Thursday, April 16, 2015

Drugstore Skincare: Freeman Feeling Beautiful Facial Masks Review

Admittedly, beauty bloggers are a bit crazy about their facial masks; we love hoarding different ones in our 'mask wardrobes', and we love all the luxe offerings from high-end brands. But at the end of the day, some masks don't need to be expensive to be effective; for example, the main ingredient of a staple oil-absorbing clay mask is, after all, just pure clay - a very cheap ingredient. Which is why I was excited to try five different drugstore facial masks from Freeman Feeling Beautiful* ($1.37 each for a 15ml sachet at Walmart, $3.25 - $4.29 for a 6 fl. oz/ 150ml full size tube).
Let's start with the basic Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask*, which is aimed at normal and combination skin and claims to deep clean and purify the pores. I use a clay mask at least once a week to help with excessive sebum production and enlarged pores on my T-zone, and I haven't quite found my favorite yet, so I was excited to try the Freeman version.
This is a very smooth and creamy clay mask in a fun mint green color (perfect for scaring the husband) with a distinct clean scent, I can't quite put my finger on what it is exactly. It's incredibly easy to spread on the skin, and to my surprise, rinsed clean with no effort whatsoever - which is something I find to be a problem with most clay masks. It does tighten a little as it dries, but not nearly as bad as something like the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. As for the results, I did notice that my skin was mattified and the pores appeared slightly smaller after usage, but unfortunately I had a bit redness here and there; not bad, but maybe one of the ingredients doesn't quite agree with my sensitive skin.
Going with the purifying theme, let's talk about the Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask*. I was expecting this one to be similar to the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal mask but with more exfoliating action, however I found the Freeman mask to be more of a sugar scrub with a bit of added charcoal. The sugar crystals are quite large, which makes getting the mask out of the sachet and spreading it on the face a bit difficult, but in the end, I was pleased with the results. As per instructions, I first let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then very gently massaged it on the skin in circular motions. After rinsing, my skin looked refreshed, smoother and a bit brighter, and actually felt nicely hydrated. In also really liked the scent of this mask; a fresh, sweet citrus.
I really enjoy observing how Korean beauty trends make their way to the Western markets, and this Facial Sleeping Mask with Honeydew and Chamomile* is a prime example of such process. The popular Korean 'sleeping packs' are basically overnight masks, and are most often meant to soothe and hydrate the skin while you're sleeping - like a supercharged night moisturizer. The Freeman Sleeping Mask did exactly that; I was skeptical to put it on as it contains some heavy/comedogenic ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil, but I woke up with a clear, even and hydrated complexion. I also really enjoyed the light texture; much thinner and more readily absorbed than most overnight masks I've tried so far. My only gripe was the strong melon scent - I quite dislike fruity scents and heavily fragranced skincare in general, and I felt like this one really lingered on my skin.
Another Korean-inspired find is this Coffee & Chai Energizing Paper Eye Mask*; soothing eye patches are very common among Korean skincare brands. This sheet mask looks more like Zorro's disguise when you put it on, which Tracy so keenly observed when I posted a photo of me wearing it on Instagram a couple days ago (here!). I was fighting a stubborn migraine that day (April showers are definitely not my friend), and this mask felt like heaven around my eyes: cooling, soothing and hydrating. It wasn't as satured in essence as the Asian sheet masks I've been using, which is something I also found with another paper mask from Freeman, the Hydrating Paper Mask with Blue Agave, reviewed here. The Energizing Eye Mask didn't give me any noticeable results after I removed it, but I really enjoyed the experience of wearing it on my achy face.
Last but not least, we have the Cucumber Peel-Off Mask*. I'm pretty sure any girl who grew up in the 90s and early 00s must have used a cucumber-scented peel-off mask at some point; I remember mine was from Avon and I used it to death, hoping it would help with my teen acne (it didn't really). However, I generally no longer like peel-off masks, and the Freeman Cucumber mask was unfortunately no exception. The main ingredients are Polyvinyl Alcohol and SD Alcohol - not exactly fantastic for your skin, and the fumes sting the eyes a bit. On the plus side, it didn't actually irritate my skin, and it was very easy to peel-off, unlike a Boscia mask I've tried recently. If you're a fan of peel-off masks, this definitely gives you the satisfaction similar to picking peeling, sunburnt skin *shudders*.

Let's recap: my favorites were the Facial Sleeping Mask and the Charcoal and Black Sugar Mask Scrub, with the Cucumber Peel-Off being my least favorite. Overall, I was impressed with the quality of these masks for the price; the ingredients lists on these are pretty clean, with lots of active compounds and soothing botanicals. For me, the amount in the one-use sachets is actually enough for 2-3 applications (I store mine in the fridge after opening, sealed with a clip).  I wish the Avocado & Oatmeal Clay mask worked a bit better on my skin, but the brand has more clay masks in the range, so I may try a different one to see if it's any better on me.

Have you tried any of these Freeman Feeling Beautiful masks? Or have you found any other masks at the drugstore that rock your socks off?

Disclaimer:  The items marked with an asterix (*) are press samples I received in an Influenster VoxBox. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as free press samples. Thank you for reading!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Korean Beauty Subscription: Beauteque April 2015 BB Bag Contents

I have a soft spot for Korean beauty products - so when I was asked if I'd like to feature the new Beauteque BB Bag*, a monthly subscription service featuring 7-8 full sized products from popular Asian brands, there was much excite and eager anticipation for the parcel to arrive. Which it promptly did, right on Easter Monday, so I'm kind of treating the bag as my suprise gift from the Easter bunny :)
The theme of the April BB Bag is Mad for Plaid - but to be honest, the plaid make-up bag most of the products came in (there were so many one came packaged separately in bubble wrap) is where the theme ended. The BB Bag also comes with a card showing all the products and their pricing, as well as usage suggestions; very handy given that some of the products have little to no English on the labels. Here's everything I received - I haven't had a chance to actually use any of these products yet, but I'll follow up if any clear favorites emerge through the testing process.
The Beauteque Bag came with two Magic Garden Series Sheet Masks from Hanaka, a brand previously unknown to me - from what I can see online, it's a Taiwanese skincare brand with cute packaging and lots of active ingredients. There's a Rose mask with Tranexamic Acid to brighten and hydrate, and a Marigold Vitamin A mask to purify pores and increase cell turnover. These are priced at $4 (judging from eBay pricing, $4 each). I love trying new sheet masks, so I'm looking forward to using these.

I also got the Holika Holika S-Body Maker Jiggling Patch (somehow the name brings to mind my jiggly belly fat... not particularly enticing), which Beauteque explains as a firming treatment with carbonated bubbles. Sounds like a lot of fun, but let's be honest - it's not going to budge that bacon pouch I have as a mid section. I'm trying the gym in our building for that. On that note... would it get rid of sore (lack of) muscles? Now that's a thought.
There was one more product from Hanaka, the Camellia Powder Wash ($11). It's one of those fizzy cleansing powders which foam up when mixed with water that have become all the rage this year among Western brands like Nude Skincare or Josie Maran. I appreciate that Beauteque is bringing such a trendy item to their subscription, although for me personally, it'd be difficult to find something better than the luxurious TATCHA Rice Enzyme Powder. But, back to Hanaka: there are seven individually wrapped packets in the box, and the card advises to use one packet a day for a week for flawless complexion. I'm a bit skeptical after spotting SLS as one of the ingredients, so I'd probably end up using these on my shoulders and chest.
The sight of this lilac Macaron Lip Balm from It's SKIN ($9) brought a huge smile to my face; I received the grape scent, but I believe there were other options to choose from. It's SKIN is a Korean skincare brand with products ranging from affordable, like this cutesy lip bam, to more luxe both in packaging and price.
I was excited to see this Hydra-Full Solution Water Volume Aqua Gel Cream ($12 for 45ml) from Mizon in the April BB Bag. Mizon is a Korean brand best known for their Snail excretion line; by the way, a lot of Mizon's products are available in the US at Urban Outfitters, both in store and online - although the pricing is significantly higher than Amazon, eBay or dedicated Asian beauty etailers. The Aqua Gel Cream is a lightweight moisturizer with Alaskan glacial waters, and that sounds perfect to use in the daytime during the hot New York summer.
Lastly, I was thrilled to find this Holika Holika Canola Honey Sleeping Pack ($19 for 90ml) in my package. Holika Holika has three versions of these Honey Sleeping Packs, or overnight masks, if you will: Canola to moisturize the skin, Blueberry to combat blemishes, and Acerola to stimulate collagen production. This freakin' adorable glass jar boasts '40% canola honey', as per Holika Holika's own website - sounds suspicious, but the second ingredient is honey extract and the third is rapeseed extract, which has emollient and antioxidant properties and is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (fantastic stuff for your skin and body). I'm definitely looking forward to introducing this product into my routine in lieu of a night-time moisturizer one or two times a week.

The final item, which I'm continously puzzled by, was a razor, priced at $8. I mean, it's a cute aqua color and comes with an extra cartridge, but it still looks like a very inexpensive razor. I'll use it... but I'm not excited. I generally experience very low excitement levels over shaving my legs and underarms - but maybe I should try dropping a silk scarf to glide down my calf after shaving, as shown in commercials. Pfffft.
Now, for my overall thoughts: I definitely enjoyed the contents of this bag, valued at $70. The Beauteque BB Bag, available at beautequemonthly.com, has four subscription options: month to month, priced at $24 per bag/month, prepaid 3 months (same price), prepaid 6 months at $23 a month, and a full year for $22 a month. The bags are shipped out starting on the 15th of each month, and if you subscribe after the 5th of a given month, you'll be receiving the next month's bag (so if you wanted to subscribe now, you'd be receiving the May BB Bag). The cool thing is that each month on the 15th, you'll be sent a survey where you can choose from a couple of options regarding the products in your bag, like a lipstick shade or lotion fragrance.

Do I think it's worth it? If you like trying out various Korean beauty products both from more popular and lesser known brands, I think it's a good value for money. While the April BB Bag turned out to be very skincare-heavy, Beauteque says the subscription also includes make-up, fashion and lifestyle products (I wish there was one make-up item in the April bag!). The obvious comparison would be with the Memeboxes, but I've never personally tried those - and I've heard the service is actually no longer available in the US due to problems with shipping from Korea. I believe that BB Bags are better priced compared to Memeboxes, and shipped from the US, so there are no issues such as long delivery times and mysteriously vanished parcels. Would I order a BB Bag myself? Yes, I think I would - it would probably be too many products for me to get a bag every month, but it'd be fun to get a bag once in a while. You can also shop their sister site, Beauteque.com, for specific Korean products if you dislike the random element of these subscription services - they have free US shipping over $35.

Have you discovered any new interesting Korean beauty products recently? Or do you prefer to navigate the safer waters of Western brands?

*Disclaimer: The item marked with an asterix (*) is a press sample I received from Beauteque for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate, however I've been asked to include a referral link so that if you guys happen to use it, I may have some more products from Beauteque to show you in the future. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as free press samples. Thank you for reading!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Blush Fiends Unite: Addicted to Blush Tag

While I may not have been officially induced into the #blushfiend society, it is no secret that I love blush. Yes, I used to be one of those sadly unaware people who didn't see the point of wearing blush ('I already have redness in my face, I don't need any more!'), but once I tried my first pot of Bourjois Rouge, there was no turning back - so when Emma graciously tagged me for the 'Addicted to Blush' round-up, it took me a mere, hmm... 6 weeks, to come up with my answers (I have excuses if you want to hear them. No? I thought so).
1. What color blush suits you the most?
I believe we all know the answer to this one - peachy pinks. I have the most peachy pink blushes in my collection, and I always have at least one on regular rotation. I think the balance between the warmth of the peach and the brightness of pink perks up my skin without making it look too made-up or bringing out too much of the redness I struggle with. Peachy pink blushes are also so cheery to look at in the pan!
2. Pressed, cream or loose blush?
Definitely pressed powder (see the line-up of powder blush compacts in my happy place... I mean, my blush drawer). While the skin on my cheeks is normal and doesn't eat up cream blush too bad, I still struggle with finding formulas that feel lightweight on. And loose blush... No. That's just asking for trouble.
3. Favorite shimmery blush?
NARS Sin. I thought long and hard about this one, and realized I don't actually own very many shimmery blushes; I do have a lot of satins, but I have to be careful with obvious shimmer in cheek products, as it tends to draw attention to textural issues (bumps and scars). Somehow, NARS Sin is quite forgiving in that department, and it has a beautiful balance of cooler plum tones and warm golden sheen.
4. Favorite matte blush?
Again, not very many purely matte blushes in my stash, but here are three formulas I enjoy a whole lot: Inglot Blusher no. 72 (please note that these come in a variety of finishes, some shades have quite a bit of sparkle), the Laura Geller Blush-n-Brighten in Boysenberry (again, some of the blushes in this range are highly shimmery, some are matte; why so confusing?!), and the recently reviewed Catrice Defining Blush in Rose Royce (I have no idea what the finish is on the other shades in the range - sorry!).
5. Favorite cream blush?
This award has to go to the Canmake Cream Cheek blushes in the clear finish, reviewed and swatched here. The beauty of this tag is that it has reminded me of some abandoned blush favorites - I forgot how much I love these as I've been focusing on putting a dent in my Stila Convertible Color, and need to pull them back out for spring and summer. If you still haven't tried these, do yourself a favor and order one on evil Bay.
6. Favorite drugstore blush?
Hmm, my blush stash has veered a bit more into the high-end territory over the past couple of years, but I still enjoy wearing my collection of five NYX Powder Blushes. However, having recently tried the Catrice Defining Blush, I have to say I love the formulation of the latter a bit more, though then again it's difficult to judge based on just one shade. I shall rectify that next time I'm in Europe.
7. Favorite high-end blush?
Thus far, the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes (I have the LE palette with three shades, but I'm assuming the singles are just as good). The pigmentation is fantastic and the luminous finish brings beautiful dimension to the cheeks. However, I have to say I haven't ventured into the really high-end end (lol) of the blush universe and I'm intending to change that this year, so we'll see if a new favorite formula shall emerge in the next couple of months.
8. Favorite bright blush?
How bright are we talking? I do have some eye-searing shades in my stash, but to be honest, they're quite hard to apply properly on my fair skin. I do however find these Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelees in Pink Escape and Red Getaway very easy to pull off, because despite being scary/awesomely bright and juicy in the pots, they sheer out quite a bit and give off just a flush of color on the cheeks.

9. Biggest blush disappointment/ regret?
I don't have any of these anymore to show you because I've given them all away to friends and family, but both Benefit Coralista and theBalm Hot Mama! blushes were ultimately disappointing on me. Not only did they have the kind of shimmer that emphasized pores on me, but the shades were just way too warm/orange and clashed with the cool undertone of my skin. I've never tried NARS Orgasm, but I'm sure this one would be a fail too. Funny how these three are often touted as the perfect blushes for all skintones - not so much for me.
10. Best blush packaging?
I really enjoy minimalist make-up packaging, and I think Laura Mercier's Second Skin blush packaging is pretty perfect: cute, small, equipped with a mirror inside and the option to depot into a palette. I dislike bulky designer compacts because I don't really have the space to store them, and they're a pain to travel with, even though the elaborate cases look beautiful and luxurious.

11. What's on your blush wish list?
I haven't been tempted by a lot of blushes recently, but I've always had it in the back of my mind that one day, I would really like to try the grand dame of powder blushes, Chanel Joues Contraste - and see, Emma's raving about them too! I don't have a specific shade in mind quite yet but I'm thinking I may swatch them at the counter soon and pick one up as a treat for my name day in May. I've also heard great things about Armani Cheek Fabric Blushes (and I love their packaging too!) and Clinique Cheek Pops - the newly released shades are especially enticing.

12. Number 1 Holy Grail blush?
Whyyy do you torment me sooo?! How am I supposed to pick a favorite between all my babies? I really don't know - I think if I had a clear Holy Grail, I wouldn't be buying so much blush :) However, some of my top favorites would definitely include Laura Mercier's Lotus Pink, NYX Angel, and, and, and... uhm, maybe bareMinerals READY Blush in The One? All of these are really good.

Well, this has been difficult - but fun! Thank you for tagging me, Emma; and now I guess it's my turn to tag a few fellow #blushfiends. I'd love to see Claire's, Belly's and Kar Yi's answers - show us the dark depths of your blush stash!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lip & Cheek... Oil? Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Color Duo

So, that YSL Tint-in-Oil everyone's been raving about? Seems like Josie Maran was there first with her Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Creamy Oils ($18 for 15ml/ 0.5 fl oz or $16 for 2 x 5ml/ 0.16 fl oz); my best friend is a big fan of these and she recently gifted me the Infinitely Argan Lip & Cheek Cream Color Duo, which comes with minis of the shades Timeless Coral and Everlasting Honey.
I'd actually tried a colorless version of this product shortly before receiving these (mentioned in my January Favorites), and loved it especially as a cuticle treatment, so I was curious to see how this texture would work on the lips and cheeks. The 'Creamy Oil' formula is basically a balm that melts into an oil with the warmth of your skin, and these little tubes contain a lot of natural moisturizing oils and waxes: castor oil, argan oil, rapeseed oil copolymer, as well as beeswax, mimosa and sunflower waxes. I was curious so I checked whether my clear Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil had a similar ingredients list since the texture is nearly identical to the tinted version, but it's actually quite a bit different: there's even more nourishing oils as well as shea and mango butter in that one.
I was surprised by how pigmented these are; sure, they're not fully opaque, but for my cheeks, I only need the smallest dab to get a burst of color. Timeless Coral is a hot pink coral on my fair skin, while Everlasting Honey is a more subdued reddish rose. Both look very pretty on and should suit a variety of skintones; Timeless Coral is a bit more brightening, Everlasting Honey a bit more nude. These have a delicious orange creamsicle scent from orange and tangerine peel essential oils, and for some reason, actually taste sweet when you're wearing them on your lips.
Timeless Coral, Everlasting Honey in full sunlight (see the clear oil on the sides of the second swatch?)
I've been testing these on and off for at least a month now, and my overall feelings are still a bit conflicted. You guys, I'm just not completely sure how I feel about actual oil texture on my cheeks and lips. These Creamy Oils feel like blending a lipgloss over your cheeks. While they're easy to apply evenly and last pretty well on them apples, they definitely remain glossy and tacky throughout the day - so I imagine if you wiped your face on a scarf/shirt or rested your cheek on something, most of the color would rub off. My other gripe with the formula is that sometimes, especially if you haven't used these for a while, they tend to separate into clear oil and concentrated color in the tube. My tube of Timeless Coral also has weird little balls here and there when I squeeze it out.
Wearing Timeless Coral on lips and cheeks.
For the lips, I really enjoy the juicy, glossy look they give my pout when I first apply the product. However, they don't last at all - I think most of the oil gets absorbed into my lips, but drinking or eating anything absolutely obliterates any traces I may have had left. The texture of the oil is quite thin, so they don't glide over or conceal any flakes or dry patches. I'm sure this formula is moisturizing for my skin; except, maybe not enough for my lips, and as for the cheeks... I don't know if I actually want any additional moisture in my blush? But man, are they glowy. Can you see that?
Wearing Everlasting Honey on lips and cheeks.
I still do enjoy using my little duo; I think they're fantastic for a natural, luminous look, especially in the winter months when your skin may benefit from some extra nourishment and glow. I would recommend trying them on the cheeks if you have a dry skintype and powder blushes and/or highlighters tend to look a bit cakey on your skin. However, for me, I need to apply the glow a bit more judiciously, and probably file these away during the hot and humid New York summer.

Have you tried any of the new 'oil' make-up formulas? What is your favorite Josie Maran product?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Petal Pink: Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Tulip

The formula of the Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments SPF 15 ($22.50 for 4.3g/ 0.15 oz) is among my absolute favorite lip products. So when I completely scraped clean my last mini tube of Sugar Passion (reviewed here), I knew I had to repurchase one; but this time, I've chosen a new-ish color in the range, Tulip, described as a sheer hot pink.
I realize that the thick, slippery, untuous, butttery texture of these tinted balms is not everyone's cup of tea, but personally, I love it, and have no qualms over spending the $20 for 'just a lip balm'. To be honest, I actually think these have enough pigment to be called a sheer lipstick, except they're way kinder to my wrinkly, parched lips than most of the lipsticks I've tried. I like the matte metal packaging reflecting the shade inside, I like the lemon chiffon scent, I like the color range. I LIKE these, okay?
Now, I wouldn't exactly call Tulip a 'hot' pink; it's more petal pink to me, a medium, slightly cooler brightening shade. If my memory serves me right, in comparison, the popular Rosé shade had more red to it and appeared slightly more muted/ neutral on the lips. Tulip is a bit more punchy; but still extremely wearable for everyday, and a beautiful spring tone.
In my line-up of glossy, light/medium pinks with a cool undertone, Tulip is the most similar to the Revlon Superlustrous Shine Lipstick in Kissable Pink, except the latter has a pearl finish and isn't as pigmented or glossy as Fresh Tulip. Shu Uemura Supreme Shine in PK331 is also quite similar, but a touch warmer and again, with a very subtle shimmery finish. Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie is more mauve and muted, and Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm in Ripe Raspberry... now, THAT's a hot pink.

L-R: fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Tulip, Revlon Kissable Pink, Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie, Shu Uemura PK331, Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm in Ripe Raspberry (same order as the product shot above)

So, I don't have much more to say about Tulip; unsurprisingly, I love it, and will also use it up down to the tiniest nub. Well, not even that - in case you're a fan of these Sugar Lip Treatments like me and bemoan the expense, there's actually a whole lot of lip balm left once you wear the bullet down to the hard plastic base. Yes, you do need a lip brush to dig it out and it's a bit of pain, but... a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Do you love these Fresh Sugar balms like I do or do you think they're just terribly overpriced chapsticks? What are your favorite shades in these Tinted Treatments?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Project Make A Dent 2015: 1st Progress Update

Happy April Fool's Day! I'm not joking though when I say that I've made quite a bit of progress in my Project Make A Dent during the first quarter of the year. I know some people are capable of zipping through their products (can you tell I've been watching a lot of YouTube 'panning community' videos?), but I only wear make-up a couple times a week, so I'd consider my progress so far a big success.
Enough rambling, I know you want to see it rather than hear about it. The photo above shows my starting point as of January 7 (you can read the introduction post here); the photo below shows my progress as of end of March:
Sooo... let's address the elephant in the room. That tube of Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Monte Carlo? It's not all used up, just missing in action. More specifically, I left in Colorado when we went to visit our friend back in February. He's now coming to visit us in Brooklyn this week, so I'm hoping he'll remember to bring it back for me, but yeah. Fail.
In other, more optimistic news, I've made some really good progress on the Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Rockstar, Revlon Superlustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef, Michael Todd Creme Glace Lipgloss in Natural, Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in Porcelain (you can see my check marks in the close-up above for these three products), and the Make Up Forever HD Powder. Judging from my progress so far, I imagine that these five products will all be completely used up by my next update in early July.
I was really hoping to hit pan on my Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, but despite regular usage, there's just a deeper dip showing in the jar. But you know how these updates go - now that I've written up this post, I may finally hit pan this or next week. I have also been steadily using the Stila Convertible Color in Lillium, but I cheat on it with other blushes, so my progress is rather slow. I have been struggling the most with the Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58, as it's difficult to wear such a bright shade every day (I can see just a teeny, tiny bit of progress there), and the Sephora Nano Eyeliner in Nuage, because the formula of this one is just... awful. It has very little pigmentation and staying power, but the liner itself is incredibly hard and scratchy. I can only use it to line my lower lashline; but on the other hand, I've noticed that the core of this pencil is actually broken somewhere inside the casing. At some point most of the core will just break off completely, I'll have to sharpen it a lot to get to the last remaining bit - so that will make it go pretty fast, right?

I've managed to keep my motivation/ excitement level pretty high so far, but I am aware it will drop off a bit as the product boredom creeps in. Morever, like I said in my introduction, I am thinking of doing another separate Project X Pan once at least half of these Project MAD products kick the dust - that may come some time in June, most likely. How are you doing with your Project Pan/ Project Use it Up challenges? I'd love to know!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Peaches and Cream: Catrice Defining Blush in Rose Royce

In my opinion, blushes are one area where the American drugstore has a lot of catching up to do. Apart from my well loved NYX Powder Blush collection, I haven't come across any outstanding blush formulas with an affordable price tag - so I was excited to try out a new inexpensive find I brought from Warsaw, the Catrice Defining Blush in 020 Rose Royce (16 PLN/ ~ $4.50 for 5g/ 0.17 oz, can be found on eBay, but shipping is rather expensive). I'd read a lot of rave reviews of these blushes and really wanted to see if the formula would perform for me as well.
In the drugstore I went to in Warsaw city center (Drogeria Natura for my Polish readers), the Catrice section was pretty picked over, and I believe there were only four shades of the Defining Blush on display (their website specifies there are six permanent shades available in total). I have to say that I really, really like the geometric clear acrylic packaging of most Catrice products, and was sorely tempted by the eyeshadows (singles and quads) as well. The plastic case doesn't feel cheaply made or clunky, but I will say that the hinge on my blush doesn't work very well (stops midway and has to be forced a bit), which makes me worried it may break one day. But you know, it could just be a one-off thing.
And look, look at the back label! This blush was actually made in Poland. How cool! By the way, in case you didn't know, Catrice is a sister company to Essence, which is available in the US at Ulta. That makes me hope that maybe, maybe one day Catrice will come to the US as well. Sigh.
To the touch, this Catrice Defining Blush feels incredibly silky smooth, with that buttery texture we all like to fawn over. It definitely does not feel like a very inexpensive product. While I find it very easy to pick up product from the pan, the soft formula isn't powdery in the least. The blurb on the back claims this blush will smooth out minor imperfections, and while I think that's a bit bogus, it doesn't cling to dry patches or scars like some blushes like to do. I'd say the pigmentation is medium (meaning, not so scary pigmented as to require tapping off on the back of my hand, but pigmented enough to require just one or two layers), and the finish is on the skin is a satiny matte. When you look at it in full sunlight, you can see extremely fine shimmer/ pearl particles, but it just translates as a creamy matte on the cheeks.
I know what some of you are going to say - I picked out such a 'Monika shade'! In the store, having read the shade name, I was under the impression it was going to be a pink rose color, but in fact, it's more of a dusty pinky apricot on my complexion. Either way, I love it. With my current fair winter skintone, it gives me a peaches & cream type of look, and pairs incredibly well with the Revlon lipgloss in Coral Reef, which I'm trying to use up (that's what I'm wearing in the photo below).

L-R: Catrice Rose Royce, bareMinerals The One, NYX Mauve, Tarte Dazzled
Compared to my other natural rosy shades, you can clearly see that Catrice Rose Royce has a more peach than browny red undertone. It's the closest to the bareMinerals READY Blush in The One, one of my most favorite blushes in my collection.
Overall, I can't say enough good things about this Catrice Defining Blush. Some of my blogging pals asked me for European product recommendations in the past, and this has now shot to the top of my list. From the beautiful shade, the texture, to the lightweight but longlasting effect on the cheeks, Catrice hit this one out of the ballpark. I probably won't be able to resist a couple more shades next time I'm in Poland! Do you have any firm favorites among brands that are only available in Europe?