Sunday, November 29, 2009

You left me thirsty

I remember experimenting with mousse when I was a young teenager. It was so much fun to squeeze the button, and see the fluffy foam grow in the palm of my hand. Then, I would smoosh my hands together and gingerly place the mousse on my hair. The mousse would quickly dissolve and make a subtle crinkle sound as I scrunched my curls for good measure. Then, I would brave the merciless humidity of Puerto Rico, the mousse would immediate cave, and my hair would rapidly shrink several inches. All of that product, for what? Nothing.

After experiencing these disappointing effects with mousse, I swore it off for more than 10 years. Then, several months ago, I was intrigued with Herbal Essences’ Totally Twisted mousse. To add fuel to the fire, I found a coupon in the Sunday paper, and I saved it for my next visit to Target. After purchasing it, I immediately tried it on, and it was love at first try. After washing my hair, I would separate my hair into four sections. Then I would rake the mousse through my hair and scrunch section by section. This way, I was sure that the majority of the curls were coated with the product. (Note that I say "would" because I don't use the product anymore because I cut my hair super, super short and wear it straight. However, I just want to write the review because my experience was definitely notable.) After applying the mousse all over my hair, I would not touch the curls at all until my hair was dry, then I would fluff and fluff until the curls were a little less defined without being frizzy. Before fluffing the curls, the mouse would leave my hair a little crunchy and stiff, but with light scrunch that sensation would go away, and there was no flaking.

Well, after using this mousse for several weeks, and loving how defined and shapely my curls looked, I noticed that my hair was beginning to feel dry and stringy. It was still pretty, but just felt a little damaged. So, I would shampoo more regularly (I have dry hair, so it is not good to do frequently), and I would also slather on more conditioner, which would just create more buildup. During this whole "What is going on with my hair? OMG I love my mousse!" phase, I was trying to figure out exactly what was going on. Then, one day it dawned on me: maybe I should shelve the mousse for a minute and see what happens. After several weeks, my hair went back to normal. The curls were still pretty, but not as pretty as with the mousse; however, it felt soo much better.

Once, this realization came, I frowned. I so wanted to love this beautifully fruity-smelling mousse. I so wanted to forget about how inept mousse was in my teenage years. I just wanted to enjoy this mousse and embrace its abilities to control and define my curls. Alas, it was not meant to be. The product buildup was just too much for my hair.

I finally resolved (before I decided to cut my hair, which was not related to this product) to not use it every other day, and instead use it sporadically. I think my error was that I was using too much product, too often. But here is the thing, I have used and abused my hair for years. I have layered on product, after product, after product, and I have never experienced what I did with the mousse. And this was just one product. So, I will definitely take blame for my error of usage, but I also think this product played a role in drying out my hair. It seems that this mousse acts like a hybrid between a gel and hairspray. It has the staying power of a hairspray (it worked excellently in humidity), and the defining power of a gel. Therefore, along with providing the awesome staying power of a hairspray, it also has the awesome drying power that comes along.

Of course, this was my experience, and I am sure others will have different experiences, but I was just so amazed at the effects after using it for several weeks. Maybe using less is the ticket, but my hair requires a good amount of product to tame it. My hair is like a wild horse that fights to be broken. Either way, I have resigned myself to passing the mousse section in the hair aisle. Will I stop and smell the fragrance that comes out of the can? Yes, this mousse smells divine. If I let my hair grow out again, will I use what I have left? Yes, but maybe once every not so often. I would just want to slowly use it up because it hurts to throw away unused products. Would I buy this mousse again? No. Would I recommend this mousse to a friend? I might, say “hey, if you want to scrunch your hair and make it look beachy every once in a while, this product might work, but Oh wow, look there are five million other products that might be better.” So, in other words, I would not confidently recommend this product to a friend who has wavy hair, and I would definitely not recommend this product to someone who has similar hair to mine.

You know, now that I think about it, I have never had a fulfilling experience with Herbal Essences. The smell is always awesome, but the products always fall short with my hair.
Rating:1.5 out of 5 (Kudos for definition and stay power. It does do what it is supposed to do, but big “boos” for the dryness and the rapid buildup factor. It should come with warning.)

$3 to $5 at drugstores, Walmart, Target

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I have finally met La Femme

How many colors are there really? Recently, I have been so very intrigued by the power of colors. I have been reading up on complimentary colors, neutralizing colors, and the creations of other colors. I don't know why I am so into learning about the dynamic world of color because, as mentioned before, I am pretty much only wearing neutrals. Even though, I know that I will always gravitate towards my tans, browns, and bronze palette, I still have this idea that I will sport the rainbow on a regular day. Therefore, I buy (or at least was buying, not anymore) pink, purple, green, and yellow eyeshadows. Here's the curious thing, I have different tones of the colors in my collection, and shamefully, not many of them get much attention.

Well, the last shopping fit I had focused around La Femme's eyeshadows and blushes in the colors mentioned above. I had heard great things about this brand, however, it is very difficult to find here in the US. Therefore the brand was a mystery to me for quite sometime, until one crazy night when I was up late/early (depending on how you see it) feeding Cheeks and surfing the net, I came across the MakeupMania website that sells La Femme products along with other professional makeup lines.

After several days of considering whether to finally try the line, I broke down and made an order. On MakeupMania, you can order a palette of 12 eyeshadows or blushes for $35, which is fantabulous. The website has a "palette lab" that gives you the ability to customize your palette. I will admit that although the "palette lab" is a great idea, the execution is a touch cumbersome because you click and drag the shades you want into the virtual palette. Unfortunately, the shades aren't named until you put the virtual pan in the virtual palette, and the swatches are not very good. So, picking the shades can be a gamble because you aren't really sure what the shade really looks like. Also, it is difficult to distinguish between the blushes and the eyeshadows. For instance, I thought I had ordered more eyeshadows than blushes, but as it turns out some colors were categorized as blushes instead of eyeshadows. It doesn't really matter because I feel like the consistency is the same and the shades are versatile; so I just shrugged off this discovery.

Now, I will give MakeupMania mad props on customer service. I got emails notifying me on the progress of my order (customized palettes take more time because they assemble and label the palettes). Also when one of the shades I ordered was on backorder, they went ahead and sent the palette with a similar color and assured me that once the backordered shade came in they would send it out. Months passed and I had totally forgotten about the backordered shade until one day an envelope was in my mailbox with the missing eyeshadow. I was incredibly surprised to have received it after several months.

Okay, so as far as the palettes, I like them, for the most part. The pans are about the size of a silver dollar. They are snugly fit inside the palette, and the cardboard palette seems to be quite sturdy. The shadows/blushes has a faint powdery smell, and many of them are soft to the touch (some are a little harder and require a little more pressure to pick up the shade). The pigmentation of the product is good, especially with the brighter colors. For instance, as far as the blushes I ordered a little goes a very, very long way. The shadows' shades pick up nicely, with the exception of "Lemon." Many of the shades I bought are matte, and the "iridescent" and "very frosted" shades are very low on shimmer. So if you are going for something that will catch the light, the shades I have chosen won't do it. Actually, I was a little disappointed with the shimmer level. It seems that there is very little difference between the matte and the shimmery shades.

The shadows/blushes do spread well and they last long with a base (Just a reminder: I always use a base because I have oily lids, and it usually is UDPP.). After I got my first palette, I used it nonstop for two months. I didn't even make a dent in the pans. Then I ordered my second palette, which was more colorful, and I played around with it, but I haven't used it as much as I thought. This is to no fault of the palette, just my mood. However, now after playing around with the palettes again for the review, I will put these back in rotation. I really do like the shades and, overall, I like the quality. I remember thinking that I would love to buy more palettes when I am in the shopping mood again, and I will definitely order them from MakeupMania again. So this is a good sign for the product.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 happy wallets (I love the price. I like the flexibility of customizing. It satisfies my matte hankering, and I have brighter blushes. Plus, I like the versatility of the colors. One thing, not much shimmer even in the colors that are supposed to be shimmery. Also, Makeupmania assembles and prints the names of the shades for you.)

Price: $35 at makeupmania.com for a palette of 12 pans. Sold separately, the pan are $2.50 and the palette is $14

And now, the pictures (no based was used for the swatches):
Palette 1
"Cheeks and Lids" (you can name your palette)
Blush and Neutrals Palette (La Femme)
This was the first palette I bought. If you click on the picture you can read the names. Blushes are in the top row, shadows bottom. Also, note the printed names I taped to the inside.

Blush and Neutrals Palette (La Femme)
Swatches of the top row of the above palette.

Blush and Neutrals Palette (La Femme)
Swatches of the bottom row of the above palette. "Lemon" is a "lightly frosted" shade, and "Frostee Beige" is a "very frosted" shade. See, not much shimmer. "Frostee Beige" is basically matte. Oh, and "khaki" is "very frosted."

Palette 2
"Sun, Leaves, and Grapes"
Purples and Greens Palette (La Femme shadows)
Click on the picture to read the names.

Purples and Greens Palette (La Femme shadows)
Top row of the second palette. "Gold Leaf" and "Yellow" are the only designated mattes.

Purples and Greens Palette (La Femme shadows)
Second row of second palette.

Let me know if you have any questions concerning this product or anything else.
Much love

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Friday and got a buffer?

So, Cheeks is getting a full night's rest, but for some reason I am up at 4 in the morning. Oh well, I might as well be productive. I just took pictures of swatches for the La Femme eyeshadows and blushes. I hope to get this review out before Thanksgiving since we are going to be busy.

Onto beauty!

So, I have to be better about checking the Happyface account because there are some gems to be found in the inbox. For instance a while ago, I received a nice email about the multitasking ability of Ms. Manicure products, and there were two that made me say "ohh, cool," out loud. I would like to pass this along.

First off, I have several Ms. Manicure products that I found at Target a while back, and I really do enjoy them. I have a specific nail clipper for my fingernails from Ms. Manicure, and I panic every time I can't find them (I hide them very well so that the Scholar doesn't use them for his man-toes.). I like the nail clippers because they have a cover around the bottom part of the clippers that makes them more stable when I am holding them, and the size of the clippers work really well for the size of my nails. Plus, I have had them for more than two years, and they have not gone dull, nor rusty, and they haven't lost their spring. In fact, come to think of it, I haven't bought another set of clippers since those. I also have a nail file that I really like for both my fingers and toes. The file is firm for better grip and control, and the grit is perfect for both types of nails. It files without tearing apart my nails.

Also, if you like cute packaging, this is a great inexpensive brand to satisfy that fetish. I, typically, don't get swayed by packaging, but I have to admit that Ms. Manicure's packaging makes me smile. It is very girly, cute, and fun. Several Christmases ago, I bought a cool kit as a stocking stuffer for The Grrl, and I received some matchbook nail files from my MIL. So, really these could make great stocking stuffers for the gift-giving season.

Okay, secondly, and this didn't even occur to me, but I learned that some of these products can be used for things other than nails.

For instance, their "Rock 'n Sole" pumice stone can not only be used to remove calluses, but it can also be used to remove pills from sweaters. You just put the sweater on a flat surface, and gingerly rub the dry stone over the trouble spots on the sweater. Now, remember that the stone is really used to remove calluses, so be gentle. I have yet to try this technique, but I do look forward to testing it because I do have some favorite sweaters that I can't bear to get rid of yet. Really, all they need is a nice refresher. I have bought two sweater shaves before, but they stopped working after several uses, and I am out 14 bucks, whereas, the pumice stone is about 2 bucks.



The other tip that I really intrigued me concerned refreshing suede. So, I went through a phase where I collected nail buffers (weird, I know) and I just used them for my nails. However, buffers can be used to spruce up your suede.
Here is the tip, "Spill something on your new suede boots? You might not have to head for the shoe store for another pair just yet. Grab an emery board, like Ms. Manicure ‘s Call Your Buff ($2.99), and lightly rub the stain. Use the soft, buffer side of this four-sided board to ensure that your boots don’t get damaged in the process. Then, hold the shoe over steam from a boiling pot (or teakettle) on the stove to completely remove it. This works for suede clothing as well! "
Who knew? I used to use my hair brush to buff out any water marks, but the suede would always get rattled.


Just to be clear, I have not yet tried these tips nor these products for the alternative uses. I just thought the tips were curious and helpful. I have, however, tried several Ms. Manicure products, and do not hesitate to purchase more of the products available. I think they are most excellent for the price, plus they are super cute. You can find the Ms. Manicure and Ms. Pedicure at many stores (e.g. Target, K-mart, Ulta, Wal-mart, and so forth).

Much love.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So...what's your sign?

Well, this is just awkward. Here I am vowing to myself and you that I am here to write, write, write, and another week passes. As I sat down to log in and post a new entry, I felt clumsy and shy. It was like I was a goofy kid trying to pursue the most beautiful person who is wayyy out of my league. How the hell do I approach such a radiant person? I will soo be rejected. What's the use? Blah, blah, blah.

In other words, I really didn't know how to go about writing an entry again. I have lost momentum and the inertia has set in. Lame, lame, lame. So as I was driving to my friend's house, I thought about what I could do to get this blog going again after being away so long. I thought about the awkwardness I felt just thinking about how long I had been away, and then I thought about what I have been up to. After all of this contemplation, I decided to just open my mind and stretch my fingers and let both do the work. Instead of plotting a specific review with pictures and stories, I just need to sit down and let out.

So here I am: I am sitting down and letting it out.
OUT, WORDS, OUT!
...uh...hmm...

Oh yeah, so I have been really slowing down on cosmetics buying. Right before my computer gave out, I had hit a saturation point. It reminds me of the time I ate way too many Oreos, the next time I saw them I wanted to throw up. Or another time I only drank cider every time I went to the bar, and then one night I got sick from drinking too much, the next day I would gag just hearing the word "cider." My aversion to Oreos still persists, and I have finally come around to drinking cider again, but it took some retraining. Anyway, my lust for makeup has been temporarily exhausted. I have an urge to use up some of the stuff I have, and that is what I am in the process of doing. I think I have enough colors in my stash to create whatever "perfect" color of the moment, and I am pretty sure I have enough skincare to fill a drugstore. Now, I did make an exception for combating the acne solution, but other than that, I just breeze through the skincare and cosmetics sections at stores unless I really need something.

I must say, it feels really good to look at the new makeup coming out and just shrug. Meh, there is nothing new under the sun. I guess I may be jaded, but I do believe it is only temporary. I won't be unimpressed with the newcomers for the rest of my life. Now, I have realized that I don't need all of the colored eyeshadows under the sun. I am really happy with neutral, right now.

To be clear, however, just because I am not shopping like I used to doesn't mean I don't have reviews coming. Also, just because I hit a temporary saturation point doesn't mean I don't have anything to write about. Don't fret. My shelves and drawers are full of goodies to review, and I still am interested in painting my face.

In fact, as I write this entry, I already feel the warm feelings coming back. I already feel the motivation, the urge, the fire, the...the...the desire to write about my personal thoughts on products.

So on this note, let me share what I have been in love with and what I have not been in love with.

Love:
1) Well, my face has been breaking out, and thank you, lovely ladies, for all of the wonderful recommendations. I got some Neutrogena spot treatment, and I started up the Clean and Clear blackhead remover routine again. So far, I have been having luck. Once I am finished with the spot treatment I am going get the Acne-stress 3-in-1 (it wasn't in store when I went, boo hiss). With this being said, I am really in love with the Clean and Clear blackhead remover. Remember I previously reviewed it? Well, I am loyal to it. I can really tell the difference between using it and not using it. My face looks and feels so much better when I use it. Definitely repurchase.

2) I am also all about mark.'s "For Goodness Face" moisturizer. It doesn't cause breakouts, I have repurchased several times, has SPF 30, doesn't feel sticky, doesn't smell, and just feels great. It is awesome!

3) I have rediscovered L'oreal's Voluminous mascara (waterproof). Oh my goodness! I tried it a long time ago and really hated it. However, this time around I decided to buy it because it was on sale for $4. Well, I love how it separates, lengthens, and voluminizes my lashes. Goodness, it looks like I am wearing natural-looking fake lashes. Now, this mascara is hit or miss on people, and fortunately, it is now a hit for me. Definite repurchase.

4) Palladio Herbal waterproof eyeliner in black brown is excellent. It reminds me of a milder version of Revlon Colorstay at a lower price (about $4.50 at Sally's). By milder I mean it feels a littler softer and is more smudgeable and blendable. I am really liking this eyeliner for my "softer, neutral, come-hither" days. Plus, it doesn't last a good amount of time. I would say definitely more than 5 hours.

5) Since I have been encountering a little bit of acne, I have had to whip out my standby Revlon Colorstay foundation and the Revlon Colorstay blemish concealer in medium/deep. This concealer is nicely pigmented, blends well, doesn't smear, and matches my skin really well. I love it! A little goes a long way too.

6) Cheeks has been giving me a little of a hard time at night so my dark circles are a little more prominent. Therefore, I went to Wal-mart and got NYC's cover stick in yellow to counteract the blue in my dark circles. This coverstick works like a charm. It is easy to blend, doesn't crease, and neutralizes really well. So, I swipe this one first, blend, and then top it off with my Maybelline Mineral Power concealer. Plus, the stick is going to last forever because a little goes a long way.

Meh:
1) After many months of trying out Sally Hansen Natural Beauty inspired by Carmindy foundation in Sandy Beige, I feel kind of meh about it. The foundation feels great going on, and it does offer medium coverage, but for some reason, I am just not feeling the foundation. I love the pump, and the shades does a pretty good job of matching my skintone, but it lacks to longevity that Revlon Colorstay offers. It does an okay job holding up to my oily skin; I still get breakthrough, and I feel apprehensive about touching my face after several hours. This isn't a bad foundation, and I would recommend it to someone with normal skin, but I wouldn't necessarily rave about it after much time to consider if I like it or not. Now, I did rave about it when I first started using it (rave to myself, really), but I grew disenchanted with it. I think I just am supremely satisfied with Revlon Colorstay, and so I am just meh about this foundation. I will continue to use this foundation when I rotate my foundations just for kicks, but I won't repurchase it. In a market of so many foundations, this doesn't really stand out; I guess this is the best way to describe the foundation.

2) Clean and Clear advantage mark treatment is meh. The smell is annoying and somewhat overwhelming, the gel doesn't fully dry so it goops up when I put on moisturizer, and it really hasn't vanished my marks. Soo, next time I will definitely try the Neutrogena 3-in-1.

Alright, I plan on finishing the brush review, and touching on the ION demi hair dye. For now, I shall get some rest.

I hope all of you are having a splendid week, and thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Much love!