Monday, October 31, 2011

Sephora Collection Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $21 for 1.7 ounces

THE SKINNY: Let me first say that although I love Sephora makeup, I've been less than impressed with the lotion and cleanser lines. But I keep trying the samples. Sephora's Perfecting Tinted Moisturizer has its good points and its bad.

For me, the bad came immediately. I don't like the way the moisturizer goes onto my skin. It doesn't glide on, the way most foundation or moisturizer does. It feels rather icky, actually. I even tried mixing a little of tinted moisturizer with my normal facial lotion, and it even made it lose its silkiness.

But once it's on, the tinted moisturizer performs fairly well. The "tint" lasted all day and looks natural. And it's SPF 20. 

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. If you're looking for an alternative, try No7 Soft and Sheer Tinted Moisturizer. I found mine at Target for $11.99 for 1.69 ounces.

CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about Sephora's Perfecting Tinted Mositurizer.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, October 28, 2011

L'Oreal Youth Code Day/Night Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $14 for 1.6 ounces, starter kits from $16

THE SKINNY: This is the lightest night cream I have ever tried. Maybe because the L'Oreal Youth Code formula is a day/night cream – a concept that it totally new to me. But I like the idea of something I can use in the morning or evening. A beauty product that is easy to use? I'll take it.

My face felt, for lack of a better word, silky hours after applying the cream. And it has a light but pleasant scent that lasted for a few minutes after application.

Advertisements for Youth Code suggest this line helps skin grow faster which will make skin appear younger. It also contains an anti-wrinkle ingredient that I will not pretend to understand. I don't know that I look any younger but the cream did feel nice. I might have to try this out for a while to see what the long term results might be.

KEEP OR TOSS: I am planning to buy a full size product. L'Oreal is offering a rebate right now that makes me think it will be worth the price to try it. For more on the rebate, check out my coupons page.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more behind the beauty science that goes into L'Oreal Youth Code Day/Night Cream and where to buy products in this line.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Playtex Sport Body Wipes

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $3 for 20 count box

THE SKINNY: I can't figure out why I would use these. The package claims that Playtex Sport Body Wipes are “great for the entire body” and remove dirt and sweat. I don't really doubt either of these claims and they look and feel like typical wet wipes. The “fresh and clean” scented sample was just that.

But overall, the concept just grosses me out. The wipes remind me a little too much of wet wipes or dampened toilet paper. (The package even says these are flushable.)

Playtex Sport Body Wipes
are the same shape and
size as other wet wipes.
Using the Playtex wipes after a run did not make me feel clean. I actually felt a little dirtier. I could feel the cleanser from the wipe on my skin where sweat and dirt were wiped away. This is not the solution to a quick shower and is not really any faster.

I could see using them to wipe grime from your face mid-workout but honestly I am quite wary of using something on my face that is made by and reminds me of other feminine hygiene products.

The Playtex brand has a great reputation but I am not sure I expect to see this product on store shelves for very long.

KEEP OR TOSS: I don't even plan to open the other sample pack.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out where to buy Playtex Sport Body Wipes, part of the brand's sport line which includes tampons.

GIVEAWAY: I will send the other sample pack to one reader who comments on this blog post by Nov. 11, 2011. Or you can request your own sample from Playtex. Check out my coupons page for details.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray

RATING (out of 5 stars): 5 stars

COST: $10 to $16 for 8 ounces

THE SKINNY: Full disclosure: I first sampled Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray about three years ago. But I have been using it regularly ever since. This hair product gives you a beachy look and enhances natural curl (or in my case the occasional frizz) without that “crunchy” feel that some other products leave behind.

With just a few spritzes in damp hair, light curls form that are soft to the touch. In shorter hair, the spray works to separate strands for that stylish but disheveled look. It does not have much of a scent and works great for men, too.

Even after a whole day out,
my hair is still full of
waves after using Aquage
Sea Salt Texturizing Spray.
The Aquage spray also brings out highlights in my hair. The lighter strands seem to pop out in the mix of messy, beachy waves. And with a touch of tan in the summer months, the finished look makes me feel like a summer goddess. (And who doesn't want to feel like a goddess?)

Since I discovered Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray – I got my first sample from my hairdresser – I have not even bothered to pack a blow dryer for trips to humid or hot destinations. It is also a great rainy day solution to that annoying frizz that will sneak into your locks by midday.

KEEP OR TOSS: I can't live without this hair product. If the bottle even starts to feel light, I buy another and keep a trial-size bottle for travel.

CHECK IT OUT: Get a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray to create a just-from-the-beach 'do for men or women.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $3 to $4

THE SKINNY: This new formula in the Garnier Fructis line claims to be more biodegradable than other brands (94 percent for the shampoo and 92 percent for the conditioner). It is also sold in a bottle that contains 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic to make you feel like you are doing a little more for the environment. The “green” formula is also silicone, paraben and dye free.

The good news: It has the great fruity scent that is a signature of the brand (my favorite thing about the line). It lathered well and was great in the shower. And my hair felt super-soft all day. I like the clear formula as well. I am always a little weary of bright pink or orange shampoo.

The bad news: It left my hair totally flat. Not super skinny and sleek flat, but limp and lifeless flat. Apparently this is from the lack of silicone in the product, which is a super frizz fighter. According to a 2010 article in Marie Claire, the right balance of silicone in shampoo gives hair a polished finish and makes hair have fewer tangles and improves shine. It can, though, damage hair (and hair color) over time.

KEEP OR TOSS: I am a little torn. The product should be better for my hair. I might give a full size bottle a try and pair it with a volumizing mousse for a more full look. I really want to like this product because it is more eco-friendly; I am just not f the flat-hair look is for me.

CHECK IT OUT: Garnier has the skinny on its Pure Clean line and information about its efforts with TerraCycle to help decrease beauty product waste.

-- Tested by Carrie

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dior Hydra Life Pro-Youth Sorbet Creme

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $56 for 1.7 ounces

Dior markets its Hydra Life creme as a product that "melts through your skin," so I expected this face lotion to be mousse-like and light. It is not. Hydra Life is a thick, heavy cream that takes a few minutes to fully soak into the skin.

When I first put it on, it felt quite tacky. The lotion was thick enough that my pores actually started to sweat for a minute.

But an hour later, my face felt amazing and soft. It still feels that way a day later. The lotion is SPF 15, too.

Toss. For that much money, I don't want a lotion that makes me feel uncomfortable, even if it's only for a few minutes.

Learn more about Dior Hydra Life and other products in the line.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Samples Galore!

I opened my mailbox today and inside was a sample pack I ordered from Target a while back. Yes, some major retailers offer samples occasionally -- but they do go fast, so you may have to check back often.

This week's samples are for all new products that I have yet to try and they all came in a great (and super-cute) reusable makeup bag.

Here's a preview of what I will be sampling the in upcoming days from the Target bag:

* Burt's Bees Radiance Day Lotion with SPF 15: I am anxious to see if I like this better than the recently-tested sensitive formula that was lacking SPF.

* John Frieda Full Repair Shampoo and Conditioner: This has always been one of my favorite brands (Brilliant Brunette, anyone?) and restoring formulas are a must for my color-treated hair. It also came with a coupon -- double yay!

* Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo and Conditioner: This promises to be a "green" formula and does not contain silicone, paraben or dye. It also claims to be 94 percent biodegradable. I had no clue that shampoos and conditioners were not biodegradable. I'll give you the skinny on that with the review.

* Pond's Wet Cleansing Towelettes in Evening Soothe: The Pond's product claims to remove waterproof mascara and is a 2010 Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.

* Loreal Youth Code Day/Night Cream: I have never been one to believe all of the claims of day or night creams but an all-in-one? We'll see.

* TreSemme Naturals Shampoo and Conditioner: Another reputable brand with a "greener" formula. This shampoo contains "lower sulfates" and the conditioner is silicone free.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dove Men + Care Extra Fresh Bar Soap

RATING (out of 5 stars): 5 stars

COST: $5-$6 for a 6-pack

THE SKINNY: It started with a sample that came in the mail. The tiny bar of soap was gone in a hurry and I was asked for more. That's how my man's love affair with Dove began. 

Not only does he love this product, it makes him smell great (but not too smelly). Some of the other men's brands out there have super-strong smells that almost knock you out. This is light enough (I like Extra Fresh) he can use it and then finish with his favorite cologne without making me cringe. And gone is that feminine scent that would linger on his skin when he would would steal my soap out of the shower.

His skin is also softer than ever.

Dove is a brand I have trusted for yours and I am so excited to see that they have a line for the fellas. Some guys might still have issues associating the Dove brand with women but this is something you should buy for your guy; he will love it!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. You and your man will love it.

CHECK IT OUT: Dove Men + Care is a fairly new line that has more than just soap. Dove now has deodorants and other body washes for your guy as well.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Curel Itch Defense lotion

RATING (out of 5 stars): 5 stars

COST: $7-$8 for 13 ounces

THE SKINNY: Hands down the best sensitive skin lotion ever. Certain areas of my skin get irritated easily, especially in the colder months, and this lotion has been a life-saver. The irritant-free formula has not extra colors or scents and just a small amount will go a long way. 

The lotion earned the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association and I can attest as well that it did not cause extra irritation to my patch of eczema. 

I could tell how different my skin looked and felt after only about a week of use. After about a month, I was able to start mixing in other lotions as well – even some with colors and fragrances – without irritation. 

KEEP OR TOSS: Can't-live-without-item. Curel really has a winner here that I hope never gets pulled from store shelves.

CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about how Curel Itch Defense lotion works and if it is right for you. The company also posts results from their clinical study on the product.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $5

THE SKINNY: The product combines avodaco, shea and olive oils to help repair dry or damaged hair. It has the signature Garnier Fructis light and fruity fragrance that you can smell in your hair hours after washing (a huge bonus for me).

The shampoo is a bit runny though and I felt like a poured out way too much of the product when I washed my hair, wasting some of the product down the drain. I also expected the conditioner, because it is a nourishing formula, to be a little thicker.

Although I think the shampoo and conditioner both did a good job – and I love the scent – I was not totally thrilled overall. After washing, my hair almost felt like it had a coating on it. This seemed to wear off after blow-drying but I kept checking the mirror all day to make sure my hair did not look flat or oily.

I will use the rest of the sample but this product will not become part of my daily routine. 

CHECK IT OUT: Find out which Garneir Fructis product is right for you on the company's website.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Urban Decay Primer Potion

RATING (out of 5 stars): 5 stars

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: Who knew eyelid primer was a must? Once I started using it several years back, I never put on eye shadow without it. And the Urban Decay product is the best thing out there right now.

Lightly coat the top of your eyes before applying your favorite shadow and you get color that stays fresh and smudge free all day (and all night) long.

The best thing about the Urban Decay primer in comparison to other brands I have tried is that it is super-lightweight. You don't even know you have an extra layer of makeup on. The primer is also a great base to use with loose shadows. Layer the shadow on before the primer fully dries for a heavy or foiled finish or let it dry and sweep loose powder on the lids for a more relaxed look.
Shadow using primer
(left) and without (right).

The look is also natural and others will never know you “primed” your eyes. For a daytime look, use the primer under a neutral shadow and liner; for night time pump up you look with a colored liner or shadow.

I prefer the vintage bottle and wand for application but you can also buy a squeeze tube and apply using your fingers.

KEEP OR TOSS: Once you try this product you won't be able to live without it. There is a bottle in my makeup drawer and another in my travel bag.

CHECK IT OUT: Urban Decay Primer Potion is available in several sizes and colors at beauty retailers such as Sephora and online.

-- Tested by Carrie

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cover Girl Outlast Lip Stain

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $6-$7

THE SKINNY: Although this product has been on the market for a while, I was always a little scared to try it. I have always been a lip gloss kind of girl. How do you beat a shiny look that tastes like donuts? But this product lived up to all the great reviews -- it was a Shape magazine award winner in 2009. The stain glides on unlike any other lip product I have tried. It has a dry feel and you don't even know it is there within minutes of application, but even four hours later the color was still there.

The look the stain creates is very natural so a neutral shade is recommended. I tried Nude Kiss (427) and for the evening I was even able to apply one of my favorite glosses over the stain.

Be aware that it will stain any part of the skin though, so don't stay outside the lip line. The color I applied to a test area on my forearm was visible for more than a day.

The only turnoff this the product applicator. It looks like a magic marker and gave me some pause. I also can't figure out how much product is in the tube or how long it might last.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep for sure. Great for giving lips a bit of extra pop without a lot of hassle.

CHECK IT OUT: Visit the Cover Girl site for more information on lip stain colors and live chats with the company's beauty consultants.

-- Tested by Carrie 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $15 for 1.8 ounces

THE SKINNY: The super creamy formula goes on super smooth and did not irritate my skin which is prone to redness, itching and some breakouts. The Burt's Bees brand is pretty reputable so I was not too afraid to test the samples I received through the BzzAgent program on my skin. I have used the cream for about two weeks now and my skin seems to look pretty good. 

Just a small dollop of the cream is enough to cover the face and neck and I expect the full-size poduct to last several months.

The downside is that the cream is seems a little heavy for daytime use and my skin seems have a not-so-glowy shine a few hours after use. It also does not contain any SPF. Each morning when I apply the product, I find myself wishing it had a nicer fragrance although the smell vanishes after application. 

Overall, though the results have been positive and the product is very much like other drugstore products of comparable price.

KEEP OR TOSS: I plan to keep using the cream in the upcoming months. The extra creamy formula should be good for dry, winter skin but I might try something lighter once warmer weather returns.

CHECK IT OUT: The Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream website has additional product information, including a list of ingredients, and you can buy this product directly from the company.

GIVEAWAY: I will share a product sample and coupon with one person who comments on this post by Oct. 31. Good luck!

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, October 10, 2011

Coming soon

Ever wonder if any of those product samples are actually worth spending money on?

So do we.

We are going to help you shuffle through the hundreds of samples and new products that hit the market each year to find the best of the bunch.

Along the way, we will test out anything we can get our hands on and let you know how an item works (or fails). We'll also share our experiences along the way ... and the mishaps too.

No item is off limits. From shampoo to mascara to foot cream to tissues, we plan to have it covered.

Like what you see? Hate it? Drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you.