Month: July 2013

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Trollop Review

Image via Beautylish

I was so eager to get my hands on one of OCC’s Lip Tars. I had heard a lot about them: they were pigment-packed, comfortable to wear, and long lasting. After scanning the tons of awesome color options, I finally decided on Trollop, which is a “pinked coral.” That description is spot-on: it’s a warm-toned, medium pink-coral. It leans slightly more orange than pink, even on my fair, pink-toned skin. This maintained a soft shine and satin-like finish throughout it’s entire wear.
Sadly, one area where this lip tar fell majorly short was in wear. For a liquid lipstick, I expected at least 5 hours of great wear, expecting it to clock in at over 8 hours (as I had heard these were “long-wearing”). However, this had worn for only 2 hours, and left a subtle stain for another 2. However, short wear time wasn’t the only problem. After just an hour, the product started bunching up along the top of my lower lip, like a film. By 2 hours, the color was still on, but my natural lip color was showing through. 
Lip Tars come with instructions, which may be helpful to newbies. They recommend using the tiniest bead of color with the included lip brush, and I find that it’s true. You really only need the smallest dot to cover your entire mouth with bright, even pigment. I don’t have much experience with lip brushes, but I found it gets the job done well enough. Lip Tars are cruelty-free and vegan, using natural ingredients like hemp. They’re also pleasantly mint-scented. I found that this product wears comfortably, but more so if your lips are already in good condition. If your lips are feeling a little dry or flaky, this will only dry them out more, while settling into the cracks/flakes of your lips. So take care to condition them first.
I really like this product’s packaging. Lip Tars come in squeeze tubes with a fine nozzle. The cap is white and screws on, giving the whole item a look similar to artist’s paints. I find the nozzle works perfectly-it doesn’t let too much product out at once, giving you just the right amount, as a little goes a long way. However, the package is smaller than Youtube or pictures might trick you into thinking! It’s not very tall, but it contains a good amount (0.33 oz-more than 3x what a standard tube of lipstick contains). This smallness makes them easy to store. The product, brush, and instructions come in a clear zip-up pouch that I think is convenient for travel. 
One Lip Tar will set you back $18 USD. While the wear of Trollop was disappointing, I’m willing to repurchase this formula in different colors, as LTs come in more color options (45 at this time), with bolder pigment and more product than most competitively priced brands. However, this formula generally comes in just this one semi-matte formula. In spite of that, one LT is still cheaper per ounce ($54.54) than, say, one tube of MAC lipstick ($15 for 0.1 oz, or $150 per ounce). I definitely think the few extra dollars at face value are worth it.
For an indie brand, OCC is getting some mass-market attention. While most indie brands are resigned to their online shops only, OCC can be found at cosmetic retailer Sephora as well, making their products easier for those who don’t enjoy online shopping to get a hold of. 
Color: 5/5

Wear: 2.5/5
Formula: 3.5/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 3/5
Overall: 4 (B-)

Recommend: I do think Trollop is a pretty coral, but at this price point, I expect it to wear a little bit better. It’s not such a striking or unique color that you can’t find reasonable dupes with better wear for a comparable or cheaper cost.
OCC products can be found on their website, or at Sephora.

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Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm Review

Image via Beautylish

If I had to take a shot in the dark, I’d say lip balm is one of the first beauty products most people have access to. And for me, it’s a total lifesaver. Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm was one of the first balms I’ve tried, and I admit, I remain a fan. I found that this formula got the job done well. 
This is a stiffer, waxier feeling balm, but it slides on easily without feeling greasy. This is also a simpler, colorless balm. It doesn’t add any glossiness or shine to the lips. I found this lip balm wore well. I could feel the texture of the product on my lips for about 2 and a half hours. By 3 hours, there was no product or residue left on the mouth. However, my lips felt more hydrated after just an hour, and they remained feeling suppler post-wear.
However, there are some cons with this formula. First, this has a very strong mint scent. Now, I’m not at all fussy with scents-I’m very fond of mint-but this was too much, even for me. It can be smelled while on the lips. It was strong and noticeable to the person sitting near me, and didn’t fade quickly. It persisted on the mouth for a full 10 minutes. Also, this formula has a cooling sensation, which sounds nice in theory: it would be very soothing on sunburned lips. But it was not relaxing to me. The cooling sensation was very potent, more akin to a Novocaine shot from the dentist. The not-pleasant, rubbery-lip feeling also persisted for at least 10 minutes.
One tube contains 0.15 oz of product.which is average. The price for this product is $3.29 USD, which is a little pricey for a balm (comparitively, it’s almost twice the cost of a tube of Chapstick, but is 70 cents cheaper than Maybelline Baby Lips). I think the packaging is cute is as well, it features a honeycomb pattern on a golden-colored tube. This functions like a traditional balm, with a stick-on cap and product that you can twist up. Burt’s Bees products are pretty easy to find, stocked at drugstores, pharmacies, and cosmetic shops.
But for organic-centric consumers, Burt’s Bees balm is a great choice. It says right on the product’s label that the balm is “”100% natural, Natural Products Association Certified, No animal testing, and contains 30% post-industrial content.” Burt’s Bees is cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified. However, they are not vegan as they do use animal derivatives (like beeswax, in this case). However, their parent company, Clorox, does do animal testing where mandated by law.
Effectiveness: 5/5
Wear: 5/5
Formula: 3/5
Packaging: 5/5
Price: 4/5
Wow Factor: 4/5
Overall: 4.3 (B+)
Recommend: If you can stomach the cooling sensation/incredibly strong scent, this balm delivers. However, if you can’t stand the scent of mint, this product wouldn’t be the best option.
Burt’s Bees products can be purchased from drugstores, pharmacies, and specialty shops, like Ulta.

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Wet ‘n’ Wild 8-Pan Palette in Comfort Zone Review

Image via Drugstore

Wet ‘n’ Wild Palettes have been having a time in the sun lately. Being able to score multiple shadows that are good quality and cruelty-free at an affordable price-what’s not to love? While I’m a fan of the brand and their shadows in particular, their 8-Pan Palette in Comfort Zone managed to disappoint me. As mentioned, this earthy palette contains 8 shadows:
  • The left-hand Browbone shade is a soft, subtle champagne with a hint of shimmer. It looked subtle, but opaque and true to pan on the lid.It had a smooth texture.
  • The left-hand Eyelid shade swatches as a warm, shimmery light amber shade. It goes onto the lid as more of a rose-gold hue, as it looks in the photo above. This shade felt soft and had great color payoff.
  • The left-hand Crease shade is a warm toned light-medium brown. This was the most powdery shade in the palette-one light tap with a brush would still cause crazy kickup in the pan. I also had trouble with this shade looking faint and sheering out easily when blended. It performed better with primer, but not by much.
  • The left-hand Definer shade is a dark, blackened brown. While there is shimmer in the pan, it didn’t translate to the lid, with or without primer. This color also had a lot of powder kickup, and was a bit stiff. The color payoff was great, though. 
  • The right-hand Browbone shade is a neutral sandy champagne frost. It had a smooth texture that wasn’t powdery.
  • The right-hand Eyelid shade is a soft, yellow-tinged light green with a satin finish. This had a soft texture. However, it was a little faint and sheer when used without a primer.
  • The right-hand Crease shade is a very dark grey. In the pan/swatches, there appears to be orange shimmer, but this doesn’t make it onto the eye without primer. The texture was soft and easy to blend. There was a bit of powderiness when using a brush, but it was by far not the worst offender in this palette.
  • The right-hand Definer shade is a warm, rosy brown with a blue shift. This shade is a changer. In the pan, it looks ashy blue-grey-brown, when swatched it looks brown with a faint blue sheen, on the lid without primer it looks more blue (truer to pan), and on the lid with primer, it looks more red-brown with a distinct blue sheen. This is allegedly a dupe for MAC’s Club.
Most of the shades had great color payoff and wore well. Both browbone shades were subtle to begin with, but the color was noticeable/opaque, and they stayed put. The left-hand crease and right-hand lid shades were disappointing in terms of pigment. The right-hand definer shade had faded after just 2 hours, with and without a base. By 4 hours, the right-hand crease shade looked faint and more like a simple smattering of shimmer on the lid without primer. Also at the 4-hour mark, the right-hand lid shade looked markedly faded (and not very green). Otherwise, the remaining 6 shades wore perfectly for 8 hours.

While I experienced no fallout with any of the 8 colors, fading, powderiness, stiffness, and blendability were issues for some, as noted above. Most of the colors felt soft and smooth enough, though. While not without it’s flaws, I think Comfort Zone is a versatile palette. The left-hand column creates a great, warm-toned, casual daytime look, while the problematic right side builds a cooler, sooty, nighttime eye.

The shadows come in rectangular pans packed into a black plastic square container with a clear, flip-top lid. The packaging looks a little cheap, but it’s secure enough. I fear it may be a bit too flimsy to travel with, as the plastic may not be the best protection against the shadows should the palette accidentally drop. It’s medium in size, not too large, and there’s no unnecessary plastic taking up space. This did come with 2 applicators that are poor quality and basically useless, but there is a slot for them included in the palette, so at least that part of the packaging is functional. The compact is slim, feels light, and is not difficult to store.

Comfort Zone comes stocked with 0.3 oz of product. Compared to 8 MAC eyeshadows, which are 0.05 oz each, that’s less than average. However, this is more cost-efficient. 8 full-size MAC shadows will set you back $120 USD (or $300 an ounce), whereas Comfort Zone is only $4.99 USD face value (and $16.63 an ounce). So while the size is just a shred smaller, the palette, which has a MAC dupe included, is more budget-friendly. Also, the colors come pre-coordinated and offers the owner a chance to mix and match, so it’s not a bad buy for first-timers.

Wet ‘n’ Wild products are more easily accessible, since they’re stocked in nearly every local drugstore. The packages come well-sealed with stickers, so you can trust your container hasn’t been broken, swatched, or otherwise meddled with by others (and I think the hygienic peace of mind is worth it!) Wet ‘n’ Wild is also independently-owned and cruelty-free.

Colors: 4/5
Wear: 4/5
Formula: 3/5
Packaging: 4/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 2/5
Overall: 3.7 (C+)
Recommend: I think Comfort Zone would work well for beginners, people on a budget, or with strict cruelty-free policies. While there’s affordability and versatility, I feel these are common colors most women own (and likely own in better quality), so it’s not a must-have.

Wet ‘n’ Wild products can be found at Drugstores. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Pop Review

Image via Beautylish

If you want to know a secret, I don’t own many lip glosses. I own three to be exact: 2 are from MAC, and the other is Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Pink Pop. While gloss isn’t my forte, I was pleasantly surprised by the way this affordable option performed. While it certainly doesn’t make the lips “pop,” the semi-sheer formula adds a nice watermelon colored rosiness to my lips (my lips are naturally more pigmented, though. If your lips are paler, the color payoff may be more intense). While not being opaque, the color was cute simple. The formula also contains SPF 15.
This formula has a thick texture, thicker than MAC Lipglass. It also has a synthetic, candy-like scent that I can’t quite put my finger on. It isn’t pleasing, but it doesn’t smell bad, either. However, the formula went on evenly, and didn’t settle into lip lines or bunch up.  This was also true to the “Super Lustrous” name. It imparted a healthy, wet shine.  It had no shimmer, and seemed almost jelly-like on the lips. I imagine this would work great layered over lipsticks. 
In terms of wear, Pink Pop is average. By two hours, the color began to wear away (evenly). There was still great shine, but the pigment was fading. There was still a rosy pink tinge, but my natural lip color was showing through. At 3 hours it felt tacky and still had a nice sheen, but is functioning more like a clear gloss-there was just the slightest pink tinge left. By 4 hours there was just a tacky residue left on the mouth; the color and shine were almost wholly gone. However, it wore away evenly, and didn’t feel uncomfortable on or dry out my lips.

The Super Lustrous line of lip gloss comes in clear, rectangular plastic tubes with shiny, black, screw-on caps. The applicator is in the traditional doe-foot shape, and it works well enough. The size of the packaging is a little larger all around than MAC, but I don’t find them any more difficult or challenging to store. They’re sturdy enough to travel with, and the wand does not feel flimsy or at risk of breaking.

SL glosses contain 0.13 oz of product in them, which is less than average (MAC’s are 0.17 oz each). However, since this is a drugstore product, it’s obviously cheaper, both at face value and price-per-ounce. One Revlon SL gloss will set you back only $7.99 USD ($61.46 per ounce), whereas MAC runs for $15 USD (or $88.24 per ounce). While this is definitely an affordable option, it is important to consider what is important to you as a conusmer-the SL range does not provide the same color payoff or amount of options a higher-priced brand, like MAC, does, despite similar textures and wear time.

Revlon products are very easy to find. They’re stocked in nearly every corner drugstore, like Walgreen’s and CVS, as well as in bigger retailers and super-centers, like Target and Wal-Mart, as well at specialty shops, like Ulta. Nearly every town, no matter how small, has at least one of this shopping destinations, making finding a Revlon product painless. Revlon complies with local animal testing laws (cruelty-free in Europe, tested and sold in China). So depending on your animal-testing preferences, this may be a deal-breaker.

Color: 4/5
Wear: 5/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5
Wow Factor: 3/5
Overall: 4.1 (B-)
Recommend: Yes, for those looking for sheer, subtle, daytime color, those who like high-shine or layering glosses, and those who don’t mind a thick/tacky texture.

Revlon products can be found at drugstores, super-centers, and at cosmetic shops like Ulta.  medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

Colors of the Rainbow Tag!

So, lately there’s been a tag going around youtube called The Colors of the Rainbow Tag. I’d what it is about this one in particular, but I’m loving this tag! So I’m taking it upon myself to do it. For those who don’t know, the tag requires that you include your favorite products, whether they’re beauty items, or fashion pieces, or a candle, whatever, in a way that corresponds with the colors. You have to include all the colors of the rainbow (roygbiv), as well as pink and multicolor. So let’s begin!


MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Image via MAC Cosmetics

This lipstick is popular and very well known for a reason. The pigment is rich, it wears and wears and doesn’t quit, and is more or less universally flattering. It has a matte finish and can be ever so slightly drying. It’s also not the cheapest option at $15 USD, but the quality and pigment is definitely worth it. (Read PV’s review here).
Cover Girl Lip Perfection in Flame
Image via Beautylish

This is another great, classic red lip color. While Flame is more drying and wears less long than Ruby Woo, it’s very affordable at half the price ($6.99 USD).Flame is bright and slightly pinky-toned. It feels very creamy going on and the color is phenomenal. (Read PV’s review here).
Shiro Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Goron Ruby
Image via Shiro Cosmetics

I know I’m totally cheating by including three for just red, but I had to! Shiro sent me a sample of Goron Ruby with my order of The Notebook Collection. It is much, much redder than it appears in the photo. It’s a great, bright red that looks stunning foiled. I appreciate this color, as most brands shy away from this type of shade on the eyes!

Essie Nail Polish in Braziliant
Image via Ebay

Braziliant was a popular shade when it came out in Essie’s Braziliant Collection in 2011. It’s a beautiful molten orange that borders on metallic. It’s definitely pigment-rich and warm toned. The formula is smooth and the wear is great, as well.

Maybelline Colossal Volum’Express Mascara
Image via Beautylish

So the product itself isn’t yellow, but the packaging is, so it still counts! 🙂 This is my favorite mascara. The formula makes my lashes look rich and dark. It also thickens them up like crazy and adds an impressive amount of volume. I think the bright packaging is cute, and I like that you get such good quality at an affordable price ($6.99 USD). The wand is a little wide, though. (Read PV’s review here).

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Junkie
Image via Sephora

This is far and away my favorite eyeliner in my favorite formula. Junkie has a gorgeous jade color with dimensional, to die for gold shimmer. I can’t sing it’s praises enough! It looks absolutely stunning both on the lash line and waterline, and wears well on both. The pigment is strong and the shade is unique. If this ever were to be discontinued, I would die.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Mary Jane
Image via Polyvore

This eyeshadow is a beautiful steely, light blue with a frosty texture that results in a gorgeous sheen. The pigment is crazy and the luminescent effect is strong, even when the powder is used dry (it looks equally awesome foiled!) Sadly, this shade and the old formula was discontinued 😦
Wet ‘n’ Wild Blue Had Me At Hello Palette

Image via Beautylish
Sadly, this is literally the only indigo beauty product I own :/ This is a great palette for blue shadow fiends, as it comes with a good mixture of shades. There is a lovely indigo hue included as well (the righthand crease shade). The whole palette is decent quality, and includes 8 shades for only $4.99 USD

Shiro Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Shinigami

Image via Shiro Cosmetics

It looks blue in the photo, but Shinigami is unmistakably purple, and a gorgeous one at that. It’s a cool-toned medium purple with silver glitter. It looks soft dry, but like most loose shadows, once it’s foiled or used with mixing medium, it really comes to life and looks completely stunning. Since Shiro is an indie brand, the shadows are hand-made, cruelty-free, and affordable (the full size is a meager $5 USD).

MAC Viva Glam Gaga I Lipstick

Image via Beautylish

It’s common knowledge that I have a deep love affair with pink lipstick, and this is the lippie that started it. While the formula wasn’t out of this world, I have a nostalgic heart, so it’s still my favorite. VGG is a great, cool-toned baby pink. What I really liked about this formula was how glossy and wet it looked-it translates into beautiful photographs. (Read PV’s review here).

Ulta 77-Piece Collection

Image via propertyroom

Of all the palettes I own (including UD ones), this one from Ulta is by far the best. Some of the items (like the brushes) are complete misses. However, the never-ending assortment of shadows made me fall in love. There’s a color in here for every look one could possibly want to create, from sleek, casual daytime looks to sultry eyes for a night out. The pigment on these ranges from good to ah-may-zing, there’s hardly a disappointment in the bunch. There’s also several blushes, a bronzer and highlighter, and a few glosses. The potted glosses are a risk for cross-contamination, and it’s hard to get the pigment to show up on them, but the one’s that come in tubes are great quality. Also, I’ve scarcely seen better quality gel liners. The six included here are all boldy pigmented, easy to use, creamy, and long-lasting. L-l-love!
So I thought this tag was really fun, and I’ve been enjoying watching people’s videos describing and showing their fave rainbow products. I hope this takes off a bit in the blogosphere, as I think it’s a really enjoyable, informative tag to both do and see. I’d love to read anyone’s post if they feel like doing it! But for technicality, I tag:
Thanks for reading guys! If you do this, have fun with it and please let me know!

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Rant and Rave: Makeup Snobs

A few weeks ago, I was on Tumblr and I came across a post by a fellow beauty blogger. This woman was fuming over “the glorification of drugstore makeup.” When someone asked her to elaborate, she went on to say, essentially, that drugstore makeup isn’t as good as high end brands, because they’re never used in runway shows and if you ask all the youtube gurus, all their favorite products are high end. This is such a silly way of thinking, for several reasons.

First of all, this woman-a textbook “makeup snob”-is straight-up wrong. In terms of fashion, the designer usually collaborates with a specific cosmetic brand to create all the looks for the show. While MAC and NARS definitely make featured appearances every season, so do Maybelline and Revlon. Here’s a play-by-play, for reference:

  • Cover Girl: Bottega Veneta (S/S 12), Gucci (S/S 12)
  • L’Oreal: Project Runway (F/W 13)
  • Maybelline: Catherine Malandrino (F/W 11), Betsey Johnson (F/W 11), Max Azria (F/W 11), Cynthia Rowley (F/W 11), Carlos Miele (F/W 11), Vivienne Tam (F/W 11, S/S 12), BCBG Max Azria (F/W 11, S/S 12), DKNY (F/W 11 S/S 12), Custo Barcelona (F/W 11 S/S 12) Bibhu Mohapatra (S/S 12),Wes Gordon (S/S 12), Libertine (S/S 12), L.A.M.B. (S/S 12), Richard Chai Love (F/W 13), Rachel Zoe (F/W 13)
  • NYX: Nicholas K (F/W 13)
  • Revlon: Luca Luca (F/W 11), Rag & Bone (F/W 12), Preen (F/W 12), Oscar de la Renta (F/W 12), Vivienne Tam (F/W 12), KaufmanFranco (F/W 13)
So yeah, that Fit Me! Foundation everyone seems to hate? It was on the runway. Ditto for the Dream Bouncy blushes that some whine aren’t pigmented enough. Many expensive brands are also owned by ho-hum drugstore brands. For example, L’Oreal owns Kerastase, Redken, Shu Uemura, Stella McCartney, Clarisonic, Urban Decay, Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, and Kiehls, among others. So when you’re giving your money to an expensive brand, thinking you’re so high and mighty, you’re profiting the creators of drugstore makeup as well, so you’re not as elite as you think. Also, because a brand can own a high-end and drugstore product, they can frequently create less-expensive dupes in their cheaper ranges (like Armani’s Ombre shadows vs. L’Oreal’s new Infallible shadows). 
Also, please keep in mind that legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath frequently uses less-expensive cosmetics when working the runway (she did the glam eyes at Gucci in 2012), or when she works with equally impressive photographer Steven Meisel. She is a wonderful example of following your own interests and instincts, as she creates beautiful work frequently using affordable cosmetics (and often applying them with her fingers(!)-something a snob would never do). 
Which leads me to my next point. Just because Allthatglitters21, Xsparkage, or Michelle Phan claim a product is amazing and they love it DOES NOT MEAN IT IS GOOD OR WORTH BUYING. This is one of the most frustrating things to me in the cosmetic industry. Please keep in mind that those women (and men) on Youtube are just regular people giving their opinions. Sure, while some of their must-have, holy grail products come from department stores, they could recreate their flawless looks without them. That’s because those individuals have talent, they practice, and experiment. If someone waved a wand and made everything over $10 in their makeup kits disappear, guess what? They’d still be able to pull of quality looks, because makeup is just the medium. It is the artist that brings a look to life. 
So please, think for yourself! If everyone says your favorite colors don’t look good with your eyes, wear them anyway! If someone thinks your bold lips or layered mascara is “too much,” forget them! It’s your face-your canvas-to create on and do whatever you want with. I feel really sorry for people who are too caught up in brand, image, cost, and popularity to do what they truly want with their lives, including the way they express themselves through makeup. So please do some introspection, think about what it is you like, and just go for it. 
That’s not to say that everything in the drugstore is amazing. Some products have limited color options, or the formula is drying, or not pigmented or long-lasting. These are valid cosmetic concerns. However, those problems can appear in products you get at Nordstrom to. There is a difference between being a smart shopper and a snob. A smart shopper will buy a product based on the quality and how it fits her needs. A snob will purchase the more expensive product without doing any research about quality, (or because so and so on Youtube said it was her favorite), and can end up with something less than fantastic for a higher cost. 
I’ve always believed makeup was about making oneself feel good. Yes, it feels good to own nice or expensive things. But as I’ve stated with cosmetics, quality is not always reflected in the price tag, be it high or low. I encourage everyone to purchase pretty, effective, quality cosmetics that assist them in creating their looks or their art. This is a friendly reminder that quality can come from the drugstore (I’ve found excellent MAC dupes there). 
Stay true to yourself, be a smart shopper, and don’t be a snob. 🙂 

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Missing Out: The Clarisonic Mia Skincare System

Image via Beautylish

Every beauty junkie has a wishlist. The items that pepper the Missing Out series are essentially PV’s wishlist of items to get a hold of and try out. Some of these, like NARS blush or MAC Fluidline liner are common cosmetic buys that are reasonably available and affordable, and I just haven’t been able to get my hands on. But then, there are other items that qualify as big-time beauty investments that should be thought about before purchasing. The Clarisonic Mia Skincare System far and away falls into the latter category.
There are five variations of the tool, with varying speeds, colors, and sizes. However, all of them are tools designed to deep-clean the skin for fantastic results. The sonic, buzzing brush head assists in cleansing the skin, because the bristles can clean the skin deeper than where just your fingertips or a washcloth could reach. And the brand makes some pretty enticing claims, saying that the product makes “products absorb better, pores appear smaller, and fine lines and wrinkles appear reduced,” as well as “six times more makeup removal. Leaves skin feeling young and smoother,” and finally, “helps reduce oily areas, dry skin patches, and blemishes.” Wow, what doesn’t it do?
And since most of us weren’t blessed with 100% perfect skin, the Clarisonic could come in handy. While I consider my skin pretty trouble-free, I do have annoying blackheads that I’d like to get rid of. And even if you are fortunate enough to be apart of the fraction of women or men who’s skin is flawless, it is in all of our best interest to care for our bodies’ largest organ. Deeper cleaning means less residue/product buildup, which means fewer breakouts, which means less coverage in our foundation is required. A nice cycle! But not only that; the one-minute process of using the Clarisonic seems soothing, like a spa treatment, which could help relax the individual and melt away stress, which in turn not only improves the appearance, but the state of mind as well. That’s an added benefit I can get behind!
A brief how-to: wet your face, dab on whichever cleanser you use (it doesn’t have to be Clarisonic’s brand), then use the tool in small circular motions over different parts of your face. There are countless how-tos on Youtube. Allthatglitters21 has a detailed video explaining the tool and how to use it if you’re confused.
But, like I prefaced this post with, the Clarisonic isn’t something you can just drop cash on. It is a beauty investment one will likely have to budget in: at $119 USD, the Mia model, shown above, is the smallest and most affordable of the five (and comes with one speed, a mini cleanser, and a charger). Features and cost are positively correlated: the two-speed Mia 2 also comes with a travel case, for a total of $149. The $199, 3-speed Aria model comes with cleanser, a charger, and a drying case. The 3-speed Clarisonic Plus comes with 2 brush heads (one for face and body), a cleanser, a skin polish, and a charging cradle for $225-235. And finally, the 4-speed Clarisonic Pro comes with the face and body brush heads, 3 different sample cleansers, a sample skin polish, and the charging cradle for $225.

Could you get by the rest of your life without using a Clarisonic and cleansing the old-fashioned way? Absolutely. There’s no need to purchase if you feel it’s too consumerist, or not worth it, or you just wouldn’t use it. But for the results it seems to get everyone, I feel like the hype is real. While there certainly are more important things that having nice skin, maintenance of the organ is useful to it’s longevity, and many people can benefit from the boost of confidence a clearer appearance can give them. So, like all things (cosmetic and otherwise), it’s a personal choice whether or not to try it. Since blackheads (and some sallowness) are my only real skin troubles, I could be just fine using clay masks for my desired results. So for now, PV will focus on acquiring the more common cosmetic items she covets than making this investment (I think a few of BareMinerals’ Ready Eyeshadows would bring me more happiness right now, anyway!)

You can compare Clarisonic models and make a purchase at medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

4th of July Cosmetics

When is it okay to break the beauty rules? I say, whenever the hell you feel like it! But, a lot of women need an excuse, and what better way to play around with colors than for a holiday? Perhaps the best thing about American Independence Day is the opportunity to sport some truthfully clashing colors (or the food; gotta love a reason to barbecue).

There are so many ways to rock the red, white, and blue that are signature to the flag. The first thing that came to my mind was bold red lips, blue shadow, and a white inner corner and browbone highlight. If you’ve been a longtime reader of PV (or any beauty blog out there, to be honest), you may already know how much I, and many other women (celebs included) love MAC’s Ruby Woo lipstick. This is a great, matte, blue-based red that will stay on through nearly everything (read PV’s review for it here). While not the truest American-Flag blue, I have come to love Urban Decay’s Haight eyeshadow. It goes on opaquely and vibrantly, and looks like a dream on. (Again, you can read PV’s review for Haight here). Another great shadow alternative would be Wet ‘n’ Wild’s Blue Had Me at Hello 8-Pan palette. This drugstore find comes stocked with 6 gorgeous blues, 2 variations of white, and 2 blacks for definition. Pair that with a bold red lippie and you’ve got this look covered!

Sadly, the inverse of this idea (blue or white lipstick with red shadow) is harder to find. However, there are some awesome alternatives, if you know where to look. Indie brand Shiro makes a to-die-for loose red, Goron Ruby, not to mention the increasingly popular Love+ from Sugarpill. Perhaps the most widely-known blue lippie is Lime Crime’s No She Didn’t; however, this is also less blue (brighter and lighter) than the American flag’s sapphire. However, for all things unusual, OCC’s Lip Tars have got you covered: they make 2 whites (Iced and Feathered), a bold primary blue (Rx), and a bevy of reds (Stalker) seemed the most fitting for the holiday.

So it’s a crazy look, and unlikely anyone would want to pull it off. But one of the great purposes of makeup is to play! What are you sporting for the 4th? medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;

First Impressions: Shiro Cosmetics The Notebook Collection

So, the lovely Brandon from theboywithmakeup made an excellent swatch video a little while back, featuring indie brand Shrio Cosmetics. Interested and blown away by the color payoff, I decided to check the brand out for myself. With the motto “makeup and geekery” and a cute little dragon logo, I was instantly smitten. But it wasn’t until I browsed the collections available and stumbled upon “The Notebook Collection” did I truly fall in love.

Like many, when I hear “The Notebook”, a steamy image of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling kissing in the rain pops to mind. But it wasn’t until I read the color names-8 out of 10 of them, to be exact-did I realize that the line was, in fact, inspired by the massively popular anime series, Death Note. I immediately jumped out of my skin. I love that show-it was the first anime I really watched (Sailor Moon before school notwithstanding) and am very partial to the characters (L in particular). So once I saw it, I would do anything to have it.

The drawback with indie brands is, unfortunately, the shipping and processing is much less quick than a big-name purchase from, say, Sephora. However, it wasn’t as slow as I anticipated. It took about 8 days to process, with brand founder Caitlin Johnstone e-mailing me the shipping information on the 8th day so I could track it using USPS. Today is Wednesday (morning), so it took about 12 and a half days for more order to arrive. Not too shabby!

Firstly, I was impressed that the package was able to fit through the slot in my door. After so many packages from Sephora and Ulta being left on my doorstep in the elements, despite only having a handful of products, I was suprised 10 eyeshadows could fit neatly in one little package and slide in the door. That’s another thing I noticed about my Shiro order-it didn’t come in a cumbersome, wasteful box, it came neatly tucked into a padded, plastic envelope (forgive me for not knowing exactly what this style of packaging is called).

Once I tore into the package, I immediately noticed a bright green wrapper, and I remembered: Caitlin likes to send her customers candy. That green wrapper was a Jolly Rancher, and she also included a cherry-flavored Tootsie Roll. Yum!

I purchased the “medium” sized containers. Shiro offers small sample bags (1/4 of a teaspoon for $1 USD each), mini containers (1 gram for $3.50 each), and full size (2 grams for $5 each). These were wraped in sturdy brown paper, to help with the padding. Also in the package was a folded-up paper with my shipping and order information-and a handwritten message that said “Thanks Julia!” with a heart underneath it in green ink. This made me smile, and I was very touched. I haven’t even touched the products, and I’m already blown away by this brand, it’s customer service, and kindness.

So, moving on to the actual product. The shadows were sealed in what revealed to be a brown paper bag, sealed shut with a cute stamp, with a picture of a vintage lamp on it (sorry, I love unnecessary details). The jars are relatively small-I would say they’re about a third smaller than MAC containers. I believe the containers are lightweight glass or heavy plastic, with plastic, screw-on lids. A few of the shadows came with the lid slightly unscrewed, but there was no reason to fear. Each shadow comes with a built-in sifter, which pops out, sealed with a plastic sticker with a pull-tab for removal. The shade name and ingredients are on a label sticker stamped on the bottom of each shade.

I received all 10 shadows in the collection undamaged, with no product spilled. But I was surprised when I reached in the bag and saw something else. To my surprise, it was 2 sample-sized shadows, Goron Ruby, a to-die-for red from the Legends Collection (Legend of Zelda) and When The Thrush Knocks, an orangy-bronze, from There and Back Again: A Hobbit Collection.

So, FINALLY to the shadows. (I’m so sorry I don’t have pictures-my webcam is acting up and It’ll be quite a few more months before I can get a digital, but I am working on it, and will eagerly update as soon as possible!)

  • Detective: Sheer silver with blue and gold shimmer.
  • Divine Justice: Warm, orange-based deep brown with gold shimmer.
  • Heart Attack: Warm burgandy-plum with blue shimmer.
  • Heaven Nor Hell: Cool, medium grey with a bluish sheen.
  • Mistrust: Warm, medium brown with silver shimmer. It’s cooler, lighter, and has less of a sheen than Divine Justice.
  • More Sugar: Cool, light purple-grey with a sheen.
  • Perfect World: Soft gold with a sheen.
  • Second Kira: Cool, dark storm cloud grey with gold shimmer.
  • Shinigami: Cool, light royal purple with silver shimmer.
  • Task Force: Pink-toned wine with a sheen.
As one may expect from loose shadow, these performed best when foiled (a.k.a, used wet). The colors and shimmer were so much more pronounced. I was blown away by the color payoff, opacity, and shimmer content of these. If I had to choose, I would say Task Force, Shinigami, and Second Kira are my favorites. None of these performed badly, but Detective definitely comes off as more of a layering shade (it looks beautiful over Task Force), and Perfect World seems like an inner corner highlight. It definitely has enough opacity to be applied to the lid on it’s own, but compared to the others, this shade is far and away the least unique.
Overall, I’m 100% satiisfied with my purchase. While the screw-on lids can be tricky (they don’t always want to screw down all the way), and the sifters annoying (some want to pop off easily, others are a pain to get off), the product quality is all the way there. The colors are versatile and pigment packed, not something ever major brand can proudly say. It’s definitely not a shy girl’s collection, but the Notebook Collection made for a great introduction to this brand, it’s wonderful founder, and their fantastic world of products and costumer service. Plus, the products are hand-made, cruelty-free, vegan, and affordable. What’s not to love?
This brand is now among my favorites and I will definitely be buying from them again. 

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Urban Decay Book of Shadows Volume III Review (DISCONTINUED)

Image via Beautylish

Astute eyes may have noticed that the order I had been reviewing Urban Decay eyeshadows in was oddly matching that of the now-discontinued Book of Shadows Vol. III. That’s because it’s true-I don’t own the individual shadows; instead, I own this chic palette. I received it 2010, so it’s relatively long gone. However, a lot of the shades have been added to the brand’s new permanent lineup, so never fear about missing out. While each shade (and liner included) has been individually reviewed on PV for your conveniance, this will focus on the palette as a whole investment.
There are 16 shades in this palette, which sounds like a hearty number. However, there’s not as much variety in this palette as one might expect or hope for. There is only 1 matte (Perversion), 4 glitter textures (most of which have frustrating fallout), 5 frosts, and the remaining 6 are shimmers. Also, nearly all of these shades pull cool-toned. Maui Wowie, Smog, and Suspect lean the warmest. Sadly, only 8 shades received a grade of B- or higher-half the palette managed to disappoint.
 All of these things limit the palette: the shiny textures tend to bring out the creases around the eyes of mature skin, the bolder colors would have to be saved for special occasions/nights out for most professional women, and the cooler tones exclude ladies with warmer skin tones. While I definitely advocate any woman wearing whatever she wants, lots of ladies shy away from colors, textures, or finishes that they feel don’t “flatter” them, and I feel it was a mistake for Urban Decay to leave them out. 
The liners in this palette were nice treats, though. Zero was a great black that performed well and would look with a multitude of looks-it was a fan favorite for a reason. While Ransom performed considerably less well, it wasn’t awful, and seemed to be popular with both the brand and buyers alike. I was disappointed in the shade’s discontinuation. So while many are fortunate to have the shade on hand from owning this palette, or one of the limited-edition liner sets, I wouldn’t say in hindsight that picking up the palette just for that shade would’ve been worth it. 
Lastly, BoS 3 contained a travel vial of Primer Potion, in it’s old style packaging: a stand-up, genie-like bottle with a screw-top lid and pull-out, doe foot wand. I preferred that this packaging included a wand, although I can understand the switch to a squeeze tube (less product waste). Regardless, the primer performed well and is a total lifesaver-this palette was my first introduction to makeup, and if I hadn’t received the primer, I’m unsure if I ever would’ve got around to buying it on my own. Now I couldn’t live without it, so it definitely is a great inclusion for the people who are new to makeup, haven’t tried a primer or can’t afford it, or don’t see the purpose of using one (this may change some minds!) 
The palette itself is sleek and functional, although I personally feel it could’ve been compacted even further. I say this because the top of the palette, that flips up, reveals a lit-up pop-up of a city skyline, with a mirror behind it. The illustration is cute, but I have never, in 3 years, used that mirror. (It’s sort of hard to see yourself in it, both because you’re peering over the pop-up, and because I found it to be sort of “foggy” and small). The tray housing the shadows, liners, and primer pulls all the way out (with a ribbon tab) if you desire, and slips back inside quite easily. Despite the black cardboard the palette is made out of, it feels sturdy, is neatly organized and labeled, and doesn’t stain. It’s small and sturdy enough to be an excellent travel companion, especially if you’re travelling for play rather than work, as those bolder colors will be of more use.

The one thing I can’t argue on, is that this palette did pack quite a bit of value. While nothing was full sized (0.03 oz of shadow vs 0.05 full size, 0.03 oz of liner vs 0.04 full size, and 0.13 oz of primer vs 0.37 oz full size), UD certainly didn’t skimp. 16 full-size shadows would’ve cost $288, 2 full-size liners are $38, and a full-size primer is $20. This would’ve set you back $346 for comparatively few more ounces of product. However, UD sold the packaged deal for $54 USD. I reinforce the idea that this makes it a great starter set for newbies like I was, because it offers the chance to experiment with fun, bright colors and different textures at a much more palatable price.

This palette pre-dates Urban Decay’s acquisition by L’Oreal, as well as the China scandal, making it more “truly” cruelty-free.

Colors: 2/5
Wear: 4/5
Formula: 4/5
Packaging: 4/5
Price: 5/5
Wow Factor: 3/5
Overall: 3.7 (C+)
Recommend: No. This palette seems aimed at younger girls of a limited skin-tone. Despite it’s affordability, reasonably good wear time and formulas, there wasn’t much creativity or variety in the color selection. Since most of the colors are no longer limited edition, there’s very little special about having this palette.

You can browse Urban Decay’s full-range of products, including these shadows in single-pot form, at department stores and cosmetic shops like Sephora. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’228266391′;