Some pretty things (product reviews)

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It has been absolutely FOREVER since I've talked about makeup! I can't even remember where I left off, so let me just tell you what is working for me and what's not:

Stuff I Love

Shampoo: I recently started using the Hybrid Solid Shampoo from Lush (I know, I have been railing against Lush for years, but the store in Cambridge called to me when I was there and I couldn't resist). I love it. My hair and scalp feel great, my hair looks awesome, and it's a wonderful shampoo experience. The smell is like licorice, but not too strong, and it lathers in a soft, wonderful way. It is also not that expensive. It's $9.25 for a bar that I think will last me at least three months (keeping in mind that I store it in a case and I don't wash my hair more than 3 times a week).

Makeup remover: I use Blum Naturals Daily Cleaning Towelettes for Dry and Sensitive Skin, and I love them. They take everything off, don't dry my face out, and feel good while doing it. Apparently they are $7.29 a 30 count package retail, but I bought four or five packages when they were at Ross for $2.99 each, so I am stocked up for a bit.

Primer: I am a complete disciple of Smashbox Photo Finish, as I've mentioned before. I am just finishing my first full bottle of it and have another to open when that one is empty. The first bottle lasted about four months, I think, of near-daily use, and it costs $36 a bottle, so it's not cheap, but it's worth it.

Powder: Again, I am wholly satisfied and no longer looking in this category. Clinique's Almost Powder Makeup SPF 15 is the one for me. It goes on smooth, looks natural, and, in Neutral, is the perfect shade. It's $22.50 a compact, but I bet the compact will last more than a year, so price isn't a big issue.

Blush: I have not one, but two blushes I love. The first is Nars' Blush in Orgasm, which I have mentioned here before (probably more than once). The second, which I am actually using more now that it's summer and my face has some natural color and doesn't need as much help, is Lancome's Blush Subtil in Cedar Rose. I love the oil-free formulation and how easily it slides on and natural it looks.
The Nars is $25 a compact and the LancĂ´me is $29.50, but again, I use so little, each will last more than a year, I'm sure.

Eyeliner: I've recently made two happy eyeliner discoveries. The first, a surprise, was The Body Shop's Hot Brights Eyeliner. Since I have hazel eyes, mine is the purple one, and I very much like and am using both ends of it. It seems to stay on well and it's easy to apply. It's $13, which isn't cheap, but eyeliner lasts for as long as you are willing to keep on using it, so I think that's OK. The other one I'm using is Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, which is also awesome and the easiest eyeliner ever to apply, but a bit much for daytime for me. I have the 1999, which is plum with tiny gold glitter, and it works great at night. It was $16, but again, will last indefinitely.

Eye shadow: Again, I made a surprise discovery on a trip to The Body Shop. The Shimmer Cubes in Palette 16 are working great for me, in particular because I really don't like heavy eye shadow and just want a little bit of dazzle. I've used 3 of the 4 shades (everything but the darker pink) and liked all three of them. The set is $22, which seems reasonable for this much shadow.

Deodorant: After a brief foray into Oyin Funk Butter, which irritates the hell out of my skin (I think it's the baking soda), I am back to Secret Clinical Strength Hypoallergenic. It just works. I won't stray again. As a bonus, they have it at Big Lots for $2 right now. I might stock up.

Soap: The world is FULL of soap that I love, but my favorite right now is Villainess' Blush. It's great summer soap, smelling like berries and lime, and it makes the smoothest lather that never feels like it is leaving a residue. I love it. It's $5 a bar and worth even more.

Scrub: Again, I've rarely met a scrub I didn't like, but my right-now favorite is Arcana's Murder Ballad Blues. It's super moisturizing, doesn't leave a grease film, and again, smells like summer berries. I wish I had another jar of it. It is generally $11.99 for a 10 oz jar, which lasts me about 8 uses, but I don't use it every day.

Shaving Cream: This was another Ross discovery: Tree Hut Shaving Cream for Him and Her. I LOVE this stuff. It's super rich and thick, with a bunch of shea butter in it. Makes for a great, smooth shave, and it smells wonderful, especially in the Brazilian Nut scent. I've been looking forever for something to replace my Trader Joe's Honey Mango, and this is definitely it. Looks like it's about $4 a bottle at drugstore.com, too!

Body Moisturizer: I have to go with Villianess Whipped. It's a little bit heavy for summer, so I don't use it on the days I use scrubs, but since I have dry skin, it's still useful. The scent I am using right now, which I love, is Xia. It's a blackberry (can you tell I'm into berry scents right now?)/vanilla/pepper/cocoa smell, and it's just wonderful. It's $10 a jar, and a jar would last me probably 40 days of continual use, so it should last all summer.

Stuff for Which I Still Search

Conditioner: I am using Aveda's Smooth Infusion Conditioner, and it's fine, but it doesn't wow me. Also, it's expensive--$21 for 6.7 oz, and I use quite a bit of conditioner.

Face Wash: I've been using regular Cetaphil for quite a while, but it seems to work less and less well. I've tried a few other things, but so far they've all spectacularly failed (particularly the tea tree facial wash from Trader Joe's, which I swear peeled my skin off).

Tinted Moisturizer: I am using Clinique's Moisture Sheer Tint SPF 15. And I like it, but I don't love it. It's still not quite as sheer as I'd like, and I have a hard time putting it on without it ending up in my eyebrows, which makes it look like I have brow dandruff. It's also expensive, at $27 a tube, though I use so little I can't imagine the tube lasting less than 4 months or so. On the upside, it does feel very hydrating, which I like, but I still want something that is a little more moisturizer and a little less foundation.

Mascara: O perfect mascara, why does thou forsake me? I have been through nearly every highly-recommended brand of mascara out there, and I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I want something that makes it look like I have long, natural lashes. Lengthening, but no thickening or clumping or looking and feeling sticky. I've tried Definicils, Diorshow, Smashbox Bionic, and am now on to Imju Fiberwig, which is better than anything I've tried previously, but still not really what I want. It's also $22 a tube, which makes it not really something I want to replace every 3 months. I may go back to Neutrogena's Weightless Volume Wax-Free, honestly. The difference is just not that great, and it's less than a third of the price (around $7).

Lipstick: I put this in the "still searching" category because although I like what I have, I want more. The lipstick I am wearing the most recently is Benefit's Silky Finish Lipstick in Dessert First. I love how it looks when it goes on--just the right amount of color and shine and it feels really nice and never dry--but it doesn't last at all, which is a bummer, because I hate having to reapply. I thought choosing the Full-Finish Lipstick might help this, so I got that in Do Tell, but it goes on way to matte. Looks OK once I put gloss over it, but I hate it by itself. I'm also still using Clinique's Black Honey Almost Lipstick, though it's not quite what I want in the summer, and Bare Escentuals' Buxom Lip Gloss, which is too shiny for during they day for me right now. The Benefit lipsticks, by the way, are $18 each, which seems reasonable for a lipstick, since they last forever.

Facial moisturizer: Right now, I am using some health food organic stuff I can't remember the name of. It seems OK, but something is making me break out around my hair line, and I think it may be the culprit. I had a sample of something rose-based that I just loved, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Does that ring a bell for anyone?

Whew! I use a lot of product these days! Guess I've become a high-maintenance girl!

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