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

The Daily Sample: Perfekt Lash Perfection Gel

I got this Perfekt Lash Perfection Gel sample not knowing what to expect.  The description is completely nebulous – “A silky smooth color gel that “per-fekts” and enhances the appearance of the lashes offering an easy alternative to traditional mascara, lash primer, lash treatment, conditioner, and enhancer.”  What the hell is this miracle goo?

I wasn’t sure if it’s supposed to be colored or clear, but it seems to be a pretty standard black mascara.  I figured I’d try it alone, so I applied it over clean, curled lashes.  It coated them lightly, making them appear a little longer and darker, but not thicker at all.  Even weirder – it seemed to straighten out the curl in my lashes.  To rescue my stick-straight long black lashes, I re-curled and layered on some Benefit They’re Real mascara.  The result was a 1-and-a-half-coats-of-mascara look – not the drama and chunk potential of two coats, but not really a one coat natural look either.

Perfekt lash gel worked (decently) as a light first coat, but I can’t imagine using it for much else.  “Lash primer” makes sense.  “Lash treatment, conditioner and enhancer”… I’m not so sure about that.  On the plus side, it doesn’t flake or smudge too badly – but that may be since it’s barely there at all.

Lengthening Power: 3/5
Thickening Power: 0/5
Color: 5/5
Hold: 3/5
Longevity: 5/5
Price: $28.50 at Sephora
Value: 1/5

M

Sample Overload

In the past, I may have mentioned that I’ve collected a lot of samples over time.. you might not have realized I meant a lot A LOT:

(Of course I realized this picture was blurry only after I spread everything out, clicked a few shots, and uploaded.)

You could call it a boatload.

With the spending freeze under way, I have plenty of time to try these out and share reviews, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I don’t like trying more than one product at once because it’s harder for me to pinpoint the effect each product had.. so I’ll be doing a sample a day.

Starting with… Brazilian Peel Clear!  (It’s the little blue and white syringe-looking thing.)  I chose it specifically for the fun-looking packaging, and it didn’t disappoint.  The tip twists and pulls off, exposing an opening for both tubes (there’s a clear gel and a creamy liquid).  According to instructions, you push the end in like a syringe to squeeze both fluids into your hand, and then mix it up until it’s warm.  My fluids went from room temp to HOT in a matter of seconds, and I was a little hesitant to rub it on my face.

It went on clear, like a gel, and stung a little upon application.  I’ve had lactic, salicylic and glycolic acid facial peels, though, and Brazilian Peel was pretty mild, comparatively.  I left it on for 10 minutes per instructions without any stinging or burning (just a generally warm sensation), and then rinsed it with cool water.  My skin looked… the same.  Slightly smaller pores if anything, but not my typical post-peel blush and glow.

I felt bad for putting my skin through the heat blast for limited results, so I treated it to a thick coating of Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief.  It’s a thick moisturizer that leaves my skin shiny (but not greasy) – so I only use it when I’m not planning to wear makeup on top.

I’m keeping an open mind, knowing that some peels improve skin in the following days and not immediately, but Brazilian Peel sells at Sephora for $78 for a set of 4 syringes – and for that price, I’m saying helllll no!  I could get a good facial with a proper peel for just a little more than that.

Fun packaging, you can’t trick me.

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

VIB Clutch o’ Samples

One of my final hurrah purchases came in yesterday along with the VIB jam-packed sample clutch (fun size everything!)  The clutch is hideous, naturally, but here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Photo Finish Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)
  • Hanae Mori EDT, 1.2mL

This is how it’s done, Birchbox!  The original clutch featured Stella, but mine was replaced with Hanae Mori – and I’m glad!  I think it’s actually for men, but it smells strongly of vanilla with a little jasmine, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat.

I haven’t had a chance to dig in to the rest of the samples, but with the spending freeze fast approaching, I expect I’ll be cherishing them soon.  Even though I have a hoarder-style stash of samples already, I always find them useful for car and purse extras, saving suitcase space on trips, or to fill up my basket of guest toiletries (my girl friends love that!)

On a related note, Sephora’s offering 5 free samples (rather than their usual 3 free) til 8/28.  Double points for VIB’s AND extra samples?!  Get it, girl.

M

 

August VIB Perks

Sephora VIB’s (and VIB-curious): Have you checked out the August promos?  Killer deals!

This weekend (Aug 17-19), Very Important Beauty Insiders have the hook-up with a sample-packed clutch with purchase.  Spend $35 in store or online (way, way too easy) and enter VIBCLUTCH at checkout.  If you bulk up your cart to $50, free shipping too!  Here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)

Promos like this are why I’m probably too spoiled for Birchbox.  Buy some thing(s) you know you love for $35, AND get a bunch of generously-portioned freebies, PLUS three free samples, AND a points perk, if you’re a frequent shopper.  Deal$.

Also, while I was in the store last week, I picked up a VIB August schedule flyer I hadn’t seen before.  I tucked it into my purse feeling sly as hell – insider info!  I’m sure they have these out all the time, but this is the first one I’ve noticed… so allow me to share, if you’re a little unaware, like I was:

Aug 17-19 VIB Event Weekend – Special events with complimentary express service looks for fall.  Exclusive gifts for VIBs with minimum $35 purchase.  I’m really DIY about my makeup, so I won’t be taking them up on the service – but hop in, if you’re into that!

Aug 20-26 VIB Double Points – Double Points on every merchandise purchase, online or in-store.  Now’s the time to splurge!  Picking up one Urban Decay Naked palette ($50) will get you 100 points – meaning an instant gift with purchase.

Aug 27-31 Free Shipping – Online orders ship for free with no minimum purchase, enter code VIBSHIP.  The bummer with this promo is that you have to use a code.  Sephora famously allows only one promo code per transaction, so you can’t cash in on any other freebie offers.

If you’re not a Sephora Beauty Insider, definitely consider signing up!  If you spend $350 in a year (again, TOO easy), you’re automatically upgraded to Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) status, which gives you access to crazy events and deals like these.

I realize I probably sound like a Sephora corporate drone sometimes, but I promise you, I’ve got no affiliations with the company (aside from being a die-hard fan for life).  I’m an avid shopaholic across the board, and this store has the greatest customer loyalty program I’ve ever seen.  Aside from the freebie offers, points with every purchase, birthday gifts, and in-store events, their return policy is simply the best.  I may spend a lot at Sephora, but I know that if I don’t love a product, I’ll absolutely get my money back.  Even if I’ve tried it on.  Even if I’ve just changed my mind.

But I’ll end my enthusiastic love letter now.  Enjoy your August perks!

M

August Polish Picks

August Polish Picks

Left to Right:

August is a tricky summer/fall month – I can’t get into jewel tones and dark polishes just yet, but neons don’t seem right either.  Right now, I’m totally feeling neutral blush and copper colors.. rich, grown-up and unbeatably easy to wear.  I also love a matte finish (especially over a metallic polish) – it’s unexpected but not outrageous.   And if I start feeling old and boring, I stick on a couple of back-to-school decals.  Nerdy cute, these look great over clear polish or Decades of Dysfunction.  (And for my noncommittal ladies, they peel right off for unexpected business meetings.)  The Hello Kitty nail stickers aren’t the highest quality I’ve used – they tear pretty easily – but use tweezers and some extra caution, and you’ll be fine.

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

10-second review: Too Faced Powder Puff Brush

Not too long ago, I picked up the Too Faced Powder Puff Brush ($32) to replace my struggling old powder brush.  It’s deceptively cute – and by that I mean, it’s a great brush despite looking like it came with a My Little Pony gift set.  I’m not a huge fan of its over-the-top cutesy appearance, but I can deal.

Too Faced is one of those brands I had looked at as an outsider.  Much like Kat Von D and  Tokidoki, I saw it as an overpriced novelty line, and not an everyday standard.  (Too harsh?)  But after discovering Starry-Eyed glitter liner and this brush, I know I’ll be keeping an eye on this brand in the future.

These bristles are super-soft “teddy bear hair” and surprisingly dense.  It’s really one of the softest brushes I’ve ever used, and I love that.  The densely packed bristles, however, throw me for a loop.  I’m still getting used to the heavier application, but it looks great – very smooth and even.  It’s decent with pressed powders, but amazing with loose ones (like MUFE’s HD Microfinish powder).  And I’m not a mineral makeup girl (yet), but I imagine it’d be perfect for that too.

Pick one of these up next time you’re at Sephora… even if it’s just to feel the teddy bear hair.

M