Opening a box from Pinch Me

If you are like me then when you’ve scrolled through Instagram you have probably come across the Pinch Me posts. I am not entirely certain when they started appearing on my feed, but they have been a presence for a while. Like Influenster, you can sign up for free and then once you fill out a profile, they will suggest samples for you to try out and review. I figured why not give it a try.

Now here’s the thing. I signed up for any sample they suggested (except pet food as at the moment, I don’t have a pet) I did not go for the items that required I sign up for another service. I just went for the suggested samples they were willing to send me without me purchasing a magazine subscription. (That seems to be what they want to sell me, magazines. You might get a different suggestion, but they feel that is for me.)

In my profile I said I was interested in health and beauty items. I also said that I didn’t want food items and I especially didn’t want candy. If you’ve ever seen the ads, they have quite a lot of nice health and beauty items available. So it was encouraging.

I received four items in my box.

The first was a pack of Gummy Bears. I like Gummy Bears. I especially like that the clear looking ones always turn out to be unexpectedly tropical in flavor. I know it, but I never really expect it. Or I didn’t this time. It has however been a long time since I had Gummy Bears. They were nice. And the sample pack was just the right size for a snack.

The second item was a pack of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. I like almonds and I like the brand Blue Diamond. The size is the perfect size for snacking on the go.

The Smokehouse flavor was however disappointing. It tasted like someone put salt and liquid smoke on the almonds. It made them slightly spongy in texture and not all that flavorful. While I will buy Blue Diamond in the future, I will stay away from the smoke house.

And yes I know that by just accepting the samples I’ve probably let their algorithm know that I lied when I said I didn’t want candy. But this was a test. I may play around with it, especially as the next two items were more relevant.

The third item was in fact very much appreciated. It is the Bausch and Lomb Bio True Multi Purpose solution. I wear contacts (and reading glasses actually) My eyesight has never been the best. I started out with coke bottle lenses, then moved to the thinnest lenses the glass makers could do. I had the hard contact lenses and then I gratefully moved into soft lenses when they became available.

Oddly my reading glasses has been the same trajectory. I picked up a cheap pair just to see if they’d help and when they did I got progressively better and thinner ones. (Highly recommend the Thin Optics if you are looking for a pair of lightweight readers). However this is about contacts, or at least contact solution.

Bausch and Lomb are generally my go to brand anyway but I hadn’t tried out this Bio True formula. I just finished my regular bottle and was ready to open a new on when this appeared so it was fabulous timing. I was very impressed with it. I spend a lot of time at the computer and my contacts do dry out. This actually kept them from feeling dry at all. (I’ve used it about a week at this point.). I am very impressed. Next time I purchase solution, I may switch to this formula. I really have been enjoying it.

The last item in my box I had never heard of before. I have no idea if it is a new product or one that I just somehow missed seeing before. It is the Kub Wipes Premium Dry cotton Wipes.They are made from 100% plant based fibers (which I would assume cotton wipes were made from, but it basically refers to additives) there are no chemicals, fragrances or preservatives and they are recyclable. They are soft with a slight texture and dispense like tissues from the box (which is a cardboard that can be recycled as well. They are billed as “Thicker than a tissue, cleaner than a towel, softer than paper”

I have to say they score on all those points. Because of poth the softness and texture, they were great at cleaning up eyeshadow fall out. And to be honest I did use my handy dandy water spritzer to wert the edge and use it damp as well as dry. It did a really good job when I used it during makeup application. I do like makeup wipes but I have gotten into the habit of not using them because of the waste. The fact that these can be recycled makes me feel a little bit better about them. I think I would still use them sparingly, but I could see myself purchasing these kub wipes on my own. I do find their little cotton man mascot thing a little on the creepy side. I don’t know why, anyone I’ve asked says he’s cute. But I find him slightly creepy. Not as creepy as the robot lady on the Vodka bottles but still kind of creepy. It is a good cotton wipe to have around though.

So there you have it, the four items I was sent. Two weren’t in my profile and two actually were. I can’t say I really mind the Gummy Bears or Almonds (even though the almonds were disappointing). I do find it amusing to compare the reality of the boxes with the images from Instagram. So I did. I think I will continue to circle through and see if I can work my way into more products that actually fit my profile by selectively choosing instead of accepting for the next round, but this was my Pinch Me Box.

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Foundation Quest continues with Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation

Section Two of the Great Foundation Quest Continues with Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation

Have you ever been both very pleased and very disappointed by a product at the exact same time?  That was my experience with this foundation from Catrice Cosmetics. But before we get into my experience, lets investigate this product and its claims a little more.  First off, the product is vegan and cruelty free, always a plus. It is gluten free as well. While I don’t consider that terribly important I know others do, so bonus. It is oil free which I do like and is alcohol free as well which I love. I personally prefer my alcohol in an icy cold extra dry martini or a glass of wine rather than in my skin care, but that is just me.  I’m happy to see Catrice working with me on that.

So far so good, right?

There are 23 shades available and they look like they are in a wide variety. I like seeing that, although I can’t vouch for how well they match other skin tones. I can only vouch for my own. And let’s face it, I’m not terribly hard to match.

The cost of this Foundation is $10.99 on the Catrice site.  I believe Ulta might have had it for less as part of a sale, but we’ll go with the non-sale price from the regular company website, which frankly, is pretty good when compared to many other foundations.

So what are its claims?

Ultra-light, high coverage foundation for a natural looking finish, Covers imperfections and mattifies the skin creating a smooth and even complexion for up to 24 hours, Features a unique dropper applicator

Over all, not that over the top as far as claims go. The reviews are pretty good though.  I should also point out that this is the foundation I picked up because a stranger recommended it when I went to Ulta.  I am pleased that it is mattifying because I like my foundation to look matte.  If I want anything more dewy I can always add illuminating drops but quite frankly dewy (on me at least) always reads greasy so I rarely go that route. I also like the ‘second skin effect’ line that is written on the bottle.

So to the bottle we go.

First off,It is a frosted glass bottle, which I found impressive at this price point.  I like glass, not only is it more recyclable but it feels more luxurious (to me at least) than plastic. It has a dropper, which is not my favorite applicator as I always manage to get the screw top gunked up. But for a good foundation, I’ll muddle through. I will however cover the disappointment first, just to get it out of the way, and because it has to do with the dropper.

To put it bluntly it didn’t work.

The unique dropper applicator they tout in the description wouldn’t pick up any foundation.  I shook the bottle.  I squeezed the black rubber nub.  Nothing.  I dipped I swished and I did everything I could think of including taking out the dropper washing it thoroughly to make certain there were no clogs in it and then trying it on water to see if it would work.  It didn’t like picking up water, let alone foundation.

I don’t know if I just got a defective dropper or what, but this left me with two alternatives. I could eiter use the dropper as a dip stick, dip it into the product and then smear the glass dropper on my face to apply the product (which I tried – not my favorite method) or I could repurpose a dropper from a different product.  As I recently finished several serums, and managed to repurpose the glass bottles as bud vases, I had a selection of droppers to choose from. I chose one (it has the white rubber squeeze-y bit as opposed to the black one in the photo) mostly because it fit in the bottle past the rubber closure.  It is a little too long to leave in the bottle so I took to keeping a small cup of water on my dressing table to drop it into once I finished applying the foundation.

Now at this point you may be asking, “So Mimsy, you were worried about the mess from a dropper in general, was the extra mess from two droppers worth it?”

Yes, yes it was.

I found the formula of this foundation to be fantastic for me. The shade I picked (030 Sand Beige in case you are wondering) was great on my skin.  I don’t know if I just chose well, but the color match is good and even though it looks a little light there is enough play in the color that as I tan it works well.  I think it might be a little too light mid summer but from winter into spring it works well.  If I end up using it, I would probably get one shade darker for summer leading into fall.  Given the range this one bottle has I feel confident I would only need two tones to cover me through the year instead of having to play mix and match for all four seasons. And at $10.99 each, two bottles won’t break me.  

The foundation applied smoothly.  On the product page they recommend using a brush for full coverage and a sponge for medium, buildable coverage.  My foundation application is pretty much the same for all foundations.  I put a little on my hand (generally one pump or dropper’s worth) I then use a finger to dot it onto my face.  I make sure the finger dots land on the darker spots or red bits I want to cover, figuring they need the most product and I can cover them and work my way out.  I use a brush to spread the foundation out, then a damp sponge to make sure there are no lines from the brush and to make certain the foundation gets into all of the nooks and crannies.

I’m sure there are several MUA’s out there shaking their heads at me, but this is how I have always applied foundation.  I then use the damp sponge to blend in concealer, in case you are wondering. I like that it has a little bit of foundation on it prior as I feel it helps with the blending. It is my process and it works for me.

It also worked really well for this foundation.  It gave me a good medium coverage look, which is what I in general go for.  I have no need for a foundation mask. 

On its own, the foundation covered all of my dark/red spots. With a primer, any primer, it was even better.  I found this foundation played well with all of the primers I tried. I tend to go for pore filling primers so between the primer and foundation the texture of my skin was well smoothed out.  It was mattifying without being drying and it didn’t look cakey. I am not mad at their ‘second skin’ advert as it is only a slight exaggeration.  I could tell I was wearing makeup but it wasn’t heavy looking and my baby doll didn’t notice I was wearing a foundation.  He just thought I looked nice.

For him that is a massive stamp of approval for a foundation.

(I should point out his two comments about foundation are either: ‘Nice, I didn’t notice it’ or ‘You have stuff on your face’. The second is generally said with the same tone as ‘you have spaghetti sauce on your face.’ A foundation aficionado he is not.)

While I can’t attest to the 24 hour coverage claims, I can say I wore it for sixteen hours one of the days that I tested it and I had no problems with it.  It didn’t sink into fine lines or pill up around my nose and mouth.  Over all I was really pleased with the foundation and how it worked.  To be honest, thus far the formula has been the best I’ve tried in both segments of my Great Foundation Quest. 

It is just that applicator.

And I know that sounds somewhat facetious to say. But the applicator is a big deal.  It could be the reason I end up not reaching for this foundation as much as I want to.  I’m hoping that it is just one faulty applicator instead of something that comes in every product. Because the product is good.  It defiantly makes the lineup for the second section of the trial.  Once I have finished testing the five foundations of this segment, I will line up the ones that pass the initial testing and see which ones I reach for and why as well as those I don’t reach for and why.  If I don’t reach for this foundation it will solely be the fault of the applicator, not the product.

Has anyone had this this problem before with this product?  If so send me a line.  I’d really like to know if it is just me that got a faulty dropper or if this is a common issue.  I’ll probably be ordering another bottle from the site, just to see if I have better luck the second time around, but it would be nice to see a wider pool than just two bottles.

So that was my experience with Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation. Everything except the dropper worked well for me and I found a way around the dropper.  To be honest I have never tried any Catrice product before and despite the dropper, this makes me want to look into some of their other products.  Not bad for a recommendation from a stranger. It almost makes me glad the foundation I intended to purchase that day was out of stock. I suppose we will see how it fares in the second round of testing. Stay tuned.

Reviewing the Real Her Ultimate Glow Getter Cheek Trio

The plastic is made to look like marble

I love palettes.  I like shadow palettes where I have an array of colors to choose from and I really like face palettes. Don’t get me wrong, I am sometimes very annoyed with palettes, for example when I get a blush palette where three shades are presented but only one works on my skin I feel rather irked. Best case scenario with that is that I use one down to pan and lament the waste of the others.

The Real Her Ultimate Glow Getter cheek Trio (retail $28) is the type of palette I like.  It is essentially a compact with a blush a bronzer and a highlighter. Surprisingly, I like all three.  I heard of Real Her as a company before, but had never tried any of their products before.  I think I may have to investigate some of their others.

When it arrived, I first looked at the blush as a little too light for me.  It looked a little on the pink side. Still, I tried it and I found that it is  a light, buildable formula. It is not a super pigment where one dab with the brush puts clown circles on your cheeks for the rest of the day. (You can see in the swatches below none of the products are super pigmented but all three are buildable.) And if the blush looks a little too light, it is easy to use the bronzer to adjust it a little bit. While the highlighter is bright, it too also blends down.

one swipe with the finger

I think that might actually be the strength of this palette.  It is not meant for a full on high glamour look.  It is meant for everyday wear-ability. They are soft colors that would be appropriate for the office or running errands. Personally, this is what I like.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of high glam, but for everyday looks, I like my face make-up to not be the first thing you notice about me. I don’t want to walk into a room and have someone say, ‘Wow that’s a highlight.’ I want them to say, ‘Wow you look good’.

I will admit I have been using the recent stay at home orders to go a little crazy with both eye and lip colors. Partially because it perks me up after watching too much news and partially because I have a couple of Stila liquid glitter shadows that are edging towards the end of their life span. They tend to dry out after a time once they are opened whether you use them or not, so I am trying to get as much use out of them as possible.

In doing this, I find I really like having a softer daily face so I have been using this palette a lot.  The pans have little divots on the side so I’m not sure if the pans are replaceable or not.  It looks like they ought to be, but I couldn’t easily pry them out without damaging the product so I will need to wait until at least one of them is empty to find out.  I didn’t see any replacement products offered on the site though which has me concerned. 

It would be a shame if it weren’t reusable as it is such sturdy plastic with such a nice mirror.  I will say that the white marble look of the plastic might not be the best for the interior.  As you can see, especially around the bronzer area, the product has stained the plastic. I’m sure with a disinfectant wipe I could get it clean again though. And to be honest, the pan sizes aren’t that unusual so even if Real Her doesn’t have replacement pans, I’m sure I could fit other products in and keep using the palette. Provided I can get the older pans out. 

But that is a problem for another time.  For now, I am enjoying using this palette for my general everyday looks and anticipating using it for lighter makeup looks throughout the summer. Where I live, glam looks tend to melt off the face within ten seconds of stepping outside once Mid May arrives often making the look a waste of product and time for everyday life.  That makes me doubly glad to have this in my collection.

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M. Greengrass Dry Oil Spray Review

M. Greengrass Dry Oil Spray

I’ll admit, when the M. Greengrass Dry Oil Spray (retail $36) came in my BoxyCharm Subscription box this month, I wasn’t quite sure what it was or how to use it.  In my defense the description ‘multi-purpose dry oil spray’ didn’t give a lot of direction, it just implied multiple uses. I don’t know, maybe I’m thick.  Luckily, the back of the bottle was much more descriptive and came with basic instructions citing use for both skin and in the hair.

As for the claims, according to the website:

This fast absorbing dry oil spray is formulated with a blend of high quality oils that quickly penetrate delivering superior moisture leaving skin soft and luminous without feeling greasy. 

 Notes:  Bergamot, Citrus, White Jasmine, Brazilian Soft Woods, Heliotrope, and Musk.

Free of parabens, PEGs, artificial colors, petrolatum, gluten, phthalates and mineral oil.  No animal testing ever!!!

I very much liked the free of list, especially as it is intended to more or less cover me from head to toe and some things I really don’t want on my body.  Since I don’t believe gluten can be absorbed through the skin and I don’t really feel like drinking the product, the gluten free is a bit superfluous, but I appreciate the lack of petroleum and mineral oil. Those seem like more practical exclusions, at least to me. I’m sure there are plenty who disagree. which is fine, personal differences make the world a more interesting place.

And we all know I’d hate to be bored.

In addition, all of the scents included are ones I like and when I spritzed the oil I really liked the way it smelled.  I can sort of see why the scent is named ‘Beach Air’ as it does sort of have a scent reminiscent of the beach, or at least it brings thoughts of the beach to me. All it really lacks is a kind of briny back scent for the full beach impact. 

It has a very light aroma with a slight earthiness which I’m guessing is from the musk. It is not as floral as I would expect from the Bergamot, White Jasmine and Heliotrope, which I also appreciate as if it was I think it might be too cloying without the earthy back note. I think the citrus and musk help balance the floral scents well.

As much as I like the scent, it is not billed as a perfume, so I set off to test it as a body oil first. When sprayed onto dry skin, the oil soaks in well and does not leave a greasy residue on either body or face. While the scent lingers for several hours afterwards, I was not leaving greasy fingerprints behind me which I (as well as those around me) appreciate.

I also tried it on wet skin, spraying my body after getting out of the shower instead of using my more customary body lotion.

My fresh from the shower skin absorbed the oil more readily, which isn’t a big shock as damp skin usually absorbs product more readily. I found my skin softer than when I used the oil on dry skin but oddly enough there was less of a scent remaining afterwards. 

On dry skin, the scent remained almost like a perfume.  With the wet skin, the scent was absorbed more and didn’t linger.  I will say though that throughout the rest of the day I did catch faint whiffs of scent, but it was very faint and no where as pronounced as when I used the spray on dry skin. With using the spray on wet skin I still could use a perfume should I so choose, when I used it on dry skin any perfume I wore fought with the scent of the oil.

After trying it on the skin, I used the oil on my hair. I found there to be no real value in using it on damp hair, but when used on dry hair, it helped with fly always and gave me the same powerful scent that it gave on dry skin. I also found that when I used the dry oil spray in my hair I could not wear perfume for fear of clashing scents. It did however not cause my hair to be greasy in any way. My hair did not feel weighed down and the scent and softness remained throughout the day.

As I found the scent quite nice, I think that I might use it on hair and dry skin on days where I am wearing no other perfume, but for the most part, I plan on keeping it in the bathroom for use on my skin just after the shower in lieu of body lotion.  I think it is more effective that way and I like the little teasers of scent that I get throughout the day without having it clash with any other perfume or scented product I may be using that day.  In addition I really like the spray bottle.  Not only is it an attractively packaged product, but the spray is a sturdy one that sprays an even, fine mist. It is also easy to use with wet hands, making it a really nice addition to my post-shower routine.


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Soap and Glory One Heck of a Blot Primer Review

Is it worth the hype?

On one of my forays into Target I came across a Soap and Glory sale.  As I’ve mentioned before I am a big fan of their Peaches and Clean face wash and thought this a good opportunity to pick up a few of their other products to try out. One of those products was the One Heck of a Blot Instant Perfecting Power Primer.

Try saying that five times fast, I think my fingers even stuttered typing it.

As this product has been well hyped by loads of folks, I’m sure you have heard of it.  If not, it is a mattifying primer and often spoken of as though it were some sort of magic potion.  And if they are selling magic potion for $11.99 at Target that actually works, then I am in.

As long as it works.

Because that’s the key.

Who wants a magic potion that doesn’t work?

Unless you are anti magic potion. Or involved in a complicated diabolical plot in which the magic potion could completely scupper your plans… Unless you are the good person and it is the tyrant who has the magic potion. Why do you always have to assume I’m the evil one in these scenarios? I could be good. Just because someone runs around in a black cape cackling madly as they thwart would be heros does not mean that I’m … I mean they are evil. Those heroes could have needed thwarting.

But that’s not important right now.

So to the product description page to find out the actual product claims.  It reads…

Want perfect, shine-free skin? Meet, arguably, the best primer ever – ONE HECK OF A BLOT™ Instant-Perfecting Power Primer. It absorbs oil and controls shine all day. So pores look smaller – your skin smooth. (For all skin types.) With PORE-SHRINK™ Technology to instantly diminish the appearance of pores and SHINE-BLOC™ 12HR Matte Spheres for all-day-shine control, our magnificent, multi-action primer helps hide imperfections, even out your skin tone and reduce the appearance of redness. It also helps makes your make up last longer and, with vitamin E, leaves you good to glow.

Not just a tongue twister featuring the letter P but one heck of a lot of claims. Let’s break them down.

Absorbs oil.

Shrinks pores.

Hides imperfections.

Helps make up last longer.

Evens out skin tones.

Everyone got that? Good.

First off, I should state that I love primers.  Often on my low makeup days once I have finished my skin care routine, I will apply primer, dust with powder, swipe on some mascara and lip gloss and consider myself done. It is an everyday part of my routine. So for my test of this product, I wore it both under foundation and on its own with only a powder topper.

The primer has a light pink tint to it which lends itself well to wearing without foundation.  I’ve always found the ones with a slight white tint to them to leave your skin looking a little lifeless if you don’t put anything over it. Those I save for under foundation. So the color enthused me.  I dotted the product on my face and then blended it in with a brush.

The product went on smoothly without a problem and I could easily see an immediate reduce in shine on my skin.  (While I tried to capture this, the flash went off on my camera and the overhead lights gleamed so I’m not sure how mattifying the second picture looks, but in person it was quite mattifying).  This was an excellent start.  After all a mattifying primer should mattify if nothing else. Which it did.

I don’t have a lot of redness or dark spots on my face so I didn’t see any sort of imperfection concealing abilities, but perhaps I would have seen more of an effect if I had a specific spot I wanted to conceal. It did help blur the look of my pores though which was nice.

Freshly washed with nothing on the skin.

My one concern was that it was not a very sticky product.  Many of my primers tend to be a little on the sticky side to grip makeup better.  This didn’t have that.  I’m not sure if that was an effect of the matte agents or what, but it wasn’t there.

Just the primer on my skin. I did see a significant matte effect.

On the days when I applied just powder and went about my day, the primer worked well. While the slight pink tint to the product did not tint my skin, it allowed my natural skin tones to show through so I didn’t look like I had any product on at all really, although I did notice that it helped sort of blur out my pores, so like my skin only a little better.  Not magic, but better. When I checked in the mirror later, I didn’t need to apply more powder because there was no shine of oil coming through.  While I am not a super oily person in general, if I am just wearing primer and powder then I generally find that mid-day a couple pats of powder help.  On the days I used this primer, I didn’t need the extra pats. It continued to keep my skin looking matte.

The product on my hand.

On the days that I used foundation, I made sure to try it not only under my favorite Becca liquid foundation, but my Nars foundation stick and the Neutrogena crème foundation with SPF 50 so that I could get a decent feel for how it worked with different formulas.  I had no problems with using this primer under any of the foundations.  It didn’t pill or crease into lines and it made foundation application smooth.

Did it do some slight blurring of the pores? Yes.

Did it mattify my skin and keep oil from seeping through during the day? Yes.

Did it extend the life of my makeup? Possibly, but mostly because it stopped oil from seeping through.

Did it hide imperfections and even out skin tone? A little maybe.

Is it a magic potion? Not really.

But it felt good on the skin and it is one of the best drug store primers I have come across.  Is it my absolute favorite primer? I have to say no.  I will say though that I will continue using it and I will repurchase it again to have on hand, especially on days when I know I want to shine for reasons other than because I’m oily. So even if it isn’t a magic potion, it is a good product at a great price and it has earned a spot in my make up bag. Even if the term Pore-shrink technology makes me think of 1950s sci-fi movies. As I said, this was only one of the products from Soap and Glory that I picked up. there were a few others and because of this trial, I am looking forward to testing them out even more.

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Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser Review

Kiehl’s cleanser

This Thanksgiving, my travel bag contained a tube of Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser.  I remember trying this product before and the only thing I could remember was that I didn’t hate it. So I was happy to put it into my travel kit, not only because I was pretty sure I didn’t hate it, but because it gave me a chance to try it out again and decide why it is that I don’t hate it.

It turns out, that I kind of like it.

First of all, the basics.

The cleanser comes in a plastic squeeze tube and a five ounce tube retails for $23. According to their website the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser should be used twice daily (morning and night). On the product information page:

Detoxify and exfoliate skin with our deep pore facial cleanser. Formulated with ingredients sourced from the mouth of the Amazon River, this daily exfoliating face wash helps remove dirt and oil while visibly minimizing pores. Gentle and non-stripping, our deep cleanser for pores leaves skin soft, fresh and healthy-looking. Gently removes oil, dirt and toxins while helping to minimize pores, Exfoliates and softens with a non-stripping foaming formula, Formulated with Amazonian White Clay, sourced from the mouth of the Amazon River, For oily skin and normal skin.

The product does not have any added scents to it, which I like in a cleanser, and when you take off the cap it smells like clay.  It has the same clay scent that most clay infused face masks have and truthfully, that is what it looks like when you squeeze it into your hand. It reminds me more of a mask than a cleanser. It also feels a bit like a mask when you apply it to your skin.  I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t actually a face mask. 

The cleanser feels very mask like on the skin.

The product is slightly cool and somewhat gritty to the touch.  It does have particles included in the product that are designed for exfoliation.  While it is noticeably gritty, it is not overly harsh on the skin.  I did not feel like I was doing a massive exfoliation when I used this product. That was the part I was most nervous about actually as cleansers are meant to be used twice a day.  If it were a harsh exfoliator that would do some real damage.  This is actually just enough.

I did not use it to take off my make-up, I used a cleansing balm for that, partially because of habit and partially because I didn’t want to use it on my eyes and to scrub off mascara.  The cleansing balm takes the make-up away and then the regular cleanser removes whatever is left behind.  Since this doesn’t claim to remove make-up I didn’t feel I needed to test it for that purpose.  I will say though that it did take off all of the residue left behind and made my skin feel  super clean and polished.

Did it match their claims?

Gentle exfoliation? Yes.

Minimizing pores? Not really, at least not that I could tell in the length of time I used the product.

Removes oil, dirt and toxins? Yes.  I could tell that my face was getting a really good clean.  I had a couple of spots coming out because I tend to break out when I travel (regardless of products used or not used) and I have to say this cleanser gently scrubbed the oil away and kind of dried the pimples out so they disappeared faster.

Did it strip my skin? No.

Over all it is a really good product.  I don’t think that I would continue to use it every day, but I think I will keep it for days when I am on the oiler side or am feeling pimples under the skin waiting to erupt.  I think that is when this product really shines.  I just don’t think my skin is oily enough to use this product daily. When they claim that it is for normal to oily skin, they are being flat out honest.  I think that if you have dry skin you should avoid it and that the oilier you are, the more you will like it. Because it goes on like a mask, I might actually consider using it in combination with another cleanser. This could be used on my oily t-zone and then another product on the rest of my face. Because of its mask like consistency, I think you can actually get away with using it that way since it is clearly not going to run, it is thick enough to stay in place.

So my final review is that it is a good product, and one I might consider buying again but not one I will use every day, just on my acne prone ones or when I need a light exfoliation. Because of its effectiveness though, it has earned a spot on my skin care shelf.

Affiliate code(s): I receive compensation if you use the code(s) posted below for a purchase.

Alyaka The Art of Beauty: Receive 15% off for your first order! Use promo code: SAVE15

Disney Lipstick Review

Evil Queen, Hades, and Dr. Facilier

That’s right, today I return to one of my favorite loves, lipstick. Magical lipstick, it is both my anti-snacking device and often my mood indicator. Feeling tired and schlumpy? Time for untinted lip balm. Feeling sassy? Well, hello intense pigments. How are you doing?

It is a much more reliable gauge than a mood ring let me tell you.

This is especially exciting for me because I put a moratorium on buying lipsticks for a while. I felt I had enough and was risking spilling over into the far too much category. and when you get there, the chance that some of them will go bad before you can use them up arises. and that is a sad, sad death for a lipstick.

So I told myself to avoid buying lipsticks until I cleared out some space by using things up. Which I did. First, I concentrated on using up as many of the small sample sized lip products as I could. Then I used the lipsticks and liquid lips that were already starting to look a little low. A few lipsticks were already close to being nubs and I had a couple where it was actual work for the lip wand to actually reach the product. Once those were finished up and a sad parting of the ways occurred there was a lot of extra room.

Sadly there were two liquid lips that smelled off and just didn’t make it. Admittedly I think I had them for several years past their expiration date.

The end result?

Evil Queen

Space in my lipstick container and three new lipsticks. The three, as you can probably guess, come from the Disney Villains Collection from Colourpop. They retail for $8 each. For the record I have no affiliation with the brand. I just saw the lipsticks, wanted the lipsticks and bought the lipsticks.

I confess I love colourpop’s liquid lipsticks, but this is my first go round with their traditional bullet style lipsticks and I was impressed before I even applied them. Not only is the packaging great, but the tube of lipstick feels rather substantial in the hand. Given the price point I expected a thinner, lighter weight and lets just say it, cheaper plastic. It is not. The tube feels luxurious in the hand despite being at a similar price point as many drug store lipsticks.

But packaging is one thing, it is the product that counts, no?

me with evil Queen, and yup, I finally got a haircut

The first one I tried was the Evil Queen lipstick. Truth be told, it was the reason I went looking at the collection in the first place. While I may be more of a berry toned girl, my baby loves red lipstick. Or as he likes to call it, lipstick colored lipstick. The problem is that most reds are a little too orange-y for me. so I have periodically been questing. This red is a red with blue undertones and on me it is a true red. So the color right away, I liked. The formula for this (and all three to be honest) is creamy and applies smoothly, but not heavily. The only draw back for me is that even after blotting, the red tends to leave lip prints. I wore it for several hours and while it didn’t fade away, it never truly dried down enough to stop leaving marks. Oddly enough though, it didn’t smear on my lips. While I love this one I think I will wear it when I am going out but not planning to eat or drink during the outing. It wears well, but I really don’t like leaving a trail of lip prints.


Surprisingly, that was not a problem with the other two lipsticks. Hades went on as smoothly as the Evil Queen and felt just as creamy. But after a quick blot and a few minutes to settle, the formula stayed put and didn’t leave lipstick all over my coffee mug. It is a lovely nude shade that is perfect for when I want to go crazy with the eyeshadow and don’t want my lips competing for attention. Not the most exciting, but terribly useful for my collection.

Me with the neutral Hades lip

The third lipstick, Dr. Facilier, while not my favorite villain, is actually my favorite lipstick of the trio. It is a muted mauve shade that can be worn pretty much every day in my opinion. It is a good day to day shade, not to bright for office hours and not to bland for going out after work. It is the no worries shade which for me at least is really hard to find.Like the other two it applied smooth and creamy on the lips and didn’t feel heavy or waxy or sticky. while it had more color than the Hades neutral, it too stayed put after a quick blot.

not my favorite villain, but maybe my new favorite lipstick, Dr. Facilier

If my trio is anything to go by then it is just the red formula that has the lip print trail issue. which is good to know because with the success of these three I think I might want to look into more of colourpop’s lipstick line. Do the princesses live up to the villains? In life rarely so, it always seemed to me that villains act and heros merely react and far too many princesses are just victims of circumstance and moved through the story like a package. but that’s another issue all together. I will probably also be trying their non-disney lipsticks at some point to see if the regular formula stacks up.

Me with the Dr. Facilier lip, please ignore the wet hair, I took the pic in a hurry before I forgot. sigh. Not my best but I love the lip.

But that will have to wait. For now I have three new lipsticks in my collection, all of which I will use. I still have several older to use up so for now, I will curb my addiction once again and use what I have and what drops into my life from subscription boxes before making another purchase.

Unless I find one I just can’t resist. As sad, but almost inevitable possibility. But at least for now, my love of lipsticks is temporarily sated.

Neutrogena healthy skin compact makeup Review

As I’m sure you can see, the product does tend to smear a little on the inside of the clear plastic.

In my quest to delve into crème based foundation, I tried both IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact (Review previously posted) and a drug store brand.  The drugstore version I went with was the Neutrogena healthy skin compact makeup.  I chose this one for a number of reasons.  One it was a crème foundation (which is what I am testing) that has sunscreen.  While the It version has SPF 50, this has SPF 55, so it is relatively comparable.  While I will be making a comparison, mostly because the products are so similar in what they do, I also suspected that the reason the IT version was slightly greasy was due to the inclusion of sunscreen and I didn’t want to try a non-sunscreen version and skew my opinion of the product.

So to the basics. The product, to give it it’s full name is the Neutrogena healthy skin compact makeup with broad spectrum SPF 55 helioplex. On the Neutrogena site this product retails for $14.59 (currently on sale for $10.94).  I picked mine up at Target for $10.99 in case you are interested.  It wasn’t a sale so I think that is their normal Target price. Now since this is a comparison, I need to add that while the It Confidence in a Compact is $38, it comes with 0.63 ounces of product .  The Neutrogena version comes with 0.35 ounces of product or a little more than half the product. (To be sticklers 0.315 or 0.32 ounces would be exactly half although I’m sure you already did the math in your head).  

While the packaging is bulky and comes with a rather useless sponge, I do like the mirror that is fitted into the divide between sponge and product.

Since no one is going to sell you one of these products with 0.03 ounces of product removed, you would have to buy two of the Neutrogena products to equal the amount of the It Confidence in a Compact. That means to get the same amount of product, you’d need to buy two.  With the full retail price on the site that comes to $29.18 plus shipping, or $21.98 if you are going to Target. Personally the small price difference bothers me a little.  There has always been expensive makeup out there and even if you couldn’t afford it, there was the drugstore to fall back on.  The fact that there is less than $10 difference between the two (at full price) doesn’t sit right with me. I know Neutrogena is on the pricier side of the drug store, but still, over all drug store prices have been creeping up as of late.

me with freshly scrubbed skin

Personal worries aside, lets get to the claims.  According to the Neutrogena site:

This product offers…Compact makeup. Powerful protection.  Get a flawless, natural look, while helping to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays.  Our dermatologist-tested silky. Lightweight formula gives you buildable coverage and provides the most powerful level of UVA-UVB protection available in a compact foundation without feeling heavy or greasy. Broad Spectrum SPF 55 protection. With Helioplex UVA/UVB. Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores).

me with just the foundation on. I like that it didn’t gunk up in the corners near my nose or settle into the lines by my eyes. (In case you are wondering about the tilted pose, I was trying to show those sections of my face.

Okay, so I like the sunscreen aspect of the product. Like it’s compatriot from IT, the packaging is bulky because they included a sponge and a separate compartment for it.  Also like its compatriot, the sponge is relatively useless. I tried to use it, failed miserably and reached for my foundation brush.  The brush sank into the soft formula and gathered too much product so I once again used my fingers to streak it across my skin like tannish war paint. You know the kind warriors wear to sneak into places that sell Dockers when attacking.

Full face and ready to face the day

Go ahead, take a moment to picture that. I assure you I did, then giggled. Go with an outlet mall for the setting. Don’t forget to add the head dress created out of time slips and weaponized staplers held at the ready. Done?  Good, I hope you giggled too.

The finger smear method worked, and then I used the brush to smooth it out.  The foundation blended well and provided a medium coverage.  It in no way felt cakey and to my surprise felt less greasy than I expected.  The formula felt like it would be greasy when I put finger to pan, but on the face it was as silky smooth as advertised.  And it did feel weightless.  Once on it was easy to forget that I applied it. It is super easy and comfortable to wear. But would it last?

Truthfully , yes. 

Me at the end of the day, foundation still in place with no actual issues.

I wore it all day, and while my lipstick did not survive, the foundation did. It lasted all day.  While I did not do any touch ups, remembering my last foray into sunscreen filled foundation, I checked it periodically. There was very little shine peeking through and at no time did I feel like I needed to re-powder my face.  (I should add with the exception of lipstick, I used all of the same products on my face as before). I wore this foundation eight and a half hours as well (The other foundation I wore for seven hours.  I didn’t intend to go longer, it just worked out that way).

I have to say, I really liked this product. And to be fair, I wasn’t expecting to.  Once I did the price math, my expectations were raised for the product and just on principle (high drug store cost) I didn’t want to like it.  But I do.  In fact I like it better than the IT confidence in a compact.  It felt better on the skin and didn’t require monitoring throughout the day.  I could put it on and forget I was wearing it as I went about my day. I would have preferred if they included more product and left out the useless sponge.  Not only would it have made the product more budget friendly, but it would have knocked down the size of the product.  They are both rather bulky items and contain excess plastic. But that is something for the marketing department.

In summary, I liked this product and would actually consider buying it again. After testing it, I think I would buy it over the IT version. As I always have a mental impression that the high end brand is going to be better than the drugstore version, this came as a bit of a surprise to me.  I suppose that means I need to revise my expectations.

At the moment the Neutrogena healthy skin compact makeup is a front runner for my non-liquid foundation traveling case. The fact that I will be traveling with it makes me want a slimmer package as well, but I can do nothing about that.  In my comparison quest for more travel friendly makeup, I will be testing two stick foundations next week. Again I will try one high end and one drug store version and see which works out better. Before I would have naturally placed one above the other, but now, who knows. I suppose it is some consolation though.  Drugstore products may be getting more expensive, but they are also getting better. That is something my inner accountant likes at least.

Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Review

Pretty Filter Jar with packaging

Pretty Filter Waterful Cream by Touch in Sol was one of the add ons for IPSY in the month of August and I purchased it at the add on price of $12. The cream itself retails for $38 on the Touch in Sol website.

I have to say I was very much looking forward to trying out this face cream.  I have been hit or miss on water creams, but thus far everything I’ve tried from Touch in Sol has been a good product.  Admittedly, that isn’t a large number and both of them were primers, but they were very good primers, each for a different season and both of which went on my ‘to buy again’ list. I also like the fact that the box was just a box with no filler in it. The company chose a box that fit the jar inside and didn’t try to provide excess packaging. The small card stock bock was easy to break down. I actually added it to my compost in the back and it broke down well. A small thing, I know, but I like it.

So to the facts.

We’ve already covered price, so let’s move on to weight. On the package it lists the amount of cream inside as 1.76 ounces. When the full unopened jar was weighed it came out to exactly 6 ounces. After two weeks of use the jar weighed exactly 5 ounces. Doing simple math, the jar itself weighs 4.24 ounces and I used 0.76 ounces of cream in my two week trial.  By extrapolating out I would guess that this cream would last another two and a half to three weeks (maybe more if the weather actually looks at the calendar and turns to fall and the sun stops trying to dehydrate me like a raisin). 

So at a general estimate the $38 jar of cream will last about five weeks.

This makes the length of time the cream will last about as long as the Sunday Riley Vitamin C cream I tested a while back and much longer than the Purlisse Matcha Green Tea cream.  (Both had the same amount of cream and both reviews are posted on the blog elsewhere so I won’t restate my opinions here.) Product amount and packaging give us a good start.

Now the claims.

According to the website it is a:

…Light weight Moisturizing Cream perfect for all skin types. EWG green formula. Hyaluronic acid helps to instantly provide intense moisture to skin. Hydrolyzed collagen helps restore plumpness and firmness.

So not a lot of claims. Personally I kind of like the face that it is a face cream that says its a face cream and doesn’t promise you eternal youth or a lost city of gold. (Sorry I’ve been reading a lot of ‘Age of Discover’ books lately and fell asleep after reading about El Dorado last night).

I will say it does provide moisture and absorbs well if you give it a little time. You do have to wait a minute or so to let it soak in before applying anything over it and if you apply too much it will just sit on the skin and you will have to wipe it off. If you are in a rush, go light on your application and brush your teeth or something while you wait for it to sink in. You can’t rush it , but doing something else makes you feel less like you are waiting and more like you are running through your morning routine. I didn’t notice any plumpness or firmness increasing. It did keep my skin soft and hydrated though and I really liked the texture.

Interior of the jar showing the jelly like cream

I have tried two other water creams prior to this, one I really liked (Purlisse Watermelon Water Balm) and one I didn’t care too much for (Belif Water bomb).  This is better than the Belif, but not as good as the Purlisse, putting it right in the middle. Compared to other creams in general, it is also a mid-range option for me. It is a good cream. I will use it until it is gone, and I wouldn’t mind using it again (especially since the price is more affordable than other creams I’ve tried and liked).  It is not however going on my ‘must haves’ list, but it does hold a place in my ‘have no problems using again’ list. Across the board, this cream is squarely in the middle. If I had a one to ten rating for each separate evaluation for a face cream, it would have scored fives in every category. I suppose that shows consistency

TONYMOLY Panda’s Dream White Sleeping Pack Review

TONY MOLY Panda Sleep Mask

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I got it for the panda.

I was going to start with how I love sleeping masks.  Which,  I do.  Especially in the summer.

During the Summer I tend to go light on my daily moisturizer (mixing a little sunscreen in) and then use more moisturizer at night.  A couple of times a week, I use a sleeping mask (more if I know I’m spending a chunk of the day outside) to help adjust my skin’s moisture levels. It’s an odd system that gets tweaked depending on my day, but it works for me.

During the winter I don’t use the sleeping masks as much.  I’ll use them if I’ve spent the day outside in the wind or the cold or if I’m staying over at someone’s place where the central heat has dried out the air (we tend to keep our house kind of cool in the winter and just wear wool socks and cardigans).

But it is Summer now, so the winter regime is packed away with the wool socks and sweaters (not literally, I actually ran out of product around Easter and won’t repurchase until the fall, just saying.)

And I realized I was running low on my sleeping mask. 

I went poking around on line and came across Beauty Net Korea.  It appeared they were having a sale, but then every time I’ve been to their site it looks like they are having a sale. So I poked around a bit.  I came across a whole section of TonyMoly stuff, which a friend of mine raves about. (She is also really into anime so I thought her review might be packaging related.)

Now, I’ll admit, one of the reasons I didn’t purchase their stuff before was that it looks really cute.  I know, not the way packaging is supposed to work, but in the back of my brain I thought, ‘Sure, for a lip gloss cute is fine, but we are talking actual skin care product here.’

Yup, I judged a book by its cover.

Shame upon me.

But I was still doubtful.  However, the site was offering the oh so cute sleep mask for $4.27.  I decided, to try it.  Even with the tax and the shipping it came to $8.68. As the price is offered at Ulta for $16 and Macy’s for $14.50, I decided even with shipping it would be okay.  I also somehow suspected it was going to be a sample size. 

It was not.  It was full size.

I also suspected it would take forever to reach me. Like months forever.  It took a week and a half.

Since every other expectation was shattered, I began to have hope for the product.

So to the description.  First a warning, while Beauty net Korea has great prices, they do not have great descriptions. They do have sheet masks for twelve cents though so if you are experimenting with products, it is a good place to look into. The description below came from elsewhere (the TONY MOLY site to be exact)

So…Panda’s Dream White Sleeping Pack

While you’re dreaming away, Panda’s Dream sleeping mask works hard to brighten up your skin tone, so you can wake up to healthy and luminous skin! Visibly smoother and softer skin is just a good night’s rest away with our lightweight, brightening mask. This lightweight yet hydrating formula easily absorbs to infuse your skin with lavender, rosemary, bamboo shoot extract and berry extracts to brighten dark spots and help even out your skin tone.

Okay, now we know what to expect. Admittedly, I have to say, I always distrust exclamation marks in product descriptions. It makes me think they are trying too hard. (I know, I am a mass of biases aren’t I?)

First, the cream does come in a really cure plastic panda container. Usually I like glass because it is more easily recyclable, but as it is really sturdy plastic and  I am fairly certain once it is empty it will be turned into a paperclip holder or something else around the house (either mine or a younger family member’s) rather than going to the dump, I am okay with the plastic. And I will admit, I kind of smile when I see the chubby little panda sitting with the more adult looking creams on my bathroom counter.

It’s like a snuggly invasion.

But while packaging is nice, product is king.

If you’ve been reading my posts, you will know that scent is a big thing for me, so once I twisted open the panda and pried up the plastic top, I lifted the jar to my nose. I know it claims lavender, rosemary, bamboo and berry in the description, but I didn’t smell any of that quite honestly.

You know what it smells like?

It smells exactly like the unscented night cream my mother used when I was a kid.

It is face cream scented …face cream.

Yeah, I don’t know how else to word that.

I admit, it has a certain nostalgia to it.  It reminds me of having my wet hair combed out before bed, being tucked in and kissed good night. So, I’m not mad at the smell, I just don’t know what else to call it. And combined with the panda packaging, I feel like I’ve shaved several decades from my age even before I use the product.

Which isn’t a bad thing either.

I can’t say the product does much in the way of whitening. I have a couple of dark spots along my hairline and they don’t appear to have changed. (But then nothing else has changed them either). 

As far as moisturizing goes, this product works really well.  It soaks in well (just give it a few minutes 3-5 between putting it on and going to bed or your pillow case will need changing in the morning) and my skin felt soft and smooth in the morning.  It isn’t a miracle product, but it is a good sleeping mask.  And if I can continue to get it at a lower price, I will certainly add it to my re-purchase list.