Archive for April, 2008

Drugstore Discoveries: Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy: Overview, Review and a Swatch

April 30, 2008
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(from Carmindy’s newsletter)

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I’d heard some minor buzz about the Sallen Hansen line “inspired by” Carmindy for months prior to its launch, but there was surprisingly little fanfare accompanying its official release. If I weren’t an obsessive MUA reader, I probably would’ve missed it altogether! As it is, by the time I manged to find a drugstore that carried the line, all you lovely cosmetics scavengers had already gotten to it and there was very little left for poor Jen 🙂

The line encompasses everything from primer to cream and powder blushes, which is rare for a drugstore release!

I’d been holding off on doing this review in the hopes that I’d get to test out the foundation for you guys, but since finals have rolled around and I’m confined to the house, I thought I’d review what I’ve picked up so far.

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Truly Translucent Loose Powder in Neutralizer
I saw Carmindy using this on What Not to Wear, and drove myself crazy for weeks trying to figure out where she got it! I think the packaging is uber-cute and it looks great on my vanity! Plus the bottom twists right off meaning I can refill it if I want to (although I probably won’t)!

The powder itself is very light, finely milled, and doesn’t settle into any pores/lines. I don’t love it the same way I do my La Mer Powder (which is light as air, has the tiniest bit of shimmer, and makes me feel like a princess), but I like it a lot. I have it in neutralizer, which is a yellowy banana shade meant to even out redness and basically neutralize the discolorations on your face, and it does a decent job of that.

The one thing I really dislike about the product is the accompanying powder puff. It’s hard as a rock and doesn’t mold to the contours of your face at all, and so it’s really hard for me to apply the powder using this. I end up just sticking a big fluffy brush in the container and applying it that way.

But for a $12.95 drugstore loose powder it’s definitely worth it, although it won’t be replacing my La Mer anytime soon!

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Sun Glow Powder Bronzer in Spring

I own very few bronzers since I’m relatively fair, don’t like the sun or tanning, and avoid cosmetics with brown/bronze tones, but I couldn’t resist this pretty pretty compact!

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I’m a sucker for pretty cosmetics, and this definitely falls into that category! Spring is comprised primarily of a darker bronzey shade and a lighter shimmery beige-y shade, with a small strip of pink and I LOVE LOVE LOVE!!

I swatched it as soon as I got home and thought it looked like-well I don’t think it’s appropriate to say.

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But I was so so wrong! I haven’t tried the bronzer using the small brush it comes with because it feels pretty stiff, but when I applied this bronzer using my MAC 187 skunk brush, I got a sheer sun-kissed glow that didn’t make me look tan or orange at all. I’d reluctantly forked over the $12.95 for this bronzer, fully expecting to admire it but never use it, but its perfect for those natural-look days when I don’t have time for much makeup.

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Have you tried anything from this collection? Loved it? Hated it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

To find out about a few more great drugstore releases, click here to read my review of the Wet n Wild i-sparkle palettes, and here to read about Revlon’s Peachy Keen blush!

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Lumiere Eyeshadows Review and Swatches (plus a few EOTD’s!)

April 30, 2008
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People who know me knows that I go through cycles of obsessions. One week I’ll have to have every Chanel gloss out there, another week I won’t be able to stop thinking about Tiffany jewelry, and the next I’ll be buying every foundation I can get my hands on. These Lumiere mineral eyeshadows were purchased during an “I need mineral shadows” week. Rather than purchasing full-sized versions of shadows that I’d never seen or tried before, I got the mini sample sizes for $2.25 each (not dirt cheap but not ridiculous). Samples are always a good cheap way to satisfy a cosmetics craving!!

I was pleasantly surprised surprised when I received my package. It took a little longer than I would’ve liked to arrive, but the little sample jars are simply adorable and the colors are beautiful. Overall they’re nicely pigmented, have an almost creamy consistency and while not all that impressive when applied dry, really come to life when foiled!

Colors I picked up:

  • Heiress (eye shimmer)
    • Heiress was the only shadow I picked up a full-sized version of. I’d seen some mention of it online and could tell it I would love it. Applied dry it’s a pretty pale pink, but when you foil it you see flashes of copper through the pink. I don’t usually like copper/bronze shadows, but they’re surprisingly flattering combined with the pink.
  • Allure (eye shimmer)
    • This was another color I’d seen online and thought was absolutely gorgeous. It’s described as a sheer rose/pink with gold sparkles, which is pretty accurate if you apply it dry, but I don’t like Allure nearly as much as I thought I would. It’s very difficult to apply because, unlike all of the other shadows, it has a weird gritty/chunky consistency akin to fine particle of glitter instead of an eyeshadow. This means it doesn’t adhere to you skin very well when applied dry, and if you apply it wet it turns into a reddish color that make me look like I’ve been crying. It does look pretty in the swatches though!
  • Chameleon (eye shimmer)
    • The website describes this one as a “sugar plum purple with iridescent green sparkle.” I hadn’t been drawn to this color initially, but the description sounded pretty so I decided to give it a try, and I have to say I think it’s my favorite out of the bunch. It’s great to use as a neutral, as I don’t see much of the plum/purple at all! On me Chameleon looks like a pinky sand color infused with bits of green shimmer.
  • Wicked(eye shimmer)
    • I picked this color solely for its name 🙂 Not usually something I do, but I’m going to see the musical Wicked in a few weeks and couldn’t resist getting a shadow with the same name. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be a big fan of this color, and I was right. It’s described as plum, but it looked kinda muddy on the site, and once I received it and tested it out, it looked muddy on my skin as well (it has very strong brown undertones). Plus it seems to stain my skin in a weird way, so that whenever I swatch it I have a really hard time getting it off.
  • Beautiful (glitz)
    • Beautiful is a glitz, which I think means that it’s supposed to be more pigmented than the eye shimmers. Color-wise this definitely looks more pigmented in the jar, and although it looks similar to the others when dry, Beautiful has an intensity the others lack when foiled. It’s a very pretty shade of medium lavender/purple, and looks great both as a sheer wash or for an intense pop of color. One of my favorites!
  • O (blush)
    • This blush is filed under Lumiere‘s “Ditto by Lumiere” section-basically their dupes of popular cosmetics items. As you can tell by its name, O is supposed to be the mineral version of Nars’ Orgasm, but I think Lumiere missed the mark with this one. It’s a lovely blush (super-pigmented!) but it has waaaay too much pink to look like Orgasm, plus not enough shimmer. Still it’s beautiful 🙂

These shadows also come in a bunch of other formulations (matte, silkies, prismatics, etc.) so if you’re not too keen on shimmer, don’t worry! I don’ think I’ll be purchasing anymore mineral shadows anytime soon as the samples (although tiny!) will last me forever plus I find loose powders annoying to work with, but these are definitely worth a look as they come in a beautiful range of formulas and colors 🙂

Swatches (dry-forgot to swatch Beautiful!):

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Swatches (wet):

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And some looks using the shadows
(Heiress is in the inner corner of my eye for every look):

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Have you tried these? Like the looks? Let me know what you think in the comments!

A Naughty Nauticals Inspired EOTD

April 29, 2008

Looking at the beautiful Naughty Nauticals face charts inspired me to do a blue look of my own. Unfortunately it’s really dark/dreary this morning meaning I couldn’t see what I was doing too well (I have horrible lighting in my room!), and so the look isn’t all that great but I thought I’d post it anyway 🙂

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I used my blue/grey (#5) YSL Ombres Duolumieres an all-over wash of color, a random blue shadow from a YSL palette I received as a gift from my SA mixed with L’Oreal HIP pigment in (#534) Valiant for my crease and outer V, and Bourjois Loose Eyeshadow in (#8) Trompe-L’oeil as a highlighter. And of course the mascara is the Dior mascara I reviewed yesterday.

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As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the look!

MAC Naughty Nauticals Now Online!

April 29, 2008
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Naughty Nautical is now available online! Click here to check it out!!

The face charts for this collection are absolutely beautiful. I’m usually not a blues girl myself, but the promo images and the charts have officially converted me! A few of my favorite looks:

Love Knot
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Naughty Nautical
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What did you end up getting from this collection? Nothing? Everything? Tell me in the comments!

Mascara Series Part 3: Christian Dior DiorShow Mascara in Azure Blue Review

April 28, 2008
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The Claim
: From Sephora:

“Creates the longest, thickest, curviest lashes ever, resulting in an ultra-glam “just-off-the-catwalk” look.”

The Wand: The DiorShow wand is compromised of conventional bristles (no fancy rubbers here!), but super-sized! This is one of the fattest mascara wands I’ve ever seen, which seems to work great for others but not so great for my squinty eyes. The wand is simply too large for my small eyes, and I end up with mascara all over the place. Also, the size of the brush prevents me from getting at the roots of my lashes.

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The Formula: I find it difficult to like the DiorShow formula because although it doesn’t clump, it really doesn’t do much else for me in the way of volumizing or curling. It gives me good length, but it’s honestly my least favorite Dior mascara. I know that this is a favorite amongst many many mascara-users, but this is just average for me. I can apply coat after coat and still have little to no volume-but I will have spidery lashes!

The Good: The Azure Blue really is a lovely shade, albeit not really for me. I bought this when the whole blue-mascara craze began, only to realize I feel kinda silly walking around with blue mascara. I do get compliments on it, but I much prefer my blacks!

The Bad: This doesn’t really do anything for my puny lashes. And did I mention that I think I’m allergic to this mascara? I’ve never had my eyes react to anything in my life (well other than the time in second grade when a classmate gave me a papercut on my eyeball and it started watering like crazy!), but this mascara makes my eyes water and tear all day! It doesn’t irritate my eyeballs per se, but the constant watering is definitely annoying. That, coupled with the fact that this mascara doesn’t live up to my expectations means it hardly ever gets used.

Price: $24.00

Conclusion: I don’t think I’ll be purchasing this again! I’m glad it works for so many other women, but it just isn’t for me.

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RATING: 2.5/5

Read Parts 1 & 2 of the Mascara Series here.

Happy Monday from Chloe!

April 28, 2008

I won’t be around as much as I’d like to be thanks to finals, but don’t worry Chloe will be keeping you company!

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Another DressCamp EOTD

April 27, 2008

Since the deadline for my MAC DressCamp giveaway‘s quickly approaching, I thought that I’d do a few more DressCamp looks so you can all see how versatile the palette is!

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I used Dress Camp pink, Sunny Girl, and the blue shadow from my Wet n Wild i-sparkle City Lights Palette to create this look. I don’t think I’d wear it to school, but it could work for a fun night out or going to the circus! 🙂

I’m updating this with more photos as I added some Chanel waterproof liner in Celadon, Cynthia Rowley for Avon lipstick in Very Violet, and Bare Escentuals gloss in Rose Radiance to the look. Some photos of the completed look:

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Love the look? Think it’s too bright? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!

Enter to win the MAC DressCamp Palette and She-Gold lipglass here! (deadline May 1st)
See my first MAC DressCamp EOTD here.

ABS’s Favorite SK-II Products (Cleansing Oil and Air-Touch Foundation Reviews)

April 26, 2008
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SK-II’s Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil is the one item in my skin-care regimen that I couldn’t do without. I know people have differing opinions on it, but for me it’s a lifesaver. It’s the only thing that keeps my pores clean and keeps my blackheads at bay, so I’m more than happy to dish out the $50/bottle (plus one bottle lasts forever)!

I’ve always had a hate/hate relationship with the pesky blackheads on my nose. The evil little things take up residence and refuse to budge! I’ve tried everything out there, from strange chapstick-like Japanese devices to Biore nose strips, scrubs, blackhead extraction devices that look like Medieval torture instruments, and aspirin masks-but nothing fazes my blackheads. I scrub and I scrub, but when I look in the mirror the darn things are still happily staring back at me from my nose.

I purchased the SK-II cleansing oil one year from duty free on a whim. I honestly don’t know what possessed me to, since I have oily skin and why would you think to put oil on oil? But it’s really worked wonders for my skin. Every night I take a good pump of this and work it into my skin, giving myself a mini facial. I concentrate on my nose area, working it into my pores and applying slight pressure. If you have blackheads, you should eventually be able to feel them slide right out and voila, you’ve given yourself a deep clean!

The one complaint I do have about this cleanser is that I feel the need to follow up with a foaming face wash since this leaves an oily residue behind. The oil has pitera in it so is supposed to be good for you, but I wouldn’t leave the oily remnants on my skin as my skin is oily as is.

Now there are tons of other great cleansing oils out there-Shu Uemera, DHC, Amore Pacific, etc. I haven’t tried all of them, nor am I inclined to as I’ve found one that works great for me, but if this doesn’t fit into your budget remember that there are cleansing oils for any and all price ranges!

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SK-II Air-Touch Foundation

What is it? SK-II Air-Touch foundation is the first of its kind. A portable air-brush foundation system that fits in the palm (well not really) of your hand. It’s compact and delivers on each and every promise it makes. And as an added bonus, it contains Pitera, SK-II’s famed anti-aging ingredient.


How it works: The initial unit ($150) comes with one foundation packet, and after you’ve gone through that, the refills are available in sets of two for $80. While the price is a bit steep at first glance, remember that you’re in essence paying for two foundations at once-hopefully that makes it a bit more palatable! I know the foundation packets seem ridiculously small, but this is an airbrush system, meaning you’re really only using a tiny amount each time, and that small slim packet will last you quite awhile!

Once the unit is locked and loaded, you switch the device on and spray your face in a zig zag motion. I like to focus on my cheeks and under my nose, as those are areas where I tend to have redness. You can go as sheer or as heavy as you want, as this’ll never look cakey, but the longer you spray, the longer the foundation will take to set, meaning you face will be sticky/prone to smudges for awhile.

Comparison to other spray foundations: Prior to the SK-II Air-Touch, DiorSkin AirFlash was my spray foundation of choice, but having tried the SK-II I can never go back. The Dior gave me great coverage and was fun to use, but I could always feel it sitting on my skin. The biggest issues I had with the Dior was that it would get everywhere-all over my hair, my clothes, and my eyebrows. I had to resort to using this right out of my shower, with my hair completely covered with a towel. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it at the time, but the fact that the SK-II foundation’s ionized particles don’t stick to anything but my face is a deal-clincher for me.


Pros: Air-Touch provides beautiful natural looking coverage that leaves your skin with a dewy glow (scroll down to see how this looks on). The spray mechanism obviates any need to touch your face (aka no pulling/tugging/bacteria), is fun to use, and doesn’t get any foundation where you don’t want it.

Cons: The foundation takes a good amount of time to dry if you don’t set it with powder, and if you do set it with powder and you’re not careful, the powder will stick in a giant clump to one spot and refuse to budge. Also, if you touch the foundation before it’s completely dry, it’ll leave a noticeable smudge/streak. If you haven’t the unit in a while, the foundation will separate a bit so you must use the droplet setting on your unit to expel some foundation in order to have it operate correctly. And finally, the unit’s a bit heavy and hence not as portable as you’d hope

Conclusion: Yes it’s a bit arduous to use, but really what foundation isn’t? This is much faster and easier than applying foundation with a brush, and gives you an unbelievable finish. On those days when I don’t feel like bothering with this, I use a regular foundation or tinted moisturizer and then just use this as a finishing spray, as you still get the same flawless finish. I think this is really a must-have for every woman’s makeup arsenal, even if it’s reserved for those special occasions when you need to look perfect.

Saks had a promotion going on where you could get the spray unit for free with the purchase of $300 worth of SK-II products. I don’t know if it’s still going on, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

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Left: Before applying anything (straight out of the shower)
Right: After Air-Touch but before setting with powder
{don’t mind the fact that my face halves don’t match up. it’s hard to crop two separate photos into a whole face!}

Have you tried the cleansing oil or the Air-Touch foundation? Been curious about them? Have questions about colors? Let me know what you think! (and please no comments on how terrible my skin looks before makeup!)

Everyday Minerals Blushes Review and Swatches, Plus How to Get Free Samples!

April 26, 2008
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If you’ve never heard of Everyday Minerals, you’re missing out! It’s a great brand of mineral makeup whose owner’s philosophy is to make healthy, pure, simple, and affordable cosmetics using high quality ingredients. The great thing about their foundations is that they come in a wide variety of shades and three different formulations, so there should be shade and formula for everyone! Plus EM offers their customers free sample kits (you only pay shipping!) which include 3 foundations, 1 blush or face color, and 1 concealer, giving you an opportunity to try their products risk free. If you’ve never tried Everyday Minerals, the sample kit is definitely the way to go-everything arrives in mini sifter jars and the samples are more than generous (i’ve never been able to finish one of their samples)!

But onto the blushes! While I liked all the products that I tried from EM, I’ve realized that mineral foundation just isn’t my thing. However, their blushes are amazing! They’re super-pigmented (meaning you literally need only a few grains to get great color pay-off), very blendable, and best of all, cheap! The 2.5g is only $4, and for $8 you get 6 grams (which will last you forever!).

Two things to keep in mind before reading my reviews are that I hate anything remotely brown on my face (eyeshadow, blush, lipstick) and that the color swatches on the site are not accurate at all!

Shades I’ve tried so far:

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  • Back to School
    • This is a burnt peach with silver shimmer. It’s got brown undertones, but surprisingly I like this a lot. It’s quite similar to Snooze Bar (below), but more pigmented and of course the hints of peach make it prettier, at least in my book. It’s a great blush for those days when you just want something natural to make you look a bit more alert.
  • Snooze Bar
    • Another brownish peach shade, this time with more brown than peach. I’m pretty pale but can pull this off because it tends to be more sheer than EM’s other blushes, and therefore isn’t overpowering. However, on the wrong skintones this can appear orange if overdone. This is a greats summer option for a light glow, especially on tanner complexions.
  • Evening Out
    • This is described as an elegant medium brownish-red shade with a beautiful sunburst of orange shimmer. I knew before ordering this that I probably wouldn’t be too fond of it, as those colors are probably my least favorite , and I was right. It actually looks pretty decent swatched on my hands, but my face picks up all the orange and nothing else, making me look like some strange spray-tanning victim.
  • Waffle Cone
    • Brown/bronze with a silver sheen. This is a favorite with many beauty bloggers and MUAers, as it’s very neutral and provides the skin with a subtle glow. It reminds me of Snooze Bar on crack-it has less sheen and a little more glitter, and even my brown-hating self really likes this one for the summer!
  • Girl’s Day
    • Girl’s Day looks so pretty on the site. It’s supposed to be a reddish pink with gold sparkles, but to me it looks like a dark orange/red/brown. This is the only blush out of the bunch that I dislike with a passion, as it gives me streaky clown cheeks and makes me look like I’ve smeared red mud all over my face. I think this is in large part due to the fact that it’s so pigmented and I’m probably picking up way too much, but I just can’t seem to make this one work for me.
  • Theme Park
    • This is a beautiful and shimmery peach/coral. Theme Park is one of my favorites, and I think would be flattering for fair to medium complexions.
  • Chit Chat (can’t seem to find this one on their website!)
    • This is a gorgeous color, especially for fairer complexions, and if my fave EM blush ever! It’s what I’d describe as Barbie-doll pink without the scare factor. I’m so sad that this doesn’t seem to be available on their site anymore, and if it ever comes back in stock I’ll definitely be ordering a full-sized jar or two!
  • Corner Office
    • Corner Office is Theme Park’s darker and rosier sister. It’s an iridescent peachy pink, and would work better for tanner complexions or for those people who like the look of a deeper flush.

If you haven’t noticed, I love a bit of shimmer/sparkle in my blushes, but EM also has an amazing selection of blushes without any shimmer/sheen. They’re definitely worth a try, especially if you order a bunch in one of their starter kits as I did.

Have you tried Everyday Minerals? Love their blushes? Hate them? I’d love you hear your opinions in the comments!

Mario Badescu Skincare Samples Review

April 25, 2008
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As promised, here’s my review of the Mario Badescu skincare samples I received last week!

I received:

  • Enzyme Cleansing Gel
  • Special Cucumber Lotion
  • Drying Cream
  • Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15
  • Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream
  • Flower & Tonic Mask
  • Strawberry Face Scrub

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Enzyme Cleansing Gel: This cleansing gel has a consistency similar to that of Cetaphil. It’s a bit watery, not oily at all, and feels pretty nice on the skin. This didn’t irritate my skin at all, as the formula is very gentle, but I also felt that it didn’t do much in the way of removing my make-up or giving my face a deep clean. After using this, I followed up with their toner and found that I still had remnants of foundation, mascara, eyeliner, and other pore-clogging nasties on my face. I tend to gravitate towards more emollient cleansers, as they’re easier to work into the skin to break down every last bit of makeup and to give your pores a deep clean, so this was a no go for me. But if you tend to have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated, this might be a good choice.

Special Cucumber Lotion: Mario Badescu recommends this toner for use by people with combination or oily skin, but I think it’s better suited for people with oily or acne-prone skin. I have oily skin with lots of dry patches, and found this toner to be just a tad drying. I really liked how squeaky clean my face felt after using this with Cle de Peau’s cotton pads, but the next morning my face, albeit not tight and uncomfortable, felt like it was lacking sufficient moisture. I may give this another try though as overall I did like it!

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Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15: This is recommended for combination and sensitive skin types, and I have to say that it is very gentle. A LOT of lotions give me hives, make me break out, cause itching, or just result in general irritation (blotchy redness, etc-it’s not attractive!), but this hasn’t done any of that! It’s a really good moisturizer if you skin is a bit on the dry side, but I found it to be a bit greasy for my taste . I’m not talking break-out causing greasy; more like the kind of greasy that makes your face look oily after an hour or two and causes your foundation to slide around. I might save this for the winter when my skin will soak up that greasiness like a dry sponge!

Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream: Eye creams are more a preventative than a corrective measure for me, so I can’t speak as to the wrinkle-reducing abilities of this eye cream, but it is very moisturizing! It feels quite heavy on, great if your under-eye area is super dry, but even then this is one of those creams that might cause pesky milia! I’d avoid this during the day as it doesn’t absorb too well and just sits on your under-eye area, and would reserve this as a night treatment. I like that it does moisturize my eye area which has been feeling a bit dry lately, so will continue using this on and off, but much prefer my other eye creams!

Drying Cream: I don’t have too big an issue with breakouts, but right after I received this I noticed one or two small red bumps so immediately applies this, and woke up to find them gone! Definitely a keeper in my book!

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Flower & Tonic Mask: I really really wanted to like this, as I tend to love clay-type masks, but this was the only product that I actually felt hurt my skin. It reminded me of a super-runny Queen Helene Mint Julep mask (which irritates my skin sometimes, works great others!) so I had high hopes for it, and initially everything seemed to be going great. It was kind of runny for my liking, but once on didn’t sting or burn my skin like the Queen Helene one does occasionally, and washed off easily. But when I touched my face after washing off the mask, it was like attempting to run my hand up and down a giant piece of slightly sticky rubber! I’m not a fan of the wax face feeling, and this made my skin red, dry, and irritated so I don’t think I’ll be using this again.

Strawberry Face Scrub: This contains strawberry seeds as an exfoliant, which is always fun! It’s great for a middle-of-the-week touch up, but not what you’re looking for if you want a scrub that will give your pores a deep clean (i.e. if you have problems with blackheads). The strawberry seeds are rather abrasive in my opinion, but not fine enough to really be effective, plus there are only like 10 in the whole container, meaning it’s more mask than scrub. Also, the cloyingly sweet smell was too much for me.

Now I know that I’ve been pretty hard on the Mario Badescu products, and it’s not because I think this skincare line is horrible! Overall I was pretty pleased with their product line, but I just wasn’t blown away. I guess I was expecting amazing or at least great, and that wasn’t what I got. It may be that these products weren’t right for my skin and that Mario Bedescu’s other products may work better for me, but for now I think I’ll be sticking to my normal skincare regimen.

Find out how to get your own personal product recommendations and free Mario Badescu skincare samples here.