Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012 (Carrie's Picks)

With 2012 almost in the books, we thought we'd recap some of the best products we tested at Beauty Test Dummies this year. Take a look at Carrie's favorites ... and look back to Friday for Shay's top picks. We'd also love to hear what products you loved this year ... share them in the comments or on Facebook.

Favorite Products

Blinc Mascara
Tiny little tubes coat your lashes for a super-gentle mascara that is great for everyday wear.

Clinique's Color Surge shadows have beautiful matte colors that go on smooth and last all day.

The lipstick that makes me actually like lipstick. Surprisingly, the color went on smooth and held for hours. The lipsticks did not have the "feel" that I have come to associated with most lipsticks (I am a gloss girl).

This cleanser contains a touch of salicylic acid to keep pimples at bay. Use this cleanser mixed in with your normal cleanser to keep skin fresh and acne at bay.

Smooth feet are a must … and easy with this great crème. After just two days, my feet were smoother. No extra scrubbing or exfoliation required.

Favorite Subscription Box

This monthly box contains first-class high-end products each month. It costs a little more than some of the other boxes out there ($20 monthly) but I totally love the product selection; it really makes it a great value.

And If Money Grew on Trees

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum contains a bunch of vitamins C and E in a super-runny moisturizer that makes your skin look and feel fantastic. (My sensitive skin just soaked it right up.) Whether it is the vitamins or something else is up for debate but after just one application my skin had a great, fresher look to it.

The overnight conditioner makes hair feel amazing and repairs damage. The results are impressive and last for days.

The soft bristles vibrate to remove makeup and other impurities. It cleans extremely well, leaving skin is softer and feeling fresher.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012 (Shay's Picks)

With 2012 almost in the books, we thought we'd recap some of the best products we tested at Beauty Test Dummies this year. Take a look at Shay's favorites ... and coming Monday, Carrie's top picks. We'd also love to hear what products you loved this year ... share them in the comments or on Facebook.

Favorite Products

Urban Decay Naked 2 palette
I use this collection of neutrals almost every day. Layer colors for a simple look or something more dramatic.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
This rice-based enzyme powder helps smooth and polish your skin. It does the work of an exfoliator without the harsh grit.

John Frieda Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray
My secret weapon for adding a hint of highlights to dull blonde hair, especially in winter.

Shiseido Urban Environment Oil–Free UV Protector
SPF 42! This is extremely lightweight and perfect for summer. Or skiing.

Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner
A creamy pencil that goes on smooth and straight and stays put all day long.

And If Money Grew on Trees

Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder
I was skeptical at first, but it's a nice powder billed as being able to "reduces fine lines and wrinkles in 10 minutes" because of a patented hydration system. It's $59. (No, that isn't a typo.)

L'Occitane Divine Cream
One of the best moisturizers I've ever put on my face. Of course, it's $98 for 1.7 ounces.

Kerastase Bain Substantif Shampoo
This left my hair silky and bouncy and, best of all, it stayed that way all day long. So this is what thicker hair feels like. Sadly, it's $36 a bottle.

Philosophy Full of Promise
It left my face feeling silky soft immediately. Heck, it even made my fingers feel silky soft from applying it. It's $65 for 2 ounces. Yikes.
-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vaseline Lip Therapy (Original)

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $1.79

THE SKINNY: I am convinced that Vaseline is the answer to almost any skincare issue. It definitely my winter-dry lips.

Vaseline Lip Therapy is one of those products I was always too cool to try. But this year my skin and lips are suffering in a major way from dryness. So I gave it a try -- I used the Original formula. And I am glad I did.

After just one application -- I am using it before bed so I can use great lip color during the day -- my lips felt smoother. And the flakiness I was beginning to develop, just vanished.

It only took a dab and this tiny container will easily last all season. I am in love!


CHECK IT OUT: Vaseline Lip Therapy comes in Original, Cherry and Advanced. You can pick them up at almost any grocery, drug or discount store.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DDF Advanced Eye Firming Concentrate

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $88 for 0.5 ounce

THE SKINNY: This is probably a really good eye cream. For $88, it should be.

But I can't get past the smell of the lotion. It smells heavily of peppers.

The lotion itself is fine. It's just the right thickness. It feels good on my skin. It doesn't irritate my eyes. It's moisturizing.

It's supposed to reduce puffiness and wrinkles and help firm and lift the skin around your eyes.

But it smells like peppers. And I can't deal with that.


CHECK IT OUT: Find this product at beauty stores such as Sephora or at the DDF website.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

Credit: mel5545

Wishing you and your family all the best this holiday season.

May your days be bright and maybe you will find a great beauty product or two in your stocking!

Happy holidays,
Carrie and Shay

Monday, December 24, 2012

Urban Decay De-Slick

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $29-$32

THE SKINNY: I was a little skeptical of a spray that claimed to help hold your makeup in place while controlling oil. But why doubt Urban Decay?

The De-Slick spray worked as advertised. And held up in extreme settings.

I used the spray for a holiday party and was wearing a lot more makeup than normal, plus with the stress of the evening I was a little concerned about shiny spots.

I spritzed a bit over my face (no the tiny droplets did not affect my look) and my "face" held all night. Perfectly!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Who does not want their makeup to last and last?

CHECK IT OUT:Urban Decay just released a new formula, but you can still get this one in XL for $18!

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, December 21, 2012

BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie is great lipgloss that's thick, sparkly and stays put for a few hours.

This color is daredevil, which is probably as close to the trendy oxblood color that I'm going to get. It's a deep burgundy.

The gloss smells like licorice and had a hint of peppermint that makes your lips tingle.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This will be one of my winter staples.

CHECK IT OUT: This lipgloss comes in 12 colors.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kenra Platinum Dry Shampoo

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $9 for 1.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: For starters, Kendra's dry shampoo works. Shake it up. Spray it into your hair in quick bursts. Wait for it to dry, and then brush out.

It took care of my oily bangs in about two minutes flat and added volume back into my flat locks.

But the smell? No thanks. It smells like cheap pina coladas. (For the record, Kendra calls the scent "mango melon.") All night long, I kept catch a whiff of cheap rum, pineapple and coconut.

My hair looked fine (although it felt stiff, as if I'd sprayed a lot of hair spray into it). But I spent the evening worrying that everyone would smell my hair and assume I was drunk.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss and try another brand. I can't get past the smell.

CHECK IT OUT: The main ingredient in this dry shampoo is rice flour.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WEI to Go Sleep Over Kit

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $19

THE SKINNY: This is a really great idea with really flawed execution.

The idea: Individual-use packages of WEI to Go’s Real Clean Gelled Oil Cleanser and  Ideal Skin Perfect Finish CC cream (moisturizer + beauty balm + tint + antioxidants to keep your skin happy) paired together for women who travel. Or, if you believe the packaging, who have sleepovers.

I love the idea of small samples I can throw in a bag. But WEI gets it all wrong.

The camellia oil-infused gel cleanser is just nasty. It's basically an oil that you rub over your face and blot off with a warm wash cloth. The gel is supposed to lift away dirt and oil as you sleep. My question is this: Why can't I just have regular face soap? I found the gel cleanser difficult to use and even more difficult to get off my skin.

The CC cream, in light, looked chalky on my fair skin. Maybe I needed medium. Overall, the cream felt runny and not moisturizing. I did OK throughout the day after I applied a lot of bronzer to add color back to my face.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. I didn't like either product

CHECK IT OUT: WEI's kit came in a recent Birchbox.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

e.l.f. Essential lipstick

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1.5 stars

COST: $1

THE SKINNY: Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Especially when you play around with the $1 makeup options.

The Essential lipstick is one of the few products in the $1 e.l.f. line that is disappointing. The color (a really pretty coral) lasted about five minutes on my lips. Sad but true.


CHECK IT OUT: e.l.f. has other "more expensive" options, including a $3 matte lipstick and a $5 mineral lipstick.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mai Couture Highlighter Papier

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $28 for 50 sheets

THE SKINNY: Use this highlighter paper to add shimmer and glow to desired face and body.

I've never heard of highlighter paper until I received this in my December Ipsy Box. When I first realized that it was makeup in paper form I was quite skeptical. I have very oily skin and I assumed that these would work more as an oil absorber than a highlighter, BUT, I am pleased to say that I was wrong.

I applied the highlighter paper to my cheekbones, nose bridge, middle of forehead, and my chin. The highlighter paper added a warm, beautiful glow that brightened my face instantly.  If you're looking for something to help freshen up your look during the day, this is your product!

I will probably use this product a lot more during the summer months when I have a little more color. You can even use the paper to highlight areas of your body, like your collarbone or top of shoulders. I don't see myself using these with my daily makeup routine, but they will be great for special events and girls night out!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. The sheets are so easy to use, mess free, and fun! I look forward to using these a lot more during the summer.

CHECK IT OUT: You can order these at The highlighter paper only comes in one color, St. Barts.

-- Tested by Ann

Friday, December 14, 2012

Philosophy Full of Promise

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $65 for 2 ounces

THE SKINNY: This is one of those products I shouldn't have tried. The sample was tiny, and it's really expensive. But I found my one try of Philosophy's Full of Promise dual-action restoring cream to be pretty amazing.

It left my face feeling silky soft immediately. Heck, it even made my fingers feel silky soft from applying it.

Full of Promise is a thick, white lotion that I would use at night. Philosophy says it has a "unique protein recycling complex that helps promote visibly firmer, fuller, uplifted skin."

It smells like everything Philosophy. It feels gentle on the skin, which is a trademark of all Philosophy products.

I would love to try this for a few weeks, just to see what it does. But at that price, it's probably not going to happen

KEEP OR TOSS: I'd keep, but the sample is already gone.

CHECK IT OUT: Buy this at Philosophy's website, where they run a lot of sales. This would easily qualify for the company's normal free shipping.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $39 for 1.7 ounces

THE SKINNY: For all the makeup samples I sample, it's rare for me to go running to the sink to wash something off. This is one of those rare products.

Juice Beauty's new Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream is supposed to be one of those miracle multi-taskers. Moisturizer plus foundation plus Vitamin C and resveratol to improve skin tone. But the sweet citrus-meets-chemical smell is revolting and lingering.

Plus, the lotion is tacky and hard to apply. Once one, it made my skin look chalky.

I washed it off pretty much immediately. I couldn't get past (or rid of) that smell.

I haven't had much luck with any of the Juice Beauty products I've sampled.


CHECK IT OUT: If you've had better luck with Juice Beauty products, purchase this CC cream here.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pacifica Color Quench Natural Moisture Lip Tint

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $9 (bought on sale for $3)

THE SKINNY: Pacifica's Color Quench feels great on your lips. It's hydrating and buttery, like a good balm should be.

This balm is vanilla hibiscus, meaning it has a nice hint of vanilla flavor but an odd pearly pale pink color. The color doesn't do much for me.

But the size of the balm stick is the bigger issue for me. It's larger than your typical tube of balm and that makes it easy to over-apply. It's not good to get out of the lines of your lips with a pearly pink balm, either.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This is an OK balm, but I wouldn't pay $9 for it.

CHECK IT OUT: This balm comes in five flavor/color combinations.

-- Tested by Shay Up to 70% Off Ongoing Static

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

L'oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $16.99 for 2.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: L'oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator is an affordable BB cream that feels similar to a higher-end product that costs twice as much. Plus, it has SPF 15.

Use this cream in place of (or over, if you prefer) your usual moisturizer. It's designed to even out your skin tone, add a dewy glow, moisturize and protect your face from the elements. The cream is lightweight and glides on effortlessly. I'm using the "light," and it blends flawlessly with my fair skin.

The result is fabulous. I've only needed a dusting of powder to complete the look. It also fights oil in my T-zone, which makes me really happy.

The coverage lasts all day and it hasn't caused me any breakouts or skin problems.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I've been using this BB cream daily and love it.

CHECK IT OUT: Youth Code only comes in two shades: light and medium.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, December 10, 2012

Covergirl Blast Flipstick Lipcolor

 RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $8

THE SKINNY: Blendable lip color is something that I have never really found successfully.

Colors tend to overpower each other or just fall apart.

But Covergirl's new Blast Flipstick Lipcolor actually works. Each tube contains two colors that compliment each other -- a creamy shade and a shimmery, more glossy one.

You can wear each shade alone or put them together for a whole new look.

I loved the versatility of the Covergirl product and it is for sale everywhere so I know I will be able to find it.
The feel was smooth and glided on nicely. It even felt like it included enough moisturizer to get me through a few hours without lip balm. But it did not last as long as I would have hoped. I had to reapply pretty frequently ... or maybe that is just the lipstick-hater in me talking.

I got this product through the BzzAgent program (which I love). The color I tried for the swatches is Vixen; the color was pinkish but not too bright. I especially liked the shimmer side, which reminded me of a gloss. I plan to try the other colors -- Minx and Stunner -- next.

Because of its versatility, this is a great item to just throw in your bag.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Sometimes you need something more than a gloss.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out all 13 color combinations available from Covergirl and buy online.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, December 7, 2012

Coastal Scents Eye Shadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $1.99 per color

THE SKINNY: Coastal Scents eye shadow is smooth and buttery, like good eye shadow should be. What might be the smallest eye shadow sample ever (in four colors) came in a recent Ipsy box.

The shadow blends easily and lasted for six hours without creasing before it started to fade.

Sadly, the colors in my sample pack were antique lilac, wisteria, lemon chiffon and raspberry tart had too many red tones for my fair skin and coloring.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. I like the shadow, but I can't wear these colors in public.

CHECK IT OUT: Coastal Scents makes 377 colors of eye shadows that you can mix and match in palettes.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sephora Smoky Kohl Eyeliner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $12 (purchased on sale for $3)

THE SKINNY: This has got to be the strangest-shaped eyeliner I've ever tried. But the cone-shaped crayon does work and after a few weeks of use hasn't broken or needed sharpened yet.

This eyeliner delivers a smooth line that smudges easily with a brush. One application lasts about eight hours and then washes away cleanly. Is a classic pencil, not a creamy formula like so many eyeliners are these days.

I tried it in blue, and it's a pretty color.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I'm really curious to see what happens if I make it to the bottom of the crayon.

CHECK IT OUT: Of all the Sephora-brand eyeliners I've tried, the Smoky Kohl is one of my favorites.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $25

THE SKINNY: Shiseido's Lacquer Rouge liquid lipstick feels like buttery goodness on my lips. I love the feel of it, but I really wish it lasted longer than an hour or two. For $25, it has a really short lifespan.

I tried this lipstick in a color called "portrait" that is about the same shade as my natural lip. If I found a good sale somewhere, I'd love to try it in a darker shade to see if that boosts its staying power.

This is a moisturizing lipstick, and that part of it does work great. My lips didn't feel dry or gritty after continued use.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I paid $25 for it after seeing the advertisement in nearly every fashion magazine out there, and the color isn't bad.

CHECK IT OUT: Lacquer Rouge comes in eight colors.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $4.99 for 12.6 ounces

THE SKINNY: Gentle cleansing. Weightless conditioning. That is what you get with Pantene's Aqua Light line of shampoos and conditioners. I found it to be an OK combo shampoo.

This leaves hair clean and soft. But it might be too soft, and my fine hair doesn't have a lot of bounce afterward. If you're looking for weightless conditioning plus volume, this isn't the shampoo for you.

This line is silicone free and rinses clean easily.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, but I don't love it.

CHECK IT OUT: This Pantene line also contains a shampoo, a conditioner and a leave-in conditioning spray.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, December 3, 2012

Orofluido Beauty Elixir

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $29.99

THE SKINNY: I never expected to love argan oil. The very thought of rubbing a few drops of oil into my fine hair sounds so disastrous.

But after using Orofluido Beauty Elixir for a few weeks, I'm sold. It doesn't leave my hair greasy. And now that colder weather has set it, this product leaves it feeling healthy, bouncy and free of static.

Orofluido mixes argan, linseed and cyperus oils with a warm vanilla scent that I keep getting hints of it throughout the day. Argan oil is made of Vitamin E and other fatty goodness that strengthens hair without weighing it down. Linseed oil is added for shine. Cyperus adds softness and volume.

Yes, volume. This product gives my hair a lot of bounce.

If you're not familiar with argan oils, here's what you do. Wash your hair as you normally would. Put a few drops of the oil into your palm (my short hair needs about two drops), rub your hands together and then massage into damp hair. Then dry normally.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I will probably buy more of this. And maybe just for the scent.

CHECK IT OUT: Orofluido came in a Birchbox package. Otherwise, it's sold in salons.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, November 30, 2012

Julep Pomegranate Scrub and Pomegranate Creme

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $18 each or $14.40 with Julep membership

THE SKINNY: This combination from Julep smells delicious, like candy. That's reason enough to give it a try. It's also a decent scrub-lotion combination for your skin.

The shea butter salt scrub is good for smoothing and moisturizing rough heels, elbows and knees. Immediately after using it, my skin feels a little oily, as if it's been slathered with a really thick moisturizer. It's not a bad sensation and it's not sticky. This isn't a miracle scrub, either. You have to use it a few times a week to make a lasting difference.

The lotion is not shea butter, so it's not as thick as I'd like it to be. (Maybe it's the packaging in the round tub that makes me want it to be shea butter?) But it goes on smooth, soaks in quickly and smells heavenly.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. These came in a $20 Julep mystery box with a bunch of other products, so I feel like I really got my money's worth.

CHECK IT OUT: We're big fans of Julep's Maven boxes.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heartland Fragrances Blood Orange Exfoliating Soap

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $8

THE SKINNY: Who would have ever thought to tuck a loofah inside a glycerin soap?

That's just what you get in Heartland Fragrances Exfoliating Loofa Soap. I used Blood Orange and the first thing I noticed was the aroma -- fantastic and sweet, almost mouth-watering and fresh and eye-opening. It was a great start to the morning.

The soap is gentle and moisturizing and comes in a variety of scents (even some just for the fellas, too).

The soap is designed to increase circulation and help rub away rough patches of skin. And it delivers.

But while I really enjoyed the luxury soap from my October Glossybox, it is a little too rough on the skin for general use. Save it for those spots that need extra work.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This is a great splurge.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about the Heartland Fragrances line and order direct (which seems to be the only place to get these soaps online). And make sure to check out Glossybox -- my absolute favorite subscription box!

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blinc Mascara

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $26

THE SKINNY: Blinc Mascara forms tiny little tubes around each of your eyelashes to coat, darken and lengthen. And it works!

The "tubes" are water-resistant and stay all day.

I was extremely surprised at how well this worked. My lashes looked great all day and there was never a single smudge or flake.

But this is a product that is best for those who already have pretty nice lashes.

The bush is packed with tons of tiny bristles so it catches every lash but the actual product is rather thin so it takes a bit of coating to get an even application.

It enhances what is already there, but does not provide the volume and super-dark look you can get from other mascaras. This is a no-drama product. It is perfect for everyday use, but you'll want something else for those special occassions.

That being said, I really like this mascara for daily use. It was great near my often runny eyes, and claims to hold up against sweat in a workout.

Removal is a breeze. Just hold a wet cloth over eyes and the "tubes" slide right off. (It is a little wild and odd the first few times.)

Blinc only comes in black and the tube is pretty small, making this a fairly expensive product.


CHECK IT OUT: The online review are great as well. You can buy this product direct from Blinc or at retailers such as Sephora.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clinique Color Surge Eyeshadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $20 for duo, $24 for trio

THE SKINNY: You know there are some brand you just always go back to. For me, that brand is Clinique. I have been using their products for well over 10 years.

And they rarely fail me.

But Clinique's Color Surge Eyeshadow (I tried violets) was all-new to me. It came in one of the freebie bags I got with another purchase and I love it.

My sample contained three shades and a blush (looks like an exclusive) but the matte colors were delightful. I was able to wear my favorite (PURPLE!) eyeshadow without felling like it was too much color for work. The colors were pale, although layering added to the hues, and stuck all day. It was also nice to find matte colors, so many of them have sparkle and shine right now -- not that I mind sparkle and sine, but sometimes you just want a more subtle look.

The application is not as smooth as some other brands, but I think that had to do more with the foam brush than the actual shadow. (I'll use one of my nicer brushes from here on out.)

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. And next time I order from Clinique, I will be on the lookout for this freebie.

CHECK IT OUT: Clinique is widely available and you can check out the Color Surge line online.

-- Tested by Carrie Up to 70% Off Ongoing Static

Monday, November 26, 2012

Carol's Daughter Shea Souffle

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $13.50

THE SKINNY: The actual theme of the October Spa Luxe Glossybox was pampering products, bur for me it was all about items that smell fantastic. Carol's Daughter Shea Souffle in Almond Cookie was no exception -- it smelled like fresh baked goodness.

The super thick and moisturizing formula went on easy and a light aroma stayed on my skin all day (just keep that in mind). It does not contain parabens, mineral oil or artificial colors, making it a great option for those with more sensitive skin.

My skin seemed to stay moisturized all day without reapplication.


CHECK IT OUT: Although I had never seen this brand before, it is available at Macy's and online.

-- Tested by Carrie Up to 70% Off Ongoing Static

Friday, November 23, 2012

Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $19.50 or $26 when paired with Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

THE SKINNY: Wow. This may be the best mascara I've ever used.

Clinique's High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara in Extreme Black is a rich, dark mascara that goes on thick and gives you amazingly long lashes that last all day and then some. The secret seems to be in the brush, which is thin and stiff, more like a comb than a caterpillar. The brush catches each lash easily and combs out any clumps.

This is easily my new favorite. It doesn't flake or fade away. And at the end of the day, it washes away with soap and water.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This mascara is perfection.

CHECK IT OUT: This mascara gets great reviews on the Clinique website, too.

-- Tested by Shay

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gift Guide & Black Friday Beauty Deals

Now that the holiday shopping season is officially here, we felt like we'd round up some of our beauty favorites for you. Following are some of our favorite products, packaged just for the holidays. Use this list to shop for the women in your life or print it out and give it to your significant other.

Favorite Beauty Sets

Create your own gift sets. You get to pick two top-sellers (be sure to check out all the styles), plus it comes with a free clutch and gift wrapping. We suggest pairing Limitless 15-Hour Cream Eyeshadow and Photo Set Pressed Powder. Prices vary.

Fragrance for Him
The Leading Man Fragrance Sampler for Him from Sephora is a great first for the man in your life. The kit contains five deluxe samples and a certificate that is redeemable for a full-size of any one of the samples in store at any time. Included are BVLGARI AQVA Pour Homme Marine, DIOR Fahrenheit, GUCCI Guilty Pour Homme, John Varvatos and Paco Rabanne 1 Million. $42

Sugar Berry Merriment Set. The products in this line are phenomenal ... and expensive. But you get a good deal with this set which includes a Soy Face Cleanser, Sugar Lip Polish, Tinted Lip Treatment and Supernova Mascara. $28.

Julep has some great polish sets in its holiday gift guide with price starting at under $20. (We love the color choices and durability Julep offers.) Plus try anything in the Julep Gift Guide with free shipping and 20 percent off with code SEASON20. Or give the gift of a monthly box with a Maven subscription -- you can never have too much polish!

One of our favorite brands with a ton of great sets for the holidays. Check out the Even Better Skin Care kit ($79.50) or for your guy Great Skin for Him ($39). And Clinique is offering various freebies with purchases through the holidays!

Urban Decay
Buy the Black Palette for a friend while it is on sale. This is a great mix of colors plus a primer potion. $16

Ole Henrickson
The Celebrate the Truth kit contains products with Vitamin C and will make skin feel amazing. $60

Black Friday Deals

    Sephora is offering a variety of sets for just $10 ($12 in Canada) all day. Brands in the sale include Boscia, Philosophy, Ole Henrickson and Too Faced. 

    Smashbox will continue its annual Friends and Family sale through Nov. 25. That's 25 percent off for everyone! Use code FRIENDS2012. (Check out our Smashbox reviews.)

    e.lf.Cosmetics will have a a medium (83 pieces) makeup kit for $15 at Target. It comes with a ton of colors and we are loving the low-cost e.l.f. brand. The only con is that it looks like it might be online only. 

    Ulta has an entire sales ad devoted to Black Friday if you have one nearby, check it out! The $1 stocking stuffers are awesome -- hair ties, pedicure kits, shower gels and nail polishes.

    Happy shopping!
    Carrie & Shay

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Taylor Swift Wonderstruck Enchanted

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

    COST: $49.50 for 1.7 fluid ounces

    THE SKINNY: The new perfume from Taylor Swift smells exactly like you would expect Taylor Swift to smell:  Almost sticky-sweet and trying to be grown-up.

    It’s a blend of berry and flowers. “Sugar-glazed petals,” according to the advertising.

    It’s really sugary.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. This is not the scent for me.

    CHECK IT OUT: Read more about Taylor Swift’s scents online.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

    COST: $22

    THE SKINNY: This is a decent, everyday mascara that works just fine. I didn't get crazy volume from the mascara, but it did put a nice coat of black mascara on my lashes that lasted all day long. It didn't flake off or smudge, either.

    The formula is a little thick, but it hasn't clumped up yet. The thickness does make it difficult to apply more than one coat if you're going for really dramatic lashes.

    The brush is an average brush without a fancy shape or any bells and whistles that can sometime make applying the mascara difficult.

    At the end of the day, Stila's product washed off much easier that I would expect from a waterproof mascara.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I have no real complaints.

    CHECK IT OUT: Stila offers a lot of special deals plus free samples on its website.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Julep Reveal

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

    COST: $38

    THE SKINNY: Julep's nail growth revitalizing serum is one of the few products that helped my thin nails grow longer. You apply this thin clear serum all around your nails, twice daily, to encourage growth and nail health.

    I used the product for a few weeks before I saw results. My nails are just thin and are prone to breaking. Wearing any sort of polish or growth formula seems to make the problem worse.

    With Julep Reveal, my nails did grow longer but weren't much stronger as a result. Once I stopped using it regularly, they all broke again.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It does work and the bottle does last for a while.

    CHECK IT OUT: If you don't know about Julep, you should. It's one of the few beauty boxes you can opt out of from month-to-month and it offers great polishes and beauty products.

    -- Tested by Shay Brand Logo

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Giovanni 2chic haircare products

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

    COST: $8.99 each

    THE SKINNY: Giovanni's new 2chic line of haircare products are made to fight frizz and make your hair sleek and manageable. Ultra-Sleek Shampoo, Ultra-Sleek Conditioner and Leave-in Conditioning and Styling Elixir all use Brazilian keratin and Moroccan argan oil, a combination that made my fine hair feel weighed down and look less shiny than normal.

    Omitting the Leave-in Conditioning and Styling Elixir seemed to help a little. (The advertising mentions a flat iron, which I didn't use. So maybe that's a key step in the styling process.) But I just wasn’t impressed. Because of the heavy dose of oils, it didn't really feel like it was making my hair cleaner, although it did.

    Add in that the products smelled artificial, kind of like Play-Doh, and it’s enough to make me move on to the next sample.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Overall, my hair felt flat and heavy.

    CHECK IT OUT: Giovanni offers eight products in the line, including two kinds of styling mists.

    -- Tested by Shay