Product Review: Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous Foundation

review, beauty, drugstore, makeup

I’ve spent the last couple weeks putting Covergirl’s Outlast Stay Fabulous Foundation through its paces. This foundation has been making some serious rounds over the last few months, I’ve seen it pop up on beauty vlogs and blogs left, right and center. Between the rave reviews; full coverage, long-wearing formula; and the built-in primer I  was utterly powerless to resist.

PACKAGING

Major props to Covergirl on this one: the glass bottle is sleek and compact with….drumroll please….A PUMP. Honestly, I’m not sure why there are any foundations in existence that come without one (I’m looking at you Revlon ColorStay).

SHADE RANGE

The foundation comes in an impressive 14 shades that range from the super fair Ivory to the dark Soft Sable. As is the case with most drugstore foundation lines, the warm undertones outweigh the cool but there seems to be a shade for most everyone. Something important to note is that this foundation does oxidize: the formula turns slightly darker and warmer as it settles on the skin. True Ivory, for example, is a great match for my skin in the bottle but ultimately is slightly too yellow-toned post application.

FORMULA/FINISH

This is where this foundation truly shines. For starters, having a primer built in is pretty amazeballs. Anything that subtracts a step from my morning routine gets a gold star from me. The broad spectrum SPF 20 earns another gold star although it means you might wanna give this foundation  a miss for nighttime due to potential flashback. I also loved that this product is utterly scent free, there’s nothing worse than lathering your face up with something that smells like grandma perfume (ColorStay, once again). The formula itself is fairly thick and while it does have an impressive level of coverage, I did still need to use concealer over any hyper pigmentation. In terms of finish, this foundation is demi-matte – meaning that the finish is matte without looking overly flat or unnatural. I did find that the formula clung slightly to drier patches on my forehead and, as I mentioned above, the color will become noticeably darker as it sets which is a bummer. What really impressed me with this foundation was wear time and oil mitigation. True to their word, Covergirl delivered a foundation which is about as long wearing as they come, even without a primer. I also noticed that this formula kept me matte for hours. To give you an indication of the mind-blowing significance of that statement let me inform you that my skin falls into the extremely oily category; as in, my face has the potential to eliminate US dependence on foreign oil. This is the only non-powder product I’ve ever tried that made any significant impact on my oil levels throughout the day, and for that reason alone, I’m naming Outlast a keeper. Oh, and it doesn’t cause breakouts! Winning for everyone!

APPLICATION

It appears that most bloggers out there favor the beauty blender/sponge method of application for this foundation, but, rebel that I am, I prefer to use my Real Techniques Buffing Brush. I find a buffing brush allows me to really work this product into my skin, which is key for achieving a natural finish with heavier formulas.

FINAL VERDICT

While this foundation has definitely earned a permanent spot in my foundation line up, I don’t think I’ll be using it on a day to day basis. Perhaps snagging the correct shade will change my mind but, as of this moment, Outlast has failed at seducing me away from my beloved Urban Decay Naked Skin. While I understand that a heavier formula comes with the territory of any long-wearing foundation, it’s too intense for my daytime look, especially as humid summer draws ever closer. If, however, you’re in the market for an excellent long-wearing, shine-fighting, full-coverage foundation, this is absolutely worth a test.

$9.49/1 fl oz at most drugstores.

 

 

Product Review: L’Oréal Voluminous Power Volume 24H Mascara

review, beauty, cosmetics, drugstore

Sadly, I’ve got another bummer review for you today, and it’s no April Fool’s joke.

Which is good, or it would be the world’s lamest April Fool’s joke of all time.

On the whole, I think I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to mascara; as long as it’s doing something decent for my lashes, I’ll happily use up the tube. What I can’t stand; however, is a mascara that’s either a major fuss to apply or that gives you super cakey, over-mascaraed looking lashes. L’Oreal’s Voluminous Power Volume mascara unfortunately ticks both those boxes.

Quite frankly, there’s nothing I like about this mascara. I admit that I’ve only been using it for a few days but I’m sorely tempted to just throw it in the trash. (Don’t worry, I won’t. Still poor and everything.) Firstly, the packaging is about as boring as it comes, though that’s definitely not a deal breaker. It’s also conspicuously lacking any reference to L’Oreal, I ended up having to google the formula name to remember what brand it was – seems like shoddy marketing, though maybe they’re distancing themselves? I wouldn’t blame them. As for the wand, it’s fairly standard, full and shaped vaguely like an anorexic peanut.

The true disappointment with this product is the formula, especially when it comes to application. Usually, applying mascara is my favorite part of doing my makeup. It makes a massive difference and is traditionally pretty hard to screw up. L’Oreal has created an exception to that rule, however. For starters, the formula dries incredibly quickly on your lashes, giving you almost no time to work with them. It dries so quickly, in fact, that I work with only one eye at a time, instead of going back and forth between them as I would normally do. The second problem here is that the formula is heavy, making it almost impossible to create nicely separated lashes and giving a final result that is a far cry from natural. I also suspect that this mascara diminished my lashes’ natural curl (I happen to be pretty lucky in that department, no curler needed) so I can’t imagine it would do a good job with lashes that tend towards the straight end of the spectrum. The final straw was that the mascara started flaking almost immediately, and getting mascara bits stuck in my eye is not on my list of most comfortable feelings.

As you can imagine, this product was a total let down. L’Oreal, for the most part, has an excellent offering of drugstore mascaras (Telescopic Shocking Extensions and Voluminous being prime examples) but Power Volume 24 Hour is not one of them.  What puzzled me is that the reviews online are for the most part positive, if not gushing. While there’s a chance I picked up a bad tube, there’s no chance I’ll be picking up a second to test the theory.

Product Review: AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask

beauty, face mask, skin care, review

Ideally, every time you used a face mask it would be while wearing a fluffy robe with a hot bubble bath filling up behind you and Leonardo DiCaprio leaving desperate voicemails on your phone….back to Earth, Erin. Sometimes; however, there just isn’t time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone about my day with the best of intentions to use a mask before bed only to find myself bleary-eyed in the bathroom at midnight with barely enough stamina to use a cleanser. Even on those mornings when I wake up feeling the imminent threat of a breakout, I can’t spare fifteen minutes to sit with a clay mask - It’s a rare day I even leave time for breakfast.

So, what’s a time-strapped girl to do? Enter the AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask. This mask doesn’t take twenty minutes to do its thing, or even ten, but two. TWO. You’re practically rinsing it off before you’ve finished applying it.

The mask is a blend of Dead Sea mud and minerals which both serve to clarify and purify the skin. Horsetail extract works as a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic to soothe your skin while jojoba oil works overtime in the nourishing department. The formula is approved for sensitive skin and is allergy tested, along with being paraben and SLS/SLES free. Basically, AHAVA is winning all around on the formula front. The mask’s texture is perfect: smooth and buildable without being heavy or gunky. The scent is spa-like and subdued and utterly luxurious.

So, does speedy gonzalez work? I’d have to say yes. My skin feels clean and smooth and pampered after a go with this product and my budding breakouts seem somewhat deterred. While I wouldn’t declare this the best face mask I’ve ever used, it’s definitely the best mask I’ve used that has me out of the bathroom in less than five minutes. I would mention that the two minute time frame isn’t really a suggestion;  you can’t wander away from the bathroom as you might with another mask. Due to the purifying nature of the mud mask, you risk excessive drying if you leave it on for even a few extra minutes.

I personally use this either on those aforementioned nights when my bed is making an irresistibly persuasive case or in the mornings, right before popping in the shower. It’s an effective, pampering mask that accepts no excuses about lack of time or energy. While the bottle seems a wee bit pricey ($32/3.4 oz), a little goes a long way and I’ve had mine for months. This is the perfect face mask for the busy or narcoleptic girl looking to up their skin care game.

 

My Belated Resolution: An End to Comparisons

I know making big life resolutions is traditionally reserved for the start of the new year while the start of spring is traditionally reserved for conveniently forgetting all about them but I’ve decided to go ahead and make one anyway. Woo for nonconformity! Or something.

So what’s this untimely promise I’ve made to myself? Hint: it has nothing to do with the gym (I’m not quite that deluded).

I’ve decided…. to stop being jealous. Sounds simple, huh? Or perhaps unrealistic. I know jealousy isn’t something turned off with the well-intentioned flick of a switch. But I do believe it can be done, with effort, over time. Perhaps I should be more specific about the type of jealousy I’m referring to – I’ve decided to stop comparing myself to those around me, for I always seem to do so at the expense of my self-esteem.

I think it might be helpful if I provided some background as to where this resolution originated. Several months ago an acquaintance from university passed away tragically and unexpectedly. I wouldn’t say we were close, he was more a good friend of good friends if that makes any sense. Despite our minimal contact, when he passed away I was close enough to feel the shockwaves. To still feel the shockwaves. To experience that jarring and unexpected grief specific to the loss of someone who had so many of life’s firsts still ahead of them.

In so many ways we equate youth to invincibility – or at least we do while we still consider ourselves young. The various commercials for medications, wrinkle creams, and life insurance resonate only as messages for someone else. Someone with lines around their eyes, cholesterol pills in their medicine cabinet, and a diet that’s replaced Mountain Dew with Metamucil.

When this acquaintance passed away so unexpectedly, I felt for the first time the fraying edges of that cloak of invincibility I had wrapped around myself as a child. Suddenly I became aware of how much I had left to look forward to and how very much I stood to lose, how much there was to be grateful for. This awareness stuck with me for weeks and weeks, cropping up at random moments throughout the day. In one particular instance, I was making my commute home from work when I spied an annoyingly attractive woman across the subway car and had my usual, fleeting moment of jealousy - I wish I had her hair/skin/legs/style. These incidents of comparison – where I hold myself up against another and find myself lacking, are almost as consistent and unconscious as the in-and-out motion of my breathing. Such is the effect of our beauty-obsessed culture, especially evident among women. It is a constant state of being to measure ourselves against the ubiquitous icons of beauty and find ourselves wanting. In this particular moment of envy; however, my newfound sense of perspective kicked in and I was forced to wonder at the pointlessness and absurdity of what I was doing. Sure, this girl may have great legs and Pinterest-worthy hair but I have a supportive network of family and friends, a passport decorated with stamps from around the world, and a warm apartment to retreat to out of this especially bitter winter. While I can’t be sure that this woman isn’t also in possession of these things, I can assuredly state that any one of these things trumps great legs and bouncy hair.

Until recently, I wasn’t even aware of how much I made these comparisons, the same way I’d imagine most women reading this are similarly ignorant. We place ourselves perpetually in competition with other women, as though beauty, poise, and admiration are finite resources we must constantly struggle to retain a share of. It’s not that we’re petty or shallow or undercover masochists, we’re simply byproducts of a culture that has placed youth, beauty, and attention at the apex of desirability. A culture that has taught us to equate our self worth with our sex appeal, to idolize models and treat airbrushed celebrities as achievable standards of what it means to be beautiful.

And truthfully, i’m tired of it. I’m tired of perpetuating a culture that has its priorities so very out of order. I’m tired of feeling my self-confidence shatter to pieces every time I have a major breakout or put on a few pounds. From a rational standpoint, I know that every woman, no matter how gorgeous or confident, has something she’s insecure about. I know that things like intelligence, kindness, wit, and tolerance are far more worthy goals to strive for than sex appeal. I also know that I will no doubt be working on this resolution for the rest of my life. That being said, I’m already noticing a difference.

Now, when some girl with flawless skin and kick-ass style sits next to me on the subway, instead of running the usual depressing checklist in my head of all the ways I am less cool/exotic/clean/schmexy, I instead counter that instinctive comparison with the reminder of something I have to be grateful for. Ok, I could never pull that dress off BUT I’m living in the city I’ve dreamt about since I was twelve. Sure, she somehow escaped puberty with skin like a baby cherub but I’m blessed to be among the depressingly few debt-free college graduates. I realize this all sounds very Hallmark and cliche but it really puts things into perspective. It’s a reality check that not only stops the self-deprecation in its tracks but also includes a healthy dose of gratitude, which is scientifically proven to be one of the most significant contributing factors to overall happiness.

Like I said, I realize that this resolution is more of a process than a decision and I’m aware that my seemingly permanent breakouts will no doubt always induce feelings of inadequacy but I’m determined to give this thing a shot. Things are changing for women across the globe, and in western culture in particular, the calls for realistic beauty standards are becoming ever louder and more powerful. Even the most monumental of cultural shifts start small, with individuals, and I intend to be one of them. It’s time to stop treating beauty as an objective goal and more as a subjective concept. Every person has a beauty unique to them, visual or intangible, and it makes no sense trying to rank one person’s over another’s.

So, I am officially declaring 2014 the year of no more comparisons. Hopefully by the time 2015 rolls around that knee-jerk instinct to measure myself against other people will be well on its way to extinction and my happiness and self-esteem will reflect the change.

If you made it to the end of this marathon post, I am both suitably awed and tentatively hopeful that you found it in some way compelling or interesting. I’d love to hear any thoughts other women/beauty bloggers/humans have on the subject!

P.s. I recognize that this post might seem a wee bit hypocritical on a blog dedicated to all things beauty but I personally feel that beauty products not only help boost self-confidence but are also just plain fun to play around with. It’s all about keeping a healthy perspective.

Run & Repurchase #1

Bobbi Brown, NARS, Clinique, beauty, cosmetics

As a new(ish) grad living in New York City, I too often find myself battling between supporting my beauty habit and purchasing basic necessities such as groceries or metro cards (prioritizing – still working on it). While my practical self generally is able to keep me out of Sephora, there are a few bits in my beauty collection that I can always seems to find room in the budget for.

Here’s a selection of the tried-and-true beauty products that I’ve decided must be accessible to me at all times. The products that, should they run out, I immediately run out and repurchase.

  • Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – I’ve professed my love for this leave-in conditioner multiple times already on Full Coverage, but I just can’t get enough. This product leaves my hair hydrated, shiny, protected, and super soft. Oh, and it also smells amazeballs. I make sure to have another bottle on its way before I’ve even finished the last one. Full review here.
  • Bobbi Brown Brow Pencil (Grey) – I’m not sure where I would be without this brow pencil. Well, actually, I do have some deeply repressed memories of barely-there brows that were apparently filled using completely the wrong color. The worst thing about the whole debacle is that I did this for years and no one said a thing. It wasn’t until a good samaritan at the Bobbi Brown counter convinced me to make the switch that all three friends I was with fell over themselves to assure me I was currently making a tragedy of my eyebrows – which has to be some sort of girl code violation. Either way, this cool-toned taupe pencil is a perfect match and I’ve been hoarding back-ups for years. I personally find it difficult to find a good, cool-toned brow pencil for blondes. Brow pencils on the whole seem to skew warm but generally there’s only one option for blondes and it’s always too golden. I will say this pencil has mixed reviews online, mostly due to the soft formula and propensity of the pencil to crumble under pressure of sharpening; however, the finish is soft enough to seem natural and with a little extra caution, the sharpening issue is mostly avoidable. While I wouldn’t recommend everyone make the switch, if you’re a fellow blonde having issues matching your eyebrows to the rest of ya, give this baby a shot. P.s. this also comes with a pencil sharpener which is absurdly useful.
  • Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – this is another Full Coverage all-star, and oddly, my most popular review to date. This cream is absolute luxury in a pot, it’s one of the few products I’ve tried that makes an immediate and glorious difference in the appearance of my skin. While this definitely comes in at the high end price-wise on the run & repurchase list, it’s one of those luxuries I can always justify and would recommend to anyone. Full review here.
  • Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla) – This is another product that’s earned its very own review, linked here. This is my go-to concealer for under-eye darkness and around the nose redness. The formula is creamy and blendable without being remotely heavy. It’s also an excellent product for highlighting given the inherent radiance (think down the nose or along the cupid’s bow). I do have to mention that I switch to a different concealer when it comes to concealing blemishes. Given the aforementioned brightening element, this tends to draw attention where it’s applied, not good when dealing with spots, especially raised ones.
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick (Black Honey) – I mentioned in my 2013 Year End Favorites post that I was ready to declare this little wonder my favorite lip product of all time and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to find it holding the same title next year. While this lipstick looks downright alarming in the tube, it’s actually a gorgeous sheer cranberry on the lips that can either be worn as a tinted lip balm or built up to full-on red lip drama. Did I mention this also suits everyone? Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but, you know, with lipstick. (..Gross?) Either way, Clinique’s created an absolute winner here, the texture is smooth, hydrating, and totally non-sticky and the slim silver tube fits easily into even the most minimalist of clutches.

I decided to leave this first list at 5 products, but rest assured there’s a lot more where that came from. Keep your eyes out for more repurchase essentials to come!

Product Review: Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect

product review, hair care, conditioner, beauty, birchbox

A few months ago, a sample-sized bottle of this leave-in conditioner arrived at my apartment courtesy of beauty addiction enabler Birchbox. Having already tried, and loved, two other leave-in conditioners I’d previously been sent, I happily whisked the sample off to my bathroom, sure it would be no exception. Sadly this time, BBox let me down.

Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of the scent. It manages to be both herbal and oddly cloying, a potent and almost medicinal combination that doesn’t appeal. What really put me off this leave-in conditioner, however, was its effect on my hair, or should I say lack thereof. As far as I can tell, this product didn’t accomplish much of anything, my hair was no softer, shinier, or at all easier to brush through. There were times I even suspected it made my tangles worse (I understand that makes zero sense). I’ll admit that my favorite leave-in, Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle, is a hard act to follow but this didn’t even come close.

What’s most puzzling to me is that the reviews online are generally incredibly positive. I can understand not everyone feels the same about the scent, that’s typically a personal preference, but I can’t account for the reviews that claim this sample bottle changed their life. As far as I can tell, the best thing about this product is that it sprays in fine, even mist and is 100% vegan. Overall, I’d say if you’re looking for a good leave-in conditioner, skip Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect and order either this number from 12 Benefits or the aforementioned gem from Beauty Protector, both of which are cheaper too.

Has anyone else given this product a try – am I the only person who wasn’t won over?

Image credit: Birchbox.com