Product Review: Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder

While perusing the makeup aisle at Walgreens looking for some fun additions before a work holiday party, I wandered over to the Milani section which I must admit, I’ve never taken seriously because it’s all the way in the back.  I pass my trusty go-tos long before I reach their products, which is next to the off-brands and hodge podge of nail/tweezers/cotton balls.

I have been hearing more and more about Milani’s quality drugstore items and I was in the mood for a new highlighter, so I snatched this one up.  And I must say, if this product is an indication of Milani products in general, well it’s time I get on the fan-girl bus!

What is Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder

Milani’s Strobelight Instant Glow Powder is a finely milled highlighting powder that comes in an impressive array of colors – seven to be exact. There’s a great chance that you can find one that works with your skin tone, and that you can experiment with for different looks. It’s best used to highlight the high points of the face and body (much like bronzer, you use it where light would reflect off your skin) and to give you a soft – or high wattage – sheen. Highlighters provide a “dewiness” effect which can make skin look younger, more awake.  It is also a nice final trick to a contour job to help further emphasize the good – eyes, bridge of the nose, lips – and divert the eyes away from problem areas.

I tend to have dehydrated, oily skin and use a lot of emollient products, so highlighters aren’t something I use everyday.  But, when I’m going glam or feel winter dryness sucking the life from my face, I appreciate the look that a good one can provide. I surprised myself by reaching for a powder because I’m borderline obsessive about not putting anything powdery by my impending crow’s feet so I’ve gone the liquid route in the past.  But for the price and the sheer curiosity, into my basket it went.

First Look & Packaging

I went with the color 01 Afterglow because I’m fair-skinned and I believe it was the last one left which hints at its popularity.  The presentation of the product itself was nice; it has a raised swirl pattern to it which picks up light and also provides additional texture to help lift the product from the pan onto the brush. Typical to your average drugstore product the packaging is just fine.  That’s it.  Just fine.  No frills here but it was sturdy enough at the hinge and was easy to hold.  It didn’t come with a mirror or a brush which is not a deal breaker for me.  I don’t do my highlighter on the go and the brushes you get are generally junk but if you’re looking at a convenience factor and those things are important to you, what you see is what you get.

Application

I used a typical blush brush and first lightly swirled it in one circle around the pan.  I do this for all products especially the first time because I had no idea how sparkly or opaque this would be and to make sure I pick up any variance in color throughout the pan. I then started at my upper cheek bones (and cringed while putting powder here…I digress), swiped it back and forth in a diagonal line to follow my cheek bones and then blended by changing that to a C shape –  bit under my eye area and up around my temples and brow.

I was impressed at how buttery this came out.  No glitter, no dusty chalkiness.  Because I was feeling frisky I did one more light pass just the same and came out with an impressive “lit from within” look to my skin.  I then proceeded to do the same down the bridge of my nose, a dot on my chin, a smidge in the middle of my forehead by my nose, and my collar bones.

Pro tip: use a shadow brush, dip it into your highlighter, and trace your Cupid’s bow (where your top lip dips) and bottom lip, and add a dab to the middle of both of your lips.  Make sure to blend it out.  This will help accentuate your lips without using a gloss. Get multiple uses by using it as a brow highlight or inner-corners of your eyes.  You can also give yourself some quick dimension and all-over glow by using a big brush and running it down your shoulders/arm, and front of your legs.  I recommend using a different pan for your face and body, however.

I did use this another time and added more than a light second layer.  It gave me that Instahighlight that really caught the light.  It was more bold than I like to go with my highlighter, but wasn’t garish, still blended nicely and proved you can get some serious color pay-off with this little gem.

Overall Thoughts

For $10 at .3 oz which will last me forever, and the convenience of finding this at any drugstore (if it’s in stock) I think this is a fantastic buy.  The highlight is versatile to fit lots of different looks for different occasions (yes, you’ll light up the floor at your unce unce unce club if you want!).  It’s fun for baby-faced glowsters, and also very age-appropriate for the um shall I say “slightly more matured” woman or man.  It has no glitter or sparkles, and was very buildable.  You will want to be moisturized before using this, but it did not dry me out, settle into fine lines or accentuate texture issues.  This is #1 of importance to me as an aging woman with large pores.

New Year’s is right around the corner and is a perfect opportunity to have some fun with your routine to ring in the new year.  I may grab up one of the golden colors to try something new.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep Milani on my radar as a strong contender for amazing drugstore finds!

Overall: 4/5

Packaging: 3/5

Price: $$$$$

Have you used Milani products or have a highlight tip you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: Nars Lip Pencils

It quite possibly took me 25+ years to wear a colored lipstick out of the house that wasn’t either for Halloween or some shade of nude/clear/light pink/balm.  Lipsticks can be tricky and ESPECIALLY when you are a natural redhead (hello clown face) and uncomfortable with the wrong formulation.

There are less than five lip colors that I own and have purchased with my own money.  Two of them (and my favorites!) are Nars lip pencils: the Satin Lip Pencil in Palais Royal and the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (gasp – a red!!).

The Difference:

The names are pretty indicative of what you’re getting with each. The Velvet Matte is a true matte (meaning without any shine) that gives you that sultry-looking pout.  The Satin Lip is a bit more buttery – closer to your standard lipstick – but still maintains the pencil application.  It does have a slight satin shine finish to it.

Velvet Matte Lip Pencil: Cruella

Color – this is a great classic red that is versatile. It is in between vampy and ring the alarm red. Highly rated by almost every beauty blogger out there, it goes on with precision due to it’s chubby pencil formula which means you can go without a lip pencil if you like.  It provides a brightness to the face, a whiteness to your smile, and is daring enough for those like me who have typically steered clear of reds in the past, while still approachable for an everyday red for those who are used to pulling it off. It can withstand the idea of either playing up your eyes or your lips so that you can go from girl next door to glam.

Application & Wear- as mentioned it goes on really easily with it’s pencil-like tip that isn’t as thin as a typical lip pencil, but easy enough to grip, creates a defined line and you can hold it with ease and no worry of breakage.  It glides on smoothly without much tugging, which can happen especially with matte lipsticks.  This is not meant to be a 24-hour lasting formula, and it doesn’t but I find that it has enough staying power to last you a few hours and it’s fade, although lighter, doesn’t become a blotchy mess.  Typical to most matte lipsticks, it was a bit drying on me so it would require some good exfoliating and moisturizing before application.

Satin Lip Pencil: Palais Royal

Color – this one is a beautiful sangria color, perfect for the winter months or glamourous night out on the town. To me, this one feels more at home than a typical red, and is probably my favorite lip color I’ve owned to date.  It goes on a true burgundy color, but can be softened or fades on it’s own to a brighter plum.  It’s the perfect color to bring some pop and brightness to your face, while bringing an elegance and refinement.

Application & Wear – similar to the above matte version, this goes on as a pencil which has precision to it.  However, the final product is noticeably different.  The Satin Lip comes out with a sheen.  Not a shine, but will reflect some light.  Whereas I see the matte as giving you a smoky, sultry look, these will give you some added moisture and a brighter look without any high wattage.  This one also wears and fades very well but can tend to cling to dry pieces on your lips. Both options should be removed with a good oil-based cleanser.

Overall

I really like these options, and in particular, these colors.  This blog is geared towards redheads, but these colors would look gorgeous on just about everyone.  At $27 for both options, they rival your typical higher end beauty counter purchases. The matte has slightly more to the pencil (.086 oz vs .07 oz per Sephora’s website) but it wouldn’t be enough to sway me either way given the varying finishes.  They look sleek in a black outer package with the color block at the tip.  I will say that these are slightly tricky to sharpen, but contrary to what you think it can be done.  That is the only con in it’s presentation in my opinion.  I will also say that Nars was cruelty free for a while, but seems to have dipped it’s toes back into no longer being so.

Overall: 4/5 

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 4/5 

Have you used Nars Lip Pencils before?  Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: Urban Decay Brow Box

As you would have read in my earlier blog post touting that eyebrows are the new LBD, the eyebrow industry has exploded not only because if the increased attention to a perfectly arched brow, but also capitalizing on those poor souls growing up in the 90’s when pencil thin brows were in – and just never filled back in.

There are a ton of great products out there, but where I find a common denominator that separates the winners from the losers is color.  Many fall either too ashy or too red (and that’s coming from a redhead!).  Smashbox discontinued my fav brow shadow, so off to find a new BFF (brow friend forever) I went.

About Urban Decay’s Brow Box

Urban Decay is well known for their primers and shadows, and while on the hunt saw a bunch of high ratings which landed this in my beauty basket.  They have this alt-rock glam/grunge thing going on, targeting those who are into beauty and associate with the fringe, apparent with palettes called “Naked,” photography more goth than glam and bright, bold colors. As a rocker at heart, I enjoy the demo they are going after.  I also happen to love them because Gwen Stefani is a spokesperson and she’s my all-time fav. I digress.

Packaging:

They have done a great job of putting this brow kit into a beautiful and functional design. The outer shell is a textured black and deep purple metallic plastic with that although small, has some weight to it.

Their Brow Box kit is one of, if not the best, value as far as handy tools and an all-in-one you’ll come across. The top lid opens up to reveal the brow powders, and then sort of opens like one of those Caboodles from back in the day to present you with some tiny yet helpful tools.

For those who travel a lot, have limited space for beauty tools, or are type A and like everything packaged nicely, you’ll really enjoy this one.  You get your choice of three brow powder color options to choose from, and each has an accompanying color to give you some blendable variations.

Here’s what comes in one box:

  • 2x colors of brow powder
  • Brow wax
  • Mini tweezers
  • Mini angled brush & spoolie
  • Mirror

Isn’t that awesome? The tweezers and brushes won’t replace a higher end version, but they are fantastic when you have that one hair you just need to get and don’t want to go digging, are new to the brow game, or if you’re attempting to pack light.

Application:

Even though I’m a redhead, my brows pull more to a brown. I also deepen my root so I sometimes go a little darker on my brows. I use the color “Brunette Beauty” and mix the lighter color in my inner brow closer to my nose, and then go darker.  I’ve had mine for about two years at least, so it’s lasted me a lonnnnng time and I’d say that if I wasn’t running out of wax, it could still go on for another year.

These are also best used for a defined and filled-in brow look. For those who like a more natural tamed look, or just want to fill in a spot here or there, this may be too dramatic for you.  Finding a good middle ground between filled in and drawn on, it’s more typical of your Insta brow consumer.  Because of that, it also takes some time and care to apply. I do LOVE that it comes with a wax, though. It adds that one extra step of definition and hold.

The down sides are that over time it does become a bit crumbly vs. buttery and the colors don’t blend as well.  This also creates some fall out which is easily brushed away, but annoying.  Those of us oily-skinned gals may also have some trouble on the most humid days.  It certainly isn’t budge-proof.

Overall:

Overall I really like Urban Decay’s Brow Box and would recommend it for the right type of buyer considering the type of look it will give you mentioned above. At $30 for one box, it isn’t the least expensive but certainly approachable for a brow-conscious buyer, and does provide everything you need in one place which is a great selling point.

It isn’t bullet-proof and does have some down sides, so I may venture out to try something else next time.  But, I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to my trusty Urban Decay because it is really that good.

Overall: 4/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

Have you used the Brow Box? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

ReadHead 2 Head: Benefit’s Roller Lash vs. Maybelline’s Lash Sensational

In my earlier (and poor college kid days) mascara was something I so wanted to splurge on – I had friends buying Lancome Dificiles by the cha-ching – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  My mom always bought Lancome and had the little samples that they gave you, so I’d find myself raiding her stash (thanks mom!).  Thoughts of spending $30 or $40 for mascara that you’re supposed to toss (apparently) after 3 months was just unattainable for me. Drugstore whomp whomp it was when my little sample died.

Since then, the drugstore brands have seriously stepped up their game.  There’s a billion out there that are just junk.  And the shouty plastic and neon craziness for tubing causes me migraines, but there are those gems out there that rival the good ones.

Drugstore vs. Luxury?

First of all, many of the drugstore brands are owned by premium brands i.e. L’Oreal owns Lancome and Maybelline (and a host of others).  There are times when you can get a cheaper price and very similar technology.  They’re all coming out of the same plant.  Also, do your research on blogs and understand what the brushes are meant to do – fat teddy bear shapes, vs combs, vs tiny short brushes.  The brush itself is integral to the application.  Lastly, primers can certainly help and don’t think one mascara has to do everything on it’s own.  Find a really good lengthening and a really good volumizing.  Put the lengthening mascara on first, then beef it up with that volumizer for beautiful long, full lashes.

There is a reason though, that luxury brands cost more.  Their packaging is usually better, and the quality of the mascara formulation + the brush tends to be better overall.  I find that they are just enough less clumpy, and just enough better at separating and holding curl (not all, but most).

Benefit Roller Lash vs. Maybelline Lash Sensational

Maybe she’s born with it?  Maybe it’s just really amazing mascara on both counts.

Benefit’s Roller Lash has been my lengthening go-to for a while now.  It comes in an adorable black and pink tube with girly details that are still sophisticated.  The formulation goes on a deep black with a more wet/shiny look that dries down fairly quickly.   It is dark and lengthens considerably, but can still be considered a natural look vs. dramatic falsies.  The comb, which in my opinion makes this amazing, beautifully stretches and fans lashes with no clumping while pushing them up with each stroke for up-to-there lashes.  Recently I’ve stopped curling my lashes except for special occasions to give them a break and this mixed with my Dior primer makes it almost undetectable that they aren’t curled.  It holds the curl all day and gives me an enhanced yet not over the top flirty look.  It also provides good volume when mixed with my primer, but for when I’m going out on the town and kicking my heels up, I coat this with Two Face’s Better Than Sex mascara for some super oomph.

For the price, you’re looking at $24 for the full size at .30 oz or $12 for .14 oz for the travel size.  I purchase the travel size which lasts me a good 3+ months.

Maybelline’s Lash Sensational has been blowing up the beauty blogger-sphere since it’s arrival as a dupe for Roller Lash.  It has a mauve frosty colored plastic tube container synonymous with a drugstore mascara brand.  The wand is slightly fatter, and has the similar comb technology.  I use two coats which comes out thick and black whilst pushing those lashes up and out.  For a tube of this you’re looking at $9 for .32 oz, and there’s almost always sales out there.

Final comparison:

When I put these on side by side from afar they both give me striking lashes.  They are dark, fanned and curled.  The lasting power for both of these did well and I didn’t have any problems with flaking or smudging.

Packaging: Roller Lash wins hands down on the packaging.  But, I care more about the function so I’m willing to give that a pass.  Lash Sensational isn’t garish or obnoxious, and I am a-OK with that.

Brush & Application: Although very similar, Roller Lash’s brush is a bit deeper with the combs and is a bit smaller making it easier to use.  Roller Lash seemed to be a bit more silky and wet, while Lash Sensational was thicker and a dryer lending it to provide more volume out the gate.  However, it does start to get borderline clumpy/spidery on my second pass so if you are a multi-coat person you’ll need to work with it a bit with combs to keep that from happening.

Price: Lash Sensational cannot be beat on the price.  For more product for almost 1/3 of the price, it’s definitely a bargain – especially if you believe in tossing your mascaras after 3 months.  And the formulation for that price is really good.  I’m OK with spending $12 on the trial size for Roller Lash, but $24 for this (or any mascara) would be above what I’m willing to spend.

Overall: Lash Sensational is a very strong contender to Roller Lash.  If price is an issue for you, then I highly recommend you go with this mascara.  It’s easy to get at almost any drugstore (vs. Roller Lash from Sephora) and will give you some voluminous, lengthy lashes.

The one stickler for me is that clumpiness.  At a close enough price point ($12 albeit trave size vs $8 for more than double) I’m going to stick with Roller Lash BUT when I need to save up a few pennies Lash Sensational is where I’m headed.

Have you tried either of these? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: Dr. Jart Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45

BB stands for beauty or blemish balm.  They were all the rage overseas with Japan and Korea leading the way.  I wrote a blog post about the difference in BB, CC and tinted moisturizers which can be helpful before digging into this review.

BB creams are fantastic options for those who want more than sheer coverage, don’t want the sometimes heavy or clogging feel of full foundation, and want a multi tasker with SPF and skin-improving properties. The down sides is that they can be hard to color match with the fairest and darker skin colors being left with little to no options, and sometimes finishes can be spotty.

Dr. Jart, a Korean-based brand focused on skin care readily available at Sephora, has a range of BB creams that target different skin needs.  They are all very different, and the Premium Beauty Balm is no exception.

Ingredients – Dr. Jart is a Korean company, and focuses on skin care as much as the makeup aspect.  Since my 20s I’ve been willing to forego coverage for skin care so this is a total win for me.  This BB cream has arbutin to lighten skin, hefty doses of UVA/UVB filters for an impressive 45 SPF and does not cause irritation.  The ‘cones, which can be problematic for some, creates a smooth surface.

List from Sephora’s website:

Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide: Provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
-Bio-Peptide Complex: Provides antiaging properties and supports natural collagen.
-Arbutin: Brightens skin; evens skin tone.
-Adenosine: Improves elasticity and firms skin.

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Dipropylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Arbutin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Magnesium Sulfate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Calcium Stearate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Polysorbate 80, Propylene Glycol, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Talc, Tocopheryl Acetate, Adenosine, Alcohol, Lecithin, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, PVP, Platinum Powder, Steareth-20, Chrysin, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide.

Application – The product comes in a hard plastic pump (more on this in the packaging section).  One pump seemed to not be quite enough to cover my face and neck.  Two was too much.  So, for me 1.5 pumps is where it’s at.  I put this on with my fingers after I put my serums and moisturizers on and out the door I go.  It spreads easily, isn’t streaky and blends well into the skin. Lots of people use beauty blenders or brushes, but for me I’m no fuss no muss and fingers works just fine for me!

Color/Finish – Dr. Jart has two color options: light/medium and medium/tan which is newer to the arsenal.  I have only used the light/medium, so my review will focus on that.  The color is a light beige with a slightly gray cast to it.  This is typical in many Korean BB creams that are geared towards lighter skin tones.  It does adjust slightly once it dries down to fit an impressive amount of varying shades of skin.  For me it’s a fantastic color match as I range in a golden fair base but could pass for neutral with some redness, but for those with very warm undertones may find it makes you look washed out. The finish is slightly to definitely dewy depending on the types of moisturizers (if you use one) you put on before this.  Sometimes I do get a bit of high-wattage going on with particularly emolient moisturizers that I need to tone down with powder.  If you don’t like that finish or have very oily skin, this might not be for you.  You can also use that to your advantage if you have extremely dry skin – put on moisturizer and immediately follow up with this to have an easier time spreading. For those with dry or dull skin, this provides a beautiful finish that will give you a youthful glow without the down sides of a heavy foundation. It is light to light/medium coverage which does well with average redness but will not fully cover acne or dark circles.  Think your skin, but better.

Packaging – You will see 99% of reviews raving from the rooftops about this product.  And you’ll see a ton of complaints about the packaging.  The package is a hard plastic tube with a pump top.  If the tube lays on its side, you have to pump it a ton of times to get the product out.  You also can’t get the last drop, which I can only imagine how much is wasted without being able to squeeze or get into the tube.  It can be faulty, which is very annoying.  Not enough to keep me and the hordes of loyal followers away, though.

Overall – This product is a great one for sensitive, fair skin and is a Certified Readhead Best.  I still use other products (including sunscreen) but this can be a great multi-use product for people who don’t want a lot of steps in their routine.  At 45 SPF it’s great for protecting the skin and what I love most about it is that my skin looks and feels healthier when I wear it.  I’ve strayed many times over the years and although I may find a formula with a silky finish that can’t be topped (like Dior’s Hydralife) inevitably I start getting dehydrated and break out.  This one keeps me looking fresh and rejuvenated and washes off easily and CLEAN.  My acne subsides, and my skin looks more hydrated and bouncy when I use this.  And if I (gasp) fall asleep in it, I don’t pay with breakouts the next day. Definitely a great buy for winter dry skin.  Summer may need some extra setting powder.  At almost $40 it’s not cheap, but when you factor in the performance, convenience and that you don’t necessarily need a foundation, moisturizer or sunscreen, it’s definitely worth the splurge.  I’ll keep buying this and wishing they change the packaging for years to come!

Overall – 5/5

Packaging – 2/5

Price – $$$$$

Have you used Dr. Jart’s BB creams? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Product Review: Cover FX Custom Cover Drops

Sometimes there’s a product that comes out that just…smart.  Leave it to the problem solving geniuses from Cover FX to come out with this innovative product that is an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.

Enter Cover FX’s Custom Cover Drops.

What makes this product different than your run-of-the-mill foundation is that it’s not foundation at all.  It’s actual pigment, and available in a surprisingly large range of shades. The idea is that you can customize your color and your coverage with just a few drops.

What it is:

Pigmented color drops that allow you to customize your color, coverage and finish depending on the base that you choose to add it to.

Ingredients:

Designed to give you a slippery base, the ingredients scream ‘cones.  Those are things like silicone and dimethicone which give products like primers, the smooth appearance.  This isn’t problematic unless ‘cones cause you to break out, which they do to me.  There is also alcohol in here, but it’s at the bottom of the list.  Absent are SPF or any skin-improving properties, so your base should include these items separately.  It does include mica and silica which help to provide some sheen and brightness to a rather heavy formula.

List from Sephora’s Website: Ethyl Trisiloxane, Caprylyl Methicone, Bis-Hydroxyethoxypropyl Dimethicone, Isododecane, Dimethicone, Mica, Jojoba Esters, Triethylhexanoin, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Silica, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Water, Alcohol, Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax, Polyglycerin-3. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

ReadHead’s Thoughts:

Why I Bought It: I am really hard on foundations and have extremely high expectations.  I have tried just about every foundation and BB cream out there.  My skin is pale but with golden undertones, and redness in my cheeks.  My hair color of balayaged dark roots and blonde highlights tones down some of the redness, but I need something that doesn’t wash me out.  I am acne prone. and want something that will better my skin vs. just cover it up.  I don’t want a mask, but I need some coverage. I don’t want matte, but don’t want to glow like an oily disco ball. I am every foundation developer’s nightmare.

The thought was that my existing BB or lotion chock full of goodies would be a good base for this, when I want more coverage.

In-Store Application: I was color-tested by a sales associate at Sephora. (Pro tip: this is no knock on them, but never trust being tested.  It’s about 20% that they are correct.  I blame bad lighting, the fact that you’re almost never makeup-free to start, and oxidation. Give a product 3-5 hours and daylight…you’ll see what I mean.) She took a sample of my current day cream and added 2 drops of the concentrated pigmented drops to make a skin color-like concoction that she put on me with a foundation brush. It went on pretty well and surprisingly was  pretty high coverage for what I was used to.

At-Home Application: I tried this again at home and found that if you have the least bit of dryness in your skin, moisturizer is key.  I put a dollop of my moisturizer and two drops directly onto it and mixed.  It was pretty easy, but was somewhat messy.

Packaging: This product is a push down dropper in an opaque glass container.  I really dislike it in just about every way.  The pigment gets into the screw top part of the dropper.  Because it’s a dropper, you have product on your hand, which gets all over, you try to dispense it, some inevitably gets on the side, and then you find random pigment blobs on your hand, on the side of the bottle…just about everywhere.  I find that if the product dries out (which is likely because this will last you until the end of time) the dropper gets clogged.

Overall: This product covers imperfections like hyperpigmentation and redness really well, but I found that it fell flat for providing a smooth canvas which is suprising given the amount of ‘cones.  You’ll have to work to find a base and primer perhaps that keeps this from accentuating the things you don’t want people to see if you’ve got rough texture on your skin.  I would describe it as that it covers vs blurs. BUT if you can find the magic ingredients to make it work for your skin type, and don’t mind a little mess, this product would be great for just about any occasion and can be considered more economical because it will last a really long time. For me, this accentuated my large pores and looked a bit mask-like and cakey.  Full disclosure I don’t wear high coverage foundation often, so that could be a part of it.  I decided to keep it because it beats buying a full-coverage foundation that I’ll never use and likely won’t have as good of ingredients for a base.  The idea is spot-on, but this is a one-time purchase for me.

Overall: 3/5

Packaging: 2/5

Price: $$$$$

Have you used Cover FX Custom Drops?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Case of Melty Makeup Face: An 80-Degree Winter Day Confirmed I’m Not Yet Worthy

It’s currently winter in my midwestern hometown of Cincinnati.  For the past few months I have been slathering moisturizer on like it’s going out of style since my skin was getting blasted by cold winds and dried out by artificial heat warmer than the fires of hell.

Winter was putting my makeup and hair products to the test.  My BB creams were struggling to not look like it was some color of paste too orange covering sandpaper and my volumizing hair products were falling flat. But I was determined – exfoliate and moisturize.  Moisturize, moisturize, exfoliate, moisturize.

Then yesterday happened and I was reminded yet again of why I have 8,000 products in my closet and what happens when I am ill-prepared. It decided that it would be 80 and swampy.  I used the same products as I have the rest of the winter.  My skin’s oil production was kicked into high gear of gross and felt like only a squeegee would do. My air-drying hair took on a volume of lion mane-like proportions.  My eyeshadow creased and melted, mascara left lines by the end of the night, and only a rubber band could save me from my hair. WTF.  More fodder for me to hate you, winter.

So, as crazy winter days transform and spring time approaches, it’s a good reminder to revisit the products we’re using as the seasons change.

Here’s some tips to arm yourself with the best types of products and techniques to save you from feeling like a melty-faced swamp monster.

Proper Skin Prep:

Two of the most important things when humidity and warmer weather kicks into gear are lightweight-yet-effective moisturizers and exfoliants that can penetrate into the pore to remove dead skin and clear out gunk.

Proper Makeup Prep:

Extra oil production, sweat and humid conditions can break down makeup, causing oxidation, unwanted shine, or even an overall disappearing act.

Primers have come a long way – you can find some with acne treatments, moisturizers and brighteners – and can create a sleek canvas and hold your makeup.  Primers are especially important in the t-zone and eyelid area if you have oily skin.

Set it off:

Setting your makeup with powder will take away additional shine. They have come a long way from cakey to translucent and finely milled.  A good powder is worth the investment.

Lastly, spritzing a makeup setting spray will keep you going all night long and hold your makeup in place.

  • ReadHead Favorite: Urban Decay All Nighter does exactly what it says.  It will hold that beautiful handiwork for up to 16 hours!  I use this in limited amounts though, as it is high in alcohol and can irritate my acne-prone skin.  It’s still a Certified ReadHead Best.

Have a technique that works for you? Drop us a line in the comments!

Product Review: NYX Cosmetics Wonder Stick

Contouring, or using lighter and darker shades to highlight and define the features on your face, is all the rage these days.  While I prefer a more natural look for my everyday, contouring can be fun if you’re into makeup and want to take the extra steps.

I picked up NYX’s Wonder Stick at Ulta for just under $12.  I was in a major hurry before a 70’s party that I was going to.  My inspiration was late 60s/early 70’s Twiggy, so I wanted to get that defined and concealer-heavy look for that time period.  This little duo turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Color: I got the lightest one which proved to be a great match for my fair skin.  The contour (darker) color was a proper shade of brown that blended well without looking orange.

Application: is a breeze.  The dual-sided stick (one side highlight and the other contour) glided on smoothly.  I had moisturizer on so that helped, but I had to put a bit more muscle into the contour for it to really show.  This means it could be a good option with a light hand for fair-skinned people. The concealer glided on in a light-medium coverage. I would suggest setting this with a translucent powder.

The stick idea is great for concealing and for contouring the nose and cheeks – areas you draw to define vs. larger areas to add color to.  It does prove to be a bit awkward if you want to carry that contour up to your hair line to close your forehead in.  It works, but is a bit like coloring and requires some serious blending.

Finish: everything looked creamy on my skin, with a bit of a glow.  I wouldn’t suggest this for oily-skinned people, especially if the t-zone is a problem for you.  The concealer looked natural, but did settle into creases a bit.

End result: I don’t suggest that this will solve all your problems if a heavy duty concealer is important to you or if you want a bangin’ contour look.  But, if you’re traveling or want just a little something to oomph up your look for the night without all the fuss, this is a fool-proof way to do it.  I’m glad I have this in my makeup bag – it’s convenient, the price is very affordable and I didn’t break out. You’ll need to remember to blend, blend blend.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

How to get those mega lashes.

Some consider the eyes the window to the soul.  To me, eyes are my most favorite feature on any living thing I encounter; it also happens to be my favorite feature of my own self.

eyelashesRivaled only by expert brows, eyelashes can enhance your face and, if your eyes are a favorite feature like me, can draw people in. I receive lots of compliments on my eyelashes (that’s me to the right with mascara only, no eyeliner and not much mascara on lower lashes), and lots of skepticism that they’re actually real.  For the record, yes, they’re real and I’ll give you some insight on how to get them yourself. Keep reading to see my lash routine and how I got this look.

Genetics.

First thing’s first, are genetics. I’m sorry, it’s the thing you don’t want to hear if you have barely there eyelashes already.  But. you have to realistic in what your hair and body will produce (much like me with my hair color). The good news for all ReadHead readers is that before I started taking care of my lashes, I’d give them a 5 out of 10.  There’s lots of room to grow.

Taking care of lashes from the inside.

For as much time as I take to talk about taking care of your skin, my diet leaves something to be desired. I did some reading, because that’s what we do here at ReadHead and found a vitamin with impressive ingredients called Alive! Whole Food Supplement that is packed full of just about any leafy green, fruit, vitamin, you name it.  It tastes like dirt, but wow does it work to give me the things my body is missing.  I also supplement this with my favorite beauty vitamin, Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Extra Strength Hair Skin & Nail which focuses on hair’s building blocks of biotin, collagen, vitamins and argan oil.  These two things together gave my body the boost it needed.

Blogger’s Note: I am not a doctor.  Before taking any vitamins consult your doctor and be sure to follow all directions on labels. Vitamins and supplements are not to be taken lightly nor does more mean better. I do not take the recommended dose for these.  I take one pill of each per day vs. the recommended three.  More on vitamins in another post.

Taking care of your lashes on the outside.

Washing your face does more than get the gunk out of your pores.  It also removes drying mascara that can make your lashes hard and brittle.  Lashes are just like the hair on your head – putting them through curling, harsh chemicals and no rest can cause them to be brittle and break. Ever notice how men seem to have the most beautiful lashes us women envy?  It’s because they don’t put them through the ringer.

Tips:

  • Give your lashes a rest from mascara on the weekends or days that you don’t have to get dolled up.
  • Use a lash conditioner at night.  My favorite is Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator.  Although this clear gel says you can wear it under mascara, I don’t recommend it.  It helps lashes grow by conditioning them and protecting from fall-out.  Using a clean mascara wand with a light dip of castor oil also works.
  • Check into lash-growth serums. If your lashes truly aren’t there, Latisse is an option you can get, but it’s pricey without a prescription.  It won’t replace Latisse, but RapidLash is one I’ve used in the past that worked well and was more budget-friendly.
  • Get rid of the really cheap dollar mascaras that are high in alcohol.  You can find great drugstore brands, but skip the off-brands. Waterproof should also go if you don’t have extremely oily lids.  It puts a strain on your lashes during the day and when you’re removing it.
  • Use a conditioning lash primer before your mascara to help protect lashes day in and day out.
  • Different mascaras can give you different looks.  If you don’t mind a few steps, find good lengthening and volumizing mascaras vs. trying to find a great one that does both.
  • Try using a hair dryer on your lash curler for extra curl staying power.  Use your hair dryer for about 10 seconds, test it on your hand first to make sure it’s not too hot, and voila, it’s like a hair curler for your lashes. Make sure to let them cool down to really set that curl before adding mascara.

What I’m wearing: Diorshow Maximizer 3D eyelash primer, two coats of BENEFIT’s Roller Lash mascara, and one coat of Two Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara (and if that name doesn’t intrigue you I’m not sure what does) for ultimate volume.

Have a favorite lash product? Drop us a line in the comments.

The AA BB CCs of today’s foundation foilers

Those of us with finicky and/or fair skin have all been there searching for what seems like eternity for the right color or formulation of foundation that fits our skin type.  When it seems like there’s something that we find, we hear of something new shouting at us to try it.  BB creams, CC creams, tinted moisturizers, and even no makeup-makeup have hit the shelves with a large following and marketing budget to boot.

So, what’s it all about?

BB, or beauty (sometimes also called blemish) balm creams, are nothing new in their purpose.  They are formulated like a tinted moisturizer with sheer to medium coverage depending on the type but are formulated to multi-task with skin-benefiting ingredients like sun protection, arbutin to lighten dark spots, retinol for wrinkles and antioxidants to treat free radical stress.  The Korean makeup and skin care companies were leaders in the BB cream craze, with western companies from Dior to L’Oréal jumping on the bandwagon.

CC, or color correcting creams, are like BB creams but tend to be slightly thicker to provide color correcting help to cover hyper pigmentation, inflamed acne or redness.

The pros are that they provide a range of finishes and can help you cut down on steps if you’re a busy go-getter.  Cons are that shades are generally limited with the fairest and deeper skin tones being left to find other alternatives.

ReadHead’s Favorites

Dr. Jart Premium – gives a light-medium coverage and a satin finish.  This power BB packs great ingredients, skin lighteners, high SPF and is great for sensitive skin.

Lumene CC Cream – excellent in coverage and comes in two shades so you can mix and match. Gives a satin-matte finish for dimension without shine and a drugstore price.

Dior HydraLife – a western BB cream with 30+ SPF, a beautiful finish and skin-improving properties. This one is pricey and shades are limited.  Skip this if you’re oily or very fair.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer – the original western BB in my opinion, this inexpensive yet powerful tinted moisturizer comes chock full of antioxidants and wrinkle-fighting retinol.  This one provides ultra sheer coverage and is perfect for the no makeup days you just want a little something extra. Plus, you can find this in almost any drugstore.

Skin79 Pink – This Korean BB cream provides ultra coverage, cute packaging and high SPF.  If you’re into Korean skin care, these are great options for the fair skinned. Watch out for dupes as this one is frequently counterfeit.

Have a favorite BB or CC cream? Drop us a line in the comments.