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Budget mascara - Miss Sporty Studio Lash

Dear Roses and Lilies,

As of late, I have been focusing a lot on finding mascaras that do a great job on my lashes and cost less than most "high end" mascaras.

Since my lashes are fairly long but thin, I like using a lot of volumizing mascaras. I went from really cheap mascaras to really expensive ones and most of them failed - some stung my eyes, others clumped, others smudged.

My current favorite, from the ones that passed my little trials: Miss Sporty Studio Lash 3D Volumythic.

This is a really good low cost mascara for everyday. The little bean shaped wand helps get in those tiny corners and coat the lashes you never knew you had.

You can also get it close to the roots of the lashes, which will help maintain the curl after using eyelash curlers. If you are like me - your lashes are not straight but not curled either - then you probably won't need any eyelash curlers with this mascara. Two coats are more than enough; if you apply three, it will look clumpy.

The formula is on the drier side, so it isn't likely to smudge ( too much ). On my oily lids, it only starts to smudge after the 8th hour of wear, in normal temp and moisture conditions.

It does not sting my sensitive eyes and it can be easily removed, without having to pull at my lashes or rub my skin.

All in all, I am very happy with it and highly recommend it. And when 3 months pass and I have to get a new tube and throw the old one away, my wallet does not "cry out in pain".



Pink lips for moody days

Dear Roses and Lilies,

From muted to frosty to fuchsia, I love pink lipsticks! I think that different shades of pink are flattering for different skin tones, so from going bare with a tinted lip balm to going bold with fuchsia, there is a shade for every taste.

Claudia's pinks
First row, left to right: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 79 Saga ( LE ) and Dior Rouge Dior in 365 Rose Songe ( the new Rouge Dior ).

Second row, left to right: Chanel Rouge Coco in 13 Gardenia and TheBalm in Anita Boytoy.

Third row, left to right: Le Rouge Givenchy in 301 Magnolia Organza and YSL Rouge Volupte Shine in 19 Fuchsia in Rage.

Fourth row, left to right: Clinique Chubby Stick in 14 Curvy Candy and Sephora Rouge Infusion in 05 Fuchsia concentrate.

Fifth row, left to right: Bourjois Gloss Effet 3D in 46 Rose lyric and YSL Rouge Pur Couture Rebel Nudes in 103 Pink Taboo.

Depending on my mood, I would reach for the lip balm when I'm out and about, for a vivid fuchsia when I'm bored or a glossy stain when I am lazy and don't want to keep touch up my lips throughout the day.

Which one is your favorite shade?


New Artistry Signature Color lipsticks - Bellini and Ballet Pink

Dear Roses and Lilies,

After having had the pleasure of "playing" with Artistry's Signature Color in Taffeta Rose, I thought it would be nice to add two of their other shades to my lipstick collection.

From their more pigmented range, I got #3 Bellini and #7 Ballet Pink.

Bellini is a muted coral and it's universally flattering: it looks charming on pale skins as well as on darker skin tones.

The texture is creamy and it almost feels like a lip balm. Application is very easy and you don't really need to use a lipliner, because it does not bleed at all.

The packaging is the same - fun twist and click ( it was really fun to watch three of the women in my family struggle to get the lipstick out ).

I really enjoy coral shades of lipstick and I think Bellini would make a nice summertime lip color.

Ballet Pink is a medium rose pink - again, universally flattering. It could easily replace a boring nude lipstick.

The texture is creamy and the wear is comfortable. You don't need a lipliner with it, unless your lip shape needs serious correcting.

It goes well with smokey eyes for an evening look and it looks nice with a daytime no makeup makeup look... or any other look that you fancy, for that matter.

What these two have in common: 3.8g / 0.13 oz of product, black carton boxes and the golden twist and click packaging. They are fragrance free and made in the US.

Both shades wore for 4 hours without fading. I don't find them particularly moisturizing, but they are not drying either.

However, you do need to make sure your lips are moisturized and exfoliated before applying the lipstick. Otherwise, the flaky bits will be highlighted.

In terms of price, they are somewhere between affordable and expensive. Premium certainly does not come cheap!

Compared to other lipsticks I have...

Bellini is similar to Clarins Rouge Eclat in #08 coral pink. The Clarins lipstick, however, is more pigmented so the shade is more vivid.

Ballet Pink is similar to Chanel's Rouge Coco is #13 Gardenia, except that Gardenia has golden micro-shimmer in it.

Bellini looks stunning on one of my aunts, who has a pale complexion.

Ballet Pink looks great on my mom, who has a medium complexion and who prefers lipstick shades that are natural/neutral/nude.

Have you tried any other shades from Artistry Signature Color range? Which ones are your current favorites?



Sephora 2 in 1 waterproof eye makeup remover gel

Dear Roses and Lilies,

I received a cute little sample of this makeup remover recently and I decided to share my thoughts on it with you.

This retails at Sephora in the US for only $10.00 at 4.22 oz ( 125 ml ) of product. The price everywhere else in the world should be around $10.00 + some taxes specific to each country.

On to the packaging:

The bottle comes with a pump, which is hygienic and practical. Being that it is large, it won't be easy to carry around in your bag. But you can always use a small pot for traveling.

The ingredients:

Water, Propanediol, Poloxamer 184, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer,Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol,Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA,Sodium Hydroxide, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil,Potassium Sorbate,Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Apigenin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Oleanolic Acid, Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1

All of these are there to help dissolve even stubborn eye makeup and soothe the eye area ( well, apart from preservatives, pH adjusters etc. ).

The claims:

A gentle gel that moisturizes while removing eye makeup in one gesture. It's supposed to be good for your eyelids as well as your lashes.

What it does:

This 2 in 1 waterproof eye makeup remover gel does help remove eye makeup pretty quickly. I tried two methods: first I dampened the cotton pad, then added the gel. Gently patted for ten seconds then took it off my eye. It did not remove all my mascara ( and I am not using a waterproof one ).

Second, I applied the gel directly onto a dry cotton pad. The left it on my eye for ten seconds, and removed it.

Again, it removed my eye makeup but not in "one swift gesture". Had to apply twice to make sure everything was off. I guess I am too used to Bioderma and had way to high expectations on this one.

In terms of skincare, it does make the skin around my eyes feel moisturized. I don't have problems with my lashes for the moment, so I doubt this product will make them grow longer.

It did not irritate my eyes in any way and I didn't end up with bits of mascara under my eyes in the morning.

Overall: it does the job well and that's good, considering the price. The gel texture is new to me and I discovered it feels quite fresh and not as heavy as a cleansing milk.

Have you tried any other gel makeup removers?



Clinique and their DDMG

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Ever since I discovered moisturizers, I've been searching for one that is not only suitable for my skin type, but really does the job well.

From low budget to extra expensive, there a tons of brands you can choose from and it is, sometimes, a matter of personal preference.

Now, I am not really into high end skincare - to me, it means spending a ridiculous amount of money on something fancy and shiny that gets used up fast, but with the same benefits as something less expensive.

Bearing all this in mind, before going out to buy a new moisturizer, I spend a lot of time researching it. The ingredients list is very important to me so, if I read about a product on the internet and the ingredients are not listed, I tend to move on to another product. I can't stand having to spend more than 5 minutes in front of a shelf, reading the ingredients on the packaging and trying to decide whether they would be good or bad for my skin. And I feel particularly irritated when I am asked by a sales person if they can be of any assistance, especially if I don't ask for it ( don't you? ).

Gifts from friends and family do include skincare from time to time, mostly on the budget side, but I am happy to get them nevertheless. And these are the only exceptions to my rule, but that does not mean I don't test drive them for a while before giving them the thumbs up or throwing them out.

I spent a lot of time researching the Clinique skincare products: browsing their page, reading reviews on all kinds of websites, analyzing their ingredients lists. So two products caught my eye: the
Turnaround Concentrate Radiance Renewer serum ( which I received a sample of when I was shopping for skincare ) and the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel.

What's in it:

Water/Aqua/Eau, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glycerin, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract/Extrait D’Orge, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Caffeine, Triethelose, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sucrose, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Polysilicone-11, Silica, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Oleth-10, Lactobacillus Ferment, Laureth-23, Laureth-4, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Tromethamine, Disdoium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Yellow 5, Red 4, Yellow 6

As you can see, Dimethicone is second on the list - which may mean there's a lot of it. So, if you are allergic to this ingredient, skip this moisturizer.

Next, lots of antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients - I love the plant extracts and I find it funny to see there is cucumber in it as well. Cucumber has been used by my grandma for years!

Of course, there are various ingredients that are supposed to help prevent an allergic reaction to everything else, some ingredients that are classified as fragrances ( no, not the type that irritates your skin ), two preservatives and some ingredients that add a bit of color.

It is oil free, which is great for my already oily skin.

What it does:

Beside what Clinique claim it does - which I never read before buying a product - this is a good moisturizer.

And that is all it does: moisturizes the skin "on the verge of perfection".

I haven't head any allergic reactions to it - no flare-ups, no breakouts, no extra oiliness on my T zone. It has been a year since I started using it and it really did help keep my breakouts in check.

I love the fact that it is not a heavy cream. It feels soft, gets absorbed quickly and my face doesn't feel sticky at all.

Overall: a good investment and I do plan to get the full size bottle next - and test it on family members as well. :-D

Have you tried any of the products from Clinique's three-step?



DIY gentle exfoliation VICHY

Dear Roses and Lilies,

Thermal water is very good for all kinds of skin problems. From minor burns to irritation to blemishes to dehydration, it successfully helps treat all.

You can find several brands in your local pharmacy, all with the same benefits. The one I've been using for a while is the Vichy thermal water ( I always buy the jumbo size, because small ones run out fast ).

When you first spray the water onto your skin, you can feel your pores tighten and you get that overall calming effect on your irritated areas. It is enriched with minerals, that are beneficial for your skin.

The list of uses and application methods is long:

You can soak a cotton pad in it, then apply on your tired eyes - you'll feel refreshed and the puffiness will be reduced. Spray it on sunburns and they'll calm down.

Spray it on your face in the evening, after removing your makeup, instead of adding loads and loads of cream and you'll see an overall improvement the very next morning.

On to the DIY:

Do you get those little loose bits of skin sometimes, when your skin's just acting up? Well, I do. Mostly on my forehead, nose, cheeks and lips... well, pretty much all over my face, in small patches.

What I like to do: apply some of water on a cotton pad, then gently buff the areas with loose skin. "Gently" is the key word when it comes to exfoliation, so never scrub like you would your bathroom sink!

After removing the dead skin cells, spray a generous amount directly onto your face, let it sink in for 10 seconds, then take it off with a clean towel - patting gently.

This should do the job perfectly and soothe your skin after your little semi-facial.

Say "bye bye" to those nasty flakes!



Alverde liquid eyeshadows

Dear Roses and Lilies,

On a beauty quest to find eyeshadows that last and last without creasing and fading, I discovered liquid colors - so quick and easy to apply!

Not wanting to invest in something expensive that I might not like, from the multitude of liquid eyeshadows I could find ( two brands ), I chose the least expensive.

If you never heard of Alverde before it is because it's a drug store brand you can find in the dm-drogerie markt chain of retail stores, in some European countries.

The products are all made in Germany, so I am sure they undergo rigorous quality control before they hit the shelves.

Back to my eyeshadows...

These are metallic colors, good for party makeup rather than daytime makeup. I have #20 Metallic Turquoise and #30 Metallic Aubergine.

#30 and #20 in 2 layers

What I like about these eyeshadows:

The color payoff is amazing, even if you choose to apply one layer only.

This dark aubergine color is lovely and it works great on brown eyes. The look you get is full on drama!

Metallic Aubergine 30

The turquoise shade is very vivid and somewhat frosty. I think it works best as a liner or just as a highlighter, applied on the inner corners of your eyes.

Metallic Turquoise 20

The formula is non-drying and suitable for sensitive eyes as well. 

Application method - take the excess off the applicator on the back of your hand before applying the first layer and gently dab onto your eyelid. Close your eyes and let it set for 10 seconds, then build up gradually. Don't rub, or else it'll turn patchy.

Use a sponge or the applicator the eyeshadow comes with. I don't recommend using a brush or fingers to apply this product. It will come off on your fingers and dry really fast on your brush and the finish will be streaky.

It takes no more than a minute to finish your eye look and the shadow won't budge for 7-8 hours. No primer needed and super easy to remove, using your regular makeup remover.

Do you own any liquid eyeshadows worth raving about?



New Artistry Signature Color lipsticks - Taffeta Rose

Dear Roses and Lilies,

For those of you who have been using lipsticks by Artistry ( from Amway ) and are happy with how they perform, there is yet another reason for you to love them.

Artistry recently redesigned their lipstick range. Now we have the Crescendo packaging with the golden cap for the regular, full coverage lipsticks and the black cap for their sheer ones - and a new name: Signature Color and Signature Color Sheer.

What both versions have in common - the exclusive twist and click design that makes using these lipsticks a whole lotta' fun.

Taffeta Rose #14 seems to me like a warm rosy color in the tube and it looks fantastic on a medium to dark skin tone. On pale skin, it can make you look washed out if you're not careful how you do the rest of your makeup.

The lipstick itself is moisturizing and - they say - fragrance free. It does contain soybean oil, which is both a moisturizer and a fragrance.

If you ever smelled a Clinique lipstick, which is also fragrance free, you'll surely notice the bitter, 'old times of yore' lipstick scent.

These Artistry lipsticks do not smell like that. To cover up the nasty aspirin-like smell, there's a tiny bit of fragrance - but it's quite safe.

Full ingredients list for Artistry Signature Color lipsticks:

As you may notice, they added more plant extracts, which is a huge plus in my book. So no more chapped lips after taking the lipstick off and, probably, anti-aging benefits on the long-term.

For those of you who are not familiar with Artistry lipsticks, I do encourage you to try the full coverage or the sheer ones. The packaging is eye catching, fun to play with and the shade range is decent.

See ya' later!



Color on a budget - eyeshadows

Dear Roses and Lilies,

While shopping around for... nothing in particular, lots of colorful products caught my eye. Being on a budget ( sometimes ), shopping for makeup can still be fun.

I found eyeshadows that are cute, colorful and good, for extremely low prices.

My first buy was this duo from Miss Sporty. This is a brand that, IMO, has quality makeup at very affordable prices ( it has Coty printed on the back, after all ).

The packaging is all plastic, cute and portable. There is a small sponge applicator that comes in handy when you're on the go ( although I prefer using my fingers ). 

The duo I got is called Lively Spirit #222. I think this one's discontinued, but they still have 5 more colorful duos you can choose from. The color payoff is good - and you can apply wet or dry. Adding two or more layers, depending on how intense you want it to look, is easy. And the finish is iridescent and there are no chalky colors in these duos.

As for lasting power - around 5 hours and then it starts to crease and fade. If you use a primer, it will probably last for another 1 - 2 hours. This also depends on your skin type and eye shape, of course. I have yet to discover a product that lasts as long as it is advertised ( except for mascara ), on my oily skin.

My second budget buy is this trio ( #622 ) by Polish brand called Quiz Cosmetics. It is even less expensive than the Miss Sporty eyeshadow duo.

I bought this one because of the yellow eyeshadow. I first thought it was going to be a matte eyeshadow. Turns out it is iridescent.

The packaging - again, simple. No applicator this time. It says "Trendy Fashion" on the lid.

Color payoff is good and the powder is finely milled so it feels soft. The green shade has more microshimmer in it than the other two but this only makes it so much more vibrant and perfect for summer.

Lasting power - still around 5 hours, which is fabulous! :-)

Do you know of any other budget eyeshadows worth trying?


P.S.: Beauty doesn't always have to cost a lot of money!