Saturday, January 26, 2013

CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara

Heck yes, it's another mascara review!! I swear, I go through mascaras faster than I go through eyelashes...

Let me start off by saying this - I thought this mascara was going to be a dud. Sure, bend the wand a little bit and throw it in a green tube with a different name, and you've got... the exact same thing as the original CoverGirl LashBlast! I mean, the original version wasn't clumpy to begin with - so how different could this version be?!

I must admit, I got sucked in by the pretty green tube and the curvy wand. I'm so shallow. I mean, I loved the original LashBlast way back in the day, but now it doesn't seem to meet my wants/needs as far as mascara goes. I don't know why I thought Clump Crusher would be any different...

I paid about $8 CDN for a tube of this mascara (non-waterproof version), but I'm sure I've seen it average anywhere between $7-$10 CDN. Like I mentioned previously, it comes in a delicious green tube with one of those flexible silicone wands. The wand on the Clump Crusher is a lot slimmer and bendy than the wand on the Original LashBlast. The bristles are curved as well, which makes this noticeably different from the original version.
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CoverGirl claims that this mascara will give you "200% more volume" without clumps, not to mention the "beautifully separated lashes" that you will have after you sweep this across them. The brush is described as having a "lash-loading" and "clump-combing" zones. 

This mascara is... in one word... amazing. 

It's also exceptionally buildable. In fact, I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of working with a mascara that I can build quite like I can build the CoverGirl Clump Crusher. I can apply one coat, which gives me a very natural but voluminous finish, or I can apply four coats which gives me intense volume, curl, and separation. I have no fear about putting on several coats, as I don't feel like this mascara gives me the "spider lashes" look, regardless of how many layers of mascara I've piled on. In fact, I'd love to try 5, even 6 coats, sometime, just to see what the end result would be.

Top left: (left eye) 2 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Top right: (left eye) 3 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Bottom left: (left eye) 4 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Bottom right: (both eyes) 4 coats

Both (top) sets of lashes with 4 coats of the Clump Crusher mascara
As for lengthening, it's not anything mind-blowing. My lashes do seem longer, but they aren't sky high like they were when I tried L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes mascara. I feel like it's a respectable and noticeable length, but there's certainly room for improvement.

This mascara isn't heavy or crusty or flakey on my lashes, it's soft and flexible. I have ZERO problems with flaking or smudging or transferring (unless I go crazy and start pawing at my lashes intermittently throughout the day...). I have the non-waterproof version, and if you get water or tears on your lashes, you're going to see some bleeding. I'm wondering what the waterproof version is like...? Probably super h-core. I'm guessing it would be an excellent alternative for days when you need exceptional wear from your mascara (i.e., weddings, funerals, graduation, prom, girls' night out, breaking up with your boyfriend, watching a romantic tragedy, etc.)

For my every day purpose, this mascara is wonderful. The longevity is stellar - my eyelashes look almost exactly the same as they did in the morning when I first applied my mascara. 

I do feel like this mascara holds a curl reasonably well - I even used it with and without a lash curler to see, and I feel like it's respectable in the curl-holding-department. Nothing mind-blowing, mind you, but I think it's suitable for day-to-day wear. I may notice that the curl has fallen just the slightest bit, but it's nothing to complain about.

The formula is on the drier side of a wet mascara. It's not too liquidy, but it's not like piling paste onto your lashes either. I think the drier formula is what gives you that buildable quality and enhances the volume of your lashes as well.

And who in the heck wouldn't love this brilliant green tube, I ask you!? I love to leave this out on my vanity, just to catch my attention and make me smile in the mornings - no joke. I mean, you can have your elegant, sleek, expensive-looking tubes, leave me with the simple lime green tube, and I'll be a happy camper for life.

Can I just spend a moment singing the glories of the wand, as well!? I love how Clump Crusher has a flexible wand that fits the curve of my eye, and bends to accommodate every angle of my lashes. I love how the one side of the brush features some longer bristles that catch less product, so that I can comb through my lashes and dispell any clump-age before it dries. The little 'resevoir' or 'valley' in the brush picks up more product and deposits it at the base of my lashes, where I can easily pull it through to the ends in one smooth sweep. This brush is far more easy to work with than the Original LashBlast, as the wand is more forgiving and accommodating.

I feel like this mascara would be great for layering. If you found a lightweight, but stellar lengthening mascara, you could build up some crazy intense lashes using Clump Crusher as your volumizing and defining layer(s).

All in all, I am thoroughly impressed. While this is no L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes mascara, it's still a fantastic volumizing, separating, and surprisingly buildable mascara. I can see myself using this every day indefinitely. I encourage everyone to give it a chance - especially those who tried Original LashBlast, and didn't find the volume or length they were looking for. It's an affordable mascara to try, even if you're just curious, and you're not going to be out your life savings if you hate it.

I'd definitely recommend this mascara to anyone looking for a buildable, volumizing mascara that gives great separation and definition, while still remaining flexible and weightless on your lashes.

4.5 out of 5 stars - what WHAT!?

Let me know: have you tried the CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher mascara recently!? What did you think of it?!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Revlon Nearly Naked Liquid Foundation Makeup

Hola my beauty lovin' babes!

I have ANOTHER Revlon foundation review for you today!! Revlon seems to be pumping out some really fantastic products lately, and I was super pleased to see another foundation in their line of hits. I did a little bit of research before picking up this foundation, but not as much as I usually do, as I was super intrigued by the whole "naked" concept and my shopping compulsion just overcame me.

As most of you probably know by now, my combination skin (lately) has been more on the oily side, as opposed to being truly "combination" in nature. I figured that the Nearly Naked foundation would be a bit of a gamble, since 'skin-mimicking' foundations tend to lean on the more dewy, or glowy, side anyways.

I picked my foundation up from Shoppers Drug Mart for about $15 CDN. I haven't really seen this foundation anywhere else yet (I've been avoiding shopping lately as we're trying to save money), but I would imagine that it ranges anywhere between $10-$17 CDN, depending on where you buy it. The bottle contains 1 fl oz (30 mL).

Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup
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My shade is Vanilla, which is the lightest warm shade available from the line. There are 16 shades available, all split up into the "warm" and "cool" toned foundations - so virtually anyone can find a match. Revlon offers an interactive online tool to help you choose your appropriate shade, in addition to providing a little card on the display that will also help you determine which color to pick.

I don't particularly love the generic packaging. The sleek rectangular bottle and white cap make it different from every other foundation I own, but it's not really outstanding. Additionally, I hate the fact that there isn't a pump included with this foundation - it would be a nicer alternative to the open mouth that you have to dump foundation out of. Sigh de la sigh. This can get incredibly messy, very quickly.

As far as foundations go, I feel that Vanilla is as perfect a match as I'd ever find at the drugstore. I actually have more neutral undertones in my skin, but to counteract the pinky-redness in my face, I purchased the warmer foundation to cancel out and better conceal this.

The foundation has an SPF of 20, which does create a bit of a white cast across my skin in flash photography, but it's nothing too overwhelming. I think that powdering the skin definitely helps downplay the white cast as well.

The foundation itself is incredibly liquidy - in fact, its even more runny than Revlon ColorStay. I'd have to say it's as runny as my NARS Sheer Glow foundation was - and that's saying something. Revlon boasts that the coverage is buildable, and I would definitely agree. If you're applying a light first layer, the coverage is definitely sheer to light. If you use more product and a heavy hand, you can definitely achieve a light-to-medium coverage. Applying a second (or even third) layer will give you a very respectable coverage of the medium-to-full variety, depending on what all you need covered up. For my own purposes, I tend to go with a light layer around my face to even everything out, and then I go in with a little bit extra product on my brush to build additional coverage in my problem areas (cheeks, around the nose, chin, etc.).

Upon application, I find that this application is fairly tacky. It's not that it takes a while to set, it just feels sticky on my skin. Usually this is remedied by applying a powder to the shiny and/or tacky areas. I do find that towards the end of my 8 hour day, my foundation does tend to feel a little tacky, especially in my oily areas, but it's nothing a little powder won't fix.

I've tried several different ways to apply this foundation to my bare skin including my Real Techniques Buffing brush (wet and dry), my beauty blender sponge (damp), my Real Techniques Stippling brush, and my ELF Studio Powder brush. By far, my favorite way to apply this foundation is using my Real Techniques Buffing brush (dry). I feel like it gives me the coverage I want on the first go, and allows me to easily and efficiently buff the foundation into my skin. It doesn't seem to leave too many brush streaks behind in my foundation, which is a huge plus. Additionally, it makes building up the coverage incredibly easy. If I'm building up several layers of foundation, I'll usually roll a damp sponge over my face to ensure there aren't any weird streaks or marks left in the foundation from the bristles of my brush.

The longevity of this foundation is incredible. I'm not 100% sure how it manages to outwear the Revlon ColorStay on my skin, but it does! I can apply this around 8:30 am, and when I get home in the evening around 6:30 pm, it still looks EXACTLY the same as it did when I left the house in the early morning. It wears off beautifully in any event, not leaving any harsh lines or obvious 'bald' patches on my face. It wears off gradually, just fading slightly throughout the day. In fact, the most wear and tear I see is around my nostrils, but that's about it. The only other thing I notice is that my T-zone is slightly more 'dewy' than it was when I left the house in the morning. It's nothing that can't be remedied by a little powder, but it's not obnoxious or glaringly obvious... it just doesn't look quite as fresh as it could. For this reason, if I'm planning on being out later in the evening, I'll pack a powder along just to touch up after work.

At 9 o'clock am in the morning, in natural sunlight.
At 9 o'clock in the morning, in direct sunlight.

An up-close picture of my foundation at 9 o'clock in the morning.
Direct sunlight.
At 5 o'clock pm in artificial light.
On the left: no flash, On the right: with flash.
The left half of my face is clean, and the right half has foundation on it.
See how natural it looks!?
Another huge plus to this foundation is the fact that it increases the wear time of my blush and bronzer/contour astronomically. I look in the mirror at the end of the day, and I'm actually surprised because I can still see blush on my face... in fact, it looks almost as good as it did at the beginning of the day.

One of my favorite aspects of the Nearly Naked foundation is the way it sits weightlessly on my skin. I literally cannot feel this foundation at all. I get the coverage I want, without feeling cakey or weighed down by my foundation. Even when the end of the day rolls around and my face feels less than fresh, I still don't feel the nagging weight of my foundation. It's a comfortable, flexible wear - it is the picture of 'minimalistic.' 

Nearly Naked doesn't break me out at all. In fact, I've noticed that since using this, my skin has been happier and less 'upset' in general. Maybe it's my diet or something, but I've had fewer zits, and my complexion in general has been more even and smooth. 

What can I say? I'm in love.

I'd highly recommend this to everyone, except maybe those whose faces mimic the McDonald's deep fryers. Your skin might not fair so well with this foundation, but I'd say that anyone with dry to combination/oily skin could utilize this foundation and love it.

I cannot sing the praises of this foundation enough. I am so pleasantly surprised with this foundation. I am actually excited to get up in the morning and plop this on my skin. I love looking in the mirror and seeing my flawless skin look back at me. 

Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.

Let me know: have you tried the new Revlon Nearly Naked foundation!? What do you think of it...?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The 90-Day Body By Visalus Challenge

Hola my beauty loving babes!

So this is a little bit of a different review, as you guys can probably already tell, I'm not your typical blogger. I'd say that beauty and in general, feeling good about yourself, goes a lot deeper than just eyeshadow and blush.

After a lengthy battle with my weight, I've decided, once again - to start getting healthy. And by 'getting healthy,' I mean several things. First, I want to start eating more veggies and fruits. I've always been the picky eater in my family, and I want that to change. I want to crave fruits and fresh vegetables instead of cookies and chips. Second, I want to keep up with my in-laws on our Christmas trip to the States. Josh's family is all of your mountain-climbing, ninja-athlete types - and I am not. With the walking and 'hiking' we've been talking about doing, I don't want to be the one that is slowing the pack down. Third, I want my digestive system and skin to be happier. I've noticed that a lot of the foods I eat (namely the processed, durum semolina, caffeinated foods) irritate my stomach within minutes-to-hours of eating. This is reflecting in my overall health and well-being, essentially. And finally, to be a better steward of the body that God has given me - by losing some of the weight that is hurting my health, and feeling more confident in the beautiful person God has made me to be. Fourthly,

I got interested in the 90-day Body by Visalus Challenge after having several friends and family members boast extreme success in the kits. I thought that I might as well hop on this bandwagon and see what all the commotion was about. I attended a Challenge party and bought my first installment of the mix, heck, we even purchased a blender from good old WalMart.
Photo credit:
  The whole campaign focuses around a few miraculous products, but most primarily, their shake mix. The shake mix is an uber nutritious powder that one can mix into virtually anything to add missing nutrition to their day. In the case of weight loss, it's meant to be consumed as a meal replacement option as opposed to a daily supplement.

I went on the challenge for about 90 days - though never religiously following the challenge as it is intended. I couldn't force myself to replace two meals of my day with a mere shake - no matter what was in it. I'm one of those people that needs to chew food at a meal... not drink it away.

The most radical and fantastic difference I experienced was in my sleep patterns. I noticed within the first week that I was having more restful sleeps at night. Additioanally, I would wake up earlier without feeling exhausted and sluggish. Most days I could get away with 7 hours of sleep, as opposed to the 8 or 9 I had been accustomed to getting prior to starting the Challenge.

I didn't notice feeling exceptionally 'fuller' throughout the day - in fact, I was often more ravenous than before because I needed the sensation of chewing to feel comfortable after a meal. My appetite wasn't curbed or suppressed. It remained the same, mostly.

I found the shake mix flavorful and easy to use. It easily mixed into oatmeal (for breakfast) or shakes, should I have made the more frequently. Quite often, I just mixed the shake powder with water and gulped that down in lieu of breakfast (likely a large mistake in potential progress) as I didn't have time to whip out the blender and mix up a smoothie before I waltzed out the door in the morning. And who has time to mix one of these up at work, I ask you!?

In any event, the whole Challenge business got more overwhelming and frustrating than helpful. I started using the shakes less and less, because I felt that I didn't need them and they weren't exactly tipping the scales in my favor.

Now, don't think that I'm dissing the product because I'm not. As I said earlier, I know of several close family members and friends who have had stellar results on the Challenge. If you have the tenacity, patience, and determination to commit to the Challenge and follow it through, I think you'll see the results you're expecting and then some. I think that for those in a fast-paced lifestyle, this is an excellent alternative to making a meal (or in some cases, skipping out on a meal).

That being said, this is not a miracle product. You won't use the shakes and have 20-some years of obesity just melt away; it's merely a tool as a means to an end. In all honesty, I firmly believe that if I cut back my calories, replace highly processed and refined foods with more fresh and natural things like fruits and veggies, increase my water intake, and commit to spending at least 30 minutes a day (5 days a week) doing cardio exercises, my chances of achieving the same results as participating in the Challenge are very high. And they'll last longer (provided I maintain these changes), because they'll become part of a habitual healthy lifestyle that I will be accustomed to. It might take longer, but the results will be more concrete, in my opinion.

Personally, this product didn't work for me. It's not something that I could seamlessly incorporate into my everyday life, and I found it more cumbersome and intrusive than I did helpful and beneficial. Maybe further down the line when I've managed to make some new healthy habits in my life, it would be worth trying again, but for now, it was a flop and not something I'll likely be repurchasing.

Tell me, have you tried the 90-Day Challenge? What did you think of it?
I'd love to know!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top 12 Beauty Shout Outs and Flops of 2012

Whew - 2012 was here and gone! And to commemorate, I thought I'd share my top beauty products of the year - these include items that were released in 2012, as well as products I found/rediscovered that stand out above all of my other beauty products - both good and bad. In no particular order...

Beauty Shout Outs of 2012

#1. Real Techniques brushes
I cannot rave enough about how much I love and adore my Real Techniques brushes. On my Christmas vacation to the States with my in-laws, I picked up a few more additions to my collection. They're affordable, the design is ingenius, and they are - by far - the best brushes I own. I feel like a princess every time I get to use them.

#2. Uniq One All in One Hair Treatment
I don't know if I can ever turn back now - I've tried this fantastic product and I feel like nothing else will ever suffice. The way it makes my hair smell and feel, not to mention the numerous ways it benefits my hair and increases the ease of styling... One of my most treasured beauty products.

#3. Wet N Wild ColorIcon Eyeshadow Trio in Walking on Eggshells
One of my makeup staples. I love everything about this palette - including how easily the shadows blend, the rich pigmentation, the combination of colors, the affordability...

#4. China Glaze Nail Polish in Flip Flop Fantasy
Who doesn't love a little neon pink happiness splashed across their fingertips?! I know I sure do, and I cannot get enough of this color. I'm so happy I finally went out and picked up a bottle to add to my collection!

#5. Urban Decay's Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I haven't branched out yet to try any other eyeshadow primers that are available on the market. I'm just so in love with Urban Decay's version - I keep going back for more. I think I'm on my fourth or fifth tube since I first bought it, back in 2008.

#6. L'Oreal Infallible La Rouge Lipstick in Unending Kiss
I recently picked this up from Shopper's Drug Mart when they were having a sale. This is one of those "my-lip-color-but-better" shades. It's long-lasting without being too drying, the packaging is tres chic, and I feel like it's a lip product I'll actually keep reaching for.

#7. Sally Hansen Gem Crush Nail Polishes
Totally blown away by the amazing quality of these polishes. It's like a unicorn pooped glitter all over my nails - absolutely stellar. A pain in the patooty to take off, but when your nails look that good, who cares!? My favorites are Big Money and Be-Jewelled.

#8. Essence Powder Blush in Renesmee Red
From the limited edition Breaking Dawn collection. I didn't think I'd be able to pull off a 'true red' colored blush, what with my being so fair skinned and all, but I absolutely adore this powder. It's pigmented and smooth, blends like a dream, and gives me this healthy flush of color that I don't seem to get from pinks and peaches. On another note, it was dirt cheap. Heck yes.

#9. Cetaphil Barrier Cream
Best hand cream ever. Hands down. The only downside - the price. Why can't great products just be free!?

#10. NYX Single Eyeshadow in Black
I got so much use out of this shadow after I started doing smoky, sultry, smudgy black eyeshadow looks. This is one of the best matte black eyeshadows I've ever had the pleasure of using - it only takes a little bit of powder to achieve the look that you want, so this little compact will last you forever and a day.

#11. Torrid Skinny Sophia Jegging
Probably the comfiest pair of jeans that have ever hugged the curves of my lower half. Yes, I paid a little more money for them, but I think it's definitely worth the investment when you feel like a goddess in your jeans. One of my most beloved purchases of the year.

#12. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stains
I'm actually pleasantly surprised with these. I found myself reaching for them more often than I expected, and quite often I found myself wandering back to buy more shades. I love how I can pull off a red lip without breaking out a lipstick - I get color payoff without being WHOA BABY matte-opaque-lipstick-face. There are colors for every day wear, and then some brighter fun colors for the bold and daring.

Beauty Flops of 2012

#1. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters
These were a huge let down for me, and I'm not sure why. I don't know what exactly I was expecting from this product, but I picked one up and hated it. Not a product I'd ever see myself using or repurchasing.

#2. Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm
An overpriced, underachieving product, in my opinion. Another one of those things I really regret purchasing, because I never reach for it and I feel like it was a waste of money.

#3. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment
Whew, another lippie flop! I got these as a free birthday gift from Sephora for being a Beauty Insider. I was thoroughly underwhelmed. Not worth the price tag, at all. They're definitely taking up space in one of my makeup drawers, begging to be thrown in the garbage. The only redeeming quality of these balms, in my opinion, is the cute and unique packaging.

#4. L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes (Carbon Black) Mascara
This is actually a fantastic product, but my eyeballs are ginormously allergic to something in the mascara itself. I'm so sad that I can't wear this mascara - it was so wonderful.

#5. Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips
So I guess I'm one of the few people who doesn't like these at all. I felt like they peeled right off, the wear time was total crap. I'm also of the mentality that getting one, maybe two, uses out of a stick on polish isn't really great bang for your buck - especially when you change your nail polish as often as me. Disappointment.

#6. L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray
I heard so many great things about this hairspray. I first tried a sample bottle (the scented version) and just about puked my brains out after spraying it once. Then I tried a large bottle of the unscented version, and I just didn't get what all the hype was about. Sure it's brushable, but it doesn't do crap for holding my hair anyways... a waste of my money, fo shizzle.

#7. L'anza Healing Smooth Thermal Defense Treatment
This product created a build-up in my hair, not to mention how drying it was as I used heat on my hair. I've never experienced such dry, dull, unmanageable hair, especially from a styling product. Sad face, especially since my hair stylist recommended it to me.

#8. Essie Good to Go Top Coat
And I heard such great things about this product - it's not very glossy or shiny, I found that it bubbled my nail polish a lot, and it's expensive - especially when it does virtually nothing that a $2 clear polish couldn't do. I also found that it didn't extend the life of my nail polish at all. Now it's just taking up space in my collection.

#9. Tender Tootsies Now! Alexis Boots
Picked these up from Army & Navy, and they literally lasted me two weeks before the heel of the left boot had given out. It pretty much disintegrated, so every time I step, the heel collapses in on itself. I am heartbroken and crushed, as they were the first affordable boots I found that actually fit around my large ham of a calf. There's a very sore spot in my heart right now.

#10. Milani's 3D Glitzy Glamour Glosses
I picked up two colors in Designer Label and Stylish. I'm not a huge lip product person, but I found these glosses uncomfortable on my lips - too sticky and thick. Wayyyy too glittery, and I didn't particularly care for the scent either.

#11. Revlon Scented Nail Polish in Lemon Meringue
Such a beautiful buttery yellow color in the bottle, but man, is this polish a pain to apply. It's sheer, and the application is streaky and uneven - even gloopy at times. It takes forever to dry, and you need (literally) five coats to achieve a flawless finish - but then it smudges as soon as you think it's actually dry (3 hours later). And while you might think that scented polish is the bomb-diggity, I don't know that I particularly love the lemony after-scent on my nails - it sort of reminds me of household cleaner. I only used this polish once, because I was so disappointed in it.

#12. ELF Contouring Blush and Bronzer Duo
This is supposed to be an affordable dupe for the NARS Orgasm and Laguna face powders, but I feel that the quality is somewhat lacking. They're beautiful colors, and super affordable, but the amount of glitter in these powders is unreal. I feel like a disco ball immediately after application. Not to mention the horrendous wearing time - I don't think I even get a few hours out of this powder before it's completely disappeared from my face - minus the glitter stuck in my pores. How I wish for a matte alternative of this product...

So those are my shout outs and flops of the year. There were some products I tried that I was neither here nor there about, but they weren't worth mentioning as the 'absolute best' or 'horrifically worst' products of the year. Here's hoping 2013 is full of new fun and exciting products that don't leave a sour taste in my mouth (figuratively or literally), haha.

Let me know: what were your stand-out beauty items from 2012!? They could be products in the makeup, hair, jewellery, personal hygiene, or clothing categories... I'd love to hear about what products got your motor running last year!

Happy New Year, you guys! Can't wait to see what this year holds!