Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Flower Cosmetics Lighten Up Brightening Concealer

So you guys know that so far I've tried the Flower Beauty blusher/bronzer duo, two Flower nail polishes, and two of the Flower lip butters and have been pretty happy with all of them.

Well...I hate to break a streak, but I have been trying out the Flower Cosmetics Lighten Up Brightening  Concealer over the past few days, and I'm sorry to say that this one isn't a favorite.

What I look for: In a concealer, I'm looking for pigmentation, blendability, and effectiveness.  I have some pretty blue under eye circles, and I need those to get covered easily and effectively.  I also have some redness around my nose that I conceal daily.

Packaging: This concealer has the twist-up into a brush style packaging.  The brush bristles are long and flexible.  I hate applying concealer with a brush like that (I prefer using a Sigma P80 or P86 brush) so I just use the applicator to get the product onto my skin and work from there.

Color Selection: 4 colors. That's it.  To fit all the range of skin tones that need concealer.  Yeah.  The shade I'm using is BC2, which is the second lightest shade.

Application:  I did not find this to be especially smooth with application.  Check out these swatches.  In the second picture after I had rubbed it into my skin a little bit, you can pretty clear see some little bumps of product.  I've found that lumpy texture to be pretty typical of this product.

Straight out of the brush tip
Blended out with 4-5 swipes back and forth.
Those little lumps are the concealer..not texture on my hand.
Coverage: You won't be able to use this for spots in my opinion unless they are very light.  It just isn't that kind of concealer.  I get the sense that this is meant for under eyes only.  That's fine.  Except that I don't find it does a lot for me for under eyes!  Check out the before and after:

Completely naked skin

No foundation, just the Lighten Up concealer under my eye and
blended out/down. Yes, I did blend the concealer over that freckle
if that gives you an idea of coverage
Did it add some lightness? Absolutely.  Did it cover some? Sure.  But you can still see that I've got some serious blue shadow going on.  For me, this level of coverage doesn't cut it.  Especially when I do not think that the application felt super smooth/even.  If your under eye circles don't have strong blue under tones, this concealer may be enough for you, you lucky girl.

Staying Power: I didn't set it with powder and it did stay at this level of meh-coverage all day, so that's something good.

Bottom Line
For me, this won't cut it.  If you are trying to just brighten up your under eye area and are not looking to counteract blue tones, you may enjoy this.  I think even at the drugstore price point I can find better.  I like Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser (my shade is Medium), for instance.  At Target, you can grab Pixi's salmon toned concealer that is great on under eyes.  I think I can still make this product work by layering it with one of these two, but it won't work on its own for my uses.  Check out my other reviews for Flower stuff though, because like I said, I don't think the whole line is a bust!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quick Drugstore Haul and First Impressions: L'Oreal EverCurl Hydracharge Shampoo and Conditioner, Flower Beauty Concealer, and Nail Polish!

Hello lovelies! I made a quick trip to Target and Walmart this morning to pick up some groceries and of course that means that I picked up some hair and makeup stuff too.

I grabbed Flower Beauty Lighten Up Brightening Concealer, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Mermaid's Tail, and L'oreal EverCurl Hydracharge Shampoo and Conditioner.

I will definitely be reviewing the hair stuff and concealer in depth, but I wanted to give you my quick first impressions of each product.

Flower Lighten Up Brightening Concealer
This stuff was pretty reasonably priced ($7.98).  The shade selection was a bit of a bummer though, as there were only four colors.  I debated between this one (BC2) and the next darkest shade for quite a bit, but settled on this one.  Luckily it matches pretty well with the concealer I've been using.

This concealer promises seamless coverage with a "lit from within effect."  I have really horrible, true blue under eye circles, so I always have low expectations for what a drugstore concealer will do for me.

When I got home, I wiped off the undereye concealer that I was wearing (Maybelline Instant Age Rewind).  This concealer twists up so that the product dispenses through a brush.  You've gotta twist it for a while for the first use as is usually the case with this packaging style, but it does dispense well once you get it primed.

This applied smoothly.  It's pretty pigmented and I did feel like it was comparable to my Maybelline concealer.  I've only used it once and haven't been wearing it for long, but it seems promising thus far.  

As I said, be on the lookout for a full review in the next week or so.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure: Mermaid's Tail
I picked this up because it is supposed to be a dupe for Deborah Lippmann's Across the Universe which I think is gorgeous.  It's been out for a little while as part of a seasonal collection but it has been promoted to a permanent spot in the line (it had it's own name slot at my Target).  

This isn't a color that I can wear on my finger nails right now because I'm in the midst of job interviewing, but I went ahead and did two coats on one nail so that you guys could see the color swatched.  I'm not planning on doing a separate review of this nail polish because I think most everyone is familiar with the Sally Hansen Complete Manicure line.  

This is a blue jelly filled with tiny blue glitter plus larger green and blue hexagon glitter.  

These pictures show 3 coats on a naked nail:
Naked nail: 1 coat
Naked nail: 2 coats
Naked nail: 3 coats (sorry about the messy edges! I wasn't being
careful since I knew I'd be taking this off right away)
These pictures show 2 coats over an electric blue (Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Blue It)

Over "Blue It": 1 coat
Over "Blue It": 2 coats
I love the way it looks over a blue nail polish.  I don't own a super dark navy, which I think would really make this something special, but I will definitely be purchasing one (hmm maybe Flower's April Showers...).  Like all glitters, it takes a bit of elbow grease to get it off, with I use 100% acetone as my remover, which makes it less of a chore.  I think this is a fun glitter that would work really well as an accent nail color or as a full manicure color

L'Oreal EverCurl Hydracharge Shampoo and Conditioner
This product is a spin off from the EverPure line of sulfate free hair products.  Both of these products are "100% sulfate free, no harsh salts, no parabens, natural botanicals, and 100% vegan." The shampoo contains silicones, however (amodimeticone, which generally does not build up, and a new cone to me, divinyldimethicone/dimethicone copolymer).  The conditioner contains mineral oil, so if you watch out for that ingredient, this conditioner is one to avoid (I personally don't have problems with mineral oil).

The shampoo bottle says that it is for wavy to tight curly hair, that it is non-drying, and that it uses an anti-frizz system of natural botanicals, including hibiscus and grape seed.  It promises to give you smooth, defined curls (every curly reading this just said "Yeah...ok...like I haven't heard that claim before!"  The conditioner also promises to give you smooth, defined curls.

The line also has a silicone-free cleansing conditioner, a leave in conditioner, and a cream gel.  I really wanted to try the cleansing conditioner, but it was sold out.  

My first impressions of this stuff are limited because I haven't actually used them yet.  But, I did pop open the caps to smell them and to take a look at the texture.

As far as the scent goes, let me just say I hate the smell of the other L'Oreal Ever-Whatever lines.  I think they smell very overpowering and fake.  This stuff, I was surprised to find, I like the smell of!  It's much more subtle/toned down from a quick bottle sniff, but obviously that opinion is subject to change after I get it on my hair!  Don't get me wrong, it's still pretty strongly scented.  It just isn't as bad as the other stuff from L'Oreal's hair care lines.

The shampoo is a semi-translucent pearly white and is pretty thick and creamy.  The conditioner is opaque, thick, and white.  They look promising!  I will be posting a full review once I've had enough washes to get a feel for what I think of them!  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Worth the Splurge: Clarisonic Mia 2 Skin Cleanser Review

There are some products that are expensive but easily replaced by a comparable drug store product.  This is not one of those products!

I'm talking about the Clarisonic Mia 2.  For years, I held off from purchasing (first the original Clarisonic, then the Mia, and then the Mia 2...), reading great review after great review for this little device.  I tried the cheaper Olay version and wasn't impressed.  I sunk more money into products promising to do what the Mia promises to do: gently exfoliate, shrink pores, clear out acne, and leave your skin soft and bright.

Then I realized, what am I doing?! With all the money I've spent on this cleanser and that mask, I could've just bought the darn Mia by now!

So ladies, I'm here to tell you the Clarisonic Mia 2 is truly worth the splurge.

This image makes me want a fruity drink
First off, what's the difference between the Mia and the Mia 2?  The Mia 2 has features that were originally only available in the full size Clarisonic cleanser: more than one speed, a timer, and a travel case.  I could live without the timer and the travel case, to be honest, but I can't live without the two speeds.  More on that in a minute.  The Mia 2 also comes in some really cute colors.

I've had my Mia for about 5 months.  What differences have I noticed in my skin since I began using it? The very first time I used it, I was blown away.  My skin felt so clean and I could immediately see that a lot of dead skin had come off. I have very dry, sensitive skin.  Unlike a lot of exfoliators, this one didn't leave my skin feeling tight or irritated and red.  I have large pores, and I can see a difference in the size of my pores over time for sure.  I also notice that my already infrequent acne has basically disappeared.  I get maybe one blemish a month.

You won't be able to stop touching your face! After I used it for the first week, my fiance was lovingly stroking my cheek before bed one night, and he said that my skin felt softer than it ever has and asked me if I was doing something different.  Now, I love him, but my fiance is not the most observant person on the planet.  If he noticed, there was a big difference.

How do you use it? I use it in the shower in the morning and at my sink at night.  Yes, even with my incredibly sensitive dry skin, I can use this twice a day without issue.  It's something I look forward to doing.  In the morning, I use it with Cerave Hydrating Cleanser .  I find this cleanser really hydrates my skin and preps it for my makeup by smoothing out any dry or rough patches. This cleanser is designed for sensitive skin, so it's fragrance free.  At night, I use it with Philosophy Purity Made Simple.  This stuff takes off every bit of makeup in about 30 seconds without bing stripping or drying.  The scent is very gentle and doesn't irritate.  I find that now that I'v used it at night for so long, the scent calms me and gets me in a bedtime zone!

I use the slower speed in the morning.  Why? Well, I already took my makeup off the night before.  My goal with morning cleansing is to clean off any oil or dry patches from the night of sleeping and to increase circulation to my skin.  I want a clean, smooth surface for makeup.  An unexpected result? I use less makeup.  I don't need to use very much liquid foundation at all now.  My concealer is just used for my undereyes, because I have really bad genetic dark blue undereye circles.  I find that I can get a nice smooth surface without piling on layers of makeup.

I use the faster speed at night when I really want to take my makeup off and cleanse away the day.  I find I only need about 30 seconds for the makeup to be gone, and I use it for another 30 seconds or so just because it feels good.  I then put on my moisturizer, and it's off to bed!

Brush heads.  I use the sensitive/delicate skin brush heads.  I find that they really cleanse well without being rough or irritating.  Amazon has the best price of any place I've seen because you get two in a pack.  I replace the brush head every three months.

I really can't recommend this product enough.  It's changed my skin for the better, and I don't intend to be without it ever again.  You invest hundreds of dollars into clothes and shoes, but you wear your skin every day.  That's what changed my thinking on the splurge of this product.  I have to show my skin to the public every day.  It's worth the investment.

Check it out: Clarisonic Mia 2, Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser, Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, and Replacement Brush Heads

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 5 Makeup Books to Put on Your Spring and Summer Reading Lists

As I mentioned in my post on the Top 5 Curly Hair Care and Styling books, I love reading!  Makeup books are no exception.  I used makeup books to teach myself how to apply makeup like the pros.  Now that I've got my favorite techniques down, I use makeup books for inspiration. When I find that I've been using the same eyeshadow colors or the same blush for a while, I flip open a book to find something that I can replicate or draw inspiration from.

Here are my Top 5 Makeup Books that I would recommend to my friends!

1) Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin

Aucoin started his makeup career off with Revlon. He's launched several makeup lines around his philosophy that there should be makeup for every imaginable skintone that helps bring out natural beauty, rather than limited ranges that seek to cover and hide.  He's worked on celebrities from Julia Roberts to Cher. This book was a TIME bestseller.

This is the book to get if you're looking to learn how to apply makeup like the pros.  The photos are gorgeous and use non-celebrities to achieve a variety of different looks.  The book is from the 90s, but a lot of the looks are classics.  This is my favorite book to recommend to someone who asks me for advice on how to apply makeup.  It's a classic.

2) Jemma Kidd Makeup Master Class by Jemma Kidd

Jemma Kidd is a countess, former model, and makeup pro.  She runs her own cosmetics business and runs a makeup artist school in London.

This book will be a classic in 10 years! I think of this as the essential update to Kevyn Aucoin's book.  Published in 2009, this book has gorgeous photos and easy to follow advice for applying makeup.  This book excels at providing photos to backup what the author is saying.  Techniques are always photographed rather than just explained in text.  She recommends her own products throughout the book, which is a bit of a downside, but since everything is photographed, you can find your own versions of things easily.

3) Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual

Bobbi Brown is the beauty editor for the Today show and a self-made business woman.  She has her own makeup line and has written five books on the subject.

I have two of her books and this one is my favorite (the other one I have is Bobbi Brown Beauty).  This is a makeup encyclopedia.  I think this book lives up to its description of being for everyone between beginner and pro skill levels.  The photos and instructions are crystal clear.  This book overflows with tips and tricks that are easy to incorporate into what you're already doing (for example, applying concealer under your foundation for certain types of problem areas).  This is a must-have for makeup lovers.

4) Face to Face by Scott Barnes

Scott Barnes is a professional makeup artist.  His list of celebrity clientele is longer than a red carpet line at the Oscars.

This is the most unique book on the list.  The others are about technique whereas this book focuses more on creating distinct looks.  There are looks from a corporate appropriate look to a dinner date to a red carpet.  Keep in mind that this isn't going to give you the same level of step-by-step how to's, but in conjunction with the knowledge one of the other books can give you, this book can serve as meaningful inspiration and guidance when you're deciding what makeup to wear for a certain occasion. This would make an amazing housewarming gift for a young woman moving into her first apartment! This would look very chic on a coffee table or on a vanity as it's hardcover.

5) Makeup: The Ultimate Guide by Rae Morris

Rae Morris is a former model who has written three books on makeup thus far.  She works as a makeup director for L'oreal and is a four time winner of Australia's Best Makeup Artist.

This book is for those with the basic set of skills already mastered. This would make an amazing coffee table book for a young woman's apartment! The photos are editorial and very high fashion glamorous.  They are a great source of inspiration when you are stuck in a makeup rut.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top 5 Curly Hair Care and Styling Books to Put on Your Spring and Summer Reading Lists

I love reading! And I don't just mean that I pick up a book from time to time. I mean that my Kindle is overflowing, and I keep a running list of things I want to read.  Admittedly, my pace of getting through books has slowed since I've been in grad school, as those books take up a lot of time.

But when those books aren't taking up my time, I read everything from A Song of Ice and Fire (the books that the HBO series Game of Thrones is based on) to books on hair and beauty.

When I first started browsing for hair books, I was shocked at the selection.  As of this blog post, Amazon.com has 28,000 results for "hair books." Crazy huh?

I've read dozens of them.  I wasn't kidding, I love my reading material.  Without further ado, I present my Top 5 books on hair care and styling that I would recommend to any of my best friends without hesitation.

1) Curly Girl: The Handbook

This is the curly girl book that in large part began the no sulfate/silicone craze that has changed so many curly lives.  In this book, Lorraine Massey, a curly hair stylist, explains why you should stop treating your sweaters better than your treat your hair.  She explains that most shampoos contain a harsh ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate, the same stuff you find in your dish detergent.  She asks you, why are you using gentle detergents on your favorite cardigan, but using the harshest stripping agent on your own scalp and hair?

This book has everything from general advice on caring for curly hair, a breakdown of the different types of curly hair, and even tips on how to trim your own hair!  It's the best starting point for curlies who are trying to love their curls for the first time.

2) Better than Good Hair: The Curly Girl Guide to Health Gorgeous Natural Hair

This book was written by Nikki Walton, a natural hair blogger.  While some of the book is written with African American hair in mind (specifically, transitioning from relaxed to natural hair), the advice works for women of all hair types.

This book reads sort of like a supportive hug from someone who knows what it's like to hate your hair. This book has advice for caring for children's hair, especially when you aren't a curly yourself but your child is. This book is also funny. It will make you feel like you're sitting around sipping coffee with a friend who understands what you're feeling about your hair.  A great coffeshop read for sure!

3) Coils and Curls: The Hair Product Handbook

Are you confused about what ingredients you should look for and stay away from in your products? Do you feel like every time you pick up a new product it's a complete guessing game about whether it will work for you?

This is your must read book. The author is a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, so she knows her stuff.  This is chemistry and science brought to you in an easy to understand and well-organized form. For $5 on Kindle, you can read about everything from what kinds of cleansing you need to do if you are a curly swimmer to what ingredients make products effective at different price points.

4) Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Conditioning Manual

This is like a hair encyclopedia.  The author also wrote another fantastic book called The Science of Black Hair, but since this book applies to a wider audience, I'm recommending it in this list.

This book discusses the basics of hair care and hair science, offers a "detox" program to get your hair into healthier shape, and presents tips for dealing with many common hair and scalp problems, from eczema (that's me!) to dandruff to frizz to grease to heat damage and on and on and on!  The advice is sound and the information applies to such a wide range of problems with hair and scalps. I read it from cover to cover even though some things don't apply to me (I've never had a chemical burn, for instance, but I still read that chapter). The information is easy to understand whether you're a beginner or a seasoned hair care pro. It's also full of gorgeous black and white photos that make it's presentation just as good as the information.

5) Strictly Curls: A Step by Step Guide to Styling Curly Hair

This book is all about curly hair styling.  Most of the styles are up-do's geared specifically toward curly hair.  Each style has a rated difficulty level, so even people like me who aren't good at styling hair can find something to try. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.  The instructions are easy to follow and the pictures are very helpful.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: REM Facial Hair Removal Spring

You know how sometimes, you settle in for a little online shopping, and you see something that completely surprises you?

Well that happened to me a few weeks ago.  I was on Amazon and I was looking for various things in the beauty department, just clicking around really. Eventually, I clicked my way over to the facial hair removal stuff.  Let me just get this out there. I have PCOS, so I know a thing or two or ten about excess hair growth.  I've had upper lip hair since I was very young, and if I wasn't diligent with my tweezers, I'd probably have a unibrow.

But the thing is that while I'm really good about maintaining my eyebrows, I'm really bad about upper lip hair.  I think it's just because I'm a sissy. It hurts to do anything with upper lip hair! You can pluck, but the hairs are so fine and it hurts like crazy. You can wax, but that hurts and is super irritating to sensitive skin. You can bleach, but then you just have a blonde mustache!  You can use creams, but those burn even more than waxing!

So really, I've pretty much just given up on removing that hair.  But on Amazon a few weeks ago, I noticed that the number one item in facial hair removers isn't a pair of tweezers, a cream, a wax kit, or a bleaching agent.

It's this.

It's called the R.E.M. Spring Facial Hair Remover.  I couldn't help but notice that it has a 4.3/5 star average for 522 reviews as of this blog post!  I thought, hey, that many people can't be wrong! And guess what, they weren't!

To use this clever little tool, you bend it into an upside down U shape, place it on your skin, and roll it toward your skin.  If you don't get what I mean, once you play around with it for a minute, you will.  You will know that it is grabbing the hair.  The first time you use this, I won't lie, it hurts like crazy.  I had to take frequent breaks.  If you have a numbing agent of some kind, like an insect bite treatment or something like that, I'd seriously use it at least the first time.

This thing is the most effective thing I've ever heard of or tried for hair on the upper lip, fine hairs on the chin, and peach fuzz on cheeks.  It doesn't leave a shadow like plucking or waxing can.  I find that it grabs the hairs and pulls them all the way out from the root, so the area will stay hair free for as long as a waxed area.

So now that I sound like a spokesperson (I'm not), any downsides? Other than the pain the first use (the pain does go down, by the way. I think it's because you are grabbing so much hair the first use, and the next uses don't have as much to grab), the other downside is cleaning the tool.  As you can see, the coils are really tight.  This makes it tricky to actually remove the hair from the hair remover! Hair remover inception!

But I've got a trick for that!  Take a roll of masking tape or packing tape, wrap some tape around the coils, then peel off the tape.  The hair that was stuck in the coils is now on the tape.  Ta da!

I think the other great thing about this tool is that it's $15 for something that you use over and over and over.  Waxing kits and creams and bleaching agents need to be purchased again and again.  I like that I'm saving money with this thing because I've only got to buy this one!

Have you got any cool beauty gadgets or finds that surprised you that you can't live without?  Leave me a comment!

Try out the R.E.M Spring for yourself and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Flower Cosmetics Nail Polishes

Next up for review: Flower Beauty nail polish!
Left to Right: Fanatical Blossom, Gorgeous Gerbera
These nail polishes promise "super short dry time, smooth application, [and] premium glossy shine" in two coats.  Sounds good!  I picked up two colors: Gorgeous Gerbera and Fanatical Botanical.  Gorgeous Gerbera is a peachy pink that is very trendy for spring, and Fanatical Botanical is a metallic rose gold.

What I look for: 1) opacity in two coats, 2) shiny finish, 3) good staying power.

Color Selection: I want more! There are 16 shades in the collection right now. There were several reds and lots of light colors, but only 2 dark colors.  This collection right now screams trendy for spring but wearable for everyone.  There were only a couple of colors that I thought would be inappropriate for a professional woman to wear to work (either because they were super bright or super dark).  I was on the edge of grabbing one dark shade called April Showers which was a very dark blue, but I thought it would probably come across as black from far away because of how dark it was.  I was also tempted to grab the mint green, but I already a mint green at home and couldn't justify it.  I definitely want to pick up one of the reds but I couldn't decide on this first trip, plus I didn't know if I'd like them enough to buy more.

Price: These are a great deal at $4.98 a piece.

Formula: A quick note here for someone who took many hours of college chemistry.  The company totes these nail polishes as having a "3 free" formula, and explains that this means that they are free of DBP, toluene, and camphor.  I'm not looking to start a debate, but here are my thoughts on this. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) has, according to Wikipedia, been phased out by all major U.S. nail polish producers since 2006.  So that's not a very special claim, but I suppose it's a good thing. Toluene is sort of like the weak younger brother of benzene, a carcinogen.  Toluene itself has very little carcinogen potential, and only causes significant effects when inhaled in large quantity. Most major nail polishes are also toluene free.  Again, I suppose it's a good thing not to have it, but still not a unique thing.  Finally, camphor. This claim confuses me. We use camphor as a flavoring in food! It's very aromatic.  It's also soothing for inflammation and is in many anti-itch medicines.  Camphor is only toxic in large doses.  So again, I suppose good for them for not including it, but I wouldn't run away from the ingredient in everything.

Application: These applied pretty well.  I found that I needed to put on a thicker first coat with Gorgeous Gerbera than what I would ordinarily use because of some streakiness. But what's weird is that Fanatical Botanical was not streaky at all and I was able to do thin coats! So maybe I got a bad bottle of Gorgeous Gerbera or maybe it just varies from color to color. The consistency is very smooth and the brush size is perfect in my opinion. The second coat went one much nicer than the first with Gorgeous Gerbera, and as you can see below, I was able to get a nice finish.  In the future, I will likely use a base with Gorgeous Gerbera to see if that helps the first coat go on a bit more evenly. I don't think I would do that with Fanatical Botanical, as I was quite happy with that application.

The brush is shaped like a traditional nail polish brush as opposed to the wider brushes that some companies are doing now (like Sally Hansen Complete)  The cap to the polish is quite large, which I don't mind but it could hinder application for some.  The coats dry quickly and are touchable within about 3-5 minutes, even with the thicker coats I was using with Gorgeous Gerbera.

Gorgeous Gerbera: First Coat
Gorgeous Gerbera: Second Coat
Fanatical Botanical First Coat
Fanatical Botanical Second Coat

Final Results: I think that the colors on my nails, for once, looks better than in the bottle.  The colors on the nails really pop! I can't stop looking at them, but in a good way.  Very pretty shades.  You may be able to see some brush strokes when it's all said and done though. Gorgeous Gerbera was truly opaque.  Fanatical Botanical is a little bit more sheer (you can see if you have dirt under your nail).  They dry very shiny on their own.  I did not feel a need to use a top coat.

Gorgeous Gebera (Note to self..Clean up edges before pictures!)

Staying Power:
A picture is worth 1000 words, so here's the time lapse! In the interests of getting this post published sooner rather than later, I am only showing the staying power pictures for Gorgeous Gerbera.  I have thus far not had any early peeling or chipping with Fanatical Blossom.
At the end of Day 1
Late in Day 2
End of Day 3
End of Day 4. One little chip.
I took the polish off after this photo to put on Fanatical Botanical
Bottom Line:  
I think these are good for the price.  The application may vary by color, but the shades are gorgeous and very on trend yet wearable.  I will purchase more of these.  I'm anxious to try one of the red shades.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Flower Cosmetics Blush and Bronzer Duo

Flower Beauty Blush/Bronzer Duo in Gloriously Golden
This compact was the most expensive item I picked up early this week from the Flower Beauty collection by Drew Barrymore, ringing in at $9.98. The color I have is Gloriously Golden. The closest thing I have to this duo in my collection is the Elf Blush/Bronzer Duo.  The Elf duo is very cheap at $3.  I love the bronzer in it, because it is light but very buildable, so I can use it all over for a quick layer of color or I can target it to specific areas for contouring.  The blush in that duo is a disappointment though.  It's very shimmery and very light and doesn't show up on my skin tone at all (I'm around an NC30 in MAC cosmetics for reference).

I picked this up based on a review from that I saw from Emily of Beauty Broadcast where she compared the blush to Wet and Wild blushes.  I love Wet n Wild blushes.  They are super pigmented and super wearable.  Heather Silk has been a staple of mine since I started wearing makeup.  So I was really excited to give this blush a try.

What I look for: 1) pigmentation, 2) blendability, 3) wearability. I went with one of the lighter colored duos because I wanted a bronzer that I could hopefully use for an all over wash of color right now with my paler winter skin, but I also want to be able to build it up to be a contour color for the hollows of my cheeks and around my forehead.  I also don't have a light pink blush like this one, as I tend to gravitate toward darker shades, so I thought this would be a fun duo to try.


The packaging is shaped like a flower and has some cute rose gold detailing. Sadly, the thing that I find is most missing from the packaging is a mirror.  I don't normally take blush and bronzer with me in a purse, but if you do, you'll need a separate mirror.  The lid closes with magnets and feels very secure while not being really hard to open (I'm looking at you, Revlon Nearly Naked Pressed Powder!).  This packaging won't mess up your nails trying to get it open.  

Color Selection
There are 4 duos available: Beachy Keen, Gloriously Golden (the one I'm reviewing), Shimmering Goddess (check out emilynoel83's review of that one on youtube; importantly she notes that despite the name, these colors don't have shimmer), and Sunkissed & Single.  This one is the second lightest toned duo available.  I think that from what I saw in the store, there's something for every skin tone.  Really solid color selection for only having 4 duos.

Look and Feel
The colors are shimmer free, which is important to me.  They felt very buttery soft when I used a finger to swatch them.  I've even used the bronzer as an eyeshadow crease color because it's soft enough to be blendable in that small space of the crease.  When you use a brush in the product, you will get a little bit of flaking in the pan, and you'll pick up some excess that needs to be tapped off.  But the flaking is certainly not to the point where you'll be making a mess in the compact.

The blush is a classic pink.  This is Barbie's blush color.  The brown is a warm sable.  From looking at pictures online and having swatched it in stores, it definitely reminds me of Nars Laguna, but I don't own that bronzer so I can't directly compare them.

The lighting was terrible on the day I swatched these! It was super cloudy all day, so you'll have to take my word for it that the swatches looked better in person. First I dragged my fingers down the blush and bronzer once.  Then, I rubbed that finger sample on my hand.  I had to switch hands, so yes, that's my left hand in both pictures. I forgot that I needed a clean hand to hold the camera with and I'm right handed..so there's no funny business going on, just me forgetting that I'm right handed!

Light hand, light hand, light hand! I have two blush brushes, one with more dense bristles than the other.  Generally I prefer to use the one with more dense bristles because it picks up more product.  But with this blush, I use the less dense brush and only tap it in the blush once and tap off the excess. Yeah, it's that pigmented.  You really need to be careful, especially if you picked up one of the duos with a darker blush and bronzer.  But the blush blends out very well.  I find that with a light hand and good blending, I get a very natural pink glow that looks like I just came in from a chilly walk.

The bronzer is much the same, although on my skin tone I'm not as careful with this bronzer. It's a bit light for me but it is buildable.  I'm definitely going to pick up a darker duo. I love that it is truly matte.  It's so hard to get a pigmented bronzer without shimmer at the drugstore. But this one is!  Try it, I really don't think you'll be disappointed.

Staying Power
I've worn both the blush and bronzer everyday since I picked them up and I've never had an issue with fading or oxidizing on the skin.  These will stay true to color until you take them off at the end of the day.
Bottom Line
I think it's pretty obvious!  I'll be buying more.  I love the pigment, blendability, and matte finish.  At $10 for the duo, you're getting a lot of product, basically a full sized blush and bronzer for $5 each.  I would put these up against high end blushes and bronzers for sure.

Be sure to check out my review of the Flower Beauty Lip Butters! And don't forget to follow me on Twitter so that you know the minute I post my Flower Nail Polish review!

Spiral Solutions is IN STOCK!!!

Big news gang! Spiral Solutions stuff is in stock on her website.  If you've been wanting to try some stuff, go now because it'll go fast, I promise!  This homemade, all natural line is AMAZING.  I truly cannot praise it enough.

Things you should try:
  • Deeply Decadent Moisturizing Treatment
  • Caitlin's Conditioner
  • Curl Enhancing Jelly
  • Firm Hold Gel
And pretty much everything else, though I haven't tried them all.  These products are to die for, and I gotta tell you, I made sure my order went through before I came here to tell you guys, because sometimes you gotta be a little greedy with your hair products!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Flower Cosmetics Lip Butters

The gorgeous Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore has launched her own cosmetics line with Walmart called Flower Beauty Cosmetics.  This isn't just a mini launch of a couple eyeshadows and a signature lipgloss.  The collection currently includes mascaras, foundations, nail polishes, lip sticks, lip butters, eyeliners, eyeshadow palettes, cream shadows, blush, bronzer, loose powder, pressed power...you name it.  Drew Barrymore has been quoted as saying that she wants this collection to last for years so that her daughter can work on it one day.  She's in it for the long haul!

The philosophy of the line is one I think we can all get behind: the products are made in the USA, not tested on animals (though of course this doesn't mean certain ingredients weren't tested on animals because as far as I know the brand has not been labelled as completely cruelty-free), and she aims to price them so that every woman can get high end products at a low end price.

What is this collection missing? A kitchen sink. They could call it "Blossom Basin"
This was one of the displays at my Walmart.  I didn't realize until my fiancĂ© was ready to drag me out of the store that there was also an end-cap display with more items, so I didn't snap a picture of that.  But check all around your makeup area, as there might be more stuff away from the main display.

First up for review are two lip butters that I picked up.  In the next week, I'll have a review for a blush/bronzer compact and two nail polishes, so keep an eye out for those!

These were $6.98 a piece. The closest thing that I have in my collection to compare these to are the Revlon lip butters, which in my Walmart were $6.48.

What I look for: 1) comfortable on the lips, 2) moisturizing, and 3) pigmented, 4) not so pigmented that if I take one sip of water I need to reapply because it looks uneven.  I like color without the effort of constantly checking on coverage when it comes to lip products, so I always have high hopes for lip butters.

Left to right: Flower Beauty Lip Butter (Princess and the Peony), Revlon Lip Butter (Pink Truffle)
Packaging: The packaging feels very solid, but it's also pretty bulky.  Above is a shot showing a Flower lip butter next to a Revlon lip butter.  The Flower packaging is obviously bulkier, but I still think that they would fit nicely into a small purse or clutch without trouble.  These won't fit in your pocket though. One problem I have with the packaging is that it's sort of tricky to tell what shade you're going to get when you're in the store because of the tinted cap. You have to sort of guess that you'll like the color based on the cap.  Another issue is that once you take off the label that seals the lip butter in store, you have no way of knowing what color you have because there's no marking on the packaging to tell you.  I took a sharpie and marked the bottom of mine so that I could keep them straight.  Not exactly the classiest of moves, but hey, it works.

Color Selection: There are nine shades in the lip butter line.  They all seemed to be pretty wearable, so I went with some that I felt would be a close match to my natural lip color so that I could find an everyday shade for myself.  I have pigmented lips, so this meant I ended up grabbing Haute Honeysuckle and Princess and the Peony.  Haute Honeysuckle is a peachy, "your lips but better" pink with shimmer.  Princess and the Peony is a deeper, berry toned pink with shimmer.

Haute Honeysuckle

Princess and the Peony
Scent and Taste: These both have the same floral scent.  Go figure, with their names and the fact that they are from a cosmetic company called Flower, they smell floral.  I do not taste anything when I lick my lips.


Left to right: Haute Honeysuckle, Princess and the Peony. Taken in artificial light
Left to right: Haute Honeysuckle, Princess and the Peony. Taken by sunny window

Application: These go on with a bit more of a grainy texture than Revlon lip butters, but I do not find this to be a bad thing.  It's very easy to get an even layer of color with these despite the little bit of grittiness.  The size of the stick is just right for giving you adequate control over where you're placing the color.

Look and Feel: I think these are perfectly pigmented for lip butters.  I find that it only takes one or two swipes over my lips to get a nice, even representation of the color.  The shimmer is not noticeable on the lips thank goodness.  They have a shinier finish than the Revlon lip butters.  They feel comfortable on the lips.  If traditional lip sticks are jeans, these are sweatpants.  They have no appreciable stickiness to them.

Staying Power: These do not transfer anywhere near as badly as my Revlon lip butters.  I can take a drink of my soda after applying and only see a faint ghost of color.  With my Revlon lip butters, I leave a noticeable mark every time.  The darker color (Princess and the Peony) transfers more than Haute Honeysuckle, but that's to be expected.  I find that they wear well throughout the day and don't become uneven.  The color just sort of fades across your lips for several hours until you are ready to reapply.  

Bottom Line
I think these are fantastic.  They wear well, they are pigmented, they feel comfortable on my lips despite some initial grittiness to the application, and the colors are all pretty wearable.  I would recommend picking up one of these the next time you're in Walmart.  My biggest complaints are about the packaging.  If the tube was a little slimmer, left the name of the color on there somewhere, and if you could accurately see the color in the store, these would be home runs!