Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Not as Good as Gold: Review of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

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Review of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

Yep. That's the title I came up with for this post. Anyway, do you ever buy something with a specific and entirely unrealistic image of it in your mind, and then feel massively disappointed when it doesn't live up to that image, even though you know it's your fault for inventing it in the first place? What happened here is that, at the beginning of the metallic lipstick trend a couple of years ago, L'Oréal released their Gold Obsessions lipstick range in the U.K. Some photo I saw convinced me that the plain gold lipstick in that collection was the one. That unlike every other gold lipstick I had ever seen, it was shiny and metallic, rather than sparkly, and opaque, rather than patchy.

So when I saw that that collection had finally popped up on the Ulta website this fall, although with the name changed from Obsession to Addiction, I decided that I needed Gold Addiction, the pure gold option. I didn't do much additional research other than to confirm that this was the same collection. I ordered it.

Then it arrived and it was sheer. And sparkly. And slippery. And patchy. Sure enough, I can't find whatever photo it was that once upon a time made me think this lipstick was going to be special. Did I dream it?

Swatch of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

I think maybe you can see in the photo above that the fine glitter has already started to migrate off of my lips, even though I only applied the lipstick two minutes before taking the photo.

Gold seems to be a difficult color to get high pigmentation from when it comes to lipstick. When Bite Beauty teased their zodiac lipstick for Leo this year, I saw the gold bullet and was intrigued. But then swatches demonstrated that it, too, was sheer. I may be the least Leo-y Leo ever, but even I think a sheer gold lipstick is a yawn. I have certainly seen other metallics that are more opaque, even from a bullet and not a liquid formula (though they do have a tendency to be slippery). I don't know if it's the yellow--it's hard to find a yellow eyeshadow or even nail polish that isn't patchy. But then it's not hard to find an opaque gold eyeshadow or nail polish! So the possible technical limitations in play here are eluding me.

Here's a comparison with the sheer gold from Bite's 2016 holiday duos (reviewed here). Gold Addiction is very similar, just a bit sparklier and warmer. The warmer yellow gold of the L'Oréal lipstick is harder for me to wear--I can't generally wear warm yellows on my face without looking a bit sick.

Swatches of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction and Bite Beauty Gold

Maybe Pat McGrath's new gold lipstick will be the gold holy grail, but I don't think I'm going to gamble (much more!) on it. Probably I should just finally open up the PMG Labs package I won in the Makeup Museum giveaway and play with the gold pigment. That is if I really want to have opaque gold lips, which, let's face it, is hardly an everyday look for me. This might just be a dream I should let go.

If you're looking for a sheer, shimmery gold lipstick, Gold Addiction is . . . one of the ones that exists. But it's nothing very special. Do you do the whole extra glitter and metallics for the holidays? I like the idea in theory, but in practice I'm not going to be attending the kinds of events where I'll dress up like that.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mini reviews of empties

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As usual, my empties post is several months behind. These are the things I finished before I left California at the beginning of September. I always like writing up my empties as a way to post short reviews of products I've tested thoroughly, or as a way to amend previous reviews. As usual, if I've written about something here before, I'll just link you to the previous post to avoid repetition, unless I've changed my mind in the meantime.

First, the most exciting category: makeup! Exciting because I rarely finish makeup. Less exciting than the photo seems, because a few of these weren't empty--they're just discards for one reason or another. It's not cheating! Actually, I'd only categorize three of the products in the photo as actually empty. It's still not cheating!

Beginning at the top left:

Lancôme Hypnose Drama mascara (mini): I actually remember very little about this mascara, so it must have been ok but nothing special. As with most mascaras from the L'Oréal family, it flaked more than I would like. I've had many mini Lancôme mascaras over the years and never felt the urge to actually buy a full-sized tube. I used this until it dried up.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner: Reviewed here. Not a big fan of this one, because the tip gets floppy and frays long before it ever dries up. I used it to label swatches on my arm for the last year, and it finally started to actually dry. This is a real empty!

No7 Loose Powder: Reviewed here. Another true empty! I can't decide if I want to replace this or get another jar of the Laura Mercier powder. They are very similar, but the LM powder is slightly warmer/yellower and suits my complexion better. I could get 15% off when Sephora's Beauty Insider sale comes around on the 16th, but that's not exactly a big incentive. I wonder if Nordstrom will have a competing deal.

ULTA Maximum Lashes mascara: I got this as a GWP, and put it in my work bag for emergencies, because I didn't want to risk using its terrifying wand on a daily basis. Look at this thing! It's a menace. Not empty, but I wasn't going to bother taking it with me when I moved.

Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Lovesick and Tarte Liquid Lipstick in Birthday Suit (minis): Swatched here. The former came in a Sephora Play! bag, and the latter was part of last year's Sephora birthday gift. They both looked awful on me and were too old to bother giving away to someone else.

Be A Bombshell blush is Sweet Cheeks: Swatched here. I got this in an Ipsy bag a million years ago, and actually liked the bright, pigmented pink quite a lot. Unfortunately it shattered when I moved from Texas to California last winter (surprisingly the only thing to break!), and when I tried to repress it, it turned into a powdery mess. It would have just fallen apart during the subsequent move, so I let it go.

Essence Stay With Me gloss in Choose Me!: Reviewed here. Long discontinued. You can tell how old that shit was by the review date. I did still like it, but it started to smell funky, so time to toss. I can never finish glosses! In fact, I really shouldn't buy them, because I don't wear them nearly enough, but I always get sucked into picking up just one more. Just one more.

Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten: Reviewed here. Again, the review reveals how ancient this lipstick was, and how little I pay attention to makeup expiration guidelines. In fact, there was nothing wrong with this lipstick, except that every time I put it on, I thought, "blech!" Just not my color. So why did I hold on to it for so many years!? Anyway, it's gone now. Look at me, letting go.

Next up, skincare:

Beginning at the top left:

Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream (sample generously provided by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal): This moisturizer was effective and really soothing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I've been comtemplating buying a tube ever since last spring. It's so expensive, though! I don't know. I might try the much more affordable La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume instead. Has anyone tried them both to compare?

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Ointment (mini): This stuff was/is a lifesaver for irritated skin. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I complained from spring until early fall that my eyelids were itchy and scaly. I still haven't figured out what caused it (despite declaring prematurely multiple times that I had identified the culprit), but a combination of hydrocortisone cream (used sparingly) and Aquaphor seem to have wiped it out. Or it's a coincidence. Still, if I feel a twinge of unpleasantness around my eyes these days, I revert to using just Aquaphor in that area, and they seem to be fine. I'm using a regular-size tube now, which should last me about the next seven years.

e.l.f. Hydrating Water Essence: Reviewed here. I still love it, and I missed it in my routine after I ran out. I'm now on my second bottle.

bü SPF 30 and SPF 50 sunscreen sprays: These are nearly the same as the Kinesys sunscreens (reviewed here) that I love (and made by some of the people who previously ran Kinesys, I believe), but they may be easier to find in Canada. I got these bottles at London Drugs last year.

Paula's Choice Makeup Remover: I actually rarely use makeup remover. I don't like to use oily products near my eyes, and I find that my eye makeup comes off well enough with regular cleansing. I mainly used this up cleaning swatches off of my arms. I think it might be discontinued now.

Stratia Liquid Gold (sample generously provided by Mimi from Makeup Withdrawal): Ok, so I wasn't as blown away by this stuff as I'd expected. It was a decent, if slightly greasy, moisturizer, and it did make my face a little orange, even if I only used a small amount. Maybe it's better for dry skin? Or you ned to use it long term to fall in love with it? Help me out, here. And to be perfectly honest, I know that people love Stratia, but I am as cautious about them as about any other indie beauty line, especially after the recent incident with the moldy cleansers.

Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding (mini): I used this as the clay mask step in Fifty Snails' pore shrinking mask routine, which I try to do every weekend. It worked very well for that purpose, but it has an unpleasantly intense floral fragrance, and it's very expensive, so I'm happy to go back to my Freeman Avocado and Oatmeal mask (reviewed here) for the future. This small jar was enough for probably a dozen masks, though.

Manyo Factory Ultra Moist Rebirth Ampole (foil, also from Mimi): It's a hydrating essence, and it hydrated, though it's hard to really judge products from such a small sample.

Cerave Healing Ointment (mini): An excellent alternative to Aquaphor, with slightly different ingredients, but a similar function. I found this on the lip balm rack in CVS, and naturally assumed it was lip balm, but it does not work well on my lips. It was very nice around my irritated eyes, however. Aquaphor is cheaper, though.

Paula's Choice Resist Brightening Essence" As I've said before, and should know well by now, my skin doesn't seem to need "brightening." I don't know why I bought this! It didn't seem to do much, and wasn't hydrating enough to serve as a moisturizing essence like the e.l.f. stuff. I used it up my mixing a few drops into raw honey for a mask. It thinned the honey a bit and made it easier to spread, and it's not like the extra ingredients do any harm.

Tokyomilk Dark lip balm in Absinthe: These balms are my favorite for bedtime. I used to get chapped lips all the time, but if I apply this before bed, I almost never do anymore. My favorite scent so far has been La Vie En Rose. I didn't love Absinthe (almost smelled like fake apple to me), and I'm not loving the Cherry Bourbon I'm using now, either. But the scents are innocuous enough that I don't mind, since the balm itself works so well for me. The biggest complaint people seem to have about these is how hard the tins are to open. The trick is to twist the lid off rather than trying to lift it or pry it. Sometimes it takes a while to loosen up, so for a couple of weeks you might have to stick a nail in the crack to pop it up a little, and then twist. It's not ideal, but I've had no real trouble with them once I figured that out.

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid: Reviewed here. It works great for my skin, and I have bought multiple additional tubes by now. See review for details.

Jack Black Lip Balm in Mango and Mandarin: My favorite daytime lip balm! After I cut open the tube, there were at least two weeks worth of balm still inside.

Oh my god, there's still more.

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Gel: For whatever reason, this didn't work nearly as well for my skin as the 2% BHA liquid. I used it mixed with lotion as an aftershave on my legs, and it did help prevent irritation and ingrown hairs that way.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub: A fairly rough sugar scrub with an odd, herbal smell. Use gently.

The Ordinary Vit C Suspension: Reviewed here. I didn't finish this, because I didn't need it.

Freeman masks: Reviewed here, here, and here. The only one I would repurchase is the Charcoal & Black Sugar, but even it I didn't finish. It was just very old, and I didn't want to pack it and take it with me. Freeman masks are very economical--cheap for an enormous amount of product. Recommended if you like getting your money's worth, but if you are fixated on emptying things, they might frustrate you.

Last, and least, hair shit.

The Dry Bar Prep Rally (mini) made my hair soft and shiny, but it's overpriced. I've gone through many cans of Batiste dry shampoo now (reviewed here), and this isn't my last. The SexyHair Spray & Play hairspray did the thing it's supposed to do (but I rarely use hairspray, so I'm not much of a connoisseur).

That's my garbage for this installment! I already have another collection started, of course. Any favorites here? Are you making a special effort to finish products lately?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Cures without Creams: Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

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Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

I admit I'm not much of a gadget or tech person. My computer is old, my phone is old, and when I'm home alone talking to something, it's a cat, not a smart device. I don't really do any type of beauty treatment that doesn't just involve smearing some kind of liquid or cream on my face. I've never lasered or needled anything. But hey, this is just a light, so after reading a positive review of it from Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick, I figured it wasn't beyond my capacity to understand and use. And it's only about $20, so not beyond my budget either.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

With a consistent skincare routine that includes lots of moisture along with BHA and azelaic acid (review here), I'm lucky that I have very few breakouts these days. But I still have an average of one pimple, even if it's a small one, somewhere on my face at most times. Sometimes these are deep, cystic pimples (usually on my chin, usually around PMS time), and there's not a whole lot to be done about them, except to let the azelaic acid do its work and shorten their life span. Inflammatory zits--i.e. the scabby ones where the infection is near the surface of the skin--respond better to spot treatments. When they first appear, I usually dab on a little tea tree oil to kill some of the bacteria. If they are oozing or scabby, I'll use a hydrocolloid patch (review here) to absorb the goo and protect the surface. Both of those things help my inflammatory acne clear up more quickly.

This light pen fits into the same category. I've noticed absolutely no effect when I've tried it on cystic pimples, but it has definitely helped inflammatory pimples heal faster. That is exactly what it claims it will and will not do, so thumbs up.

There's not too much to explain in terms of how to use it. You just put a couple of batteries in it, cover the pimple with the light end of the pen, and hold the button for a couple of seconds to turn it on. It will beep to let you know when it comes on and goes off, but chances are you will be able to see the light out of the corner of your eye--it's very bright. Then you hold it in place for two minutes while you watch The Good Place, and it automatically shuts off when the time is up. You move it to the next spot and repeat as necessary. You're supposed to use it twice a day, but I usually forget and only use it once. Nonetheless, I'll find that if I use it before bed, my zit is less inflamed and starting to heal by morning. It's not an instant fix, but it does make a noticeable improvement.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

As for the science behind how this thing actually works, here's how I understand it. The LED light has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial effects on the skin, and so, much like a topical cream or other treatment, it kills some of the infection in the pore and also calms down the redness and inflammation so that it looks and feels better. The blue light kills bacteria on the surface and the red light penetrates a little more to help with inflammation. You can see both colors in the photo below. Apparently a device like this isn't powerful enough to penetrate the skin enough to treat a cystic pimple, which is why it really only works for those inflammatory zits on surface. You can find more information here and here.

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

Also, the instructions say to use it on clean, dry skin. Sometimes I forget and apply moisturizer or something else, so then I don't use it. I'm just not sure what effect the light would have on the product. Any thoughts? Am I being too cautious? One (popular) article I read advised not using it on the same day/day after using a product that can cause photosensitivity, so I guess I would be careful about using it in conjunction with an AHA in particular. That said, there are no UV rays in these things, so again I'm not sure how much of a concern that should be.

Overall, I think this Neutrogena pen is a good option for spot treatment in addition to more holistic (not in the woo-sense of the word) skincare products. For me, it also helps to have an alternative to picking, in addition to the zit patches--or at least something to use after I've picked and I'm worried I've made things worse. I got my pen with a 20% off coupon from Ulta, but the cheapest I've seen it is $17 on Amazon.

Have you used any other skincare treatments that are not creams or other stuff slathered on your skin? What works? What's bullshit?

Review of Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment Pen

Monday, October 8, 2018

How to not buy makeup (from Auxiliary Beauty)

Wow, it's been longer than I thought since I posted here. A lot has happened--moving, traveling, starting a new job, multiple bureaucratic nightmares (by the way, "bureaucratic" is on my list of words I can never, ever spell)--leaving no time for blogging. I hope to be back in control of my time soon. In the meantime, read this post about how to avoid buying more shit you don't need even when you are mightily tempted because everything is shit, by the ever-brilliant Auxiliary Beauty.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Last Minute Sunscreen Review: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

Review of La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

This review is last minute in that the end of summer is approaching (but it's not here yet! stop saying that!), and that my bottle is almost empty, so I figured I'd better write this post before I forgot what I thought of this sunscreen.

Note that I'm reviewing the Canadian version here, which contains the very effective filter Mexoryl (patented by L'Oréal), which is not FDA-approved in the US for some reason. It's been used safely in Canada and Europe (and elsewhere) since the 90s, so I'm not sure what the problem is here. It's generally agreed to be one of the most effective sunscreen filters on the market. (I swear I read a Consumer Reports article last year that said this was the most effective sunscreen they tested, and that's why I bought it, but I cannot find the link anywhere. Weird.) I bought my bottle at Superstore in Canada, but I think you can get it from just about any drugstore there. If you're in the U.S., you can buy it from eBay and have it shipped from Canada or Europe.It might also be available online elsewhere--does anyone know? (There is a product sold in in the US that looks the same as this, but i doesn't contain Mexoryl. I haven't tried it.)

I'm going to try to write this post in a simple pros and cons format, to reduce wordiness. Let's see how successful I am at being brief today.


  • It really is very, very effective at protecting my skin from the sun. The southern California sun is a whole other thing, and everyone sits outside at lunch time where I work, so it's been put to the test. I also wore it for 4+ hours on a boat in direct sunlight and didn't burn or even tan. Over the past few month, my face has darkened by maybe half a shade, but to be honest that could have happened on days when I was lazy and didn't use this sunscreen. 
  • It only has a faint sunscreen scent that I can't smell for long after I apply it.
  • It's thin and easy to spread on the skin.
  • My makeup applies just fine over it (though I am not generally someone who wears a full face of opaque foundation).
  • The packaging is appropriate for the product, and it contains a little bead to help mix it up. (I'm more likely to shake it just because that rattling bead is in there than I would without it, for some reason!)

Review of La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Sunscreen (with Mexoryl)

  • It's a bit greasy. It definitely does not have a matte finish, and it has the potential to rub into my eyes and burn, if I'm not careful.
  • It doesn't play well with all of my skincare products. If I try to layer over something with silicone, like Paula's Choice Moisture Gel, it pills like fucking crazy. Waiting longer between layers doesn't seem to help. So long as I avoid silicones, and I'm careful not to rub my face too much, it's ok. 
  • It stings the sensitive skin around my eyes a bit for about half an hour after I apply it. This sensation is pretty common for me with "chemical" (i.e. organic) sunscreens. The packaging says "for sensitive skin," but if you usually have a bad reaction to chemical sunscreens or get a burning sensation that is a dealbreaker for you, I'm guessing you aren't going to like this product.
  • The bottle is pretty small. I mean, it's clearly labeled, and if you buy it in a store, you know what you're getting, but the first time I saw it in person, I was surprised., especially since it costs around $20. The bottle lasts longer than you might expect, at least.
Because the pros and cons of Anthelios are pretty evenly balanced for me, I tend to only use this sunscreen when I know that I will be spending a significant portion of the day in the sun (which is actually most work days, lately). If I'm not, I'll opt for something a bit less powerful, but easier to wear, like Kinesys (reviewed here). If I were moving back to the midwest or Canada, where the sun is not as intense, I'm not sure if I would purchase this sunscreen again or if I would just stick with something easier. Instead, I'm going to be moving back to south Texas, where the sun, like everything else there, is trying to kill me--but then maybe I'll just become an indoor cat.

I'd recommend this sunscreen if getting the best protection is your priority, but if any of the things on my cons list are going to make you avoid using it, you might as well get another sunscreen that's less potent but comfortable enough to apply every day.

Have you ever bought a foreign sunscreen, or are you happy with what's available at home?
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