Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gloss, Anyone?

A friend recently mentioned purchasing a gloss from the MAC Cult of Cherry collection when it occurred to me: I hate lip gloss! Strong statement, right? But I've never had what I would call a good experience with gloss. I find them sticky. I hate reapplying them every 3 seconds and quite frankly, I fail to see the point. Most lipsticks are moist and have a glossy finish anyway, right? If you are reading this, won't you be so kind as to educate me? There could be a wonderful, glossy world out there that I'm missing! I used to hate matte eyeshadow but now I'm a matteholic; I'm capable of change.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wet N' Wild Has Changed...

For the better! Can you believe that the brand that once produced stinky, waxy lipsticks and dry eyeliner that was impossible to apply has now become one of the better brands among drugstore cosmetics? If you haven't tried them yet, these colorful eyeliners are a wonderful bargain for $1 a piece. This is especially good if you normally wear neutrals and wish to experiment with a bit of color.

I cannot vouch for the staying power as I have only worn them with primer underneath but (with primer) they remained smudge free and just as vivid as when first applied for a minimum of 6 hours. They were a breeze to use and did not tug on my delicate eye skin at all. It goes without saying that I was pleasantly surprised after purchasing one; I bought three more!

My crappy camera doesn't do these pencils justice but I assure you, the colors are bright. I have:

653E Cool Green: The "cool" is a bit of a misnomer. It is a medium tone, clear green with a hint of yellow and shimmer (not glitter) thrown in for good measure.

650C Lilac: Pastel, light lilac/purple. This one has the tiniest bit of blue-violet gleam and reminds me of a light version Urban Decay's Deluxe eyeshadow in "Fishnet" or MAC's "Stars N' Rockets".

659C Turquoise: A deep, dark forest green, no shimmer.

654B Sky Blue: Pastel sky (or robin's egg) blue with shimmer.

Also available in Taupe, Dark Brown, White, Silver Blue, Bronzed, Mink Brown, Black Black (not a typo), Charcoal, Deep Blue and Violet.

I don't need to tell you where these are sold (nearly everywhere) but I hope I've enticed you into giving them a chance! Wet n' Wild is an animal cruelty-free brand, making this a guilt-free buy on multiple levels.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Maintain Your Hair With Cream of Nature

Exorbitant prices at the salon combined with a terrible economy has made some of us dye hard "blondes" return to our natural brunette; what else can be done to trim the proverbial fat off our maintenance routine? If you haven't considered it in the past, now is the time to keep your hair as healthy as possible to extend the life of your hair color (if you dye) and increase the interval of time you can go without a trim by guarding against split ends.

How frustrating is it to see your expensive dye job go down the drain every time you wash your hair? How tired are you of seeing your highlights turn yellow or orange a month or so after getting foils? The reason for this happening is the harsh ingredients (such as sulfates--any ingredient with the suffix "sulfate" such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, etc.) that strip the color out once your hair cuticle is opened with the heat and steam when you shower. These harsh detergents attach to your hair shaft and wash away your natural hair oils along with the color resulting in hair that feels dry and flat.

Creme of Nature is designed for relaxed hair and is sulfate-free. It truly is a creamy, conditioning shampoo and delivers upon its claims to condition and cleanse all at the same time. While it does leave one's hair feeling conditioned, I suggest you use a moisturizing conditioner anyway because the protein in the formula may build up and leave hair feeling dry otherwise (*An Aside on Protein: it is good for your hair in small quantities and absolutely must be followed by moisture since the hair structure is a combination of a protein layer combined with moisture--water. If you use a protein mask regularly, it may not be necessary if you plan to wash your hair with Creme of Nature more than a couple of times per week). This is another one of those inexpensive miracle products that one expects to find in a designer haircare line but it can be purchased at Sally's at a price of $6 for a 15.2 ounce bottle. Be sure to get the REGULAR FORMULA (for normal hair) as the other variations in this line have inferior ingredients. Speaking of ingredients, they are:

Water, Trideceth-7 Carboxylic Acid, Decyl Glucoside, Glycol Stearate, Polyquaternium-10, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (this is just plain ol' aloe), Hydrolyzed Milk Protein (*don't forget to moisturize!), Honey, Citrus Medica Limonium (lemon extract), Triticum Vulgare (wheat germ oil), Abies Balsamea Resin, Pectin (according to Wikipedia, pectin helps to bind cells together and regulates water in the plant), Lecithin, Foeniculum Vulgare (fennel extract), Barosma Betulina Leaf Extract, Commiphora Abyssinica Extract, Origanum Marjorana Leaf Extract, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Quarentium-15, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Red 4, Yellow 5, Red 33, Blue 1

Creme of Nature made my hair feel clean but not the slightest bit dry. But on a less than stellar note, this does smell like your grandmother's old Chanel No. 5 (a.k.a. rat poisoning). Luckily, the scent did not remain in my hair after it dried. All the more reason to use a conditioner afterwards ;).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Similar Items for Less: Stila Haze Eyeshadow

If you're on the market for a gorgeous matte purple eyeshadow or are looking for an inexpensive alternative to Stila's Haze, Ulta Wild Heart is the product for you! Here's how the two compare:

Color: Ulta Wild Heart is more vibrant and purple; Stila Haze is a dirty plum with a tinge of brown. *The photograph on the left was taken without flash in natural lighting conditions to best demonstrate the color of the products.

Texture: Both are absolutely matte--no glitter or shimmer whatsoever. Great as eyeliner (if applied wet) or a crease shade. The two products have equally good staying power and color payoff.

Price: Stila Haze is $15+; Ulta Wild Heart is regularly $6.50 but is currently (and often) buy one/get one free at Ulta *There's a 20% off one item discount available through August 30th.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life Preserver for Your Strands

Your hair is dry, unmanageable and frizzy. Your wallet is near empty and your bathroom cabinets are full of hair products that aren't as effective as you'd hoped. What to do? If your hair is anything like mine, the solution is in your local drugstore's "ethnic" aisle!

Those who know me will be amazed to hear that I am impressed with a drugstore hair product. I insist on purchasing only the best high-end products for my hair (damaged, dry and coarse) and skincare regimen as drugstore products normally contain ingredients I prefer to avoid. I am also the type that will read every single ingredient in a haircare product prior to purchase. Yes, I'm the one in your way as you maneuver your way to that shampoo. Sorry, but you probably don't want it anyway as its primary ingredient (sodium laureth sulfate) will likely trash your hair. If your hair is damaged and/or dry, the ingredients you put on your head are as important as the ones you put in your mouth. On to the review...

I bought this deep treatment on a whim. I was perfectly happy using my Redken Buttertreat at the time but wanted a product without any silicone ingredients for daily use. For those on a 'cone-free diet, there isn't a one in sight! Take a gander at the ingredients:

Water - Aqua , Cetearyl Alcohol , Mineral Oil - Paraffinum Liquidum , Dicetyldimonium Chloride , Ceteareth-20 , Cetyl Acetate , Phenoxyethanol , Propylene Glycol , Fragrance - Parfum , Polyquaternium-22 , Methylparaben , Propylparaben , Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol , Panthenol , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , Amyl Cinnamal , Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde , Benzyl Salicylate , Limonene , Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone , Olive Fruit Oil - Olea Europaea , 2-Oleamido-1 , 3-Octadecaniol , Jojoba Seed Oil - Simmondsia Chinensis , Coconut Oil - Cocos Nucifera , Avocado Oil - Persea Gratissima , Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.

These components make for a very moisturizing and smoothing conditioner without the side effect of buildup in your hair. No matter how dry my hair feels, I leave Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recovery Conditioner on towel-dried hair for about 30 minutes, rinse and my hair feels smooth again. This doesn't weigh my hair down but if your hair is thin or fine, it may be too heavy for you. I wouldn't recommend this for ladies who chemically straighten their hair on a regular basis; an emollient, oil-based conditioner might be more effective.

Image and Ingredient Source

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shiseido Suncreen: A Wortwhile Spend

My skin is the Paris Hilton of the skin world: High maintenance, finicky, reactive and overall...annoying! I break out at the drop of a hat and am noticing some wrinkles I hadn't anticipated on dealing with until my 30's (at the earliest). I am truly kicking myself for not getting into a consistent habit of using sunscreen and advise you to avoid repeating my mistake.

Why was I so negligent about using sunscreen? Simply put, it was too greasy and made me break out. I wish I learned of Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 55 PA+++ sooner. This is the only sunscreen (and I've tried many) that is not oily on my skin (some find this more mattifying than others) and has not led to a single breakout. And while I do note a bit of a white cast, it isn't nearly as bad as with other sunscreens. I apply this with a foundation brush to ensure an even coating and to avoid that dry, filmy feeling it tends to leave on my fingertips. The cream version of this product (in a tube) is not recommended for oily, acne-prone skin. This sunscreen with an SPF 55 that works well for my skin type is a great purchase even at $37 for a 3.3 oz bottle.

In case you are curious, the "PA+++" indicates the level of UVA protection (the scale ranges from "+" to "+++") whereas SPF is a measurement of protection against UVB rays. The combination of the two makes for superior, broad scale protection against the sun. This sunscreen is water resistant and boasts of ingredients that improve the condition of your skin although frankly, I have yet to notice anything beyond it's superior power to prevent sunburn.

Gee Your Hair Smells Like Summer...

Some of us here in California cannot wait for Summer to finally end. The heat seems to get worse with every year; oily faces and dry, parched strands are only part of the problem. Nevertheless, you've got to admit--that wind-blown, textured hair sure looks great (even if it is a little damaged)! Baptiste Tropical Dry Shampoo can give even the straightest hair a bit of texture and with minimal effort at that.

While I abhor the scent of the original Baptiste dry shampoo, I cannot get enough of this coco nutty concoction. It reminds me of lounging on a hammock on Gilligan's Island even if I'm stuck indoors and in front of a computer. And of course, this will make your greasy mane feel fresh and clean so that your boss doesn't even suspect that you rolled out of bed and ran out the door this morning.

Did I mention that washing your hair less often helps preserve artificial color or that a little bit of natural oil keeps your hair moisturized? That doesn't mean you don't have to wash the rest of you, though...

Per the instructions, shake the bottle vigorously between sprays and keep it a 30 cm distance from your scalp. I suggest you use your fingers in a raking motion to distribute the product through your roots, wait about a minute and then use a mixed bristle brush to comb the product through the length of your hair. Be sure to wipe the nozzle clean with a wet cloth to prevent buildup. It doesn't really matter if the product is concentrated around your scalp and roots since that's where hair tends to be most oily anyway.

Baptiste Dry Shampoo is priced at approximately $7 ($6 with Beauty Club Card) at Sally's but the Tropical version is only available in physical stores (not online). This product is also available in the U.K.

Please test the product on a small area of your head (prior to regular use) to ensure that you are not allergic. Baptiste Dry Shampoo does contain Alcohol Denat (denatured alcohol) which can be poisonous if consumed so use with caution. Warning: small amounts of alcohol can be bad for extremely damaged hair and fragrance can affect those prone to dandruff--this product may not be for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Save on Blush and Enjoy Great Color Payoff!

When it comes to color payoff, you get what you pay for, right? Not so much! The L'oreal True Match line of blushes delivers a lot of pigment Pow!! for very little cash. The gorgeous specimen to your left is N5-6 "Apricot Kiss." I would describe it as a warm, true peach with a fairly matte finish. While L'oreal's True Match line attempts to divide shades into the neutral, warm and cool categories in order to assist you in your color selection, I find their categorization to be somewhat misleading. A lot of their "neutral" blushes are really warm (like this one)! What can you do? I'm sure they mean well. I have also noticed that the more pigmented blushes tend to have a matte finish whereas the lighter ones are shimmery but the lids on the containers are clear, allowing you to see the color inside.

These usually retail for approximately $10 but are usually on BOGO (buy one, get one free sale) in your local drugstores. Even more reason to try multiple shades, right? Be warned: once you buy one, you will want more (I own 3). And also, be prepared to use a skunk brush to apply the darker, more vibrant shades!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dupe Requests?

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to an eyeshadow or lipstick, just ask! I may not be able to find one 100% of the time but I will do my best and almost always locate a similar item. It's one of my "talents." I will respond to requests in the order they are received so hurry or you may be last in line ;).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Doin' the Wedge

Any makeup aficionado has used one of these babies to apply liquid foundation but they can be a convenient tool in other steps of your makeup routine. Here are some alternate uses I have found:

Can't get the perfectly-shaped, cat eye look? After applying eyeliner (pencil or liquid/gel--before it dries) to the outer portion of your eye, use one of the sides of the sponge to parallel your eyebrow and (gently) drag the eyeliner up. Voila! This will also create a lifted look to your eyeshadow.

Annoyed with eyeshadow fall out? With one hand, hold a sponge under your eye while applying your shadow. This way, you don't have to deal with powder getting into any under eye lines or creases in to save your under eye area from black eyeshadow.

Gloopy mascara giving you spider lashes? Use the sponge to wipe off any excess before applying. It won't tear or get on your wand the way a tissue will.

Wedge sponges can also be used to blend makeup. The only thing one shouldn't with a wedge sponge is continuously reuse it with properly washing it first. Please not that my tips only work with sponges of this particular shape. A bag can be purchased from at whooping $2.69 for a bag of 32. If you are allergic to latex, these are your best bet. Wedge sponges are readily available in many drug and mass retailer stores!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brushes on a Budget--Part 1

As the title may imply, I plan to create multiple posts relating to brushes. I am a firm believer that the types of brushes one should own depends not only on budget and the makeup looks you plan to achieve but your specific eye shape (more on this to come). That being said, for those just staring their brush collection or looking to add a does-it-all eyeshadow brush, the Eye Counter brush by Face Secrets (available at is a good choice. This work horse has been in my collection since my unhealthy obsession with makeup began. Originally purchased for being "cute" and "fluffy," this brush has not shed a single hair in the 5+ years I've washed it on a daily basis!

What makes it so versatile? The fluffy base can deliver a sheer wash of color when used in a side-to-side windshield wiper motion or pack on the shadow when pressed into the eyelid. The tapered end creates a precise crease shape without stabbing you in the eye! Bonus! It's soft enough not to damage your sensitive lid area but dense enough to do just about anything you need. And for approximately $5, you can get a pretty decent tool without spending very much. Enjoy!