Review: Neutrogena Naturals Lip Balm

I never leave home without lip balm.  I put it on every night before bed.  This is one that I’ve had for occasional use (and just got a new tube in my Total Beauty Collection), so here are my thoughts on it…

Pros:  Decent level of moisturizing.  Natural ingredients.  No discernible “flavor”. Paraben and sulfate-free.  Sometimes you can get this free with a Neutrogena sunscreen product.  Packaging is made from recycled materials and is recyclable.

Cons:  Not the best lip balm product out there (doesn’t last as long as some).  You can’t leave it in a car or anywhere warm because it will melt all over.

In Summary:  This is a good standby lip balm.  It’s similar in quality to Burt’s Bees, but better than ChapStick.  Overall, I think it’s a good product.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  3.5-stars

Price:  approx. $3.50

Available at:  drugstores, mass merchandisers,

neutrogena naturals lip balm


Review: NYX Color Lip Balm

I received this item in my recent Total Beauty Collection “mystery” box.  I would not normally buy this product, because of its country of origin, but since I had already paid for it and I really like colored lip balms, I decided I would try it…

Pros:  Smooth texture.  Good amount of color.  Paraben-free.  Cherry flavor/scent, which some may or may not like.

Cons:  Kind of greasy.  A little bit large/bulky, making it difficult to get onto small areas. Made in Taiwan (a Chinese-controlled country. It’s safe to assume the same lack of safety oversight that has caused so many safety concerns with Chinese-made products applies to Taiwan’s factories as well.)

Note:  This item carries the PETA “Cruelty-free” logo, but Chinese laws require animal testing on cosmetics products, so some people choose not to buy products that are marketed or made in China.  That is not to say that this item is tested on animals.  If it’s only made for export to other countries, it wouldn’t be required that it be tested on animals.  The law applies to cosmetics products sold in China.

In Summary:  This is a decent product for what it is, and for the price.  If it weren’t for the country of origin, I would probably keep buying it.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars  3-stars

Price:  approx. $3

Available at:  drugstores, mass merchandisers, Ulta,

nyx color lip balm “Mystery Collection”

I have this weird oxymoronic personality issue.  I hate surprises.  And I love them.  Surprise, last-minute change to my schedule? Hate it.  Even if it’s something fun?  Yeah, still hate it.  Surprise in the form of a “grab bag” of stuff?  Love it.  So, when I saw’s “Mystery Collection”, I was intrigued.  Especially when I got a discount code…

About Collections:  This website has several “collections” available at a time, with a good range of offerings.  Currently, there are 5 offered, (“mystery” is sold out) ranging from $15-$30.  The $30 one is a GREAT deal, but it’s a little “rated-R”, just so you know…

Pros:  No commitment!!!  This is a big deal for me.  I hate programs that require a monthly subscription – especially if it’s not easy to “opt out”. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Julep Maven program!)  Also – from what I can tell – all of these collections are a good deal.  Plus, you get to try products that might be too expensive to buy full-size only to find out you didn’t like them anyway.

Cons:  You might not like all the products and/or they might not meet your skincare/beauty needs.  “Full size” products advertised seem to be kind of small stuff, like lip balm.  (Oooh, full-size lip balm?  Awesome!)

What I Got:  The “mystery collection” contained items from the other collections currently offered.  (probably leftovers)  I suppose I could have figured out this is what I was going to get, huh?



– Neutrogena Naturals Lip Balm (full size! 😉

– Q-tips (travel size)

– $50 gift card to (a little tricky to use, but OK)

– Juara Candlenut Body Crème (Sample size  – .17 oz.)

– EVOLVh UltraShine Shampoo & Conditioner (travel size – 2 oz.)

– NYX Roll On Shimmer for eyes, face, body (full size, I think)

– NYX Color Lip Balm (full size)

– The Honest Co. Fragrance-free Face & Body Lotion (travel size – 1 oz.)

– The Honest Co. Fragrance-free Healing Balm (travel size – 1 oz.)

– Boscia Luminizing (peel-off) Black Mask (deluxe sample size – .35 oz.)

– Alfaparf Milano Illuminating Serum (deluxe sample size)

– (2) Ferro Cosmetics Mineral Blush Powders (deluxe sample size)

– (7) EBoost Daily Health Booster Water Additives (single-serve)

In Summary:  OK, I would never buy some of this stuff.  I have a good hair serum that I like.  I don’t buy stuff made in China (talking about you, NYX) or that contains parabens (also you, NYX) and I don’t feel a need for a water additive.  Other than that, I think I’ll get some good use out of the products. (reviews coming soon!) I’m sure it’s a good value – even if I only use these as emergency/travel items.  In the future, though, I’ll probably only order collections where I can see the contents.

Review: Illamasqua Nail Polish (Varnish)

I’ve been wanting to try this nail polish for a while now. However, the price tag has prevented me from doing so. Luckily for me, I had some time to kill when a Sephora (inside JCPenney) was nearby.  Three colors of this nail polish were on clearance at a ridiculously good price. They were in the “under $5” section, but marked with a $7 price tag.  Sadly, I thought the price was $7 and only got one of the three colors.  (“Muse”) Even after I realized they were only $4, I stupidly left the store without buying the others.  OK, onto the review…

Pros:  I adore the hilarious color names, like “Milf”, “Phallic”, and “Bacterium” – but that’s just me. Doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP (unless those ingredients are called something else in the UK). Very opaque color. Great selection of shades available. High-gloss finish that’s also very durable.

Cons:  Expensive – very expensive.  The brush is alright, but not perfect.  You have to be careful when applying this.  If you put it on too heavily (like I did), it stays soft and will get a dented/scratched look if you bump against anything.  This happened even after I let it dry for about 45 minutes.  I tried applying a second thin coat to fix it and it happened again – after over an hour of dry time.  (I really need a nail drying machine!)  However, I was able to buff out the resulting imperfections with a cheap nail buffer and you could never tell they got messed up.

In Summary:  I would adore this product if it had a better brush, like the flat ones that come in the super-affordable Wet N Wild nail polishes – or if it were more affordable.  The opacity of the varnish is very impressive, though.  I’m also impressed by the durability of the finish, and I put my nails through some rather torturous stuff  since applying it. (Ever try to get a luggage lock key off its key ring?!?!?)  Even though I didn’t use top coat, it stayed nice-looking and is just recently starting to show signs of wear.  I will definitely buy more of this brand if I can get it at a good clearance price.  No way do I think it’s worth full price. I mean, seriously – it’s just nail polish.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $17 – $23 (depending on source) for .5 fl. oz. bottle

Available at:  Sephora, (UK-based site)


Review: Too Faced Primed & Poreless Pure (Primer)

Desperate for a primer that won’t make my face break out horribly (but unwilling to commit a small fortune towards a product that might not work), I went into a Sephora store to get a sample. (OK, I went into TWO Sephora stores to get more than one sample…)  This is one of the products I sampled…

Pros: Vegan. Paraben-free. Oil-free.  Doesn’t contain glycerin like some oil-free products do. (I’ve noticed glycerin clogs my pores/causes breakouts.)  Creates a “matte” surface and reduces the appearance of minor imperfections.  Goes on smoothly. A little less expensive than its Smashbox brand equivalent.

Cons:  Smells a little bit like chlorine/bleach.  Feels a little “heavy”.

In Summary:  I liked this primer, although I don’t like the “heavy” feeling.  Most primers feel this way to me, though, so it’s apparently just something I need to get past.  The faint scent of chlorine didn’t appeal to me, but that’s also something I could get over.  It did seem to help my makeup go on more smoothly and keep from getting shiny throughout the day, which makes it a good product, in my book.  I’m definitely adding this product to my wish list.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars 4-stars

Price: $30 for 1 oz.

Available at:, Sephora, Ulta,

too faced primed and poreless pure

Review: Maybelline Clean Express! Wipes

This story starts like so many others.  I had a coupon.  And it was on sale.  So I forgot to check the ingredients…

Pros:  Smells nice.  Soft.  Oil-free.  Affordable.  Gentle.  Allergy-tested.

Cons:  Doesn’t remove makeup as well as many others.  Contains parabens – high up in the ingredients list, indicating there’s a fairly large amount of that particular ingredient. Contains glycerin, which can cause breakouts (even though they’re “oil free”)

In Summary:  Meh.  These are decent wipes, but not any better than the average cleansing wipe.  I’m going to keep buying “no-name” wipes at discount stores and pass on buying this one again. Even if I have a coupon and it’s on sale.

Note:  My daughter liked the eye makeup remover from the Clean Express! line, but it also contains parabens in similar position on the ingredients list.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2.5-stars

Price:  approx. $5 for 25 towelettes

Available at:  drugstores, mass merchandisers

maybelline wipes

All That Glitters is Not…Great

(Yes, it’s another post about nail polish…I’m on a nail polish “kick”, I guess…)  

I’m a girl.  I like shiny, sparkly stuff.  Including nail polish.  But glittery nail polish can be a pain…

Problem 1:  Even application.  If you’re OCD like me, you want the glitter to be distributed evenly on your nails.  This can be difficult.

Problem 2:  Durability.  Glitter nail polish often chips off more readily than other nail polish, because its texture allows it to “catch” on things and come off in chunks. (Yes, I know I should be using top coat, but glitter is usually my “quick fix” for another nail polish that is starting to show signs of wear!)

Problem 3:  Removal.  Glitter nail polish is notoriously hard to remove.  If you use cotton pads, it will shred them up.  As the nail polish remover dissolves the polish, it can make the problem worse, since it will stick AND shred simultaneously.

Solution:  What I refer to as “hybrid glitter” nail polish.  These polishes have glitter – albeit a bit more subtle than some of their counterparts – but are still smooth to the touch (don’t chip) and are easier to remove.

The Good, the Bad, and the Good Enough:

Evil:  Nicole by OPI in “All is Glam, All is Bright”.  Encompasses all three of the “Problems” listed above. (note: It looks a little more pink “in real life”)  However, I love the color(s) and it’s often my go-to nail polish when I need to hide a bad/worn out nail polish job.

nicole opi all is glam

Nice:  Piggy Polish in “Sunshine on Snowflakes”.  Has a VERY strong odor. Despite my perfect eyesight, I’m unable to read the ingredients.  Maybe it’s got the not-as-bad-for-you stuff and that’s why it smells that way. Also, it’s allegedly made for toes. (Don’t tell me where to put my polish!)  However, it is the perfect level of glitter for me.  Enough of the sparkle, none of the hassle.  I love this one.

Piggy Polish

Meh:  China Glaze in “Fast Track”. It’s a subtle gold glitter that’s mostly sheer but good for layering.  I used it over the “Debra” Julep polish I didn’t love, so my nails would resemble something tolerable. Boring-ish color aside, this is a great glitter solution – and it’s super shiny (like you added a top coat).

china glaze

Disclaimer:  I got all of these nail polishes at different times in the Ulta clearance section.  They’re probably all discontinued.  However, they give you a good idea of what’s available in the “glitter family”.

In Summary:  Choose your glitter polish wisely.  Figure out if you really need that super-heavy glitter look or if you can settle for something a bit more subtle.