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

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Review: Lancome Hypnose Drama (Waterproof) Mascara

I love Benefit “They’re Real” mascara.  But it doesn’t come in a waterproof formula.  I have allergies.  I live in a hot, humid climate.  I need waterproof mascara.  Since I was able to find this at a slightly discounted price (I love outlet stores!), I thought I’d give it a go…

Pros:  Really waterproof.  Makes lashes look fuller/thicker.

Cons:  Weird brush. Can get clumpy if not applied carefully.  Contains parabens.

In Summary:  While I think this is a pretty good mascara, I’m not thrilled with the too-much-contour brush.  It’s a decent product, but not worth the price tag, especially since it contains parabens.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  3.5-stars

Price:  $27.50 (USD)

Available at: Lancôme-USA.com, Ulta (stores only), Sephora, department stores

lancome drama waterproof

 

Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil

I happened to get this item on a recent binge-purchase of multiple items from the Urban Decay sale section.  It was only available in one color.  Unfortunately, it’s almost exactly the same color as the Make Up For Ever lip pencilI recently bought…

Pros:  Long-lasting.  Paraben-free.

Cons: Expensive (if not on sale).  A little drying to lips.

In Summary:  I put a little lip balm on before lip liner, anyway, so that helps with the dryness.  I suggest applying this to your entire lip, because it will last longer than the rest of your lip product.  If you only use it on the outside, you’ll end up wearing ONLY lip liner – and that’s just a weird look.  I actually thought this color was a little “orange” when I saw it online, but it was more of a nude/neutral “in real life”.  It’s actually a great color and a great product, so I think I got an amazing deal.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars  4-stars

Price:  Originally $20 (USD) – On sale for $3 (USD) Yes, THREE DOLLARS!

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

Note:  I think the one I bought is an older “version”, but the name hasn’t changed, so I just think they changed the color offerings.

Made in:  Germany

Urban Decay 24-7 Lip Pencil

 

 

 

 

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

Review: Smashbox High Definition Concealer

I’ve pretty much felt “meh” about most of the Smashbox stuff I’ve tried.  The things I have liked seemed too expensive for what it was, but I’m not anti-Smashbox by any means.  This particular product ended up getting purchased because I did the thing at Sephora where you book a “custom makeover” appointment.  My daughter was going to Prom and it seemed like a good way to get her makeup done.  Her makeup did turn out beautifully and this was one of the products her stylist suggested, so I spent almost half of the $50 gift card on it…

Pros: Oil-free. Paraben-free. Lightweight (good for under-eye area).

Cons:  Expensive.  Small container.  Not very thick.  Not waterproof or full-coverage like my favorite concealer.  Not available in a great selection of shades.  The contents of the one I bought were very “separated” and when I first tried to use it, I got a mix of watery residue and actual product.

In Summary:  This is a good concealer for “average” use, but isn’t a great choice if you have very dark spots or blemishes to hide.  It is good for brightening/toning down dark areas like under-eye circles, and it doesn’t look “cakey” when you use it.  Overall, it’s a good product.  But I still think it’s overpriced. I’d much rather buy Amazing Cosmetics concealer and thin it out with under-eye cream when I want to use it for my dark circles.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  3.5-stars

Price: $22 (USD) for .27 fl oz. tube

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

Made in:  USA

smashbox high definition concealer

Review: Boots No. 7 Stay Perfect Eye Shadow Duo

This is one of the items I bought a while back at beauty.com  I had been curious about the Boots No. 7 products, but hadn’t really had a good reason to buy them.  In this case, I needed to add a couple inexpensive things to my cart to get free shipping (since I’d rather pay for stuff than shipping), so this was one of the things I added…

Pros:  Inexpensive.  Not made in China. Hypo-allergenic. Nice container.  Paraben-free.

Cons:  Packaging doesn’t have any sort of “safety seal”.  I’m a little germaphobic and this kind of bothers me.  Inconsistent texture – the “sparkly” shadow was much grittier and “chalky” feeling than the more matte shadow. No applicator included (if you care – I use brushes, so I don’t, but it would be nice to have one for travel/purse/emergency use…)

In Summary:  This is decent eye shadow, but could be best described as far-from-amazing.  It’s better than CoverGirl eye shadow (what isn’t?), but it’s not quite as good as Revlon – and nowhere near the quality of prestige brands like Urban Decay.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars  3-stars

Price:  approx. $6.50 (USD)

Available at: beauty.com, Target.com, Walgreens.com

Made in:  Germany

boots no 7 stay perfect eye shadow duo

Thumbs-Down: Ulta Super Blender Sponge

I’ve been wanting to buy this item for a while.  I don’t want to spend what a Beauty Blender costs, but I want something more eco-friendly than the (often disappointing) cosmetic “wedge” sponges I generally use.  I’m really glad I didn’t buy this in every variety (they’re in my Ulta.com wishlist!) because WOW this is a disappointment…

Pros:  Inexpensive.  Nice contours that fit various face parts.

Cons:  Smells very chemical/plastic-y.  Made in China.  Doesn’t say latex-free, so I’m not sure if it is. (???)  Too hard/inflexible to do the job right.  Absorbs as much makeup as competitors (maybe even more).

In Summary:  The Earth Therapeutics makeup blending sponge is SOOOO much better than this one!  And it’s about the same price.  Seriously, buy that one instead.  I honestly feel like this was a waste of $5.  I don’t even want to bother cleaning it.  Maybe I can use it for craft projects…

Rating:  1 out of 5 stars  1-star

Price:  $4.99 (USD)

Available at: Ulta

Made in: China

ulta sponge

 

 

 

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.

Review: Revlon ColorStay ShadowLinks Eye Shadow

I have to start off by saying that I’m generally willing to try anything made by Revlon.  I think it’s the most consistently-good-quality line of drugstore brand products.  When I saw these tiny eye shadows at a buy one, get one half off sale (and I had a coupon!) I couldn’t resist trying them…

Pros:  Available in 30 shades.  Individual shadows have a little piece on the side that allows you to connect them, so you can build your own palette.  Come in a variety of finishes – matte to sparkle.  Paraben and sulfate-free.  Inexpensive.

Cons:  You have to read the product names to be able to tell what kind of finish the eye shadow has.  It’s a little hard to tell in the packaging.  I normally avoid “metallic” colors because I think they look too heavy on my no-longer-in-my-20s eyelids, but I accidentally bought one of the metallic shades.  If I had read the back, I would have known. (oops!)

In Summary:  I think the idea of making eye shadows that can be attached to others is genius.  I wish all beauty product manufacturers would consider doing it.  I often end up “settling” for an eye shadow kit because I like most of the colors, and there’s usually one color I never use.  Aside from the clever packaging, the eye shadows are decent quality.  They’re not Urban Decay, but they’re better than the Cover Girl and Maybelline equivalents.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars  4-stars

Price: Approx. $3 (USD)

Available at:  drug stores, mass merchandisers, Ulta

Made in:  USA (of U.S. and non-U.S. components)

Revlon Colorstay Shadowlinks2