Monday, December 31, 2012

The Duds of 2012, or What Didn't Work for Me

For the last day of 2012, I wanted to look back at the under performers that I've reviewed.  It's always a disappointment when I buy something that turns out to be a dud, but it does happen occasionally.  Considering how many items I reviewed this year, it's actually a rather short list!  I classify something as a dud when it does not work well or has so many issues that it's more of a problem to work with than it is worth.  Consequently, these are items that I ended up not using as a result.  In fact, after I get through writing this post, I'm going to be throwing them out and get a head start on my decluttering for 2013:-)
  • Buxom Armed & Gorgeous Waterproof Smoky Eye Sticks:  these double ended sticks are marketed as both a liner and a shadow, as they are supposed to be smudgeable to help create a smoky eye. While they work as a liner, I found most to be a bit too patchy to use as a shadow and they do not smudge out well.  The few times I tried to use these after reviewing them back in January, I found them to be too difficult to use.  When you've got superior eye liners such as Urban Decay, stila, or Tarina Tarnatino on hand, I had little incentive to return to these.
Pilling when applied over Korres Pomegranate face primer
  • Next up is Korre's Pomegranate Mattifying Treatment, which was a complete failure for me.  No matter how I tried to use this facial treatment lotion that is supposed to mattify skin and refine the look of pores, it pilled on me.  I so wanted this to work and it just did not.
  • The next two items by Laura Geller were from the Real Deal Travel Collection and are the Real Deal foundation and blush.  They come in stick form, which I thought was pretty nifty.  I've got plenty of stick blushes but not a foundation.  Unfortunately, I found both of these difficult to work with, as they settled into my pores.  I tried applying with my fingers, a makeup sponge, and a brush, but still had problems.  Consequently, these never got use as I just don't have the patience for the blending required to get these to look decent.  Love the concept, but these were a no go for me.

  • NYX's Cream Eyeshadow in Olive Branch is a beautiful color but a poor performer.  It applied patchy, plus it is billed as being water resistant but is not.  I've tried other NYX Cream shadows that performed much better, but this one was a dud.
  • Palladio Rice Powder and Powdered Blotting Tissue.   The rice powder actually works fine, but I did not care for the smell.  The blotting tissues did not work for my oily skin, as they powder coating them would blotch up when I blotted my skin.  I've got other setting powders that are non-scented that work well, so Palladio has gotten no love from me since I reviewed these.
  • I hate including an organic line in this list, but the alima Pure lip balm in Rhubarb was just not moisturizing enough for me.  There are some lip balms that make my lips feel uncomfortable, and this was one of them.  I'm not really sure why, as the ingredient list is impressive and contains plenty of oils that should keep my lips hydrated.  But, it didn't.
  • Same story, different product, and another organic lip product under performer.  Unlike the reasonably priced alima Pure, however, the Revolution Organics Freedom Gloss in Vibe costs $26, so I judge this one a bit more harshly.  Fortunately, it was part of an Eco Emi box so I didn't pay that much for it.  While it's a gorgeous color in the tube, it doesn't translate onto the lips as it's not very pigmented, plus my lips did not feel moisturized after using it, nor did it last very long once applied.  
  • Anyone who has followed my blog knows that I have a tolerate but hate relationship with SPF lotions.  I've been on a quest to find one that is not greasy and does not leave a grayish cast on my skin that I can wear under makeup.  Lavanila's The Health Sunscreen SPF40 was not it.  I could only tolerate it for the period of time I was walking my dogs, which was about 45 minutes.  I know this is a holy grail item for some people, so maybe my oily skin and it just don't mix well. 
Overall, 9 products out of the over 300 I reviewed isn't bad!  Any duds for you this year?

Disclosure:  I purchased these.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Top Lip Product Picks from 2012

Gosh, there were a lot of great lip products that were both released in 2012 or that I discovered in 2012.  Here are my top picks, in no particular order:
  • Revlon Colorburst Lip Butters:  Why yes, yes I did buy a lot of these.  All the colors that I thought I could wear, which turned out to be nine.  So yes, yes I do like these!  I like that they do not dry out my lips and provide enough glossy color that I can get away with wearing these on their own and not feel like I'm missing anything.  I've done multiple posts on these, but here is Cherry Tart and Candy Apple.  I'm going to pick Tutti Frutti and Sweet Tart as my two favorite lip butter colors. 
  •  Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tints continue to be my favorite of the lip products released in the roll up pencil format.  I love the more natural ingredient list and how they do moisturize as well as provide subtle color.  The lids cracking were a major downside, but now that I'm aware of that problem, I make sure to replace them gently.

  • My favorite balm stain is a discontinued product, unfortunately, but maybe you got to pick one up when they were on sale at Sephora.  Tokidoki's Gelato Lip Balm Stain in Mozzarella was a great shade of pink that really did leave behind a delicate stain yet didn't dry my lips out. 
  • Another brand that was discontinued at Ulta was a favorite lip gloss of mine, Sula Beauty's Beautiful Stranger, to be precise.  It's the beige shimmer above and I used that tube right up, I liked it so much.  Figures I discover things only when they are steeply discounted because they are being phased out.  Oh well.
  • I got my first Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic Lip Tars in 2012 and I'm still fascinated with them.  So pigmented, opaque, and smooth.  I ended up buying both the warm and cool set from Beauty.com and have had lots of fun mixing these to make lip colors to match my FOTD's.  I believe these were my favorite lip find of 2012!
  • Revlon's Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stains were another fun favorite from 2012.  Good selection of colors, easy to wear, didn't dry out my lips, and did leave soft stains of color behind.  
  •  Last, but not least, I found a red lipstick I will actually wear.  Color Design lipstick in Scarlet Blaze was part of the Lancome Sparkling Champagne holiday set.  I believe it's a special edition for the set, as I could not find it in their regular offerings.  
What were your favorite lip products of 2012? 

Disclosure:  I purchased these.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Top Eye Shadow Palette Picks from 2012

Next in the series of my favorites from 2012 are eye shadow palettes.  Again, my criteria for "best" is what keeps pulling me back time after time.  These were not necessarily released in 2012, although some were, and are in no particular order:
  • stila's In the Know palette features all matte shades.  Now, I know that mattes can be hard to get excited about, but a good matte is essential IMO for blending and counter balancing shimmer.  This palette leaned heavily in the neutral corner, which is just fine by me.  The only dud was the dark gray smoke which was patchy no matter what I did.  Everything else was lovely.
  • Another stila palette called In the Garden makes my list primarily because of two colors, honey and moss, although none of these were problematic.  In fact, In the Garden makes a nice companion to In the Know, as this palette is primarily shimmers.
  • Next is the holiday palette from Too Faced, Shadow Bon Bons.  I think it's the combination of the soft neutrals as well as the matte Marzipan that makes this one a pick for me, as I find this palette very easy to create a complete look without reaching for anything else.  It's not uber exciting, but it's definitely wearable!

  • Last is the small and older Urban Decay Rollergirl palette.  I love Verve, and since I never bought Naked 2 or invested in the single, this was my access point.  It's a great little palette and was available at rock bottom prices during UD's sale this year. 
What were your favorite palettes this year?  I know there were a lot of great ones released, so let me know your choices!

Disclaimer:  I purchased these.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Top Blush Picks from 2012

Here are my top picks for blushes that I reviewed in 2012, arranged in no particular order.  Links to the original reviews are included.

  • The first one is actually a lip stain, but I ended up using it more as a cheek stain.  Ulta's Extreme Wear Lip Stain in Lucky in Love is a bright coral red that lightly stains your lips and provides a nice pop of color for cheeks.  I liked that the ingredient list contained lots of fruit extracts, such as grapefruit, orange peel, apple, raspberry, blueberry, pineapple, apricot, blackberry, and grape!  This also translated into a nice, fruity fragrance.

  • Next is Poppy from Josie Argan's Summer Lovin' Argan Lip & Cheek Color Stick Set. I'm noticing a trend in the colors I'm attracted to, as this is quite similar to Lucky in Love above.  These colors sticks are actually quite subtle in the color they transfer, however, so it's hard to over do it.  Plus, they contain a panoply of good for your skin ingredients, which is always nice to see.
  • If you didn't pick up Tarina Tarantino's Dollskin Cheek Palette when it was on sale at Sephora (or before then), well, you missed out.  Great quality and a nice selection of both warm and cool colors.  My favorite is Feather, a peach with a light shimmer.  I'm sad that Sephora will no longer be carrying Tarina, as I'm afraid her great offerings will be harder for me to discover now.  
  • Physician's Formula Happy Booster Blush in Warm makes for a nice shimmer blush or highlighter, kind of along the lines of Benefit's Sugarbomb boxed blush.  Except I like the Happy Booster blush better, as it's not as shimmery.  The downside for me was the price of this drugstore find, as they run about $12.  I'd wait for a discount or BOGO offer, but I did like this.
  • elf HD Blush in Superstar is my best budget find at $3 as well as the most pigmented blush I have ever come across!  Once I figured out the best way to apply, I was sold. 

  •  The last item on my list is Lancome's Blush Subtil Palette in Peche Savvy, which includes a bronzer, blush, and highlighter.  It's the opposite of budget friendly at $42, but is a really nice all in one cheek palette.  The bronzer doesn't go muddy on me and the shimmer is subtil, which I prefer.
I notice that I didn't have any pinks in my selection, so for honorable mention I'm going to include:

What were your favorite blushes from this year?

Disclosure:  I purchased all of these.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coffee Break! Green Mountain Coffee Wellness Collection

I enjoy my morning coffee.  I sit in front of the computer, sipping my choice of the day and slowly wake up as I peruse my emails and blogs that I follow.  It's a pleasant start to the day that I've come to really look forward to.
Unfortunately, my Keurig coffee maker died back in October, so I requested a new one for Christmas.  I just unwrapped and plugged it in yesterday, so I'm now able to enjoy my morning coffee routine once again.  I was also able to sample a new Wellness Collection from Green Mountain Coffee recently.  If you are not familiar, it's a medium roast coffee launched in September 2012 that comes in two varieties - an Antioxidant Blend and a Focus Blend.  Here's some more information:
  • Focus Blend contains 50mg of L-Theanine per serving
  • Antioxidant Blend is a good source of antioxidant vitamins C and E
  • Includes only Fair Trade Certified coffees
  • Is available for purchase online at GreenMountainCoffee.com/Wellness and Keurig.com
Both blends tasted like a regular light to medium roasted coffee to me, with no after taste to indicate the extra ingredients.  Since my home Keurig was busted, I took my samples to work as I have a small Keurig in my office, and I particularly liked the idea of the Focus Blend in the afternoons.  I ordered the Focus Blend in my next shipment from Green Mountain, as I need to hit the ground running with some projects at work once the holidays are over and need all the help I can get! 

Overall, I like the concept of these!  My only suggestion would be to give an indication of the amounts of vitamins C and E contained in the Antioxidant blend.  Now, I need to go make another cup of coffee and continue waking up:-)

Disclosure:  I'm a BzzAgent and received the Green Mountain Wellness Collection coffees as part of a Bzz campaign.  All opinions are my own.

December Eco Emi: Leaping Bunny Foundation Collaboration

For December's box, Eco collaborated with The Leaping Bunny Foundation to feature items that are Leaping Bunny Certified.  For those not aware of what this signifies, The Leaping Bunny Program requires that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers after a fixed cut-off date.  Also included in the box was a wallet sized Compassionate Shopping Guide listing the companies that are Leaping Bunny Certified - very cool!
To start with, I received a Vegan Adaptive Energy Facial Tonique Toner by Blissoma.  I found this description on Amazon.com:
The base is a specially prepared infusion of fresh organic cantaloupe. It brings Vitamin A, B3, B6 and potassium to our blend as well as a fresh melon aroma. Organic Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Red Clover help skin respond to internal and external stressors, process environmental pollutants, and hormonal fluctuations. Organic Calendula helps heal blemishes, synthesize collagen, and soothe irritations. Our products are made in small batches from freshly prepared botanical ingredients.
The regular sized toner is 4 oz. for $21.00, so the sample is valued at about $1.

Next is a Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream by Burt's Bees.  It's a perfect purse size, and as I'm one who regularly keeps several hand creams stashed in my purse, this will come in handy.  I started using Burt's Bees when I was in graduate school in Chapel Hill over a decade ago, making them some of the first natural beauty products I tried.  The sample is worth $2.
Auromere's Licorice Toothpaste is a standout for me from this month's box.  Utilizing Ayurvedic principles, it contains extracts from 24 plants, barks, roots and flowers, including NEEM and PEELU, the "Toothbrush Trees" of India and the Middle East.  I've used it a couple of times already, and I like the way it tastes, smells, and performs.  Another perk is that you use about 1/3 less than regular toothpaste, so a tube should last 3 times as long are regular toothpaste.  I received a full sized tube and the value is $5.99.
I also received a Chocolate Mint Lip Butter by Organic Indulgence, which was my go to lip balm on Christmas Day.  I've got quite the collection of organic lip balms which I've received from Eco Emi over the past year, and this one makes a nice addition.  The value of this full sized balm is $2.95.
Thee organic perfume sample from Tallulah Jane called "Aiyana" is made from organic and wildcrafted oils and is a blend of Moroccan Rose, Vanilla, Rock Rose, and Italian Lemon.  It's a soft scent which I actually like, plus any company with the name Tallulah in it makes me happy.  The value of the sample is $1.58.
Next is the Fundamental face scrub by Fundamental Earth.  I used this yesterday morning is it's a very light scrub, as it's a clear gel lightly populated with ground apricot kernels.  I did like how it left my face feeling cool, no doubt due to the spearmint oil in it.  Pleasant and refreshing, but more of a cleanser than an exfoliate from what I can tell.  The sample is worth 50 cents.

I also received a packet of green apple vegan body cream from 100% Pure.  I've wanted to try this line for a while, so I'm glad to have a sample at last.  The sample is worth 12 cents if I calculated correctly.

More teeth/mouth products with the Original Mint Gum and Tooth Powder by Eco Dent.  I'm going to stick this in my purse for a nice at the office or on the go freshener.   This sample is worth about 45 cents. 
The  Apricot Eye Therapy by Better Botanicals is supposed to tighten, brighten, and strengthen the under eye skin with a blend of apricot, ginger, cardamom, sweet almond oil and lemon.  It sounds divine, and I love receiving eye creams to sample, as a little tends to go a long way.  The value of this sample is about $1.89.
The box also included a sample of a men's moisturizer by Bulldog Skincare.  I see no reason why I can't use it, and it has some interesting ingredients such as essential oils of bergamot, lemon, lime, tree moss, patchouli and vetivert.  If nothing else, I bet it smells good and would make a nice hand lotion.  The full size of 3.3 oz is $6.99, so the sample is worth about 15 cents. 

Counting the one food item this month, Vanilla Bean Granola Chips by Willamette Valley, the value of the box is roughly $18, which makes it slightly more valuable than the $15 I paid.  I'm pleased with the variety of items and love the enclosed Leaping Bunny shopping companion, so I'm happy!

Disclosure:  I subscribe to Eco Emi for $15/month.