Friday, May 31, 2013

Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Face Moisturizer

I finally started to settle into my summer skincare regime and have a series of products that work well together and with the self tanner formula that I use and I will continue to keep this same skincare regime until after Labor Day.  My latest addition to my summer skincare regime is one that I would use all year long and might be my new favorite product in my line up.  I have used and loved the Origins GinZing Eye Cream ever since it was first released in early 2010 and I was so excited when I saw a facial moisturizer in this same formula on the Sephora website.  This skin cream formula immediately went onto my Most Wanted list and I waited on their email list until the product was back in stock for me to order.  I ordered it the other week and now I finally have one of my most coveted skincare products in my hands and I have been testing it out for two days now.

So far this year has produced two skincare products that I have instantly wanted, this skin cream and the night cream from Philosophy.  I wanted both of these products for exactly the same reason, I have other products from these companies with very similar formulas and have gotten great results time and time again and I believed that the new products with from these same lines would give me very similar results.  So far...I have not been let down!

The GinZing Eye Cream was my first introduction to the Origins line and it started my relationship with this brand very well.  This is one of the best eye creams that I have ever used, both for the texture and the benefits.  It hydrates and absorbs very quickly while brightening my under eye area and reducing the appearance of my puffy eyes in the morning.  If a single eye cream can do all the above, I can only imagine what a face cream in this line could do...

"A facial cream to instantly hydrate and rev up radiance.  This lightweight, oil-free facial cream is fortified with legendary skin-boosters like panax ginseng and coffee bean to jumpstart hydration levels. Lackluster-looking skin is rapidly refreshed and revitalized to create a healthy, vibrant glow."

This is a gel-cream hybrid product, a texture that is one of my personal favorites because it hydrates very well yet is light enough to sink in quickly and begin working instantly.  I wasn't even aware that the product had this texture until I opened the pot up and started applying it to my face.  I use a nickel-sized drop of product to cover and hydrate my whole face and this is the perfect amount of someone with dry skin, if your skin is normal or oily you could get away with using less of the product.  It sinks in instantly and immediately I can see the increase in the hydration levels of my skin and the texture shows immediate improvement.  This formula is oil-free and I really think that every single skin type would benefit from the use of this product, it hydrates my dry skin but it light enough for anyone to use.  That might be my favorite aspect of the product...

I can see an evident change in my skin from the use of this product, I already discussed the improvement in the overall texture but I also see a different in the clarity and radiance of my skin.  I was happy to see that my cheek redness was reduced and my skin is brighter looking overall, this product makes me look as though I came back from a relaxing vacation and am fully rested (even though the exact opposite is usually true), this is a great cream for someone who has skin that responses negatively to stress.  My skin tends to get dull when I am stressed from work and/or school but this product counteracts all of that.  As much I am reaping the benefits of it now, I am really excited to see how it performs in the winter and early spring, this is time of the year that the weather and school do a number on my face and I have dry skin that often look dull and gray.  I will be buying more of this product at that time to see just how well it performs when my skin is at its worst.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Marchesa Perfume d' Extase

Marchesa is the design house that I automatically think of every single time that I hear about upcoming awards show...every young starlet has been wearing their designs for the past few years and they have created some of the most beautiful and amazing dresses to every go down the red carpet.  I can only dream of wearing one of their creations to the Met Ball at some point in my life and they will remain a figment of my dreams for a long time.  Last year, Marchesa created their first fragrance and the initial release was only to Sephora stores and their website...this was one of their biggest fragrance releases and the fragrance has been all over the place ever since.  I am trying a huge sample of this fragrance for the first time over the past few days...but I am still waiting to fall as in love with the fragrance as I am with their designs.

I first received a large sample of this fragrance last December with a Sephora online order, it was the featured VIB reward and I had been curious about this fragrance ever since it was first released.  I had read that this fragrance was a white floral, white florals are either very hit or miss for me so I knew from the beginning that I would either love or hate this fragrance.  I am not much of a gardenia girl but I love tuberose and jasmine scents, I find it so interesting that I can love and hate flowers that have so much in common.  I am sure that I could write full articles on the science of smell and how the perfumer uses each note to his or her notions of how they smell best but that it for another time and another day...I have a perfume to review!

The Marchesa fragrance is still only available on the Sephora website and I have heard nothing about it being carried anywhere else so I can only assume that it will stay exclusive to this retailer.  "MARCHESA PARFUM D’EXTASE opens with light florals, giving way to a combination of fresh and sensual notes that create complexity and beauty. Iris is the secret to the fragrance's richness, capturing the delicate essence of its flower petals and the dark sensuality of its precious roots. Freesia, young violet leaves, night blooming jasmine, ambrox, and musks complete the sublime composition of this intoxicating elixir.  The fragrance's elegantly designed bottle evokes the look and feel of an exotic raw crystal, a powerful gemstone known for its positive energy and abundant healing qualities. Each bottle features individually set crystals that exude confident and alluring femininity signature to Marchesa.  Discover the designers’ enchanting vision and dress your senses in ecstasy."

The notes of the fragrance are: Iris Flower, Freesia, Black Current, Young Violet Leaves, Lotus Flower, Night Blooming Jasmine, Bulgarian Rose Water, Orange Blossom, Iris Root, Ambrox, Captive Musks.

This is a very pretty light white floral but there is nothing special about it...I was expecting something very unique and worthy of the Marchesa name.  On me, this fragrance is all Iris, Freesia, and Violet notes, as I noted before it is very light and will be pretty for the warm weather months.  This is a fragrance that could easily be worn in a professional environment and would not offend anyone around you.  I am a bit disappointed that I cannot smell the Jasmine note in this fragrance at all, the addition of a strong Jasmine could have made this fragrance very beautiful and unique.  But that addition also would have made the fragrance much harder to wear and one that would not been as universally liked as this one.

I don't think that I would purchase a whole bottle of this perfume, it is isn't unique enough for me and I would expect a fragrance from a major design house to have much more depth and beauty to.  I will finish the huge sample that I have of it and will mostly use it in a professional environment or for getting dressed up during the day.  This fragrance is very easy to wear and I can see why it has a pretty universal appeal...the florals are very light and this fragrance will appeal to someone who doesn't like a very strong fragrance.  Good day fragrance for a professional environment but this is a not a scent that will inspire love or any type of strong feelings...this is disappointing from a design house that creates such unique and beautiful designs.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Smoothing Body Scrub

Body scrubs are one of my favorite body products and I am always excited to try new fragrances and formulas from nearly every single beauty product company.  I am someone who uses scrubs in every single season and consider them to be one of the staples of my body product regime, I scrub at least once a week and usually try to get in a second round once every few weeks.  I have very dry skin all throughout the year and I have found that my moisturizers just don't work correctly unless I take the extra step to exfoliate as much dead skin off as I can before using the products.  It consistently amazes me when people do not use scrubs or body brushes...what is the point of using great product on dead skin cells that aren't going to absorb it and waste it? 

I exfoliate every single season how I do change up my formulas with the season as I want different results at different times of the year.  In the winter, I need a sugar scrub that will get dry skin off without being harsh on my very dry skin.  I use the same type of formula in the spring because I am trying to get the rest of the dead winter skin off before I start wearing skirts and using self tanner.  I find these two seasons to be the most important for scrubs and this when I use them the most.  In the summer and fall months, I will use a lighter formula scrub and it is more for self tanner maintenance and for general skin health (once I stop using tanner for the season).  Right now, I am using a light, foaming formula from the Aromatherapy line from Bath and Body Works.

One of my all time favorite scrub formulas is the Sugar Scrub from Bath and Body Works' Aromatherapy line.  I have used this scrub since I worked there in college and this is one of the few products that I have consistently bought for years now.  My only issue with this product is that it is too heavy for the warm weather month, it is a combination of hydrating oil and sugar.  A great choice for the winter and spring but too much for the summer and early fall.  For quite a long time, I simply resigned myself to using these scrubs only during the winter months used other formulas from this and other beauty brands during the summer months.  However this is no longer the case!

The Aromatherapy line now has a second scrub formula and one that is much better for the summer months.  I believe that I first saw this product about two years ago when some of the new Energy blends came out but I have just purchased a tube of the Stress Relief formula and have been using it for about two weeks now. 

"Gentle enough to use every day, this foaming body scrub cleanses and softens skin while an aromatherapy blend of essential oils and natural ingredients enhances body, mind & mood. Massage gently over skin during a shower or bath. Breath deeply for best results. Rinse well.  Eucalyptus essential oil clears the mind while Spearmint Essential Oil uplifts to help improve concentration."

This scrub is great for the summer months, it is very light, foams up quickly, and then rinses clean with no oil in the formula.  I use this once a week in between self tanning treatments to keep my color even and the products absorbing correctly.  I use this on clean, wet skin and I love the way that it keeps my tan even and natural looking.  I personally love the Eucalyptus Spearmint scent from Aromatherapy but I was a bit disappointed to see that this was the only scent that it was available (or in stock in), I would love to own this in the Sleep blends or the other Eucalyptus fragrance in the Aromatherapy line. 

I'm glad that I found another scrub formula to use in the summer months, normally this is the time of the year that I have a harder time trying to find good scrub formulas as many of the good ones are too heavy for this time of the year.  I will be using this formula for the rest of the summer and into the beginning of fall.  I just hope that a few more fragrances get released in it...

photo courtesy of Bath and Body Works

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vincent Longo Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation

The end of May begins the time of the year that I rarely wear foundation and will only wear the lightest feeling formula when I do bother to use it.  I have been very much into the Urban Decay Beauty Balm for the past few weeks and I think that this is the face product that I will be turning to until Labor Day.  I will only use foundation if I need it to even my skin tone when getting very dressed up or if I am having a horrible skin day and the extra coverage is needed.  Whatever the case may be, I am putting my favorite NARS Sheer Matte formula away for the summer and have ordered a compact of the Vincent Longo Water Canvas Foundation to use when I need extra lightweight coverage.

Many of you will remember that I first used the Vincent Longo makeup line right after I graduated from college and was working at a Flagship Bath and Body Works, this was when a select group of Bath and Body Works carried extra makeup, skin, and hair care lines and I was able to try all kinds of products out when I was working there.  Vincent Longo Water Canvas is one of the stand out products in the line and one of my personal favorites, this still remains one of the best blush formulas that I have ever used and I am running very low on my last pot of it.  The foundation in this formula is just as unique and fabulous and this is the foundation that I ordered to alternate with my beauty balm for the next three months.  This is the lightest weight foundation formula that I have ever used and it somehow actually still covers flaws and even skin tone out like a heavier formula would.

The compound that makes the Water Canvas line so unique is called Microwater, this product is 75% Microwater and it helps the product to look and feel very natural on the skin.  Microwater is unique to Vincent Longo, this company holds the patent and I believe that the brand representative from this company told me that it was made in conjunction with the scientists from the major Asian beauty company, Kose.  Kose is the parent company of Awake, one of my favorite Asian skincare lines and I know that any product from this company will be unique and high quality. 

The Vincent Longo website is one of the few places that I can find this collection, it has been pulled out of Bath and Body Works and Sephora over the past few years and it gets harder and harder to find each year.  "A patented and award winning Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation imparts a real-skin (neither too moist nor too matte) powder finish on the skin. The unique, ultra-lightweight and refreshing liquid/solid texture hydrates skin and allows it to naturally breathe.  Contains 75% Microwater, a 100% natural botanical seaweed polymer and silica which maintain the skin’s moisture balance and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.  Vitamin E protects the skin from free radical damage.  To prevent evaporation, be sure to keep the lid locked closed between applications."

The website also provides details for best application techniques.  "Start with the Water Canvas Base to smooth and brighten skin.  For sheer coverage, apply with VL Brush #37 working in light downward strokes.  The Water Canvas sponge will provide medium-to-full coverage and should be used by gently pressing the sponge into the skin."  I have this product in Porcelain however it is available in a full range of shades, most of which tend to run warm when you try them in natural light.

Application is really key with this product, I lightly rub the makeup sponge around the edge of the product in a circular motion and then apply it my to face.  I do this twice, once to cover my whole face and get a base coat down and then I apply it again to areas that need more coverage (under my eyes, cheek redness, and my nose area).  The second coat is needed for full coverage of problem areas but only one is really needed for good skin areas.  I then do need to touch up with a bit of concealer, as I would with the NARS formula and then I am able to top if off with loose powder or bronzer and I am good to go for the day. 

This formula lasts throughout the whole day as long as I use a powder formula with it and a primer underneath it.  I am using a Smashbox primer right now and I am getting great results from the combination of the products.  This foundation is best for warmer weather or for someone who wants a very lightweight formula and has no major skin issues that need a full coverage foundation formula.

Drawbacks of the product - You must close this pot fully (until you hear an audible "click"), close is wrong once and you have lost your whole compact of the product because the Microwater evaporates and dries out almost instantly.  The shade range leaves a bit to be desired for ladies with cooler toned skin, I find that many of the shades are warmer and have yellow undertones to them (instead of blue or neutrals), this is one of the hardest foundation lines for me to fine a good shade for my skin tone.  The biggest drawback of the product is how high maintenance the formula is; you must lightly rub your sponge along the top of the product to pick it up and it must be applied with a sponge (there is no other way to apply it correctly).  Two coats are needed for problem areas and coverage needs to be built, it takes a bit longer in the morning to apply this product correctly (though I find the payoff to be worth it).  Above all, you must make sure that you close the product correctly every single time, one incomplete closure with kill your whole compact.  If you are not willing to invest this much time into this routine, then this is not the formula for you and I recommend that you do not try this product. 

I love this formula and can commit to the maintenance of it and love the results that I get from it.  This is not a typical foundation formula however it can give you a fabulous result if you are willing to put the effort into making it work!

photo courtesy of Vincent Longo

Monday, May 27, 2013

Benefit World Famous Neutrals - Sexiest Nudes Ever

Over the past few weeks, we have looked at two of the three new palettes from Benefit in the World Famous Neutrals collection and today we are looking at the last of the three new palettes.  I will be buying at least one or two of them but I wanted to look at all three of them first and then choose one or two of them to purchase.  I think that the Glamorous palette has been my favorite so far and this is the one that I know that I will be buying and I will decide on the Sexiest palette after I look at it on the Sephora website today.  I have quite a collection of neutral eye shadow shades already and I want to add at least one more of these to my line up.

I own very few eye shadows from Benefit and any ones that I own are contained in palettes or sets.  I don't think that I have every purchased a single eye shadow product from this company and I am unsure of what formulas they offer in powder eye shadow formulas.  If I like these palettes then I will need to look at this company's eye makeup products much closer.  I love their mascara formulas and I hope that the rest of their eye makeup products are just as high quality.  Time to add more to my eye makeup collection!

From the Sephora website, "An eye shadow kit featuring the sexiest nudes ever.  These dramatic, daring eyeshadows in award-winning creaseless creams and new longwear powder shadows make sexy totally wearable! The universally flattering shades layer beautifully—and the tips and tricks show you how to create looks for daytime and playtime. "

This palette contains shades in two of the Benefit eye shadow formulas, Longwear Powder Eye Shadow and Creaseless Cream Eye Shadows.  I have heard many awesome reviews of the Creaseless Cream Eye Shadows and these often make the Sephora and Allure Best of Beauty Awards.

Longwear Powder Eye Shadow - A powder eye shadow that lasts.  Finally, powder eye shadow in a fabulous long-wearing formula. This soft and silky shadow comes in 12 wearable shades and three finishes: matte, satin, and sheen. From pale shell to brilliant silver, these Benefit eye shadows have got you covered!  Make it last extra long! Layer long-wear powder shadow over your creaseless cream shadow for extra staying power.
- Milk It! - pearly white
- Pause For Applause - soft lilac
- Blingo! - brilliant silver
- Raincheck? - smoky amethyst

Creaseless Cream Eye Shadow - A long-wear cream eye shadow that won’t crease or smudge.  Benefit’s award-winning cream shadows are as crease-resistant and smudge-proof as ever! The 10 incredibly wearable shades (including original favorites RSVP, Birthday Suit, and Skinny Jeans) glide on easily and last all day. It’s fresh and fabulous color for all!  Make it last even longer! Layer long-wear powder shadow over your creaseless cream shadow for extra staying power.
- Bikini-tini - oyster pink
- Holy Smokes! - smoldering charcoal

I think that I would like to purchase this palette in addition to the Glamorous Nudes palette, this one will be better at creating a deeper toned neutral eye look.  The Glamorous Nudes would be best for the daytime and then I would this one at nighttime, the charcoal shades in this one would look better for dressing up and going out.  I can safely say that I need both of these palettes and would get lots of use from both of them. 

I have really been liking the new series of palettes from Benefit over the past few months and I want to add both of these to my collection.  I would use these shades right now and then all the way into the fall and winter months and I want to see how well these palette pair with the shades that are in my favorite Urban Decay Naked Palettes.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Balenciaga Florabotanica

Many of you know that as soon as I start replacing my skincare products and many several orders from the Sephora website, I then have a brand new crop of fragrance samples to try and review.  The same holds true for all the skincare and primers that I have been ordering so far this month and now we are turning the tide and I am trying out the new fragrances that have been coming with my orders.  I have been trying to get as many different samples as I can and have been using my VIB points to try out larger sizes of fragrances that I really think that would suit me.  I have been looking for a new fragrance (or three) for the beginning of summer and now I am full onto that project!

Today I am looking at the newer fragrance from Balenciaga, Florabotanica.  I have heard very mixed reviews of this fragrance and initially ignored it when it was first released.  I really like the first fragrance from this line but this one left a bad taste in my mouth when I first heard about it.  I think that I was most turned off by the fact that Kristen Stewart was the face of this fragrance, I couldn't stand her when she was in the Twilight series and her overall style and the why that she carries herself does not appeal to me.  Using her as the muse of this fragrance immediately put me off of trying it and I went right by it for several months.  I don't think that I ever would have tried this fragrance had it not been a Sephora free sample and I decided that I really had nothing to lose by trying it for a few days...

I think that I ordered this sample when the choices were not the best and I really had next to nothing to lose with trying something very new and different.  I will admit that this is the first sample that tried when I got my package because I was so curious to see what a fragrance that had Kristen Stewart as the face of it would actually smell like.  This sample came with one of the first orders that I made for new skincare and I put off reviewing it for so long since I was somewhat divided on what my thoughts of it were...I hated it at first but then liked it more and more each and every single time that I used it.  This is one of the few times that I used through an entire sample without coming to a full conclusion as to what my thoughts were on it. 

The stars must have been shining in my favor because soon after this was listed as one of the large VIB samples from Sephora and I have a good sized vial of it and have used it enough to come to a conclusion.  My conclusion - I freaking love this fragrance but have a feeling that my love could turn to hate very quickly.  And then vice versa as soon as I don't use it for a few months.  I have never smelled anything like this before and I find this to be a harder fragrance to I have a new favorite!

"Florabotanica evokes ambivalent bewitching beauty. Velvety and thorny, flirting with hemp and vetiver roots. The scent is flowery, developed on a rose note with a narcotic hemp twist. The wearer is beautiful but dangerous, like some rare botanical species.  Florabotanica is the fragrance of the Balenciaga botanic garden. It instills the brand with modernity and colors. While Balenciaga Paris paid tribute to the genius of Cristobal, this scent celebrates Nicolas’s futuristic perspective. The various facets of Nicolas’s inspiration are reflected in the bottle and outer box. The rich and surprising mix match of architectural lines, vivid colors, and venomous floral prints recurrent in Balenciaga’s fashion are translated into Florabotanica’s unique packaging.", states the Sephora website.

The notes of the fragrance are: Carnation, Wild Mint, Turkish Rose Essence, Hemp Leaves, Vetiver Roots, White Amber.

When this fragrance is initially applied to this skin, it is nose burning strong.  It literally gave me a sharp headache the first time that I used it and my first thought was how fast could I get this fragrance off my skin.  The Mint and Carnation burn my nose and the Hemp notes only add to the effect...thank goodness that this initial effect only lasts for about two minutes and then begins to fade and settle down very quickly.  The initial notes remain and then the Rose and Vetiver notes come out and then fragrance develops in a full and unique floral fragrance.  This is when I fell in love with the fragrance and wanted a bottle of it for myself.  This fragrance took me several tries to fall in love with it and I will be investing a bottle very soon.

As much as I love this fragrance at the moment, I know that I will fall out of love with it very soon and I will find it overwhelming and it will begin to give me headaches.  I will stop using it for a few weeks and then as soon I try it out again...I will be in love all over again!  This is a unique fragrance and I am on the fence as to whether or not it could be used in a professional environment, I am leaning on a "yes" since once it calms down, it is much less strong than the original burst of Mint and Carnation.

I still don't like Kristen Stewart but I do have a new love for the fragrance that she is the face of.  This will be a fragrance that I buy a full bottle of but I still feel that I will buy more than one scent.  The fragrance is best for spring and then the fall and winter, I cannot see myself wearing this fragrance in the heat of the summer as I think that it will get too strong to stand and my love will turn to dislike very quickly.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer

I have recently put my Clarins Instant Touch Primer away for the season, I love this thick, creamy foundation primer in cold weather but it is too rich for the warm weather months.  I first reviewed that formula about two years ago during one of my French Theme Weeks and I have been using and buying it again ever since.  However this is a formula that is only good in cold weather since the texture is a thick balm and will get oily as soon as the spring weather begins.  I put this formula away at the very beginning of this month and I then ordered a lighter formula from the Sephora website and I have been using it over the past two weeks...with great results so far.  I chose a Smashbox formula because I have a close friend who swears by their primers and face products and I wanted to try them out for myself.

The primer formulation from Smashbox has often been among the top rated products on the Sephora website and has won Allure awards for several years running.  I believe that the original formula is still the best selling and I was surprised at how many versions are available for purchase now, after my experience with the Hydrating Foundation Primer, I know that I will be buying every single one that will work for my skin type and that this product line lives up to all the hype around it.  I believe that the original formula Smashbox primer was one of the first primers that I ever saw at Sephora...before I even truly understood what a primer was or how to use it for best results. 

I believe that I first saw this primer formula when I began visiting the Sephora in King of Prussia while I was still in college.  At this time, this was the only Sephora that was available to me and when I would visit, I was most interested in the major products (NARS Orgasm Blush, Chanel fragrances) and wasn't paying attention to all less glamorous products on the shelves.  I am so glad that Sephora has come much closer to me and that I have learned a lot more about beauty in the last eight years!

I ordered this primer formula from the Sephora website, "A hydrating foundation primer that leaves an immediate cooling, refreshing sensation on the skin.  Hydration is essential for healthier, younger looking skin and makeup that just looks better. Give your complexion a moisture boost while creating a perfect canvas for foundation application with this lightweight, oil-free formula. It contains Hydraplex12 extract derived from desert plants, which allows the primer to immediately quench parched skin and seal in moisture for hours with a protective barrier that fills in fine lines and pores."

This formula is a very lightweight gel texture, it is the polar opposite from the Clarins formula that I have been using for months before ordering this product.  The product description states that it has a cooling sensation when applied to the skin and while this is a slight exaggeration, I can feel an immediate difference in my skin surface when this product is applied.  The primer formula sinks into my skin quickly and easily, it sank it so well the first time that I was unsure that I had the correct amount on my finger for application, I used less than a dime sized drop and I learned after several applications that this is the perfect amount of product to cover my whole face and then to work down into my neck and chin.  I use less of this product than I have of the Clarins or the MAC Prep + Prime formula.

What results do I see from this product?  After using it on moisturized skin, my foundation or BB Cream spreads on my easier and I have to use less product to cover my whole face.  I do not have fine lines to fill in but I was interested to see how it affected the appearance on and size of the visible pores on my T-Zone.  I can see a reduction in the appearance of them and then my foundation or BB Cream almost completely gets rid of their appearance, this is my favorite aspect of this product.  It creates a smooth appearance to my skin without making me look "made up" and my skin still looks very natural after my makeup application.  This formula makes my makeup stay in place all day long and never gets heavy, I have noticed that it doesn't stand up very well to sweating during a work out (however most primers aren't made for this so I don't hold it against the product) but it works very well for normal activities.  This will be a great formula to use in the summer months and I look forward to seeing results from it all summer long!

After using this product, I can see why the Smashbox Primers are cult favorites and why they are always recommended by Sephora associates and beauty magazines, I now want to start using more face products from Smashbox and will be adding more primers from this line to my makeup collection.  I think that the Hydrating formula will be a constant favorite of mine since it works perfectly with my skin (at least in warm weather - I don't know if it will work as well in the cold weather when my skin gets very dry) and I know that I will repurchase this formula over and over again.  I am now looking at foundation and concealer formulas from this company for when I need to replace these products!

photo courtesy of Sephora

Friday, May 24, 2013

Clinique High Impact Lip Colour

Clinique has become one of my favorite brands since the beginning of the year and I keep falling more and more in love with this brand with every single product that I buy from them.  I have been using their skincare almost faithfully for the past few months and have been seeing great results from it.  The results that I am seeing from their skincare has only made me want to buy more and more makeup products from this company.  I have been especially interested in their lip products recently, I have used many of their eye makeup products in the past (with the exception of their eye liners) and so I will focus on the few lip products that I have not tried from this company yet.  On my last trip to Sephora, I tried out a new lip formula (at least new to me) and went home with a few new toys to play with in the next few weeks.  I have been all over pink lipsticks this spring and will continue this trend into the summer months so I have been trying to find all kinds of new shades of pinks for the next few months.

I have used the Clinique Different and Butter Shine Lipsticks before and High Impact is one of their newer formulas.  I first received a small palette of this formula in a gift with purchase a bit ago and I was initially impressed with the products however I never ended up buying any more shades of them.  I think that I first tried this formula during my MAC and NARS obsession that began a few years and I was spending more money on these two brands than any others.  I revisited this small palette before my Sephora trip and I was again impressed with this lipstick formula and decided that I needed more from this line.

The Sephora website provides a full description of the formula and the shades contained in it.  "A highly moisturizing lipstick that is high on color and long on comfort.  Smooth, soften, and comfort lips with dressed-up color that wears beautifully for up to eight hours. Along with high-impact color and long-lasting moisture, these beautiful shades also protect from UVA and UVB."

I wasn't aware that their was a SPF in this product until I read this description and that makes more love Clinique even more than I normally do.  This is very creamy lipstick formula and is very close in texture to the Butter Shine formula, these shades are more opaque than the sheers in that formula and have more pigment than every other Clinique lipstick formulas that I have used in the past.  All Clinique lipsticks are extremely hydrating and this one is no exception, this one helps to keep moisture in my lips while providing beautiful color.  The wear is pretty typical of that of a cream formula, I usually wear sheer or matte formulas so I am used to a range of wear times.  This one stays on pretty well through eating and drinking but I find that I would need to reapply after drinking a full cup of coffee, eating a meal, etc. 

The shades of this products are:

- After Party - deep shimmering warm berry
- Cider Berry - warm berry red cream
- Citrus Rose - shimmering cool rose
- Extreme Pink - shimmering cool magenta
- Go Fig - medium shimmering nude
- Nude Beach - medium nude cream
- Peach Pop - medium shimmering warm peach
- Red-y to Wear - medium blue red cream
- Rosette - medium neutral rose cream
- Rose Spectrum - deep rose cream
- Sassy Spice - deep shimmering nude

I bought two shades that would be perfect for the summer months but are still neutral enough for me to wear all year long.  I bought Nude Beach and Rosette, I often pair my natural lip hues with all the bronze eye makeup looks that I have been wearing recently and these are two great new options for me.  I love this lipstick formula for the summer since it has the SPF in and I will still buy more shades in this formula for the fall and winter months.  I am not a fan of the shimmer finishes in this collection so the only other shade that I really want is Red-y to Wear and I will by this one when I go back to wearing red lipstick in the cool weather.

I have found yet another winner from Clinique and I am so excited to add yet another lipstick formula to my collection!

photo courtesy of Sephora

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Korres Milk Proteins 3-in-1 Cleansing, Toning, and Eye Makeup Removing Emulsion

I am firmly in my self tanning routine for the summer and I have noticed that my skin seems drier than normal this year.  It might be because it is on the colder side right now and this Memorial Day weekend will feel more like the very beginning of spring than the very end of spring.  Whatever the case may be, I have changed by skincare routine a slight bit so that I can try and combat some of the dryness before it gets to the point that I can't self tan as much as I like because my face begins to burn when I apply the product.  I am happy with the face lotion that I am currently using and I have no plans to change this product (Clinique Dramatically Different Face Lotion), this classic face lotion is a warm weather staple of mine and I have used it in combination with my favorite Bath and Body Works self tanner for two summers now.  The next option for me is try a new face wash or a new serum.  I am running low on my Clinique face wash so trying a different kind of face wash is my first change.

I have used many Korres face products in the past and I wanted to try a face wash from this line, I have used their moisturizers and treatments before but I have never picked up a face wash from them and am eager to try one.  There are several choices from this line and I looked at all of them and then decided on a product from the Milk Proteins line.  This line is best for dry skin that needs a bit of extra care and is exactly what I need at the moment.  I chose to order the Milk Proteins Cleansing, Toning, and Eye Makeup Removing Emulsion from Sephora in the hopes that a cream cleanser would be more gentle on my skin.

"An ultra-gentle cream emulsion that removes makeup and cleanses the skin of impurities.  Rich in nourishing oils, this product instantly cleanses the skin of impurities. The complexion is left soft, clean, and feeling moisturized. A combination of naturally derived emulsifiers and oils ensures excellent tolerance by the skin. Milk proteins, rich in lactose and essential amino acids, offer nourishing, hydrating, and moisturizing properties.  This product is ideal for very dry skin and for those who wish to avoid cleansing with water.", states the Sephora website.

I wash my face only once a day and use a separate eye makeup remover, I have never seen the wisdom is using one product for multiple purposes and do not believe that one cleanser will correctly perform both tasks.  I have been using this product for about three or four days now and I have drawn several conclusions about it...

My first conclusion is that this is only a product for someone with dry or very dry skin, it has a very creamy and slippery feel to the application and would not work for anyone with normal or any type of oily skin.  This product does not foam at all and would not appeal to those who love foaming cleansers.  This product is for a very targeted audience and my skin fits perfectly into this target.  I squeeze about a nickel-sized drop of this product from the bottle and this is the perfect amount to apply for my entire face and the top of my neck.  I use water to rinse this product though I am sure that it could be tissued off for those users who do not like to use water at all when cleansing their faces.  This product washes off very easily and leaves little to no residue on my face. 

I love this face wash for keeping my dry skin feeling soft and nourished all throughout cleansing, my face doesn't feel tight when I get out of the shower and is less dry than after using many other face washes.  I really prefer the feel of a foaming face wash but my skin often tends to prefer cream formulas and it has been extra dry recently.  I am very happy with this product and will be buying it again in the near future.

I discovered the one drawback of this product last night, I decided to use a toner after cleansing and I wasn't expecting all of the face makeup that clung to the cotton ball.  I do use multiple primers on my face and eyes along with either foundation or Beauty Balm and I am used to any face wash not getting all the excess makeup off.  This formula left more than others have in the past (typical for a cream formula) so I do have to use the Korres wipes on my face after working out and will need to use a toner once of twice a week to get a more through cleansing for my face.  I have come to expect that cream formulas are not going to have the same level of cleansing that foam and gel will and I would rather add that extra step once a week and have my skin feel less tight when getting out of the shower.

I really like this face wash and I do consider this to one of my favorites that I have used, I love the whole Korres line and will keep buying more products from it over the next few months. 

photo courtesy of Sephora

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Look at This Manicure!

Happy Birthday to me!  I must say that I have no plans today other than starting a new workout routine at the gym I just joined and I am craving a salon visit.  I have a hair appointment next week but I really want a new manicure and to try something different with both my hair and nails.  I have been all about pink nail polish shades lately and I have been on the lookout to add more bottles of this hue to my polish collection.  I have been using my favorite pink from Illamasqua nearly three times a week since the beginning of the warm weather and this trend shows no signs of stopping for me this summer!

I wanted to see some more pink shades and Goggled "neon pink manicure" and found the above picture.  Most of you know that I am not a huge fan of nail art and I can pull off an accent manicure or polka dots on my nails but I can't do anything more complex.  I fell in love with this picture as soon as I saw in on my screen and I am really beginning to think about taking it to my salon and seeing if one of the manicurists can recreate it for me.  I am not totally sure why I fell in love with this nail art, I guess it stems from my love of pink, silver, and animal prints and I really want to try it out as a birthday present to myself!

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Clinique High Impact Mascara

I have been using a lot of products from Clinique lately and the newest mascara formula that I bought is from this line.  I had used their mascaras several years ago and I often liked them, but I never really loved them.  I got many of their mascaras in the past from all the free gifts with purchase and I have reviewed a bunch of their formulas here and I used one of their waterproof formulas for my Beach Theme Week about two years so I am quite familiar with their formulas.  Earlier this month, I ordered a tube of the High Impact formula from Sephora and have been using it for the past few weeks.  I remember having a tube of this mascara way back in college and I wanted to try it again before I reviewed it.  I wondered if the formula had changed since then so I see that the tube has changed, the only way for me to be sure was for me to order another tube of it and try it all over again.  I am happy to say that this formula has remained the same and that I have a good formula that I can easily get whenever I need to.

Clinique has easily become one of my favorite brands over the past few months and I have been buying almost all their skincare products over the first half of this year and I have been adding some of their makeup products to my purchases too.  Earlier this spring, there was not a Sephora purchase that I made without something from Clinique contained in it and my collection grew very rapidly.  I now have a mascara that I love from this line of products and one formula that I know will not irritate my eyes and the skin around them.  I love that I can add another product to my "safe" list, I need a list of products that I can completely trust since I have more than enough problems with irritation and product allergies and after I get a flare-up, I need to go back to something that I can 100% trust.  As of right now...most of these products are Clinique!

"A richly pigmented mascara that kicks up the volume of each individual lash.  Get instant drama! Pump up the volume and length of each lash for a look that's lusher, plusher, and bolder. Dress your lashes in pure, deep color—wear it once and you'll feel naked without it.  Ophthalmologist tested."

This is the best mascara that I have ever used from Clinique and one of the most solid and best on the market.  This is technically a volumizing mascara however it is not made to give the huge, fake-looking lashes that I typically crave.  I never thought that I would say this but I am starting to get away from always wanting the massive eye lashes and I am beginning to believe that I should have two mascara formulas.  I am beginning to think more about the types of careers that I want after I graduate from my MBA and I feel that many of them will not find dramatic makeup to be appropriate and I am beginning to divide my products into "day" and "night" items.  This mascara would fall into the "day" category.  

One coat of this mascara is enough to volumize my lashes for daytime or a professional environment, two coats are then needed when I got out after work.  I bought the Black shade, it is a great inky black shade that even covers all of my lashes with only one coat.  This formula doesn't clump and I have no problems with it flaking off.  This is a great formula of mascara and lasts all day long without having to be touched up or declumped.  I use a regular eye makeup remover to get it off and I can get about 95% of it off with one or two swipes across each eye, the rest I can get off in the shower. 

This is in my Top Ten of mascara formulas, it is probably one of the most dependable formulas that I have ever used.  It can easily be taken from day to night and would work in almost any circumstance, from work to class to going out for dinner.  I also love how this product is safe for sensitive eyes and anyone could get great results from this mascara.  I will repurchase this mascara again and it remains as a top choice on my "safe" list.  Another winner from Clinique!

photo courtesy of Sephora

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tarte Clean Slate 360 Creaseless 12-Hour Smoothing Eye Primer

The hot weather months are basically upon us and this is the time of the year that I am most obsessed with primers and making sure that my makeup stays in place all day long.  I have been using my newest tube of MAC Prep + Prime for the past few weeks and I now remember what I love that product so much, the face version of this product is great but the eye version is the worse primer that I have ever used and would never recommend to anyone.  So when I was getting low on my last tube of Smashbox Lid Primer, I skipped over all the MAC eye primers and decided to try for a company that I have never owned a primer from before.  I have been on a Tarte kick recently and I had no idea if they had an eye primer or not, I looked up the brand on the Sephora website and was excited to see one primer formula from this company and I ordered it right away.

I don't ever remember seeing this product in a magazine or at Sephora so I had very little basis for my decision to order this product, I ordered it only because I have gotten some great items from Tarte over the past year and would be more than happy to add another great product to my line up.  My favorite eye shadow primers are still Urban Decay Primer Potion and NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base, I do not expect any eye shadow primer to spoil my love of either of these products and they are the top performers among every primer that I have ever used.  After using this product for several days, I can say that it is a nice eye shadow primer but it is not one of the best at Sephora nor is is going to be one of my favorite Tarte products.

The Sephora website provides full product information and a description.  "A waterproof 12-hour smoothing eye shadow primer that locks eye shadow in place.  This primer acts as a smudge-proof base for shadow while preventing fallout and migration of color. The universal shade glides on easily and powers through the day into the evening for 12 hours of perfect wear."  This product is made to be used on clean, dry eye lids before the use of any other eye makeup products.

This is not an eye shadow primer for anyone who wears a lot of eye makeup or shadows that tend to have fall out issues.  I have several beloved eye shadow shades that I have experienced major fall out from and only the two eye shadow primers that I have listed earlier in this post are able to keep every shadow that I own on my eye lids and not my cheeks.  For that reason alone, I would not be likely to repurchase this product after my tube is finished.  The product is a much thinner texture than the previous two eye shadow primers and remind me very much of the Too Faced eye shadow primer (and I have very similar thoughts on that primer).  I squeeze out a small drop of this product and this is enough for both eye lids, I dab the product on each eye lid and that have to wait a few moments for the product to dry.  Waiting for the product to dry is a huge aspect to the successful use of this primer, I didn't wait for it to dry the first few times that I used it and my eye makeup smudged and would not stay in place at all.  After I learned that this product needs a few extra moments to dry, I was able to get much better results from this product.

This formula is able to hold most of my eye shadows in place, it works well with every matte, satin, and shimmer formula I have but it does not hold a strong glitter shadow in place.  If you don't use any shadow like this, than you will love this formula and have no problems with it, it just wasn't enough to hold some of my favorite eye shadows.  It works well with about 95% of my eye shadows but not well enough with my favorites so I would need to own both this formula and either NARS or Urban Decay's to make all my eye makeup work.  This formula is best used with a more classic or natural eye makeup look.  In addition, I have used this product by itself on my lids when I have been interested in a very natural look on the weekends and I do like the finish that I get when using it in this fashion.

This is good eye shadow primer, it is not among the best on the market and it is also not among the best products that Tarte offers.  I would recommend this primer only to those who don't wear any eye makeup that has major glitter (and fall out potential) in it and I am confident that they would be happy with the results that they receive from it.  Good formula but not the best on the market...

photo courtesy of Sephora

Sunday, May 19, 2013

China Glaze Summer 2013 Collection - Sunsational

The summer collections are basically over with for the year, several companies didn't really release a separate summer collection and tend to wait until fall to bring out their next big collection.  I can understand why not every company will bring out a separate collection, I tend to spend most of my beauty products money on the products for the spring and fall and then only pick up a few new lip and eye shades throughout the summer and early winter months.  And it goes without saying that every company wants to bring special products out for the holidays since this is the time of the year that I buy more beauty product gifts than ever before.  One of the beauty items that I buy all year and update every single season is nail polish and therefore I decided that our last summer collection should be the one that I know that I will buy several products from this summer.  And that is the newest collection from China Glaze!

The new summer collection from this company is named Sunsational and is a series of super funky bright hues for the summer months.  I love bright shades in the summer, especially pinks and aquas and I have been buying shades like this since the middle of April.  I am excited to add a few more of these shades to my collection before I start picking up jewel tones to go into the fall months.

This collection appears to be range of shades, all of which are bright hues with cream finishes.  I do not like brights with shimmer or glitter finish as they can go from pretty to tacky very quickly and are rarely suitable for manicures.

Here are the shades in the newest collection from China Glaze!

- Sun of a Peach - true peach cream
- Shell-o - bright magenta cream
- Neon and On and On - bright salmon pink cream
- Bottoms Up - bright lilac cream
- That's Shore Bright - bright periwinkle cream
- Too Yacht Too Handle - bright aqua cream
- Keepin' It Teal - medium deep aqua cream
- Isle See You Later - bright robins egg blue cream
- Are You Jelly? - cool bright purple cream
- You Drive Me Coconut - warm bright purple cream
- Highlight of My Summer - cool mint green cream
- Heat Index - bright fuchsia pink cream

My favorite shade is actually the bright lilac cream from this collection, I don't own any shade like Bottoms Up and I really want to try a completely different type of bright hue.  I don't know that I have even really seen many shades like this, this is one is just so different that I must buy it the next time that I order from Ulta.  That's Shore Bright is another favorite of mine for the same reason, I love the bright periwinkle shade and it would fill a hole in my collection too.  I have loves in both of the teal shades, I want to order both even though neither of them is very different from the shades that I already own.  I use teal shades so much and get so many compliments of them and I know that I would get lots of use from these shades.  From the pinks, I want Shell-o and Heat Index, I was hoping for shades that were different from the typical bright pink and I am not disappointed by this collection.

We have about a month until we start hearing about fall and I will taking that time to try a bunch of new products out.  I always try out a bunch of fragrances and body products in the summer and I will be reporting back with my thoughts and then we will begin heading into the fall collections by the end of June!

photo courtesy of China Glaze's Facebook page

Saturday, May 18, 2013

NARS Loves New York Set

Anyone reading this blog knows that I have been on a huge NARS kick for well over a year now, this counter is the first place that I stop each time that I go to Sephora store.  I am already beginning to look forward to the fall collection from this company even though the summer months aren't even technically with us yet.  I have a few more Lipsticks from this company that I want to collect and am hearing a rumor about a new formula of lip crayon that is on the way from this company.  But I must say that I am the more excited about a new palette that just come out from this company and this will be the perfect birthday present to myself in the upcoming days!

The newest NARS palette is named NARS Loves New York and I love both NARS and New York so this palette appeals to me even without me seeing what colors and products are offered inside it.  I have always wanted to visit the NARS Flagship store on Bleecker St and I am hoping that I will be able to get down into that area and at least see the outside of the store.  A visit inside the beautiful store might really be painful to my Visa card but very fun for me.  I can only imagine the day when I live within a short cab ride from this store and can visit it all the time.  Until then, I will have to order the NARS Loves New York Set and envision my future apartment.

The NARS Loves New York Set contains a palette with eye and face shades included in it and then a lip gloss and nail polish to complement the look.  I am not sure which items I am the most excited about, I want to try the bronzer formula for the summer months.  I also want more eye shadow shades from this line.  But I love NARS lip products more than almost any other line and I haven't tried the nail polish formula from them yet.  I think that the bronzer formula is my priority but I will love everything in this entire palette.

"Day to night, uptown to downtown— the style and sophistication of New York City in a dynamic and dramatic color palette as rich with possibilities as the city itself."

Here are the product details from the set...

Bronzing Powder - Bronzing Powder creates the ultimate healthy glow. Diffused powders with golden shimmer create an all-over warmth or contour for the face perfect for creating or enhancing the look of tanned skin. Finely milled powders fills in lines and pores for smoother, more even looking complexion.  Iconic shades ideal for all skin tones.  Natural looking, imperceptible finish.  Subtle shimmer adds glow.
- Laguna - diffused brown powder with gold shimmer

Shimmer Eye Shadow - Luminous, light-reflecting shades for shading, highlighting and lining eyes. Highly pigmented, longwearing, crease resistant colors that can be applied sheer or layered for more dramatic effects. Color glides on smoothly, evenly and blends effortlessly.  True color application.  Can be applied dry or with a dampened brush for stronger intensity.  Multi-function use for shading, lining and highlighting the eyes.  Sophisticated, luminous shades.
- Galapagos - bitter chocolate infused with gold shimmer
- Nepal - soft sheer rose

Matte Eye Shadow - Highly pigmented, velvety-matte, ultra-fine powders for shading, creating depth and lining eyes. Long-wearing, crease-resistant colors glide on smoothly and evenly and blend effortlessly. Can be applied sheer or layered for a more dramatic effect.  True color application.  Can be applied dry or with a dampened brush for heightened intensity.  Multi-function use for shading, lining and brow color.  Rich, vivid shade range, with ultra-matte finish.
- Biarritz - perfect neutral cream colored beige
- New York - plum brown

Blush - The ultimate authority in blush, NARS offers the industry's most iconic shades for cheeks. Natural, healthy-looking color that immediately enlivens the complexion. A light application for even the highest-intensity hues delivers a natural-looking flush.  Silky texture in matte and shimmering shades.  Micronized powder ensures soft, blendable application.  Iconic NARS shades.
- Amour - peachy pink

Lip Gloss - Serious shine and sexy color in sheer, semi-sheer and creamy formulas. Extremely wearable and versatile shades may be worn alone or over other lip formulas for added dimension.  Ultra-smooth, non-sticky, comfortable wear.  Enriched with Vitamin E to help lips feel supple and hydrated.  Iconic NARS shades.
- Dolce Vita - sheer dusty rose

Nail Lacquer - Fashion-forward and classic NARS Nail Polish shades impart incredible luster and prolonged gloss retention with UV protection to prevent polish discoloration. An advanced polymer system provides extended wear and a durable, chip-resistant finish.  Modern, iconic shades.  Long-wearing, chip-resistant.  Toluene, formaldehyde and DBP free.  Ships via ground only.
- Chinatown - blood red

I don't even have to think about this palette, I know that I will want to order it and the only decision will be where I will order it from.  I might wait a few days and see if it is on the Sephora website since I am almost at the 400 point mark for VIBs and I want to qualify for the 500 Point Perk soon.  I still can't pick my early favorite product yet from this set.  I have heard so many great reviews of this bronzer formula, I already love eye shadows from this company and use Galapagos all throughout the year.  I have wanted the Dolce Vita Lip Gloss shade for a few months now and I really like the red shade of Nail Lacquer in this set.  This might be my favorite NARS set ever released and I love New York just as much as NARS does!

photo courtesy of NARS

Friday, May 17, 2013

MAC Temperature Rising - Bronzing Collection

Temperature Rising is finally up on the MAC website and I have been looking forward to this collection since the very beginning of the summer collections!  This collection is the big MAC summer release and will follow in a long line of top notch MAC summer collections, I still say that Hey, Sailor! and To The Beach are two of my favorite color collections of all time and I still have products from these collections that I use very often.  My last Lipglass from To The Beach is almost finished and I am so depressed about this, I will use this bright pink lip gloss until the very last drop is gone and then I will go right out and try to find another Lipglass that is similar.  I am hopeful that I find a shade like this is in the Temperature Rising collection as this would make my life much easier. 

This collection is so large that MAC has divided it up into two collections, one with the bronzing products in it and the other with the color collection in it.  This is very typical of big MAC collections and I haven't yet decided which part of the collection that I am the most excited about.  I am going to start with the Bronzing part of the collection since I have been waiting to finalize my choice of another bronzer formula until this collection was released.  My current favorite bronzer formula was from last year's big summer release and I trust any formula of bronzer that MAC releases.

"The heat is on with summer's sensual collection of rich, golden bronzers sure to make temperatures rise. M•A•C Bronzing Powder illuminates with gorgeous highlights, while Bronzing Oil's botanical blend lavishes skin with moisture. Pro Longwear Bronzing Powder provides a stunning sheen all evening long, and Strobe Liquid flashes a sexy afterglow."

I am so excited for this collection, both the Bronzing and the Color parts.  In the Bronzing part of the collection, I am looking for another formula of powder bronzer to love and perhaps a pretty highlighter to complement my bronzed skin when getting dressed up.  We shall see what else I find too...

Here is the Bronzing Collection from Temperature Rising!

Temperature Rising Bronzing Powder - A lightly frosted, tinted powder that gives sheer, natural colour effects and highlights. Ideal to enhance and strengthen a tan. Packaged in a limited-edition soft touch bronze compact.
- Soft Sand - golden bronze with fine gold pearl
- Refined Golden - finely spun golden with soft pearl finish

Strobe Liquid - Blending soft-focus diffusers with iridescent pigments, this ultra-fluid strobe formula produces a soft, radiant light on the skin, reducing the appearance of skin imperfections by providing a natural-looking glow. Refreshing. Spreads on smoothly and absorbs quickly. Leaves the skin looking healthier and more radiant. A lighter-weight addition to the popular Strobe Cream.
- Golden Elixir - natural golden glow

Bronzing Oil - A shimmering body oil formulated to bring a sheer sheen and sexy gleam to skin. Soothing, naturally emollient. Its fusion of three botanical oils helps soften, smooth and moisturize skin. Limited-edition.
- Man Rays - glowing tan with multi-dimensional gold shimmer

167SE Face Blender - A full, fluffy, dome-shaped brush of ultra-soft , black natural fibres perfect for the lightweight application and blending of face powders, highlighters and bronzers. Luxurious soft-touch, bronze, short-handle design. Limited-edition.

Temperature Rising Makeup Bag - A rich, metallic bronze makeup bag inspired by this summer's sensual colour and bronzing collection. Flat, rectangular-shaped bag with black rope strap and magenta lining. Zipper on main enclosure and outside pocket. Oil slick, Soft-touch polyurethane material. 8.75" x 5 inches". Limited-edition. Pro discount is not applicable.

I was hoping that this part of the collection would be a bit larger, I would like to have more bronzing options to choose from.  I actually already own the Bronzing Powder, this is the exact same formula and choice of shades that MAC offered last summer in Hey, Sailor!.  I already love this formula so I will continue to use my compact of it throughout the summer but I was hoping to see another formula that I could choose from, I remember that the same versions were offered last summer and it would have been nice if MAC would have introduced a product that we had never seen before.  I would be lying if I said that I was happy with the bronzer choices in their big summer collection. 

If I was running low on the bronzer formula from this collection then I would be all about it being released again.  However I am not and I wanted to try another formula of bronzer so this is not the collection that I was hoping that it would be.  These are the exact same products that MAC introduces every single summer and I want to see something new and different. 

photo courtesy of MAC

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sephora Collection Classic Must Have Large Powder Brush #30

Towards the end of the last summer, my bronzer brush brought in half, it was still usable enough to get me through the end of the bronzer season.  I use a separate brush for bronzer and it didn't make much sense to me to panic buy a new brush when I would only be using it for about two more weeks.  I was able to finish up the season with it and then threw it away after Labor Day.  I went back to my traditional loose powder and the brush that I use with it but that brush is too tapered to use for powder bronzer.  My first night of self tanning was last night and I ordered a bronzer brush off the Sephora website last week and I first tried it out this morning with my favorite formula of MAC bronzer.

What was I looking for in a bronzer brush?  I wanted a brush that was huge and fluffy, with a small to medium length handle.  I wanted to be able to dust on a light layer on bronzer and have a better amount of control over it than a traditional powder brush.  Making a mistake with bronzer in the morning can push back my entire day and I hate when I have to start my makeup over after I have all my face makeup finished up.  I looked on the Sephora website about a month ago and have been narrowing them down ever since.  On the first round of narrowing them down, I got rid of all the ones that weren't large enough to lightly sweep powder bronzer all over the face.  The second round got rid of the ones that had long handles and might not give me the control that I wanted.  The winner actually was from a brand that I have never used any brushes from before: the Sephora house brand.

I decided on the Classic Must Have Large Powder Brush #30, a huge fluffy face brush with a shorter handle than most.  "A round, full-bodied brush for evenly applying loose or pressed complexion powders.  Perfect for creating an even, matte finish, this brush helps to set makeup quickly without excess powder and without overload.  This brush features synthetic takelon bristles, an aluminum ferrule, and a wooden handle. The brush can also be used for the décolletage with an illuminating brush-on powder."

I have only used this brush for powder bronzer so far and I am very happy with it.  I can easily sweep bronzer all over my face and then dip it again to add an extra layer to cheekbones and then blend all the way down my neck and chest area.  I love that the brush is not made of animal fur, I feel better using vegan brushes even though all reputable companies confirm that no animals are harmed in their fur brushes.  I was originally hoping that Urban Decay would have a great bronzer brush but their brush was too thin and tapered for my liking. 

I have no complaints with this brush, it performs just as I would like a bronzer brush to and I am actually considering using it as a powder brush in the cool weather months.  I would only use it with pressed powder, I think that it might make loose powder fly all over the place.  I will try this one out in a few months and see how it performs in this aspect.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

OPI Summer 2013 Collection - Couture de Minnie

Last year, OPI launched a collection with Disney that was inspired by Minnie Mouse and all the fame that has been built up around her over the past few decades.  This collection became an instant best-seller and every display that I visited was empty.  I don't feel that the shades were unique enough on their own to inspire such love and devotion so they must all have been bought by Minnie Mouse lovers.  It seems that any collection from OPI that teams up great nail polish shades and movies/pop culture always sells out faster than any other collection.  Last year's Minnie Mouse collection was a collection of solid pink hues and then one over the top pink glitter top coat.  I seem to remember that the top coat was the biggest hit of the collection and I am sure that OPI will bring another one (or perhaps two or three) out with the collection this year!

The Minnie Mouse collections are always about pink shades and are super girly, a look that I am all about this spring and summer.  I have said it before but I will say it again, I used to hate pink polish shades until about a year ago and now I just can't get enough of them.  I keep adding more and more pink shades to my collection and am always on the lookout for them in every single polish line that I have ever shopped from.  I already bought a few new pinks this spring and now I want even more, I will have to get to Ulta quickly since I know this collection will sell out within the first week of it being put on display.  I see three traditional finish polishes in this collection and then I see both a glitter and a Liquid Sand finish.  I have never liked the Liquid Sand finish and I know that I can already rule one shade out from this collection but I will find at least two or three shades from this line up of pinks that I will want immediately.

Here are the shades in the Couture de Minnie collection!

- Minnie Style - This red and white glitter is the height of fashion.
- Chic From Ears to Tail - This pop of bubblegum pink is totally fabulous!
- Innie Minnie Mighty Bow - Catch this crimson by the toe!
- A Definite Moust-Have - This fantastic fuchsia is at the top of my shopping list!
- Magazine Cover Mouse - The headline-making strawberry has sparkling texture.

Chic From Ears to Tail is my favorite shade even though it is not the most unique pink that I have ever seen.  This is the perfect bubblegum pink cream and I will wear this shade all summer on my nails and toes, I want to use this shade in a manicure and then do a deeper pink with similar undertones on my toe nails.  This shade is very similar to one of my current favorite lipsticks, MAC Sheen Supreme in Behave Yourself and I love creating elegant looks with matching my lips and nails.  A Definite Moust-Have is my second choice in this collection, I could take this deeper fuchsia shade all through summer and then into the fall months.  These are the only two shades that I must have from this collection, I could easily skip over the glitter hue and the Liquid Sand hue.  Innie Minnie Mighty Bow is a pretty red hue but Hey Sailor from China Glaze is basically the exact same shade and I already own a bottle of it.

I heard rumors of another summer collection that will be arriving soon...a tie in with the Bond girls!

photo courtesy of OPI

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Giorgio Armani Summer 2013 Collection

We have gone through many summer collections already but we still have quite a few to look at yet.  We are getting closer and closer to my birthday and my birthday shopping list is getting longer and longer as each day goes by and I still have not yet decided what I will be doing on my birthday, I am considering going beauty product shopping at King of Prussia.  I have loved every other birthday that I have taken the day to go beauty product shopping at my wonderful mall, I considered New York City but this one will be very weather-depending.  Based on my train of thought, I wanted to look at a collection today that I cannot get around where I live and I have decided to check out the summer collection from Giorgio Armani Beauty.

I have wanted to try products from this line for quite a bit now, especially the foundations, bronzers, and blushes (three types of products that I really prefer to try on before purchase and tend to not purchase online unless I know the brand very well already.), I think that I am the most excited to try out foundation shades and see if all the hype around the face products from Giorgio Armani Beauty is true.  I never see a list of top rated beauty products without at least one of these products at the top of it and now I want to see what I have been missing out on.

On first glance of the summer collection...there are only two products in this collection and neither of them catches my eye right away.  I might find myself skipping over the whole seasonal collection and focus more on the traditional product line up and look for makeup staples.  I see a lip gloss formula that I have never seen before in this collection and then a bronzer compact.  I am always excited for lip gloss and have been shopping for a new bronzer for a few weeks now so maybe I will find some hits in this collection.

Here is the summer collection from Giorgio Armani Beauty!

Bronze All-Over Palette - Inspired by pleated lamé, this allover bronzer is this summer's must-have. Use all over for a sun-illuminated complexion.  This bronzer palette contains stripes of multiple bronze hues and would blend together for the perfect medium bronze glow.

Flash Lacquer Crystal Shine Gloss - Giorgio Armani premieres the newest generation in lip gloss with Flash Lacquer. Flash Lacquer provides the highest reflection ever achieved, even after blotting lips. The shape and shine technology causes light to reflect off of every point of surface for a pure pop of color.  This lip gloss is available in a range of shades.

This might be one of my least favorite collections of the summer, there is nothing in this collection that inspires my love.  The descriptions provided by the company are not the best and do nothing to sell me on any of the products, I would like to try both of the products in it but I am interested in finding out more information about them before I would really want either of them.

I will still plan to check out this beauty product line if I go shopping on my birthday but I still think that I will stick with my original plan of checking out foundations and other staple items.

photo courtesy of Giorgio Armani Beauty

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bath and Body Works Pure Paradise

This has a been a big spring for Bath and Body Works, it seems like every month at least one new fragrance has come out along with all kinds of new scents in candles and hand soap.  The last thing that I need is more shower gel but I always want to try new scents from this company and am always end up buying some items from each new fragrance, once you have worked there it seems that you never fall out of wanting new products and know how fast the items go and when to stock up.  I am hoping for a Buy 3, Get 3 sale for Memorial Day but I don't know that I will be able to hold out until the end of this month for a sale like that.  Bath and Body Works has gone from spring products to summer products and this is my favorite time of the year to buy body products.  This is also the time of the year that I buy enough products to last me all through the cold weather months, I am not a spice or pumpkin fan so I will be using coconut and mango scents all through the year. 

Today is the first day that Pure Paradise is available at Bath and Body Works and I will be buying some of it before the weekend hits.  I tried the Fragrance Mist tester out several weeks ago and I think that this might be one of my favorite fragrances in a long time from this company, it is rare that I find a fragrance from this company that I want to purchase and use as more than just body products.  I want this in all the body products and the matching Fragrance Mist because this tropical floral scent is unique, pretty, and perfect for pairing with a sundress on a summer night!

The Bath and Body Works website provides a fragrance description and a detailed look at the notes that are found in this fragrance.  "Pure Paradise is an island fantasy inspired by white sand beaches, endless blue skies and clear turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. This alluring fragrance is a sparkling blend of fresh star fruit, frangipani and water lily drenched in sun-kissed coconut and white musk."

The top notes are: Fresh Star Fruit, Juicy Guava, Dewy Cassis.  The heart notes of the fragrance are: Luscious Gardenia, Frangipani, Watery Lily.  The bottom notes are: White Musk, Blond Woods, Sun-Kissed Coconut.

On me, this fragrance is a mixture of the sweet Starfruit and the florals.  This is the tupe of tropical fragrance that I would wear out at night with a sundress, this is not your typical beachy or casual fragrance.  This is more what I imagined that Bronze Goddess from Estee Lauder would smell like and it is surprising how expensive this fragrance smells, the Fragrance Mist smells quite strong and rivals many of the more expensive tropical fragrances that I have tried.  This is one of the few Bath and Body Works fragrances that I actually loved in the Fragrance Mist, typically I only buy body products from the Signature Collection with a few EDTs in here and there but Fragrance Mist is not a product that I use.  I do wish that this fragrance came in the EDT, I would buy it in a minute to add to my perfume collection.

This fragrance comes in the normal range of Signature Collection products; shower Gel, Body Lotion, Triple Moisture Body Cream, Fine Fragrance Mist, 2-in-1 Superfruit Body Scrub and Wash, and Lip Gloss.  There are also three unique products that are released in this fragrance: Beach Glow Body Lotion, Beach Bronze Leg Shine, and Beach Waves Hair Mist.

Beach Glow Body Lotion - Add a radiant, sun-kissed glow to skin all summer long. Our Beach Glow Body Lotion adds instant glamour and shimmer to skin for a beach-ready body!  A summer-chic blend of sparkling star fruit & ocean-kissed frangipani blossoms… it’s pure paradise in a bottle!  Apply evenly to legs, arms and wherever you want a silky smooth, bronze glow. Let dry before dressing and you're ready to glow!  Contains soothing, refreshing Aloe.
Beach Bronze Leg Shine - Add the perfect hint of tint and shimmer for flawless, bronzed, beach sexy legs. Our velvety shine effortlessly glides onto skin for the smoothest, most radiant legs!  A summer-chic blend of sparkling star fruit & ocean-kissed frangipani blossoms… it’s pure paradise in a bottle!  Shake well. Apply evenly to legs. Let dry before dressing, then it’s time to shine!
Beach Waves Hair Mist - Add incredible texture to get tousled, wavy hair for an effortlessly sexy beach blown look. A few quick mists and you'll become the envy of bronze bombshells everywhere!  A summer-chic blend of sparkling star fruit & ocean-kissed frangipani blossoms… it’s pure paradise in a bottle!  Use on dry or damp hair. Work through hair and use fingers to scrunch and twirl for sexy, beach blown waves.  Leaves hair feeling soft, never sticky or shiny.  Contains mineral-rich sea salt.
I have picked up a few pieces of this fragrance already today and I plan to get more items if Bath and Body works does a sale on Memorial Day.  I bought the Fragrance Mist, Shower Gel, Body Lotion, and Triple Moisture boy Cream already and I put some of each of the bronzer products on my arms so that I could see the differences.  I am not sold on either of them yet, the Beach Glow Body Lotion provides a hint of bronze color with a bit of shimmer while the Leg Shine is much more dramatic in both aspects.  I would be more likely to buy the Lotion version, the Leg Shine could look too over the top for me and I would have to sustain a pretty deep self tan to use it. 
I am excited that I have some new body products for the summer and I will be pairing this fragrance with a cute little sundress for all kinds of summer dates!
photo courtesy of Bath and Body Works

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Clinique Summer 2013 Collection - 5 Minutes to Pretty

The Clinique summer collection seems to be very different then all of the others that we have looked at so far, this collection is called 5 Minutes to Pretty and is all about using products that create an easy, laid back look for the relaxed warm weather months.  I love this concept since I wear about half of the face makeup in the summer than I normally do throughout the rest of the year.  I give up foundation for about three months of the year and switch from a loose powder to a BB Cream and a bronzer.  In addition, I am more concerned with SPF protection than a flawless finish and use a combination of self tanner and bronzer to even out and cover up any flaws on my face.  This is the only time of the year that I can truly create a full makeup look in less than ten minutes, a fact that comes in handy when running around in the summer months.

I have been using a lot of Clinique sun care and skincare products over the past few months and am at the point that I wouldn't hesitate to purchase any product from this line.  I have a mascara from this line sitting in my Sephora cart and I want to try some of the lip crayons that I saw the last time that I was at counter.  This is quickly becoming a brand that I can fully rely on and is a favorite skincare brand of mine already.  I am also excited to try some of their BB and CC creams yet this summer/early fall.

"Streamlining your makeup routine is even more important when sunny weather's calling.  Here's a look you can create fast - without any fuss.", states the Clinique website when providing a description of the collection.  This collection contains only five products and will be very easy for anyone to create for work or a vacation day.  I see the CC Cream in this collection, along with a pretty pink hue of the lip crayon that I am so excited to try!

5 Minutes to Pretty!

Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 - One simple step for glowing skin. Lightweight formula instantly colour corrects a range of complexion concerns - redness, dullness, sallowness - so all you see is a healthy-looking glow. Oil-free hydration and sunscreen mean a more flawless look tomorrow, too. Each versatile shade is appropriate for a range of skin tones and undertones.  Available in a full range of shades to complement every skintone.

Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes - Sheer wash of lightweight, creamy colour slips on. Layerable and long-wearing. Versatile, too. Glide one on for a swift wash of colour. Contour with another to add depth, and yet another to highlight. There's no need to stop at just one. Appropriate for sensitive eyes and contact lens-wearers.
- 04 Ample Amber - medium bronze with a hint of shimmer

Naturally Glossy Mascara - Gel-based formula defines lashes naturally. Lengthens, glosses, enhances. Lashes stay silky, pliant, clump and flake-free through multiple coats. Ophthalmologist tested.
- Jet Black - deep glossy black

True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer - Lightweight powder bronzer creates a natural-looking, sun-kissed radiance. Blends, builds easily to your desired level of bronze. Perfect for on-the-go glow. Long-wearing. Oil-free.
- Sunswept - warm bronze with flecks of gold pearl
- Sunkissed - pink bronze
- Sunblushed - reddened bronze

Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm - Super-nourishing balm is loaded with mango and shea butters. Just what dry, delicate lips need to feel comfortably soft and smooth. Sixteen natural-looking lip tints in all, each with a subtle sheen.
- Woppin' Watermelon - bright sheer pink

I want this whole collection and I will be picking most of it up very soon, my favorite pieces are the CC Cream and the Chubby Stick Balm in that pretty pink hue.  Those are the two items that I must have and I will buy them first, I have heard many good things about this formula of CC Cream for drier skin (as we all know that mine is!) and I will consider picking this up in a shade that is more tan for now and then another shade that is much lighter to use in the cool weather months (when my skin is at its worse).  I have high hopes for this formula and I hope to add another winner to my Clinique product line up. 

I think that I have used this bronzer in the past, I seem to remember getting a small size of it in a Gift with Purchase about two years ago and I do remember liking the formula.  I looked back on some previous entries and I did really like this formula and the shade that I had (Sunkissed).  This bronzer hue has a pink undertone in it and worked well to compliment my cooler skintone and blended well with the pink undertones in my skin.  This was one of the most flattering shades of bronzer that I have ever used and I might have to pick a compact of this product instead of continuing to search for a new formula...

I think that this might be one of my favorite collections for the summer, it is pretty and easy to pull off.  Any lady could use these products and create a simple look that will get her through a summer day.  I also really like that Clinique is creating looks that contain fewer products since it has been proven that most women wear less and less makeup as the weather gets warmer and warmer...

photo courtesy of Clinique

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bond No. 9 Madison Square Park

As many of you know, I have taken to ordering samples of Bond No 9 fragrances from Amazon, I don't live anywhere close to a store where I could really smell and try the fragrances a few times before I decide to invent in one and I have been craving fragrances from this line all spring.  High Line was the first fragrance that I tried out from this line, it is very green and light and became a great fragrance for to me use as the season's were changing.  I liked the scent a lot and it was quite unique, I was just unhappy about how fast the lovely fragrance faded away on my skin.  I am still on the fence about this fragrance, I love it and I haven't found a green scent like this yet but I plan to try and find a green scent that lasts longer on my skin than this one.  And I have realized that I might not find a long lasting green scent since they are mostly comprised of top notes and these are not the notes that will make a fragrance last all day. 

The second fragrance sample that I ordered is Madison Square Park, the sample that I was the most excited to try out and is one of the top rated fragrances from this perfume line.  I have wanted a bottle of this fragrance since I first saw it several springs ago but have always run into the issue of not begin able to try the fragrance out before I ordered it.  I must admit that I never thought of ordering samples before and I searched it on Amazon with little idea of what would come back at me.  I was so excited to see that I could get my hands on samples and really try them out before deciding what bottles that I must own. 

Madison Square Park is a floral fragrance and contains middle notes of both Rose and Tulip, two favorites of mine.  I knew before trying this fragrance that I would like the blend but I wanted to try this fragrance first to make sure that it was unique enough to order a full bottle of.  I found the product description and the notes from the Nordstrom website and this is the website where I would be most likely to order it from.

"Madison Square Park was the height of fashion in the Gilded Age. Today, it's back in hip-and-cool revival mode. So now is the time for a neighborhood eau de parfum.  The vibrant neon pink and green bottle has a removable, Deco-Modern rose-blossom bracelet which can be used as a bracelet or brooch. Wear its double rows of beads on your wrist or detach the vintage-style rose centerpiece to use as a brooch. Ah, perfume and jewelry! A beloved combination."

The notes are: Grape Hyacinth, Huckleberry, Prairie Dropseed Grass, Red Leaf Rose, Red Hunter Tulips, Teakwood.

This fragrance is a green floral, it is crisper than your traditional pink floral fragrance and more unique than many of the reviews on Makeup Alley gave it credit for.  The Grass note is evident right as I put the fragrance on and only fades away a little bit as the fragrance develops, creating the green floral combination that makes this scent unique.  At this point in the beginning of the development, the fragrance does have a tart berry note to it, I have no idea what a Huckleberry is supposed to smell like but it reminds me of a tart Blackberry note.  This aspect fades quite quickly and its not evident as the middle notes begin to emerge.  After the fragrance begins to develop, the Rose and Tulip notes become very evident and then are present in the fragrance as it fades out. 

The wear time for this fragrance is much better than that of High Line but this fragrance has more power in the middle notes and should last much longer.  I get a good eight to ten hours of wear from this fragrance and it smells mostly floral throughout the whole wear time.  I do believe that this will be one of the first Bond No 9 fragrances that I order this summer.

A note on the bottle - people either love or hate this bottle.  I love the fake rose and the combination of my two favorite colors.  I think this bottle is bright and happy and would be proud to display it on my vanity.  However, the other camp hates this bottle and find it to be an eyesore.  Whatever you think of the bottle, the juice inside is lovely and high quality.

One more Bond No 9 sample to try and review but I think that I have found my early favorite from this fragrance line!

photo courtesy of Nordstrom