Monday, March 31, 2014

Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $25 for 1 ounce

THE SKINNY: I had a similar product in the past that was a wonderful spot treatment for pop-up zits. So I was thrilled that Clinique recently came out with a new and similar item, Acne Solutions Clinical Clearning Gel.

A dab of this gel shrinks and clears blemishes in a hurry. You only have to use it when something pops up and this is not an everyday all-over face treatment. (A little goes a long way. My tiny tube will likely last a year.)

This is a go-to item for clearing up unwanted skin issues. Plus, you can use it alone or under makeup.


CHECK IT OUT: Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel is available at department store makeup counters or online.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, March 28, 2014

L'Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $24.99

THE SKINNY: I have to admit, the price tag on L'Oreal's new Youth Code Pore Vanisher shocked me. For a drugstore product, $24.99 is a little much.

But it did work pretty well. This product is similar to a BB cream. It has a light tint and moisturizes skin while hiding the look of pores. And I have to admit, it worked exceptionally well. My skin looked nice and fresh and smooth.

Whether it actually "vanishes" pores over time is another question.

I also like that this formula comes in just one universal shade, making it easy to find and use.


CHECK IT OUT: Learn more about this new L'Oreal product from the company or buy at drug and grocery stores.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4.5 stars

COST: $30 for 7 fluid ounces

THE SKINNY: Wow. This cleanser smells like orange spice tea. I love it just because of that.

Luckily, it's a good cleanser that strips off makeup but leaves my face feeling pampered. African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser is made with red tea, Vitamin C, and citrus extracts, to name a few ingredients. The tea is especially nice, as it is a calming agent that soothes redness and softens skin.

I wasn't sure I'd like a foamy cleanser that comes out of a pump. Start with one dollop from the pump because it goes a lot further than you expect. The first time I used this, I used three or four big dollops, thinking the foam would smoosh down to nothing. That's not the case, and you don't need much foam to get a good lather.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It seems expensive, but Ole Henriksen products generally last a long time because you only need the smallest amount of product.

CHECK IT OUT: Find a complete list of ingredients at the Ole Henriksen website.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $23.99

THE SKINNY: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum works just fine. Let's be clear about that from the get-go.

After about three weeks of nightly use, my skin is soft and I haven't woken up with puffy or dark circles under my eyes.

Was there a big change in the appearance wrinkles and fine lines? Not really. But post-40, I never really do.

But I do have issues.

For starters, this is a pretty thick serum that goes on waxy, like a primer does. I worried that it was just filling in lines instead of doing anything to soften them and would lead to breakouts. (That didn't happen.)

The bigger issue is that I've become a makeup snob. I don't want to pay $23.99 for Olay. I'd rather pay another $10 and get Ole Henriksen or Philosophy or something else that sounds fancy.


CHECK IT OUT: You can find Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum just about anywhere.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Garnier De-Constructed Pixie Play

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2 stars

COST: $4.49

THE SKINNY: A magazine advertisement lured me, and the next shopping trip, Garnier's Pixie Play hair texturizer wound up in my basket.

Then I remembered why I don't like Garnier's hair products in general. They're gooey.

Pixie Play is no different. This cream texturizer is meant to add volume and height to short cropped haircuts like mine. But the product isn't thick enough to do it for my fine hair. So it just ends up looking a little greasy and, a few hours later, a little dirty.

If you're looking for something with lifting ability from the drug/grocery store, try Pantene's Texturizing Sculpting Wax. It's thick and tacky.


CHECK IT OUT: Garnier promises movement and texture with De-Constructed Pixie Play.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Nail Polish Giveaway

Who doesn't love nail polish?

We are huge polish junkies and but sometimes we just end up with too much to use. So we are giving it away to celebrate the start of spring! (I am so sick of winter days.)

One winner will get the SIX Julep polishes pictured above -- Gold Glitter, Eloise (navy), Laura (green), Brit (silver suede), Bea (yellow) and Sarah (hot pink with glitter).

There are FOUR ways to enter:
I absolutely love Julep polishes and am a member of the Maven program, where you get a box of goodies each month.
A winner will be announced on April 1. U.S. entries only please. Good luck! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Olay Shine Shine Go Away Cleanser

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $6.99

THE SKINNY: Shine Shine Go Away Cleanser is supposed to be a cleanser that has the deeper-cleaning ability of a masque. It's made with kaolin clay, so the product has that mottled look and thickness of a clay masque.

As promised, it does a good job of cleaning away the day's dirt and makeup without leaving my face feeling dry or tight. It rinses clean, so it's easy on the eyes, too.

But does it really banish shine? Not for me (and my combination skin only has a few patches that get oily throughout the day). I didn't notice much of a difference.

But for $6.99, it's not a bad option if you want to see how it does for your skin.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It works, just not as well as I want it to.

CHECK IT OUT: Olay says Shine Shine Go Away will remove twice the dirt and oil of a normal cleanser.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, March 20, 2014

IPKN New York Moist & Firm BB

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $35

THE SKINNY: IPKN New York is a new brand to me, introduced through a recent Ipsy bag. The name stands for the "Independent Professional Knowledgeable New Yorker." Ipsy says the brand is based in New York, but it seems to have ties to a premium Korean brand. (The website isn't very clear on this, though.)

The BB is one of the better ones I've tried. It's creamy and goes on light to create a nice dewy complexion. It has a lot of moisturizers, including Vitamin E and silicone, which is why you get that wet, dewy look.

I used the sample for a little more than a week without any kind of skin issues. The makeup lasts the bulk of the day.

Plus it's SPF 45, which is awesome now that the springtime sun is arriving in full force.


CHECK IT OUT: Moist & Firm BB comes in four shades: Fair, light, light-medium and medium. Be careful with the light because a lot of users on the Ipsy board said it was too orange for their skin. I didn't have that issue.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tini Beauty Eyetini Cordial Cream Shadow + Base

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $18

THE SKINNY: Eyetini Cordial Cream Shadow + Base is an interesting product. The premise of this multitasker is you can use this shadow (applied with a spongy wand) by itself or as a primer for powder eye shadows.

By itself, this is a decent cream shadow for those days when you don't want a lot of eye makeup. Ipsy sent me Ambrosia, which looks really dark in the tube but is a decent pearly nude on the eyelids. My only compliant is the shadow is difficult to blend without rubbing all the color off.

You have to wait a few minutes for the cream shadow to dry before you can layer other colors over it, or else you again end up rubbing all the color off.

I liked using the cream shadow by itself instead of layering it with other products. And the color really did last 10 plus hours without much wear. That, in itself, is impressive.


CHECK IT OUT: Eyetini Cordial Cream Shadow + Base comes in seven colors.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, March 17, 2014

Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $30 for 4 ounces

THE SKINNY: Urban Decay's De-Slick is a facial mist that is supposed to control oil, shine and all things that ruin your makeup's matte finish, as well as keep all your makeup from wearing off.

It doesn't work for me. Granted, I don't have oily skin. I have a T-zone that gets a little oily throughout the day.

This product is super easy to use. Just mist your face with a few squirts before applying makeup (or after applying makeup or sans makeup). Then finish your beauty routine as normal.

The mist doesn't smell or leave your face feeling wet or sticky.

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

CHECK IT OUT: People with oily skin do love this product. Read about their experiences with De-Slick on the Urban Decay website.

-- Tested by Shay

Friday, March 14, 2014

Benefit the POREfessional

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $30

THE SKINNY: In the crowded field of makeup primers, Benefit's the POREfessional doesn't stand out. This nude-colored product is a little thicker than others but doesn't go on as smoothly.

Maybe that's to be expected, given the task of hiding pores, fine lines and blemishes. But it doesn't help the product feel better against my skin.

This is an oil-free makeup that is supposed to compliment all skin tones. It did fine on my fair skin, and it did mask imperfections.

But the whole time I was using it, I kept thinking that the Smashbox and Bare Minerals primers feel so much better on my face.

Sad, too, because I'm usually such a Benefit fan.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Every time I get a box of samples from Sephora or Ulta, it has a Smashbox primer in it. I don't need another that's ho-hum.

CHECK IT OUT: Benefit says you can use the POREfessional under makeup, over makeup or instead of makeup.

-- Tested by Shay

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Neutrogena Triple Repair Hair Care System

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $6.99 each

THE SKINNY: The complete Neutrogena Triple Repair Hair Care System came to mail mailbox via the BzzAgent program. (If you haven't heard of it, you "test" products and then share your thoughts and experiences.)

Overall, this shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment left my hair soft, silky and even a little curly without making my hair look greasy and without all that moisturizing stuff irritating my scalp.

The Triple Repair Fortifying Shampoo is formulated to fight split ends and make hair stronger. It's thick and almost greasy, like a conditioner. It doesn't work into much of a lather, but it did make my hair clean. This shampoo alone would leave my hair as soft as shampoo + conditioner.

Full disclosure: Split ends have never been a problem for me, but my fine hair is a little dried out from coloring.

The Triple Repair Fortifying Conditioner is a rich and creamy conditioner that adds extra softness without weight. It also doesn't leave my dark blonde hair looking dirty.

The Triple Repair Fortifying Leave-In Treatment is the one I was most worried about because my hair is pretty fine and gets weighed-down by products easily. The treatment isn't bad. It adds texture to my hair, for sure, but not enough to make it look greasy. Of the three, this is the one I would ditch first because I really don't need it. It does offer heat protection up to 400 degrees, so that's a bonus if you use a curling or straightening iron.


CHECK IT OUT: You can find these Neutrogena products in just about any grocery store or drug store.

-- Tested by Shay

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash

RATING (out of 5 stars): 4 stars

COST: $6.99 for 38 ounces

THE SKINNY: I was just tired of my old mouthwash when I saw this one on the shelf at Kroger and bought it on impulse. I have been really happy with Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash.

The wash has an easy to swish, alcohol-free formula that makes your teeth feel fresh and clean. I like that it lasts for a while without the feeling of residue, like some other mouthwashes.

There is no burn or sharp aftertaste with this mouthwash and it claims to hang around and protect teeth for 12 hours. (Although I am not sure it stands up to my morning coffee.)

I know dental hygiene products are not a staple of Beauty Test Dummies but great-looking teeth are essential to your beauty routine, right?


CHECK IT OUT: Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield Mouthwash comes in three flavors and is available at grocery stores, drugstores and online.

-- Tested by Carrie

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Revlon Baby Stick

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $6.99

THE SKINNY: I held on to this product for a long time before using it. The Revlon Baby Stick really is the super pink color in the photo. And I was scared.

But the dual-duty product -- for lips and cheeks -- actually looked good on my skin. It goes on very pale (very pale, actually) but gave me just a touch of color in the right places.

The stick was also smooth and added a touch of moisture as well.

I just wonder if this will be a hard sell because of the crazy-looking color. And shades that are lighter than my Pink Passion might not show at all. My advice: Don't buy this product unless there is a tester available or buy a shade darker than you normally would.


CHECK IT OUT: The reviews of this product have been really mixed and it seems a little hard to find. But Amazon has it.

-- Tested by Carrie

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dr. Hunter's Hand Creme

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $14 for 2.5 ounces

THE SKINNY: Dr. Hunter's Hand Creme was not what I expected at all. It really isn't even a cream.

The formula is quite runny and a little greasy feeling. (It could still feel it on my hands several hours later. That being said it was great to put on before a cold run outside.)

The cream also spills out of the little metal tube the moment you open the top, making a mess every single time.

The scent of Dr. Hunter's Hand Creme was also a little odd. It was quite flowery.

All in all the combination of things was just, well, unusual.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. (It is a small tube.)

CHECK IT OUT: This product, which is not tested on animals came in a recent Glossybox and can be ordered direct online from Caswell-Massey.

-- Tested by Carrie

Friday, March 7, 2014

Organix Kukui Oil

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $7.99

THE SKINNY: I had really high hopes for this product and that it would beat the cold, dry-air hair static that has been plaguing me for months.

It helped, but did not eliminate the problem.

Organix Kukui Oil is design to hydrate hair, block humidity and add sine and sheen. It was ok, but overall just an average product. Maybe I am just using it the wrong time of the year ... I will pull this back out in the more humid summer months.

I am still on the hunt for a great finishing spray. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep, but it is unlikely that I will buy it again.

CHECK IT OUT: Generally, the Organix line has been one of my favorites and it is almost always on sale at Ulta.

-- Tested by Carrie

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Luster Now Toothpaste

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $9.49 for three travel-size tubes

THE SKINNY: I will warn you before you open a tube of Luster Now Toothpaste toothpaste. It is the color of the tube -- very bright blue.

The color scared me a bit at first. But the toothpaste, which is designed to help whiten and remove stains, actually works well. I could not tell a difference after one brushing -- as the package claims -- but did notice some subtle changes after a week.

The flavor is minty and easy to deal with, making this a good option for a deeper brushing cycle every few months.

The one downside? It's is pretty pricey for toothpaste. With three tubes, I am using one all the way through and will use another in a few months. (I plan to get a year of whitening out of this package.)


CHECK IT OUT: I found this product at Walgreens, but other retailers such as Amazon carry it as well.

-- Tested by Carrie

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sephora Waterproof Smoky Cream Liner

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3.5 stars

COST: $12 (bought for $5 on a sale table in store)

THE SKINNY: This may be one of the best products I’ve ever found on a sale table at Sephora. This pot of cream eyeliner in a color called Cafe is a warm and golden brown that stays in place all day long. It’s been a few months, and the product is still creamy and glides onto my eyes.

Just dip an angled eyeliner brush into the pot of goodness and apply it as thin or as thick as you like. It blends easily for the first few minutes, then locks in place.

It comes off easily with face soap and water, too.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It’s a great color that lasts.

CHECK IT OUT: Smoky Cream Liner comes in four colors.

-- Tested by Shay

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Be A Bombshell The One Stick

RATING (out of 5 stars): 2.5 stars

COST: $16

THE SKINNY: The One Stick from Be A Bombshell is a multi-tasker that can be worn as an eye cream, a cream blush or a lip gloss.

Overall, I found this stick to feel dry, no matter how I used it.

Dry on my lips was the worst of the three experiences. The product went on a little gritty, too, and I immediately added a real gloss over top of it. The color lasted an hour or two before it disappeared.

The One Stick works best as a cream blush, but again it’s a little dry against my skin. It blends OK, but it only gave my cheeks a little pop of color and not that warm glow I’ve grown to expect from cream blush. (This product came in a recent Ipsy bag in Flustered, a warm pink color that I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself.)

Overall, it’s a meh.

KEEP OR TOSS: Toss. Spend less money and try Maybelline’s Master Glaze blush stick.

CHECK IT OUT: The One Stick comes in seven colors, including a shimmery highlighter.

-- Tested by Shay

Monday, March 3, 2014

Balanced Guru Balm Me Up

RATING (out of 5 stars): 3 stars

COST: $45 for 4 ounces

THE SKINNY: For starters, let me just say this. Balm Me Up Organic Sweet Cocoa & Tangy Body Balm works wonders for rough, dry skin. You can see results after one use.

But there’s a few things off-putting about this skin balm, made with a blend of cocoa and shea butter, babassu oil (an organic vegetable oil from the Amazon) and essential oils from oranges and limes.

The first is the smell, which is a little sweet and a lot like plastic.

The second is the price. Holy cow! Thank you, Ipsy, for the sample. But $45 for a small tub? Yikes.

And third is an abstract sense that this product is a lot of work to use.

This balm, as you would expect, is thick and gritty and waxy. It’s a pale yellow and looks organic. Rub a little of the product between your fingers or into your skin and it turns to an oil that takes a minute to soak into the skin. I found it was most effective at night, when I didn’t have to worry about getting oily residue on my clothes.

So even though my hands are winter chapped, I find myself reaching for a thick lotion instead of this balm, even though I know it won’t work quite as well.

KEEP OR TOSS: Keep. It works wonders on my elbows and the winter rough spots on my feet.

CHECK IT OUT: Balanced Guru offers certified organic products.

-- Tested by Shay