Archive for the 'ABS Loves' Category

Sensai Cellular Performance Hydrachange Cream Review & Swatches

April 5, 2010
Thank you so much to all of you who’ve reached out to let me know that my daily posts have been missed – I love hearing from you amidst all the craziness of work, it really brightens my day.  So given all the stress I’ve been under (and the massive sleep-deprivation I’ve been experiencing) you’d think that my skin would be going haywire, but thanks to the soothing, hydrating gentleness that is Sensai’s new Hydrachange Cream, my skin hasn’t been betraying the chaos that happens to be my life.  Check out the full review after the jump!

The Science: Hydrachange Cream is an uber-gentle gel cream that imparts a refreshing moist sensation upon application.  Sensai’s unique Hyaluronic Acid Supporting Network evenly distributes Hydrachange Complex, (made up of a marine monosaccharide to improve firmness and smoothness, beta-carotene to promote hyaluronic acid synthesis and a hyaluronate to boost collagen) with water and emollient oils to clam the skin while sealing in moisture for constant hydration. 
The Good: My simultaneously super oily and super dry (and always super-irritated) skin loves loves LOVES Hydrachange Cream.  Over the nearly three months that I’ve been using this cream (never have I stuck with a single moisturizer this long) my pores have noticeably decreased in sizes, my skin is balanced and happy, and I’ve experienced nary a dry flake during the cold winter months.  This gel cream has a wonderfully light, almost watery texture that makes moisturizing such a pleasure in the morning (I hate struggling with a super thick cream) and is infused with the fresh, feminine, comforting fragrance of plum blossoms blended with notes of sandalwood, rose and jasmine (which are also supposed to boost hyaluronic acid synthesis in the dermis).  Have I also mentioned that I haven’t experienced a single major breakout since I started using this cream?  It’s heaven I tell you, pure heaven!
The Bad: I do have to say that there was one small hitch in the ABS/Hydrachange Cream love story – stickiness.  If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a sticky skincare product, and Hydrachange doesn’t dry to a completely matte finish, but rather remains slightly sticky to the touch throughout the day.  I do, however, think that this is why this particular product moisturizes so well and is so incredibly hydrating, so I really shouldn’t complain.  PLUS happily I’ve found that perfect skincare combination that makes for happy skin and a nice, smooth feel – I layer Hydrachange over my ever-trusty Estee Lauder Idealist (I’ve been using this stuff for years) and it settles into a nice and smooth, non-tacky finish that foundation just glides right over.
As promised, here are the ingredients!
The Verdict: While my wallet cringes (just a little) at the $160 for 1.4 oz. price, to be honest I’d pay pretty much any price for beautiful, happy skin, and so when sample jar (generously provided to me by the wonderful Sensai PR people) goes empty, I’ll be dragging myself over to the Kanebo counter at Bergdorf to restock. 
Availability:  Sensai’s Hydrachange Series is available at Bergdorf Goodman, and (online only).  Do check out the line, it’s one of my favorite brands ever!
This review contains a press sample sent to ABS by the brand’s PR representative for blog consideration. If you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please feel free to contact me at

Drugstore Discoveries: Burt’s Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser Review

December 3, 2009

Burt’s Bees Facial Radiance Cleanser with Royal Jelly
($10.00 for a generous 6 fl. oz.) is one of those drugstore gems you discover every now and then – the kind that makes you wonder why you bother to spend $50 on a pricey department store cleanser that you happen to love but loathe shelling out for every few months. Read the rave after the jump!

Burt’s Bees Radiance Cleanser
is pretty much exactly the kind of cleanser I like to use every day. It’s a light lotion-type cleanser that, when mixed with water, lathers lightly and becomes wonderfully milky. It’s effectively removes all of my makeup while leaving my skin neither stripped nor oily thanks to the additions of nourishing royal jelly and very lightly exfoliating jojoba beads. Plus I do happen to be rather fond of the packaging, particularly the easy lock mechanism for the pump which makes this a dream to travel with.

I actually have noticed that my skin appears to be brighter when I use this cleanser on a regular basis, and I have every intention of stocking up and using these as stocking stuffers. I think they’re a bargain at only $10.00 a pop (it’s tough to find a good product under $10 nowadays) and do recommend that you check them out!

This was my first Burt’s Bees purchase and I’ll definitely be making more in the future. Who knew that a drugstore cleanser could feel so luxurious and department store-y?

L’Oreal HiP Color Chrome Eyeliner Review & Swatches

October 13, 2009

L’Oreal HIP products have disappointed me in the past, but these HIP Color Chrome Metallic Finish Eyeliners definitely get the ABS seal of approval and are a must have in my book! Don’t believe me? Check out the swatches – these are like liquid metal and it was seriously love at first swatch. Scratch that – more like obsession!

Top to Bottom: 920 Gold Charge, 915 Silver Lightning, 910 Black Shock

Check out the full review and glistening metallic swatches (plus my thoughts on how these compare to Urban Decay’s 24/7 pencils) after the jump!

910 Black Shock

910 Black Shock is a rich shade of black that contains silver flecks that are almost imperceptible but lend a little bit of shimmer and sparkle to those dramatic black-liner looks. A fabulous pencil in its own right, but nothing compared to the beauty of Gold Charge and Silver Lightning!

920 Gold Charge

920 Gold Charge is a jolt of pure gold color that shimmers, shines, and glows just like liquid gold. Even a non-gold lover like myself can appreciate the beauty of this!

915 Silver Lightning

Oh Silver Lightning, how do I love thee? This was the first HiP Chrome Eyeliner I tried and it remains my favorite. One light swipe gives you the look of molten liquid silver ~ it’s truly magical and a sight to behold.

The formula of these Color Chrome Eyeliners is really fantastic. The lightest touch will yield rich, intense pigmentation and these are so ridiculously creamy and glide so well that you’d swear they went on as a liquid if you weren’t looking right at the pencil for yourself. They look like the liquid metal forms of the colors they come in, and while they do take a few seconds to dry, once set they aren’t going anywhere.

The second set of swatches above is a photo of the back of my hand after a shower and much vigorous rubbing on my part – the point that the skin on my hand was red and raw. I glide these along my waterline with no effort at all (these will never ever drag or pull) and they stay put better than anything else I’ve tried. Dare I say I even prefer these to Urban Decay’s 24/7 liners?

On me at least, the pigmentation on these is richer than on the Urban Decay 24/7 pencils, plus they glide better (I bet you didn’t even think that was possible), last longer and wear better than their Urban Decay counterparts. That’s not to say that the Urban Decay pencils are shoddy by any means – they’re pretty fantastic in and of themselves. The downside? The HiP colors are available in a pretty limited shade range, so you’re definitely not going to be getting the selection you do with Urban Decay.

Availability: These go for $10 (or a little less) a pop at a drugstore near you, so definitely check them out. I’m most definitely a fan!

Lisa Hoffman Lip Moisturizer Review & Swatches

October 10, 2009

Lisa Hoffman’s Lip Moisturizer ($24.95 but currently available for a steal on Gilt – more on that later) is one of those products you’ve probably never heard of, but once you manage to get your hands on it, you’ll be wondering where it’s been all your life. I’m utterly obsessed and can’t believe I haven’t heard more about this brand!

See the full review and swatches/ingredients after the jump!

I’m used to my lip treatment products (balms, moisturizers, etc.) coming in stick or pot form, so I was a little confused by the pump packaging, but it’s so wonderfully pragmatic and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The darling pink tube (which is definitely small enough to be purse-friendly) enables you to dispense just the right amount of product without having to stick your hand into a pot of sticky lip product, and the product itself is just heavenly.

The Lip Moisturizer contains a delicious cocktail of ingredients including olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil and sweet almond oil in addition to Vitamins A, C, and E to intensively condition your lips. It’s non-sticky and just glides over the lips like a fabulous primer would over the face, leaving them looking soft, smooth and shiny.

Lisa Hoffman’s Lip Moisturizer is really a treat for the senses ~ the sweet almond oil really comes through and the product smells absolutely scrumptious. Think the smell of yummy, comforting almond cookies baked at home from scratch. I really wish that you could reach through the screen to feel this product as the way it glides is really nothing short of magic.

I really can’t say much more on this other than I LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Up Close & Personal with Jill Stuart Mix Blush Compact in Lovely Tulip

October 7, 2009

Jill Stuart’s Mix Blush Compacts ($48) are one of my favorite items from her entire cosmetics range, not because the blushes themselves are particularly awe-inspiring (they’re decent albeit a bit chalky but I’ve definitely tried better), but because the packaging is just so insanely appealing that even after having dropped $50+ on one after tax, I don’t feel the least bit guilty.

See my thoughts on the brush-softness and more reasons to love this product after the jump!

Reason #1 To Love the Mix Blushes: The beautifully crystal-adorned blush brush that comes attached to the compact by a delicate chain. It’s nice quality, beautifully soft, dense, gorgeous to look at and detachable ~ need I say more? I was so surprised by the quality of the brush.

Reason #2 To Love: The beauty of the compact itself. It’s elegant, girly, and brings out your inner princess. I know we’re not all girly girls here, but who doesn’t enjoy feeling like royalty?

Reason #3: The blushes are supremely wearable. They’re have a slight glowy sheen to them but they’re subtle – not too pigmented, not ridiculously sheer, not too sparkly but not completely matte. Plus they’re just plain pretty to look at!

Close-up of 07 Lovely Tulip in the pan.

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking to spend your $50 on a fabulous blush that you’ll love for the rest of your days, this probably isn’t going to be it. But if you’re like me and have a decent blush collection and would love to add something new and different to it that’s guaranteed to be an attention-getter, this is your product. The quality is solid, the packaging is fantastic and I promise you’ll love staring at it!

Skin Food Fermented Pomegranate Whitening Sleeping Mask Review & Swatches

October 5, 2009

Whoever said beauty had to be difficult obviously never tried SkinFood’s Fermented Pomegranate Whitening Sleeping Mask, a product that will beautify your complexion literally while you sleep. I picked up this product during my Korea trip this past May and I’ve been loving it ever since.

Find out why after the jump!

So I don’t know about any real lightening going on with my skin, but let me tell you why I personally adore this product: it’s so easy to use! Two ways I use this:

  1. On top of my serum on those days/nights my skin is in need of some brightening/softening and just a little extra TLC.
  2. On those nights that I’m feeling too lazy to wash off my makeup and there’s just no way I’ll be washing my face, I just slather this on top of everything that’s already on my face. Gross I know!

The mornings after I use this I awaken to a brightened, radiant complexion that feels comfortable hydrated and just really glows with happiness. There’s no tight feeling, no tingling discomfort, stickiness, or anything else associated with this product ~ it’s so comfortable that in the morning I often forget that I have this on until I step into the shower and feel this layer of something being washed off my face.

I know you’re all grossed out at the thought of my applying this over a made up face, but it seriously keeps my face from going crazy when I’m just too exhausted to wash it and post-shower in the morning my skin still looks great. I think I paid under $15 for this in Korea and it’s been worth its weight in gold. If you have access to it, I highly recommend checking it out!

VALUE: 5/5


Guinot Crème Red Logic – My Miracle Product?

August 27, 2009

So a few weeks ago I arrived home to find a mysterious little envelope awaiting me on my kitchen counter. In it I found a little clear sample pot cradling a dab of what looked to be mint green putty. Ever curious, I dug through the remnants of the now torn envelope and found a slip of paper which disclosed that the mysterious green substance (which my mother swore was some type of dangerous substance LOL) Guinot’s new Crème Red Logic, meant to reduce the appearance of redness ad irritation on the skin.

I’m always highly skeptical when it comes to brands that I’ve never heard of. Nevertheless I gave this a shot as I’m always looking for that miracle product that will cure the redness on my skin, and honestly I’m in awe. I used waaaay too much of the cream that first night and basically looked like a shiny ball of wax, but awoke the next morning to find a noticeable reduction in redness. For the next few nights I used this exclusively on my cheeks (I’ve been told I have minor rosacea) and even the SO noticed a difference – my redness was reduced to the point that I no longer had to pile on the foundation. I stopped using Crème Red Logic once my sample ran out and the redness slowly began to return, but for those few days I was seriously in heaven.

Two of the primary reasons people experience facial redness are (1) a thin and delicate epidermis, and (2) sensitized blood capillaries. When I get flushed/flustered/warm, my face turns an unpleasant shade of tomato red and gets very very hot, so anything that helps even a little is much appreciated. Crème Red Logic contains aloe vera to moisturize, calendula to soothe and comfort, a Guinot complex called Veinoderm to promote microcirculation and Arnica Extract to reduce redness.

The green tint of the cream does contribute a little to the redness reduction factor, but honestly to me this product is simply the stuff of my dreams as I noticed a dramatic reduction in redness even after I’ve washed the cream off, and although it’s a little thick/oily for my liking, I couldn’t care less given the results I was able to achieve with it.

Guinot’s Crème Red Logic launched this month in spas/salons nationwide (you can check out to find a location near you), and at $40 a tube I definitely plan to pick one up for myself!

TEMPTU AIR pod™ Foundation Review & Swatches + Before & After Photos!

August 19, 2009

Welcome to Day 2 of the TEMPTU-athon! As promised, you’ll be getting more TEMPTU information than you ever thought you needed or wanted. Still coming at you are reviews of the TEMPTU RETOUCH products (meaning the foundation, blush and highlighter pens – woohoo!) and swatches of every single one of the twelve foundation shades currently available for the system.

TEMPTU AIR pod™ Foundation ($55 for 2 x 0.28 pods)

My biggest concern when purchasing the TEMPTU AIRbrush Makeup System (review HERE) wasn’t that I wouldn’t like the system itself, since TEMPTU is pretty well known for its airbrushing devices, but that I wouldn’t be crazy about the foundation. I’d say that I’m rather picky when it comes to my foundations and I expect quite a bit, so of course I was worried that TEMPTU wouldn’t deliver.

But I’m happy to admit that I was oh so wrong, the foundation formula is darn near perfect! This foundation was formulated to provide a flawless, soft-focus finish; it contains a smoothing complex to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, color-correcting pigments to camoflauge imperfections, and moisturizers to hydrate the skin.

The airbrushing system evenly mists a super fine layer of foundation particles across the surface of your skin, and once the foundation settles there it dries rather quickly (unlike my SK-II Air Touch which took forever to dry!) to a dewy finish. So you’re thinking dewy = terrible for oily skin, right? Wrong! I avoid dewy-finishes like the plague because usually it’s just asking for trouble (hello oil-slick on my t-zone!), but TEMPTU’s foundation, set with just the smallest amount of their RETOUCH Powder literally lasts all day and night on me, which just astounds me. I’ve experimented with wearing the foundation with primer, without primer, with different moisturizers underneath, with and without powder, and the result is always an extraordinarily long-wearing finish.

Plus the foundation really doesn’t settle into any lines you might have. One issues that has always plagued me is how my foundations would settle into the crease connecting my nose to my face (no matter how good the foundation, it can’t help but slide around on my face towards the end of the day), but this has never once happened with the TEMPTU.

So you know I don’t do the before/after photos, and these aren’t the best, but they were demanded! =D

Before (gross ruddy skin w/ some breakouts)

After TEMPTU foundation in Shade 003 Warm Ivory

And with a tiny bit of TEMPTU blush in Washed Rose on top.

I like to tell my friends that TEMPTU’s foundation seems to form this tightly-knit network of foundation particles that stretch across my skin and adhere like crazy without being irritating in the slightest – I feel as though i’m not wearing any foundation at all and my skin never develops those unpleasant hives some other foundations give me at the end of the day. The airbrushed finish is natural enough that you’ll never suffer from “two-tone face/neck syndrome” ever again and seriously I just love it so much.

For someone whose skin is as oily as mine, it’s nothing short of a miracle that I can go out on a day when it’s 100+ degrees and ridiculously humid without piling on the powder and have my makeup look better than it ever has at the end of the day.


Can’t get enough TEMPTU?

  • See my review of the TEMPTU AIRbrush Makeup System HERE.
  • Plus I’ve reviewed and swatched TEMPTU’s blush and highlighter pods for you HERE.
  • And be sure to check back in the coming days for reviews of TEMPTU’s RETOUCH products and swatches of all the available foundation shades!

Up Close & Personal with MAC’s Graphic Garden Palette (Photos Galore!)

August 4, 2009
MAC Eyeshadow x 6 Palette in Graphic Garden ($35)

See my swatches from the Nordstrom-exclusive MAC Graphic Garden Collection HERE.

I vacillated on whether or not to purchase this palette for the longest time, but having it now in my hands I can’t imagine being without it, it’s just that gorgeous. I’m going to keep the blabbering in this post to a minimum because this is one of those instances in which the photos really do speak for themselves.

Social Climber (shimmery white with pink cast) and
Wild Wisteria
(a seafoam/aqua blend with gold pearl)

Straight Hedge (silvery gray with green-gold pearl) and
Botanical Blue
(rich vibrant blue with teal and green-gold shimmer)

Graphic Garden (deep black with purple/fuchsia shimmer) and
Linear Lilac
(purple/fuchsia with slight blue duochrome)

I don’t own many blues or blue-greens so I figured that MAC’s Graphic Garden Palette would be a nice way to ease myself into this color family, and I was right. Wild Wisteria and Botanical Blue are both absolutely stunning, beautifully pigmented, and supremely blendable, and Linear Lilac looks just enough like my Pink Pearl pigment to make it instant love. The Graphic Garden shade is sadly a little chalky and not my cup of tea, but rest of this beautifully-packaged palette more than makes up for it! And I know you’ll ask me for one, so I have a fun bright FOTD I did using this palette that’ll be going up soon =).

Lancome ‘Declaring Indigo’ Nordstrom Exclusive 5-Piece Brush Set Photos Galore (& Review)!

July 21, 2009
Lancome Declaring Indigo Brush Set ($52)

I’ve been told that I’m quite possibly one of the most annoying people in the world to shop with: I’m indecisive, I second-guess every decision and I basically have to contemplate each purchase or a good hour or two beore I can make a final decision. But this Nordstrom-exclusive Lancome Declaring Indigo Brush Set was one purchase decision that I made in minutes and I haven’t looked back since! I’m generally not a bluesy kinda person, but the rich, deep indigo of these brushes is truly stunning and a crowd-pleaser for sure, judging by the rate at which these sets were selling. Check out my small Norstrom Beauty Exclusives haul HERE!

I bought this set primarily for the Mineral Powder Foundation Brush, a plush, dense, velvety soft brush that picks up powders beautifully. I’ve been in desperate need of a powder brush for the longest time, and that gave me just the excuse I needed to indulge in this set.

I’m generally not a fan of these types o oundation brushes as I tend to go for the stipplers or the shorter, denser ones like the Shu brush I previously reviewed, but Lancome’s Foundation Brush #2 was a pleasant surprise. It’s super soft, of course, yet it applies foundation beautifully thanks to the fact that it has some give without being too flexible. It’s that perfect blend of firm yet yielding that enables streak free foundation application.

So to be honest this Blender Brush #4 is a bit of an enigma to me. It’s really oddly sized, as in it’s pretty massive to be used as an eye brush, but really small for a face brush. Lancome says that this is great for blending face and blush powders or eyeshadows meaning it can be used for both face and eyes, but it seems to be ill-suited for both. I’m probably going to reserve this to use or highlighting my cheek/brow bones and the like.

And the fourth brush in this set is double ended. At one end we have a flat, fine-edged brush for lining the eyes.

And on the the other end we have a nice all-purpoe eyeshadow brush, although it looks more like a concealer brush to me.

I took a little family photo so that you can get a relatively good idea of the sizes of these brushes in relation to each other. The blender brush is the one facing the bottom let corner — see what I mean about its odd size? How would you use that on your eye?!

My minor quibbles aside, the Declaring Indigo brush set is one of the best purchases I’ve made all year and definitely a set that I hope to treasure for years to come. The brushes not only have a gorgeous blue hue, but they’re well-constructed, incredibly soft and plush feeling against the skin, and a seriously great value at only $52!