2.26.2015

Perfect Hair in Three Bottles? Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo, Conditioner & 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

Until recently, I was never really a "hair person." I washed and conditioned it, sure, but I didn't put much thought into the products I used, and I didn't splurge on hair products the way I often do on makeup. When Living Proof contacted me and asked about my hair concerns so that they could send me a few products to try that were catered to the mop on my head, I was pretty excited. After several weeks of trialing the three products I have, I can honestly say that I'm impressed and would purchase all three.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day collection of products is aimed to do five things: smooth, volumize, strengthen, condition and polish. The line boasts Living Proof's patented molecule, OFPMA, which is meant to provide a "residue-free, weightless shield" that in the shampoo, repels dirt, keeping hair cleaner for longer. When the shampoo and conditioner are used together, hair is supposed to get healthier over time. I've always washed my hair every other day, as the roots and my face-framing layers get quite greasy by the third day, and the Perfect Hair Day Shampoo ($24 for 8oz) has extended my need to shampoo one extra day. I like that it doesn't leave my hair feeling squeaky clean, often a sign hair was stripped of moisture, and although it is free of sulfates, there is still a little bit of lather for lovers of lather, such as myself. I equally love the Perfect Hair Day Conditioner ($24 for 8oz), too. It has the perfect consistency of an everyday conditioner - not too thick, nor too thin. I only apply it to the bottom half of my hair, and it leaves my hair feeling soft, healthy and tangle-free, but never weighed down.

Considering how much I love the shampoo and conditioner, it came as a surprise to me that I love the Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment ($26 for 4oz) even more. Again, it's meant to smooth, volumize, strengthen, condition and polish, like the rest of the PHD line, but this time, in addition to the OFPMA molecule, it also contains PBAE molecule that provides beefy volume and thickness to the hair. To be honest, the patented molecules sound a bit gimmicky at first, but when the products really deliver, how can you not buy into it, even just a little? I apply a dime to nickel-sized amount to my damp hair, from root to tip, and finger comb it through. A lot of the time, I simply let it air dry after that, but I noticed immediately that my usual air-dried coif became much more polished and less frizzy. When I do blow dry my hair post-treatment (recommended by Living Proof for best results), I get the best blow dry of my life. My hair is perfectly smooth and polished, and I have none of that poofiness I normally get post-blow dry that typically requires some sort of additional product to tame it.

I was wary about the multitude of claims made by the Perfect Hair Day line, but after trying it out for myself, all three products really impressed me. Of the three, the 5-in-1 Styling Treatment is definitely the must-have. I have my eye on their Night Cap Overnight Perfector next...


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Disclosure: The products in this post were sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.

2.25.2015

The Ultimate Blemish Concealer: BECCA Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème

One of my all-time favorite concealers for covering blemishes and other pinpoint concealing is Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. I could do without the dual-shade compact, because although the mix-and-match option seems nice in theory, I've used up one shade at a much faster rate than the other, which is awkward when it comes time to need to repurchase. Unlike creamier concealers that I like to use under my eyes (Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer), Secret Camouflage is thick and very dry, so it lasts all day and then some, and it's perfect for oily skin. However, when my skin is less oily all over and more combination with dry patches, I often wish for something as long lasting as Secret Camouflage, but more hydrating and a bit creamier and easier to spread. That's where BECCA Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème ($32) comes into play.

If you were to take Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage and mix it with a touch of the Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer, you'd have the texture of the BECCA Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème. It's mostly solid in the pot, but it still manages to maintain its creaminess as well. I apply it to blemishes with a small, flat concealer brush and pat it into the skin with my finger. The warmth from my fingertip helps to blend it in more seamlessly than a brush can. On the skin, it reminds me a lot of the Secret Camouflage in that it's incredibly high coverage and it's just tacky enough that it really adheres to the skin, but unlike Secret Camouflage, it's easier to blend, and its creaminess means that it performs much better on drier patches. Similarly to Secret Camouflage, its lasting power is excellent.

The shade I have is Macadamia, described as a medium beige with yellow golden undertones. It's a bit too dark on my NC23 skin tone, but I can still make it work. The other shade I was considering was Tahini, but when I swatched the two side-by-side in store, Tahini seemed a touch too light for me. Here is Macadamia swatched next to NARS Radiant Creamy Concealers in Custard and Honey for reference.

BECCA Macadamia, NARS Custard, NARS Honey
Overall, BECCA Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème ($32) is love for me. It's exactly what I wanted Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage to be, especially as my skin isn't quite as oily anymore. It's become my go-to for concealing blemishes and small scars, but the texture is not ideal for concealing larger areas of overall redness or the under-eye area, in my opinion.


2.23.2015

Becoming a "Lash Person" with Esqido Mink Lashes

Before Esqido Mink Lashes ever contacted me, asking if they could send me a couple lashes to try out, I'd ummmed and ahhhed over placing an order for a pair or two of their mink lashes for a at least couple months. I'd heard nothing but great things about them, but seeing as how rarely I reach for false lashes (let's be honest - my application could use some practice!), I wasn't convinced they'd be a worthy investment for a lash noob, such as myself. Once I tried my first pair, however, all doubt flew out the window.

I was given the opportunity to try out two pairs of Esqido mink eyelashes: Unforgettable ($36) and Little Black Lash ($34). Esqido uses a scale of up to 5 to describe how much volume each style offers, and the two I have are the most natural pairs, each ranking at 2. Unforgettable offers length of 5-10 mm, and the lashes are thicker and longer at the ends, making for a gorgeous , winged cat-eye effect that really elongates the eye. Although these are a bit dramatic for day to day wear on my smaller eyes, they're the perfect going out lash for me. My eyes felt so pretty and fluttery when I had them on. They almost looked like lash extensions. I loved it.

Esqido Unforgettable Mink Lashes
Esqido Unforgettable Mink Lashes
Little Black Lash are the perfect "is she or isn't she wearing false lashes" lashes. They're ultra natural, and they offer 6-10 mm of length, with the most length concentrated in the middle of the band. Although, according to Esqido's volume scale, they offer the same amount of volume as the Unforgettable lashes, they're noticeably less full. I'm not an everyday lash wearer, by any means, but if I were, these would be ideal. They're appropriate for work, regardless of work setting, as no one will ever be able to detect them on your eyes. They're like 'my lashes but better.'

Esqido Little Black Lash
There are several differences between mink lashes and the synthetic ones you pick up at the drugstore. Firstly, Esqido lashes have cotton bands that are more pliable and mold to your eye shape more easily, making them more comfortable to wear. With the Unforgettable pair, while they weren't uncomfortable by any means, they didn't feel invisible either. However, I could've worn the Little Black Lash for days and completely forgotten I had them on.

Secondly, with proper care, Esqido mink lashes can be worn up to 25 times, whereas most drugstore lashes start losing shape or falling apart after a few uses. It's important to remove them by holding the band and never the lashes themselves, and I always pick off any remaining dried lash glue from the bank before placing them back in their box.

Also, look closely at these lashes. Every single lash looks like a natural lash, albeit longer and thicker, maybe. That's because they're thickest at the root and tapered at the tip, just like a natural lash. Many drugstore lashes are the same thickness from root to tip, making them easier to detect as falsies.

Overall, I'm in love with these lashes. They actually make me want to wear falsies more often because of how natural they look. At $34-$42 a pair, the Esqido mink lashes are definitely an investment. However, when you consider the fact that a pair of drugstore lashes will set you back around $5 for about 3-4 good uses, the cost isn't really all that different. Currently, you can also receive 15% off your order with code LOVESQ.



Disclosure: These lashes were sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.

2.16.2015

The Jelly Cleanser


NUDE Skincare is one of the few skincare brands that rarely fails to impress me. Besides their eye cream, which was just okay, in my opinion (read all about that one here), I've loved every other product I've tried from them. So, when they released their Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly ($38), it was added to my wishlist and subsequently, checked off, before you could even say 'Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly.' 

After working the jelly into my dry skin, I remove it with a warm, damp washcloth, moving in circular motions for gentle exfoliation. I normally don't even bother adding water to emulsify it, and I find it still works brilliantly. It leaves behind no residue - just soft, plump and healthy looking skin that feels balanced and content. None of that tight, squeaky clean feeling here. On my combination skin, I appreciate that it's hydrating enough for my drier areas, but still purifying enough for my oily t-zone. It has a very faint and non-offensive scent. 

In terms of how it well it removes makeup, I'm afraid this is where I won't be of much help. You see, I tend to reach for oil-based cleansers for makeup removal (waterproof mascara is a pain to remove), opting to reserve those cleansers deemed to be more 'special or luxurious' for either a morning or second cleanse. So, I have not yet tested the Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly during makeup removal, and I likely won't, any time soon.

When I first tried the NUDE Skincare Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly, I was immediately reminded of one of my all-time favorite cleansers, the Oskia Renaissance Gel Cleanser. The NUDE one is slightly thicker and requires more warmth from your fingers to melt the product into the skin than Oskia's, especially in the colder months, but in terms of how it leaves my skin feeling, I find the two to be pretty much the same, which is a huge testament to how great I think the NUDE cleanser is. 

Similarly to Oskia's, the NUDE Skincare cleanser is truly a cleanser that I feel would work beautifully on all skin types, from dry to sensitive to oily. If you're in the US and have struggled to get hold of the Renaissance Gel Cleanser (or even if you already have and love it, like I do), I'd recommend adding a bottle of the NUDE Skincare Perfect Cleanse Omega Cleansing Jelly to your top shelf.


2.13.2015

A New Everyday Staple: BECCA Wild Honey Mineral Blush


I haven't tried too many BECCA products, but just about everything I've tried has exceeded my expectations. They seem to be a brand that constantly surprises me with products that truly deliver. I really like the packaging too - very substantial and unique. One of my recent BECCA acquisitions is their Mineral Blush in Wild Honey ($32).

BECCA Mineral Blush in Wild Honey is a peachy nude with a satin finish. It's similar to NARS Luster, except it's a bit deeper, less pink and lacks shimmer. It's incredibly smooth, pigmented and easy to blend. Despite having a satin/soft matte finish, it isn't chalky or powdery at all. It's an easy throw-on blush shade that is perfect for any time of year, but it would be particularly gorgeous in the summer, as it's one of those that kind of acts as a blush and bronzer in one by delivering a flush and creating a warmth at the same time.

BECCA Wild Honey (L) and NARS Luster
Wearing BECCA Mineral Blush in Wild Honey
I've been wearing Wild Honey constantly since it landed on my doorstep. The formula is so easy to work with, and the warm peachy shade just seems to agree with my complexion. The satin finish looks so natural on the skin, too. No wonder it's one of my favorite blush finishes :)


2.10.2015

Tom Ford Lips & Boys Lip Color in Addison

Tom Ford lipsticks are the epitome of luxury and glamour. From the packaging to the formula, there are a multitude of reasons why beauty lovers are willing to dish out $50 for a lipstick, time and time again. For me, while I've always lusted after them, I was hesitant to part with that much cash, unless I was certain it would be worth it - meaning, either the color was so unique that it could not be duped, or it was so wearable and versatile that I could get infinite usage out of it. Fortunately for me, when Tom Ford released the Lips & Boys collection this past December with miniature lipsticks for a slightly more easily justifiable price of $32, I deemed it the perfect opportunity to snatch up my first TF-imprinted lippie, and I chose Addison.

The miniature lipsticks in the Lips & Boys collection contain 0.07 oz and retail for $32, while their full-sized lipsticks contain 0.10 oz and retail for $50, so you actually get more bang for your buck with the minis. Addison, a repromote of Pink Dusk, is a warm, medium, dusky pink with a natural, satin finish. It's one of those colors that I can easily pop on, regardless of what the rest of my makeup looks like, because it goes with everything. It's pigmented, creamy with not too much slip, and very hydrating. The formula is definitely top-notch.

Tom Ford Lip Color in Addison
Wearing Tom Ford Lip Color in Addison
The Lips & Boys collection is limited edition, but you can still find some of the shades on Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Tom Ford.


2.08.2015

Two New Favorites from IT Brushes for Ulta


My infatuation with the IT Brushes for Ulta range started randomly one day when I realized I needed to use my Ulta rewards before they expired. After acquiring and playing around with my first brush for a few days (and being given an Ulta gift card at a rather opportune moment), I swiftly added another to my collection. That's how much these brushes impressed me.

I've always loved angled blush brushes, but after my Sigma one gave out, I never got around to replacing it. With its shiny silver handle and overall simple, yet luxe, design, the Live Beauty Fully 227 Flawless Blush Brush ($28) stood out to me as a worthy replacement. The brush head is very similar to the Sigma one, except it's fuller, a bit more dense and most importantly, it doesn't shed. The bristles are also much softer, and the brush seems to be of higher quality across the board. I've been using this for applying my blush daily since getting it, and while I love it, admittedly, there was a bit of learning curve in the beginning. Since the bristles are more densely packed than what I'm used to, I found that using it to swirl on my blush tended to apply, but also remove, the color. This brush works best by tapping blush into the skin and using tapping or very light and short sweeping motions to blend. It would probably not be ideal for very pigmented or dark colored blushes (NARS Mounia and Bobbi Brown Berry are off limits, as far as I'm concerned), as it would be difficult to sheer out with this brush.

The second brush I picked up, the Live Beauty Fully 225 Complexion Powder Brush ($36), was chosen completely on a whim and without any particular need. (What can I say? I succumb to temptation too.) This one is like a slightly larger and fluffier version of the Real Techniques Blush Brush. Again, the bristles on this one are non-shedding and softer and more luxurious feeling than the Real Techniques one, which should not come as a surprise when you take into account the price difference. I love using this one for dusting on setting powder, but it also has the perfect shape and density for applying bronzer. It practically blends itself.

225 Complexion Powder Brush (top) and 227 Flawless Blush Brush

IT Brushes for Ulta encompasses three lines, all of which utilize synthetic bristles: 
  • Airbrush Essentials Collection :: These are their essential brushes with classic chrome handles, and they are also the most affordable
  • Live Beauty Fully Inspired Collection :: These are the mid-range priced brushes with sleek silver handles, and with each purchase of a brush from this collection, IT Cosmetics donates a brush to the Look Good, Feel Better program for women with cancer
  • Velvet Luxe Blurring Collection :: These are their luxury brushes with chic, matte black handles, and each one comes with a velvet pouch

I'm beyond happy with my newest brush additions, and I would certainly consider adding a few more to my collection eventually. The two brushes I have are fantastic quality and worth the price, in my opinion.


2.05.2015

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

To say I was excited to try the new NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation ($48) would have been an understatement. With promises to be long-wearing, lightweight, full-coverage and with a natural, luminous finish, all with only one drop of foundation, I was sold. I left Sephora with samples of the shades Fiji and Ceylan to test out, and I'd even purchased a full bottle in Ceylan after the SA convinced me that that would likely be my shade. After testing out my samples for the past five days, I'm finally ready to give my thoughts on it, and unfortunately, my full bottle will be going back to Sephora.

Although NARS describes Fiji as "light with yellow undertones" and Ceylan as "medium with yellow undertones," in actuality, Ceylan is quite obviously lighter than Fiji, and I also find that Fiji has a more peachy/slightly orange undertone, in comparison. Ceylan seemed to be just a touch too light for my NC23ish complexion, while Fiji was a touch too dark. 

While I can't test out the "one drop" claim because I've been using the foundation from sample jars and not from the bottle, I think it's slightly misleading, because what NARS actually means is one pump, although from what I've seen in videos, one pump of this foundation delivers less product than that of other foundations. I thought the texture of this would be similar to Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation, which has been compared to foundations like Giorgio Armani Maestro, but I found it to be very different. Although NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation also contains silicones, it isn't nearly as easily spreadable as the Perricone, and because it dries very quickly, it's best to work fast and in sections. I've only applied it using my fingers, as I'd heard that was the best method to allow the product to warm up with your fingers, and it prevents wasting any of the product in a brush or sponge.

In terms of coverage, it's medium-full for me. I consider true full coverage to be where you have virtually no need for concealer anymore, and that isn't the case with this, although I do find that I only need minimal amounts. I haven't tried building it up to full coverage, because I can tell based on how the product sits on my skin that it would turn out like a cakey mess. Once the foundation is blended in and dried, the finish is a beautifully natural and slightly luminous one. It truly does feel weightless on the skin, as well.

I find NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation averagely long-wearing (I definitely don't get a good 16 hours of wear out of it though, like the foundation promises), and although I like that it doesn't appear to separate and break down from my oily t-zone, I still have to blot every 3 hours or so, which is less than impressive to me. My main issue with this foundation, however, and the reason I won't be keeping it, is because it is incredibly unforgiving with dry patches. It clings to every spot of dryness I never even knew I had.

Bare skin (L) and wearing NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Ceylan (R)

Wearing NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Ceylan

I'm sad that NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation ($48) didn't work out for me, but that just leaves more room for other foundations to try, right? I have my eye on By Terry Cover Expert next...


2.01.2015

The Glistening Highlight: Illamasqua Lies

I don't often hear people talk about Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Lies ($35), but it's one of the more unique highlighters in my collection. Although in the pan, it appears to be more of a petal pink, once you break through the top layer, it reveals its true color, which is a pearly, icy pink (notice how the center of mine is much lighter than the edges). The texture is creamy but not thick, and it retains its creaminess in the finish by never fully setting. Cream to powder, this is not. I like to apply this by swirling my finger in the product and tapping it gently into the skin. 

On the skin, Lies creates this glistening effect that is unlike any other highlighter I've tried. It looks almost wet. It's not the most subtle of highlighters, although you could certainly use less than I did to achieve a more subdued sheen. I think this extra dewy shine would be most appreciated by dry skinned ladies and those who suffer from dullness, simply because it injects so much freshness and liveliness into the complexion. On my combo skin, I have to be careful to not overdo it, as it can make my skin look greasy as the day wears on and my natural oils start to peek through my foundation, although Lies itself does not have a greasy consistency.

Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Lies

Swatched unblended (left) and blended (right)
Lies appears quite frosty in the unblended swatch, but rest assured, because it blends into the skin so well, it doesn't retain much of the pink pigment or frostiness in the end. The effect is much more of a wet, glistening sheen.

Wearing Illamasqua Lies on the tops of my cheekbones and on the inner corners of my eyes
It's a shame Sephora no longer carries Illamasqua, but you can still find Lies on Illamasqua's website where they deliver internationally.


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