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Sugar-coated effery and shenanigans.

Drugstore Dimepiece

I use to think that higher-priced cosmetics meant better performing cosmetics. So instead of going for the $7 mascara at the drugstore, I went for the $23 mascara at the beauty counters of _(insert name of department store here)_.  Hundreds of dollars and a truckload of regrets later, I’ve kind of turned my back on department store makeup. To me, it seems like you’re mostly paying for the slick packaging and the name. Now there are some department store products that I absolutely love. In fact, I’ve mentioned some in previous blog posts.  But recently, I decided not to be so quick to give the department store brands my hard-earned cash.

If you are a department store cosmetics stan, it’s time for an intervention. If you have the money to spend on luxury products, more power to you. But if  you’re trying to look great for less, keep reading. My fellow divas, you can find great products for a fraction of the price at Tarjay or your local drugstore. And even though I’m not crazy about the staff at my local Ulta, I’ve found some products there that I absolutely love.

So here are some of my favorite drugstore products:

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

Burt's Bees Tinted Balm

Source: Burt’s Bees

I picked up the tinted lip balm in Rose a few months ago and I really like it. The shade is pretty close to Clinique’s Chunky Cherry Chubby Stick. The Chubby Stick’s color payoff is a little better, but Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm is still a great alternative. It’s half the price of a Chubby Stick, and it smells (and tastes) great. To me, this balm is perfect for daily use. It also won’t make you look like you just finished drinking a glass of Kool-Aid.

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm will set you back a whopping $7 at Ulta.

L’Oreal HiP  Eyeshadow Duos

L'Oreal HIP Shadow


You can pay $15 for a MAC eyeshadow, or you can pay $7 for a HiP shadow duo. Why should you get HiP? These shadow duos offer two richly pigmented colors for a reasonable price. The shadows come in five different finishes: bright, concentrated, crystal, matte and metallic. These shadows last a long time, and give you the MAC look for less. I’ve even visited the MAC counter with HiP shadows on, and the artists have mistaken them for MAC.  One even told me, “They’re just trying to copy us!” Well that’s fine by me because I can get four shades for price of one MAC shadow. But watch the drugstores and Ulta for specials. Sometimes they offer HiP products BOGO free or BOGO half off.

HiP shadow duos cost between $6.79-$7.99.

L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara


I never liked the original Voluminous. It clumped and because of this, it was hard to build layers. But a few years ago, I decided to try Voluminous Carbon Black. It’s now one of my favorite mascaras. I like it because it has a big teddy bear brush. It’s goes on easy and clump free, and I have no problem adding coats throughout the day. If you decide to go with the waterproof formula, make sure you have a good eye makeup remover because it doesn’t come off easily. But if you’re going to be par-tay-ing like a rock star all night, that’s probably a good thing.

Voluminous Carbon Black costs between $5-$8.

neaclear Liquid Oxygen Anti Acne Facial Moisturizer

Description from neaclear:

This anti acne facial moisturizer caters to the delicate needs of acne-prone skin. specifically made with a non-oil base, you can rest assured it will not trigger acne breakouts. this product will absorb quickly and gently moisturize your skin.

Infused with Oxygenated Purified Water to introduce a powerful boost of oxygen into your skin’s cells as you use, this product will leave your skin feeling clean and energized.

I bought this product on a whim from Ulta. I was looking for a good moisturizer that wouldn’t clog my pores, or irritate my skin. So I made the mistake of asking the sales associate who kept following me around the store to make sure I wasn’t stealing. No joke. That’s how they get down at Ulta. Anyway, as I expected, she didn’t know squat. So I ignored her suggestion for a face wash. (What the eff broad? I asked you for a face lotion. Why don’t you go steal some skills and product knowledge!) I spotted the neaclear facial moisturizer in the acne aisle, and it was only $5.99. I was kind of worried at first since I wasn’t familiar with the line. But then I figured spending $5.99 to try it wouldn’t kill me. So I bought it and I don’t regret it. It’s a thick cream, but it feels really light when you put it on. It is also very moisturizing. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have sunscreen. But if your foundation has one and you’re not going to be outside for long periods of time, you should be golden.

neaclear Liquid Oxygen Anti Acne Facial Moisturizer costs $5.99 at Ulta.

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Current Fixations

Hey kids! Time for another exciting installment of Current Fixations.

This week, I’m reviewing two more stellar products. Those products are Clinique’s Quick Eyes Cream Shadow and Essie polishes. I’ve been using both of them faithfully and I am really pleased with the results.

Clinique’s Quick Eyes Cream Shadow

If you don’t know by now, I am a born again Clinique stan. Their Superbalm is always in my purse, I absolutely love their acne line and don’t get me started on the Chubby Stick! Ok, I need a moment to compose myself. I just got my pressure up thinking about all my great finds!

On Mother’s Day weekend, I stopped by the counter to stock up on my products and was introduced to yet another magical thing. That thing was Quick Eyes Cream Shadow.

Source: Clinique

Here is the product description:

Have a beautiful eye day, all day. Light, velvety cream glides on vibrant colour that wears up to 10 hours, stays beautifully crease-proof and colour true. In pearly shades from subtle to high-lustre. Ophthalmologist tested.

Here’s the deal.

I was looking for an eyeshadow primer because I was tired of my shadow creasing all of the time. For those who might not know what creasing is, creasing simply means that your shadow is building up in the folds of your eyelids. This can happen if you use a rich eye cream, put foundation on your eyelids or have oily skin. The shadow ends up mixing with the oils and looks streaky.

Anyhoo, the beauty advisor introduced me to Quick Eyes. She told me that it worked better than Clinique’s Touch Base for Eyes and lasts even longer. I was skeptical at first because in the store, the Cocoa Shimmer shade looked waaaaay too dark. But I let her put it on my lids and it blended in nicely. The beauty advisor then grabbed some shadow from the MAC counter and put it on top of the Quick Eyes shadow.  It looked great and held up well.

I use this on a regular basis under my shadow. Sometimes I’ll even  wear it alone for a natural look. It is easy to apply with the wand but I like to buff it in with a fluffy shadow brush like Sonia Kashuk’s Crease Shadow Brush. You don’t need a lot and I just use it on the lid.

Quick Eyes Cream Shadow comes in nine shades and costs $15.50 at Clinique.

Essie Polishes


Source: Essie

A long, long, long time ago when I was cracked out on Allure magazine, I decided to try Essie’s Ballet Slippers polish. Allure swore this was a great natural shade and because I took their word as the gospel truth, I bought some. I was über disappointed in it. It bubbled, it chipped and I was mad that I forked over my hard-earned cash for it.  So I decided to give Essie the cold shoulder.

Fast forward to May 14, 2011.

I strolled into Trade Secret in search of the latest OPI shades. I didn’t see anything that stood out so decided to leave before I started sympathy buying. On my way out of the store, I saw a display of Essie polishes. They were BOGO, so I decided to check them out. Two bottles for $8 was a good deal but I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to pull the trigger on the purchase. I talked to the sales associate and she said that she liked Essie better than OPI. She also said that Essie actually was formulated for natural nails and OPI worked better with acrylic nails. I don’t know how true that is, but I figured spending $8 wouldn’t destroy my American dream or anything.

I bought Escapades and Lacy not Racy. All I can say is that I love both shades and when used with Seche Vite, my manicures have lasted for at least two weeks.

No bubbling and no chipping so far. So I guess my bad experience was due to user error!

Essie has a wide range of colors and you can find it at Ulta, Walgreens, Tarjay and Rite Aid. Trade Secret in my hood (Summit Mall) probably won’t carry it anymore, but they’re getting China Glaze instead. That’s cool with me too!

Once again, I don’t get any moolah for plugging these products. I’m just giving my honest opinions and sharing them with you!



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Old Products, Dramatically Different Results

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time staking out beauty counters, Sephora and drugstores for mind-blowing, new skin care products.  In my twenties, I spent a good amount of my paychecks on products that promised “brighter skin,”  “a more even complexion,” and “no under eye circles.” What made things worse back then was my love of Allure magazine.

Now I have no hard feelings towards Allure because it really is a good beauty mag. In fact, I dreamed of working there one day and having the chance to try out all of the latest glosses, lotions and potions.  But Allure is like crack to a beauty junkie. If you have a product habit, there’s no way you can resist the goodies in there.

When  Allure would arrive, I would immediately start my research. I always knew about the latest fragrances, lip, nail and eyeshadow colors, hair products and skin care products. And because of that, I got to know a lot of fragrance and cosmetics salespeople at Macy’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Saks and the old Tower City MAC Store. I probably helped them reach their monthly sales goals too!

Now that I’m older, I definitely know better.  I’m also not so quick to fork over my cash for the latest products. Instead, I read reviews and sample products if possible before buying. And if I don’t like something, I have no problem taking it back. After all, it’s about my satisfaction. So I refuse to keep something in my cabinet that’s not getting the job done.

Last month, I re-introduced two forgotten products to my skin care regimen. Those products are Philosophy’s purity made simple and Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate.

purity made simple


Purity has been referred to as a “Holy Grail” product by some beauty junkies. According to Philosophy, this all-in-one cleanser was “formulated to gently cleanse, tone and melt away all face and eye makeup in one simple step, while lightly hydrating the skin.”

I used purity for the first time about six years ago and just thought it was ok. So I gave it to the guy I was seeing at the time. After a month, I noticed his skin looked really nice and I was slightly jealous that mine didn’t look as good!  I think the main reason I gave up on purity was because I wanted a more aggressive, foaming product that helped reduce hyperpigmentation. Later I realized that more aggressive products can sometimes lead to more aggravation and irritation.

The reason me and purity are going steady again is because it is the one thing that melts the Pro Longwear off my face and out of my foundation brush. It also is available in a couple of sizes and since you only need a little, the 8 or 16 oz bottle lasts a long time. Purity also doesn’t leave my skin parched.

Turnaround Concentrate


Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate has been an ally in my battle against hyperpigmentation. This concoction helps to smooth out and exfoliate away trouble spots. According to Clinique, this “high-performance cocktail of exfoliating ingredients prompts a renewal process that is multilevel, time-released.” Turnaround concentrate speeds fresh cells to the surface, and continually unveils brighter, more radiant skin.

I totally agree with Clinique. I started using this again two months ago when I received a postcard for a free full-sized bottle in the mail from Macy’s.  In the last month, more and more people have complimented me on my skin. One lady even came up to me at the Clinique counter and said that her and her husband noticed my complexion. She asked if I used Clinique and I showed her what I was using. She then referred to my skin as “smooth chocolate.” I was flattered and a little creeped out by the fact that both of them were looking at me, but I just went with it!

So there’s my two cents. I can now add them to the rest of the money I’m saving since I cancelled my subscription to Allure!

Note: I was not compensated in any way by Clinique or Philosophy for this review. Just wanted to share my experience with you! But if Clinique or Philosophy ever needs me to test out new products, you all know where to find me! Lol!

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