Friday, December 30, 2011

Mary Kay Timewise Age Fighting Lip Primer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $22 for .05 oz tube

THE SKINNY: As we all know, I have a slight* lipstick addiction. The only problem with red lipstick on a Casper-esque skintone is that when it feathers, everybody can see it. Who wants to look like a crazy old cat lady with lipstick bleeding outside the lip line? Not me. Well, at least not for another 20 years. Until then, I had to find the Miracle Bra version of lip primers, something that you can’t openly see, but would keep my lipstick high and perky—right where it’s supposed to be.

Enter Mary Kay Timewise Age Fighting Lip Primer. I got suckered into a “facial” by a MK saleslady a few years back (by “facial,” they really mean they will let you try out their products, get you hooked and then you’ll be selling blood plasma to pay for the subsequent addiction issues). When she waved the little wand under my nose and promised that it would keep my lipstick from migrating and help erase lip lines in the process, I had to try it (and several other items as my free facial turned into $150 worth of product. Yikes!).

I cannot praise this little while tube enough. It is not a lip conditioner or moisturizer, but rather provides a strong base upon which to build your lipstick art. It goes on smoothly and dries quickly. It locks onto your lipstick like Paula Deen locks onto a stick of butter — it doesn’t let go. The life of the lipstick is greatly extended (I’ll be honest, I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to reapply often). As for the minimization of fine lines, I’m not sure, but hey, it can’t hurt. It’s worth buying this only for the lipstick grabbing ability.

KEEP OR TOSS: Seriously? Gotta keep this winner! If you are a lipstick addict, you have to add it to your bag. And keep the crazy cat lady at bay.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out the complete Mary Kay TimeWise line and a cool new interactive catalog!

-- Tested by Laura

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Buxom Big & Healthy Full-Color Lip Polish

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: Bare Escentuals' Buxom gloss came in a sample kit I picked up at Sephora during a Black Friday sale. I'm usually pretty hesitant to spend $18 on a lip gloss, no matter what.

The gloss was nice. The color -- ginger -- was amazing. It's a deep neutral, a nice reddish brown that would compliment any brown or neutral eye shadow selection. Usually, I find most neutral lip colors too pink, which seems to bring out the oranges in my neutrals.

Buxom gloss helps plump your lips "naturally," according to the product advertising. The sensation is a nice tingle, kind of like a peppermint without the taste or smell of peppermint.

I'm not sure it really did much to plump my lips. But the gloss is smooth, lasts the length of time you would expect a gloss to last and doesn't get all gritty after wear.

I'm not sure sure about the price, though. What's the most you're willing to spend on lip gloss?

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep and look for more sales. It's a nice gloss.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out all the available colors, as well as whatever else happens to be on sale at the Bare Escentuals.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Body Shop Shea Body Butter

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $18 for 6.9 ounces (or check out the mini – $6 for 1.7 ounces)

THE SKINNY: As soon as winter hits, I go on the hunt for the best, thickest, creamiest lotions out there. The Body Shop Shea Body Butter fits the bill pretty well.

The shea butter formula is super thick and creamy and went on amazingly smooth. The label says this product is for “very dry skin,” but the describes most everyone in late-December, right?

Two big glops of the lotion was enough to coat me from head to toe and my skin felt soothed for hours.

The Body Shop Shea Body
Butter has a super-thick
and creamy formula.
The smell is where I am a little torn (hence the 3.5 stars). I liked the initial scent – the shea has a very comforting aroma. But I kept catching whiffs of something I just did not like – almost a doctor's-office-kind-of-sterile aroma. Maybe this lotion just did not respond well to my body chemistry.

It is also a product you can feel good about. The Body Shop uses community fair trade ingredients to make this product. (The shea and cocoa butters are from Ghana, babassu oil from Brazil and beeswax from Cameroon). I have heard of fair trade coffee but never a beauty product!

KEEP OR TOSS: This body butter is a little pricey for something with a scent I don't particularly like but I will be on the lookout for samples of this product in other varieties.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about Shea Body Butter and buy direct from The Body Shop (which offers free shipping for purchases over $50).

– Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

OPI Katy Perry Collection Black Shatter

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $5.99 on sale (regular price is $8.50)

THE SKINNY: My 11 year old daughter is all about nail polish (which, considering she bites her nails to the quick, is kinda ironic). In fact, for her birthday I turned her loose at Ulta with a shopping basket and told her to have at it. The item she was most excited about was the OPI Black Shatter. Since I am all about research in the name of Beauty Test Dummies, I felt obligated to try it out for you.

I left the safety of my break a hip crowd and veered over to the young and hip crowd. Here’s how it works — you paint a base color (in my case, orange, as that was the one to give the most contrast for the picture — and once that is dry, go over with the Black Shatter. The first coat of polish (an OPI color as well) went on smoothly and dried quickly. I wish I could say the same about the Shatter. It was so thick it felt reminiscent of painting my nails with White Out (speaking theoretically here — not that I did that). The viscosity was very off-putting and difficult to work with.

It did what it said it would — it shattered. The shatter chunks were indeed chunks. Instead of looking artfully crackled, I looked like my manicure was cracked. The Shatter is extremely matte as well and needs a clear top coat in order to bring any shine to it (I didn’t apply top coat, as I didn’t want to make it any harder to get the Tony the Tiger looking color combination off).

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Even if you like to look young and hip and shattered, get a professional manicure. My ladies charge $12 for a full manicure and that includes the hand and shoulder massage. Plus, there is no way you’d use the whole bottle of Black Shatter before it solidifies into a solid mass. I think I’m going to stick with my OPI standard, “Give Me Moor.”

CHECK IT OUT: Check out the full Shatter line, which features the names of several celebrities. Want to venture out and buy it? has OPI Katy Perry Collection Black Shatter on sale for $5.99!

-- Tested by Laura

Monday, December 26, 2011

Clinique Happy

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $42.50 for 1.7 ounces

THE SKINNY: If you trust the advertising, Happy is supposed to make you happy.

It left me a little conflicted. I like the cleanness of the scent, which mimics red grapefruit (a favorite smell for me), bergamont, Hawaiian wedding flower and mimosa.

It's crisp. It's clean. It's light. Those are all things I look for in a perfume.

The problem? Sometimes when I caught I whiff of it, I smelled bug spray. That just doesn't make a girl feel very sexy.

Have you tried Happy? If so, what did you think?

KEEP OR TOSS: I'm keeping, only because I want to see if the fragrance grows on me.

CHECK IT OUT: Clinique offers a bunch of products scented with Happy at its website.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, December 23, 2011

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $20

THE SKINNY: The first few times I tried Smashbox's Photo Finish Lid Primer, I found it to be adequate. My eye shadow didn't stay in place any longer than my tried and true Urban Decay primer. And the Urban Decay product is quite a bit cheaper -- $19 for 0.37 ounces versus the Smashbox price of $20 for 0.08 ounces.

But after a few more days of sampling, I saw the real difference.

Smashbox's primer works like a concealer. The warm beige color glides on smoothly and covers any and all dark spots on and around the eyelid. It's absolutely wonderful on those mornings when I haven't had enough sleep.

That's not to say Smashbox will replace Urban Decay in my makeup bag. I think the Urban Decay primer holds eye shadow in place a little longer.

But Smashbox does give me a different option for those days when I'm feeling (and looking) a little tired.

What's important to you in an eye shadow primer?

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. If I'm only using it a few days a week, it will last forever.

CHECK IT OUT: Read more about Photo Finish Lid Primer at the Smashbox website. And, if you haven't already, use your email to sign up for the Pretty Points Rewards. Members get a birthday gift, points with each purchase that can earn you a $10 certificates -- plus Smashbox gives away Bonus Delux Samples from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT Tuesdays and Thursdays. The samples are usually full-sized products!

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $14.50

THE SKINNY: I am always a little wary of products that promise to banish a zit and redness overnight. But Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel lives up to the promise.

The clear, thin gel is easy to dab on a blemish (this is not an all over treatment) before bed and viola! The redness was gone and my super zit had shrunk to a mere slight imperfection.

The gel formula has not odor and does not leave behind any residue on the skin. (Ladies you can sneak it on after your guy is already in bed and not risk waking up to him seeing the pimple cream on your face.)

It is great for eliminating those I-am-so-stressed-pre-holiday pimples that seem to come out of nowhere and want to hang around through New Year's Day.

The super-zit zapper is a salicylic acid (1 percent) formula and can irritate sensitive skin or cause dryness. My sensitive skin did not have any adverse reaction.

Clinique's Spot Gel is part of a larger line of acne-fighting products. For me, where the occasional zit is more of an issue than anything else, just having a tube of the gel on hand will be enough. But for more serious sufferers other items might be a good bet based on the effectiveness of this product.

KEEP OR TOSS: As soon as my sample is used up, I will be heading to the Clinique counter for the real deal. (And of course, I will try to pair it with bonus items!)

CHECK IT OUT: Buy the gel direct from Clinique and check out what other customers have to say about the product.

– Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sephora Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars 
COST: $16 for 0.5 ounces 
THE SKINNY: It's not often that I don't have an opinion. But when it comes to the Sephora Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer, I don't. I'm completely ambivalent.
I didn't love it. I didn't dislike it.
Touted to smooth the complexion, hide blemishes, and help makeup stay put, this primer really didn't deliver any noticeable difference in my skin tone. It did seem to help my makeup stay in place -- which seemed to be the whole point.
Do you use a primer? What's your favorite? 
KEEP OR TOSS: Keep the sample. Don't bother with the full size tube. 
CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about the product, and what brush Sephora says you should use to apply it, at

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boyfriend by Kate Walsh

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $65 for 1.7 ounce Eau de Parfum Spray

THE SKINNY: Each time I smelled Boyfriend by Kate Walsh in a magazine I would think back to cooking breakfast in my man's button-up. [Insert smiles here.]

That's what is fragrance does. It has touches of a masculine fragrance with the light sweetness and subtlety of a woman's scent. I really did have a happy association each time I caught another whiff of the scent while wearing it.

Slightly musky (something I usually avoid in a fragrance) and with hints of jasmine. The scents combined to make me feel both strong and pretty all at once.

If you are looking for a light, everyday scent that won't overpower your coworkers at the office, this is it. Add another spritz and you are ready for a night out.

KEEP OR TOSS: This is an everyday fragrance that will work for even the most scent-shy. Sephora has had this as one of their free samples for a while, so snag one next time your order!

CHECK IT OUT: The Kate Walsh Boyfriend website has some dun stuff on it, including messages you can send to friends and links to YouTube and Facebook pages. Beware: Some of the videos may be a little risque for your work computer.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tarte LipSurgence Matte Lip Tint

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5

COST: $24

THE SKINNY: I'll admit it. I'm a Carmex junkie. There's a tube of lip balm in every purse, near every computer, in the car, in the bathroom. I can't stand the feeling of dry, chapped lips.

That's why I was so excited to try Tarte's LipSurgence Matte Lip Tint. It seemed like the perfect blend of lipstick and Carmex.

And it didn't disappoint -- to the extent that I really could toss most of the other lipstick and glosses in my makeup case.

This lip stain makes your lips feel luxuriously soft -- none of that gritty residue some lipsticks can create. It's infused with peppermint, so it has a little tingle and a little hint of flavor when it goes on. The color stays put for a few hours. And I didn't find myself reaching for the Carmex all day.

The lip stain comes in six shades. I tried Envy, a warm nude color, which looked good against my fair skin.

I'm ready to go out and buy more! (Sephora had a limited edition set of three, which, sadly, is now sold out. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for it to be restocked.)

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It's better than lip balm.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out all the shades and read about the ingredients at the Tarte website.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crest 3D White Whitestrips

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $39.97 for 28 strips (14 upper and 14 lower)

THE SKINNY: I used Crest Whitestrips several years ago when they first hit the market and was a little grossed out by the product. Don't get me wrong, I liked the results – I just did not like what it took to get there.

The strips made me drool. And not a little dribble either. A full-on mouth waterfall for the 30 minutes the strips were in place.

The 3D White product is much improved (my sample also came with a single use toothpaste which I had already recently tested). The strips still feel a little funny on the teeth but are much smaller and less gooey than in the past.

After 30 minutes and a good brushing (there is still some of the whitening gel to remove from teeth after use), I could really tell a difference. With as much coffee and tea as I drink, a quick whitener is a good thing, right?

The only downside is the feel. I still don't particularly like how the strips cling to my teeth during the whitening process, but I do prefer it to trays or paint-on gels. I also used the strips before bed and my teeth were a little sensitive the next morning. That sensation faded after a few hours but was concerning at first.

KEEP OR TOSS: I will probably buy a small box to keep on hand for use before special occasions and around the holidays. I want my whites to be extra pearly for all those photos!

CHECK IT OUT: Crest 3D White boasts plenty of positive feedback including recognition as the “No. 1 whitening brand” by top beauty magazine editors. The company also offers a link to online retailers who stock the product.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Make Up Forever False Eyelashes, No. 156 Genevieve

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $15

THE SKINNY: I admit — from time to time I want to get my inner Kardashian on. Not a quick as a wink marriage. Not a big old booty. Not having my own reality show. (As boring as I am, who’d watch that anyhow?) I’m talking about some big time eyelashes. Long, dark, flirty lashes.

I have neither the time nor money to waste on Latisse (patience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of my virtues), so the next best thing is to go the fake lash route. I have tried the drugstore variety in the past, but they just look so fake, I felt like a drag queen. RuPaul would be aghast to see my sorry old excuse for fake lashitude and would tell me to “Sashay Away.”

At one of my monthly (ok, weekly) trips to Sephora, I happened to strike up a conversation with the sales girl. She acted as my false eyelash Sherpa and kindly lead me to the Make Up Forever eyelash section. When I panicked at the sheer magnitude of lashes (there are 57 strip lashes on the website alone), she recommended No. 156 Genevieve.

Genevieve is my new best friend. Turns out, I could not have asked for a better lash. The lashes are graduated, so they look dramatically natural—no drag queen with my new BFF! They really open up the eye area, without being over the top. I usually use Duo adhesive, but these come with their own little tube, which is great for tossing in my bag for travel. These lashes are tough and I get a multitude of wearings out of them. As long as I have these and some red lips, I feel all set for a glamorous night out, even if that night is nothing more than grabbing a margarita with my human BFF at the local Mexican place.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep! Keep! Keep! On the pricey side, but they make me look (and feel) European glam. I consider these like makeup equivalent of a great pair of heels, not something I wear everyday, but definitely makes me feel WOWZA!

CHECK IT OUT: Don’t believe me? Check out all 57 lash strip options. Scroll way, way down to find Genevieve No. 156. It’s worth it!

-- Tested by Laura

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Per-fekt Brow Perfection Gel

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $22

THE SKINNY: I never knew my eyebrows needed taming. But Per-fekt claims their Brow Perfection Gel (I tried Caramel) will “enhance the appearance of brows.”

After trying this product, I am pretty certain my brows are just fine without any help.

Brow on the left is fuller with Per-fekt Brow Perfection
Gel but it does stain surround skin if you are messy
with the application..
The Per-fekt product is a odd-textured brown goo that stuck more to the skin around my brows than to the tiny hairs. (It definitely not the “silky smooth color gel” described on the package. The brush was very prickly and reminded me of a tiny version of something you would use to clean your chimney. It also did not help me apply the product and I still had to use my fingers to prevent globs of the goo from lingering in my browline.

My brows did look thicker but I have never felt the need for more luxurious brows. This might be better for someone who has dyed her her very dark and wants to better match.

Overall, the goo just made me feel icky. It ran a little when my face got wet, thanks to a sprinkle of rain. And simply, I made a mess with it. The thin edges of my brow line were twice as wide as they should be thanks to a slip of the brush.

KEEP OR TOSS: I tried it once and that was enough.The feeling of the goo (that is the best way to describe it) was just too much for me.

CHECK IT OUT: Is Per-fekt Brow Perfection Gel for you? Maybe you will have better results than I did. Check out all of the available colors and the company's application tips.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lorac Multiplex 3D Eye Shadow Palette

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: Original price, $46. I picked up one on a deal site for $12.

THE SKINNY: Released in spring 2011, the Multiplex 3D Eye Shadow Palette is an uber-sparkly mix of light and dark shadows. Or so it would seem looking at the palette.

These shadows glide on with rich color and not a lot of glitter. Unlike the Lorac Baked Matte Satin Eye Shadow, this stuff stays put throughout the work day. Maybe it’s all that sparkly stuff.

These are fun shades. The two golds and silvers are nice neutrals and make great base and highlight colors. The black and dark blue are gorgeous shades that blend nicely. They’re dark, but just a little creates a nice look for day.

That rusty-green color is just weird and looks even weirder on my fair skin. But, heck, loving five out of six colors is OK with me.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. These are fun to play with.

CHECK IT OUT: The Multiplex 3D Eye Shadow Pallette isn’t available through Lorac anymore, but they have other palettes available.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, December 12, 2011

Benefit Erase Paste

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $26

THE SKINNY: Tired? Dark shadows under your eyes? No worries. Benefit's Erase Paste is here.

I love, love, love this little pot of wonderful goo.

Erase Paste is a brightening concealer, and a little bit goes a long way. This concealer feels tacky right out of the pot, but rub it between two fingers and your body heat makes it feel smooth and silky.

Dab a little onto those dark circles, rub in and voila! They disappear!

This concealer blends easily and feels weightless -- a real bonus when you're tired and putting on makeup.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. No makeup case should be without this!

CHECK IT OUT: This concealer comes in three shades, plus Benefit provides application instructions and tips.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, December 9, 2011

MAC Russian Red Matte Lipstick

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $14.50

THE SKINNY: I am the Imelda Marcos of red lipsticks. You’d think that one color, in one milieu, would suffice. So not true. In my book, you can never be too rich, too thin or have red enough lips. It’s all part of my smoke and mirrors approach to beauty — enough red will draw the attention away from the bags under the eyes (which, along with stretch marks, unfortunately accompany raising two kids).

I already had MAC Russian Red in the Lip Glass collection, but that’s too dressy (read “slutty”) for daytime and it has a tendency to migrate into those tiny lines around my lips. I’m totally willing to sport the feathery lipstick look when I’m 85, but with 50 years to go, I thought I needed to try another approach. I saw that MAC offers the same color in a lipstick and I had to give it a whirl. First of all, MAC lipsticks smell so good, you want to devour them like a huge chunk of chocolate lava cake. With ice cream. And hot fudge. I have not had this urge since the Lipsmackers debacle in 3rd grade. Having learned my lesson years ago, I merely donned the lipstick instead of ingesting it. The color is an incredible blue-red, which makes teeth look even whiter (and for the coffee and wine addict in me, is an added perk). The formula stays put, even after a few glasses (or maybe the bottle, but who’s counting) of vino.

The only drawback is that the matte formula is difficult to apply. It drags on application. I thought that my primer was to blame, so in the name of research, I tried another application on bare lips. Same deal. It drags more than I do when I have to get up in the morning. Before coffee. No woman wants to tug at her face that much. Trust me. Lips have to be extremely well exfoliated too, because matte will show off any flaking or chapping.

KEEP OR TOSS: Other than the tough application, the color is one of the most flattering reds I have EVER sported. If it was a crème formula, I would have given it my first ever 5-star rating.

CHECK IT OUT: For the complete line of MAC lip goodies, visit their website. Bonus—free shipping on orders over $50!

-- Tested by Laura

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lorac Baked Matte Satin Eye Shadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $22, but can be found on sale for as little as $2

THE SKINNY: I’ve been on the hunt for a good, neutral matte eye shadow, so I was really happy to come across Lorac’s Baked Matte Satin shadow during a good sale on a discount site. I chose Posh, a pale tan color, and Social, a rich chocolate brown that is among the prettiest browns I’ve seen in a long time.

The shadow goes on smoothly, blends nicely and looks great when you walk out of the bathroom. But even with a good primer from Urban Decay, the shadow didn’t stay on my lids for more than a few hours.

I reapplied at lunchtime, but by the time I got home, the shadow had once again disappeared. That’s pretty sad for a shadow advertised as long-wearing.

Toss. Eye shadow needs to last more than a few hours to keep me happy.

If you want to try this shadow, look for a sale on the Lorac website.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yves St. Laurent Touche Éclat

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $40 for 1 ounce

THE SKINNY: The claim on Sephora’s website is that the YSL (that’s the industry slang for Yves St. Laurent – I like feeling like an insider) Radiant Touch brings “light and radiance to the skin, immediately erases signs of fatigue and brightens the complexion.” As a girl whose dark circles around her eyes can only be compared to a raccoon on a bender, I was willing to try anything. I have found that Jackie O sunglasses are the best concealer, but unless I’m impersonating Karl Lagerfield, I can’t get away with wearing them indoors. At night. I needed to find a different solution.

I was extremely hesitant to fork over $40 for what amounts to a Sharpie, only in prettier plastic. For that price, I could buy Lagerfield’s glasses! I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, rather) to find out that it works. It actually works! The application couldn’t be easier, just a press of the button on the bottom of the pen and it deposits a small amount of luminizer on the bristle tip. The creamy texture makes it easy to blend without tugging (what lady wants to tug on the eye area?) I’m not sure how YSL does it, but the highlighter manages to disperse light and make the dark circles disappear. I look as well rested as if I’d gotten 10 hours of sleep at a luxury resort in the Turks and Caicos. Without the kids. And with a venti Starbucks.

In addition to hiding the hungover raccoon who’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson look, a little YSL on the tops of the cheekbones really makes them pop. It helps define the lip area, which makes my red lipstick look even better! No mere Sharpie can claim this kind of magic pixie dust!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep! I will not leave the house without this stuff. You will catch me without lipstick before you catch me without YSL and for a lipstick junkie, that speaks volumes. Yes, it is pricey, but a little goes a long way – one tube lasts for months. This is as close to a supermodel as I’ll ever get and I’m good with that! Now if you’ll kindly excuse me, I have a catwalk to strut.

CHECK IT OUT: For application tips, shade finder and shopping visit YSL online (and they offer free shipping on everything).

-- Tested by Laura

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF 15

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars
$36 for 1.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: I really, really wanted to like this daytime moisturizer. I mean, in reading just the description who wouldn’t?

It contains natural anti-irritants and antitoxins and is touted to provide “weightless hydration as it controls excess oil, minimizes the look of pores and protects skin from future damage with broad-spectrum SPF 15 protection.”

Awesome, right? Good for your skin and good for the planet.

But I just didn’t like the lotion.

First of all, it smelled funny. Like plants. Flowers or herbs would be OK. But smelling leafy is just kind of weird.

Second, it really didn’t do much to make my skin feel softer, smoother or really even protected.

So for $36 a bottle, I’ll pass.

Use the free sample. Don’t buy the big bottle.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out about all the ingredients in this lotion on the Boscia website.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, December 5, 2011

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Smooth Start Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Serum

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $5 each

THE SKINNY: This was a great travel combo – I totally love samples that have everything you need. The John Frieda Frizz-Ease Smooth Start package included shampoo, conditioner and hair serum.

The shampoo and conditioner were nice at first; the shampoo had a rich lather and the conditioner really made my hair smooth. My issue with this product – and many other smoothing shampoos as well – is that they seem to smooth hair by weighing it down. For the first couple hours, I looked great and my hair felt soft and shiny.

But that only lasted a few hours. After that my hair really just started to look and feel limp.

The hair serum is also not not one of my favorite items. A big problem for me has always been static. (Nothing is worse than strands that stick straight up and out or cling to your face all day.) This product did not help combat that frizz energy at all. And the texture -- you have to apply it by hand -- grossed me out a bit.

KEEP OR TOSS: I doubt will will buy a full size of this product.

CHECK IT OUT: Just because I did not like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Smooth Start does not mean there is not something in the line for you. Find out which product the company suggests for yourself.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, December 2, 2011

Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1.5 stars

COST: $59 for 1 ounce

THE SKINNY: I had really, really wanted to like this foundation. Reading reviews, this was the
foundational equivalent to Ewan McGregor showing up on my doorstep with a Starbucks venti in one hand and Perugina chocolates in the other — nothing short of miraculous. When I found myself at Saks in New Orleans and came across the Armani counter, I knew I had to bite the bullet, pay BIG bucks and try this miracle in a bottle. I can justify vacation spending much easier than say, shopping on my laptop while watching the Dance Moms marathon.

I was very excited to see that Armani carries a shade light enough for me, “light ivory,” which is just a prettier way of saying “pasty.” I was so enthusiastic that I even let the sales guy talk me into buying the special Armani foundation brush (which for the price of $35 must have been made with the hair of a rare Himalayan frost yak or yeti or something completely ridiculous). I was all set to drink the Kool Aid and prepare to gush right along with the hoards of fans.

Unfortunately, the delusions of spinning around while singing on a mountain top with perfect looking skin ended when I got home. The bottle is a pump dispenser, which means lots of product left congregating in the bottom (and for $60, you should be able to wring it like a wet rag to get
every single expensive drop of miracle). I applied it diligently with my frost yak brush, stippling as I went (I listened to the sales guy) and it took a long time to get it right. It had a light feel for a foundation and coverage was good. For a while.

Within two hours, the miracle in a bottle had ran. And slid. And puddled. And pooled. I looked like I had been running a marathon. (Stop laughing, I can run … if something is chasing me.) My skin was a hot mess. This was after I had prepped the canvas using Armani primer. And applying with the rare Himalayan yak brush! I tried to work out this relationship. I needed it to work. I tried different approaches to coax it into staying in place — no primer, fingertip application, sponge application, setting with powder. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I filed for divorce two weeks later, citing irreconcilable differences. My oily skin simply could not get along with its hydrating ways.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss if you have oily skin. Extremely expensive and will not adhere to oily skin. Although, I couldn’t bear to throw the bottle away. I keep it tucked away in my makeup drawer and look at it longingly and think back to the days I used to have such high hopes for our happily ever after.

CHECK IT OUT: For the complete line of Armani beauty products visit Armani Beauty USA.

-- Tested by Laura

Thursday, December 1, 2011

L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base

RATING (out of 5 stars): 5 stars

COST: $12.99 for .5 oz

Having run out of my usual mattifying primer, I ran out to the local CVS and picked up L’Oreal Magic Perfecting Base. The first great thing about this is that it is widely distributed at every drugstore and big box store — no special trips or ordering off the internet (plus, I get to stock up on Toblerone, which, for some reason is absent at Sephora). The price is one fourth of what I usually pay for my favorite primer, so I felt that I wasn’t risking too much in purchasing it.

The primer comes in a little pot (which, the ick factor may turn off some) and goes on smoothly. No heavy silicone to weigh the skin down. Win! No flowery smell. Double win!

It fills in the potholes that I call pores and helps uncrepe the party streamer look I have going on under my eyes. Makeup glides on smoothly over it and the base keeps it in place. My skin is the facial equivalent of the Exxon Valdez, so it is a Herculean task to keep foundation from sliding down to my knees. This little pot does it! And with it being much cheaper than my usual primer, I can stock up on Toblerone for a month!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Absolutely! Pocket friendly, widely accessible and it really works.

CHECK IT OUT: Shop from the comfort of your home at CVS online or Ulta (which has tons of other positive reviews and a buy one, get one for half price deal).

-- Tested by Laura

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bare Minerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor (in Bravado)

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $16

THE SKINNY: I love Bare Minerals. I hate lipstick. So this product is a real test of my loyalty.

After trying Bare Minerals Pretty Amazing Lipcolor (I sampled the Bravado shade), I don't think any less of one of my favorite beauty-product makers but I still don't particularly like lipstick. I will just always be more of a gloss girl.

The shade was nice and was not as thick as many other lipsticks that I have tried in the past. The sample card called it a “cellophane-like glaze” and that is a perfect description. It wrapped my lips but without bulk.

The color was long lasting but was unforgiving if you missed a spot -- it was obviously lacking color -- or drew outside the lip line. (Please excuse the mistakes of this lipstick novice.)

The gloss-like applicator did not fool me into thinking this was not a lipstick and it lacked the shine and that I love about glosses.

KEEP OR TOSS: For lipstick wearers, this is probably a keeper. I am returning to my favorite gloss but will keep this small one on hand for special occasions.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out all 12 shades of Pretty Amazing Lipcolor and buy direct from Bare Minerals (also make sure to check out the sales for great beauty clearance deals).

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Billy Jealousy Combination Code Face Moisturizer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $26 for 3 ounces

THE SKINNY: Billy Jealousy Combination Code Face Moisturizer is the first skin cream I have used with green tea and aloe vera that did not tingle. (And that's not a bad thing.)

The daily skin cream goes on super smooth and you can feel it working right away. Thirsty skin will love this – it seemed to plump and smooth my dry skin instantly.

The product also claims to help reduce those little laugh lines (we all have them, right?) and is made with natural antioxidants.

The lotion is much thinner than my grocery store moisturizer (this seems to be a theme with the higher end skin creams) and seems like a small size would last for a long time. The scent is light and went away almost immediately so it won't interfere with any other fragrances you plan to wear.

But the biggest plus, with Billy Jealousy is the feel. It cured dryness without feeling heavy or greasy, even hours after application. I just wish it contained SPF.

KEEP OR TOSS: It is a little more expensive than items you might pick up on your weekly shopping trip, but is worth the extra money. If you order from Billy Jealousy, they will also throw three free samples in your order and shipping is free over $60.

CHECK IT OUT: Find about more about Billy Jealousy Combination Code Face Moisturizer, including an ingredient list and the company's other products.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gucci Guilty

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $55 for 1 ounce Eau de Toilette Spray

THE SKINNY: Gucci Guilty made me feel sexy.

It has a bold fragrance that is both feminine and spicy. But the scent is subtle on your skin. You can smell touches of flowers, fruit and yes, black pepper. As unusual as it may sound, Gucci has a winning combination.

The fragrance is perfect for everyday use – it might just become my signature scent. But it is also a great option for the fragrance-shy for a little something different on special occasions. The scent was still lingering on my skin the morning after a night out, so a single spray (or two) will do the trick.

An added bonus, the bottle is pretty cool too – gold all over and embossed with the signature Gucci logo. (It might be the only Gucci item I can afford!?!)

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I am totally in love with this fragrance and added it to my Christmas wishlist right away.

CHECK IT OUT: You can see the full line or buy right from Gucci or try Sephora which is shipping fragrances for free right now.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 20

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $36 for 1.7ounces

THE SKINNY: Full disclosure -- I am so pale that even after a week of sun at the beach can I be at best described as Casper-esque. In the middle of winter, I am chalk or spackle colored. Ever since Prescriptives went belly up, I have been at a loss for a good foundation which actually matches my peaches and cream complexion, less the peaches part. It’s hard being kabuki in the middle of a Malibu Barbie world.

I was ecstatic to find that Tarte carries a tinted moisturizer that matches my Chapstick pallor (Agent 00 -- so light it doesn’t even register on the numerical scale). Plus, the Amazonian Clay part brings a certain mystique to the table and makes me feel like I’m way more worldly than the boring mom of two that I actually am.

However, tinted moisturizer is a bit of a misnomer. It gives more coverage than the standard tinted moisturizer, a true medium cover. For those who don’t like the weight of a full on foundation, but still need more coverage (hello, little sun spots) this is the ticket. It goes on smoothly and doesn’t settle into the fine lines (don’t panic, it goes on light and dries to the true color).

Most importantly, it stays put—no sliding off my face in the middle of the day. Added bonus, Tarte doesn’t add a whole lot of junk (e.g. mineral oil, parabens) to make me break out (or as I call it, my “youthful glow”). It’s not as moisturizing as other ones I’ve tried, but with oily skin, that is a welcome change. The added SPF 20 gives great sun protection, which is great as I always forgot to apply a separate sunblock with a standard foundation (don’t judge—a successful morning in my house is when I shave both legs). Protecting against sun spots while covering up the existing ones? SCORE!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Wide selection of colors for lots of skin types, with a medium coverage and lightweight feel. Drawback? Pricey for what it is (ergo the 3.5 rating), but hey, I love it so I’m willing to shell out the bucks. Another caveat, I have heard that the darker colored moisturizers (anything other than my Agent 00) have a slight shimmer. Guess they don’t add shimmer to the uber pale ones to keep us from looking like a Twilight character.

CHECK IT OUT: Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer is available in a variety of shades that you can buy from the company's website.

-- Tested by Laura

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $2.99 for 7.6 ounces

THE SKINNY: I don't get the 3D craze. Everything in real life is 3D, right?

But once I got past the silly name, I actually liked Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste. It made my teeth feel super clean – even without the assistance of my electric toothbrush. (I tried this sample while traveling.) The taste was not too harsh; this seems to be a complaint with some other Crest products.

It had an foaming quality that made my reflection reminiscent of a rabid dog as I brushed. I did not like it at first but after several uses it stopped bothering me.

I am not sure though, I want to use it every day. Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste claims to remove up to 80 percent of surface stains in 14 days – does that make it a little too abrasive for daily use?

KEEP OR TOSS: I am really torn on this one. I like the concept, but am concerned about the “polishing” concept and tooth enamel abrasion.

CHECK IT OUT: Crest has tools that tell you where to find its products and even compares prices. The site has product information and reviews as well.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Urban Decay Cream Shadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars
COST: $17 (but often on sale on the Urban Decay website)

THE SKINNY: Urban Decay Cream Shadow is such a great idea. It’s a glittery, gel-based shadow served up in a tube that Urban Decay says “dries to a weightless layer of color that will not crease, fade, or hide in fine lines.”

And it sort of does that. But the color is pretty translucent and it fades away a little too quickly for my liking. 

Plus, I’m not sure how you’re really supposed to apply it. The applicator, built into the lid of the tube, is a plastic wand with a flat end. It’s really not big enough, so the shadow goes onto your lid in a very thin line. Dabbing the shadow onto your finger and applying work OK, but the shadow dries quickly. Usually, I wind up with a sparkly finger and little shadow on my eyes.

If you use this product and have a better suggestion, let me know.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, especially if you find them on sale. It’s good for lazy weekends, if nothing else.

CHECK IT OUT: Urban Decay Cream Shadow tubes always seem to be on sale on the Urban Decay website. Right now, they’re marked down to $2, so it’s a great time to experiment.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $11 for 8.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: This facial wash from the Body Shop is a gel that turns foamy-ish as you rub your hands together.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get foamy enough for my liking. It was still a little oily and didn't do a good job of washing away my mascara and other make-up. (And, really, if your cleanser leaves you with raccoon eyes, what is the point?)

To make matters worse, the Tee Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash tingled on my skin and left my face feeling a little weird, kind of that hot-cool feeling of Bengay, for about an hour afterward. That's probably because this cleanser is designed to remove oil and prevent acne. According to the product description on Sephora, the gel contains tea tree oil, lemon tea tree oil and tamanu oil, which fight blemishes and "promote the formulation of new tissue."

I don't have much trouble with blemishes anymore. And honestly, this just felt a little icky.


CHECK IT OUT: Read more about this product and others from The Body Shop on Sephora's website.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sephora Colorful Eye Shadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $24 for Colorful Palette (4 shadows and a liner), $12 for Mono Eyeshadow

THE SKINNY: The Sephora Colorful Eye Shadow quad – Tender Pink No. 27, Armelle No. 32 (pale purple), Carolina's Pride No. 33 (a darker purple) and Tiny Bubbles No. 12 (pale yellow accent) – takes shimmer shadow to another level.

I kept finding sparkly bits on my faces, on my clothes and in my hair all day long. When Spehora says the shadow is long-lasting, believe it.

The sparkle contained in these shadows might be great for the club or for the teen set, but I was little self-conscious with it on for a day at the office. (Did it highlight the creases around my eyes?)

I was not too keen with the application of the shadows either. I have used Sephora shadow in the past a really liked it. But these did not apply smoothly (maybe from all that sparkle or from being glued to a sample card).

Sephora colors look great; this palette
just had a bit too much sparkle.
The worst part about not liking this shadow quad is that I really adore the color selection. I would have never picked out these colors for myself in the store, yet they look fabulous together.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Unless you can find a really great sale. Because of Sephora's reputation, I would guess the full size product is superior to the sample.

CHECK IT OUT: The SephoraCollection contains a variety of products from eye shadows to lipsticks and beauty tools. Products and prices can change frequently, so shop for the best deals.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, November 18, 2011

OPI Manicure/Pedicure Scrub, Tropical Citrus

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $15.24 for 8.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: You can literally massage away rough, cracked skin with this OPI Manicure/Pedicure Scrub in tropical citrus. This is a sugar scrub with some extras. According to OPI, natural sugar crystals reduce calluses and dry skin, coconut extract softens and citrus extract leaves skin feeling invigorated.

I love this stuff.

Leave your feet a little damp after a shower, squirt a little of the gooey paste from the tube, massage in (and it feels fabulous) and rinse. It leaves my feet feeling soft and soothed.

I’ve also used it with great success to exfoliate rough skin from my elbows.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. In addition to being a great product, the scrub feels so good on my feet after a long day at work.

CHECK IT OUT: This is part of OPI’s manicure/pedicure line of products that come in seven formulas, including lemon tonic, cucumber and papaya pineapple.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Urban Decay Pocket Rocket Lip Gloss

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $19

THE SKINNY: Urban Decay Pocket Rocket Lip Gloss brings out the bad girl in all of us.

A hot lip gloss in a variety of shades with a tiny (but super hot) guy on the tube. Tilt the tube and that guy is down to his undies. I would almost blush at the thought of someone finding this in my bag if the product did not make me smile so much.

Aside from it's unique packaging Urban Decay has another winner with this lip gloss. (I tried “Doug” -- a classic shimmery pink shade.) I love the color and look of this gloss. It went on smooth, but just sticky enough to hold and the shimmer was perfect without being too much.

Online reviewers have complained about the scent. This gloss comes with an almost crème brulee fragrance. I did not mind it at all, other than it made me crave some desert.

KEEP OR TOSS: I think $19 is a little pricey for lip gloss but sales make it a buy – “Jesse,” a berry, plum shade is on sale for $5 on Urban Decay's website.

CHECK IT OUT: Buy this gloss at beauty retailers or direct from Urban Decay. The company also offers an ingredient list for each shade and customer reviews.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kleenex Cool Touch Tissues

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $2 for a box (50 sheets)

THE SKINNY: I never thought I would want tissues that cool my nose. Boy, was I wrong!

Kleenex has come up with one of the best ideas ever. Tissues that actually make a sore nose feel good. Not only are the tissues made with what Kleenex calls “a proprietary blend of ingredients, including moisturizers and aloe,” these tissues are triple-ply. During a recent fight with my first cold of the season, these tissues were my saving grace. No red nose, no itchiness.

The downside though, is this is not an everyday-use tissue. Don't wipe your eyes with them – I felt an odd tinge. You don't want to use Cool Touch tissues to remove makeup either. They are too lush and it almost feels like a waste to dab off mascara and toss them.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Kleenex Cool Touch tissues are not a remedy for the common cold, but they sure make getting through it easier.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about Kleenex Cool Touch and send a pack to a friend with the company's Send a Pack, Get a Pack promotion.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crest Pro-Health For Me Fluoride Anticavity Toothpaste

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars
COST: $4.79 for 7.8 ounces

THE SKINNY: You are so going to laugh at this one.

I don’t like something about the Crest Pro-Health toothpaste. It’s either the taste or that slightly gritty texture.

My dental hygienist loves Crest Pro-Health toothpaste. She swears by it. (The Crest website says the line is the “only leading toothpaste to protect all these areas dentists check most: cavities, gingivitis, plaque, sensitivity, tartar, whitening and fresh breath and it has a clinically proven active ingredient.")

So during my last visit, said hygienist convinced me to try the For Me line. It’s for kids, she explained with a laugh, but it tastes different than the adult version.

It does. It tastes better, more mellow that Crest’s standard mint flavor. And I think I really like it.

This fluoride toothpaste is made just for kids 8 to 12, according to the website, which also touts its “great, kid-friendly flavor.”

Is it a bad thing that I happen to think it tastes better than the adult version?

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It’s yummy and good for you, two things that are sometimes hard to find together.

CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about the options available for Crest Pro-Health toothpaste.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, November 14, 2011

Urban Decay Loose Pigment

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars
COST: $20 (but often on sale on the Urban Decay website)

THE SKINNY: Urban Decay is one of my favorite makeup brands. The eye shadow line offers a variety of rich neutrals and some really bright and sparkly colors, for when you’re feeling playful.

The Loose Pigment eye shadow is exactly that – a tube of colored powder with sparkle. The powder is slightly creamy, so it goes on smoothly. The color is rich. With a primer, the powder will stay put for the better part of the workday or a night out.

This really is fun stuff.

Urban Decay suggests using “a little for a sheer wash of color, or layer for bold, shimmering hues.”
But the packaging isn’t very user friendly. The delivery is similar to mascara or nail polish. A brush is built into the lid, and you’re supposed to dip the brush into the powder and apply to your eyelid.

First of all, this just doesn’t work. The opening just wide enough to fit the brush, so tapping off any extra from said brush is next to impossible. Second, the brush is too small and too much like a nail polish brush instead of a make-up brush. It’s frustrating to use.

My solution is to keep a small ramekin in my makeup drawer, tap the power into the ramekin and use a real make-up brush to apply. Use this powder sparingly – a little bit goes a long way and you’ll have a hard time getting any extra back into the container.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, if only to add fun a dash of sparkly color to your eyes.

CHECK IT OUT: Take a look at all the colors at Urban Decay and keep an eye out for sales. Currently, the loose pigment tubes are going for $1 each!
-- Tested by Shay

Friday, November 11, 2011

John Frieda Full Repair Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars):3.5 stars

COST: $5

THE SKINNY: John Frieda Full Repair Shampoo and Conditioner claims to be a “weightless solution for overworked hair” and it delivers.

Although the shampoo did not lather quite as much as I would have liked, it left my hair feeling super clean and looking great. The repairing formula contains an Omega 3-rich ingredient (Inca Inchi, which I have never actually heard of) which helps counteract the effects of daily heat and product use.

I really liked the softness I felt after using the shampoo and conditioner and my hair was super light and touchable. Things that I can't usually say after I use a shampoo designed to repair damaged hair.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This seems like a great weekly treatment for my color-treated hair.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out John FriedaFull Repair and find out more about the Omega 3 Inca Inchi ingredient. The company also offers a few (almost common sense) tips for dealing with damaged hair. You can also request a free sample (while they last).

-- Tested by Carrie