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