Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Eyeshadow Palette




This palette was a profound disappointment. When I saw it on Sephora.com, I was taken by its diverse taupes. It looked like a cool-toned, neutral workhorse. Upon receiving it, it was quite a bit darker than expected, and I noted with displeasure that several shades are actually warm-toned. I hate when companies do that - if I own a palette, I'm going to want to use ALL of the colors, and it makes no sense to combine cool and warm shades because most people either can't wear both or have a definite preference for one over the other.
The story doesn't improve with use. I found these uniformly crumbly. The shimmery shades were slightly more pigmented than the two mattes, but not by much. To get the swatches above, I had to firmly swirl a q-tip in each pan and drag it over my skin multiple times. Did I mention the crumbs?  On the eyes, these shadows are fall-out city.
It's $36 at Sephora and I beg you, do not buy it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Sephora Cream Lip Stain in #13 Marvelous Mauve



The texture of Sephora's line of cream lip stains is absolutely unlike anything I have ever tried before. It goes on creamy and effortlessly smooth. The pigmentation is as rich as can be. It dries down matte and completely budge-proof. And it is absolutely a joy to wear - it's not drying, and it's so smooth and thin on the lips that I didn't even notice I was wearing lip color. This product was nothing short of revelatory for me - until I looked in the mirror.
Unfortunately, once it does dry, even though it does not feel remotely drying, it makes my lips appear as parched as the Sahara. I think it's because of the matte finish and the fact that it is such a thin layer of product. Every little lip imperfection shows through.  If my lips were less war-torn, I would probably have had more success.
And oh, how I wish they were - because did I mention this product did not budge?
I drank a glass of water and a glass of wine while wearing this and I experienced no fading or patchiness whatsoever. Looking at the rims of the glasses from which I drank, there was no color left behind. It was not until I consumed food that had some oil in it that I noticed my lips need a reapplication. But even then, the fading was quite subtle. Oil, by the way, is key to removal. You'll want to use an oil cleanser or a biphasic makeup remover to get this off, because otherwise you'll be scrubbing in frustration.
If your lips are relatively flawless and you want to try this out - and I recommend that you do - it can be had at Sephora for a reasonable $14.00.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: Sephora Algae Face Mask


Yes, that's right: algae. Not very appetizing, is it?  Especially not compared to the other two Sephora masks I tried recently, Lotus and Avocado.  This mask claims to be detoxifying and purifying, and I grabbed it after I woke up with a bit of a hangover and dull, tired skin. Ingredients-wise, it has the same base as the other masks in the line that I tried: glycerin and water, with a bit of rice extract. To this for the algae mask, they've added brown algae extract for antioxidants, and magnolia and willow extracts for "purification".  They don't say whether they are using magnolia buds or bark, which is a shame because they are very different and used for different purposes. The bud is a pretty well known skin whitening agent, while the bark is sometimes used homeopathically for anxiety or depression. The willow makes more sense - I'm going to assume they're using the bark - because it is a known anti-inflammatory.
In any case, I opened up the sheet mask and applied for the recommended 15 minutes. It has an artificial floral scent that is a bit off-putting, so just a note on that if you are sensitive to fragrance. Then I rubbed in the extra into my skin and waited for results. I checked my appearance after a few hours and I was more pleased with the algae mask than the others. It had a noticeable effect on my skin's appearance, with a subtle brightening effect. So, that's good - especially for $6.00. On the other hand, there are other products out there that have a much greater effect for me when my skin's looking dull and tired, such as the Repair Healing Mask by Osmosis.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review: June Jacobs Brightening Moisturizer


I received this very generously sized June Jacobs moisturizer in a gift with purchase event. It's their travel-sized jar, which sells for a whopping $25 on the June Jacobs website. A normal sized jar sells for $85. After using it for about a month, I've concluded it's a perfectly adequate moisturizer, but it hasn't wowed me and is overpriced.  Here are a few highlights:

  • It has a somewhat greasy feel and doesn't fully absorb into my skin.  I think this is due to the presence of shea butter. If you're sensitive to this ingredient, beware.
  • It has a variety of plant extracts which all claim to do amazing things and I am suspicious of the over the top claims and the likely small concentration of active ingredients that one can achieve with such extracts.
  • The most sensible ingredient in this moisturizer is lactic acid. Lactic acid is a very gentle chemical exfoliant. If you do achieve a brightening effect by using this, it is most likely because of the lactic acid.
Overall, I wouldn't purchase this. I'll use up my small jar, but I haven't seen enough benefit from it to become a customer. There are far better products out there.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: Davines OI All in One Milk


I have Caroline Hirons to thank for this purchase. She raved about this product and I immediately ordered it. It is a lightweight leave-in conditioner that my hair absolutely loves. It is lightweight but packs a great softening and smoothing punch. It's also a great detangler. It is not, however, all in one. I spray a great glob of this into the palm of my hand and then smooth over wet hair, combing through. I don't like to spray on the hair directly because it's harder to control where it goes and get even distribution. I follow that up with a styling gel for some hold. OI milk has something called roucou oil in it, which comes from achiote seeds. I've never used it before, but it will be something I look for in future products because my hair seems to love it. To top it all off, this stuff smells incredible. My best description is of a sort of floral bubblegum scent. That may sound disgusting to you, but I assure you, it is delicious, and it will waft about your head all day.
I purchased mine from Barneys for $32.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Kensington Apothecary Superfruit Boost Tonic


Sometimes I see something on one of my favorite beauty websites and it calls to me for whatever the reason. And I indulge in a completely unresearched, impulsive purchase. Sometimes that works out marvelously...but often I get duds.
A dud is what I shall call the Kensington Apothecary Superfruit Boost Tonic.  I bought it because I was in the market for a toner and the "superfruit" claim in the name seemed to hint at antioxidant power. I also liked the packaging. A pump is a marvelous thing, and the bottle is an attractive frosted glass with a pretty flower on it.  That's about where its utility ends, for me.  It's not that it's BAD, per se. I have used it for a few weeks now and experienced no adverse reactions. It's just that I think the concentration of active antioxidants in this is relatively weak. The first ingredient is mango distillate, followed by aloe vera, and a number of extracts including mimosa bark, mango, tea, roiboos, and fig. While that all sounds very nice, they don't do much at all.  I swipe it over my face in the morning to refresh my skin before starting my skincare and makeup routine, and I think I may as well be using water. All in all, I can't recommend it, but if you are also drawn to the packaging and want to repeat my mistake...I purchased mine at Beautyhabit for $32.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review: Uslu Airlines Lipstick in Haj



I received this lipstick in a gift with purchase event and I was a bit puzzled by the branding. Uslu Airlines?  What?  At first I thought it was an actual airline that had come out with a cosmetic line, but no - that's just what they chose to name it. The brand appears to be based in Germany and can be found on such US websites as beautybar and net-a-porter. This particular shade, Haj, is a bit of a chameleon because it appeared ever so slightly orange or coral-red in the tube, but when I swatched it I saw a beautiful sheer red with pink undertones.  The texture is thick and balmy. When applying, you need to work it into the lips a bit to get the pigment evenly distributed. Once on, it is very comfortable, with one glaring exception: the smell. For some reason, the brand saw fit to heavily perfume these lipsticks with a high-pitched floral that is so incredibly strong and off-putting that I couldn't bring myself to thoroughly test the lipstick's longevity.  After 30 minutes, I could not stand it any more and scrubbed it off.  It's a shame because it had promise otherwise. If you are scent-blind and want to try this, it retails for $25.