box!), 11- Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Babe Alert (my favorite of the line), 12- Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow (this ended up on my lips just about every day. I'm obsessed)

Now, a quick note on my empties. I've been tracking my personal Project Pan on Instagram, but here's some analysis on the regular products I've used up- and the dollar value.

This didn't include any decluttered items, so it's shocking to see my monthly total over $900. I've decided to track these stats this year with the hopes of making my future spending conform with it. I know the bath/body will diminish once it gets warmer.

What have you loved or used up?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday Dreaming: Drugstore Edition

It's been quite awhile since I've done one of these, and since I've been buying a lot of drugstore makeup as of late (I actually made a Walmart run for something from Milani this morning), my mind's on the drugstore.

It's also on Natasha Denona, but Sephora's inability to manage their in-store stock has left me ticked off and empty-handed.

Here's what's next up on my drugstore wish list! Please note, I'm more than aware of the new Wet 'n Wild shadows, brow pencils, and liners. hint hint keep your eyes out. At least a swatch post of one of the new lines this week.

1. Milani Jet Set Eye Brush Kit ($11.97-14)

I noticed a lot of new brushes from Milani. I'm interested, but they're pricey. This mini eye trio seems like a better way to test the brand than a single $11-15 brush from the drugstore.

2. Almay Palette Pop in Naturalista ($14.99)

I know, I'm not really an Almay girl. I have an issue with their shade range, but have been dabbling with a few shadow products as of late. This is the more natural of the two; I'm testing the bolder of the two right now and was surprised. I think this is super expensive but will be keeping an eye on it.

3. Almay Shadow Squad Quad in Unapologetic ($4.99-6.99)

I picked up two of these already and find the performance to be uneven- but I have a theory.Picking up coppery Unapologetic or the turquoise quad will probably confirm what I'm thinking... this is a quad I'm far more likely to wear after the fact!

4. L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Golden Emerald ($6.29-7.49)

I almost picked this up today but kept focused on the Milani palette I ventured out in the gross weather for. This is so brilliant in person, and I love these shadows. I need to use them more. Hmm.

5. L'Oreal Infallible Crushed Foils Eyeshadow ($9.99)

Raise your hand if you knew this was a thing. Also, that's a silly price. I ran into this collection at a Walmart about 20 miles from my home (I was on an Ulta hunt for a specific NARS item with my 20% coupon, ok?) and was drawn in. I'm really interested in trying one of these for the formula. There are three versions- Diamond Dust, Crushed Stone, and Gilded Gold (pictured above).

6. Wet 'n Wild Megalast Liquid Catsuit Liquid Eyeshadow ($4.99)

Yes. They're back. I can't believe I haven't picked them up by now, but some changes in my Ulta life (post to come probably in March as I reflect on things) will probably make this an easier item for me to purchase. I loved these and raved about them before, now I'll be picking up the neutrals. My favorite, Shells and Whistles, is what's pictured above.

7. BH Cosmetics Spotlight Palette ($17.99)

Ooh, she's pricey and I know I could get a better deal from the brand directly. Still, I'm loyal to Ulta (those rewards. QBB wants a Dyson!) and will be picking this up shortly now that it's available.

8. BH Cosmetics Blacklight Palette ($17.99)

Same story, second verse. I'm curious, ok?

9. Essence Fresh & Fit Make Me Up ($6.99)

I'll say it: the shade range is trash. Essence and Catrice are connected- either the same parent, or one owns the other... it's some relationship. I know I like the Catrice bases (another range with horrid shade selection), so I'm very curious to try this.

10. NYX Epic Ink Liner ($7.99)

I could kick myself for not picking this up when I had a point multiplier on it... but soon this will be mine since I'm getting down there on the number of black liners I have in reserve.

And yes, I'm looking forward to playing with Flower Beauty now that it's in Ulta. And the new Essence custom palettes... but I'm one girl and this is already ten items!  So yes, I love high end products... but the drugstore has been surprising me in a good way as of late.

What's on your drugstore list?

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Shampoo & Foam Conditioner in Blue Ginger & Micellar Water

Today's post is different than the norm for a few reasons. First, a big disclosure: I did not pay for these products, they were sent to me in exchange for an honest review by the company- via Influenster. So, thank you Influenster for including me in the Herbal Essences Voxbox. (As an aside, Influenster is fabulous and open to all to sign up!)

I will be posting a few new reviews soon, as well as some other posts- so if this isn't your cup of tea, stay tuned.

These products arrived on the perfect day- a hair washing day, two weeks out from a scheduled hair appointment. That means that my color isn't fresh, and I'm ready to test a new product.

There were two products in this box: the Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Refresh Blue Ginger and Micellar Water shampoo. Let's look at the claims. 0 dyes (great) 0 gluten (ok, cool but not something I look for in haircare), 0 parabens (cool) and 0 silicone (awesome).

This bottle contains 13.5 fl ounces and retails around the $5.99-$6.99 range since pricing varies per retailer.

I'll readily admit to my heart sinking when I saw the ingredient list. Take a look:

Ouch. So two sulfates and salt in the top four... all ingredients I don't like using on my hair. For the sake of the review- and knowing that my hair was going to get some TLC in two weeks- I forged ahead.

I forgot just how much sulfates make shampoos suds up. As I was testing it, I was flashing back to using Herbal Essences as a teen and how I'd beg my mother to pick up different ones at the local grocery store.

My hair felt pretty dry after using this before putting on conditioner- about what I expected. I wouldn't repurchase the shampoo on its own, but the conditioner made the overall testing experience worthwhile. I've also discontinued usage of the shampoo after giving it a generous three attempts (generous since it's been years since I've gone mostly sulfate-free!)

Now, the product I was more intrigued by: the foam conditioner.

The Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Refresh Blue Ginger and Micellar Water Foam Conditioner is again in that $6-8 range per retailer.

According to the brand, this product is specifically targeted at fine hair- something I've got. My hair is fine to normal but I've got a lot of it.

Look at the ingredients- I'm in for this one.

Be careful, this one squirts out fast. Admittedly I'm on a foam product kick, playing with foaming body washes, but this is a new one for me. It almost felt like a mousse.

Not only was this fun, but it took that squeaky dry (hello sulfates) feeling out of my hair that the shampoo imparted. I almost feel like the form of this conditioner helped out my hair in new ways. I'll admit that I normally have to dry my hair immediately and nearly sabotaged this review (or, at least the first trial since I'll always try a shampoo/conditioner at least three times before writing a review) by getting sidetracked because one of my favorite shows was back on and I got sucked in with a towel on my head.

Even if my hair could be straightened following some extended towel time, this usually means my hair is limp. Guess what? It wasn't- and I attribute this to the foam conditioner. I'll totally keep using this because it lacks any bad ingredients and I love the form.

I like the scent, even though it's one admittedly I wouldn't have picked up on my own. It's pleasant and light. I was scoping out other options at my local stores, which tells you I like it. I'm also curious about the dry shampoo because I'm a dry shampoo fiend.

All in all, I'm very grateful to Influenster and Herbal Essences for gifting me this set to try out. I honestly think this is a great pair. If my hair was used to some of the ingredients in the shampoo (like it was a few years ago), I think it has the potential to be a sulfate-using QBB shower staple. The scent is unique, fresh, and not overpowering. If you're not specifically avoiding those ingredients, I do recommend trying the pair out together. I wouldn't recommend the shampoo on its own because I found it drying- but the conditioner helped a ton. I will continue to use the conditioner, and may even try another scent.

It's very cool to see one of my old favorite lines continuing to innovate. And the conditioner? Holy cow that's innovative.

While yes, I did receive these to review, I hope that you'll see that I'm being honest about them. They are nice products, although one isn't suitable for my needs.

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.