Contests

Sometimes you get what you pay for.  I know it’s total cliche, but I have now remembered that it’s totally true.

Over the past year I have won 4 minor contests/giveaways from different cosmetics manufacturers. Mind you, I didn’t win the “grand prizes” of trips, years worth of free products, money or appearances at any events or on any shows.  Instead, I won a total of 1 lone free product each time.  Still, a win’s a win, right?

My total winning beauty haul is comprised of 2 mascaras, a makeup (foundation) primer, and an eyeshadow palette. Decent beauty haul, each and every one, and most if not all were accompanied on their maiden voyage to my mailing address with a lovely note about my win.

Here’s where my luck turns a bit odd, though (but fortunate for you, the reader, as you’ll now benefit by getting 4 reviews in one!):

WIN 1:   Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

The make up primer was the original Smashbox Foundation Primer, clear and translucent in its silicone-based glory.  It’s a nice product, which I have both purchased & used before, and which I will probably continue to use when I have it on hand.  However, I’m not a slave to this specific primer, nor would I sob uncontrollably if it were to suddenly be discontinued, as lucky enough for me, there are several formulations of this product even within this same cosmetics line, not to mention a slew of similar products from brands from Ulta & Sephora’s house brands to ELF Cosmetics to Maybelline New York to L’Oreal Paris to MakeUp Forever and Hourglass.  So, the market’s pretty saturated, and I have more than enough full size containers, samples and travel sizes of primer away in a makeup bag to supplement the multiple bottles of different brands of makeup primer I’ve become the proud owner of over the years.

primer

 

WIN 2:  Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner in Natural Nude

The eyeshadow palette was one of the Shimmer Strips from Physicians Formula.  I must admit, I’ve been slowly collecting all of these palettes that I could, and have most of the green eye ones, the smoky eye ones, a hazel eye one, and even one named Fashionista (with a cute chartreuse button glued to the front of the purple reptile textured palette. It was as if it were MADE FOR ME).  This Shimmer Strip was one of the Nudes (Warm Nude? Neutral Nude? Smoky Nude? I can’t even remember since I have them all – wait, found the photo; it’s Natural Nude).  But again, needless to say, the product performed well and has found a home in my collection & kit, in good standing with regular use in the rotation (just like the foundation primer has).  The different shades of beiges, browns, golds, taupes and peaches are all frosty, so if you’re looking for a matte finish, this is not the product for you.  However, if serious shimmer is your thing, then this product line is made for you.  I find some of the colors layer well over darker matte shades in the same family, if you wish to mix things up a bit, and they also “set” nicely cream and gel shadows & liners.  Very handy in a pinch, and fun to experiment with.  Plus, in the nudes shades, one could also use a large fluffy bronzer brush over the strip & use it for a gentle all-over glow, or use a smaller fluffy brush for more direct & shade specific highlight & contouring if one wants some shimmer in their makeup.

shimmer strips

My luck ran out when I got to the 2 mascaras I won, though.

WIN 3:  L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara

The L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes was an item I had seen in the store aisle at Target and wanted to try, but had not yet purchased.  And while waiting to see if I could find a coupon or sale somewhere to justify me buying yet another mascara before my current ones (notice I said ONES. not ONE. As in I use multiple mascaras all at the same time, like some sort of lash neurotic) were ready to go on their one-way trip to the recycle bin, I received this one in the mail.

Sweet surprise!

So, fast forward a few weeks after receiving my prize in the mail.  I cracked open the package, opened the tube, and tried using this mascara on its own.  On first inspection, I liked the brush shape, the bristles (not too hard, not too soft), and the shape of the tube as far as being a bit outside the norm (it has a defined shape to prevent me from over-tightening the package when I’m done & cracking the tube).

For my initial trial/first use of the product, I used it on its own, without cocktailing it with any other mascara or lash primers.  I found the consistency to be a bit lacking, unfortunately.

I had used several versions of the Voluminous mascara before, and liked the formulation and some of the brushes, though not all of them.  I even have a few tubes of the  L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Pro Extra Volume Collagen Hydra Plumping Mascara in my collection, which to me is the first mascara that came to my mind when I opened this new one up.  I found that visually, the formulas appear very similar on the brushes.  But, that’s where the comparison ended.

This Million Lashes formula seems wetter and clumpier, with some issues in drying without sticking to neighboring lashes.  While the Collagen Plumping one at first is just as wet, it goes on evenly and allows one to comb it over a lengthening formula mascara without any problems.   The Million Lashes does not work as well alone or in combination with other mascaras.

I have tried it several times since that first use.  I have tried wiping down the wand prior to application (My tip:  use a blotting paper for this unless you like to add a good layer of lint to your lashes from your tissues or cotton pads).  I have tried cocktailing it, meaning I used either a lash primer or a lengthening mascara first, and then added a coat of this mascara.  I have re- tried wearing it alone.  I have even tried several comb-throughs with lash combs, spoolies, and even using other cleaned off mascara wands that were plastic or rubber.  No dice.  It seems that at least for this tube of Million Lashes (I will give L’Oreal Paris the benefit of the doubt that this might be a dud tube of product) all it wanted to create on me was a Million Clumps.  I was able to save the nice rubber-bristled wand, though, and after washing it off & drying it, I do like using it to run through my eyebrows after I wash my makeup off to ensure I get any residual makeup off successfully & to groom my brows before bed.

LOreal win mascara

WIN 4: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin CC Curl + Care Mascara.

This is my most recent win. All I can say is wow. Great packaging, great brush. I like the bristles & the curve (not too curved, not straight). The package is easy to hold when using a hand mirror (like I do to apply my eye makeup) without taking up too much space in your hand & dropping, and it’s easy to open (I’ve been known to tighten my mascara tubes & lipgloss tubes till I crack the necks. This bottle, with the flat design, prevents this).

My only complaint, however is the drying time and resilience of the formula.  Now, to be completely fair & honest, I’m not one who is often suckered into purchases by the word “ORGANIC” being used in the marketing for the item.  I also understand that without many of the standard cosmetic ingredients for standard mascaras that the consistency, drying times, etc. can and will be affected.

However…

I do expect that once applied, my mascara won’t run to the hills at the slightest dampness on my face.  I work out on my lunch hours.  And due to this, I tend to sweat (no, not glow, not perspire, but sweat).  I also do not use any waterproofing products on my makeup for the regular work days, nor will I ever use waterproof mascara (tried it once and HATED it, so I avoid it like the plague).

I have never before experienced any form of running mascara in my entire life, which is a lot to say, since I’ve been playing with makeup since I was a little kid of at least 4 years old.  Even in all that time, through all the decades, and from all the price points I have tried, from $1 store brands to department store brands, I have never before experienced mascara that stayed damp and runny for its entire wear period, as this one did.  I called & spoke with a customer service representative on their Customer Relations Department line listed in the prize insert.  She informed me that this mascara is supposed to be more of a “conditioning coat” or “cream” that doesn’t have harsh drying solvents in it, and therefore takes several MINUTES to dry between coats, and can still remain “moist” while on so that it treats the lashes.  Knowing this now, I’m not quite sure how I would properly wear a perpetually damp mascara, and because of this, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be wearing this one again (outside of if I need smeary eye makeup for Halloween).  Which is a sad discovery for me because I really did enjoy the brush on this one.

Phys Form CCmascara

But, don’t you just take my word for it, dear readers…feel free to add your comments & personal experiences below for discussion.

The Alligator in NYC

For those of you who may not know me, I live in the greater New York City metro area.  I’m a transplanted New Yorker, born & raised, and after a decade-plus stint in another time zone, I’ve been back in my “home turf” in the Northeast for almost 4 years.  During this time, I’ve had the ability to grow my group of friends to include some very, very awesome & talented “twenty-somethings”, and we as such tend to gather in what we call our “Limited Engagements” to spend our gal pal time across the area, including in New York City proper.

This past Saturday (4/26/14), I had the pleasure of gathering with my Limited Engagement pals Daring Danielle & Becca to see an amazing 2 woman show (which one of the ladies, Harmony Joy was part of) in the West Village area of New York City.  During this girls night out, I was able to elaborate to the other gals my blog goals, and to try to brainstorm with them for ideas for the first “content laden” blog post.  Here’s what we came up with.

On the drive down to the City, we chatted about makeup in general.  Topics such as brands, brushes, application procedures and how to achieve the same finished effect on your own that you received when you pay for a pro makeup artist (either outright pay them to do your makeup or buy products so they’ll do your makeup) were popular.  I realized that no matter what background you have, and no matter what industry you get into, a uniting topic for most women & some men (hey, I have a good deal of LGBT friends and don’t exclude) is grooming & beauty, and that since much of what’s on the market about this topic is mostly geared to sell a person stuff, it’s hard to get at the nitty-gritty of what’s real information in order to learn what works for you & how to get your money’s worth from a product.

After traipsing down West 14th Street, from 9th Avenue down to 7th Avenue & after a fun window shopping expedition to a vintage clothing store called Rags A-GoGo (website: http://rags-a-gogo.com/Rags_A_GoGo/Home.html in case anyone needs to desperately find a pale peach double-knit 1970’s jump suit for the reasonable price of $28), our group had a pit stop at a 24 Hour Duane Reade pharmacy & drugstore for an ATM run.

Lo & behold, what greeted our eyes when we first walked into the drugstore was this:  A HUGE display, all glossy & black in color [to portray a slick, sophisticated & urban image, the marketing classes in my educational history tell me] screaming “GOSH COSMETICS” (homepage is http://www.goshcosmetics.com/).  We all looked at each other & asked “have you ever heard of this line?” Honestly, none of us could say yes.  This display, with its wares in it, was completely foreign to us.  Yes, it had its line of “required” products that it seems any current cosmetics line needs to carry in order to catch our consumer eyes as of late: a line of BB cream, funky colored nail polishes, sleekly packaged and chromed out lip gloss tubes.  But, what did it have to justify its price point of between $10 & $28 for a product?  Hmmm…

We decided to leave it be, and if we passed by again on our rounds that evening, perhaps we’d vote on a product communally to buy & try for the blog.  After all, it’s a Beauty Jungle out there, and it’s my job to try to answer the kinds of questions the 3 of us ladies had come up against in our brief run-in with that new cosmetics wall.

Fast forward to later that night.  We’re headed back to the car, again on West 7th Avenue, and pass by the same Duane Reade.  We decide, let’s do this.  After a brief review of the items and how we’d figure out what to test, we selected a waterproof eyeliner pencil in a deep emerald shade of green with some slight gold shimmer named “Aligator”.  How perfect! It keeps with the urban theme of the night (anyone hear the old urban legend about aligators in the New York City sewer system?) and yet is an “it” enough shade that it’s something any of us 3 ladies would gravitate towards in our normal make-up shopping.

I’ve taken a photo of Aligator for posterity, and it’s below, next to the photo of the swatches of the color on each of our hands (please excuse the poor lighting results from my phone camera).  I did this in order to showcase how it looks on different skin tones & shades so that you, the reader, can know what to expect (since I don’t have a decent video setup yet for this kind of blogging).  The swatches are on 2 warm undertones (one is on my deeper golden medium to olive tan skin, and the other on Daring Danielle, who has a golden fair skin tone) while one is on a neutral to cool fair skin tone (Becca).

Goshswatches

OK, so here’s the actual review portion of the post (thank you for your patience & for suffering through my babbling of a story to get where we now are, at the meat & potatoes of the post).

**************REVIEW**************

I want to first start with the basics on the company (here’s the summary of who they are from their site): “GOSH Cosmetics is a young and innovative cosmetics, bath & body and fragrance company based in Denmark.  Founded in 1945 as a pharmaceutical company, GOSH quickly moved into the cosmetics industry.  GOSH Cosmetics products are currently sold in more than 75 countries throughout the world.”  Huh. 75 countries.  I’ve traveled a little, and know a bunch of international students, friends, family friends, etc. from a bunch of places.  Never heard of them before. Maybe their Duane Reade stand is their breakout American debut? I mean, their website later goes on to clarify that they didn’t start out with cosmetics, but instead grew to branch out to include cosmetics.  Perhaps this is why I first heard of GOSH this past Saturday.

GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Waterproof is soft and easy to apply with an amazing colour pay-off, can easily be toned out with a brush or an applicator. Contains Vitamin-E and Jojoba oil. Perfume free. Comes in 19 colours. – See more at: http://www.goshcosmetics.com/uk/gosh-velvet-touch-eye-liner.html#sthash.GqGcY2Ap.dpuf

I found this product detail information on the Gosh Cosmetics company page about the eyeliner: “GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Waterproof is soft and easy to apply with an amazing colour pay-off, can easily be toned out with a brush or an applicator.  Contains Vitamin-E and Jojoba oil.  Perfume free.  Comes in 19 colours.”  Aside from the European-style English description, this is a fairly accurate description of the texture of the eye liner.

The eyeliner is smooth, creamy, and has a light, comfortable texture to it. There’s no tugging, skipping, or pulling when applying to the eye area or when we swatched the liner on ourselves.  The pigment load is intense, and it even goes on smoothly over eye shadow (I line my eyes as the next to last step in my eye makeup routine, just before the mascara stage). It stays damp and workable for a few seconds, which allows you to blend it out (if you tend to do the smudgy liner look) or to set the liner with a powder of your choice (colorless or a matching color shadow) if you, like I, prefer to lock your makeup like this.  I found the liner has great staying power too; I washed my hands & it still stayed on. However, a cotton pad with eye makeup remover took it off without a problem. I n fact, this liner reminds me of a smoother version of the Urban Decay liners, but for less money ($12 versus $20). Overall, I give this product & formula of liner an A letter grade. I will now feel free to seek the line out from other retailers & get more colors.

As far as the company website goes, this is my review:  While they have a comprehensive list of the products they offer, they didn’t have a list of shades for each product, color swatches, or much on the site.  Also, you can’t shop directly from this site.  This is a B grade to me.  The website should suck you in! You should want to seek this product out, even if you have to eBay it, and buy it! BUY IT NOW! But, maybe they teach marketing in a different way in Northern Europe? Oh well.  However, this site offers links to YouTube videos of  instructions, ideas and trends that make up for the inability to shop directly from their website.  So, when this is factored in, I have to give their site an A minus.

So, try it for yourself & leave me comments. Do you agree with my findings? Disagree? Have new ideas on how to use this product? Want to show off looks you created with it? Then don’t forget to comment this post!

Love & beauty to all!

GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner Waterproof is soft and easy to apply with an amazing colour pay-off, can easily be toned out with a brush or an applicator. Contains Vitamin-E and Jojoba oil. Perfume free. Comes in 19 colours. – See more at: http://www.goshcosmetics.com/uk/gosh-velvet-touch-eye-liner.html#sthash.GqGcY2Ap.dpuf