Monday, April 30, 2012

De-luxe Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $8 for 14 ounces

THE SKINNY: De-luxe Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner was the strongest scented hair product combo I have ever tried. The mix of rosemary and mint scents is super strong and totally opened up my sinuses.

And I am not convinced I even like the smell. The aroma was very food-like. Not really what I would pick for my hair.

The shampoo and conditioner seemed to clean well but was not better than anything else I have tried. And by the end of the day my hair was a little flat.

Overall though, the smell is the thing that really strikes me about this product. I am just not very impressed.

KEEP OR TOSS: I will not be buying this one and if I get another sample I will probably let someone else try it.

CHECK IT OUT: There is not much about this product out there. (Maybe that's why I had never heard of it.) does sell it though.

-- Tested by Carrie

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Special delivery

This little bag of goodies arrived in my mailbox the other day, and I can't be more happy! (The striped bag is a definite bonus!)

Where did it come from? Target's Sample Spot. You have to check the site first thing in the morning, because the freebies available disappear quickly.

Stay tuned for reviews of all the products!

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gud Natural Body Lotion

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $7 for 8 fluid ounces

THE SKINNY: Gud is the new skincare line from Burt's Bees. The lotion is made from shea butter, and it leaves my skin feeling silky smooth.

My sample came in Orange Petalooza, a scent I knew I was destined to love. Orange is my favorite scent, even mixed with hyacinth like this lotion. The scent is strong at first, but fades once it's on the skin.

The lotion is thick but has a nice texture, what I would expect from the shea butter. Luckily, it soaks in quickly so it doesn't feel sticky on the skin. Once it does soak in ... oh my was my skin smooth.

This lotion is all -natural and not tested on animals.

 I used up my sample and am ready for more.

CHECK IT OUT: This lotion also comes in a floral and a vanilla scent. Read about them on the Gud website.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Korres Quercetin and Oak Antiageing and Antiwrinkle Night Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $52

THE SKINNY: This night cream smells like modeling clay. Yes, modeling clay.

It's a thick, pasty cream that didn't go onto my skin smoothly. Kind of like a slightly dry modeling clay. I had to use the entire sample, about double the amount of face lotion I normally use.

It felt sticky, heavy and gross. I was really tempted to wash it off, but for the sake of this review I kept it on.

The next morning my face still felt a little sticky, like the lotion didn't soak in entirely overnight. It was impossible to tell if my skin felt softer because it felt so greasy.

This was a free sample dropped into my bag at Sephora. I now understand why they were giving it away.

This cream is all natural and made with an antitoxin from the oak tree. Who knew? According to Sephora, "Quercetin and oak is the first natural, clinically proven alternative to retinol."

That makes me really, really wish I liked it. But it is just too icky. (It's also slightly annoying to me that Koores kept the British spelling of "antiageing" in the product name, so it looks perpetually misspelled here in the U.S.)

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. I can't get past the smell of modeling clay.

CHECK IT OUT: The night cream is part of a line of quercetin and oak products by Korres.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stila Eyeshadow

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $20

THE SKINNY: I've seen the brand around for a while and always heard good things, but had never tried a Stila eyeshadow until recently and I was pretty impressed.

I used "Cloud," a beautiful shimmery neutral that words as a great below-the-brow accent shade. The shadow glided on smooth and had a nice sheen without making me look age-inappropriate.

The color held most of the day and it did not irritate my contacts one bit.

Shadows also come in cute little magnetic pots that are great for adding to any makeup case.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. The shadows are not too expensive and there are always deals on this brand out there.

CHECK IT OUT: Stila offers a custom makeup color finder on its site, which is pretty cool. Use it to select your perfect shade and order direct (with free shipping over $50). You can also find Stila shadows at Sephora.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fresh Supernova Mascara

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $25

THE SKINNY: This is a conditioning mascara that only comes in black. It's made with meadowfoam seed oil to help condition and add shine to your lashes.

It actually seems to work and added length and definition to my lashes with minimum clumping over time. And it does add a kind of shiny sleekness to my lashes.

I giggle every time I see the brush though. It looks like a giant, misshapen pipe cleaner, and each time I pull it out of the tube I think, "Really? This brush is going to work?"

No worries. It actually does a decent job of coating all the lashes. It's just strange looking.

My only complaint with this mascara it isn't going to last much past an eight-hour work day. But on the flip side, it is easy to remove with a basic cleaner. (Even on those days when I'm too lazy to take my makeup off at night, my lashes look clean and natural the next morning without raccoon eyes.)

And, as silly as it is to say, I do love the look of the bottle.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. And keep giggling at the brush.

CHECK IT OUT: Read more the Fresh company philosophy online. If you don't want to commit $25 to a full-size product, you can sometimes find this mascara in on the sample kits offered regularly by Sephora.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Papers

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $18 for 100 sheets

THE SKINNY: If oily skin is messing up your makeup mid-day, these mattifying tissues from Shiseido may help.

Just hold one blotting paper against the problem area and blot. The sheet absorbs the oil and a coating of  transparent rice powder is transferred to your skin to help keep oil from returning.

I was a little skeptical but curious. And I'm happy to say these tissues work fairly well, although "tissue" may not be the right word for them. I think of tissues as something soft and pliable. These sheets are stiff and crinkly -- and it takes a few tries to get used to them. My instinct was to rub the paper against my forehead, but that's uncomfortable and didn't really work. Blotting really is the only way to use them.

I tend to use my sample about halfway through the work day. Followed with an application of my regular powder, my oily spots didn't return for the rest of the day.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, but I'm not sure this will become a staple in my makeup bag. A regular tissue seems to do the trick just as well.

CHECK IT OUT: Find these products at Sephora, where you can read other reviews.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, April 20, 2012

Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone Bright Eyed Flawless Eye Treatment

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $50 for 0.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: I never seem to get the benefit from eye creams. Maybe I don't try them for long enough periods of time. But I could see myself using Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone Bright Eyed Flawless Eye Treatment if it weren't so danged expensive!

The cream went on smooth, had a light cooling feel and a great summery, fresh aroma. (I would say it was a cross between watermelons and vanilla ice cream.)

The Bright Eyed Flawless Eye Treatment left my under-eye area very silky and was a great primer for my foundation. (It felt so nice that I was tempted to smooth it on my whole face.)

Whether my eyes looked any better though, I am not sure. The formula is supposed to brighten and firm using antioxidants.

KEEP OR TOSS: I just can't see spending $50 on an eye cream. Ask me again in 10 years.

CHECK IT OUT: Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone Bright Eyed Flawless Eye Treatment has video reviews on the site and you can submit your own. (You can place orders as well.)

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $10 for 5.3 ounces

THE SKINNY: Now that summer is just around the corner, I know that we are all looking for ways to get that sun-kissed look without actually laying out and damaging our skin. Sunless tanners are the simplest (and most skin-safe) option.

Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan is one of my new favorites. It sprays on easy, although you should still rub it in and sets without streaking or looking too fake. 

The biggest perk of this tanner is speed. The "airbrush" formula seems to add color within minutes and can be reapplied every couple hours for a quick tan. (I have used this a couple times for special events and it worked great!)

There is a downside. It totally has the self-tanner smell. And it is not pleasant. My suggestion? Use the tanner before bed and shower away the smell before you head out the next day. 

I have also found that too many applications on my fair skin will turn a little orange-ish. (This is for a subtle tan; it will not make you look like a Hawaiian Tropic girl.)

The nice color, though, makes it worth the extra hassle.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I have not found a better way to develop a quick tan.

CHECK IT OUT: You can pick Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan at drugstores and online. You can find out more and read a few other customer reviews on the Neutrogena website.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Smashbox Hyperlash Mascara

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $21

THE SKINNY: The first few times I used Hyperlash Mascara, I loved it. The next few times, not so much. So I'm a little torn.

Here's the pro. This is a very dark mascara that went one smoothly and lengthened my lashes immediately. I love the dramatic color. The brush seemed really decent and able to deliver a good coating of mascara while adding definition to each lash. It even caught those tiny lower lashes with ease.

Smashbox advertises this product as a "high-density" mascara with a dual brush, kind of a comb-brush combo, that "lifts, lengthens, volumizes and defines." All true.

But this is one of those mascaras that isn't waterproof but is next to impossible to get off. I scrubbed and scrubbed with makeup remover and soap and still woke up the next morning looking like a raccoon. I would come out of the shower later that morning looking like a raccoon again. It takes days to remove this stuff!

This is also one of those mascaras that clumps (even though Smashbox says it won't) after a few uses. And a dark mascara creates big, ugly clumps. So if you try it, be sure to clean the brush really well after each use.

In the end, I think this mascara is too dark and stubborn for everyday wear, but it would still be fun and dramatic for a night out on the town.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, but invest in some really good makeup remover. (Anyone have any suggestions?)

CHECK IT OUT: Smashbox has several varieties of mascara, including Hyperlash, Full Exposure and Bionic on its website.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Simple Refreshing Face Wash Gel

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $6.99 for 5 ounces

THE SKINNY: Don't be fooled by the name. This gel cleanser is simple in its ingredients list. But not in its washing power.

The Simple line of skincare is from the United Kingdom. It's been around since 1960 but only recently began selling its products in the U.S.

The Refreshing Face Wash Gel is made without soap, dyes or perfumes. It's a clear gel that is nearly odorless except for a slight scent that reminds me of cucumbers.

It gets quite foamy, so a little dollop of gel goes a long way.

It washes away makeup and mascara with ease, leaving my face feeling clean and, believe it or not, refreshed. It also doesn't irritate my eyes.

I am quite impressed and would love to try other products from the line.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I would consider replacing my normal face soap -- Philosophy's Purity -- with this less-expensive option.

CHECK IT OUT: Read more about this product and the company philosophy online.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, April 16, 2012

Benefit Boi-ing

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $19

THE SKINNY: There's something about the phrase "industrial-strength concealer" that scares me a little. But there's nothing scary about Boi-ing by Benefit. This concealer goes on light, blends easily and lasts all day.

I have trouble with liquid concealers. I always squeeze a little too much onto my fingers and either apply it too heavy or end up tossing the extra away on a piece of tissue.

That isn't a factor with Benefit's option, which is a creamy concealer that has a thicker consistency. But don't worry -- this really is a light-weight formula that won't cause more problems for your skin.

My shade is light/medium. It is light enough for my fair skin, but not so light that I can't wear it in summer when I pick up a bit of sun.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This concealer may seem a little on the expensive side, but it lasts and lasts and lasts.

CHECK IT OUT: Boi-ing comes in five shades.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, April 13, 2012

Julep's The Best Pedi Creme Ever!

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $22 for 2 ounces

THE SKINNY: I am terrified of my feet each spring when I break out sandals for the first time. Rough heels, chalky toes -- gross!!!! (But I know you can relate.) And every spring I struggle with several types of creams ans scrubs to get my feet back in pure summer form for all those great strappy shoes.

This year, it is a little more simple. In my April Julep Maven box (you can read about the program here), I got a sample tube of Julep's The Best Pedi Creme Ever! which is available for order online. It is my new favorite product.

After just two days, my feet are smoother. No extra scrubbing or exfoliation required. I have just been smoothing a light lather of the cream on my feet before bed, adding socks and ta-da! (Nothing is better than getting pretty with no hassle, right?)

The creamy formula, which contains shea butter, coconut oil and Vitamin E, has a great light cucumber and mint fragrance and really does feel nice. The lotion is not too goopy or thick. It glides on almost like a hand lotion but with extra benefits. (I have also been using a little on my hands as well to combat dryness.)

Julep has nailed it with the product.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I will be ordering again for sure!

CHECK IT OUT: You can order Julep's The Best Pedi Creme Ever! direct from the company. Also check out the Maven program where you can get a box of goodies mailed to you each month. (Try the first month for just a penny with the link and code COLOR2012 or code PENNY. But note, coupon codes can change frequently.)

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nivea Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $10 for 6.7 ounces

THE SKINNY: With spring here, I could not help but go back and test another self-tanner. (I have been trying ... and tossing the things for years.)

Nivea Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs is different. I've been using it for a week now and have to say it is the best lotion/cream self tanner I have tried. It goes on smooth and does not have the super-strong, clinical potent odor that all self-tanners seem to possess.

But it does have a smell, just not a really potent one. I did not even start to notice it until a day or two in. But the good news is you are using on your legs, not your neck.

The result -- I have been using fair to medium -- is a subtle (code word for light) darkening that is not orange. This lotion also has a bonus, it also contains a shave minimizer and the moisture seems to last and last. Lasting moisture has always been a problem for me with other self-tanners.

Just remember as with any self tanners, the more you apply the more of a result you will see. You also want to always apply to clean, dry skin evenly. And make sure to wash your hands immediately; tan palms look odd on everyone.

KEEP OR TOSS: This will probably be my spring staple. I really like the look I am getting. My skin is not so pasty white and I am capri-ready!

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs, application tips and where to buy (drugstores) on the Nivea website.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aveeno Living Color Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $6 each

THE SKINNY: I was a little unsure of  Aveeno Living Color Shampoo and Conditioner combo at first because of the textures. The shampoo was super-runny while the conditioner was uber-thick. Most of the other pairings I have used have somewhat similar textures.

But the wash was nice and the conditioning power was strong. The comb went though my color-treated (and treated and treated) hair with ease. Each had a pleasant, but light, aroma.

Aveeno claims these products will add moisture and shine back to color-treated hair. I concur as much as I can after two uses. My hair did look and feel nice. But the site also claims the shampoo has a rich lather -- not so much.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. My hair styled nicely after use and Aveeno products are available everywhere and pretty affordable.

CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about the Aveeno Living Color line and read customer reviews.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

bareMinerals Loose Eyecolor

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $13

THE SKINNY: Loose eyeshadow can be messy but I love the versatility the bareMinerals Loose Eyecolor line offers.

Shadows can be applied dry, for a light look, or wet for a heavier (or even foiled) appearance. Shades come in matte, sheen and shimmer varieties, so it is easy to find something that suits your taste. I especially like to apply shimmer colors wet for a night out!

But these are expensive shadows. Each pot of eyecolor is $13, plus you should buy a nice brush to apply. (I have found that the mineral formulas need a nice brush applicator to get the right effect; the sample pack even came with a tiny one.) You'll also need a primer -- loose powder shadow will never hold up all day without it. 

My suggestion? Look for a gift set. They usually contain six to 10 shades in half sizes (which is more than enough) and give you a lot more for your money.

bareMinerals recently released compact shadows as well. I am hoping to test those out very soon. Stay tuned!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. With so many colors to choose from and the natural formula it is a definite win.

CHECK IT OUT: You can but direct (make sure to check out the specials) from bareMinerals. Make sure to search for different colors.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, April 9, 2012

Revlon PhotoReady Makeup

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $10.49

THE SKINNY: Normally, I'm a powder girl. But sometimes, especially if I have an important work event, I like the extra coverage provided by a liquid foundation. Somehow, it makes me feel more like a grownup.

The problem with "good" foundation is it's expensive. It's hard to justify the cost when you're only going to use the product once in a blue moon and in all likelihood it will get old long before I use even half of it. So I decided to experiment with Revlon's PhotoReady line.

Plus, I had a coupon.

I tried two versions of the product -- the regular PhotoReady Makeup in shell and the Airbrush Mousse in nude. Both promise light, blendable coverage. And both delivered on that.

I expected to like the mousse a lot more than the regular, but I found the opposite to be true. The regular foundation went on lighter and was easier to manage. The mousse felt a little heavier and each time I've used it, the mousse has turned into a larger dollop of foamy foundation than I expected.(Plus, the spout is kind of messy after a few uses.)

KEEP OR TOSS: I'll keep them both. I like to have a foundation option in my makeup bag, and both these work fine.

CHECK IT OUT: See all the Revlon foundation options, including the PhotoReady line, online. Both these products are widely available.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tarte emphasEYES eyeliner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: Truth to tell, the first time I used this eyeliner, I tried to apply it to my upper lid. I was astounded at how badly the eyeliner behaved. The pencil has a flat top, more like a glue stick than a pencil. And even though it glided onto the skin of my hand, it felt like I was applying chalk to my upper lid. No smooth line. In fact, the tip of the eyeliner broke off.

O.M.G., I thought. What a disastrous product.

Then I read the instructions. This is a pencil for the inner rim, not the outer.

Why on earth would you need that? To add the finishing touch to a smokey eye, Tarte says.

So I really have trouble creating the smokey eye, too. It just looks vampish on me. But I tried for this review.

The liner didn't work any better. I could never get the pencil to actually color the inner rim of my eye, and quite honestly I wasn't willing to press down that hard.

Major. Fail. Even if it is operator error. Makeup shouldn't be this hard.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. I never really could get the pencil to color my eyelid.

CHECK IT OUT: The emphasEYES eyeliner comes in black and chocolate. Order from the Tarte website and earn points toward free products.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gold Bond Ultimate Sheer Ribbons Body Lotion

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $9-$10 at drugstores

THE SKINNY: Despite the packaging, I was not really expecting a feminine lotion from Gold Bond. But they proved me wrong with Gold Bond Ultimate Sheer Ribbons Body Lotion. The smooth formula went on well and seemed to hydrate my skin for hours (and was nothing like the medicinal feel you get from some other Gold Bond products.)

But the scent was a little too feminine and overly fake and flowery. I would prefer something lighter. The good news is that the smell did not stick around too long.

The "Silk Softness" formula, which I tried, claims to have seven moisturizers to keep a women's skin feeling great. My sample only had enough for one application so I can't speak to this claim. The lotion also comes in a "Pearl Radiance" formula which has small particles that reflect light.

KEEP OR TOSS: I liked the lotion (other than the super flowery scent), but not enough to trade in my old-faithful Curel, which I reviewed back in October.

CHECK IT OUT: Visit the Gold Bond site for  $1 off coupon while they last. Note this product is brand new and may not be stocked everywhere yet. Keep you eyes open for it soon.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $10 for six

THE SKINNY: My hair is currently cut in a chin-length bob, but that doesn't stop me from pulling it back (I'll admit, sometimes just the top section) into a ponytail to get it out of my face when working out, working in the yard or just puttering around the house.

My fine hair will get that tell-tale ridge from a ponytail holder in about five seconds flat. Nothing gets rid of it, either.

My recent Birchbox came with a Twistband hair tie. I giggled when I saw it because it really looks like a worthless piece of elastic tied in a knot.

I figured it would fall out of my hair quickly and then fall apart.

Neither has happened yet.

This band's claims to fame are that it doesn't leave that ponytail holder dent and that it is snag-free. Both are true. After hours of being pulled back, my hair just looks a little wavy. The elastic band cinches down and holds my hair in place without that tight feeling of a traditional elastic band.

The price is a little expensive for me -- especially since I don't wear it out my hair pulled back in public. But I'm enjoying the one I have.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I'm surprised at how well these elastics work.

CHECK IT OUT: Twistbands come in a variety of colors. And the company makes headbands, too.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Philosophy's Hope in a Jar with SPF 20

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $39 for 2 ounces

THE SKINNY: I really, really, really wanted to like Philosophy's Hope in a Jar with SPF 20 after all the great things I have heard about this brand (and having never tried it myself.

But I really, really, really did not like it.

To start, the moisturizer was oily. I could see it in the package (ick!). There appeared to be a layer of oil on top of the cream (think chicken fat in a jar). And the instructions did not recommend mixing the product before use.

The next turnoff: It smelled like sunscreen. I am all about SPF but I do not want to smell like a Hawaiian Tropic girl when I head to work. It went on and felt like sunscreen, too. 

It was just way too oily for my combination skin and hours after application, I could still feel the greasy remnants on my face. At that point, I just washed it off.

So I can't say how it made my skin feel in the long run. Have any of you had better results with this product? Should I try a non-SPF formula? Please let me know. I feel bad because this is the first negative thing I have ever seen (written) about the Philosophy brand.


CHECK IT OUT: Find out more about the Hope in a Jar line and check out reviews from a few people who would really disagree with me.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bed Head Urban Antidotes Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $13 each

THE SKINNY: I have to admit, this shampoo and conditioner had me from the start. They smelled like a pina colada. How could I not like it?

But other than the fun scent, this Bed Head combo was not unlike anything else I had ever tried and is a little expensive for my taste. The Bed Head Urban Antidotes formula claims to boost shine and moisture in a color-safe formula. I can't disagree with the claim, but I did not rally notice any kind of difference in my hair either.

KEEP OR TOSS: I like the Bed Head brand and this formula but it is a little pricey when compared to similar products.

CHECK IT OUT: You can find out more about the line from the Tigi/Bed Head site, though it is a little hard to navigate. You can buy it at salons and through some online retailers.

-- Tested by Carrie