Rock it or Knock it? Smashbox Primer Oil Review

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Thanks to work, I feel like it’s been an eternity since I blogged. I absolutely love teaching history, but I also work as an admin assistant, and by the time I get home each night, I’m too tired to blog. Let’s fix that with a review on one of the most hyped-up beauty items of the year: the new Smashbox Primer Oil. This has been on everyone’s beauty radar for months as a product that sounds too good to be true–a luxury face oil that adds radiance while smoothing lines and boosts hydration while prepping skin for foundation. I was intrigued by the idea of using an oil as a primer, but the price of $42 always made me hesitate. This winter though, my previously combo skin has changed dramatically to being parched and dry, and I finally splurged on this in an attempt to rehydrate my skin.

This oil contains many ingredients that are supposedly great for any skintype, including rosehip oil, tamanu oil, safflower oil, and numerous antioxidants. It’s a light golden color with a flowery fragrance, and it does go on feeling quite light. In fact…too light. When I first applied it, I warmed two drops in my palms, as per the instructions, and pressed them into my facial skin. Not only did my face turn red, but it also still felt dry as the Salt Lake Desert. I applied three more drops and tried to ignore how tight my face felt as I applied my foundation. True enough, my foundation did go on wonderfully smoothly, and I loved the way the oil made it look more like skin. But…my face felt so dry. For an hour, my foundation looked good, then it started getting patchy, and by the third hour, most of it had simply dissolved–and I could barely move my face it felt so dehydrated.

But I was determined to make it work. For a week I wore the oil to bed at night, hoping that a whole teaspoon of it would finally give me the hydration it promised. It didn’t. I continued to use the oil as a primer that week as well, and every day my face felt so dry I had to borrow vaseline from the preschool class at work to smear around my nose and mouth to keep my skin from cracking. Every day my foundation looked patchy and dry, and by that sunday, the oil had also given me a face full of pimples. Yikes.

As much as I wanted to like this primer oil, it just did not work on me at all. I know lots of women who swear by it, but if you have very dry, acne-prone skin, I would stay far away from it. It was simply not hydrating at all, it irritated my skin, and I’m still trying to get rid of all the whiteheads it caused. I love facial oils, but something in this one did not agree with my skin at all.  I ended up returning it. Sorry, Smashbox, but this is not rock ‘n’ rouge approved!

Review: Studio 35 Vitamin E Skin Oil

I’m baaacckk! It feels like ages since I blogged, but I have a good excuse: it was my last month of college and I had huge amounts of work to do. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m free to blog again. And what better way to get back into the swing of things by telling you about my new HG skincare product? It’s one of those hidden gems at the drugstore, and it’s by Studio 35, Walgreens’s “store brand.” Let me introduce you to…Studio 35 Vitamin E Skin Oil.

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This is the very best facial oil I have ever used! It’s only got two ingredients in it, Safflower Oil and vitamin E. I think the secret to the wonderfulness of this oil is its super-high vitamin E content—as you can see, it contains 56,000 I.U.’s. With that concentration, anyone should see results, and I certainly have. Safflower Oil is also excellent for acne-prone skin because it is high in linoleic acid, which helps pull out all the gunk that causes clogged pores. It is also one of the most sensitive skin-friendly oils available, and of course, it moisturizes deeply. I picked this up on a whim, but I have been using it constantly for the past month and a half, and seriously, my skin has never been better. I noticed during the first week that my skin wasn’t breaking out as much, and by the third week, I had stopped getting pimples entirely. For me, that’s incredible. I haven’t been acne-free since I was 15, so I was amazed by the results I had. Also, the vitamin E in it makes this great for fading scars and preventing wrinkles. I’ve tried lots of facial oils by lots of high-end brands—Clarins, Josie Maran, Marula, Fresh, Caudalie, etc—and this one blows them all out of the water. I have never had such great results with any skincare product before!

I use this at night, after washing with Neutrogena Fresh Foaming cleanser, and I massage a thick layer of it all over my face, including under my eyes. It feels so calming and hydrating when I first put it on, and my morning my skin looks toned, firm, and moisturized. I have also used this on my hair, on my legs, and on my hands, and every time it absorbs fast and makes my skin look 100% better. I paid a mere six dollars for this, and it honestly outperforms all of the expensive oils from Sephora. It also comes it a pretty big bottle, so it will last forever. You can see from the picture that I still have a ton left!

I can’t recommend this enough. If you have dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, this is definitely for you.

 

Review: New Skincare Products by Garnier, Neutrogena, and Simple

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Hello my lovely readers! I know I have been away awhile, but between college and work, there’s just no time for me to blog! A darn shame…to make up for that, I have a triple review for you today, featuring brand new skincare products from the drugstore. I have the new Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream, the new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin, and the new Simple Micellar Cleansing Water. Two of these products I am obsessed with, and one was kind of a dud. We’ll talk about that one first and just get it out of the way!

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Here’s the new Garnier cream. As is typical of Garnier, the product makes many wild claims and then doesn’t live up to them. I was pretty excited about this product because it claimed to hydrate, brighten, prevent wrinkles, exfoliate dead cells away, and repair skin with the power of a mask. Sound too good to be true? It was. I had such high hopes for this, and it just did not perform well.

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The cream itself is rather thick, and is a pale pink color that makes me think it has some kind of dye in it.

When I first applied it, I was struck by how heavily perfumed it was. It has that sweet floral smell that most of Garnier’s products contain, and my skin just does not like skincare with fragrances in it. But I was willing to overlook that, if the cream worked. After all, who doesn’t want bright, rejuvenated skin? Alas, when I put it on, it didn’t feel very hydrating at all (perhaps due to the high alcohol content of the ingredients.) And the next morning when I woke up, my face was red, irritated, and very greasy. I continued to use it for a few nights, but my skin kept getting steadily more irritated, and finally on the fourth night, I woke up with four monster zits. Not cool, Garnier. Now, if your skin isn’t too sensitive or too dry, this might be fine for you. But for my dry and sensitive, acne-prone skin, this just did not work. Plus, it costs about $20. :/

Fortunately, these next two products more than make up for the Garnier mishap! I stumbled upon the new Simple Micellar Water at Publix, of all places, so of course I picked it up. I had never used a cleansing water before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, For the sake of honesty, I will say that if you are wearing a full face of makeup—primer, concealer, foundation, powder,etc—then this isn’t going to cut it when it comes to removing makeup. I tried to get off a full coverage foundation with this, and while it removed about 60%, I still had to wash my face afterwards. But if you’re just wearing a sheer foundation, then you would probably be fine with this, or if you are makeup-free and just want to refresh your face. I have actually been using this as a toner, and my skin has been LOVING it. I wash my face as usual, then go over it with the Simple Micellar Water on a cotton pad. It. Is. So. Soothing! I love the way it feels going on. It’s totally unscented, which I like, and contains several hydrating ingredients as well as vitamin E and B. It gets rid of any makeup that my face wash didn’t get, it reduces redness, and it is perfect for removing eyeshadow and mascara. Total win in my book.

Lastly, I have the new star of my skincare regime—Neutrogena’s new Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for Extra Dry Skin. As soon as the weather gets cold, my skin goes from combo to super dry, and I have been hunting for a new face cream to combat the winter flakies. I am so glad I found this! It costs $17.99 at Wal-Mart, but I do think it’s worth the price.

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It’s nice and lightweight, and has an emollient yet nonsticky texture.

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It is dye and fragrance free, and contains high levels of hyaluronic acid to boost skin’s moisture levels by 1000%! It also says it leaves skin smooth, supple, and soft all day long. I love the way this cream makes my skin feel! As it says, this is a “gel-cream,” meaning that it’s very lightweight, one of my favorite things about it. When I put it on, it feels like a drink of water for my skin—ultra hydrating and completely non-irritating. It sinks into the skin immediately and dries to a matte finish within two minutes. That’s what surprised me about it—I was expecting it to stay shiny/slick, but it just sank right in and that was it. It’s matte but not mattifying; it’s the perfect amount of hydration for my parched skin and it’s an excellent base for makeup because it’s so smoothing. It almost acts like a straight-up primer. I can use it under my eyes with no irritation, and because my skin loves it so much, I’ve been using it day and night with great results.

After using both the Simple Micellar Water and the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for two weeks, I can safely say that my skin has improved dramatically. It is hydrated and smooth, and the redness that’s usually present in my skin has lessened quite a bit. Also, my skin has been breaking out a lot less with this combination. These two products are really good quality for drugstore products! They get my stamp of approval. 🙂

Review: Skin Nutritions Ultimate Skincare System

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As promised, here are my thoughts on the Skin Nutritions set that I picked up from my Dollar Tree Haul.  I got the whole set for just $3, and it includes a cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer. I was really interested to see what these products would be like, since they were so cheap and because I couldn’t find reviews for them anywhere else on the internet. As it turns out, two of the products I like and one did not suit my skin at all.

The facial cleanser
The facial cleanser

First up, I’ll talk about the cleanser. It has a nice, fresh scent that reminds me of Noxzema, and it claims to cleanse skin with a rich lather, removing makeup, impurities, and pollutants. It is paraben-free, and promises not to dry out the skin. My verdict? It actually does what it claims to do. It’s a nice, basic cleanser that easily removed my makeup and left my skin feeling very clean and balanced. It didn’t dry my skin out, but I did notice a tiny bit of  tightness after using it, so if your skin is very dry, I’d definitely use a moisturizer with it. This was my favorite product from the set.

The toner--Clinique dupe?
The toner–Clinique dupe?

The toner (or clarifying lotion, as the bottle says) reminds me a lot of Clinique’s toner from their 3-step kit, except I actually like the Skin Nutritions one better. It has several antioxidants in it, including coffee berry, bilberry, and chestnut rose. Now, because my skin is very sensitive, I can’t use any toner that often because the alcohol destroys my skin, BUT if your skin is straight-up oily and not combination then I think you would like this a lot. Like the Clinique toner, it has witch hazel and menthol in it, so if you like that bracing, cooling sensation then this is for you. It looks and smells just like the Clinique one, and they seem like dupes to me. Bottom line: a good toner for oily skin, but maybe not if your skin is sensitive.

The moisturizer that didn't, well, moisturize.
The moisturizer that didn’t, well, moisturize.

And now, my thoughts on the moisturizer. This was the item I was most excited about, because it contained grape seed oil and hyaluronates, and so I thought it would be really hydrating. But it just…wasn’t.  This is marketed as a “youth perfecting” moisturizer that prevents lines and boosts moisture, but for my skin at least, that wasn’t really the case. No matter how much I used, my skin just sucked it up within seconds and felt even dryer than it was before. I like the texture and the smell of it (and the fact that it’s a lovely shade of salmon-pink), but it just wasn’t right for my skin. I can’t see anyone with drier skin than mine being able to use this. It did also start making me break out again, although I kind of thought it might—it contains mineral oil and petrolatum, two known pore-cloggers.  However, just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t try it; it is, after all, only a mere dollar. That’s the beauty of this whole set: it’s so cheap that I think it’s worth a try. Everyone’s skin is different, and someone else might love this.

The moisturizer on the left, and the cleanser on the right.
The moisturizer on the left, and the cleanser on the right.

There are some interesting ingredients in these, and although I wouldn’t say that these are my new favorites, they have potential. If you just want to try one, then get the cleanser. If you want a Clinique dupe, then grab the toner. And if you have acne-prone/dry skin, then stay away from the moisturizer–honestly, I could only see it working for someone with supremely oily skin that doesn’t need a ton of moisture and who never gets pimples. If that’s your skintype then hey, it’s a dollar!

Two little announcements: I set up a Bloglovin’ for my blog, so feel free to follow me! Also, Born Pretty Store contacted me to review some products for them, so I should have a cool haul coming up for you ladies. They also gave me a 10% off code just for my readers, which is AKFH10. As always, thank you all for reading!

Review: Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream

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Today I have another great new Maybelline product to show you. As you all probably know, Maybelline released their first BB cream last year, the Dream Fresh one. And I absolutely hated it. Even the lightest shade was a muddy orange on me, and it was unspeakably greasy no matter how much powder I used. It just was not suited to my pale, oily skin at all, but this summer Maybelline released a new BB cream that is formulated specifically for oily, acne-prone skin. I stalked my local drugstores for months before I finally found it, and I’m so glad I did, because this product is a winner. Unlike the original Dream Fresh one, the Dream Pure BB cream actually contains skin-improving salicylic acid, an acne-fighting medication, and although the shade names are the same for both BB creams, this one is much lighter than its predecessor. It actually matches me!

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According to Maybelline, this BB cream fight blemishes with 2% salicylic acid, hydrates and soothes, reduces redness, shrinks pores, and feels lightweight. In my opinion, all those claims are true. To start off, I am in the shade Light (no surprises there) and I like that it is much paler and less pinky-peach than the original one. It looks orange against my skin at first, but it blends in like a dream ( see what I did there) and sheers out to match my skintone. I love that it moisturizes and fights blemishes and evens my skin all in one, so that I don’t have to layer multiple products. The coverage of this BB cream is also better than the previous one, and it is much longer-lasting.  The finish of the first one was extremely shiny, but this one dries to a satin-matte finish and controls shine all day. Look how natural and smooth and glowy-but-still-matte it makes my skin!

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It actually does what it claims to do instead of just being glorified tinted moisturizer–it does reduce the amount of acne I get and it definitely soothes my skin, and I’ve noticed that when I wear this, any blemishes I do have clear up much faster. I have used this under foundation and by itself with no problem, but my favorite way to use it is over my Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure Primer for poreless, matte skin that lasts all day.  I even like this better than my Pond’s BB cream because the Dream Pure one is more suited to my skin type. Being able to find an acne-fighting BB cream at the drugstore is a huge plus for me, and I am so glad Maybelline is trying to address the skincare needs of all their customers. Love!

My New Favorite Face Cream

I’ve finally found the perfect night cream. It’s rich, ultra hydrating, and has already improved the tone and texture of my skin drastically. And it’s dirt cheap. What is this little miracle, you may ask. Well, it’s good old Nivea Crème. Yep. I ain’t even lying. That little blue tub that you’ve probably all seen on your grandma’s dresser, filled with that thick white stuff that looks like lard, is my new favorite moisturizer.

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I never even considered putting the stuff on my face until a week ago. I assumed it would be thick and oily, and I figured my pimply skin couldn’t handle it. But then I read an article that compared Nivea to the famed Crème de la Mer–and the Nivea beat out its much more expensive counterpart by far. My skin was particularly dry because of my new face wash, so I grabbed one of those 99 cent tins, just out of curiosity. I washed my face as usual, then put on the Nivea. It isn’t one of those creams you can just slap on and be done. The Nivea is so thick that you have to pat it onto your skin gently.

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It smells surprisingly good, like citrus, and it’s very rich-feeling. I was really surprised by it the first night. Despite how thick it looks, it didn’t feel heavy at all on my skin. And it absorbed immediately. I had put it everywhere, including under my eyes, and my skin felt deeply hydrated. A lot of my redness was gone too.

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It may look too thick and heavy, but it's not, I swear!
It may look too thick and heavy, but it’s not, I swear!

I didn’t want to get my hopes up though. I was expecting to wake up and be covered with pimples, but to my great shock, there were no new pimples AND all my old acne scars looked much lighter. After just one night. I was intrigued. So far, I’ve worn it for a week, and I have not gotten one single pimple. Usually, when I’m trying a new product, I break out immediately if my skin can’t handle it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with this. Previously, I had tried lots of expensive night creams that just left me very underwhelmed, but I never thought that something as cheap as Nivea would help my skin as much as it has. My skin just drinks it up, and it’s so gentle. It’s not something I would wear during the day, of course. It is way too rich for that, but for nightly use, I think I’ve found the perfect cream. And it can be used on your body too!

Review: Simple Skincare

My kitty is checking them out...
My kitty is checking them out…

Okay, so I just tried the new Simple Skincare Nourishing 24-hour Day/Night Cream, the Moisturizing Face Wash, and the Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer. The Day/Night Cream is a thick white cream, with virtually no scent, and the Gel Moisturizer is clear and feels/performs a lot like E.L.F.’s Mineral Primer–very silicone-y, not too hydrating.

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Now, I’ve used Simple in the past with great success, and I assumed these products would be just as good for my skin. Boy was I wrong. I don’t know if they have changed the formula or what, but all three products have really irritated my skin. Like, REALLY irritated it. I look like I just had an unsuccessful face peel, and it was so red today that even my teacher noticed—she asked me if I was about to pass out, because “my face looked like it was on fire.” Nope, just my new products.

I have been using them for four days, and I noticed that my skin was somewhat red the first day, but I attributed it to lingering sensitivity from my La Roche Posay trial run. But then, the second day, when I put on the gel moisturizer, it made my face tingle and sting. The redness it induced did subside, but I noticed my skin felt extra dry, despite my not using any acne products. On the third day, after wearing the 24-hour cream all night, I woke up to a face that was red all over, and foolishly I thought putting on more of the gel moisturizer would help. Nope. Not at all. It burned really badly. Finally, today, on day four, I realized that what was messing up my face so much was Simple. It wasn’t the La Roche Posay, which I hadn’t touched in five days. I was irritated in places the La Roche Posay hadn’t even been, like under my eyes, around my mouth, and under my chin. I accidentally got some of the gel moisturizer on my lips, and immediately my lips got all hot and red! I had only used the Simple products, nothing else, and hadn’t made any other changes, so there was nothing else it could have been. I’ve used the face wash before and liked it, but this time it made my skin blotchy and dry. I looked at the ingredients on all three packages, and nothing jumped out at me as being an irritant or anything I was sensitive to, so this is perplexing to me. What the heck, Simple!

I got these products because I thought they’d be calming and more natural for my skin, but my skin hasn’t looked this bad in a long time. Not only do the moisturizers burn and cause irritation, but they aren’t hydrating either. My face felt just as dry, maybe even drier, after using them, and to make things worse, my skin is so irritated that it’s started peeling off in flakes. Not a good look for my upcoming spring break. This marks the first time that just a basic moisturizer has bothered my skin so much. I expect it from acne products, but not something that’s marketed as being “kind to skin.” Definitely pass on this one.

Also…sneak peek of my Forever 21 Premium Beauty Haul! Needless to say, I’m very excited about this. Expect a review soon!

 

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