Thursday, September 30, 2010

MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer Review

I purchased the MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer about two months ago with the express purpose of covering up my undereye circles. While I am still a fan of the Maybelline Dream Mousse Concealer for covering up blemishes, I needed a light, easy-to-blend product to brighten up my face. I've been scheduling a lot more early morning consulting appointments these days, which has been giving me a chance to really try this concealer out! 

Here is what MAC Claims:
"A luxuriously blendable moisturizing concealer in a tube with built-in doe-foot applicator. Goes on exactly where you want it: blends in for a natural satin-smooth ultra-moisturized finish. Layers up for added coverage. Line-softening, skin-perfecting: The Pros’ “select” for under-eyes and delicate skin. Wide shade range provides soft, natural camouflage."

I really do agree with them! The doe foot applicator allows for easy application, though it may not be the most hygienic option. The makeup artist at MAC told me to make three dots of concealer, in a horizontal line under my eyes, and to then blend that in with my finger, no brush necessary! I blend from the inside corner of my eye to the outside end. The yellowish orange concealer blends in well to conceal any darkness and gives me a fresh, natural look. Since I am a minimalist, I asked if it was necessary to set this with a powder and she said that it can stand alone, how great is that? It leaves a slight dewy glow which I like and once dry, has been lasting me all day. Even throughout the humid weather that NYC has been experiencing lately, this product doesn't fade or budge! 

In addition to applying this concealer to my undereye area, I have also been applying it to blemishes. It does a great job neutralizing the redness without looking like I've caked makeup on my face! It is very easy to blend out with my finger and the shade really suits my skin tone.

Recently, I came across Peaches and Blush's blog post about MAC's foundation and concealer naming system and she really cleared up any confusions I had on the topic! NW means neutral warm and NC means neutral cool,  referring to warm or cool skin undertones. The shading system works according to the color wheel, so warm toned skin types would require NC foundations while cool toned skin types would require NW. When selecting concealer, it's important to see the undertone of the area being concealed. For the Select Moisturecover, I am an NW 35, which means that my undereye circles tend towards the cooler end of the spectrum and can be neutralized with a warm shade. All this color talk takes me back to 9th grade art it!

At the end of the day, removal is very easy. I have had zero issues removing the concealer with Boots Botanics Soothing Eye Makeup Remover. Nice to know that it stays put when you need it to and comes off easily when you want it to!

I highly recommend this product for someone who is looking for some light concealing, especially in the undereye area. It makes my look a bit more polished and professional, which is exactly what I was looking for :) I do not, however, think this product would suit the needs who needs lots of coverage as it is very lightweight and sheer.

I am already starting to plan my next MAC purchase! I really want to find a fun gloss for the fall and winter. There are so many glosses to choose from: Creamsheen, Lustre, Dazzle...I've really been into berry shades these days...any recommendations?! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Caved for Crocs

I was a Crocs hater when a few years back when they first came out, but after seeing them everywhere and hearing how comfortable they are, I just had to get some! These shoes are soo comfortable. While I do have to continually reassure myself that they aren't that ugly, it's not like I'm wearing them to a night on the town...right? FYI: I feel the same way about Uggs, but I will not succumb to social pressure! My feet are just too big to look cute in those shoes...

Anyways, thought I'd share my two new Crocs purchases with you all...clearly I am very excited!
First I got the Crocs Olivia. There was a sale going on at and I wanted a pair of super comfy casual they had a little rhinestone on the side which I couldn't resist. That makes them cute and girly, right?? Haven't worn them out yet because the weather has been awful and rainy, but I'm looking forward to a dry day!
I have been wanting a pair of Crocs Mammoths for the past two years, but I wasn't willing to spend $40 for shoes that I planned only to wear as slippers. Well, good things really do come to those who wait, because I found a pair on sale this weekend at Century 21! This was the only color available in my size, and while I would've preferred pink or blue, this color is growing on me. I have been wearing these for the past three days non-stop around my apartment and I absolutely love them...I could probably even wear them to bed and be comfy...but I don't think I will :P

What do you guys think about Crocs? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Let me know!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Being Proactive about Hair Thinning/Loss!

Comment from hK: I have always been weary of the shampoo conditioner combinations. I was wondering whether you knew anything about using a shampoo conditioner combo, rinsing then using a normal conditioner like the tresseme natural moisturizing conditioner? As a male with thinning hair, most shampoos I use to thicken my hair are those combo deals, but they leave your hair feeling incredibly dry.

2 in 1 shampoo plus conditioner products work best for individuals with normal, healthy hair. What this means is: no real issues with oiliness, dryness, volume, or damage. These combo products would bring in unnecessary moisture for individuals with oily hair and not enough for individuals with dry hair. Dry haired individuals, like yourself, should follow up with a creamy conditioner at the ends. For more options, check out this link for a list of highly rated hair volumizing products.

Now hK, since you mentioned thinning hair, I thought to do a little bit of research in that area as well:

Main conditions associated with hair loss/baldness:
Male pattern baldness -- Condition that can occur at any age and is mostly hereditary. End result: Total hair loss in a short period of time.
Female pattern baldness -- Hair becomes thin all over the scalp except the front line. Does not result in total hair loss.

Genetics is not the only reason for hair loss, other contributing factors include: age, hormonal changes, stress, poor circulation of blood to the scalp, excess dandruff, illness, and excessive pulling or styling. Don't trust the common myth that over washing hair leads to hair loss. All that over washing does is lead to the faster removal of hair that has already disconnected from the hair follicle. Fun fact: It is perfectly normal to lose around 100 strands of hair in one!

Why can't we all look this good bald?!
Now that we know why hair loss may happen, let's talk about how to prevent/slow it down!
1) Invest in a high quality hair growth product: The best way to go here is all natural! Invest in a product that contains essential oils, natural herbs, and vitamin-rich nutrients to help your hair thrive. Stay away from products that contain only extracts, they aren't as powerful as the essential oils! Be sure to read the fine print when it comes to ingredients, as many 'natural products' still contain phosphates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), mineral oil, etc. 
2) Eat healthy: Hair = protein. In order to promote healthy hair growth, indulge in a protein rich diet, including fish and protein supplement shakes. Diets laden with fats, sugars, alcohol, and junk food can inhibit hair growth.
3) Drink more water: Water, besides being refreshing and thirst quenching, flushes toxins, chemicals, and impurities out of your body which could be contributing to slow hair growth. Water also facilitates the transport of important nutrients. 

For those of you with thin hair woes, it may be beneficial to look into shampoos that don't contain sulfates. Although I have yet to find conclusive proof that SLSs 100% lead to hair loss, I've read enough to suggest that it is not the best thing for your hair and scalp. SLSs strip hair of natural oils making it weak and more prone to thinning. Luckily, sulfate-free shampoos are becoming more and more popular! Another good option is conditioner washing (co-washing) with a silicone-free conditioner. This way you are simply removing the dirt and oils from your scalp, without introducing harsh soaps to your fragile hair follicles. I have tried these options by way of the Curly Girl Method in the past and although I wasn't a huge fan at the time (I didn't follow the rules properly), all this research has me reconsidering it!

Hope I answered your question hk! Keep me posted on how things go. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mini Haul!

As I've been actively researching makeup via blogs, vlogs, and review forums, I have really been able to find some amazing products. Sadly, once you find that perfect mascara or moisturizer...a little bit of the excitement is gone :( I mean, does it's job well and it goes on the list of what to take when stranded on a desert island...but the shopper in me, well...she cries a little. 

It's been almost two months since I've stopped at a health and beauty aisle and really gone nuts! Well dear readers, the dry spell is's what I've bought over the past couple weeks:

  • Boots Botanics Soothing Eye Make Up Remover
  • e.l.f. Shine Eraser Oil Blotting Sheets
  • Sonia Kashuk Perfectly Neutral - 10 Eye Palette
  • Milani Liquif'eye Metallic Eye Liner Pencils in Black and Brown
  • Almay Intense i-Color 031 Trio for Browns
  • Boots Botanics Soothing and Calming Eye Base
  • eos Medicated Lip Balm in Tangerine
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Goddess
I have started my foray into eye shadows...let's see how this goes :) If anyone has any good neutral eye looks to share, please let me know! 

Be on the lookout for some looks and reviews!

Mascaras! - A Combined Review

How can you not love the pink bristles?
Confession: I have very average eyelashes. They are not very long, not very voluminous, not very short, entirely forgettable! Now, I have two choices: a) do nothing or b) use one of the greatest inventions since the wheel, curling irons, $5 manicures, and hair claws...Mascara

Til date, I have tried 6 different types of drugstore mascaras (remember, I am new to the world of makeup). Here are my thoughts:

1) Maybelline Great Lash in Blackest Black - I bought this mascara because it was so highly reviewed in beauty and fashion magazines. Sadly, it didn't live up to the hype. This was my first mascara, so there is a chance of user error...but I wasn't too crazy about the formula. As much as I made sure to wiggle the synthetic bristle brush from roots to tip, I would get clumps galore and end up with scary spider lashes! 

2) CoverGirl LashExact in Very Black - I am on my 2nd tube of this and I just love it! The pink plastic-y bristles grab the product evenly to prevent clumping. This mascara really gives me a nice, jazzed up natural look, perfect for work or daytime. It separates my lashes really well and holds a curl, even though the formula isn't waterproof. It works even better when combined with #3 below.

3) Jane Fan Club Clear Curling Mascara in Crystal ClearI am crazy about this product because it works really great as a mascara primer! When I apply this first, my other mascaras glide on smoothly and don't clump as much. Also, it makes removal really easy! It feels really nice on my lashes, sorta like a conditioner. This is a daily staple for me :)

4) CoverGirl Professional Super Thick Lash in Very Black - This was meant to be my nighttime, bold, sexy mascara and while it wasn't terrible, it required just a little too much work to remain in my collection. I think I am just not skilled with the synthetic bristle brush, because this, too, was a very clumpy mascara for me. Only after really wiping the brush down on the insides of the tube could I get the look I was going for. Too much effort for va va va voom lashes!

5) Maybelline Last Stiletto in Very Black - As I've told you before...I'm a sucker for packaging! A mascara tube in the shape of a stiletto heel, how cute is that? Well...that's where the 'good' ends with this product, for me anyways.  It has an overwhelmingly bad chemical smell that I cannot ignore. The brush is oddly shaped, it's retangular and awkward. The best I could manage were awkward stuck together lashes that stuck straight out. 

6) CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof in Black - This is my very first waterproof mascara! When I first bought it, I was amazed and how well it could hold curl and how it didn't flake or budge at all all day. I've been using this for the past two months, so it may just be that the formula is getting old, but it has been a little stickier and more clump prone lately. It does give me the dramatic look I was going for though, so I will most likely repurchase!

There you have it! The next tube I buy will most likely be CoverGirl LashExact Waterproof. I've decided to steer clear of Maybelline for the time being, though I am open to any recommendations you all may have! What is your go-to mascara?

Are your hair products breaking you out?

It's bad enough having sensitive skin, but when a hair styling product is a contributer to acne and clogged pores...c'mon! One of my readers asked me how to cope with this issue. Having to choose between perfectly coiffed hair and flawless skin is just unfair...we want both!!

First things first, time for me to lay down a little wisdom: The scientific word for clogged pores (aka pimples, acne, stuff everyone hates) is comedones. Substances that clog pores are thereby known as comedogenic. For people with sensitive, acne-prone skin, it is important to use products that contain non-comedogenic ingredients. 

Instead of me listing off all comedogenic substances, I thought it would be more beneficial to give some general tips:

  • Avoid getting hair products directly on your skin. As this is probably hard to do, make sure to rinse your skin well afterwards to remove any product residue.
  • Try to use hair products that are made from water or glycerine instead of oil or petroleum. Look for labels that say 'contain noncomedogenic ingredients'.
  • Wash your hands well after applying product to your hair in order to minimize transferring product from your hands to your skin.
  • Don't use shampoo+conditioner mixes. These contain thick, rich ingredients that can increase the risk of acne.
  • Don't use hair products if you anticipate that you'll be exercising or sweating. This may lead to the product dripping down onto your face.
Here are a few products that I read about online that won't break you out. I haven't tried all of these myself, so please take these recommendations with a grain of salt!
  • Baby Shampoo - gentle and mild enough for a baby's skin, but can cleanse an adult's scalp just as well
  • Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel - made with all natural, organic ingredients.
  • Aloe Vera Gel (any brand) - handy to keep around as it doubles as relief for sunburn and skin irritiations
  • Men's Science hair product line - a bit pricey, but labeled as noncomedogenic
  • Giovanni hair product line - made with all natural ingredients
Check out this link for a more comprehensive list of "safe" hair care products.

Though this post is about hair products, comedogenic substances can be in creams, lotions, etc. Be aware of what you are putting on your skin, especially your face! Check out the labels/ingredients if you are acne-prone. You could be making your situation worse without even knowing it!

Happy hair styling everyone :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vertical Nail Ridges and Review

A couple of months ago I started noticing vertical ridges on my fingernails. Thanks to Google, I didn't have to freak out for very long...I was reassured, after reading two or three sites, that this is a normal phenomena that occurs with age...but wait, I'm not that old! Since when are the mid-twenties what is implied when one says "with age"?? With a little more nosing around the net, I found out that vertical ridges can be caused by a variety of reasons, including: malnutrition, disease, and lack of moisture. 

I'm a single gal, full-time student and part-time consultant, so unfortunately, I am not the healthiest eater. I started taking some multivitamins, not as a substitute for my poor eating habits, but to supplement my newfound desire to eat healthier. Mom touting the virtues of fruits and veggies just doesn't have the same effect as the prospect of a flawed manicure! 

I received a clean bill of health at my most recent physical, so that leaves the lack of moisture issue. I had always browsed the cuticle oils and treatments in the drugstore nail polish aisle, but never really understood the hype. Enter internet wisdom: The job of our cuticles is to protect the area between the skin and nail from infection. If the cuticle is dry or cracked, it is unable to properly do its job! Damaged cuticles can lead to issues like vertical nail ridges and infection. While I am a nut about moisturizing my body, I oftentimes neglect my hands. I mean, sure, I keep a mini bottle of hand lotion in my bag for those days when I'm feeling super dry...but that's about it...and my cuticles are not something I really notice unless I'm getting them tended to at a salon. I decided to buy two cuticle care products and give them a go. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Check out my reviews below!

Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil

Vitamin E is beneficial in repairing cracked cuticles and that was my main criteria for purchasing this product. The bottle comes with a convenient in-lid brush (nail polish style) that makes application very easy. I just brush the unscented oil onto my cuticles and gently massage it in afterwards. The great thing about this product is that it really gets sucked up by my skin and cuticles, not leaving me with an oily feeling for too long afterwards. This positive point may also be my only real issue with the oil, it doesn't last very long! There is immediate moisture-delivery to my cuticles, but it is not the long-lasting type of moisture. This isn't an issue when I am performing an at-home manicure and am using the oil to aid in grooming my cuticles, but when I want to deep moisturize my cuticles, I like to pair this oil with Burt's Bees cuticle cream.

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

This is a very thick, emollient cream which really gives my cuticles the moisture they are lacking! The ingredients include sweet almond oil, lemon peel oil, cocoa seed butter, sunflower seed oil, and beeswax, of course. It has a very strong lemon scent, which I really love! Be sure to warm the product up with your fingers before massaging onto your cuticles, otherwise not a lot comes out...I literally created a mini-dent in the cream and then was able to dole the product out in the amount I wanted. Unlike the Sally Hansen Oil, this product really lingers. Best to use it at night! 

Will I repurchase? Yes!
The Sally Hansen oil + Burt's Bees cream combo has really made a difference in my fingernail/hand health ;) The ridges aren't completely gone, but now, after a couple months of TLC, they are limited to my thumbnails. Here's hoping my nightly moisturizing ritual and healthy eating will keep the ridges away for good!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

EOS Shave Cream Review

Back in July, I gave you all my first impressions of EOS shave cream (link to post). Since then, I bought a bottle of the Lavender Jasmine scented shave cream from my local drugstore and gave it a whirl. Here are my thoughts:

EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream - Lavender Jasmine

This is a thick and creamy shave cream. The lavender jasmine scent is subtle and pleasant. While this cream was moisturizing enough for my sensitive underarms, over time I found that it did not impart enough moisture to my legs. The consistency of the cream left me more prone to dryness, nicks, and cuts. I think this is because the thick cream did not spread evenly and when exposed to water it would easily wash away (it's easier to for underarms to dodge water than legs!). For those of you who shave in the shower...this might not be the product for you. 

I also was not a huge fan of the bottle design. Now don't get me wrong, the plastic bottle idea is more rusty rings! However, halfway through the bottle, I had to really press the pump multiple times to get any product out. The 7 fl. oz. bottle barely lasted me a month. My 'old faithful' shaving cream, Barbasol with Soothing Aloe, is an 11 oz. bottle which normally lasts me up to 3 months. It is also much less expensive at $2-3/bottle at most drugstores. While Barbasol does not really feel moisturizing, it does provide the right amount of lubrication so that I don't cut myself.

Overall, I was disappointed that my great first impression did not hold true when I bought the full size bottle. If this were re-packaged in a squeeze bottle, it may be more worth the cost, but for now, I have decided to check out a new shaving cream: Trader Joe's Honey Mango Shave Cream with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. Will post a review soon :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My HG Moisturizer

As you may recall, back in June I had yet to find my Holy Grail body moisturizer (link to post). I mean, sure...I'd found a some 'O.K.' or 'pretty good' products, but not the the product (yes, yes, I have a flair for with it!). Last month, I stumbled upon Johnson and Johnson's Baby Creamy Oil and now I can proudly say that I have found my HG body moisturizer!! :) 

Johnson and Johnson's Baby Creamy Oil with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E Review

Johnson and Johnson Claims: 
This is a "creamy oil enriched with soothing Aloe and Vitamin E, [which] combines rich emollients with Johnson's Baby Oil to provide long-lasting moisturization. Our indulgent, non-greasy creamy oil absorbs quickly and leaves nothing but softness behind on the skin. Its sweet yet subtle fragrance will delight your senses...To Use: Smooth over entire body for baby soft skin."

My experience:
Creamy baby oil is the perfect way to describe this moisturizer. It isn't as thick as a lotion, but it isn't as slippery as oil. It's a very light formulation that easily blends into your skin and leaves behind long lasting moisture. I have been using this product every day for almost two months now and I can definitely report a change in the texture and softness of my skin! This moisturizer is non-irritating, even when I apply it to my legs after shaving. I used to be a compulsive legs would feel itchy and dry by the end of the day. Now that is no longer an issue...the smooth and soft feeling continues until the next day when I get in the shower :) Another added bonus in my book is the shimmer incorporated into the product. I love shimmery arms and legs, especially in the summer months! 

  • Non-irritating
  • Non-greasy or sticky
  • Absorbs into skin quickly
  • Inexpensive, available at most drugstores, Target, Walmart, etc.
  • Nice light scent
  • Imparts moisture that lasts all day long, no need to reapply
  • Hint of shimmer
  • Need to use a lot of product to achieve soft and smooth feeling. I use about two squirts for my lower leg, two to three for my thighs...etc. 
  • Not very much product in the bottle (8 fl. oz.), I have been averaging a bottle a month.
Will I repurchase? YES! I already have bought 3 bottles (am on my second, wanted to make sure I had a back-up ready to go). Although it finishes up very quickly, this product is 100% worth it. Not only is Johnson and Johnson's a brand I trust, it is also very inexpensive and readily available. Here's hoping that this product becomes part of their permanent line! 

For all of you out there with dry, sensitive skin, give this product a try. It might just be your HG moisturizer!

Girl's Night In!

Life has been busy! Last year of graduate school + consulting projects = limited free time...see, this blog is my guilty pleasure and til tonight, I wasn't really in the zone, if you will. Well, now I am rockin' my pjs, I've got my party music going, and I'm spending a little time in :)

Face skin care routine
Once a week, at night time, I like to bring out my face care trio :) By the way, I have combination skin, dry cheeks, oily T-zone. Now, read on:

Part 1: Noxzema: The Original Deep Cleansing Cream
I have been using the original Noxzema facial cleanser since as long as I can remember. This is one of those products my Mom introduced to me during childhood. I really love the scent...I find the blend of camphor, menthol, eucalyptus to be really invigorating! I do have friends, however, who do not share my love for the Noxzema smell, therefore I recommend giving it a trial sniff before purchasing. Never a good thing to be stuck with stinky soap!  Noxzema leaves my skin feeling clean and soft, but never tight and dry. This would definitely be suitable for everyday use...during some of the humid weeks this past summer I did use it every day, because my skin was really oily, and I didn't notice any negative changes in my skin. 

Part 2: Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Brightening Daily Scrub
Once I rinse off all of the Noxzema, I go in with Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub. I like to massage it small circular motions around my face, being careful to steer clear of the area around my eyes and enjoy the feeling of the microbeads. The microbeads are not abrasive at all, but, believe me, they get the job done. My face feels so soft afterwards, its amazing! The scrub has a nice, fresh, soapy scent and a little goes a long way! 

Part 3: Freeman Facial Clay Mask Avocado and Oatmeal (reserved for my solo nights in!)
This is exactly what I think of when I think of face masks...thick, gloopy, and mint green in color. It just brings me back to those 90s sitcoms where the terrified brother walks in on his sister with her hair pulled up in a towel, cucumber slices over her eyes, and the mint green mask on her face. Classic :) This mask is just that! One quarter sized squirt is all that is necessary to cover my entire face. I like to evenly smooth it on and then grab a good book or my laptop and wait til it dries. It does have a hint of avocado scent which is quite pleasant. The product claims to purge pores and firm/smooth skin. Not sure of the others, but my skin does feel very smooth afterwards! 

So, dear readers, now you know what I do when I get a free night to myself. I throw my hair up into a bun, put on my skiing monkey pajamas (you better believe it!), and enjoy a little girly pampering :) What are you girl's nights in like?