Thursday, July 28, 2016

MAC Vamplify Lipgloss- Spanking Haute

Any relatively frequent reader to this blog already knows the following things about me:

  • I don't generally like lip gloss. I'm a lipstick girl, and not a liquid lipstick one at that.
  • I'm especially not a lip gloss girl in the middle of hot and sticky summer.
  • I have pigmented lips, so I generally struggle with nudes and avoid them.

So why on Earth am I raving about MAC Vamplify Lipgloss in Spanking Haute, a pinky nude full-coverage lipgloss (and lightest of the recently re-launched Vamplify lipglosses)? I don't know. I just don't know. There's no logical reason why, but this is one of my more random purchases and one of the ones that has brought me an unexpected amount of joy.

I'd like to think I was swayed by a review from one of my favorite bloggers, who noted that this is a totally wearable nude. Add in that I was flush with Plenti points, and suddenly I found myself asking the local MAC counter for "ok, will you be honest with me? I've got pigmented lips. Can I do this without any extra work? I don't want to have to Lip Erase for lipgloss." And when I was told "you can totally do it, they're super pigmented," I had to have this bad boy.

OK, the deets. MAC's Vamplify lipglosses are back, $20 each, and limited edition (again). They're opaque (yay!) and guess what? You can totally have fun with the colors. This is the lightest shade... I've been lemming a good peachy nude color as of late. That's what happens when it's 10934893483 degrees out.

One of the reasons why this gloss just works is the applicator- it's different than the regular MAC glosses with that hard-to-control brush.

OK, I've held out long enough- here's my hand swatch against my NW15 skin of Spanking Haute. It was love at first swatch:

This is by far and away the most true-to-color swatch in this post. Isn't it awesome? I think lots of smokey eyes with this.

I've been complaining about the weather a lot lately, so I was forced to try to take photos inside, where the light is... lacking, to be kind. This photo is meant to demonstrate coverage with one swipe. Everything's washed out, especially my lip pigment.

So maybe the color's off, but hopefully you'll get the idea....

That's really excellent coverage without a liner! Seriously- no liner. Pure Spanking Haute out of the tube on half of my lips, a bit washed out. However, if the lightest shade is this opaque, you know how the darker shades will be.

I had a hard time getting an accurate full-lips shot, so I'll just point you back to the hand swatch since it's accurate. I think it would've melted if I would've gone outside.

In terms of wear time, about 3-4 hours or until I eat/drink. I'm totally in love with the formula and find it a bit moisturizing. I wish these would be permanent. Until then, nab them at your local counter or online for the next month or so. Don't wait though!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NOTD: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Tawny Travels

Yowsa, it's hot outside lately.

So hot that one of the local meteorologists proclaimed proudly on Monday regarding his 10-day forecast "that's almost 1000 degrees!"

Gee, thanks.

When it's this hot outside, several things happen in my life.

  1. I immediately face plant into a cool bed in the dark when I come home from work, devoid of all ability to function having dealt with the inferno.
  2. I lose my ambition to paint my nails frequently.
  3. Since it's never just hot but always the best combo ever of hot plus humid, I'm always looking for a longwear gel formula for my nails.

Enter this week's nail color, a drugstore gem I picked up at CVS this week (they're on sale- seriously, so cheap you guys) as part of another starter kit. The brush on my original topcoat had a bit of an accident. I haven't spotted this color at Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, or outside of these two-packs.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish 630 Tawny Travels is a muted orangey red that reminds me vaguely of a more intense version of one of my all-time summer favorites- Julep Nan.

When I think of 100 (which was the actual forecast high here yesterday, with a "cool" 99 today), I think orangey red.

I don't think I've featured this formula before, but it's pretty amazing. No base coat needed, just make sure that your nails are freshly cleaned with remover. Each shade is perfect in 1-3 coats, depending on the polish. The most frequent number of coats is 2.  I've got 3 on my nails plus the Miracle Gel topcoat on my nails here.

I've been rotating a number of longwear formulas that can be found at Ulta or your local drugstore as of late- Essie Gel Couture, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, OPI Infinite Shine, Essie with the Gel Setter Top Coat.... they're all pretty awesome. Right now I'm digging the number of shades and the formula of the Miracle Gel.

I've got Tawny Travels on my nails and Mauve-olous on my toes for a change of pace. Somehow it seems right as hot as it is.

Please send ice cream. And fall!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Foreo Luna Play

I've purposely held off on this post although anyone who has browsed my Instagram has seen a preview of what I might say today. Since we're talking both skincare and a cleansing device, I wanted to put it through its paces before really giving it an honest review. And let me also put this out there: I paid full price for mine and did not get mine through a subscription box.

What is it? It's the Foreo Luna Play ($39, available in 7 colors), a mini version of the Foreo Luna sonic cleansing brush. Each one is non-rechargable and is pre-loaded with 100 uses. It is designed for either travel or for how I used it- a way to honestly take a silicone cleansing tool for a real life trial without committing to a full-sized version ($99 and up, but included in Nordstrom's Anniversary sale).

How does the manufacturer describe it? From Foreo's website,

"Though small in size, the LUNA play facial-cleansing brush is big on innovation. Packing the entire LUNA experience into a macaroon-sized device, the LUNA play is a fun and affordable intro to the amazing skincare benefits that come from T-Sonic cleansing.
Every LUNA play face brush provides up to 100 full cleansing routines and is non rechargeable.

Experience T-Sonic pulsations with the LUNA play.  Soft silicone touch-points gently remove dead skin cells, unclogs pores of makeup residue, and removes up to 99.5% of dirt and oil. Your skin will be left glowing, soft and smooth.

The LUNA play’s 2-zone facial brush features finer touch-points which cleanse sensitive/normal skin on larger areas like the cheeks and forehead, while thicker touch-points provide a deep and precise cleansing on areas like the T-zone."

What type of skin does QBB have? Highly sensitive, mild rosacea in the cheek area, slightly oily just around the nose and chin with a few enlarged pores. QBB is in her early-to-mid 30s, with only the monthly hormonal 1-2 pimples reminding me of my biological clock. Otherwise, QBB has very smooth, mostly unblemished skin without acne scarring or sun damage. During winter, QBB's skin is exceptionally dry; during summer it becomes about normal. In a nutshell, I'm not exceptionally oily or problematic- I mostly just try not to poke the bear and it's pretty happy as long as I throw moisture at it and keep it clean.

What was QBB's cleaning routine before trying this? It depended on whether I was a morning or evening shower. If showering in the AM, a creamy cleanser in the shower (Chanel Mousse Douceur, one of my faves). If showering in the PM, I'd use the same creamy cleanser but then in the AM use a foamy cleanser to wash my face like L'Occitane Precious Cleansing Foam. I used my hands and a soft wash cloth. I rarely exfoliate because of the sensitivity of my skin.

What other cleansing devices has QBB tried, and what was the outcome? HA! I had one and only experience with a Clarisonic, at a Nordstrom Beauty Trend Show. The brand reps were on hand, and I somewhat fearfully stood in line for the "best cleanse of my life". I relayed just how darned sensitive my skin was, they used the cashmere brush head (which works apparently on 99% of the population), and it hurt. I looked like a tomato within 30 seconds and the person wielding the device stopped and said "I'm sorry, honey. Don't ever let anyone use one of these on you again." So you can see why I was a bit leery of even the Foreo Luna Play. (I do have a Clarisonic, by the way- the Pedi. My feet love it.)

Phew, with those important details, let's talk about the Foreo Luna Play. First, it's tiny. This comparison picture to some of my favorite cleansers should give you a size reference:

I thought that it would be difficult to handle, but it took about 20 seconds to figure it out- and I actually like the size for really getting into my trouble areas like the pores on the side of my nose (TMI, I know). Here's the size of the button:

One of the major cons that people have mentioned is that it's not reusable and therefore it's bad for the environment. I don't know what to say other than we all make some choices that are better or worse for the environment than others. Make your own decisions... for me, it's been worth it.

You can use it with any creamy cleanser- I like so many on the market, but used mostly these two Chanels while testing:

Overall, I was stunned with the results. My skin feels smoother and cleaner- and I was shocked at just how much more stuff the Play was able to get off my skin than my regular cleansing routine. It's also gentle enough that my hyper-sensitive skin was never irritated by it. I never tried using it more than once a day, so I can't speak to those who would want to use it morning and night.

I'm hooked. For me, the biggest decision is which model to get- the Sensitive or the regular Mini? I can honestly see a difference in the texture of my skin and it's much healthier. I had my normal hormonal breakouts since starting to use it, but they're less intense. I can't recommend this enough to everyone.

I think the best way to handle this is via the comments- if you have questions, please shoot me a comment. Skincare is such a personalized experience, so I want to try to give the best answer possible.

Bottom line: Try it. JUST DO IT. It's only a $39 investment, but it's so worth it. Your skin will thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

LORAC Enchanting Elegance Eye/Cheek Palette

Today I have the other LORAC #Nsale Exclusive palette- the Enchanting Elegance Eye/Cheek Palette($18, currently). I had to have this one shipped, otherwise I probably would've tried this before the Refined Romance Palette (review here). That said, I want to give props to Nordstrom's shipping department. I ordered over the weekend and had it Tuesday afternoon! And given how much I fell in love with the other Lorac palette, I had my face all prepped for immediate swatching and testing Tuesday evening and all-day Wednesday- hence how quickly I got this one turned around for you!

Let's borrow the official description from Nordstrom:

"Inspired by elegant floral prints on the runway, the Enchanting Elegance Eye & Cheek Palette by LORAC features six universally flattering matte and shimmer eyeshadows, a shimmer highlighter and two satin blushes. It's everything you need to create beautiful, sophisticated and captivating looks.
Palette includes:
- 6 Eyeshadows - Cream (Matte), Light Brown (Shimmer), Dark Brown (Matte), Light Grey/Purple (Matte), Light Blue (Shimmer), Black (Matte) (0.22 oz.)
- Light Cream Highlighter (Shimmer) (0.08 oz.)
- 2 Blushes - Light Pink/Purple (Satin) and Fuchsia (Satin) (0.18 oz.)"

OK, let's start with the shallow part: these two palettes are just plain aesthetically pleasing. Here's a shot of these 2 cuties out of the box, together:

This is the cooler of the two options- I think you saw just how deep, warm, and fall the other palette pulled on me (I can't put that berry out of my head, BTW! Just not in 100 degree heat!). Normally I'd shy away from blues, but ironically it was the blue that pulled me in via the stock photo:
In that stock photo, it seemed to be a little bit blue-grey to me. I think I've teased you long enough before showing you what the pans look like:

I didn't mention it before, but there's a Lorac plastic overlay when you first open it up.

It's very pretty.

The pans are really securely in there, even though it's a cardboard palette. In terms of travel ease, it's really awesome.

For the purposes of this review, here's how I numbered the eyeshadows:

Eyeshadow #1 (Cream-Matte): I love these type of colors, and I'm a really tough critic of them. Why? They're workhorses for me, and if a brand can do them right, it's less other products that I have to carry around when traveling. Nailing this type of shade is essential in my mind.

Eyeshadow #2 (Light Brown- Shimmer): Ooh, this is the type of shade that I get lost into for long stretches of time. It's an easy-peasy all-over lid shade right now, and will be a nice accent when it's cooler.

Eyeshadow #3 (Dark Brown- Matte): I really like LORAC's mattes- there's not a ton of fallout here. I could see this as a subtle liner; I tried it as an outer crease shade.

I was playing with flash/no flash, so I included both photos because they showcase different aspects of the shadows.

Eyeshadow #4 (Light Grey/Purple-Matte): I feel like this is one of those shades that have a lot of unexplored depth. It's got a lot of tones in it- grey, purple, taupe... I tried using it as a transition shade since it's a matte when testing the full palette look. I think it'd make a lovely larger base.

Here's a shot of it when I was applying the first testing look:

Eyeshadow #5 (Light Blue-Shimmer): Blue doesn't normally go well with my blue eyes, but something about this one called to me as being more of a silvery blue. I was right. It's breathtaking, and makes an incredible lid color.

Eyeshadow #6 (Black-Matte): It's good to see how LORAC does black shadows; certainly much better than MAC Carbon. It made a nice, subtle liner.

Just like before, swatches both with and without swatches:

Before we move on to the cheek products, let's take a moment to talk specifically about this selection of shadows and compared to the Refined Romance Palette. The first thing that jumps out at me is that this is a mostly (4/6) matte palette, whereas Refined Romance was mostly Shimmer (4/6). I love that LORAC did it this way, making them truly complimentary at a low price.

In terms of performance, these lasted all day on me. I really am loving LORAC's formula and am considering picking up other palettes from the brand.

Now, let's talk cheek products:

Highlighter (Light Cream): This is another high-shine highlighter. It's very color-neutral, and would work on any number of skintones. I tried it with the lighter blush, but didn't photograph it because I had to use such a light hand due to the shimmery blush. I really like it, and think it would work with any number of looks.

Blush #1 (Light Pink/Purple-Satin): OK, I'm in love with this. You don't need a highlighter with this one because it's so shimmery. I was able to blend it nicely and make it work for me. I'll totally wear this in the fall once the shimmer comes back out. Out of all of the cheek products I tested in both Lorac palettes, this is my favorite.

Blush #2 (Fuschsia-Satin): I'm going to be 100% honest, this scares me. I didn't play with it at first simply because there's no way it would work on me the second that my skin flushed in the heat. I look forward to playing with this once it's about 40-50 degrees cooler out. I have swatched it for you though!

In terms of performance, the blush and highlighter performed lovely. My initial application was over L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte and Chanel Les Beiges, and it lasted flawlessly until I took it off about 6 hours later. My full-day test lasted a full 8 hours before showing initial signs of fading but did make it a full 12 hours.

The cheek colors read "not summer" to me, but the eyeshadows are more year-around neutrals to me.

Here's a couple photos of the palette in testing.

#1 to browbone, #4 as transition, #3 in outer crease, #2 inner lid, #5 middle to outer lid, #6 liner

That's the lighter blush-no highlighter-in action

Now, let's have some real talk. Yes, that's an eye look with all 6 eye shades on a small eye. Some bloggers might try to pass this off as a normal, everyday look. Unless you're a MUA, I'm not sure who does a look like that every day.

That's what I would call "let's test it all at once jammed on one eye" look. I would probably use 3 or 4 of them, max.

That aside, when I did my initial look, my first thought was "wow, that's really pretty. And soft." So with that in mind, I really recommend this palette. I'd recommend this palette at a much higher price point. At $18, I think you're crazy to pass it up. Bottom line, GO! Get this! You won't regret it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

LORAC Refined Romance Eye/Cheek Palette

Today I'm thrilled to bring you the first of my #NSale beauty purchases- the LORAC Refined Romance Eye/Cheek Palette ($18, currently exclusive for Nordstrom cardholders only but available 22 July to the public). I'll admit that I was leaning more towards its sister palette, but since I found this in-store it had to come home with me.

Let me borrow from Nordstrom's description of this item.

"Inspired by the romantic floral prints on the runway, the Refined Romance Eye & Cheek Palette features six nude-toned matte and shimmer eyeshadows, two shimmer highlighters and one matte blush so that you have everything you need to create soft, refined, romantic looks.
Palette includes:
- 6 Eyeshadows with shades in Ivory Shimmer, Gold Shimmer, Burgundy/Brown Shimmer, Light Rose/Taupe Matte, Light Purple Shimmer and Burgundy/Brown Matte (0.22 oz. each)
- 2 Shimmer Highlighters with shades in Cream Shimmer and Light Pink Shimmer (0.17 oz. each)
- Matte Blush in Rose Matte (0.09 oz.)"

First Impressions:

Packaging is paper/cardboard, but at $18 I wouldn't have expected anything else. It doesn't feel cheap, nor does it feel like it's going to be easily destroyed. For reference, it's about the length of a Glossybox.

Unlike a lot of less expensive palettes, the pans are all aligned, and appear to be glued in securely.

Color-wise, this is the safer of the two- and a bit warmer. Looking at these colors, I feel like 99% of the population has these shades in their collection already and has seen them. However, I want to see if this is what I was really hoping for- a convenient, well-performing travel palette.

Here's how I numbered them for this review:

Eyeshadow 1 (Cream Shimmer): This one's a bit metallic and very easy to overdo. It's a nice accent, but use a light hand. Trust me.

Eyeshadow 2 (Gold Shimmer): Oh so pigmented. It's a glorious coppery gold that screams fall.

Eyeshadow 3 (Burgundy/Brown Shimmer): It reminds me of MAC Cranberry a bit. I had fun playing with this in the crease quite a bit.

Eyeshadow 4 (Light Rose/Taupe Matte): This light brown matte is lovely. It's totally blendable, and I used it as my base transition shadow in the crease area when building my looks. Although some may find it boring, I am very excited to see this in this palette because it makes it travel-worthy in my opinion.

Eyeshadow 5 (Light Purple Shimmer): I'm not sure if this is lilac or grey. That makes it the type of color that makes my heart flutter. It reminds me a lot of some NARS classics like Lhasa.

Eyeshadow 6: (Burgundy Matte) I used this an eyeliner with a dampened angle brush.

Now, let's move onto the cheek part of the palette. It's equally as warm and yummy.

Highlighter 1 (Cream Shimmer): This is one of the reasons why I was interested in this palette. It's not white. It's a very light baby pink shimmery highlighter!  It imparts a total gleam onto the skin.

Highlighter 2 (Light Pink Shimmer): I would totally wear this as a blush. A totally shimmery blush.  It's a muted mauvey, shimmering highlighter. I used my teardrop Hakuhodo (not the Sephora ones) to gently apply to the high points of my cheeks. On my skin,it blended well into the blush- so I'll play with other shades to try to pull out the mauve on my skin again. This is not a highlighter for the faint of heart, but it gives dat glow.

Blush (Rose Matte): It's darker than I was hoping, so my application is both sheered and with a synthetic brush to make this wearable on my NW15 skin. It's a gorgeous rosy light berry matte shade with awesome pigmentation that will be perfect for fall. I can also see this working on a large range of skintones- if I can sheer it out, most ladies won't have to, and it's deep enough for at least those with medium skin- I'm not sure about WOC but hopefully there are bloggers out there who will be able to swatch it for you. I think it might work though.

Here's how I sheered it, with the darker of the two highlighters:

Here's the main eye look that I tested (ie the only day when the only color on my eyes is from the palette. When I tested shade #2, it was with non-Lorac shades.

Highlight: #1, Transition: #4, Crease: #3, Lid: #5, Liner: #6 with dampened brush
That screams fall, no?

Overall, I found a little bit of fallout with the eyeshadows, but nothing too bad. I don't have the LORAC Pro palettes to compare to, sorry. I found these to last all day with a primer/base, even though it was in the upper 90s with high humidity when I tested. I like the formula.

That said, I'm going to set this palette aside with my other #NSale purchases because it feels really, really fall. Look how well it matches my new throw and Sejour cap-sleeve shirt! I look forward to pulling it out when it's a bit cooler and it's time for fall shades.

I did order the other palette and will be testing immediately upon arrival (possibly today) so that it's hopefully relevant during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Bottom Line: What a fabulous impulse buy! I can't wait to incorporate this with everything I picked up for for fall- it's all following a similar color story!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation

After giving you my thoughts about the brand-new L'Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Foundation yesterday, it's time to talk about its cousin, L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation.

Let me preface this review by stating that I bought it at the same exact time that I picked up Pro Glow, so I had no idea that I liked Pro Glow- or that the color actually worked for my uber-pink skin. Again, chalk this up to "YouTube made me do it."

OK, here we go. L'Oreal's Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation retails between $11-15, depending on vendor. It was apparently released for Spring 2015 and quickly became a blogger (and vlogger) favorite. For that $11-15, you get 1.0oz of demi-matte foundation in the same squeeze tube that I fell in love with from the Pro Glow.

I'm a MAC NW15/Tom Ford 01 Cream/Bobbi Brown Alabaster and I purchased the lightest shade, 101 Classic Ivory.

Just for comparison's sake, here's Pro Matte 101 Classic Ivory swatched next to Pro Glow 201 Classic Ivory,

Now that we've covered the shade, let's talk formula. L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte touts up to a 24 Hour wear-time,with demi matte finish, air-light, and oil free.

One of the biggest differences between Pro-Matte and Pro Glow? No sunscreen in Pro-Matte. That said, let's look at the back of the tube:

For those whose eyes need a break....

"Lasting demi-matte finish. Never full, never flat.
Finish: Demi-matte
Wear Up to: 24 Hours
Coverage: Medium
Texture: Air-Light

It also suggests rolling it onto the skin; I chose to stipple with a sponge.

I really put L'Oreal Infallable Pro-Matte foundation through its paces. As I've been bemoaning, the average temperature has been somewhere near ridiculous, and stupid ridiculous with the humidity. Here are the compilation of two days of testing notes. In one case, I ran errands and discovered my car temp in the shade, with a breeze, totally covered at 95. So here we go....

Application: This is different than the Pro-Glow- it's thin but more of the typical foundation formula I'm used to dealing with from just about everyone. I stippled with a Real Techniques beauty sponge and was pleasantly surprised. I know that this is claiming to be medium coverage, but it's quite full.  And it's quite beautiful. Application was quick, easy, and looked pretty. I decided to give a quick T-Zone dusting with Chanel Les Beiges since it's so hot.

Hour 2: Still looking flawless. I can't stop looking at myself! No problems anywhere. Two thumbs up.

Hour 4: Still looking great.

Still working it at 4 hours

Hour 6: A bit of oil peaking through on errands day, but none on AC-only day. Coverage still on point.

Hour 8: A bit more oil on errands day, and the start of some oil on AC day- but no separation yet.

Hour 10: The start of minimal separation on my chin, which is uber oily while testing.

Hour 12: Testing Day 2 (Errands day)- Yep, seeing some wear in my trouble areas but I think pro products would've had the same issues. Upper 90s and high humidity do impact this just like anything else (it's really similar to the wear I get with MAC Pro Longwear Waterproof foundation that I reach for in the heat for longevity and coverage).

Not bad for 12 hours and 95 with humid- all for $11, right?

Hour 14: Testing Day 1 (Didn't leave the AC)- OK, time to take this off. There's still a lot of foundation left on my face, too! Some minor separation in my trouble areas (chin, near nostrils), but nothing a bit of touchups wouldn't fix. I'm really impressed!

I didn't take a photo at the end of the day because I was so tired- but I wanted to give this as long and as honest of a test as possible. It's official: L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation tells me that drugstore lines have stepped up their game and it's earned its place in my stash.

If you asked me to choose between the two, it's Pro-Matte by a long run right now. Check back in the winter when I'm less oily!