Tuesday, January 31, 2012

bareMinerals Purifying Facial Cleanser

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $20 for 6 ounces

THE SKINNY: The sales girls usually don't get to me. But I had been struggling to find a cleanser that worked well on my sensitive skin. And $20 later, I am trying out bareMinerals Purifying Facial Cleanser.

It was $20 well spent.

The super-liquidy formula only takes one, yes one, pump to clean your whole face. (So this 6 ounce bottle will last a while.) And it goes on so smooth. The cleanser almost feels like a lotion. And my face feels smoother four hours after cleaning.

And it does the trick with makeup removal as well. It removes everything and does not burn if you get a little too close to your eyes.

The only downside is that for the first week or two I did notice my skin was drier after the switch from an Aveeno foam cleanser. But after my skin figured it out, it has looked better and felt much smoother.

KEEP OR TOSS: This is a keeper for sure. Let's just hope the company does not change the formula any time soon.

CHECK IT OUT: It also gets great reviews on the Bare Escentuals website.

– Tested by Carrie

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sephora Cream Lip Stain

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $12

THE SKINNY: I am a red lipstick addict. I am also lazy.  If there is anything to be said about wearing red lips religiously, it’s that it takes dedication. True dedication.  And lots of reapplications. Sometimes more work than I’m willing to put out. That’s where Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red (matte, bold, classic red — yeah, that’s what I’m talking about) comes to my lazy-girl aid.

The applicator is a small sponge tip, much like a lip gloss wand. It is not a traditional lip stain in that it is true color, not a mere hint of it as it other stains. That being said, it will stain anything with which it comes into contact, which means I have to go easy on the espresso. Gotta be sure to hit the lips and not the nose! The stain stays put for hours. No reapplication. If I’m planning on being around the house or running errands, I use this once in the morning and then forget about it (now I sound a lot like a Ronco infomercial, but it’s true). When I’m going out for the evening, I will apply the stain and then add a red lipstick on top to ensure that I’m not spending all evening in the bathroom to reapply.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep! Great stain that stays put! The lazy way to look good without putting much effort into it.  An easy way to look sophisticated and put together.

CHECK IT OUT:  Sephora has a great line of personal label items. See the entire Sephora Collection and they offer 3 free samples with every order!

-- Tested by Laura

Friday, January 27, 2012

How many is too many?

 This is not a review. It's an admission of guilt.

I may be a palette junkie. (This is what's left after my new year makeup purge. It broke my heart a little to toss the remains of Urban Decay's original Naked palette.)

What it is about these eyeshadow kits that make them so irresistible?

-- Posted by Shay

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Urban Decay De-Slick in a Tube

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $28

THE SKINNY: Urban Decay's De-Slick in a Tube is a mattifying gel that promises to "banish greasy spots and take control of oil" all day long. I wouldn't say it lives up to the promise, but it does help some.

This is a lightweight, neutral gel that you dab onto the parts of your face that to get a little oily -- in my case, my forehead. You don't see it after you apply it, but I felt my pores tightening up as soon as I did.

It does work for a few hours, but, for me at least, not all day. You can reapply the gel as needed, even on top of your makeup. That's a plus, but not enough. I don't want to have to repeatedly touch up my makeup throughout the day.

KEEP OR TOSS: I'm keeping what I have, but I won't buy another tube.

CHECK IT OUT: Urban Decay also has a De-Slick Mattifying Powder. Check out both on its website.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $19

THE SKINNY: For me, the best mascaras are all about the brush. I have ditched some of my favorite brands in the past because they changed not the formula of the product, but the brush.

I sure hope Tarte is reading.

Because I love their Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara. Especially the brush with its tiny, tight little bristles that catch every single lash. There is no need for multiple coats because this brush picks up every hair the first time. (Although a second coat on the outside edges can add emphasis to eyes for a night on the town.)

This mascara lives up to its promises. My lashes look thicker and fuller and curl nicely with each application. The mascara does add some length as well. It is made with a fairly natural set of ingredients, according to Tarte, although I am not sure my lash volume is up 424%. That would look rather ridiculous, right?

Regardless, this is my new go-to mascara. It glides on easy, lasts all day or night and does not flake off. Note that last part – my biggest peeve about mascara is flaking – IT DOES NOT FLAKE OFF.

I have noticed a very slight amount of clumping, which seems to come from the lengthening agent, but that brushes right out and is no more frequent than with other brands. (It is a lot less frequent than with perennial magazine favorite Maybelline Great Lash.)

This formula comes in black only. Personally I am not sure why you would want anything other than black, but some might.

KEEP OR TOSS: I am going to reorder before my tiny sample runs out. (And maybe scour the Internet for another sample to keep in my bag.)

CHECK IT OUT: Get the skinny on Lights, Camera, Lashes! from Tarte and buy direct. (They also have free shipping on orders of $40!)

– Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $55 FOR 50ml

THE SKINNY: I have no idea what a Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is supposed to do. I have a hard enough time just pronouncing it. So I was a little skeptical to try this mask, even though it earned Sephora's Natural Seal.

Like most other masks on the market, Ren's renewal mask is designed to gently strip away dead skin cells and help brighten and tighten your complexion.

Because of the $55 price tag, I expected a lot. Luckily, I didn't pay for the sample. This mask really did nothing for my skin. I really looked no different from start to finish.

If you're inclined to try it (I really recommend getting a free sample first), this mask is a cool gel that glides onto your skin nicely. It has a slighly fruity, slightly-clinical smell. The packaging says to be wary of a slight stinging sensation once it's one your face, but I felt nothing like that.

Leave on for 10 minutes. Wash off with warm water. Pat dry.

Good luck.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Why waste 10 minutes?

CHECK IT OUT: Find a list of ingredients and other reviews at Ren's website.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 23, 2012

Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $149

THE SKINNY:  Technically the Mia isn’t a cosmetic per se, but it goes hand in hand with the “beauty” part of Beauty Test Dummies. I have wanted one of these tools as badly as the gaming kid wanted Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 before its release. The catch? The Mia is expensive. Consuming my whole allowance for wine, kind of expensive.  So what’s a beauty connoisseur to do? The same thing the gaming kid does — ask Mommy for it. Yes, this was my one Christmas gift from my Mommy. Don’t judge. A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

The Mia’s claim to fame is that it deeply cleans with the use of sonic technology (which, every time I write “sonic”,  I crave tater tots and want to drive to the closest Sonic). While I’m not sure what that means (mmm, tater tots), I can vouch for what it does. The soft bristles (yes, I’m a delicate flower and have to use the sensitive brush) vibrate to remove makeup and other impurities. Given that I love makeup more than tater tots, it has truly been put to the test. I opted against using the cleanser which came with it and kept to my usual one (after all, in the name of research I didn’t want to change too many variables). The Mia will vibrate/clean for exactly one minute, so that you don’t go overboard and remove all layers of your epidermis. 

Bottom line — it cleans extremely well. My skin is now softer and feels so much better. It promises to help with my “youthful glow” (read: adult acne), so I can only hope that with continued usage my “glowing” days will be far behind me. I feel that my creams absorb better (after all, there isn’t a protective layer of makeup and gunk left on my face now) and therefore I’m getting the maximum effect from the expensive Retin A (ok, the generic Retin A). 

KEEP!! Granted, the price is somewhat prohibitive (thus the deduction of half a star), but after all, the Mia works to improve the blank canvas for applying all the makeup goodies. To badly paraphrase Vidal Sassoon, “if you don’t look good, you don’t look good."  I’d rather have good skin than have to spackle bad skin with tons of concealer.

View all the Clarisonic items (there’s even one for men!). Free shipping on all ground orders and you can sign up for the Sonic Savings Program, where you get 20 percent off.  Score!

-- Tested by Laura

Friday, January 20, 2012

Too Faced Borderline Anti-feathering Lip Pencil

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $18.50

THE SKINNY: Lip liners scare me a little. I really cannot draw a straight line around my lips. I end up looking like a clown because I've missed or because I've once again chosen the wrong color to pair with either my natural lip color or my lipstick.

Enter Too Faced Borderline -- a clear lip liner. Yes, clear.

This may be the best thing ever.

Lip liner is supposed to hold your lipstick or gloss in place longer. Too Faced Borderline also moisturizes, which means less gloss or layers of Carmex. It's super easy to use -- if I get outside the line of my lips no one will ever notice.

And it really does extend the life of my lip gloss, though not as dramatically as I expected it would.

What's your secret when it comes to using lip liners? Please share!

KEEP OR TOSS: Definitely keep. This liner is also waterproof and free of mineral oil, parabens and preservatives.

CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about Borderline and buy other products on the Two Faced website.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $18.50 for 3.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: Clinique has cornered the market with its 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula. The cream face wash has just enough exfoliators to make your skin feel super soft and smooth without making it red and irritated.

The gentle scrub washes all of the dry skin and rough patches away. This the the best scrub I have found (and I am a sucker for scrub face washes).

Clinique's 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula is an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner – which I have found is an almost no-fail sign of a great product.

Just be sure to keep the scrub away from your eyes (it will burn pretty bad) and Clinique recommends not using it on broken skin.

This scrub is really expensive though – drugstore scrubs are about $5 for 5 ounces. I don't see any reason for it to replace my normal face wash but I am using it weekly to supplement it. (Do you really need to exfoliate your face any more often than that?)

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I am going to try to buy this at times when Clinique is offering great giveaways to get the most bang for my bucks.

CHECK IT OUT: Clinique has a wealth of other customer reviews and offers “expert” skin tips online.

– Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $15.95

THE SKINNY: Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor is a super-thick and creamy conditioning treatment that is just a little too much for every day use.

This is by far the thickest product I have ever used in the shower and washed out. (Think cocoa butter texture.) But it does the trick. The treatment makes my hair feel great (as my stylists said it would when she recommended the product) and is great between colorings to keep my tresses soft. I've been using it once a week and my color might even be holding up better this time around.

But it has a downside.

The product is so thick and so conditioning that one the day I use it, my locks look a bit limp after a couple hours. It is just too much moisture for my hair to have and make it through a whole day. I also can't use it at the roots unless I want to sport the greasy look. So condition and then plan on a ponytail for the day.

KEEP OR TOSS: Despite how it makes my hair act after use, I like the overall results and feel like my hair really is healthier. And at less than $20, it is not a bad deal for a salon product.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about K-Pak and which salons near you keep it in stock.

– Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Foam

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $15 for 5 ounces

THE SKINNY: Sephora says its Supreme Cleansing Foam "removes makeup and cleanses the complexion in one simple step."

I found the foam to be runny and ineffective. Instead of removing the makeup from my face, it just seemed to smear it around, leaving me with those mascara raccoon eyes.

I've said before I'm not generally a fan of Sephora's skincare line. This product is probably the worst of the bunch I've tried.

I like my face soap to have enough lather that I know it's working. This later felt like the last gasp of the dish soap after you've washed up from Thanksgiving dinner.

And you know that's not going to clean much of anything.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. It can't be called a cleanser if it leaves you with raccoon eyes.

CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about Supreme Cleansing Foam and other Sephora skincare products on its website.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 16, 2012

Philosophy Vanilla Birthday Cake Shampoo, Shower Gel and Bubble Bath

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $16 for 16 ounces, free sample on your birthday month

THE SKINNY: Oh how I love Philosophy shower gel. Love, love, love.

The super sweet scents coming out of the bottle mellow as soon as they mix with water, and this soap really does smell like warm vanilla birthday cake. This soap lathers well -- not too much, but enough to make you feel clean. And it feels like it's good for my skin, leaving it feeling silky soft.

I would use Philosophy soap all the time if it weren't for the price. (I'd skip the sweet scents and pick a citrus one instead.) I just can't afford to pay $16 for bath soap! I even cringe at the half-off sale price, thinking I can get something just as good at Target for half that amount.

But it never does compare. When I win the lottery, this soap will be in my bathroom year-round!

Philosophy swears this soap can be used as shampoo or bubble bath, too, but I'm a little scared to try it. Have you?

KEEP OR TOSS: Definitely keep. It's a luxury!

CHECK IT OUT: Explore all the shower gel scents at Philosophy's website. While you're there, sign up for email notifications about sales and get your free sample on your birthday.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, January 13, 2012

Josie Maran Natural Volume Lip Gloss (Precious)

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $20

THE SKINNY: I'll admit it. I judge beauty products by their packaging.

As soon as I saw package on this gloss – plain white lettering with a gold (gold!) wand, I was convinced I would not like it. This did not look like a $20 gloss.

I was so wrong.

Josie Maran Natural Volume Lip Gloss went on smooth and without a lot of stickiness. The color (I tried “Precious” a nice pink shade that blended well with my fair skin tone) was light and just shiny enough.

The color looked really pink, almost too pink, in the tube but applied beautifully. Proved wrong again!

It is also a product I can feel good about, sporting Sephora's natural seal for products that use more natural ingredients and fewer synthetic items.

The best part if this gloss is the effect hours after using it. Long after I could not longer see the extra-plumpage of my lips (yes, this product does claim to boost collagen and seems to work) or shine from the gloss, they were still super-soft. And it has been really tough to find a product that can live up to that standard with the chill of winter in full effect.

I just wish the company would make the packaging a little prettier and ditch that gold wand.

KEEP OR TOSS: This is going in my bag today. I can't wait to try some of the other shades (such as “Daring” which has a little more sparkle).

CHECK IT OUT: Check out all the shades in this line, find out about the natural ingredients and even buy some direct from Josie Maran or at Sephora.

– Tested by Carrie

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Benefit Refined Finish Facial Polish

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

$22 for 4.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: Benefit's Refined Finish Facial Polish isn't quite what I expected.

Made with clay, seaweed extract, nutrients and sugars, it's a really nice facial exfoliator. The little exfoliating bits are smooth against my skin and didn't leave my face feeling like it had been rubbed with sandpaper. I thought my skin looked clearer and, dare I say, younger after a few uses.

It's nice stuff. Use a time or two a week, be gentle when massaging it in. And don't get it in your eyes. No problem.

The bad? It's not really soap, so it's pretty much useless for removing makeup. It's part of a whole skin-care regimen that just gets a little too pricy for me if I'm using only Benefit products, such as the Foamingly Clean Facial Wash for $21.

But it's fun to play with the samples.

So tell us this: What is your exfoliator of choice?

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It's a nice little luxury item to have around.

CHECK IT OUT: Read up on all of the skincare products offered by Benefit Cosmetics online.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Smoothing Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars
COST: $4.49 for 4 fluid ounces
THE SKINNY: Having fine hair and a penchant for knit caps in cold weather, I seem to battle staticy, flyaway hair all winter long. Sadly, if there's a leave-in cream designed to fight static, it leaves my dark blonde hair looking and feeling dirty.
Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Smoothing Cream generally gets fabulous reviews, so I was eager to try it. Sadly, it doesn't work for me.
This cream does look and feel lightweight coming out of the bottle. It doesn't smell or get sticky either, both pluses in my book.
The instructions say the product can be added to dry or damp hair. I tried it both ways with the same result. My hair looked a few shades darker and flat. I didn't get static or frizz, but my hair did end up looking a little greasy by the end of the day.
Have you tried this product with a different result? Leave a comment and let us know.
KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. No much can you look worse than bad, dirty hair.
CHECK IT OUT: See the full line of Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil products and get styling tips at the Dove website.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Amazing Cosmetics AmazingConcealer (Medium Beige)

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $42 for .5 ounces

THE SKINNY: I knew nothing about Amazing Cosmetics AmazingConcealer until I opened this sample packet. What was inside was a pretty amazing product.

The concealer (I used medium beige on my fair, but lightly tanned face) was the smoothest I have ever tried. So many past concealers have felt cakey or were visible on the skin without a lot of work to blend it in. I swear the AmazingConcealer almost took on the color of my skin as I blended it in … and all the imperfections were gone.

The product also comes with one of the highest seals of approval in the beauty world – an Allure Editor'sChoice Award (2005) – and has Sephora's natural seal.

The product claims to erase circles (check – mine were pretty pronounced after a few days with little sleep), hide blemishes and redness (check – a small pimple almost vanished) and covers broken capillaries and sun damage. I can't vouch for the last two claims, please comment if you know how it works in those areas.

This product must be too good to be true.

And it almost is.

It is expensive. Very expensive. The full size product is $42 (for just half an ounce). A little goes a very long way with this product, so you will get a lot of use for your money.

KEEP OR TOSS: I am saving up for the full size Amazing Concealer on my next visit to Sephora. I'll even pass on a new shadow shade to pick this up.

CHECK IT OUT: Amazing Cosmetics has a tutorial on how to apply AmazingConcealer and allows you to buy direct. Sephora also has a miniature version of the concealer (.2 ounces for $28.)

– Tested by Carrie

Monday, January 9, 2012

TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curl Collection Leave-In Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $18 for 7.27 ounces

THE SKINNY: Perfectly curled hair always makes me feel like a rock star. Who would not feel that way with all those sexy, messy tresses?

The feeling I got from using TIGI Catwalk Curlesque Curl Collection Leave-In Conditioner was pretty close. The mousse-like conditioner gave my hair a nice bounce with the right amount of curl and without that crunchy feeling. And it lasted all day. It was light enough to keep my roots from falling flat and because the label says “conditioner” I am sure it must be better for my hair than some other products out there ... right?

My hair is not naturally curly by any means, so I had loose waves that were separated and emphasized with this product. (My hair looked nothing like the models on the TIGI website. But they have the benefit of professional stylists, too.) It really brought out what natural body my hair has, so I would guess that those with more natural curl would see even better results.

Overall, this product worked great in a pinch but is not better than my long-time favorite for perfect beachy hair (or with a few more spritzes, that rock star look) – Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray.

KEEP OR TOSS: This will be my second choice if Aquage is out of stock.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out the Catwalk Curlesque models and score the occasional promotion on all of TIGI's products (which also includes the Bed Head line).

– Tested by Carrie

Friday, January 6, 2012

bareMinerals Prime Time Primer Shadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: bareMinerals Prime Time Primer Shadow comes in a variety of great tints (six to be exact) that work beautifully. I tested “Toasted Almond” which was a great base shade.

What is pretty neat about this primer is that you can wear it alone or with other shadow on top. The color was so nice in my sample that I just added some liner and I was ready to go.

But then I thought about the purpose of this primer and wore it a second day with a shadow. It did the job and held the shadow in place nicely, but it seemed like a waste to hide the colored primer under something else.

For $18, you get a dual threat product that is a great light primer and shadow. Don't even bother adding another shadow with this primer and you have an all-day look with little fuss.

The downside? I really prefer a product that I don't have to apply with my hands. It goes really clean and smooth but then I have tinted fingers. (Ick!)

KEEP OR TOSS: This would be a great travel product (fewer items to pack). But for daily use, I will probably stick to my all-time favorite eye primer from Urban Decay.

CHECK IT OUT: You can see all of the colors in the bareMineralsPrime Time Primer Shadow line and, read other reviews and buy direct from Bare Escentuals. 

-- Tested by Carrie 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Matrix Total Results Amplify Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $9-$12 for 10.1 ounces

THE SKINNY: This might be one of my new favorite shampoo and conditioner pairs if not for the price. Matrix Total Results Amplify Shampoo and Conditioner (I used the “Amplify Volume” formula) made my hair look and feel great.

The shampoo and conditioner each had a great and lather-y texture and light, pleasant fragrance in the shower. I could actually feel my hair getting clean – a total bonus.

The true test though, was how my hair held up all day. My tresses tend to go flat after a few hours but this pair worked as advertised. The roots stayed fluffed without a lot of fuss and my hair had nice bounce all day long.

The shampoo and conditioner did have an odd tint coming out of the sample packet – they were aqua colored. I prefer products with as few dyes as possible, but am overlooking it here because I liked the results so much.

KEEP OR TOSS: If you don't mind paying more than drug- or grocery-store prices for shampoo, this is a keeper. I just don't know how my wallet feels about it.

CHECK IT OUT: There are other formulas – for color care, curls, moisture and sleekness – in the Matrix Total Results Amplify line.

– Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Smashbox Photo Finish

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars
COST: $36
THE SKINNY: I may be becoming a Smashbox snob. After trying several foundation primers the last few months, I have to say I like the Smashbox Photo Finish primer the best. (Of course, it's the most expensive of any I've tried, too. Go figure.)
This primer is lighter and less greasy than its competition. It almost feels like a powder, even though it's not. It goes on smooth and easy. It actually did help my makeup stay in place longer. And it made my skin feel softer.
That's saying a lot. I'm usually not a big fan of primer because it's just one more layer of stuff on my face. Other brands have felt a little heavy on my skin. But I think I would be able to wear this product, even in the the middle of summer, when heat and humidity force me to leave the house wearing little to no makeup.
Photo Finish is infused with vitamins A and E, green tea and grapeseed oil, all stuff that's good for the skin.
Have you tried Photo Finish? Give us your review in the comment section.
KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. The samples may be the only thing I can afford on a regular basis!
CHECK IT OUT: Smashbox also makes a light formula, for those with sensitive or blemish-prone skin.
-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ole Henricksen Ultimate Eye Left Gel

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $38 for 1 ounce

THE SKINNY: I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about this sample. ole Henricksen Ultimate Eye Left Gel promises to reduce puffiness, wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes, all while you sleep.

This night cream uses cucumber and calendula (I had to look this one up -- it's the common marigold) to tighten and plump the skin under your eyes. The clear cream is a little sticky. Massage a little bit under each eye before bed, and it actually works.

The next morning, my eyes seemed brighter and I actually felt a little younger.

Of course, there's a downside. My eyes are pretty sensitive, and this seemed to make my eyelid a litte pink. My eyes were a little watery the next day.

Given that, I'm not sure I'll be spending $38 for a full-size product. Especially since dark circles and puffiness aren't a persistent problem for me.

How much would you be willing to spend to rid yourself of tired eyes? Do you know of any alternative products?

KEEP OR TOSS: I'm definitely using the rest of the sample.

CHECK IT OUT: The product (and the free sample) are available at Sephora. You can also read about other products in the Ole Henricksen line at the company's website.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 2, 2012

L'Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $26 for 5.2 ounces ($10 for 1 ounce, mini size)

THE SKINNY: L'Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream has done the impossible – a dry skin hand cream that is not greasy. I was in total shock when I squeezed out the cream and it dried with no residue. Seconds after using the cream, I could go back to work without leaving little finger outlines on my mouse and keyboard.

This hand cream is almost perfect.

The L'Occitane formula, which is made in France, uses a 20 percent shea butter formula but does not have that buttery aroma that some other products carry. The scent is light and fresh (with a hint of jasmine for a feminine touch).

The company claims one its hand creams is sold around the world every 5 seconds. So it must be a pretty good product, right?

The only downside this cream is a by-product of my favorite thing about it – the cream seems to wash off easily. I wash my hands many times each day (hence the extreme dryness) and it does not hold up as well as those more greasy formulas. But I still really like this product, so it looks like I will just be using more of it. (Maybe that is what the company wants. What a sneaky concept by L'Occitane.)

KEEP OR TOSS: The hand cream is a little pricey, but if you combine it with other deals on the website, it is not too extravagant of a purchase.

CHECK IT OUT: Check out some of those L'Occitane deals for yourself and read other customer reviews.

– Tested by Carrie