Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Review: MAC Microfine Refinisher

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Today I really need to talk about my favourite skincare product. It’s a new discovery to me but is already a necessary part of my routine.

I finally discovered a facial scrub that really exfoliates and does what it says it does. In the past I’ve tried exfoliators from Avon, Clinique, a million drugstore brands, and even the ever-infamous St Ives Apricot scrub.

I have to get off topic here for a minute and say that, as hyped up as the Apricot Scrub is, as many people worship it and will force it upon anybody looking for a good facial scrub – it does not work. At least, it didn’t for me. I would have to physically scrub and scrub and scrub my face with half a bottle of that stuffat once in order to get any results at all. And even then, it just hurt and didn’t leave my face feeling clean and smooth and soft. I still had an abundance of dry skin left over that it just didn’t touch. If I were reviewing it, which I might do later, I would only give it two out of ten, that’s how much I hate it.

Anyway, I’ve tried tons of different brands and “formulas” but nothing really did the job. I tend to get really dry and flaky skin on my nose, sometimes also in my T-zone and cheeks, depending on the weather and how my skin is “feeling” at any given time. I needed an exfoliator that would actually remove that dry dead skin. None of them “felt” abrasive enough to me, but I persevered and gave everything a fare chance, finished up each tube – I hate wasting money, even if it’s on bad skincare products. And every single one either did nothing to help, or just wound up “disturbing” the dry skin, pulling it up without actually removing it, and just made it look even worse than if I hadn’t bothered in the first place.

Now, though my problems have basically disappeared, which I attribute to two things: the moisturizer I’ve been using for the past couple of months (Although I’m still not convinced it’s quite moisturizing enough for me… but we’ll see) and MAC’s Microfine Refinisher.

After using this product once, I was sold. I even marched into my aunt’s bedroom (I live with her) and made her touch my face to feel how amazingly soft it was. I usually have at least a small degree of roughness over my nose and cheeks. But damn! The words “baby” and “bottom” come to mind.

The exfoliating particles (I heard somewhere that it’s “crystals” whatever that means) are super fine, hence the name I guess, you can’t even see them. But let me tell you, you can definitely feel them. This scrub is very abrasive, and I wouldn’t recommend that people with really sensitive skin go to town on their face with it, but I personally like to be able to feel it. It lets me know my skin is definitely getting a good scrubbing and that layer of dead skin is being sloughed away.

I use it wet, but I’ve heard from a few reliable sources that it’s less abrasive if you use it on dry skin instead. Either way, you definitely do not want to over-scrub with it, because if you do, you will go red, your skin will look and feel raw, and it will hurt.

All in all though, I like the level of abrasiveness in this product, and it leaves my skin feeling totally amazing. I give this product TEN out of TEN, and I seriously doubt that any exfoliator on the market can even begin to compare (But I’m open to trying them out so if you have suggestions please let me know). I highly, highly recommend it, with the advice that you need to go easy with it, and if I had to give up my entire skincare collection, this one product I would hide away for safekeeping!

Upcoming Reviews:
Hanskin Super Magic BB Cream (Blemish Balm)
Shills Black Deep Cleansing Peel-Off Mask
Clinique Three-Step Skincare System

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Review: Ardell Individual False Lash Starter Kit

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Note: Sorry, still having some image issues, I'll get all of these updated once I get a chance.

Today’s review is for Ardell’s individual false lash Starter Kit.

The kit comes with two colours of false lashes – black and brown – and each one comes in three different lengths. It also has a small bottle of lash adhesive, a bottle of adhesive remover solution to take the lashes back off again, and a pair of pointy tweezers.

When I first got this set, I was really excited to try them. I was going to wait until the weekend to try to put them on, but then my enthusiasm got the better of me and I had to go put them on before bed. I’ll also let it be known that this was my first experience with any sort of false lashes, and that probably has an impact on what I’m writing now.

For maybe a week before they finally came in the mail (They were an ebay purchase) I watched countless tutorials on YouTube on how to apply false lashes, both individual ones and “full strip” lashes. It looked pretty easy, and with the kit things couldn’t go wrong, right?

I’ll say now that applying false lashes is a skill that takes time to learn. Practice makes perfect and all that. For my first time, I’d say that it wasn’t as hard as it could have been, but definitely was not as easy as the tutorials made it out to be. Knowing the correct way to do it, knowing in your head how to go about applying the lashes… well, it’s not the same as actually trying to do it. It took a while for me to get the first few on, because I had to contort myself in a variety of ways just to be able to see my lashline without the tweezers or my hand getting in the way. The next step is to hold the lash against your eyelid while the glue sets for a few seconds. Easier said than done. I kept having to blink. Then the lashes would rotate and I’d have to mess around trying to turn them back.

As I went along though they did get easier to apply, so once you’ve had some practice they should be pretty easy to get a set on.

Anyway, I thought that the best thing about these lashes is that they can be worn for anywhere from a few days, to six weeks, depending on how you care for them. Sleeping with your face squished into a pillow like I normally do will obviously make them detach sooner, as will using oil-based makeup removers and cleansers, that kind of thing.

All in all it took me about half an hour to apply lashes to both of my eyes, and shortly afterward I went to bed. I was careful not to sleep with my face in the pillow, and when I woke up the next morning, the lashes were all intact, except for one which I quickly put back on before getting ready for work.

The lashes themselves do look natural once they’re on, but are kind of dramatic. I used the medium length ones on the outer half of my eyes, and the short ones on the inner half – and even then they were a bit long for my liking. I can’t imagine actually using the long ones, I think it would be way too intense. If applied correctly and maybe if you trim them a bit, they do look good. The main thing I would advise though is to put a line of liquid liner on after applying your lashes, because the “roots” of the false lashes are kind of obvious against your skin, but can easily be disguised by a little black eyeliner. The liner also helps them look less obvious, or at least in my case it did.

Last night is what I thought would be the major test: washing your face with lashes on. I put the lashes on after cleansing, and in the morning before work yesterday I washed my face but didn’t touch the eye area. Last night, however, I had to take off my eye makeup. I was very careful about how I rubbed my cleanser around the eyes, and managed to get it done without disturbing the lashes. So job complete!

This morning was a different story though. I think I’d slept with my eye into the pillow last night, so when I got up this morning and gently washed my face, about a third of the lashes were at least partially detached. I was going to leave them on for another couple of days to see what the lasting power is, but at that time in the morning it really just didn’t seem worth the time to take all the glue off the lashes and reapply them without being late for work. So, I took them off.

First I soaked a face cloth in hot hot water and then held it against my eyelids to try to “steam” loose the lash adhesive. After a few bouts with this about half of the remaining lashes came off without having to use the adhesive-removing solution. The rest were really stubbourn and were stuck on much better, so I went into my room and used a Q-Tip to gently rub the lash removing solution over the base of the lashes.

Just a note: that stuff burned when I got it into my left eye. I tried to rub it on between my natural lash and the false lash rather than just on top, but it just got into my eyes and stung like a mother. Obviously since the solution is designed to be used around the eye area, it wasn’t some kind of acid that blinded me, but it was still not a very pleasant experience. It took about three minutes or so to get the remaining lashes off, which to me meant that if I had glued the rest of them on as well as these ones, then none of them would have come off in the first place.

Another thing I didn’t like about this kit was the lack of aftercare instructions. It had a full set of instructions for how to apply the lashes to a client (Not on yourself, mind) but didn’t give any information at all as to how best care for them when they’re on. How to wash your face, what kinds of items to stay away from, how to take them off again – none of that was included, so it took some internet research to figure out what to do.

All in all it was a decent first experience and I’m glad I bought them and tried them. It definitely does take practice to perfect the application of false lashes and to help them stay on longer than 36 hours. And I commend those of you who have the patience to do it! Personally though I give these things a rating of FIVE OUT OF TEN. Even though they looked natural and would probably last longer if I tried again, I can’t say they’re something I couldn’t live without. The truth is it was fun, but kind of an unnecessary hassle – and the burning sensation from the remover solution was enough to knock off a couple of points.

Next I plan to try some full-strip lashes so I’ll update you on them another time. And of course, if I try the individual lash set again and have a better experience, I’ll update the rating here too, because it’s only fair!

Upcoming Reviews:
MAC Microfine Refinisher
Hanskin Super Magic BB Cream (Blemish Balm)
Shills Black Deep Cleansing Peel-Off Mask
Clinique Three-Step Skincare System

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Review: Lancôme Hypnose Mascara

My latest review is for Lancôme’s Hypnose mascara.

I’ll be up front and honest here and say that I don’t particularly have any kind of brand loyalty where it comes to mascara. Mascara is probably the cosmetic product that I use the most, so you would think I would also be the most discerning about it, but this hasn’t proven to be the case. Right now at home I have no fewer than six different tubes of mascara, and at least four separate brands.

For the most part, mascara has been something that I relied on heavily just to – well – not look stupid. That might sound weird, but let me explain. I’m a natural (dark) blonde, and as such my eyelashes are also very fair as well. So much so that, if I don’t wear mascara, it almost looks like I don’t have any, which in turn just makes my eyes look very odd. So even on those very rare days where I’m braving the world bare-faced, even when I’m so sick that the idea of messing around with makeup makes me want to pass out – even then, I have to wear a coat of mascara.

I’ve tried all kinds of mascaras. Victoria’s Secret, Max Factor, Maybelline, Collection 2000, Avon, god only knows what else. Some have been better than others, obviously, but I’ve never actually *loved* a mascara. Okay, okay, we use the word “love” far too loosely. I’ve never really really liked any particular mascara. As long as it didn’t clump and it made my lashes black, well, I’d wear it and I would deal.

But this mascara is more than that. It manages to emphasize my lashes, adding a slight curl – although I still curl my lashes before applying anyway – definitely making them black and thick looking, adding a bit of length. Which is basically everything you can ask for in a mascara. The thing is though, even though the mascara itself is very thick and kind of creamy in texture, it’s generally really good for not clumping. And if there’s one thing that will make me hate a mascara it is a brand that creates clumpey spider-spikes. One coat of this mascara and I’m good to go. (Unlike the Maybelline mascara I used to wear, that required at least two coats to add any definition at all. One coat would colour but that’s basically it) In fact, this mascara does such a good job of what it *should* be doing that I no longer feel the need to use a lash primer underneath, which is something I’d been relying heavily on for the past couple of months.

There really isn’t much else to say about this mascara, other than it is good, it does what it is supposed to, and you should try it. So instead of rambling inanely I’m going to end here and give you my final score: EIGHT OUT OF TEN. Not a ten because while it is good for not clumping, there are occasional bits that need to be combed out. And if you add more than 1-2 layers then it’s definitely too thick. But the idea is that you only need one layer anyway, so most people shouldn’t have this problem.

Upcoming Reviews:
MAC Microfine Refinisher
Hanskin Super Magic BB Cream (Blemish Balm)
Ardell Individual Lashes Starter Kit
Clinique Three-Step Skincare System

Ps: Sorry for the lack of images, I’ll get them uploaded and in place soon, I’m just having issues with my Photobucket right now for some reason.

Review: MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation

The first thing I really have to write about here is a new product from MAC called Studio Sculpt Foundation.

I have to start this off by saying that generally speaking, I am not a fan of liquid foundations. All of my experience with liquid foundations in the past have been mismatched colours, cakey feeling, oily, greasy, obviously makeup, horribleness. Every time I’ve worn liquid foundation in the past has felt like wearing clown’s greasepaint smeared on my face. I have dry skin but foundation always left it feeling oily. It always made my face hot and the feel of sweating under a thick mask of makeup… well, it’s not good. I hate the feel, I hate the look. Because of all of this, until now I’ve stuck to wearing powder or mineral foundation – which has still been a chore due to my very fair skin tone. I’ve had a hell of a time trying to find foundation that suits my “natural colouring”. More often than not, the lightest shade of a line is still even marginally too dark for me, so I have to use a very very light touch when dusting it onto my face.

So it could be said that I never expected to be giving a positive review to any foundation, let alone a liquid one. But people, there is a first time for everything, and this foundation has actually spurned in me the idea to start a beauty blog. I found myself trawling Yahoo Answers this weekend to sing the praises of this foundation to anybody who posted a “What foundation should I buy?” question. This foundation is really *that* amazing.

First of all, it has an SPF factor of 15 built in, which isn’t really high protection but at least it’s something, and a girl’s face can use all the protecting it can get. It’s gel-based so it’s really light-feeling and not greasy at all. It blends beautifully and you can apply as much or as little as you like depending on the coverage you want. If you just brush on a thin layer, it gives you a beautifully flawless and slightly dewy complexion that looks more like natural good skin than makeup. If you add a little more you can up your coverage to mask more imperfections.

But to me the best part about this foundation is that it doesn’t feel like wearing makeup. To me anyway, it doesn’t feel any heavier than the moisturizer I put on every morning. It doesn’t look like makeup, it doesn’t feel like makeup – and so far, it doesn’t rub off like makeup either.

While I’m at it, I have to say that MAC’s shade range is fantastic as well. I had serious doubts as to whether I would ever find “MY SHADE” but when I went into MAC and asked the sales assistant, she tried two colours on me and boom – the second one was simply perfect. So I would also strongly urge that instead of just guessing at your shade and undertone and whatnot and ordering online blindly, please go into a MAC store if there is one available to you. Getting an expert’s help can be the real difference between falling in love with The Perfect Foundation and just becoming seriously irritated.

Honestly, I cannot sing the praises of this foundation enough. If you’re looking for a new foundation and want something that just looks natural instead of caked-on-fake, please give this a try. It’s so totally worth it. In total I'd give it a score of NINE OUT OF TEN. Even my favourite powder foundation can't measure up to that!

That’s it for now but please check back soon because I’ve already got a few more reviews in mind that need to be written up, so they’ll be coming soon.

Upcoming Reviews:
Lancôme Hypnose Mascara
MAC Microfine Refinisher
Hanskin Super Magic BB Cream (Blemish Balm)
Ardell Individual Lashes Starter Kit
Clinique Three-Step Skincare System

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

What it is and what it's for

Okay guys, just a little intro to let you know what this is about. I'm going to be posting reviews here, because I'm just awesome like that. My favourite products, and the stuff that deserves to wind up in the trash heap. Reviews will be coming soon, and will be updated whenever I come across something new to try out, or something old that just needs to be discussed.

Catch you on the flip-side!