Archive for the 'throwdown' Category

Drugstore Discoveries: Revlon PhotoReady Foundation Review & Swatches

January 20, 2010


PhotoReady Makeup, Revlon’s latest foundation release, has been stirring up much buzz around the blogosphere as the drugstore alternative to MUFE’s HD foundation. Its wallet-friendly $13.99 price tag and its promises of a dewy, camera-ready complexion have helped it attain HG status with many, so you know I had to try it for myself. Check out the review after the jump!


I will say this – Revlon’s PhotoReady really is quite good for a drugstore foundation. It wasn’t love for me for a number of reasons, but it is one of the best drugstore foundations I’ve tried to date (good drugstore foundations seem to be few and far between), and even bested many department store foundations I’ve experimented with through the years.


So first for the good ~ the pump on this is pure genius! It enables you to precisely control the amount of foundation that you want and dispenses everything mess free ~ now you’d think this would be something too basic to even mention, but it’s seriously appalling how badly some foundations out there are packaged. Coverage is light/medium but buildable, and the formula is wonderfully light and glides nicely across your skin.


As for the bad? Well my main issues with this foundation are that shade #004 Nude is way too dark/yellow on me, and oxidizes throughout the day making me look like some sort of orange-faced troll. Gripe #2 is that PhotoReady emphasizes any flakies and dry spots you have, meaning moisturize well or don’t bother with this stuff. PhotoReady also has a tend to slide around on my oily forehead after 2-3 hours, and really has trouble staying put in the area around my nose (although I’ll admit most foundations do slide around for me in that area).


Now I know that most of you have heard complaints of the Twilight-esque sparkle in this foundation, but honestly I don’t notice it at all. I set mine with La Mer’s translucent loose powder which already has a healthy dose of shimmer to it, and seriously the only time you’ll notice shimmer is when you’re standing under direct sunlight, and really, what’s so wrong with a little shimmer? The bigger issues for me is the emphasizing flakies and pores and looking a little cakey when layered aspects of the foundation.


All in all this is one of those foundations that falls into the “good enough that I want to love but has enough flaws that I just can’t” category. Maybe I’m spoiled having found a few foundations that work magic for my complexion, but while PhotoReady really is quite decent, it’s a pass for me.

L’Oreal Go 360˚ Clean Scrublet vs. Random Japanese Scrubbie

January 5, 2010


Just to show you how good a deal L’Oreal’s Go 360˚ Clean cleansers are, I’m bringing you a quick comparison of the Scrublet you get with L’Oreal’s cleanser vs. a similar scrubby I purchased at my local Japanese market (all on its own, no cleanser included). Check out the details and more photos after the jump!


So admittedly the Japanese scrubby (on the right) is pinker, larger, cuter, and comes with finger loopies – but surprisingly it just doesn’t match up to L’Oreal’s Scrublet for several reasons.

#1 it’s just too large and floppy and therefore a bit of a disaster to use. The finger loops do help to hold it in place, but the added size really does nothing for this as I prefer to focus on smaller areas of my face while cleansing.

#2 the suction on my Japanese scrubby is pure rubbish. Stick it on my mirror, walk by a few hours later and there it is, sitting on the ground, just crying to be picked up. Contrast that to L’Oreal’s suction which stays put for days on end. Really people, it’s the little things that make me happy :).

#3 – it really comes down to price. From what I can remember, I paid close to $5 for my Japanese scrubby, whereas L’Oreal’s Scrublet + cleanser is a mere $6.99 – who can argue with numbers like that?

My conclusion? Go out and try L’Oreal’s Go 360˚ Clean for yourself. It’s inexpensive enough that I can suggest it to all of you without feeling guilty, and fun enough that I know you’ll all want to indulge!

Jill Stuart Jelly Eye Color Packaging: Old vs. New

October 7, 2009
New Packaging (left) vs. Old Packaging (right)

I’m a creature of habit and very very rarely do I do even remotely well with change. Case in point: when the Bloomies in SoHo decided to up and change their layout on me, moving things onto different floors and creating new departments and all that jazz, I stopped shopping there. I used to literally go there at least 2 – 3 times a week, but since the change I’ve been shopping elsewhere. I know it’s stupid and irrational, and the old layout probably wasn’t the most efficient, but what can I say, I don’t like change.

Which is why, while the shift in packaging on these Jill Stuart Jelly Eye Colors were initially disconcerting to me, I’m shocked to find that I actually quite adore the new, even girlier pot!

Older Jill Stuart Eye Jelly packaging (click for more photos).

I do miss the simplicity and sleekness of the old design, and how the top resembled a faceted jewel, but even an obstinate, change-hating person like me can recognize the beauty of the new design. Yes it’s a little frilly and a little more ornate than what I would have gone for, but it’s really pretty nonetheless.

Newer Jill Stuart packaging (click for more photos).

I love that they’ve kept the weighty glass bottoms to these little pots (they feel so great in your hands) but have added the scalloped edges for a little more aesthetic appeal. All in all, job well done packaging designers at Jill Stuart!

Philosophy Kiss Me Tonight Review & The Lip Slip Comparison I Know You Want!

September 21, 2009
Philosophy Kiss Me Tonight Intense Lip Therapy ($20)

This intense lip therapy keeps lips soft and in perfect kissable condition with an ultra-creamy formula. ‘kiss me tonight’ works on contact to soften roughness, relieve dryness and soothe seriously dry lips. This luxurious lip treatment helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, adds shape and definition and restores a healthy, rosy appearance.

Up until a year or two ago I never had issues with lip dryness, but it seems that as I get older my lips get dryer and dryer, and lately they’ve been crying out for a little pampering. Philosophy’s Kiss Me Tonight is the ideal product for those of you who are looking for soft, pouty, kissable lips without stickiness or tackiness, and while I wouldn’t call it an industrial strength lip salve, it’s pretty fantastic in its own right!


Check out more photos, the full review and my Sara Happ Lip Slip comparison after the jump!


Unlike Lip Slip which is really quite tacky and soft, Philosophy’s Kiss Me Tonight has a firm surface that you melt under your fingertips, and once glided across your lips, you’ll notice an immediate smoothing/line-blurring effect. My favorite way to use this is directly under a long-wearing lipstick for all-day hydration and color ~ my lips have never felt so comfortable in lipsticks!


So how is Kiss Me Tonight different from Lip Slip? Well here’s how I distinguish: Kiss Me Tonight is great for wearing under your daytime lip shades as it’s non-sticky, fabulous as an everyday daytime treatment, and my balm of choice on warmer days. Lip Slip, on the other hand, is my lips’ savior when colder weather rolls around and my lips are really in need of some TLC, and it’s my go-to product when I’m looking for an overnight treatment that will leave my lips looking and feeling incredible lush and soft the next morning.

I can’t recommend one over the other as the two products are quite different from each other, and I’m more than happy to now own both (thank you so much Elaine for sending this to me)! Stay tuned though as I’ve got a review coming your way of a lip moisturizer that I’m absolutely OBSESSED with and think you’ll all love too.

Battle of the Greens: Everyday Minerals Mint Color Corrector vs. Pearl Mint Concealer

July 9, 2009



As part of my seemingly never-ending quest for that holy grail product (whether it be a foundation, concealer, primer) to eradicate all the unattractive splotchy redness I have to my face, I present you with a comparison of two green-tinged mineral products. I’ve always been a huge fan of Everyday Minerals free samples — three foundations, one concealer and one blush, all for the price of shipping makes for a happy Jen! As you can see from the photos, I got my sample of Everyday Minerals’ Mint Concealer waaaaaay back when they didn’t have the fancy jars they do now.


So on the left we have Everyday Mineral’s Mint Concealer, and on the left is the Pearl Mint: so which counteracted redness better, taming the beast that is my face? Well let’s just say that these two products are very very different.

Close-up of Mint

Mint Concealer wins hands-down in the redness correction category. A light dusting of this powder helps to tame the redness while slightly lightening the skin and providing a veil of neutralizing coverage. The powder itself is a bit chalkier than Pearl Mint, but more significantly it has a thicker, creamier feel to it that enables it to conceal redness and mask imperfections.

Close-up of Pearl Mint

Pearl Mint works more as a highlighter/brightener than as a a redness reducer. It’s a beautifully light, silky powder that glides on with a pearly sheen. I’d say it does little to nothing in the way of concealing redness, although I guess it’s better than nothing at all.

An even closer look at Pearl Mint.

So between the two which would I recommend? Well sadly at this point I’d have to say neither. Don’t get me wrong I do like both of them, in a kind of lackluster, ho-hummish way, but they both have their insurmountable faults that for me just don’t make them worth purchasing.

Mint, while it successfully conceals redness, fails to keep the oilies at bay and even seems to aggravate them, plus it gives me face a rather unattractive ashen cast to it that’s visible in direct sunlight and not really the look I’m going for. Mint Pearl is an even worse offender in the oiliness department– 2 or 3 hours into wearing this my face is an oil slick and the look is only exacerbataed by the pearliness of the powder.


Swatches of Mint (left) and Pearl Mint (right)

The swatches, lightly (not fully) blended. See the definite green pallor to my skin? It can be buffed away, but not 100%.

And what they look like all buffed in:


Keep in mind that I’m just one person and there are people out there who swear by Everyday Minerals’ Mint concealer as their end-all be-all redness corrector, so if you’re curiuos be sure to order up a free (well you pay shipping) sample of this stuff to check out. And on a semi-related note, while Pearl Mint may not necessarily make the best setting/redness-reducing powder, I have heard that it makes quite the fabulous eyeshadow!

Drugstore Discoveries: Clean & Clear Soothing Eye Makeup Remover Review (and a Quick Bi-Facil Comparison)

July 6, 2009
Clean & Clear Soothing Eye Makeup Remover ($5.99)
CLEAN & CLEAR® Soothing Eye Makeup Remover gently conditions as it dissolves long-wear eye makeup. Its oil-free formula, infused with a combination of cucumber extracts and aloe vera, soothes and refreshes the delicate skin around the eyes.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m terrible about removing my eye makeup, mostly because it’s just so tough to remove. But when I did reach for an eye makeup remover, it was always Lancome’s Bi-Facil; it’s pricey ($26 for 4.2 oz as opposed to $5.99 for 5.5 oz), leaves me feeling greasy and irritates my eyes a little bit but I’d always heard it was the best out there. Well I’ve now found an alternative that’s dirt cheap, readily available and simply superb at removing even the most stubborn waterproof mascaras and eyeliners (even my Majolica Majorca which nothing has been able to remove until now) ~ Clean & Clear’s Soothing Eye Makeup Remover.

What I Love: I’ve actually had this sitting around on my vanity for a number of months now. To be honest I figured since it was cheap it wouldn’t be any good and wasn’t really planning on using this (it was given to me by a friend) but this is some seriously great stuff! Just like the Lancom Bi-Facil, I shake the bottle to mix up the dual-phase formula, soak a cotton pad with the remover, press the cotton pad to my eye for 15-20 seconds and then voila, even the most stubborn eye makeup melts right off! I’ve tried many many eye makeup removers, and this is definitely one of the best, especially for the price!

Not So Much: The packaging could be a little better, but I guess for $5.99 I really shouldn’t be complaining. Other than that I really can’t find anything wrong with Clear & Clear’s Soothing Eye Makeup Remover–it really is that good!

Am I the only one who loves bi-phase products? It’s so much fun to shake them up!

The Verdict: If you’re a fan of Lancome’s Bi-Facil but can’t stomach the price, Clean & Clear’s Soothing Eye Makeup Remover is an amazing alternative! The oil-free formula is non-irritating, doesn’t leave an oily film over your eye area, feels less greasy than Lancome’s formula, and most importantly, gently removes even the most budge-proof eye products. My inner (much-supressed I swear!) beauty snob cringes a little at how much I love this stuff, but you can’t argue with results!

RATING: 5/5

And in case you’re curious, the INGREDIENTS:
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Benzyl Alcohol, Dipropylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Chloride, Poloxamer 182, Tripotassium EDTA, Benzalkonium Chloride, Allantoin, Dipotassium Phosphate, Potassium Phosphate, Propylene Glycol, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (Cucumber)

Guerlain Parure Pearly White Brightening Fluid Foudation Review & Swatches

June 11, 2009
Guerlain Parure Pearly White Brightening Fluid Foundation Skin Refiner SPF 15 PA+
(see more info on Guerlain’s Asia exclusive Pearly White collection HERE)

Packaged in luxurious golden glass with a gilded top, Guerlain’s Parure Pearly White Brightening Fluid Foundation Skin Refiner is a matte finish foundation with a little SPF thrown in for good measure. Parure Pearly White is meant to give you the radiance of a clear, smooth, flawless complexion in one step, and surprisingly enough in today’s cosmetics market, it actually delivers.

This light fluid foundation, formulated especially for the Asian market, is meant to maintain a look of matte flawlessness even in hot or humid weather.

Tops for Parure Pearly White and Parure Extreme, side by side.

I’m really loving Guerlain’s foundations lately; they’re light, long-wearing, non-irritating and come beautifully packaged. I purchased both the Pearly White and the Extreme foundations at Duty Free in Korea recently, and I’ll be doing a quick comparison of both for you.

Parure Pearly White contains 100% natural nacre powder taken from the shells of oysters which provides a slight glowy iridescence to help conceal imperfections such as enlarged pores, dark spots, redness, discoloration, and overall complexion dullness. The formula also contains Pearl Lily Complex (taken from the lily of course) which offers advanced protection against pigmentation issues caused by environmental and internal factors.

Guerlain’s Pearly White is really something special. Its ability to provide good coverage while feeling light and weightless; the way that it leaves my skin looking brightened and whitened without the look of a cakey mask; how it keeps me matte for hours on end thanks to the combination of two absorbing powders contained in its formula. And it doesn’t hurt that the packaging is seriously the best that I’ve seen for foundation–it’s gorgeous and the pump makes for easy, clean dispensing.

Swatches of Guerlain Parure Pearly White (left) and Parure Extreme (right)

I own both the Guerlain Parure Pearly White and the Parure Extreme foundations in Shade 01 Beige Pale, which is an Asia-exclusive shade (boooo I know!). I’d tried Parure Extreme in the lightest shade available in the US (see my review HERE) and it just hadn’t worked for me (problems with oxidation) but I’d loved the formula so much I was determined to give it another shot.

So how do they compare? Well Parure Extreme is a very liquidy foundation that’s uber-light and super long-wearing. The Pearly White is a little on the thicker side, consistency-wise, and while it’s good at keeping me matte, it’s not nearly as good as the Parure Extreme.


While the Parure Extreme is probably the easiest foundation in the world to work with thanks to its liquidiness, in terms of appearance, Pearly White wins hands down. The Parure Extreme, even though it’s the same shade as the Pearly White, definitely has a bit more yellow to it and still oxidizes a bit, although it’s not nearly as noticeable as it was with the darker shade. The Pearly White shade stays true all day long and really just give my complexion that certain “look” that I try to achieve with every foundation purchase. Pearly White gets me as close to a glowing, porcelain-skinned look as I’m ever going to get.


Of course I’d fall in love with a foundation that’s not available outside of Asia–that’s just how it is for me. All my favorite products end up being limited edition, discontinued, from brands that disappears from the US, etc. etc.–it’s like the beauty gods hate me!

For now I’m trying to use my little bottle sparingly, but trust me I’ll be looking for a way to get more of this stuff once it’s gone!

Drugstore Discoveries: L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara, a Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Dupe

May 13, 2009


It looks like the powers that be have finally decided to grace us with an affordable alternative to Givenchy’s Phenomen’eyes Mascara (see my review and photos HERE) in the form of L’Oreal’s Telescopic Explosion. Thanks so much to faerie_bel for the tip! I’m not sure is this is available stateside yet, as most of the reviews I’ve found of this appear to be non-US based, but I’m just dying to get my hands on this. I need it!

Been Looking For An Affordable Clarisonic Alternative?

February 19, 2009

I’m signed up for New York Magazine’s Best Bets Daily newsletter, and a month or so ago I received this e-mail update that I’ve been meaning to share with you on Pretika’s SonicDermabrasion Facial Brush. Here’s the blurb:

“You may have heard of the Clarisonic skin-care brush, which has racked up raves from tons of women’s magazines and scored a 2008 “Best of Sephora” designation from the national beauty chain. Great product, but it’s $195. Venerable gadget retailer Brookstone, sensing opportunity, recently started selling a cheaper competitor, the SonicDermabrasion Facial Brush. Like the Clarisonic, the Brookstone brush (made by a company called Pretika) looks a little iffy at first, because you automatically assume the brush head spins, like some sort of bathtub-scrubbing device, which would be scary and harsh. But the bristles don’t spin, they just gently pulsate in place hundreds of times per second—using the same high-frequency technology behind the sonic toothbrushes we here at Best Bets Daily are so fond of—to, basically, vibrate the dirt off of your skin and out of your pores. We’ve tested them both, and they’re eerily similar in design and function; both come with a charging stand/cradle, and both make your skin feel gently cleansed and exfoliated (low-cost, noncomedogenic drugstore cleansers like Cetaphil work best with these devices), like you just got a mini-facial. (By the way, Pretika recently upgraded its recharging technology; earlier versions of this brush apparently ran out of juice pretty quickly, but we didn’t find that to be a problem.) The main difference: Brookstone’s brush is a quarter of the cost.”

I absolutely love my Clarisonic Skincare Brush, but I know that at $195 it’s not for everybody–but for $50 how can you go wrong? Based on the reviews Pretika sounds to be up to par with the Clarisonic, so if you’ve been dying to try the Clarisonic but just couldn’t stomach the price, definitely check this out (and come back and tell us all about it of course)!

Smashbox O-Gloss vs. Mark Glossblossom (Review & Swatches)

January 20, 2009
TOP: Mark Glossblossom Ripening Lip Tint ($6)
BOTTOM: Smashbox O-Gloss Intuitive Lip Gloss ($22)

When I was in fourth or fifth grade I discovered the magic of mood lipsticks. They were these hideous, candy-scented, forest green sticks of ugly that would would change colors on your lips according to your “mood,” and apparently mine was always shocking fuchsia. The stuff looked absolutely horrendous on me, but for some reason I insisted on wearing it.

Fast forward a decade and a half (give or take a few years) and we’ve got these updated offerings from Smashbox, Mark, and a bunch of other companies–our old mood lipsticks in gloss form! The basic concept behind these glosses is that they go on clear, but then react with your body chemistry to develop into your own customized shade. Since one retails for $6, and the other for a whopping $22, I thought I’d compare the two for you! And FYI Too Faced almost makes a product that’s quite similar (and available in a fun shade of blue from their Smurfette collection).

Mark Glossblossom (left), Smashbox O-Gloss (right)

MARK: So up first we have Mark’s Glossblossom Ripening Lip Tiny, a veritable bargain at $6. This “ripens” into a very pretty soft pink on me, so it’s unfortunate that I’m not a fan. As you can see in the swatch above, the consistency is very runny, almost to the point of being watery, and it feels rather greasy on my lips, a sensation I’m not all that fond of. Couple that with its terrible lasting power and I’d say save for $6!

So how does Smashox’s O-Gloss compare?


Smashbox O-Gloss

Mark Glossblossom

SMASHBOX: Well Smashbox’s O-Gloss Intuitive Lipgloss definitely wins in the texture department. It has a slick, not too sticky but not too runny consistency, contains great ingredients like Goji Verry, Ginkgo Biloba, Pomgranate Seed, and Avocado Oil, plus it also transforms into a pretty shade of soft to bright pink (depending on the day). All in all I do like this one quite a bit, but I’m not sure I’d pay $22 for it.

Next on my list is to try their new plumping version of the O-Gloss!