Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kiehl's Abyssine Serum +

A couple of months ago, I was at Target when I spotted Kiehl's Abyssine Serum. Though I'd had good results with Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Protective Recovery Complex, I didn't want to use it anymore. Since the Advanced Night Repair healed the dry patches I had, I felt it was time to try another serum. I also didn't like the way Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair created a somewhat sticky film/coating on my skin. Thus, it was definitely a product made primarily for night time skin care, though the site claimed it could also be worn during the day (something only severely dry skin could get away with). So, I rotated the Estee Lauder out and opted for the Kiehl's. Since then, I've been wearing this both during the day and at night to sleep.

Surprisingly, the Kiehl's isn't far from the price range of Estee Lauder. The Abyssine Serum is $44.00 for 1.7 oz. However, it will still last you around 4-5 months.

The Abyssine Serum is the newest addition to Kiehl's Abyssine line. If you peruse the site, you'll see they have a eye and face cream, amongst other things. Since the serum is a recent launch, I actually couldn't find any reviews on it.

Like most serums, this one claims to "help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and defend skin from free radical damage." However, what appealed to me was the ingredients Kiehl's incorporated for anti-aging and antioxidant properties:

"Our readily absorbent formula quickly penetrates skin to help diminish the signs of aging and strengthen and defen skin against environmental damage. Abyssine, a survivial molecule which thrives under the extreme conditions in hydrothermal ocean vents, helps soothe and protect skin. Combined with Corallina Extract, sourced from a mineral rich red alga with self-defensive properties, our formula helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while helping to defend skin from free radical damage. Dermatologist tested for safety and gentleness and suitable for sensitive skin."

One thing that really impressed me about their website was that they post the ingredients for all their products! Saves me the trouble of typing it out :)


(click to enlarge)

What I really like about the Abyssine Serum is that it has a watery, almost milky consistency. It doesn't feel at all like your typical serum; it seems more like an emulsion, or liquidy moisturizer. I could smooth it all over my face, even onto my eye area, and it did not sting or leave my face feeling sticky at all. Since I like to apply products generously, I used one pump for each cheek, one for my T-zone, and two on my neck after cleansing and toning. After application, my skin felt instantly softer, hydrated, and silkier. It also seemed to help retain moisture in my skin, firming it slightly. After applying the serum, I added my regular moisturizer on top, as well as my regular sunscreen if I would be heading out.

Since this serum feels like an emulsion, it is great for a variety of skin types. Oily or combination skin will benefit from this because it is such a light yet potent moisturizer. It is also great for dry skin because it speeds the healing process.

Since I have young skin, I can't speak to whether this product works on existing wrinkles. I believe it is more of a preventative product which will increase the efficacy of the other products in the Abyssine line. If you already use and love Abyssine products, I would recommend applying this serum under the Abyssine creams.

One thing that might deter some people from purchasing this product is the plastic packaging. All of the Estee Lauder serums I've used thus far are packaged with glass, to preserve the quality of the product. But this is only a minor flaw. Fortunately, the bottle has a pump to prevent contamination.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 6

My skin is slowly getting better after its horrific bout with MAC Prep + Prime SPF 50. The pores on my nose have actually gotten smaller and the whiteheads/blackheads are slowly disappearing, though I haven't used any peeling products.

However, my forehead is still dotted with some residual acne and inflamed comedones. Also, the weird acne/rash on my cheek which has been there for maybe a month is still there... I don't know what to do about that. They look like pink bumps, so if they are indeed pimples, the infections are probably pretty deep. I usually extract the sebum from my pimples, but I have a feeling if I pick at these they will scar.

Not much of an update this week, but hopefully my skin will be back to normal soon. In the meantime, I will gladly take suggestions on remedies for that rash on my cheek. :-(

Did everyone have a nice holiday?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a rant

Today, I went to Nordstrom's to return a perfume. I stopped by the MAC counter because I wanted to see if they had any more Mineralize Skinfinishes in the shades I wanted left. When I asked the SA, "Hi, do you have any MSF's in So Ceylon, Petticoat, or Soft and Gentle right now?", she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

What the heck?? How on earth are you working at MAC if you don't even know what "MSF" is, or even what product those shades are for?!?!


MAC Prep and Prime SPF 50

Since I used up all of my Oil of Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion SPF 15 sunscreen in mid-November, I've been on the prowl for a new sunscreen. The Oil of Olay sunscreen was my sunscreen staple since 8th grade. My mom actually bought me my first bottle (one day, she just randomly handed it to me and told me to start using it everyday--surprising, since she never had the skincare fanaticism I have since acquired). Growing up in Southern California, you get tan REALLY quickly, especially if your school is entirely outdoors. My skin didn't start becoming paler until 10th grade, when I chose an indoor PE elective. I have since discovered that the paler my skin is, the better I look, because my undertones are pretty sallow (when I tan, I look like the Crayola crayon "Maize"). So, it's important for me to use sunscreen to maintain my complexion.

However, since I have combination skin (oily T-zone, dry-normal cheeks), it's always been a challenge to find a high SPF sunscreen that won't turn me into an oilslick within 2 hours. Thus, I was attracted to MAC's Prep and Prime SPF 50. I've always wished that some company would have the genius and foresight to invite a primer with high SPF, which would eliminate an extra step (and layer of product) for us sleepyheads in the morning. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this Prep and Prime was the primer with the highest SPF I could find. It contains 16.10% zinc oxide and 7.50% octinoxate, along with oil absorbing powders, and the box indicates it's made in Japan, which is supposed to be on the cutting edge of sun care technology. Plus, everyone who tried it gave it rave reviews. I really could not find anything negative said about this product. So I thought I'd give it a try. But at $28.00 an ounce, compared to my $8-9 Oil of Olay (which was about 3.4 oz), it is appallingly more expensive. A third of the amount for three times the cost? You do the math.

The texture is hard to describe, but I'll do my best. It's white and super creamy--when I say "creamy," I don't mean it feels creamy like a normal face cream or lotion because it does have that sunblock texture. If you've ever used Coppertone Water Babies, for example, or Neutrogena Dry Touch Sunscreen, the MAC consistency has a similar "greasiness" that's creamy at the same time. I probably squeezed out a pea sized amount for each section of my face--one on each cheek, one for my forehead, one for my chin and upper lip, one for my nose and eyes. Strangely enough, when I was rubbing it into my skin, the creamy consistency disappeared fairly quickly, as if the heat was melting the prep and prime into a "greasy" coating on my face, which felt like silicon. What I didn't like was that I felt like I was just pushing silicon around on my skin, rather than smoothing on a lotion. Thus, I couldn't tell if the SPF was being evenly distributed. However, the sunblock dried to a matte finish after I let it sink into my skin for maybe 10 minutes. (which means you have to wait awhile before applying makeup.) Also, I thought my skin had a soft focus glow to it, which I liked. I've read that the primer has light reflecting properties, so this is probably what gave my face that matte glow.

Well, aside from the nice matte finish, I didn't like this sunscreen because it completely broke me out! When I started this blog, I had horrible skin. On a scale of 1 - 10, with 1 being flawless skin and 10 being skin with pitted acne, maybe I ranked a 5 or 6? I didn't have moderate to severe acne, but I could not get rid of the comedones on my T-zone. Also, my nose pores were so huge, they looked like craters. I couldn't even remove the sebum in my nose pores with nose strips because the sebum was too large for the strips to pull out. So I would also use a blemish extractor to force out the sebum plugs on my T-zone, and inadvertently create scabs or scars in the process, which no amount of makeup could hide. It was really gross.

After making some changes to my skin routine a couple months ago, I was amazed to see how much my skin was improving. My comedones disappeared, my pores shrank, and I wasn't breaking out anymore. Then, I started using MAC Prep + Prime shortly before Thanksgiving (sometime between November 22nd--24th maybe?). By December 2nd (when I wrote my Clarisonic 3rd week update), I felt like this sunscreen had completely reversed all the improvement my skin had made. After using this sunscreen, I started breaking out a little on my forehead, then these pimples I've had on my cheek for awhile became inflamed again, then I started getting clogged pores on my upper lip too. By the third week of usage, my skin was a minefield of clogged pores and comedones.

I was still a bit in denial. I wasn't really sure if the Prep and Prime was to blame, or if it was my new MUFE HD Powder, since they're both full of silicon/silica. So I stopped using the HD Powder, but nothing really happened. I then thought maybe the Clarisonic wasn't cleansing properly, so I washed it out completely and continued to use the MAC Prep and Prime for the next two days. My skin got a tad better, but I was still getting newly formed comedones on my forehead. When I flew home on Tuesday, I didn't put on any sunscreen (mostly because I didn't have time...I do not advise being in an aircraft without sun protection since everyone around you keeps the windows open). I also didn't use it for the the next few days that I was at home (and indoors); as a result, nearly all my comedones started clearing up within only 2 days. However I can also see that it's going to take a while for my skin to get back to normal, because as the comedones go away, I'm left with these blemish scars.

Another thing to watch out for is, if you have normal to dry skin, this sunscreen might also be too drying for you. Though I applied a thin layer of my regular moisturizer underneath the prep and prime, at the end of the day, my cheeks and chin felt uncomfortably dehydrated. It also didn't prevent my T-zone's oiliness, because I still needed to blot. So in the end, this product didn't work on my oily T-zone or my dry/normal cheeks.

The Clarisonic is supposed to be able to remove up to 6 times more makeup than normal cleansing, so I highly doubt that there was still SPF on my skin after I washed my face everyday. I was going to experiment and add another cleansing step, DHC Cleansing Oil, to see if it would solve the problem. However I'm too lazy and scarred (literally) from this experience to put myself through something again that just does not work for me.

Here's the ingredients list. I see a lot of silicon:

Water, cyclopentasloxane, butylene glycol, peg-7 dimehicone, cyclohexasiloxane, dimethecone, phenyl trimethicone, vinyl dimethicone/methcone, silsequioxane crosspolymer, methyl gluceth-10, glycerin, dimethicone/ vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, caffeine, tocepherol, sucrose, stearyl glycrrhetinate, cellulose acteate, glycyrrhetinate, cellulose acetate, methicone, PEG/PPG-19/19 Dimethicone, magnesium sulfate, silicia dimethyl silylate, silica, sorbic acid, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin

It's unfortunate that even though I exfoliate more than the typical person, I still broke out. I mean, I use the Clarisonic and the Clinique Turnaround...the pinnacle of cleansing and exfoliation. What more can I really do?
So, this post is really a counter to all those rave reviews out there. This product did seem to work for everyone else, so I'm not discouraging you from buying it. Just know that it has the potential to aggravate your skin. If you go to a MAC counter, ask for a sample, and test it on a small portion of your face for at least a week before committing to buy it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 5 (with a brief care guide)

If you've read up about or own a Clarisonic, you know already that the brush head is supposed to be discarded every 90-120 days. But with a brush head going for $25 each, that can get really expensive.

Also, if you read my previous post last week on the Clarisonic, you remember I was freaking out with the new breakouts on my forehead. Two days after I wrote the post, I felt that my Clarisonic seemed to be oscillating slower than usual...and it wasn't lathering my face wash very well. My face still felt waxy from moisturizer residue after I had cleansed it for the full minute.

So what the heck was going on? I was already pretty mad that I had broken out. I bought the Clarisonic with the intention of NOT having to deal with breakouts, especially during finals period (when everyone's personal hygiene routines get a little lazy, though I'd stuck to my face regimen). And now not only was I breaking out, but also the Clarisonic was malfunctioning? What bs!

Well, I speculated that perhaps the Clarisonic brush head was just dirty. After all, I'd been putting it twice daily on my face to slough off all the heavy moisturizer and SPF and makeup I wear. I even used it on my neck and decollete a couple times. Maybe the brush head was just clogged with all that gunk? After all, the only cleaning I'd done for the brush head was rinsing it with steaming hot water after I wash my face.

So, I filled a bowl with liquid detergent and water, and I left my brush head in there for 12-15 hours. When I got back home (after working on my papers in the campus center), I took it out of the bowl and rinsed it off with steaming hot water. I was ready to wash my face. And guess what? This trick COMPLETELY worked. As soon as I put the Clarisonic to my face, I could feel it oscillating ten times better than it had that morning. It felt just like how it had first felt on my face when I used it for the first time...a little scratchy, but still gentle. The next day when I woke up, my skin also looked a lot more glowy, and my blemishes had reduced in size.

It's been three days since I've been using my newly cleaned, Clarisonic brush head...and my blemishes are truly continuing to decrease in size. My comedones have disappeared! YAY!

So if you guys own a Clarisonic...I'm telling you to soak your brush heads in laundry detergent water once a week! From my own experiences, liquid detergent water works best to cleanse anything because it is gentle, but it still effectively and automatically lifts away debris, stains, and oils as the object soaks so you don't even have to scrub or massage the bristles. I'm not sure if this will help extend the life of the brush head past 90-120 days, but it will definitely maximize your Clarisonic experience. I'm honestly amazed that the folks at Sonicare/Clarisonic haven't addressed brush head cleansing, or come out with some brush cleanser to sucker people's wallets.

If you're unsure of how much liquid detergent to use...I suppose a good analogy is two tablespoons per 2 cups of water. You should put the detergent into your bowl first, and then pour really hot water on top of it to create foam and bubbles. If you drop the brush head in that mixture right after you wash your face in the morning, go to work or school, and then take it out at night right before you wash your face and go to sleep, that should be plenty of time for it to soak.

I wish I had the foresight to clean my brush head like this earlier, because now I'm wondering whether any of my skin care products absorbed into my skin under all that product still on my face...
So now that my Clarisonic issue is somewhat resolved, I'm going to try to figure out what exactly is causing me to break out.. it's funny how the products I'm using right now work for everyone else, but somehow not me. I'm pretty certain it was the MAC Prep + Prime SPF 50 now. I stopped using it for 2 days and now my skin is almost back to the way it was before. Maybe I just didn't wash it off properly at night? I'll give it one more shot and use better cleansers...and we'll see how that works out in my next review.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

utter craziness

I came home today, but I nearly overslept for my flight. Because of my stupidity, I didn't get any packing done and had to frantically stuff things into my suitcases within 30 minutes. I don't know if any of you have ever packed for 5 weeks in 30 minutes, but that sucked. I almost thought I forgot my Clarisonic charger at school, and was about to have a panic attack. I did forget a couple other things, though...I didn't pack enough clothes, so now I'll have to come up with clever outfits with my old clothes I've outgrown. Or buy new ones :P

I have 6 more papers to write by Friday. *sob*

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 4

Since last week's update, my forehead has completely broken out in little bumps like it did all the time before I started using Estee Lauder Idealist.

This may be caused by a few things:

1. MAC Prep + Prime SPF 50?
2. Makeup For Ever HD Finishing Powder?

I also haven't mentioned yet that I stopped using Idealist when I started using the Clarisonic. I switched to Clinique Turnaround Concentrate, which is supposed to be comparable. Now I doubt Turnaround and the Clarisonic are causing me to break out, since the clogged pores/bumps started appearing after I began using the MAC sunscreen and MUFE finishing powder. I probably aggravated my pores by covering them up with Skinfood Mushroom BB cream.

I am still trying to figure out what broke out my skin. But what have I learned? THE CLARISONIC DOES NOT PREVENT BREAKOUTS!

That being said, I've decided to take the Clarisonic back to Sephora next month. I'm disappointed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Vickery & Clarke Lip Balm

It started snowing today...first powder of the year! (Un)fortunately, the snow was so light that only parts of the ground were covered. I'm still waiting on that blizzard-like snow which covers everything in soft white cream...not looking forward to the part where the snow freezes into dirty ice chunks, though.

I went to Whole Foods today to pick up some nutritious munchies to get me through this last week of finals before I go home (and continue working on papers, gah). I bought 100% cranberry juice, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries :) I'm planning on eating the berries for breakfast every morning, and drinking tons of cranberry-water and green tea. I'll let you guys know if this helps keep my skin healthy and radiant despite lack of sleep. Hopefully this will keep me from getting sick as well!

Anyway, as I was walking around in the snow today, all I could think about was whether the cold, windy air was drying out my skin...plus, my lips were so dry because I forgot my lip balm. I'm ALWAYS misplacing it...so when I dashed into CVS, I made a beeline for the cosmetics aisle.

I'm not picky about lip products, and I'll use just about anything, but I tend to prefer colorless lip balms or chap stick because I don't like putting pigment on my lips. When I was little, I used to think that wearing lipstick was awesome and I freely wore it out of the house (yes, I was obsessed with makeup as a little girl). To my chagrin, the grown-up-me came across these photos of myself in the 5th grade and my lips were painted BRIGHT ORANGE (this is when I had very tan skin, mind you) and I'm standing next to my bare faced, lipstick-less classmates. The only person in the picture who's wearing lip color besides me is my 40 something year old teacher. So embarrassing! I can't believe my parents didn't notice my vanity and force me to scrub my face before letting me out of the house. I hope no one else has photos of me from that time in my life. If they do, I hope they don't recognize me .. I think I've changed quite a bit anyway.....haha.

Since I tend to lay off the lipstick / lipgloss, the only colored balms I've kept around me are Cherry Chapstick and Smith's Rosebud Salve. Out of the two, I really like the Rosebud Salve. Whether or not I like a lip balm depends on 1) its oiliness, 2) its scent, and 3) how long it lasts. Cherry Chapstick is a little too waxy feeling. Rosebud Salve has an oilier texture, but isn't heavy. Plus, the scent is nice.

When I walked towards the CVS skincare aisle, there was a cardboard display for Vickery & Clarke products. I was fairly intrigued because the products are nearly all natural. There was a variety of face and body products to choose from...at cheap prices, too. But I didn't want to buy anything since I have a plethora of products to test and finish at home...so I just got the Intensive Moisture Lip Balm and the Intensive Lip Treatment.

Vickery & Clarke's Intensive Moisture Lip Balm has a very similar consistency to the Rosebud Salve, but comes packaged in a chapstick form. Its ingredients are:

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Natural Flavor, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Powder, Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

Why I love this lip balm (though I've only used it for 3 hours):

1) The minimalist packaging. Not conspicuous at all.
2) It feels like my Rosebud Salve--not too heavy, but still sufficiently moisturizing.
3) It smells like chocolate.
4) The awesome ingredients. Rarely do you have a chap stick that contains good ingredients without compromising the quality and texture.
5) It's 94% natural.

I don't have a photo for the Intensive Lip Treatment, which is 95.75% natural, but I can list the ingredients:

Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Arnica Cordifolia (Arnica) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Lecithin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Flavor, Dimethicone, Methyl Glucose Sesquisteareate, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA.

I nearly went blind from typing this up. The ingredients are printed on an extremely tiny tube!

The Intensive Lip Treatment comes in a milky liquid form. It is very watery and I would liken it to a serum. I apply it to my lips first, and then apply the lip balm on top to seal in the treatment (just as how you would apply lotion over a serum on your face). The treatment smells like mint, and the the balm smells like chocolate, so it's as if I'm indulging in mint chocolate ice cream, minus the calories!

Vickery & Clarke is exclusively sold through CVS. Eventually, when I finish all my other face products, I plan on going back for their Anti-Oxidant Face Serum and Hand Cream with Shea Butter.

I'll update on these lippies around the end of the month, when I'm not so swamped. I really need to stop procrastinating....sigh.


Oh my gosh....how hot is Britney Spears in the new Circus video? I love this song and I'm so excited for her comeback! Yay!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2008

OK, I couldn't keep away from here for too long, but I just had to write this entry. While procrastinating, I was completely blown away by the makeup and fashion at this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. This is definitely my favorite they've done so far.

Some highlights (click to enlarge!):

Channeling Artemis and Athena - soft, whimsical girlie pieces mixed with tough leather straps and Grecian buckles.

Selita Ebanks was on FIRE! Quite possibly the hottest Angel of the night.

Romantic black lace in a steely gray ensemble.

Adorable Miranda Kerr. If Selita was the sex kitten, Miranda was the sweetheart.

The PINK line was very cute, with a lot of sassiness.

LOVE the roses woven into the wood corset and mini hoopskirt, and the sparkly spiderweb wings! Gorgeous. The wings this year were truly works of art--another was composed of tiny fluttering butterflies! Unfortunately, I couldn't find a photo.

Haute couture ruffles mimicking peonies, continuing the flower motif.

If you missed the show, you can still watch it online here.
Definitely check it out! Not sure if you can watch it outside of the US though...

Makeup wise, this year's look was very minimalistic and angelic looking--just what I like. You could definitely wear this look to the office, to school--any daytime function--and look great. My break down is as follows:

1. Nude, shimmery eyes. Light golds, taupe, champagne, and even olives were used all over eyelids and brought dramatically into the tear ducts and under half of the lower lashline for an innocent, doe eyed look. Eyes were tightlined with dark brown liner, slightly winged out at the ends, finished by a couple coats of mascara.
2. Contoured and highlighted cheeks. If any bronzer was applied, it was definitely applied with a light hand under the cheekbones, at the temples, along the bridge of the nose, and around the chin. The emphasis was on highlighting the cheeks--again, champagne and warm frosty colors were exaggerated at the upper halves of the cheeks right up to under the temples. The cheeks were topped off with a peachy pink blush at the apples.
3. Peachy pink lips. To match the cheeks, peach and pink lipcolor was applied. To recreate the look, I'd apply lipstick or lipliner, before topping it off with gloss. You can mix and match the peach and pink however best for your skintone. A peach base with pink gloss would probably work for cool tones, and a pink base with peach gloss would probably work for warm tones.

I wish I had time to experiment with this look right now, but I have to get back to work!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 3

Nothing has really changed from the second week. The brush is continuing to help remove all my makeup and sunblock from my face at the end of the day. My pores are much smaller, but that is largely in thanks to Estee Lauder's Idealist, which I was using before I started using the Clarisonic. One thing that is upsetting me is that I still have clogged pores and blackheads on my nose. I expected the Clarisonic to be able to purge my pores completely, but when I look in the mirror, I can still clearly see that they are not clear. So I suppose there's a limit to how much cleansing can achieve.

However, the Clarisonic did provide a good foundation for some serious pore cleansing I did the other day. After washing my face, I put on a Biore nose strip while my face was still wet to see how much gunk I could get out of my pores. Nose strips haven't always worked that well for me. The advertisements always show a ton of gunk on the strip after the model takes it off. For me, it's usually only a couple blackheads, whiteheads or sebum plugs that came out, so it's never gratifying or reassuring. But this time when I took off the strip, there was A TON of sebum stuck to it. So, what I gather from this experience is that 1) exfoliating is key to clearing out your pores, and 2) the Clarisonic isn't a "miracle worker," just a helpful assistant--if I want great skin, I still have to do all the steps I normally do.

On a side note, I want to point out you should never dry your skin after you wash and exfoliate if you're going to put on a peel off mask or pore strip. When you wash your face, the warm water loosens all the dirt and sebum, and if it hasn't come off your face completely, you're just going to pat it right back into the pores when you pat your face dry. So before you wash your face, have all your other peeling products ready, so when you're done, you can put them on while your face is still soaking wet for the best result.

Anyway, back to the Clarisonic. I'm not convinced I should keep it. Yes, my skin is looking great, but I do still have clogged pores, and I am still getting pimples (though nothing too serious). Kind of disappointing when I expected all my skin problems to magically go away after using it. I might keep the Clarisonic for a second month, actually, since I did purchase it from Sephora which has the 60 day money back guarantee. If I don't have the "flawless glowing skin" that everyone else claims to have by then, I'll be taking it back for a refund. If that happens, the good news for you guys is I'll probably come up with exfoliating reviews to see if I can maintain the Clarisonic's results. I've read on a couple blogs that some people didn't notice the difference the Clarisonic made until they stopped using it. So..we'll see. If my skin deteriorates after I return it, despite my exfoliating, I'll just have to buy it again.

I'm going to temporarily refrain from my regular reviewing so I can focus on my finals. However, I will continue to blog about the Clarisonic, since I want to keep giving weekly updates, and I'm sure I'll need a break from writing papers anyway. Some skincare things I'm planning on reviewing eventually are: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion & Gel, Clinique Turnaround Concentrate Visible Skin Renewer, Kiehl's Abyssine Serum, and MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect SPF 50. I'm also thinking of purchasing more Japanese mascaras (the only kind which seem to work for me). I really want to try Majolica Majorca; does anyone have good recommendations?

Wish me luck for getting through the next couple of weeks! If you're taking finals also, good luck to you too!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Splurge...or Save? The Minimalist's Guide to Makeup

One of the troubles I have as a college student is budgeting my bank account. I've noticed that throughout the years, my tastes have become more and more high end...and I spend more and more. I remember in high school, I was excited when I bought my first powder compact--CoverGirl. Four years later, I wouldn't even consider putting that on my face.

Here's just an entry about what I've learned to splurge on, and what I skip instead. These may or may not work for you, but I find it's helpful to sort out priorities so you're not in the red everytime you pay your bills.

Splurge: Foundation, powder, concealer.
Flawless skin is the foundation to good makeup. You don't want to put things on your skin that aggravate your skin problems even more, so you'll end up wasting more money on skincare and makeup. Keep testing products until you find a brand that works for you. Don't be afraid to ask makeup counters for samples before you buy. What I've started to do is bring little sample jars with me to the makeup counters in department stores and squeeze the product in there for myself, so I have a decent amount of time to test it to see if it breaks me out, really works, etc. There's no way you can figure out if a foundation is right for you by just trying it once. Give it time.
However, do note that expensive does not always equal better. For example, I've heard that Everyday Minerals foundation works better than Bare Escentuals.

Save: Blush.
I've tried both high end blush and drugstore blush. Blush is an integral part of my makeup routine; without it I look sickly. Since it's something I use everyday, you might think that it should be a product to invest in. But no, unless you're a mime or stage performer, there is no need to buy expensive blush. Sure, the quality will differ, but quality isn't necessary when all you need is a tint of color on your cheeks.

Spluge: Brushes.
With makeup brushes, I started at the very low end--e.l.f., and missha (Korean brand). When I tried higher end brushes, there was a huge difference in the application comfort and result. Like with artists and paintings, your face will only be as good as the tools you use. So test out brushes before you buy them. Do your eyeshadow brushes have "resistance?" How dense are the hairs? With your face brushes, do they hurt/poke your skin when you put them on your face? How soft are they? Generally, MAC makes very good brushes, but they are expensive. I would say the basic brushes everyone should have are: a kabuki or flat buffer brush, an eyeshadow brush, an angle brush, a blush brush, and a concealer brush (which can also double as a lip brush).

Save: Q-tips, spoolies, sponges, cotton pads.
You see these all the time at makeup counters (not that they keep the testers sanitary). I gleefully help myself to them every time I visit a store, and stash them in my makeup bag. I use the spoolie for combing my false eyelashes and brushing out my eyebrows after defining them. The sponges are great for applying foundation--you can throw them away frequently and not feel guilty because they were free. As for Q-tips and cotton pads, they cost next to nothing, and they're some of the most effective makeup tools.

Splurge: Mascara.
I haven't had much luck with drugstore mascaras. The Maybelline Great Lash so many people swear by just smears everywhere on me. Waterproof mascaras smear on me. It took me forever to find a mascara I was satisfied with.
You can start at the drugstore with your mascara search, but whether you'll find your mascara there really just depends on your genetics. Do you have naturally long and full lashes? If so, you might not even have to splurge on mascara. Is your skin type normal or dry? If so, the drugstore brand might work for you. However, I would be open minded about buying more expensive mascara. Sephora has a 60 day money back guarantee on products even if you've used them. So take advantage of that to really find something that works for you.
Gals who find the drugstore brand works for them should definitely stick to them. Mascaras are one of those expendable products you're supposed to toss every 3 months, so if you don't need a pricey brand, there's no reason to get one.

Save: Eyeshadow.
If you're a minimalist like me, you probably don't wear eyeshadow very often anyway. But sometimes, I want a pop of bright color, or some contouring to define and deepen my eyes. Drugstore eyeshadows work just fine for this. My favorite brand is L'Oreal HIP eyeshadow; in my opinion, they're the most comparable with MAC in terms of pigmentation and quality. Also, NYX is good and offers a lot of color varieties. Don't get me wrong--the high end brands tend to work better. However, HIP and NYX will do, since eyeshadows tend to be one of those products you collect to get a wide range of colors.

Splurge: Eyeliner.
Eyeliner is a lot like mascara--whether a brand will work for you and not someone else depends on your genetics. If you have oily skin or watery eyes, I would splurge on an eyeliner that won't smear or run. If you don't have this problem, there are plenty of eyeliners that are cheap, yet go on very creamily. Wet'n'Wild and NYX are some examples.

Save: Lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm.
I'm not a fan of wearing lip stick or lip gloss. Lip products are not long wearing, and they require a lot of maintenance--constant reapplying. Also, they tend to be the products we lose the most. So, why pay $20 on that lipstick, if you can get a dupe at the drugstore?

Splurge: Fragrance.
Ever walk by someone who smells like "old lady," or just really cheap perfume/cologne? I am very sensitive to smell, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's unpleasant odor. It gives me a headache, or a violent sneezing attack. So do yourself and those around you a favor, and don't scrimp on the perfume. Keep testing different brands until you find one that you like, and works with your skin chemistry. It is incredible how a good scent can directly uplift your mood (not to mention how many people will compliment you on how wonderful you smell).

Save: Eyebrow powder/eyebrow liner.
There's no need to go out and buy expensive eyebrow mascaras, powders, or pencils. You can easily find a color that works for you at the drugstore. I've used Wet'n'Wild pencils for years and they work great. Look for a shade that works for you, and you're set. When it comes to your eyebrows, you simply need to apply color sparingly, and always remember to use a spoolie to distribute the product so it looks natural. Brush the eyebrows in place with clear mascara (I use Maybelline) and clean up any excess with a q-tip if necessary.

I will do another one of these entries later on skin and body care. Happy December, everyone! Christmas is coming...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 2

I'm on week two of using the Clarisonic! I actually don't see dramatic improvement in my skin from the first week. Like I speculated, my skin might have plateaued. I might even be nearing "that" time of the month since I got two little pink/red pimples on my forehead, which means that the Clarisonic can only treat your skin from the outside, but you still have to take care of your health for great skin. Aside from those two zits and a clogged pore on my nose I can't get rid of, my skin is just fine.

My skin is continuing to absorb whatever I apply on it very well. As we're getting into winter, I've had to change my moisturizer since my skin was becoming very dry. If I wash my face with the Clarisonic and I don't tone and moisturize immediately, my skin does feel a bit tight. However, the Clarisonic is not hurting my face anymore, which is a good thing. I usually repeat moving it over my forehead, t-zone, nose, upper lip, and chin, but not on my cheeks. I still have it set on the one minute setting. I wasn't able to use it last night or this morning, though, since the charge ran out, so right now I'm letting it sit in the cradle for a full 24 hours to see if that improves the battery life. Last time, when I charged it for about 5 hours, the charge only lasted about 5 days. I've never had a product that has required this much time to charge (I get annoyed waiting for my camera, phone, or ipod to finish charging, and that typically takes 3 hours) so this is something Clarisonic should probably think about fixing.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the states!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kiehl's Friends and Family Sale

From now until December 1st 11:59 EDT, get 20% off your purchase at Kiehls.com by entering FAMILY at checkout. Make sure you select the 3 free samples at checkout with your order.

You can also print out the below picture and bring it to the store for the discount. Click on it to maximize.

I've actually never really used any of Kiehl's products, but I started using the Abyssine Serum about two to one and a half months ago. I will do a full review once I've had more time to evaluate whether it really works. I tried looking up reviews for this online but all I found were reviews on the Abyssine Cream or Abyssine Eye Cream...meh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shu Uemura Friends and Family Sale

Get 20% off and free shipping at shuuemura.com by entering SHUFRIENDS at checkout. Don't forget to register as a member; they will pack you free samples.

I'm totally buying the Luxe false eyelashes. I was so upset when they sold out during Sephora's friends and family! Normally, I wear Ardell or e.l.f. false eyelashes, since they're so cheap. I'm getting the hang of wearing them frequently...they aren't so hard to apply.

Shu Uemura is the leader when it comes to false eyelashes...if you have the money, definitely get their lashes.

Look at how beautiful they are...

The Viktor and Rolf collaboration lashes are packaged so gorgeously in a white box, on top of a white mask. This collection came out ages ago, but I'm still salivating over them.

The Holiday Collection has some cute lashes too. My favorites are the slant purple lashes and the mini red lashes.

Conversely, if you're looking for a good false eyelash glue, I highly recommend Shu Uemura's. It costs $8.50 for a tube, but this is the best glue I have ever used. I tried DUO, the brand every one else raves about, but it simply did not work for me.

Another product I really like is the mini eyelash curler. At $17, it costs only $2 less than the regular curler. This curler might not work for everyone, but it really helps me reach every single lash.

Have fun shopping!

Clinique Brush On Cream Liner

If you've been following my posts, I recently purchased the Clinique Brush On Cream Liner in true black during their October bonus time. The liner claims to be long wearing and water proof. I've been wanting a black cream liner for a very, very long time. I have very oily lids, so it's hard for me to find the right eyeliner. My eyemakeup will always smear under my eyes. I think my upper eyelids must overlap onto my face when I blink or something, since this is such a problem. This is why it's taken me so long to purchase a product that is probably very basic for all the rest of you out there.

I know there are a lot of other popular cream liners on the market. Make Up For Ever's Creamliner is $20 for 0.14 oz. MACs Fluidline is 0.1 oz and costs $15.00. The Clinique brush on cream liner is $14.50 for 0.17 oz. So, the Clinique jar has slightly more product than both of these products, and you get slightly more bang for your buck. It comes in a light, plastic jar, so you don't have to worry about dropping and breaking it. (I dislike Fluidline because the jar is so heavy!) It also comes with a cute tiny flat eye liner brush, but I haven't used it. The bristles are natural hair, which in my experience, doesn't work very well with gel or cream product. The brush will probably work on those of you with larger eye folds or creases; I have very small creases so I need a thin, stiffer brush for the job. I apply this with my super fine eyeliner brush from Coastal Scents. By the way, at $1.99, this brush is an absolute steal! I can never get the hang of liquid eyeliner, but this brush makes it easy for me.

I've been using this eyeliner pretty much every day along with my Urban Decay Primer Potion, and it's absolutely wonderful. I'm amazed with how smoothly it goes onto my eyelids--no tugging at all. And you can really ply the product onto the brush and not have to worry about it smearing coz you've caked too much on your skin. If you end up with a clump on your lid, it's easily smoothed over or blended with a q-tip or your brush. If I apply my eyeshadow primer to the back of my hand, then swipe this eyeliner on top, and then place my other hand or fingers on top, it stays completely in place! Not only is this eyeliner smudge resistant, but it's also extremely long lasting. I could wear it for 24 hour and it will still be in place. Overall, I'm very impressed and so glad I bought the product.

I did use this on my lower water line, and it lasted just fine. However, I wouldn't recommend it for the upper eyelid waterline...when I tried that it smeared under my eyes. Then again, as I've said, my eyes are strangely built so that may not happen to you. Make sure you test it.

As for removal, the eyeliner washes off pretty easily with liquid soap. However, if you have sensitive eyes, I'd recommend using makeup remover or cleansing oil first, and then washing your face.

Some people have even claimed to use this eyeliner as an eyeshadow base! I haven't tried that myself, but I might do that...I have a black eyeshadow with silver glitters in it, I wonder if it could hold the glitters in place? I've always been frustrated about the glitters not showing up!

I will be back next week with more updates...stay tuned.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Clarisonic Skin Care Brush - Week 1

I couldn't wait to open my box from Sephora and start using my Clarisonic brush! Everyone who used it raved about how their skin started glowing and they were receiving tons of compliments. I wanted nothing less than the best so I decided to give the Clarisonic a shot. My skin was already improving before using the Clarisonic because I was cleansing, toning, and using Estee Lauder Idealist daily. I wasn't sure my skin could improve any further, so if I didn't achieve fantastic results like everyone else you bet I'd make use of the 30 day money back guarantee.

From the little brochure that came with my Clarisonic:

"The Clarisonic sonic technology works with the natural elasticity of your skin to provide deep, thorough, gentle daily cleansing of the skin. Cleansing is the foundation of a complete skin care ritual. Oscillating back and forth at a sonic frequency that produces 300 movements per second, a flexing action is created between the outer and inner brushes that works deep within the pores to loosen dirt and oil. The brush motion effectively cleans, clarifies, and stimulates, resulting in smoother feeling and looking skin, allowing your serums and moisturizers to absorb better. Skin is left soft and pampered without harsh abrasion or chemicals. Clarisonic reduces dry skin patches, oily areas, and blemishes and removes six times more makeup. Pore size, fine lines, and wrinkles appear smaller."

The Clarisonic also claims to remove 6 times as much makeup than regular cleansing, and is 2 times as effective as regular cleansing. I never really thought that makeup particles might be still sticking to my skin after using my Clinique Liquid Facial Soap and toning, but apparently they were. Cleansing sounds like such a basic step in taking care of your skin that we don't think much about it, and dwell on purchasing things like serums and masks instead. In reality, if we don't cleanse our skin thoroughly, whatever we apply on top doesn't fully absorb into our skin, and we don't reap that product's benefits. So with the Clarisonic, there are two main objectives: 1) cleanse, exfoliate, and massage the skin thoroughly but gently, and 2) properly prep the skin for the subsequent steps in your skincare regimen.

The Clarisonic is supposed to be charged for a full 24 hrs prior to first use, but I missed that info in the little brochure since I wanted to just take it out and start using it immediately :P Plus, it's been my experience that chargeable items usually come partially or fully charged anyway, so I wanted to drain its power before recharging it fully (my dad always said that chargeabe things like your cell phone, ipod, camera, laptop, etc. should be completely or almost completely drained before recharging so you extend the battery cycle life. Batteries have a limited amount of rechargeable cycles).

The Clarisonic has only one grey button, which you use to turn it off as well as toggle between settings. There is a one minute and a two minute cleansing setting. I've only been using the one minute setting because truthfully, I haven't figured out how to get to the two minute one, haha. Honestly, the time setting isn't that important to me. For the two minute setting, the Clarisonic simply stays on an extra minute. For the one minute setting, you're supposed to wash your forehead for twenty seconds first. Then the Clarisonic will shudder and beep, and you move onto your cheeks for the next ten, then it will shudder and beep again, and you move onto your nose, shudder and beep, move onto your chin, and you're done. I don't really follow this, since I think those guidelines are the Clarisonic's "Guide to Dummies." I probably spend 20 seconds on my forehead, 10 on my cheeks, 20 on my nose and chin, and another 10 on my neck. Though my Clarisonic came with the "sensitive" head brush, I find a minute is plenty of time to cleanse for me. Like I mentioned previously, my skin changed from combination to normal, so I can't deal with too much exfoliating now. The first couple times using the Clarisonic was somewhat harsh; I spent too much time exfoliating my cheeks. So make sure no matter what your skin type is, you go easy on your skin, and not use the two minute setting out of sheer over eager excitement.

Some other possibly helpful tips...

- Use the Clarisonic in the shower. The steam will help open up your pores, and you'll get a much better cleanse.
- Remove your eye makeup first, especially if you use tubing mascaras. I didn't do this and learned the hard way--I had to pick out all those little tubes from my brush head. Also, if you wear waterproof makeup, it could stain the bristles, so be sure to remove that as well.
- Before using the Clarisonic, wash your hands with soap (you should always do this anyway, especially if you use traditional cleansing). Dampen the brush with hot water. I use liquidy facial soap (the Clinique and L'Oreal I mentioned in a previous post), and I squeeze a bit into the center of the brush. With my clean finger, I briskly rub the bristles to get a lather. Then, I splash warm water on my face a couple of times, put the Clarisonic against my skin, and turn it on. Supposedly you can also put your soap directly on your face instead, but I tried that and the brush wouldn't lather, so the brush actually hurt my skin. Try both and see what you prefer, but I believe putting your cleanser directly on the brush is best, you also use less product that way.
- You don't need to apply any pressure on the brush. Just lightly move it over your face, the bristles will do all the work. If you apply pressure, you'll actually prevent the bristles from oscillating effectively.
- After using the Clarisonic, I rinse it out with warm water first, then disinfect it with searing hot water. I blot the bristles against my towel and then leave it to dry. When I first started using it, the brush constantly had a gross bacterial smell when I was done with it. I poured a capful of rubbing alcohol onto the bristles after each use to try to get rid of it and disinfect the brush. My brush head doesn't smell anymore, so that's good.

OK, now on to the opinion stuff you've waited for.

I've been using the Clarisonic twice a day, every day. The first couple days, I didn't notice much of a positive change in my skin...in fact, my forehead started to get little comedone bumps again, and I had to use an extractor to get the sebum out. My forehead also got pretty dry at the same time. I did observe that the brush was cleansing extremely well, though. Out of curiosity, I tested the Clarisonic on my ribs in the shower. Normally, the skin on my rib cage will still have a film of dead cells or soap (I'm not actually entirely sure what it is) even after I wash with soap and a loofah. After running the Clarisonic over it, my skin was completely smooth and clean. I was tempted to use the Clarisonic all over my body!

I was a bit disappointed at first with the results on my face. All things skin require patience, though. :) By the 5th day of use, I definitely started to notice positive change. My skin was more even, taut, and starting to glow. By the 6th or 7th day, my cheeks regained a natural flush (this hasn't happened in a long time). I have no dry patches, pimples... my nose pores are all clear (I put on a peel off mask and no whiteheads or blackheads came out!). I am very happy so far.

Hopefully my skin doesn't plateau...I would like to see further improvement!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get Rihanna's Look - "Rehab"

I'm still working on my Clarisonic post, but I wanted to write a quick entry about Rihanna's new music video, "Rehab."

The video for this single just premiered on MTV. Rihanna is looking more gorgeous than ever!

(I don't know why uploading screen shots decreases their quality. You can check out the video here)

To get Rihanna's look, you will need to do the following steps:

If you have dark eyes, consider wearing light blue or green colored contacts. I like Freshlook and Acuvue.

1) Moisturize your face and cover any blemishes, redness, and under eye circles with concealer. Use a kabuki or flat bronzer brush to distribute mineral powder foundation evenly all over your face.
2) Using an angle brush, fill in your eyebrows with a matte eyeshadow or eyebrow powder two to three shades darker than your hair color.
3) Prime your eyelid with a cream colored eyeshadow base from the lash line to the brow bone. Then, with an eyeshadow brush, pat on a powder cream colored eyeshadow from the lash line also to the brow bone.
4) Everyone's eyes are shaped differently, so using your own eye shape as a guideline, find your crease, and sweep a shimmery golden brown eyeshadow directly onto your crease, extending it outwards past your eye in a V shape, but not past the ends of your eyebrows. Only shade slightly above and below your crease--do not extend the color to the lash line or the brow bone.
5) With a soft blending brush like the MAC 224, take a slightly darker brown powder eyeshadow this time and ONLY shade your crease. Do not shade above or below your crease. This will add depth to your eye.
6) Dip your eyeshadow brush into a shimmery nude powder eyeshadow, and lightly sweep this across your eyelid, from the lash line, but stopping before the brow bone.
7) Using a blending brush, blend the shades on your eyelids in a windshield wiper motion, so the colors look like a gradient, rather than 3 layers of color.
8) With black liquid eye liner, or an angled brush and black cream/gel eyeliner, line your upper eyelid as thinly as possible.
9) Dip a q-tip or pencil brush into the lighter shimmery brown eyeshadow you used on your crease, and line your lower lashline.
10) Line your waterline with a black kohl eye pencil, or cream/gel eyeliner.
11) Curl your eyelashes. Apply several coats of black mascara to top and bottom lashes, concentrating the mascara on the outer lashes.
Optional: If you have short eyelashes, consider applying false eyelashes. For a more subtle look, cut one of the eyelashes in half, and apply the halves to the outer ends of your eyes.
12) Apply bronzer or a peachy brown blush lightly along your cheekbone.
13) Lips: you can try a nude lip or a red lip like Rihanna here. For nude lips, prime your lips with balm, then line and fill them in with a nude lip pencil. Top with clear or nude colored gloss. For red lips, prime your lips with balm, and then line and fill in with a red lip pencil. Using a lip brush, carefully apply a matte red lipstick. Blot with a tissue or blotting paper, and then apply the lipstick with a lipbrush again. Finish with a sheer peach colored gloss in the center of your bottom lip.

I hope that was helpful!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Product Updates - Skinfood Mushroom Multicare BB Cream SPF 20, Estee Lauder Idealist Refinisher

Every so often, I will do a review on the products I've already reviewed before if there's been any changes. Since our skin can change with the seasons, or whatever products we use, this will help you make an informed decision.

- - -

Remember when I reviewed the Skinfood BB Creams awhile back?

If you read my entry, you'll remember I didn't like the Skinfood BB Cream at all. The color spheres didn't spread out on my skin...they sat on top of my dry patches, they creased and gathered in certain spots, and the product wouldn't mix very well with moisturizer. The bb cream just looked gross. I was ready to throw it out--but I didn't.

Well, as I've been taking care of my skin more lately--drinking tons of fluids, cleansing and toning properly, moisturizing, and using Estee Lauder's Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher, my oily/dry combination skin has improved so much! My skin is regulated and balanced now. My forehead and nose actually DON'T get oily after washing. For the first time, I can wear thicker moisturizers on my T-zone and chin! This is very exciting.

Well, now that my skin has improved, and my skin type has moved into the "normal" category, I started reaching for the Skinfood BB Cream again. And I must say, having good skin makes all the difference with how makeup will turn out. I've been applying the Skinfood bb cream around my nose and under my eyes to reduce darkness, on my chin, and I am not seeing the spheres settle or oxidize anywhere! And since my skin doesn't get oily anymore, the color stays in place all day.

So, once again, I have to rave about Estee Lauder's Idealist. If you have combination or oily skin, I highly recommend you try out this product. You might not like it at first--since it does have this sort of silicon/primer texture to it, your skin will feel slippery and oily to the touch after application. This just means that the product is doing its work, and penetrating your pores to get the oil out. If you experience this discomfort, I suggest you start by using this product as part of your night time skincare regimen. Wear it to sleep alone, and if you need more moisture, apply some cream on top. Make sure you cleanse and tone thoroughly so the Idealist can absorb better into your skin. If you see results, then you can work your way to also using it during the day under your makeup, so you maximize its efficacy. If you exfoliate your skin regularly, it's great to use this product, since it aids in improving skin texture and cell turnover by eliminating the dead skin.

As for the Skinfood Mushroom BB Cream, I would only recommend this to ladies who have normal or dry skin types. However, don't use it if you have flakey dry skin as it will cling to all your dry patches. As always, make sure to wear your regular sunscreen, primer, or both underneath to give the bb cream a smooth canvas. This way, your skin will look more natural and flawless.

I received the Clarisonic brush last Tuesday, so I'll be updating on that in a couple of days. I intend to give you readers weekly updates on that, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Japanese Cult Fashion - H&M collaborates with Comme des Garçons

I take a break from my reviewing to address the new H&M and Comme des Garçons collaboration.

Rei Kawakubo, renowned designer and brains behind the Japanese brand, has created a series of black and white, deconstructed outfits wearable to work or play.

Yesterday, the debut of the collaboration in Harajuku, Tokyo saw over 2,000 fashion forward shoppers stream into the new store. Many had camped outside the store as early as Wednesday in six hour shifts, braving rain and cold to purchase from Kawakubo's collection.

The collection will be available to US shoppers on November 13th. I was perusing the outfits on H&M's nifty little mannequin display. Definitely loving the frilled collared shirts, the deconstructed black jackets, the gothic lolita dress, and the oversized riding pants...I'll hopefully have time to stop at the Newbury store this weekend to check it out! Warning, though: customers are only allowed to purchase 2 per style per item, to prevent any greedies from clearing out the store's stock! :)

Speaking of collaborations, I'm so excited that Alexander McQueen will be launching a line at Target come spring. Eek! Time to start saving your pennies in that dusty piggy bank!

sources: H&M and WWD.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tubing Mascaras: Imju Fiberwig vs. Blinc Kiss Me, Clinique Lash Power, Estee Lauder Double Wear Zero Smudge Lengthening

ju Fiberwig has replaced Blinc Kiss Me as the top selling mascara in Japan. It advertises "paint on false eyelashes" to tout its lengthening effect. Like the typical fiber based mascaras on the market (think Magic Lash--Pursebuzz does a great review), Imju Fiberwig also contains fibers that attach to your lashes with each stroke. As a result, Fiberwig is like a fiber based primer and mascara in one.
In addition, Fiberwig promises to be water-oil-sweat resistant, and thereby, smudge proof. It is easily removed with warm water (no soap necessary, like with Clinique Lash Power). Much like Blinc Kiss Me, the mascara wraps around your lash to form tubes, rather than merely depositing pigment like most mascaras.

I've been using this mascara for about a month now.
As I pointed out in my Blinc Kiss Me mascara review, I have trouble finding mascara that doesn't smudge underneath my eyes. I hopped onto the fiber/tubing mascara band wagon with excitement. While Blinc definitely held up to its promise of not smudging, it wasn't perfect. The mascara clumped on my thin, sparse lashes, creating spikes. My lashes looked as they were stuck to each other in little sections. Thus, Blinc isn't dependable for perfectly separated, long lashes...it's a bit of a gamble every time use it, I reach for it hoping that it'll distribute evenly. Since the wand deposits too much product on my lashes, they also end up feeling hard and spiky. Not like this is a huge problem, since I don't go around touching my eyelashes, but this makes them actually harder to curl since they're weighed down with product (I have stick straight short lashes).

So, I was a bit skeptical trying the Imju Fiberwig. When I opened the tube, the first thing I noticed was how HUGE the brush was. It reminded me of Benefit's Badgal, which also has a huge, plump brush. The photo in the picture above doesn't really show you how dense the wand is. The wand itself looks denser because of all the fibers it picks up when you take it out of the tube. (I would take a photo, but my camera is broken...incase you're wondering why I haven't shown any pictures so far!)

Despite the big size of the brush, I was still able to get to the base of my eyelashes and brush the mascara very nicely from base to tip. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my lashes did not clump at all. If there was the slightest bit of excessive product, a couple more swipes of mascara and I was able to brush the clumps away. No matter how many coats of mascara I put on my lashes, this stuff NEVER got clumpy. I kept adding on many, many coats so the fibers would continue to lengthen my lashes. I didn't count, but I wouldn't be surprised if I applied about 2 0 coats. My lashes were always perfectly separated and defined. I also liked how they felt flexible to the touch, never brittle, after the mascara dried. My lashes are so straight that I have to curl them AFTER I apply mascara (I know this is a taboo, but my lashes do not curl otherwise). The Fiberwig held the curl, while Blinc did not.
Also, speaking of drying, this mascara dries very quickly...and I mean, like in 7 seconds. This is probably because it's more liquidy than Blinc, which is somewhat thicker. So, I apply this mascara to my lashes in sections, working on the inner corner and middle section until I ge t my desired length and thickness, and then the outer corner. You have to reapply the coats when the mascara is wet, just like with Blinc, or the mascara will not go on smoothly. The difference with Blinc is that Blinc takes a lot longer to dry. This was a source of frustration for me because I would blink when my Blinc wasn't dry yet, and have to wet a cotton swab to get the mascara off my under eyes. With Fiberwig, that doesn't happen, thankfully.

Like all the tubing mascaras, Imju Fiberwig came off with warm water and my r egular cleanser. I didn't have to rub my eyes with makeup remover. Also, the fibers in mascara didn't get in my eyes, nor did the mascara sting my eyes, so Fiberwig should be perfectly safe for contacts wearers. I've heard that Magic Lash can get messy with all the fibers, so definitely look to this mascara as an alternative. The fibers never flaked off or smudged onto my face either, so Fiberwig definitely has equally amazing staying power as Blinc.

OK, so you're thinking, there has to be something bad about it. Yes, my only complaint is that Fiberwig does not get your eyelashes anywhere near "false eyelash long." Maybe there's a trick to applying the mascara that I haven't discovered yet? I've resorted to rotating the mascara wand as I stroke it from base to tip--my own manual Spin Lash, haha--but the results are yet to be seen! Though I'm not terribly bothered by this since I never expected my lashes to magically morph into false lash length in the first place....but I'll keep trying and let you guys know later if I was successful.

Now, this mascara worked for me, but it might not work for you. My lashes are short, sparse, and stick straight. I have no idea how well this mascara would work on people who have full, lush lashes already. This mascara costs $22 at Sephora (the only place you can buy it in the US, perhaps Little Tokyo or K-town might carry them though? I've never looked there) and only comes in black. Definitely try Blinc and Fiberwig both at the store before you purchase if you can't decide. If anyone is interested, I could organize a Fiberwig haul from Asia at a lower cost and have it shipped to you. If I get enough emails or comments I'll look into it.

Now, there are two other alternatives that I know of, if you've tried both Blinc and Fiberwig. Clinique Lash Power Mascara uses similar tubing technology and vows to stay put for 24 hours without flaking, smearing, smudging, and removes with warm water. What attracted me to trying this mascara was the tiny little brush, which reminded me of Maybelline's Lash Discovery. I think Lash Discovery is discontinued now except in the waterproof version...which is unfortunate.

You can't really tell how tiny the brush is in the picture, but trust me, it's tiny!

Pursebuzz has a great video reviewing Clinique Lash Power Mascara, in which she shows you the comparison with Lash Discovery in the beginning. Though she highly recommends the product, I do not recommend it.
I tried this product twice--once at Nordstrom's, the second time at Macy's. The first time was around August 2008, the product worked great on me--no flaking, smudging, my lashes were defined and separated perfectly. I thought I was going to replace Blinc with the Clinique. The second time was around a month and a half ago, and this time, the mascara flaked all over my undereyes! There might have been a little smearing going on. I notice the reviews for this mascara are quite mixed, so again, try the mascara before you buy it. At $14.00 a pop, it is cheaper than all the other tubing mascaras, but don't make your decision based on price alone. Since I have oilier lids than most people, I can definitely attest to how effective a mascara's staying power is..and Lash Power just doesn't cut it.

Estee Lauder's Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara comes in second place for cheapest tubing/polymer mascara, at $19.50. In contrast to Clinique's Lash Power which claims 24 hour staying power, Zero Smudge claims it stays put for 15 hours. However, it also is only removable with warm water, so you do NOT remove it with eye makeup remover.

Like Clinique Lash Power, I only tried this mascara twice. It came in one of those free gifts with purchase--concealer on one end, and mascara on the other. The double ended feature compelled me to immediately stash it in my makeup bag--who doesn't love convenience? The first time I tried the mascara, I was wary because the wand was definitely bigger than Lash Power's, so I thought it might clump. However, it also didn't clump my lashes at all--it defined them perfectly and stayed on all day! The second time I used this mascara was when I stayed overnight at a friend's and was putting on my makeup the next morning. Later that day, when I looked in the mirror, I saw that the mascara had smeared underneath my eyes. I was extremely disappointed. So in terms of effectiveness and price, this mascara is the worst out of the three. Whereas the Clinique mascara merely FLAKED, this one actually SMEARED, which shows that something is amiss in its polymer formula. I do NOT recommend Estee Lauder's Double Wear Zero-Smudge mascara.

So ultimately, the only mascara that gets my complete stamp of approval is Imju Fiberwig Mascara. Blinc Kiss Me Mascara I also like, but not love. Fiberwig has made it into my list of holy grail makeup items and I will definitely repurchase it when I run out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What did everyone get?

Ahh, I am so broke!!!!! After reading so many rave reviews, I caved and bought the Clarisonic Skincare brush. Not sure if it works, but there's a 30 day money back guarantee, which I will definitely take advantage of. I was watching Becca's youtube videos (there are 4 of them), as well as Pursebuzz's review, which explained that the Clarisonic increases the efficacy of moisturizers and serums because it cleanses your skin much more thoroughly for better absorption. I'm excited, hope I get it soon!

Recent hauls:

Sephora (thank you Friends & Family discount!):
Clarisonic Skincare Brush
Clarisonic Normal Brush refill
Sephora complexion extractor with lance
Sephora double ended blemish extractor

Clinique (woo hoo free gift with purchase!):
Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
Cream Gel Liner in Black
All About Eyes

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out if there's anything else from Clinique I might want...since I want to grab Nordstrom's free gift. I'm thinking the Moisture Sheer Tint with SPF 15 in Fair...now that my skin is improving I can use less mineral makeup/bb cream!

No worries, I will review everything in due time...give me a couple weeks to a month to give you a honest, thorough review!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More discounts, free goodies

You know me...discount and coupon queen! As brands are gearing up for the holidays, there are TONS of discounts to be found. Here are the ones you should definitely watch out for:

Friends and Family 20% off any purchase November 6th-10th. Use coupon code FF2008 at checkout. Only one coupon code with purchase. Free shipping on purchases of $50 or more. Not valid in Canada.

Friends and Family 20% off any purchase November 5th-7th (Starts at 12:01 am and ends 11:59 pm). Click here. Free shipping on orders of $25 or more. Paypal users also get a 20% off, but the offer starts earlier (November 3rd at 12:01 am). Check your email for invitation or click here.

Clinique.com's bonus gift with purchase may have sold out, but you can still get a Clinique bonus gift from Nordstrom! From November 5th to November 23rd, receive a bag of:

  • Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser (1.7 oz.)
  • Zero Gravity Repairwear Lift Firming Cream (0.5 oz.)
  • Multi-Compact with Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo in Beach Plum
    and Soft-Pressed Powder Blusher in New Clover
  • Lash Doubling Mascara (0.14 oz.)
  • Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 in Bamboo Pink
  • Long Last Lipstick in Blush Coral
  • Silvery Lipstick Case
  • Elegant travel bag designed exclusively for Clinique by Trina Turk

For the first time ever: Trina Turk for Clinique. The chic fashion designer's favorite Clinique beauty essentials, in an exclusive cosmetics bag designed by Trina herself. Yours with any $25 Clinique purchase. A $65 value.

With your $75 beauty purchase, receive a beauty box filled with samples. Includes: Estée Lauder - Advanced Night Repair, Clinique - Liquid Facial Soap, Lancôme - High Resolution Eye Cream, Clarins - Super Restorative Tinted Moisturizer, Basic Research - NEW Strivectin Wrinkle Filler, Shiseido - Massage Card (Redeemable In-Store), Elizabeth Arden - Ceramide Gold Ultra Restorative Capsules, Ralph Lauren - NEW Notorious Fragrance, Calvin Klein Fragrances - NEW Secret Obsession, and Emporio Armani - NEW Diamonds for Men. Offer valid on select brands (Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, Clarins, Basic Research StriVectin, Shiseido, Elizabeth Arden, CK Secret Obsession Fragrance, Emporio Armani Diamonds Men Fragrance, Ralph Lauren Notorius Fragrance).

If you missed out on the Nordstrom's Estee Lauder bonus gift, try Bloomingdale's. Currently, with any purchase of $39.50 and up, you get to create your own gift as well. The only differences I see is that the lip gloss comes in a tube, the eyeshadow is in more of a square palette, the makeup is divided into "warm" or "cool" shades, and the cosmetic bag is much more chic :). Click here.

Get a free five piece gift with any $50.00 purchase. Hurry while supplies last!

Their friends and family event is also going on right now! 20% off if you enter HOLIDAYJOY at checkout. This offer is valid from Nov 6th to 12th.