Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Estee Lauder Vivid Garden Illuminating Powder

Generally, Estee Lauder is kind of blah for me, nonetheless I check out their website every now and then to see what's going on. I do own several items from them, with my favorite being the Tender Blush in Peach Nuance, which is just absolutely beautiful to look at (just not so convenient to carry...). That said, the rest of their stuff is sorta just ho hum, which is why I seriously did a double take when I spotted this Vivid Garden Illuminating Powder. Wow. I was breathless.

Aside from being packaged in a giant navy blue compact, very characteristic of Estee Lauder powders with the exception of their After Hours Compacts, this Vivid Garden highlighter is just a stunning creation. I'm sure there are fancier-looking stuff out there, but this powder's got that minimalist aesthetic thing going on, simple but oh-so-striking. It reminds me of the Japanese brands pulling out every trick in the book for their last hoorah of the year-end collection, only this was a spring collection. Needless to say, I started stalking my local Macy's to see when the item would arrive only to learn after a few months that they weren't going to get any in at all, because this Vivid Garden collection was released only in larger urban areas. Boo hoo hoo, but that didn't stop me :D I just had to drive another 45 minutes to the next huge mall and ended up grabbing the very last compact they had. Luckyyyy!!!!

I brought this Vivid Garden Illuminating Powder with me to my short trip out of town. It was even more gorgeous in person. There was the lilac with shimmers so subtle it went on matte, same with the pastel pink. The ivory in the middle had more gold shimmers, but again the shimmers were so fine that it served only to brighten, not sparkle or even glisten. Yes, I know it looks a lot more sparkly in the picture, and that is because there was a layer of sprayed on gold shimmer that went away with the very first application. Unfortunately, the pretty gold flowers and the cute dragonfly at the bottom went away after the first use too. I really wish they weren't just sprayed on, the compact would have been even prettier.

The powder itself was very light. It wasn't chalky, and was non-drying even in super dry weather, and didn't dust up a storm during application. Because of the subtle brightening effect, it made a perfect day highlighter for me. That said, if you are looking for a dewey glow, this won't be the product. Also, it was pretty much useless at night. Regardless, I'm very happy with it. It was worth it. I won't be buying another one though as the large compact will last me a long time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Naturally by Victoria's Secret Blackberry & Tonka Bean All-over Moisture Salve

Yes...more Victoria's Secret. I didn't started this, promise! Out of the blue, my lovely friend Carla gave me this Naturally by Victoria's Secret Blackberry & Tonka Bean All-over Moisture Salve (talk about a mouthful, sheesh!). I didn't know what to think of it at first, I mean, "natural"? Victoria's Secret? Ha! Don't make me laugh.

The salve comes in a pretty lilac metallic tin pot with twist off cap, and boy, it is freakin' huge! It holds a whopping 1.7 oz (50 g!) of product, a bit more than twice as much as your [above] average lip balms or salve in a tin pot! When will I ever finish using this giant thing?!? Of course, it also comes with a semi-big price tag - $10, but given the other balms/salves cost $6-8 with only half the amount of product, the $10 price isn't that bad. There are always on-going promotions, coupons, and deals too.

The salve smells good, discernible scent of berries though, only a very subtle sweet bean paste scent with a touch of vanilla and...petrolatum :D The main ingredient is petrolatum, after all. I can see why someone would think this stuff is nothing more than dressed up Vaseline, but then again Vaseline doesn't have other ingredients like blackberry extract, apricot kernel oil, cotton seed oil, and shea butter, so I would say it's more of a salve than just straight up Vaseline. Most other salve uses petrolatum as the main ingredient anyway, just saying.

I need to thank Carla for turning me to this stuff - it's became another one of my favorite balm now! In fact, I like it so much I bought some for my mum and sister, and they like it too! My sister told she had dry and itchy eye lids (allergies) and it went away with just a tiny dab of this stuff! The texture is not unlike the popular Smith's Rosebud Salve, only it's more buttery and less sticky. The staying power is better than the Rosebud Salve.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss Part IV

I love these adorable Clinique The Kissers sets so as soon as I see a new one out, I pick it up. I'm naming this new set The Kissers "B" just to differentiate with the last set I own since they're all simply called The Kissers (see the first Kissers set).

This set comes with a mini square bag with bamboo diamond print and the zipper is a cute little nub of bamboo :)

There are 2 repeats in this set: Lilac and Raspberry, which doesn't bother me since I like both colors. The other new colors Passion Fruit and Hazelnut are limited edition colors that are not available in the larger sized line up, so I was super excited to try them too!

From left to right: Lilac, Raspberry, Passion Fruit, and Hazelnut.

Isn't the bag just adorable? It's perfect for travel!!!

- Lilac: this color has already been reviewed here.

- Raspberry: has already been reviewed here.

- Passion Fruit: a similar, but warmer, pink to the Grapefruit's pink. It has very fine shimmers and does give a tiny frosty sheen, just enough to stay translucent. Phew!

- Hazelnut: a fleshy nude pink with more shimmers than I would like. It did turn my lips a bit frosty but I guess it was still bearable. I found that applying a lip stain onto my bare lips then this Hazelnut on top, my lips look super lustrous and plump!

See my previous posts:
- Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss
- Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss Part II
- Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss Part III

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Minty Lip Shine Part II

Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush items have been on sale 3/$15 or 6/$20 for a while now (since May, I believe). Words are out that they are discontinuing the line and will replace it with something better, both in quality and packaging, which is why they are trying to get rid of the current selections. That's fine, in fact, I completely agree that the Beauty Rush line needs some major improvement, but that said, I really really hope they will leave the Soothing Lip Balms alone. I don't care how they rebrand, rename, or repackage the damn thing, but they better not touch the formulation because it's probably the one of the very few products that keeps me going back to VS again and again! Change those lip balms and they'll loose my patronage. Not kidding at all. I've even stocked up for the next few years. Serious necessity, that stuff.

Anyhoo, back to the topic. Several weeks into the sale, I looked around on the VS website and was so excited to discover the Beauty Rush Minty Lip Shine had several other colors in addition to just the original clear one. Although I started out with complete disappointment with this hybrid gloss-balm, I found myself keep reaching for it and after several months of use, it had completely won me over and I was thrilled to see VS had added different colors and flavors to the line up. At the time, I saw 5 color choices: Clear Shine (the original one), Vanillamint, Spearmint, Citrusmint, and Cinnamint. I'm totally not a Spearmint person (peppermint all the way!), and while Vanillamint sounded yummy, the lilac color was a bit off-putting for me because I didn't know how pigmented or opaque these would be...yet. So in the end, I made off with just Citrusmint and Cinnamint.

Let's just say I'm very glad I tried these Minty Lip Shines in different colors, because I've found myself yet another awesome hybrid gloss-balm lip product! Save for the sweet taste (urgh!) and the sparse shimmers (yes, both the Citrusmint and Cinnamint have useless sparse shimmers that aren't visible at all upon application, sigh), they are other wise clear with just a hint of juicy color, super glossy, super moisturizing with very good staying power. If you are a fan of thick gloss, the thinner consistency will take some getting used to, but once you're over that, they're very nice stuff.

- Citrusmint: translucent orange with sparse gold shimmers that are pretty much a no-show, precisely the case of Soothing Lip Balm in Pink Sugar. I like this flavor a lot. It's a minty but sugary sweet citrus scent that's quite yummy. And although it goes on with just a slight hint of orange, I suspect it can be used to warm up a cooler lipstick if applied on top. I haven't tried doing that yet though so this is pure speculation, of course.

- Cinnamint: this flavor is not my favorite, but it's not too bad. It is definitely a minty cinnamon, but the precise combination reminds me of cinnamon...toothpaste :D Every time I put this on I feel like I've slathered toothpaste all over my lips! It's definitely odd, but it's nothing so disgusting I can't stand using. Although a translucent warm red again with sparse no-show shimmers, it's a tad more pigmented than the Citrusmint, so it definitely gives the lips a splash of red.

Will I buy these again? May be not the Cinnamint. I'll finish using my tube, but I'm not going to knowingly subject myself to the thought of applying cinnamon toothpaste to my lips. As for the Citrusmint, I will definitely go back for these. In fact, I did :D I checked the VS website just yesterday and, oooohh, there were 2 new colors added - Berrymint (aka Strawberry Fizz) and Bubblemint (aka Pink)! Guess what went into my shopping cart :D This time, since I know these Minty Lip Shines are pretty much translucent, I bought the Vanillamint to try too! Still not a Spearmint person though :P Will definitely review the new colors after a fair trial.

From left to right: Clear Shine, Vanillamint, Spearmint, Citrusmint, Cinnamint, and newer additions Berrymint (Strawberry Fizz) and Bubblemint (Pink).

***Pictures from Victoria's Secret.

See my previous Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Minty Lip Shine post.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DHC Water Base Moisture

I guess the purpose of this DHC Water Base Moisture is light hydration, even though the name is totally misleading as there are no oil ingredients in it. I bought it the first time I saw it. How could I not? A water based hydrator that is identical in texture as water? Sold.

***Picture from DHC USA.

It comes in a 2 fl. oz. glass bottle with a blue twist off cap. The texture is identical to water: it is completely clear, runny, and is supposed to be unfragranced, although I must admit there is a slight scent of something rather, not bad though. There is a dropper, so don't worry about spilling. You are supposed to shake a drop or two into the palm of your hand, rub them together, and then dab all over your face.

And while the concept sounds wonderful and easy enough, it's actually not that great. At first, I thought I'd try it as an intense hydration treatment, i.e. soaking a sheet mask tablet in it and wear it for a 15-20 minutes or so. Bad idea. It made my face so incredibly sticky afterwards (perhaps the royal jelly extract?), even worse than the sleeping packs(!), that I had to go splashed some water on my face, which then rinse the darn stuff right off :( Okay, my bad, so I stuck to the original instructions and only shook 1-2 drops into my palm and dab onto my face. Nope. Same result, my skin was as sticky as syrup. The worse part is that I didn't feel any hydration in my skin. No relief, no comfort, nothing, just stickiness like I had painted sugar water on my face. What was the point of this product again? Boo.

DHC Water Base Moisture:
Water/aqua/eau, butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, pentylene glycol, placental protein, soluble collagen, hydrolyzed elastin, serine, phenoxyethanol, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, royal jelly extract, panax ginseng root extract, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, allantoin.
***List of ingredients from DHC North America.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Body Shop Strawberry Body Butter

During the dryer months (this is a rather late review, sorry...), I ran out of hand cream and had to dig through my linen closet for emergency stand-ins until I could go buy something else on the weekend. After much shuffling, I came across this brand new, unopened, and untouched little tub of The Body Shop Strawberry Body Butter. I guess I had stashed it away since the discovery of the Oshima Tsubaki products several months back and totally forgot about it. Its lid said Body Butter, but hell, my hands are a part of my body, no?

So for the very first time, I opened it up and took a whiff and realized this stuff was seriously dangerous - as in, it smelled so delicious I wanted to eat it! The fragrance was like fresh but spiced up strawberry juice! It looked thick and firm if not stiff (think cold but spreadable butter - aha!), which was surprising since most creams would loose their texture and get all melty after a few many months in storage. With all that said, however, it was not after I dug my dry and velcro-like mitts into the thick cream that I was sold. Despite the thickness of the cream, as soon as I rubbed my hands together it melted into my palms and sank instantly into my skin. There was not the slightest feel of greasiness.

That weekend, I drove the usual 45 minutes to get the nearest Body Shop store and tested every body butter they have. Ultimately though, I learned that not all body butters were made equal. There were only a couple of body butters that had the same firm buttery texture like Strawberry one. The rest were more of like your average heavy cream - heavy and, well, greasy. If you have dry hands like mine, I definitely definitely recommend the Strawberry Body Butter. If you don't like the strawberry scent, then I would suggest coming into the store and try the other scents before buying as you may or may not like their texture and feel.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Luminous and Sparkling Shadows Part II

More Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Luminous and Sparkling Shadows since I have a ton of these and I haven't gone through all the colors yet.

- Miami Ice: metallic, low intensity. I actually like color and really I wish it had better staying power! It's a straightforward snowy white that's perfect for lining inner corner of eyes and as base for the upper lids. I absolutely hate the fact that it disappears after a few hours. Grr...

- Go Platinum: metallic, very sheer. A pretty smokey silver that's too sheer to use as liner, too translucent to use as crease color, and as the same time, too smokey to use as a highlighter. It works well as a gradation shade for smokey eyes, but that's about it.

- Jet Set: shimmer, medium intensity. A charcoal with silver shimmers that makes a good liner, being dark enough to define and at the same time light enough to blend. Now the problem is getting it to last longer and not fade. Sigh.

- Flashback: matte, high intensity. It's a very very pigmented jet black with purple iridescent shimmers as it's supposed to be the "Sparkling." Unfortunately none of the shimmers show at all the shadow goes on matte like crayon kohl!

- Clock wise, from top: Go Platinum, Flashback, Jet Set, Miami Ice

- Blutopia: metallic, medium intensity. A beautiful jade-like turquoise blue that reminds me very much of T'estimo Color Eyes GR-29, only a bit warmer even though GR-29 has tons of gold shimmers. I used Blutopia line the outer corner of my lower lids because the color really made my eyes pop this way. It's one of the first blue-green hues I could use comfortably because it complemented my warm skin tone. Again, I really really really wish it had better staying power. And now that I've tried this, I'm curious how T'estimo GR-29 would fare as a lower lid liner as well.

See my previous Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Luminous and Sparkling Shadows post.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream is another GWP item from the Vitamin E line, and I also used it for my neck and upper chest, much like the Vitamin E Sink-in Moisture Mask. And I guess because of my positive experience with the Sink-in Mask, I expected similar qualities from the Moisture Cream but was a tad disappointed with it in the end.

First off, it's not strange to expect products from the same line to have the same scent, for example, the products from the Aloe line should all smell similarly Aloe-y. So since I got accustomed to the rosy scent of the Sink-in Mask, I expected the Moisture Cream to have a similar scent, but it did not. Instead, its scent was a nutty coconut with a dash of rose, and while that sounds really delicious, for some reason that smell gave me headaches instead! Good thing I didn't put it on my face...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Body Shop Hi-Shine Lip Treatment

The Body Shop Hi-Shine Lip Treatment is such a confusing name! It makes you think it's a lip treatment, but it's actually lip gloss, pigmented and moisturizing lip gloss (at least the ones I had were), but nonetheless lip gloss. I got a couple of these from previous GWP's but wasn't too thrilled about them. After all, they look like any other lip glosses on the market and there was nothing about them that really grabbed my attention.

Then came the day when I got -gasp- bored with my myriads of Lancome Juicy Tubes and decided I should at least give these a quick try. It turned out they weren't too bad at all. Actually, they were really nice! Their texture was smooth, thick, non-sticky, long lasting, almost identical to Juicy Tubes - I was impressed!

That said, I'm not jumping all over them yet. According to The Body Shop USA, they're all supposed to be tinted, and based on the two I have tried, they're more on the pigmented side and I prefer sheer gloss. I'm not saying all of my Juicy Tubes are sheer, but over time I tend to get rid of the more pigmented glosses because I seldom reach for them and they go bad after a while. But if you are into more tinted/pigmented glosses, or if you are a fan of Juicy Tubes like me but wish that they pack a better punch in terms of colors, I would really recommend these Hi-Shine Lip Treatment from The Body Shop. They are cheaper too, only $13!

- Pink Cream: this is probably the lightest color I saw on the website and it is pretty pale indeed! It looks like a pink champagne but goes on frosty pale pink, which is a total bummer for me. I did stick with this tube though and noticed that a while after application, the frostiness did subside to a more translucent shimmer. Its scent reminds me of canned lychee but it has no taste (phew!).

- Perfectly Pink: an opaque but pearly lotus pink, more on the cool side with just a touch of violet. The first time I tried this on my reaction was, "Woh, pigmented!" The color blended in and slightly faded after a while, but it was a pretty good dose of color at first. It has the same scent as Pink Cream.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Soap Crazy (picture heavy!)

You probably are all over Etsy right now, but if you haven't heard, it's like a pairing of Amazon x Ebay for all things hand made: you can buy or sell hand made things, it has a feedback system, and payments are made via Paypal (although some sellers do accept other types of payments). If you have heard but haven't been there, consider this a warning and proceed at your own risk - it is quite addicting and you may go nuts buying stuff (like I did).

Hubby started using Etsy a couple of years ago and only buys greeting cards from there now because they are hand made and are quite original. For example, on my last birthday he gave me a hand-illustrated card says something to effect of, "You may be a vampire (because I have a bad habit of staying up all night), but I still love you." Pretty cute, but that still wasn't enticing enough to bring me over. Then came a few months back when I was in the midst of my soap phase and absentmindedly complained to him the soaps I've tried so far were all blah, he said, "Why don't you try Etsy?"

Yeah, that pretty much was the point of no return. It has only been 2 months since my first Etsy purchase and I think I've bought enough soaps for the next few years. Am I a total looney beeyotch or what? Ahh...but I LOVE the soaps I bought and I'm not going to stop any time soon. I spent the entire July 4th weekend checking out every freakin' bath & body seller and favorited everyone whose soaps took my fancy +.+

Below are a few reviews of the few soaps I've tried so far. I only use these soaps as hand soap because my hands are very dry and it's the best way for me to tell whether a soap is moisturizing, mild, and whatnot. Also, I "borrowed" a couple of the below pictures from the sellers themselves because I was so excited to use these first few bars I tore into them before their pictures could be taken :D If I do buy them again in the future, I'll update this post with the actual pictures.

- Heathen's Hearth: has a nice variety of bath and body items and occasional sale promotions; 1,400+ sales with 100% positive feedback.

Lemon Cream Goat's Milk Soap: I'm using this right now. It smells exactly like lemon cream, yum! Although it is not as moisturizing as goat's milk soaps could be, it still works up a creamy lather, plus the scent is perfect for the summer, so it was a pretty decent bar of soap over all. My bar doesn't look anything like the picture though, which is to be expected, I guess. This could potentially be a source of disappointment for some because, well, we all buy things thinking what we see is what we'll get. You'll just have to understand that hand made things are done in batches that will yield different results. The bar I have was made in a half-oval mold (see the Pink Sugar bar below from the same seller) and it is a pastel yellow instead of a marble white and yellow hand cut bar as shown. It is supposed to be somewhere between 4.5-5.5 ounces, pretty decently sized.

***Picture from Heathen's Hearth via Etsy.

The rest of these bars below, also from Heathen's Hearth, were gifts for my family and friends, but I was able to take pictures of them before their departure. Oh, and I actually took pictures of them in my hand so you can see their relative sizes. I tried to sniff-test them too but they were rather well-sealed so I couldn't really smell anything...Oh well, too bad. Next time.

White Tea & Berries

Lavender Mint

Tea Tree & Peppermint: I was very tempted to keep this bar for myself since I like anything peppermint, but I also wanted a reason to go back so...teehee :D

- Pink Sugar: this was supposed to be an Aquolina Pink Sugar duplicate, but I never knew the original scent before so I had no idea. From what I could smell though, it was a sweet and girly scent.

- Anderson Soap Company: one of the most well know soap maker on Etsy with a whopping sales of 18,000+ and going strong, 100% positive feedback, and rather frequent (almost every month!) sales promotions! For this, Dennis earned himself a May 8, 2008 spotlight on Etsy's blog, the Storque, as well as the #1 spot on's article, "11 Etsy Super Stars: Handmade Soap."

Rosehips and Kumquat: vegan friendly with poppy seeds for exfoliation, quite moisturizing, gentle, and didn't crack or break until the very end, a definite sign of well made soap! One word for this soap: WOW. My favorite soap so far. It smelled soooooooo good and refreshing, like fruit punch only not overly sweet with a dash of citrus. It was so lovely hubby and I promptly used it up in a little over a week's time (record time so far). A nice soap is a reason to look forward to washing your hands, no? The bar we had looked very similar to the ones pictured, which was quite pleasant given the picture was what caught my eyes :) I should mention that it was a petite bar, about twice the size of a guest soap, weighing in at 2-3 ounces. I prefer smaller bars, actually, because I want to hurry up and get on with the next goodies in line :P

Exfoliating Lavender Buds: vegan friendly with real lavender buds sprinkled throughout for exfoliation. It was not as moisturizing as the Kumquat above but was still gentle and mild. The lavender scent was soothing but potent - while I store all my soaps in the linen cabinet, this particular bar overwhelmed the rest and my whole closet smelled like lavender and nothing else! Consequently, it also scented our sink area for the few weeks it lasted :) I had a bit of problems with this bar crumbling up into smaller pieces and chunks due to the lavender buds falling out and taking the bits and pieces of soaps with it. The bar I had was pretty big, 4.5-5.5 ounces, but much of it was wasted due to crumbling, so I probably won't buy it again.

***Pictures from Anderson Soap Company via Etsy.

The below bars from Anderson Soap Company were also gifts, but I took pictures of them too :)

Sweet as Sugar: smelled like sugar indeed!

Orange Clove Salty Bar: woh, this bar has a really spicy and grown up scent! I could smell the salts in it too!

Lemon Luster Massage Bar: another yummy lemony bar :)

- LoveLeeSoaps: carries a variety of cute (and wacky, gag gift-perfect) soaps, #6 on's "11 Etsy Super Stars: Handmade Soap" with 4,700+ sales profile and 100% positive feedback.

Coconut Milk & Honey Herbal Bar: this bar was also a gift, but from what I could smell, it is a sweet but spicey-herbaly scent.

More to come later!

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