Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Week's Sales:
RapidLash, Urban Decay, Philosophy
...and more!

Here are your sales for the week beginning March 28th. If you're not a newcomer, you'll notice I'm trying a new, simpler format this week. Please, let me know what you think!

Gilt Groupe
Friday: Bliss Spa

Friday: Lava Tech

Friday: Ooohlala of Beverly Hills

Monday: Red Ginger Cosmetics, Metropolis, RapidLash.
Tuesday: Vapour Beauty & goinglam.
Wednesday: Darac Beauty & skyn ICELAND
Thursday: Urban Decay & 360 Skincare
Friday: Caswell-Massey & Gianna Rose Atelier & Whitening Lightning

Wednesday: The Salon- AHAVA, Freeze 24-7, philosophy & more

Monday: Designer Fragrance Sets for Him
Friday: Caviar

Wednesday: Dial a Smile

Going on NOW:
Crabtree & Evelyn (ends Tuesday)
Anti-Ageing Skincare Solutions (ends Wednesday)
Friday: Yes to Carrots
Saturday: Designer Cosmetics- Benefit, OPI, Clinique and more

UK shipping only here, but if that fits your bill and you're not a member yet, click here- we can both earn a £10 voucher!
Monday: The LA Experience- Studio Alexandria

Monday, March 28, 2011

Twitter 1000 Followers Giveaway!

If you're not following me on Twitter yet, now's the time! I'm honing in on my 1000th follower- a milestone I'm honored, flattered and a bit shocked about reaching. To thank all of my followers for allowing me to be a part of their daily lives, I've decided to host a giveaway to celebrate.

Specifics will follow, but a few things I can tell you now.

  1. You must be a twitter follower- duh :)
  2. The giveaway will take place the weekend after I hit 1000 followers.
  3. The prize will NOT simply go to the 1000th follower, it will involve tweeting a certain phrase, so everyone who follows me and tweets the contest phrase will have a chance of winning.
Sound fun? Tell your friends, and of course, keep an eye out here and on Twitter for more details! Thanks again & see you soon!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MAC Eye Shadow Finish Descriptions

The other day when I posted my descriptions of Inglot's eyeshadow shade range, it occurred to me that I've never addressed the overall issue of makeup finishes. While terms like "matte" and "dewy" tend to be pretty standard, brands are always coming up with new ways to make their product stand apart- including fancy finish names.

Since MAC is often used as a point of comparison, I thought I'd post a list describing their finishes (y'know, in case "Veluxe Pearl" isn't self-explanatory enough for you!) Some of MAC's finishes fall into the "unique" category, but I've noted those that are universally used across cosmetics brands.
  • Frost - iridescent frosty shine. (Universal term.)
  • Lustre - smoothly pearlized; intensely frosted.
  • Matte -high color payoff in a no-shine matte finish. (Universal term, also often used to describe foundation finish.)
  • Matte2 - intense, opaque silky matte finish.
  • Satin – satiny, demi-matte with a subtle sheen. (Universal term, also often used to describe foundation finish.)
  • Veluxe - superfine pigment rich, silky smooth matte finish.
  • Veluxe Pearl - velvety soft metallic, overlaid with high-shine pearl.
  • Velvet - soft velvety finish with high color payoff.
Though some of these terms are still a bit ambiguous (Really, MAC? Do you really need 3 terms for "matte"?) hopefully this will help you decipher what you're buying, especially if you do a lot of your shopping online. These definitions, by the way, come straight from MAC customer service (except my notations of universal terms) so please feel free to add your definitions in the comments! What's your favorite eyeshadow finish?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Guide to Inglot:
Eye Shadow Finishes & Online Ordering.

For those of you that haven't heard, there's a hot "new" (OK, they're not really new, they've been around for over 25 years, just not here...) brand making waves in the industry: Polish import Inglot. They're becoming quite popular for their incredibly pigmented eye shadows, particular in the form of their create-your-own-palette "Freedom System". Available in tons of different configurations and product combinations, the Freedom System allows you to create your own custom palettes, combining your choice of shades, finishes, and in some cases, even products.

Certainly, CYO palettes are not a new idea- MAC, Makeup For Ever and Stila all offer such options- but at a price. Inglot's point of difference could well be the value: For a filled 10-pan palette, the US retail price is only $50! While no one is arguing that $50 is a good chunk of change, consider that 10 pans and a palette to fit them would cost you $124 at MAC, and a MUFE palette that size would run over $200! Factor in the size of the shadows (at 2.7g they're almost double the size of MAC's) and the reason for the hype becomes apparent.

Humorously, I haven't actually tried Inglot yet, so I genuinely can't say if all of the hype is worth it. I do know that there are a lot of you out there lemming for it, so I wanted to let you in on some information that I've collected.

First, let's start with eyeshadow shades. Inglot doesn't name shades, they number them. To make matters even more confusing, they describe their finishes with odd letter annotations like "AMC" and "DS". I suppose this wouldn't bother me- if the finishes were described anywhere on Inglot's website. Kind of an e-commerce fail, but a couple quick phone calls cleared things up. Here's a quick rundown:
  • Matte: As you'd expect, matte shades have a dull finish, without any shimmer or sparkle.
  • Pearl: Another fairly standard term, these shades have a satiny to slightly shimmery frost finish, but are devoid of separate particles of glitter.
  • DS: Stands for Double Sparkle, these are satin (semi-matte) based shades with an added dose of fine glitter, though most of the people I've spoken to that own these say the base reads as a matte.
  • AMC: Stands for "advanced makeup component", This collection is perspiration resistant, contains vitamin E, and is talc-free. From what I could gather, the majority of AMC shades are a matte base with glitter, with the exception of #63, which is completely matte without shimmer or glitter
  • AMC Shine: Same as AMC above, but more finely milled so these have a bit more sheen to them. According to the breakdown I was given, shades 24-36, 39, 41, and 43-49 compare to MAC's Veluxe Pearl finish, which is a soft metallic finish overlaid with pearl. In other words, shimmery, frosty or metallic, but not glittery. Other shades in the line have a high-frost to glittery finish.
Hopefully this will help some of you out. The information I posted here is not from my own observation, mind you, but from conversations I had with the employees of 3 separate Inglot stores- if anyone finds certain shades in the range vary from these classifications, please post those exceptions below!

Also, for all of the pros out there, know that Inglot does offer a 20% professional discount. Call your nearest store for details, or email gsp@inglotusa.com. While the current Inglot online shopping system doesn't allow pro discounts, I was told by all of the Inglot reps that I spoke to that this will be changing in the future. For now, those that have a pro card can request an email form to send in their order, and this method does allow professional discounts to be used! Also, since shipping factors in, make sure you order from the store closest to you for the lowest possible shipping prices.

Finally, I want to quickly address the issue of the price increase that many of you may have heard about. A few months ago, it was rumored that Inglot would be significantly raising it's prices; some info suggested 10-pan palettes would be going from $50 to $80! The date of the price change came and went, and then information started coming out that the price increase would not he happening until May. Accounts have varied, and even store employees don't seem to have the full story. The latest news, from several popular YouTube gurus is that they were personally told by Inglot's Vice President that the price increase would not effect US prices. It appears there's no way to know for sure, but I sure hope that's true!

Of course, Inglot carries much more than just the shadows I discussed in this post- have you tried the brand yet? I plan on placing an order in the relatively near future, so you can look forward to more Inglot here!

Monday, March 14, 2011

This Week's Sales:
LORAC, Alterna, OPI...and more!

Start out over at Beyond the Rack this Monday March 14th as they present Michael Todd Cosmetics.

The check out HauteLook's Booty Parlor and LORAC sales on Monday, Alison Raffaele and Fusion Beauty on Tuesday, Alterna and Senna Cosmetics this Wednesday, and Pixi Beauty and Pharmacopia on Thursday.

Editors' Closet has elite Creed Fragrances on Thursday, March 17th.

And for UK readers, Brand Alley Designer Candles & Fragrances until Wednesday, March 16th and Designer Haircare until Thursday. Mister Mascara starts on Tuesday, with OPI and The Balm Cosmetics on Wednesday and Murad beginning Thursday. For a personal invite (and the chance to earn both of us a £10 voucher) click here!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Illamasqua Toxic Nature:
Swatches & First Impressions!

Illamasqua's tantalizing new collection is now available online, one week in advance of UK stores (US launch date is still TBA, but should be some time in April) and I was lucky enough to receive a few of the new shades and products to try. Here's a first look at a few of the highlights of the collection, including a peek at two of the brand new Cream Pigments!

Since Illamasqua's polish has a cult following, and this one is a doozy, we'll start there. Radium is a bright, acid-lime green with a soft pearl finish.

It applies almost opaque in one coat, but will likely require two to ensure even coverage. This is my first experience with the famous Illamasqua polishes, and so far so good- you can look forward to a review of how the polish performs in the near future! Here's a peek of it on my sad, sad little thumb nail!

Is it a coincidence that when I received this in the mail yesterday, I was wearing sweat pants this exact color? Maybe, maybe not. And while this may not be a great shade to paint one's living room (I happen to know that from experience...I guess you could say I'm fond of lime green) it is fabulous on the nails!

Now for the Cream Pigments. Designed to be a multi-use product for the eyes, face, lips and body, Cream Pigments purportedly provide a crease and water resistant matte finish.

Dab Cream pigment (pastel lilac)

Mould Cream Pigment (deep, bruised grape)

Both Cream pigments that I received were, as promised, completely devoid of shimmer. While they show as more of a cream than matte finish on my hand (meaning they had no shimmer, but a slightly moist finish) they applied with a true matte finish on both my eyes and lips.

Dab Cream Pigment on bare skin.

Mould Cream Pigment on bare skin.

So, what do you think of the Toxic Nature collection? Anyone hauling? Stay tuned next week for complete reviews of the products mentioned in this post!

The products featured in this post were submitted for consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you, my readers, and myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). I can assure you that the opinions expressed in my product reviews are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the review influenced by the featured company.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn't Like:

No one can accuse me of burying the lead; I feel like I have to start out on a negative note, if for no other reason than to differentiate myself from the scads of raving reviews out there for this pricey gadget. As a 15-year veteran of the beauty industry, I very rarely get taken in by marketing glimmer, though it does sometimes catch my eye. Even more rare are the occurrences where hype from raving users makes me take the plunge. I'm an analytical girl, I trust hard numbers & peer-reviewed studies much more than my best friend when it comes to what's great for my skin. It was that nature that kept my wallet safe for years after the advent and subsequent firestorm of praise for Clarisonic, until recently.

I'm not really sure what made me finally dive in; perhaps it was a couple Ulta gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, or the fact that I really don't think I've ever seen a bad review for this thing, but at the end of January, I finally plunked down the $149 and picked up a Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System. Clarisonic claims to use sonic waves to dislodge dirt & oil in the skin. According to their website, Clarisonic was proven twice as effective at cleansing the skin and removed 6 times more makeup.

Sounds kind of impressive, until you read the specifics. First, to my knowledge*, there are no published or peer-reviewed studies substantiating any of the claims Clarisonic makes on their website. So we basically have to take their word for it. Second, if you read the details of the "studies" Clarisonic has on their site, you'll see that they were done on very small sample sizes- the largest group was comprised of 30 subjects, some groups were as small as 10 people. Does this mean that only 10 people were chosen for the study, or could it mean that only 10 people were included in the results because that's how many showed the desirable outcome? We don't know, because Clarisonic didn't let anyone else review the information. Second- the methodology, aside from what they tell us, is a complete mystery. How much cleanser was used, how long was it used for, etc...Even the information they DO give make their claims less impressive.

Clarisonic cleanses twice as well...as soap and water. How many of you use plain soap on your skin? Also, in this case "cleansing" is measured by oil levels in the skin, which isn't quite the same as cleansing, is it? Just because oil is removed doesn't mean your skin is clean. Which brings us to...

Clarisonic removes 6 times as much makeup....are you ready for this....as WATER. Yeah. Did they test it against a cleanser? Of course not, why would they? We all use plain water to remove our makeup, right?

And in either study, did they compare the Clarisonic to a manual exfoliator, like a cleansing brush, scrub or even a plain washcloth? Nope. Interesting, huh?

So suffice it to say, despite the way the "studies" are used to make this brush seem like it's worth more than a $2 facial brush, there's really nothing showing us that it is. But I tried it anyway. And...

Well, obviously, I was wary at first. I have very sensitive skin, and can't really use any manual scrubs or exfoliators. My skin is dry and very thin, and even overzealousness with a washcloth will tear it, which creates more flakiness than I started out with (these microscopic tears also wreck the skin's protective barrier, creating potential for irritation, inflammation and dryness). When I began using the Clarisonic, I suspected this would be an issue, so I only used it once daily, as part of my night-time cleansing routine. To get the most objective results possible, I changed NOTHING else about my routine. I left the cleanser sample in the box & used my old standby.

For the first few weeks, I noticed little difference in my skin. I did feel that my skin was "purging" a bit (in essence, I was breaking out as my skin adjusted to the new cleansing method) and I felt like the occasional whitehead seemed easier to extract, as if it was closer to the surface. I also felt tighter after cleansing, not surprising considering the extra nightly exfoliation. This didn't worry me terribly, since another benefit Clarisonic touts is better absorption of product. However, when I woke in the morning tighter and flakier than I had before Clarisonic, what little hope I had began to slip.

Knowing that it takes 4-6 weeks to see true results of any skin-care regime, I kept with it. My skin kept getting drier and drier, and at first I didn't really connect the dots. My skin is temperamental, and it's not unusual for me to see a flake or two, especially during the winter. However, by the 4th-5th week, my skin was so dry it was literally cracking on my forehead. I began to use a rich moisture booster over my usual nightly moisture, and still, the dryness persisted. By this time, I highly suspected the Clarisonic and stopped using it. Within three days, my skin had normalized and, with the exception of one tiny spot, the cracked skin had completely healed.

That day I returned my Clarisonic. I hate returning items, but for such a big ticket item, it would have been disgraceful to let it sit in retirement under the sink. I should mention, after tweeting about my disappointment, a Clarisonic rep suggested I switch from the "sensitive" brush head that comes with the Mia to the more gentle "delicate" brush- in essence, invest another $25 so that my $150 machine will work appropriately. No thanks.

So why do so many people see such great results from the Clarisonic? I have three hypotheses.
  1. The Clarisonic does exfoliate the skin. Removing dead skin- no matter how you do it- makes cleansing more effective, and allows product to better absorb (because the product isn't wasting time trying to soak through a layer of dead skin). But this effect does not cost $150, you can do it with a washcloth or sugar from your kitchen.
  2. The Clarisonic ensures proper cleansing time. The timer function on the Clarisonic ensures that you cleanse your face for a full minute- which is how long most cleansers actually require to fully dissolve makeup and oil. I suspect that many people do not cleanse for an adequate amount of time prior to using the Clarisonic, and it could easily be the increased cleansing time that produces some of the positive results.
  3. The Clarisonic encourages daily cleansing. You're in from the bar at 2:30 AM and ready to pass out. No big deal if you skip one night. We've all been there- but if you've spent $150 on a cleansing gadget, something tells me you might just be more likely to haul yourself into the bathroom for a quick scrub.
And, now, a bonus 4th hypothesis! The Clarisonic breeds deep-seated denial. People just don't want to believe they've wasted $150 on something that doesn't work, so they see results that just aren't there.

If you're considering a Clarisonic, my suggestion is to pick up a kitchen timer and add some gentle exfoliation to your nightly routine. Grab a washcloth, pick up a facial brush or, if you're delicate like me, try my favorite exfoliating method- facial cleansing sponges. Set your timer to one minute, and go to it. You may be surprised what improvements you'll see in your skin. But if, after all of this, you're still tempted to see what all the hype is about, my final suggestion? Keep your receipt.

*My search of the US National Library of Medicine's archives showed one published study on the Clarisonic. Done by Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. (the makers of Clarisonic) in 2006, the study essentially states that the movement of the brush's bristles help to dislodge material in the pores. None of the other claims on Clarisonic's website are mentioned in the abstract of this study.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beauty Buzz Word:
Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (aka. AHA) are acids that are commonly derived from fruits (citric, malic and tartaric acid) but can also come from milk (lactic acid), or sugar (glycolic acid). Alpha hydroxy acids are also widely synthesized for cosmetic use. AHAs work as exfoliants by essentially dissolving the glue that holds dead skin onto the surface. When used as an exfoliator, concentrations should be at least 4%, at a pH between 3 and 4.

Because AHAs work to expose new skin, users will be more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. Use of a daily sunscreen is an imperative part of any routine that includes AHAs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Illamasqua Toxic Nature:
Spring/Summer 2011

While I don't normally post press release info (I feel like you can get that almost anywhere) today I got some images from Illamasqua's upcoming product line that have me drooling. Since I've been ill this week and, frankly, haven't had the energy to post anything heftier, I decided I had to share this with you.

The Toxic Nature collection launches online a week from today on Thursday, March 10 and in UK stores on March 17th (US launch date is still TBA, but should be some time in April). To celebrate the launch, Illamasqua is giving you the chance to win your choice of items from the new collection!!! All you have to do is register at illamasqua.com and join the waiting list for your desired products, anytime between now and March 9th. 3 winners will then be sent ALL of the items they're eagerly awaiting, in advance of the main launch! Exciting, huh?!?!

Aside from some stunning new shades, the Toxic Nature collection marks the launch of a new product: Cream Pigments.According to Illamasqua's Creative Director, ground breaking makeup artist Alex Box, this product launch marks the debut of one of Illamasqua's hardest working products. The range of 6 matte shades is purported to be super-blendable, buildable and water-resistant. Far from just cream shadows, they can be used anywhere on the body- try the pale toffee shade Hallow as a contour color for fair skin, or peachy Emerge to brighten under eye circles. Of course, you could just use them as shadow bases or lip colors, but where's the fun in that?

Just for fun, here's a few more of the fantastical images from the Toxic Nature campaign. Let me know what you think!

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