Best Stuff: Kat Von D High Voltage Eye Primer in Smoky

I can’t believe I’ve been holding out on you with this product.  I’m sorry.

Kat Von D’s makeup line has consistently wowed me (with the exception of her Foiled Love lipstick in Forever & Never, but that was just a color issue.)  I have never been in love with Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, but it’s better than nothing, so I use it.  When Kat Von D’s smoky eye primer went on sale (now $7 at Sephora), I branched out… and I’m glad I did.

At first glance, this is a little intimidating.  The formula is dark charcoal grey, super thick and creamy.  Also, the amount pulled out on the wand is way too much for one application.  I usually smudge a bit on my hand and paint it onto my eye lids with a cream shadow brush.  I’ve tried using my finger, but the result is smoother and more even with a nice brush.

I usually don’t spread this above the crease too much because it’s very visible, unlike a skin-colored primer.  For the crease to brow area, I stick with Urban Decay Primer Potion.

I think Kat Von D’s formula is overall better than Urban Decay’s because it’s thicker, stickier, and longer lasting (look forward to a few extra minutes scrubbing raccoon eyes off before bed.)  The grey base color really backs up dark shadows, maximizing the pigment without layers of eye shadow.  My absolute favorite thing about this primer is that it makes a smoky eye look unbelievably easy and fast.  It saves me a solid 30 minutes of building up, blending, and wiping off fall-out particles.


In this picture, I swatched two layers of Gunmetal and Creep from the Naked palette on bare skin, over UDPP original, and over the Kat Von D primer.  Check out the COLOR!

I completely love this product and I’d buy a back-up, but with so little needed each time, I know this tube is going to last me well over a year.  At $7, this is a major steal and a total time-saver!

You and me forever, KVD.

M

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Alterna at Hautelook til Friday!

Hey friends: more beauty sales this week!

An Alterna hair care flash sale starts today on Hautelook (you have to be a member to shop, but membership is free and sign-up is way easy).  I picked a few things up at the last flash sale, and I’m loving them.  (You can click over to reviews of the Hemp Repair Gloss and Overnight Hair Rescue here.)

The discounts are pretty substantial, and I’d love to try more of their organic, sulfate-free products.  If I were in spending mode right now I’d go for the Caviar Brunette Conditioner, Life Solutions Volume Restore Conditioner, and the Hemp with Organics Volume Lock Hairspray.

If you decide to give Alterna a try, let me know how you like it!

M

Overnight Success

It’s great waking up to pretty skin.  Most days, it’s just my foggy vision blurring my face into evenly toned, pore-free gorgeousness – but I do have an arsenal of no-fail products for days I need to wake up looking like a Disney princess.


For smooth, ready-to-go morning hair, I start with a good blow dry (either left over from my day, or after a night shower).  Sleeping on wet hair has never done me any favors.  Before heading to bed, I rub a few pumps of Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Overnight Hair Rescue $38, on my palms and coat my hair from the middle to the ends.  A quick pass with a wide tooth comb, and it’s good to go.  In the morning, I have freshly conditioned, pretty-scented, silky hair that’s ready to walk out the door.  My only word of caution is to err on the side of too little product – too much looks greasy.


For my face, I can’t forsake my old stand-by: Alba Even Advanced Night Cream $15.  It really evens my skin tone and makes my pores less noticeable.. but for can’t-risk-it days (weddings, brunches, and DRIVER’S LICENSE PHOTOS) I turn to AMOREPACIFIC Moisture Bound Vitalizing Masque $60.  After cleansing with my Clarisonic brush and finishing off with Clinique Clarifying Lotion, I apply the “masque” generously all over my face and neck.  It feels like a moisturizer, but takes a little longer to soak in.  It’s miraculously not greasy, sticky, or chalky, so my compliments to the chef.
In the morning, my face is plump (in a good way), smooth, soft, and even.  After a quick rinse, I have the perfect canvas for Big Day makeup.


Lastly, there are the eyes.  One big problem with my “need to look good tomorrow” nights is that my sleep is often compromised, and the eye bags give it away.  I don’t typically have issues with redness or puffiness, but when I do, it’s on an important day.  I’ve found out, though, that I can usually nip the problem in the bud with Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage $28.  It’s an eye serum with a metal roller ball applicator – which I always found a little gimmicky until this.  I rub the cold metal under my eyes and over my lids before bed, and by morning – normal eyes with normal eyelids.  I couldn’t ask for more.  It doesn’t do the miracle work of my everyday eye cream, but I can easily tap that on in the morning to take care of fine lines, dryness and circles.
These three products are my best shot at overnight success.  But I’ve also heard amazing things about Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery and I’m kind of dying to try it when my buying ban is up.

Do you have a no-fail night routine?

M

Best Stuff: Yves Saint Laurent Golden Gloss

I don’t know what inspired me to get back into glosses, but I did.  I fell for the look.  But the look isn’t easy – most of the glosses I’ve tried clump up, slide around, or just feel heavy, sticky and awful.  I haven’t been very lucky.

Then I read an article about how much Kelly Clarkson loves YSL gloss.  To be honest, I don’t care about Kelly Clarkson much, but she seems like a down-to-earth “real girl,” so I trusted her.  And more than anything, I like to try on makeup.. so I jumped at the chance to check these out.

So gorgeous.  They’re filled with flakes of “real 24-carat gold,” so they’re sparkly/shimmery in a whole new way.  (You can share that tidbit of upper-classness when you’re strutting around feeling fancy as hell.)  The gloss smells faintly of watermelon – not necessarily what I’d expect, but it’s not unpleasant.  It brushes on smoothly, and the look is very high impact.  I bought it in #30 Golden Satin, a pinky coral that almost matches my natural lip color.  It adds a whole lot of shine and a grown-up douse of glitter – super sexy.

Before I found YSL, my personal rule was no gloss without an updo.  One of my hugest pet peeves is getting my hair stuck in my lip gloss (so gross).  This is the game-changer – the high-shine solution that doesn’t turn my lips into fly paper.

As for durability, let’s be real about my lifestyle needs.  I eat ice cream literally every day.  And this smart little gloss is my partner in crime.  Even after a couple (yes, more than one) rounds of afternoon soft serve, it looks completely gorgeous.  Unexpectedly perfect.  Like I’ve never even picked up a spoon.

So while this is a bit of a splurge ($30 at Sephora), I know it will be a lasting favorite for me.  Plus, I’m going to act crazy classy around my house knowing my lips are coated in gold.

M

Frizz Fighters

My hair is not especially dry or damaged, but I’m addicted to blow outs and it shows.  Even with ceramic, tourmaline, ion blah blah blah, I get little flyaway frizzies around my part and hair line.  I’ve been through a few products to keep my hair polished and smooth – and these are my favorites:

Bumble & Bumble Defrizz

Softness: 4/5
Shine: 5/5
Frizz Protection: 5/5
Hold: 4/5
Next-Day Texture: 2.5/5
Price: $15 for 2 oz. or $26 for 4 oz, at Bumble and Bumble
Value: 3/5

Overall:  Defrizz is one of those “use very carefully” products.  Too much will flatten any volume you’ve built up and add greasy patches of sheen.  It’s VERY shiny, which is lovely when done right.  I rub a very small amount between my palms (all over my palms) and then carefully rake my fingers through the ends, then middle, then over the top surface of my hair.  The secret is dispensing it as lightly and evenly as possible (combing it through helps).  Once it’s in, it offers a little bit of hold and a super-smooth high shine finish.
The real bummer with Defrizz is its high maintenance.  It’s a great one-day product – meaning when I go to sleep with it on, I know I won’t be leaving the house in the morning without a thorough wash and dry.  The next-day texture is greasy, a little stiff, and totally unattractive.

Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

Softness: 5/5
Shine: 5/5
Frizz Protection: 5/5
Hold: 2/5
Next-Day Texture: 5/5
Price: $38 at Bumble and Bumble
Value: 5/5

Overall:  BEST STUFF alert!  I scored a free sample from Sephora, and prepared myself to be creeped out.  I’m usually pretty oil-averse, but this is one product that’s completely won me over.  After a blow dry, I put a dime size drop in my palms, rub it together, and carefully coat the surface and ends of my hair.  It’s super soft, naturally shiny (unlike the shampoo-commercial-shine of B&B Defrizz) and controls my flyaway hairs completely.  It doesn’t hold, which is fine since I wouldn’t use a frizz product for that anyway.  The next-day texture is a dream, too – I wake up with perfect hair – smooth, soft and pretty.  I only wish they offered it in a smaller size, since it takes so little for each use.

Alterna Hemp Repair Gloss

Softness: 5/5
Shine: 4/5
Frizz Protection: 3.5/5
Hold: 3/5
Next-Day Texture: 5/5
Price: $19 at beautybar.com
Value: 3.5/5

Overall:  This is a very subtle gloss – I use it for softness and a little extra texture (and it’s fresh, healthy hair scent).  It’s intended to repair split ends and damage, so I think of it as a leave-in conditioner.  It seems to keep my hair moisturized, and the ends soft.  While I wouldn’t use this on its own to tame frizz, I love it mixed in with a styling cream or lotion before a blow dry.

These three products have been lifesavers in the frizz department, so if you’re looking a little mangy, give them a try!

M

Battle of the Topcoats: Kensington Caviar vs. Polishield

It’s no secret that I’m faithfully committed to Orly Polishield top coat ($10), but I recently caught wind of an intriguing new neighbor in the polish department.  Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar top coat (also $10) has a solid 5-star rating on Sephora, and I had to see if I was missing out.

I gave into temptation and Kensington Caviar came home with me.  We had a few good runs, but it just wasn’t the same.  It didn’t last as long as Polishield, and while it’s a decent contender, it just doesn’t wow me.

Here’s how I’d rate these two:

Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar
Packaging: 5/5
Consistency: 4/5
Strength: 3/5
Shine: 5/5
Durability: 4/5
Value: 3/5

Overall: Kensington Caviar is the same price as Polishield, but the bottle is smaller.  The plus is that the brush reaches close to the bottom, and I’d be able to use more of the product.  By contrast, Polishield’s big bottle usually means I can’t use the last 1/3 without some serious bottle and brush maneuvers.  K.C. isn’t as strong as Polishield, though – I had surface chips and scratches the day after my manicure – seriously disappointing.  It’s also not too durable, and my tips had chipped off completely in about three days.

Orly Polishield
Packaging: 3/5
Consistency: 5/5
Strength: 5/5
Shine: 5/5
Durability: 5/5
Value: 4/5

Overall: Polishield is my main squeeze (I’m so sorry I strayed!)  It’s magical melding formula can’t be matched and it lasts a good 5-6 days without chipping.  My only gripe is that the big bottle combined with the thick, syrupy formula, makes it impossible to use all of the product.  For $10, though, I get months of flawless manicures, and I’m totally satisfied with that.  U + Me = Us.


M

10-second review: Too Faced Starry-Eyed Liquid Eyeliner

A total impulse buy, I grabbed a tube of Too Face Starry-Eyed liner ($17.50) when shopping for some essentials at Sephora.  I had bid adieu to my days of chunky glitter eye makeup (a very prevalent look in my high school makeup repertoire), until this eyeliner reeled me in.

I bought Mad Mad Love, pink iridescent, because if I’m going to be impractical about a purchase, I’m going all the way impractical.  I tried it out randomly on a weekday, with just a tiny swipe at the outer corners of my upper lids (above my standard black liner).  After I smudged it out a bit, I was left with a look that was pretty, unexpected, and oddly subtle!  I’ll admit I was a little gun-shy at first, but in small doses, this is a fun addition to summer eye looks.  It’d be great for a pool party.

Then I brought this little guy to Vegas and took it to the next level.  It’s literally impossible to be the most garish girl in Las Vegas, so I went hard on the glitter (and LOVED it.)  A couple of heavy lines on my upper lids, and a little bit along the outer lower lash line – it was big, pretty, and somehow still not too much.  It’s noticeable, but not obscene.

Some things I love about this particular liner are:

  • It stays exactly where you put it, even when smudged.  The fall-out is next to zero, so you won’t have to worry about glitter bits migrating to your forehead and cheeks.
  • The color (this one at least) is multi-dimensional.  So many glitter makeups are one solid color (all pink, for example) and I think it looks so cheapy cheap.  Mad Mad Love has pinks, champagnes, purples, and silvers.  Grown-up glitter.
  • Once it’s on, it’s on.  Even with an eye makeup remover, this liner outlasted the rest of my makeup.

So if you’ve been watching a lot of Toddlers & Tiaras, and you’re feeling especially showy, this is the eyeliner for you.  It’s available at Sephora, Ulta, Amazon and Too Faced, and there are six other colors if pink isn’t your thing.

M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Conditioner

The Splurge: Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco Conditioner

It’s no secret that I’m deeply in love with Bumble and Bumble’s Creme de Coco scent.  I love the Hair Masque, and this conditioner is equally fantastic.  While I don’t see the dramatic improvement I do with the mask, I get smooth, soft, and deliciously scented hair without the time commitment.  Perfect for the everyday shower routine.  $24 at Bumble & Bumble (and buy one get one free at Target!)

The Steal: Aussie 3-Minute Miracle

Surprisingly effective for the low, low price, Aussie 3-minute Miracle delivers “deeeeep conditioning.”  There’s a noticeable difference in my hair texture after one use.  It’s not as softening as Bumble & Bumble, but it’s the nicest drug store conditioner I’ve used.  The scent is a little bit like a strong, cheap fruit punch, but it’s not unpleasant.  For the $4.29 price tag (at Ulta and drug stores), it’s worth smelling like the Chiquita lady.

The Skip: Terax Crema Conditioner

Insultingly priced at $24.99 at Amazon, this ‘luxury conditioner’ was surprisingly lackluster.  I’ve read about its cult following, and checked out the rave reviews… but for me, it did almost nothing.  It has a truly bizarre scent – a little bit fishy with hints of plastic and play doh – but I rubbed it into my hair anyway.  (Seriously, why did I do that?)  I gave it a few minutes to get to work.. then a few more minutes when it didn’t feel any different.. then eventually I had to get out of the shower.  Nothing.  Even after a few tries, I’m struggling to see what this fish paste does to my hair.  I don’t know what the hype’s about, but this bottle’s been lonely in my shower for a few months now.  Skip.

M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Lip Balm

The Splurge: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15

If you’re fancy enough to drop $20 on lip balm, this is the one to buy.  It’s nourishing and smooth, like rubbing a warm stick of butter on your lips… if you’re into that kind of thing.  I most certainly am.  This lip balm is not at all waxy or sticky, and there are tons of great colors to choose from.  Luscious as hellll.  $22.50 at Sephora

The Steal: Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20

Baby Lips should really have its own Best Stuff post, it’s so good.  For being such a cheapy cheap lip balm, it out performs almost every other brand.  Baby Lips skips the waxy chapstick feel, and soaks into my lips comfortably and quickly.  It’s a must-have in every purse and car compartment, especially since it’s cheap enough to replace if/when it melts.  Quenched and Peppermint (both clear) are my two favorites – I didn’t realize the other four kinds are tinted, and picked up Cherry Me and Peach Kiss also.  The tint is noticeably cheap; the colors are Bonne Bell awkward and they apply unevenly.  Save yourself the patchy peach lips, and stick to clear.  $3.99 at Ulta and drug stores

The Skip: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

I know I’ll probably be one of the first official Burt’s Bees haters, but hear me out.  A few years ago, Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm was in every one of my jacket pockets.  It was my miracle drug – smooth, but a little waxy, with a soothing minty tingle.  But over the past two to three years, something at Burt’s Bees has changed.  I was thrilled when I saw the lip balm in grocery stores and gas stations, but when I picked up a replacement tube, I noticed it was hard.  Like a solid beeswax candle.  It wasn’t a fluke, I received more tubes as holiday gifts, and they were exactly the same.  Solid, waxy, and almost impossible to rub on my lips.  So I gave up on Burt and every single one of his bees.  Farewell, old friends, you were loved.

M

Everyday Skin Care Arsenal

I love makeup to death, but at the end of the day, I want every speck of it off my face.  It creeps me out thinking it’s lingering in my pores, so I go hard on my skin care regimen.  Here’s what’s working for me:


First I pre-wash the majority of my makeup off with my hands and Noxzema deep cleansing cream ($4.39) – the kind in a big blue pot.  (I pre-wash because I don’t like to get my Clarisonic brush too clogged up with makeup… it feels like I’m rubbing foamy old foundation around on my face.)  I’m not especially attached to this cleanser, I mostly use it because I get to scoop handfuls out like ice cream.


Next I deep clean with my Clarisonic Mia 2 and a cleanser: Purity Made Simple facial cleanser ($20), old school Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($11.49) or Biore Complexion Clearing Ice Cleanser ($7.49).  Whichever I blindly grab.


Usually, my eye makeup sticks around even after the brush, so I rub in some Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover lotion ($18) and wipe it off gently with tissue (cotton balls leave awful little fuzz strings in my lashes.)

After that, I swipe my face and neck with Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1 ($13) and CVS’s hugest cotton balls ever ($1.49).  (I know, I’m sharing my favorite brand of cotton balls.  But they’re seriously huge and luscious.  I love them.)  It removes the last traces of makeup or dirt and leaves my face feeling fresh.

Then I apply Clinique Repairwear Eye Cream around my tired old eyes, and Alba Even Night Cream on my face and neck.  And it’s relaxing and wonderful, and my skin is grateful.

What skin care product or routine do you swear by?

M