Category Archives: Product Reviews

Product Love: Girls Collection Nail Lacquer Set

NMC1ABA_mxI was desperate for a quick at-home manicure earlier this week but found myself facing the usual “DIY” problem: I hated all my polishes. I guess hate is a strong word. But you know what I mean. How did I develop such a taste for pinks, nudes, and deep crimsons, but not much else?

Luckily, my favorite HBO show Girls, inspired a collection by Deborah Lippman based on the show’s main characters and the shades are so good it’s making me giddy. I’d wear any of these to work too, which is another common hangup I have with a lot of my favorite “fun” shades. Check them out:

  • Hannah – Hapless Hunter Green
  • Marnie – Prim And Proper Pink
  • Shoshanna – Virtuous Vivid Violet
  • Jessa – Bohemian Burgundy

Pre-order yours online here, at Neiman Marcus, $45

Ideal Bookshelf

myidealbookshelf_high resMy husband knows me so well. He gifted this to me for Christmas not knowing that I’d not only heard of Ideal Bookshelf, but was secretly pining for one of my own. But this book is even better. The idea behind “Ideal Bookshelf” is simple. To quote directly from the website:

The books that we choose to keep and display—let alone read—can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In My Ideal Bookshelf, one hundred leading cultural figures, including writers Chuck Klosterman, Jennifer Egan, and Michael Chabon, musicians Patti Smith and Thurston Moore, chefs and food writers Alice Waters and Mark Bittman, and fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, reveal the books that matter to them most—books that reflect their obsessions and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world.

GEN-I-US. I love to read, so a good book recommendation is the best gift you can give me. But a beautifully illustrated collection of tastemakers’ favorite books? I don’t even have words. If you’re a reader too, definitely check this out.

Buy online at Amazon, $15

Product Review: Bonne Bell Gel Bronzer

Bonne Bell Bronzing Gel, Golden Tan 416Bonne Bell Gel Bronzer in Golden Tan is easily one of my favorite beauty products of all-time.  The lightweight, oil-free gel works like a stain so it really lasts so it’s great for when you’re doing any prolonged outdoor activity.  If you’re afraid of self-tanner, you should try this sometime. Because it washes off after a single use, it’s basically foolproof. I consider applying a stain to be a more advanced makeup skill, but if you remember to move really quickly and apply a little at a time to just one small area of your face, you’ll be fine. I recommend squirting a little dime-size dollop on fingers first, then blend in go forehead, cheek, cheek, then do a quick swipe with anything leftover on my fingers across my nose and chin. And for under $5, how can you beat it?

Pro Product Recs

When I find a beauty brand or product I love and trust, I’m a loyal customer, but I can’t always research every little purchase, so one of my favorite little tricks is to ask professionals what their favorite products are. Sometimes it’s easiest to go straight to your favorite brands, makeup artists, or estheticians:

Here are some of their recent recommendations :

Julie BéginVia @JulieBeginMUA Makeup Artist, Creative Consultant to the Cosmetic Industry, Cirque du Soleil Makeup Designer & Educator

Favorites from La Roche-Posay
1. Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream
“…is my personal #1 deep cleanser. 1 tube in shower + 1 by the sink!”
2. Micellar Solution
3. Hydraphase UV light
4. Anthelios melt-in cream SPF45
“…is a bike ride must”

Via @ReneeRouleau, Celebrity Esthetician & Skin Care Expert with a product line based on 9 skin types.

Favorites from Renee Rouleau
Anti Cyst Treatment: “MIRACLE”
And she shared a link to her 2011 best-sellers list that you should definitely check out!



Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup

I LOVE this foundation. I started using Neutrogena while I was a teenager, but it was the oil-free, “Skin Clearing” foundation and it never impressed me, honestly. On a recent trip, I found myself without foundation, so I gave the Healthy Skin liquid makeup formula a try and am happy to say it’s one of my favs now.

Interesting Claim: Exclusive blend of antioxidants plus SPF 20 work together to visibly improve skin’s luminosity, tone, and texture.Healthy Skin Liquid MakeupReview: It’s awesome. I swear that it just does something good to my skin. It goes on smooth and silky and makes my skin glow. Even after I remove it, my skin looks better. I don’t want to say it moisturizes, but it isn’t oil-free either.  The effect of this formula on my skin is very dewy, luminous, and healthy-looking. I don’t use it regularly enough to speak to any real improvement in skin tone (and I wear sunblock daily), but it definitely does something to the texture; I think with regular use, tone improvement is not an absurd claim either. (Then again, readers know how I feel about using makeup for skin treatment.) Soy may even out skin discoloration and works best through prolonged use on skin, which is how most of us use foundation — for all-day wear– so if you’re not willing to commit to a moisturizer or night serum to treat discoloration, this is better than nothing. Follow?

Ingredients of Note: The 6.6% Titanium Dioxide is better than nothing, but supplement with sunblock under your makeup. The Soymilk Powder (may improve skin tone) and Chrysanthemum Parthenium Flower Extract (Feverfew), which is an anti-inflammatory, are interesting. Something to be aware of though, is the silica. Do you have Crohn’s or IBS? Silica is suspected of causing gastrointestinal or liver toxicity according to (via Good Guide).

GoodGuide Product Rating: 5.5  (5 is average, 6 is above average)
*GoodGuide scientifically ranks products and companies based on their environmental, health and social performance.

How I use mine: I’ve been mixing it with some of my Mary Kay oil-free TimeWise moisturizer in the AM and the coverage even then (thinned out by the moisturizer) is still fabulous. A little pressed powder and it evens out my skin all day long. Love, love, love it.

sources: 1 / 2

I’d be lost without:

HD Microfinish Powder by Makeup Forever

This finely-milled translucent powder gives skin an air-brushed quality. I apply with a fat, fluffy brush after all my makeup is done to “set” everything, but I focus a lot on my t-zone where things get shiny. This takes care of that without looking cakey.

Application tip: Remember to either blow on your brush, or dab on the back of your hand so you don’t over-apply!

Product Review: True Romance Eyeshadow Palette in “Ludwig”

I’ve been looking for-ever for a shimmery, nudish/gold colored shadow or eye pencil so I can do Blake Likely’s beachy, California-surfer-girl, smudgy-gold eye makeup look, but haven’t been able to find the right one yet.

I wanna get me some of this gorgeous, tan, dishevelment NOW. thanks.

I hit Sephora a few weeks ago in search [again] and nearly left with Makeup Forever’s Diamond Shadow in “Diamond Beige 306,” when this palette caught my eye:
Product: True Romance Eyeshadow Palette – Ludwig
Brand: Kat Von D. The tattoo-artist? Seriously?  {I was totally shocked}
Features: A palette of eight eyeshadow colors:

– Heavens (pearlized vanilla)
– Enjoy the Silence (pearlized butter-cream)
<3 (soft pink with sparkle)
– Downtown (pearlized champagne)
– Sunny (pearlized gold)
– Pray For me (pearlized taupe)
-Bookworm (pearlized brown)
– Caravaggio (dark matte brown)
-Mini Puro Amor Black Autograph Pencil Eyeliner

The colors were neutral and all seemed surprisingly wearable, so without over-thinking it, I headed to the register where the sales clerk gave her blessing that the colors and shimmer-factor are totally work-appropriate.

But the next morning I opened it up a and realized I’d grabbed the wrong one!!!! I’d been hesitant that the neutral pallet was too shimmery, so you can imagine how annoyed I was when I saw this:

Green? REALLY??

True Romance Eyeshadow Palette – Ludwig
– Lucifer (matte charcoal black)
– Orbi (golden green shimmer)
– Dimebag (metallic lime green)
– Clay (beige with gold glitter)
– Tequila (metallic cornsilk shimmer)
– Downtown (metallic light copper shimmer)
– Baroque (golden bronze shimmer)
– Leather (deep chocolate brown sheen)
– Two double-ended applicator brushes

Verdict: This is one of the most spectacular pallets I’ve ever used. Pigment quality is absolutely stunning and the shimmer quality is so understated it’s 100% work-appropriate, but build up like a dream. Fav shades include Clay, Tequila, and Downtown, and Lucifer is amazing for smudging out my eye liner, too. It’s so silky and matte. And the greens I scoffed at? Amazing. I cannot wait to layer up “Orbi” for St. Patty’s Day up here in Boston with some bright pink lips. I plan to go back and buy “Saint” asap, too.

View all the pallets here.

Special redeeming qualities: Infused with rose extract, which moisturizes lids. {Oo la la}

Usage Tips: Use a primer under color for truer “pigment” appearance, but honestly, every single color is lovely all over the lid, in a smokey eye, or used as a liner at the lash line.

xoxo, Wendy

Review: Rene Furterer Fioravanti No Rinse Detangling Spray

Rene Furterer Fioravanti No Rinse Detangling Spray, $26
About the brand: With 50+ years of hair care experience…ok, that’s good enough for me. Healthy scalp = healthy hair.
Usage: Spray all-over damp hair to help detangle and add shine
Special redeeming qualities: Smells like herbs. Shine-enhancing. Essential Oils. Makes combing out my hair 1/10th the bitch it used to be.

I went to a new stylist at Dellaria’s recently and he asked me what I use to detangle my hair. I slunk in my chair and mumbled that I’ve been meaning to invest in a better brand, blah-blah-blah  …but that Aussi’s detangler has been my main squeeze SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.

Oh the shame. Not that there is anything wrong with Aussie. On the contrary, they are a quality brand, but I pay oh…let’s say $1000 a highlight for my color, so using something that’s not gentle enough for color-treated hair is basically a waste of time (a 1-process w/ highlights takes some serious upkeep) and money I don’t have.

So he starts spraying my longggg hair all-over with this fabulousness and glides a comb right on through my horrendous tangles. I perk up and have to ask, what IS this magic? It smells like an herb garden. Less floral/more “parsley” which might be a little weird, I know, except I’m a-liking; a lot. It’s $26.

{HOLDUP. I don’t like it for that much.}

So I did what any saavy, budget-minded girl does. I jotted the name down (taking note of every.single.other.product. this genius hair dresser had on his counter) and immediately went home and ordered it on Amazon for $18.


Verdict: This product has changed my life and you must go buy it immediately.

xoxo, Wendy

New Favorite Things: Urban Decay is killing it

Something you’ll come to learn pretty quickly with my product preferences is that I love things in miniature. Something about being able to stuff multiple products into a tiny clutch for a night out is incredible. I’m James Bond, with lip gloss.

Another thing I love about minis is being able to try out a variety of colors or products in a line. Nothing is more irritating than springing for the full size, then realizing a product totally sucks or a color doesn’t work on you.

Enter Urban Decay’s 24/7 Travel-Size Set of 5, $32 — seriously!

Amazing photo, right? Right. It's courtesy of asoftblackstar

COLORS – “Electric” set
(sparkling bright green)
(vibrant shimmery bright blue)
Woodstock (bright sparkling fuchsia)
(bright iridescent purple)
Perversion (matte darkest black)

Not only are the products miniature, the colors are fun and surprisingly wearable. But the best part? They glide on SO SMOOTHLY.  I used a cheapie Rimmel black eye pencil for years and now see what all the fuss over “smoothness” was about. These make me look like a pencil pro.

I’m definitely buying the Ransom in full-size ASAP. It doesn’t look “in your face” purple from far away, but does something magical; purple brings out the golden flecks in your eyes in a way that straight black just doesn’t. We all have stared in the mirror at ourselves to know what color our “flecks” are. Pick your pencil accordingly.

And the others will make for some fun, bachelorette-esque inspired looks for me, until they run out. I’ve worn all but Woodstock (pink/fuschia) so far and loved the look of every single one.

Here’s a pic of me rocking the Radium (blue). Not too in-your-face, right?

Another item I’ll definitely be adding to my Christmas list is Urban Decay’s Naked 2 palette, $50. First, can I just say that I love palettes. It’s kind of an addiction. But isn’t it so annoying when only 1 or 2 colors are wearable? It doesn’t stop me from buying them, but its a habit I’m trying to curb.

You won’t have that problem with these colors. ALL ARE GORGEOUS! To quote the lovely Mindy Kaling, I defy you to find a look you can’t create with this palette.  Urban Decay always scared me because of all the shimmer, but I’m pretty sure this palette will be my gateway drug to an obsession with this brand. If I look like Lady Gaga in a month, please intervene.

*Edit: Waaaaaa this palette is back-ordered!!!!! If any of Santa’s elves are listening… Wink. 


Glycolic/anti-aging: Glycolic Cream Cleanser by Jeffrey Dover, $13
One of my favs in my cleanser arsenal. Without giving a whole science lesson, glycolic acid is one of the more potent alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). It’s amazing at chemically exfoliating dead skin (re: no “manual scrubbing”), so with regular use, it can help with wrinkles, acne scarring and hyperpigmentation (brown spots). Hyaluronic acid (the miracle moisture ingredient in every fancy moisturizer) microspheres help hydrate skin throughout the day.

*If you’re using an AHA on your face, WEAR SUNSCREEN. These increase sun sensitivity so you must be especially good about protecting skin.