Monday, January 27, 2014

Is That...? Oh, God! *Gasp* NOOO!!! Part III: L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio

Well, it's been three weeks with the L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio, and I have what I think are some interesting results. Let's have a look, shall we?

First off, let me mention that I quit using the cleanser, as it didn't work worth a flip, and I also used a pore clearing mask and an exfoliating mask to try to undo the damage. The cleansers that I have used instead have been the Olay makeup removing wipes and the Olay Regenerist exfoliating cream cleanser (which is what I used prior to the L'Oreal). The end.

So, here are week 2 (right) and week 3 (left):

It's very subtle, but there is some change. The skin's texture is smoother, and pores are less pronounced. The crease is still there, and while it's more noticeable in the week 3 picture, it does appear to be shallower. As with last week, these photos were taken in the same room, with the same camera, and the same settings.

For a more dramatic difference, let's compare week 1 (left) with week 3 (right):

Wow. The skin's texture is significantly smoother and brighter, pores are noticeably minimized, and everything seems firmer and lifted. The area around the nose also appears a lot drier, however.

As I've stated, the cleanser didn't actually clean, but it does look like the serum and moisturizer are doing something for me. My thoughts on those products have not changed, and you can read a full run-down on them here. All in all, I've got to call this a win, and I intend to repurchase the serum and moisturizer when I run out of the travel sizes.

Have you guys tried anything like this? Did it work? Please share in the comments.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is That...? Oh, God! *Gasp* NOOO!!! Part II: L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio

Okay folks, it's been a week. Let's check in and see if the L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio has made any progress on my wrinkle-ette. You can find my first impressions from last week here.

On the left, we have a photo taken last Monday. On the right, we have a photo taken today. The crease in question is the faint marionette line. Personally, I think it may have lightened some. It doesn't appear to be quite as pronounced in the second photo as it is in the first. It's not gone, but it appears to be better. My skin's tone and texture also seems to have improved, with increased brightness and a firmer appearance. Pore size looks about the same. Lastly, my skin feels noticeably softer. Photographs were taken in the same room, with the same lighting, by the same camera, with the same settings. Positioning is as close to the same as I could manage, and no makeup or products were on the skin at the time. I'm trying to be scientific, y'all.

For the past week, I've solely used the L'Oreal. I've washed my face with the cleanser, applied the serum, and followed with the moisturizer twice a day, religiously. No other skincare products were used, save for a few makeup remover wipes of various brands, but more on that in a minute. Based on the results above, I can definitely see where its claims have merit.

Now, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: The products are seemingly effective, thus far. All three of the products have pleasant fragrances and textures. The price point is affordable and the product is readily available at Walgreen's and Ulta. The trial sizes are large enough to get a good idea of its effectiveness. I've used this for a week, and have at least another week's worth left.

The Bad: The cleanser just flat-out doesn't work. To prove this, I give you Exhibit A, a Yes To Grapefruit facial wipe used after cleansing with the L'Oreal:

That's not clean, y'all. In addition to the eye makeup (which I kind of expected), there's also face makeup. I don't wear much face makeup (mostly BB creams or powder foundation), so there wasn't much there to remove in the first place.

I also don't feel like the moisturizer hydrates very well. I've experienced some dryness around the nose, and noticed a dull cast once my makeup was applied. My makeup hasn't changed, so I feel the need to attribute that to the product.

The Ugly: I broke out. Not much, and nothing a little spot treatment couldn't fix, but I did break out. Normally, my skin stays pretty clear unless it's that lovely time when we'd all like to sing a rousing chorus of "I Enjoy Being a Girl". This wasn't that time. I shouldn't have broken out.

Overall, I really do like this set. I think that it did what it said it would, and I have every intention of purchasing the full sizes of the serum and moisturizer. I will not, however, use the cleanser anymore. I need something that deep cleans and exfoliates, though I do wonder if the L'Oreal would work better with a Clarisonic. I will also, most likely, mix a little argan oil into the moisturizer to boost the hydration level. For now, I'm chalking up the breakouts to the lack of actual cleansing from the cleanser.

Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion!

Friday, January 17, 2014

'Ip, 'Ip, 'Ooray!: January Ipsy Unbagging

Does everybody know what time it is? IT'S TOOL TIME! Er,, it's actually ipsy unbagging time. First, the usual explanation:


ipsy (yes, it's all lowercase) is a monthly sample subscription service. Every month, for the cost of ten dollars, you'll receive 4-6 deluxe- and/or full-sized beauty-related products and a makeup bag. There's always a theme, and this month's was "19 Reasons", as in "19 Reasons" 2014 is going to be the best year ever. The 19 referred to the number of possible brands they were sending out, but a 20th was added at the last minute...whoops...

Anyhoo, that's the deal. I pay for this. They, most likely, don't know this blog exists, so I'm not shilling for them. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

*end of spiel*

Let's see what we got!

This month was really skincare heavy. Normally, ipsy is more color cosmetic-centric, and the change was a little surprising. I dig skincare, though, so bring it on!

First, let's check out the bag. This month is a bright blue (the camera is muting the color. This is a true "healthcare" kind of blue. Think: Blue Cross blue) with lind drawings of cosmetic bottles. The fabric is a thick, plastic-y material, and looks like it would be fairly water-resistant. It smelled like a beach ball, but airing out has faded that considerably. I think it's kind of cute.

The bag has a zip closure with the ipsy logo embossed on the pull. Again, I like this one. It's not the most glamorous of bags, but it'll go well with the other travel bags I have for shoes and laundry.

The first product on the block is this Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Dry Shampoo. Retail price: $22.00. Sample value: 88 cents.

Yeah...this is a disappointment. Not the product, so much, as the size. I love dry shampoo, but I'm honestly not sure I can get a single use out of this. The bottle is small, but there's also a lot of empty space on the inside. I'm just going to call this a miss and move on.

Next up, Absolute! Make-up Cleansing Tissues with Cucumber Extract. Retail price: $2.49 for 10. Sample value: $2.49.

Okay, now we're talking. I haven't tried these yet, but face wipes are generally welcome in my house. If I can't use them, maybe Thomas can, or they can go in my kit. In any case, they're getting used.

Moving on! Pure Marula Facial Oil. Retail price: $58.00. Sample value: $3.92.

This is a small sample, but that's okay because you don't need a lot for each application. This little guy should last long enough for me to decide if I like it or not. The spray applicator is a really nice touch. I can see this coming in handy on road trips, when the combination of recycled car air-conditioning and dry hotel rooms love to wreak havoc on my skin.

On to the next! Elizabeth Mott Smooth Shadow Pencil in Penny. Retail Price: $14.99. Sample value: $7.00.

This was a pleasant surprise! I'm an eye makeup junkie, so a shadow pencil is right up my alley. This pencil is exactly the color of a penny--not just some vague shade of copper. I found that it applied smoothly and easily, and could be used as either a very sheer, glittery shadow, or as a light liner. I haven't tried it as a shadow, mainly because I'm not sure how to apply it, exactly. The pencil is the size of an eyeliner pencil, and not like the chubby pencils you think of when you think "shadow pencil". As a liner, however, it added a pretty pop of color and shimmer, and didn't budge when worn all day.

Here's a swatch of Penny sheered out, and used as a liner. You can see that neither are super dark, but that's not due to lack of pigmentation. It's just a very light color. The product has a very creamy consistency, and once set, it's set.

(Please ignore my brows. I've been letting them grow in a bit. They're getting cleaned up this weekend. My apologies.) This shows Penny on my lower lash line. There's just a hint of sparkle and color. The rest of my look is W.O.S., Naked 2, and Faint shadows from Urban Decay Naked Basics, and the Naked Basics pencil in Crave on top lash line, and the same pencil in Venus (double-ended pencil) in the inner corner. Mascara is Maybelline The Rocket. Brows are Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette and Brow Gel in clear. You know, in case you were interested.

Lastly, we have Mica Beauty Cosmetics Tinted Lip Balm in Natural. Retail price: $30.00. Sample value: $18.75.

This is just a shame. Let me preface this by saying that the Mica lip balm and the Cailyn lip balm that I received in an earlier bag are the exact same product. Seriously. Compare the websites, if you don't believe me. They have the same product names and numbers, same packaging (save for this sample version), different prices. This same product from Cailyn is only $19.00. Now, let me also say that I really liked my Cailyn lip balm in Big Apple, but only for the color. Big Apple is a pin-up red, but viewed through a soft focus lens. The balm's texture keeps the color from looking too harsh. Also, the red stains your lips a bit, so you can go over the color with an actual lip balm, if you so choose.

Okay, now that that's out of the way...I don't like this. The texture is strange. It feels like it would be creamy, until you put it on your lips. Then, it's matte and dry and kind of gritty. It also only lasted about thirty minutes before fading in patches. The color, however, is gorgeous, and that's what makes this a shame. ipsy nailed finding a flattering color for me, though, which gives me hope that maybe ipsymatch is beginning to kind of, sort of, maybe work? Maybe? Please?

When the color started to fade away, I grabbed my go-to lippie from my purse to touch it up. This is the Em Cosmetics Creamy Color Sheer Lipstick in Nude, and also from an ipsy bag. The two looked so similar, I had to compare.

The top swatch is Mica, and the bottom swatch is Em. They're not identical, of course. The Mica is much more opaque, and the Em is sheer and shiny. Also, the Mica is pinker, where the Em leans more toward orange. Still, they are very similar. Of the two, I'd recommend the Em, and it's only $16.50, compared to either $30.00, even $19.00 for the Cailyn. Of course, E.L.F. also has a tinted lip balm in Nude, that is far superior to the Mica/Cailyn in creaminess, longevity, and moisturization, and you can get it for a whole two bucks. I don't have a swatch of it, but it's, again, very similar, but not quite identical. The only difference in packaging (from the sample) is that the E.L.F. has a white lid. There is nothing to justify a $30.00 price tag. Nothing.

Total value of the bag: $33.04
Price paid: $10.00

The shadow pencil, wipes, and Marula oil made this bag worth the money. I'm really looking forward to using those items. The way I look at it, three out of five ain't bad.

Do any of you get ipsy? What'd you think this month? Please share with the rest of the class in the comments.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is That...? Oh, God! *Gasp* NOOO!!!: L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio

Short version: over this weekend I have A) been told outright, by someone who is not related by blood, marriage, or even close friendship, that I am "fat", and B) found a wrinkle that seems to come equipped with an Invisibility Cloak, because it appears I'm the only one who can see it.

Considering the fact that I'm fat in the way that Jennifer Lawrence has been labeled fat (read: not at all. Curvy, yes, but in the right places, thankfully. Don't get me started on that business with the gorgeous J-Law.), and I've actually lost weight recently, I'm trying to let that first part slide. Besides, if their judgement tells them that it's acceptable to tell someone that (as a greeting, no less), then how good can their judgement really be?

The "wrinkle", on the other hand, is a different story. Yesterday morning, I found it, and was...let's call it upset. I showed it to Thomas, who leaned over, squinted hard, then chuckled and told me there was nothing there. He was sweet enough to go with me to Walgreen's, and even helped me search through the rows of pink and green gunk, shining silver labels, and empty promises until I found something that might help me reverse my, most likely, imaginary line.

See it? The little marionette line? Grrrrrrr!
Seeing as this line is in it's infancy, it seemed like a good candidate for the "see results in one week" claim on this set from L'Oreal Paris. The Youth Code Power Trio Kit contains a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer that are all used both morning and evening. According to the box, this is supposed to reduce fine lines and smooth and illuminate the skin. It was on sale, and I had five bucks in rewards, so I figured I'd give it a go.

I've used the three products twice each now, so all I have for you are first impressions, but I thought I'd share them.

Cleanser: This is a clear gel that smells like Rose Petal Place. Personally, I like that smell, but if you have any sensitivity to perfumes, you might want to skip this trio entirely. I feel like the cleanser does a fine job of ridding my face of dirt, but you definitely need a separate makeup remover. My eye makeup didn't budge with this cleanser alone.

Serum: I like serums. No idea why, but I always feel sort of fancy putting on a *serum*--like it's some sort of spiffy, super-scientific potion that will make my skin glow and dance and, I don't know, spin plates. Again, this is a gel, but slightly cloudier than the cleanser. I only need one pump for my face and neck, because it feels almost like it multiplies as you apply it. It's very slimy, but in a good way, if that makes any sense. It's a good slime. Like Slimer in the Ghostbusters cartoon. Not the movie (definitely not the movie). Oddly enough, the finish is dry. It''s just very strange. I'm intrigued. There is a fragrance, but it's not the same as the cleanser, and I can't quite pinpoint what it is. It's not unpleasant, but it is perfumed.

Moisturizer: The moisturizer is, again, perfumed, and with the same mystery scent as the serum. Also, like the serum, it has a dry finish, which is odd for a moisturizer. The texture is somewhere between a cream and a mousse, and very light. I'm enjoying it, so far, but I don't feel I'm getting quite as much hydration as I need.

Will this reverse my wrinkle-ette? We'll find out in a week! Let me know in the comments if you've had any luck with stuff like this.   

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Perfect Palette!

Happy New Year!! To start things off on just the right foot, here's a tag that no one asked me to do!! YAY!!!

Actually, I read a blog that tagged all of its readers, so there you go. I thought this would be a really fun post to do in January, since it's, more or less, a look at what products we've all used and loved (or hated) over the past year. Some of my answers surprised me, while others were no-brainers. I hope you have fun with this post, and let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments.

And away we go!!!

Best Packaging
M.A.C. 2004 Limited Edition 6-Eyes Crystal Palette

Obviously, I can't still use this, since the shadows are a decade old and smell apalling. Still, this is, by far, the prettiest packaging of any palette I have owned, before or since. It's a small compact, about the size of a credit card, and the thickness of an E.L.F. Custom Color compact. The casing is lavender metal, with the MAC logo inlaid in rhinestones. Inside, a mirror takes up the top, and a decently usable brush rounds the bottom portion, where the shadows, themselves, are located. A velveteen sleeve was included, to protect the compact when not in use. I freaking love this thing. Currently, I'm trying to figure out how to remove the eyeshadows so, maybe, I can use the case for something else. Anything else. Heck, I might toss my business cards in it.

Best Color Payoff
Urban Decay Naked 1

These shadows are so saturated with pigment that they're almost difficult to apply, but they're definitely worth the extra effort! During the Summer, these bronze and gold shades are simply stunning.

Most Versatile
Urban Decay Naked 2
NARS Guy Bourdin Cheek Palette

This was a tie. For eyes, in my opinion, you can't beat Naked 2. The range easily goes from daytime casual to dramatic evening. Bootycall and Tease make for a simple, sophisticated nude eye, while Verve and Pistol are two of the most gorgeous silvery taupes. For an easy one-color eye, Snakebite is a go-to. Really, I can't say enough good about this palette.

That said, I've also found that my NARS blush palette has become a nearly irreplaceable staple. It contains four blush colors that range from neutral peachy-pink to what I can only describe as a hothouse rose. In addition, there's a sheer, yet buildable bronzer, and a universally-flattering, subtle highlighter. This was limited edition, but you may still be able to get your hands on one, and I definitely recommend it.

Best for Traveling
Stila Not So Nude

Toss in a tinted moisturizer, bronzer, and mascara, and this is really all you need for a weekend. The thin, booklet-esque palette opens to reveal a (not so useful, sadly) mirror on one side, and a plethora of products on the other. Six neutral shadows range from matte baby pink to shimmering deep grape. Below those, you find a natural-flush cream blush/shadow/lippie, as well as Stila's famous Kitten highlighter.

Biggest Regret
E.L.F. 22-Color

This was a bust, and I really hate that. There just isn't one single redeeming quality. The packaging is bulky and unattractive. The shadow colors are weak, kind of ugly, and don't really go well together. The lip colors are chalky, and the blushes are so tiny as to be unusable...I think you get the point. It's just a miss.

Best Color Names
Urban Decay Glinda

Tornado, Aura, Magic, Illusion, Oz, and South. If you're a Wizard of Oz fan, like myself, then you've probably already squeed a little over this palette. The colors are beyond gorgeous (have you seen South? Holy Moly!), but there's just something, erm, magical about putting Magic on your eyes.

Least Used
Too Faced Spun Sugar Glamour To Go

I should use this more. It's a really beautiful palette. The thing is, I bought this for travel, but the sugary nature of the shadows doesn't really lend itself to that. The shadows are lovely as toppers, but aren't very effective on their own. I do, however, use the gold highlighter on a regular basis. That thing is spectacular!

Most Used
Urban Decay Naked Basics

This is one that caused me to eat a little crow. When this palette came out, I didn't see the need for it. The colors looked boring and easily duped. Shortly after, I found myself with a gift card or discount or something (I don't remember what) that made the palette pretty much free, so I picked it up. I don't think I've put it down since. Foxy and W.O.S. are fantastic blending colors for my fair skin, and Naked 2 is the best crease color I've ever used. Hands down. Faint fills in my brows, and Crave makes a fabulous liner. I don't use Venus very much, but five out of six ain't bad. I finally took this out of my palette drawer and stuck it in my countertop organizer.

Most Loved
Urban Decay Naked 3

This probably isn't a fair category. I just got the Naked 3, and I'm sure part of my current obsession with it is due to it being the shiny new toy under the Christmas tree. That said, I don't see myself shelving it anytime soon. The rose-gold shades are perfect with my skintone, and the color range puts its versatility on par with the Naked 2. It's a truly remarkable product, and one that can picture using regularly for a very long time.

Desert Island
NYX Crimson Amulet

What? Not an Urban Decay palette? The heck, you say! Yeah, it surprised me, too. Still, were I stuck on an island (obviously, with other inhabitants and a well-stocked, comfy hotel) with no other makeup options, save for one palette and some sunscreen, this one would take care of everything. Decent shadows in an array of colors and finishes? Check! Several pretty blushes? Check! Glowy highlighter? Check! Lippies? Check! There was even a liner and eye primer included when I bought it, but those went the way of the dodo ages ago. This was another limited edition, but most of NYX's palettes are just as versatile, and they're all high-quality for a low price point.

Well, that does it for this tag, so now, I tag all of you! Go forth! Have a lovely new year, y'all.
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