Monday, July 29, 2013

Christmas in July: bareMinerals The Finer Things Eyeshadow Palette

So, this is not the 'Christmas in July' post that features beauty brands' mid-summer preview of their holiday offerings as presented to the press... This is the Christmas in July where I, in fact, show you a pick from last year's Christmas (quelle horreur!) because, well, it's lovely and I purchased it at a great price - how does that sound?
The objet in question is bareMinerals The Finer Things Eyeshadow Palette, (LE Christmas 2012, currently unavailable but I ordered mine from for $25 reduced from $40). Truth is, I had some money stashed away in store credit and I was looking to spend it on a new eye palette to satisfy my usual palette cravings (cause I hadn't gotten a palette thus far this year!) and was almost convinced to get the LORAC Pro. But... I looked at the swatches, thought about it, looked at my stash of predominantly neutral shadows... and bareMinerals The Finer Things just called my name.

The palette features 8 mineral-based eyeshadows with a variety of finishes, housed in a very simple silver case (minimalist aesthetic aside, it's an absolute fingerprint magnet) with eyeshadow names on the back, as with other bareMinerals READY eyeshadows. I own only one more bareMinerals READY product, which is the Truth quad from the permanent line (click!) so I already knew that the formulation of these eyeshadows is an absolute dream: creamy, smooth, pigmented, long-lasting with minimal fallout. And this palette is definitely on par with the quality I came to expect.
In terms of the shades themselves, I'm happy that I decided to purchase The Finer Things over LORAC Pro, because I would view the bareMinerals selection as 'neutrals with a twist' as opposed to more classic neutral shades. Left to right, we have Penthouse, a matte black with bigger silver shimmers, Custom Made, a pinkish champagne with a pearl finish, Cadeau, a medium satin grey with a violet twinge, Truffle, a warm metallic bronze, First Class, a unique antique gold/ platinum with a pearl finish, Upgrade, a medium purpley taupe (flail!), Five Star, a pigmented matte white, and finally Private Isle, a satin navy with a hint of purple. By the way, I find all the shade names adorable and very much in line with the feel of the palette; I might be silly but it really does evoke a sense of effortless luxury to me.

The palette also came with a double-ended brush (actually, not too bad at all!), a deluxe sample of Prime Time eyeshadow primer that I might include in some eye primer round-up some time in the future, and a little leaflet with diagrams showing eye look ideas, which I'm planning on actually trying out as some color combinations are not what I would usually go for - I'll probably try to cull those looks into a semi-presentable post in the next week or so.

All in all, I'm very excited about my bargain find and can't wait to try more looks with these shades; I'm especially looking forward to trying out the gorgeous grey of Cadeau and using the navy Private Isle as a color accent. Have you ever scored a great beauty find in the post Christmas sales? What are your favorite bareMinerals palettes?

Friday, July 26, 2013

My New Spot Treatment: De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment

My skin hasn't been doing that great lately and so I've been on the lookout for some new acne products I could supplement my routine with, specifically some spot treatments to use during the day. Since I already use a rather drying prescription gel, after reading a great review on Makeup Withdrawal, I decided to try something a bit different: the De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment ($5.29 for 3 oz).
De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment 10% Acne Medication is, like the name suggests, a sulfur-based spot treatment; in fact, it only contains two ingredients, 10% sulfur and polyethylene glycol, no artificial fragrances or dyes. The consistency of the product is definitely that of an ointment: thick, oily, almost similar to Vaseline but a bit less waxy. It has a yellow tint to it and in the pot, has a faint soapy floral scent.
Now, because of the strange texture, this is definitely not something you could wear under make-up or even on its own anywhere other than in the safe confines of your own home. However, the De La Cruz Ointment isn't meant to be used like a typical spot treatment; instead, you're supposed to apply a small amount to the area, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse off or wipe away - it's water soluble and oil-free so it shouldn't leave a greasy mark. I will admit that I usually leave it on for a lot longer (like... a couple hours?) because somehow in my mind, that works better for those pesky spots that refuse to come to a head. In terms of the results, I would say this is an effective product but not a miracle worker: it takes a couple applications to really dry out and shrink the blemish, but still it worked better on an extremely stubborn spot I had on my cheek for about 3 weeks than anything else I'd tried, and now the bugger is finally gone, though not without leaving its mark.
As for the cons, it does leave the unmistakable sulfur scent on your skin (I think Mimi described this as 'fart face') and can be drying if used regularly - but for me, that's pretty much the point because those painful red bumps just don't go away otherwise. I would recommend the De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment to anyone looking for an inexpensive spot treatment and who knows sulfur works well for them or simply wants to try something new. Finding the product in your local drugstore might be a bit of a challenge, so I ordered mine through and can safely recommend their service.

Have you ever tried sulfur-based acne treatments? What is your favorite spot treatment?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lipstick Bandits: It's A Man's World

It's a man's world today on Rocaille Writes as part of the Lipstick Bandits collaboration! Our challenge this time is to feature a lip product that's been chosen by our significant other; or, well, any other significant male in our lives.
As I only have my dearly wed available for some such brain-picking and, to put it mildly, he's not very much into beauty products, I was really dragging my feet to even start the conversation. But, one sunny day, after having fed him a late breakfast (because asking a hungry morning grump is a sure way to fail just about anything in this household), we had this memorable exchange:
'Umm, so... I know this is a bit off-topic, but which lipstick color do you like on me?'
'I don't know.'
'But if you had to choose one?'
'Not red. Red doesn't suit you.'
'Something dark.' (At this point, seeing his obvious frustration with my inquiries, I brought out my lipstick organizers from the vanity and had him pick a color he liked, thinking that would facilitate the process.) '... Dark brown maybe? Here, this is ok.'
'Wait, what... DARK BROWN?!'
Now, I'm sure we can all gather in sorrow and utter confusion resulting from my beloved beau having picked a freakin' dark brown lipstick. If there's any shade of lipstick I furiously avoid and associate with nineties sitcoms, it would be brown, no doubt about it. But, according to the mister, Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Color in Plum Perfect (...) is a prime example of a dark brown, and thus we shall roll with the punches, so to speak.
According to myself, Plum Perfect is a dark wine with (all right, admit it) warm brown undertones. As you may know, Maybelline Color Sensationals are one of my favorite drugstore lipsticks, closely tied with Revlon Superlustrous. Maybelline Plum Perfect is creamy, opaque in just a couple swipes, quite long-lasting and has that signature whiff of coconut scent to it. Compared to some other plummy wine shades in my collection, Maybelline Perfect Plum (left) is a lot warmer and more red than Wet'n'Wild Dark Wine (middle) or Revlon Black Cherry (right).
I like to imagine Perfect Plum as the perfect 1920's silent movie star lip, something Clara Bow might have pulled out of her minaudiere. I tend to wear this shade mostly in the fall and winter, paired with a subtle neutral eyeshadow and a warm cheek. In the photo below, I coupled it with some shimmery bronze shades from theBalm Nude'tude palette and the NYX Powder Blush in Mauve.
Don't forget to check out the gentlemen's picks of these fabulous Lipstick Bandits:
Which shade would your significant other choose for you? Are there any lipsticks you would absolutely hate for him to pick?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Color of the Year: TIGI Perfect Eyeliner in Green

I don't know about you, but I'd always associated TIGI with haircare and subsequently felt a bit snobbish towards their make-up line (gotcha! I'm sure many of you have never even heard about their cosmetics!). However, when an opportunity - meaning, another company incentive - presented itself, I decided to try their Perfect Eyeliner in Green ($18 for 0.04 oz/1.2 g).
'Stay put, easy glide, dual purpose eyeliner. Apply along waterline for defined eyes, create sharp lines or use smudgie tip to soften edges' (from TIGI Cosmetics website). The Perfect Eyeliner is a simple liner pencil that doesn't wind up with a rubbery sponge at the end for blending. The only problem I have with packaging design is that the pencil is slightly larger than most and so requires a special sharpener; preferrably, a TIGI one for another $6.
The shade Green (isn't it refreshing to find a brand with such unpretentious names...?) is a deep richly pigmented emerald green with a touch of teal. Green has a subtle sheen to its finish but no visible shimmer. What I like most about this eyeliner is not so much the color, but the creamy feel and an absolutely fantastic staying power - after it sets, this baby will not budge until you wash it off with some waterproof make-up remover or a cleansing oil. There's no transfer, no smudging, no flaking off; it simply applies and wears beautifully.

Compared to the other two green pencil eyeliners in my collection, TIGI Green (left in the photo below) is much more blue-toned than the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Mildew (middle), a deep olive green. NYX Slide On in Esmeralda (right) is brighter and more grassy green. As you can see in the swatch, these three shades of green are simply nothing alike!
Although I enjoy the fun vibrancy of NYX Esmeralda, I have to admit that Green is much easier to wear and more on trend this year; I don't really own anything closer to Pantone Emerald than this liner, and using a colored eyeliner is a simple way of incorporating this shade into my eye make-up. In the photo below, I've decided to pair it with a light golden eyeshadow on the inner part of the eye, Inglot eyeshadow no. 414 to set the liner and no. 337 to blend out the crease for a more diffused but colorful look. Cheeks are NYX Powder Blush in Mauve and lips are Maybelline Color Sensational in Warm Me Up.
 Have you ever tried any make-up from TIGI? What are your favorite green eyeliner shades?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reviewing Reviva Labs: Pomegranate Scrub & Light Skin Peel

One of the good things about being on a beauty low-buy is finally having the time to really roadtest some products I've had lingering in my bathroom cabinet for a long time. Last year, a lovely Reviva Labs PR person sent me a sizeable package with their products, and in it two exoliants immediately caught my eye: the Microdermabrasion Pomegranate Scrub ($19 for 2 oz/ 55g) and the Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel ($20 for 1.5 oz/42g).
For those of you who have never heard about Reviva Labs, it's a natural, cruelty-free line founded way back in 1973 and distributed mostly through health food stores. The brand claims to have been the first in the US health stores and skincare salons to introduce many skincare breakthroughs, like the importance of skin exfoliation, non-drying acne products or using Vitamin P for spider veins. While I have no way of verifying whether Reviva was truly 'the first', most of the skincare I've tried so far have been simple, no-fuss, effective products with a very reasonable price tag, my favorite being their Hyaluronic Acid Serum, reviewed here.
Anyway, let's start with the Microdermabrasion Pomegranate Scrub! According to the brand,  'Reviva's microdermabrasion pomegranate scrub helps retexturize skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles or rough skin by featuring gentle magnesium oxide crystals and pomegranate instead of abrasive aluminum oxide. And to further avoid irritation as it exfoliates and removes impurities, our Micro Scrub induces a complex of organic oils. Cleanses in depth but gentle enough to use on even sensitive or acne skin.' The Pomegranate Scrub comes packaged in a utilitarian white plastic tub with a stopper lid inside and is a white, thick cream exfoliant with very fine crystals and a faintly almond/chemical scent (unfortunately, the 'pomegranate' part only refers to the pomegranate oil being one of the ingredients). The creamy, slightly oily base spreads easily on dampened skin and gives enough slip so that the scrubbing particles can be lightly massaged on the face. The scrub rinses off clean and without leaving a greasy residue - just soft, smooth skin. I find it works best when I'm particularly flaky after using some drying treatments as it really helps to buff away any peeling skin without aggravating my face any fruther thanks to the tiny crystals and a nourishing base. As much as I'm not normally a fan of physical exfoliation, I think the Reviva Microdermabrasion Scrub works very well and I would recommend it to those who like a more scrubby exfoliant.
The Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel 'doesn't "peel skin" as we know it, but gently lifts off more hardened, dried skin cells than can be achieved by scrubs or any other "exfoliating" product. Dead-cell accumulation prevents treatment products from penetrating and keeps skin tone from looking fresh and vibrant. (...) Our Peel ingredients also stimulate the deeper new cells to move upward at a faster rate - causing the skin surface to look tighter, clearer and healthier.' The Light Skin Peel is a very thick cream the color of oatmeal with small bits of crushed almonds and chamomile that smells very strongly of alcohol and thyme. No surprise here: the SDA Alcohol 40 is the second ingredient of this peel-off type mask, which is supposed to be applied once a week, let to dry for a couple minutes and then removed by rubbing off with fingers, dry towel or sponge. I will say that these two facts alone are enough to turn me off this product, as I dislike drying alcohols in skincare (and with this one, it literally burns in my nose and makes my eyes water as the fumes evaporate), and I also dislike peel-off masks that have to be removed by rubbing - my face does not like to be rubbed, and this does not come off easily at all. The end result is... ok, my skin does look smoother and the pores seem to be refined, although it also looks a lot more red; I feel like I can achieve similar results with a gentler product. The last gripe I have with this 'non-chemical' peel is that it contains salicylic acid and papain, both - you guessed it - chemical exfoliants. While I have no problem with this mask containing both physical (crushed almonds) and chemical exfoliating agents, I think the name is very misleading and overall, I can't recommend the product.

So, one hit and one miss with these Reviva Labs exfoliants. Have you ever tried anything from Reviva Labs? What are your favorite scrubs or exfoliating masks?

Disclaimer: The Reviva Labs products were provided to me for review consideration by a brand representative. 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!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

OPI Nail Polish Haul

I've mentioned before in my Zoya polish haul that I should be getting even more nail pretties very soon as a result of an OPI nail polish incentive my company was running at the time. So... guess what? I have a lot of new OPI lacquers to show you!
So far, I've already worn a couple of these and was rather happy with the application and wear. I tried to go for shades I enjoy but that had been previously missing from my collection; hence a lot of light and medium pinks, which I actually wear quite rarely for fear of being too girly ;)
By the way, I'm thinking of starting a new monthly feature to showcase the polishes I'm trying out and my feeble attempts at nail art; does that sound interesting? If not... well, just skip that nail polish swatchathon at the end of each month!
Starting with the lightest shades, left to right:
Up Front & Personal (permanent collection): a semi-sheer light gold mettalic foil, can be worn on its own or used as a shimmer top coat for another shade
The Lights of Emerald City (Oz The Great and Powerful): a mix of white glitter squares and small opalescent glitters in a transparent base, beautiful over the top of...
Don't Burst My Bubble (Oz The Great and Powerful): a sheer nearly white pink cream, levels well on the nail and gives a lovely milky effect
I Theodora You (Oz The Great and Powerful): a sheer light neutral pink, same formulation as Don't Burst My Bubble - meaning, very good.
Charged Up Cherry (permanent collection): a pigmented vibrant hot coral red, a tad too thick but the color is gorgeous on the nail
Princesses Rule! (permanent collection): a semi-sheer medium neutral pink foil, same formulation as Up Front & Personal. These two polishes have the most amazing shimmery finish - not for anyone who fears sparkles!
Feeling Hot-Hot-Hot (permanent collection): a pigmented bright coral pink, a touch lighter and more pink than Charged Up Cherry... but you don't really need both.
Pamplona Purple (permanent collection): a medium warm purple cream, opaque in two coats (Euro Centrale, now permanent): a mix of turquoise, fuschia and purple glitters in a sheer base, beautiful on top of darker cool colors
You're Such a Budapest (Euro Centrale, now permanent): a unique pastel periwinkle lilac with tiny silver shimmers; the finish on the nail looks more like a cream but with some dimension.

Also, I failed at this bloggy photo shoot... I forgot to include one more OPI polish I got, a blue Liquid Sand called Tiffany Case from the Bonds Girls collection, now permanent as well. But, I promise to swatch it soon for you! Have you gotten any new polishes recently? What are your favorite OPI shades?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Top 10 Drugstore Make-up Favorites

I thought it'd be fun to share with you my top 10 all-time drugstore make-up favorites; I've never done one of those before! I use a lot of drugstore products in my everyday routine, and I believe a lot of the time the quality of these more inexpensive items really is on par with luxury brands. For someone on a budget, the drugstore with its constant stream of new products and trendy shades can absolutely constitute a one-stop shop for all things make-up!
Ok, enough of bland beauty truisms, let's dive right into my affordable favorites, starting with the base (oh, and by the way, the respective products are linked to a more detailed review and swatches where possible):
1. Revlon Colorstay Liquid Make-up for Combination/Oily Skin ($12.99 for 1 fl oz/30 ml)
I've hailed the benefits of this foundation before but in a nutshell, this is a must-try for anyone with slightly oilier skin who finds their base doesn't last throughout the day. This is a medium/full coverage foundation that can be sheered out by mixing with a moisturizer and I find their lightest shade (Ivory 110) to be a perfect match for my winter/spring coloring. This foundation does set rather fast, although when applied with a dampened buffing brush, it can be really worked into the skin for a flawless satin finish.
2. Rimmel Match Perfection 2-in-1 Concealer and Highlighter ($4.97 for 0.23 fl oz)
I've realized I'd never posted about this handy concealer before even though I use it every day for my under eye area! The Rimmel Match Perfection comes in a squeeze tube with a brush, and it's a creamy, lightweight concealer with a slight pearl finish. I don't have very bad undereye circles so the pigmentation is enough for me, and I like how natural and undetectable it looks on the skin, especially blended on top of an eye cream. The concealer doesn't settle into my fine lines and the yellow undertones correct my bluish veins very nicely; I think it would also make a subtle cheekbone highlighter for someone who doesn't like a lot of shimmer. Try it if you're in the market for a quick, easy undereye concealer!
3. NYX Powder Blushes ($5 for 0.14 oz/ 4 g)
I've swatched and extensively reviewed all of my collection before, and the NYX blushes are still one of my favorite blush formula, both high-end and low-end. These powders have a silky feel with an impressive pigmentation and all-day lasting power, and their satin finish looks beautiful on the skin. My top three favorite shades pictured here are Angel, Pinky and Mauve.
4. Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Eyeshadows ($6.99 for 0.14 oz/ 3.97 g)
Are you all sick of hearing me wax lyrical about these Color Tattoos? Oh, but I do love them; if you don't own the shade Bad to the Bronze yet, don't walk, run to your nearest drugstore. The other shade in my collection (not pictured) is Barely Beige, and I've recently picked up Lavish Lavender from the LE 2013 Summer collection, although I didn't like it enough to keep it. These cream shadows have medium, buildable pigmentation, enough slip to be easily blendable with a finger or a brush, and last all day without additional primer on my oily lids. I sometimes use these as a base for powder shadows, but more often just quickly slap them on a bare lid and call it a day.
5. Wet'n'Wild Color Icon Collection Eyeshadow Trios ($2.99 for 0.12 oz/ 3.5g)
Does powder eyeshadow get any better than these gorgeous, dirt cheap palettes from Wet'n'Wild? As you can see, I've depotted mine into a magnetized palette for easy access - it's a bit of a mish-mash in here, but my absolute favorite trios are Walking on Eggshells, The Silent Treatment and sadly, a limited edition The Golden Age. I don't own any of the 8-pan palettes but I'm seriously eyeing some of the Black Radiance offerings; check them out if you can't get enough of the Wet'n'Wild shades.
6. NYX Slide On Pencils ($8 for 0.04 oz/ 1.2g)
A couple years back, I used to love Prestige Total Intensity eyeliner pencils; but while they went on very creamy and pigmented at first, after a couple months they seemed to dry out and flake off on my eyes. However, I've since found an even better quality eyeliner pencil: NYX Slide On, a drugstore dupe for Urban Decay 24/7 pencil liners. These are super intense, apply easily with no tugging, last all day and come in 18 fun, bright shades. I have Esmeralda, a kelly green, and Pretty Violet, a duochrome blurple, but I'd love to get a couple more for my collection.
7. COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara ($7.79)
Out of all the mascaras I've tried over the years, my most repurchased: I had the original version first, then a waterproof one, then the 24 hours. I still prefer just the original (as I can't be bothered with waterproof make-up removal) and I find it works best on my fine but quite dense lashes: it gives volume, some length and most importantly for me, separates my lashes really well without clumping.
8. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains ($8.99 for 0.09 oz/2.7 g)
I still can't get over how it is possible to make a balmy, non-drying and very longlasting product like these Revlon Balm Stains; they're just the best for long work shifts, beach holidays, family gatherings or any other time you can't be bothered with reapplying your make-up. I own Smitten, a very blue-based hot pink, and Crush, a deep wine but Honey, a neutral mauve, has been on my wishlist forever. I will finally cave one day!
9. Maybelline Color Sensational LipColor Lipsticks ($8.29 for 0.15 oz/ 4.2 g)
Currently available in 68 shades, plus 10 shades of the Vivids and 10 shades of the Pearl version, I believe the Color Sensationals are the most extensive range of lipsticks in the drugstore with options for every skintone and coloring. I have three: Warm Me Up no. 235, a warm nude pink, Plum Perfect no. 435, a brownish plum, and a LE Summer 2012 shade First Class Fuschia, my absolute favorite of the bunch. I find these Maybelline lipsticks creamy, nicely pigmented and quite longwearing without shrivelling my lips like a prune in the process. The coconutty artificial scent isn't for everyone, but if you don't mind, definitely give them a whirl.
10. NYX Mega Shine Lip Glosses ($5 for 0.37 fl oz/11 ml)
I'm not a huge lip gloss wearer, but when I do, more often than not I reach for these cheap and cheerful NYX Mega Shines. They come in 44 shades, have great pigmentation for a lip gloss and an intense, reflective shine, don't feel too sticky on the lips but still last pretty well throughout the day. Personally, I could do without the cherry cough drop scent but it's nothing that would deter me from wearing those.
And that is it! A round-up of my 10 absolute favorite drugstore make-up products that I reach for over and over again. I think once you find your tried and true formula of a product, it makes shopping for make-up so much easier - you can experiment with new shades or seasonal limited edition collections knowing that you'll most likely enjoy your new purchases. What would be included in your Top 10 Drugstore Make-up list?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Fruit Picking: CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm in Watermelon Twist

I've been known to survive on fruit and nothing but fruit in the summer; in fact, raspberries are probably my favorite food on this planet, period. And when it comes to watermelons... a cold juicy wedge straight from the fridge is just the thing for sweltering summer days, isn't it? It is then no surprise that any shade name evoking fruity goodness makes me perk up and start paying attention, like this CoverGirl LipPerfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in the shade Watermelon Twist ($6.89 for 0.13 fl oz/3.84 ml).
'Twist up the color and glide on the shine. Treat your lips to a balm fortified with shea and mango butters for a smooth look with a hint of color.' (from CoverGirl's website). The LipPerfection Jumbo Gloss Balms come in 16 shades and promise a soft shine without the sticky feeling. How does the product live up to its claims and stands its ground among so many other iterations of a tinted balm in the fat crayon packaging?
The Jumbo Gloss Balm twists up easily and applies lightly on the lips without tugging or pulling. The pigmentation is on the sheer side but can be built up, and the shade Watermelon Twist packs enough punch that even a light application on my pigmented lips gives enough color to perk up the whole face. The finish is slightly glossy, however it's more of a lip balm sheen than lip gloss mirrored effect, as you can see in the swatches below. The glossiness can also be taken down a notch if the product is patted onto the lips with a finger, giving a very natural 'bitten' look. The wear is rather short lived (2-3 hours) with the glossiness fading even sooner, which can be expected for a tinted balm; on the plus side, my lips still feel soft and not too dry after wearing it for an entire day.
As for some shades comparisons, I don't really own any similar hues in the sheer formula - well, that's a big plus in my book! Watermelon Twist (far left) can definitely be described as a light coral/ peachy pink, pulling neither too warm or too cool. Compared to L'Oreal Colour Caresse lipstick in Blushing Sequin (middle left), it has more peach undertones, while Revlon Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten (middle right) appears almost purple. The Buxom Lip Creme in Cherry Flip (far right) is warmer and more orange.
Overall, I think that CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm in Watermelon Twist is another one of those summery low-key lip products that can be just thrown into a purse and reapplied on the go. The light coral shade gives enough oomph to liven up any complexion but it's not searingly bright or overly dramatic, and the formula performs rather well; I'd be curious to check out a ruby red in this too. Have you tried the CoverGirl Gloss Balms? What is your favorite tinted lip balm product?