30 September 2008

Product Lust: ColorOn Eye Envy Appliqués

As you can see from my 'About Me', I constantly quest for the perfect smoky eye. I was browsing on Sephora.com (because, let's face it, it's pretty much makeup mecca) and found ColorOn Eye Envy Appliqués-Smokey Kit.

I mean, come on! These are perfectly blended swatches that you put on and go. Can you imagine? No blending for ages, and for me, the problem is blending, especially blacks and greys. My eyelid skin is so thin that it grabs the makeup and creates blotches of colour. Blending is a bi-atch, and making a smoky eye using blacks and charcoals usually looks like black-on-grey mosaic.

There are a variety of colour schemes available. The colour blending moves from side-to-side on some, and top-to-bottom on others. Some of the palettes are subtle (Ibiza is taupe-down-to-chocolate), while others are bold (Sapphires and Gold is blue-in-to-gold-in-to-pink).

These appliqués are made from mineral cream eye shadows. They are applied over a concealer base, pressed on, peeled off, and finally a gel set powder is applied to set the appliqué. They claim to be crease-proof. I am a little skeptical that the application would be as smooth as it's described. I have trouble imagining that I could lay appliqué the so the eyeliner is straight and low on the lid. Also, the appliqués apply onto the eye in a pixel pattern, so I think you do need to do a bit of blending.

Still, I'd love to try the Exotic Kit and the Smokey Kit. I think ready-made camoflage or zebra eyes would be great!

Happy Birthday Google!

Wow! Google is 10 today. Where does the time go?

Have you been Googling for years too?

29 September 2008

Got & Want: Blotting Papers

Blotting papers are really handy. They always travel compactly and do a better job keeping my oily face from looking like an oil slick than anythig else I've tried. Whether I'm wearing foundation or not, these little puppies are always with me.


The standard I keep with me are Quo Blotting Papers from Shoppers Drug Mart. They are simple, inexpensive and work just fine. The case is simply designed just like the papers: it's made from aluminum and really durable. The only thing that it's missing is a mirror, which is handy when you are blotting.


Because you can never be totally satisfied, I keep looking for something a little more perfect.
I can't wait to try Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets. I've used J&J Clean & Clear products in the past, especially when my acne was more active. I've heard good things about these sheets on other blogs, but I've never tried them out. They're next on my shopping list when my trusty Quo runs out.

I am also looking eagerly at Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens. They are really made of 100% linen instead of paper, and that sounds really soft on your skin. They are available with green tea or lavender extracts.

I'm also looking for a Canadian source for Tweezerman Facial Blotting Paper (the website says Linens 'N' Things carries their line, but this item isn't on their website). The dispenser is funky - like wax paper in your kitchen.

27 September 2008

Product Review: InfiniteAloe Skin Care

My husband has always had skin problems. He is a redhead who sunburns easily and had severe eczema as a child. He also had chemical burns on his forearms from working in concrete as a teenager. I was an optician for five years, so my hands were exposed to acetone and other chemical for much of the day. I noticed my hands became much drier than before my career. We test a lot of creams and lotions in this house

At the Capital Ex this past July, we saw a booth for a moisturizer called InfiniteAloe. They had a lot of materials on the 'natural benefits' of aloe vera. Hub decided to try this moisturizer after talking to the salesmen at the booth and getting such a good deal (or as we like to say, "Whadda bah-gain!").

I already knew a lot about the healing properties of aloe from tidbits my health food guru grandma taught me; it is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral and antifungal. My grandma used it for years internally and externally for a variety of ailments from arthritis to sunburns to stomach irritation.

InfiniteAloe contains a form of aloe vera called Aloe Barbadensis Miller, which is a variety used in burn centers. They claim it absorbs into all seven layers of the skin, lasts five to eight hours and treats a shopping list of ailments including eczema and psoriasis. Anytime someone starts to get too wordy about all the wonderful "cure-all" things a single item can do, I tend to get skeptical, and the salesmen made these types of claims with InfiniteAloe. InfiniteAloe doesn't make these "cure-all" claims, but they do display a lot of testimonials on the website. I can break down what it does for Hub and me:

It has a light jasmine fragrance which doesn't compete with other things you wear. The cream contains five different oils, herbal extracts and vitamins. It is really light and emollient and absorbs into the skin very quickly and doesn't leave a waxy residue, which is something Hub hates in lotions.

It moisturizes for a very long time, but I couldn't say that it lasts more than five to eight hours because I wash my hands more often than that and washing hands dries them out. They feel much softer during the day than when I don't use this cream. It goes a really long way, too; a pea-sized drop will moisturize my hands. It's also works very well as a face moisturizer.

InfiniteAloe is roughly $40 for an 8 oz jar. We bought a trade show special kit of two 8 oz jars and two 0.5 oz jars of the cream for $70. It's also available in a fragrance-free formula, which I normally prefer, but the jasmine scent in this cream is really nice. There's also a new scent that's supposed to be nice on men, but I don't mind the original scent on Hub. We'll definitely continue reorder this cream!

25 September 2008

Product Review: Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Sheer Haircare

After the years of fighting for height in the 80s and volume in the 90s, I like to accentuate how smooth my hair can get. I like shampoos and conditioners that help to smooth hair out, but they often weigh your hair down so much that it makes your hair pretty lank and gross.

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Sheer Haircare is great because it keeps your air pretty light while keeping it smooth. It has a nice light scent, and the shampoo lathers up really well. The conditioner takes longer to rinse out than I'm used tom, but it leaves your hair feeling really soft afterwards.

24 September 2008

Beauty Moment: Flowers!

I'm not much of a girly-girl when it comes to gifts. I'm usually pretty practical when it comes to gifts - I'll take a tasty jar of pickles over a bouquet most days.

But I admit that when I get an unexpected surprise, I sometimes have a girly moment. Today I received a really beautiful bouquet of flowers from a supplier that we order logo items from at work.

I've worked with him before on projects, but this was the largest one, and hopefully will be the start of an annual program. He's given me nice little promotional items before: notebooks, mints and a pretty luxe butane lighter for candles & barbeques.

The card was addressed to me and the office, but it really was for me. Aren't they gorgeous?

23 September 2008

Mammograms - Beauty in Health

I had my first mammogram this morning. My doctor sent me as a screening process after my annual physical, telling me it was a standard procedure. It seemed a little early for me since I'm in my 30s, but I don't know which concerned me more: the idea of squishing my breasts between two plates or the instructions on the requisition to not wear deodorant or anti-perspirant that morning.

The good news is that the process is much faster and wasn't as bad as I'd made it in my mind. (Well actually, the good news is that I received the all-clear. Let's hear it for my healthy girls!) After checking in at the desk, you wait for your turn. They usher you into a change room, ask you to remove all clothing from the waist up and put on a sooo attractive hospital gown. This thing was great; gi-frickin'-normous and with three ties at the side in charming hospital-ready soft blue. There was a little overlap, but the top two ties didn't line up (very the extremely well-endowed, I'm guessing) so there's a lovely pouch-y effect. At least the material was very soft.

You are instructed to sit in a smaller waiting room until they call you. After a few minutes, a nice lady with a slight limp asked me to follow her into the procedure room and sit down. There was a tall machine with plastic bits and a little computer station in the room. She asked me some questions which sounded like standard procedure: when was your last cycle, are you pregnant, is there any family history of breast, colon cancer, etc. She then asked me to sign a waiver stating I indicated that I was not pregnant.

The technician left to check if my doctor wanted two images or four, but gave me a pat on the head when I answered the all-important question about using deodorant or anti-perspirant. I spent the minute she was away being thankful that she actually had to ask and looking at my nemesis, the giant breast squishing machine. It's about 2 metres tall and is just a pair of large arms holding a couple of clear plastic plates and a few foot pedals. At this point I remembered the technician's limp and tried to convince myself that she wouldn't have a twitch at an inopportune moment.

When she came back in, she gave me the good news that I only needed two plates and the bad news that I had to get the vertical images, which are more painful. She swung the two large arms around to they were at an angle and asked me to stand in front of the machine and expose the right breast. Then, just like you'd expect, she lifted me onto the clear plastic plate on the machine. She asked me to hold a handrail on the top and tilt like I was doing a side-bend, then she sort of pulled the breast away from me (just a tug, no real pain there) and then used the foot pedal to lower the top angled plate.

She pushed the plate down until I was well squished, but to be honest it was more uncomfortable than painful. She kept that limping foot steady and didn't twitch at all. It felt a little like when an underwire bra slips and pulls flat across your breast. (Actually, it felt like someone was pulling hard on my breast!) Not a pleasant feeling by any stretch of the imagination, but not horrific. The worst part was the plates trying to squish the rest of my chest. Then she told me to hold my breath: not a problem when your chest is being squished. She walked over to the computer and took a picture, then we repeated everything for the left side. It took about as long as a dental x-ray.

The hard part was when she told me to go back into the waiting room while the doctor examined the slides to see if they needed to take the other two images. She assured me that this was because this was my first mammogram, but then I was sitting there for ten minutes thinking about her coming back and saying we needed more images. Luckily, a different technician came out in eleven minutes and said I was cleared to leave.

Why am I writing about this in a beauty blog? Three reasons:

Knowledge is power. I think women who've never had this procedure should know that it's not necessarily as bad as the horror stories our mothers told us. I have a well-endowed friend who's been telling me her horror stories about these tests since we were 18, so it's been built up in my mind as pretty awful. Also, the notion of "the big C" is larger when you are testing for it, even as a standard screening process. It's almost like being tested made the possibility of it happening much more real, which is ridiculous in theory, but in reality makes for some decent anxiety.

Early prevention/treatment is key. The earlier you find breast cancer, the better your odds of survival. The eariler you find breast cancer, the less devastating the treatment usually is.

Knowledge is beauty. Living in fear can cause some fierce worry lines when a simple procedure can take worry away. I have "grainy breast tissue" so my monthly breast self-exams always make me uneasy; what's the difference between a grain and a lump? Part of me saw this test as a way to prove that the monthly self-exams were right, but I also went into this knowing I might have a bad outcome. For me, not knowing was worse because when I don't know for sure I react like the bad is probably the reality.

This was a small act of facing a demon, and I'm embracing the fact that that I didn't flinch. Be active. Do monthly breast self-exams. Get an annual physical. When your doctor says it's time, get a mammogram. Go to RethinkBreastCancer.com for more information.

20 September 2008

Product Review: Olay Total Effects Lathering Cleansing Cloths

While I try to maintain a good cleansing regimen, I am pretty lazy. I'm always looking for ways to make the whole cleansing process easier. I've used cleansing cloths off and on for years, especially when I travel. I don't like the idea of adding to landfill waste with a daily disposable product, I love the idea of taking a container of dry cloths when I travel that will clean and tone my face. When a new cleansing cloth is available with new features, I'm always curious if it will get the job done.

Olay Total Effects Lathering Cleansing Cloths are my current favourite brand. I love the two textured sides; I lather the rough side and use it to exfoliate, and rinse using the smooth side. It does a good job of cleaning my face until it is squeaky clean.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Total Effects 7-in-1 claim is:
  1. Diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  2. Reduce the appearance of pores by deep cleansing
  3. Exfoliate to reveal younger-looking skin
  4. Smooth skin texture – visibly and to the touch
  5. Even skin tone
  6. Improve surface dullness giving skin a radiant, healthy glow
  7. Soothe dry skin, hydrating with Olay moisture.
I find it is quite strong and astringent, and it makes my skin feel very tight afterwards. It cleans off makeup very well, but since I usually wear waterproof mascara, it doesn't take off mascara for me as it claims. I only use it every other day, but it certainly cleans my pores out. I find I need to moisturize very well after I use it. I don't use it if my skin is sunburned because it seems to make irritation worse. I don't agree with the claim that it soothes dry skin, but it seems to exfoliate very well. My skin feels smoother and tighter, and after a few days it does seem to make my skin looks less dull.

Use this if you want a quick, really strong cleanse and don't want to fuss with several different products. Be aware that it's pretty potent so you'll have to moisturize, and if you have sensitive skin it might irritate.

19 September 2008

Product Review: MAC Viva Glam VI SE

Okay, so I admit it. I'm a MAC whore like most of my friends. :) I loves me some MAC. The colours are rich, the face products are great colours and fine quality. And I love lip gloss, and I love MAC Viva Glam VI SE.

Forget how groundbreaking the program is; the colour is stunning. I prefer cool tones, and love silver and taupe. This colour is great over another colour, and I love how it looks against my skin.

All I can say is: get it!

18 September 2008

Product Review: Infiniti Nano Silver by Conair™ Tourmaline Ceramic™ Hair Styler

I have medium length, straight hair. Every few years I get bored with shorter cuts that need to be styled, so grow it out until it gets to mid-back, but then I get bored and chop it all off again.

I have what one hairdresser called a “sloppy S-curve” (nice!). It’s not enough to make it dry wavy or straight but with a little bend in it. When it’s growing out (like it is now), the weight pulls it down to a hippie-chick look. If it’s cut around shoulder length, the bend makes it kick out at the bottom, so I use a little product to encourage that. It doesn't get very frizzy, but it does get 'fluffy' so that thetop dries fuller than the sleek and smooth I sometimes want.

I put highlights in it 3-4 times a year, but it’s fairly durable and doesn’t really get damaged. The reason it never gets really damaged is because I let it air-dry a lot. I use a ceramic straightener on it once or twice a week, but nearly every day I blow it out about 80% dry with a round brush and leave the rest to air dry. This keeps the top layer from frizzing but gives me volume or straightness, depending on the day. I also style the front until it’s 100% dry, because it’s the only way I can control the dreaded cowlicks!

The blow dryer I look for needs to be able to get hot but mainly needs to deliver quickly. I also don’t like a noisy dryer. I replace my hair dryers every 3-4 years, which is weird if you consider how little stress I put on them, but it means I don’t invest in the salon quality machines.

Right now I’m using the Infiniti Nano Silver by Conair™ Tourmaline Ceramic™ Hair Styler. It’s pretty sweet. It’s ionic, which means there is a ceramic ring around the heating coil which heats up and releases tourmaline ions into the dryer airstream, and this helps your hair stay shiny and avoid frizziness. I find it does keep the 'fluffy' bits of my hair down to a minimum, and when I combine it with a flat brush it makes my hair very straight without a flat iron.

It has a swivel cord which works well, a cold shot button, and comes with a concentrator, straightening pick and diffuser, which I never use. This dryer does a great job to keep my hair smooth, and at 1875 watts it blows the doors off the bathroom. It's not as noisy as you'd expect a powerful dryer to be, and even though I keep the temperature low most of the time I like to have the hot air and cold shot. The only negative thing I can say about it is that it's large, so it's bulky to travel.

If you want an inexpensive hair dryer that does a good job of keeping the frizz down, this is a good choice.

13 September 2008

Product Review: Maybelline NY Define-A-Lash Waterproof Mascara

I have long eyelashes, but they aren't very thick. Okay, those of you have shorter lashes can hate me later, but I often wear glasses, so wearing mascara means I tend to have straggly spider leg trails mucking up my glasses. I always have trouble with volumizing mascaras because they tend to clump on my thin, long eyelashes.

When I saw the ads for Maybelline NY Define-A-Lash Waterproof Mascara, I was hopeful. The packaging is certainly eye-catching, wih neon-greenIt claims to be "Zero-clump" which looked promising. I picked up a tube in Soft Black, and was excited to try it out.

The first time I pulled out the neon green wand, I was excited. The flexible head is contoured and chock full of rubber bristles. The tube has a "built-in wiper" around the opening which is supposed to prevent too much mascara from attaching to the wand. The wand lays the mascara on nicely without applying too much formula, but coating the lashes well.

The problem I have with this mascara is the formula. The liquid was a little thick the first day I applied it ad was a little clumpy, so I had to keep combing the lashes with the wand, and again once it dried. After one coat my lashes looked nearly twice as thick as before, and the colour was nice: soft without being grey. The waterproof formula held up all day without smudging, and my lashes didn't feel really weighed down even though they looked thicker.

On the second day, I tried the same application with the same result. I used it every day that week, but by the end of the week, the lashes were clumping despite combing the lashes with the wand again and combing them after they dried. The formula was not drying out, as it was still creamy, but the fibres seemed to be clustered more thickly.

My experience with Maybelline NY Define-A-Lash Waterproof Mascara was not good. I won't be trying this again, and feel like it was a waste of my money.

11 September 2008

Product Review: Physicians Formula Baked Collection® Wet/Dry Eye Shadow

Shimmer. I love shimmer. I started wearing makeup in the 80s, so it was all about the shimmer eye shadow. Usually in three bright, contrasting colours. As a fair skinned girl, bright colours tend to stand out on my skin like ink on paper, so makeup application without looking like a paint-by-numbers is tricky. The 90s were all about matte neutrals, and learning how to blend within an inch of your life. Now I'm loving the 00s, where mineral makeup is everywhere. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and contact lens friendly, mineral eyeshadows are sheer which allows you to layer on the colour until you have the right intensity. I haven't looked for a mineral foundation yet (next on the list!) and haven't tried mineral lipsticks (the point is?...), but I'm all over eyeshadows and blushes.

Right now I'm loving the Physicians Formula Baked Collection® Wet/Dry Eye Shadow. The colour palettes are beautiful, and blend very well. It is great for soft colourwashes or more intense wet applications. I do find that mineral makeup sort of floats on your skin, and Baked Collection tends to crease a little after about 6 hours. A makeup fixer applied to the brush during the final blending controls this.

This collection is awesome for rockin' the smoky eye. The light colour is perfect for browbone coverage or inner eyelid, the medium tone is a good base for the lid, and the deep colour can be layered for slightly darker colour or applied wet for lining the lashes with intensity. When I took a weekend trip, I was able to use this for three separate looks without an eyeliner pencil.

The colours are baked into little bubble shapes that are separated enough to reach without mixing. The packaging is a little bulky though because of the domed lid. The palette includes a two-headed sponge applicator that is too really small to be useful. I wish the case had a mirror built into it like some of the other Physicians Formula eye shadows.

I've tried Sweets and Smokes collections. Sweets has a light peachy beige, a lilac and a beautiful deep brown, all with a very rosy-toned shimmer. The colours blend together surprisingly well despite their contrast. Smokes is a more traditional collection of pearl, dove grey and deep graphite, all with a white-toned shimmer. I might try Baked Berries next, which is a mix of very rich pinks and burgundys.

10 September 2008

Product Review: Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer

Ever since I was 13, my mom and grandma reminded me constantly to moisturize my face and my neck. My grandmother would say to both of us, "Look, I moisturized my face, but not my neck, and now I have crocodile skin. You be sure to put lotion on your neck." My grandma was a lovely lady with a good work ethic and was never afraid of the sun, but 70+ years of gardening and farm work in short sleeved blouses made her neck look years older than her face. I've moisturized right down to my cleavage (what little there is) with SPF protection. I swear it's the best reason after good genetics to prevent getting wrinkles, especially on the delicate skin on your neck.

Since I wear so much lotion, I don't like a lot of perfume in my moisturizer. Have you ever noticed that women's beauty products that claim to be "unscented" rarely are? How stupid: spend lots on fragrance, but your makeup and hairspray and deodorant and lotion will have scents to drown it out. For years, I wore Oil of Olay because their version of unscented was pretty much... unscented. When they rebranded to Olay, I continued to wear the Complete All Day Moisture Lotion - UV Defense With SPF 15 - Sensitive Skin because it worked and still had very little fragrance.

Now that I'm over 30, I'm trying to keep those dang wrinkles at bay, so I've upgraded my approach. I've been testing different products for an all-around moisturizer, but the best one I've found so far is Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging UV Moisturizer - Plus SPF 15.

The 7-in-1 claim:
  1. Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  2. Smoothes skin texture – visibly and to the touch
  3. Evens skin tone for younger-looking, more balanced colour
  4. Improves surface dullness, giving skin a radiant, healthy glow
  5. Minimizes the appearance of pores
  6. Visibly reduces the appearance of blotches and age spots
  7. Soothes dry skin, hydrating with Olay moisture
I am very skeptical about most claims to shrink pores, but evening out skin tone is a nice goal. I find that with Total Effects my skin does feel more even. Olay keeps the fragrance very light and gives you a silky moisturizing cream that does the trick. I find it's thicker than the regular lotion but still absorbs nicely. I can apply makeup over it after about three minutes without it being sticky or streaky. One negative comment I have is that with my combination skin I find that by mid-day my T-zone is a little oily. I'm guessing the claim to give your face a glow is the cause of this. Glowing and oily or matte and dull - I haven't found a balance yet!

I'm not finished with my search for the perfect moisturizer, but in the meantime Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 will tide me over while I look.

08 September 2008

Product Review: L de Lolita Lempicka

My last hairdresser was wearing a new fragrance the last time I visited her. I was really unimpressed with the cut she gave me, but I was enchanted with the scent of L de Lolita Lempicka and I've been wearing it ever since.

Some people love to change their fragrances all the time. I've never been like that. My standard scent for the last 10 years has been Casmir by Chopard. I look for scents that are not worn by a lot of people, and I find it difficult to enjoy most women's fragrances because they're too sweet or floral.

This fragrance surprised me because it's really quite sweet, but it doesn't overpower you.
The scent is described as "bitter orange, cinnamon, precious notes, solar notes, vanilla and musk." I find that it makes just the right feminine statement without saying, "sugar & baby powder." My fragrances usually include musk, citrus, and vanilla, so this was a perfect blend for me. It's delicate, but still has that slightly sexy vibe.

If you like a daytime scent that's girly without being too fussy, L de Lolita Lempicka is a great choice!

05 September 2008

Product Review: Olay Regenerist Daily Thermal Mini-Peel

For my first post in my new blog, I thought I'd start on a positive note and review one of my current favourite products. Olay Regenerist Daily Thermal Mini-Peel has become part of my regular routine.

I had severe acne as a teen and went through antibiotics, salicylic acid (AHAs) and retinol creams and Accutane regimes, and was very careful to clean my face and moistrurize every day. In my 20s I maintained a simple cleaning regime of gentle soap and moisturizer, but I didn't do an intense routine like some of my friends. While a tanned constantly as a small child, once I became an adult I stopped tanning and kept my skin as protected as possible.

Despite being blessed with good genes that have always let me look young for my age, I'm now starting to get those little lines people often dread. As a woman in my 30s I try to own my face and everything that went into making it the way it is, but I admit I'm caving to the vanity of minimizing wrinkles.

I've never used glycolic products before, so I decided to start with something relatively low-key. I already use a daily cleaner with AHAs every day to even out my combination skin. I decided to try Olay Regenerist Daily Thermal Mini-Peel with the idea that in my morning shower I could alternate my daily cleanser with something a little more aggressive.

I think I'm in a bit of denial about my age, because I don't want to use products that are designed for reducing the signs of aging. I know that now is the time to act, before I start showing a lot of wrinkles, but I want to fight it just the same. :)

I jumped in the shower and flipped the lid of the tube open. I squeezed out a quarter-sized blob of very thick purple liquid into my hand. I was expecting to be disappointed, because there was no heat coming off the cleanser. When I smeared my hands together to rub it on my face, I felt the first heat, and when I began to work it into my face there was a wonderful warmth that grew to a pleasant temperature. The microbeads in the cleanser are not abrasive, but feel smooth as they work the soil out of your face. The fragrance is quite nice too.

After cleansing, my face feels wonderfully soft and smooth. After using it for a week, my skin felt much less rough than before. I don't know yet how much reduction I'll see in the wrinkles, but I love how much smoother my skin feels. It gives me an extra lift in the morning, and I am definitely making this part of my permanent luv list. It's a keeper!