Prestige Cosmetics Flawless Touch Blush

Prestige blushes

Prestige Cosmetics: Flawless Touch Blushes, $6.95

You know, I thought about my drugstore blush ban when I was in my neighborhood Duane Reade for the sole purpose of getting money from the ATM because I am too lazy to walk the extra 30 yards to my bank.  Duane Reade sees more of my dollars compared to Sephora, my various ecommerce beauty haunts, and a few b & m stores by virtue of everything else I buy.  They see a chunk of my money weekly.  It’s like I am there to feed them or something.  But I digress.  I noticed some new updated displays for the Prestige Cosmetics brand.  (For the record, color saturated, almost neon-bright colors get me EVERY TIME.  Something to think about when color cosmetic companies advertise.)  To be truthful, I don’t think I have ever actually focused on this brand, dismissing it as a second tier cheaper drugstore brand with less quality products than the not so great major drugstore brands with more advertising dollars.  BIG WOOPS ON THAT! 

Prestige 2

For one thing, they are not necessarily that cheap compared to say Wet n’ Wild.  Their price points fall somewhere between Maybelline and Cover Girl.  While most of their stuff is cheaper than L’Oreal and Revlon, a few price around it or above it.

Don’t get me wrong, their packaging is definitely on the cheap-pans-flipping-out-of-pocket-flimsy.  Also, compared to higher end cosmetics, you will definitely note a difference in texture and application, but how great that difference is varies on the brand.  Plus, let’s not forget the price differential between say a sucky, powdery, diffusely pigmented Jouer Mineral Powder Blush at $24.00 and a powdery, medium pigmented, hint patchy, slightly dry-ish Prestige Cosmetics Flawless Touch Blush at $6.95.  For the record, the Prestige Cosmetics Flawless Touch Blush is better and less than a third of the price. 

Prestige Blushes Back

For another, for a powder blush, Prestige Cosmetics, from the few items I have tried are REALLY pigmented for drugstore quality.  It’s like they saved money not using the silicone fillers and additives other brands use.  On the other, you do have to be careful when you apply.  While Revlon’s and Maybelline’s powder blushes are idiot proof because they deposit almost no color, Prestige Cosmetics requires some care and the right brush.

So, let me just say that despite my drugstore blush ban, I decided to try out this new to me brand.  I picked up Plush Plum because it was a color I have been looking to add to my blush collection and it was a cheap investment.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went home and tried it out.  Eventually I picked up all of the colors except for Candy Pink which looks like a full on Fuchsia.

What can I say about these in toto?  They are medium pigmented, on the dry side, very powdery, and mostly matte shades, except for two satiny exceptions: Amazing Apricot (more satin/microfine gold shimmer) and Sugar & Spice (less satin-y).  There may be a hint of satin within the Pink Sorbet, but it’s negligible.  The powder itself is soft, crumbly, and prone to dispersing pigment particles when the slightest pressure is applied.  You do have to show some care with application because it does not necessarily apply evenly all over – it can be overloaded easily into opaque powdery layers.  These can be used on their own, on skin that has already been given a highlighter treatment (I would avoid these powders on a matte or flat-looking base.  It enhances the flat-matte-dry look because the powder is dry looking).  However, the right brush (tapered) and sufficiently moisturized, highlighted skin will counter this.  The pigment lasts longer than any drugstore powder blush that I have used and it actually shows up on my skin.  (Take that REVLON and MAYBELLINE).  Maybe I set the standard  low for a drugstore powder blush, but since other brands cost anywhere from a few bucks more to double the price and suck much, I was just really impressed for $6.95.  Color cosmetics should have, you know, COLOR.

My two favorite shades are Sugar & Spice and Plush PlumSugar & Spice actually reminds me of my favorite Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush shade, Coffee CakePlush Plum reminds me of MAC’s Sheertone Powder Blush in Mocha, except MORE pigmented.   Surprisingly, while I did NOT like the swatch for Amazing Apricot, I actually like it on my cheeks and it reminds me of how Nars Blush in Orgasm looked on me, when I wore it almost exclusively for several years (gasp, I accidently picked up a peachy-pink with gold shimmer – eek.  Eh, I don’t mind).  Now, I am curious about Candy Pink

Anyways, I temporarily broke my drugstore blush ban, and I am not disappointed.  For around seven bucks, these are pretty good.  I’m not expecting designer quality at rock bottom pricing.  I’ve worn these powder blushes for the past week mixing shades and what not, and I am pleased.  These are a bargain buy.  They are also almost HALF the price of some Revlon and L’Oreal powder blushes!  They offer more pigment than the powder blushes offered by Revlon, Maybelline, and Sonia Kashuk, and they don’t throw in glitter like they are Tinker Bell.  While pigmented, they are not as sloppily pigmented as some of Wet n’ Wilds powder blushes (Wet n’ Wild powder blushes are really inconsistent when it comes to pigment).  Honestly, if you need to buy a powder blush on the cheap (and pick up a Real Techniques tapered blush brush), and you are not afraid of color, or applying some technique, you will like these powders as value buys.  Not everyone wants to spend $20 or more bucks on blushes.

You should also check out their new Total Intensity formulas for eye shadows and eyeliners.  I was really impressed at the quality for the price.

Here are the swatches. 

Prestige Swatch Half in out Text

Prestige Swatch Indirect Sun Text


I Love Empties!

empties 2

It is so nice to get through products.  It makes me feel less guilty about my skincare addiction.  Here is a pic of the most recent empties I have.  One bottle is missing because I accidently threw it out before taking this picture.  I will make note of it in the list below though.

1. Exuviance Vespera Bionic Serum, 1.0 oz for $72.00

  • This stuff is amazing for all skin types.  I think dry and sensitive skinned types would love this even more than an oily skinned girl.  Give it a try.  It’s a bit sticky but the results are real and gentle.  I use this after I have nuked my skin dry.  At that point my skin needs moisture but also non-clogging exfoliation.  I reviewed it in a previous post.

2. Obagi Professional C-Serum 20%, 1.0 oz for $108.00

  • I was supposed to review this stuff ages ago.  Problem was, I interfered with two many other products at the same time so I couldn’t tell if this serum alone did anything different.  Even though I ended up using most of it before it turned completely brown, I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing it just yet.  I have easily purchased half a dozen bottles in the past, but that was over five years ago, and I wanted to compare it now.  It is very pricey, which is why I ‘ve been looking for a substitute.  I feel like I only have 3-4 weeks to use it up before it turns really brown because it is the strongest form of vitamin c, l-ascorbic acid, which oxidizes super fast.  I refuse to use it when brown, even if it may still be “active”, although it is unlikely.  When I did use it ages ago my skin was firmer, even-toned, less oily and perfected with shrunken pores in my t-zone.  But that was before I was hit with adult hormonal acne and I really want to know if it will have same effect now.

3. PCA Skin Pigment Gel, 1.0 oz for $50.00

  • I’ve purchased this and the hydroquinone-free version a couple of times.  I have never noticed any lightening of post acne marks with this.  But I did notice something else.  It actually degreased my pores and reduced breakouts significantly. It also mattified my skin for long periods of time, better than any mattifier I have used before.  But it still allowed me to layer other products on top without interfering with it, which is my issue with most mattifiers.  Go figure.  I wouldn’t purchase the regular version again with hydroquinone because I am afraid of it causing localized over pigmentation (which can be a side effect in some people and I think I am the kind of person who would be LUCKY enough to experience it).

4.  Pevonia Aromatherapy Face Oil – Sensitive, 0.5 oz for $23.50

  • This was a face oil I purchased a while ago and reviewed in an essential oil post.  It is a cheaper version of the Decleor face oils I love.  The jar is cute but the packaging is not sturdy.  This version is meant for sensitive skin and it offered a nice thick protective coat to skin that had been nuked by retinoids.  This little jar was instrumental in preventing chemical sunscreen burn on my tazorac’ed skin.

5. Nuxe Crème Prodigieuse Anti-Aging Gentle Renewing Cream, Discontinued

  • I went through a Nuxe moisturizer phase when I fell in love with their unbelievably delicious Nirvanesque moisturizers.  It smelled like mimosa-rose heaven.  I went through several jars and then decided to pick up a few other products.  I didn’t fall in love with the other products the way I did with the Nirvanesque line.  This was one of them.  It is really too mild for oily, acneic skin.  I didn’t notice a difference and I never felt the slightest irritation.  I don’t think they sell this anymore.  If you want a heavenly smelling, deliciously moisturizing cream for sensitive to dry skin, their Nirvanesque line is amazing.

6. Renpure Originals Argan Oil Luxurious Shampoo, SRP

  • I liked Renpure’s Brazilian Keratin set, but this was BAD, which was ironic.  This was marketed as a moisturizing line, but the set (shampoo and conditioner) left my hair feeling like I had only used shampoo.  There was no moisture.  My hair was dry and tangled out of the shower.  I still have the conditioner bottle lying around which I will mix with something more moisturizing.  Maybe someone with super greasy oily hair will appreciate it.  Anyone with dry hair should stay away.

7. Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Body Wash, SRP

  • I like to mix in salicylic acid body washes with my regular body washes to prevent body breakouts, which thankfully are not a problem for me.  But I like being covered.  This was nice and cheap.  I don’t like Neutrogena’s version because it’s hard to squeeze out of the tube and I don’t like the scent.  This was cheap and effective but a bit drying.

8. L’Oreal Youth Code Foaming Gel Cleanser, SRP

  • I posted about this product in the drugstore cleanser-palooza post.  It’s great for folks who like mild exfoliation with gentle moisture.  Basically, if you have slightly dry skin – to slightly combo, oily skin, you will like this.  I didn’t like it when I needed to degrease my face because I felt like it left unwanted moisture.  However, I totally appreciated it when my skin was nuked by retinoids and very dry.  I’ve already repurchased it, though I have no need for it now because my skin has been very good for a while now.

9. Lumene Vitamin C+ Dry Skin Comfort Radiance Cocktail, SRP

  • I accidently threw out the empty bottle before taking a group photo without realizing it.  I was going to go buy another vitamin c serum but then I decided I would rather just start using the backup bottle of this stuff I had purchased over the winter.  This is a gentle oil-based vitamin c serum that I guess is a bit similar to Ole Henriksen’s Truth Vitamin C Activating Oil I want to try.  I reviewed this in an earlier post.

One final goodbye to these empties.  It takes a lot for me to hold on to empty bottles.  I get immediate satisfaction  getting rid of them. 

Muji Organization For Skincare Products

Muji Overview

I have the Muji acrylic drawers like many beauty bloggers.  What’s not to love about them?  (Other than the fact that I wish they offered a deeper drawer version to fit more skincare products, of course…)  I used to stash my stuff in clear acrylic boxes tucked in drawers but this proved problematic because I would forget about the stuff I had, and I wouldn’t use it.  Or accidently repurchase something I had already repurchased but was in storage.  Hate when that happens! 


Anyways, these are old pics I was supposed to post ages ago.  There have been a few changes, mostly in the order of the drawers, and product changes because I have used up an item, or added a new one.  I figured I would post these pics, otherwise they go to waste.  It is still representative of how I organize my skincare stuff in these drawers.  Eventually, I will update with a current picture, preferably with daylight.  These were taken at night with flash.  Right now, my stuff is a controlled mess and I have to start tossing a few items that have expired, but not from my skincare drawers, just liquid makeup products that went bad before their time.


I like to organize items by type of product.  For instance, I like to keep my primers in one drawer, mini cleansers in another, sunscreens grouped together, ecetera.  Sometimes, I can’t fit everything in the same drawer, which is a bummer.  So there will be some commingling of various products because of space issues, which I hate, but you gotta do what you gotta do in order to maximize the drawer space.  I can only use the two drawer Muji drawers for my skincare stuff because they are just deep enough to hold some of my smaller skincare items.


I actually love my Muji drawers more because I can house some of my smaller sized skincare products that would just go hidden, sight unseen, or collect dust outside.  I am not a makeup nut the way I am a skincare nut.  Beautiful skin will always be in, makeup is just spackle, no matter how artfully placed or colorful.  If the Muji store came up with a larger system capable of storing larger tubes and pots, I would be so happy, because this new skincare organization system I use has been super instrumental in getting me to use more of my stuff.  It also gives me a good idea of when I need to repurchase, so I don’t over purchase something. 

I suspect as my makeup hoarding ways wane, I will start to swap in various skincare bottles into these drawers.  I don’t see myself with dozens of blushes, as I get older, but I do see myself with tubs and tubes of creams, potions, and lotions. 


Anyways, it’s probably weird to admit this but I do have an absolutely favorite drawer.  As in every time I open it I get super pleased.  Tickled pleased.  I love this drawer so much.  I know it’s weird but it makes me happy every time I pull it open.  Can you guess which it is? 

It’s my acne treatment drawer!


Weird, I know. 

I used to hate how my acne products would collect dust laying out flat, or would clutter up small open top boxes on my makeshift vanity table.  But this drawer showcases all of my ‘in use’ products that I rotate without it getting dusty and it is readily available at the quick flick of a wrist and pull.

I love using my Muji drawers for my skincare stuff.  I feel sad that I couldn’t fit in all of my masks or lotions inside these drawers because they were not deep enough.  But the moment I find an acrylic drawer system that is sturdy enough and deep enough, I am going to be in product organization heaven.  I love being able to SEE my stuff but still have it organized and protected from dust.

I feel like Kumar hugging his bag of weed. 



Net Neutrality, Positivity and Negativity

Beauty Imagined

Note: This post was written way back in December 2012.  I did not feel comfortable posting it then.  But Coco’s post over at The Beauty Milk on current FTC rules inspired me to post this and not let it languish.  Reading her post reminded me of certain things that were irritating me at the time, which I have largely moved on from, but I figured it is worth posting now.  Kudos to whoever actually reads all of it.

When I finally decided to start my blog,  I had one nagging question which I still haven’t fully come to terms with.  The question of the overall vibe of this blog.  Would I be a cosmetic pollyanna?  Or would I be a beauty shrew?  Sounds really extreme but you get the idea. 

Ultimately, one of the things I love about beauty blogs are people’s genuine opinions.  If you are reviewing a product, doesn’t it make sense to provide a written review that accurately reflects your feelings and thoughts on the product?  However, isn’t a review more useful when it does not devolve into an emotional rant that is basically comprised of exclamation points and ALL CAPS,  with the emphasis basically saying THIS SUCKS! IT’S HORRIBLE! TOTAL WASTE! NEVER AGAIN!  You get the idea.

When it came down to the tone I have taken with my posts, it has alternated between a mishmash of pollyannism, shrewism and neutrality.  This makes sense.  Some products I love because they are effective.  Others have been absolutely awful and did not meet the expectations created and advertised by the brand.  Then there are the neutrals – the products that kind of work, not necessarily very well, but they don’t have much impact, positive or negative.

Within the blogging world, I know there is a skew towards positivity.  This makes sense for a number of reasons.  First, positivity is POSITIVE!  Who wants negative energy?  Who really wants to create it?  No one does!  Second, this goes to public perception.  Who wants to be “perceived” as negative?  Third, if you want to build a PR friendly environment where you may eventually start to cultivate brand relationships, this is pretty much necessary.  If you want a promotion at your job, are you going to start criticizing your supervisor even if they are making bad judgement calls or decisions?  NOPE!   These are all rational and reasonable points to remain strictly positive. 

This can be hard to achieve unless you ONLY CHOOSE to blog about products you LOVE!  This is fair.  Only blog about what you think is absolutely awesome and you never have to post a negative review.  It doesn’t take away anything from a blog to only blog about what you love.  But this pollyannaism gets tricky when you start blogging about things you don’t really like.  And believe it or not, I can read between the lines and so can everyone else. 

There are so many awesome blogs out there. But I hate when I fall in love with a blog, check daily to read it, and I start to realize that they are releasing like over 90% product showcase with some tepid endorsement.  Or they NEVER have negative comments about any product.  Product showcases are ok.  You don’t have to endorse it.  If these tepid endorsements lasts long enough, then they basically fall out of my daily reads.  I am no longer  interested in what they say.  What’s the point?  Blah, blah, product literature, blah, blah, brief unconvincing anecdote, blah, blah, tepid endorsement, blah, blah. 

I’m ok with product placements without the tepid endorsement.  But if I wanted product placements, I can easily flip through magazines, go to Sephora for the real deal, or head on over to INTOTHEGLOSS.  Oh wait, I already do!  And enjoy it.  I get it.  But blogs, I feel are different.  Why check so many blogs talking about the same products if it isn’t to get someone’s opinion on it.  I love getting opinions.  Whether they are all the same, or conflicting.  It is all very informative and entertaining since, hopefully, you have added “yourself” in there.  I like knowing why someone likes something, why they hate it.  Someone hating a product isn’t going to kill it for me.  Someone loving it isn’t going to sell it to me.  But how you put yourself in there does.  I love the stories behind the experience.

I know a huge part of the problem is the dynamic between blogs that are trying to establish a professional relationship and beauty brands only wanting positive endorsements.  Beauty brands are deathly afraid of negative comments, especially ones that could kill a multi-million dollar launch.  Most beauty products, especially the “new” releases aren’t really meant to be sold long term before they are shelved, repackaged with a new name and incremental improvement in the ingredient list.  Those first few months of launch, when people are insane for the newness, probably make up the bulk of sales before it peters off and the real strengths, or weaknesses, of the product are known.  I think it takes years, due to word of mouth, for blockbuster products to be known and secure a long term shelf life as a beauty brand asset.   Wouldn’t beauty brands benefit from genuine commentary regarding the pros and cons of their products?   Maybe, maybe not.  I know it’s a long term, brand building view, as opposed to a quick revenue view.

I for one LOVE beauty products in all of their permutations.  I love the individuality, the stories, the philosophies, the visions, the packaging – for the brands who have taken the time to develop a cohesive story.  But it also needs to be effective.  No great story is going to sell a crappy product.  If it works, it works.  I don’t care if it comes in an ugly plain cream bottle with a cheap twist off cap.  Ok, maybe I do, a little, and it will annoy me, but I will still buy it.   Sometimes, when I think of all the possibilities, I get annoyed with the seaming lack of creativity, ingenuity, and vision in some beauty brands.  New skincare lines, for the most part, are pushing into new territories even though we may not know how effective that new ingredient is, but at least there is an interesting angle, permutation.  But I am really deflated about the lack of ingenuity, creativity, and vision some beauty brands are showing.  Sometimes, I wonder if I am asking too much, and just don’t know enough about the business to know the limitations inherently within.  But then I think, this is beauty – make believe turned real.  To hell with limitations, give me the fantasy!

I know the beauty industry is a very profitable, multi-billion dollar industry, where advertising and marketing suck up the majority of investment to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars spent, perhaps in a single parent global company.  I know this money is mostly made off of illusion and desire, rather than reality (for the most part), but if I am asking you to sell me a beautiful dream then you better make sure that dream has some legitimate legs to stand on.  All the beautiful packaging, underage models, photoshopping, dubious exotic ingredients, and social media spamming in the world, won’t save a sucky product, no matter how much I want to believe.  And if beauty brands want to truly benefit from social media, then they will encourage the free flow of information and stories from their customers, the most zealous of which are probably bloggers.  This includes the negative stories, as well.  Because if you are truly interested in getting our dollars and keeping our dollars, then it makes sense to figure out what it is we want, how we want to packaged, what colors we are dying for and how we want it sold to us.  Even if what we want is not realistic given the profit margin (which is HUGE btw but I guess money does have to be spent on marketing and advertising), it can inspire ingenuity in how to meet us in a different way.

We WANT to spend our money on beauty products.  Taking a hit on a product, being open to dialogue, and being responsive to it, may actually have a positive effect in the long run, like having an over-zealous buyer base that realizes they are PART of the beauty brand experience.  This kind of customer base is the holy grail of customer bases.  Companies and their brands can only dream about a base like this, especially as beauty customers become more sophisticated in their understanding of beauty marketing, packaging, ingredients and efficacy.

*The photo above is of the book Beauty Imagined: A Global History of the Beauty Industry written by Geoffrey Jones.  It is completely fascinating and if you are into perfumes, this is a great book to read as the start of the commercialization of beauty began with perfumes.

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Highlighter in Rose Illumination

Arden Illuminator

Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Highlighter in Rose Illumination, $34.00

Back when I was lemming for Hourglass‘ new highlighting powders, I decided to jump back in with highlighting powders, which I normally do not like.  My first experience with a highlighting powder was with LORAC’s Perfectly Lit Oil-Free Luminizing Powder.  I could not figure out how to use it without looking like a disco ball.  I tossed that sucker after a few uses (oh, how some of you would quiver at how I disposed of barely used makeup that I did not figure out how to use back in the day).  Anyways, the specific shades I was interested from Hourglass were not available at Sephora at the time, so I just picked this up instead. 

First off, if there is any difference between this and a general drugstore powder highlighter, I can’t tell.  The powder in the compact feels rough to the touch, gritty.  The shimmer/highlight is not delicate, or refined.  While it did not look like large scraggle-rock glitter, it wasn’t very fine either, or sophisticated looking.  Even some of Hourglass‘ more aggressively twinkling shades like Radiant looked more refined than the pink-coppery-golden points of light this offered like a rough edged sandstone just glistening under the water. 

Arden Closeup

This wouldn’t be so bad though, if it weren’t so overpriced.  I feel like $34.00 for this is pretty high. I wouldn’t exactly call this a multi-functional product either.  Too golden shimmery to be used as a highlighter or a blush. This is almost like a duo chrome finish so I tried this as an eye shadow, too.  But there isn’t enough pink pigment in there.  This wasn’t a good purchase for me, overall.  The color is just not very skin tone friendly for me without it looking like I am  going to a 10 year old pink Disney costume party or clubbing like a 20 year old.  Unlike what the marketing for this product says, this rose-gold shade highlighter is not universally flattering.  Some will look good with this, others will not.

Arden Swatch

You Don’t Have to be Blonde to Enjoy John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde!

Sheer Blonde Collage

I have cycled through a ton of drugstore conditioner brands.  I went years using up L’Oreal and Pantene.  Then I went through various periods where I used Tresemme, Organix, Suave, Dove, Herbal Essences, and a ton of other smaller brands. I made the mistake of thinking early on because my hair was on the dry side and because it was dark that my hair needed super moisture from products that focused on very damaged or coarse hair.  My hair would feel super saturated and slippery in the shower but then my hair would feel coarse and dry out of the shower, which would get me to double-down on finding a thicker, creamier, heavier, more moisturizing conditioner.  Anyways, I eventually figured out that I was using the wrong products for my hair.  My hair is not coarse, but finer textured.  It leans dry, but gets greasy at the roots quickly (especially if I brush my hair when it’s dry).  My hair easily gets frizzy from humidity but I have so much of it that it gets weighed down fast.

After trying a crazy amount of drugstore brand conditioners, I have discovered that John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde Conditioner range is actually REALLY GOOD. 

I have become really good at improvising and not necessarily going by “type” if you know what I mean.  When most products aren’t really being tailor-made and marketed for your needs, you start cobbling together things that work based off of trial and error and educated guesses.  Dark hair is overwhelming treated as coarse and heavy – because it generally is coarser and thicker than lighter colored hair.  However, if you have a tendency for dark haired fuzzballs around your hairline you know that dark hair can be fine-textured too.  Perhaps, not as fine-textured as blonde hair, but you know you will likely need similar conditioning agents that won’t weigh your hair down, but will still provide gloss-enhancing moisture.

John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde line is all about providing soft, glossy, moisturized health to hair that is chemically damaged on a frequent basis with bleach and highlights, without weighing it down and making it crunchy.  What do you know?  I am ALSO anti-crunch.  So, I thought – HEY, LET’S TRY THIS OUT.  I have used these Sheer Blonde Conditioners and my hair feels much softer, weightless, and moisturized compared to other drugstore conditioner brands.  (This line actually adds more moisture to my hair than the conditioner from the Renpure Originals Brazilian Keratin Straightening line.) 

Being a human guinea pig, I know I will not stop trying out new products.  However, I do keep repurchasing the ones that work, and these are definitely being purchased again.  If you also have very fine-textured hair, and you need real moisture with a light feel, give these a try.  Regardless of what your hair color is.  For the record, I have no idea if these remove the “brassiness” from my hair or “tone” correct. It’s not something I am looking for since it’s not made for my hair color, but soft weightless moisture is always appreciated for under $8 bucks a tube.

*I am using the term “fine textured” to describe hair shaft thickness.

Cetaphil Sunscreens Comparison

Cetaphil Sunscreens 5

Daily Facial Moisturizer  SPF 50 vs. DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30

Cetaphil is a brand trusted by many dermatologists.  Mainly known for their sensitive skin cleansers, they have branched out into other skincare products.  Last summer, I picked up Cetaphil’s new DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 to try out.  It was a winner even though I did not have high hopes because I find that chemical sunscreens can burn me with all of the exfoliating products I use to get rid of acne and dark marks on my face. 

The majority of my sunscreens are mineral sunscreens, and I prefer asian mineral sunscreens, like Shiseido’s.  However, mineral sunscreens have a tendency to leave me with a white cast, which I need to cover up with bronzer or foundation.  This isn’t a problem in the fall or winter, but as it gets warmer and my skin starts producing extreme amounts of oil, it becomes problematic.  I don’t like wearing heavy base products during the summer because it increases the chances of blocked pores, it feels physically uncomfortable, and excess sweat and oil can mess up my coverage.  So I have to be vigilant as to what my face is doing.  Who wants that?  Chemical sunscreens that are truly clear or transparent fix this problem.  It also makes it easier to reapply, after a quick cleansing wipe.

After the success of Cetaphil’s DermaControl sunscreen, I decided to pick up Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 50 because it had a higher SPF.  This sunscreen is meant for all skintypes unlike the oily skin version, DermaControl.  So, I was really surprised with two interesting findings: the Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 50 was NOT sheer and it STUNG.


The Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 50, had a slightly creamier feel, but when blended into skin it left me with a slight white cast, which required serious blending and some light powder to cover it.  Not bad, but not exactly sheer either.  This is primarily a chemical sunscreen, but it does have titanium dioxide, a mineral ingredient frequently used in mineral sunscreens, which can leave a white cast.

It also stung on application when I used my retinoids.  I was using much stronger retinoids over the summer AND blitzing my skin with glycolic acids and salicylic acid, when I was regularly using the DermaControl sunscreen, but it NEVER ONCE stung my skin.  The DermaControl sunscreen appeared to some buffers in it to counter any possible irritation.  Not so with the Daily Facial Moisturizer.  However, limiting use of my retinoids and glycolics did prevent the feeling of FIYAAAA on my face.  Basically, it’s not a sunscreen I can use if I am using my regular and extra strength retinoids (Retina-A and Tazorac), but I can use it with Differin.  So, it’s a ‘clear skin’ sunscreen. 

Also, while the DermaControl sunscreen left me with a matte, non-shiny finish on my skin, the Daily Facial Moisturizer left me with a plastic shine.  Not oily shine, plastic shine.  In addition, unlike the DermaControl sunscreen, which did not easily sweat off, the Daily Facial Moisturizer does not stay put when I sweat (spinning, ok?).  This will be a huge issue during the summer.  What’s the point of a higher SPF if it’s melting off?  Plus, I am one of those people whose sunscreen has a tendency to run into my eyes and sting!!!  Yuuuuup…I’ve had to be that person dipping a napkin into a champagne glass of water to dab at my eye at an affinity group event because my eyes started STINGING and I could not escape.  Keepin’ it CLASSY!

I will use up my tube of the Daily Facial Moisturizer.  But it does have the cons I mentioned above.  It’s a solid sunscreen for fall, winter, spring; if you are fairly light and if do not use sensitizing retinoids.   But in warm temperatures, if you have any color to your skin and if you use retinoids, you may want to skip this if you want easy, non-burning and slap and go.  A few extra steps counter this effect: buffering cream and some tinted coverage to remove the whiteness.  So, its not a total loss.

After using up half the tube of the Daily Facial Moisturizer, I picked up another tube of the DermaControl sunscreen for when I run out!  🙂   You can’t go wrong with a chemical sunscreen that is truly sheer, applies matte, does not sting, does not melt off the skin, offers moderate sun protection, and is under twenty bucks from a drugstore. (But remember, you can’t use the DermaControl on extreme high heat, high humidity days as I mentioned in my review of this product last year found here!).

Eventually, I will get around to comparing the DermaControl sunscreen to the other great dry-matte sunscreen from Peter Thomas Roth, which I like, as well, although it is more expensive.


Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer, SPF 50, 1.7 oz for $13.99

Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%), Oxybenzone 6%, Titanium Dioxide (5.7%), Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Cyclohexasiloxane, Stearic Acid, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG 100 Stearate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Cyclopentasiloxane, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Cetyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Methylparaben, Xanthan Gum

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30, 4.0 oz for $16.99

Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%), Water, Isopropyl Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Silica, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Sucrose Tristearate, Dimethiconol, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 61, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl
Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Panthenol, Triethanolamine, Allantoin, Carbomer, Potassium Sorbate, Zinc Gluconate, Xanthan Gum, Disodium
EDTA, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine

MAC Pro Burnt Pepper Powder Blush

Mac Pro Burnt Pepper

MAC Cosmetics Pro Burnt Pepper Powder Blush, 0.21 oz for $17.00

I’ve been digging warm blush tones for a while.  I picked up MAC Pro Burnt Pepper Blush and I like the ruddy, “I just ran for 45 minutes and almost puked” flush this imparted on my cheeks.  There isn’t much to say about this product.  I tried to line up a few blushes that were similar, but you can clearly see that they are not the same shade which is a plus.  What is the point of having blush powders in the same shade?  Redundancy is not appreciated.  No ma’am!

MAC blush powders have much more pigmentation than a drugstore product.  however, it is not as finely milled and creamy as higher end blush powders.  I could definitely feel a difference between Becca’s Mineral Powder Blush and the Mac Pro Blush.  The same could be said of the super pigment imparted from Make Up Forever Blush Powder. Mac Pro’s Burnt Pepper, here, can apply kind of patchy, unlike the other two blushes.

Below you can see how MAC’s Burnt Pepper compares to Becca’s Wild Honey and Make Up Forever’s Matte Cinnamon (164)Burnt Pepper has NO SHIMMER or glitter.  I have decided that as far as blushes are concerned, major shimmer, or any glitter, in my blushes emphasizes my rather large pores.  Plus, since I already use an illuminating lotion, shimmer in my blush is too much.  Matte blushes ALL THE WAY.  However, the very refined, barely there shimmer from Becca’s Wild Honey is acceptable.  Burnt Pepper has a nice pinkish-red tone compared to the browny-brick color of Matte Cinnamon (164), while Wild Honey looks clayish with a hint of dulled peach.  However, I have to note Burnt Pepper appears VERY PINK because it is swatched between two warmer earthy tones.  Not sandwiched between the two, the warm red-tones are more prominent.

MAC Pro Burnt Pepper swatches text

Hope you enjoyed the swatches.


Peels of Fun!!!

Peels of fun

Exfoliation is pretty important to quickly remove acne marks, soften my skin, and speed up the removal of dark spots or splotches over my face.  I find because of all of these skin issues that I need multiple products meant for the different stages of my skin.  Also, I need to adjust my skincare for seasonally appropriate products.  My skin in the summer is far greasier than it is in the winter, when it is generally drier. I will not be using very emollient exfoliating products in the summer, while I will not use very drying products in the winter.   However, if my acne situation is BAD, I will blitzkrieg those suckers.  I like the scorched earth method.  Sorry.

While none of the products I have pictured above are “peels” – you don’t wash them off after a certain amount of time, they do the same thing: exfoliate large areas of skin, by loosening and lifting dead skin cells, allowing them to be washed away.  These exfoliating products, whether they come in gels, lotions, or creams, are more concentrated exfoliating products than scrubs, masks, and cleansers.  They use various acids to remove the top dead layer of skin revealing luminous, newer skin.

I wondered how I should list them, but I have decided to list from most intensive peeling/exfoliating action to the gentlest.  Also, if you find that you skin feels uncomfortable with these on for too long, you can essentially wash it off for the desired effect without irritation.

Glyco Square

MD Forte Facial Lotion III, 2.0 oz for $71.00

The Facial Lotion III comes from the best brand for strong, but surprisingly not irritating glycolic acids, MD Forte.  While it’s not the cheapest line, it’s also not the most expensive, and actually comes in a bit cheaper than typical designer/boutique skincare brands.  The packaging is not the most attractive, but the no-frills products in this line simply work for the oiliest and most non-reactive skins.  MD Facial Lotion III contains the highest concentration of glycolic compound in the line – 30% –  and is suitable for people looking for significant skin correction.  The literature for this lotion says that it can be used under and over makeup – UM NO.  Do not use this under or over makeup.  I tried doing this and it just turned in to a weird texture on my face, plus I think it’s too aggressive to use to go out in daylight.  I would need to shellac my skin with thick white sunscreen.

The texture is watery as you apply it to your skin and it dries down to this weird light eggshell-like finish on the skin.  This bottle lasts FOREVER.  This is only the second bottle I have purchased and I have it for several years.  This is definitely more of a nighttime treatment.  No reason to let pesky UV rays penetrate your skin with this on.

I find this has a mild tingling effect that is NOT uncomfortable.  Sometimes I leave it on overnight for rapid retexturizing of my skin, and other times I use this as the first step in a more intensive treatment.  Glycolic acid is great for smoothing and degreasing skin, but it doesn’t actually penetrate oily pores, and I need that as well.  So, I leave it on only for an hour or so to quickly loosen the top dead layer of skin, and wash it off to use a second oil-penetrating treatment product to penetrate my pores, or an acne busting mask made with tons of natural actives.  I will then coat my skin in a gentle, natural oil elixir, or oil-based balm to soothe it.

MD Forte’s Face Lotion is best for non-sensitive, thicker-skinned, rougher textured, oily, acne-prone skin.  I wouldn’t use this if your skin irritates easily.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid (and) Ammonium Glycolate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Neostrata Gel Plus AHA, 3.4 oz for $42.00

Here is a surprise.  Neostrata’s Gel Plus AHA is actually more irritating and uncomfortable to use than the MD Forte Lotion III.   This is surprising because this gel only has 15% glycolic acid, while the MD Forte has a 30% glycolic acid concentration.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of the denatured alcohol in the Neostrata that made it not so pleasant to use.  Here’s a clue, when you are working with strong acids, YOU DON’T NEED DENATURED ALCOHOL.  This is gel formula that is best used on oily, acne-prone individuals who have super tough, non-resistant skin.  This achieves the same results as the MD Forte Facial Lotion, but I find it less comfortable to use, although I can use it in the exact same way.  Only the toughest, most non-resistant skin types should use this, if you don’t like stinging or the feeling of irritation.  I would not repurchase this.  I would definitely suggest this for men and women with severe sun damaged, thickened skin that needs rapid exfoliation and smoothing.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA

B. Kamins Lactic -10, 1.0 oz for $40.00

Lactic acid is considered one of the more gentle exfoliating acids for individuals who can’t tolerate glycolic acids, and it is especially recommended for individuals who have darker pigmented skin.  Lactic acid, unlike glycolic acid, has a moisturizing effect that works well on drier skin types.  I often see lactic acid-based products suggested for individuals who are trying to rid themselves of hyperpigmentation marks in a gentle way without kicking up more hyperpigmentation that can result from irritated skin. 

I picked up the B-Kamins Lactic – 10 as a gentle peeling product I could rotate in with my stronger glycolic acids.  Of course, sometimes I can go overboard, so the first time I used this I was using a glycolic acid heavy skincare routine.  OUCH.  Even gentler acids need to be used with care, and this is actually quite strong for a gentle acid, which I appreciated, so I scaled down.  When used this with the appropriate skincare regimen, I found that this product moderately exfoliated my skin, while penetrating my pores because of the salicylic acid it contained.  It also did not dry out my skin and left a bit of moisture behind, which was surprising.  This is likely due to the proprietary maple isolate.

The one quirk this product has is the delivery mechanism.  The peel solution emerges from a woven nylon fabric pad that you press into the skin area by area.  It can be a little labor intensive.  On the otherhand, it makes over application very difficult.  This is not a slap and go lotion.  This is a press, press, press solution.  I think it takes me about a minute to move around my skin.  Obviously, your skin should be recently washed when you use this otherwise the top could become grimey. 

The product literature says this is for sensitive skinned individuals.  However, I think it may be too strong an active for truly sensitive, irritable skin types.  This is definitely a good peeling lotion for those with normal – dry skin.  My skin does experience mild tingling from this product, and my skin is less irritation prone than most.  However, this product does not dry out my skin and does leave a moisturized feel.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Lactic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Acer Saccharum (Maple Isolate/Isolat D’érable), PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Octoxynol-12, Polysorbate 20, Panthenol, Zinc PCA, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.

Neostrata Bionic Lotion, 3.4 oz for $38.00

Now, if you are looking for a exfoliating lotion you can use on sensitive dry skin, or irritated and dried out oily skin, then THIS is what I suggest.  Neostrata’s Bionic Lotion is a moisturizing lotion that gently exfoliates the skin while adding non-greasy moisture to the skin.  This lotion uses special moisture binding 12% gluconolactone and 3% lactobionic acid, along with vitamin e to create softened, smoothed comfortable skin. 

The product literature says that this can be used on skin that is sensitive, dry to very dry, and even skin with eczema. It can also be used as a post-procedure treatment on very sensitized skin.  I use this in the fall, winter, and spring when I go nuts with drying agents and my skin is tight, dry and sensitive, but my skin is feeling especially acneic.  However, I would feel a little more wary of using this in the hot, humid summer on my very acne-prone, massive oil producing pores that break out if I don’t wash my skin multiple times a day to deslick.  But for you dry, sensitive skinned folks, this is a great ACTIVE gentle.  Just as gentle as REN’s glyco-lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, but with actual “actives” that do something “noticeable” to your skin.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Gluconolactone, Propylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lactobionic Acid, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sorbitan Stearate, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Arginine, Sodium Bisulfite, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Sulfite, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Laureth-7, Ammonium Hydroxide, Cetyl Alcohol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Ethoxydiglycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin

Politically Incorrect Foundations

foundation 1

I have no business looking for new foundation products.  I have over a dozen bottles and powders combined that I can mix in any way to create the right shade for me during any season.  Still, I can’t help trying out new base products.  Buying foundation products are always tricky for a variety of reasons.  Getting a second opinion is always helpful, as is getting professional advice.  However, help from sales associates or makeup artists can actually add to the problem.  I can’t tell you the number of times a specialist has matched me to something that is NOT my shade.  Sometimes the lighting is bad enough that I can’t tell how bad a match it is.  Other times I can.  I have learned to rely less on these professional helpers.  They are working with TOO many preconceived notions in their heads that are reflective  of what THEY think a foundation match looks like, which may not be what I THINK a foundation match should be.

So, before I get into discussing beauty associate issues with “matching” let me just explain what a foundation match is to me.  I want my foundations to be as near my skin tone as possible.  Basically, I want to duplicate my natural tone without the blemishes, splotches, redness, post-acne marks, and irregular patches of sun-induced hyperpigmentation.  My skin before hormones and the sun fucked it up.  My foundations should essentially AIRBRUSH my skin of all the irregular tone-changing “blemishes” I experience, while at the same time matching its unblemished state.  This should be a simple request.  It is not.

I keep experiencing, over and over again, the same three issues when it comes to foundation matching by “experts:” Orange Tones, Too Light, Too Dark.  Let’s dig.


I am tired of makeup artists overwhelming telling me that this orange-leaning foundation is my match.  Why are orange-leaning beiges the “universally” perceived color for a foundation match if you are light-medium yellow?  It’s okay to tell me that a foundation does not match me, or that it is the closest shade within the range. 


I understand that it’s not realistic to expect a perfect match from a foundation and sometimes we have to compromise.  Getting as close to the depth and undertone of your match means that sometimes you will go lighter or darker than your skin tone, based off of what is available, and what is easily alterable to match with other aids.  Bronzers are often used to correct too light foundations, while luminizers and moisturizers can lighten.  I definitely have an array of lighter and darker foundations.  But I have experienced beauty associates trying to match to me shades that are CLEARLY TOO LIGHT.  A while ago, someone in Sephora tried to match me to Becca’s Radiant Finish Foundation in BUFF and BUTTERCREAM.   These are CLEARLY shades I could picture on Heather Locklear PRE-TAN.  Typically someone with fair to light skin and light yellow-beige undertones.  He was INSISTENT this was my color.  I politely asked for samples to move on.


Interestingly, whenever I try to get matched at department store beauty counters, I am often matched to a shade that is TOO DARK.   This happened at the YSL counter, where the beauty associate believed I was BD 50 in the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation.  This was somewhat a believable, within reason, mistake.   I had a MAC associate try to tell me I was NC 42!!!  But when the Chanel associate tried to match me to Chanel’s Lumiere Powder Foundation in B60, that’s when I had a WTF moment.  I had a similar WTF moment when a south indian friend with reddish-light, tan brown skin (often referred to as “wheatish” by south Asians) was being matched and the YSL associate grabbed B80 –  a CLEARLY VERY WRONG TONE MY TWO EYES COULD EASILY DISCERN – and started working her way down.   Back to the Chanel artist – I was exasperated and bluntly said there was no way I could be a B60.  She noticeably backed off.


One of the things I like to do when at department store beauty counters  is to chat with beauty associates about their experiences working in beauty.  I will recount two of the most interesting observations.  First, many south asian, east asian, west indian, african, and darker latinas, overwhelmingly prefer to use foundations that are lighter than their natural skin tones.  On the flipside, many american and european white women usually prefer to go with shades that are darker than their skin tones to simulate a tanned look.  It was interesting to hear the anecdotes of these artists who are trying to match skin tones, who are then rebuffed, sometimes hostilely.  One memorable beauty associate recounted the story of a brown-toned woman insisting she was the shade “ivory” in her country. 

I had to think about all of this as I walked away in a huff from the Chanel beauty counter.  After I bluntly proclaimed there was no way I could be B60, I decided to swatch it on my hand.  NOPE.  It was clearly too dark even in the crappy lighting.  Just like makeup artists and beauty associates have come up with their observations about various customers and their beauty preferences, I have come up with observations about various beauty associates and makeup artists.

Let the political incorrectness begin!

I often have a problem with some white female beauty associates who match me too dark, particularly at department store beauty counters.  As in, ARE YOU BLIND, too dark.  I do not understand this.  If you are someone who works for a beauty brand, and you are charged with learning about the products, this isn’t science.  This is eyesight.  I wish I had taken a picture of this B60 swatch, which is a very strong medium-dark, golden olive shade, on my hand.  I am also remembering the YSL associate who tried to match me to B50 in the YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat.  Want a reminder of what this shade looked like on my arms? Here it isChanel’s B60 is darker and a more pronounced medium-dark, golden-olive skin tone.  Here is a swatch of the liquid foundation in B60 to compare.

So, the question is, what are these beauty associates seeing with their two eyes that is clashing with reality?

Could it be a stereotype? Being a typical multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-racial latina/hispanic, I think I definitely skew on the lighter-side of this equation.  In the U.S., being latino has overwhelmingly been perceived as mexican, or looking “mexican,” which is overwhelmingly portrayed as a very indigenous looking person with reddish-light brown skin.  Now, the OVERWHELMING majority of latinos/hispanics in the U.S. ARE mexican.  Nearly two-thirds, I believe.  The remaining one-third is a hodge-podge of other Spanish-speaking countries descendants.  However, I’ve seen mexicans light as white paper.  (It’s here I will quickly gloss over the reality that modern day hispanic/latino in the Americas actually encompasses a large variety of skin tones, hair types, and hair colors because of the history of overwhelming race mixing, as well as smaller monoracial groups, who are exclusively of european, native, or african descent.)

Could it be a normalized and externalized preference?  I have learned from many beauty associates and countless beauty blogs that some white women prefer to use foundation shades darker than their natural skin tone to simulate a tan color.  This is often followed by a HEALTHY amount of bronzer.  So the finished look in no way resembles their skin tone, natural or tanned.  If the Chanel beauty associate was applying the same foundation rules she uses to match herself, then Chanel’s Lumiere’s B60 would be a reasonable suggestion using this logic (if I wanted to resemble an oompa loompa).  For the record, Chanel doesn’t really have a close match for me.

On the flipside, I find that foreign-born american beauty associates of color, overwhelmingly try to match me too light.  Like, ARE YOU BLIND, light.  The worst offender’s are usually south asian or south east asian.  I have since learned from reviewing many beauty blogs that it is very common place for some south asians to match themselves to shades that are conspicuously too light.  I’ve since had to drop looking through some south asian beauty blogs because these foundation “matches” were getting ridiculous and it was really irritating me.

On the otherhand, major western brands have only recently started accommodating different skin tones.  These “matches” may have been the BEST matches they could find if they needed to mask discoloration or blemishes.  The american and european beauty market isn’t exactly a hotbed of color cosmetic democracy.  It’s only been within the last 5 years these companies have been offering real quality options for women of any color, outside of ivory and beige.

I remember, years ago, assisting a ginger-toned (reddish-dark tan) older hispanic woman select a foundation shade in a drugstore.  She asked for help and she was in front of the Cover Girl (!!!) display holding up a very pink-beige foundation.  I led her away from the Cover Girl display and walked her towards the only real drugstore option she had – REVLON – and guided her to a very close ginger shade.  Cover Girl has since expanded a bit of their color selection, but whenever I see Cover Girl displays I think of that woman and the fact that the cosmetic brands in this drugstore were selling cosmetic shades that did not match most of the women in this hispanic-dominant community.

All these experiences and observations have gotten me to realize how people can see, but NOT ACTUALLY SEE what’s in front of them.  There are a lot of pre-conceived ideas at work here that are being externalized and applied to people.   (In college, I once had a very pale puerto-rican-irish friend exclaim in shock to a mutual brown-toned indian friend “Your nipples aren’t pink?” in reference to our indian friend’s comment on being unable to wear light bras with light tops because her areolas became visible.)  Many way to complex to start examining in appropriate depth in a random ‘ole beauty blog post crafted in stream of thought prose – and I certainly don’t have the academic background to discuss it appropriately.  But something as simple as matching COLOR TO COLOR is apparently not that straight forward.  Asking “help me find a foundation” now becomes an interesting social-political-economic-racial-cultural exposition on identity, self perception, and idealization.


All I wanted was a foundation powder, man!

Powder 2