Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Milani Fantastical Plumage and Retro Glam Summer 2013 Collections

Today I would like to introduce two new collections of nail polishes at the drugstore. Milani recently released two limited edition nail polish collections: Fantastical Plumage and Retro Glam. I spotted the colorful Milani displays at Meijer. 

If you live near a Meijer, I would recommend taking a look at the beauty department. Meijer is similar to Walmart and Target. Meijer stores are mainly located in the midwestern and northeastern parts of the United States. Meijer, like Walgreens and ULTA, often has new makeup and nail polish collections on display before Walmart and Target starts selling these items, but is much more affordable than Walgreens and ULTA. So, when I am on a hunt for some new drugstore beauty treasures and am too impatient to wait for Target or Walmart, I opt to shop at Meijer over Walgreens and ULTA. Meijer sometimes has great deals too. Sadly, I no longer live near a Meijer because I attend school in the southern part of the United States, but whenever I am home for the holidays, Meijer is on my "to do list." Hmm! Can you all tell Meijer holds a sentimental place in my heart? Well, it was one of the first stores my mother would take me to when we moved to the United States. She would buy little treats for me in order to cheer me up because I had a tough experience adjusting after the move. A Saturday trip with mom to Meijer was something I would look forward to. My mom has always been my sturdy umbrella for the rainy days... and the sunny days. I look like a hot mess if I tan! 

Did y'all miss my off topic tit bits? Anyways, back to the Milani nail polishes. 

Each collection includes about six shades. One of the polishes in each collection is a glitter polish. The others are all creamy shades, some of which have subtle golden shimmer. I selected two shades from the Fantastical Plumage collection and three shades from the Retro Glam collection. 

Colors: Blue Jay (Fantastical Plumage), Raspberry Delight (Retro Glam), Almond Bliss (Retro Glam), Peacock (Fantastical Plumage), and Creamy Pistachio (Retro Glam). 

Affordable: I paid between $4-5 for each polish. 

Swatches thumb to pinky: Blue Jay, Almond Bliss, Raspberry Delight, Creamy Pistachio, and Peacock. 

Blue Jay is an electric cobalt blue with indigo undertones. I am "in love" with this shade. Its indigo undertones set it apart from other cobalt blue polishes. I was so excited to spread the word about this shade on my blog because cobalt blue is definitely a trendy color at the moment. I have disliked every cobalt blue nail polish I have tried till I came across Milani's Blue Jay. The formula is creamy, not thin and not gooey. One coat is enough for clean and opaque application. In my opinion, Essie's Butler Please needs to lower its hat to Milani's Blue Jay. If you have beige-olive skin tone and Essie's Butler Please did not suit your skin color, then I would recommend Milani's Blue Jay. It has a slight warmth to it and perhaps that is the reason it looks pleasing on my hands. Most blues, except turquoise blue, make my hands appear washed out and gray. 

Almond Bliss is a milky light yellow custard-like shade. This shade reminds me of the creamy, whipped, pineapple-vanilla frosting my friend had whisked up for her delicious pineapple pie. I really wanted to love Almond Bliss because it is a unique and uncommon shade like Blue Jay. The formula is creamy and appears normal on the applicator, but once applied, it is horrible. The application was streaky and became patchy as I added more coats of polish to make it look non-streaky. If you look closely at the picture below, you will understand. Wearing several coats of polish will also lengthen drying time despite the use of a speed-dry top coat, which is too frustrating for me and anyone with a hectic schedule who likes to do nails on the run. I sometimes wear polish while coming to a stop at a red light on my way to work or school or anywhere, so I cannot handle polishes that test my patience. I know I sound high-browed right now, but this is how I feel! 

Raspberry Delight is a bright magenta shade with subtle shimmer that is more noticeable in the bottle than on the nails. This color did not look flattering on my skin tone. I felt like it looked a bit childish and cheap. I am not too attracted to pink nail polishes, especially magenta pink. I prefer mauve pink, lilac, and lavender shades over pink shades. The formula is normal. This shade applies nicely in two coats. 

Creamy Pistachio is a shade reflective of its name. If you are a fan of green polishes, then you are not going to be happy with my comments on this one. I am not a fan of most green polishes, except minty, milky, and turquoise green shades, because in my opinion it does not look flattering with my beige (light brown) skin tone. I feel like my hands are tree limbs and my nails are green leaves. Creamy Pistachio really caught my attention. I thought it suited my skin tone. It is a unique and uncommon shade like Blue Jay and Almond Bliss. I feel like this shade is slightly similar to Essie's Navigate Her. So, what is the bad news then? The formula and application of this polish is similar to Almond Bliss. When you pull the applicator out, you will see that it does not look gooey or runny, but once you apply it, you feel like you are painting your nails with white-out. 

Peacock is a deep turquoise blue shade with subtle grayish undertones. This shade is more subdued and blue-toned than other turquoise shade, like China Glaze's For Audrey. This shade is similar to Maybelline's Turquoise Paradise and Cover Girl's Blue Hawaiian. If you already own either of these shades, then you don't need to purchase Peacock. However, if you do not own Turquoise Paradise or Blue Hawaiian, then I would recommend Peacock because its formula and application is much superior to the Maybelline and Cover Girl nail polishes. (I listed Maybelline's Turquoise Paradise as  one of disappointing products in my last "Finished Products / Hits and Misses" post.) Peacock applied evenly in a single coat, but I added a second coat to achieve full opacity. Peacock lacked the wow factor for me though. I cannot explain it, but it just seemed like a common turquoise blue.

 *I have refrained from commenting on the wear time (longevity) of the nail polishes because I only wear a particular polish for four full days and then I like to keep my nails bare for a while. In the four days, I only experience minor chipping on my index fingers and that is all. 

My favorite one of all - Blue Jay! 

Have a happy happy happy day! Come back soon!

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Essie Nail Polishes: No More Film (New), Geranium, Mint Candy Apple, and Fiji (Review and Swatch)

About a year ago, if someone were to ask me about Essie polishes, I would have made an expression of disgust. A couple of years ago, I had tried three Essie polishes and hated them in every way possible (i.e, sheer color, gooey or runny formula, and expensive). Early this past Spring, I rediscovered Essie and since then have purchased quite a few Essie polishes. Now, I would definitely recommend the brand to beauty and makeup newcomers, but with a caveat - do check the formula and application of the polish prior to purchasing the polish and wait for a promotion or sale. 

How do I try the formula and application prior to purchasing the nail polish? 
Of course begin with reading reviews and viewing swatches on beauty blogs such as the one you are obviously reading right now. Perhaps wait for a beauty guru on Youtube to review and make recommendation of new releases. Although beauty blogs and videos are a good source of information regarding new products and other people's critiques, you still have to make sure that the product suits your taste and needs. After getting introduced to a product and keeping the warnings and recommendations of those knowledgeable of beauty products in mind, make sure to get your own first impression before making the purchase. This is difficult to do with most beauty and skincare products. However, sometimes it is possible to do so when testers and samples are available. Also, time is a consideration. Most people only have to pick up what they need and swipe the card, but beauty bloggers devote a lot of time, effort, and money to test out a wide range of products. Whoops! This sound like an "intro to beauty" blogging post. Umm! Moving on... 

Ask the beauty department employee or store manager for permission to swatch the polish. Typically, the employee will provide you with a piece of tape or a blank receipt. Do NOT test the polish on your own nails or the shelf that the polishes are stacked on. Most often the beauty department employees will scold you. Although I respect that they want to maintain the integrity of selling new and sanitary products to customers, I wish stores would keep a tester bottle for expensive polishes. I definitely do not want to purchase a bottle that has been opened and tried by several people because more air enters the bottle and bacteria. The process of returning is such a hassle even if returns are accepted for beauty products. I would recommend tape more than a piece of paper. You can stick the tape on your arm or hand and determine if the color suits your skin tone. You may want to bring your own tape from home. 

Where can I purchase discounted Essie polishes? 
I have purchased discounted Essie polishes at Kohl's and Bed, Bath, & Beyond (with a beauty department). Not all BBB have a beauty department, so you may want to call you local BBB first to inquire if they have a beauty department. Most BBB do not. I was fortunate enough to find one with a beauty department in the city where I have been interning in the summers. I have noted that all Kohl's stores that I have been to carry Essie polishes. Kohl's even receives shipment of new and seasonal collections. The polishes retail at $7.79 at Kohl's and BBB. At Kohl's, I purchase Essie when I receive a 30% off coupon, which is the highest % off coupon they send out to their customers. I believe that these promotions are also usable for online purchases. I have the option of using a 20% off entire purchase or $5 off $15 or more at BBB. I purchased two polishes from BBB, which came to a little more than $15 with tax, and ultimately paid about $11 for two after using $5 off coupon. So, at both Kohl's and BBB, I paid about $5 and some change for an Essie polish, which is better than the original retail price range of $7.79 to $8.50. 

Nowadays, drug-store brand polishes cost between $4 - $6, so getting a salon brand for as much seems like a nice deal. Essie polishes are not high-end like MAC, YSL, or CHANEL, but I would not place them in the affordable drug-store category. I categorize them as a pro/salon brand, not sure if that is accurate on my part. I know that salon professionals with a cosmetology license and salons receive discounts on their orders of Essie, OPI, and ZOYA polishes from salon professional exclusive stores, such as Planet Cosmo or Salon Centric. China Glaze and Orly are still somewhat more affordable. As of late, ULTA no longer accepts store coupons for OPI because it is now considered a high-end brand. Essie polishes retail for $8.00 at ULTA. Look out for a $2.00 off Essie coupon at select participating stores like Target, Rite Aid, and ULTA. ULTA sometimes has buy two get one free or buy one get one 50% off or buy two at x amount promotions on OPI, ORLY, China Glaze, and Essie polishes. 

Phew! Enough talk about coupons and promotions. Now, let us move on to the Essie polishes below for a review and lots of pictures. 

*** Essie No More Film ***
I am under the impression that "No More Film" is a new addition to the permanent Essie nail lacquer collection. I don't think this shade was released as part of a Summer 2013 or seasonal collection, but I could be wrong. I love this color! I think the pictures below really capture the beauty of this sapphire blue shade. Although I have added Essie's Good to Go top coat, this polish has a shiny finish independent of the top coat. It is a creme formula with subtle shine (not shimmer). It is the first dark navy blue shade that has not made my hands look stark or dull. This shade looks beautiful in all types of lighting - indoor, outdoor, white light, or yellow light. It reminds me of Revlon Urban nail polish, but it is not the same. It is better! Even if you own Revlon's Urban, I would still recommend trying Essie's No More Film. Essie's No More Film is a dark shade, but it is not as dark as Revlon's Urban, which looks more vampy that this one. Essie's No More Film has indigo undertones. It looks like a shiny sapphire gemstone. 

This polish requires only one coat. I am wearing two coats in the following pictures. The application was clean and effortless. Of course the polish is not sheer and runny or thick and gooey, but you have to be a little careful because of the top of the applicator drips and can accidentally spill on your hands or clothes. I don't think that this is an issue with the formula of the polish, but rather with the applicator because I have been experiencing this problem with a lot of other polishes.

*** Essie Geranium ***
This is a gorgeous deep orange shade with strong red undertones. Essie's Geranium has a jelly-like formula. The first coat adds a sheer reddish orange color to your nails. Once you apply a second or third coat, you are able to attain full opacity as I have demonstrated in the pictures below. This is not one of those frustrating sheer polishes, which requires you to continue adding coats to receive an opaque, bubble-less, patch-less, streak-less application. Honestly, I like polishes that are good to go in two coats, dry quickly, and look and feel lightweight. I don't like polishes, which require so many coats that the polish makes my nails appear raised, creating a thick unnatural looking layer on top of my nails.   The jelly formula makes this polish sheer and lightweight, but not so sheer that you need five or more coats for it to show up and still not look nice. 

*** Essie Mint Candy Apple *** 
I love this color! I don't know what took me so long to discover this particular shade. I know Essie's Mint Candy Apple is a cult favorite, but I was apprehensive to try to because of my general dislike for the brand. A pastel, blue-toned, light foamy mint green. I am not a big fan of green, so I like that this looks like a milky pastel baby blue with sea-foam or sea-green or mint-green mixed into it. The first coat might look a little streaky, but looks flawless by the second coat. I'm wearing Essie's Good to Go top coat on top. I can say with confidence that I would be content with this nail polish if someone were to take my nail polish collection away from me. I hope that day never arrives as I treasure my beauty and jewelry collection as if the items were my babies. I store and organic my things with a lot of care and thought, so fingers crossed please refrain from high-jacking of my nail polish collection. Of course my friends think I am a little, "uh what's the word," as I own maybe five mint polishes. I say, "there is a difference, one for each fingernail!"The fact that I have taken a lot of pictures of this shade demonstrates my love of it. 

*** Essie Fiji ***
Sadly, Essie's Fiji was a disappointment. It reminded me of why I have always disliked Essie polishes in the past. I had to wear five coats of this polish to achieve the look in the pictures below. I still don't feel like it looked nice. My nails looked raised as if I had a little hill on each one of them. Little pockets where I could see my nails peeping through were still visible if you looked closely. A soft milky baby pink, but tough application. I cannot seem to find a true milky baby pink that applies like a dream or one that does not look neon or stark against my skin. 

I hope this post was helpful. I apologize for the lengthy introduction, but hopeful it was informative. I refrained from commenting on the wear time (longevity) of the lacquers because I only wear a particular polish for four full days and then I like to keep my nails bare for a while. In the four days, I only experience minor chipping on my index fingers and that is all. 

Have a happy happy happy day! Come back soon!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

ELLE Nail Polish "Blush Stroke"

ELLE "Blush Stroke" nail lacquer is a beautiful baby pink porcelain shade. What I admire most about this nail color is that it is a porcelain nude shade, but balanced out with baby pink. Often porcelain nude nail colors have beige, brown, taupe, or off-white undertones, which makes your hands appear like mannequin hands. The baby pink adds a flirty and dainty touch to this otherwise professional subtle shade. Being a Southeast Asian, I find this nude very flattering for my beige-olive skin tone. 

I purchased this nail polish from Kohl's. ELLE polishes retail for $10.00. Fortunately, Kohl's mails coupons every now and then, so I purchased this polish for about $7.00 after a 30% discount. The makeup artist for ELLE told me that ELLE is owned by Estee Lauder. ELLE is meant to be the affordable cosmetics line, targeting the middle-class consumers. 

Although a light creamy pinky nude, the formula of this polish is quite nice. It is not so thin that I need to apply five or more layers for full opacity. It is not so thick that the second coat drags on the first coat creating pockets and streaks. The first coat was a little streaky, but it was effortless to apply a second and third coat, at which point the polish looked even and uniform across the nails. I always apply Essie's Good to Go Top Coat, which enables my polishes to dry within one or two minutes at most. This polish as with all, if not most, of polishes starts to chip here and there by the fourth day of wear. I do not like to keep polish on my nails longer than that time frame. I also like to give my nails some days off to be naked and breathe. 

Have a happy happy happy day! 

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Cover Girl Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm in Luv U

I could not resist trying out the new Cover Girl Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm. Initially when I saw the display of new Cover Girl products at Walgreens, I had decided against purchasing one because I had tried the original Cover Girl Lipslicks Lip Balm and was not impressed by it.

I have noticed that Walgreens seems to be the first place I spot new products. I have seen new products displayed at Walgreens before they appear at Walmart, Target, or ULTA. Most of the time I patiently wait for it to come at the other stores because I find Walgreens a tad bit pricey. Sometimes though Walgreens has nice deals and it's worth it to get it while it's hot and share the buzz with all of your friends.

Anyways, back to this lip balm. I eventually purchased it at Walmart for $4.99. Good price, right? Fortunately, I don't feel guilty when I buy anything under $5 that I know I will use well. It is quite a steal then because miscellaneous items are so expensive nowadays. I cannot really tell you why I changed my mind and opted to purchase it ultimately. I suppose the beauty blogger aspect of me was curious to find out what exactly was so "new" about these Lipslicks Smoochies. Also, what excites me most in lipstick category? You guessed it, lip balms!

I did not experience a difference between the original Lipslicks and the new Lipslick Smoochies except for the colorful packaging and childish "text / cyber world" sort of names. I remember that the original Lipslicks came in a few colors, but when applied they were sheer tints to no tint at all. My lips are naturally a light mauve pink. I feel like my lips don't appear deeply pigmented. I don't realize the pigmentation until I notice how well certain lip colors show up on others lips, but not on mine. I saw a couple of You Tubers raving about the pigmentation of these balms and wanting to buy all of the colors because they are so inexpensive. I definitely noticed color on their lips. However, when I tried this balm on myself, I thought, "um where is the color payoff?" Honestly, do not expect even mediocre color payoff from these lip balms if you have moderately pigmented lips. The specific color I purchased gave off an extremely sheer pink tint. 

I definitely liked the feel of this lip balm. It felt creamy and moisturizing, but not heavy, waxy, or greasy. The emollient feeling lasted on my lips for a long time. It did not wear off when I had a drink, but it did disappear when I ate a proper meal. My lips felt smooth after wearing this balm. I have noticed that some of my lip products, once they wear off, leave my lips in a smooth and supple condition, while others leave my lips looking parched and feeling slightly rough. 

I like that this lip product lives up to its title as a lip balm. I don't mind the lack of color payoff, but I do wish these balms had sunscreen... as a compromise. I was not at all impressed by L'oreal Color Riche Balms or the Maybelline Baby Lips. These balms did have sunscreen, but they felt very waxy and dried out my lips. Lipslicks Smoochies can work as a nice balmy base for a medium to full coverage lipstick. Cover Girl should have added sun protection to these re-released lip balms. 

I wear sunscreen religiously. Wearing sunscreen on your face and body is good. However, wearing it  on the area around the lips as well as the lips is very important. I can say this with confidence as some dermatologists I am acquainted with have told me that this area of the skin is thinner and especially sensitive to UV rays.

I hope you all enjoyed this review and found it helpful. Have any of you or will you consider trying out this lip balm? What are your favorite lip balms? 

Have a happy happy happy day! 

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Salon Perfect Professional Nail Lacquer in Baby Blue

Some of you, who read my posts on a regular basis, may already know that I get slightly sidetracked during my grocery trips to Walmart. I go with the intentions of purchasing bread or milk, but some how I end up in the beauty department. I take a quick look through all of the brands in hopes of finding new products. 

Well, on one of these occasions, I discovered a new brand of nail polishes called Salon Perfect. Some Walmart stores only carry five or so colors by this brand, while others have a large display of several shades by this brand. A mint green, periwinkle blue, deep fuchsia, and turquoise blue - the special feature shade of this post - caught my eye. Initially, I was tempted to purchase the mint green. I changed my mind and bought the turquoise blue shade instead because the mint green shade reminded me a lot of China Glaze's For Audrey, which I already own. China Glaze's For Audrey has a blue undertone, which the Salon Perfect mint green shade does not have, so there is a slight difference. 

I believe I purchased and wrote a blog post about a Salon Perfect mint green polish last Summer. I ended up returning that mint green polish because I thought it was an exact replication of China Glaze's For Audrey. Last Summer, the Salon Perfect bottle looked different. It looked similar to the Maybelline Color Show nail polish bottles. Now the Salon Perfect packaging looks so similar to China Glaze that at first glance I thought Walmart began selling China Glaze. 

The first thing I observed about this polish was its intense scent. I don't know how to describe it, but I would like to warn that this polish gave off strong fumes during application and the smell lingered for a little bit after the polish dried. My Beau got a headache from the fumes. 

The shade I opted to buy is called Baby Blue. It remind me of a pure blue turquoise gemstone. Turquoise is one of my favorite gemstones to wear. I think that it compliments my olive skin tone. 

Salon Perfect polishes cost $3.99 each, which is a fair price. I was impressed by the formula and application of this polish. However, the formula varies by shade. I assumed that a white and peach shade by this brand would also apply as nicely as Baby Blue, but those shades did not. Baby Blue applied opaque, uniform, and non-streaky in one to two coats. The polish was slightly thick, but not gooey or hard to control. 

Overall, I definitely like the mint green and turquoise blue shades as well as their formula and application. However, if you are sensitive to strong nail polish fumes, then you may want to opt out on purchasing these polishes. I would like to disclose that I decided to return this polish because the fumes concerned me. I removed the polish minutes after I applied it and took pictures for this post. The thought that this is a new brand, not very common, and inexpensive, so perhaps the ingredients are not the best kept surfacing my mind. I did not feel comfortable wearing it or giving it away to a friend. 

If anyone reading this post has tried this brand, then please leave a comment below and share your thoughts on this brand of nail polishes. My feelings are split. I was really tempted to keep Baby Blue and also purchase the mint green shade, but I suppose I am slightly apprehensive because the brand is not a common trusted brand like Revlon or China Glaze and the polishes give off unusually strong fumes. Of course this post is only my opinion and I am only giving my point of view. I would suggest taking a little sniff sniff before making your purchase. If the scent does not bother you, then definitely check out this brand. Wouldn't it be great to find a cheaper alternative of the very trendy mint green polishes out in the market? 

The End... 

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Finished Products and Hits and Misses / Disappointing Products (July 2013)

I get a feeling of satisfaction once I finish a product. I suppose it is because I experiment with more things than any one individual practically needs. I know, I know! Shame on me! I think it has been a few months since I last posted a post about my finished products.

In the first part of this post, I will provide a brief review of each of the products I finished. The second part of this post, I will talk about products I tried and was absolutely disappointed with. It has taken me a few hours to write this post, so I truly hope that some of you readers will find it helpful. 

Part I: Finished Products 

ZOYA Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover, MAC Half 'n' Half Lipstick, ALMAY Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, MAC Volcanic Ash Face and Body 2-in-1 Scrub-Cleanser, OXY GLOW Neem and Tulsi Face Wash, Organix Deep Penetrating Moroccan Argan Oil, Victoria Secret PINK Spring Break Body 2-in-1 Scrub-Wash, and Bath & Body Works Pink Chiffon Body Wash. 

ZOYA Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover
Price: $10.00
Store: I purchased this remover from ULTA. 
Hit or Miss? Hit!
Nutshell: A little bit of this remover goes a long way! I only have to damp a cotton ball once with this remover and that amount is enough to remove polish off of all of my fingernails. I don't have to scrub my nails to remove the polish. I don't have to continue dampening the cotton ball. I place the wet cotton ball on my nail, hold it down gently for a few seconds, and then wipe off the polish from my nail in a single swipe. My nails do not look dried out or discolored. I really liked using the Sally Hansen's nail polish removers before I discovered the ZOYA remover. I suppose I am now more attracted to the ZOYA remover because of the company's claims to be a "natural" brand. It is definitely a laughing matter for nail polish remover to be "natural" per se, but I am just hoping that this remover contains less chemicals as the company has advertised. I did not observe a difference in the way Sally Hansen or ZOYA made my nails appear or feel, but one cotton ball dampened with ZOYA lasted me for all of my fingernails, while I had to continue wetting cotton balls with Sally Hansen's remover. The ZOYA remover smells "herbal" to me, like a nature/organic themed spa. It carries a lavender aroma, unlike other removers that smell like the chemicals they contain (alcohol, acetone, etc.). My nails feel smooth after I have removed the polish. Although I do not wear glitter polishes, I have heard that this is a superb remover for stubborn glitter polishes. I believe this was my third bottle.

MAC Half 'n' Half Lipstick
Price: $15.00
Store: I purchased mine at a Macy's MAC counter. 
Hit or Miss? Miss!
Nutshell: MAC's amplified creme formula is amazing. The color glides on smoothly and does not suck up the moisture in your lips. This may be awfully hard for you all MAC lovers out there, but I have not been able to find a MAC lip color that has given me the goosebumps of excitement. I own MAC's Creme in Your Coffee, which is a creme sheen formula lipstick. The Half 'n' Half shade looked awful on my lips. This shade exaggerated my lips lines and did not spread out on my lips evenly. 

ALMAY Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads
Price: $4.99 - $7.99 (The price varies from store to store and also by size. These wipes are sold in three different sizes: travel (15 pads), regular (80 pads), and jumbo (120 pads). 
Store: I have always purchased these pads from Meijer, which is a grocery store like Walmart and Target. Meijer always has a sale right when I need to restock my stash. ALMAY has released a new line of eye makeup remover pads. I believe the new line is a mere marketing scheme - new packaging, but same product. I still have two more of these to go through before I need more. I think once I am about to run out, I will purchase the new pads and post a comparison review. 
Hit or Miss? Hit!
Nutshell: I don't wear eye makeup very often. A simple winged liner look is my favorite to wear on a regular basis. When I do wear makeup on my eyes, I typically use a primer, three shades, and mascara. One or two ALMAY pad is enough to remove these products from each eye. My eyelids don't feel sticky or dry afterwards. Even if I do not experience a tacky feeling, I do like to rinse off my whole face with little bit of cleanser and water after removing the eye makeup. Whether you have dry, oily, or normal skin, I would recommend the oil-free pads over the oil-based pads. The oil based pads are too "oily" and leave behind an oily film over your eyelids. Although these pads are meant for the eyes, I like to use the oil based pads to remove richly pigmented and matte lip colors. 

MAC Volcanic Ash Face and Body 2-in-1 Scrub-Cleanser Limited Edition
Price: $28.00
Store: I purchased this product from a Belk Mac counter last Summer. 
Hit or Miss? Hit! 
Nutshell: I don't think I can justify why I love this scrub so much. I suppose I really enjoy the experience of washing my face with this black sugar like scrub and the clean, bright look I get afterwards. Black is one of my favorite colors. I also really like the scent of this scrub. I don't quite know how to describe this scent. It is spa-like, but not necessarily a herbal, organic sort of scent. Using this product has not caused any acne breakouts or dry skin. I think it is a medium-strength facial exfoliator that you can use twice or thrice in a week as the product label instructs. It gives you a clean feeling, especially if you wear sunscreen all day long like me. I have not found this product useful for deep pore cleansing or minimizing of pores. Unfortunately, I have yet to find such a magical facial scrub / cleanser. I don't suffer from acne except for an occasional hormonal teaser here and there, but the pores on my nose are a big pet peeve. 

OXY GLOW Neem and Tulsi Face Wash
Price: Approx. Rs. 100/ or 125/
Store: I found this gel cleanser at a store called Amartex Industries, Ltd. in Panchkula, Haryana, India.  
Hit or Miss? Hit!
Nutshell: A gentle gel cleanser. This cleanser gives your face a refreshed, clean, and crisp feeling. I look forward to washing my face in the morning with this cleanser. The gel turns into a creamy texture and lathers up like gentle soap. I enjoy the herbal scent of this cleanser a lot more than the metallic scent of the acne cleansers (with 1-2% salicylic acid) that I have used in the past. This cleanser was as helpful during minimal/occasional hormonal breakouts as any other salicylic cleanser I have used. I did not experience any reaction to this cleanser. It was not at all harsh or drying. It feels like you are using basic, simple face soap.

Organix Deep Penetrating Moroccan Argan Oil
Price: $5.99 
Store: I bought this product at Walmart. 
Hit or Miss? Eh! 
Nutshell: I like using this product for styling purposes after I wash my hair. I like to air dry my hair. My hair washing routine is as follows: shampoo, rinse thoroughly, conditioner, leave conditioner in hair for a few minutes, rinse out using the a detangling brush, and then towel dry hair for 15 minutes. Massage the scalp and polish hair with oil. Brush hair again with detangling brush. Rub a little more oil on my palms and smoothen out the ends of my hair. It takes an entire day to completely air dry my hair. My wavy curly locks build up throughout the day. All in all I believe that this oil does help maintain a conditioned appearance throughout the day. If I don't use this oil while brushing, then my hair does look a little frizzy as it dries out. I would not recommend this product for deep-conditioning and overnight treatment purposes. I would recommend purchasing this deep penetrating version of the Moroccan Argan oil rather than the original, which I have listed under disappointing products. *I have had a keratin treatment done on my hair. I would describe my post keratin treatment hair type as wavy (no longer heavily curly), voluminous (not as voluminous as before b/c of decreased frizz), and only minimally frizzy. 

Victoria Secret PINK Spring Break Body 2-in-1 Scrub-Wash - Jasmine-Lime, Hibiscus-Passionfruit
Price: $16.00
Store: Victoria Secret 
Hit or Miss? Hit!
Nutshell: Smells amazing. Lathers up and cleans well. I look forward to my showers and truly enjoy using this product. I think my body skin type is normal. I don't really bother with lotions and creams as I don't really find a need for now. I enjoy taking hot showers though, so sometimes my legs dry out and need a little moisturizing. I like the granulated "scrubby" texture of this body wash. 

Bath & Body Works Pink Chiffon Body Wash 
Price: $5.00 (I received mine for free because of an in-store coupon.)
Store: Bath & Body Works 
Hit or Miss? Hit! 
Nutshell: Smells like a mixture of fruity candy and flowers. Again, I feel the same about this body wash and the one mentioned above. I got this travel size one for free with a coupon. 

Part II: Disappointing Products

Sonia Kashuk Tinted Lip Balm SPF 15 (Spring 2013 Collection) - Hint of Berry
Pros: Good pigmentation (medium coverage), sunscreen, and metallic scent. The scent is not overwhelming, but whenever I wore this balm I got a weird metallic taste in my mouth. 
Cons: Limited color selection, heavy-waxy emolient texture, will not pair well with lipsticks, and only looks moisturizing, but actually dries out lips. 

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Kohl Liner - Nude
Pros: None
Cons: No staying power, not mechanical/retractable, needs sharpener, shade not compatible for anyone but fair skinned girls, and grainy in appearance. People thought something was wrong with my eyes or I had not washed my face after waking up in the morning when I wore this liner. I had purchased it with the intent to wear it as a bottom lid water-line liner for a bright, doll eyed look, but this was a waste of money. It has a smooth kohl like texture, but it did not even stay in place for a few minutes. As a extra consideration, I don't have watery eyes. I know some girls' eyes get a bit watery because of makeup, but fortunately my eyes don't get watery easily. 

L'Oreal Moisturizing 48 Hour Sunscreen Day Lotion SPF 28 - Sensitive Skin
Pros: Significant amount of sunscreen. 
Con: Heavy, greasy, and does not blend well into the skin, leaving a white grainy appearance on my face. I had a little bit of a breakout on the forehead after using this lotion. 

Maybelline Color Show Nail Polishes (Summer 2013 Collection) 
Pros: Beautiful color range. 
Cons: Messy application, horrible staying power, and thick tricky formula. These polishes required four coats minimum for uniform application. The chipping occurred within hours of painting nails and even when base coat and top coat was used. Do not allow the low price tag to tempt you into buying these adorable summery colors that remind you of the beach, sand, waves, and mojitos. These polishes are awful in quality. 

The Holy Grail of Palettes... The Urban Decay Naked Palette 
I know that this will come as a shock to a lot of you makeup lovers. Trust me, I was as shocked as some of you. I had high expectation for this palette. I know I do not wear eyeshadows too often and am not a makeup application expert, but I was not able to make these shades look good. The shades blended in too much and gave off a dull and muddy appearance. I am not a big fan of smoked neutral eyes, which is what I got when I used these shades. In addition to the unappealing appearance, I found that the shades were not as pigmented as my MAC eyeshadows. I have to slightly dab my brush in a MAC shadow and that is enough, but I had to swipe the UDN shades three to four times with my shader brush to pick up enough color. 
I would recommend Lorac's Unzipped palette over the Urban Decay Naked palette. I am able to achieve fresh, bright, and well-defined neutral looks with the Lorac palette. 

Boots No. 7 Botanics Clay Mask 
This product dried out my face. It did not clean out or minimize the appearance of my pores. I did not feel like my face looked refreshed or bright after using this mask. Honestly, after giving this product a few tries and noticing no improvement or even a superficial cleanliness, I find this product useless and a waste of money.

The Shea Moisture Hair Care Collection
I tried the following products prior to trying out keratin treatment. I thought to try out some cheaper options before spending a lot of money upfront on a keratin treatment. My hair is not dyed/color-treated or excessively heat treated. I straighten my hair using a flat iron very rarely for special occasions. My hair feels soft, but it looks rough because it is very thick, curly, and frizzy when wet. I just wanted a product to make my hair less frizzy and manageable so that I did not have to put it up in a bun all of the time.
Deep Cleansing Shampoo - awful smell. If you have dry scalp, used Selsun Blue Medicated shampoo instead of this gimmick potion. I did not see any improvement for dry scalp with this shampoo. I occasionally experience dry scalp due to climate changes or stressors (like exams) and Selsun Blue has always worked well for me. I just thought to try something new and "organic" but that was an incorrect decision.
Balancing Conditioner - awful smell. After using this African Black Soap three piece collection, my hair felt like I had come out of the pool. I felt like I had high levels of chlorine/salts in my hair.
Scalp Elixir - smelled awful, nauseating.
Curl and Style Milk - used this as a daytime leave-in conditioner. This product did not maintain my curls or provide a smooth, conditioned appearance. I felt like I had lather my hair with mousse. My hair felt brittle and stiff. I could not run my fingers through my soft locks of hair. If anything, this product worsened the condition of my hair.
Deep Treatment Masque - used this product as a leave-in overnight conditioner. I observed no improvement whatsoever.

Organix Moroccan Argan Oil 
This product did absolutely nothing for my hair type. I would apply this product and my hair would just drink it all up. My hair remained frizzy. I would recommend the new "deep penetrating" version of this oil for styling purposes.

Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy
I had a horrible experience with this shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo and conditioner that is recommended as the aftercare regiment for the keratin treatment I have gotten is very expensive. The shampoo and conditioner (8 fl. oz. each) cost a total $40-50. In attempts to save money, I thought to alternate washes between the aftercare regiment and the Organix regiment. I have alternated washes using the DermOrganic Sulfate Free shampoo and conditioner, which worked out fine, but this shampoo and conditioner was awful. My hair felt so dry and brittle during and after washing it with Organix Brazilian Keratin shampoo and conditioner.

Organix Macadamia Oil Intensive Moisture Mask
I think beauty companies need a vocabulary lesson or bit of chastizing for these exaggerated claims. When I look at the label promising me hydration and intense moisture and then my hair has the same old frizzed look, you bet your buttocks, I am slightly angry my the manipulation of advertisements via product labels. Where is the fine print? Where is the little symbol (*) with a caveat? I observed no hydration or decrease in frizz; not even superficial improvement while or after rinsing it out of my hair. 

The End... 

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