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Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

Three New Mascaras…

I’ve been comparing three new mascaras and thought it would be great to see the results of each, side by side. The mascaras are: Benefit’s They’re Real, Buxom’s Amplified Lash, and Urban Decay’s Lush Lash.

Here are the brushes:

Benefit, $22:

Buxom, $22:

Urban Decay, $20:

They’re similar in that all have brushes with comb bristles. Benefit’s bristles cover the tip of the brush. Buxom’s brush expands and detracts. And Urban Decay’s has a curvy, hourglass shape.

So the real question is, how do these mascaras perform? I’ll break it down coat by coat…

Benefit’s They’re Real:

One coat

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Two coats…

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Three coats…

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Overall great mascara. I like the 360 degree effect given by the unique brush and tip, but I feel like the third coat gets a little spidery. (I guess I could just stop at the second coat, but what’s the fun in that?!) This might be avoided if I applied all three coats back-to-back with no wait time in between.

Buxom’s Amplified Lash:

One coat (in expanded position)…

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Two coats (in compact position)…

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Three coats (in compact position)…

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I am a little torn about this mascara. On the one hand, I love that it’s ultra-black and dramatic. But on the other hand, it takes a really long time to dry (so even the tips of my bangs turn black and goopy), and the lashes stay flexible and bendy (as in, stick together easily) long after applying. Also, it doesn’t separate as well as I’d expect. I didn’t comb out my lashes with any of the mascaras because ideally, you shouldn’t have to comb them. And one more thing…I totally disagree with the product description for this mascara, which says that the expanded position will produce more volume and the compact position will produce more definition. With this product, it’s exactly the opposite. The expanded position will give more length and separation, while the compact position will add more thickness (product) and volume.

Urban Decay’s Lush Lash:

One coat…

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Two coats…

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Three coats…

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Lush Lash is the winner in my book. Look at how beautifully fanned out the lashes are. It’s super black and buildable without getting clumpy or spidery. I’ve also worn this on my bottom lashes and had surprisingly great results. Little-to-no smudging! And at $20, Lush Lash happens to be two dollars cheaper than the others…a huge plus.

To sum up, here are the final results:

They’re Real: (purchase here)

Benefit's They're Real --- copyright samantha daffodil

Amplified Lash: (purchase here)

Buxom's Amplified Lash --- copyright samantha daffodil

 Lush Lash: (purchase here)

Urban Decay's Lush Lash --- copyright samantha daffodil

Winner! What do you think? You can buy all three at Sephora.com.

samantha daffodil




Ombré Manicure

After seeing this picture of Lauren Conrad’s Ombré Manicure, I had to try it! It’s equal parts fun and chic…

Gorgeous! An ombré mani like this is super easy to replicate. Just stay within one color family, pick five colors, and paint the darkest on the pinky, the lightest on the thumb.

And you know how you realize that you always end up buying the same color when you look at all your beauty products and see a sea of nearly identical rose-hued lipglosses? Well my nail polish collection had a plethora of coraly-red, pink and orange shades. So that was my color family, and it made for a bright and cheery mani…

Products I used: Essie’s Rock Solid (base coat), OPI’s Got the Blues for Red (pinky), Cover Girl’s Boundless Color in Candy Apple (ring), Sephora by OPI’s Go with the Flow-er (middle), Essie’s Chubby Cheeks (index), Nicole by OPI’s Fresh Squeezed (thumb), and Essie’s To Dry For top coat.

How fun! I have received quite a few compliments on my mani. Next time, though, I would try to stick even closer to one color family (like just shades of red, or just shades of pink) for a more subtle ombré effect. And pay attention to the finishes of your nail polish too (opaque, sheer, glittery). I think my middle finger and thumb shades were too sheer, and I like the effect of using just one polish finish. Next time I’ll do just opaque shades.

What do you think of the ombré mani?

samantha daffodil


Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm

How often do you come across a beauty product that completely revolutionizes your makeup routine? I’ll often love a new product, thinking, “I’ll use this for life!” And then two weeks later it’s buried under the next great thing. It’s very rare to stumble upon something that you’ll actually keep using.

Well, I plan on using Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm for a looooong time – maybe even forever. Not only does it replace my tinted moisturizer and foundation, it replaces my regular AM moisturizer, my sunscreen, and my primer! I’ve literally cut my “getting-ready” time by at least ten minutes. That means I can hit “snooze” if I want!

So, what is this amazing product? “Beauty Balms,” “Blemish Balms,” or “BB Creams” are wildly popular in Asia, and finally they’re infiltrating the U.S. market. Basically, they combine a few steps into one, with a flawless complexion being the result. They contain moisturizers, pigment, high-protection sunscreen, and anti-aging ingredients. BB Creams also have pore-smoothing properties, so they can also replace your foundation primer.

Most BB Creams are pretty light in color (probably because of the high mineral SPF content), but hopefully color ranges will be expanded soon. If you are darker than an ivory shade, you will probably need to layer a bit of foundation or foundation powder over the balm to avoid looking ashy (plus your regular blush and bronzer). The beauty of these creams is that while you can wear them alone, they are also meant to go under makeup, creating a perfectly smoothed and moisturized surface for foundation. One friend wore hers under foundation, and she said it actually made her skin look healthier, and that her foundation looked better than ever.

Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm is lightweight, but still provides a great amount of coverage (even more coverage than a high-coverage tinted moisturizer like Laura Mercier’s). I’ll use one pump to even everything out, and then another half-pump or so to build up coverage on my cheeks, nose, chin, and also to blend into my neck. If I have a bad breakout or some irritated, red patches, I’ll spot conceal with a full-coverage concealer. On good to semi-good skin days, though, I won’t even need concealer. Then I finish with blush, bronzer, highlighter, and a mineral setting powder. The finish is dewy and fresh without being too wet. Powder is definitely essential to take down the dewiness in the T-zone. And if the color is too light for you, pick a pigmented foundation powder that matches your skintone and just use that to set the Beauty Balm.

The first few times I used it I got really dewy in the late afternoon. It was a little too dewy for my taste. Only later did I realize that this product is supposed to replace your regular moisturizer, not go on top of it. Cutting out the extra moisture made a huge difference! And just think about the money you’ll save by cutting out extra steps and extra products.

So, to break it down, here’s what I love about Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm:

  • Perfect amount of hydration
  • Anti-aging ingredients like a Bio-Peptide Complex to promote collagen synthesis, Arbutin to brighten and even skintone, and Adenosine to improve elasticity and firmness. (I’ve actually noticed improvements in my skin’s evenness and brightness)
  • Pigment that matches my fair skin (which rarely happens with a one-size-fits all product) and covers well
  • High-protection mineral sunblock (SPF 45) which provides natural, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • All the products I don’t have to buy anymore (AM moisturizer, facial sunscreen, primer, foundation, tinted moisturizer)
  • The compliments! I’ve been getting tons of them since I’ve been using it.

Do yourself a favor and try this amazing product! Buy it here at Sephora.

samantha daffodil

Sanitas Skincare

Don’t get me wrong: I love makeup. But I have a confession to make…good skincare is even more important! There’s so much you can do with makeup, but it can only cover up so much. If the canvas isn’t smooth, the painting’s not going to be either.

That’s why I’m so glad a friend recently introduced me to Sanitas skincare. I’ve found some new staples for my skincare routine for good.

Sanitas Solar Block is a healthy sunblock (not a chemical sunscreen), so I feel better about putting it on my face. Instead of chemicals absorbing into my skin, Solar Block soothes redness with zinc and vitamins as it provides a strong layer of protection from the sun. I’m very fair-skinned, so I know how important a good sunblock is. My favorite things about Solar Block are:

  • The smell. It doesn’t smell like sunblock. After all, that traditional “sunblock smell” is only appealing on the beach or at the pool. Solar Block just smells light and fresh.
  • The texture. It just smooths right on. I can actually tell that it visibly smooths the surface and texture of my skin and pores. It nearly acts as a primer for foundation.
  • The protection. It really does protect my fair skin. I wear it under my makeup every day, and as long as I’m not intentionally laying out in the sun and it’s a normal day, I never have to reapply. I haven’t tested it yet, but I’ll bet that even if I did lay out at 3pm (after applying in the am) I would be just fine. I applied it to my arms and chest this past sunny Sunday, and after sitting outside at a restaurant and walking on the bike path – not a bit of sunburn, or even redness!

It’s also oil-free and instead of clogging pores, it’s good for your skin. Sanitas Solar Block is definitely a lifetime product. Find more info on Solar Block here.

Sanitas Lemon Cream Scrub is another one of my new favorites. The number one most forgotten part of a good skincare routine is exfoliation. I’ve realized that I need to manually exfoliate at least two to three times a week to really maintain clear pores and a smooth texture. What I love most about Sanitas’ Lemon Cream Scrub is:

  • The smell. It’s delicious! Yum…
  • The texture. Its granules do the job, but they do it without scratching and damaging the skin. It’s milky and smooth. Most scrubs are too abrasive, and the unsymmetrical grains can scratch the skin and create the perfect environment for infections, bacteria, and acne.

As far as I’m concerned, Sanitas Lemon Cream Scrub is the perfect scrub. Find more info on Lemon Cream Scrub here.

Sanitas Glycotoner 5% is another great product. Applying Glycotoner is not necessarily a pleasant experience…it stings! But don’t worry, that means it’s working. My favorite part about Glycotoner 5%:

  • The benefits. This potent glycolic acid toner chemically exfoliates the skin, basically telling the dead skin cells to scoot and the new ones to emerge. It also helps to decrease pore size and blackheads by cleaning out the gunk. Glycolic acid is also a great preventative weapon against fine lines and wrinkles.

I use Glycotoner 5% a few times a week, and when I feel like my whole face doesn’t need it, I’ll just use a Q-Tip to treat my nose, between my eyebrows, and my chin area. Find more info on Glycotoner 5% here.

I assure you, there will be more wonderful Sanitas reviews to come! It’s such a great skincare line, and I love that it’s all-natural and made in Boulder, Colorado. Check out the full line at http://www.sanitas-skincare.com, and find Sanitas near you.

samantha daffodil

My take on Bare Minerals

I remember the first time I saw Bare Minerals makeup. My sister and I were in Chicago for Lollapalooza a few summers back, and it was so bloody hot. When we were getting ready one morning she pulled out a jar of Bare Minerals and proceeded to swirl, tap and buff. I had never seen anything like this method (up to this point I was a tinted-moisturizer-only girl), so I was very curious. I promptly drug her to the nearest Sephora bought a kit of my own. I remember being so excited because it seemed so complex…I mean there were actual steps you had to follow! My kit came with two yellow-based ivory shades, warmth, mineral veil, and a skin treatment and brushes.

I wore it the rest of the time we were in Chicago, and now that I think about it, I must have looked awful! First, that kind of powder just can’t stand up to extreme heat and humidity. Second, the kit I bought was the lightest one they offered at the time, but it still wasn’t light enough. I have fair pink skin – no yellow undertones here. I must have looked like a cakey, yellow, hot mess! After I went through the shades I got in my kit, I went with the “fair” shade. This was a much better match, but still went on pretty chalky.

I’ve tried to think back to what appealed to me about the kit at the time. The main selling point, I believe, is that it’s supposed to look natural – like your own skin. I also think the fact that there are specific “steps” makes it feel like a special regimen – something special that you have to do “just right” to be beautiful. God forbid you do something out of order!

As you can tell by now, I’m not a huge fan. I’ll say up front that I greatly admire the brand’s success and the CEO, Leslie Blodgett, because she is one smart lady. There are also some BM products I DO love, like their eyeshadows (messy, but gorgeous!), lipglosses (so moisturizing and pretty!), the Skin Rev-er Upper (it has glycolic and salicylic acids, so it’s really good for your complexion) and…well, that’s about it. I love Buxom lipsticks, but that’s their “sister-brand,” so it doesn’t really count.

So, the question is, why is Bare Minerals so damn popular?!? I’ve got one word for you.

Marketing (and The Power of the Infomercial)

You see, BM has really cornered the market on ladies who are obsessive about “looking natural,” and who “never used to wear makeup.” Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look natural – I like my foundation to look like a better version of my skin. But what I’ve noticed from working at Sephora (and trying to help *several* BM fans) is that BM attracts a certain type of customer. She says she never used to wear makeup like it’s something she deserves an award for. She asks you to match her shade and promptly corrects you (“Wrong! I’m Medium Beige”). Or better yet, she drags in a friend or sister, asks you to match them, and then corrects you (“Wrong! She’s Medium Beige”). And she is probably wearing her hair in a ponytail, and is wearing a sweatshirt.

(BTW, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a ponytail and a sweatshirt…in fact, I’m wearing BOTH right now. It’s just an observation…after a while BM customers tend to look the same.)

The kind of women that Bare Minerals appeals to are the kind of women who might not normally wear makeup…and that’s what’s so genius about their marketing strategy. They’ve actually managed to convince strict non-makeup-wearers that they need this foundation. They say it’s so good for your skin you can sleep in it (I wouldn’t recommend it, although it may not hurt). They say it will actually make your skin better (they’re not bad for your skin, but only the Matte version has the proven “Active Soil” complex to promote skin cell turnover). They say it will cover EVERYTHING, and that it won’t make you look older (wrong! Coverage is patchy and not ideal for scars, spots, freckles, etc. And it settles into fine lines like nobody’s business). They even say that you can use their concealer powders instead of regular concealer (for blemishes and under-eye), and that you need another powder to set your foundation powder and your concealer powders! That’s 3-4 powders!

Isn’t this starting to sound ridiculous?

So, the women who normally would NEVER set a foot into a Sephora are willing to hand over money for Bare Minerals. These are the women that act personally offended when you tell them that, “yes, the price of that lipstick is $14” (and that’s on the cheap side!). Bare Minerals has managed to tap into a market that cosmetics companies didn’t even care about – women who don’t wear makeup.

Honestly, my take on Bare Minerals is that it only looks good on one type of woman, or, uh, girl: a preteen with perfect genes, no pores, no oil, and no blemishes. There are probably some exceptions to that, but not many.

I think the foundations are too chalky and go on too thick, but then flake off or get slick or patchy during the day. I think Warmth can look like you crushed up a terracotta pot and smudged it on your face (unless you’re an expert at VERY light brush application). I think the BM brush bristles are too harsh and can be very irritating to sensitive, acne-prone, or fair skin. I think they aren’t as great a value as everyone thinks because women are encouraged to keep buffing in more and more to get the look. And, I think the idea of setting a powder with another powder is ridiculous.

There are a number of things I recommend to a client who just won’t budge on Bare Minerals. (This is after I’ve tried to gently steer them away from it, and failed). I’ll recommend using a softer brush to soften the look of the foundation and avoid irritation (like Sephora brand Professionnel Mineral Brush #45). I’ll tell them that BM is not a replacement for their blemish or under-eye concealer, especially if they have dark circles. And, I’ll recommend using a setting gel or setting spray instead of BM Mineral Veil (like Laura Mercier’s Secret Finish or Secret Finish Mattifying, or Urban Decay’s De-Slick in a Tube or All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray).

If I succeed in steering a client away from BM, I’ll go straight to Laura Mercier. Her mineral foundation is beautiful on skin. It’s more finely-milled than BM, so it goes on much softer, not chalky and thick. I also think her shade range is more versatile. Even though BM has a ton of shades now, Laura Mercier’s more limited shade range seems to also be more flexible. Multiple variations of a skin tone can all wear one shade and somehow look different. I wear Tender Rose, and it’s one of my go-to foundations (I like the look and application of powder, and it’s actually my shade! Also, BM isn’t the only brand that makes chalky/cakey-looking powders, especially in the light-fair range.) I’m so glad I have Laura! But I’ll gush about her later…

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Phew…

samantha daffodil