Monday, April 30, 2012

Are Pricey Foundations Worth It?

I've had some pretty entertaining conversations with my family since telling them I was a beauty blogger. Up there is the conversation I had with my brother about skincare. He asked me why his skin was breaking out and eventually, we determined that the body lotion he was using as face cream might have been the culprit. Dermatologist tested does not mean face-safe!

But most of the time, the conversations have merit. This weekend my mom asked me if expensive foundations were worth it. As you may know, I've reviewed a few foundations here of varying price points. Foundation seems to be a very personal preference sort of thing. Those that have darker or lighter skin tones or drier or oilier skins will generally like different foundations. As I'm quite pale, it was only recently that I could find a drugstore foundation that was a decent color match, even still, I can't wear all of the lines. No matter how "tan" (major air quotes there) I get, I can't find a color match in Maybelline foundations. My mother, on the other hand, is a bit darker than me and can probably find a match in most brands.

Most of the time when I spend a lot of money on foundation, it's due to the color. For my wedding makeup, I bit the bullet and bought the $65 Prescriptives Custom Blend foundation. It was the only foundation that I had that was a perfect match and they added some moisture so it wore well on my dry skin. Otherwise, most foundations will do. The appeal of department store makeup is partially the experience (unless you're at a snobby counter) and partially the packaging. Drugstore packaging has improved tremendously but nothing is quite as nice feeling as a hefty glass bottle from the likes of Dior or Chanel.

Just as an example, right now I'm loving the Physicians Formula Healthy Wear Powder (~$13.99) over the more pricey and messy Bare Escentuals ($26) but I am not a fan of the Physicians Formula Youth Wear or the Cover Girl Nature Luxe

I can't say that high end foundations are "better". I can say that it depends on what you want to get out of the foundation. If you enjoy splurging on a foundation, go for it! On the other hand, If you find something at the drugstore that works for you, there's nothing wrong with using and loving it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Allure Beauty Box Summer Edition is Live

Stop the presses! The Allure Beauty Box for Summer 2012 is finally live! You can get over $250 worth of beauty products for $39.99 plus $10 shipping & handling by going here. For some reason the box this month didn't thrill me like some others. It seems pretty heavy on drugstore products but if you've been wanting to try new skincare, haircare this would be a great option or a gift for someone just starting out. I won't be participating but let me know if you do. It's definitely a great deal no matter how you slice it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: Mor Emporium Body Butter in Italian Blood Orange

Mor products used to be sold in Sephora a few years ago but I was reintroduced to them through Bloom. A sample of the Emporium Body Butter in the Belladonna scent was included in one of my Bloom Bonus boxes and while the scent wasn't something I fell in love with, the texture was divine. I managed to get a full size of the Italian Blood Orange scent in one of the Platinum Bloom Bonus boxes and I love it.
First of all, opening up a Mor product is like opening up a present. The paper used to wrap up the product is thick. There is a black box holding the jar and then an outer wrapping with the label which looks like a wax seal and beautiful textured paper depending on the scent. The ribbon on the top has the name of the scent in gold as well. Basically, it's super luxurious before you even open the lid.
The body butter includes 5.1 fl oz of product and retails for $25. it's definitely not cheap so it's more of a splurge item or it makes a great gift. The texture is super thick and buttery but not greasy. It absorbs into the skin quickly and leaves skin soft and smooth. One of my favorite things about this is the scent. It smells very similar to the Goldwell products I've used (the tart yet vanilla creamsicle scent) which I love. The scent sticks around some but it's not obnoxious. 
I've been very impressed by the Mor line and if price is an object, I sometimes see it as Marshalls, Tjmaxx and Nordstrom Rack stores at a discount. It is also available at Bloom, Nordstrom, Zappos, and I found some discounted at Neiman Marcus Last Call.

Disclosure: This was free as part of the Bloom Bonus since I bought $100 worth of stuff from I also used my referral link.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

JT Asks:

Sephora recently redesigned their website. It now has some snazzy coding. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the redesign. It looks more high tech but the images are tiny and they've removed the search by price function. I'm curious to hear how you feel about the new site. Love? Hate? Somewhere in between? Leave your thoughts below.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Winks By Georgie Faux Lashes #2

I was recently sent a pair of Winks by Georgie 100% natural, handmade, reusable lashes to test out as part of the new Bloom Ambassador's program. I'm not huge false lashes wearer as I have pretty long eyelashes already (though they are stick straight).
See? You can barely see them without mascara and a nice curl.

Even though false lashes are something I seldom wear, they are fun to play with. The Winks by Georgie lashes are perhaps the fanciest lashes I have ever worn. They come in a nice mirrored compact and retail for $28 per pair. Until recently, these were only available at Neiman Marcus stores but are now available at Bloom. To be honest, while the compact is nice and sturdy, I'd love if they offered refills so you wouldn't have to repurchase the compact every time you purchased a pair of the lashes (though it's nice to recycle to hold other brands of lashes).

The brand does offer refills for a more reasonable price of $15 a pair - on par with other brands like MAC. Refills are available on the Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom websites.
Each case includes a pair of lashes and the special Winks adhesive which contains soothing ingredients like chamomile that are not typically in lash adhesive and is free of formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates. I was a bit out of practice and didn't realize how watery the glue was. After a few attempts, I managed to get the glue on the lashes without massive blobs. I found the best way of getting the right amount was to gently squeeze the tube and let it go back in and then run the lash length along the remaining glue. Gluing directly onto the lash is not recommended!

I did eventually get them onto my eyes. The pair I got, #2  L'Avant-Gardiste are very dramatic and long - if I opened up my eyes wide, they reached my eyebrows! If I were to wear these out of the house during the day, I'd remove some of the lash length. Otherwise, they fit very comfortably on the eyes, they weren't heavy or cumbersome and the band is very thin. The glue didn't irritate my eyes either. I wore them for about 3 hours and didn't feel the need to tug them off but eventually I decided to take them off to run some chores. 
I added a coral red lip for good measure. See how long they are? Oh and just for reference, I'm wearing the new Smashbox BB Cream in Fair which is a great color match (a review is pending)!

When I took them off, the glue didn't pull on the delicate eye area and the lashes have retained their shape quite well. With a little eye makeup remover, they should be as good as new. It was quite fun to try these lashes and the next time I am looking for something dramatic, I'll pull these out of my stash though I don't think I'd repurchase.

Disclosure: These lashes were sent for review as part of the Bloom Ambassador program.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Caudalie Beauty Elixir

The Caudalie Beauty Elixir came in a set of skincare items that I bought from Sephora during their Friends & Family sale. It was the best bang for the buck and included the lip balm which I really like as well as the foaming cleanser which I haven't yet tried. This is one of those cult skincare items that I've never tried before. I'll be perfectly honest, I didn't like it at first. I was expecting something similar to Fix+ or one of the other waters which tend to smell pleasant and are a burst of moisture and a bit of a pick-me-up but don't really do anything. This smelled very herbal and didn't seem to do much for my skin which already had a layer of makeup on it. If anything, using it as a setting spray somehow made my makeup look a bit worse.

Now that I've started using this as a toner after removing my makeup and cleansing my skin, I like it a lot more and it's done wonders for the break outs and general irritation my skin was experiencing. In between the "this is gross" and "oh, maybe I like this" I've gone through half the bottle! The rosemary leaf oil is a natural disinfectant and glycerin provides a bit of moisture without being sticky. Even though the second ingredient is alcohol, I don't find it drying though there is a bit of a tingle as it dries down.

During the holiday season, Caudalie puts out lots of skincare sets so while I do like this now that I've started using it for toning, I'm not sure I'd pay the retail price. The 1 ounce goes for $18 a bottle and there's a 3.4oz size for $48. Still, instead of shunning it to the back of my cupboard, I've now set it out on my sink to use and quite enjoy it! The mist it generates is quite fine. I'm still not a huge fan of the smell but aside from that, I'm pleased with the results.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

April Birchbox

I received my April Birchbox in the mail yesterday and I'm a bit underwhelmed. Granted, last month was awesome but I peeked at what some other people got and there are some pretty awesome boxes out there. I had high expectations as this one weighed a lot. Oh well.

Inside was the following:
mini Zoya in Bevin .25floz (full size .5oz $8)
Lulu Organics Hair Powder .14oz (full size 4oz $30)
Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes 8 towelettes (full size 30 towelettes $7.99)
**Befine Skincare Sampler Exfoliating Cleanser .34oz x 3, Daily Moisturizer .34oz x 2 (full size 4oz, $25 and 1.7oz $25)
Taylor Swift Wonderstruck
**Would it have killed them to put these in mini tubes?

So major meh from me. At least I get 60 points from reviewing this box.

Disclosure: Referral link used.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Body Shop Born Lippy Sticks

I've been shopping at The Body Shop since I was in middle school and as far back as I can remember, the Born Lippy line came in a pot. I'm not a huge fan of potted lip balms as some of you may know and I was browsing in my local store and happened upon their new Born Lippy Sticks. They are currently on sale in for 2 for $10 and I had a Living Social deal expiring so I took the plunge. I bought the Plum and Strawberry flavors. These remind me of the Maybelline Baby Lips but these are a bit more moisturizing for me and they smell divine.
Strawberry (left) is basically clear though the packaging and balm color is more of a light pink not the orange shown but Plum actually has a bit of pigment. The Pomegranate color is similarly pigmented to the Plum one but I preferred the smell of the Strawberry flavor.
These are pretty nice and I'm quite happy that they've finally come out with some fun stick lip balms. The skincare lines have their own stick balms but not in as many fun flavors as the Born Lippy line (though I do find those more moisturizing)!

Have you checked these out yet?

Ingredient list for Plum:  Ricinus Communis Seed Oil/Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil (Emollient), Octyldodecanol (Emollient), Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate (Skin Conditioning Agent/Emollient), Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil/Meadowfoam (Limnanthes Alba) Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Sorbitan Olivate (Emulsifying Agent), Candelilla Cera/Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Cire de candelilla (Stabiliser), Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire d’abeille (Emulsifier/Emollient), Glycerin (Humectant), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance), Aqua/Water/Eau (Solvent/Diluent), Copernicia Cerifera Cera/Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de carnauba (Stabiliser/Viscosity Modifier), Synthetic Wax (Binder/Emollient), Tocopheryl Acetate (Antioxidant), Octocrylene (Sunscreen), Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Ammonium Glycyrrhizate (Flavour), Caprylyl Glycol (Skin Conditioning Agent), Coleus Forskohlii Root Extract (Humectant), Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil/Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (Emollient), Olea Europaea Fruit Extract/Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Polygonum Cuspidatum Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Triticum Vulgare Germ Extract/Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Sodium Phytate (Chelating Agent), Homosalate (Sunscreen), Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Sunscreen), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Sodium Citrate (pH Adjuster), Alumina (Bulking Agent), Triethoxycaprylylsilane (Binder), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide (Colour), CI 45410/Red 28 Lake (Colour), CI 15850/Red 7 Lake (Colour), CI 77499/Iron Oxides (Colour), CI 42090/Blue 1 Lake (Colour).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

March Empties

It is nearly the end of the semester and I couldn't be happier. I'm exhausted but I am so looking forward to the summer. I'll still be working of course, but I've decided to save my last class for the fall so I can regroup a bit. In March, my goal was to use up some samples. Not only do I get samples through subscription services like Birchbox, I get them in Sephora and Bloom orders too. I rarely use the little packet samples but now that I have a few sample jars in use, I've been cleaning and refilling them to actually test the products. What's somewhat crazy is that a lot of samples contain quite a few uses of the product so I can get a sense of how something works and I've confirmed that I will never have to buy another eye cream ever.
Wen Cleansing Conditioner in Winter Vanilla Mint - This came in a QVC Beauty Test Tube and I adore this conditioner. The scent is delicious and I found it very moisturizing (also it tingled a bit on my scalp which I happen to like). What I didn't like so much is the pump. It doesn't allow a lot to come out and the little tube going to the bottom doesn't actually reach the bottom. Using up the last bit of this was a drag but it was so nice. I'm tempted to buy more Wen but I know one is coming in the next QVC Beauty Test Tube and this scent was limited edition. 
Goldwell Sun Reflects After-Sun 60 second treatment - I was first introduced to this line when I received it for review a couple summers ago. I believe this is my second or third tub of this product and it is a nice deep conditioner when my hair is feeling dry. I'm not going to repurchase unless they come out with a fresh batch again as I've been repurchasing on Amazon and don't want to buy really old product.
Nuance by Salma Hayek Facial Cleansing Towelettes - Is it obvious that I haven't made it out to Big Lots recently? I buy these when the Salma Hayek range is on sale and I do really like them though one day soon I'll head out to Big Lots and get my beloved Epielle Cucumber wipes for a buck.
Karess Krafters Chai Tea Body Polish - Smells yummy and works but it doesn't wash away clean and I was getting tired of the scent midway through the jar. I'm back to using samples of the Haus of Gloi bubbling scrubs I love. Good scrub for the price though!
First Aid Beauty (fab) Ultra Repair Cream - Ok, prefer the Oilatum.
Fekkai Shea Butter Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner - Eh.
Bare Minerals Purifying Facial Cleanser & Purely Nourishing Moisturizer - Eh.
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser - Pretty good.

So not too great this month but I've been so busy that most days I just threw on some powder foundation if anything. What did you use up in March?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Addicted! Little Black Bag

The Little Black Bag videos were making the rounds on Youtube and honestly, this was one of the few times I got hooked in right away. In case you didn't already know:
a. I love a bargain
b. Apparently I'm addicted to these sample programs
c. Variety is the spice of life?

So, I signed up. This is quite a bit more expensive than your average sample programs. It's $49.99 a month and it involves handbags, makeup, some skincare items and jewelry. As with any of these sites, you select your style. Each month (unless you skip by the 5th of the month) you pick out the one item that you'd definitely like in your shipment. Stylists pick out the other two. You can pick out things that are as inexpensive as $10 or some items that retail for over $100, just know that the price of the item will generally impact the other items that the stylists pick (if you pick out a $140 necklace you're probably not going to get another $100 item selected for you).

So, the idea of that was ok. What made this something I actually wanted to spend money on is trading. Everyone on the site can see other members' items. And you can offer to trade for items you want and people can offer trades for items they want. Trading is how I wound up with all this loot. I started off with the standard 3 items, but then someone would trade me 2 items for one of mine and I eventually worked up to a nice set of stuff. Trading lasts for a week and the items you have can change drastically. One piece of advise is don't ship your bag right away. You never know what someone will offer up! Granted, now receiving the bag, I'm not thrilled with everything but more on that later.

One thing I want to stress, is the prices listed on Little Black Bag are manufacturers suggested prices. You may be able to find something cheaper on a site such as Amazon, Ebay or Zappos or stores like Marshalls and TJmaxx. However, even though I found the necklace below for $75 on Zappos, I still paid way under that in combination with the other items in my bag. Also, no going through piles of scattered purses in TJmaxx (you have to be in the mood for bargain shopping). Another thing is some of the brands are from wholesalers. It isn't bad in theory but something to keep in mind while you're trading.
I received the following items:
Kenneth Jay Lane Leatherneck necklace, this was my 1 pick (found for $74.99 on Zappos)
Steven Madden earrings
Danielle Nicole mini jelly purse* ($48 on the Danielle Nicole site)
Sanrio Hello Kitty Watch
Cargo Triple Action Mascara ($20 at ULTA)
Cargo High Pigment Pencil  ($16 at
Umbra Wallflutter Wall Decor

* I now need the willpower to carry less stuff to actually use this everyday this summer!

I really love the necklace, the purse and the 2 makeup items. I am not digging the earrings (they seemed a lot smaller online). Honestly, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the other things. As we speak, I am learning more about their exchange/return program because technically, they do allow exchanges in a way:

"Exchange Credit for similarly priced items

Return your merchandise and you will receive an automatic Exchange Credit for a new and different item of approximately the same retail value. Simply mail back your items to the address listed below. We will email you when your return has been processed and the Exchange Credit will automatically be applied to your account upon receipt of your return and we will select a similarly priced item to put in your next bag."

But so far I'm quite pleased. I'm not sure if I'm going to do this every month. $50 is a lot of money and my husband gave me one of those looks when he carried the box inside today. Nonetheless, so far I would highly recommend this program and I am totally addicted to trading. I have a bag going right now and I'm obsessively clicking refresh refresh refresh.

Little Black Bag is only currently available in the US.

Feel free to leave any questions below!

Disclosure: I paid my hard earned cash for this bag but I did include my referral link in this post.