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

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    The Balm What's Your Type? "the body builder" mascara

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

    COST: $19

    THE SKINNY: The Balm's body building mascara is just OK. The mascara is made with vitamin E and other additive that is supposed to produce a "highly pigmented formula ... that won't smear or weaken through the day." Sadly, my mascara usually wore off within about six hours.

    This mascara is a nice, rich black. But the brush is thin and doesn't do much to promote length or volume. And it really didn't last. Well ... you couldn't see on my eyes, but I did get a lot of mascara washing off at end of night.

    Overall, it was disappointing.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. I don't like the mascara or the brush.

    CHECK IT OUT: This mascara also comes in a "tall, dark and handsome" option for length. Maybe this one has a better brush.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Clinique Almost Lipstick

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

    COST: $15

    THE SKINNY: This is one of those products that is hard to categorize -- Clinique Almost Lipstick comes in a tube that looks a lot like a regular lipstick, it appears to have a deep color, but goes on more like a balm.

    I tried the very intimidating "Black Honey," fearing that it would be really dark. (The color in the tube is a deep purplish-crimson.) 

    But it glided right on. And looked amazing. The color was just enough and sheer like a gloss but without the stickiness or shine. This is a great color alternative to someone who wants tint but with the feel of a balm.

    Almost Lipstick comes in eight shades. I recommend buying a shade darker than you are comfortable with because the color is very sheer.

    But what it does not do is provide adequate moisture. After a few hours, my lips felt dry and I grabbed for the Chap-Stick.

    Regardless, I plan to keep it in my bag. I liked the color quite a bit.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I might look for another add-on freebie in a sample bag but doubt I'd spend the $15.

    CHECK IT OUT: You can find Clinique products at department stores and online.

    -- Tested by Carrie

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Be a Bombshell eyeliner

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

    COST: $14

    THE SKINNY: If you're looking for an eyeliner that lasts all day, try Be a Bombshell. This is a liquid eyeliner that goes on like you're using a sharpie. The applicator is a felt tip, just like a marker.

    It's easy to use, too. I get a consistently amazing, thick line that stayed in place long after my eyeshadow wore off.

    I found that the eyeliner dries quickly, so you have to be fast with the brush to smudge it.

    The eyeliner has been in my makeup bag for a few weeks now and hasn't dried out or clumped up.

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

    CHECK IT OUT: This eyeliner comes in black, brown and blue.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    e.l.f. Essential makeup brushes

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

    COST: $1 each

    THE SKINNY: If you ever need extra makeup brushes or want to test out one of those specialty brushes, look no further than e.l.f. They sell most of their brushes for $1.

    And they're decent brushes, too. I've mixed a few of mine in with my higher-end brushes and really haven't noticed much difference. The e.l.f. brushes haven't been shedding hairs or losing their shape with repeated use.

    Best of all, because I didn't pay upward of $20 per brush, I don't feel bad throwing them loose in my makeup bag.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. These are a great little find, especially if you want to experiment.

    CHECK IT OUT: e.l.f. also offers a Studio line of brushes. Most of those are $3 each.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    About Us -- The Beauty Test Dummies Blog Concept

    This month we are partnering with a ton of other great beauty bloggers over at Beauty Blogger Headquarters in a project designed to help you understand more about us.

    So here's a little history of Beauty Test Dummies.

    Beauty Test Dummies is a fun digression for two beauty-product obsessed women (and various guest bloggers). The blog started in October 2011 as a little experiment -- would anyone read it? -- and the response has been great. Plus, we are having a lot of fun!

    The blog is designed to be informational and fun. Some of the reviews are a little snarky (Someday by Justin Bieber) while others are glowing (Tan Towel or Make Up Forever Rouge Artist Lipstick). We post daily, Monday-Friday, with a few bonus weekend posts. And we sponsor giveaways and promotions with companies from time to time.

    Writing was something each of us had been doing for most of our lives -- through career choices and other random projects -- so blogging seemed to be a natural fit.

    The idea for the blog just hit one day. I was looking through a drawer full of samples from Sephora and Ulta and every other company I had ordered from and wondered if they had a real purpose. Then it hit me -- what if we tested them and let people know which products really were worth it.

    More and more we are finding gems in those piles. There is nothing like trying a product that you would have never bought and loving it!!

    Keep up with us on Facebook, via RSS or just visit the blog daily. We are having so much fun with it and hope you do too!

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Makeup Forever Aqua Shadow

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

    COST: $20

    THE SKINNY: This is a soft, velvety waterproof shadow pencil that, true to its billing, doesn’t crease or clump. My color, pearly pink beige, lasted about seven hours before it faded away, still looking naturally. Even better, it didn’t make my eye lids feel sticky or heavy.

    Unfortunately, the shadow pencil is rather soft and the tip broke the first time I used it, as I was finishing the second lid. So back it went to Sephora.

    KEEP OR TOSS: If it didn’t break, I would have kept it. The color and the texture was to die for.

    CHECK IT OUT: Sephora sells this product in a dozen shades, ranging from neutrals to brights.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Talika Lash Conditioning Cleanser

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

    COST: $25 for 4 ounces

    THE SKINNY: This is an oil-free eye make-up remover for waterproof mascara that is meant to condition your lashes while it cleans them. The blue-hued goo is fairly easy to use, just like any other makeup remover.

    But it didn't leave my lashes feeling particularly clean, I still woke up with mascara residue under my eyes the following morning. And a few times I used it, my eyes felt dry and a little irritated the next day.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Toss.

    CHECK IT OUT: Talikia says this product is good for people with sensitive eyes or who need to strengthen their lashes.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    OC 8 Professional Mattifying Gel

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

    COST: $30 for 1.6 ounces

    THE SKINNY: I had never tried a mattifying gel before. OC 8 came in my September Glossybox and I am glad it did. 

    This is the perfect in-it-for-the-long-haul product. It kept my skin shine free all day and was the perfect primer. My sample size is actually a full-size product and since only a dab is needed, it will last for a while. (This would be a great makeup setter if you are in a wedding.)

    The gel goes on super smooth and does not contain any tint, so it works on all skin tones.

    It is a close race which I like better -- OC 8 or a BB Cream -- both help you maintain a flawless look all day!

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep! Even better at a $30 value, this product alone was greater than the cost of my Glossybox this month.

    CHECK IT OUT: Glossybox is my favorite subscription service, with high-end beauty products delivered monthly. You can buy OC 8 from online retailers such as Amazon and

    -- Tested by Carrie

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Beauty Fix Beauty Box

     RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

    COST: $49.99 (shipped quarterly)

    THE SKINNY: This is one of the most customizable beauty boxes I have seen and at first glance I really like it. The Beauty Fix box is distributed by Dermstore and is shipped quarterly, containing eight products that you select from a pretty long list (currently more than 50 items).

    The box is a little pricey at first glance, but you will get your money's worth if you choose well. There are marquee brands to choose from and some in large sizes. The $49.99 box comes out once per quarter, making the monthly price about what you would pay for other boxes.

    Here's what I got in my first box:
    • Nick Chavez Advanced Volume Shampoo, 8 ounces
    • Glytone Acne Treatment Spray, 2 ounces
    • RAWcolor All-Over Eye Shadow Brush
    • Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Eye Shadow (full size)
    • Jane Iredale Eye Gloss Liquid Eye Shadow (full size)
    • Carriva Mascara (full size)
    • Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester 14, 0.17 ounces
    • Natural Energy EBoost Vitamins, 5 count
    • Plus your first order comes with a small train case
    The Jane Iredale Eye Shadow retails for $19 and the 8-ounce shampoo retails for $37 -- so in just two items I got my money's worth. The box also includes options for beauty-related items as well such as vitamins and foot petal shoe inserts.

    You can also complete reviews to earn Dermstore gift cards.

    I was quite disappointed in the presentation though. Every other box I have order came immaculately packaged. This was just a brown box full of products.

    I also have to wonder how often the selection changes. Will there be new items for me next quarter?

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. Future selection will determine if I keep getting this box.

    CHECK IT OUT: Want to test BeautyFix for yourself. Use code SUSBFINV6473JCNT061 to get started and save $20 off your first box!

    -- Tested by Carrie

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Beautyblender Blendercleanser

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

    COST: $17.95

    THE SKINNY: Blendercleanser is a lavender-scented soy cleaner designed for the Beautyblender makeup sponge. It can be used on makeup brushes, as well, which is how I gave it a test drive.

    This is a heavier-duty soap meant to remove bacteria and oil in addition to eye shadows, blushes and powders. It has the consistency of a liquid soap, so just a little dab is enough for brushes of any size. (I poured a small amount into a dish and let the brush soak it up.) Gently work the brush into a lather, rinse well and let dry.

    I do a light cleaning on my brushes pretty regularly, and I was amazed at how much makeup came out of the center of my brushes. But it’s not something I want to do more than a few times a year. The cleanser is thick, and you have to get the brush wet to rinse it all out. Then it takes a bit of time for those brushes to dry. (The company says the soy-based cleaner helps to moisturize your brushes while washing them.)

    It’s also expensive for a product I won’t use often, especially because I don’t have a Beautyblender sponge.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. This will be handy when I need to scrub a dark color out of a makeup brush.

    CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about the Beauty Blender Sponge online.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Shampoo and Conditioner

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

    COST: $3.99 each

    THE SKINNY: There comes a point when you realize that all Garnier shampoos are pretty much created equal. Call them whatever you want, they all seem to work the same.

    Garnier’s Triple Nutrition, made with olive, avocado and shea oils, is an adequate shampoo and conditioner set. It left my hair clean and normal looking. Nothing fancy, but nothing bad either.

    The one thing I’m guaranteed to love about Garnier’s hair products is the scent. This delivered the aroma of fresh apples, and that was heavenly.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It’s always good to have extra shampoo around the house.

    CHECK IT OUT: Get a full list of ingredients online.

    -- Tested by Shay

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Rimmel London Volume Flash Scandal Eyes Mascara

    RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

    COST: $6.99

    THE SKINNY: I've been spoiled by higher-end mascara that I buy at Sephora and Ulta. But when my old mascara started to get clumpy and I didn't need enough makeup to get to the $50 free-shipping threshold at those online stores, I opted for this Rimmel mascara.

    It's OK, but it doesn't give me the length, volume or staying power of my favorite mascara, Supernova by fresh.

    After a few weeks of use, this mascara is just started to get a little sticky. But a good cleaning of the brush has kept the clumps away.

    It's easy to wash off, too.

    KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It's not a bad mascara for $6.99.

    CHECK IT OUT: Rimmel says its MaxDensity brush helps lashes grow 50 percent longer.

    -- Tested by Shay