Beauty Arsenal

The Basics

Everyone – whether they know it or not – has a group of favorite, staple, or go-to products. These things don’t necessarily apply to beauty, it could be anything – technology, of which I am also a fan, cleaning, etc. These don’t necessarily have to be products you use every day, but they will be ones you find yourself reaching for over and over again…and repurchasing when they’re out – these items comprise my Beauty Arsenal.

Here’s what I’m currently using that I have re-purchased or plan to – after the jump.

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PSA: Real Techniques Sam’s Picks Set

Highly-touted brush peddler Real Techniques released a new, limited edition set today. The six-piece set contains one brand-new brush, two that are available a la carte, and three that are available as part of other collections.

Photo credit to BeautyGeekUK.

The Real Techniques Sam’s Picks Set includes the following:

  • multi-task brush: use with powder, blush and bronzer (also in the Travel Essentials kit)
  • buffing brush: full coverage application of powder foundations (also in the Core Collection)
  • essential crease brush: soft, tapered design for effortless contouring (new to the set/collection)
  • setting brush: controlled, light application of highlight or powder (available by itself)
  • pointed foundation brush: build custom coverage with liquid products (also in the Core Collection)
  • fine liner brush: precision application of liquid or cream eyeliner (available by itself, never in a kit – this is finer than the one in the Starter Set)

I currently own only one Real Techniques product – their blush brush. So far, I am enamored of it. It feels – and my friends have agreed – that using it feels like rubbing kittens on your face. Ridiculous description? Maybe, but definitely true, as this sucker transcends the boundaries of softness. It is really user-friendly and way more accessible than, say, MAC brushes. Otherwise, my collection of brushes is embarassingly small and so-so in overall quality. I haven’t purchased the Travel Kit, Core collection, or Starter Set because there are so many brushes in them I won’t use. For example, I do not want a, “multi-task,” brush – jack of all trades perhaps, but master of none. I’m not interested in their buffing brush, I’d rather have their Expert Face Brush (which reminds me of Urban Decay’s Optical Blurring Brush, another round-topped kabuki) but I don’t really have much use for it. I already have an angled liner brush I am happy with (Bdellium Tools Studio Line – Precision Eye and Brow 760). I don’t like flat foundation brushes, I have shaders that are good enough until I can buy something awesome, etc.

Retailing at $30 and available direct from RealTechniques, also allegedly in Ulta stores, and apparently at Target at some point, this would be a good set for someone who has no brushes at all. I will pass for now, but I really hope they make that crease brush available on its own!

Remington Pearl Curling Wand

Pearls?! In MY Curling Wand?

If you’re shopping Remington products, it is more likely than you think!

I have a cheap, low-end tapered curling wand (unlike a traditional curling iron, no clip) that is on the way out. It was only OK at best, and I did not have plans to repurchase. Thanks to YouTube Beauty Vlogger Jaclyn Hill (she’s funny, she’s talented, give her some love and subscribe!), I am very much so intrigued by the siren song that is the NuMe Titan 3; however, even with a good promo code it is still a bit more than I’m looking to spend at the moment.

I realized that I really have no idea what the latest and greatest things are when it comes to styling tools, so I decided to do some homework and some e-window-shopping when I came across this Remington Pearl Curling Wand on Amazon. It is also a tapered wand and comes in two sizes – 0.5″-1″ and 1″-1.5″. Its full name is a bit of a mouthful, take a deep breath:

Remington T-Studio Salon Collection Pearl Digital Ceramic Curling Wand.

Pearl is my birthstone. I’m quite enamored of them, in fact, so long as they’re tasteful. I cannot imagine any way that combining pearls with a 410 degree (Fahrenheit) hairstyling appliance would be practical or tasteful. “Maybe they mean the color of the wand,” I thought. It is a pearlescent pink, after all–but usually when things have silly names, they have silly claims. Remington says this product:

Combines advanced technology and high-performance ceramic coatings with real crushed pearl to create a curling wand that delivers professional, salon-quality results. It quickly reaches a temperature of 410 degrees and has a high-tech, 1.5-inch barrel with ceramic coating to help you effortlessly achieve super sleek, high definition curls–without snagging or catching. Remington’s luxurious Pearl collection harnesses the precious power of pearl and Advanced Ceramic technology to create hair you can’t help but touch.

It also says:

Gorgeous salon-created curls are a breeze with the new T Studio Pearl Ceramic Professional Styling Wand. Featuring a high-tech ceramic wand infused with real pearl, this patent-pending technology provides the most advanced ceramic surface for the smoothest glide on the market. Your hair is left smooth and silky with a luminous luster.

What advanced technology? Tell us more! Nanomachines that manually hold your tresses in luscious curls? Until I have a hair appliance with Android OS or some science fiction in my hair, I don’t want to hear about your non-existent advanced technology.

A few times, it mentions high-performance ceramic coatings. This is not a solid ceramic iron. Many irons are manufactured this way including some high-end models. It is most likely a cheap metal alloy with a few very thin layers of ceramic plating. Ceramic more evenly distributes heat – a thinner, lower quality coating is not going to allow you to reap the benefits as thoroughly. The metal center makes them more (physically) durable, but the ceramic coating has a tendency to wear, chip, or peel over time. None of this makes this a bad product – but it certainly isn’t high-tech or high-performance.

My favorite part – it is infused with real pearl. You infuse teas, tinctures, and meats. Not hair appliances. A coworker of mine recently pointed out that when companies feel the need to stress that a product contains real something – cheese, chocolate, or in this case pearl – they’re being ridiculous. It is pearl or it isn’t. It is one thing to specify that a product has an imitation or artificial component, but they could definitely just say that it is, “infused with pearl.” This is marketing claptrap. “Infused,” sounds fancy and sophisticated. It is not. If the coating does have any pearl content, they took some reject cultured pearls, crushed them, and blended them with the ceramic. This isn’t magic. This is marketing.

I have not purchased or tried this iron for science to determine whether or not the pearl stuff makes any difference in how shiny your hair is or how easy the appliance is to use (regarding glide), but my money is on the fact that it doesn’t. That said, both sizes have overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon (4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,200 reviews!) and has a very wallet-friendly price-tag of only $25. Skimming the reviews, only 4.8% of them were negative and most of them were to the tune of, “It doesn’t even have a clamp!” (aka people who had no idea what they were purchasing), “It is hard to use (because it does not have a clamp)” (Fair enough, there IS a learning curve), and the odd infrequent electrical short. Based on the abundance of good reviews, I would say it is worth trying – buy if you’re on a budget or if you are new to the world of wands.

Have you tried this wand? Leave a comment!

 

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a tiny percentage should you choose to make a purchase. See the About page for more info.

Worth it? bareMinerals Original

In spite of my love of sleep, I always look tired whether I am or not. Being a quasi-professional 8-to-5 sort, I became concerned that this was giving a poor impression to my superiors based on being asked constantly if I was tired, if I was OK, etc (despite the fact that my performance had not suffered). Lacking any significant experience with makeup at that point, I needed help evening out and brightening up.

Last December-into-January-ish, having been inspired by a friend who took the plunge, I wanted to try BareMinerals by Bare Escentuals. I was attracted by its promise of quick, easy application, lack of potentially messy liquids that I didn’t know how to use properly, etc. Oh yes–and it is just so good for your skin. “You can sleep in it,” their marketing frequently suggests. It doesn’t irritate even sensitive, acne-prone skin. It has SPF! This product calms your skin while delivering a beautiful, flawless, radiant finish.

I bit. Potholes in the ordering process aside (that is another discussion entirely), I received my kit which contained a few things but most importantly their Original foundation in Medium Beige (for reference, I am NC15-20ish when I am super pale. Or so I think) and the appropriate tools. Having watched their application video a few times, I was ready to tackle this. After having used it for a while – daily for a few months – here is my assessment:

The products work fine, they are easy to use especially for beginners. Their claims:

Quick application: Yep, it takes less than one minute to do my face with concealing. Nice!

Easy application: Absolutely; you really can’t mess this up. It would take more time and effort to do this poorly than to do it properly. You also do not need any crazy fancy tools or pro skills to use it and achieve a decent result. You can use their brushes or ones you already have.

Flawless, Radiant finish: Debatable. This is going to rely largely on technique and how much you build up your coverage. If you apply too little, you risk not applying enough to cover problem areas such as broken capillaries, etc. On the other hand, though, since this is a loose powder product, it is really easy to look caked-on and not cute if you do not approach with a VERY light hand. Also, “radiant,” in this case is a nice way of saying, “shiny.” If you are oily, go with the matte variety. (I am Combo w\ Oily T-zone and some days the Original can be a little more dewy than I like.) If you will be having serious-business photographs done, grab a different product; it will not look flawless or radiant in high-definition photography, especially since it contains SPF. Otherwise, it does a decent job for day-to-day wear and I was not dissatisfied.

Calms skin: I didn’t have anything to calm down, so this is my own speculation: this glorified dirt probably isn’t going to save the world. There are clay and mineral masks that can, but their compositions and applications differ substantially.

Non-irritant: This is not a hypo-allergenic product. Sensitive-skin users should proceed with caution, as both the Bismuth and cornstarch used in BareMinerals has a history of breaking otherwise-clear users out. This is not common, but it is something to be aware of, especially if you have a known allergies to either.

OK to sleep in: NO. Do not do this! Not even if they beg you. While it is possible (I lack the resources to verify, either way, for science) that it is better for your skin than a traditionally-concocted liquid product, it is still very important to wash it off before bed. It still can and will clog your pores or leave you with other issues (especially if you are prone to irritation) not to mention the fact that your pillowcase will be less-than-pristine. You should not sleep with any makeup on!

All in all, the claims behind BareMinerals are not so ridiculous that you shouldn’t bother. It is a quick, user-friendly solution for day-to-day makeup if that’s what you’re into. I still use it and am happy when I do. But it is neither a miracle product nor is it an acne or troubled skin-remedy. As always, it is important to have realistic expectations. Proceed with caution if you have certain allergies, or if you have sensitive, stubborn skin. Do some homework and try to establish a good skincare routine for your needs – the highest quality makeup in the world can only get you so far.

Have you tried BareMinerals Original or Matte foundations? What was your experience? Share in the comments!

Designer Skin Conceited

 If your lotion is called Conceited…

In the first half of this year, I decided to start visiting a tanning salon (I have since stopped for a variety of reasons). Retail lotion prices, however, are not the friendliest at the salon; I decided to consult the trusty internet for guidance. While shopping, I noticed that a great deal of the varieties had nonsense all over their labels. If you are unfamiliar with tanning lotions, they often have silly (sometimes punny) names.

I came across an amusing offering in a pink-and-black bottle from tanning line Designer Skin: Conceited. Evidently, it comes in an appetizing, “Candy Crush,” fragrance (hurry along, junkies!); here is what it looks like.

conceitedlotion

Note: Not my image; found on Google.

Its label states:

“Love you or hate you—no one can deny you’re fierce! So attract the attention you deserve with a dark, look-at-me shade of bronze! Spoil yourself with Designer Skin’s notorious 10X bronzing power wrapped in an illuminating base with an airbrush finish. You’ll look like you just stepped out of a magazine and everyone else will be green with envy. Jealousy is an illness, get well soon!

  • QuickSun™ Technology provides bronze color after just one minute, while DS ProBronze Extend allows color to still develop after tanning and last days longer
  • Photo Ready Airbrush Technology provides a matte finish to help reduce the appearance of skin imperfections
  • Illuminating Opal Extracts help to enhance skin radiance for a luminous glow”

What? I can’t say what I expected from a bottle of tanning lotion. Not much, but not this. Let’s have a look at this. Notorious 10x bronzing power? Sounds pretty serious! While the the tanning industry’s habit for describing bronzers with multiplication mystifies me, I would like to address their word choice. Now I know what, “notorious,” means, but let’s see what Google has to say.

def1

Okay. I hadn’t heard of this quality until I went to that item’s product listing. Plus, aren’t bronzers supposed to be a good quality in a tanning bed lotion? Shows what I know. Moving on – illuminating base? That’s a fancy way of saying, “it is shimmery.” They then move on to tout this product as being edgy and high-tech. QuickSun just means the lotion is tinted like a self tanner. It isn’t technology, it is dye. DS ProBronze Extend and Photo Ready Airbrush Technology are just marketing buzz-words. I can guarantee you this lotion does not perform any better or worse than whatever the current market favorite is. On top of that, tan length depends on a ton of factors – your own chemistry, how you treat your post-tan skin, etc. I would also like to point out that your ridiculous, shimmery illuminating base and Illuminating Opal Extracts contradict your later claim of a Photo Ready Airbrush matte finish.

Really?

Obviously, I did not buy it to bother trying it. If you would like to experience the wonder that is QuickSun and DS ProBronze Extend, it is available from Lotions2Go and Amazon.

 

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a tiny percentage should you choose to make a purchase. See the About page for more info.