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Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Favorites List! My Most Loved Products for May/June!

I've been quite lucky with the products I've chosen to use this year. I've found some truly great things that I couldn't do without and I thought I'd share some of them with you! I have ventured outside of my "makeup box" where I've been living with the same brands over and over and over again purchased from the same stores over and over and over again. I have learned that there is more to live than Sephora when I decided to look in places I may not have otherwise looked to try new things and new brands. Along the way, I've found some cheap and excellent products! I admit I am a total and unapologetic Home Shopping whore. I am addicted to QVC and HSN. I live and breathe for it. I would rather watch someone hyping up a lawn and garden tool than watch another reality show. I credit these retail venues for bringing me some amazing (and often CHEAP) skin care products. Who doesn't love that combination?! Without further babbling, here are some of the products I've been loving this summer. And I do mean, loving. That's why they're on the list.

Serious Skin Care C-Cream SPF 30

I die for this sunscreen/moisturizer. If you are one of those gals that can't see past Sephora or the drugstore, try some of those cosmetic brands that you see on QVC/HSN that you have never heard of. Check out the reviews for Serious Skin Care, a brand created by Jennifer Flavin-Stallone (you got it, Sylvester's wife). They make some unbelievable things for great prices too! I know, not another ex-model who co-created a skin care line. Well, yes, its another model who has created a skin care line. Only, this time its different and really really good. At least I think so. We need Vitamin C in our skin care routine and that is a fact. Anyone who has ever spent time in the sun and is trying to undo the damage they've done in the past should incorporate Vitamin C into their daily lives. It is formulated with 5 sunscreens including octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone and avobenzone and chalked full of antioxidants that VC provides, this stuff creates a barrier between you and the evil toxins in the environment. While it works to correct SOME of the photo damage of the past, it shields against the sun damage of the future. This stuff has a light citrus scent, is very creamy, is not as harsh as some VC products I've tried, and it truly does moisturize rather than dry me out like some VC products can. It makes me shiny in the face for a few minutes before it settles down but my makeup applies very well over it. I do believe I picked up a 2 oz. tube of it on Ebay, sealed, for $9.99. And I'd do it again, and again. I have sensitive skin, and break-out prone in the chin/jaw area and this stuff works for me amazingly! If you want to take a look at who Jennifer Flavin-Stallone is and what she AND Vitamin C are about, check out the video below to get a little glimpse. But seriously, get your butts out there and get some Vitamin C products. Try a serum or a sunscreen or a night cream, anything!

Wen Cleansing Conditioner (Sweet Almond Mint)

For years I have passed this stuff up every time I see the presentation on QVC. Always tempted by the gorgeous and shiny heads of hair on the "Wen Girls" but forever talking myself out of the idea of using a conditioner as a shampoo. I bit the bullet and bought a small size on Ebay just to try it out and I have to say, I was hooked. You have to have an open mind with this stuff because being that its a cleansing conditioner, you will be saying goodbye to the lather that you're used to. Often times you have lather because of the evil sulfates that strip and dry out your hair and if you don't know anything about this, please look it up or read my blog post about it. I have heard that even lathering shampoos that don't use sulfates can dry out and strip your hair which can cause you to need to color it more often. So what does Wen do for me? It makes my hair shinier, bouncier, smoother, less dry, softer, and easier to manage. I love the idea of only having to use one product to do the job of a shampoo + conditioner. I'm very glad I finally let Chaz Dean (creator of Wen) tempt me enough to get me to take a chance on this stuff. Sold in a variety of fragrances that target each and every hair type as well as a couple that are good for all hair types. Chaz says that if you don't know where to start, try Sweet Almond Mint (the original cleansing conditioner) or Pomegrante (probably their most popular, I just bought the gallon size!)

Ulta Fabulous Face Compact Foundation:

I would have passed this baby right up time and time again unless I was super desperate and someone told me that it was pretty good. Which is what happened. I was desperate to find a replacement for my BELOVED Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse foundation whose consistency and application is amazing on my skin, not to mention the shade Creamy Natural was created just for me and blended like a dream. If it weren't for all of the damn breakouts it caused from its oily nature and ability to make my face very shiny throughout the day, I would have gone the distance with it. I hate trying new foundations and I am honestly about 2 for 100 when it comes to the daunting product. Long story short, I've learned to love again. And cheaply. Ulta was having a 2/$10 on their foundations and I picked up two different shades and the rest is history. It's OIL-FREE, and just as good if not better than Maybelline's version. It sinks into my skin easily and doesn't cause my face to become greasy or broken out (so far!). I am very very amazed that I can get a foundation that, for me, works better than Chanel or Dior and it's only (reg. price) $12.50. Don't judge a foundation by its price or brand ladies! The Fabulous Face Compact Foundation is proof of that. Only draw back? Not a great shade selection. It seems they've skipped the medium tone. You have light, lighter, lightest, and medium-tan. I have purchased a darker one than usual as well as a lighter one and its been smooth sailing. Currently, its $5 on Ulta website so either the sale is still going on or they are phasing it out (which will cause me to be quite disruptive in my protest) But anyways, way to go Ulta, you show those fancy pants brands you have to hang out with all day that YOU are the superior foundation in that store!

Hourglass Rouge Femme Velvet Creme Lipstick (Shades: Fable, and Grace)

I have blog posts about this lipstick so I don't need to say too much except for that this lipstick is perfect. Creamy without being too slippery, smooth, moisturizing, smells like MAC lipsticks, and perfect in every way that I judge lipstick against. I have two shades which are perfect nudes. Fable is a warm nude that most anyone could pull off and Grace is a pink/nude that most anyone could pull off. By far, my favorite lipsticks I've ever owned. Sorry MAC, I have stepped out on you and fallen in love with another. 

Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer:

Photo credit top and bottom from Musings of a Muse

I bought this little TF sample set of their lip, eye, and face primers. Mostly I purchased it for the Too Faced Shadow Insurance but I was happy to try the other two items as well. Having never owned a lip primer, I have been missing out all of these years! I really like this stuff! It creates a tacky base that your lipstick adheres too so that it lasts longer throughout the day. I appreciate this concept because often times when a lipstick is too slippery or the lasting power is crap, it means it needs something to stick to in order to perform up to your expectations. The smell isn't the greatest but it gets the job done. I apply it before liner or lipstick and it certainly has become a staple in my collection. Too Faced hasn't let me down with their primers which has made me a loyal customer.

Laura Gellar Balance -N- Brighten Powder (Foundation?):

I hate powders. I hate them. They are just not ever flattering for those that have fairly dry skin. And they take away any dewey-ness that you are trying to achieve with a foundation. They just come along and stomp it right out. So I have pretty much stopped wearing them until I saw someone review Laura Gellar Balance -N- Brighten foundation powder on YouTube (EmilyNoel83) and then I became smitten. And finally, this past week, I went from smitten to totally in love. This isn't a typical powder in that its texture is kind of creamy without being liquidy so this eliminates the "drying factor". Some say that they use it as a setting powder and some use it on its own because they feel it does provide coverage. I use it after I apply my new Ulta foundation and it really brightens me up and negates the need for me to apply bronzer. I find that if you are wearing a foundation that may be too light for you, you can toss this LG powder over it and it provides some warmth that you may be lacking prior. Balance -N- Brighten is baked in a terracotta pan and that is pretty much what Laura Gellar is known for. This is my first baked product and I am totally digging them. I picked up shade medium because my skin has more color to it in the summer so this shade is pretty perfect. It has a medium-beige base with shades of brown and orange swirled into it. If you are a pale girl and normally wear light, this shade would be a great contour shade or something that could act as a bronzer if you find most bronzers to be too dark. To sum it up, this product provides warmth to your face and helps to even out your skin tone. I need more coverage from a foundation and so I am not able to wear it on its own, but I'm sure that many women can and should! A perfect, light, "am in a hurry but need something on my face" kind of product. Its much more special than any normal old powder in that it provides some coverage and adds color to your face. Eager to try more baked products from Laura Gellar.  This is the video I watched that caused me to take the Balance -N- Brighten plunge. Enjoy..

Pro-Active  (Cleanser, Toner, Repairing Lotion + Repairing Treatment)

I never thought I'd be sitting here writing about Pro-Active, let alone how much I love it. I never thought I'd be 33 years old and seeking the assistance of an anti-acne skin care regime. But here I am. I've tried a lot of new products on my skin this past couple of months and needless to say, my skin hasn't reacted well to some of them. I blame the Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse foundation and a glycolic acid cream for creating most of my break-outs. I spoke to my aunt about my skin trauma and she brought over for me a trial sized 3-step program by Pro-Active: cleanser, toner, repairing treatment. These are benzoyl peroxide based products used to take care of break-outs and keep them from coming back. I was just desperate enough to give them a shot. First, I really love the cleanser. It is composed of super duper fine micro-beads that act as an exfoliator as it cleanses. I love this because the beads being so fine make it feel less harsh than larger grainy beads. The toner is nice, very basic and standard. And the repairing lotion is what really brings it all together by being slightly moisturizing yet powerful in that it dries those little assholes out very quickly. I also got a sample size of the spot treatment which is fantastic because not only does it work in combination with the lotion to dry out the blemishes, it also takes the redness away and makes them less noticeable during the day. I really appreciate that quality in an acne spot treatment. Overnight, I saw an improvement. The break-outs I had were much more dried out and much smaller! I took a break from Retin-A and my glycolic acid products so that I could put an end to what was happening to my skin in the way of break-outs. So glad I did because I'm still going strong with this stuff. I have decided to use it a few times a week and cut my Retin-A use down to 2-3x per week as opposed to 7x/week. I have to say, with all of the research I've done on finding the best skin care products and all of the MONEY I've spent making sure I have the best, I am totally shocked that I am finding solace in Pro Active. All of those annoying commercials and overly eager testimonials. I can now understand and agree with the enthusiasm. Only I'm way less annoying about it.
MAC Eyeshadow in shade: Coppering

Photo Credit: CheetoKisses Blogspot
I will admit, right here and now, that I'm not a huge fan of MAC eyeshadow. While I find their shade selection impressive, I do not find their texture and staying power (on me) equally as impressive. I find that MAC shadows aren't good for lids that tend to get oily or for people with slightly hooded lids. No matter the primer I've used beforehand, I always tended to see creasing with the use of MAC shadows. And I don't find their texture even NEAR as good as brands like Inglot or Hourglass or even Wet N' Wild! But back to why I do see why people love their eyeshadow: the shade selection. I have sold or swapped most of my MAC pro-pans but I saw one today that I have overlooked. And I'm glad that I did overlook it or else it would have been in someone else's make-up drawer right now. Coppering is so gorgeous! Its a beautiful bright rusty-orange shade with a gorgeous sheen. It looks so amazing in the crease and extra amazing on those with blue eyes because the orange tone makes them sparkle while bringing out the brightness of the blue. I wore it today with a cheapy WNW shade that has a peachy/orange tone and in desperate need of some dimension. Coppering provided that and gave me a reason, many reasons, to keep it. Just a word to the wise, I used to use Coppering with Amber Lights and it looked like a gorgeous sunset. 

Photo Credit Temptalia, Coppering is the third shade

Jergens Skin Firming Lotion

I am 100% skeptical of any product that claims to firm skin, diminish or remove cellulite, or do anything similar to either of these concerns. Cellulite is here to stay. Even skinny girls have it. The only way to remove it is to surgically remove it from your body. You can hide the severity of it with things like tanning products or pants, but you will never rid yourself of it. You can tone up the area that cellulite is lurking and you can burn the fat, but unfortunately not much can be done about those little dimply areas that we can thank our own mother's and mother nature for. But we can firm things up, right? At least a little bit. With the help of lots of squats and Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizer. I was told that Tyra Banks really likes this and that its the only product of its kind that has worked for her. Now 99% skeptical, I gave it a try. Something about it does make my skin feel firmer. It has a slightly tacky texture that makes me feel like I'm being held in better. I don't know about you, but I constantly feel like the skin that attaches the thigh to my butt area is thinning. It may be in my head but I know that elasticity or lack thereof of it is a major aging concern of women. I truly think that this Jergens product makes me at least FEEL like my skin has more elasticity, even if it doesn't. And its really all about perception. If you feel good, you look good. Plain and simple. And for $6 a bottle, really, even if you think it sucks, you still have a moisturizer right? When is the last time that Jergens has failed you? It didn't fail me with its self-tanning products or its original cherry-almond scented body moisturizer. So I took another chance on the household name, and pleased I was again. But please, don't expect miracles. Its not like you're going to put it on and good to bed and wake up sans-cellulite. Get real.

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