5.13.2013

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum: Before and After Review

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum: Before and After Review
RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

Hello, my fellow beauty fiends! I apologize for my long absence. I was finishing up my Master's degree, which is quite a time-consuming and stressful endeavor. Now that I'm done, what better way to celebrate than with a review of a lash growth serum? Let's go!

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum ($49.95) is a non-prescription product intended to condition, strengthen and moisturize your eyelashes (and eyebrows, if you want), with the ultimate goal of helping them grow longer. RapidLash is one of the most popular competitors to Latisse, the gold standard of prescription lash growth products.

In addition to the usual ingredients in over-the-counter lash growth products such as peptides and biotin, RapidLash contains isopropyl cloprostenate. Isopropyl cloprostenate has molecular similarities to bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse. While there is no hard scientific evidence that isopropyl cloprostenate affects lashes in the same way that bimatoprost does, it could be part of the reason why so many people have achieved more success with RapidLash than with other non-prescription lash serums.

I, for one, had moderate success with RapidLash. After about four weeks of use, I saw noticeable growth in my lash length. Some of my lashes were reaching Latisse-like heights, and I was super excited.

However, that growth was not sustained. Now, after using RapidLash for about four months, my longest lashes have fallen out and my lashes overall have regressed to a more moderate length. They're still longer than they would be naturally, but continued use of RapidLash did not cause them to grow longer and longer. Not a bad outcome, but it's one that I think potential users should be aware of.

You can see this in my Before and After:

CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black Review and Swatches
BEFORE RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum: Before and After Review
AFTER RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

I'm sorry about the poor quality of the After picture. While some of the other photos I took were sharper, this one had the most similar angle of the Before so I thought it provided a better comparison despite being blurry + different lighting.

So, you can see that my lashes are slightly longer after using RapidLash, but the difference isn't huge. I believe that my lash length is sustained better with Rapidlash than with Cilea Eyelash Enhancing Treatment, which stopped having an impact after awhile. Also, a major plus is that I didn't experience any negative side effects with RapidLash. No irritation or discoloration whatsoever. 

Overall, I'm glad I tried RapidLash and I believe it had a noticeable, positive impact on my lash length. However, now that my tube has run out, I don't have an urge to repurchase. Instead, I think I will opt to try another non-prescription lash growth serum or repurchase Latisse.

Have you tried RapidLash or any other lash growth product? Share your thoughts in the comments!



Disclaimer: I received a sample of this product from the company for consideration. My review is based on an honest assessment of the product and was not preapproved by PR or brand representatives.

3.16.2013

United Scents of America Fragrance Collection Review



United Scents of America is a new fragrance line inspired by each of the 50 states. Each fragrance is meant to evoke the spirit of a particular place, so you can be reminded of all the locales that hold a special place in your heart. So far, United Scents of America has developed fragrances for 7 states, with plans to eventually release a special scent for all 50. Neat idea, huh?

I first learned about United Scents of America when I saw some of the fragrances available for sale on HauteLook. I was intrigued, but too cautious to purchase one without smelling it first. I emailed the company inquiring about a sample pack and they sent me small vials of all 7 of the currently available scents.

Talk about an exciting package to receive! I was so excited that I wanted to smell all of the fragrances at once, but perfume forces you to be patient. Each fragrance is like a mini olfactory journey, so it's wonderful to take the time and savor the experience evoked by each of these unique scents.

The United Scents of America fragrances each cost $58 for 1.7 oz. They offer good sillage, so you don't need to use very much to get a nice aura of scent. However, I find the longevity somewhat lacking. The scents fade after about 2 hours. The website and sample cards do not specify the concentration of these fragrances, but my guess is that they are along the lines of an Eau de Toilette rather than a stronger Eau de Parfum.

Here's my impressions of the seven United Scents of America fragrances:

Texas:  Texas is described as having a top note of ruby red orange, heart note of red cedar, and bottom notes of white musk, cedar leaf, and amber. When I first dabbed it on, I got a refreshing zing of orange and lemon. The cedar began to fade in and out, which added a woody coolness. The entire composition reminded me quite a bit of Dolce and Gabbana's Light Blue, except with a more subtle dose of amber. Considering that the heavy amber is what keeps me from wearing Light Blue, I found Texas to be a much more pleasing alternative.

Hawaii: Hawaii is described as having top notes of pink plumeria and night-blooming jasmine, heart notes of golden pineapple and papaya, and a bottom note of sweet coconut palm. I must say, I absolutely adore this one. The lovely blend of plumeria, jasmine, and pineapple makes me feel like I am sitting at a delicious tropical brunch surrounded by lush, blooming flowers. It has a relaxed femininity that makes it a perfect summer vacation fragrance. This is one of United Scents of America's newer scents, so it's not even posted on their website yet. Sorry I don't have a link for you, but keep an eye out!

California: California is described as having a top note of fresh cut coconut, heart note of eucalyptus, and bottom note of vanilla bean. I was super excited to try this one since CA is my home state, but this scent didn't quite work for me. That said, it's pretty unique. At first whiff, the coconut top note smells like sweet sunscreen -- very Banana Boat! Then, it gets even sweeter with a dose of creamy vanilla. While I like the smell of sunscreen and am open to wearing a fragrance inspired by it, I found this scent to be too literal and sickly.

Florida: Florida is described as having top notes of fresh ozone, florida orange and grapefruit, ocean breeze and key lime, heart notes of jasmine, violet, rose and melon, and bottom notes of sandalwood, rosewood, white musk, peaches and orange flower oil. I really enjoyed this fragrance. It opens with a lovely blast of citrus, followed by melon and hints of aquatic breeze. After awhile, I smell peach, soft rose, and orange flowers for a feminine composition. This fragrance reminded me of Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia without the dose of mint. As was the case with Texas, I prefer Florida to its bigger name counterpart -- the mint in Acqua di Gioia makes it smell a little bit like a mojito, while Florida steers clear of cocktail territory to remain refreshing.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts is described as having top notes of bergamot, sage and lemon zest, heart notes of cranberry and jasmine, and bottom notes of white musk, tobacco leaf and northern red oak. Like Hawaii, Massachusetts is a new fragrance that is not yet listed on the brand's website. I wasn't too excited by this scent. I primarily smelled citrus, cranberry and sage, which combined to remind me of a candle or potpourri. Nevertheless, while it didn't mesh with my chemistry, I could imagine this smelling great on someone else's skin. It did seem like this scent had longer staying power than the others.

New York: New York is described as having top notes of apple, violet, ozone, melon, lime zest, cyclamen and rosewood, heart notes of jasmine, basil and lily, and bottom notes of peach and kiwi. If you are a fan of the DKNY Be Delicious line of apple-inspired perfumes, you will love this scent. New York is a sweet and tangy apple scent that is grounded by the delicate powderiness of violet and the richness of jasmine. It's easy to wear and I believe that it offers an extremely wide appeal.

New Jersey: New Jersey is described as having a top note of fresh buttered popcorn, heart notes of cotton candy, caramel & coconut, and bottom notes of vanilla extract, peach, patchouli. This certainly wins the award for the most whimsical and fun-loving fragrance! To me, it opens with a blast of cotton candy, followed by a swoop of buttery popcorn. The combination reminded me of pink popcorn from a fair -- remember that? As you might imagine, New Jersey is quite a sugary fragrance. It's probably not a good option if you're aiming for sophistication, but I think that you can pull it off as long as you have a sense of humor. The cotton candy top and the patchouli in the base reminds me a little bit of Flowerbomb, except fed full with popcorn and funnel cake at a carnival. 

I really enjoyed sampling all seven of these fragrances from United Scents of America. They already offer such wonderful variety; I can't wait to see what other scents they will come up with.

If I were to spring for a full bottle, I think that Florida and Hawaii would be my top choices. And boy, would that be a tough decision, because I have no idea how I would choose between the two. They are both beautiful, evocative scents that spark my imagination. I know I will be trying to make my sample vials last as long as possible...

What do you think of United Scents of America? Is your home state in the above list? Which fragrance would you most like to try?


        

Disclaimer: I received a sample of this product from the company for consideration. My review is based on an honest assessment of the product and was not preapproved by PR or brand representatives.

3.04.2013

Mario Badescu Hair Care Review

Chamomile Shampoo Hair Rinsing Conditioner Nucleic Moisturizing Hair Rinse


Did you know that Mario Badescu makes hair care products?

It's true! In addition to the brand's popular and expansive skin care line, Mario Badescu offers shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizing hair products.

I tried out Mario Badescu's Chamomile Shampoo ($8), Hair Rinsing Conditioner ($8), and Nucleic Moisturizing Hair Rinse ($8), and I am quite satisfied with the results. Like their skin care line, Mario Badescu's hair products have simple formulas with relatively short ingredients lists.

Mario Badesu Chamomile Shampoo: This product contains chamomile extract and coconut oil to keep hair looking soft. I prefer to use this shampoo when my hair is looking particularly oily, because it includes several deep-cleaning sulfate ingredients. Mario Badescu Chamomile Shampoo is not appropriate for the sulfate-and silicone-free hair care method, but if (like me!) you still use some silicone hair care products, this shampoo is effective at removing product build-up.

Mario Badescu Hair Rinsing Conditioner: This is a basic, effective conditioner. It includes ingredients like lanolin and castor oil that reduce dryness and leave hair soft. I find this conditioner to be a reliable choice that keeps my hair looking nice without any crazy, unnatural ingredients. Plus, it won't build up on your hair because it is silicone-free.

Mario Badescu Nucleic Moisturizing Hair Rinse:  This spray-on hair moisturizer just might be my favorite of the bunch. It makes hair super smooth, silky, and shiny while also detangling to make combing and styling a breeze. Instead of silicone, this product contains panthenol, which is a fabulous glossifying ingredient that does not build up on your hair. Thus, Mario Badescu Nucleic Moisturizing Hair Rinse is a great choice for people following the sulfate- and silicone-free curly girl method.

All in all, I've fond my foray into Mario Badescu's hair care line to be successful. Just like with their skin care products, the brand offers a nice array of options, and the short ingredients lists make it easy to pick a product that will work for you.

Have you tried Mario Badescu's hair care products? How do they work for you?


2.22.2013

CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black Review and Swatches

CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black Review and Swatches
CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black

CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara ($6.99) has been receiving tons of attention on beauty blogs, magazines, and forums for its supposed ability to lengthen lashes to sky-scraping heights without any pesky clumps. But does it live up to its positive reputation? I tried CoverGirl Clump Crusher in Very Black to find out.

CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black is packaged in a chubby, lime green tube and features a unique curved brush. I found that the curved shape of the brush made it easy to coat the typically hard-to-reach the short lashes in the inner and outer corners of my eyes.

CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black Review and Swatches
CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black

When it comes to clumps, I find that CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black does a good job of living up to its name. This mascara is fabulous for lengthening your lashes while maintaining separation. Additionally, the formula isn't stiff or sticky so your lashes stay looking soft.

CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black Review and Swatches
CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher Mascara in Very Black

In the above photo, I'm wearing two coats of by CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black. As you can see, the separation is quite good. My lashes aren't perfectly straight though, so it would still be beneficial to run through them with a lash comb.

One drawback of CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black is that it doesn't provide much volume. My lashes are pretty short, so I want them to have more volume to compensate. I have to use at least 2 coats of Clump Crusher to get the volume I want.

CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black has fabulous wear time. I usually struggle with smudging from mascara, but I don't experience any flakes or smudging over the course of the entire day with Clump Crusher.

All told, I think CoverGirl Clump Crusher by Lash Blast Mascara is a very good mascara that would work well for someone looking to increase their lash length. I think it is particularly well-suited for those with naturally long lashes -- your lashes will look amazing with Clump Crusher! However, if you are more concerned with increasing volume, you might prefer a different mascara.


2.16.2013

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Review and Swatches

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Review and Swatches
Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 

Long time, no see, blog buddies! I'm in my last semester of grad school at the moment and, let me tell you, things are C-R-A-Z-Y! I'm really busy trying to complete my final projects (and get a full-time job), but I miss blogging on a regular basis and I feel bad for neglecting my readers. So, let me quickly tell you about a product that I am enjoying before I go back to working on an upcoming presentation :-p

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 ($16) is part of a release of eight metallic, shimmery eyeshadows from the Sephora Collection. Each shadow is embossed with a crisscross, lattice-work design to catch the eye (and encourage impulse buys!). I succumbed to the allure of a pretty package and decided to try Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Review and Swatches
Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Swatch

I really love the color of Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2. It's a mid-tone gold shade with subtle hints of peach that make it super wearable. I find it to be slightly more bronze-y in hue than the popular Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Half Baked.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 has lots of shimmer. Most of the shimmer is fairly fine, but there are larger pieces throughout for a more glittery effect. This eyeshadow generates a medium amount of fallout.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 has a very smooth texture, but you have to break through the embossed pattern on the pan first. I've noticed this problem with a few other embossed shadows. It seems like whatever process the manufacturers use to emboss a pattern and seal it in the pan makes the top layer of shadow a little hard and difficult to use. It gets better once you swipe your brush back and forth across it a few times to break up the top seal.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Review and Swatches
Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2

And here it is on my lids! I applied it dry, but I think it still gives a nice, bright shimmer effect. Plus, it lasts FOREVER. Even without primer, Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 doesn't begin to crease until about 7 hours after application.

Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 Review and Swatches
Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 

Overall, I think that Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Golden Peach #2 is a good value for the price. It's soft, well-pigmented and very long-lasting. Additionally, you get a lot more product compared to some more expensive eyeshadows -- this one offers 0.12 oz for $16, while others include only 0.05 oz for the same price or more. 

I recommend that you check out Sephora Collection Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow! If gold's not your thing, maybe give the metallic taupe, silver, or purple a try!


2.08.2013

Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne Review and Swatches


Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne Review and Swatches
Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne

With their new Color Balm Lipstick ($22), Stila seems to be trying to take advantage of the wave of popularity brought on by tinted lip balm products such as the now-iconic Revlon Lip Butters, L'Oreal Colour Riche Balms, Maybelline Baby Lips, and Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments. Unfortunately for Stila, their new offering seems to be missing some of the key characteristics that made those other products attractive in the first place.

For example, the Revlon Lip Butters have a glossy, moisturizing texture that feels and looks great. Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne, on the other hand, feels fairly dry and not at all glossy. The shine is very minimal and the texture lacks that slick, smoothing feeling that I look for in a lip balm. I suppose some people might not want their balm to have a glossy finish, but why not buy Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm ($6.99) for a third of the price if that's the case?

Another drawback about this product is the packaging. Sure, the silver tube is pretty but the balm stick is quite wide. I don't really have thin lips, but I found the diameter of the balm to be too large for easy application. I feel at risk of going outside my lip line when I use Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne.

Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne Review and Swatches
Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne Swatch

On the bright side, Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne is an attractive, "my lips but better" shade that would flatter many complexions. It's a terracotta rose shade that I find to be neutral in tone. Vivienne is quite subtle and would be appropriate for daytime wear at school and work.

Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne Review and Swatches
Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne

Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne lasts about 3 hours on me. After it's gone, my lips don't really feel softer or more moisturized. They don't feel dry either, but a product marketed as a lip balm should be more nourishing. Additionally, Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Vivienne starts out with a strong peppermint scent that makes my lips tingle, but that sensation fades within one hour of wear.

Overall, I recommend that you pass on this product. It does not provide enough moisture or shine to be worth the $22 price tag. Besides, the drugstore offers several tinted lip balms that are superior to Stila Color Balm Lipstick in pretty much every way!


2.05.2013

Sponsored Post: Olay


Check out some of these featured posts from other fashion and beauty bloggers on the BlogHer Publishing Network! You can also view beauty how-tos in my newly added BlogHer TV widget, located in the right sidebar.

Which celebrity do you think rocks the best red carpet makeup looks?