Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Product Review: Palmer's Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Lip Butter

Whoops, sorry for bailing on you guys last week. The dreaded cycle of midterms has arrived once more, which means I'm all about test-marking these days. Along with the hours of head-bashing frustration that is trying to decipher undergraduate writing under stress and time constraints, the past weeks have also brought... cold weather. Boo! I know... it's the end of October and the leaves are all orange, so what can I expect? But it is rather a shock to go from skirts and t-shirts to pulling out that furry fall coat.

Truth to be told, I love fall. It's my favourite season -- it marks a return to more dramatic makeup, plush fabrics, snuggling up with a cozy blanket, and of course, boots boots boots! But while a great pair of boots can cover up a neglected pedicure, those rich, deep fall lip colours will only highlight any cracked skin and flakiness on your lips.

To keep your kisser soft and nourished in cold weather, you've gotta try Palmer's Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Lip Butter.

The scent of this is amazing. It smells like those Girl Scouts Thin Mints, or those hard peppermint candies with the powdery chocolate inside. Delish! It doesn't taste like much, but the scent is so strong that you will *think* you are tasting something. Psychology!

Of course, the most important part is that this stuff is majorly moisturizing. It's as emollient as Vaseline, but without that awful petrol taste or the thick goopy feel. Palmer's lip butter goes on smooth and slightly greasy at first, but it absorbs quickly and evenly. It's the only thing I've found that will actually take away those dry flakes in under an hour.

The simple ingredient list is also a bonus. In the age of media scares (and that IS all it is, dammit!) about lead in lipstick and other such preposterous things, a product that contains only petrolatum (Vaseline!), cocoa butter, vitamin E, and fragrance is a refreshing change. There is peppermint oil in this though, so those with sensitive lips might want to give it a pass. Those without sensitive lips, however, may be happy to find out that the traces of the oil combined with the glossiness gives lips a healthy plump look.

All this for like $3 at your local drugstore (I found mine at Shoppers Drug Mart). With winter making a speedy approach, I'd better stock up so that there's one tucked away anywhere I might need soft moisturized lips!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Product Review: Estée Lauder Evelyn Pink Pure Color Crystal Lipgloss (Pink Ribbon Collection)

aka: All up in the Pinks.

Hello friends, can you believe we're half way through October already? This also means we're half way through Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means you've only got 2 weeks left to snap up all those "Pink" fund-and-awareness-raising goodies.

It can be hard to choose from amongst all the pink-themed products, but I had my eye on Estée Lauder's Pink Ribbon collection. I love Estée Lauder's lip products, and the company had committed to donating $500,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Besides, didja know that it was Evelyn Lauder who started the whole Pink Ribbon push 15 years ago?

This year's collection features 2 glosses, a lipstick, a bronzer compact, and a pin. Although the compact and matching travel brush was quite elegant, I am not much of a bronzer girl, and so I turned my attention to the lip products. The High-Gloss in Pink Ribbon was the same amazing texture and quality as the rest of the High-Glosses, but the colour was just too intense for me. It is a medium fuschia-pink that would go on sheerer than it looks in the tube, but just wasn't my cup of tea. I think it would look great on darker skin tones, or if you have cooler colouring than I do.

Deciding between the Pure Color Crystal Gloss in Evelyn Pink and the Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in Elizabeth Pink was harder. The gloss is a sheer, medium, cool-toned pink shot with silver sparkle, and is apparently Evelyn Lauder's favourite pink. The lipstick is paler and peachier... perfect for that signature nude pout that Liz Hurley (for whom the shade was named) does so well.

I went with the gloss in Evelyn Pink and it's lovely. Great with a neutral work face, the shimmer allows you to use it with darker eyes for the evening as well. And in case you haven't heard, Estée Lauder reformulated their Pure Color glosses this past Spring -- the texture is thicker and longer lasting, but somehow still retains that velvety smoothness and non-stickiness. Plus, the tube is slimmer and more streamlined, which makes it both easier and more chic to carry around. Oh, and they lowered the prices. (Yes!)

This was a fantastic little reward for a very busy month, plus it helped support a great cause. Definitely worth a splurge in my books! If you'd like to read more about where the Pink dollars you spend really goes, check out this article by the NY Times. Natasha Singer did a great job, and I'll be sure to refer to it for my next Pink Purchase!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

P.S. Kiss by Peter Som & Lancome - Pout à Porter Collection

[EDIT: Embedded video now fixed!}

I've never been one to flip out over trendy, must-have items. Seriously! Limited editions, special releases, directors' cuts... these are all things I can appreciate, but I don't crave them. For one thing, half the time, it's all just hype. The other half that are actually worthwhile lemmings? Tend to be out of my price range. Besides, I can usually re-create a satisfactory version using the kilos and kilos of products I already own, which is usually enough to carry me through the craze.

And then I saw P.S. Kiss.

It looked gorgeous on the runways this past January. I wanted it. Badly. Then summer came, and my attention turned once again (inevitably) to sparkly sheer glosses. But those embers of desire leapt back into flames when I saw the promo video for P.S Kiss, featuring the designer himself:

I'm in love all over again.

I love Peter Som because on the outside, he's sort of like those brilliant engineer types on campus (albeit an immaculately groomed and well-dressed engineer type). Then he speaks, and he's humble and down-to-earth and you just want to hug him and have him over to your place for tea party and some quality gossip or something. Yummy indeed, Mr. Som.

I love (LOVE!) that song. It's "Oh Mirande", by The Dadds, who are like the Arctic Monkeys, but French, which makes them even hotter. You can listen to the full version here, and I'm totally buying their album the second I figure out how. (So far, it looks like the "how" would involve a plane ticket to France.)

And of course, I love P.S. Kiss. Behnaz was pretty, but too bright/tomato-y for me. Proenza Pink was just... weird. But P.S. Kiss is glorious. Polished and refined and edgy all at once. I want this! I want it I want it I want it! I'll even pay the $40 or whatever they're asking (which I never) do. I NEED it!

But of course, when I contacted Lancome, I was told that the lipsticks in the Pout à Porter collection are only available in the U. S. of A. And so instead of a beautiful deep wine colour, my lips wear a desolate pout.

Maybe I'll get a surprise trip to a Nordstrom's in the near future. Or maybe I'll find it on Ebay (although I'm not sure I'm willing to pay scalper prices... did you see that Chanel Black Satin craze last year?!). Or maybe, just maybe, Santa reads my blog, lives in metropolis America, and has access to extremely coveted cosmetic items.

I'd also settle for that ticket to France...

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Beauty Routine

Hellooo! How are you all? It was Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North, and I spent the weekend in lovely Perth Ontario, where I lived out my pastoral fantasies, except with plumbing and beds and TVs, and not so much with the livestock or farming. In other words, I just did not-a-whole-lot, and enjoyed a home-cooked turkey dinner that was delish. It was a refreshing getaway!

So a reader had asked me to divulge my daily beauty routine, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Perhaps you will send me hate-mail because I have this many steps. Or perhaps you feel I don't do nearly enough, and am not qualified to write a beauty blog, and will get many wrinkles very soon. But caution to the wind... here it is (with reviews in links if I have 'em)!

1. Wake up. Hit the snooze button about 15 times.

2. Cleanse. Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. Always and Forever.

3. Moisturize. Varies, depending on what I have on hand, or if I'm testing something for review. L'Oreal HappyDerm is an old standby. Right now, I'm trying a new one by Garnier, called Garnier Light that I found in Hong Kong. Review to come!

4. Lipbalm. Also varies, but I like a nice emollient one to start off my day. Smith's Strawberry Lipbalm is a favourite, and right now I'm using a lot of Sephora Professional's lip balm. It's not quite as moisturizing as the Smith's, but it has a nice lightly minty vanilla scent to it that's great for the AM. Also, I don't know where my Smith's balm is.

5. Foundation. I'm really loving Lumiere Cosmetics' Mineral Makeup. My skin has never been calmer. It also eliminates the need for primers or finishing powders, which is great (see above re: snooze button). Also, blending is super-fast, since all it takes is a few quick buffs with the kabuki. If I feel like I need more coverage, I might reach for Awake Invention's Hydro Manage makeup, or Maybelline's new-ish Superstay Silky liquid foundation.

6. Curl eyelashes. I use some drugstore-brand eyelash curler. The one from Tarte broke after like 6 months, that lil' bastard.

7. Eyeshadow. Being of Asian persuasion, this step is pretty quick. I pick a colour (usually light shimmery brown, or goldy, or lilac), and swipe it on my eyelid crease. Wink once in the mirror, and Bob's yer uncle. For extra special days (or for when I want to pretend I am a grad-school rock star) I use a dampened slanted liner brush to push some dark & sparkly colour right into my upper lash line. I don't do anything to my lower lashes, because it inevitably smears and "heroin addict" is not the best look for me.

8. Mascara. Cover Girl Volume Exact is my standard weapon of choice.

9. Concealer. Cinema Secrets Ultimate Foundation/Concealer is my fave, but I do use TimeBalm on occasion (mostly when I don't feel like going all the way into my purse to grab my Cinema Secrets).

10. Blush. Still stuck on Lumiere's blushes -- Terra Cotta and Poppy, depending on the day. Sometimes I will brush on a bit of Tarte's Park Avenue Princess bronzer if I'm feeling a little pale.

11. Lips. Hoo boy. I leave this until last because there are just so many options. And also because I sometimes forget to put on gloss/lipstick until I am on my way to wherever I am going. Generally, I go for light, natural glossy lips, unless it's a red lip day, in which case it's all about the wines and burgundies.

Whew! It sure looks like a lot of steps when it's spelled out like that. I probably go through the whole thing in about 15 minutes though, just enough time to spritz on some perfume and run out the door!

As for night-time, I just use the same Dermalogica cleanser to take everything off (yes, even the mascara!), and moisturize. I might switch to a heavier cream if I'm feeling dry or sensitive, but for the most part, I use the same thing as I do in the morning. No eye creams, serums, or toners... shocking I know. Just give me a few years, I'll get there. ;)

And there you have it! Armed with this knowledge, it's as if you're looking right into my bathroom while I'm getting ready in the morning. That sounded so much less creepy in my head.

What's your morning routine like?

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Product Gadget Review: ThermaClear Acne Fighting Device

Let's face it: zits are gross. With utmost respect to those who have them or struggle with getting rid of them, I think we can all agree that they are unpleasant little things. Even the word "zit" is kind of gross. Sure, we've got all sorts of words to make them sound less nasty: blemish, spot, pimple... but in the end, they're still zits and they're no fun.

I am happy to say that I am, for the most part, past having to deal with acne (finally!). However, this makes it rather difficult when one is asked to review a clever new acne-fighting device. Behold: ThermaClear!

Doesn't that look spiffy? At the push of a button, ThermaClear delivers a concentrated burst of heat through the tip of the device, which you hold against your blemish. The heat effectively zaps the bacteria festering underneath the skin, thus shortening the time it takes for the unsightly spot to heal and shrink. In fact, it is apparently supposed to shorten the healing (read: disappearing!) time of pimples by up to 50%. Here, look, a graph! I love graphs.

Even without the helpful visual aid, ThermaClear looks so gadgety and scientific and just plain cool that I briefly considered slathering my face with Crisco nightly and adopting a new diet that consists solely of french fries and chocolate*, all in an attempt to squeeze out a few guinea pig pimples. As tempting as the idea sounded, I eventually, benevolently, brought ThermaClear home over the summer and bequeathed it to my 14-year old brother to use. Because... well, because he needed it (she said lovingly).

... That was months ago. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he has not gotten back to me about his experiences. If I was given something like this as a teen, I'd have been obsessively using it (probably just on half my face, so I could compare) and keeping careful records of its effects. But future-grad students will be future-grad students, and 14-year-old boys will be 14-year-old boys, so there's not much I can do about it. (Especially since he is so far out of noogie range these days.)

I can, however, give you my rather limited impressions of the device, as I did have a couple of minor blemishes that I zapped with ThermaClear. On the low setting, the burst of heat felt like a slight sting. On the high setting, it was decidedly unpleasant. Certainly not unendurable ... if you can pluck/wax your brows, you'll do fine with this. Oddly, the feeling gets almost... addictive. Like those old-school Biore nose-strips, you know? I kind of like the slight pain** -- feels like I'm really showing those little bacteria buggers who's boss!

So, did it work? Well, the blemishes cleared up completely in about 3 or 4 days, which seems quicker than normal, but about on par with other cream or gel acne treatments. I think maybe one would get more pronounced results if it were used on nastier flare-ups. (Although those with severe acne or taking acne meds should not use this device.) One really great thing about ThermaClear is that it's truly mess-free. No sticky or gooey creams on your face or hairline (so attractive when that special someone in your life drops by unexpectedly), and you can even use it over makeup if you have to. For best results, you should use it on clean skin, but if I feel an dermatological eruption coming on midday, I kinda want to zap it in the bud, ya know?

If my ingrate of a baby brother ever gets back to me about his experiences with ThermaClear, I will be sure to share them with you. In the meantime, if you're interested in this new and neat weapon in the seemingly-endless battle against zits, check out the ThermaClear website for more product info and tips. Aside from the device (which I have nicknamed the Zit Zapper in my unoriginal head), the company also offers a complete line of other acne-fighting products.

* Which, of course, would have been pretty much ineffective anyway. See The Beauty Brains' most excellent exposé on the causes of acne.

** See also: masochism; academia

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