Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In and Out #2

You know you're addicted to blogging when you start thinking in blog terminology. Now whenever I like or dislike something, I instantly add it to my future in and out post.


Avatar: I watched this movie on Christmas day at a 10:30 PM. And believe you me, my eyes were wide open all the way till 1:30 when it ended (its 2 hrs 40 min). Avatar completely lives up to its hype. I really feel like a new ceiling has been broken in movie making. There was no discernible line between animation and traditional filming. The filmmaker's imagination, the technical breakthroughs, the morals of the story, the pure beauty of the world, it was all awesome. MAKE SURE you watch it in 3-D!

The Kid Who Climbed Everest: if you love watching Bear Grylls (from the show Man vs. Wild) you'll love this book. It chronicles Bear's journey to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Never before have I read a book about a 22 year old who earned the wisdom of an 80 year old monk. Climbing this mountain did this to Bear. You must read it; it makes my new year's resolutions look like child's play compared to the discipline he has.

Decorating my house: Let's just say if this blog were about interior design, I'd have many hauls up this week! I recently bought a bookcase from IKEA so I can turn my basement into a library. I organized my books by color, which I highly recommend because it looks chic and scholarly at the same time! I also placed square wicker storage boxes into some of the cubbies to store DVDs. I also picked up this a gorgeous vase from Crate and Barrel. I love how the light catches it, and it looks good on every surface! I want like 3 of them!


Gaining holiday weight: Honestly, I don't even want to jump on the scale. The mirror and my ill-fitting jeans are proof enough that I need to stop eating crap food. Which is why I'm going vegan for the next month. I hope to detox my body of all the crap I've been putting into it. After about a month, I'm going to regroup and probably stop being vegan, but continue to be a very disciplined eater. I don't want to put a label on myself, just want to start eating fresh, smaller portions, filled with food that is in-season and preferably local.

Being glued to the tube: Just because its cold outside, I've been lazily lounging on my sofa for way too long. My hubby and I are considering cutting off cable so that when we turn on the TV, we will have to select something to watch (like a movie), and once its over, we turn it off. No more mindless watching of people with messy homes!

Waking up late: When I wake up late, it feels like my whole day is already wasted. I want to start waking up at 7 AM every day. Which brings me to my 3 resolutions this year:

1. Watch what you eat and exercise. No need to go crazy and get a six pack in 3 months. This resolution is meant to build a lifestyle of activity and health that will be a good foundation for when I start a family. I'm aiming for a mostly vegetarian, seasonal diet, and working out at least 3x a week.
2. Stop watching so much TV. 
3. Wake up at 7 AM. Even if I have nothing to wake up for, just wake up. Its the right thing to do!

I'd love to know your ins and outs, so please feel free to put 'em in the comments, or blog about them and let me know!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009's Best Face Forward

As you all know I believe that beauty starts with clear skin (hence my blog's name, Clearly Beautiful. Get it get it? ok moving on...). Ever since my first pimple at the age of 13, I've been devoted to trying out everything the skincare industry can throw at me with the promise of acne-free skin. Now that I'm in my mid-20s, I'm not only concerned with combating adult acne, but also preventing visible signs of aging. So for 2009, these were the products that delivered on their promises. Although I still suffer from breakouts, several problem zones of my face have been completely acne-free for a while (like my forehead and temples). So although the battle is only half-won, here are the VIPs of the year:
Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser: the active ingredient here is salicylic acid. This face wash is to be used after you've removed your makeup. I love how it has a non-foamy consistency, a refreshing cucumber smell, and a cool tingling sensation as you massage it in.

Olay Regenerist daily thermal mini-peel: the powerful combination of glycolic acid, thermal action, and microscrubbers combats both acne and dull skin (which contributes to an aged appearance). I adore anything containing glycolic acid, because I really see results overnight. Love this peel.

Lush Dark Angels: Honestly, please go buy this. Yes, charcoal-based products are a pain in the a** because they make a huge mess in your sink, but your skin will thank you for the effort. I love using this on particularly oily, icky skin days. The charcoal, rhassoul mud and black sugar make for a super duper exfoliator. I feel like I've had a microderm abrasion Lush-style.

Lush Grease Lightning: I gave my benzoyl peroxide the pink slip once I started using this serum every night. It prevents new break outs and quickly dries out blemishes. Best of all, it does not dry out my face like benzoyl peroxide did. And the tea tree scent is wonderful.

Aspirin: If you have nothing else in your arsenal for acne, keep a bottle of uncoated aspirin tablets around. Whenever I get a breakout, I mix 2 dissolved aspirin tablets with a cream cleanser and spread it on my face. After 30 min, I wash off, and presto, my blemish is zapped in no time. I call this my bazooka because it definitely works, but dries me out.

Mario Badescu Strawberry Face Scrub: Ok ok, I know I have used only a sample of this stuff, and only for 1 month. But I'm so impressed with it that it's made it on this list. This scrub not only exfoliates away dead skin cells, but brightens my complexion so I look a couple shades lighter. I absolutely love the texture and luxurious experience it delivers.

So there you have it, my favorite skincare goodies for 2009. These items will definitely be permanent pieces in my vanity. However, you may notice that I haven't raved about any moisturizers or makeup removers here, because nothing I've tried has blown me away enough to give it this recognition. Hopefully I will soon hit upon some gems.

If you have any suggestions for great moisturizers and makeup removers, please let me know!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

As 2009 winds down I find myself looking back and thinking of all the holy grails I've discovered this year. The quest for amazing makeup is not something I want to end--I always want a product to out-preform my current favorite. And I test that limit every month when I buy a new product simply for the novelty and adventure of testing a new toy. But these products have stood up to my fickle shopping ways. Even if I did buy something new, I make sure these products are in my collection at all times as veterans of their industry.  
Oscar for best liquid foundation goes to Revlon Colorstay Foundation. Medium-full coverage, a low drugstore price, immense lasting power, and a wide color selection make this a winner. However, it does break me out if I use it on a daily basis and makeup removal is a b****!

The Oscar for the best powder foundation goes to MAC Studio Fix. As with Revlon, this gives medium-full coverage, is priced well since it lasts a VERY long time, and MAC is renowned for its color selection. This trumps Revlon Colorstay because it does not cause acne breakouts on me. However, the coverage is not as long-lasting, so I use it for work, not play.

The Oscar for best lipsticks goes to MAC. I love how moisturizing these puppies are, and the color selection is almost infinite. My favorites are To Swoon For and Chintz on Chintz.

The Oscar for best lipgloss goes to NYX. This gloss is priced reasonably, gives sheer or heavy coverage, depending on which shade you choose, and is in the sweet spot between sticky/long lasting, and non-sticky/short-lived.

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack takes the Oscar for best eye-liner: This liner is the perfect black, is priced well because it will last for eons, and applies like a dream, no matter how clumsy you are. Just use an angled liner brush, and you'll be lining like a pro in no time.

The Oscar for the best mascara goes to Maybelline Define-a-Lash. Do not be fooled by its humble drugstore status. This is one amazing mascara. The waterproof lengthening formula does EXACTLY what it promises: it separates, defines, lenghtens, and stays put until you've generously swiped it with eye makeup remover.

Kat von D in Ludwig wins the best eye-shadow pallete Oscar. Ok ok, I haven't tried EVERY eyeshadow pallete in the world, and certainly not MAC, but I have to say that for the price, this pallete will provide you with several looks, from neutral to bolder smoky looks. It all depends on which shades you use, and how you apply them. It's an amazing pallete that I reach all too often.

Last but not least, the ole'  faithful Oscar goes to Urban Decay Primer Potion. This Oscar is simply for a product that I've forgotten how to live without. I love using it even by itself to mattify and brighten my eyelids. And when I use it as a base, its not sticky, just perfect for applying e/s and having it stay on ad infinitum.

So there you have it folks. My top makeup picks for 2009. I hope 2010 exposes me to many more products because I have a humble, yet burgeoning makeup collection. I hope 2010 brings me more MAC faves and drugstore finds, but also opens me up to other brands. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quick lil' NOTD: OPI Done out in Deco

Although this lovely lilac shade is more appropriate for spring when the tulips are amongst us, I just love seeing it on my nails on these cold days.

Here it is. With a top coat, OPI nailpolishes last forever and ever. I'm so impressed!

BTW, I've been loving Sally Hansen's Miracle Cure for severe problem nails:

This product can be applied alone to treat flaky nails, but also does triple duty as a fantastic base coat, ridge filler and top coat. For $7.99, this is a terrific multi-tasking product. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Hope you all are having a lovely Christmas Eve, and have a Merry Christmas (or a Festivus for the Rest of Us!) 

PS. I am making a 2010 wishlist as I type this (I wanna try new brands like Purity). As for my next post, I will do an Oscars for Cosmetics post, where I talk about my favorite products in 2009. 

Muah, Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I love you NYX Ice Princess!

Ice Princesss was my debut entrance into the wonderful world of NYX. And what a smashing entrance. I have to say NYX has blown me away with their quality, price and packaging. A+ in all three. On to les swatches!

Ice Princess is a sheer pink shade that can be worn alone, or layered over any shade of lipstick. I wanted to show you guys a picture of my lips with Ice Princess, but it looks quite sheer and since everyone's lips are differently pigmented, I thought this would be more helpful

My favorite way to wear Ice Princess is to apply it over 2 MAC lipsticks: To Swoon For and Chintz on Chintz. Here are all three shades:

Top to bottom: MAC To Swoon For, MAC Chintz on Chintz, NYX Ice Princess

As for texture, I find this to be not too sticky, and not too light--just right. It does require re-application throughout the day, but that's just the nature of the beast when it comes to lipglosses (unless you are using UBER sticky Dazzleglass, which I don't care for because my hair keeps sticking to it!).

When it's time for my next haul, I will be bee-lining to Ulta for many more NYX products, especially lipglosses and JEPs!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Super Mario Badescu Strawberry Face Scrub

I know this has been all over the blogosphere already, but for those who don't know, if you go to Mario Badescu's website and fill out a questionnaire about your skin, they will suggest products for you and ship you free samples. This review is about my FAVORITE sample out of the lot, the Strawberry Face Scrub:

Here's what it looks like:
The claim: Made with real Strawberry seeds that gently buff away flaky skin while natural AHA’s break down dulling build-up to unclog pores and prevent blackheads. It improves skin's overall texture by revealing healthy, glowing skin. ($15.00 for 4 oz.) 

With no hesitation, I can say that this has landed on my wish-list and I will not rest until I buy a full size. Before I run away with my feelings, here's the rational breakdown:

1. Price: I wouldn't mind paying $15 for a product I will use 2-3 times a week, and one that instantly makes me feel better.

2. Texture: I adore the texture of this scrub. It's quite creamy and has a pearlescent sheen to it. The real strawberry seeds make for the perfect exfoliants--they're not as harsh as sugar or apricot scrubs, and yet you can feel them getting the job done. 

3. The wow effect: Strawberry has a natural bleaching effect on the skin. In fact, I've read that mashing up fresh strawberries and brushing your teeth with them can lead to a whiter smile! So when I use this, I scrub my face for at least a minute. The texture is so luxurious that I just keep scrubbing away! When I wash it off, my complexion is instantly brighter and more radiant. AND, it doesn't dry out my skin one bit. This scrub doesn't rip the oil outta your pores. It just polishes your complexion so its perfectly bright and clean.

4. The one but: The one thing I'd change about this product is the scent. It's that fake strawberry scent you smell on candy. It's nothing like a real strawberry. I am getting used to it though, and frankly, I totally forgive Mario Badescu for this one problem because I love the texture and brightening effect of this scrub so very much. But yea, if you're super picky about scents, then be duly warned. 

Of all the samples I got from MB, this is by far my very favorite product. I really really want the full size and think its worth it. I've been using this scrub whenever I need a pick me up. It just works wonders. The exfoliation feels so luxurious, and then when I see my brighter complexion in the mirror, it just reinforces to me that I want this on my shelf permanently. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mixed Feelings for Lush Sea Vegetable

The Claim: This sea green soap is beloved by girls and boys alike. The reassuring scent of lavender and lime banish the blues and get you squeaky clean. For an exfoliating polish, flip the soap around and rub in the scrubby sea salt and seaweed top. Plant it in your shower and the man who doesn't know he should exfoliate will be scrubbing that dead skin off in no time. This soap makes you feel as though you've taken a dip in the ocean; you'll emerge fresh as the sea breeze.

Price: $7.80

Right off the bat, I'll say this is pretty expensive for a bar soap. But even that is permissible if the soap is outstanding. Unfortunately, this is one Lush product that is firmly in the "Meh" category for me. Why you ask? Here's why:

1. After a mere 5 days of use, the size of the soap has visibly shrunk more than your average bar soap. It was the same size as the picture above when I bought it, and look how much smaller it is now. I guess it irks me because this soap is quite pricey, and yet it shrinks faster than drugstore bar soaps!
2. Not much lather: if you use the bar without a loofah, the lather is negligible. If you use it with a loofah, there is lather, but but even then, you dont feel like you're luxuriously (or should I say, Lushly) enveloped in lathery goodness.

3. The seaweed side is a unique exfoliating experience, because it feels like you're washing up with a wet terry cloth. However, the bits of sea weed tend to fall out with each showering session, and its kind of gross to see your tub sprayed with random bits of brown sea weed. Not a huge negative, but I've used better exfoliating bar soaps in hotels that provided rolled-oats soaps.

4. The scent is nothing to write home about. It's a unisex smell that reminds me of an ocean spray or even an Old Spice deodorant stick. Its not the typical feminine scents that Lush is so famous for. I don't mind the scent, but I am not really loving it either.

All in all, I'm disappointed in this soap because it was from Lush. I expected so much out of it because of the brand and hype. But at the end of the day, it's just a normal glycerin soap that melts fast and has a run-of-the-mill scent. Not something I'd spent nearly $8 on again. Maybe if Lush dropped the prices, I'd purchase more bar soaps from them, but for now, I'm gonna stick to their skin care products, and try out their shower gels.

What are your Lush favorites and disappointments?

Where have I been?

Hey guys, sorry I've been MIA for the last few days. I just about had time to put up a couple of posts on my nails and the giveaway posts. Work has been crazy to the point that I basically went in, started working and before I knew it, the day had ended and I didn't even have time to take lunch, let alone check my email! Also my hubby completed his last class for his Masters in Computer Science degree this week, and yours truly was helping him write his final paper in a classic panic-procrastination mode. ;)

Anyway, I'm back and ready for more posts. I still have to write reviews on all of the products from my Thanksgiving haul, so be on the look out for that.

Hope you all are having a lovely holiday season. Here in the northeast of USA, we have been hit with a winter storm on one of the busiest Christmas shopping weekends (I imagine a lot of Santa Clauses are going to be unhappy). I'm enjoying my time at home blogging and enjoying my new tree. Here it is:

Will be back soon with more product reviews! Wow I missed blogging a lot. ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OPI Barefoot in Barcelona Review

OPI's Barefoot in Barcelona: oh how I love thee.
I think this is a stunning nude pink color that works wonders on my skin. I just feel very grown up and sophisticated when I look down at my nails. It works just as well with my tweed blazer as it does with my party outfits.
In spite of multiple attempts, I wasn't able to take a picture that did the color justice. But trust me, its a gorgeous creamy, brownish rosy pink. It complements my skin tone like nothing else. I also would say that if you're clumsy at applying nail color like I am, think about picking this up. Cuticle spillovers will be very hard to notice, and the formula is so impressive that one coat is enough, and you can swipe over and over the same area without getting streaks. Finally, because it's such a lovely neutral, I'd wear this in all seasons.

I've so far only bought 3 OPI nailcolors. I'd love to buy more because their brush and formula are by far superior to anything else I've tried. I guess I just never got around to trying them because of sticker shock, but considering its only a couple more dollars and I love them to the point of probably hitting pan on all, it's well worth it. So now that I've jumped on the OPI bandwagon, what shades would you recommend for me to try out next?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bling Bling Storage

Hey girls, I was in a Clean House NOW mode this Sunday and decided to organize my jewelry, hair and nails stuff. Here it is:

My everyday jewelry is kept on top of my chest of drawers in a jewelry box. I picked it up for $10 at a garage sale! Yaaay! The mirror was sent to me courtesy of Brushlove.com.

I've used the plastic drawer insert that keeps your cutlery in good order to house my chunky and long necklaces, bracelets, and watches. Cute no?

I've used a box for bead organization to house my smaller delicate pieces, along with some safety pins.You can find this box at any crafts store in the beading section. I love that there is room to spare. I can buy more! Next to the box is my glasses case.

My nailpolishes are stored in what used to be a jewelry box from India. Sorry I'm not showing my nailpolishes, but its not an impressive collection at all (working on it!)

Next to the nail polish box, I've kept an open basket full of manicure-pedicure tools. Next to that are my hair tools (blowdryer, flat iron & hot rollers)

All my stuff fits into 3 drawers and so I have like 3 more for other stuff (like my poor hubby's clothes lol).

Do you have any suggestions on how to improve my storage?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Makeup Organization and Storage

Hey guys, here's a little tour of my makeup and collection. I don't currently have a dresser in my bedroom so everything is temporarily being housed in the bathroom (as much as I hate it, I need to wait until I buy new furniture to move my makeup outside).

From left: 3 Coastal Scents Palletes (brushes are sitting on them), makeup brushes (mostly Coastal Scents and Loew Cornell), and my mini makeup drawer.

3 Coastal Scents palletes from top: 6 piece blush and contour, 26 piece blush and e/s, 88 piece

From Left: sample moisturizers, MAC Strobe Lotion, Merle Norman lip balm.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation, Target eyelash curler, MAC sharpener, Nair, Elf blotting sheets

From Left: Shu Uemura base control, Shu Uemura Face Architect, Revlon Colorstay in Rich Ginger, Prime Time fdn. primer, MAC Select CoverUp in NC45

Dream Mousse bronzer and blush (Soft Plum), Elf Bronzer, MAC lippies in Romancin', Chintz on Chintz, To Swoon For, NYX Ice Princess, Burt's Bees body wash, Coastal Scents Lip Smacks in Carlotta and Monroe.

Fluidline in Blacktrack, Coastal Scents gel liner in Truffle, Revlon tweezers, Kat von D Ludwig pallete, Maybelline Define-a-Lash, MAC Powerpoint Engraved, NYX JEP French Fries, UDPP

How come that sounds like a lot but doesn't feel like a lot? I think one of the glaring missing things from my collection is a good setting powder and MSF blushes.  

It's not been too long since my Thanksgiving haul, but I want to start building a new wishlist. Do you guys have any must-haves for me to target for my next (way out in the future) haul? :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

November Favorites +1 Regret

Part of why I'm so late on posting my November favorites was because I felt like I'd be harping on and on about products I'd already raved about. But honestly, I do love these products, and they have stood the test of time and have been favorites month after month:

Revlon Colorstay Foundation. I don't think I'll bother paying for MUFE HD or Nars. Why should I when I have this drugstore gem? Although it does break me out if I use it daily, so I save it for weekends.

Merle Norman Super Lube: I've had this one jar of lip balm for nearly 10 years. I've hit pan recently, but there's still plenty left on the sides, which I take out with a lip brush. It's like vaseline, but a little richer. My next purchase will probably be the MAC Honey lip balm tin (I'm hoping Ebay will come to the rescue!).

Kat von D Ludwig Pallete--middle two highlight colors (Clay and Tequila). I use the more nude color all over my browbone, and then dot the really bright white right under my brow's arch.

Maybelline Define-a-Lash: This mascara is perfect if you already have nice lashes, but need a little more length and definition. You get that sun-ray effect where each lash is separated. It also holds a mean curl all day long.

Coastal Scents Blending Fluff: perfect for an all over color on the lid.

MAC 252 (from a holiday set from CCO): perfect for crease work and putting a dot of highlighter under the arch of my brow.

1 Regret: Burt's Bees Day Cream: although raved about this earlier, as I hit pan on the sample, the moisturizer separated into oil and lotion. When I put it on, my skin looked so oily that I couldn't wait to get home and scrape the greasy feeling off my skin. What the heck? Overall, I regret buying the Burt's Bees Radiance Face Sample Kit. It has so not been worth it. Yes, I did like some of the products, but none of them won me over to the point that I'd purchase a full size, and that was the whole point of buying the samples. Do you guys have any BB products you really really love? I don't want to turn my back on it just yet...

 What are your favorites and regrets for this month?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Satina Spectra Mirrors Review

In spite of collecting makeup for so long, I have yet to invest in a good mirror. As a result, I often poke the end of my brushes into the bathroom mirror.

To my great joy, I was recently sent three Satina Spectra mirrors courtesy of Brushlove to review*. These mirrors come in 3 sizes, colors and shapes and have a regular mirror on one side and a 3x mag mirror on the flip side. You can use them as handheld mirrors, or bend the handle so it can be propped on a table.
I've put the largest one ($10.98) on top of my chest of drawers where I keep my jewelry. See, I do my makeup in the bathroom because that's where the light is best. Then I come to out to put on jewelry, but since there's no mirror, I have to walk back to the bathroom to put it on. This mirror makes it way easier.
I've put the blue round mirror ($9.98) on my office desk for the quick lipgloss swipe and spinach-in-the-teeth check. ;) Quick Feng Shui tip: if your office desk faces away from the main door (so your back is to the door), its terrible for your career! Put a mirror next to your desk so that the door is reflected in it!

The pink square mirror is going into my travel kit ($9.98). On my last trip back home, word spread about my "mild" obsession of makeup, and soon I was doing makeovers for my cousin, sister and my mom! I wish I had this mirror at the time so they could see what I was doing.

Overall, I like these mirrors because 1) they are affordable, 2) they make great gifts, and, 3) they are versatile for travel, vanity and office use.

But, I will say that I dislike the bright colors. A black framed mirror would've given me a more adult option. The other downer is that they are not lighted, which limits their use to occasional touch ups and showing clients how their makeup is coming along. I wouldn't use these mirrors to do a full face in the morning because you really need a lighted mirror for that. Fortunately, Brushlove sells those too over here.

Thanks for reading! How would you use these mirrors?

*FTC disclaimer: I was sent these products for free to try out and review on my blog. I am not being paid for doing this review. This review reflects is my honest experience.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanks babes!!

I was graciously awarded blog awards by five lovely bloggers: Beautygirl24, Asian Beautifier, xcharleym0ox, krystle, and Charlotte. Thanks girls, you're wonderful. I love reading each and every one of these bloggers' posts, so its a real honor that they like my ramblings just as much. ;)

To pass on the good, here are some bloggers whose work I really adore, and I think so will you. I picked these based on their style of writing, content (I love rants and reviews), and blog design. It goes without saying though that every blog I follow is a blog I love. Here they are:

Thank you again ladies for this wonderful honor. You're awesome. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lush Grease Lightning Review

I recently purchased Lush's Grease Lightning as part of my Thanksgiving haul.

This product is a spot treatment for acne and its main ingredients are tea tree, witch hazel and aloe vera.

  • Tea tree is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and is routinely used as an alternative to benzoyl peroxide. 
  • Witch hazel promotes blood circulation and thus acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. 
  • Aloe vera (which can also be taken orally for acne) helps accelerate healing because it provides skin with the "scaffolding" needed to repair itself quickly.

I use this after a nightly cleansing routine which consists removing my makeup, cleansing with a salicylic acid-based product, and then applying this to my problem areas.

The product comes out as a clear gel and has the pleasant smell of tea tree oil. It goes on clear and has a slight tightning effect on the skin. I love that the next morning, my skin isn't flaky dry. Big plus over BP!

So far I've loved using this product for moderate and recovering acne. I can't judge how effective it is for really severe acne since I haven't had terrible skin issues lately. Its a great preventative as well as treatment product and can be used daily because it isn't overly drying.

To my surprise, there are a few other superstar ingredients in this bad boy, including sea water, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and grape juice. All of these things are great for the skin, especially sea water. I once heard a model say that her secret to flawless skin was swimming in the ocean!

I think this product is lovely to use, and the shelf life is 1 year! I just can't comment on whether it would work on severe acne, but for the occasional spot, this is a great all-natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide.

Have you tried Grease Lightning? If not, what is your go-to product for zapping spots?

Lush Dark Angels Review

Based on high demand, the first product I'm reviewing from my haul is Lush Dark Angels. Lush has got me hooked already. Although its pricey and not available near me, I think it's well worth it because it's like buying ready-made DIY products. With DIY, sometimes by the time you've bought all the ingredients, the price is already high, and you run the risk of hating the final product. With Lush, its like you're getting the best of both worlds: the ingredients are few and fresh, and you're still getting a well-vetted product.

So onto my thoughts on Dark Angels.

The ingredients: 
  • Charcoal is a very powerful substance that chemically attracts toxins towards it. In fact it is routinely used to save poison victims! When applied topically, charcoal literally draws impurities out of your pores. 
  • Rhassoul mud is a natural anti-bacterial agent. 
  • Sandalwood is used widely in India for treating dry skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, and acne scars. Its fragrance also relieves anxiety and increases concenration. Little wonder then that it is used for nervous brides-to-be!
  • Black Sugar is an excellent exfoliant, with fairly large, coarse bits.
Highly impressive but a bit messy
I used this stuff on a particularly oily-skin day. After taking off my makeup, I took a penny-size amount of what looked like pitch black, sandy Play-doh. I put it in my palm and mixed it with water to make a paste. I put it all over my face, and the earthy smell really refreshed me and make me feel all woodsy. The scrub is intense, so avoid if you have sensitive skin or open blemishes.

After rinsing, I FREAKED OUT because there were tiny black spots around my nose and cheeks. I'd heard of getting a "tattooing effect" from charcoal, so I quickly grabbed my Coastal Scents cleanser brush and scrubbed for dear life, followed by a bit of Biore Cleanser.

Whew, it was all good after that. The second time I used it, I used a bit less, and there was substantially lesser spotting. I just had to follow with cleanser, but no brushing.

Effects: my skin is smoother than a baby's butt. This thing really scrubs the dead cells off your face, and the oil doesn't return for days. It's BY FAR the best exfoliant I have ever used. Although it requires a bit of effort and substantial sink cleanup, its my baby and I love it for who it is!

Another downer, is that it has a short 2 month shelf life. With the recommended usage being 2x a week, I'm afraid I'll not use it all up. I guess that's the downside of buying fresh preservative-free products.

4 stars for performance: It. works. wonders.
1 star removed for the short shelf life, messyness, and ability to spot your skin if you use too much.

Grease Lightning review is up next! Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lush, MAC, OPI, & NYX Haul!

After months of holding myself back, I finally let loose and got a large haul thanks to wonderful Black Friday deals that extended all weekend. The wait was seriously worth it as I saved quite a bit of moolah. I'll review of all these items once I've tried them out but for now, enjoy the haulage:

MAC Strobe Lotion
MAC sharpener (for Engraved
MAC Select Cover-Up in NC45
MAC Moisturelush Cream sample (which I may add the stingy makeup counter lady was unwilling to part with because "people take advantage of it"...as I am checking out...with a boatload of makeup...WTF)
NYX Jumbo eye pencil in French Fries
NYX Lipgloss in Ice Princess (which I've been using this relentlessly and may hit pan at a record speed)

Lush Grease Lightning
Lush Sea vegetable soap
Lush Dark Angels
Lush Whoosh Shower Jelly

A Grape Fit; You Don't Know Jacques!; Barefoot in Barcelona

This is love. Go buy it now.

Can't wait to review these products for you guys! Which ones would you like me to review first?

Also, a HUGE thank you to Beautygirl24, The Beautifier, xcharleym0ox and Krystle for the blog awards they've recently given me. I'm so grateful for every single one, and I promise to post it up ASAP. Just want to say thanks here. You guys are so awesome. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Extended Cyber Monday Deal

Hey guys, Brushlove.com is now extending their Cyber Monday deal just for all my lovely readers. Just type the code "blog45" for a 45% discount and a free compact mirror (the ONE thing missing from my travel makeup case!). Since a lot of you seem to be interested in the Orange Ceramic Thermal Brush, the discount would knock the price from $12.98 to $7.98! This offer expires on 12/4 and doesn't apply to the Mason Pearson and Magic Ionic brands.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brushlove.com Brush Review + Giveaway!

Hello my lovelies, I'm back after a very restful vacation! I was recently sent some hair brushes courtesy of brushlove.com. Although I usually talk about makeup, hair styling is so important to me that if I don't have a good hair day, no amount of makeup makes me feel glamorous!

Quick hair description: my hair is voluminous and long. It is quite healthy because its never been color treated and grows naturally wavy, so I blow dry it straight.

Upon receiving the brushes, the first thing that struck me was the vibrant colors, which really appeal to me because the brushes look very modern. I also love the rubber grips. Holding the brushes is like getting a hand massage and it also prevents the brush from flying outta my hands. No more broken mirrors!

Straight out of the shower, I first used the Fresh Style Hair Brush, which is for detangling and styling. This brush detangled my long hair with minimal pull out (only 2 strands), and did the job quickly. I've used wide-toothed combs to detangle before, but I feel that the teeth are a little too far apart to do the job right. So I prefer this brush for detangling. The only downside is that its not a cushioned base. But overall, this is an all-purpose brush that I'd reach for both to detangle wet hair, and to touch up later on.
Next, I used the Orange Ceramic Thermal Hair Brush to grip sections of my hair as I was blowdrying...and hoooooly moly, I'm seriously blown away (no pun intended). The bristles on this baby are extra long, thin and stiff, so they completely penetrate even the thickest sections of hair, and grip them tight as you blowdry the hair. Amazingly, this brush shaved several minutes out of my blow drying time. So overall, this brush makes blowdrying go faster and straightens every section evenly. No more random wavy patches! I will say that since the bristles are long and stiff, be careful not to accidentally scratch your face with this brush! But that's not really a negative since the stiffness of the bristles allow them to penetrate thick hair sections.

After blowdrying was over, I ran the Blueberry Oval Cushion Boar Bristle through my hair, which is meant to combat frizz and enhance shine. I've never used a Boar Bristle brush before, but I can see why its so favored by hair stylists. Brushing my hair with this really did give me a shine boost and reduced excess volume. I tend to have a case of big flyaway hair on the day of a blowdry, but this gave me just the balance between volume and sleekness that I find at the salon. The only wierd thing was that when I brushed a section of hair, I instantly got this static cling reaction where all my hair stood up, and then I'd swipe it with my hand, and it all went away, leaving the hair silky smooth. That never happened to me before, but maybe its typical of boar bristles?

Overall, I am very impressed by the products from brushlove.com. Without the use of any fancy styling potions, these brushes have given me a great hair day and made my styling routine quicker. Out of all three brushes, I'd say the Orange Ceramic Thermal Hair Brush is a must-have and the Blueberry Boar Bristle is a close second.

Giveaway: brushlove.com is having a survey where five lucky winners will get a free PING Digital Hair Iron (which retails at $159.99). As my readers, you guys get the first crack at the survey, so hop on over to fill out the survey here, and good luck!

Disclaimer: I was sent these brushes for free to try out and review. I am not being paid to review these products. This review is solely written by me and reflects my personal and honest opinion.