Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Urban Decay Revolution Lipsticks in Turn On, Naked, and Fiend

Swatches from bottom to top: Turn On, Naked, Fiend

If you like the look of those swatches on my arm, run, don't walk, to your nearest Sephora and look for the Urban Decay Revolution lipsticks, which are being discontinued and are 50% off. I hadn't had a chance to check these out before, but when I saw them for $11 each, it seemed a great opportunity to test out a few.  They will NOT last long at that price, so act fast if you want some.
The formula is creamy and they swatch beautifully, particularly the deep pink Turn On. Application to the lips is similarly enjoyable, with only one pass across each lip needed to obtain optimal color saturation. They are not fully opaque, but pigmentation is far from sheer. Although Turn On is the clear favorite swatched, on the lips I prefer Naked and Fiend. Naked is a MLBB color, while Fiend is deeper and brighter - but not SO bright as Turn On, which is a bit over the top for me.
These lipsticks wear reasonably well for a creamy formula, but I think MAC cremesheens and Kevyn Aucoin are similar with superior longevity. They are not a balm-type formulation, so they do become a bit drying after a few hours.  I'd suggest wearing over lip balm, but that does decrease the wear time. I didn't have any adverse reactions such as irritation or peeling.
The packaging is a sleek, silver tube with a subtle Urban Decay logo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Lancome Grandiose Mascara

I really like Lancome Definicils mascara but I like to branch out every now and again, so when I saw Grandiose's wonky applicator, I had to try it. Just LOOK at that thing - it's bent to supposedly make it easier for you to apply, and its stubby plastic brush is meant to enable you to get at every little lash from root to tip. Furthermore, the formula is meant to be smudge-resistant. This is key for me and mascara, as I am very smudge-prone. I am sorry to say that Lancome Grandiose failed to deliver on every single advertised benefit.

Let's start with the wand. The shape is fine to get at half your lashes, but I found I had to twist it around awkwardly to get at the rest. A normal straight wand is much easier. The brush is terrible. I don't have good luck with these spiked plastic wands - give me a more traditional bristle any day. Because the bristles are so short, they don't separate the lashes well, which leads to clumping. I also find I am much more prone to stabbing myself in the eye with the thing because I have to get the entire wand so close to the root of my lashes before it reaches them.

Now, the formula. It feels thinner and less waxy than many other mascaras and that seemed promising. Aside from the clumpiness produced by the dratted wand, it applied smoothly and was a jet black that coated my lashes nicely. However, within a few hours I had smudge city. Really, this is one of the more egregious smudgers I've ever tested in terms of how little wear time I got before it started to go all raccoon on me.  I'm sorely disappointed - for $32, I expected far better.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen's Confetti Cookies

Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite food blogs. I have made so many of her recipes and not one has ever let me down. So, when I saw her post these confetti cookies, I decided to make them for the barbecue I hosted yesterday, even though I'd never tested them before. They were a total hit!  Super simple - just a sugar cookie base rolled in sprinkles - but so festive in appearance, no one can resist. The sprinkles on the outside lend a nice textural element to the rich sugar cookie flavor. I followed her recipe exactly, so if you'd like to make these, just click through in the link above to Deb's blog.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: By Kilian Flower of Immortality

That utilitarian, homely bottle you see above is what you get when you buy a By Kilian refill set (along with a funnel and small glass atomizer). It may not look like much, and they have some nerve charging $160 for it, but you get 50 ml of fragrance - the same amount that you get if you pay a cool $260 for the fancy bottle. For me, it's a no-brainer: I'm not going to spend an extra $100 for a nicer bottle. Averse as I am to grossly inflated pricing, Flower of Immortality is worth the pain. I have never smelled a more crystalline and perfect peach. It's not a heavy, sweet fruity scent but rather a light, summery clean musk tinged with white flowers and the aroma of juicy peaches. This is one of those perfumes that floats ethereally around you for the duration of its wear (around 8 hours for me). At no point does it go heavy or dull; the drydown is much like the opening, minus perhaps a bit of tartness in the peach note. I wear it often in spring and summer, but also like to pull it out in winter on occasion to remember warm days.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: Osmosis Repair Healing Mask

I bought this mask at my spa on the recommendation of my esthetician. My trusted lady doesn't recommend new products to me often, so when she does I usually agree to buy them. This one was a fantastic pick. The Osmosis website recommends this for post-treatment or procedure skin, but my esthetician just recommended it for its soothing qualities and barrier repair for my stressed winter skin. It has a rich cocktail of antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and soothing botanicals. There is some cocoa in there, too (antioxidant), which gives it a pleasant chocolate scent. Try not to be put off by the texture; it's a "loose" mud, very watery, so you have to work with it a bit to ensure even coverage. You can use it as a serum or a mask, theoretically, but I prefer it as a mask because it is brown and green and a bit sticky and I don't want it all over my pillow after sleeping with it on. The results: it's wonderful. It really does soothe and plump my skin and I really like it after I've been a bit overzealous with a peel (more on that in a future post). It's kind of pricey for the small quantity you get in a tube ($56 for 30 ml at, but you might want to shop around because at my spa it was about $10 less.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Review: MAC Syrup Lipstick

Look!  Another MAC Lustre lipstick! But really, I love this formula and this color can safely be called universally flattering. Syrup is a neutral mauve that is semi-sheer. It essentially deepens my natural lip color and adds a glossy finish. It is incredibly comfortable to wear - feels like a tinted balm and has that signature MAC vanilla scent. However, it is predictably short-lived and must be re-applied every two hours or so, or immediately after eating or drinking. I can see wearing this a ton in the fall and winter when the cold, dry air is harsh on the lips.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus Mattifying Creme

There comes a point in the Washington DC area when spring fresh air gives way to the stifling humidity of summer. We're not there temperature-wise yet, but the moist air has moved in anyway. Consequently, I've started to find that my skin is a bit oily and my makeup has been pooling in my pores (gross). I started looking around for a good summer moisturizer and I found it in this Ole Henriksen creme. Vitamin Plus is lightweight and mattifying, thanks to the oat flour mixed in. I apply it after my Vitamin C serum and before my sunscreen. It keeps the oil at bay without completely drying out my face and also provides some nourishment to the skin thanks to the antioxidants and aloe included. A 1.7 oz jar - which I am quite confident will last me until the end of summer, and then some - is a reasonable $45. My only complaint is the jar packaging. With skincare, I really prefer a tube or pump to avoid bacterial contamination in the product.