February 29, 2016

Review: L'Oreal Hair Expertise Extraordinary Oil

Over the years I have worked with a LOT of different shampoos and hair products. I can tell the good stuff from the bad just by rubbing it between my fingers. And this? It's top quality. This really is a great moisturizing shampoo and conditioner line filled with great ingredients to help smooth dry, damaged hair. It is also has a wonderful premium texture (they're dead on calling the shampoo lightweight and the conditioner velvety). However, I don't feel this was the best set for me to review. My hair is a bit dry, but not extremely dry, and is also fairly fine. The shampoo made my scalp feel oilier than usual and I found myself washing my hair more often. I tried using the conditioner alone with my regular shampoo and was much more pleased with the results. I was also very excited to try the nourishing mask balm because I thought it would be similar to the Goldwell 5-minute masks I used in the salon. It didn't seem to be quite as high quality, but still a great addition to your regular hair routine to prevent split ends and infuse moisture. I would most recommend this line for very damaged and dry hair, for example if you bleach your hair blonde or spend a lot of time in the sun.

Disclaimer: L'Oreal sent me the shampoo, conditioner, and mask free to try through VoxBox. All opinions are my own.

October 26, 2015

LashBlast Clump Crusher Review

For some reason, I've never been a big fan of CoverGirl's plastic wands since the original LashBlast came out. They just don't do the magical things for my lashes that everyone else gets so excited about. I was sent Clump Crusher to try (for free)
and I wondered if I would still feel the same.

I was using a cheapo Essence mascara at the time, and CC was head and shoulders beyond that. I got nice length and very few clumps. Maybe it's the curve of this wand, but I am finally in approval of the plastic wand. The colour, "very black", is a nice deep black great for everyday wear.

But "nice" is really as far as it got. I have used many mascaras (in particular, Maybelline) that give better length and/or better volume with the same negligible clumping. I've found this with nearly every CoverGirl mascara I've tried. This isn't a bad mascara, in fact it's a good mascara, but it just doesn't have any kind of a "wow" factor for me. I'd recommend to a friend looking for a natural look.

January 13, 2015

Secret Scent Expressions Review

In December, BzzAgent sent me Secret Scent Expressions clear gel antiperspirant in Ooh-La-La-Lavender to try. (Yes, they sent it to me for free to to review, but the following post is my own opinion.)

It's been a while since I used a clear gel...I stopped in the past because I didn't like waiting for it to dry. I also find aerosols don't work as well as a stick. So how does Secret Outlast perform in comparison?

Wetness protection - excellent. Probably better than most antiperspirants on the shelf. That said, I still had a few damp moments at certain times when I was transitioning between temperatures (such as getting on the bus, which is heated, while being dressed for frigid temperatures).

Odour protection - phenomenal. The delightful lavender scent lasts in a very subtle way throughout the day.

White marks - this is where Outlast loses points. It's true that once dry, you'll get no white marks. However, I put a shirt on while it was still wet and ended up with a big white stripe across the shirt, I had to wear a completely different shirt to work. As nice as this product is, I don't think I'm completely sold on switching to a clear gel. As far as comparison with sprays goes, this is definitely a superior product except for this issue.

Value - the one thing that would prevent me from buying this (without a sale, at least) is the amount of product. The review period isn't even done yet and I'm almost out, despite only using one "click" per underarm. While the amount of product to price is about the same as other antiperspirants, you use much more with a gel. In fact, just ignoring the price, it's annoying how often you'd have to replace it.

Overall - really excellent product, one of the best at the drugstore in my opinion. But the drying time and amount of product you go through are still holding me back from switching to gel.

September 09, 2014

Ombre Hair Colouring

One of the most frustrating trends I've come across (not nearly as bad as leggings-as-pants, of course) is ombre hair. And the reason that it frustrates me isn't because it's ugly. It's because ombre hair colouring is typically misunderstood and poorly executed. Ombré, according to Webster's dictionary, means "shaded or graduated in tone". This to me calls for a subtle gradient between a few similar shades or tones of the same colour. (Not the same as dip-dying!!)

Here is one example of a beautiful ombre look: a natural/gold tone in a blend of different shades from medium to dark blonde. This perfectly mimics the look that natural blondes have in the winter when new hair has grown in but the ends are still sun-bleached from the summer.

This can even be done with less natural colours like the picture below. Unlike the previous, this isn't varying levels in the same colour family; it's varying shades in the same colour level. Vanessa has a copper tone followed by a cherry tone, finished by a yellow tone. The gradient in this look is good, but if a customer asked for this I'd be inclined to go cherry-copper-yellow, because that's the natural gradient you see in a rainbow and it flows a lot better visually.

Photos like those make me happy that ombre has taken dominance as one of the big hair trends right now: after the chunky highlighted and half-and-half styles of the 90s stayed popular through the 2000s without a lot of change, it's a relief to see colouring with better blending and more subtle pops of colour taking over.

But then there's this...unless you use many different shades to do the transition from dark to blonde, you get that look like you bleached your hair out a long time ago and never bothered colouring back. Let's say the dark here is a level 5, and the blonde a 9. Without taking hours with precise detail work blending 5 to 6 to 7 to 8 to 9, the best you could likely do is use a 7 in the middle and 9 on the ends...still not a great look.

But this type of look is worse. This is not ombre, this is dip-dying. If you have a severe line halfway down your hair, no blending or gentle transition has taken place. If your hair looks like a dual fiber paintbrush, please call it dip-dyed and leave poor ombre alone.

So how do you avoid a harsh line of colour? First off, stay close to your own colour. You can venture out by a few shades, or into the realm of different tones of the same shade. But black and blonde will never be ombre...say goodbye to your 1999 zebra highlights. Secondly, use a good ombre painting technique. The easiest way (and what I've done in my own hair, adding a cool red tone to the ends of my natural brown hair) is to put your hair in two high ponytails: this makes your hair very accessible both in proximity to your face, and by allowing access to different layers of your hair (think about how a low nape-of-the-neck ponytail looks smooth, while a high crown ponytail looks layered). Then get some hair colour that you can easily apply with your hands: a mousse formula is ideal. Squirt some of the colour mousse into gloved hands and scrunch into the ponytails like you would regular styling mousse, focusing on the ends. This will give a natural blended look with one colour.

For two or more colours, you may want to use foils. Within a piece of foil, brush on some water or hair conditioner onto your original hair colour starting at the scalp and going 1/3 of the way down the shaft. The water or conditioner will keep other colours from affecting your natural colour. Then paint the middle third of the strand with your first colour, overlapping the conditioner by a few centimetres. Finally use the second colour to paint the lower third of the strand to the ends, again overlapping with the previous colour (this creates the blended transition area).

Good luck and stay ombre!

What's Pink with Cheetah Spots?

The answer to the title is my sister's new fashion blog, apparently. If you like this blog but are frustrated with the profuse amount of beauty posts, thinking "There's just not enough fashion content here", you may want to check out The Fashion Cheetah.

The Fashion Cheetah

Powder Foundation

When it comes to base makeup, I don't like to wear much. I've tried various foundations...Maybelline Dream Mousse covers anything but can look dry, CoverGirl Clean Makeup is cheap and works but that's about it. The best liquid I've tried, was one of Paula's Picks, Revlon ColorStay--but apparently it's been reformulated for the worse. While these all did the job for me, liquid and cream foundations feel like smearing paint on my face and I try to reserve them for special occasions when I might want heavy coverage, such as being photographed.

Because of that, the past few years have seen me using powder foundation. While they may have a reputation for looking heavier and drier than liquids, I find a light-handed application is all I need to even out my skin. If I need a little extra boost in certain areas, a touch of concealer is more than enough (I like mark. Good Riddance or Benefit Erase Paste). While my skin is on the drier side, I typically apply the powder after moisturizing, so I haven't found any issues there. A powder foundation gives me the ideal amount of coverage without feeling heavy, and doubles as a mattifying/setting product since I'd be using translucent powder on top of a liquid product to get it to stay anyway.

For a while I had an Avon rep in my area and bought pretty much all my makeup from Avon since it was convenient, fairly good quality, and the flyers she brought around always had good sales. I especially liked the mark. products so I used mark. Powder Buff for quite a while. I would still recommend this product as it gave the performance I was looking for at a reasonable price. However, every single time I bought one the compact broke. One dropped on the floor and the entire cake shattered in addition to the compact, which was more my fault than anything. But the other ones consistently had the hinges snap. I ended up moving and not bothering to find a new Avon rep, so since I didn't want to pay shipping to order online and the packaging was garbage anyway, it was time to find something new.

As usual I checked out Beautypedia for the best-reviewed powder foundations, and landed on the Palladio line from Sally Beauty. And also as usual, Paula's recommendation was great. Palladio Dual Wet and Dry Foundation has a great texture, applies smoothly, and I would say is even better than Powder Buff at the same price point. Additionally, I have had no problems whatsoever with the compact breaking. If you're looking for a product that allows you to vary the coverage at a very reasonable price, I'd definitely recommend Palladio.

Palladio Dual Wet and Dry Foundation Laurel Nude

May 14, 2014

Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth

In the market for a new shampoo and conditioner, I decided to try out Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth collection. I figured, having curly hair, a "smoothing" collection would be good for calming down any frizz and keeping curls neat.

Overall, this is not a bad shampoo or conditioner. The scent is pleasant, the product is pink. The shampoo is a fairly standard formula, probably a little too heavy for someone with an oily scalp but good if you're a little dry. When I use dandruff shampoo I like to do the second wash with this product to keep my scalp from getting too dry. Within the Herbal Essences line, though, I have to say I think their basic Hello Hydration does a better job, and I certainly have products I like better outside of their brand.

As for the conditioner, I found it much too light. I ended up with a lot of split ends--now, I have been growing my hair out and I tend to get split ends past a certain length so I won't blame it on the conditioner per se, but I certainly get better protection and hydration from other products.

What I really found funny was the marketing of this product though. Maybe they've changed the packaging since I bought it, but the bottles I have look like the ones on the picture above and claim to make your hair smooth. If you look at their website, you'll see the bottles say "straightening", not "smoothing". I did actually find that it was a lot harder to style my hair curly and it seemed to be getting straighter and straighter. I ran out of the conditioner and bought a new one for curly hair and my hair seems to slowly be getting curlier again.

I would really be interested to know what ingredients are in this product that make your hair straighter. As a hairstylist, I've worked with keratin smoothing treatments and done chemical straightening procedures. Since these treatments rose to popularity I have seen keratin shampoo/conditioner combinations come out that claim to slowly smooth your hair out over time. But this product doesn't contain keratin, and since my hair has bounced back, I'm wondering if perhaps it's some sort of chemical that temporarily gets in the way of the bond arrangement in the hair.

Bottom line: If you are actually looking to make your hair a bit straighter, I would recommend this product. However, if you're just looking for smoothness, try something else.