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

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

The Foundation Purchase that Turned into a Mini Haul.

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I’ve been getting low on foundation for some time now, and I’ve been going back and forth on what kind I should buy.  I’ve used Diorskin Nude since 2008 or so, and it’s amazing.  It works extremely well, doesn’t break me out, and I always come back to it after I try anything new.  The coverage I get from it is medium but buildable, it looks natural, and it lasts all day on me.

My skin has decided to be unusually cooperative for the last couple of months, so I’ve not had many acne scars or discoloration I’ve had to worry about.  I started using tinted moisturizers for work (I favor Tarteguard) because I see no point in wearing foundation to work when it costs fifty bucks for a bottle, my skin already looks good, and I’m just going to sweat off whatever foundation I came in with by the end of the night.

I got a sample of the Vanish foundation stick from Hourglass in a Play box a couple of months ago and was blown away by how good it was.  To my pleasant surprise, the shade they sent was a perfect match for my skin, so I’ve been using it to death.  The coverage I get from this foundation is extremely full, yet so natural-looking and so lightweight when it’s blended that I can’t understand how it works.  I used the sample all over my face, blended it out with a brush, and went back in to use it as a concealer under my eyes and around my chin.  It works as a concealer yet looks completely natural.  It’s bizarre.  To be sure, there were a couple of cons, so I went back and forth on deciding between Vanish and Diorskin Nude for a month before I took the plunge and cheated on my old, faithful foundation.

To be quite honest, this stuff ain’t cheap.  It’s $46.00 for a quarter ounce versus $50.00 for an ounce of my usual from Dior, but given how full the coverage is, a little should go a long way.  I also refuse to wear this to work because it HAS to be set with powder, and I don’t wear powder to work.  I find it gets a little slippy on me, otherwise, so I’m just going to stick to Tarteguard for work and Hourglass for my days off.  That will buy an even longer product life.

Part of what also influenced my decision is that Sephora online was running a limited time special and threw in a mini of the Veil Mineral Primer for only a few bucks more than the foundation stick.  A mini of this retails for $19.00, and I got both for $52.00.  I’ve tried it before and hated it at first, but after the second deluxe sample I’ve gotten of it, I think I kind of like it.  The mini version here should give me enough product to form an actual opinion on this.  Like everything from Hourglass, a full-size isn’t cheap.  It’s $54.00 for an ounce, and I already love their Ambient Light primers, so I doubt I’ll commit to a full-size of Veil.

I also bought the mini version of a hair tool I’ve been looking at for months.  I’ve wanted the Amika straightening brush since I saw it ages ago, but couldn’t commit.  The mini one popped up in Sephora’s “Just Arrived” section, and I jumped on it.  I figured if this works decently, I may just buy the full-sized one.  It was $35.00.  There’s a review of it coming in the next few days.  It’s changed my life, and I love it.

I also used 100 points for an UD Naked Skin liquid highlighter in the shade Sin.  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the highlighters, so I’m happy to get a smaller size to try, and Sin is one of my favorite shades of all time from the brand.

I rarely get the 500 point rewards because I think most of them are marginally okay, at best, but I decided to spring for one from Boscia:

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It has a number of products that I’ve already used and knew that I liked and the Charcoal Pore Pudding that I’ve had my eye on for some time.

Included in the reward are the following items:
–Luminizing Black Mask (love it)
–Thermal Black Cleanser (love it)
–Porefecting White Charcoal Mattifying Treatment Primer (like it)
–Revitalizing Black Hydration Gel (love it)
–Charcoal Pore Pudding (new to me)

I’ve already taken a hard dive into using the things in the reward box, so I’ll post reviews as I finish them up.

The total for this online shopping trip was $94.73, so that brings my yearly total to $908.88.

–Jackie

Grande Lips Collagen Boosting Plumper. This works?

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I’m not really one for before and after pictures.  I feel like if I can’t look in a mirror after a few months and see a noticeable difference in my face, then a product isn’t worth my time, but I almost wish that I had taken a picture before I started using this regularly.  I’m still not sure if it works, but it’s the first lip plumper I actually like.

This came in a Play box months ago, and, given my aversion to lip plumpers and glosses in general, it sat by my bed for months and months.  One night I picked it up before turning in, braced myself for the burn that I was certain would occur, and cracked open the tube.

Much to my shock, there was a slight tingle, but it went away after a few minutes.  My lips didn’t feel like they were on fire.  Something was happening, though.  This clear gloss turned the areas it touched blood-red.  It didn’t make my lips look any bigger, but it didn’t make me miserable to wear, so I left it on and went to sleep.

The next day my lips felt so moisturized.  I usually wake up with dry lips, but not after that night.  I must admit I was impressed.  The instructions say to use this twice a day for visibly fuller lips.  Now, I don’t need any help in the lip fullness department, and I don’t like wearing gloss, so I just ignored the directions and used this every night before bed until the tube ran out.  I never felt any stinging after that first night, but even as I was getting toward the bottom of the tube, it always made my lips turn red.  I put it on the back of my hand out of curiosity, and it left a red mark where the gloss had been.

Anyway, this lasted about five weeks, and by the end of it I was pretty sure my lips had a different look about them.  They didn’t look fuller around the perimeter of my mouth, to be sure, but those tiny little lines that everyone has in their lips looked smaller.  Once the tube was gone, this effect went away within a week.  I am not saying this plumped my lips in the traditional sense.  I just feel like it moisturized them so well that they looked plump because they were really well hydrated.  The hyaluronic acid in this stuff was really doing its job.  So, for once, I do wish that I had taken a photo before I started using this.

Now, do I like this enough to drop $27.00 on a tube of lip gloss to use each night before I go to sleep in an attempt to continue this experiment?  No.  As I said earlier, I don’t need any help in the plump lip department.

Here’s the takeaway on this from the perspective of someone who, on any given day, moves from loathing to outright hating plumpers:  This stuff is worth a shot if you have thin lips and have tried plumpers and been disappointed by the burning or lack of effectiveness or combination of the two.  My lips have always been super sensitive to the “tingle” in lip plumpers.  This is the ONLY one I’ve used that didn’t outright burn so badly that I removed it.  You may want to give this one a shot, but you’ll have to keep using it to see any kind of lasting effect.

Grande Lips Collagen Boosting Lip Plumper:  I think this actually works, but I don’t need it.  I’m not buying it.

–Jackie

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads. No, I Do Not Need a Tan!

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Why does everyone seem to think they need a tan?  I have pale skin and red hair and green eyes.  Want to know what happens when I go in the sun and forget to wear sunscreen?  I burn.  I cook.  Usually, it takes as little as thirty minutes.  Want to know what happens when I use sunless tanners?  I end up looking some unnatural shade of orange.

What I’m trying to say here is that I’ve embraced the pale.  It’s worked well for me, too.  I recently saw a photo of someone I’ve known for years and who spent a lot of time in the sun when we were teenagers, and I found myself thinking, “Girl!  That sun damage!  WTF!  We are the same age!”

I don’t have sun damage.  I don’t have wrinkles.  I stay out of the sun, and I have accepted that I am not supposed to have a tan, so these showed up in a Sephora Play box, and my initial thought was just no, no, no, no, no.

I don’t care how much I like the regular Alpha Beta peel pads (a lot, actually).  I don’t care that the results of the tan claim to be “gradual.”  I wasn’t about to try this.  Given my skin tone, odds were good I would end up with an orange face and neck and white arms and legs after one use.  It just wasn’t worth it to me.

My best friend came into town, and I tried to pawn them off on him.  He has more of a medium skin tone and used to tan often when we were in high school, and if I’m being completely honest, I wanted to see if he would end up looking like a clown for the sake of my own amusement.  He took one look at the packaging and said there was no way he was trying them, so I tossed them in the garbage.

Look, you don’t need to have a tan.  If you’re like me, you probably look a little weird with a tan.  Just embrace the skin tone you were born with and stop trying to change it.  I mean, we all go out and get a little sun every now and again, and that’s cool, but I don’t need something that’s going to make me orange, and you don’t either!  Rant over.  Don’t buy this sh*t.

–Jackie

Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask. Uhhh, is this a Joke?

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Ok, I wanted to love this.  It smells so good–like orange marmalade.  It even looks like orange marmalade.  It sort of feels like marmalade.  It’s pretty sticky, and it does leave your face a little sticky when you use it.  I was obsessed with this when I got it in my play box.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do much.  I got ten uses out of the jar and used it twice a week for five weeks.  I’m going to copy and paste the claims Fresh makes about this stuff below because they made me laugh when I read them.  Here they are for your amusement as well:

“Get glowing skin instantly with Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask. This powerhouse treatment improves the skin’s radiance and glow by 31 percent after one use, and by 49 percent after four weeks of use. The revolutionary formula is powered by 50 percent real crushed citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, and clementines, naturally containing AHA fruit acids that work to gently refine and smooth the skin. This fruit blend comes in the form of a paste, which is made from lemons cultivated in the Mediterranean region—providing double exfoliation by offering a pleasant scrub, while the AHA fruit acid content offers a chemical peeling effect. A proprietary vitamin fruit complex is a potent blend of vitamins, citrus fruit extracts, and minerals that help revitalize dull skin for a vibrant, healthy-looking glow and soft, smooth texture.”

I used this twice a week for five weeks, so I was well within the time frame they give for seeing results.  You know what I saw?  Nothing.  The only thing I may go so far as to say was that it ever so slightly reduced the redness in my face immediately after I took it off.  That result was gone by the next morning.

My skin didn’t feel like it had been exfoliated.  It didn’t look smoother.  It didn’t really look brighter.  It didn’t look like anything had happened.  I feel like I could achieve the same “results” by rubbing actual orange marmalade on my face.  Given that the first ingredients in this stuff are water, glucose, and citrus extract, my idea probably isn’t a bad one.  And I could get twice the amount of marmalade for a quarter of the price of this stuff.

You want to know how much this is?  $62.00! For 3.3 ounces!  This is a joke, right?  This goes back to my beef with Fresh.  When they make things that work, they work amazingly well.  The rest is utter crap, and it’s all comically expensive for what you’re getting.  I’m not opposed to using stuff from these guys.  I own things from the company.  However, always, always, ALWAYS go in a Sephora and get a sample before you drop serious cash for their products.  And save the receipts after you do splurge on them in case they don’t work.  I don’t generally return things, but I have no problems taking stuff from Fresh back.  If you think I’m going to be saddled with a perfectly average moisturizer that I spent ninety dollars on, you’re crazy.

Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy Boosting Face Mask: This is garbage.  I’m not going to buy it.  You shouldn’t, either.

–Jackie

Dr. Dennis Gross Wrinkle Recovery Peel

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I got this in last month’s Sephora Play box, and, to be honest, I wasn’t very hopeful about it.  I already use a retinoid nightly because if I don’t I get breakouts, so I wasn’t expecting to see much of an effect, especially since the sample size was only good for two uses.  I didn’t waste any time trying this one out.

It comes as an individually wrapped treatment pad, and all you have to do is rub it onto clean, dry skin.  I gave it a go and rubbed it on my face until the pad was dry.

This stuff is strong.  Even with already nightly retinoid use, my skin was tingling for a good ten minutes.  The skin on my face was immediately smoother, and when I woke the next day, the slight redness I tend to get around my chin was pretty much nonexistent.  Needless, to say, a moisturizer was a must after applying this stuff.

I went back to my usual night treatment and tried this again three days later.  This time the result wasn’t as pronounced as there was no real readness in my face to speak of, but my skin felt super soft the next day.

So, does this stuff work?  As best I could tell, yes, it works quite well.  Here’s my beef with it.  This stuff is $88.00 for 16 treatments.  I–and I figure most people who have used retinoids for an extended period–could get away with using this three, maybe even four times a week.  That’s a month and a half of product, at best.  Frankly, if I want to get something this strong and this expensive, I’m going to go to a dermatologist, get some Retin-A, and build up the tolerance to use that as close to nightly as I can.  Why on Earth someone would pay that kind of money for something over the counter that lasts six weeks is beyond me.  Sorry, but there’s better ways to spend your cash than on this.

Dr. Dennis Gross Wrinkle Recovery Peel:  I’m not wasting my money.  Get thee to a dermatologist!

–Jackie