Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clarisonic Aria - The Beauty Look Book 6 Week Update


I've been using the Clarisonic Aria for about 6 weeks now (first thoughts at 3 week mark here) and I am happy to report that it really works. In six weeks time with regular use my skin has visibly improved. I've been using it every other day one time per day in the evenings although these are designed with brushes gentle enough for 2x per day usage. Improvements I've seen:
  • Deep recurring pimples along the temple area and chin have disappeared
  • Acne scars have started to fade (they are still visible but I'm hopeful with the results so far)
  • Overall skin texture has improved, with smoother skin
  • Tiny bumps along the face that aren't acne, red or pimples, but those small bumps that are clogged pores have started to disappear
I've tested with a variety of different cleansers. The Clarisonic cleanser minis I've tested proved to be too strong for my skin. After several days of consecutive use I started to develop tiny allergic bumps all over the face. I immediately stopped use and switched back to my go-to's SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser and Dior Purifying Foam Cleanser (the Dior is the only one my husband likes).


After evaluating all the different Clarisonic options (comparison chart) and using the Aria for several weeks I'm really happy with my decision. There are three speeds with the Aria. I started with the slowest speed but have been alternating between the default speed 2 and slower speed 1 (you can control the speed with the arrow buttons). I alternate depending on how sensitive my skin feels. There is a battery indicator that changes color to let you know when you need to recharge. I just recharged at the end of the 5 week mark (the light was red).

I like that it's super easy to use, just wet the brush with warm water, apply cleanser straight to the brush and then start using it on the face.




I'm really thrilled with the way this has cleared up my skin. Last week though I made the big mistake of working out a couple times without taking my makeup off before hand so I have several break outs on spots that are healing. The skin isn't broken so I can still use my Clarisonic without having it tear the skin or aggravate sensitive/tender areas. I've still been using the Sensitive Brush that this comes with and find it gentle enough for my sensitive skin. You can definitely feel the bristles though and while they are soft, they aren't super soft. I suspect those with super sensitive skin will need a softer brush. My husband has tested the Clarisonic and really likes it. In a couple weeks I'm going to try a different brush. Based on recommendations from my original post, I want to try either the Deep Pore Brush Heads or Luxury Brush Heads.


Some overall thoughts based on my experience:
  • Even though this is a cleansing tool, you do need to start with makeup-free skin, if you use this with makeup on, you'll get the brush dirty and it will be spreading your makeup around, start your routine by either removing makeup with a Cleansing Water (I like Caudalie or Koh Gen Do) or Cleansing Oil (I like MAC or Tatcha)
  • As with any skincare routine, if you have sensitive skin you shouldn't do anything drastic, for this tool I was super nervous about how it would work with my skin, I eased into it by using it only a few times first and then increased usage according to my comfort level, I also started using it with my go-to cleansers
  • It will take time to see a difference, for the first 2 weeks I felt an improvement in texture but didn't see any visible results, by Week 3 and now Week 6, I've seen a visible improvement, but depending on your skin conditions, it might take longer
  • Don't use this on broken, raw or tender skin areas, I like that you can spot clean if you have specific areas you want to avoid
I purchased mine from Nordstrom for $199 (now in a new Radiance Brightening Solutions Set for $249). Also at Sephora, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Net-a-Porter and Selfridges.

I'll mark my calendar for a 3 month update. Have you tried Clarisonic? Which ones? Do you have any favorite brush heads or cleansers?
 

On My Radar | New in Beauty and Deals of the Week


New items on my radar in the beauty world:
  • Dior Beauty has launched some new fall products for eyes, lips and nails:
    • 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Palette ($60) comes in five new shades in Bar 56, Carre Bleu 276, Pied De Poule 96, Trafalgar 876, Tutu 846
    • Rouge Dior Lipstick ($35) is available in five new colors with Carre D'Or 135, Bar 317, Rose Tutu 354, Rouge Massai 869 and Pied-de-Poule 977
    • Vernis Gel-Shine Nail Lacquer ($25) comes in four new cream finish shades in Pied de Poule 206, Rose Tutu 254, Bar 902 and Carre Bleu 769
  • Hourglass 1.5mm Mechanical Gel Eyeliner ($16 for single, $45 for set of 3) is the latest innovation from Hourglass with the thinnest waterproof gel liner that offers precision accuracy with a single stroke, available now at Hourglasscosmetics.com, at Sephora July 29, all other counters August 15
  • L'Occitane Frisson Verbena Collection ($12 to $55) has a range of fresh green and citrus body products perfect for summer, I'm in love with the Frisson Verbena Fresh Shower Gel and Hand Cream (thoughts on these soon)
  • Net-A-Porter Beautified Natural Nomad Pouch ($50) with Tata Harper Fortifying Body Oil and Lotion, Illia Sway Multistick, RGB Nail Polish, Remover Pad and Cuticle Oil, Rahua Volume Spray, Joya's Composition No. 1 Perfume, LAFCO Hand Lotion
  • YSL Volupté Sheer Candy ($34) has launched in four new shades in Belle Cannelle #14, Rose Candy #15, Cherise Desir #16 and Fraise Ganache #17

Some deals and codes that have come through my inbox recently:
  • Benefit Cosmetics - Free US Standard Shipping on any order with code SUNSHIP
  • Bloomingdales - bRejuvinated Beauty Event Gift with Purchase offers (over 60 offers) through July 28 or while supplies last, plus 4 free beauty samples with any online order
  • Clinique - Three free summer saver minis Moisture Surge Face Spray, 7 Day Scrub Rinse-Off, Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel with any online Clinique purchase, 7/23 – 7/24 or while supplies last
  • L'Occitane - 12 Hour Beauty Break sale, you have 12 hours to shop for select products up to 50% off, online only July 23rd 10:00 AM EST to 10:00 PM EST
    • L'Occitane code offerings while supplies last:
      • Receive 3 Hand Creams + Adorable Pouch with any $25 Purchase with code SHEAHANDS, valid through 7/29
      • Free 50ml Shea Cleansing Milk with any $30 Purchase with code REFRESH, valid through 7/29
      • Free Angelica skincare duo of hydrating Toner and Cleansing gel with $45 purchase, code ANGELICA, valid through 7/29
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty - Free shipping on orders $50+, free mini Highliner in Blacquer with any $75+ order with code MINI, while supplies last
  • Macy's - Over 150 online only gift with purchase deals from Clinique, Origins, Elizabeth Arden, Laura Mercier
  • Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Gift With Purchase over 70 gifts with purchases available for the sale from Caudalie, YSL, Jo Malone, Jouer, Guerlain, Cle de Peau, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Chantecaille and more
  • Sephora - Online Limited Beauty Insider Offers with $25+ orders (one code per order) while supplies last:
    • Ole Henriksen's 3 Little Wonders 7-Day Sampler with code WONDERS
    • Choose 1 of 3 Lip Minis from Too Faced, NARS or Sephora Collection with code LIPMINI
    • Fresh Soy Conditioning Eye Makeup Remover with code FRESHSOY
    • Deluxe sample of Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel with code EYELIFT
    • Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Push-Up Liner 30-day Sample with code PUSHUP
    • Choose 1 of 3 Deluxe Sized Self-Tanners from Vita Liberata, St. Tropez, bareMinerals with code BRONZED
    • Early Access sample of Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara Deluxe Sample for VIBs/Rouge, use code VIBJOSIE
  • Shu Uemura USA - A Midsummer's Night Sample Set with any $50+ order, includes Tsuya Radiance Essense, Classic Cleansing Oil (20 ml), Anti-Oxi Deluxe Cleansing Oil (20 ml), Stage Performer Instant Glow (10 ml), Mini PK70C Gloss, use code UNWIND
If you have any good deals or codes, please share in the comments :)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Fresh Sugar Tulip Giveaway! There are up to four ways to enter and the entry period is almost up. I'll be selecting the winner over the weekend and announce who won next week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Marc Jacobs Beauty | Cabaret Lovemarc Lip Gel, Satisfaction and Shooting Stars Lip Vinyl (Full)


Marc Jacobs has released some new lip products in a number of different formulas. If you didn't have 1000 Sephora Beauty Insider Points for their Marc Jacobs Point Perk, don't fret because you can now buy the colors individually. The new colors out now:
I purchased the Cabaret Lip Gel, Satisfaction Lip Vinyl and Shooting Stars Lip Vinyl. They are richly pigmented lip colors that have a fall vibe.


Cabaret Lip Gel is a muted plum in the tube but applies as a bright plum that pulls a bit fuchsia. The pigment on this one is extremely rich and blends easily with a few dabs. I've been a huge fan of the Lovemarc Lip Gel Formula (see Role Play and Serevine). The formula is unique with a slightly jelly-like texture but in a lipstick form. The pigment is really phenomenal and wears quite long. I find the ones I've tested to be full coverage but still natural looking (they aren't too heavy). Testers at Sephora can look less than appealing as they are usually well-tested (I didn't test them on my lips) but they are definitely worth looking into.



Satisfaction Lip Vinyl is described as a pinkish mauve with a copper sheen. On me this one is a bit more caramel colored with brown tones, but you can definitely see some pink in there. The pink prevents this one from looking too brown on the skin. There is a bit of a shimmer in the tube but on the lips it's very finely milled. This is my first time testing the Lip Vinyl Full formula. They are similar in size and scent compared to the Lip Vinyl Sheer (see Kissability, Overprotected and Heart Shaped). They have that same minty feel but with a vanilla scent. They do have a slightly tingly sensation. The difference is that the Lip Vinyl Full glosses have full coverage with an easy to blend creamy texture. The tips are also stiffer with a pointy tip making them easier to apply.




Shooting Stars Lip Vinyl looks like a sparkling mauve in the tube but it goes on a brown berry with minimal shimmer. It's very dark on me and most of the time it pulls more brownish but in certain light looks more red.


Here they are swatched side by side:




Comparisons:

Nudestix Soul Lip & Cheek Pencil (swatched)
Hourglass Canvas Extreme Sheen (review)
Tom Ford Black Orchid Lipstick (discontinued)
MAC Ruby Patent Polish (reviewed)
NARS Clubmix Velvet Gloss (swatched)



Overall I give these a huge thumbs up. The pigment and texture are excellent. They are a bit dramatic for summer (right now) but are still classic shades that you can wear any season.

Cabaret Lovemarc Lip Gel is available in a 1000 Point Perk at Sephora or for purchase as a Sephora VIB Online Exclusive ($30). Satisfaction and Shooting Stars Lip Vinyl - Full ($28 each) are available now at Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty.

Monday, July 21, 2014

YSL Babydoll Kiss and Blush - Rose Libre #3, Corail Affranchi #7 and Pink Hedoniste #8


YSL Babydoll Kiss and Blush ($40 each for 10 ml/0.33 fl oz) launched earlier in the spring with twelve shades. These are multi-purpose colors to apply on the lips and cheeks. The Babydoll Kiss and Blush comes in a rectangular tube and angled sponge tip applicators. I've been playing with these for the past few months and although I rarely match the lip and cheek colors exactly I find these work well. There are twelve shades total so far. After swatching these in store, I picked out three shades for my medium olive skin:

  • Rose Libre #3 is a cool neutral rose
  • Corail Affranchi #7 is a soft peachy coral
  • Pink Hedoniste #8 is a baby pink-peach

All the shades currently available shown below. There is a wide range of colors to suit everyone's taste and skin tone with pink, orange, plum and brown. I fell in love with #9 Rose Epicurien in the store but it's too cool-toned for my olive skin. For reference, all shades swatched on Planet Martha.


The Kiss and Blush shades have a velvety almost silicone-like feel to them. On the lips they smooth out quite well and dry to a matte-looking finish but have a velvety feel. They don't dry out the lips even though the product does dry down. You do need a perfect lip texture to wear these. These will emphasize any flakes or peeling areas. If you have lips that are on the dry side, prep them with a rich lip balm before applying (I'm currently loving Malin+Goezt or By Terry). They stain the lips which makes any fading less apparent. On my lips they last like a regular lipstick.

I was worried these might be difficult to blend on the cheeks because of the pigment but they actually blend really easily. I apply these by dabbing the tip onto clean fingers or directly onto the face. I prefer fingers since I almost always have powder and foundation on the face so applying directly from the sponge tip can get it a bit dirty. The color blends nicely for a hint of color. The pigment is visible on the skin and gives you color without looking clown-like.


The sponge tip applicators are beveled (on the nails, NARS Zaynthos, review soon):


Close ups of the tips front view, side view and back:

Swatched straight from the tube:


Swatched and blended:


On the lips, applied straight from the tube:







Thumbs up for the Kiss and Blush shades that I purchased. The colors do look a bit different on the lips compared to when you swatch them on the hand because of how they dry down. The coverage is quite good and covers the lip entirely without looking too matte. I am not a fan of matte or velvet finish lip products (I need a little shimmer or shine) but the Kiss and Blush shades from YSL aren't too matte. They make my lips look full and add color. On the cheeks they add a nice tint of color and last all day for me. I prefer them on the lips. At $40 each they are pricey but the formula hugs the lips and the cheeks quite well and the pigment is very good without looking too fake or overly matte.

I purchased mine from Nordstrom and Sephora (but available at all YSL counters and boutiques).






Have you tried any of the Kiss and Blush shades? What did you think? Do you have any shades you love that you think I should check out?

Dior Aventure #551 Vernis Gel Shine Nail Lacquer


On the nails right now: Dior Aventure #551 Gel Shine Nail Lacquer ($25 for 10 ml/0.33 fl oz). I've had this color since April and have worn it several times on tips and toes. Aventure #551 is a pretty coral. It has a slight transparent finish but gives almost near full coverage with two coats. The finish is lush and glossy with a flattering mix of pink, coral, peach making it one of my favorite summer shades for nails. I like that it's bright without being fluorescent. I've had really good experiences with the Dior Gel Shine Nail Polish formula, Aventure is no exception. All the colors I've tried wear extremely well with a wide range of top coat brands like Dior Gel Top Coat, Chanel Laque Brillance Extreme and Rescue Beauty Lounge. Lasting power is quite good with 5+ days (no tip wear). I didn't have time to re-swatch nail comparisons but you can see Aventure compared to Chanel Tutti Frutti and Mirabella.




Huge thumbs up. I swatched 16 of the new Gel Shine Nail Lacquer shades earlier this year. Detailed reviews and swatches also of Tra-La-La, Front Row, Wonderland, and Vibrato.

I purchased Aventure from Nordstrom. Also available at Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

MAC Look in a Box All About Coral | Nordstrom Anniversary 2014


MAC has several limited-edition boxed sets and palettes available for this year's Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I bought the Look in a Box - All About Coral ($39.50) which includes 2 lip items and 2 eye products:

  • Passion Charge Lustre Lipstick is a glossy medium-bright coral peachy shade
  • Stoke the Flame Lipglass is a frosted peach with visible sparkles
  • Collective Chic Veluxe Pearlfusion Eyeshadow has a glitzy champagne, olive shimmer and plum-brown frost shade
  • Brownborder Technakohl Liner is a warm brown eyeliner, it's the only item you can purchase separately



I bought this mainly because I fell in love with the lip items. The Passion Charge lipstick and Stoke the Flame lipglass combination creates a pretty peachy coral lip that's perfect for summer. The lipstick is a lustre formula but has impressive pigment for a glossy lipstick. The lip glass looks good layered over lipsticks but has enough color to wear alone.



If you're like me and only like the lip colors, here are some swatches that I did in attempts to dupe Stoke the Flame Lipglass. I couldn't find anything identical but here are some swatches:

MAC Mimmy (Hello Kitty collection, discontinued)
MAC Eurobeat Dazzleglass (discontinued)
MAC Meteoric Cremesheen Glass (discontinued)



Some more dupe attempts with other corals and peaches. I was really surprised how close it is to Tom Ford Sweet Spot:

Tom Ford Sweet Spot (discontinued)
Edward Bess Forbidden Flower (discontinued)
MAC Fresh & Frisky Huggable (discontinued)


I swatched the eye palette in store and was really impressed with the pigment. On the eyes it proved to be a bit tricky to apply. The champagne color is quite glittery and when I applied with a brush I experienced a lot of fall out. I found it best either applied with fingers by patting all over the lids with a creamy base or on top of the other two shades to set. Once on the eyes it didn't budge, but the initial application had some fall out over the face. The khaki olive and brown plum applied smoothly with a brush and layered nicely for a smokey eye. I tested this in warm hot weather outdoors at an event that lasted from 1 pm to 7 pm. I spritzed the Urban Decay All Nighter Spray (also featured here) over the eyes and face and it made the look last all afternoon and kept it looking fresh - nothing budged.

The eyeliner is pretty basic. I like the smooth creamy texture and find it lasts long, but if you have a lot of brown eyeliners it's not a must-have. I did some comparisons for the eyeliner.




The MAC Look in a Box sets are limited-edition. It appears the All About Coral Set has sold out online along with a few other sets but I've linked it so you can find the Product/Item Number. I suspect it's still available in stores and you may want to have Nordstrom Customer service locate one for you if you're interested. They might restock online. I found the set to be a good deal for the price. If you only like a few items in the set I hope the comparison swatches above help find something similar.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In Rotation | Beauty Look Book Mascara and Lash Primer Picks


I typically limit myself to a couple of mascaras I use at any given time since I keep them for 3 months max before tossing but I've been testing new ones and I've discovered some new favorites. I have half a dozen I'm using right now and I've picked out my favorites to share.

When it comes to my lashes, I'm really picky with mascaras or lash primers. I have really straight ones that often don't hold the curl with most mascaras even with a lash curler (my essentials here). I also find a lot of black mascaras turn grayish looking after they dry on my lashes, smudge or end up feeling crunchy and flake during the day. When it comes to mascara I look for something that will last all day without clumping, flaking, smudging and something that stays a true lush black color and holds the curl.

I'm hesitant to try lash primers and lash serums because I don't like having an extra layer of product on my sensitive eyes. I'm a novice in this area so if you have any recommendations I am all ears.
The mascara and lash products I have in rotation right now:

  • Shu Uemura Lash Builder ($33) is a lash builder serum to help create a longer lusher lash look, I've been testing this for a few weeks and am still undecided on what I think but it's been in my lash rotation, it darkens and defines the lashes when you apply it but I haven't seen a visible difference after I apply colored mascara, reviews seem to indicate you will see results over time
  • Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28.50) is something I've used for several years, I don't use it everyday but it's a favorite base that helps mascara adhere better to the lashes and makes it catch the lashes resulting in a fuller look, I like that it doesn't impact the curl after using a lash curler
  • Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof ($30) is something I discovered thanks to RaeView, it's the first waterproof mascara I've tried that doesn't make my lashes feel crunchy, this one needs 2-3 uses to break it in, it gives lush rich black lashes, volumizes, doesn't clump/flake/smudge and defines the lashes nicely, I haven't tested it at the beach or pool but it seems to be sweat proof and lasts all day
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch ($32) is a staple in my beauty arsenal, I've repurchased this numerous times (probably a dozen tubes by now), it's my favorite mascara of all time because it does everything I want - lengthens, defines, thickens, darkens the color and stays put, it's easy to apply and gets the little corners easily because of the tapered brush tip, the bristles are well designed to grab on to the lashes and glides on easily
  • Chanel Le Volume de Chanel ($30) is the only Chanel mascara I like, it's a lightweight mascara that glides on easily and doesn't clump, it stays put and doesn't dry to a grayish finish like other Chanel mascaras do (at least for me), I like the Black and Bleu (navy) for fun, but mostly use the black
  • NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara ($25) is another favorite that I've repurchased numerous times, it is one of my favorite volumizing mascaras that doesn't flake or smudge, this one has a big fluffy brush so it can be prone to clumping after a while due to buildup, I wipe down the brush with a small piece of paper wrapped around the tip (tissue or paper towels will get caught in the bristles, so paper actually is best to clean the brush) and then it's back to perfection
If I were pressed to pick just one mascara to live with the rest of my life, it would be the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch. If you're looking for something more wallet-friendly, a few other  less expensive favorites I've tested and purchased numerous times include Clinique High Impact Mascara ($16), Topshop 3d Curve Mascara ($20, or in this Eyeliner/Mascara Set for $24) and MAC Plushlash Mascara ($16) has been a long-time favorite. I've tried dozens of drugstore mascaras (literally) and for some reason they've all turned grayish in color on my lashes and I've never found one that holds the curl.



What are your holy grail lash primers, serums and mascaras? I've been researching lash serums and would love your thoughts on any you've tried.
 

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