Worth it? Color Switch by Vera Mona

I picked up the Color Switch by Vera Mona during the most recent BI sale. I find myself using the same few brushes again and again, even in the same look. Wiping brushes off on a tissue doesn’t do much, and although I love Cinema Secrets, I don’t want to use it in my brushes every day I wear makeup.

Okay, but what is it?

The $18 Color Switch is a tin filled with a disc-shaped, rough mesh sponge not unlike the material used in a bun ring . As bristles are drawn across the surface, product is jostled away and falls down into the cells of the sponge.

There is a slightly smaller $14 one as well.

Does it Work?

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NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

This is a legacy post that I’ve given a facelift because who doesn’t want to be warned about shockingly bad foundation? Opinions are the same, but is formatted and edited for easier reading and flow.

I wore Nars Sheer Matte on my wedding day, and while it photographed beautifully, it was heavy. I felt it all evening. NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation came out earlier this year (2015) and, as it often happens, the blogger and vlogger world was abuzz. I saw a lot of positive feedback about the product (go figure).

I didn’t put any stock in it because it seems when a notable brand comes out with something new, everyone is hyped over it. Oh, and unlike its sisters Sheer Glow and Sheer Matte it has a damn pump – so that’s nice. I hadn’t seen amazing results on other people, though, so I ignored it.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless FoundationNARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

Skeptical Match

Fast forward to June, I had a wedding to attend to and a faux tan thanks to self-tanning…and no foundation that matched. I ventured to Sephora, did the silly ColorIQ thing and spent a lot of time with the ladies there trying to sort out my shade. I told them I prefer MUFE HD and UD, but could do NARS Sheer Matte. Instead, they matched me to NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation because I didn’t have a shade in the others. She assured me that it was fine for oily skin, can be applied with a brush or sponge without issue, photographs well, etc.

Application

I applied the product with a Sigma F80 flat-top kabuki on top of Benefit Porefessional; fairly standard procedure for special event makeup. I noticed that although it did not have the consistency of the Sheer Matte, NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation was on the heavier side. It also required significant effort to blend…and like the Sheer Matte, I had to bust out a beautyblender to help me do so. I set with translucent powder (Rimmel Stay Matte, what I always use) and Urban Decay All-Nighter – again, standard procedure for me for makeup that needs to last.

Wear

The ceremony was outdoors at 5PM (about 15 minutes after I finished painting my face), and brief; the weather was pleasant, not raining or even stiflingly humid. My husband and I headed in for the cocktail hour and he noticed that the foundation was:

  • Breaking up at my jawline
  • Beaking up between my eyes and
  • that it was making a dry patch (that I usually have NO ISSUE with) near my nose awkwardly visible.

I checked it out, and it wasn’t looking good – all the things my husband noticed were definitely the case, and more; it had settled into my smile lines and the lines on my forehead. I tried to blot it, thinking, “Maybe I’m just a bit on the oily side today,” nope – I’m wasn’t, a ton of foundation smeared and lifted when I blotted. I remained blotchy. What the hell?!

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FOREO LUNA Mini

This spring, I purchased a FOREO LUNA Mini in an attempt to troubleshoot my misbehaving skin. Worried I was overdoing it with my Clarisonic Mia 2, I wondered if a movement-free, bristle-free option might treat me better.

Size

FOREO LUNA Mini in my palm. My ringfinger there is a size 5 for reference.

The FOREO LUNA Mini is about the size of the palm of my hand. On the front of the device, low in the horizontal center, is a power button. This single button controls on/off, as well as switching between cleansing modes, of which there are two.

The splotchy shine on the surface of my Luna in the picture there is due to my hard water. I can clean it and make it pristine, but it really doesn’t make a difference – and this is the Real World, not Magical Blogger World where everything is picture-perfect 100% of the time.

Ergonomics

This is one area the device falls flat for me. The round, disc-like device is awkward to hold; it doesn’t feel natural in my hand, and I’m always worried I’m going to drop it. Furthermore, it’s shape is awkward to navigate around the contours of the face. The FOREO LUNA Mini 2 is going to have the same issue, unfortunately. I assume the full-sized LUNA (including the LUNA 2) devices perform a bit better in this area because instead of being a little disc, they’re somewhat oblong.

Cleansing Surfaces

Foreo Luna Mini Skincare Gadget

There are three different types of silicone cleansing nubs split between two locations. On the front, the majority of the surface is made up of thinner, fine nubs. These are the gentlest of the three, and are suitable for your entire face. At the top, the nubs are a bit larger and firmer. They are better suited for more-focused exfoliation without being over-the-top or uncomfortable.

On the rear, also at the top, is the Deep Cleansing surface which features the largest and firmest bristles. Frankly, I don’t use this surface often because it can be a bit much – but when I do use it, I’m using them to work out stubborn sebaceous filaments around my nose.

Cleansing Modes

The FOREO LUNA Mini features two cleansing speeds. When you turn it on, it’s at full tilt; press the power button again to get it to calm down.

LUNA Mini is outfitted with quadpacer functionality that those of you who use electric toothbrushes will be familiar with. It fusses at you to move to a different area of the face every fifteen seconds. It automatically shuts off after 3 minutes so those of us who are absentmindedly overzealous don’t rip our faces up.

Battery & Charging

FOREO LUNA Mini Waterproof (!) Charging Port

On the back, there is a waterproof charging port. This is an interesting choice in this wonderful world of induction charging that we live in but it works just fine. So yes, that’s right – this can live in the shower or at your sink and water getting in the port doesn’t really matter. Give it sometime to dry before charging, though, just to be safe.

The LUNA Mini is fully charged within just an hour. So far, I’ve had no issues with the battery, and have only charged it twice – the initial charge when I unboxed it in April, and in November. The claim of 300 uses (or about 5 months) per charge doesn’t seem inflated or unreasonable based on its performance so far or the performance of the ISSA Mini. I was able to go longer per charge since I switch between this and my Clarisonic.

I have yet to notice degradation in performance that is commonly linked to battery discharge in such devices. A big win here, and that makes it awesome for travel, especially for a week or more – you can do so without bringing your charger.

Cost per Use

Obviously depends heavily on how much you pay for it. When I purchased mine, the regular retail was $99. I got with a Platinum Perk coupon and only paid $79. At its regular retail, assuming once daily use for a year = roughly $0.27 per use. This doesn’t include the cost of the power to charge it because a) it’s negligible and b) electricity rates vary a lot.

These devices will last longer than a year, though. Add in the consideration that there are no brush heads to replace and the fact that you essentially only need to charge it twice per year, and the value skyrockets from there.

Two Years – $0.14

Three Years – $0.09

Five Years – $0.05

My Skin after 8 Months

I didn’t exclusively use the FOREO Luna Mini. My desire to be flexible and pursue what appeared to be working overpowered my desire to approach things scientifically, unfortunately. But I can give you anecdotal evidence.

  • The LUNA Mini is not an exfoliation beast. It DOES exfoliate a bit, but you are not going to get Clarisonic-like results from it. It does clean thoroughly, though, and the silicone bristles feel gentler on the skin. Their construction also feels more like a facial massage than a Clarisonic brush head does.
  • The LUNA Mini can stand up to annoying, stubborn sebaceous filaments. Hallelujah! That’s really my only persistent skin annoyance; and it isn’t really a problem – in fact, they’re present in totally normal, healthy skin…they’re just unsightly to some of us.
  • You do have to apply some pressure with the LUNA Mini to reap the benefits that those odd-looking silicone cleansing nubs can give you. If you’re coming from just washing with your hands, a soft cloth, or a powered brush like a Clarisonic, this will take adjusting-to.
  • I was able to comfortably switch between the LUNA Mini and my Clarisonic Mia 2 without my skin having a conniption.
  • My skin isn’t ‘more radiant’ with it than it was with what I was doing before, but it is cleaner and clearer than when I have a weird day where I just wash my face with hands or a cloth.

The Bottom Line

I’m fairly satisfied with the FOREO Luna Mini. It is significantly more challenging for me to overdo exfoliation with this device because, well, that isn’t what it is intended for – so my goal was ultimately achieved. That said, don’t know that I would repurchase this model or its successor, the LUNA Mini 2. Why?

The ergonomics of it are annoying to me. Furthermore, although it is better suited to travel than my other device, they now have a smaller LUNA better suited to this. (I am referring to the LUNA Go not the LUNA Play. The Go is not disposable! More on that in another post). I would, however, buy a LUNA Go to replace my LUNA Mini. Same functionality, smaller package.

Given my stance on repurchasing, this is one rare instance where my recommendation(s) aren’t entirely aligned. I would recommend the LUNA Mini to the following:

  • Young people who are into skincare and want a device. A fourteen year old doesn’t necessarily need to go Clarisonic-hard on her skin!
  • Mature individuals with delicate skin. A powered-brush might be too hard on this skin-type. and exfoliation at this point is (usually) best addressed with a chemical regimen established with a dermatologist.
  • If you travel, it’s viable…but again, I’d recommend the LUNA Go over the Mini for those with travel needs.

Have you tried a LUNA device or are you considering purchasing one?

Adventures in Balayage

Beauty Skeptic's BalayageA peek at some of my balayage highlights.
Excuse my comically bad lighting that does not fully showcase how awesome my hair is.

After lengthy consideration, I decided to go forward with balayage highlights. I went for a consultation on September 13, which is where I gathered my information on how to prepare for my balayage highlighting appointment. Balayage isn’t something new, even if it is a new-ish trend in the United States; but I could swear, of all the haircolor techniques out there, this one was made with me in mind.

I did extensive research and chose a charming salon in my area, had a really positive consult, and was ready. By my September 20 appointment, I was rarin’ to go.

So, Tell Me What you Want

To my consult, I brought the following three photos, found on Pinterest, for inspiration:

Adventures in Balayage - Inspiration

Clients get caught up in trying (and failing) to describe what they’re looking for. Pictures help. But you know what else really helps? Explaining and or showing what you definitely, under no circumstances, do not want. Most balayage highlights create a lovely, ombre effect on the hair – but not all ombre hair is balayage. For me, “ombre,” leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Search Google Images for, “Ombre hair,” and you’ll see what I mean. Severe, harsh transitions. Lines, even. I want nothing about my hair to be harsh, and I grew out a misguided hair choice once before and dealt with awkward lines. Never, ever again. Balayage is french for, “sweeping,” and damn it, that’s what I want. Lines of demarcation are the enemy.

Decisions, Decisions

Armed with those three photos my colorist and I made some decisions together. Notice how I said together? It should be a joint effort. Most of these decisions took place during my consultation. But if you and your colorist don’t agree on the course of action – say, you want X and she thinks you ought to do Y? You’re going to have a bad time. As a client, you should have realistic expectations and asks for your colorist. She or he may well seem like a wizard, but it isn’t magic.

Based on those photos, my expression of my #hairgoals, my habits, and prior aversion to color we decided:

  • As far as color goes, the third option made the most sense to emulate. After all, it’s easier to make more changes down the road than to go, “Shit, I don’t like this as much as I thought I was going to!”
  • Overall placement somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd photo.
  • To place more product at the ends to concentrate a little more blonde color there (like the 2nd photo).
  • …But to overall play it a little safe.

It can be a little intimidating to be in the chair, but when you’re spending money on these services, it’s worthwhile to be 100% sure you’re on the same page. If your stylist or colorist is worth a damn, she or he WANTS to produce results you’re happy with. If the salon you’re working with is not eager to work to that goal, find another salon. Seriously.

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Trim Portable Manicure System

Trim Portable Manicure SystemTrim Portable Manicure System, $8

I had something similar to this cheap, battery-operated electric file years ago. The motor ultimately burned out, and I hadn’t seen a replacement until I came across the Trim Portable Manicure System while out and about.. Admittedly, I didn’t give the tool much scrutiny in the store when I picked it up. For under $8 and running on non-included AA batteries, my expectations were low.

First Impression

Upon unboxing the tool I confirmed that its construction matched its price-point. The body is made of cheap, lightweight plastic. The handle is long (read: awkward to handle), and it doesn’t seem as though the bits have a locking mechanism to hold them in place. The battery compartment was easily accessible, but there aren’t any markers to indicate which way to insert them. I determined that negative should face the bottom of the compartment, positive towards the top.

No dial, switch, or series of buttons means no variable speed control. This little guy is a one-speed.

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