Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

I had big plans for Thanksgiving weekend — big, big plans! Like swatching lots and lots of products while I had all those long lovely days of bright, full-spectrum Alaska winter daylight in which to take good pictures. Short winter days mean I go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, and don’t have many opportunities to take photos during daylight hours. And for some reason our house is sort of perpetually lowlit. So I knew I would make the most of the weekend and take lots and lots of photos!

Or, alternatively, I would loll on the sofa, streaming very old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 on Netflix and eating raw cranberries by the fistful. Oops.

I did get some nail polish swatches (coming soon!) done over the holiday, but I didn’t get to another product I’m actually really excited about: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter. I was going to wait until this weekend, but then I remembered we’ll be traveling (Vegas, here we come!), so when a reader e-mailed me asking where to find Lip Butter in Anchorage I decided I’d have to bite the bullet and try to take good photos in lousy light.

That’s an unnecessarily long preface to a pretty straightforward thesis: Revlon’s new Lip Butters are fantastic.

I used to turn my nose up at drugstore lipstick, but I got over that recently, and I’m really glad, because otherwise I might have missed out on this product. Revlon describes it as “buttery balm with beautiful shiny color,” and that’s pretty much spot-on. They look like lipsticks, but they apply more like a lip balm (I always use a brush to apply lipstick, but I’ve been slapping these on straight out of the tube), and they’re very moisturizing, which makes them perfect for winter in Alaska. According to Revlon, they’re formulated with mango, shea and coconut butter, although considering how affordable they are ($7.49 at Fred Meyer in Anchorage), I’d imagine the formula probably contains greater amounts of glycerin and mineral oil.

Candy Apple, Sugar Plum, Red Velvet
Since the shades are all named after sweets, and since other lip butters I’ve used (like Korres and The Body Shop) have been flavored, I assumed these would smell like their names, but they’re free of fragrance or flavor. I wasn’t too disappointed by that. I’d love a candy apple-scented lip balm, but I don’t like chocolate-scented lip products, so I wouldn’t have wanted Red Velvet to smell like its name.

Several coats each of Candy Apple, Sugar Plum and Red Velvet

The colors go on more sheer than lipstick but are very buildable, and there’s a good selection of shades. I used to stick almost entirely to mauve/dusty rose lip color, but lately I’ve been wearing a lot of red, so I picked out Red Velvet, which is a deep wine color, and Sugar Plum, a safe but pretty mauve. After trying those two out I went back and took a chance on Candy Apple, which is an intimidating bright red in the tube but goes on more toned down. (I know it looks orangey in the swatch above, but if you look at it on my lips below, the orangey-ness is gone.) I haven’t tried all the shades in the collection, but there appear to be some peachy, warmer colors, some bright and pale pinks, and some neutrals. For me, these three shades are plenty; my coloring is not friendly to warm lip colors and as I mentioned in my Lush holiday review, I can’t get into pink lips. Candy Apple, Sugar Plum and Red Velvet cover all my lip bases.

Sugar Plum, Candy Apple, Red Velvet

(I don’t know why my lips look so much fuller in that first photo, but I should figure out how to hold my mouth like that all the time.) Unfortunately my camera didn’t really do Red Velvet justice; it’s a really beautiful shade if you like dark reds, and if you’re dark red-curious but intimidated by bolder lip colors, it’s a nice safe first step since it does go on a bit sheer at first. Sugar Plum sort of looks like my lips but better (or maybe what I wish my lips looked like bare).

Of course, the downside to drugstore lip color is you can’t try before you buy, and the ColorBurst Lip Butters are sealed with a sticker so you can’t even pop the cap and take a peek (oh, come on, we all do it), but the lids are clear on top, so you can at least get a glimpse of what you’re buying.

That’s our bread machine in the background, in case you were wondering. I finally had to give up on getting good light elsewhere in the house and had to resort to turning on the overhead fluorescent lights I hate in the kitchen.

If you’re in Anchorage, look for these in a special display at Fred Meyer or in the regular Revlon section at Target. I have not seen them for sale online yet, but it’s my understanding that they are not limited edition and will be added to the regular Revlon line, so don’t panic if you can’t find them right away. It sounds like they’ll be around for a while.

Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

Bottom line: Great price, great product, great range of colors. Buy this.
Price: $
Tip: If you want to experiment with bold red lips but are scared to make the leap, try wading in with this buildable color.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

LUSH holiday haul & review

I put in my first Lush holiday order of the season early. Pretty much the instant the holiday section went live, as a matter of fact. After my discovery last year that Lush’s holiday gift sets are deliberately overpriced, I’ll be avoiding the temptation of the gift sets (at least until the post-holiday sale starts), but I couldn’t resist trying out some of this year’s holiday products...


Abominaball, $6.95

Last holiday’s big hit for me was Mrs. Whippy. I loved the fragrance, I loved how long the bomb lasted, and I especially loved the way the bomb surprised me the first time I used one with a sudden gush of dense, fragrant pink bubbles from inside the white outer layer. Well, Abominaball is the Mrs. Whippy of 2011.

Abominaball’s scent is a sweet, fruity mint, which I love — refreshing and relaxing at the same time, if that makes any sense. Like Mrs. Whippy, the outer layer eventually melts away to reveal a rush of dense foam inside. Mrs. Whippy’s is pink and berry-scented, but Abominaball’s is, naturally, blue and minty, and it turned my bath water a bright turquoise. Also like Mrs. Whippy, it lasted a long time and left my skin soft, moisturized and smelling amazing. I will be stocking up on this one before the season is over.


Rocketeer, $6.95

The marketing copy sold me on this one. From lushusa.com:
Watch the water change from blue to yellow to green as the yellow “flames” push the rocket around the tub.
Yes please!

I know what you’re wondering, and the answer is yes — it does look that cute in real life. Even better: It smells like candy. (Not any candy in particular; I spent a long time trying to pin down a specific scent, and finally realized it just had a sort of general candy smell.) I didn’t notice that its “flames” propel it around the tub as the copy promises, but it was a typically long-lasting and moisturizing Lush bath bomb. I didn’t like it quite as much as Abominaball, but I did like it quite a bit. And yes, the water did change colors. Maybe I’m easily entertained, but that makes me happy. I’d buy this again.

The Jilted Elf

The Jilted Elf Jelly, $10.95

This shower jelly was “inspired by a brilliant fig, honey and vodka cocktail,” and it’s packed with glitter. GLITTER. So I really, really wanted to love it. But so far, I don’t. I mean, I love the jelly texture and I love the glitter, and I love the way it lathers and cleans. But I can’t really get on board with the scent. At moments I think it might be growing on me, and at other times I almost hate it.

The smell is hard to describe. I wouldn’t say I smell fig, honey or vodka — it’s more sort of nondescriptly herbal. I’m not sure what it is about it that turns me off, but it’s definitely not festive or jolly. I hoped it would grow on me because I really wanted to like it. And because it was expensive. But I have to say this is a big disappointment for me. Definitely not festive, and definitely not worth eleven bucks.

Celebrate Lip Tint

Celebrate Lip Tint, $8.95

Another cocktail-inspired product, this lip tint was based on a Champagne cocktail at a perfumer’s wedding. It comes with shimmery gold popping candy on top, which is cute but impractical. (Who wants Pop Rocks on their lips?) I ended up just sweeping all the candy off with my finger and eating it. That’s right, I ate it, lip gloss residue and all. And you know what? It was delicious.

On to the actual product, which smells just wonderful — not so much like Champagne, I wouldn’t say, but sweet and fruity in a fresh, citrusy, wintry kind of way. I love the scent and the slightly sweet, slightly fizzy flavor. (Yes, fizzy flavor. Don’t ask me to explain it; you’ll know it when you taste it.) The texture is a little strange; it’s the tiniest bit gritty, to be perfectly honest, but not in a terribly unpleasant way.

My only problem with this lip tint is the tint itself. It’s just a little too pink and shimmery. Frosty pink isn’t my best look, unless I’m trying to rock a Mad Men look for a theme cocktail party. I’m going to try it over some darker lipsticks and see if I can get it to work for me, since I really do like the scent and the moisturizing feel. And if frosty and pink works for you, go for this.

Australian Igloo Sugar Scrub

Australian Igloo Sugar Scrub, $5.95

I love a good sugar scrub, despite the fact that empirically I understand how easy it would probably be to make my own. I mean, really: Sugar and oil. How hard is that? This is a cute little product, though, and while it isn’t perfect, I like it. The sugar is Fair Trade, which is great. And the scrub is both exfoliating and moisturizing, which is perfect for dry winter weather. My skin feels fantastic after I’ve used this in the shower. Lush describes the scent as pine, eucalyptus and sandalwood, but there‘s a sweet floral note to it, too, that I like a lot.

The only flaw with Australian Igloo Sugar Scrub is in deployment: It crumbles. I noticed as I used it the first time that the igloo was falling apart, so I grabbed an empty Big Shampoo container and deposited the quickly-disintegrating scrub into the tub for later use. I’ve ended up getting nearly a half-dozen uses out of one little igloo, but now it has a touch of Big scent to it. (Fortunately, I love the smell of Big, too.) Be prepared with a receptacle for this scrub; it will not keep its shape. It would be nice if it did, since the igloo shape fits quite naturally into the palm of your hand, but such is probably the nature of sugar scrubs.

And because this is Alaska, I feel the need to mention it: No, we do not live in igloos.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Love’s gift set: The baby soft scent of nostalgia

I probably saw Love’s Baby Soft for the first time in an ad in Barbie Magazine circa 1986. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that for a long time I thought the apostrophe-S was a contraction for “is,” not a possessive (as in “Love is Baby Soft”), and I thought it was weird that the name of the perfume was a sentence. (Give me a break. I was seven.) I was fascinated by the bottle (which sort of reminded me of a roll-on deodorant, once I knew there was such a thing as roll-on deodorant), and when I got a little older and used to ditch my mom during errands to Fred Meyer and hang out in the beauty section, where I would shop for Tinkerbell brush-on, peel-off nail polishes and sniff Designer Imposters perfumes, Malibu Musk (oh yeah, I went through more than one bottle of that) and that round, pink Love’s Baby Soft. I don’t think I actually owned a bottle of it until high school or maybe even college, when I should probably have been wearing real perfume. And even though I usually wear age-appropriate fragrances, I still have a soft spot (ha!) for Love’s.

So when I ran into Walgreen’s the other day and saw the price tag on this Love’s holiday gift set, I didn’t think twice. I just grabbed.

It contains:
  • 0.69 fl. oz. Love’s Baby Soft Cologne Mist
  • 0.69 fl. oz. Love’s Fresh Lemon Body Mist
  • 0.69 fl. oz. Love’s Soft Jasmin Body Mist
  • 2 fl. oz. Love’s Baby Soft Shimmery Body Lotion
  • 2 fl. oz. Love’s Rain Forest Body Lotion
Five products for under $10? Yes please. I already knew I loved Love’s Baby Soft, which, in case you didn’t spend your childhood in the beauty aisle, smells like baby powder. I don’t imagine I’ll wear it out much, but it will be nice to spray it on after a bath when I’m staying in for the night. I like the smell of Rain Forest, too, although not as much. I already have the body mist, picked up at a remote CVS in rural Connecticut last summer. I’m not quite sure how to describe the scent... sort of soft and green? My husband complimented me the last time I wore it, so that’s a point in its favor. The company claims that “a portion of the proceeds” of Rain Forest sales is “donated to rainforest preservation,” which is great, although they don’t specify what portion or what organization, so I’m a little leery of that claim.

The packaging inaccurately describes both lotions as “shimmery,” when in fact only the Baby Soft tube is actually marked as shimmery, and I honestly haven’t noticed much shimmer — maybe a fleck of sparkle here and there. That’s fine with me, though; shimmer lotion isn’t really my thing.

I’d heard of Fresh Lemon before but never smelled it in person. The name is pretty straightforward. It smells like sweet lemon, or like a yellow Mr. Sketch marker or a lemon drop. I like it. Soft Jasmin is completely new to me, and I love it. It smells less like jasmine than like lilac, but that’s OK since I love lilac.

Of the four different scents, Soft Jasmin is the one I like most, and the one I’m most likely to wear outside the house. Let’s be honest; I’m 32 years old and these scents are a little young for me. (Love’s is currently running a contest: See your cheerleading squad in a Baby Soft commercial!) But I really like the way they smell, and I’m more than happy to spend $9.99 on scents I’m mostly going to wear to hang out at home. I mean, I spend way more than that on candles to make my house smell good. And I never take the house anywhere.

Love’s Baby Soft holiday gift set

Bottom Line: For 10 bucks, it’s an affordable sensory trip down Memory Lane.
Price: $
Tip: Don’t let the “shimmery” scare you off — it’s pretty much just plain old lotion.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Body Shop ‘Buy the Bag’ haul

I was secretly distracted at work all day. Why? Because I woke up to this e-mail:

I had completely forgotten about the buy-the-bag event at The Body Shop. Through Sunday, if you buy that canvas bag ($5) at your local Body Shop, you get 30% off everything you can fit inside it (except gift sets, candles, 750 ml shower gels and gift cards). And then if you’re a Love Your Body member (like I am), you get another 20% off on top of that 30% (instead of your regular 10%). I may have gone a little crazy.

I think there might be one or two things left after my trip. If you hurry.

I won’t provide a complete rundown of everything in the bag since there are some holiday gifts in there for some people who may be reading... but I will say that I spent $167 and came home with more than $290 worth of product. And yes, a few things for myself may have snuck in there. Like possibly some of the holiday Candied Ginger and Cranberry Joy scrubs and body butters. I’m only human, people.

Shimmer Cubes. Normally $22. Mine for $12.32. Winning!
The Body Shop’s buy-the-bag promotion, as far as I can tell, continues as long as supplies last. The bonus 20% Love Your Body members event runs through Sunday. And if you shop online, you can skip the bag and just take 30% off your order through Sunday (plus the 20% Love Your Body discount). You also get free shipping if you spend more than $50... unless you live in Alaska (and probably Hawaii), in which case you can expect to pay $15 for shipping. Typical. I wish more companies would follow Sephora’s lead and use USPS Priority Mail. You know that oil revenue check we get every year? I promise we make up for it in shipping costs.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Julep Maven shipment

I was all set to stick with my Classic With a Twist category for my second shipment from Julep’s Maven program this month (which included a polish, a lip gloss and a cosmetic bag), but when the alternate shelf pull e-mail arrived, I found myself lingering longingly over the polishes in the other categories. Fortunately, Julep has added a new category for junkies like me, so I opted to switch to the Polish Lover shipment and received three bottles of nail color.

Yes, this made me very happy.

My shipment arrived earlier this week, packaged with three 2-ml product samples: Age Defying Hand Brightener, SPF 30 Hand Cream, and the Glycolic Hand Scrub I featured in my October favorites. These will be tucked into my carry-on when we go to Las Vegas next month.

And then there were the polishes...

Michelle is a “midnight, inky blue.” In the bottle it looks a bit like China Glaze First Mate or a dustier version of Sephora by OPI Blue Grotto. On the nail, it’s very dark but obviously blue. A great addition to my ever-growing collection of blue polishes. (Funny, I don’t have much blue in my wardrobe other than jeans, but I love blue nail polish and wear it all the time.)

Trina is a “deep aubergine” named for Trina Turk. What the website doesn’t mention about Trina is the very beautiful shimmer that is pronounced in the bottle but, once it’s on the nail, doesn’t shimmer so much as provide a very pretty depth. It reads creme.

If I love blue nail polishes, I looove green nail polishes, so I was very excited about Diane, which is easily my favorite of the three. Julep describes Diane as an “elegant, forest grey-green,” although I might say it’s more of an olive-y forest, a bit reminiscent of OPI Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow. Like Nars Zulu, Diane looks almost black in low light; however, it’s obviously green under bright natural light. It also looks great layered under glitters and flakies, as I learned when I couldn’t resist trying out new bottles of Color Club Covered in Diamonds and China Glaze Snow Globe.

I like the Julep formula, which is 3-free and applies and wears nicely. I wore Diane for three days this week and did get some tip wear, but I blame that on the fact that I used Seche Vite Dry Quick Top Coat, which is awesome for a one-day manicure but doesn’t lend itself well to long wear.

After two shipments, I’m still really enjoying the Julep Maven program and looking forward to seeing what comes next. You can sign up at Julep.com.

(Note: The Julep Maven links in the first and last paragraphs are affiliate links. If you click through and sign up, I receive a credit at Julep.com. I don’t receive any compensation from Julep for these posts and I don’t have any affiliation with the company.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spotted: Magnetic nail polish at Anchorage Fred Meyer stores

Yet again, my local Fred Meyer is full of surprises. I turned the corner down a beauty aisle yesterday and what should I find tucked into a corner near the final clearance items but the hottest trend in nail polish?

That’s right, a whole rack of brand spanking new magnetic nail polishes practically hidden away next to the last-ditch buckets of sampled lipsticks and cracked eye shadows. I never expected to stumble across magnetic polish at Fred Meyer, but then again, I never expected to find LED gel polishes there either, and there they are indeed. Fred, you are just full of surprises.

For the uninitiated: Magnetic nail polish contains metallic particles that react to a magnet held just above the surface of the wet polish. A handful of brands produce magnetic polishes, including Nails Inc. (now available at Sephora) and LCN. Some companies (like LCN) make you buy the magnets separately, but on the Layla Magneffect polishes I spotted at Freddy’s, the magnet is built into the cap. Here, allow this charming Italian woman explain to you how you use the magnet-uh in the cap-uh:

Personally, I’m on the fence about magnetic polish. I think my problem is the price-to-variety ratio. Magnetic nail polish is not cheap. Even this brand carried at Fred Meyer is priced at $14.99. Per bottle. And then you’re limited to what you can do with one magnet. I mean yeah, it looks cool. But I don’t see how I can justify spending $15 just to put stripes on my fingernails. I might feel differently if they came with an assortment of magnets to create a variety of effects. Or are there some secret magnetic nail polish hacks out there? Anyone know any tricks?

For now, I’m going to hold off on investing in magnetic nail polish, although I am drawn to some of the LCN polishes after seeing swatches. If you decide to hit up your neighborhood Fred Meyer, though, check out the Layla display and let me know what you think.

And if the display is empty, remember to check beneath the bottom shelves. My Freddy’s already has extra boxes of magnetic polish tucked away under marked-down Jovan Musk gift sets:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October favorites

November is here, bringing snow and wind to Southcentral Alaska. (Seriously, it’s bitterly windy outside. I’m happy to be curled up with a glass of wine and the Internet.) Time for a quick rundown of the products I found myself turning to frequently during October:

1. Julep Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub

I got this gem in my first Julep Maven shipment last month and I am crazy about it. I don’t use it every time I wash my hands, but I do use it about once a day. What I love about it: Hours after I’ve scrubbed, I can still tell I’ve used it. Especially now that winter is officially here in Anchorage, I’m really impressed that I can scrub once with this in the morning and slap on a coat of moisturizer (my favorite is Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream, and I hoard the holiday scents), and hours later, my hands still feel noticeably smooth. Lately I’ve been feeling insecure about my hands (mostly when I’ve gone to photograph them for this blog), thinking they’ve been looking kind of dull and wrinkly. Maybe it’s just that they feel so great, but I’m kind of convinced this scrub has left my hands looking better, too — brighter and smoother. At $32, the price is a bit steep, but I think it’s worth every penny.

Sign up for Julep Maven (Affiliate link — if you sign up, I receive a credit at Julep.com.)

2. Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips Eye Enhancing Gel Liner

I mentioned the Physician’s Formula gel liners in my post about a disappointing Ulta brand gel liner experience. I have two sets of these liners now, for brown eyes (brown, violet and black with violet shimmer) and for green eyes (green, violet and black with green shimmer). Don’t let the word “shimmer” scare you off. These are not glitter eyeliners. The shimmer in the black liners is barely noticeable — not noticeable at all if, like me, you use them to line your upper waterline. Like any good gel liner, they last a long time and are very easy to work with, just as striking as a liquid liner but much more forgiving. And the brush that comes with each set is actually very functional, which isn’t something that can be said about too many drugstore eye products. Plus, at just under $11 for three shades, you’re not going to find a better deal around, particularly for this quality.

3. L’Occitane en Provence Limited Edition Desert Rose Ultra Rich Body Cream

My husband brought this back for me from a trip to Chicago and I love it. It’s 25 percent shea butter, so it’s super creamy and moisturizing, and it smells amazing. I feel like rose-scented products are tricky because they can so easily go a bit old lady, but this one smells fresh and bright. It’s moisturizing but not at all greasy, and as the weather has been getting colder I’ve been turning to it quite a bit. The limited-edition cream ($21) also comes in Hibiscus Flower and Cocoa Flower. I have a Hibiscus Flower sample I’ve been saving for a couple of weeks — I’m torn between wanting to hold on to it for when we fly to Las Vegas next month (I always like to save lotion samples to tuck into my carry-on liquids bag) and really wanting to rip into it and see how it smells.

Do you have any favorite products you turn to as the weather gets colder?