Wednesday, February 24, 2010

bras and brushes...

At the beginning of this month I received a really cute 6-piece bamboo eye brush set from ecoTools, which is perfect for travel. It has taken me awhile to get around to this review because I have been trying to figure out if the brushes work for me. While I was trying these brushes out, they reminded me of something very crucial in the makeup world: brushes are like the perfect bra. I mean we are on the constant quest to find the bra that is pretty, but at the same time has the engineering to offer lift, support, comfort, cleavage (or separation at times), smoothness, and other qualities. I mean, many of us don't want a bra that just lets the girls hang so that they look like a love handle, and I know many don't want a bra that pokes poeple's eyes out as we turn the corner. These extremes bring me to another point, bras really are a matter of personal preference. Granted there is a standard we look for (support, comfort, style), but overall the rest is up to our desires. For instance, I like the rocket boob look; I like to give off the impression that men might get hurt if they touch without permission. Whereas, other women like the breast to look like pretty mounds of soft suppleness. Great! Beautiful! Diversity in boobs!

Before, I continue to talk about breasts--such a great topic--let me bring it back to makeup brushes. There is a softness, a firmness, and a size to all of these brushes we constantly try out. I mean, we makeup lovers hear time and again about the importance of one's brushes. Without these essential tools, makeup is next to nothing. Really, how to do you think you will accomplish a beautiful, precise cut crease if you don't have the perfect dense, but soft, pointed crease brush that isn't too large nor too small? Seriously, that MAC 224 is NOT a one size fit all. Beauty bloggers can give you the best, most accurate review possible on these brushes, so that you can go to the store and have a better idea, but really you don't know until you try out the brush for yourself. Just like with the bras, you don't know exactly how they will make your mammary glands look until your wear a top over said bra.

So anyway (Did I digress again? I think I know the source of my obsession.), back to this bamboo brush set. This 6-piece brush set is really cute, extremely portable, soft bristles, handy mirror. Unfortunately, the brushes didn't work well for my eye size and shape. Let me elaborate.

This brush set contains 1) a large eye brush, 2) an angled crease brush, 3) a petite eye shading brush, 4) a highlighting brush, 5) a smudge brush, and 6) the case with the mirror (considered part of the six piece). Each brush has the function stamped in the handle for easy application. So, the large eye brush is suggested for blending, the angled is designated for crease work and outer "v" work and so forth. When adhering to the assigned purpose the brushes work really well. However, I did have a problem using any of the brushes for all over lid application. The large brush was just too big for my lid, and I handle angled brushes very awkwardly.

My sample kit did not include the highlighting brush, so I can't review that. However, I did have an appreciation for the petite eye shading brush. The petite eye shading brush was nice to use when I wanted a defined outer "v" or crease. It worked nicely to go into the inner corner of the lid as well. This particular brush could work well to smudge too. The smudge brush is really a smallish, fluffy brush, which does not lend itself to great control when wanting to carefully smudge liner. Now if you just want to smudge the liner so that it is faintly there, or for a smokey look, then this brush works excellently for that. I did tend to find the pouch with the mirror very convenient when I wanted to get a closer look as I applied makeup.

All in all, I see myself mostly using the petite eye shading brush for definition and the large eye brush strictly for blending. The rest of the brushes really don't work for my eyes or my needs.

If you have a good amount of lid space and are in need of a portable brush kit, then take a gander at this, but really, ecoTools has more versatile brushes available.

The 6-piece Bamboo eye brush set (closed) next to a CD sleeve for perspective.

6-piece open (I have two angled brushes, but the set actually has one angled brush and an highlighting brush.)

The Large Eye Brush

The Angled Crease Brush

The Petite Eye Shading Brush

The Smudge Brush

3 out of 5 happy wallets (The price is great at $7.99 for 5 brushes and the pouch. Also, the size is great for travel, and the brushes are soft, but they lack versatility and won't work with many eye lid sizes. Just like the bra situation, the potential is there; it might work for others, but the brushes didn't cut it for me.)

Price: $7.99

Where: drugstores, Target,

Note on review: I did receive these product to review. However, I was not paid for writing a review, and I always vow to be honest. The gratis products did not sway my opinion one way or another.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sing along and bronze the face at the same time!

When I was really young, and full of even more outrageous dreams than I am now, I thought I would grow up to become a singer. There were certain songs that would trigger this dream within. These songs would make my heart pound and my lips quiver. I could taste the satisfaction of delivering my emotions in melody.

One song meant the world to me. I remember riding in the back of Queen Fierce's car listening to the radio just praying that my song would come on. Then, when I would lose all faith that my song was in rotation, my ears would hear the introductory notes of the best song I had encountered in my young life: "The Greatest Love of All," sung by Whitney Houston.

Oh man!! That song just made me feel alive. The way Whitney Houston's voice would emit hope, love, strength. Her voice just gave me chills, and I would get the sudden urge to belt out the lyrics like she did. So, I sat in the back of the car just letting out everything I had within me. If I had been in a karaoke competition I would have won two awards, one for most emotion and one for worst voice.

Here's the thing, in order to successfully pull off a sing-along, one needs the best mock microphone around. Many use a brush, their hair dryer, or like me, their balled up fist. However, those just don't work it. Until now, thankfully, EcoTools has come out with a mondo Bamboo bronzer brush* that works perfectly as a mock microphone. In addition, the brush is a great makeup tool too.

the Bamboo bronzer brush makes quite the first impression. The brush head is densely packed, rounded, and very soft. The handle is very thick in diameter and mid-size in length. I am used to seeing bronzer/kabuki brushes with shorter handles, so I didn't know how I would like working with this brush.

At first, I tried this brush strictly with my bronzer, and it worked well. It did what it had to do, it picked up a subtle amount of bronzer and softly delivered the color. The bristles are so soft, that it helps to diffuse heavy pigmentation. I thought, "Okay, this is a nice brush. It feels like I have velvety feathers caressing my face, and I doesn't leave dirty bronzer streaks all over my face." Then, I decided to try the bronzer brush with my everyday minerals foundation, which I had not touched in a while because I was tried of having to buff the stuff in. Well, this is when the brush really stood out (other than for playing the role of the microphone). First, I dipped the brush in the mineral powder, then I tapped off the excess, and buffed the foundation onto my face. I was surprised at how well the foundation was evenly spread, how little I had to truly buff, and how nice the finish was.

See, the reason why I had not been wearing the mineral foundation, even though it offers the perfect skin match, is because I tend to use the everyday minerals flat top brush with it, and I was getting tired of how heavy my face looked when applying the foundation with this brush. Then I tried the everyday mineral kabuki brush with the foundation, but the coverage was just too sheer for my taste, and the mixture I use is not a sheer finish. (FYI, I use a mixture of the semi-matte, matte, and a touch of the intensive formulas in golden medium and buttered tan to get the perfect match.) So, I just put the brushes and the foundation aside, until now. Now, I kind of can't wait to put my foundation on again. I attribute this excitement to the bronzer brush.

The brush is fuller than the everyday mineral kabuki, which helps in delivering more coverage, I think (remember, just my ideas, I'm no scientist). Also, since it is round, it doesn't deposit a crazy amount of foundation like the flat top brush does. This brush has significantly cut back on the amount of time I have to buff the mineral foundation.

However, just to let you know, the thick handle did take some getting used to. None of my other brush handles are as thick at this handle, and so this handle felt a little cumbersome. After several times, I got the hang of manipulating the handle, but it wasn't instantly comfortable. Also, this brush take FOR-EVAH to dry after washing. I washed it around 8 pm and it still wasn't dry at 2 or 3 pm the next day (it was on the damp side). It was fully dry around 4 or 5 pm. So, it feels like you have to plan ahead when washing this brush.

I received this brush to review, but I would definitely buy another one so that I could rotate them between washes. This is a worthwhile brush.

So if you don't have a decent bronzer/kabuki brush, check this one out.


4 out 5 happy wallets (very nice brush, but takes a while to dry and get used to the handle)
Price: $9.99 (really nice price for the quality. In fact, I think I might just buy a backup)
Where: local drugstores or check here

*Note on review: I did receive these product to review. However, I was not paid for writing a review, and I always vow to be honest. The gratis products did not sway my opinion one way or another.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

lipstick as toys

In my desire to give my Avon lipsticks some attention, I decided to pull them out so that I could swatch them for the blog. I figured it would be good for them to see the light of day and the world (oh so presumptuous) to have a better idea of what the lipstick shades look like because the swatches that Avon offers are sub par. Therefore, you see a shade that you think you are going to love. You order the shade, receive it, and proceed to feel a rush of disappointment and disillusionment.

In my quest to save you money, I did my best to capture the shades a little better. Before I proceed with the swatches, let me show you what happened.

Yup, that is Cheeks holding the lipsticks. He baby-handled each and every single tube I pulled out. He would speed crawl to a tube, hold it, pet it, squeeze it, and then proceed to put it in his mouth. When he was done drenching the outside and leaving two or three tooth marks on the case, he would throw the tube to the floor and grab another lipstick. This kid will definitely become familiar with makeup. He has no other choice.

First, let's attack the Ultra Color Rich mousse lipsticks. These are very creamy and claim to provide pigment and moisture (the extra moisture comes from the moisturizing core that we are seeing more and more in lipsticks). These lipsticks do deliver great pigment, extreme creaminess, and they are not drying. Along with the pigment, they also offer a pretty sheen to them. However, there is a distinct smell to the them that doesn't agree with me. The lipsticks smell like flowers and Vaseline. Not entirely offensive, but definitely noticeable. I think the moisturizing core attributes to the smell. I don't tend to wear these lipsticks very often because the shades are very deep, and I haven't been in the mood to wear deep shades in a while.

I looked on the Avon website, and it seems like these aren't on the market anymore, but here are the swatches in case you come across them in the outlet.

My favorite shades are rum raisin, truffle, and very vixen. However, I really have to be in the mood for these.

Next, the regular Ultra Color Rich lipsticks, which I really love. These are really creamy, they are moisturizing, offer full color coverage, and last a decent amount of time (maybe 4 or 5 hours depending on activity. This won't outlast kissing and constant drinking). These lipsticks smell pretty--something like caramel and vanilla--but it is very subtle. The lipstick bullet is wider than the standard lip, which helps if you have bigger lips. Not so much if you have small lips. Of all the Avon lipsticks I have, these are my favorite. I would definitely buy more. Also, yay! they are still available on the Avon website, and they are on sale.

My favorite shades are Sheer Raspberry and Sheer Mocha (not pictured, I found it my purse after taking the pictures. It's in my purse for a reason.) Berry, Berry nice is a bit too pink and bright for me, but it is good to mix with other shades. Cherry Jubilee is deep and bold.

Finally, the lipstick with the longest name around: Beyond Color Plumping Lipcolor spf 15 with Double the Retinol. Yes, such a long name for such a regular lipstick. I have two of these, and I bough them because of the shades, not because of the plumping. I am not, and really will never be interested in plumping lipsticks. But, just to let you know, these don't plump at all. They are just nice, rich, creamy lipsticks. As a matter of fact, they are very similar to the Ultra Color rich lipsticks. Maybe they offer a little smoother finish on the lips, but that is all.

I really enjoy Twig. Sienna is pretty too, but veers on the side of orange, which doesn't always complement the face I am going for.

So that is it for now, but I have some Cover Girl Trushine lipstick swatches coming up eventually.
much love!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Oh my! Is that a black eye?!

One day, I managed to get out of the house somewhat on time to get Cheeks to a playgroup. Once we were there, I was enjoying watching Cheeks clumsily crawl around after a toy. As I was staring into his beautiful face, I exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Is that a black eye? Cheeks, what did you bump your face into?" Then, a fellow mother looked, and said, "I don't think that is a black eye. It is just lighting and a dark circle." Could it be? Yes, it can. My child has inherited my beautiful, illustrious dark circles. Poor child. At least he has enough cheeks to distract from the bluish tint under his eyes. Poor, poor child.

Thankfully, he is not of the age to wear mascara yet, because if he were of age, his dark circles might be further emphasized at the end of the day and through the night after makeup removal. You see, a long time ago, I was researching things to do to avoid bringing attention to dreaded dark circles. Among the recommendations, making sure that there were no traces of eye makeup was one of them. At first read, I thought, "duh!" However, after more pondering (yup, I pondered dark circle maintenance), I realized that I really didn't pay too much attention to full eye makeup removal. I did the best I could to remove the mascara. However, I would wake up with a cast of darkness in addition to the blue cast. Sure, I would swipe before a fresh makeup application, but there always seemed to be some more residual makeup. So, my quest for the most effective eye makeup remover started.

First, I used a cleansing oil (from DHC), while very effective (and the appearance of dark circles did improve), it was getting quite expensive and I could not maintain the habit. Then, I tried ponds cold cream; again, quite effective, but still a little too oily and heavy. I would have blurry vision for a hour after washing my face. Then, I tried one of Maybelline's eye makeup remover. Meh, very, very oily. At this rate, I just resigned myself to experiencing an oily residue and decided to stick with baby oil. But, I grew so tired of looking like a oil spill had just occurred on my face.

Now, just recently, I started to explore the non-oily makeup removers. I have tried the Target brand makeup remover (it is a knock off of the Neutrogena makeup remover). The remover wasn't very effective, it dried out my lids, and I just wasn't excited about it. Once I used it up, I decided to try the Clean and Clear Soothing eye makeup remover. I have been using this remover for more than two months. This is an "oil-free dual phase formula, containing cucumber extracts and conditioners" (from the 5.5 oz bottle). The remover does not have a fragrance, and it does not irritate at all. Oh, and it claims to remove waterproof mascara.
Well, it has taken some time to consider if I would buy this again, and I have finally decided that it is on my short list, but I want to see what else it out there.

I like that the remover
  • does not irritate the eyes
  • does not leave my vision blurry
  • feels light and is easy to wash off
  • does not require much tugging
  • does not leave my lids, nor eyes, dry.

However, the reason I want to see what else it out there is because the remover is a little lackluster with darker eyeliners and waterproof mascara. I have to use several cotton balls to remover a thin line of liquid liner, more than two coats of mascara, or one to two coats of waterproof mascara. So, nevermind an ass-kicking smokey eye. Honestly, I really don't want to create a mountain of cotton balls to remove makeup. I want something a little more effective for the liner and the mascara.

Really, this makeup remover is great for women, and men, who wear a light eye. I tend to wear liner and several coats of mascara, so I have to deal with residue after doing several saturated swipes, washing the face, and drying.

If the day comes when Cheeks wants to explore wearing eye makeup, I will let him know that this makeup remover exists, but I will recommend checking out something else before settling on this one. I might also recommend a yellow corrector under his concealer.

Rating:3.5 out of 5 happy wallets. Not a total flop. It does the job for a basic eye; so if you don't wear a lot of makeup, but are looking for an eye makeup remover, then try this one out. Doesn't do excellently with waterproof mascara.
Price: $5-$7, depending on store

If you have any recommendations for drugstore eye makeup removers, let me know.

More to come!
much love!