Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer in Mood Light. Worst Primer that I’m Buying Again.

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This stuff is terrible and amazing in equal parts.  I got a small sample over a year ago and liked it so much that I bought the full-size tube to the tune of $44.00 for the ounce of product.  I got it home and started using it like my life depended on it, and that’s when I started to notice the problems that the sample size didn’t give me time to realize.

This stuff is genuinely amazing, and I have no clue how it works.  I don’t want to know.  I just know that it does, and that’s all I care about.  It not only blurs imperfections and pores, but it also plays with the way light hits your face.  When I use this, my entire face looks as though redness and hyperpigmentation are run through a filter.  On days when my skin lookes good and I didn’t feel like bothering with foundation, I’ve just put this on and walked out the door.  I’ve never used a primer that works like this one, and it’s unbelievable what it does to my face.  It really is like walking around with a filter on.

I get the same wear time from this that I get with Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which is to say that my makeup lasts twelve hours–at least.  Wear time isn’t a problem at all.

The only problem with this is that it is very drying.  This is the reason I’ve gone back and forth on whether to buy another full-size of this.  I mean it’s DRYING.  I can wear this every day in the summer when my skin produces a bit more oil, as I found out over the course of the last few months, but I absolutely cannot wear it daily in the winter.  I can get three days a week at best.  When I tried using it every day in the winter, my face became so dry and so tight that it was almost painful.  I have normal skin.  This isn’t usually a problem for me.  On the upside, this made the tube last longer, but should I really be spending $44.00 on something I can’t wear every single day?

The answer is a resounding yes.  I’m willing to deal with the failings of this so that I can enjoy the benefits of it on the days that I do wear it.  It’s one of the best primers that I’ve ever used, and if I could use it daily, it would easily beat out every other one I’ve ever tried including my favored Photo Finish.  What I’m not willing to do is pay full price for it.  I’m getting it in the VIB sale going on now.

If you’ve not tried this I beg you to seek out a sample, especially if you have oily skin.  You might actually be able to wear it every day.  It comes in other shades if mood light isn’t your thing.  Mood Light has a pinkish tone to it.  Luminous Light is a champagne color, and Dim Light is more beige.  They all play with lighting differently, and I imagine the other two are just as game-changing as this one.

Yes, forty-four bucks is a ton of money to plop down for a primer, but I’ve genuinely never used something like this.  It’s one of the most amazing makeup products I’ve ever used, period.

Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer:  I love you.  I need you.

–Jackie

Sephora Play: The Beauty Remedy Edition.

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A few days ago, when I was taking the train into work on day three of yet another six day stretch, I checked my email, and had gotten one from Sephora announcing a new luxe Play box.  I jumped on it becuase I liked the last one so well.  Do I need this?  Strictly speaking, no.  Does it make me feel better about the fact that I am working like a crazy person and have no time off and am utterly exhausted and cranky?  Oh, hell yes.  I have one more six-day week ahead, and then a friend of mine arrives in town and I am taking some much-needed time off to hang out with her.

The theme of this box is “The Remedy Edition,” so it is filled with products that purport to be good for your skin.  There were two variations of this box, and four of the six products were in each of them, so it’s of no real benefit to purchase both, and Sephora was kind enough to list the brands contained in each box on their website.  I ordered the second edition variation because I knew the first edition box contined something from SK-II and was worried it would be their skin essence again.  I’m currently going through a terrible time testing it out already, and I loathe the way that it smells.  I think it smells like sweaty feet and I find it to be generally vile and revolting, and I’m getting a few tiny breakouts in places I don’t usually get breakouts.  I wasn’t going to take a chance on getting another bottle of it.  The second box variation that I ordered contained a YSL primer and an AmorePacific essence, so I figured that box would be the safer bet.

As you can tell from the photo above, Sephora messed up.  They sent me the other box.  When I first opened it, I saw figuratively saw red for a couple of minutes because it wasn’t the one that I wanted, and by this time both box variations were sold out.  I resolved to call and complain, and likely will still do that after I finish this blog post, but I eventually settled down and have grown to like this one.  SK-II essence is nowhere to be seen, and, truth be told, I’m still on the hunt for a good eye cream, so I guess this is an okay screw up on Sephora’s part.  I could have done without two jars of moisturizer, but that’s a strange complaint.  Can one ever really have too much moisturizer around?

I also bought this as much for the container it comes in as I did for the products inside.  This is an almost perfect travel case for a light packer.  It’s a hard shell square container that looks like a CD case that people about my age will remember carting around in junior high and high school.  There’s a pouch to tuck things into on one side and open real estate on the other.  This box is actually sturdy, and I can’t wait to use it.

But anyway, people are here for product descriptions, so here we go!

Giorgio Armani Beauty Ecstasy Shine 400 Lipstick:  This is a super moisturizing lipstick in a bright red (good thing I just got rid of a bunch of red shades since I got new one to add to the collection) that really impressed me with its staying power.  This box was delivered yesterday while I was at work, so I swatched everything after I got home last night.  While I wiped most of the color off before I went to bed, there was still a red stain on the back of my hand when I woke up nine hours later.  There’s still a small bit left as I type this, and I’ve taken a shower.  I’ll cop to being quite stunned by that.  I needed three coats to achieve an opaque look when I swatched this, and a single coat is pretty sheer, which I happen to like.  There’s some versitility in it, and it can take me from day to night.  It is considerably more shiny than a traditional cream lipstick but not as much as a gloss.  A 0.10 ounce tube retails for $38.00.  There’s 0.05 ounces in the sample, so that’s $14.00 of product.

Tatcha The Silk Cream:  I’ve only ever tried the enzyme powder from this brand, and I absolutely love it, so I’m looking forward to this one.  It’s going to be hard to top my newfound love for AmorePacific’s Rejunvenating Creme, though.  This bills itself as a firming moisturizer.  I tried it out last night, and it feels really nice and absorbs quickly enough.  A little goes a very long way.  I had to have used less than a quarter-size amount for my entire face.  This retails for $120.00 for 1.7 ounces (The sample size is 0.34 ounces, so that translates to a $24.00 value), which is a much less bitter pill to swallow when compared to the price of the AmorePacific cream I so dearly love, so I’m kind of hoping this one blows me out of the water with its effectiveness.  I’m also impressed with the sturdiness of the packaging on this sample.  It’s got some real heft to it.

Givenchy Le Rouge Perfecto Beautifying Lip Balm:  They’re not kidding when they describe this as a translucent pink balm.  It’s basically Chap Stick, but I’m not complaining about that.  I’m going to throw it in my purse and use it as such.  In fact, I’m wearing it now.  It feels like a nice, moisturizing lip balm, and it sort of enhances the natural pink color of my lips.  It looks very natural.  This is the kind of balm that is supposed to react with your body chemistry to create a perfect color just for you.  As best I can tell, it works as described.  It also claims to plump, but, that’s a total lie.  It doesn’t tingle, and my lips look the exact same as they did before I put this on.  This stuff retails for $36.00 for 0.07 ounces.  The sample is 0.04 ounces, so that’s $20.57 of product.  I don’t care how well this works, there’s no lip balm in the world worth that much money.  Not with the way that I go through lip balm.  This is a nice one, though.

SK-II R.N.A. Power Eye Cream Radical New Age: I know this brand has a cult-like devotion from people because of its essence, but I just don’t get it.  I mean, I hate that stuff.  I’m always on the lookout for a good eye cream, though, so I’m not angry (anymore) that Sephora messed up and sent me the wrong box.  This lacks the offensive smell of the SK-II Essence.  It contains Pitera–a byproduct of the fermentation of a special kind of yeast–like everything else in the line.  It’s also wildly expensive like everything else in the line.  It’s expensive to the tune of $135.00 for 0.4 ounces.  There’s 0.08 ounces of product here, so that works out to $27.00 of product.  I can’t imagine it blowing my mind enough for me to buy a full-size of this, but I did use it last night, and it feels lovely going on.  I’m adding it to the routine until the sample is gone, so here’s hoping it works.  I’ve been working like a madman and getting nowhere near enough sleep, so my dark circles are a little worse than usual, and I actually have a little bit in the way of bags under my eyes right now, so this stuff has something to work on.  Let’s hope it’s the miracle worker it claims to be.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream:  People swear by La Mer products, but I’ve never tried them.  I’ve never thought my skin needed something that intensive.  I’m still relatively young, and my skin looks great.  There’s no wrinkles and only the smallest of fine lines are just beginning.  This will be my first experience with La Mer.  It feels very creamy, and it absorbed faster than the Tatcha Silk Cream when I tried it out, so I’m hopeful it is something I end up liking.  It’s only slightly more expensive than the AmorePacific’s Rejuvenating Cream, so if I find it works better, I’ll be a La Mer convert.  In all honesty, I do hope this works well.  This brand has been around for so long, and people love it so much that I would hate to not like it.  Skin care is very personal, though, so we shall see.  A full-size jar is 1.7 ounces and retails for $170.00, so that means there’s $24.00 of product in this 0.24 ounce sample.

Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin Pure Perfume:  I seriously think I like every single perfume in this line.  At least, I like every single one that I’ve smelled, and that’s most of them.  Sud Magnolia is my favorite, but these are all long lasting on my skin and smell so fresh that it’s impossible for me to wear any of these and not find myself smelling my wrist throughout the day.  This one is no different.  It smells like bergamont at first and then dries down to smell mostly of cedar with hints of sandalwood and vailla on me.  It’s sweet and woody, and I am in love.  This is $250.00 for 3.3 ounces.  Yeah, that’s crazy expensive, but I strongly believe that you get what you pay for with perfume.  There’s 0.14 ounces in this sample, so that amounts to $10.61 of product.

Sephora has been doing these special boxes for about a year now, and I passed on the first one.  I’m not sure why I did that.  Overall, I now think that they are a great value and give me a chance to try out a ton of high-end products I would never try otherwise.  I mean, I’m not going to go out and drop $170.00 on La Mer cream without ever trying it out, but I will shell out the dough if I already know it works.  I know Sephora gets all kind of heat from people in the review section for items like this, but I really believe that if you just sit down and do the math, you are getting a fair deal.  If you have no intention of buying any of these, that’s fine.  You still get a good opportunity to try out some obscenely expensive makeup and skincare items.  If you’re like me, and could actually see yourself using some of these in a full-size, it’s the best opportunity you have to try them in a size that will allow you to determine if they actually work for you or not.  I can’t recommend these boxes enough.

I hope this was helpful for anyone who has been on the fence about trying out these luxury boxes from Sephora.  Like I just said, I can’t recommend them enough, and really do believe they are a perfectly fair deal.  That’s why I bought it even though I don’t need it.  This set me back $21.78 with tax, so that brings my yearly Sephora spending total to $1,033.01.

–Jackie

Philosophy Purity Made Simple. Oldie but Goodie.

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I started using this in 2005 or so.  Philosophy used to make this acne face wash with sulfer in it, and it was a god-send when I was younger and dealing with breakouts all the time, but one day I picked this up and just kept using it.

It was great when I had oily, congested skin in that it didn’t aggrivate my acne.  It is really gentle yet really effective at cleaning my face.  It didn’t help clear up my acne, but it didn’t aggrivate it.  At the time that was a win for me.  It isn’t a foaming face wash, which took some getting used to on my part, but it didn’t leave my skin feeling stripped.  It also removed every trace of makeup I had on my face.  For someone who doesn’t like multi-step cleansing, this stuff was terrific.

I used this religiously until about three years ago when I bought my first tube of Checks and Balances from Origins, and I just began to favor that one.  Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for foamy face washes and minty smells and that one has both in droves.  I no longer buy this by the 32-ounce pump bottle (yes, you can really get that, and I’ve gone through my share of them), but I still always keep a small one on hand.  If my skin feels dry, I use this.  If my skin feels oily, I use this.  If it’s late at night and I’m wearing a ton of makeup, I use this.  I really can’t stress how well this removes makeup.  I trust it to remove black, smokey eyes without having to use eye makeup remover first.  I also trust that it will make my skin go back to feeling “normal” if it is getting out of line or if I put something irritating on it.

A 3-ounce bottle retails for $11.00, and if you’ve never used this it’s worth checking out.  There’s a reason this is one of the gold standards in facial cleansers.  It works.  It works well, and it doesn’t irritate.  Thank god this stuff is around and shows no sign of ever disappearing.  I’ve used this through skin changes over the last twelve years, and I can’t think of any other product that has worked for me as my skin transitioned from the grease pool of my early twenties into the normal skin I’ve been blessed with in my thirties.  I honestly think this is the single product I have used through that entire time.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple:  I love you, and I’ll always keep you.

–Jackie

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Creme. Why Do I Love You So?

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I’m not going to lie.  I went into this one expecting to hate this.  Heck, I was almost willing myself to hate this cream.  It’s eye-bleedingly expensive, and I thought there was just no way in the world the results could justify the cost.  It’s expensive to the tune of $150.00 for 1.7 ounces of it, and yet I now sit here trying to think of reasons why I shouldn’t buy a jar.  My skin likes this so well that over the last nearly six weeks of use, it’s become increasingly difficult to not pay up and add it to my skincare routine.

I got sick three or four months ago, and just kind of put my overly involved skincare routine on the backburner until I felt better.  I mean, I had a twenty minute beditme skincare routine going at the time.  When I finally got over whatever it was I had, I started working a lot, and by the time I got home, I just wanted to crash and not waste time putting stuff on my face before bedtime.  In truth, I was reduced to using a moisturizer at night and Clean and Clear PersaGel on any pimples I had crop up.  Yeah, I realize it was laziness on my part (and all true beauty junkies need at least five products in their nighttime routine, lol), but my skin really calmed down and cleared up and became much more stable the less and less I would mess with it.  By the time I got this Rejuvenating Creme in the mail, my skin was the best it had been in ages, and it was actually the perfect opportunity to give this a try.

The first thing I noticed about this upon opening the jar was the smell.  There’s no way nice to say how it smells.  It’s a very strong powdery scent that probably won’t gel well with most people’s noses.  It’s pervasive, too.  I could smell it for a few minutes after I put it on.

I think the texture is pretty light but a bit heavier than the moisturizers that I tend to gravitate toward.  My go to is the Aqua Bomb from Belief or Water Drop from Dr. Jart.  They’re light, quick to absorb, and don’t leave a greasy feeling on my face.  When I first touched this, I assumed it would feel a bit heavier on than I would enjoy, but it wasn’t too bad when applied.  It does absorb in less than fifteen minutes and doesn’t leave a greasy or sticky feeling on my face.  For my preference, it’s still too heavy for me to use in the daytime, but I loved it as a nighttime moisturizer.

The performance of this product is unbelievably good.  It didn’t feel like it would be special enough to make a visible change in the look of my face, but it did.  Granted, I have a very normal skin type, so I can’t begin to say how this would be for dry skin, but, for me, it provides the perfect amount of moisture.  Each morning that I woke up, I felt like my face looked radiant.  It looked plump and hydrated.  There was no question that it made my skin look better.  Keep in mind that this was the only product that I was using nightly at the time, and on many nights, the only product I would use at all.

A major reason that I favor very light moisturizers is becuase of my acne-prone skin.  I feel like they are much less likely to cause a breakout.  I assumed the AmorePacific Creme would break me out.  It just had the texture of something that would give my skin hell.  After almost six weeks and one small jar later, there have been zero breakouts.  None.  Yeah, I’ll get a zit here and there, but that’s a part of my life I’ve learned to live with.  What I’m saying is that this doesn’t make my acne any more prevalent.  My skin was basically clear when I started using this, and it stayed that way the entire time.  That noxious smell didn’t cause any sensitivity issues.

This works so well that I’m willing to look past the steep price tag and horrible smell.  I mean, I dearly love it.  I never thought something this expensive could live up to the hype around it, but this cream does.

My 8mL sample lasted nearly six weeks, so a full-size 50mL jar would likely last six months, so it might actually be a cost effective purchase given that when I had this around I didn’t WANT to use other products along with it, but, holy cow, that price tag.  For that kind of money, I want the jar to play music when I unscrew the top.  Or give it to me in a gold-plated jar.  Or something.  Something a little bit more than, hey, here’s a plastic jar of cream.  Enjoy.

I’m still very much on the fence about buying this, especially since I still have Sunday Riley’s Luna and Good Genes kicking around my place, and those aren’t exactly cheap.  I need to use them but am worried that I would let them languish in a corner somewhere if I buy a jar of this before they are gone.  I may pick this up in during the VIB Rouge sale next month, though.  the twenty percent discount I would get would drop the cost down to $120.00, which is slightly less eye-bleeding.

This stuff really is that good, and I would definitely encourage anyone who has ever thought of buying it to head over to Sephora and ask for a sample.  If you’ve no interest in it, stay away from it lest you find out that it really is amazing and you’re stuck justifying buying a jar.  It’s so good I’m willing to look past the price tag and that wretched smell.  A few weeks ago, I would have said Belief’s Aqua Bomb was the best moisturizer ever.  Not anymore.  It’s this stuff.

–Jackie

Sephora Play October 2017.

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Hey there, everyone.  I’m first going to start with a bit of a programming note.  Work has been crazy for the last few weeks, and shows no sign of slowing down for, at least, another two weeks, so posting may become a bit infrequent.  I’m working somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty hours per week, and what little downtime I have that isn’t spent sleeping is divided equally between trying to keep my apartment clean and sitting on the sofa doing nothing.  I generally spend one of my weekend days typing and saving all of my posts for the coming week.  Given that I’ve been working six day weeks and will be for the forseeable future, my lone day of free time will likely go to blankly staring at the television from my sofa and doing things that require as little of my cognitive ability as possible.  I’m a weird type of person, and I keep hand-written notes on all of the products I try out, and I really don’t feel like plowing through them until I get a chance to rest and restore for a few days.

Now, onto this month’s box!

I think all of the box variations for October were centered around products for your complexion, so (thankfully) mine was void of any hair products.  I love all of the products that came in mine.  A couple of them, I have tried before, and  the others I had been eyeing for a long time but had never committed to purchasing.  I’ve not done any serious wear tests on any of the products in this box, but I have formed a few first impressions.  Here it goes.

Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer:  I was really excited when Urban Decay rolled out face primers because their shadow primer is the best I’ve ever used.  That excitement dissipated, however, when the reviews for them started to roll in, and most said they were okay, at best.  I never bought any to try out, so I’m really excited to get some.  This stuff feels really thick, and it does fill in pores and smooth things out a little.  In truth, it feels like it may be a little bit too heavy for me, and I hope it doesn’t clog my pores and make me breakout, but I’m going to use it because I love trying out different primers.  I can’t speak for how long it will make my makeup last, but I’m curious to find out if it really does work.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation:  I wish this box had arrived a week earlier because I bought the Hourglass Foundation stick.  I’ve always wanted to try out this foundation, but was hesitant to do so because SO MANY foundations break me out, so I’ve sort of always stuck to my go to from Dior.  I know people rave about this product from MUFE, but I’ve just never committed.  Sephora sample sizes don’t last long enough to determine if I will get breakouts from a foundation, and by the time I know if I will get a breakout, it’s usually too late or I’m too unmotivated to return the product.  This is a great sample size that will probably last me close to a month if not more.  I’m wearing it today, and I a nice medium coverage that builds up, looks natural, and feels lightweight on my face.  In truth, if this doesn’t cause breakouts, this appears to be a great foundation.  Thanks, Sephora, for sending this one to everyone.

Tarte Fainforest of the sea 4-in-1 Setting Mist:  This says it’s a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist, and skin refresher.  I’ve used it before, and, for me at least, it does two of those four things.  I had pretty poor luck using it as a primer.  It was just okay as a setting spray.  I did love it as a skin refresher and mist when my skin just felt tired and tight.  I kept it in the fridge, and a quick spritz left my skin feeling calm and moisturized.  I loved using it when my skin felt out of sorts, but not enough to buy it again.  I’ll use this spritzer, but it’s probably not going to change my mind on purchasing this.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster:  I’m a little unsure how to use this, so I’m being unusually dependent on instructions from the company on this guy.  Sephora says it’s a “skin-perfecting serum that plumps, smooths, and hydrates your skin for flawless makeup application.”  I like the feel of serums, but typically use them at night before I go to bed, so the use issue just stems from my accepting that I put it on before makeup application and not before I crawl in bed at night.  It’s got hyaluronic acid and argan oil in it, so I fully expect it to do what it claims and plump up skin and make me look like I might have actually gotten some sleep the night before.

Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion Pore Perfecting Scrub:  I’ve used this before, and I feel like it could almost be used interchangeably with ExfoliKate.  They work the same way, and both work well.  With this one, you rub it on your face for minute or so to physically exfoliate then let it sit for another few minutes for a chemical exfoliation.  I feel like you need the slightest bit more of the Dr. Brandt than ExfoliKate, but it’s still a pretty negligible amount to achieve results.  It works well, I like it, and I’m almost out of ExfoliKate.  This one will go in the shower when I do finally run out of the Somerville stuff.

Tory Burch Bel Azur:  This is my favorite of the Tory Burch perfumes, but I feel toward it the same way that I feel like other Tory Burch perfumes.  They smell nice, but a bit generic.  This one is citrusy, and there’s vetiver and bergamont in it, and really does remind me of the South of France and the Mediterranean.  This one doesn’t smell bad, and I’ll keep it around for a handy purse spray, but, for my money, there are better options out there.

This brings my yearly total to Sephora to $1,011.23.

Anyway, I’m off to eat cheese balls and Swedish meatballs at the seventies-themed cocktail bar up the street from my apartment before going home to binge on The Wire.  Speaking of that show, I realize I’m fifteen years late, but where have I been?  It is so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough!  Have a great day, lovelies!

–Jackie

Amika Polished Perfection Mini Straightening Brush. Game. Changer.

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I rarely try something once and form an opinion on it, but this little gizmo has changed my life.  Seriously.  It’s really changed my life.  Ok, maybe it’s only just changed the way that I do my hair, but that’s a game changer if I’m saying it.  For the most part, I could care less about how my hair looks, and this thing has almost changed that for me.

I’ve had my eye on the full-sized Amika Straightening Brush since I noticed it on Sephora’s website months ago.  It looks like a total gimmick, and it’s $120.00.  When reviews first started to roll in, they were pretty mixed, so I decided to sit on buying that thing.  I don’t do anything with my hair before I go to work, so I only really make an attempt to style it on my days off, which, given my profession, can sometimes be few and far between.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I was bored and looking at the website again right before I went to sleep, and there was a mini version of the full-sized brush.  They were selling it for $35.00, too!  I thought this was a total steal, so I bought it along with some foundation that I was beginning to desperately need.

When the package showed up on my doorstep, I ripped right into it and tried it out.  My hair was already dry, but I figured what the heck.  If this little purse-sized, electric brush could work on the rat’s nest I had at that time, it could work on anything.

Here’s how I dry my hair on work days or any day when I’m just too lazy to care:  I lie on my bed with my hair hanging over the edge and let my ceramic heater do the work for me.  I have really wavy hair, so it’s usually a frizzy mess by the time that I’m done with it, but I just throw it in a pony tail and go about my day.  I love my makeup, but I really don’t care what my hair looks like most of the time.

That’s what I had just done before the Sephora package with this gadget in it was delivered.  There were not knots in my hair, but it was nice and frizzy.  If this thing could make that mess presentable, it could do almost anything.

I plugged it in, waited five minutes, and set to brushing.  That’s all you have to do with this.  You don’t section your hair or anything.  You literally just brush your hair with a brush with hot, metal plates for bristles.  To my great shock, it worked.  It didn’t just work.  It worked well.  After only a few minutes of brushing my hair with this thing, it looked like I had actually used a dryer and brush to fix it.  I was floored and speechless.  I was honestly just standing in the middle of the bedroom with this thing in one hand, staring at my husband, and unable to form words for how amazed I was.

To be sure, my hair looked far from perfect, but it looked like I had actually “tried” with it.  There were still a few flyaways, and I had some trouble working the brush on my bangs, so they looked a little flat, but it worked when my hair was at it’s worst.  Awed by this straightening brush’s potential, I resolved to actually dry my hair and properly use it on my next day off.

Fast forward to my next day off, and I kept my promise.  I dried my hair with my blow dryer, and set to work figuring out the best way to use this thing.  At first I was just brushing my hair like I would with a regular hair brush, and the results were much the same as when I first used it.  It was smoothing my hair, but there wasn’t much styling going on.  I finally just took pieces of my hair and held them taut by their ends, and brushed.  When I did this magic happened.  My hair was straight and the ends were pointing the direction I wanted them to go.  It took a matter of minutes to get my hair straight and smooth.  I still can’t get over how good this little thing is.

I may buy the full-sized version this, but this little one works so quickly and so well, that I don’t know if there is any real need for a bigger one.  The full-sized straightening brush has temperature settings, which, I suppose, could be helpful, but I’m that girl who just uses hair styling tools on high.  My hair is so thick that anything other than full temperature seems to take forever.  The mini just has an on and off switch, so if you need a temperature lower than somewhere around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you might not want to buy this.

I also have to compare the results of this to the results of a traditional straightening iron.  With this tool, you don’t end up with the pin-stright results you get from a regular iron.  That isn’t a look that I’m super into, so I don’t mind the results from this.  This doesn’t leave my hair flat, and it doesn’t tame every single little flyaway that I have.  There’s still volume and body and life in my hair when I finish using this.  This makes my hair look like I won some kind of genetic lottery and wound up with straight hair that is, for the most part, cooperative.  If you want stick straight hair, you’re not going to find it with this thing.  If you just want to look polished in a hurry, this is a god-send.  My hair tends to want to frizz regardless of what I do to it, so for me, the results of this and the results of a flat iron look the same at the end of the day.  With flat irons, I can start my day with stick straight hair, but my hair never finishes the day that way.

I really can’t recommend this enough if you’re just lazy with your hair or have next to zero time in the morning.  Heck, if you want to just spring for the big one, I say do it.  My hair doesn’t feel fried, and it looks like I actually put effort into my look.  I don’t have to use a hair dryer before I use this.  I can actually just roll out of bed and brush my hair or let the ceramic heater do its thing or whatever.  As long as there aren’t tangles in my hair, this thing works.  As long as I just pull the ends of my hair tight while I’m brushing, this works.  If I want my hair to go in an opposite direction than it usually goes, I pull the ends in the direction I want my hair to go.  That’s how I get my bangs to look polished and hide the cow-lick that I have on the left side of my head.

The Amika straightening brush wins my vote for product of the decade.  I have nothing negative to say about it.  If it breaks in the first three months of my owning it, I’ll let you guys know and I’ll change my tune, but that’s the only thing I can think of that could be a potential negative.  This thing is truly a game-changer.  I never thought I would love a hair styling tool, but given how much affection I have for the effectiveness of this, I may just forgo buying the Dyson hair dryer I’ve been pining over since its launch.  This is so quick and effective, I don’t see how that dryer could make it work any better.

Amika Polished Perfection Mini Straightening Brush:  buy this.  Now.

–Jackie

ABH Subculture and ABA Prism Palettes. Congrats on the Promotion, Chicklet.

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I have been working like CRAZY the last couple of weeks.  When I say that I’ve been working like crazy, I mean I’ve worked eleven of the last twelve days and have logged WELL over 100 hours of actual time spent at work.  I’m exhausted, I’m cranky, and I’ve never been more thankful to have two days off than I am right now.  Everything has taken a back seat to work and sleep.  Basically, I wake up, I go to work, I come home, I crash.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I missed my three-year wedding anniversary last week.  My best friend was in town over the weekend, and we didn’t even see one another, and he was staying at my apartment.  Today is my first day off in what seems like forever, and I’m spending it blogging and drinking lots of coffee at my local coffee shop.  Later I’m probably going to take myself for a pizza date and maybe a fancy cocktail at the bar next door to my coffee shop.

Somewhere in all the chaos of the last couple of weeks, I got a promotion.  I had one day off, spent it sleeping and making a vain attempt at cleaning my apartment, and when I got back to work the next day, I got called into the office and promoted.  I’m a chef now.  The cooks have to call me chef (actually, I don’t let them because I think that sounds weird).  This is a pretty good cap to a year that started off really shitty, if I’m totally honest.  I also like the timing.  My old boss is out promoting his new cookbook that I wrote, and it comes out in the next few days.  My finances took a huge hit writing that, and he was such an a**h*le about the entire process (and about the thousands of dollars I’m convinced he wasn’t going to pay me for the work), that I can’t help but remark on the timing of everything that just happened.  I’m excited for the promotion, and I celebrated with a reward purchase of two eyeshadow palettes I sure didn’t need but definitely feel like I’ve earned.

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Yes, I bought Prism and Subculture.  I knew I wanted Prism as soon as I saw it.  I mean, seriously.  Just look at Throne and Osiris.  I was on the fence about Subculture, but since I’ve always tapped my brush into shadows and not swirled it around like a person who just wants to waste product and get powder everywhere, I went for it.  I know people either love or hate that palette, and I happen to love the way the mattes look in it.  These two look like they will complement each other nicely, and, hey, I just worked 100+ hours and got a promotion.

As far as Prism is concerned, the quality is what you expect from Anastasia Beverly Hills.  The metallics in the palette feel almost like a gel when you touch them.  The mattes are a little bit chalky, but they still blend out nicely, and there is a ton of pigment in the majority of the shades.  Sphere is the most chalky of the bunch, but it’s still workable.  It’s a neon, and there’s a ton of white in it, but you’ll still need a white base under it to see the full intensity.  I think it will look brilliant as an inner corner highlight or underneath the eye.  The only real dud is obsidian.  They’re saying it’s black, but it’s certainly not the blackest black I’ve used, and it’s a little patchy when swatched to be honest.  It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, as I have many different blacks in my collection.  Swatches on me and descriptions from the website are below.  Ignore my burn scars.  I’m not a cutter–just a cook.

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Left to right:  Lucid (duo chrome white gold with pink reflect), Eden (ultra-matte coral pink), Unity (ultra-matte nude ochre), Sphinx (metallic warm bronze), Osiris (duo chrome midnight violet with red reflect), Sphere (ultra-matte electric green yellow), Obsidian (ultra-matte deep black), Dimension (duo chrome silver grey with pink reflect), Parallel (ultra-matte truffle), Pyramid (metallic yellow gold with green reflect), Throne (duo chrome blackened blue-green with multicolor reflect), Saturn (ultra-matte terracotta), Eternal (metallic violet copper), Lure (ultra-matte ashy lilac)

Now, here’s what I have to add to the descriptions:  Eden is your standard peachy pink shade.  Sphinx is a super creamy bronze with purple shimmer.  Obsidian, as I said earlier, is more grey than black.  Dimension is a very sheer silver with a pinkish-purple shift that I think will look amazing on my green eyes.  Pyramid is a true gold with green shimmer.  Throne (my favorite) is a green with a black base and multicolor shimmer.  Eternal is a copper with almost the same purple shimmer as Sphinx.

For anyone who owns Modern Renaissance and has touched the shade Vermeer, then you know how the metallics in here feel.  Texture-wise, this palette is very similar to Modern Renaissance, so I anticipate that it will be much easier to work with than Subculture.

Speaking of Subculture, here are the swatches on my arm and descriptions from the interwebs:

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Left to right: Cube (duo chrome pink pearl), Dawn (ultra-matte sand), Destiny (ultra-matte sage green), Adorn (metallic bronze), All Star (ultra-matte vintage wine), Mercury (ultra-matte slate grey), Axis (ultra-matte blue-green), Roxy (ultra matte muted coral), Electric (duo chrome lime-gold), Fudge (ultra-matte warm bronze), New Wave (ultra-matte citron orange), Untamed (ultra-matte tarnished green), Edge (ultra-matte gold mustard), Rowdy (ultra-matte blackened purple)

Cube is the almost nonexistent shimmery shade on the far left that is closest to my wrist.  It has potential as a topper, but not much otherwise for me.  Overall, I find the descriptions of these shades to be very true to my results.  These behave almost like a softly pressed pigment.  The blues and greens in Subculture are very intense.  Axis stained my arm and made for some difficult removal.  Untamed and Rowdy were not far behind it in that respect.

The color payoff in Subculture is superior to that in Prism, but Prism is by no means bad.  If anything the shades have more slip to them and blend easier than those in Subculture.  The colors in Subculture do not seem to be firmly pressed in the pans, and even just moving my fingers around to pick up color for swatches dislodged quite a bit more product than was necessary before I got the hang of how to handle the eyeshadow.  I don’t know how travel-friendly these would be, and I don’t intend to find out.  It seems like a good drop could shatter them.

(Edit:Two days after typing up my initial draft, I wore several shades in Subculture for a night out. Here’s my takeaway of eight hours of wear over UD Primer Potion. A VERY light hand yielded intense color payoff.  A working knowledge of color theory is a must when dealing with these colors.  I used Axis and All Star beside one another and and was very careful to not mix them lest become a muddy gray brown color. Rowdy on top of All Star works fine. That lightened All Star and the shade became an orange-ish pink. Cube actually made a cool highlight when light hit it.  I didn’t find the shadow itself to be difficult to work with, but I went in knowing if I barely tapped a brush into a pan, I would have plenty of product for my needs. My big beef with the palette is the shadow began to wear off along the crease of my eye.  This doesn’t generally happen to me. By the time I got home I had a semi-circular line on each lid where the shadow had just disappeared from. Everything else looked fine.)

I know some people are saying that these palettes look the same, but I honestly don’t see it.  I’ll concede that Roxy and Eden are dupes for one another.  So are Fudge and Parallel, but those are neutrals, so who really cares.  As far as everything else, the undertones look different to me, and the shimmers in some similar-looking shades are quite different when worn.  I don’t think these palettes look the same, but I do think they were designed to play really well with one another.

Here are side by sides of all the possible dupes I could think of in the palettes:

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Left to right:  Eden (Prism), Roxy (Subculture), Unity (Prism), Dawn (Subculture), Sphinx (Prism), Eternal (Prism), Adorn (Subculture), Parallel (Prism), Fudge (Subculture)

Eden and Roxy are virtually identical, but Roxy is more intense.  Unity and Dawn look similar in the pan, but Dawn shows up more mustard than Unity.  Sphinx and Adorn are similar, but Adorn has more gold in it, and Sphinx is more purple.  Parallel and Fudge are basically the same, but, like I said, it’s a brown neutral.  Who cares.

Here’s a shot of all the shades side by side:

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Top (left to right):  Lucid, Eden, Unity, Sphinx, Osiris, Sphere, Obsidian, Dimension, Parallel, Pyramid, Throne, Saturn, Eternal, Lure
Bottom (left to right):  Cube, Dawn, Destiny, Adorn, All Star, Mercury, Axis, Roxy, Electric, Fudge, New Wave, Untamed, Edge, Rowdy

I will say that I love the shade range and color variety here but hate the layout of these palettes, but that’s neither here nor there for me since I’m going to depot them anyway.  I’ll just put them in a Z-palette in a way that inspires me, but each is cohesive if you think about it with some color theory in your reasoning.  I just hope the shades in Subculture don’t shatter when I try to remove them from the palette.  I use an induction burner to depot my shadows, and the method is pretty idiot proof, so if anyone is curious, you can read about how I do it by clicking here.

I certainly don’t think that anyone needs BOTH of these.  They’re $42.00 each, and if only one of them is speaking to you, just buy one.  The cost of this purchase with tax was $91.46 bringing my yearly Sephora total to $1,000.34.  That’s still not enough to reach VIB Rouge status because Sephora doesn’t include tax in their calculations like I’ve been doing.  I didn’t set out to reach VIB Rouge again this year, but at this point, I’m so close that I’ll just buy the Hourglass primer that I’m out of and one or two other things and be there.  Yeah, that’s a ton of money, but I have to reiterate that I spent nearly four times that amount at Sephora last year.  I’m still calling this exercise a win, and now I’m off to play with my new array of shadows.

–Jackie