Love This! Sephora Makeup Sponge (“The Sculptor”)

I know lots of people love the BeautyBlender makeup sponge, but since I don’t want to spend $20 on a sponge, I keep looking for affordable alternatives so I can have several makeup sponges on hand without spending a fortune.  I only have time to clean my makeup sponges/brushes once a week, so I need to have enough to get through the week.   Since this one was on sale, I thought I’d give it a try…

Pros:  Comes with a holder (with a suction cup on the back).  Durable.  Good texture.  Easier to clean than others.  Variety of angles allows you to reach all parts of your face.

Cons:  Limited availability.  Lacks an angle that would allow you to get the innermost part of your nose (bottom/side).  Holder is a little tricky to use. ( You have to be careful not to damage the sponge while putting it away.)  Heavily dyed. (First washing of it resulted in a pool of blue dye in my sink – ewww.)

In Summary:  I love this makeup sponge.  It’s WAY better than the too-hard Ulta brand one and is easier to clean than the Earth Therapeutics one.  (In fact, I bought another Earth Therapeutics one and it’s completely different than the first one I got.  It’s more of a “memory foam” type of material, which is harder to clean.)  The shape looks odd, but it’s great for getting around your nose/eye area and quickly adjusting/applying makeup to the bigger parts of your face.  The fact that it’s easier to clean and has a holder is what I love about it most.  I hated using the other sponges I’ve bought because I didn’t have a good place to set them after use or cleaning.  Seriously, if you have a Sephora store nearby, stop by and see if they have any of these available.  (or just order one online!)

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars  5-stars

 Price:  originally $13, on sale for $7 (USD)

Available at:  Sephora

sephora sculptor sponge

Advertisements

Love This! Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder

I got this item on sale at the Urban Decay website.  I’ve been in desperate need of a new finishing powder (I’ve been using barely-any-left containers for about a month now!), and I’m willing to try just about anything Urban Decay makes, so it seemed like a good idea.  Unfortunately, I only bought two…

Pros:  Very fine, smooth texture.  Paraben-free.  Neutral color.  Matte finish.

Cons:  Expensive (originally).  Probably discontinued.  Very strange/inconvenient packaging.

In Summary:  Seriously, this is the weirdest packaging I’ve ever seen for a face powder product.  I apply my powder with a brush, so the best way I’ve found to make this work was to rip out the sponge-y thing and dispense the product into the lid to use with a brush.  (I’m on the lookout for a container I can put this into to make it more user-friendly.)  Other than the weird package, the powder is AMAZING.  It’s super-fine, not too light colored – like some products, including UD “De-Slick” powder – and looks great.  I’m kind of sad I got this from the sale section, because it’s probably discontinued.  Even more sad:  they’re sold out online.  Because I would totally go and order more.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5-stars

Price:  Originally $31 USD  (I got it for $10 USD)

Available at:  ???

Made in:  USA

urban decay razor sharp ultra definition finishing powder

Love This! Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner

I know I haven’t posted in a looooong time.  I’ve been so busy lately I’ve barely had time to sleep (5 hours is enough, right?), let alone attend to my blog.  Anyway, I’ve gotten one of my major time-consuming “to do” items taken care of (shopping for a car), so I can take care of some of these posts that have been kicking around inside my head.

I almost always wear lipliner, and have quite a collection.  While my favorites (and pretty much the only ones I use) are NYX Slim Lip pencil and Sephora Collection “Nano”, I was willing to try the Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip, partially because it said “waterproof”.  Now, I don’t NEED waterproof stuff, but I often buy it because I know it will stay in place better in the hot, humid climate of South Texas.  Although I would normally not spend this much for a lipliner, I realized they last longer than lots of other things I use, so it didn’t seem like a ridiculous amount to spend, and this one certainly impressed me…

Pros:  Smooth texture.  Stays in place.  Doesn’t “bleed”.  Long-lasting.

Cons:  Can dry out a bit as the day goes on. Expensive.

Interesting information:  From the Sephora.com product description:  “…the Aqua collection of long-lasting lip and eye colors was created for the Parisian Aquatic Ballet. Tested under water for five hours…”

In Summary:  Honestly, this is the best lipliner I’ve ever used.  While I’m never going to be a Parisian Aquatic Ballet performer, I love that this product stays on all day.  As I do with all lipliners, I apply it to my entire lip, so that as my lipstick/gloss wears off, I have a “backup” color.  This one is absolutely perfect for my needs, even though the price prevents me from buying it in every color. (Yes, I’m tempted!)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5-stars

Price: $19 (USD)

Available at: Sephora (exclusively)

Made in:  Germany

make up for ever lipliner

Love This! Earth Therapeutics “Precisso” Blending Sponge

I had been wanting to try a blending sponge for a while. The Beauty Blender brand one is popular, but I can’t justify the expense.  Generally, I use cosmetic wedges to apply/touch up my foundation. I feel guilty about throwing them away every time (well, I use both sides, so I get 2 uses per sponge) and haven’t had much luck with trying to clean them while getting them to keep their shape.  (And I haven’t gotten the hang of using a foundation brush, yet!)  I had a $5 Kohl’s gift card, so I picked this one up…

Pros:  Greatly improves the application of makeup.  Inexpensive. Non-latex/hypoallergenic.

Cons:  Hard to clean, especially if you don’t do it right after using it.  Have to find a way to store it that keeps it clean and allows it to dry.  (I’ve been using the container it comes in, turned upside-down as a sort of “stand” for the sponge.)  Soaks up some of your foundation.

In Summary:  This is definitely a great alternative to disposable cosmetic wedges.  I’ve used and washed this several times and it shows no signs of falling apart.  The only real issue is cleaning and sanitizing it.  For everyday cleaning, I’ve been using a foaming multi-purpose cleanser I got during my hospital stay last year.  It’s worked better than the makeup remover/cleanser I was trying to use. (Not sure what I’m going to use when I run out of the hospital-supplied stuff…)   Sanitizing is more of a concern for me.  I have acne-prone skin, so I worry about bacteria being trapped in the sponge.  To solve this, I’ve been using peroxide to get it extra clean.  This is probably not good for the long-term survival of the sponge, but I want to make sure it’s really clean.  Cleaning and sanitizing aside, I think this is an amazing product.  I’m not sure how much better the Beauty Blender one can be, but – for me – it’s not going to be “better” enough to spend almost five times as much on it.

Note:  Other blending sponges on the market:  Stila ($12), Studio Basics ($5), Real Techniques ($6), Ulta ($5), It Cosmetics ($24!!!), Sephora Brand ($13, three varieties available) and of course Beauty Blender ($20)

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $6 (USD)

Available at:  Kohl’s, Earth Therapeutics

Made in:  Korea

Shown in green. Also available in pink.

Shown in green. Also available in pink.

Love This! The Balm Hot Ticket Nail Polish

I’m a sucker for beauty products with cute-sy, sarcastic or punny names.  Recently, I was making a purchase on drugstore/beauty.com and needed to add something to get free shipping.  This nail polish was on sale, and the color names were clever, so I picked it up in “Don’t Metal in My Business”.  It’s the first product I’ve ever tried by The Balm, although I’ve certainly been intrigued by their stuff in the past…

Pros:  Goes on pretty evenly.  Good color options.  Paraben-free.  Cruelty-free.  5-free (no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, or camphor listed in the ingredients – at least on the one I bought).  Doesn’t have a strong “nail polish” odor.  Didn’t chip or wear off as quickly as some (cheap) nail polishes I’ve used.

Cons: A little expensive.  Doesn’t have my preferred type of brush (flat with  a rounded tip).

In Summary:  It took 2 coats of this to get the “look” I wanted (I don’t like nail polish to be even-sort-of-sheer), but I think the result was very good.  I like the color a lot because it’s darker than the other silver nail polishes I have – it’s almost a “gunmetal” color.  If I see some more of these nail polishes on sale (or other stuff by The Balm brand), I’ll definitely be interested in buying them.

Shown in "Don't Metal in My Business".  The flash on my camera is making it look a little lighter and sparklier than it looks in normal lighting.

Shown in “Don’t Metal in My Business”. The flash on my camera is making it look a little lighter and sparklier than it looks in normal lighting.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $10 (USD)

Available at:  beauty.com, thebalm.com

Made in:  USAthe balm hot ticket

Love This! Urban Decay “Fun” Palette

I am a sucker for a cute palette.  I’m simply unable to resist a collection of beauty products in pretty packaging.  When it’s a great deal I’m absolutely defenseless.  So, when I saw this set at UrbanDecay.com for only $16 (and I was ordering some gifts anyway) I added one to my cart.  Despite my love of all three versions of the palette (also available:  “Dangerous” and “Feminine”), I chose the one I thought would have the most colors that would work for me…

Contents:  6 eye shadows and a mini “Lip Junkie” lip gloss in a pretty zipper bag.  The contents can be removed so the case can be used again.  Here’s a photo of the eye shadows on my arm.  (awkward photo – had to use my phone and it has a “flip case” getting in the way!)

Urban Decay Fun Palette

Shown left to right: Maui Wowie, Deep End, Sellout, Fishnet, Stray Dog, Freakshow

 

 

Pros:  Paraben-free.  Cruelty-free, like all Urban Decay cosmetics. (Leaping Bunny & PETA approved)  Deeply-pigmented eye colors that go on smoothly and stay in place.  Lip gloss is in a thin plastic tube, so you can squeeze it to get more of the contents out.  Lip gloss has a pleasant “sweet mint” flavor. Large mirror.

Cons:  The reusable bag contains a magnet to hold the contents, so you can’t put your credit cards or cell phone into it.  The eye shadows very greatly in their “finish”.  Some are shimmery (almost metallic) and others are glittery.  If you only like a certain kind of eye shadow, this may not be a good choice for you.  Lip gloss is a little on the “sticky”/”heavy” side and is very small.  (The packaging had enough room for a bigger lip gloss.)  No applicators, making it a little inconvenient for “to go” use.

In Summary:  Love this.  One of the colors is a little too “sparkly” for everyday use (Maui Wowie) and another is just a color that doesn’t look good on me (Deep End).  However, I adore the palette overall.  The eye shadows are smaller than standard Urban Decay eye shadow pots, but that’s OK with me.  I don’t like keeping makeup too long (OK, sometimes I do it – guilty!) so at least I might come closer to using it all up before I have to throw it out.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Note: Since these are on sale, they probably won’t be available for very long.  Shipping for most orders is $8.  If you have a login for the site, it’s free if you spend $35.

Price: $16 (on sale)

Available at:  urbandecay.com, beauty.com (“Feminine” only)

84710_funpalette

Love This! Urban Decay Eyeshadow (in “Blackout”)

I have needed to get out and buy a new black eye shadow for a while now.  You see, I’m eyeliner-challenged.  I cannot “get the hang” of using an eyeliner pencil to save my life.  So, my solution is to use an angled eyeliner brush and black eye shadow to create a “liner”.  A recent rash of what I call “eye allergy attacks” (intensely painful, burning sensation that occurs suddenly – sometimes while I’m driving!) has motivated me to take the leap and spend a little money on a good eye shadow.  (The one I’ve been using is good, but very old.)  Also, I got a $10 Sephora gift card for $5, which I used to justify spending the money on this product…

Pros:  Vegan. Cruelty-free. Paraben-free.  Not made in China. Deeply pigmented. Matte finish makes it versatile for use as an eyeliner, or as a way of “darkening” lighter colors. (Note: Also available in not-matte black shades.)

Cons:  Expensive.  Container is a little difficult to open.  (I have long fingernails and am always worried about damaging them – or my nail polish…)

In Summary:  This eye shadow works perfectly for what I need.  Although I haven’t used it as an actual eye shadow (only liner), its deep, dark color is impressive.  It goes on smoothly and stays in place.  I may even invest in some more colors in the near future – if I can get a good deal on them!

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars  5-stars

Note:  Normally, I would only give it 4.5 stars, because of the price.  However, since it’s a great product AND it’s cruelty and paraben-free, I think it’s worth the extra money.

Price:  $18

Available at:  UrbanDecay.com, Sephora.com, Ulta.com, beauty.com

urban decay blackout eye shadow

 

Review (Love This!): Ferro Cosmetics Blush

I’ve been needing to find some new blushes.  I have some that I’ve been holding onto for WAY too long and they’re getting a little “cakey”.  Some of the others I don’t even like, but I’ve kept them because they’re a color I need/want.  So, I was glad to get these in my sample collection of products from TotalBeauty.com… 

Pros:  100% natural.  Vegan.  Made in USA.  Dermatologist-tested.  Cruelty-free (PETA). Paraben-free. Finely milled.  Smooth texture.  Several shades available.  Company supports charitable organizations.

Cons:  Expensive.  Loose/mineral powder can be a little messy.  Limited availability. Website doesn’t list how much product comes in the container.

In Summary:  I think this is very good blush.  I like the texture more than all of the “drugstore brand” blushes I’ve used.  Add to the fact that it’s paraben and cruelty-free, and it’s definitely at the top of my list of blushes I would buy.  If budget weren’t an issue, I’d buy it in every color.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $17

Available at:  ferrocosmetics.com

ferro cosmetics

Love This! Urban Decay Urban Defense (tinted moisturizer)

I got a sample of this product a loooong time ago and just recently had a reason to try it.  Reason:  I was out of other tinted moisturizers, too lazy to put on full makeup, but had an errand to run.  (No, I don’t leave my house without SOME makeup.)  After trying it, I decided to go online and see the price (bracing myself) and was happy (and sad – keep reading) to find it was 70% off the original price.  So I bought two.  One for my “year-round” color and one for my hopeful “maybe I’ll get some sun” color…

Pros:  Paraben-free.  SPF 20.  Fragrance-free.  Cruelty-free (PETA and Leaping Bunny approved – also helps contribute to PETA efforts.)  No glycerin. Has ingredients that fight free radicals (aging).  Light-diffusing ingredients give skin a healthy “glow” and minimize the appearance of flaws.  Light, smooth coverage.  Great for makeup “down days” when you want to improve your appearance without a huge time commitment.  If you want a little more coverage, you can put some powder on over it.

Cons:  Parent company – L’Oreal – isn’t cruelty-free.  Can’t tell if it’s oil-free.  (I’m not an ingredients expert, but there isn’t anything listed with “petroleum” or “oil” in the name…)  Only available in 4 shades. Color swatches on the container make it hard to tell the actual color.  Although I ordered 2 different ones,  the swatches are almost identical, although the colors aren’t.  Observe:

"Halo" on left, "Bodyguard" on right.

“Halo” on left, “Bodyguard” on right.

Note:  I’m pretty sure this has been discontinued, based on its lack of availability at Sephora and Ulta, as well as its very low price at UrbanDecay.com.  It got great reviews, but I’m guessing they’re phasing it out to market the “BB” and “CC” creams that seem to be so popular.

In Summary:  I really, really like this product.  It definitely solves a problem/need I have on a regular basis.  No, it’s not the only tinted moisturizer on the market, but I love that this one is paraben-free and cruelty-free.  I’m secretly hoping Urban Decay is just revamping the packaging (which they’ve done with lots of their products recently, including some of the ones they put on clearance) and the product will come back.  Not that I’m complaining about getting 70% off, mind you…

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $9 at UrbanDecay.com, $30 at Beauty.com, prices vary elsewhere

Note:  Urbandecay.com shipping is a little expensive (and slow!) at $8.

Available at: UrbanDecay.com, Beauty.com, some other online retailers

urban decay urban defense

 

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, Illamasqua.com (UK-based site)

illamasqua