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

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

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

Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Oil. I Don’t Technically NEED This.

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Okay, I suppose I should be honest about this.  I’m going to buy it regardless of whether I lie to myself and you or not.

I use frizz serum pretty much daily.  If I leave my house on a humid day without any in, I’ll start to look like a poodle within minutes, so frizz serum has been a staple in my life since, and I kid you not, sixth grade.  I’ve used a lot of them.

The first was good old Frizz-Ease that was all the rage in the mid-nineties.  After that I moved onto trying various others, but none of them really stood out as anything exceptional.  They all basically feel like an oil that coats your hair and keeps it from going too crazy when the humidity goes up.  I finally settled on one from L’oreal, and I’ve used it for the last four or five years.  It’s cheap, I get a ton of product, and it lasts forever.  I need only two or three bottles a year.

This stuff doesn’t work any better than my L’oreal, and that one doesn’t work any better than Frizz-ease or any other frizz serum I’ve tried, and it’s stupifying to me that I’m seriously entertaining buying it when a 3.4 ounce bottle costs $38.00.  I mean, there’s a smaller 0.85 ounce option available for $20.00, but why not just go all in.  It’s way cheaper.

The only reason I’ll buy this when my L’oreal serum runs out, which will likely happen some time in December or early January, is the SMELL.  I know I’ve said this every single time I’ve finished anything by Living Proof, but I wish they would bottle this smell as a perfume.  I dearly love it.  It’s so fresh and citrusy and just generally wonderful.

I don’t mind supporting the company, either.  Overall, their products do exactly what they claim to do.  Sure, they’re expensive, but I find with this you truly get what you pay for.  I don’t spend a ton of money on shampoo because my oily hair necessitates that I wash it daily, but every so often I splurge, and their shampoos and conditioners are fantastic.  And there’s that SMELL.  They make my hair manageable and soft.  Yeah, there are a few dud products in their line, but the vast majority of the time, I know I’m going to get a product that performs when I shell out the cash.

I feel like their shampoos, conditioners, and styling products (especially the Night Cap Overnight Perfector) genuinely outperform anything else on the market that I’ve tried.  I can’t say the same for this.  It works as well as any other frizz serum I’ve used, but it’s not noticeably better.

My thick hair requires an amount the size of a quarter.  This works great when I use a dryer and a flat iron on my hair, but I still need extra curl cream or wave spray when I let it air dry.  My hair gets REALLY frizzy when I do nothing with it, and it’s been that way since I was a child.  If it’s not humid out, this keeps my hair looking sleek and smooth all day.  On a hot summer day in the city in August, not so much.  As soon as I start to sweat, my hair begins to frizz, but this helps control it more than if I used nothing at all.  It eventually reaches a point where the frizz doesn’t get any worse, but that’s generally when my hair starts to get obviously sweaty and begins to gross me out.

The honest truth of the matter is that I can say the same thing about virtually any frizz serum I’ve used over the last twenty years.  I’m going to replace the L’oreal one with this one that costs five times as much for half as much product purely because I love the way it smells, and the smell lingers in my hair.  Although, now that I just typed that last sentence and really put things into perspective, maybe I won’t shell out that kind of cash.

There you have it:  This frizz serum is great because of the way it smells, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to call it obviously better than Frizz-Ease or any other similar product.  I can’t tell you to not buy it because I’m most likely going to own it soon, but just accept that you, like me, are just buying it for the smell.

Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Oil:  I don’t need you, specifically, but I’m going to buy you.

–Jackie

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Simply the Best.

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There’s a reason why everyone uses this stuff:  you’re going to be hard -pressed to find anything better than it is.

When I set my makeup with this, it doesn’t budge.  Primer, foundation, concealer, and this, and I am good, quite literally, all day.  My foundation doesn’t settle, and until temperatures start to creep toward the high eighties, it doesn’t melt off.  I don’t know what’s in this jar, but it’s magical.  It also keeps me matte most of of they day like other powders just can’t.  I don’t joke when I say I stay matte for almost nine hours on days with good weather.

It lasts forever, too.  That jar in the picture was bought in April 2015, and it lasted until August 2017.  If you don’t bake (and I don’t), the plastic on the jar will weaken before the product inside is gone.  At least that’s what happened to mine.  I dropped it on the floor a few months back, and the side of the screw top broke off.  A few weeks later, another piece just fell off.  I was thankful that the jar was almost finished by this point.

It takes almost no powder to set your makeup.  I tap a little bit into the cap, swirl a powder brush around in it, tap the excess back into the cap, and tap the brush across my forehead.  I repeat the process for each cheek, and that’s all I need.  Going crazy with this powder is also ill-advised.  You’ll end up looking ghostly if you’re not careful, and flashback in photos is pretty much a given.

And speaking about tapping product into the cap, this stuff is super finely milled, so you’ll end up with half the jar in the top of the cap if it happens to get turned sideways in your travel bag.  The best way I have found to combat this is to not remove the little plastic film covering the holes through which the powder is dispensed.  I take a safety pin or needle or any sharp, pointy object and break the film over half of the holes.  Then I either run the needle around the holes to enlarge them or use a hair pin.  Yeah, it takes a little bit more work to get the product out of the jar when you need it, but you don’t end up with a giant mess in the cap when you’re not expecting it, and given how little product it takes to actually set your makeup, you’re not out THAT much more effort.

I currently don’t own another of these powders, and I’m missing it greatly.  I bought a travel size of the Kat von D setting powder to try out, and I swore I would use it all before I bought another one of the LM powders, but I just don’t know if I can keep that promise.  The Kat von D isn’t bad by any means, but I just like this one better.  I feel like it keeps me more matte.

If you’ve never tried it, go out and get a travel size at $23.00 for a third of an ounce.  Given it’s lifespan, that will last you at least six months and you’ll have plently of time to form an opinion about it.  Then go out and buy the full-size for $38.00 for an ounce.  Yes, that’s quite a bit of pocket change for a jar of powder, but it lasts forever, and it’s totally worth it.  They’re even making it for darker skin tones now, so everyone is covered.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder:  Yes, I love it, and yes, I need it.

–Jackie