Friday, January 31, 2014

Anatomicals You Need A Blooming Shower

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $5.50 for 10 ounces

THE SKINNY: Have you ever tried a product and could not decide whether you love it or actually hate it? That's the situation I am facing with Anatomicals You Need A Blooming Shower Gel.

The sudsy gel cleans well and leaves my skin feeling fresh.

I just can't decide if I love or hate the scent. It has an artificial rose smell, which I admit sounds pretty bad. But some days I just really like it.

It reminds me of my childhood somehow.

So I am wondering if anyone else has tried this one out. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. I'm still debating.

CHECK IT OUT: This Anatomicals product came in a recent Glossybox.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm (Hibiscus)

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $7

THE SKINNY: I love a tinted balm that does not look and taste like something I would have used at age 12. So, Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm (in Hibiscus) is the perfect fit for me.

The super-moisturizing balm goes on smooth and has just enough color to look great -- and not fake like some of the cherry-color and flavored balms out there. (Plus there is no taste. Thank you Burt's Bees.)

This will very likely become my go-to balm. I just loved the way it felt and looked. And it is strong enough to withstand winter dryness. What more do you need? This balm comes in nine shades from super pale to more saturated like the shade I used, and Burt's Bees often has online discounts and coupons.


CHECK IT OUT: Burt's Bees products are available everywhere, including online. (Make sure to look for discounts.)

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BareMinerals Lasting Line Eye Liner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $16

THE SKINNY: I am a total sucker for a great navy eyeliner. So I was totally stoked to see the new BareMinerals Lasting Line Eye Liner in NONSTOP NAVY.

It is my new absolute favorite.

This liner crayon is super smooth and just glides over lids. The color is perfect and tops any other blue I have found recently.

And it lasts all day. And that's pretty much what seals the deal.

Plus the new liner includes a smudge tool on one end to create the perfect smoky eye look. BareMinerals did a great job with this take on some of their classic eyeliners. And at $16, the price is comparable to similar premium brands.


CHECK IT OUT: Lasting Line comes in eight shades. I might try Infinite Sage next.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Go Smile PM Toothpaste

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $30 for AM and PM package

THE SKINNY: Do you really need a special toothpaste before bed? That was the thought that went through my head when I opened a sample bag and found the tube of Go Smile PM Toothpaste.

And I think my instincts were right.

While the toothpaste is fine -- although a little grittier than when I am used to -- I am not sure why I need a special tube for PM. And I really could not tell any difference in the look or feel of my teeth after using it for a week.

Plus, this is one pricey paste compared to a couple bucks for Crest at the grocery or drug store.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep but I won't go looking for more.

CHECK IT OUT: Go Smile is available at Ulta and also has an AM formula.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Beauties! Comparing the Sephora and Ulta Gifts

One of the best parts of having a January birthday s getting a first look at the birthday gifts from two of my favorite beauty retailers, Sephora and Ulta. So today, I'm going to show you what goodies you can expect on your big day this year.

While both birthday gifts are pretty nice -- who does not like a present? -- they are distinctly different. Sephora has a fairly premium brand available this year, while Ulta is offering first-access to a new product from Calvin Klein. 

If you are celebrating a birthday this month as well, we'd love to know what you thought of your goodies. Share your thoughts with us in the comments, on Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter!

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars (Sephora), 4 stars (Ulta)

COST: FREE during your birthday month.

This birthday bonus includes two super small samples from the Make Up For Ever Line: Smoky Extravagant Mascara and Rouge Artist Natural N9 Lipstick, which I had tried and really liked in the past. The mascara is a decent product as well. The brush is pretty tiny so it is hard to compare to a full size, but it coated nicely and lasted throughout the day.

Both goodies are pretty nice. And I really liked that Sephora offered a pretty premium product for the gift. They are just so tiny. That's really my only complaint.

Sephora will allow you to pick up your gift in-store or during online checkout. 

I was ecstatic to see a brand-spanking new product as the gift from Ulta. I was even more thrilled when then person behind the counter handed over a full-size tube of mascara. (He knew the way to a girl's heart!)

Calvin Klein seems to have nailed it with this beauty product. The mascara has a great brush with tiny bristles that caught each last. The formula is thin and makes for great daytime wear, although you will probably want a little more drama for evenings out. I was a little worried that the mascara would include the CK One signature scent, but thankfully it did not.

This mascara comes in five colors and retails for $18. Reviewers on the Ulta website seem to like it as well. The only downside is that you must pick up your Ulta gift in store. (But they keep them right behind the counter so you don't have to scour the shelves for it.)

THE SKINNY: Ulta is the big winner here. You get a full-size and newly-released product that retails for $18. That's pretty hard to beat.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, January 24, 2014

Matrix Biolage Blue Agave Memory Styling Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $15.99 for 3.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: All I can say about Matrix's Biolage Blue Agave Memory Styling Cream is ugh. This is the first product by Matrix -- my stylist always shares her samples -- that I thought was awful.

And it really was.

The styling cream was a little goopy and left my hair looking greasy. So much so that halfway through drying, my locks still looked wet.

I tried to deal with it and just ended up washing it all out. This one was a total bust for sure.


CHECK IT OUT: The Matrix line is available at salons.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, January 23, 2014

KMS California Hair Stay Dry Xtreme Hairspray

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $16.99

THE SKINNY: I had never heard of this brand before getting the good sized sample in a bag from Ulta but I have to say I was pretty impressed.

KMS California Hair Stay Dry Xtreme Hairspray had good hold but also allowed my hair to move and looked natural. It did not leave behind any of that hairspray glossy residue that you sometimes get.

I also like that this product did not really have any smell and seemed to spray on dry. I will look for it next time I hit the beauty store for sure.

The only downside is the price. It almost pains me to pay more than a few bucks for hairspray as seldom as I actually use it.


CHECK IT OUT: KMS California is one of those brands is often part of a special promotion at Ulta.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $38 for 3.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: Bumble and Bumble's blend of essential oils isn't made for blondes.

Work a little Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil into damp hair to add softness and shine and help prevent frizz and flyaway pieces. You then style your hair as you normally would, either with tools or by letting it air dry.

But unlike a lot of other oil-based hair products, this one left my super short hair looking greasy.

Because my hair is really too short for accurate testing, I gave it to a friend who has naturally blonde, fine, naturally curly long hair (down to the middle of her back). She had the same result. Did leave her hair feeling super soft and healthy, but did also leave her blonde hair looking dirty after an hour or so.

So blondes, beware.

KEEP OR TOSS: For me, it's a toss.

CHECK IT OUT: This product gets great reviews on the Bumble and Bumble website.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Algenist Firming and Lifting Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $94 for 2 ounces

THE SKINNY: Algenist's Firming and Lifting Cream uses a micro algae compound to improve your skin's elasticity. It seems to work, too. After a few weeks of use, the skin on my face does look a little better and definitely is firmer.

This is a nice moisturizer that’s light easy to apply. It has no real smell, and doesn't irritate my eyes, either. Day-to-day, it leaves my skin feeling silky. Since using it, my occasional breakouts have dissipated, too.

It's too bad it's so ridiculously expensive.


CHECK IT OUT: Algenist suggests using the Firming and Lifting Cream with an Advanced Anti-Aging Repairing Oil.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 20, 2014

Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $16 for 40 wipes

THE SKINNY: Finally, a nail polish remover that doesn’t feel like chemicals on your fingers. Josie Maren delivers oily goodness in this product, which leaves my nails and the tips of my fingers and toes feeling moisturized.

This is a three-in-one wipe: It takes off the polish, uses argan oil to soothe dry cuticles and overall encourages healthy nails. They're also grapefruit scented.

I'm a big fan, but be warned. These wipes aren't really as effective as the real stuff. I've found they're best for plain polishes without glitter or a pearly finish, and even then you’re likely going to scrub a bit and use more than one.

I've tried on a Zoya Pixie Dust polish, which is really gritty, and it needed some hard scrubbing (and four wipes) to slowly come off.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, but I won't be able to use them to remove every polish.

CHECK IT OUT: Find a list of ingredients online at Josie Maren's website.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, January 17, 2014

Benefit It’s Potent Eye Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $34

THE SKINNY: It’s Potent, Benefit's eye cream, is a thick, refreshing moisturizer that does a good job fighting dark circles from lack of sleep.

This eye cream is soothing and didn't irritate my eyes. I'd almost consider replacing my normal eye cream, Ole Henriksen's Ultimate Lift Eye Gel, with it.

(Almost. Ole Henrickson's eye cream is cool, like applying a cucumber to your eyes. Benefit doesn't have that sensation, and I'm not ready to give it up.)

It's Potent uses a peptide complex, botanical extracts and loquat extract to protect and nourish the skin under your eyes. My eyes do look brighter in the mornings, even when I've gotten less than six hours of sleep.

I've been really happy with the sample.


CHECK IT OUT: Get tips on applying eye cream (pat on, don't rub in) at the Benefit website.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our Moment by One Direction

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $49.50 for 1.7 ounces

THE SKINNY: I am about to make every girl under the age of 14 really upset, but the premier scent by One Direction stinks.

My first impression of Our Moment by One Direction was a strong smell of rubbing alcohol. I sprayed (and sniffed) again. Same smell.

After a couple of minutes the scent shifted to something floral mixed with baby powder. Not attractive. Not grown up. Not something I will ever spray again.

Thankfully, the scent disappeared quickly.

It was so bad, that I actually laughed out loud when I saw the price. So sad.


CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about Our Moment by One Direction or find it at Ulta (if you dare).

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Atelier Cologne duo

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $18 for the mini set, $60 and up for full sizes

THE SKINNY: One of my favorite winter scents in Atelier Cologne's Rose Anonyme, so I was really pining to try the brand's Orange Sanguine and Vanilla Insensee. Both are good, but neither scent lasts a long time. For fragrance this expensive, it really needs to linger more than it does.

I thought I would like the Orange Sanguine the best because I do gravitate toward anything orange. It's spicy and warm, but it doesn't make me as happy as it should. There's something slightly off about the scent. It has notes of jasmine, geranium, amber and sandalwood. (I'm guessing the geranium notes are what's throwing it off for my nose.)

The Vanilla Insensee was the real surprise. It's amazing and heavily vanilla without being sweet. It's made with lime, jasmine, oak and amber. I like it better of the two.


CHECK IT OUT: I found this cologne at Sephora.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Shampoo and Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $5.19 each

THE SKINNY: John Frieda products can be pretty hit or miss. I didn't get any extra volume and a case of itchy scalp after using the Luxurious Volume Shampoo and Conditioner for a week. That's disappointing, to say the least.

The shampoo is supposed to be gentle as it cleans and detangles fine hair and then adds volume boosters. Paired with the conditioner, it's supposed to thicken strands, too, which adds more volume.

But my hair seemed a little flat and it only got worse with repeated uses.


CHECK IT OUT: John Frieda has a blow-out spray and a root booster in the Luxurious Volume line.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 13, 2014

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $30 for eight pairs

THE SKINNY: These eye gel patches are fun and deliver a cool burst of moisture to your under-eye area. They're super easy to use, too.

Unpeel a pair from the paper backing and apply to the area directly underneath your eye. They'll stick, but think window cling instead of Band-aid. Wait 10 minutes, then remove.

These really do feel cool and refreshing, like a potent cucumber, on the skin. I would use them as a mini spa treatment after a rough day at work. The ingredients firm and depuff that sensitive skin. They didn't irritate my eyes, either, and I got the patch pretty close to the lower lid.

The price is a little steep, but it really did feel great.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. (Although I shared my second set with Carrie, so they're all gone.)

CHECK IT OUT: Get a list of ingredients at the Skyn Iceland website.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, January 10, 2014

Nicka K New York Nail Color

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $4.99

THE SKINNY: Nicka K is a new brand for me that came in a recent Ipsy bag. This nail polish is super shiny and does a good job of not chipping (with top coat).

The New York Nail Color line is touted as a "professional" collection, and the polish is free of DBP, Toublene and formaldehyde.

Ipsy sent me a color called Classic Taupe, which resembles coffee with a lot of creamer in it. It's a good color for winter, but I think it would be too blah for spring or summer. Luckily, it's winter.

The polish glides on easily. Classic Taupe really needed two coats, but I stuck with one for testing purposes and the fact that it's winter and my toes aren't making many appearances.


CHECK IT OUT: Nicka K New York Nail Color comes in 44 shades.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Origins Plantscription SPF 25 Anti-Aging Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $55

THE SKINNY: The ads for this face moisturizer are in nearly every beauty magazine these days. Sadly, this one is pretty meh.

Plantscription Anti-Aging Cream is a thin moisturizer that did feel good on my skin.

It has that same Origins look, though, the kind of off white, gritty looking texture. It's made with raspberry stem cells (who knew) that help fight wrinkles.

I thought I was going to like the sample until the lotion make my face break out after a few days of use (and I'm not prone to breakouts).


CHECK IT OUT: Planscrptions also comes in an eye cream and a serum.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

POP Beauty Bright Up Your Life Eye Shadow Trio

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $24 for the full pallet

THE SKINNY: The folks at Ipsy (a good beauty box option) often get small eye shadow samples from a larger pallet. This one from POP Beauty is three of the neutral shadows from the Naturally Bare, 10-color pallet.

I’ve been impressed with all the POP Beauty products I’ve tried so far, and this shadow is no exception. It’s creamy with just a touch of sparkle. The colors look a little plain, but go with with a lot of rich gold undertones.

The shadow lasted all day with primer without creasing. All. Day.

Plus, a friend complimented the color, too.

My only complaint is there isn’t much variation in the three colors packaged together for Ipsy. But the pallet looks a little more diverse.


CHECK IT OUT: See all the colors in the Naturally Bare pallet at POP Beauty’s website.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Intensive Hand Cream

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $22 for 2.37 ounces

THE SKINNY: An off smell can ruin any product. Josie Maran’s intensive hand cream is an amazing moisturizer that goes on thick and creamy and immediately soothes dry hands. I really mean “immediately,” too. It’s one of the best hand creams I’ve tried, mostly because you get instant results without your hands feeling slick or sticky.

It’s made from argan oil and shea butter.

I would use this product every day if it weren’t for that one little thing.

This hand cream smells like melted plastic. It’s awful, and it lingers and infects everything your fingers touch. The advertising says the cream is "lightly scented with a natural vanilla apricot fragrance.” I smell neither vanilla nor apricot. I just smell yuck.

Dear Josie Maran: Please fix the smell. Like yesterday. Thanks.

KEEP OR TOSS: I’m really torn. My hands say “keep.” My nose says “toss.”

CHECK IT OUT: I got this product on a Black Friday sale at Sephora.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, January 6, 2014

Vincent Longo Duo Eye Pencil

RATING (out of 5 stars): 1 star

COST: $26

THE SKINNY: I can't decide if it was this eye pencil or just eye pencils in general, but this product was a total dud.

The Lime Forest combo was an exciting concept when I opened my Glossybox ... two shades that I could get a lot of use from.

But I will never know. The pencil was super sharp and hurt terribly when I tried to apply the eye liner. And then the color would not transfer to my lids.

I worked at it about five minutes -- until almost teary-eyed -- and then gave up and threw the pencil away. Ugh.


CHECK IT OUT: The Vincent Longo Duo Eye Pencil comes in 13 colors.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sebastian Drench Conditioner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $15.95 for 8.4 ounces

THE SKINNY: This is good stuff.

Sebastian Drench Conditioner is nice and thick but it does not take a lot of it to do the job. My sample pack actually made it through two uses.

The formula made my hair feel amazingly soft and it was completely tangle-free. Plus it is safe for color-treated hair.

The only real issue with this product is the price. At $15.95 it is hard to justify the expense.


CHECK IT OUT: Sebastian Drench Conditioner is available from retailers such as Ulta.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Clean Skin Eau de Perfum

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $38 for 1 ounce

THE SKINNY: I can barely smell this perfume, which I guess is the whole point of the line. But I can barely smell it all day, so that’s something in its favor.

It seems to smell vaguely like a mixed drink. It's very odd.

Clean Skin uses notes of honeydew, lotus blossom, white musk and vanilla. You'll really have to smell it yourself at the store.


CHECK IT OUT: Find Clean Skin and all the other fragrances in the line on the Clean website.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $42

THE SKINNY: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is one of the more luxurious tined moisturizers I’ve tried. A lot of other seem slightly sticky, but Nars’ lotion is creamy and smooth and oil free. It blends easily and adds just enough color.

I needed a little dusting of powder, and I was ready for the workday.

The coverage looked good throughout the day, plus it is SFP 30.

It does have a slight scent, something I found a little strange but tolerable.

This product comes with a big price tag, but if you add up the cost of a moisturizer and the cost of foundation or a BB cream, you probably break even.

KEEP OR TOSS: I'd keep, if there was any left in my sample.

CHECK IT OUT: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer comes in 11 shades.

-- Tested by Shay