Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: L.A. Hair Star Kim Kimble Silk Rollers and Slumber Cap

Note: This post features press samples obtained through BrandBacker.

Second note: My usual review format for makeup didn't really work with this post, so I'm improvising!

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to try these products out free through BrandBacker. (Check it out if you're a blogger!) I hadn't used foam rollers in ages, so I was very interested when I got the opportunity to test these products. My second-day hair is never quite as voluminous as the first, and I definitely don't wake up early enough for heat styling. This seemed like the perfect solution! (And by the way, if you want to purchase any products from Kim Kimble, you can do so here. Enter code "hair10" for 10% off your purchase!

Now, how did it do? Let's see! (Please keep in mind I am super awkward in photos and selfies are so not my thing. But I did it for you guys!)

When my hair is air dried on the first day (the day I wash it), it looks like this:

However, when I brush it out (which is almost always necessary after sleeping on it), it is significantly less curly. See below:

So what did I do? Well, first I rolled my hair up and put on the cap. I looked ridiculous.

After sleeping on it, I got up the next morning and took off the cap. (Yes, I did my makeup first, in preparation for the photo shoot -- I don't normally wake up like this!) I don't think I'm very good at this because many of the rollers were not so tightly wound against my head anymore. I didn't know how it would turn out.

Then I took out the rollers. I looked even more ridiculous.

Then I finger-combed through my hair with some anti-frizz serum, and voila! Volume! Body! Curl! More than I ever have with second-day hair.

I definitely need to refine my technique a little bit, and I don't like the product I used before putting the curlers in my hair (not naming names, since it's usually okay, it just didn't work for this), but overall I think it worked well, and I definitely think the silk made my hair less frizzy than it used to be with other foam rollers I tried. I think these would work better on my hair when it's longer, and I will definitely be keeping them around!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Stila Convertible Colors in Peony, Lillium, Petunia, Poppy, and Orchid

The Purchase

I bought all of these except for Orchid from Birchbox, because of their great points system. Orchid doesn't seem to be currently available, but I got it from eBay. These retail for $25.00, and you can get them from the Stila website (which frequently has sales), Ulta, Sephora, or, as previously mentioned, Birchbox.  Unfortunately, though, Birchbox has limited options, so I'll have to spend real money and not points to get the other colors I want! (Rose, sweet pea, and fuschia are next on my list.) The Stila website, Ulta, and Sephora all offer cash back through eBates (referral link), usually between 4% and 8%. Ulta is currently offering a free deluxe sample of Stila Convertible Color in Peony with any $25 purchase, and since these are $25, that means you can try two colors for the price of one!

The Packaging

These come in cute, sturdy plastic compacts. The outer color more or less reflects the color of the product (some are not too accurate, but it's easy to tell the colors apart at a glance, and I guess that's what's important), and each one has a mirror inside the lid. The packaging is both cute and functional - nothing special, but it works!

Left to right, these are Peony, Lillium, Petunia, Poppy, and Orchid.

The Performance

I love these for both their intended purposes, as a cream blush and as a lip product. As a blush, I apply them with a stippling brush (I like the elf small stipple brush or the Real Techniques stippling brush) and they have a nice dewy finish, but if I want them to be more matte and last longer, I set them with a translucent powder. They last a pretty long time for a cream blush -- usually at the end of my work day I can still see some color. The colors are pretty and they are easy to blend. 

As a lip product, they are really lightweight and give moderately opaque color coverage. I apply them either with a finger or with a lip brush; both ways work fine. They are neither particularly moisturizing or particularly drying, but if I want more moisture I top them with a lip gloss or mix in a balm. (Lately I've been mixing them with Egyptian Magic on my lips when I wear them, and that's a really moisturizing combination that still has really good color payoff.) They don't emphasize dry patches at all, and the finish is a nice creamy look. They last about as long as an average lipstick on me; nothing special, but it works. 

Peony is a really good neutral color and subtle contour on me. Lillium is similar, but with more pink, and it's a good neutral blush. Petunia is a nice bright pink, very summery. Of Poppy and Orchid, the first is more red and the second is more berry-colored. I think these are best for fall and winter, and I really like Orchid as a lip color.

Now, the swatches. First is one swipe, then one swipe blended out with a finger. 

L-R Peony, Lillium, and Petunia. First is with a flash, second is natural light. I think the first picture is a little more accurate color-wise.

L-R Poppy and Orchid. First is with flash, second is natural light.

The Verdict

These are some of my favorite cream blushes, and while they're not my all-time favorite lip products, they work much better in that capacity than a lot of multitasking products do, and they work perfectly well on my lips. The real benefits to this are that you can pack one product to do two jobs, and that you can coordinate your lip and cheek color if you want. My one complaint is the color range - I wish there was a purple one available. Warning: once you start collecting these, you want want to stop until you have them all!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: City Color Be Matte Blush

The Purchase

These cost $3.99 each at the City Color website. I know! So cheap! So of course I had to get three. I got these during a free shipping sale for $2.99 each awhile back, but even at the regular price, they're a steal. I'm not sure if you can get these anywhere else. The colors I got were Fresh Melon, Pink Grapefruit, and Dragonfruit.  There are a total of 8 shades.

The Packaging

These come in a sleek black compact with a clear top. They look very nice, and are quite sturdy. While I do wish they included a mirror, well, it's $3.99, so I really can't complain.

The Performance

WOW do these ever pack a punch. So. Much. Pigment. Seriously, you could wear one of these every day and not hit pan for YEARS. Sometimes, super pigmented blush can be difficult to work with, but I find these to be really smooth and easy to blend, too. So soft, and so matte! Matte powders can be chalky sometimes, but these blushes do not have that problem at all.

Pink Grapefruit and Dragonfruit are both very cool-toned pinks, with Dragonfruit being the brighter of the two (but they are both very intense!). Fresh Melon is a peachy color. It is quite orange. I probably wouldn't have bought it if I knew how orange, because orangey blush does not suit my complexion particularly well, but it is a pretty color, and someone who enjoys orange toned blush would love this.

Swatches are one swipe, indoors with a flash. L-R: Fresh Melon, Pink Grapefruit, and Dragonfruit.

The Verdict

I want more!  I really want to try the shade Blackberry. These are really nice blushes, and at an amazing price! Honestly, though, I have blushes that cost 10x this amount, and they are comparable in quality. So pigmented, so smooth- these are some of my favorite blushes. They are really impressive, and I want to try more from City Color. Highly recommended!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review: Pixi by Petra Endless Silky Eye Pen Eyeliners

First off, I'm sorry for neglecting this blog! I was moving and starting a new job and just really didn't have time. But I want to get back into it, so here I am!

The Purchase

Personally, I have found Pixi products to be hit (love the shea butter lip balm and the eyeshadow crayons) and miss (hate the mascara), but since I really like the hits, I'm always up for trying out something new, especially if it's on sale! Pixi products are available at Target, but they're kinda pricey - I'd say they're a mid-range brand. This eyeliner set with 5 mini eyeliners and a sharpener was originally $25 (and they claim it has a $53 value) but I got it on clearance for $9. Even if you can't find this set, though, presumably the actual full size liners would be the same.

The colors in this set are BlackNoir, SageGold, DeepPlum, BlackCocoa, and OysterGlow. (Not sure what's up with writing the names like that, but it's how they're written on the box. I also don't know why they are called "eye pens" when they are clearly pencils.) For some reason, the Target website is acting strangely for me right now, but it looks like the full size eyeliners are currently $9.99-$12.19 depending on color, but I think that's a sale price considering the regular price of the eyeshadow crayon is $18. I'm not sure, though. Maybe they're discontinuing these eyeliners? I hope not! Anyway, on to...

The Packaging

These are wooden pencils that you sharpen. The ends of the pencils are capped with the same color as the product so you can more easily identify them. The main color of the packaging is the same pale green color as all Pixi products, which I don't really like; it reminds me of a hospital or something. However, the packaging is perfectly adequate, and with eyeliner that's really all you need.

The Performance

One word: amazing! These are super pigmented, waterproof, long lasting, soft-but-not-too-soft, smooth, and very easy to apply. You don't have to press down at all, because just the lightest touch will give you full-on color in one swipe. In fact, I sometimes have a little trouble using as light a hand as I need to for this, but that's not really a problem when compared to the tugging and other difficulties that can be had with other products. These are somehow drier than the creamy formulas we love in pencils like Urban Decay's, but they don't lose any ease of application or pigmentation. I used to have a Clinique Quickliner for Eyes, and while I don't have it anymore so I can't check, I seem to remember the formula being similar to this - slightly dry but incredibly pigmented and needing a light touch. In fact, the drier formula is probably what makes these so long lasting. They do not budge! I mean, sobbing or hardcore eye rubbing might do it, but they don't migrate like a lot of eyeliners do on me. Well, they don't last forever in my waterline, but I have never encountered a pencil that would last all day there, and these are better than most, by a lot.

I like all of the colors and they all perform equally well. SageGold has glitters in it, DeepPlum and OysterGlow are a shimmery/satiny finish, and BlackCocoa and BlackNoir are both quite matte. SageGlow is different from anything else I own but in a good way! OysterGlow reminds me of the Silkissme liner from L'Oreal in the Highlight shade, which I don't own but they do look similar.

Now, what you've all been waiting for: swatches! First no flash, indirect light, and then flash. Top to bottom they are BlackNoir, SageGold, DeepPlum, BlackCocoa, and OysterGlow.

The Verdict

In case you couldn't already tell, I love these! They are a good deal (and go get them now in case they're discontinued!), seem to have a pretty good shade range (I think there are about 10 colors), super long lasting, very pigmented, and really easy to apply. I really don't have anything negative to say about them! I actually prefer this formula to creamier pencils, and these are some of my new favorite eyeliners. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: theBalm How Bout Them Apples? Lip and Cheek Palette

The Purchase

How Bout Them Apples? retails for $32. I first traded for a sample of Pie, and when I liked it, I went to Birchbox to purchase the full palette and have all the colors! I got this palette for free using Birchbox points. You can purchase it there and use the code welcomeoffer20 for 20% off (you might have to spend $35 to use it, but if you spend $35 you can also get a free mystery sample pack). Even if you're not a subscriber, you can still make an account and shop the Birchbox shop. You can also purchase it from theBalm's website, or from Kohl's (which offers 3% cash back on eBates [referral link]). TheBalm is also sometimes on Hautelook, with a lot of products being half off or better, so you can sign up here [referral link] and wait for it to show up there if you're patient!

The Packaging

The packaging is adorable! Just look at those designs! So cute, kitschy, and retro, just like everything from theBalm. I guess it's a love it or hate it kind of aesthetic, but personally, I'm in the love it camp. It's a cardboard palette (but a pretty sturdy-feeling one) with a magnetic closure. There are six shades of lip and cheek color included. There is a pretty good-size mirror in the lid. I appreciated that this is a palette with all cream products; a mixture of cream and powder products is not my favorite because fallout from the powders can mess up the creams. I'm also a big fan of blush palettes; I know they don't make sense the way that eyeshadow palettes do (I mean, I usually just use one color of blush each day), but I like to have options when I travel, and they're good for that. Plus, look at all the pretty colors! Anyway, packaging-wise, this is a win for me, even though I'd prefer sturdier plastic packaging instead of cardboard.

The Performance

All these shades are really pretty! Crisp is the only one with shimmer (although of course, being cream products, all of these have a rather dewy finish when applied), and Crisp and Cider are a bit sheerer than the other shades. All have good pigmentation, though. Crisp is the driest shade but still easy enough to work with. I think these are best when worn on the cheeks; I set them with a translucent powder and they last around the same amount of time as any other blush, no more no less. They blend out nicely (I use either my fingers or elf Small Stipple Brush from the Studio line).

I like the idea of coordinating lip and cheek products, and I think, overall, these do a decent job on the lips as well. Cobbler is my favorite when worn on the lips; it seems to have a decent amount of moisture, and doesn't settle into lip lines. From there, some shades do better than others, but I find them all to be wearable. Pie, Caramel, and Crisp all work well for me. Cider is not a good color for me on the lips; it makes me look kind of dead. Cider and Candy also emphasize dry patches more than I'd like, though. Mixing them with a little lip balm can help if they feel too dry to you. They don't last a super long time, but I don't find them to last a significantly shorter time than any similar products, either. My lips were pretty dry/chapped when I did the lip swatches, so please excuse their condition! And the sometimes inexact application...these were quick, on and off, and looking at the pictures, I haven't done a great job on some of them. Oops! Anyway. Now, on to the swatches:

First, the arm swatches. First is two swipes with a finger. Second is one swipe, blended. L-R these are Cider, Pie, and Candy.

...And these are Cobbler, Crisp, and Caramel.

Now, the lip swatches. Cider:






Phew! That was a lot of swatches. Now, on to....

The Verdict

Overall, I think this is totally worth $32. The performance, on average, is good (if not amazing, particularly on the lips), and you get six grade shades to choose from - plus, that packaging! These are some of my favorite cream blushes, and I think most of them work well if you want to coordinate lips and cheeks.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review: Tarte Bow & Go Eyeshadow Palette

The Purchase 

I know, I'm all about eyeshadow palettes lately, but, they, they're exciting! This palette was originally a part of a 2013 holiday gift set that also included two mascaras, two eyeliners, and four Lipsurgence lip colors, but it seems to only be available individually now. I bought it as part of the set, but it is $38 for just the palette, and it is available on the Tarte website [referral link] (4% cash back on ebates [referral link] and you can get 20% off by signing up for their newsletter) and from Ulta's website (currently 10% cash back on ebates [referral link] and I think there's a double points event going on as well).

The Packaging

I really like how sleek and compact the packaging is, and it's purple! I love purple! The design is pretty, and it's a nice size. However, I'm not a huge fan of cardboard packaging in general (though this feels pretty sturdy as cardboard goes) and the lack of a mirror in this palette is a bit of a drawback - I still love it, but it's not one I'm going to take with me on the go. The pans seem pretty large, and I like that they're square because it makes it really easy to get a brush into the color you want, and only the color you want, which is more difficult with the way some palettes are set up.

The Performance

There are 16 colors in this palette, and they all perform really well! The swatches here are two swipes with a finger, dry, no primer, indoors with a flash. I do think primer improves these shadows (as it does most shadows), but you can still see that the pigmentation is decent without primer. These shadows are really smooth and easy to blend, and they stay put all day. I love Tarte's eyeshadow formula! The color selection is nice, too - On the neutral side, but with a pretty big variety of neutrals. There are purple-toned neutrals, green-toned neutrals, greys, browns, creams, taupes - whatever you want, it's here! There are matte shadows and some with shimmer, but nothing is out-and-out glittery. This is a great everyday palette, and you can create a lot of different looks with it. There are no sub-par shades in this palette; every color performs well.

The first two rows:

The last two rows:

The Verdict

This is definitely one of my go-to palettes! I love the colors, and they perform well alone (and even better over primer). For $38, this is definitely worth it, and it's even more worth when combined with coupons and/or points and/or eBates cash back! It's not one of the more commonly touted neutral palettes (especially as it's limited edition), but it is one of my favorites, and I really recommend grabbing this one while you still can.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Favorite Beauty Blogs #1

Since I'm new to this whole beauty blogging thing, I thought it would be a nice idea to mention some of the beauty blogs that I really enjoy, that set the standards I hope to try to live up to with this blog. These are by no means all the blogs I enjoy (that would take forever!), just a little sample. I hope you'll click over and read some of these ladies' fabulous blogs! (I don't know them personally so I feel a bit weird talking about them like this, but, hey, they're awesome and I wanted to promote these blogs. So go! Read!)

Beauty Reductionista - Liz's beauty blog is one of my favorites! When I recently discovered it, I loved it so much I read her *entire* archive. A little crazy, I know! She talks about wanting to use things up and reduce her stash, reviews products, shows her empties - a little bit of everything.

Beauty Broadcast - This is the blog of emilynoel83 on Youtube. I love both Emily's blog and her videos - she is great to watch, so bubbly and friendly and charismatic. Her reviews are solid, honest, and thorough, and she talks about both drugstore products and pricier options (mid-range, generally, like Too Faced or Tarte, not so much YSL or Dior), so there's something for everyone, at every budget.

Project Swatch - I really like the range of products that Emi features here, from Wet n Wild and Revlon to Dior and Guerlain. Something for everyone, again! Her reviews are really good, and I like her favorite brushes posts as I'm trying to build up my brush collection a bit.

Brightest Bulb In The Box - Robyn's tagline is "Beauty for Critical Minds," and it really is just that. Not only are their reviews and pictures of pretty things, she also breaks down the marketing bullshit and gives us the science behind some popular beauty products. Her blog is smart, funny, and original. Definitely add this one to your subscriptions if you haven't already!

There are tons more out there, of course, and you'll notice that the title of this post says "#1" after it - I definitely plan on pointing out some more awesome blogs at some point in the future!