Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Knepp Sweet Dreams Herbal Bath

Today I move away from the more traditional beauty-centric posts that I've done and into more of a holistic view of beauty.

I believe that the foundation of any skincare rounding are twin pillars: Sleep and Water. You could use the most expensive cream on Earth but won't have optimal results unless you're properly hydrated and getting your sleep.

Like anyone else with a stressful career, I struggle to get enough sleep during the week. Periodically, I make some lifestyle tweaks; some have been so successful that I can't wait to share them with you. My alarm rings between 4-4:30 every morning; getting as much sleep during the week is hard. Sometimes you just need a little help relaxing. I've been using a new-to-me hero product the past month or so and it has made an incredible difference in my life.

Knepp is a German company that produces high quality natural products. Although I was already a fan of the company's concentrated lavender bath oil, the Sweet Dreams Herbal Bath was a new discovery in late January. I can't remember where I first heard about it with its combo of Valerian and Hops, but I'm so glad that I did.

Each bath only requires one cap's worth of the blue liquid; it produces a Caribbean-blue water bath without bubbles. There's a pleasant but very earthy herbal scent due to the Hops. Per the bottle's directions, soak for 10-20 minutes in warm water and you'll be nice and relaxed- and headed to a great night's sleep. Per the bottle, expect to get around 10 baths per bottle (I'm going to get more).

If an idea of a nice, warm bath sounds like a good idea but you're a night showerer, let me share how I've incorporated it on nights that I wash my hair:

1. Pre-stage everything for the morning (make makeup decisions, pull products, pull clothes)
2. Remove makeup; cleanse face
3. Put on a rinse-off treatment mask
4. Draw bath
5. Soak
6. When bath has gone cold, shower quickly as water is draining (if you're un-fancy like me and have a combined tub/shower- the bath allows your hot water tank to refill). Wash hair, rinse off mask, etc.
7. Apply lotion, hair products, and skincare routine
8. Dry hair and put it up
9. Good Night!

It's my own little spa- my hair's starting to dry as I'm doing my nighttime skincare routine so drying time is much shorter. My skin's never looked better between the added sleep and the regular pampering time.

It's a reasonably-priced product; I picked mine up from Amazon. This is one product that I'll be keeping on hand- and gifting to friends who look like they could use a night's sleep!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

It's Not Easy Being Green: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Neutralizer

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to be bringing you a few of these green-themed posts today. First up, the most expensive per swipe green color corrector that I tried during my crazy testing: the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Neutralizer ($38, 0.08oz).

Price Index: $475/oz

First, it's not fair to compare this to most of the other items. Anyone familiar with YSL's famous Touche Eclat will understand what I'm saying. This has the same type of brush applicator as the non-color correcting items. With that comes a very thin formula.

Color-wise, this is a light mint with a distinct white base. It swatches more opaque than it wears:

It's one of the lightest in tone, which makes it perfect for my NW15 skin. However, it's a very light, emolient formula- like most products dispensed in a click pen.

The Wear Test: I knew as soon as I started playing with it that I wouldn't be maximizing this product's potential because of my needs for a heavy-duty redness reducer. I felt incredibly wasteful trying to cover as much of my skin as I needed to with such an expensive item. I was also indecisive- does one brush and blend with the applicator? Or brush, then blend with fingers? Or another brush?  I tried different techniques without a lot of great success.

I couldn't photograph it well because it was THAT thin.

One of the best parts of this one is that it didn't give my skin an overall green tint when blended, but I also questioned if I was blending it away. I was really disappointed with it for my purposes- it was way too sheer. However, I knew this going in with my Touche Eclat experiences in the past. Because I felt like it blended out so much to be effective for my needs, I hesitate to be too critical.

Bottom Line: This is by far and away the most expensive product per ounce. It's no wonder that it's meant for spot correcting rather than heavy-duty or large-area correction (my needs). I'll be looking at the other Neutralizers for spot correcting since the formula feels awesome- but I won't be repurchasing this one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's Not Easy Being Green: Cover FX Correct Click Color Corrector & Becca Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector

Much like Kermit the Frog said, it's really not easy being green. For the more than the past month, I've been testing a bevvy of green products on my face all in the name of color correction and science.

It also seemed like perfect timing to launch these posts right around St. Patrick's Day on Thursday.

I'm going to do something scary today: show you my uncorrected skin.  I've mentioned in many of my posts that I suffer from a mild case of rosacea. I've actually used it as a blush in the past with a thin foundation. I'm going to be honest: I have a lot of anxiety about this. I accept my skin, but given how cruel the internet has been to me and this site before, it is taking all of my courage to do this.

I remember early color correctors- large green concealer bullets. (I actually tested one of those just to be fair). I always loved the idea but hated the execution.

I'm thrilled that a bunch of companies have released lines of color correcting products new for Spring 2016 that join an already-robust offering of products. Please keep in mind that I'll be showing you Green products right now- meant for redness reducing for intense spots. Each of these brands are releasing products for brightening, dark spot reduction, sallowness reduction along with the redness reduction.

These posts have obviously been in the works and in testing for a very long time. I tested each one of these products for a minimum of three days, and with different foundation formulas during the trial period. One of the reasons why I wanted to create these posts, and ultimately a mega post is to compare different formulas side by side; although these are the green versions other correctors from the same collection are likely to share the same characteristics.

In order to cut down on post length, I'm going to do these one at a time- or in batches. First up, Cover FX's Correct Click Color Corrector.

 Cover FX Correct Click ($18, 0.19oz)

Price Index: $94.74/oz

My first thought upon opening this box was "is that it?" This is a very tiny little twist up stick-style color correcting stick. Here is it next to my deluxe mini Benefit Shy Beam Highlighter.

That said, it doesn't take a lot due to the consistency. It's a lighter green, and applies in a thin, even line:

This is very much a solid stick- think of it like a stick concealer on the dry end of the spectrum. I had to actually apply straight to my face so that my body heat could heat up the bullet enough to leave product where needed. With a stick/cream, you should be able to pick up product from the bullet with your brush and stiple it on. I couldn't do that with this one.

The Wear Test: I wasn't crazy about the stick format- I can easily see this tugging and breaking while awkwardly gliding over the skin. One would think that a solid concealer (vs a highly fluid form) would provide significantly fuller and long-lasting coverage, but that wasn't my experience here. It ended up being very light and patchy. It blended but left distinct lines as you can see in the photo. It lasted a paltry 8 hours or so; when I wasn't wearing a longwear, full coverage foundation I could see my cheeks getting redder as the day went on.

This is my first experience with this brand, and I'm left wanting more. I had high hopes for the reinvented stick corrector, but I'm left empty handed. 

Bottom Line: This is a pricey option based on the mini size of the item. This provides light coverage and blends pretty well with a light hand and good brush. I'd recommend this mainly for someone with light redness instead of a heavy-duty need. In all fairness, my skin was pretty darned angry when I was trying this one out so it was probably a rougher than average trial.

And on the other end of the spectrum, we have  Becca Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector ($30, 0.16oz), which can be picked up at Sephora.

In terms of portability, I adore this little cutie.

Price Index: $187.50/oz

This pot-based corrector was actually a bit tricky to track down, as it's sold only at Sephora (where it's been quite popular) and on Becca's website. This shade has been sold out on Sephora.com for awhile, and I tracked down the last one within 25 miles of me. Needless to say, this set me up for high expectations.

This cute little concealer pot comes in four colors, with the color name listed on the bottom:


Very cute and portable. There was one quirk- when I first opened it up, I saw this on the surface:

I'm not sure if that texture is intentional or not, but I didn't notice any texture issues once I started using it. I was a bit concerned when I ordered it, since it looked really dark. Turns out, I didn't have to worry about that.

I think I'm old school; there's something so nice and precise to be able to control the application with a concealer brush. That swatch took 2 passes to build up. I'm a believer that less is more, so I was already feeling good about this one. It's also very creamy- it reminds me of a great cream eyeshadow.

The Wear Test: I probably put this one through its paces more than any other corrector. Two of the three days I partook in Happy Hour- something which usually brings about red cheeks. Add in that I was on Hour #13 for the day upon arrival at Happy Hour, and it was set up for failure. Well, I'm thrilled to report that it didn't fail me! Even worse, on Day #3, I wore pink makeup. Becca's Corrector was up to the task.

In terms of application, I painted little lines on my face, then used my Sephora Collection Airbrush Concealer Brush to blend it out. It blended well and didn't leave a green or white cast to my face. It was up to the task for 12+ hours each day. The form allowed me total precision- something that I crave with my makeup. I went with a light hand partially to test the effect of this product- plus it's easier to photograph that way.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent corrector that blends out well. I subjected it to some of the worst conditions throughout the entire test period and it performed admirably. The only issues I have with it are accessibility (it was hard to find) and the price point. $30 for a pot of corrector is starting to feel pricey, but that might just be me. Ultimately, however, this was one of two products that irritated my skin so I'm left at the drawing board.

Monday, March 14, 2016

OPI New Orleans Collection S/S 2016: Show Us Your Tips

Today I have my lone selection from OPI's large Spring/Summer 2016 collection to share with you: Show Us Your Tips!

First a quick note- for those who hadn't noticed, OPI just had another price hike. We're now at $10 per bottle for the regular formula. It's not a lot, but somehow the double digit price barrier looms large.

Same classic, full-coverage brush as always:

Show Us Your Tips is a gorgeous cornflower/periwinkle shimmer. I found it to be the most unique in the collection. I've got 3 coats on my nails here:

This lasted about 3 days on my nails, and I'm extremely tough on my nails.

I passed on the rest of the collection (see it here) because, aside from the green (which isn't office-friendly), I felt that I probably had a dupe for just about all of the others.

OPI's collections are always a lot of fun- New Orleans is just the latest in a proud tradition of travel-themed hues. I bought mine at Ulta about a month ago- you should be able to find it everywhere.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Dreaming

Happy Sunday, Lovelies!

This post is a bit late because I'm literally posting it to go live as soon as I complete it. I'm normally a bit more organized than this, but work is kicking my tushie into shape as of late. Yesterday was my first day off in 13 days, and I was back at work today. I think it's something like 1 day off out of 26.

I don't think I'll get a MAC Monday up for tomorrow unless I find some pre-shot swatches somewhere. I'm testing something else today.

Here's a little bit of fun: I celebrated my first day off with my first blowout (which I'm testing right now), a bit of sleep, and a bit of shopping. There was 0 blogging in there, and work's been tiring me out so much that I'm now out of posts. Whoops. At one point, I was 10 days ahead. Now, not so much. So posts might be a bit light for a week or so. It's totally fun to have someone do your hair. Before going in for a few hours, I dropped in on yet another of the Sephora classes (I'll do a rundown one of these days since I've taken the contour, daytime smokey eye, eye contour, correct and conceal, nighttime smokey eye, and brow classes.).

So, back to the topic at hand: Sunday Dreaming. I did a bit of shopping yesterday but my wishlist, as always, continues to grow.

1. MAC Cool Neutral x 15 Palette, $65

I'm not sure why I've always passed these up without a second look. Upon purchasing the new MAC Nordstrom palette (yes, review to come once I actually test it), I fell totally in love with the Cool Neutrals palette. It's right up my alley. The next time I have a Nordstrom note, it's mine.

2. Chanel Eyes Speak Volumes Collection, $32-61

This launched online this past week, and I'm itching to swatch those Stylo Yeux Eyeshadows in particular. It's not yet at counters (I checked Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Saks, and Neiman Marcus), so keep your eyes peeled- no pun intended.

3.  Origins 'Maskimizer' Skin Optimizing Mask Primer, $22

OK, color me intrigued. I read about this in Allure and the idea of a mask primer seems ridiculously over-the-top and unnecessary. Yet I want to try this so badly that it's not even funny. Perhaps this is the first item on my list for the inevitable Sephora sale this spring- that is, if Sephora bothers to send me access to it (My last email from them was Valentine's Day 2014, when I re-qualified for VIB Rouge. I've reported it no less than 30 times with 0 resolution.)

4. Marc Jacobs Fragrance Splashes- $62 each

AAAHHHH!!! They're back!!!! I'm not very happy with the major reduction in size, but everyone who loved the Splashes the first time around understands my joy. I always wanted to try the Rain version, and loved Pear (it was a tossup as to whether Pear or Fig was my alltime fave).

5. Sunnylife Flamingo Candle $22-38

I need this.  The end.

So, what are you dreaming about this Sunday?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Benefit Dandelion Shy Beam Matte Highlighter

I've been trying to remember if I've really featured anything from Benefit before. (Research says: one post) It's not a brand that I've particularly been a fan of over the years, but sometimes they put a product on the market that I'm really interested in trying.

Enter Benefit's Dandelion Shy Beam Matte Highlighter ($26, 0.33oz).  Unlike Laura Mercier's Matte Radiance Powders that aren't actually matte, I'm intrigued by a matte highlighter. Thinking about it, it seems to be completely contradictory.

Note: I recently obtained a deluxe mini, which is what I'm basing my review on. Your QBB's makeup funds aren't unlimited, so minis are great for me sometimes. I received this for free as a GWP from a retailer, not from the brand.

Thinking about the concept of a matte highlighter, I think I get it. Highlight is about bringing light to the face- not necessarily shimmer. Potentially this is a way to look lit from within, and to lighten certain areas of the face. I also suspect this would be amazing for some eye detail work (although not on the eye!).

It's a cute little bottle. Benefit does packaging well. I've already shown you the front, now here's the back:

Here's the little applicator wand:

Just like other liquid Benefit products, it's got a small nail polish-like brush. Texture-wise, this is a thicker liquid (it wasn't dripping off of the brush, for example).

Here it is, swatched on my NW15 skin:

It's quite subtle, so it's hard to see when blended out.

That, in itself, is the genius of the product. I tested it for three days with various work looks- which is where I think this product fills a need in the market. I didn't photograph it because it's super subtle.

I tried multiple ways to apply it- MAC skunk brush (188, I think- the small round one), fingers, fan brush. I also tried it above and below my foundation. No matter the method, I kept loving the way that this looks. It's not an obvious highlighter. Although it's called matte, I'd call it more of a skin-perfecting satin on my NW skin.

I'm normally not a fan of Benefit's liquids because so many are runny. This isn't, and it dried down pretty quickly. I can see this becoming a regular in my highlighter rotation for the office since I prefer a subtle highlight.

Wear time was good- it lasts about 8-10 hours on me, and fades gracefully.

Bottom Line: This is one only for those who like their highlights subtle. It's more of a skin-perfector than "that glow" that we've been searching for the past few years. It's a new concept to me, and this mini has won its place in my heart for sure. It's worth checking out for those among the fairest of us all.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour: Aroused & French Kiss

If there's one thing that you've come to expect from me: I'll always go for a glossy lip over matte lips. It's mostly because my lips are very sensitive and most mattes tend to be drying.

We're living in a great era, my friends. You can now have pigmentation, longevity, and your choice of finish in lipstick. The newest generation of mattes are somewhat friendly to my sensitive lips.

Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour ($28, 3.6g) are one of those newest generation of lipsticks. I stumbled onto the formula at my local Sephora after one of those trips where I felt like I needed to buy something but I didn't know what. As it turns out, I loved my original purchase so much that I went back for a second lipstick so I could review a pair (that's my preference so I can tell if certain things are a quirk of a certain shade or a line's trend.

According to the brand's website, this is what the line is supposed to be:
"A highly pigmented, moisturizing lip color with a satin matte finish. Velour Lovers Lip Lover is a revolution in matte lipstick that couples delicate mattifying powders with moisturizing mango butter that creates a velvety texture that is smooth, creamy and long-wearing. Formula is buildable, offering medium to high coverage with a matte, sateen finish"

Let's talk packaging for a moment.

These are in matte dark brown rectangular packaging with the brand name on the cap. Shade information is on the bottom.

Let's start with my original purchase, Aroused. Sephora lists this as an exclusive shade on their website. I didn't notice it at Nordstrom, so I'll take Sephora at their word.

Although I really don't like the shade name (seriously, Laura Mercier, I thought you were classy!), I love the lipstick. It's called a "pink coral". I agree. Here's how it looks on my lips inside:

I think this is such a pretty color to pair with a neutral eye that I've been reaching for it frequently. Here's a look at Aroused on my pigmented lips outside:

Gorgeous, right?

Next, let's get a little more innocent.

The other shade that I selected was teased in my Sunday Dreaming section: French Kiss.

French Kiss is described as "Bubblegum pink."  It's a mid-toned, cool pink that instantly brightens up your complexion. My first thought upon looking in the mirror after putting it on was "fresh pink."

Here it is, on my lips:

 And here it is, outside (on a rare sunny day):

While I was admiring the shade in the rearview mirror at a red light, the shade NARS Marisa popped into my mind. It also made me wonder if my definition of bubblegum is different than Laura Mercier. I'd call French Kiss more of a milder hot pink.

Just for comparison, here's a swatch of both shades together:

Overall, this is one of the most moisturizing mattes that I've tried. It plays with my lips far nicer than say, Chanel's Rouge Allure Velvet formula or any MAC Matte. Wear time is excellent- probably 6 hours or so before fading. I never make it that long without sipping on something during the day anyhow.

 I can see myself continuing to explore this line since they appear to be sensitive lip-friendly mattes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color VI226 Lavande

It's hardly a secret around here that I am a lover of all things makeup that also happen to be purple. One particular continual quest of mine is for a highly-pigmented, long-wearing cool-toned purple shadow.

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color VI226 Lavande (6g, $25) is the latest eyeshadow that I've tried in this noble quest of mine.

First, a quick detour into a discussion on Shiseido. I've been using their skincare for more than half a decade, so I'm a huge fan. It's only been within the past 2 years that I've started dipping my toes into their makeup collection. It's not large, but it's extremely well edited and everything that I've personally tried has been high quality.

This is the first Shimmering Cream Eye Color that I've tried, so I didn't know what to expect when it came to the formula.

When in doubt, why not quote from the brand itself?

"A lightweight cream eye shadow with a radiant, lustrous finish that maintains a just-applied fresh look for 16 hours without smudging or creasing. Applies easily with your fingertip for a smooth, even finish. Hydrates skin with Super Hydro-Wrap Vitalizing DE."

Thanks, Shiseido. Now I know what I'm working with.

This is a petite little cream eyeshadow in terms of packaging. I love the streamlined look, and the top makes it easy to remove.

All of the shade info is right here on the bottom, like normal.

Let's take a look at that glorious lavender, shall we?

Just looking at it, I know Lavande is right up my alley- a shimmering, cool-toned purple. Admittedly, I'm not much for using my fingers to apply makeup (for one thing, I would want to sanitize my hands every time I went to dip them in to avoid cross-contamination).  In my shots (especially the action shots), I used a MAC 242 instead. I love it for working with cream eyeshadows.

Let's swatch this out.  First, flash, then without flash:

Ooh, pretty.

Let me tell you that it's even prettier in action. Here are my eyes on one of the recent days that I gave it a trial run:

The first day, it lasted about 8 hours before I saw the first tiny signs of creasing. It had spectacular performance, and I'm very pleased. The only downside is the extremely long dry-down time.

Bottom line: I'm in lust with the color! I think I may go explore more of this line. This is one of those purples that I've been seeking.