Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: TRESemmé Naturals & Fresh Start

I've never been too big on 'hair stuff', long or short hairstyle. I can happily spend an hour doing my manicure or blending away eyeshadows, but when it comes to hair, I just don't have the patience. Which is why I'm always on the lookout for cheap and cheerful, but effective products that can save me some time in taking care of my mane.

I picked up the TRESemmé Naturals Radiant Volume Shampoo ($6 for 25 oz./739 ml) because 1) I liked the fresh scent, 2) I liked the big bottle since Mr always has a preference for my shampoo over his, 3) I liked that it had less sulphates. Contrarily to some, I don't find this to be the case of false marketing, as it actually states on the front of the bottle that the shampoo has just that: lower sulphate content, not that they're absent altogether. Again, please remember that the word 'natural' on any given cosmetic label is pretty meaningless per se if it's not backed up by an actual certification.

This lathers well in my hair, and after some massaging at the roots, washes away leaving me with nice clean hair. I haven't noticed an incredible difference in volume, but my hair is short and when I wake up in the morning, I sometimes wish it was less voluminous than my reflection tells me. It gets Mr's seal of approval as well and I have already repurchased; it's not a Holy Grail, but for the time being, very decent and inexpensive find.

Then, I also got TRESemmé Naturals Lightweight Mousse ($5.50 for 6.5 oz) since the range was BOGO back then at RiteAid. Now this, I'm not too happy with. After what seems like ages of shaking the can, I put a walnut sized blob in my wet hair, massage it in a bit and leave to air dry. What I find is that when my hair is dry, the products gives me crusty spikes that have to be brushed out later on. I does make styling a bit easier, but doesn't really hold anything in place after combing.

The last product is the famous TRESemmé Fresh Start Dry Shampoo for Oily/Straight to Normal Hair ($4.50-$5 for 5.7 oz). I'm not too crazy about the scent of this one, but I can deal with it, because it is a pretty rad little thing. I usually spray it on sections of my hair at the roots and massage the white powder in until it becomes invisible. It gives an amazing amount of volume and allows me to style my hair into a fauxhawk for that rocker chic look. It does take away the oiliness for a day, but I'd guess it's necessary to wash your hair the following morning/evening, which I always do anyway.

Hope these mini reviews help some of you looking for an inexpensive hair fix. Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite hair ranges from the drugstore?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring 2011 Wishlist

"Just browsing" at Sephora never ends well and here I am, lusting after a lot of beautiful make-up and some amazing skincare to make myself appear more radiant and romantic this Spring. I've thought I'd share, in case anyone's interested...

1. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP, $25-$100. Yes, I still want this perfume and I can't quite understand why it has to be so pricey. I can't even justify the rollerball version for now, given that I haven't used up a perfume bottle in probably 2 years.
2. Korres Blush in 'Peach', $24. Well, I want either this or the lighter shade of the Monoi bronzer. I've been really into blush lately, and surely I don't have enough shimmery peachy shades?
3. MAC 'Costa Chic' lipstick, $14.50. Because I simply need an everyday coral for the warm season, and the ones I have don't quite cut it...
4. Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes eyeliner pencil in 10L, $17. I actually don't have a bronzy eyeliner, and seeing that I use brown liners a lot, I thought this would be amazing with just a touch of sparkly cream eyeshadow on the lid.
5. Urban Decay Naked Palette, $48. I know, I know! I keep on trying to convince myself that I don't need it and have a ton of neutrals already, but somehow this doesn't defer me from still wanting it. Could I get it for Easter/ name day/ graduation, please?
6. OPI Texas Collection 'It's Totally Fort Worth It!', $6. It just looks so pretty in the bottle, I oogled it today at Bartell Drugs (since when do they carry OPI?) and loved the subtle pink shimmer. I wonder though whether it's more like Revlon 'Perplex' on the nails in that the duochrome is virtually invisible, which would be a shame.
7. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner, $18. I'd like to have an AHA exfoliant in my arsenal to boost my skincare routine a couple days a week, as I feel that regular scrubs can sometimes be too harsh on my skin.
8. Mario Badescu Healing Cream, $17. I'm really liking the simple and short ingredients' list and would love to see how it works on acne scarring. So far, I'm enjoying my Soothing & Healing Mask sample, which contains the same key ingredient, Balsam Peru, so I have high hopes for this.

There you have it! I'm sure there's more products I forgot to include (and the orchid in the collage was just for decoration, but I'd like one too if you insist)... What's on your wishlist this Spring?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Revlon 'Perplex': the last NOTD of winter

I'm sure by now you have all heard about this fabulous Chanel 'Paradoxale' dupe from a drugstore and given that it IS Spring already, it's simply old news... Still, let me just tell you that I am glad I didn't fork out those hard earned bucks for the designer version.


Why? Well, while both 'Perplex' and 'Paradoxale' look amazing in the bottle and in online swatches, the former simply doesn't show up that pretty on my nails. In daylight, it just looks like a dark mudded purple with a cream finish. In my living room, it looks like a warmer dark purple with a faint trace of violet shimmer. In my bathroom, it looks like a warm purplish brown with purple shimmer. Overall, there's very little of the duochrome actually visible once it's on the nails.

Artificial living room light

Artificial bathroom light

Do get it however if you're still interested in the shade, firstly because it's certainly quite unique, and secondly because it might look different on you. It's one of those weird colors that seem to morph from person to person. Oh, and of course, the quality is very nice: opaque in 2 coats, shiny, no chipping and little tip wear for 5 days on me (bear in mind though that I do use both a basecoat and a topcoat).

Have you tried the famous 'Paradoxale' or any of its cheaper dupes? x

Thursday, March 24, 2011

INGLOT Eyeshadows: Freedom System and more

With the recent launch of the INGLOT USA online store, there's been a visible surge of interest in Inglot products, especially their famous Freedom System eyeshadows. Given that there's (comparatively) little information on the brand available on the interwebs, I've decided to join Jessica's efforts and try to answer as many queries as I can to the best of my knowledge.

Note: Please bear in mind that my experience with Inglot is so far limited to the Polish stores, so there might be some discrepancies between my knowledge and the status quo in the US, or UK for that matter. What's more, Inglot is undergoing many changes right now, including the much discussed price increase, but also the introduction of the new products, ranges or even numbering of the eyeshadows.

The Freedom System range includes a variety of products in different sizes, shapes and finishes. A Freedom System palette may include eyeshadows, blushers, face powders, cream concealers, lipsticks, eyebrow powders and waxes. The idea is that you can compose your own palette that would contain everything you need for your make-up (and this is where Inglot goes beyond MAC's offerings). I've only checked out their round eyeshadow pans, and here's my collection of shades together with arm swatches (all shades swatched dry on skin primed with Benefit F.Y.eye):

1. Shades with a matte finish:

2. Pearl and AMC Shine finish: warm neutrals

3. Pearl finish: cool neutrals

4. Pearl finish: pinks and purples (note: the Sport 61 Pearl is a depotted eyeshadow from an older discontinued range of eyeshadows)

*EDIT* The purple is no. 439, thanks for spotting this, Jewytart!

As you can see, my favorite finish from Inglot is definitely Pearl; I just find it to be the most buttery smooth and pigmented. My least favorite from the bunch is the creamy matte shade; it just doesn't show up on my skin at all. For more swatches of my favorite shades in daylight, check out this post. Also, before I forget: since Inglot palettes are magnetized unlike the MAC palettes, the best way to take the pans out of the palette is to hold a magnet close to the pan and it just pops right out. You can either use something like a fridge magnet or the ones in the transparent plastic lid of the palette.

Inglot also offers other ranges of eyeshadows, including Matrix and Vertigo. Matrix eyeshadow pans come in separate packaging with a transparent screw-on lid and are the size of a Stila eyeshadow/blusher, i.e. much bigger than the Freedom System ones. In this line, the eyeshadows can be both one solid color in the pan, or a trio of shadows in the same pan (for an example, click here to see a depotted Matrix trio in my Z-palette). The quality is just as good as in the Freedom range and I think you can find a variety of finishes there as well.

Vertigo eyeshadows come in long rectangular pans in a silver plastic packaging, with a sponge-tip applicator incorporated into the lid. As far as I know, Inglot only offers around 15 colors in the range, and some argue the quality is even better than the Freedom System line.

I hope this post helps some of you thinking of making an online purchase. I've also previously reviewed other Inglot products on the blog: a cream foundation and a concealer stick. Let me know if you're interested in a mini review of the powder blusher I have as well; it is rather lovely.

Have you already tried Inglot? What is your favorite product by them?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Haus of Gloi Haul & Interview!

I have a very special treat for you today, my dears; I've promised some lovely surprises in my last post and here you have it! Not only will I tempt you with some delicious Haus of Gloi goodies, I've also asked its lovely owners, Britton and Matt, a couple of questions, and they agreed to share behind-the-scenes details... and photos!

I placed my first order towards the end of February; it was shipped within a day and then arrived maybe 3 days later (bonus of living in the neighboring state!). Every product was wrapped separately (and beautifully) in tissue paper and the box was stuffed with old newspaper to protect the goodies. Here's what I got:

1. Vice Soft Bubbling Scrub
, $8 for 6 oz (full size)
I won't repeat the scent descriptions you can easily find online, but rather attempt to describe what the smells are evocative of to me. In this case, it must be hazelnut gelato! It simply has this sweet nutty scent at first, which then develops into something more caffeinated on the skin. The texture of the scrub is soft but the grains hold together, making it easy to scoop a bit out of the jar. It emulsifies on contact with water and accompanied by rigorous rubbing, leaves behind smooth, hydrated, subtly scented skin.

2. Twice is Nice Soft Bubbling Scrub, $3.50 for 2 oz. (sample size)
In the same formula, I also got Twice is Nice, being tempted by its foodie description. Again, to put it simply, this reminds me of a coconut macaroon. It does smell very buttery and I'm pleased to report than I can definitely smell all three scent notes: cookies, coconut and a touch of almonds. The sample size is very generous; I think I used it about three times already and I just made a little dent in the top of the jar.

3. Picaroon Sugar Exfoliant, $2 for 1 oz. (sample size)
I've also wanted to try the other scrub formula and picked this in the Picaroon scent because it basically sounded like a delicious cocktail. To most, it smells very much like men's cologne; to me, it smells like a margarita; very lemony, salty and definitely liquor-ish. The scrub itself is much more like your typical body exfoliant; it just scrubs away with small grains of sugar. I find that in this formulation, the scent is much stronger than in my Soft Bubbling Scrubs and lingers on the skin much longer. I much prefer it in the mornings than before bed, it can be a bit too energizing, if you know what I mean...

4. Come Hither Pumpkin Butter, LE for Valentine's Day 2011, $4.50 for 3 oz. (sample size)
I also wanted to try the famous Pumpkin body butter and picked it in a limited edition Come Hither scent. Unfortunately, it's my least favorite scent from the bunch; I just realized I'm not a great fan of roses. It's very floral and quite sweet, but to me a bit too old lady. My husband likes it though (on me, that is!). As for the product's formula, it's gorgeous: rich and silky and very moisturizing. The scent lasts on the skin for a good while too.

5. Troika Perfume Oil, $2.50 for 5ml (sample size)
Another foodsy scent (what can I say, I'm really into those lately) I liked the sound of. On the first impression, it is very coconutty, but in a fresher way than Twice is Nice. After a while, it develops into a softer, more feminine scent (I'm guessing it's the 'clean white' note). In terms of longevity, literally a drop of oil lasts for a good couple of hours on me. I've had my sample vial for 3 weeks now and I'm only half way through!

6. Madcap Garden Perfume oil sample, gift with purchase
This came attached to a lovely handwritten note from Britton and Matt, such a nice touch! Anyway, I was a bit skeptical at first since I'm not a big fan of peppermint. But you know what? It doesn't smell very minty to me at all. Initially, I can smell the freshness of mint, but after just a couple of minutes it starts smelling a bit like liquorice. And then it develops into this sweet, complex scent with just a touch of honey, very interesting and unique. I'd say it's definitely a repurchase (in that more distant future after I try every single scent they make).

Now, the best part. If you're as interested in the process of creating perfumes and other pieces of insiders' scoop, I'm sure you'll enjoy the interview as much as I do!

1. Could you describe the process of creating a new scent, from the inspiration to the finished product?
Well, inspiration can come from pretty much anywhere. For example, I've recently delved into ancient Greek history and mythology, so I've been dipping into that whole era fragrance wise. I'm thinking of dates, figs, olives, resins and honey. Once I have key notes in mind I work them together, add and subtract, and once I feel that it fits the idea that I had in my head from the get go, its done. Sometimes I have to rework a blend several times before I get it where I want, sometimes I get the right mojo flowing and it's perfect the first time around. Those are always the best!

The making of a whipped soap...

2. Are you inspired by seasonal trends in fashion/make-up when creating new collections?
Hmm, I don't know! I love looking at makeup trends, so I guess if I see something evoking a sort of mood, ethereal, dark, etc. it may have an effect on the overall mood of the blends.

3. Could you give us a little hint of what to expect in the upcoming Summer release?
For summer we're looking at the return of Beguiled and Insalata Nocturna, those were the two most popular from the release last summer. I may have to soap Zazz though! So delicious and fresh in soap form. I will be bringing a few new scents to the release though - I'm thinking Oregon themed and berries, berries, berries!

4. Matt, what inspires you the most when creating a label design for a particular scent?
I try to approach making labels for HoG the same way I did designs for clients in my freelancer day - sort of a visual version of what Britton does with scents. Starting from the idea/theme that Britton has for the scent, I try to free associate images that are evocative of it. Usually at some point the solution will sort of "pop into my head". In all honesty, 75% of design is throwing ideas at the wall until something sticks.

5. What is your favorite beauty tip? Drink your water, use AHAs and slather yourself in jojoba oil!

Litchi soap and Honeysuckle & Lemon Curd soap... and whipped soaps again.

6. What's the best part about having your own company?
Well, it is very rewarding and satisfying being able to do something you love for a living. I feel eternally blessed being able to do this! I do enjoy being able to whip up interesting concoctions, like making a mask or facial scrub. Creating a new fragrance right off the top of my head is always wonderful - best to strike while the iron is hot! Blends like that are usually turned into Reverie items.

7. What are your goals for the future?
Brick and Mortar! I would really love to open a storefront. We're hoping to do this in a couples of years. I am also wanting to expand our perfume offerings. The current space we're in limits us when creating a full line of products in once scent, but perfume is something that doesn't have the same kind of space restrictions. My mind is bubbling over with ideas, and I think that would be the best way to share them!

I'm sure keeping my fingers crossed for Britton and Matt and wish them all the best! Meanwhile, the Spring collection is already available on the Haus of Gloi website and I already have my beady eye on Lassi and Milkmaid...

What is your favorite Haus of Gloi scent and product line?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, Rocaille Writes!

Happy Birthday! Joyeux anniversaire! Sto lat!

That's right, it's been two years already and I feel like celebrating! While last year this memorable occasion seems to have slipped from my mind, this year I'd like to indulge in a bit of self-love. Because Rocaille Writes is truly my love child and in the past two years has become more than just a hobby. I've laughed lots, sworn lots, learnt lots, took lots and lots of photos, and most importantly, met lots of amazing bloggers who have since become friends; while my other friends and family have no clue I actually write a blog. Life's a bit of a paradox sometimes, isn't it?

To celebrate, this month I've decided to pay a bit of a tribute to the humble beginnings of my blog, posting more regularly, as I hope you've noticed, and doing some more dramatic make-up looks which I think many of my readers initially came here for. There'll be more of these and other surprises in the future as the blog continues to grow, pinky promise!

And last but not least, I'd like to thank all of you, dear readers, both of the silent and the more talkative kind, the regulars and the irregulars, the new and... the loyal. Without you, it simply wouldn't be the same!

With Love,
Rocaille x

Friday, March 18, 2011

High-end Haul

I decided to treat myself to some high-end pieces this month and after many happy moments spent online perusing swatches and reviews, I settled on ordering a few bits and bobs from All Cosmetics Wholesale (which is a Washingtonian company... who knew?).

I got:
Michael Todd Crème Glacé lipgloss in 'Natural'
Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in 'Slippin n' Dippin'
Stila Convertible Color in 'Lillium' (travel size)
Stila Cheek Color in 'Hint'
Sigma E05 Fine Eyeliner brush
POP Beauty Glitter Stix in 'Sage' (gift with purchase)

I wanted some soft, neutral shades I knew I was going to use and had so far been missing in my collection, as well as a long wearing cream eyeshadow for spring and summer I could just pat all over the lid for a quick look. Also, I wanted to try brands that had been new to me: Michael Todd and Stila. I just love the name of the gloss; it's a literal French translation of the word 'ice cream' and not surprisingly, the product smells exactly like vanilla strawberry ice cream. Delicious! I'm also happy with my Stila purchases.

However, I don't know if I will ever be ordering from this company again. While the products are discounted, I think their quality is not the same as in a regular store. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see in the photo above, but my Benefit cream eyeshadow seems a bit dried out and had already started to pull from the edges of the jar when I first opened it.

The Sigma brush arrived with some blems on the handle, which I don't mind that much, and a lot of splayed hairs, which I do mind a lot. I've washed it, reshaped it and left to dry in a brush guard, but some hairs are still sticking out. There was no information on the website that these products might be faulty in any way. It just spoils the fun of buying more luxurious make-up if it turns out to be damaged somehow.

Let me know if you'd like me to review any of these products and I can promise that you'll be seeing them in make-up looks to come. What have you treated yourself to lately?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

FOTD: Mardi Gras

Technically, a week too late, but I hope you'll still enjoy... In fact, I did this look in celebration of a completely different day; details soon to come so don't fret, my dears.

My inspiration was this gorgeous pair of false lashes I was sent from, home to countless fabulous and inexpensive falsies. This pair are just these most amazingly shiny lashes of blue and red artificial hairs crisscrossed together. If you look carefully in the photos, you'll see one lash has some of the corner hairs pointing down; my messy application caused some strands to weave out. Also, if you look carefully, you'll see blobs of lash glue. Please don't judge; I freaking hate my lash glue, it makes my eyes water.

Products used:
Revlon Colorstay foundation for Oily/Combination skin in Ivory
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW20
MAC Blot Powder in Medium Dark
No7 Natural Blush in Soft Damson (product close-up here)
Accessorize Merged Blusher in Pretty Pink (product close-up here)
L'Oreal HIP Color Truth Cream Eyeliner in Midnight Blue
Barry M Dazzle Dust in Petrol Black
Sleek Molten Metal in Pewter (product close-up here)
generic matte white eyeshadow
Maybelline Full 'N Soft mascara in Black (review here)
FE159 false eyelashes
Sleek PoutPolish in Scandal (product close-up here)

Barry M Dazzle Dust in Black Petrol looks amazing patted on top of this navy base, the soft blue/green shimmers give it a lot more dimension. I opted for a very clean look underneath with just some metallic pewter blended into the skin with a bit of matte white eyeshadow.

If you ask me where you could wear it, I'm pretty sure visitors of a Comic-Con wouldn't even bat an eyelash at you. It's a bit Wonder Woman-ish, isn't it?

Disclaimer: False lashes were provided to me for review consideration. I am not compensated to feature them on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rocaille Raves: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Long-time readers of this blog will probably know that I have tried and reviewed many acne treatments, so far with rather unimpressive results. This, however, might be the turning point...

What is it?
"The Drying Lotion is a fast acting, effective acne spot treatment. Formulated with salicylic acid, calamine and other quick-drying ingredients, this product will shrink ugly whiteheads virtually overnight while you sleep. While other acne spot treatments can irritate and dry delicate or sensitive skin, this product is safe and effective for all skin types."

The product comes in a clear glass bottle with pink sediment on the bottom and alcohol on top. The instructions specify to dip a cotton swab in the sediment without shaking the bottle and then apply to problem areas, which seems like a very hygienic way if a bit fussy way of applying the lotion. It smells strongly of alcohol and camphor, which reminds me of a strong antiseptic... and nose sprays.

What I like about it:
- It really does what it says on the bottle! I apply it to whiteheads and other bumps at night, and by morning all spots are greatly diminished. It even works on painful cystic ones!
- It doesn't dry the skin out terribly. I haven't observed any flakiness, yet the pimples are reduced. Also, there's no irritation.
- It's reasonably priced ($17 for 1 oz.)
- It's hygienic to use.
- I imagine the bottle lasting me a very long time.

What I dislike about it:
- I don't look my best when I apply it. In fact, the husband says I look as if I had measles.
- The glass bottle is certainly not the best for travelling.
- The smell might be quite bothersome.

Will I repurchase? Yes!!! It's the best spot treatment I've ever tried; and believe me, I've tried a fair share of these since I was 14. Even though the ingredients seem very common - isopropyl alcohol, calamine, salicylic acid - somehow their combination together with some less popular ones, like camphor or colloidal sulphur, really does the trick. Thumbs up from me!

Have you ever tried Mario Badescu's skincare? What is your favorite spot treatment? x

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: NYX Mega Shine Lip Glosses

I'm more of a lipstick girl, so when a lipgloss manages to impress me, it really says something about the quality of the product. And NYX Mega Shine Lip Glosses really make me sway and abandon a drawer full of beautiful lippies!

NYX Mega Shine lipglosses are a bit sticky, smooth and pigmented glosses packaged in an adorably simple tube with a little bow on the cap. They come with a slanted doe foot applicator which makes applying the gloss easy and accurate, which is especially important for darker shades. Due to the slight stickiness, they have a very decent staying power - on me they last for 2-3 hours. The gloss smells exactly like cherry candy; maybe not the most sophisticated of smells, but rather pleasant and not overpowering.

L-R: Beige, Dolly Pink, African Queen, Garnet

I'm pretty sure there's a number of glosses on the market that perform exactly the same as NYX glosses; what I'm not so sure about is whether they do all that for the same price tag. I purchased mine on eBay for $8.40 + $2 shipping. It's less than $3.50 for a gloss! Add to it a beautiful range of shades with both cream and shimmery finishes, and it's a win-win in my book.

Some lip swatches for you...

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Beige (LG129): a nudey yellow-based pink, cream finish

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Dolly Pink (LG136): a vibrant cool-toned fuschia, cream finish

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in African Queen (LG115): a deeper purple fuschia with fine blue shimmer

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Garnet (LG139): dark cool-toned raspberry, cream finish

If you're thinking of trying just one shade, I strongly recommend African Queen: it's so beautiful and unique with the blue shimmer and a great introductory shade if you're looking for a purplish lip color. All in all, I love these glosses and I'm already planning to get some more shades!

Have you tried NYX Mega Shine Lip Glosses? What are your favorite shades?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brand Focus: b•liv by Cellnique + free samples!

Along with my No Moisturizer Challenge, I've started using two new skincare products by an Asian brand b•liv by Cellnique, which specializes in salon-formulated but easy to use products aimed mostly at young people. While the brand was new to me, it's been successful on the Asian market for over 12 years and has many devoted fans, judging from the rave reviews on the company's website.

I've been trying two products: Off With Those Heads, a blackhead sebum gel, and Shield Me, a moisturizing broad-spectrum sunblock SPF 35. Both come in a beautiful packaging: silver boxes with a white sleeve and handy plastic pump bottles. The shipping was very fast, customer service helpful and knowledgeable, and the products arrived without any problems.

Off With Those Heads is a clear gel with a refreshing minty smell, which retails for $49 (30 ml bottle). It promises to remove stubborn blackheads and whiteheads in just 14 days and also to reduce oil secretion. The key ingredients include tea tree oil, aloe vera and witch hazel extracts and peppermint oil. Unfortunately, it's not paraben-free, but the ingredients' list is short and sweet.

I've been using half a pump to cover my nose, the center part of my face and my chin. The gel feels cooling on the skin, is non-sticky and sinks in very fast. It didn't irritate or dry my skin out, although my husband testified it burned his skin a bit (but then, I think he's been putting on 4 pumps just to cover his nose). However, as for the product's ambitious claims, it did not remove or even reduce my blackheads or whiteheads. It seems to me that my pores are exactly the same as a month ago, maybe a bit smaller and not as noticeable. On Mr R, it helped to dry out one huge blackhead so that it could be removed easily. I think however that my blackheads must be beyond stubborn; also, it's important to remember that it's virtually impossible to reduce the size of one's pores, only their appearance can be somehow diminished by keeping them clean. Overall, I won't repurchase this product.

Shield Me is a white smooth cream with a subtle citrusy smell, retailing for $32 (45ml bottle). It promises protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and contains both physical (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) and chemical (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) sunscreen, as well a moisturizing agent derived from seaweed.

I use one and a half pump to cover my face, concentrating on areas where the sun hits most. Sunscreen shouldn't be skimped on, and it's usually recommended to use an amount corresponding to 1 teaspoon to cover just the face; I used too little at first and managed to burn the skin on my nose a bit while snowboarding. The product feels very lightweight and silky on the skin, leaving a beautiful, satiny finish. I also believe it helps to hold back shine a little, possibly because of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide content. I leaves my skin soft and moisturized with no greasy residue or whiteish cast. I would repurchase this one if the price point was a bit lower; I'm afraid for now it doesn't fit in my student's budget! Other than the price, I can't find any fault with this product.

Now, the best part: first 50 readers to leave a comment with their email address at the b•liv by Cellnique Facebook Fan Page under my wall post can score a free 3ml sample of Shield Me. What's more, if you link your blog too, you might stand a chance of trying some other products as well!

Small print: The offer is valid until March 15th 2011 . Sample delivery time is 4-6 weeks. Samples are only available to readers who haven't previously received samples from b•liv.

Disclaimer: Products described were provided to me for review consideration. I'm not compensated to write this review or affiliated with the brand. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Swap with Cami Loves Kiwi!

In fact, under this unassuming post title you'll find something a bit more naughty... Make-up porn! This is just a taste of how I felt receiving a delicious package full of shiny new make-up goodies: vibrant colors, beautiful textures, sweet smells, light-reflecting sparkles, accompanied by a cute little note adorned with a dinosaur, all courtesy of Cami from Cami Loves Kiwi (if you're not subscribed to her YouTube channel, you must!). I've already played with all of the products and love them all. Seriously. I couldn't even pick my favorite, I'm so excited.

But enough blabbering. Enjoy.

Accessorize Merged Blusher in 'Pretty Pink'

Accessorize Merged Blusher in 'Diva'

Sleek Make-up Molten Metal Duo in 'Pewter' and 'Gold Leaf'

Barry M Dazzle Dust in 'Mushroom'

Sleek Make-up Pout Polishes in 'Pink Cadillac' and 'Scandal'

No7 Natural Blush in 'Soft Damson'

Accessorize Baked Duo in 'High Maintenance'

Sleek Make-up Blusher in 'Pomegranate'

You'll certainly see these products in the upcoming posts, but let me know in the comments if you have any special requests for reviews or swatches. Have a great weekend and again... a heartfelt thank you, Cami! x

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Moisturizer Challenge: The Results

It's probably one of the most anticipated posts by you, my dear readers, so let me quickly announce the results of my No Moisturizer Challenge in one concise word: SUCCESS!

Now, for the details. As you might know, I vowed not to use any moisturizer on my oily skin for the whole month of February, curious to see whether my skin actually needed an additional boost of moisture. I'm pleased to observe that after a month, my skin is no more drier than when I was using a moisturizing cream twice a day. The only dryness I've seen was a result of acne treatments... and some overzealous snowboarding in California; nothing that couldn't be fixed with a bit of exfoliation, which I performed twice a week with the help of various scrubs.

As for the overall clarity of my skin, I was pleasantly surprised. For the whole month, I had to fight only one bigger spot on my jawline and a few small whiteheads that faded within a couple days. But most importantly, I've stopped getting those pesky under-the-skin clogged pores on my cheeks that look like little hard bumps at first and then develop into full fledged breakouts. More than that, with the help of one product to be reviewed later this month, I even got rid of quite a few of them and as of today, there's just one solitary bump remaining. That's a huge progress for me - I'm now feeling confident enough in my skin to venture outside without a smidgen of make-up on, which was absolutely unthinkable for me in the past!

If you intend to take the No Moisturizer Challenge yourself, there's a few tips worth remembering:
1. Use a non-drying but effective cleanser. I especially recommend a creamy, non-foaming cleanser that DOES NOT give you the squeaky clean feeling after washing.
2. Exfoliate gently. This will help to get rid of any dead skin cells clogging the pores as well as smooth the surface of the skin.
3. Use a sunscreen. Not using a moisturizer doesn't mean your face shouldn't be protected from harmful UV rays. The SPF in your make-up is usually not enough unless you really pile it on (as roadtested in this review)!
4. Pamper your skin. I do feel that using various masks helped to further strengthen and nourish my skin during the challenge.

I hope this helps some of you thinking about eliminating a moisturizer from your routine. I'll continue skipping my moisturizing cream, but I might add a hydrating serum at some point to ensure my skin has enough water content. Take care, lovelies! x