Michele's Makeup Blog

I love makeup!  And whether you love makeup or not, chances are you wear it at least sometimes.  Don't you want to make sure you're getting the best value for your $$$?  That's what this makeup blog is all about. 
I try products and services and give you an honest review.  From drug stores to department stores, I try different brands at different price points to give you the scoop. 

A Little About My Perspective...
- Quality is more important than quantity.
- Just because it costs more doesn't mean it's better.
- Multitasking products are a very good thing.
- Have fun...if a look doesn't work a little soap and water makes it all better.



YSL vs. Loreal Stain Gloss: Are they the same?

Last year YSL rocked the cosmetics world with their lip stain/gloss (official name: Rouge pur couture vernis a levres glossy stain- INSANE).  A combination of lipstick, lip gloss, and lip stain, there was nothing else like it on the market. 
I am a HUGE fan, despite the price tag.  However, there's a whole segment of the population that is just not going to spend $34 for a lip product no matter how great it is.
I knew it was only a matter of time before a knock-off version of this product hit the stores, and it's here.  Loreal has introduced their Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain, and they're obviously copying the YSL product at about one third of the cost.
Many are saying the Loreal product is the exact same product as the YSL, and one of the arguments is that Loreal is the parent company for YSL so that must mean they are the same.  While I wish that was true, I'm here to tell you it isn't.  Does that mean the Loreal product is bad?  No way!
First let me tell you I feel very confident comparing these products.  The YSL Stain Gloss has been my go-to lip product (see my review) for several months now, and I've been using the Loreal product exclusively for the last week in 3 different shades.
Let's start with the basics....
  YSL Loreal
Price $34 about $10
Shades Available 30 12
Availability High-end department stores Drug or discount stores
After using the Loreal product for a week now, I can confidently say that these two formulas are NOT the same.  The YSL product is more highly pigmented, creamier, longer-wearing, and doesn't dry my lips.  For example: when I apply the YSL product I never apply more than 2 coats and I get perfect coverage.  The Loreal product sometimes took 3, 4, or even 5 coats to get even coverage.
Once on the lips, the Loreal felt stickier than the YSL.  When I opened my mouth, my lips would slightly stick together with the Loreal...not so with YSL.
But the biggest difference in the formula for me is the way the Loreal product dries my lips.  One of the selling points of the YSL stain gloss is that it's a stain that doesn't dry your lips.  In fact it's the only stain I've found that doesn't dry my lips.  This cannot be said of the Loreal version.  After hours of wear, the Loreal stain gloss left my lips dry, cracked, peeling, and sometimes feeling like they had some sort of coating on them. 
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Loreal product.  In fact, I realy like one of their colors (Berry Persistant) and will probably use it regularly.  I just want people to know that the two products are not the same thing.  I'd hate for someone to purchase the Loreal product, dislike it and then never try the YSL because they assume it's the same thing. 
The YSL is a superior product, and that's all there is to it.  Personally, I'd rather buy have 1 YSL vs 3 Loreal, because I know I'm going to use the YSL every single day and love it.

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The New Bare Minerals Ready Foundation

I've always been a fan of the original Bare Minerals Foundation, but let's face it...it's messy.  As hard as I try to keep my bathroom counter halfway clean, there's no way to avoid spilling some of it sometimes.  It's also not the best formula for travel or on-the-go applications. 

That's why I was excited to hear about Bare Minerals Ready Foundation.  It's pressed, so it's automatically more portable and less messy.  But because it's Bare Minerals, they didn't use all the nasty things cosmetic companies usually use to created a pressed product.  I love that!

This new product is also supposed to have a few other benefits over the original.
- It's supposed to provide more coverage.
- It's supposed to have wear longer.
- It's supposed to actually make the skin more hydrated.

So let's break it down!  First, the packaging.  As always, it's great.  Bare Minerals packaging is always nice.  The compact feels substantial and is easy to open and close.  The top of the compact is a large mirror to aid in application on the go. 
Next the shade selection.  Bare Minerals has 20 shades of this foundation!  Some for neutral undertones, some for pink undertones, some for yellow-olive undertones.  I read a number of reviews that said I would have to go darker shade-wise with this foundation, and they were right.  In the original foundation I use Fairly Light as my color.  After playing around the the floor samples at Ulta, I ended up going with Medium in the Ready Foundation. I highly recommend testing it on your face before you buy.  I NEVER would have guessed I was Medium in a million years, but that's the color that matched my skin perfectly.  (If you're unsure how to pick your color, it's easy!  Just go to the store and swipe a bit of the product along your lower cheek bone/jaw line.  Then head over by the window, so you get the most natural light.  Whichever color disappears on your face is the one for you.)

As with the original foundation, the amount of coverage you get is a result of the brush you use to apply it.  For this foundation I wanted medium to full coverage, so I chose the new Precision Face Brush (retractable version).  For full coverage, you would use the Handy Buki Brush or Full CoverageKabuki Brush.  (There's a chart on BareMinerals.com that shows which brushes to use.)

Application is simple.  Just swipe the product with the brush and buff on the skin (when you buff, make sure you apply some pressure to get the best coverage). 
I'm pleased with the amount of coverage and very pleased with the convenience of the pressed format.  My skin feels really, really good in this foundation.  I definitely feel more moisturized in this than the original.  As for the finish, it's just very natural looking.  It's not matte, it's not luminous...it just looks like skin. 
I wore the proudct all day yesterday and looked in the mirror at the end of the day to see how my skin looked.  I was really pleased.  The coverage was still perfect, and my skin looked great with a nice glow.  My favorite thing about it is how it feels like there is nothing on your skin.  I think that's what Bare Minerals does better than every other cosmetic company...somehow they make a product that you can't feel or see that manages to cover the imperfections of your skin.  Isn't that exactly what we've always wanted foundation to do?

I do believe I've found a new favorite, and I also don't think I'll be buying their original foundation any more.  Oh!  And it's SPF20.  It just keeps getting better and better.  Each Ready Foundation is .49oz. and $29.  Right now it's new, so the only place I've found it is Ulta.  But soon it should be available at Sephora and either Springfield location of BJ Grand Salon & Spa.
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The Wet Brush is MAGIC!

It's was a common scene in our house.  Kate would be just out of the bath with wet hair, and I would start to comb through it.  She'd scream, "Ouch!" and "Mommy, that hurts!" for about 5 minutes and then we'd be done until the next day.  Sound familiar?  Well I found the solution, and it sounds totally phony, I admit.

It's called The Wet Brush, and I have no idea how it works but it's magic!  My hair stylist, Kirsta at BJ Grand Salon & Spa, told me about it.  She said she didn't believe the hype either until she tried it on one of her clients who has very hard-to-comb hair.  I mean for years we've been told, "Never use a brush on wet hair.  It's bad!"  Not anymore.

The Wet Brush looks like any other brush.  The handle has an easy-to-grip texture, and it comes in bright colors.  That's where the similtary to other brushes ends.  I don't know how, but when you use this brush on hair (wet or dry) it just sort of glides through. 

The other night I had just washed Kate's hair (which gets all tangled because she likes to wear it down), and I started to use a comb on it.  Her hair was so tangled, the comb wouldn't even go through it.  Then I remembered The Wet Brush, and viola...her hair was combed out in about 2 minutes.  My neice has SUPER thick, SUPER coarse, long hair that is always tangled.  Every day she and her mother fight over the process of combing her hair.  The other day I sprayed her hair down with water and whipped The Wet Brush through it in just a couple of minutes with no screams.  My mom watched me do it, and she grabbed the brush out of my hand, because she had to try it for herself.  Now she's a believer.

Even though it's called The Wet Brush, it works well on dry hair too.  But I think it works better on wet or damp hair. 

I purchased my Wet Brush at BJ Grand Salon & Spa for $12.  If I were giving this product a rating based on 4 stars, I would give it 10!  It's that good.
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A Peel Off Mask That Won't Peel Off

My most recent New Beauty Test Tube included a number of fun products that I've been trying for the last several weeks.  Today I'm going to tell you about the Bright White Mask from Boscia

Boscia as brand is new to me.  I've started seeing it around recently, so I was excited to be able to try something from them.  According to their website Boscia is "preservative-free, botanically-based skincare."

I was excited to try the Bright White Mask, because over the last few years in particular I have noticed a dullness to my skin.  Not to mention the uneven skin tone.  This product is supposed to even the skin tone, brighten, moisturize, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

I've now used it twice.  The product comes in a tube, and it's white and very thick...kind of like toothpaste.  According to the directions, you're supposed to apply an even layer to the skin (avoiding the eyes) and let it dry.  It's supposed to then peel off. 

The first time I used it, it wouldn't peel off at all.  I just had to rinse it off with water and a washcloth.  I decided to try again, and this time I applied a thicker layer of the product in hopes that it would peel more easily.  I did manage to get most of the forehead area to peel, but the rest of my face was a lost cause.  I used a wash cloth again.

As for results, I have to say I really tried to see some.  However, I just didn't notice anything particularly different about my skin after using it.  Now the Boscia website lists consumer study results after four weeks, so I'll have to try it a couple more times and see if I notice anything.

Over all I got much better results with Philosophy's Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Pads (I reviewed them in February). But if you REALLY want an incredible result for your skin, you'll have to read my next makeup blog about the Glycolic Acid Peel.  The results were amazing.
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Cleanser and Exfoliator in One

My last New Beauty Test Tube came in May (if you don't know what I'm talking about check out my blog entry from February), and one of the products included was Bliss Fabulous Foaming Wash

Bliss Spa is originated in New York City and now has a number of locations around the world an a line of products.  I've only used one other Bliss product (Bliss Naked Body Butter), and I love it.  So when the deluxe sample of the Fabulous Foaming Wash arrive, I was excited to try it. 

First of all, it's blue.  It looks refreshing and energizing before you even squirt it into your hand.  Second of all, it's a cleanser AND an exfoliator in one.  That's nice!  I'm always in favor of a product that kills two birds with one stone.  It has a nice, fresh scent.  It's definitely not unscented, but it's also not too perfumey (and I'm pretty sensitive to smelly skin products).
You can feel the little beads as you're washing your face.  They are small and smooth, so it's not going to tear the skin in any way.
The product had no problem taking off all of my makeup, and when I was done my skin felt clean and fresh.  I have issues with dryness, but this product did not seem to strip my skin like some can.
According to the website the product is oil-free and works for all skin types. 

Overall, I really liked the product and would definitely use it again.  My favorite thing about it is the combination of cleansing and exfoliation.  However, I just purchased a new super-size bottle of my current cleanser, so it will be at least a year before I try something new on a permanent basis. 

You can find the Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash online at www.blissworld.com or at Sephora or Ulta here in Springfield.
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Tweezers to Go

A good set of tweezers is invaluable.  The best are Tweezerman.  There's no debate, it's just a fact.  All you have to do is try a pair of Tweezerman, and you'll never use another brand again.  Seriously!  You'll wonder why you've wasted so much time trying to pluck hairs when it could have been so, so easy.

Tweezerman quality is great, and they are meant to last a long time.  In fact, you can send your tweezers in any time to have them sharpened free, and if for some reason they can't be sharpened they will send you a coupon to get new ones at half price.

Slant® TweezerI recommend the Tweezerman Slant Tweezer.  It's their biggest seller, and the main one that wins all the awards.  It runs $22, and  you can find it at pretty much any drug or discount store.  Could you find less expensive tweezers?  Yep.  But they won't be anything close to the Tweezerman. 

I've had my original Tweezerman tweezers for years and years now.  I recently thought I'd lost them, so I bought another.  Naturally I found my originals shortly after that, but I figure now I'll just send them in for sharpening, and I won't have to do without. 

They also have a smaller version that's perfect for your purse that's $12.50.  Happy tweezing!

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Blond Hair without the Damage

We've all been trained to believe that having blond hair means having unhealthy hair, and up until now it's been true.  That was before Blondme.  Blondme is a brand new color and care system at BJ Grand Salon & Spa, and it means some really great things for your hair.  One of the major perks of my job is I get to try brand new things before everyone else, and I recently tried Blondme for some summer highlights. 
Some of the advantages of the Blondme products...
- It's the first and only line of color and care products that actually leaves your hair stronger than it was before.
- It can "lift" more color than ever before, so you can get a lighter color than ever before.
- The Blondme care products are specifically formulated to keep the color true.  Platinum stays platinum...golden stays golden. 

I love my Blondme highlights!  I have very dark hair, and Blondme had no trouble lifting the color and giving me a great look for summer.  Best of all...my hair is still shiny, strong, and healthy.  I mean who wants blond hair if it looks like straw?  Not me!

Blondme also has a deep conditioning treatment you can have done at the salon.  Unlike conditioner you use at home that affects the outside of your hair, this deep conditioning treatment actually penetrates the hair to make it healthier from the inside out.  I had it done, and my hair felt fantastic when I was finished.

Check out my video below.  My awesome hair stylist, Kirsta, was kind enough to explain the Blondme system so we can all learn more about it.  (And you can see my highlights!)


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YSL Stain Gloss

I love lip gloss.  And lipstick.  And lip balm.  Basically I love lip products, however there are some I just can't get into.  Like lip stains. I like the IDEA of lip stains, but somehow they just never measure up.  Every one I've ever tried is uneven and extremely drying.

Then I heard about a new product from Yves Saint Laurent.  It's a got a ridiculously long name, (Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levres Gloss Stain, geez the French are ridiculous!) so I'm just going to call it YSL Stain Gloss.  It's supposed to be a hybrid of stain, gloss, and lipstick, and it's getting tons of buzz over the last couple of months.  I just had to try it, being the makeup junkie I am.

The first thing I noticed is the packaging.  It's beautiful and luxurious.  Then there's the applicator.  It's a modified doe foot...flatter , larger, and pointier than the typical doe foot allowing great precision.

The formula itself feels watery and cool on the lips, but after just a few seconds it dries and you have a nice subtle color on your lips with a nice sheen.  If you want more color intensity and more glossiness, add more coats.  The coverage you get is like a lipstick.  As for the gloss factor, after 2 coats I'd say it's a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 with one being matte and 10 being super glossy.  After 3 coats I'd say it's an 8 out of 10.

The best part about this product is the staying power.  It stays on beautifully through every day activities including drinking.  I had pizza the other night, and when I was finished some of the product had come off, but my lips still looked good enough that I didn't need to reapply.  But you don't need to use any sort of special remover to get the product off of your lips.  You can just wipe with a tissue.  (I despise that long-wearing stuff you have to take off with a chisel!)

As it does eventually wear off you'll have a nice, subtle but noticeable stain of color left on your lips.  Plus it wears off evenly, so you won't end up with a ring around the mouth.  I didn't find the product to be drying at all, in fact my lips felt great!  

I took a few pics, to show you the coverage and amount of gloss you'll get with this product.  The first pic is without anything on my lips followed by pics of 1, 2, and 3 coats.  As you can see, the more coats, the more glossy.  Color doesn't seem to deepen all that much beyond coat number 2.  By the way the color I bought is #15 Rose Vinyl.  There are 20 colors to choose from, although Sephora has one exclusive color (#20) and Nordstrom has another exclusive color (#13). 

  

  

The only downside of the product that I can see is the price.  Since it's YSL (and their stuff is always expensive) it's pricey for a lip gloss at $32.  Definitely a splurge item, although knowing there isn't another product out there like it makes me feel a bit better about dropping the cash.  So this is one of those items I'll probably save for after Christmas when I have Sephora gift cards to use.  

If you want to see the YSL Gloss Stains in person you'll have to head out of town.  They don't carry it anywhere in Springfield.  You can find it at Sephora online or in the stand alone stores, at Nordstrom, and at Nieman Marcus.
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Extend Your Hair Color a Few More Weeks

I love getting my hair colored at the salon.  Oh I tried coloring my hair at home years ago, but it just didn't compare.  Now I have gray hair (eeeeeek!) to deal with, and mine is concentrated around my face.  How much does that suck?

I've used a number of temporary products to help extend the time between coloring, but I've always been a little afraid to try a drug store root touch-up coloring kit.  My main concern was ending up having some sort of line of demarcation on my hair and having to go back to she salon to get it fixed.

I finally got up the nerve to try it last night.  I decided to go with Loreal's Root Rescue, and I'm very happy with the process and the results.  It was super easy and fast!  You mix the products, brush it on to the area you want to color, wait 10 minutes, and rinse it out.  And I had no line of demarcation!

Here's a video explaining the process from Loreal,  I think this will let me go a few more weeks before getting all over color, which is a good thing.

All-in-all I was pleasantly surprised, and I this product will be a regular purchase for me.
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My First Almay Cosmetics Purchase

Almay cosmetics have been around for a long time I suppose, but I've never tried any of their products.  I don't know why.  I have nothing against them. 

Then the other day I was perusing the cosmetics aisle at CVS Pharmacy and happened upon the Almay section.  I noticed they've got this new marketing gimmick going on where they're trying to get you to buy their eye makeup based on the color of your eyes.  The benefit being you no longer have to try and figure out what color eye shadow will look good with your eye color, because they've done it for you.

Well I don't know if I agree that one color eye shadow looks great on all people with brown eyes, but I love the packaging anyway.  Why?  Each "Almay intense i-color i kit" eye shadow palette has three shadows.  That's nice, because they are already chosen for me, and I know they will work well together.  Plus, the shape of the shadows in the package tells you exactly where each color should go.  Genius!  I know the bottom color goes on my lid, the middle goes in the crease, and top goes on my brow bone.  What a cinch!

Their kits are broken down into four eye colors: brown, blue, green, and hazel.  And each eye color has three different palettes to choose from: satin, shimmer, and smoky. 

I purchased the satin kit for brown eyes, and this is the color palette (photo on the right).  I thought the purples would be a nice set of colors for spring.  I'm very picky about eye shadow, and one of my biggest complaints with most drugstore eye shadows is the lack of pigment.  This is not a problem with this product.  I found the pigmentation to be great.  (On a scale of 1-10 I'd give it about an 8.)  The color stays true througout the day, and I didn't have any problems with creasing or wearing off.

They include a dinky little eye shadow applicator...just throw it away immediately.  You're not going to get any sort of good application with that thing.  Use eye shadow brushes.  (Side note: I wish they would stop including those silly, useless applicators with drug store brands.  Just get rid of them all together and give me more product instead!)

All in all I'm very pleased with my purchase, and I plan to purchase another palette in the future.  Maybe the shimmer?  We'll see.  I don't plan to stick to their brown eyes, green eyes, etc. rules.  I may just be a rebel and try one for green eyes too!  The price on these runs from about $7-8.  I think that's a pretty good deal for three good quality eye shadows. 

You can find Almay at just about every major drug and discount store.
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