Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lorac Unzipped Cheek & Lip Set - First Impressions


Wow, long time no post again.  Life has been rather busy lately, even with the temperatures so cold here in Ohio.  I really wanted to get a post up today so I'm sitting in front of the computer with a hot-pack on my shoulder/neck area.  Lucky me pulled a muscle in my neck the other day and it seems like everything I need to do aggravates it - including just stepping out the door into the cold.  I wish I could say that the hot-pack has helped but right now it almost feels worse.  It'll get better...eventually...I hope.  I keep losing my train of thought as the throbs of pain come and go so hopefully I will make sense in today's first impressions/review.  As I was taking pictures, I was really struggling so hold on until I get my camera's settings back to where I prefer them.  We were using the camera to take pictures on our Valentine's Day excursion to the oh, so romantic (lol) location of the Ohio State Reformatory where parts of the Shawshank Redemption movie were shot.

Let's move on to the point of today's post, which is a first impressions of the Lorac Unzipped Cheek & Lip set.  I picked up this set at the end of January when I had a 20% off Ulta coupon that included prestige items.  My local Ulta stocked this a day or 2 before my coupon was going to expire so it was perfect timing for me.  If you can still find it, it retails for $30.  As of the time of me writing this post, it is still listed on Ulta's site here.  When I purchased this, I was really in a blush mood as a lot of the time in January I was just evening out my skin, cleaning up my brows, popping on some blush and lipstick and I was out the door.
This comes with an Alter Ego lipstick in Girl Next Door.

Swatches (different lighting)!  These are literally one swipe across my hand for each color, super pigmented!
Unashamed = matte hot pink (upper left swatch)
Unimaginable = shimmery peach (upper right swatch)
Underrated = matte rose (lower left swatch)
Unapologetic = shimmery, almost metallic in the swatch, bronze (lower right swatch)

I'll have to figure out what brush I want to use with these blushes, but I am guessing that for at least Unashamed I'll use a duo-fibre brush so I don't have clown cheeks.  Underrated seems like it would be the perfect shade for right now, maybe with a touch of Unimaginable on top for a little sheen to liven things up.  Unapologetic and Unashamed are definitely more of fun, summery shades.
~not quite color accurate~

This is one swipe of the bullet for Girl Next Door.  On my hand it is definitely "highly-pigmented color" - description from the package.  I just did a quick application on my lips (had some EOS lipbalm on already) settled right into my natural lip lines and is accentuating my flakie areas.  I also feel like it's not the right shade for me - it looks brighter, almost pastel pink, on my lips compared to in the tube, so I'll have to try it out and see if I can combine it with other products to be a more wearable shade.  Plus I'll need to exfoliate my lips prior to applying.  I can definitely feel it on my lips as opposed to other lipsticks I've been wearing lately that have felt pretty weightless.  I feel like it has a slight play-dough scent, but I could be describing that wrong.  I just know that it has a scent.  My nose has been abused this season by all the sneezing and blowing over the last couple of months.

Overall, I'm most excited about using the blushes and kind of meh about the lipstick.  Maybe a different lipstick color would have been better/more wearable.

Is the Lorac Unzipped Cheek & Lip set something that interests you?  Have you tried any lipsticks from Lorac before?

**all items purchased by me
**my opinions are my own
**not sponsored/affiliated - links for convenience

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Influenster FrostyVoxBox Wrap Up

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

I thought I'd do something a little different this time with my Influenster FrostyVoxBox and create a wrap-up post.  I wanted to do this since so much time has passed since I first received the box and now that I've finished my product reviews.  Plus, there was a lot of products to try out in this box.

So let's travel back in time to my Initial Impressions post.
Reading back through my post, I was pretty excited to try nearly everything.  One brand I had seen but had no experience with.  Another brand I had never even heard of before.

Let's get started revisiting my reviews.  The first one was the EcoTools Sleek + Shine Finisher Hair Brush.  I was pretty excited to try out this hair brush that promised to help speed up dry time while fighting the frizzies.  Ultimately, while I did like the brush - yes it helped speed up the dry time - I was also left with a lack of volume with frizzies still partying.
Final verdict - mixed; I think a different style would have been better for my needs.

Moving on, let's visit the Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover.  I'm always up for trying new eye makeup removers, hoping for the next best thing.  This remover....wasn't it.  It took way too long to work and when I thought I was done, I was left with sticky eye lids until I washed my face which was something I don't remember ever experiencing with any other brand.  It also didn't remove all my eye makeup, especially mascara which was not waterproof.  I can say that this did a decent job at removing a light layer of foundation one night when I was so sleepy I didn't want to wait forever for the water to warm up for a regular facial cleansing.
Final verdict - not my ideal remover.  I'll finish it up eventually but won't purchase.

Will I ever get to a positive review?  Let's see if the Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum did it for me.  This was the brand I had heard of but had no experience with.  Honestly, there wasn't enough product here for a full test.  It claims to have younger looking skin in 2 weeks and I didn't even get one full week out of this packet.  The texture was nice (if a bit silicone-y), but the dry down was slow.  I had to be careful with how close it got to my eyes or else the fragrance irritated them.  And, a full-size bottle of this is pricey.  Yes, I could have used the enclosed coupon and got a couple dollars off then done a full review but I'm on a no-buy for skincare.  I'm also not sure I'm the "ideal" candidate for this since I don't have wrinkles (thank you combo-oily skin).
Final verdict - not enough to see results, might revisit in the future

Moving right along, we've got a tea break courtesy of Celestial Seasons Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea.  Finally, a win!!  I loved this tea and wish I could find this exact flavor in stores right now.
Final verdict - I WANT MORE!!!!!  My mug isn't lying when it says "Delight."

Let's jump over to a makeup review, the NYC Expert Last Lip Color.  This was another product that was a score for me.  I really enjoyed the way that this lipstick felt over my dry, chapped lips and it looked good as well.
Final verdict - I'll be looking at the colors in the line for a next purchase.

Jumping back to food, we've got the McCormick Gourmet Thyme.  This bottle of dried herbs has a nice fresh taste and tasted perfect on everything I've tried it on so far.  I need to mix up a new batch of Greek seasoning blend, which I believe Thyme is in and I'm sure it will be delicious in it.  I also need to clean out old herbs but that's another day...
Final verdict - would repurchase and/or use this brand for replacing other spices

I've got one more food item, the Fruit Vines Bites.  This is a brand I'd never heard of, but I don't spend much time in the candy aisle, unless it's getting chocolates for the Mister.  These were definitely chewy, but not so much that my teeth were completely stuck together.  And luckily they tasted more like a real cherry than artificial.
Final verdict - decent, but not enough to purposely search out a new bag (if I stumble across the strawberry I might pick it up)

I believe that my final review from the FrostyVoxBox was for the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal eyeliner.  I mentioned I had some issues between mystery flaking (decided that was various mascaras - not the eyeliner) and a random day of transferring.  It didn't have the best wear time in my waterline, but on my upper lash line it did all right.  It's a good liner, but I prefer other styles (gel or liquid) to pencil liners.
Final verdict - if there's a unique color that I'd use I'd get it, but otherwise I prefer other styles

Have you tried any of these items?  Do agree with my thoughts or have you had different experiences with them?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal eyeliner - Influenster Product Review

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

Final Influenster FrostyVoxBox product review coming at you!  I promise, after this (and a wrap-up)  my posts will be something other than reviews for a few days as this is quite a bit all at once.

My final review is of the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner, which retails for around $4.50 (depending on where you purchase).  I had some trouble with this review as I kept having mysterious flaking...after trying 3 different mascaras during testing I figured out I had 2 crappy mascaras.  I did have one other issue that I'll discuss below.
I'll be honest and say that this wasn't my favorite eye liner, but I really prefer to use a gel liner in a pot with a brush.  I felt that this wasn't as black as it should be, and when I went to smooth the line out with an angled brush, the color looked quite faded.  Which meant that I had to go back in to get it as dark as I wanted.  Even in my swatch below it doesn't look super black.  This did move around easily with the brush, so if you like to smudge your eyeliner out I think this liner would be a good choice for you.  I think this could also work as a black "base" under shadows to intensify them if you're after a really intense smoky look.  But for me, I prefer a nice sharp defined wing.
Every time I got this out to use, I had to sharpen it.  I can say that it sharpened easily (I use the Urban Decay Grindhouse).  Even with that, I had to keep an angled liner brush on hand to smooth out the line on my eye as it always skipped and I couldn't make as fine of a point as I prefer on my wing.  I also had an issue with the "waterproof" claim as one day I had this on, it transferred to up above my crease.  The only thing I can think of is I was a bit generous with eye cream that day.  But that issue leads me to question how truly waterproof this is.  It did apply easily in my inner waterline, but I could only get about 4-5 hours of good wear with this pencil, so again, not super waterproof.  It also migrated to my inner corners and down a bit so a clean up was necessary even after just an hour or 2.  When I really need lasting power, I still see myself reaching for a gel liner.

When it came time for removal, it came off easily with my favorite dual-phase remover.  I didn't have any issues with irritation or sensitivities to the liner.  I can normally write off any inner-eye corner itchiness to dry winter skin (hence the extra eye cream usage mentioned above).

So, would I purchase another of the Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliners?  If there is a unique color in the line that I think I would get use out of, then yes.  But for everyday use, I prefer a gel liner with a brush or even a liquid liner.  I also still see myself reaching for a gel liner for on my waterline as well.

What's your favorite brand of eyeliner?  Do you prefer pencil, liquid or gel?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own

Fruit Vines Bites - Influenster Product Review

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

Guess what?! Another review brought to you by Influenster! This time it is the unknown-to-me brand of Fruit Vines Bites.
I really hesitated on trying this bag of Fruit Vines Bites for 2 reasons.  One is that I'm not the biggest fan of cherry flavored anything.  The second is that I'm not a big fan of "chewy" textured candies.  So I'll keep this review short since I do have biases against the candy.  I'm also really trying to cut way back on the amount of sugar in my diet.

For being chewy, it wasn't overwhelmingly so sticky that I felt like my teeth were going to be stuck together.  I could tolerate the chewiness.  The size of each candy was the perfect size for me and my little mouth.  I even got carried away eating too many in one sitting.  As for the taste of cherry, it wasn't as artificial as I was fearing.  It actually tasted closer to a real cherry than I thought it would, especially as compared to "cherry-flavored" medicines (yuck!!!).

One bag claims to have 3.5 servings at 150 calories per serving, if you can control yourself.  I know that if I get munching on candy I can get carried away and eat way more than one serving.  Somehow this manages to have 1 gram of protein per serving as well, but no Vitamin A or C, calcium or iron.

So while I'll finish this bag, will I buy it - either in the cherry or the strawberry flavors (I read about the strawberry somewhere)?  I might try the strawberry flavor if I easily stumble across it, but I don't think I'll go out of my way hunting this brand of candies down.

What kind of candy do you like?  Have you heard of Fruit Vines?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own

McCormick Gourmet Thyme - Influenster Product Review

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

I don't have a Sunday Stash Sharing post today as I'm in the home stretch of the FrostyVoxBox reviews.  And I didn't have a post up yesterday since we were traveling all day.  So for today's post, we're really being different since I'm reviewing the McCormick Gourmet Thyme that I received from Influenster.
To keep things short, I loved the flavor of this bottle of thyme.  I also liked the price of this, which is a bit under $5.  Some spices can get pretty pricey so I think this is a good price.  My product card describes this as "imparts a light minty flavor that is distinctively warm and aromatic.  McCormick's Gourmet Thyme can be used throughout the day in dishes such as breakfast casseroles, hearty soups, stews, stuffing, and oven-roasted chicken."  While I didn't use it for any of those suggestions, I did use it on several different meats as well as a meat-free side.

Lightly sprinkled on top of pan-roasted steak with salt, pepper and butter.
 Sprinkled a bit heavier over halved chicken breasts, also with salt and pepper (oven roasted).
My favorite!  Sliced sweet onions sauteed in butter with Thyme, salt, pepper, and a little sumac (at the end) until nicely carmelized.  Good enough I ate a good portion straight out of the pan.
And lightly sprinkled on lamb steak, with the requisite salt and pepper.  We did put the caramelized onions on top of the steaks and it was delicious.
Both the Mister and I have really enjoyed the light, fresh flavor that the McCormick Gourmet Thyme gave to our dishes lately.  We go in spurts of lightly seasoned dishes and the Thyme was just right to enhance without disguising the flavor of what we were eating.  If you're curious, our "normal" type of food is Indian/Pakinstani which are both heavily spiced.

I'm sure that if I had made soup/stews and casseroles, etc. the Thyme would have been the perfect spice to those as well.  I just don't make those type of dishes often.  I can see myself purchasing more McCormick Gourmet spices as I need to replenish my massive spice cabinet.

What kind of spice flavors to you like in your meals?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own

Friday, February 13, 2015

NYC Expert Last Lip Color - Influenster Product Review

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

Today I've got a makeup product to review that came in my FrostyVoxBox from Influenster.  I really have struggled with getting a accurate, sharp picture but today I finally succeeded.  Yay!

This is the NYC Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum #418, which retails for around $2.  According to my info card, "get intense, amplified color and shine that lasts up to six hours. Our moisturizing formula glides on easily for a silky, smooth, velvety finish for all day wear."
The above swatch in the right corner is 2 passes on my hand.
~picture taken outside in my car on a sunny, but cold, day~

My lips have definitely been dry and on the verge of cracking for pretty much the last month and a half (or more).  I'm happy to say that this lipstick doesn't accentuate that fact and it does feel slightly moisturizing.  I do feel that the 6-hour lasting power claim is a bit of a stretch since today I had a cup of coffee and a good portion of my lipstick stayed on the cup and not my lip.  I think it only lasts a few hours if eating/drinking is kept to a minimum.

As for what a velvety finish is, I'm not sure.  I think that Sugar Plum has a bit of a metallic finish to it, which I think you can see in my picture of me wearing it.  Maybe other shades from the 20-shade line would offer a more "velvety" finish, which I think of as more creamy-matte.  I believe in my initial impressions post I mentioned that I felt that this could be a "my lips but better" color and I still stand by that.  It pulls a bit more pink than my natural color, but for me it's a nice neutral that I think goes with any eye look I've worn it with so far...which has been a lot.  This lipstick currently has a residence in my purse.

Moving on to packaging, that's where this could stand some improvement.  The lipstick bullet doesn't swivel all the way down so if you're not careful, you could take a chunk of lipstick off with the cap.  Also, when I've kept this in my pocket, the lid doesn't stay clicked on all the way.  These aren't huge issues for me but I did feel they were mentioning.

So, would I purchase more of the NYC Expert Last Lip Colors?  Yes, I believe I would if a color really caught my eye.  It's super comfortable to wear and when it does fade away I haven't been left with a weird ring of color on my lip line.  The price makes it even better!

Have you tried any of the NYC Expert Last Lip Colors?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

**my opinions are my own

Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea - Influenster Product Review


**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

Tea time anyone?  Another product in my Influenster FrostyVoxBox was this 2-pack of Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Green Tea (decaffeinated).  YUM!!! I wish that a whole box had been provided, it was that good to my taste buds.  
I find the flavor of plain green tea to be mild overall so the "pep" of the Candy Cane flavor made this one perfect for my taste.  I rarely add any sweetener to my teas, unless it's plain black tea, and this was no exception to my rule.  The candy cane flavor was the perfect amount of peppermint-y sweetness.  Even when I did my normal tea brewing of leaving the bag in the cup until I've drank every last drop, it was still just the right amount of peppermint flavor.  I really liked that this didn't have any caffeine in it so I could drink it shortly before bed and not be kept "tired-awake" like some caffeinated beverages can do to me close to bedtime.  Green tea is supposed to be good for the body so it was my perfect combo of peppermint goodness and beneficial green tea.

The ingredients of Candy Cane Lane are: peppermint, decaffeinated green tea, orange peel, natural vanilla and mint flavors with other natural flavors, cinnamon, milk thistle, blackberry leaves, roasted carob, roasted chicory and vanilla bean.  If you're concerned about gluten in your diet, this states it is gluten free.

The only downside to this sample, besides the size, was that this particular blend is a Holiday Tea so as much as I've been searching for it the past month, I haven't been able to find it.  I sure hope it comes out again next winter season.  I know that as soon as I spot this next winter season (provided it returns), I'm grabbing a box (or 2).

What's your favorite tea flavor?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own

Thursday, February 12, 2015

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum- Influenster Product Review

**all items received free from Influenster for review/testing purposes

The testing phase of the #FrostyVoxBox provided from Influenster is quickly running out and I'm behind in review writing so prepare for back-to-back reviews for a few days.  Today I am finally getting my thoughts put together on this Boots No.7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum (#GetADVANCED ).  I tried this out a few weeks ago, jotted down my jumbled thoughts then proceeded to get majorly distracted with life.  I  had major picture fail each time I went to snap a picture of the box at the store - at both Target and Ulta.
I got a fair amount of uses out of this sample sachet, but no where near enough to be able to determine if this actually does what it claims (plus I don't really have wrinkles to speak of). According to the sachet, it is "clinically proven to be even more effective at visibly reducing deep lines and wrinkles.  Younger looking skin in just 2 weeks."  It is hypo-allergenic.

The back says: "after 2 weeks skin looks younger, by 4 weeks deep lines and wrinkles are visibly reduced. Results keep getting better with continued use.  80% of women said this serum provided the best anti-ageing results they have ever seen.  Hypo-allergenic: Because all skin can have sensitive  moments all our products are hypo-allergenic so they are kind to even the most sensitive skin."

My thoughts:  I felt that it had a strong silicone feel to it (first ingredient is dimethicone).  Once applied, the white gel took a few minutes to dry down all the way and lose the tacky feeling that was present immediately after applying.  I didn't spot any actual fragrance on the ingredient list - at least in plain English, but my nose (and sensitive eyes) did detect one - it wasn't perfumey, it just had a tiny smell.  I did have a slight eye irritation one day but I think I accidentally got it too close to my eyes (which scents/fragrances can irritate if I'm not careful).  I just noticed that Target's site does list this as scented so that is something to keep in mind if scents bother you in any way.
For my skin concerns, I'm more focused on smoothing textural issues and reducing post-acne pigmentation.  I look for non-comodogenic on skin care more so than hypo-allergenic since acne is still a concern for me.  The way I understand it is that hypo-allergenic claims have nothing to do with acne.  I do, however, feel that anti-ageing products can help with pigmentation and texture issues, depending on what the product has in it.  I can say that in the 4 days or so that I was able to test this sachet, I did not notice any new acne appearing to annoy me.

This sachet did come with a coupon that states "available at Target," but I have spotted this at Ulta as well (yeah, points!).  If I wasn't on a skincare no-buy until I get through a lot of products and samples, I would consider purchasing a bottle of this and really put it to the test to see if it helps with texture and pigmentation issues since I don't have wrinkles at this point of my life.  For being considered a "drugstore" brand, I do think the price is pretty high at around $30 for 1 oz.  If/when I do decided to fully test this, I will probably purchase from Ulta when it's on sale.  There are also other products in the Boots No.7  line to coordinate with this Intense Advanced Serum.

Have you tried any skin care from the Boots No. 7 line?  Are you worried about targeting wrinkles in your skin care regimen?

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
**my opinions are my own, links for convenience

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Stash Sharing - Surprise Glitters & The Giver Collections


Somehow nearly a week has quickly passed without me noticing.  I honestly couldn't really tell you what I did this past week, but I must have done something.  I remember taking Kozmo to puppy training on Wednesday and the vet for blood-work Thursday morning, then hanging out/shopping with my mom on Thursday (which was supposed to be her last day of work, ever, but they called and told her she didn't need to come in)...and I did grocery shopping on Saturday.  Since I got posts up on Sunday and Monday, that leaves Tuesday and Friday unaccounted for...  Anyway, even though all of a sudden I'm not feeling well, I still wanted to get a post up today to try to get back on track, yet again.  Hopefully this feeling will pass quickly.  Maybe it's the feeling of too much sugar, especially liquid, suddenly wearing off - I drank a lot more tea, both sweet tea and chai, than I normally do, plus had part of a donut (Dunkin Donuts' brownie-filled heart donuts - YUM!!!).

So let's get to the point of this post, which is Sunday Stash Sharing.  I decided to visit the China Glaze drawer since I feel like this is another brand that I purchased quite a few of since my last Stash post featuring the brand.  Where available, I've included links to the appropriate collection and look posts.

I'm only doing 2 groups this week, the first of which is the Surprise Glitter collection that came out for Spring 2014.
Don't Be A Flake, I'm A Go Glitter, Create A Spark, Glimmer More, 
Glitter Up, Shine-Nanigans
 Now let's jump to Fall 2014 for a collection I bought part of, The Giver.
  Boundary of Memory, Friends Forever, Right?
The Giver collection contained 12 shades. Of the 5 I purchased, 3 were full priced, 1 was on clearance at Sally's Beauty and the last was from Marshall's.  I think if I ever stumble across the other cremes from the collection, I might pick them up - especially if they're at a good price.

Hmmm...looking at the pictures, I think that 3 of the Surprise glitters might look quite nice over Capacity to See Beyond (which is clearly well-loved).  The other 2 cremes from the Giver collection might also make nice bases for other Surprise glitters.  I might have to play around with some combos.

Do you have any of these polishes in your stash?  Any combos you can recommend?  And of course, if you'd like to see any of these on my nails, just let me know!

**all items purchased with me
**my opinions are my own
**not sponsored/affiliated