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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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

 

 

 

Thumbs-Down: Up & Up Brand Cosmetic Wedges

When I use liquid foundation, I always apply it with “cosmetic wedges” (which I call “makeup sponges”, since that’s all I use them for) to get the coverage I want.  I had a coupon for any Up & Up (Target) brand beauty product.  I decided to get these because I thought I was running out of makeup sponges.  It turns out I wasn’t, which makes my disappointment even greater…

What’s Wrong With Them?  These “wedges” have a very inconsistent texture and are too spongy.

OK, What’s Wrong with That?  I know it seems like sponginess would be what you want from makeup sponges, but here’s how it works:  If it’s too smooth, the makeup won’t soak in at all and it will be like trying to apply it with a piece of rubber.  If it’s too spongy (too many holes), it will absorb all of your makeup and you won’t be able to apply it at all, unless you want to squeeze it out as you go.  That’s probably not going to work out for you.

On the Upside:  I can use these for craft projects.  I guess.  I might be able to use them for eyeliner corrections, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.

What To Look for in a “Cosmetic Wedge”: Ideally, you want a smooth surface texture, but not so smooth that it doesn’t have any texture.  Some contain latex and some don’t, so if you have a latex allergy, be careful with that, too.

The Good News:  You don’t have to spend a lot to get good cosmetic wedges.  The “Studio Tools” brand ones (also sold at Target) are good and only cost around $3 for a pack of 32. I’ve even found some really cheap, off-brand ones at discount stores that I liked, too.

Love This! Sultra Seductress Flat/Waving/Curling Iron

I’ve never considered myself to be a very “lucky” person. Sure, I’ve won a handful of prizes in random drawings in my lifetime, but I still don’t think of myself as “lucky”. Until I won this flat/waving/curling iron (hereafter referred to as a flat iron, because that’s all I’ll use it for) in a magazine drawing and it is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever won. Keep in mind, I won a Nintendo Wii and Balance Board a while back…

Background:  I’d been using a mid-range flat iron for a couple years – one with ceramic, tourmaline, blah blah blah. In my mind, I couldn’t justify spending $100 on a “good” flat iron (the only other one I had heard of was Chi brand). I didn’t think there was much difference in how they worked, so what difference did it make? Now that I have a really good flat iron, I know better.

Hot, Hot, Hot:  This thing heats up insanely fast. Seriously – you’d be lucky to grab a cup of coffee in the amount of time it takes to get ready. It maintains its heat very well too, thanks to infrared technology.

Wow!  It makes the job of flat ironing your hair MUCH easier. I really put it to the test by letting my hair air dry, which means it was as wavy as it could possibly be when I started. I was able to straighten all my hair in about half the time it usually takes. Since it usually takes 30-45 minutes, I am very happy to cut that time in half! I have long, thick, wavy hair, so I would guess it would take most people even less time to do theirs. It also does a better job, overall. My hair looks smooth and straight, not straightened. No more tell-tale “start lines” or areas that are more straight than others.

Great Features:  9 foot swivel cord with an attached “wrap” you can use to control the cord when you put it away. Heat protection mat – for your countertop’s sake. The mat has attached ribbons, so it could double as a protective case, if you need it to. (You wouldn’t want your brushes scratching up its pretty finish, now would you?) Auto Shut-Off. After 30 minutes, the iron cools down if you haven’t used it. It also beeps to remind you that you neglected to turn it off.

If I Have To…  If I were forced to find a flaw with this flat iron (other than its price tag), I would say I’m not terribly fond of the controls being on the inside. It seems a little odd to have to put your hands into something that gets so very hot, and if you had arthritis or some other debilitating condition, it might be hard for you to use them. On the other hand, when the controls are on the outside, you’re likely to accidentally hit them while styling your hair.

In Summary:  I’m in love with this flat iron. It works faster and better than any other one I’ve had, and it makes my hair look better. (No more frazzled, frizzy hair!) The only real downsides I see are: 1. I’m going to be increasing my carbon footprint by using it way more often than I used my old flat iron. 2. My teenage daughter and I will probably fight over it. We’ll have to work out some sort of custody agreement…

Price:  $175-$210 (sign up for Sultra.com e-mails to find out about their sales) 

Note:  Other versions  are less expensive.

Available at:  Sephora, Sultra.com, amazon.com

Review: Colorescience Pro Brush Cleaner

I was almost out of brush cleaner (I’ve been using Ulta Professional brand) and I was ordering some other stuff online, so I added this one to my cart…

Pros:  Costs less than some others.  The spray bottle works really well.  It cleans as well as others.  Helps brushes dry faster.  It’s probably better at sanitizing than other brush cleansers. (keep reading)

Cons:  It smells VERY heavily of alcohol and peroxide, which are listed as the second and third ingredients.  Seriously, it smells kind of bad, unless you just love that antiseptic fragrance…

Overall:  It works fine, but I don’t love the smell of it.  It comes in a pretty metal container, which I thought I liked.  Now I realize it will just make it harder for me to see how much I have left.  Of course, I hope I go through it very quickly, because I’d like to go back to the better-smelling Ulta Professional product.

Price:  $10 for 4 fl. oz. bottle

Available at:  amazon.com, drugstore.com, and various other online retailers

Beauty Tip: Use a Brush

For almost every type of makeup you apply, brushes are the way to go.  Brushes help eyeshadow go on more smoothly, can help get troublesome concealer exactly where you want it and help you get nicer-looking coverage with powder.  Just throw away anything that came with your makeup and looks like the world’s cheapest sponge on a stick or cut into a circle.

The Trick: Start with good brushes.  I don’t mean those crazy “professional” ones sold at Sephora.  You don’t have to spend $50 on a set of 5 brushes to get something that will work well.

Suggestion:  I recommend Eco Tools brushes.  They come in every variety you can imagine (and maybe some you can’t!) and are very affordable.    I also love them because they’re durable (I wash mine regularly), they’re eco-friendly (made of bamboo and recycled metal) and they’re cruelty-free.  Since they’re sold at Target, they’re also easy to find.  Some “specialty” brushes are only available online and at stores like Ulta, but you can get a good start with a multi-brush set like the Eco Tools 6-piece Eye Brush Set (approx. $8)

Tips:  1.  If using mineral foundation, use a very dense brush (one with lots of bristles).  I like Eco Tools’ Retractable Kabuki Brush ($7.64 at amazon.com, about $12 at Ulta).  2.  Experiment with using different types of brushes.  You might find that a “concealer brush” is the right one for your eyeshadow, or that you prefer an angled brush instead of a flat one.  3.  Clean them regularly.  I don’t mean when you think of it.  Work it into your schedule somehow.  4.  In between cleanings, make sure to brush off leftover makeup onto a towel, paper towel, or tissue before each use.

Cleaning:  I like Ulta’s brush cleaner.  It comes in a spray bottle for about $12.  It sounds expensive, but it works well and only takes a little to do the job.  Just spray it into the bristles, and swipe onto paper towels or a semi-rough hand towel.  Use circular motions for round brushes.  Once it looks like you’ve gotten most of the makeup out, rinse and repeat.  For dense/large brushes like kabuki and blush brushes, it may be helpful to test the cleaning job by squeezing the bristles from the bottom up to see if any makeup is still trapped in there.  If you have problem skin (acne), you might want to start by sanitizing the brush with some alcohol or peroxide to make sure you take care of any bacteria that may be lurking about.