Friday, August 30, 2013

August Hits and Hell Noes

Since I've started blogging, I've tried to start my existing monthly favorites on a high note. Alas, August has, quite sadly, been a bad month for me in the realm of beauty and skincare. I typically research everything before trying it, but I suffered from a case of "ooh, new and shiny! I should try it!" Big mistake. Lesson learned. And then there was another epic fail from (I thought) an unlikely source. Doesn't it suck when products you love betray you? Without further adieu, let's crack on with the Hell Noes first so I can at least end the month on a positive note.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum: Now, I don't have deep wrinkles, but I've had a lot of sun damage from failed teenage attempts at tanning and nonexistent sunscreen use until my twenties, so I'm trying to prevent the damage from creeping up on me. I've used RoC's products in the past and was just finishing up a sample of a Ren retinol serum, so I decided to try it. It smelled lovely, which should have been my first warning, and it stung very minimally for a retinol serum. The next morning, I was absolutely covered in cystic acne, the skin around my nose had peeled, and my face itched like crazy. I hate wasting money, but I wouldn't wish that violent a reaction on anyone, so the bottle immediately went into the trash. Never again. 

L'Oréal Infallible Eyeshadow in Sultry Smoke: The Infallible line is designed to be long-wearing, and I'd heard they were a good dupe for the much-blogged-about Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill range. I applied my normal Milani primer, let it set, put on my new eyeshadow, applauded myself on creating the perfect smokey eye in two minutes, and went to lunch with my mom and uncle. We'd been out for maybe an hour when I popped into the bathroom to see… nothing but a few faint, gray smudges in the creases of my eyes. In an hour, the eyeshadow had literally vanished. I don't know if that shade is wonky or if it's the whole range, but I don't plan to waste my money finding out.

Dial Yogurt Vanilla Honey Nourishing Body Wash: I'd just finished off a Suave Naturals in Milk and Honey and couldn't find it again, so I shrugged, figured this couldn't be vastly different, and came home. Wrong. You know the smell of Dial liquid hand soap? This smelled exactly like that tinged with sour milk and man-sweat. And I don't mean the guys who somehow smell absurdly good after a five hour run. I mean nasty, "go bathe or I will hose you in the back yard like a smelly dog" sweat. Even if I could overlook the smell, it left a strange film on my skin after the shower that was the opposite of nourishing. I'm not a shower-in-three-minutes gal, either, so I know I washed it off. Hell no, Dial. Just… Hell no. 

Revlon Photoready BB Cream: Yes, you read that right. The very product I raved about last month is on my Do Not Want list. When I first purchased it, I was having a dry skin phase due to prolonged illness and sleep deprivation. Now that my skin's gone back to being oily, this stuff breaks me out like a bitch. After my RoC incident, I attributed the pimples to a prolonged reaction, but I used it the first of August and was still breaking out the twenty-first (the last day I used the BB cream.) Since I've stopped using it, despite having my… ahem… monthly visitor, my skin has cleared up considerably, and that's the only change I've made to my makeup and skincare routine. Dry-skinned ladies, you will love this stuff, but if your skin is remotely oily, no bueno. 

And now for the products I did like. I swear I'm not totally negative!

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: This is the stuff I used to combat my monster break-outs. I've almost finished the tube up, and I'm definitely going to be buying it again. It's something of a cult product, so doing a full review on it is pointless by now. The gist of it is that it's a combination of benzoyl peroxide to treat acne and LHA to gently exfoliate the skin. Its hype is well-deserved. This product helps when nothing else will.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair: I use this every single night without fail. It helps clear up those pesky red spots zits leave behind in a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months, and it improves general clarity of the skin. It's expensive as all Hell, yes, but because you literally use a pea-sized amount for your entire face, it lasts forever. I've had mine for six months and have only gotten through a quarter of the smallest size they offer, so it's good value for money. 

Nivea Olive Oil and Lemon Balm: I ran out of my Fresh lip balm sample and, even though I loved it, I wasn't prepared to drop that much money on a lip balm, so I grabbed this little guy at CVS. It's amazing. Olive oil is one of the most brilliant things ever. I keep it in my nightstand drawer and slather it on before bed, and my lips are still hydrated when I wake up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MWA Gets Intimate

…No, not that way. About a week ago, I was invited to join an online forum for the lingerie brand Intimacy. The premise is simple but fascinating: a panel of women will be sent in-store as mystery shoppers as well as communicate with the lingerie Powers That Be about our experiences both with Intimacy and our general bra needs. 

I'll be upfront now; we will be receiving a complimentary lingerie set as well as coupons. That means freebies. What it doesn't mean? Dishonesty. If I think the quality of something is crap, I will say so. If I go into the store, and they're rude to me, everyone will hear about it. It's sad that I have to put up such a disclaimer, but I received a very nasty e-mail from one of my painfully few readers complaining that bloggers need to only discuss products they pay for themselves. I disagree. I think when something is sent for consideration, it's considered and, if the blogger is honest, reviewed with an unbiased, open mind. 

That bit of nastiness out of the way, more about Intimacy for those who are scratching their heads. They're not the most recognizable name in the industry, a title held by Victoria's Secret, but their reputation is growing. With locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, and New York (just to name a few), their claim to fame is fit. 

You can pop into a store for a professional fitting, or if you know you're going to be traveling near an Intimacy location at a certain date, you can even make a reservation online. Why am I babbling about this? 

Because fit is everything. Last year I lost a few pounds, dropping from my usual size 6 to a 4, and realized none of my bras fit properly. Annoyed, I measured myself, used an online calculator, and then ducked into Nordstrom's lingerie section for a second opinion. My math was right. I don't wear a 38C anymore; I wear a 36B. 

I learned about Intimacy later and have since spent a few hours drooling over their online wares in addition to the occasional in-store grab-and-go shopping spree. (You know the ones, where you tell yourself if you're running really, really fast, the shopping doesn't count.) I have had positive experiences in the past, but things can change, so I'll try to keep a completely open mind as if I were a new shopper. I'll be updating on the project sporadically and always, always with total honesty.

I'll be back soon with August's Hits and Hell Noes. (Sadly? More Hell Noes this time than Hits.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Battle #1: Mattifying Powders

In your left corner, you have Rimmel's Stay Matte Powder in Translucent. Raved about by bloggers and vloggers alike, this contender is widely available and wallet-friendly. It claims to keep skin (with or without makeup) shine-free for five hours. While it claims to be translucent, it has a very slight amount of color to the powder, but it offers no real coverage.

In your right corner, the new kid in town, Urban Decay's De-Slick Mattifying Powder. It comes in in solid packaging with a hefty price tag to match. Saleswomen at both my local Ulta and Sephora stores claim it's the best of the very best when it comes to keeping the skin matte. It has a faint purplish-white color that doesn't translate to the skin.

Round One: Fight! (Yes, I ripped off Mortal Kombat. Kudos if you caught the reference right away.)

I checked my local forecast to ensure I was going to be testing the two on days with almost-identical conditions, and then I went to work. My dewiest foundation is my Revlon BB Cream, which I usually have to blot within an hour to keep from looking shiny (this is my only complaint about the product), so I decided it would put both products to the test in the best way. I applied the BB cream as usual, gave it a few minutes to sink in, and dusted my face with Rimmel's Stay Matte. Instant matte finish. I was pleased. 

The first hour rolled around. No shine. Hour two, nothing. By the third hour, I noticed a sheen on my forehead and down the center of my nose where I get oiliest. Did it keep me shine-free for five hours? No, but it bought me an extra two hours, and when the shine did come through, it looked more glowy and less greasy. I'll try it with my other foundations to see how I get on with it, but all things considered, I'd give it a 7 out of 10. 

Round Two: Fight!

On Friday, it was Revlon BB Cream vs. Urban Decay De-Slick. Aside from a few eyeliners I adore and an eyeshadow primer I loathed and threw out, I don't actually own many UD products, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I slapped on my BB cream and powdered my face, and then in the rush of grocery shopping, doing laundry, feeding animals, work, and a massive migraine, I forgot to check my makeup. 

Imagine my surprise when I went to the mirror five hours after applying my makeup and found only the tiniest bit of shimmer on my nose and cheekbones. It looked like I'd applied highlighter instead of like I had oily skin. Urban Decay's powder gets a solid 10 out of 10 from me, and I will definitely be looking into more of their products. They seem a bit pricy initially -- $32 for a powder, really? -- but you pay for quality, and that's exactly what they provide.

In other news, I managed to annoy into submission convince my friend Trista to get a blog, so check her out!