J. Cat Beauty You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter

Another “cute packaging, mediocre product” review. I think I fell in love with the rose stamp that’s imprinted on the powder, primarily! But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad highlighter.

I picked this up in the shade Bella Rose, which may have been my problem from the start. I think pink-pigmentation probably gets lost in my slightly pink-tinted cheeks. The shade range is pretty extensive, though — 9 shades in total.

It seemed really difficult to get the powder to “show up” on the brush, or on my fingers. I had to press down pretty hard, and had to go back into the pan to get to the point where I felt I was getting enough product. Even on the skin, I didn’t think this highlighter was particularly noticeable without stacking it. I don’t know if it’s problematic, per se — there’s certainly enough powder in the pan. But I don’t like dedicating a ton of time to highlighter application, so it’s annoying to have to go back in to re-apply.

As far as effect, I wouldn’t say this is a particularly strong highlighter, not the same way Maybelline’s Master Chrome or the Wet n Wild highlighters are. It’s great for a subtle effect — a shine you can see up close, but not from further away. Me, personally, I like highlighter to be obnoxiously visible and potentially blind people from several feet away, but I won’t take off points for my own bad taste ūüėČ What I will consider though is the very short longevity of this powder. I didn’t think any of the highlighter was visible after hour four.

So while I personally think this is a very mediocre product, it might be worth the $7 buy if you’re looking for a highlighter that’s much more subdued. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 2/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Eva NYC Mane Magic 10-in-1 Primer

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not super well-versed in hair products. For a long time I was always a big fan of air-dry and go, but things have changed in the past two years: I like straighteners and hairdryers, and heat.¬†¬†That said, I needed a thermal protectant — but I also now use this on days I don’t style my hair, and I’ve noticed an overall increase in my hair quality.

This comes in a spray bottle — when you pull the trigger, a very fine mist will come out of the bottle, enough to cover a pretty big portion of your hair. Obviously the amount you use is dependent on your hair thickness and length, but I don’t feel that I need to use a lot of it to get the full effect. The smell is very pleasant and not overpowering. It smells like a lot of other argan oil products I’ve used — I’ve also been informed that my hair “smells like a dryer sheet” when I’ve used it. I’m going to chalk that up as a good thing, I guess.

This really does do everything it says it will. It works great as a detangler. My straight hair is extremely knotty right out of the shower, and it’s easy to push a comb through once I’ve spritzed this on. As a thermal protectant, it’s definitely doing it’s job, and the amount of split ends I’ve incurred have been reduced dramatically, had I not been using this, or had I been using another product. This is pretty good for frizz control also — not necessarily a long lasting frizz control, but certainly longer than any I’ve used in the past.

This product is NOT heavy at all, unless you go overboard with application. That was my biggest gripe with other detanglers and heat protectants: they were way too greasy! Your hair will feel silky to touch and look shiny for the first 4-5 hours, and I don’t ever lapse into that “ugh I really have to wash this out” feeling. Now again, note that I said 4-5 hours — this is really the prime window for this product in terms of “seeing the results” for all of it’s purported benefits, but even past that time frame, I can still say that the overall health and quality of my hair is increased.

Now the only thing I wanted to note about this product is that it contains the ingredient “lilial”. It can be a skin irritant for some individuals, and cause the potential for skin issues on your scalp or near your hair line.

The price point on this is pretty good — $12, and this bottle will hold up for about three months even if you’re using it daily. And for the final bonus, the very tall sprayer on this bottle has survived many unintentional drops on the ground, and didn’t break. Tresemme Thermal Creations had failed me many times in this regard ūüôā ~A

Buy this hair primer on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2U5ONim

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5

Beauty Products and User Subjectivity

I wanted to write a disclaimer on the sidebar about how I am not a doctor or a cosmetologist, I’m simply a beauty product enthusiast, and that all of my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone will have a slightly different experience than I did with all of the products I’ve mentioned on this page. But I also wanted to add my personal take on “everyone’s needs are different/everyone is different” and “you should never fully take the advice of someone on the Internet.”

My favorite makeup and skincare YouTubers are Jeffree Star and thataylaa. Jeffree Star is probably my prime example of “everyone is different”. He tries on makeup that he loves, that I generally think is tacky and god awful. Now Jeffree, I’m sure, has sponsorships of all kinds, even if he doesn’t directly promote them. But whether he likes, or dislikes, the product, he makes himself completely clear as to why. His videos allow you to actually see how the product performs alongside his, ah, very opinionated commentary. Whether or not you agree with him, that’s up for you to decide. But I find that his brand of brutal honesty is preferable to most of the other channels that exist, where the creator is seems almost hesitant to mention the drawbacks of the product, likely because they’re trying to upsell in order for you to click their affiliate links.

Next, there’s thataylaa. I also like her for her honesty, and her head-on approach with to dealing with cystic acne: she put her makeup-free face on display for thousands of viewers at it’s very worst, and demonstrated how to use and find makeup for people with similar skin issues. It helped that she had similar skin tone/eye color/hair color as me. As a result, much of my Amazon and Ulta shopping was fueled by her recommendations.

I found Catrice Prime and Fine finishing spray through her! It worked magnificently — until I broke out, read the ingredient list (yep, after buying it, of course… my fault), and noticed it had benzoyl alcohol in it. No, it wasn’t at the very top of the list, so the chances of it being an irritant were slightly less, but I still felt weirdly jilted. I mean, didn’t she know benzoyl alcohol is a common adversary for those who suffer from cystic acne?! How dare she! In the most petty way possible, I felt disappointed in her.

Then I opened my bathroom closet a few days later and realized that my favorite self-tanner had alcohol denat listed somewhere along the second line. But I loved that self-tanner! I was never going to give it up! Double-standards galore. I digress: it made me realize that everyone’s needs and likes are going to be different. Thataylaa probably wasn’t having issues the same way I was with the finishing spray, and why would she? She isn’t me.

So when you read any review, or watch a video that demonstrates the product, just keep in mind. Your results are probably not going to be the same. A popular product won’t always be guaranteed to work for you, just the same as a lower-rated product might be your personal holy grail. I’d take a guess and say that 98% of reviewers are not professionally certified in any way to give a completely accurate dissertation (including myself!), so digest those reviews accordingly. ūüôā ~A

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion wasn’t a silver bullet for me, but it sure was fun to play around with for a spot treatment.

Ulta gives you the option to choose between a plastic bottle or a glass bottle. Seems to be the same product as far as the effect goes. There’s a clear liquid is on top, and some pink sediment (calamine? I think?) at the bottom. If this gets shipped to you, get ready for it to look pretty crazy on receipt, since it will undoubtedly get shaken up in transit. You’ll need to let it sit so that pink sediment gets back to the bottom.

Once it’s settled, grab a q-tip or two and push it all the way toward the bottom to pink up that settlement, pull it out, and apply very carefully to the spot you’re trying to treat. Since you’re essentially slapping pink clay on spots of your face, this is probably best to use at night, unless you… are… a very brave person who is okay with exiting their house with their spot treatment on full display! In theory, you should be able to wake up, gently wash off the remaining dried lotion with water, and see that the spot is reduced. I did appreciate the longevity of the lotion, I didn’t have trouble with the treatment cracking/smudging/falling away from the problem area, even overnight.

Oh yeah, probably the other most noteworthy thing other than the pink hue of the dried lotion — this has sulfur in it. Yes, the “rotten eggs” smell. It’s not overwhelming, per se, but… well, sulfur is still pretty strong no matter what!

I was a fan of this for roughly a week at the height of my cystic acne. Active break outs were visibly decreased by the next morning — I was stoked. I thought it was the sulfur and salicylic acid combo that were making all the difference. In reality, the “quick fix” ingredient was actually isopropyl alcohol. It dries out the spot (hence “drying lotion”), which I think in extreme moderation is okay. It serves it’s purpose to dry out the inflammed area.

But there came a point where I think I was using this too often, not carefully enough, and the alcohol started leaking onto my healthy skin where there were no breakouts. That would dry out the rest of the skin, and cause even more breakouts. What a mess.

For me personally, this product is too much of a pain to even consider using. It’s a little messy and cumbersome to get the product out of the bottle. In the same breath, I’d say it’s also kind of fun, somehow… ? The whole “I’m putting sulfur on a Q-Tip” is such a novel notion to me! I also think they raised the price on this product since I used it, which is a shame — it looks to be $17 now, I swore it was around $11 at Ulta before. I think this product does the trick if you’re only going to use it once¬†in¬†awhile on one spot. But this isn’t something I’d be keeping around in my medicine cabinet to reach for immediately.

If¬†you’re¬†looking¬†for this effective short-term product, click here: https://amzn.to/2B1Dccw¬†

Perceived efficacy: 4/5 short-term, 1/5 long term

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Rimmel Hide the Blemish Concealer

rimmel hide the blemish

I picked up Hide the Blemish to get away from my usual Maybelline concealer stick. This product is pretty much exactly the same as Maybelline’s, but Rimmel is usually cheaper if you pick it up in drugstores (Rimmel’s is $4-5, Maybelline will run you between $6-8 depending on where you go).

I usually apply this by dotting it under my eyes, and then quickly tapping it in. I use it on my eyelid as well, in hopes of stamping out the all-too-common eyeliner transfer. This does a pretty good job of covering up any blemishes also, even the more serious ones. Side note, I have separate contour sticks for blemishes vs. contouring purposes because… I don’t know, cross-contamination, or something.

I like the color on this — the ivory is very light, without skewing toward beige. This doesn’t oxidize one way or the other, and sets nicely into the skin, albeit with a bit heavier tapping than usual, since the concealer itself is quite tacky. I also weirdly like that the product is more prone to wearing down into a round shape, as opposed to a melting tip — this makes the “dotting” procedure a lot easier.

With some stick concealers I’ve noticed that the product tends to chalk up in between skin creases or wrinkles. Hide the Blemish doesn’t seem to do that too often, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, it seems like the coloration can wear off past the 6 hour mark, and sometimes even quicker if you’ve used it to cover a blemish. Sometimes I want that intentional a little too extreme contrast between cheek contour and undereye effect (which I know is heresy) but this concealer only makes that possible for the first hour or two of application.

Overall, though, I like this, and it’s a staple in my makeup bag right now. It’s pretty cheap, too, which is¬†never¬†an issue for me! ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 3.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

It’s Skin 2pm Sunblock SPF50

its skin 2pm

This chemical sunblock by Its Skin is thus far my holy grail of sunblocks. This is a Korean sunscreen but is, for the most part, relatively accessible on Amazon. For such a small product, you may be concerned that the $15 price tag on this isn’t quite worth it, but the sunscreen itself is pretty liquid-y, and a little goes a long way. And the typical conditions from shipping anything halfway across the world still apply: you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks to get it.

But for me, it’s absolutely worth the wait. Right off the bat, the tube is flashy gold and cool looking. Rip off the silver foil on the top keeping the product fresh under the cap, and the white liquid sunscreen tips out relatively easily without much need to squeeze the bottle. Like I said before, a little goes a long way.

The rest of this story is 100% awesome. The sunscreen sinks in¬†with no whitecast! It smells amazing — very sweet, not overwhelming, and really not like sunscreen at all.¬†After a couple of minutes of allowing to set in, makeup goes over this flawlessly with no issues of pilling (although it will cause some foundations to create a “cake” texture if you apply it too early). Even better — there’s no white-cast pilling atrocities on your face after hour 4. Heck, it doesn’t even happen after hour 8 or 12 or 16, although, technically, the efficacy of the sunblock is probably null and void long before then. But still! No whitecast! Wahoo!

In terms of actually doing it’s job as a sunscreen, this does it’s job as a 50 SPF (probably to better or lesser degrees depending on the timing between me putting it on, and me being exposed to sun). I’ve done a few laps outside of my work office in 85 degree weather with this on, and didn’t burn or tan (or if I did tan, very little).

Now, all of this said. I will say that, for me personally, it can cause a tiny bit of congestion in my skin. Not full on break outs, but minor clogged pores. It’s not pervasive, necessarily, but it does happen from time to time when I’m using it. My skin hated this even more pre-spironolactone, and it caused me to break out a ton (but I loved the concept of this so much that I just had to shelf it until I was a few months into my treatment… no regrets). However, history shows that I break out from most chemical sunscreens anyway, and quite frankly, I’m not sure what the trigger ingredient is. Not very helpful, I know. But while we’re talking about ingredients, I thought I’d mention that this is also alcohol-free! ūüôā

Anyways, to wrap up, I obviously love this sunblock. I have yet to find another chemical sunscreen, in the US or otherwise, that ticks off all the boxes like this one does. If your skin tolerates most sunscreens, I highly recommend trying this out. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 5/5!

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeliner

Physicians Formula Shimmer

I am not yet well-practiced at applying liquid eyeliner — in the meantime, I’ve been on the hunt for a non-irritating, long-staying pencil eyeliner. I picked up the pictured trio of light brown, dark brown and black for $7. There’s a couple other shade ranges, most of which revolve around particular eye colors. It’s also worth noting that these do not sell individually, only in packs of three.

This comes in a twist up plastic tube, so there’s no need to sharpen a dulling pencil. Packaging is visually basic, twist up is fine, amount of product is standard.

Application is DIFFICULT!¬†I was scared I’d somehow cut my eyelids open getting this on! You have to press down REALLY hard. The pigment on the lighter shade of brown is non-existent. Even the dark brown needs several — no, MANY, layers of product to “show up”. The black is a little bit better than the dark brown, but not by much. In any case, if you can manage to apply this product, it will seem lightly-colored in comparison to other, same colored eyeliners. There are glitter specks in this product, but they’re very subtle.

The good aspects about these eyeliners is that they have a fantastic longevity, and minimal transfer to the upper eyelid. This stayed on me for 8+ hours with only a very faint trace of the pigment going where it wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe that’s the trick to a long-staying product: near-impossible application.

Another positive about this eyeliner is that it didn’t cause any irritation for me at all. My eyes are very sensitive, and I didn’t experience any burning or itching on or around my eyelids throughout the day.

The good parts about this product make me really want to give this product a positive review since it’s¬†so¬†hard for me to find non-transferring and non-irritating eyeliners. But the application is just… unbelievably difficult. You’ll need more time than usual to apply the product if you want any pigment at all. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3/5

Longevity: 4.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 2.5/5

Items to Trash, Volume 1

Usually I post on Tuesdays and Saturday, but I thought I’d mix things up a little and throw in a Thursday post! This post is going to be about the stuff I’m throwing/giving away (or, I¬†think¬†I’m throwing away — sometimes I get cold feet and end up hanging onto them anyway). Some of these items I’ve reviewed in the past — others, I may do a review for in the future.

CosRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence РI want to love CosRX products  because their business model is extremely honest and I appreciate that about them! But none of their products have worked for me (besides the master patches, of course!). This niacinamide product makes my skin extremely congested. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2SI2dQY

The Ordinary Zinc + Niacinamide – I have decided that 30 minutes of perfect, glassy skin is not worth the six hours of pills rolling down my face This is still a huge The Ordinary fan-favorite, though. If you still want to try, click here: https://amzn.to/2REEYdi

Mario Badescu – Cucumber/Green Tea Facial Spray – Too drying for me ūüė¶ It wasn’t for me, but might be good for others! https://amzn.to/2SUB7WA

Skindinavia Oil Control Finishing Spray – ELF does just as good a job, possibly even better, than this spray. For $20 cheaper. Without alcohol denat as the second ingredient. Or literally any other alcohol. BYE

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Eye Shadow Stick – I don’t know why you were in my purse for six months. I think I was holding out hope you would somehow produce color if I just carried you around or…. something.

L’Oreal Everpure Volume Shampoo – I know, this is a shampoo, so this isn’t in my usual line of business. But I was searching far and wide for a sulfate-free shampoo that wouldn’t wipe out the color in my hair in 40 seconds, nor dry it out. The more natural the better, and my quest to stay away from bad alcohols is beginning to extend to shampoos as well. ::excuses self to hide hairsprays:: This has benzyl alcohol in it. ~A

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

Elta MD Intense Moisturizer

This is a weird one. During my cystic acne phase, I used this as an occlusive, and continued to use it for the first five months of treatment. I didn’t have any issues breaking out “more” than I already was. Using it now, though, now that I’m back to combination skin, I’ve noticed it’s congestive to my pores. This seems weird to me as the ingredient list is simplistic — petroleum, and paraffin — both of which are in other products I currently use. So, for all you sensitive skin/acne sufferers: I would actually suggest giving this a try first and see how you react. I really liked this in the beginning and thought it worked great. I’m guessing as my skin recovered, my sensitivities changed.

Onto the review! There is quite a lot of product in this tube, and you don’t need very much at all. The only smell is really the mineral-y, waxy smell of the petroleum. This moisturizer does, as they advertise, “melt” — it comes out as a thick line of waxy product, but starts to disintegrate into water when it makes contact with the heat of your skin. That makes this product best as a last step/occlusive, after you’ve put all your other products on for the night (just be careful not to sleep with your face on the pillow…). It’s awesome particularly in the winter when you feel like you honestly could never get enough moisture in your skin — this moisturizer will provide it!

A full eight hours is about the time it takes for this product to fully break down, but the end result is that you wake up feeling that your skin is bouncy and soft. As I mentioned before, I used to not really find that I had any “new” breakouts (that were caused by this, anyway).

I’m kind of bummed out that I don’t have great results with this anymore like I used to. I think it’s the most moisturized I’ve been from using one product, and the price point of $10 is great for the amount of product and overall effect. I’ll give it the review I would have given it when I had bad acne though, because I think it could definitely be a holy grail for acne sufferers, so long as they don’t have any sensitivities to petroleum. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 3/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe

Rimmel Scandal’eyes Shadow Stick

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Stick

I really love the idea of non-powder eye shadows, but I can’t ever seem to find one that sticks, not even the internet-coveted Maybelline Color Tattoo. My eyes are very sensitive to powder, so I would¬†love¬†to find a gel-type product that will stick around on my lids.¬†Unfortunately, this product was not the solution to my dilemma.

This is a super cheap buy at $4-5 at most drugstores. I picked up the taupe color that is in the picture, and “bulletproof beige”. It’s a gel-pencil — instead of using powder, you can apply this directly to your eyelids. Because my eyelids tend to, ahem, “sweat”, I applied primer before application to help give this product some more staying power.

Even as I was applying this,¬†both¬†colors, I could BARELY see the pigment, and I felt like no product was even leaving the pencil to begin with. Alright, go over it one more time. Still nothing. Alright, one more time… nope. I could hardly see any color. What little color did appear quickly… disappeared, during my thirty minute commute to work.¬†I used these pencils for about a week to see if maybe I just needed to break through that “new” layer of product to get to the stuff that actually worked. Nope. Still no coloration.

Now, given that it’s a gel-pencil, the same concept as many eyeliners on the market today, I imagine that the darker colors would probably have much better staying power.

To add insult to injury, sharpening this is a nightmare! It’s really difficult to create a new tip, after you’ve worn it down the first time. I’m bummed that this didn’t work. I generally like Rimmel — I’ve been happy with their other Scandal’eyes products, but this product just didn’t work at all. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5