Monday, June 30, 2008

pffft, I got hair in my face

Recently, cherryculture.com offered it's customers a 20% discount on their purchases. I went ahead and took advantage of the spending opportunity. I recently received my haul, and for the most part. I am please.

Here is what I part of what I ordered

NYX Professional Flat top brush
NYX Eyeshadow brush 1 (the tiniest shader brush ever)
NYX Powder blush brush
NYX Powder Brush


NYX Professional Flat Top brush
This brush is also known as the "skunk brush" because it sports two different fibers. This nifty invention has both natural and synthetic hairs. Makeup aficionados usually rely on this brush for the application of highly pigmented powders. The marriage between the two fibers allows the brush to pick up a light dusting of high pigment, and it softly deposits the color on the face. In addition, this brush works very well when applying foundation because it, again, softly buffs the foundation into the skin, which in turn leaves a seamless finish.

The most commonly known, and arguably most coveted, skunk brush is MAC's 187. This brush has the softness, firmness, surface coverage, and appropriate density to handle a variety of products, including heavy-duty foundation. In addition, it barely sheds, and when taken care of, can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, this holy grail costs $42, which has motivated many makeup lovers to search for less expensive equivalents.

Enter the NYX Professional Flat Top. When I opened the box, I immediately knew that although the brush would be good, it would not be the same or similar to the 187. NYX's is not as dense at the 187. In addition, the synthetic fibers were too bluntly cut across and the tips do not have the "feather" angle that the 187 does (It's like they used thinning shears at the end of the 187 brush to create a softer tip.). NYX's brush does not open into a wider radius, therefore, covering more surface when pressure is applied. When I go to apply the powder with the NYX brush it immediately gives in to pressure, and the entire brush folds. To compare, when I smush the 187 brush against my face, the synthetic fibers bend a little, but I still feel the firmness of the natural hairs (This is how the buffing action works so well. The natural applies and the synthetic diffuses.). NYX's synthetic fibers are not as soft as the 187, and the fibers seem to be thicker than the synthetic fibers of the 187. As far as the application, meh, it works okay. NYX deposits a light amount of high pigments, but it can be a little unyielding. There are more favorable brushes out there. Overall, I was expecting more. I was hoping this brush would be my second 187, but it really isn't. I wouldn't buy this brush again.

To categorize
MAC 187--the Queen that is gingerly placed on a pedestal to be admired and loved.
NYX Flat top--Queen's distant cousin who tries to seduce the King away from the Queen, but just ends up being relegated to the dusty corner. She is only used when the Queen is taking a bath.
Flirt Feather brush--the distant cousin's servant. She finishes up what the distant cousin can't.
The NYX Flat Top brush is $14.99.
Rating: 2.7 out of 5 happy wallets.

NYX Flat Top brush

MAC 187 and NYX flat top brushes

NYX flat top duo fiber brush
NYX flat top smushed
187 brush
MAC 187 smushed

The NYX e/s brush 1
This brush is tiny, but cute. This is a perfect brush for smudging liners and defining the outer corner and crease. It is very soft, and not super firm so it works well with blending small details. One thing works against it, the handle is very skinny, so sometimes it is difficult to get a good grip on it.
NYX eyeshadow brush 1 is $3.99
Rating: 3.5 out 5 happy wallets
NYX eyeshadow brush 1



NYX Powder Brush

Oh, this is a nice fluffy, soft, full brush. It is paddle-like and covers a nice surface area. I have encountered minimal shedding in the week that I have been using it. I have not washed it yet. The powder picks up a full amount of powder, and offers medium coverage. When touching the face, it caresses instead of scratch the cheeks and forehead. The handle from ferule to end is 4" long. The brush is a good solid, regular powder brush, but I would not have bought it at regular price. You can find the same quality brush or better at a lower price.
NYX Powder brush is 11.99
rating: 3 out of 5 happy wallets


NYX blush brush


NYX Powder Blush Brush
I actually exclaimed, "That's it?! There is no way this blush brush can cover my cheeks without making them look streaky. " I was wrong. Although this blush brush is not bigger than the usually blush brushes we see, it does have the shape and the fullness to spread open and cover the apples of the cheek. The brush is also lovingly soft, and it does not poke at all. The pigment deposit is just right, and it works well to buff any excess. I would even say that the size lends itself to using it for cheek contouring too. For the price it works, but, again, I have to say that there are better brushes out there at the same or lower prices.
NYX Powder Blush brush is $5.99
rating: 3.3 out 5 wallets
NYX blush brush


Overall, the NYX brushes are average. There really aren't any must haves in this round of brush purchases. If someone asked me whether they should invest in these particular brushes, I would say "sure, if you have a itch to try them out and you can comfortably part with the money." If someone asked me whether they should save and invest in the 187, I would say "Yes, I have yet to find an alternative."

Wishing you a happy face and an even happier wallet.

I want my nightmares to be ephemeral, not my perfume

My invisible friend: "So T, how would you describe the new summer fragrance from Mark.?"

Me: "One word: Ephemeral."

Such a shame...Mark. Instant Vacation Caribbean Fragrance mist is really a lovely scent. I can only describe it from memory because it has already faded on my skin, and I sprayed the hell out of that bottle too. You know how some fragrance descriptions state that the notes were taken straight from the beach, but in reality the notes were taken from a variety of suntan lotions and sunblocks? Well, IV Caribbean actually does smell like the Caribbean. It has the freshness of sea spray, the richness of overwhelming sand, and the fruitiness of a citrus daiquiri.


When I initially spritz this tease of a fragrance, it reminds me of early morning trips to the beach when no one is present and I take the time to absorb all of the sounds and smells before other visitors come to play, grill, and sunbathe. Those early beach mornings are peaceful, full of life, humility, and pleasure. Interestingly enough, the fragrance incites the same sentiments.

Actually, now that I think about it, the sentiments I feel during the early morning at the beach are ephemeral too, so the life span of IV Caribbean is accurate.

Photo from meetmark.com


However, when we suggest someone bottle a good thing, it's because we want it to last. Soooo (blogger turns to face perfume bottle. Awkwardness is palpable.) IV Caribbean, you have failed me. I have no time to visit the beach this summer, and I was relying on you to transport me. Unfortunately, you, like the majority of America, can't afford the gas to go the distance. You, IV Caribbean, have failed me. In return, I will give you a low rating. I am sorry. You had potential, but you did not live up to it. Tough love, baby. Tough Love.


According the the mark. website IV Caribbean carries the following notes: "Starfruit and mango mingle with notes of orange flower, red heliconia and teakwood to create a fresh, tropical scent that transports you to paradise."


Rating:
2.5 out of 5 happy wallets.
Smells great, but just doesn't go the distance

This product is 1.6 fl. oz., and costs $15.


Wishing you a happy face, and an even happier wallet.


If you have any requests for reviews, leave a comment. I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random, but Exceptional

I like watching movies. A lot. I especially like watching movies about women and their lives. I am not talking about "chick flicks"--although those are fun too--I am talking about movies that chronicle the strength and gumption of women. I am talking about movies that solely focus on the women; movies where men play secondary roles, and ultimately, it always comes back to the women.

Movies like this are few and far between, so a lot of my movie watching is fueled by the quest to find more "strong-willed-the-devil-may-care-I-own-myself-men-are-excellent-
but-I-can-do-it-myself" movies (Seriously, this is a genre.)
I found an exceptional movie that fits the above mentioned genre: Antonia's Line. This brilliant movie won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. It is about a woman, Antonia, who returns to her small hometown after WWII. She reestablishes roots there with her daughter, and her family grows through different ways. We witness the happiness and tragedies that every life has, but more importantly we witness the resilience of spirited women. Antonia, her daughter, and granddaughter have nurtured their "wild woman" inside, and they have no plans to extinguish any bit of it. I love that, I celebrate it, I wish I saw that more.

I won't say more about it because I don't want to cloud judgment, but Antonia's Line is definitely worth a watch.

Have a movie-watching day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy face, happy wallet, Happy FRIDAY

I'll give you time to dust off the confetti from celebrating that it is Friday! YAY, WOOHOO. Why is it that the weekends fly by but the weekdays drag? Don't get me wrong, every day is a good day to wake up (unless you stub your toe against the bed post when you are sluggishly walking towards the bathroom), but Fridays are always sweeter because you know that you can have some "you" time in the next two days. I even felt this way when I had to work Saturdays; I think the middle school excitement still lingers.

Anywhoo, I frequently (and when I mean "frequently," I really mean every hour on the hour) visit a wonderful website, makeupgeek.com (the link is on the sidebar). Marlena, the star behind Makeup Geek, provides excellent tutorials, swatches, tip and tricks, and Looks of the Week. The Look of the Week just recently started, but I think it is will definitely take off. The inspirations motivate her audience to try something new if they have not. Well, yesterday after work, and while the turkey was in the oven, I decided to try this week's look. It was definitely something I would not have created myself, but I had great fun doing it.

In fact, I was so inspired by the look that afterwards I even lightened my hair to a copper, burnt red (it was dark brown). I felt pretty bad ass.

So this weekend, I challenge you to try your hand at any bad ass look. When you find that look, ROCK IT like it's your job. After all, weekends are for letting loose.

Wishing you a happy face, and an even happier wallet

here is the inspiration

And here is my try at it
makeupgeek challenge 6.23-6.30

makeup geek challenge 6.23-6.30 open

What I used
Coastalscents 88 e/s palette--two of the pinks, one highlighter, they don't have names
NYX jumbo eye pencil in black bean on lid
Savvy cake liner in black on top of NYX black bean
Cover Girl Lash Blast in black
Beautique eyeliner in black on inner rim
Everyday minerals brow powder in medium brown to fill in brows
Urban Decay Primer Potion

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quick! Call the police...

Some would say that I am breaking the law. However, I don't care, if this is wrong then I don't want to be right.
Sally Girl in blue marine

That's right...I am wearing BLUE eyeshadow, and I am loving it. Actually, I might walk away from the fashion police encounter with a mild warning because the BPTB (Beauty Powers That Be) have decided to adopt blues again, and I am glad they have.

When I was younger, we were taught that blues were for women of the night and very old ladies who didn't have to answer to anyone. Now, it almost seems like it is expected for all women to have at least one eyeshadow that has a hint of blue.

When I decided to purchase this spiritual hue of blue at Sally's, I wasn't sure if I would actually like it. However, I felt something possess me to buy this, and at $.99 ($.89 with the Sally's discount card) how could I pass it up. I found this gem near the cash register in the Sally Girl display.

A seduction in three acts
ACT I
The Enchantment
I was initially looking for brush cleaner, but all of the sudden, I heard this sweet, soft, almost angelic voice tickling my ear. I turned around and the only thing I saw was a sea of shimmery aqua blue. I was immediately transported to the enchanting beaches of my childhood. Before I could control my hand, my fingers had already staked claim on a tiny, rectangular cube (her name is Blue Marine) that held a key to pleasant memories of seashells, sand castles, and exotic algae. The next thing I remember is handing my money to the lady at the register and walking out.

ACT II
The Chase
When I got home, I took the little treat out of my bag. I liberated it from its wrapper, and proceeded to examine it. I dipped my finger into the sea of aqua, teal blue. I noticed hints of green, gold, and turquoise. The colors combined to play with different angles in the lights. Sometimes it appeared more blue; other times it appeared more greenish teal. Either way, the color glistened at every angle. The texture was soft and glided on the back of my hand. There was no chalkiness, and the color was not sheer. In fact, it proved itself to be a perfect color for daytime. I was sold. Blue Marine's flirtation had worked.

ACT III
The Commitment
The next day, after applying Urban Decay Primer Potion (the only eyeshadow primer that works for me), I dipped my brush in this little cube of serenity and proceeded to enhance the brown in my eyes. I complemented the hue with Everyday Minerals "hot chocolate" in the crease to soften it a little for work. Blue Marine never faded, never creased, and never budged throughout the hot day. I proposed to her at the end of the day. She has earned a permanent place in my makeup stash.

Rating for Sally Girl in "Blue Marine"
5 out 5 happy wallets.

Are you kidding me?! For $.99 this is most excellent. There is ample pigment to satisfy anyone who wants to play with color without attracting a lot of attention. The staying power, with a primer, is wonderful. This precious shadow is wonderfully smooth, and they transport very easily. If you get more than one Sally Girl shadow, you can interlock them and make your own color combos. The container is a little over an inch long, and one inch wide. The net weight is 1.1 grams. Enter Sally's with caution, these little things might just seduce you.

Just for reference



swatches!


e/s!

Savvy cakeliner in "black"
Sally Girl in "Blue Marine"
Everyday mineral (EDM) in "hot chocolate"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Avon called and...

Ever since I was 15 I have had to constantly negotiate with my skin. You see, my skin has a very fickle personality. She coaxes me into settling into a "makeup optional" comfort zone; when I am in that zone, I feel excellent. I wake up, look at myself in the mirror, smile, decide to save time and just swipe on a cranberry lipstick. Hell, sometimes I lick the mirror.

The thing is that, those "makeup optional" days are so, very seldom because the minute I am done wiping the mirror down...BAM, WAM, ZAZOOM...I get a lovely cluster of cystic pimples that look like the Andes. Sometimes, I can connect the dots and form familiar shapes, animals, and even words. It's like my skin is trying to tell me something, but it is so cryptic I just can't decipher it.

When these facial messages erupt, I sigh, pack on the heavy duty foundation (Revlon colorstay or everyday minerals in intensive formula), avoid the mirror, and thank God for giving me a glistening personality that can work double duty to distract the majority of people from looking at the messages on my face (seriously, sometimes these rolling hills obstruct my view when I am looking down).

Okay, fast forward to when I finally win the battle and the pimples decided to give me a break. They don't leave silently, instead, they leave a trail of scars and hyperpigmentation. I started a misguided search for heavy-duty coverage foundation to solve the problem, but I quickly grew tired of waking up early in the morning to slather on spackle. Finally it dawned on me to alter my skincare to accelerate the exfoliation of my dead cells.

I read about the effectiveness of glycolic and salicyclic acid. I read about wonder products that made my wallet cry. And then, I stumbled upon Avon Clearskin Correct and Fade Peel. At $5.29 , I figured I would give it a try. Well, I am glad I did. I have been using it for more than three months and I have noticed a significant difference in the evenness of my skin. The newer and older scars have nicely faded, and I don't have to slap on the Revlon Colorstay. In fact, there are days when I just dash on a little powder to control the shinies and put on the lippie and I am out the door.

My impression of the product
Container and substance:
This product comes in a tiny container that is full of saturated pads. The contents weighs one (1) fluid oz, and it contains 30 pads. The pads are pretty close to silver dollar size (from what I remember, I haven't seen a silver dollar in years), which is fine because it is just right for spreading the medicated formula all over your face. The container itself can be recycled, which makes me feel a little better about the fact that I use two pads a day. You can also use the container for other things, for instance, I use my empty containers for holding large beads.

Smell:
There is definitely a fragrance. It smells like a very mild Sea Breeze toner (I know scary, but don't worry it hasn't ruined my skin), acne medicine, and light, summery unnatural flowers. The smell does not linger for long on the face, although if you happen to lick the side of your lips where the pad might have grazed then you can definitely taste it.

Texture:
The pad itself has two textures. On one side you have the conventional pad texture, which reminds me of honeycombs. The other side is smooth. I tend to gravitate towards the honeycomb side because it feels like a face cloth without the fluff, and I like it. The pad is not as smooth as the ponds wipes, but it is not abrasive. If you have very sensitive skin, I would say be gentle.

Dry down:
The formula does not take too long to dry. If reminds me of putting on toner with a cotton ball and waiting for it to dry; my face feels dewy for about one minute and then I can go ahead and put on my moisturizer. Once my face dries, it does not feel tight and rebellious. In fact, even though it does have alcohol it has not made my skin oilier or dry. I have had the experience before with other products, but so far so good with this one. My face feels clean at the end of my routine.

Acne fighting and face improving:
I haven't gotten the crazy explosion of pimples since I started using it. It's not a miracle, I still get one pimple here and there (the hormonal ones), but they are short lived and manageable. In addition, the scarring has been minimal so far. Before I started using this, I used a toner and then put acne cream all over my face. Now with Correct and Fade, I have been able to cut my acne routine short. I wash, apply Correct and Fade, and moisturize. My skin feels smoother, and less oily. Overall this works well for mild, but still annoying acne. To be clear, the active ingredient is 1% salicylic acid. I know, I was skeptical too.

Price:

The regular price is $5.29, but Avon usually throws these bad boys on sale. I have bought then during buy one, get one free and when they slash the price to around $3.50. I never buy it when it is at regular price. I always stock up when it's on sale because that is the majority of the appeal: the fact that it works at such a low price.

Ingredients:
Water, SD Alcohol 40-B, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Thiodipropionic Acid, Trioxaundecanedionic Acid, Triticum Vulgare (wheat) Germ Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Ammonium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Parfum/Fragrance.

Rating:

I give it 4.5 out of 5 happy wallets. Effective at a low price. Would I use it for more than five years? hmm, maybe. Would I cry and protest in front of Avon headquarters if they discontinued it? No, it's not worth getting arrested. However, I would stock up on it once on clearance.

And some pictures for your enjoyment
Avon Correct and Fade Peel

Before Correct and Peel

Before Correct and Fade

After three months of Correct and Peel
After Correct and Fade

Wishing you a happy face and an even happier wallet!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why?

Why start a blog?

Well, let's see...I feel bad boring everyone with my latest makeup discoveries. My poor friends and family were tired of listening to me rave about the most recent eyeshadow bargain, the best inexpensive lip balm, and the best unconventional face primer (Milk of Magnesia? Monistat Anti-Chafe cream? exactly!). Then one early Monday, while I was waiting for my work computer to boot up, I thought, "hey, T, why not take your passion for beauty on a budget to the 'internets'?" So I have. I have tried many products, and I look forward to documenting my thoughts on how well, or poorly, they work.

Let the reviews begin!

May we all have a happy face and an even happier wallet!