Sunday, 31 July 2011

Product Review: J Beverly Hills Mousse up Volumizing Mousse

For all those who require volume, light hold and lots of conditioning in a mousse, this one is absolutely worth a try. J Beverly Hills is a fairly new brand, created by a stylist from LA (aren't they all......) and talks up a lot of the paraben-free, ultra natural marketing angle (don't they all....) but they do have some uniquely formulated products. This particular mousse has a dense, creamy foam, which spreads easily. The smell is a lovely, light citrus scent and it the texture is conditioning and flakeless. It's absolutely NOT a thick, hard 80's style strong hold mousse- this is the type of mousse that creates a soft, bouncy and touchable style. I found it defined and defrizzed my curls beautifully and I had tons of volume and bounce. For people looking to achieve the hot roller, bouncy Victoria's secret hair, this would also be fabulous for that.

I do have a slight caveat, the product does go a long way but it is incredibly hard to get out of the package. You have to use all the force of your thumbs to pump the dispenser, turn the product upside down, shake incredibly vigorously.....they couldn't have used a standard dispenser? The price is fairly reasonable when you do consider the small amount of product you need, so I don't feel bad paying for it, but when you consider the fact that packaging is usually the biggest contributor to the cost of a product, it really is frustrating to buy high end products with substandard packaging.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Product Review: Redken Smooth Down Detangling Cream

This is my personal favorite leave in conditioner....and Redken is in the process of discontinuing it. Trust when I say I was crushed when I found out. Off course I've been buying tubes wherever I could find it in local stores, but the shelves are drying up. My hair is so thick and curly that it soaks up and adores almost anything heavily conditioning and moisturizing. And this stuff is absolutely heavy, by anyone's standards. Girls who are constantly combatting limpness should stay far away; some who are concerned but also have dry damaged hair can get away with using it by concentrating it toward ends or cocktailing with lighter products. I find nothing leaves my curls as touchable, frizz free and shiny when I airdry than this product.

Most women have about a medium thickness, some wave and some color in their hair. This would definitely help alleviate heat and color abused ends if used on heat days off. There is a high concentration of amodimethicone which would provide some heat protection, but I wouldn't reccomend it as a heat styling product above the multitude of products available which used higher concentrations of silicone. Its best use is as a leave in on low maintenance days when hair needs some extra rehabilitation. Those with thick frizzy hair that are constantly battling size would likely find themselves just as in love as I am, so I reccomend trying it (while you can). Those who have fine hair in plentiful amounts and still battle flyaways more than truly coarse frizz, would likely find this too heavy on its own. The texture is a thick, almost balm like cream and the smell is typical Redken: light, slightly chemical and generally dissipates quickly. The tube packaging is fantastic (no digging hands into unsanitary pots, you can squeeze out the last drops...which is particularly poignant now that its making its exit)  and there's a lot of product in the tube: 8.5oz, which is particularly fantastic when considering how very little product is necessary to achieve the smooth results it can provide. Farewell dear friend....

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Product Review: Victoria's Secret Beach Sexy Custom Tan Adjustable Self Tan Lotion

This self tanner is customizeable in the fact that it has dual chamber packaging, one chamber is the dark formula and the other is the light. The dark formula has a huge concentration of DHA and the light has barely any. The ratio that's dispensed through the pump is determined by which setting you turn it to and there are around 10 settings, so you really are presented with a lot of choice. The formulas on the two sides are 99% identical except for the amount of DHA, so much so that I felt the redundancy while breaking down the ingredients (I usually find this incredibly thrilling, being the nerd that I am). Both of the formulas are fabulous for hydrating dry skin (glycerin, fatty alcohols and mineral oil all in high concentrations result in long lasting deep moisture for dry skin) and both of the formulas are highly fragranced and are likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin. All of these things are evident from perusing the ingredient list, but what wasn't evident was the ultra orange color.

Goes to show you never can know. Most of the time, with most types of products, an in depth knowledge of ingredients and formulations helps me know what's worth buying and what's not. But self tanners are always partially a shot in the dark, because the quality of the DHA cannot be determined from the list, yet it has a huge impact on the performance of the product. The orange color that old fashioned self tanners had (and that some like this one, still do) was the result of a sloppy refining process. Eventually, more effective refining processes were introduced and beauty companies started releasing self tanners that created increasingly realistic tans. Some self tanners (most L'oreal ones I've tried, the one from PurMinerals, almost all St. Tropez, almost all Mystic Tan) look so similar to a real tan, that no one can tell it's not real unless you screw up the  application. I'm sad to report this particular product gives one of the most orange colors I've ever tried, which is only somewhat noticeable when applied on the lighter or medium settings, but is incredibly evident the second you turn the setting to high. It's what makes this self tanner a no-go, despite the fabulous moisture blend.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Product Review: MAC Viva Glam Gaga II Amplified creme lipstick

It seems like every single girl has a signature lipstick/gloss shade, that she's always trying to find the right version of. Amiright? There are many that love pinks, many that love muted brown tones, many that love plums, many that love reds. There are those that are ballsy enough to constantly sport really shocking fuchsia and orange shades (bless you all, I love seeing you on my morning commute). I am firmly in the nude lipstick camp, having always been a fan of dramatic eyes and that campy porn star lip look. Because my skin color varies so wildly, depending on which self tanner and how often I use them, I've amassed an incredible collection of nude lipsticks. 

Today I welcome into my rotation, the fabulous Gaga II color. Although Myth is my slightly peachy standby for whenever I'm sporting some paleness, I love Gaga II whenever I get my tan on. Though the shade can look slightly gray on me if I experiment with a self tanner that goes at all orange (so word to the wise, girls with a lot of yellow warmth in your skin, may not look that great) I tend to top everything with slightly pigmented lip glosses so as long as I inject a little bit of pinkness in that way, it looks great. Those with olive or very cool medium, cafe au lait skin tones, would look fantastic with just this. The finish is off course a creamy semi-matte, it feels great on the lips, but those are well known and well understood facts about many lipsticks anyway.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Product Review: Moroccan Oil Intense hydrating mask

For anyone that has been waiting for a new post from me, I apologize for the hiatus. Recent computer troubles curtailed my posting entirely and I've been sad in keeping so many products in the backlog.

Things are back on track again though, so I'm happy to share another review with the world. There is a difference between the intense hydrating mask and the restorative hydrating mask, but I have yet to try the second so here's a review of the first. If you're comparing them side by side in the store and forget which is which, remember that the brown lid one is the more commonly available, popular and the one I'm reviewing. The other one will have an orange lid. 

This has officially become my favorite low-cone mask, for days when I want to alternate. Though I'm always the first to sing the praises of silicones, they can build up and not allow more moisture into the hair unless they're alternated or clarified. Because my thick, coarse, curly hair could not handle a clarifying shampoo without turning into an afro, I prefer to alternate products. There are very few low silicone conditioning products on the market that can detangle hair as bushy as mine without a lot of grunt work, but this one can. Suffice it to say, I'm not fond of the price, but I do find I need less of it to comb through the hair than of most products, so a jar does last me longer. This would work well on anyone that suffers from dry/damaged/curly/colored/chemically treated/heat abused hair, but if you have a fear of weighing the hair down, apply this only to the midshaft and ends. An additional tip for all my fellow curlies: I am a 3b/3c mix but anyone up from a 3a can use this as a leave in also. The high concentration of glycerin mixed with the high concentration of argan oil makes it great to use on humid days, while the addition of cetearyl alcohol enhances comb slip. Try it that way and see what you think.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Product Review: Banana Boat Kids Tear Free SPF 50 sunscreen lotion

 I love the finish this sunscreen leaves on the skin! The most common complaints people tend to have about sunscreens are that sunscreen smell, the sticky feel and the white cast. Well in this case the smell is the same (I have trained myself to learn to love it and equate it with safety and smooth skin!)  but the sticky afterfeel and the white cast are gone within a minute. It has all the things I love seeing in a sunscreen, a mix of chemical and physical UV blockers (best of both worlds), convenient bulk size packaging and a moisturizing formula. 

One caveat I do have is that it isn't particularly easy to spread on dry skin (if you're oily, you have found a possibility) but I usually use it with an AHA or a self tanning lotion anyway, so it's still ok. In addition, I actually wish there was more of a white cast, which is caused by the physical blockers I love so much. This only has a bit, which is great for those that hate that finish and not so good for those of us who are willing to sacrifice a little aesthetic appeal for protection performance. But aside from that, the absolute greatest thing is that it absorbs into skin very quickly, leaving instead of that sticky feel, a smooth silky, freshly lotioned feel.

If you have normal to oily skin, no sensitivity issues with chemical sunscreens, and need heavy, beach like protection with an appealing feel on skin, this just might be one of the best options at the drugstore.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Product Review: Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Revealing Mask

 Before I go any further, I want to address this product's lightening/brightening claims. This does exfoliate and it does contain antioxidants with some hyperpigmentation controlling effects. If used dilligently with sunscreen, it probably can make a difference. For someone with mild hyperpigmentation such as mine (I only have a few freckles, which don't really even bother me, I just like the product) this could eventually help clear them away depending on the severity. For anyone with a more pronounced problem, I reccomend looking into products with hydroquinone (whether you can get it OTC in the states, or by prescription here north of the parallel) because you are far more likely to notice quicker and more pronounced results. It's simply a better way to spend your valuable time and money. I can understand the hesitation to go the hydroquinone route, due to all the bad press it gets, and that's your prerogative again, in which case I reccomend looking into other laser treatment and or chemical peels. 

On a personal note, I used to suffer from extreme cystic acne and also used to tan heavily in tanning beds, so at one point my face was so littered with acne scars that I had to use concealers like Dermablend to cover them up. That is part of what led me to go for a series of chemical peels and Fraxel treatments when I was 20. It is still one of the best decisions I've ever made, almost all my scars and fine lines are gone and I've maintained my results with religious sun avoidance, sunscreen application and at home exfoliating products such as this one. In the next while, I'm likely to get my back done too, because that's where my scarring is the worst. If you have thought about seeing a dermatologist and getting these treatments done, I will say this: the money I spent and the pain I endured is nothing compared to the joy of no longer being dependent on layers of heavy makeup to feel beautiful. I can now get away with just tinted moisturizer and a little bit of concealer.

Anyway, let's discuss the product. This is a creamy, semi-oily (so don't try it if you still suffer from breakouts) moisturizing mask with some exfoliating properties. It comes in a tube which dispenses the product onto a brush which you use to apply it. I prefer to leave it on all night when I do use it, so I can get the full benefit of the moisture and exfoliation, so it absolutely can be used as a night cream (though I find it's texture not so great for daytime). It starts balling up with dead skin cells almost as soon as it dries, so I find that I definitely notice a good amount of exfoliation, though it certainly isn't as effective as some more powerful products. The unfortunate thing is that it isn't a straight Glycolic, Lactic or Salicylic product, rather a mix of practically every AHA on the books, in small concentrations. There's citric, lactic, glycolic, tartaric and malic acids, all in concentrations of less than 1%. What this tells me is that they're there for fluff and advertising rather than function. Which made me wonder what it was that provided the noticeable exfoliating effect I observed. Read on for one of the most mysterious ingredient breakdowns I've ever done....

Friday, 1 July 2011

Product Review: Jack Black Natural Mint SPF 25 Lip Balm

If it hasn't already become patently obvious, I'm a big fan of SPF lip products, but only if they contain UVA protection (which most don't). This one fortunately does, in the form of Avobenzone. What seems like a fairly innocuous men's grooming product can also easily be used by women (but what a great gift for any man you adore), especially if the woman likes a minty smell and feel rather than the hyper girlie aesthetics of most women's products. What's stopping us? Exactly. 

It's other fabulous redeeming feature is the great moisture it provides, it has a high concentration of Shea Butter, which is fabulous for dry lips because it provides lipids to the top layer of skin and seals them in, so it works beautifully as a long lasting lip balm. I love thepackaging too, a nice squeeze tube from which you can take a little product and apply. No muss, no fuss. The problem is the high concentration of mint extract (called Aroma) on the ingredient list, which feels lovely, cooling and plumps the lips, but is unfortunately also a source of irritation. The irritation is what causes blood vessels to carry blood to the area and create that plump look, which I admit I like, but long term exposure to irritation on skin is also one of the primary causes of aging, which will result in thin, wrinkly lips later. Now mind you I'm not a smoker and am obviously a heavy user of sunscreen around the area, so I really don't worry about the irritation much. In comparison to the damage that those activities, and simple aging related degradation can do, irritation is not that big of a deal. However, it is truly unnecessary, so though I enjoy using this product, it wouldn't be my first choice above others which are kinder to the skin. For those who really don't mind aging a little bit prematurely (I admire you, just so you know) and do enjoy a minty feel and smell, well this would be a fabulous knockout choice.