The Hair Files

August 18, 2011

As of late I love hair products. I will try just about anything that’s repairing, hydrating, smoothing, shine boosting, protective, or restorative. My hair is super long because I’ve been growing it out and it’s also color treated. And, of course, I heat style about four or five days a week. I’ve found many successes and many failures. I’ve also had many lost loves that have been harder to find or discontinued.

This is the first installment of the “Hair Files,” where I tell you what worked for my hair type or style I’m creating, why I loved or didn’t love it, and if I’ve found a cheaper duplicate for a more expensive product.

I wanted to start the first Hair Files off with some dud’s because I like getting the messy stuff out of the way first. So, here are my least faves of 2011, thus far:

Top:

Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner: I loved how the Coconut smelled. It was light and fresh, and the conditioner detangled my hair very well. However, my hair did not feel soft afterwards.

Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner: My hair was left detangled and it also felt dry and coarse. Weird for a product that is supposed to smooth.

All in all, neither product from this brand was great and I’m glad I got them buy one get one free at Rite Aid and didn’t spend a lot on these. I have used other Organix treatments with great success (Coconut Split End Mender and Brazilian Keratin Anti-Breakage Serum) and I suppose the shampoos and conditioners are not a right fit for my hair.

Bottom:

Living Proof Humidity Blocking Flexible Hold Hair Spray: I love that this did not make my hair stiff. It did, however, make my hair feel stringy and sticky.

Living Proof Straight Spray: While I had less static while using this, it did not make my wavy hair any straighter.

Moroccanoil treatment: This oil was OK. It felt nice going on but frankly, there are better options on the market that aren’t as pricey. It is also supposed to reduce hair drying time and it did not. I also seemed to have more breakage while using this, when it’s supposed to counteract breakage.

Phyto Phytokarite mask: It made my hair feel dry, tangled, and something about the smell made me gag. I was told it has a floral scent but to me it smelled like rotten hard-boiled eggs and potpourri.

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September Faves

October 5, 2010

 

1. Tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner, $18, in eight colors, sephora.com: I haven’t been wearing eyeliner almost all summer, with the exception of a few days. I like the way liner looks on my eyes, I just really dislike taking it off at the end of the day.  Tarte liner lasted all day and was actually easy to remove! It felt a little cool when I was applying it and that weirded me out a bit because my lids felt wet but it subsided after a few minutes. I would love to buy other colors (I have black) and might add them to my holiday wish list. I even thought the ultra-slim stick was easier to handle and use for creating a cat-eye. 

2. Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol III, $54, sephora.com: Since I’ve missed out on previous book of shadows palettes, I figured I’d give this new one a whirl. I think it’s a good value for the assortment of shadow colors, two liners, and a primer. Oh, and the cute little diorama that lights up. Super cute! My only beef with Urban is the glitter shadows. I know the glitter is supposed to “lightly float under the eye creating a halo effect,” (those words were from a UD artist) but it makes me feel like a glitter bomb exploded on my face. Luckily this palette only comes with a few glitter pans and the rest have a light shimmer. It’s not yet on urbandecay.com and most Sephora stores should have them in-stock already or will be getting them soon. If you don’t see them out on display, ask. Mine came from the stock room. =) 

3. Ojon Volumizing Two-Minute Hair Mask, $34 6.5 oz, ojon.com: I love what Ojon’s products do for my hair and at the same time, I can’t handle the scent and had to stop using the brand a while back. Luckily a fellow beauty-junkie that knows my qualms gave me a new jar of the Volumizing mask and said, “I know you aren’t loving the rest of the line but try this. I promise the scent won’t make you gag.” Um…where has this mask been all of my life? The scent is more of a jasmine and “green” scent and not the traditional coffee/chocolate/woodsy/”natural” scent of the rest of the line. It makes my hair feel bouncy, hydrated, soft, and makes it smell so good. The texture is also feather-light and feels whipped to perfection and I always look forward to using it. 

4. Lancome Definicils Precious Cells Mascara, $29, lancome.com, sephora.com: I like natural looking mascara and this delivers the results I want with an added bonus of lash conditioners. I like the unique brush; One side has a traditional wand, the other has longer bristles. I did a more dramatic last by building up mascara layers for work one day and one my clients thought I had on individual faux lashes. It also promises lash doubling properties and less lash fall-out when removing mascara. 

5. GHD Blue Serenity Styler (MK IV), $230, sephora.com, ghd.com: Ohhhh, GHD, how I love thee. I already own a GHD MK IV and I’ve been worried that my most favorite beauty tool in the world (yes, in the world) is slowly dying. It’s starting to not perform as it once did. It’s still functional, of course. It’s just taking slightly longer to heat up and the little beeper no longer beeps at me when it’s ready. I’d been eyeing the sleek, pretty limited-editions for a while. The Blue Serenity color lured me in. I love the bonus quilted case even the hard black case it comes with. I’ve tried many brands of styling irons in the past and I’ll be sticking with GHD, possibly forever. 

6. Peace, Love & Juicy Couture, $18-$87, nordstrom.com and sephora.com: The newest offering from Juicy Couture is supposed to be inspired by the “free-spirited, sixties-style vibe of Malibu.” It reminds me of something familiar but can’t quite figure out what. It is actually quite nice. It’s lighter than the other fragrances in the Juicy range and a bit more girly. Out of the featured notes, the magnolia, honeysuckle, and patchouli flower come out more with my skin chemistry than the others. Interesting, since I’m not into magnolia or patchouli. If you happen to be in Nordies or Sephora, give this one a wiff. I like the rollerball size. It’s small enough that I’ll use it all up before I grow tired of it and the price is right. 

7. Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation, $50, lauramercier.com: In the past, cream foundations and I have not been friends. They felt heavy on my oily skin and they even looked heavy. I was given a small sample of this to try and I pretty much love it. It’s designed to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, a feature that I can’t really vouch for since I have neither. It doesn’t feel heavy at all, only perhaps a tiny bit tacky when first applied. I didn’t set it with powder one morning when I was in a rush to get out the door and it lasted the same amount of time on my skin as when I do set it. I was a bit more dewy than usual but no biggie. A little goes a long way and if cost is a concern, I’m certain the jar would last a very long time as I’ve been using my little 5 g sample for three weeks and I’m just now running out. I’m debating if I love it enough to buy a jar of my very own because I’m between colors. Warm Ivory is a little light and the next color up, Sunny Beige, is too dark.

I first tried Bare Escentual’s Bare Mineral foundation back in 2005 and despite all of the fabulous infomercials that promised this foundation would deliver beautiful skin, it did not work for me at all. The coverage was OK and application was easy (albeit very messy) but it made my oily skin feel greasy and the bismuth oxychloride made my face itch like crazy. I also did not like how shiny it made my skin look.

I swore off the brand, even after a colleague of mine ended up working for the company and tried to convince me that it was a good product. When the matte foundation was released, she gave me my very own jar to try out and said I would like this new formula better. It sat in my makeup organizer for months until recently when I decided to break it out and finally give it a try.

I like the new packaging; its user-friendly closable sifter ensures that you won’t end up with a powder explosion when opened. I also love that it is matte and is free of bismuth oxychloride. I did not like the coverage as it seemed to be lighter than the original. I also didn’t care for how it felt on my skin, though to be fair I feel this way about all mineral makeup, not just this brand. I felt itchy when it was first applied and then that feeling went away after a few moments of wear. For me, it is totally better than the original. I can absolutely see how others love Bare Escentuals products and I’m still not a fan of the brand.

PSA: I know that the B.E. slogan is “makeup so pure you can sleep in it,” but please don’t. Even though the makeup won’t clog your pores, you are still producing oil and not washing your face after wearing any kind of makeup can contribute to clogged pores or acne.

The new matte foundation is $28 and can be found at Bare Escentuals stores and Sephora.

Lush Figs and Leaves Soap

November 18, 2009

 Mmmmmm. I love Lush’s Figs and Leaves Soap because it smells like a little peace of heaven. The scent is light, slightly clean and also a little foody. It also feels divine and exfoliates without being messy or leaving behind a film. Figs and Leaves exfoliates with fig seeds and is scented with essentials oild of ylang ylang, orange blossom absolute, and added fragrance.I love this because it’s gentle, smells divine, feels wonderful on my skin, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. The only downside, for me, are the leaves on the top of the soap. Sure, it’s pretty decoration, but it gets mushy with use and can clog the drain. I just simply peel the leaves off after my first use. I discovered this soap thanks to a little sample that a nice sales lady added into my bag and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love it during fall and winter the most and will sometimes indulge in a bar during other months as well.This soap ranges in price in store depending on the size you get and the online quote for a 3.5 oz bar is $7.60. You can also have the lovely sales people at the store cut your very own custom bar as well.

Lush is best known for its natural approach to skin, body, and hair care. Sometimes synthetic materials (man-made) are used and they strive to use skin and eco-friendly versions. There are several locations world-wide and the online store is the only place to find “Retro Lush” items (previously discontinued products). Many items are also vegan friendly.

kingt

The de Young Museum in San Francisco currently has an exhibition showing various items from King Tut’s tomb. It features artifacts from King Tut’s tomb as well as his ancestors (Note: there seem to be more of his ancestors items then of his on display). The museum advises that the self guided tour takes about 90 minutes. My mom and I finished in 45. There is an audio tour for $7 that you can follow, although we did just fine reading the signage for free.

General admission on weekdays for adults is $27.50 and $32.50 on weekends. For what it was, I felt the tickets were a little steep but you also get to view the rest of the museum. One of the most impressive pieces Tjuya’s gilded coffin (thought to be Tut’s grandmother). It was huge! And gold! There was also a fairly large head from a broken statue of Akhenaton (Tut’s father). The rest of the items were smaller, everyday objects like jars for ungents and oils (I was excited to see these after studying about the role of fragrance in ancient Egypt for my Fragrance Foundation certification). I was blown away by the amount of gold used, but then again, you wouldn’t expect anything less for a king and royal family.

I wouldn’t recommend going to the city just  for the exhibit. Plan a day around the city to make the most of your time. By purchasing a ticket, you will receive a Pharaoh’s Gold Card, which offers discounts and perks for various businesses around the city. There are quite a few restaurants that offer 10% off or a complimentary dessert with purchase of entree. There’s also tons to do in SF, and if you don’t want to venture too far from the museum, there are several things to do and see within the park: Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, Arboretum, and California Academy of Sciences, to name a few. Sutro Heights, the beach, and the zoo are also close to the park.

Read on below for information about handicap access at the museum and the exhibit.

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The Faux Tan Files #2

May 20, 2009

blisstanscrub

What: Bliss’ A Tan for All Seasons, $36. It sprays out purple to neutralize orange (genius) and gives a hint of tint instantly so you can see where you put it. The nozzle sprays 360 degrees so you’ll never miss a spot.

Rating: 5! I like this better then VS Bare Bronze. It dries super quickly (somewhere between instantly and 3 minutes) and doesn’t feel like anything once it’s rubbed. It’s also very easy to use.

The smell: Not bad at all. There wasn’t really a scent right off the bat. Once it had been on my skin for a few hours I started to smell a little self tanner scent but it was faint.

The color: No orange! It’s a natural looking shade on my fair skin. I actually have color that doesn’t scream, “My tan is from a can!”

Verdict: I love it. If you check Sephora.com the ratings are all very good, too.

Tip: When scrubbing or removing excess self tanner from hands or body, always apply scrub or soap to the area before adding water. Using water first will lock in the self tanner. I wish this tip was of my own genius, but it’s from a super smart Bliss employee.

Tip #2: Before using self tanner be sure to exfoliate! I like Bliss scrubs, like the Lemon and Sage scrub featured above. It also helps to remove tanner from your hands post faux tan session.

PS: I got Bliss’ Fat Girl Slim anti-cellulite treatment today. I will report my results on a later date as this is a product that needs to be used consistently and as directed. Using one time would not make for an accurate review. Also, to anyone thinking of using this product, a little goes a long way. You don’t want to use it like a regular body moisturizer.

The Faux Tan Files #1

May 18, 2009

barebronze

What: Victoria’s Secret Bare Bronze Collection, $32 (free for me thanks to a bday gift card). This set features a full size 5.3 oz bronzing spray for instant color over the course of a few hours, 3.2 oz gradual tan firming body lotion for tanning maintenance, and a 3.4 oz sand and surf body polish to buff away dead skin and provide a smooth surface for self tanner application.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I completely adore the sand and surf body polish. It feels luxurious and is one of the best body scrubs I’ve tried. The bronzing spray was fairly decent. The first time I used it, I was very light handed and didn’t get much color. The second time I it gave me more of a glow and enhanced my skin tone by about 4-5 shades. The gradual firming body lotion was nice but not memorable.

The smell: VS described the scent as “a sweet, creamy Brazil nut scent,” and I would agree. It’s pleasant at first, then the self tanner scent settles in and is covered by the Brazil nut scent. The scent wasn’t as offensive as most self tanners on the market and it also wasn’t the best, either.

The color: Surprisingly not orange. It was a very subtle golden shade. I’m pretty fair so for a self tanner to not instantly turn orange on me was a nice surprise. It did look slightly yellow around my elbow and more exfoliation followed by a bit of regular body lotion would have fixed that issue.

Verdict: Not bad at all. If you are looking for more color, do add more product. I’m always conservative with the amount of products I use because I believe that it’s best to start with less and build up gradually from there. It’s easier to add product then to remove excess.

Tip: So I don’t get tell-tale self tanner hands and help to avoid streaks, I blend with a kabuki brush instead of my hands. The kit is a good way to try the products. I probably would not have purchased the scrub because I have so many, but this one is pretty nice and is possibly worth a repurchase.

 

 

 

vsvs1

I made a small Victoria Secret order recently thanks to birthday gift cards and VS coupon codes. I got one of the new Biofit 7-Way bra (OMG amazing), a self tanner kit (reviews coming when I try it), and a lotion from their new Naturally Victoria’s Secret line.

The scent is Vanilla Sandalwood, which sounded like my cup of tea since I like both vanilla and sandalwood. Have you ever been at a Catholic mass and incense was burned during the service? That’s exactly what this lotion smells like. It is not for me at all and will be sent back. It also doesn’t feel very hydrating. Perhaps other scents within the line are better and this experience reminds me to never buy scented items online without sniffing them in person first.

tbscranberryhugs

I love The Body Shop, especially the seasonal cranberry items. The cranberry scent is calming, light and not too sweet or tart. Yum! Last year they had cranberry heatable feet hugs and cranberry heatable body hugs, both are cozy, soft material that contain little pouches you heat in the microwave. They retain heat and you can bask in the warmth they give off. I wanted both of the hugs over the holidays but was too lazy to order them. Well, laziness pays off because I was randomly browsing TBS site and found them on sale for $13 each! They were previously $26 each.

My favorite of the two is the feet hugs. They feel divine after a long day of standing and walking. I also have feet that turn cold easily so I foresee these being my favorite thing next winter. I like the body hug and I wish it was a bit longer. I’ve only used it once and it didn’t seem to retain heat very long, although I know with such products it takes a few uses for them to hold heat longer. It will probably be my BFF when I’m crampy or sore.

All in all, at the sale price, I’d say these are both worth it. They are still available on TBS website, and are currently listed under the “specials” tab in “last chance” so they may be gone soon.

I also got a free coconut shower cream. I chose coconut because I adore their coconut body butter (my fave scent, next to mango). When you spend $25 or more (before tax and shipping) you can choose a free shower gel online or at participating stores. This offer is valid until April 19th.

ao

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Josie Maran Argan Oil under my PM moisturizer (currently Korres Thyme Honey Moisturizer). Love, love, love! I want to bathe in it but alas, I only have a small sample vial of the product. You can also use Argan Oil as a hair treatment, on your body, and it’s also recommended for dry cuticles and eczema.

My oily skin is prone to occasional breakouts, especially when I’m PMSing. Since I started using it, my skin looks clear, radiant, and feels a tad less oily. It’s certainly not a miracle product but I do admittedly adore it, so far. The texture is neither thin nor thick, it is quickly absorbed, and doesn’t have a heavy scent. I’d describe it as slightly earthy in a good way. While I like this brand, I am also researching other brands that sell the same product for perhaps a bit less. I might break down and buy a bottle if I don’t find a suitable alternative. Buyer beware: make sure you check ingredients of what you are buying as some companies add fillers to keep the price down.