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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Glam Bag July 2012 Shipment

The July Glam Bag, themed "The Land of Beauty," was a hot pink mesh, striped zipper bag that contained skincare, hair care, nail and lip products as well as two bonus offers from Nu-Me (Glammies can choose one of the two).

Here's a review of the items I received and descriptions as reflected on the brand websites:

Juice Beauty - Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer - 15 ml/.5 fl oz deluxe sample; Full size 1.7 oz; $38 - Revitalize with optimum anti-aging benefits and protect with full-spectrum chemical-free protection. With a blend of brightening hydroxy acid, certified organic apple and lemon juices, age-defying peptides, DMAE, alpha lipoic acid, Co Q10 and vitamin antioxidants, this is the optimum dual purpose moisturizer.  The Green Apple Age-Defy Collection is designed for mature and all skin types (except very sensitive or rosacea skin due to the alpha/beta hydroxy fruit acids). This Collection is particularly effective for hyperpigmentation, dark spots, uneven skin tone and texture.  A blend of brightening hydroxy acid, certified organic apple and lemon juices, age-defying peptides, DMAE, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin antioxidants makes this an optimum dual purpose moisturizer. My thoughts: As I have dry, sensitive skin, the lemon juice included in the formula irritated my skin.

NU-ME - HydroPunch Hydrating Conditioner - 20 ml/.67 oz. deluxe sample; Full size $24.99 - Introducing Hydro-Punch, a revolutionary synergy between traditional Moroccan Berber, Moroccan Argan Oil, and the SERATIN-K Protein Complex (patented technology).  Made with naturally strengthening Bamboo, your hair is instantly detangled as sage extract and Jojoba oil increase the softness level of your hair.  This formula is enriched with the SERATIN-K Patented Technology, an active, protein-based complex shown to provide excellent moisture, binding capacity, and hair follicle nourishment for a smooth and silky feel.  Natural Argan oil from Morocco contains exceptionally high levels of essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (omega-6), for countering dryness in hair and loss of elasticity while preventing dull hair and split ends. A powerful antioxidant agent mends damage caused by weather or harsh chemicals. Healthy Vitamin E helps to regain shine and a gorgeous, vibrant look.  Bonus offers are $49 for a set of HydroPunch or Pure Remedy products or 50% off a styling product on expiring on October 31, 2012.  My thoughts: As I have dry, color-treated curly hair, this conditioner is right up my alley.  Sounds like I'll be taking advantage of the HydroPunch product offer.

Yes to Cucumbers - On-The-Go Facial Towelettes - 10 travel towelettes; Full size 30 wipes; $5.99 - Yes To Cucumbers Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes gently remove dirt, sweat and makeup (eye makeup too!) without the need to rinse. Whether you're out and about, going for a run, or having a late night, these towelettes make it a snap to refresh on-the-go. Packed with green superfoods these all-natural, biodegradable towelettes naturally exfoliate, detoxify, and rejuvenate all-in-one. Stay gorgeous, and go from zero to clean in seconds!  My thoughts: I do like these towelettes but I find that it leaves a residue on my skin which requires rinsing.  Otherwise, they are not irritating in anyway to my dry, sensitive skin.

Buxom - Big & Healthy Lip Polish - Leslie - Deluxe Sample; Full Size $18 - Tingle, plump & shine your pout to super-sexy proportions. This shimmering, sheer lip polish instantly creates the look of fuller, more voluptuous lips with luminous shine. Vitamins A & E help keep lips soft, smooth and protected with a refreshing tingling sensation.  My thoughts: This lip gloss is very smooth and hydrating but the fragrance is bothersome for me and I'm not a fan of anything that makes my lips tingle that much.  It makes me think that there's something that I should not have applied to my lips.  Leslie is a shimmery peach neutral shade.

Circus by Andrea's Choice - Nail Color - Somersault - 13.2 ml/.45 fl oz; Full Size price unavailable as product launches Fall 2012 - The Circus Collection includes: ReversoRingmaster,SpectacleSomersault & Tightrope. Each chip-resistant shade is vegan, cruelty free and free of Formaldehyde, Toluene and DBP.  My thoughts: This polish applies somewhat streaky so it requires several coats, though it dries to a glossy finish.  Somersault is a bright, yellow shade more suited for my tootsies as I prefer neutral shades on my hands.

Overall rating:  Booyah!  for value of the product contents and introducing me to NU-ME HydroPunch products; can't wait to try the other products in this line.  Overall, however, this Glam Bag was a Boo-Boo! for me as the formulation of the lip gloss and moisturizer, and the shade of nail polish did not suit me.

Glam Bag June 2012 Shipment

The June 2012 "Out All Night" Glam Bag, a gold glittered clutch, contained a mix of skincare, hair care, and makeup products, all for a $10 price tag.  The envelope, snap closure clutch featured items from Philosophy, NYX, Living Proof and Marbella as well as bonus offers from Living Proof and Philosophy.

The contents were as follows:

  • Philosophy - Take a Deep Breath Oil-Free Energizing Oxygen Gel Cream Moisturizer - 12 ml/0.4 fl oz deluxe sample; Full size 2 oz.; $34 - This lightweight moisturizer detoxifies and helps protect for a healthy-looking glow. Bonus promo code for free shipping on a future order through 7/15/2012 on My thoughts: I am glad the deluxe sample came in a tube as I don't really like products in jar containers as they often lose their potency as the air hits the contents.  I like this moisturizer as my dry skin tends to lean towards normal during the warmer summer months so this lightweight product fits the bill nicely.  I would definitely re-purchase a full size if Philosophy repackages in a tube so the product properties can remain stable.

  • NYX - Round Lipstick - Iced Honey (556) - 4 g/.14 oz - Full size; $5 - Incredible color that resists wear and smudging, let your lipstick last all night with an amazing velvety smooth, mineral formula. My thoughts: I liked this formula but have never been a fan of frosty lipstick shades.  Otherwise, I would have kept this full-sized lippie instead of passing it along to a friend.

  • Living Proof - frizz Nourishing Styling Cream - 60 ml/2 fl oz deluxe sample; Full size 4 oz.; $26 - Stops frizz in its tracks, keeping all styles frizz-free, soft and smooth.  Living Proof's miracle molecule OFPMA, conquers frizz by blocking humidity without silicone or heavy oils.  Bonus offer for a frizz Shampoo (2 oz.), Conditioner (2 oz.) and Nourishing Cream (4 oz.) or Weightless Spray (4 oz.) for $35 with free shipping and free sample at checkout.  There does not appear to be an expiration date on this offer.  My thoughts: I loved this styling cream.  It worked nicely on my dry, color-treated curly hair.  I used it after my regular leave-in conditioner and styled my curls.  I also used it before blowing out my hair and I noticed a nice, smooth finish on my hair, even on humid days.

  • Marbella Permanent Eyeliner Pen - Black - Full size; Retail $19 - Master the art of beautiful eyes with this unique waterproof, smudge free, and long-lasting semi-permanent eyeliner pen.  My thoughts: I really liked this felt-tip liner pen, though the color payoff left much to be desired.  I prefer darker blacks, like the finish on my L'Oreal Carbon Black Lineur Intense.  I liked the staying power but I didn't get the results I expected as it didn't last all night.  I suspect that the formula didn't "agree" with my under-eye products so I will need to experiment with application techniques to see if I can maximize the longevity of this product.  One downside was that the ingredients of this product were not provided.  I had to research the ingredients online.

Here are swatches of the lipstick and eyeliner pen:

Overall rating:  Booyah!  The cost of a monthly Glam Bag is $10 so June was worth the price.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tarte - The Miracle of Maracuja Collection Summer 2012

Earlier this year, Tarte and QVC followed up their Glow Your Way to Gorgeous sets with The Miracle of Maracuja.  The first set launched in March of this year. For details on the first set, please click here.  I recently received the second installment of The Miracle of Maracuja Collection, an 8-piece set exclusive to QVC (; Retail $59.96). 

  • Beauty & the Box Amazonian Clay Eye Shadow Quad in Brewed Awakening (6.8 g) - Includes Foam, Raw Sugar, Espresso and Roast shadows in a lovely floral-patterned box.  Shadows apply very smoothly and have good color payoff and work nicely together.  This box offers more neutral shades while the first installment offered more pink, plum smokey shades. 
Left to Right: Foam, Raw Sugar, Espresso, Roast
  • Cashmere Waterproof Gliding Liner (0.28 g) - In Dewy Green - Similar to the SmolderEyes liners, this pencil has some staying power once you give it some time to set.  I wore it layered under the Roast shadow and I liked the effect.
  • Airblush Maracuja Bouncy Blush (5.3 g) - In Shimmering Peach - This is a lovely smooth blush with very nice pigmentation that is easy to blend!  I just love this formulation.  Again, I would have liked the ability to pop the pan out of the compact like their Amazonian Clay blushes but this purple, mirrored compact is sleek enough to throw in my purse.  Also, unlike the Amazonian Clay blushes, it's easy to tell which shade is which.  With the bouncy blushes, it appears all are packaged in the same compact so I have to be sure I am selecting the correct shade when pulling it from my vanity and dropping it in my purse.
  • Blush Brush - This soft brush applies the blush nicely, though I prefer the Airbrush Finish Bamboo Blush Brush that came with the first Miracle of Maracuja set.  The brush is very similar to the brush included in the Glow Your Way to Gorgeous Set #1 except the handle is purple and not bamboo.
  • Maracuja Divine Shine Lip Gloss (3.6 ml) - Ethereal - A nice, sheer, neutral peachy-pink color, I just love the floral packaging.  It took a while for the product to "click up" through the bristles but I love the formula.  The mint-scented gloss includes maracuja oil for hydrating your pucker while glistening your lips with a nice gloss.

  • Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara (7 ml) - Black - The same tube offered in the Glow Your Way to Gorgeous Sets.  Would love to try the Waterproof formula one of these days.  (Tarte!  hint!  hint! - Any chance you will include in one of your future collections?)
  • Maracuja Creaseless Concealer (8 g) - Medium - The collection can be ordered with any one of 4 shades of concealers.  A little of this concealer goes a long way so don't fret the fact that not a lot of product comes out when you squeeze the tube.  Personally, I like that the product doesn't easily ooze out of the tube so there's no waste and I can build the coverage as I need to.
  • Pure Maracuja Oil (50 ml) - This oil is absolutely awesome!  I have used it as my night-time moisturizer since I first received my first Glow Your Way to Gorgeous Set.  It has definitely improved the condition of my skin.  This versatile oil can be used on cuticles, hands, and face.  I have have been known to smooth a drop or two in my palms for a nice shiny, lustre to my hair.  I have also added a few drops to my body lotion after a long day in the sun as maracuja oil has vitamin C and essential fatty acids which promote radiant skin.  This same size retails for $46 on QVC.
Here are some swatches:

Top to Bottom: Foam, Raw Sugar, Espresso, Roast, Shimmering Peach Blush; Ethereal Gloss, Dewy Green Liner
As in previous sets, there is a "Get The Look" guide:

Unlike the first set, there were no sneak-peek bonus items but I am pleased with this set, nonetheless.

Overall rating:  Booyah!

This set is well worth the $59.96 price tag.  If you get a chance to snatch one up, I highly recommend it and can't wait until the last and final installment, set to ship in November, just in time for the Holidays.

Have you tried any of these items?  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Karuna Brightening Treatment Mask

I have always been a fan of facial masks and have been wanting to try facial sheet masks as they are easier to use and remove.  One such facial sheet mask is the Karuna Brightening Treatment mask (1 mask, 28 ml/0.95 fl oz.;; Retail $28 for 4 masks, a month's supply).  I received the mask, valued at $7, in my May 2012 Beauty Army Shipment (see post here).

Karuna, founded by Linda Wang, prides itself by combining "science and nature to solve the most common skin concerns in a fresh, modern way."  Unlike other products I've used in jars and tubes, these face masks are neat and simple to use.  The individual packets make them easy to travel with and the multiple formulas make it easy to have an at-home facial to address a particular skin concern.

They offer masks in the following varieties:

  • Skin Restoring (Karuna Luxe; $48)
  • Renewal Eye ($36)
  • Hydrating
  • Exfoliating
  • Brightening
  • Anti-Oxidant
  • Clarifying
  • Age Defying

They also offer the Karma Kit, which includes one of each of the following masks:  Exfoliating, Hydating, Anti-Oxidant and Age Defying,  a great way to sample a variety of masks.  The Karma Mit and all masks are $28 for a month's supply, except where indicated differently.

The Brightening Mask and its respective directions are described as follows on the Karuna Skin website:

Revealing & Enlightening

Grapefruit Seed Extract deflects environmental toxins from the skin, while rare Asian plant extracts help to create a fresher-looking, smoother-feeling complexion. 

All Karuna masks contain a custom blended Beauty Boost. Plant extracts, peptides and anti-oxidants bring care and compassion to all skin types with a feeling of hydration, nourishment and renewal.

All-natural fiber cloth retains 50% more moisture than synthetic, helping pores fully absorb the paraben-free beneficial ingredients. Made from bio-degradable wood pulp, our cloth is truly a green and luxurious alternative.

Directions are simple:

start with a
freshly washed face

gently unfold mask and
place cloth side on face

adjust over mouth,
nose & eyes

remove backing and
relax for 10-20

Once the allotted time has passed, peel the mask from your face and discard.  There is no need to rinse.  Karuna recommends massaging the remaining product into neck and hands.  They further recommend using the mask once a week.

I left the mask on for 20 minutes and  immediately noticed a smoother, slightly brighter complexion after one use.  I have since placed an order via (there is a current 20% off promotion) for more items so there will be more reviews in the near future.  

Overall rating: Booyah! for simplicity of usage and packaging as well as results.  I know there are other facial sheet mask products available that are less expensive but I have not tried them so I am not sure if the ingredients and results are comparable. 

Have you tried Karuna or any other facial sheet masks?  What are your thoughts and favorites?  Would love to hear from you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Annabelle Smudge Paints, Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencil and My Fave Canadian Beauty Bloggers

Makeup addicts everywhere know about Makeup Alley (, a place to post your beauty items and accessories up for swap as well as list the items you're lemming at the moment.  I have been a member of MUA for quite some time and have had the opportunity to make some friends and also to swap for some products not sold in the United States.  One such brand that I love is Annabelle, which is part of Group Marcelle, the Canadian leader of drugstore brand cosmetics (

In a recent swap, I acquired two of Annabelle's Smudge Paints and one of their Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencils.  I also received a Smoothliner Eye Liner, but as I have several of those shades, I will do a separate post on Annabelle's eyeliners.

Smudge Paints come in five shades (2 g/0.07 oz; Retail $10.95 CAD; $10.82 USD as of blog post per  The two shades I will be featuring today are Plummed, a metallic plum shade and Tar, a matte black shade.  They are found under the Eyeliner category on the Annabelle website.  The product is packaged in a jar with a long handle that houses the built-in brush applicator.  Smudge Paints can also be used as an eyeshadow or eyeshadow base.  For a custom look, you can also mix shades.

Here is how Smudge Paints are described on the Annabelle website:

Catch the latest chic trend for smeared eyelids with the new Annabelle SmudgePaint. Creamy gel-shadow + liner with a velvety smooth, crease free, smudge free texture that will survive anything life throws at you! Its long-lasting waterproof formula glides on easily for a mess free look.  Available in 5 highly pigmented shades that will be sure to bring your makeup case back to life!

Here is a close-up of the brush applicator as well as swatches:

Smudge Paint Brush Applicator
Top to Bottom: Plummed thick and thin, Tar thick and thin, Plummed over Tar
Overall rating:  Booyah!  The brush applicator is versatile as you can use it flat for an all-over lid application or you can use the tip for a finer line.  The product has staying power and sets quickly.

Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencils come in eight shades (1.6 g/0.05 oz; Retail $8.95 CAD; $8.84 USD as of blog post per  The one I will be featuring today is Melonade, a shimmery peach shade.  The pencil is not retractable so it must be sharpened, similar to NYX Jumbo Pencils (5 g/0.18 oz; Retail $4.50).  They are found under the Eyeshadow category on the Annabelle website.  You can also mix shades for a custom look.  I selected Melonade as it appeared to be different from any of the other shadow pencil I already had in my stash.  It is more peach than NYX Yogurt (a pinkish beige) and not quite as bright as NYX Strawberry Milk (bright light pink).  The staying power on the Annabelle Eyeshadow Pencil is significantly better than the NYX pencil, which needs the help of a primer or it creases terribly.

Here is how Smoothie Pencils are described on the Annabelle website:

The new generation of brightly coloured long wear eyeshadow. Waterproof, crease-free and mess-free, the Smoothie eyeshadow pencils will keep going as long as you do! Use them as a liner, as an eyeshadow by using only one shade all over the lid or by blending more colours of Smoothie pencils together, or even as an eyeshadow base to give your favourite powdered shadows a professional hold and an outstanding colour pay-off! The makeup junkie in you will be ecstatic! Easy to apply, convenient and fast, this versatile, creamy, light-weight pencil is available in a variety of vibrant hues.  Our Smoothie pencils contain no parabens, no preservatives, no mineral oil and no paraffins.

Here is a close-up of the pencil tip as well as a swatch:

Overall rating:  Booyah! for quality and texture of the product but Boo! Hiss! on the price, considering its size.  NYX Jumbo Pencils offer more product for about half the price.  I wouldn't mind paying more if the Smoothie pencil were retractable.

While Annabelle products are not sold in the U.S., you can call their customer service department (800-387-7710, ext. 352 or 353) and place an order directly with one of their friendly representatives.  Shipping fees are steep starting at $20 for orders between $30 and $49.99 (all prices in CAD).  You can include Marcelle products to your order if you fall short of the $30 minimum (

To learn more about Annabelle and Marcelle products, I recommend viewing and subscribing to three of my favorite Youtube Beauty Bloggers from "up north" as they often review Annabelle and Marcelle products and include them in their tutorials.  Please show them some love if you haven't done so already:

  • Heather (Vancouver) - Website:; Twitter: @sokolum; Youtube: sokolum79
  • Jean-François (Quebec) - Facebook: Jean-François CD; Twitter: @jeanfrancoiscd; Youtube: jeanfrancoiscd
  • Tamara (Ontario) - Website:; Facebook: Beauty Thesis; Twitter: @beautythesis; Youtube: beautythesis
Have you tried any Annabelle or Marcelle products?  I'd love to hear about them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

NARS Foreplay Cheek Palette, Sephora Exclusive

In addition to the Joie De Vivre All About Cheek Palette, a Nordstrom Exclusive (see separate blog post), NARS is also offering the Foreplay Cheek Palette via Sephora (Retail $49; online at and in stores).

This mirrored, limited edition compact contains 4 cheek products (total 10 g/0.36 oz) with 2 square blush pans, 1 rectangular highlight pan and a larger blush pan (Orgasm blush).  The other shades are unnamed.

2 square blush pans (both matte)
Gold highlighter; Orgasm blush
Here is a description of the palette as reflected on the Sephora website:

What it is:
A chic cheek palette featuring four dazzling shades based on the bestselling Orgasm blush.

What it does:
The gorgeous afterglow of classic Orgasm is reinvented in this quad that combines Orgasm blush plus vivid shades of pink and peach and a shimmering gold to create your own signature glow.

This set contains:
-Peach Matte Blush
-Gold Highlighting Blush
-Pink Matte Blush
-Orgasm Blush (peachy pink with golden shimmer)

Overall rating: Booyah!  I just love the unnamed shades and hope that NARS will launch them on their own.  If you hear of any further information on these mystery shades, please let me know.

NARS Joie De Vivre All About Cheek Palette; Nordstrom Exclusive Part 3 of 3

Every July, Nordstrom has their anniversary sale which includes some beauty exclusives.  This time around I purchased a few exclusives and will be posting about each one separately.  For my third installment, I wanted to bring you some information on the NARS Joie De Vivre Cheek Palette (Retail $65.00; Product Value $107;

This mirrored, limited edition compact contains 6 cheek products (3.5 g/0.12 oz each).  Individual compacts of NARS cheek products are slightly larger with blush and highlighter compacts containing 0.16 oz of product (Retail $28), Bronzer compacts containing 0.28 oz of product (Retail $34).  The shades included in the palette from left to right, top row then bottom are:

1. Albatross - Highlighter; Light golden sheen
2. Gaiety - Blush; Bright candy pink
3. Luster - Blush (on me it's more of highlighter) - Sheer golden apricot
4. Laguna - Bronzer; Brown with golden shimmer
5. Orgasm - Blush; Peachy pink with shimmer
6. Angelika - Blush; Cotton candy pink

This palette is similar to last year's Danmari All About Cheek Palette which contained Hungry Heart, Orgasm, Desire, Casino, Super Orgasm and Sin.  NARS's best-selling blush, Orgasm, is the only common shade to both of these limited edition palettes.

Here are close-ups of each shade:

Top to Bottom: Albatross, Laguna
Top to Bottom: Gaiety, Orgasm
Top to Bottom: Luster, Angelika
Here is a description of the palette as described on the Nordstrom website: 

A palette of the six most-craved cheek shades from NARS features bestsellers like Laguna Bronzer, the universally flattering highlighting shade Albatross and four signature blushes like the iconic NARS Orgasm.

Shades include: Laguna Bronzer, Orgasm Blush, Luster Blush, Angelika Blush, Gaiety Blush, Albatross Highlighting Blush.

Here are swatches:

Top Row (L -R): Albatross, Gaiety; Second Row: Laguna, Orgasm,  Third Row: Luster; Bottom Row: Angelika
Overall rating: Booyah! as with most NARS cheek products.  As of the time of this posting, this palette is sold out online.

Friday, July 20, 2012

MAC Illustrated's Smoky Eye Black Kit by Julie Verhoeven; Nordstrom Beauty Exclusive Part 2 of 3

Every July, Nordstrom has their anniversary sale which includes some beauty exclusives.  This time around I purchased a few exclusives and will be posting about each one separately.  For my second installment, I wanted to bring you some information on MAC Illustrated's Smoky Eye Black Kit by Julie Verhoeven (Retail $49.50; Product Value $100;

The set includes 3 full-sized eyeshadow pans from MAC's permanent collection (Naked Lunch [frost], Wedge [matte] and Carbon [matte], 1.5 g/0.05 oz each, Regular Retail: $11.50 each), 2 special edition brushes (212 Flat Definer Brush - full size $22.50 and 275 Medium Angled Shading Brush - full size $24.50, 1 full-sized Technakohl Eyeliner (Graphblack, 0.35 g/0.012 oz, Retail $15.00) and 1 Mini Zoom Lash Mascara (Rich Black, 4 g/0.14 oz, Regular Retail $15.00 for an 8g tube) in a mirrored canvas box illustrated by London-based artist Julie Verhoeven which includes a step-by-step tutorial on how to achieve the perfect smoky eye.  The set is also available in Plum.

Eyeshadows (L - R): Naked Lunch, Wedge, Carbon

Technakohl Liner in Graphblack
Mini Zoom Lash in Rich Black
212 Flat Definer Brush
275 Medium Angled Shading Brush
Here are swatches of the eyeshadows and eyeliner:

Eyeshadow Swatches (T-B): Naked Lunch, Wedge, Carbon; Technakohl Liner in Graphblack
The MAC Illustrated collection also includes 4 Triple Feature Lip Bags ($39.50, in Red, Pink, Nude and Peach) which each contain a Cremesheen Lipstick, a Dazzleglass Creme and a Cremestick Liner all in a cute bag featuring a Julie Verhoeven illustration. There are also 2 brush kits in this collection ($49.50 each), the "Face Canvas" set with 4 special edition brushes (187 Duo Fibre Brush, 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush, 282 Duo Fibre Tapered Brush, and 286 Duo Fibre Blending Brush) and the "All Over" Set with 5 special edition brushes (129 Powder and Blush Brush, 227 Large Fluff Brush, 224 Tapered Blending Brush, 219 Pencil Brush and 266 Small Angle Brush). Each set includes an "illustrated" brush roll.

Overall rating: Booyah! for the neat, travel friendly packaging, not to mention the expert tutorial instructions broken down into 4 easy steps.

The set is limited edition and a Nordstrom Exclusive available through August 5.