Beauty Review: Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Shampoo and Conditioner

I have fine hair that is susceptible to buildup and getting oily, along with a dry scalp, which is not the greatest combination of things. My skin in general tends to be very sensitive, so it’s hard to find products that don’t irritate it. While I hate spending a fortune on personal care products, sometimes it’s important to spend some money to take care of yourself, and that’s what I did when I bought Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Shampoo and Conditioner from Ulta.

First, this stuff smells amazing. When I use it, I’m always smelling my hair, or brushing it to release the scent, or telling my husband to smell it. It’s the perfect combination of scents and it is heavenly. Second, it’s works so, so well for my hair and scalp type. I feel like it actually gets my hair clean which a lot of the drugstore brands like TRESemmé and Pantene Pro-V do not. When I use the drugstore brands, my hair is left feeling heavy and my scalp is dried out. After using this, it feels clean and soft and luxurious, like I just took a trip to the hair salon. I feel my hair getting healthier and my dandruff is going away (finally!). The shampoo is $35 for a liter and the conditioner is $38.50 for a liter, so overall, it’s a bit more expensive than a lot of us would like. In order to get a lot out of it, I try to wash my hair every other day, or even sometimes switch off with the cheaper stuff like TRESemmé once in a while so I’m not quickly using it all up.

Just a note for shoppers who like putting their wallet where their activism is (I know I do!): Paul Mitchell is also cruelty-free (they refuse to sell in China, where it is required to test products on animals), this shampoo/conditioner in particular is safe for colored hair and it’s vegan! I love it when brands listen to consumers to become more conscious of how they make their products.

So, if you’re having some dandruff/scalp issues and you think it might just be a matter of dry skin, definitely give Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint Shampoo and Conditioner a try; I have certainly fallen in love with it. It’s the right amount of moisturizing that will take care of your skin and help your hair become soft without getting too oily. In general, mint does wonders for irritated scalps, so if this doesn’t sound like your thing or is a tad too expensive, look for something with mint in it.

Beauty Review: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

I got this as a free sample from Ulta when I finally restocked on some Paul Mitchell shampoo, and I have to say that I’m not impressed. I typically use the bareMinerals Prime Time foundation primer ($25/oz), which is smooth and silky and I feel like it provides a nice surface for my foundation to glide on over my face. Not so with the Smashbox Photo Finish foundation primer, which I’m glad I didn’t actually purchase, because it’s more expensive than my normal brand, at $36/oz.

Putting it on feels nice — it has that same silky feel and I did feel as though it moisturized my skin a bit. I let it set for a few minutes and when I put the foundation over it, it was a complete mess. The foundation settled into my pores and felt almost gunky getting it on my face; it didn’t smoothly glide on at all. After I was finished with it, I almost just wanted to go without makeup, it looked so bad. Definitely going to stick with my bareMinerals and while I love Smashbox lip gloss and lip lacquer, I’m wary of trying anything else from them, this was such a disaster.

Beauty Review: Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser

This was another gift from my mother-in-law, who stocked me up with Clinique samples a few weeks ago. Now, this was great because I typically use the Neutorgena Cream Cleanser for my daily face wash, so I was interested to see how this compared. While Neutrogena makes no claims about being able to get all the makeup off your face by using it (which is good, because it certainly wouldn’t!), the Clinique cleanser claims to be able to remove long-wearing makeup, sunscreen, and basically anything you have on your face.

For what it claims to do, this cleanser actually does a pretty good job; I wear a lot of waterproof, long-lasting makeup, so it wasn’t able to get all of that off, especially the gel eyeliner, but it did better than most other cleansers I’ve tried. As a bonus, it’s creamy and didn’t dry out my skin too much when I use it. The heavy-duty make-up removing cleansers tend to strip my skin of moisture, but this has a balance between being effective and being gentle. Because of the foam, it doesn’t take a whole lot of it to do the job, which is a definite benefit, because this stuff runs fro $20 for 5 oz, as opposed to $7-$8 for 6.5 ounces from the similar Neutrogena product.

Is it worth it? I think so! I wouldn’t use it as an every day wash, because of the price, but when you feel like your skin needs a little pampering, I think this is a great cleanser to invest in to give it some extra care. Especially if it’s a heavy makeup day and you don’t want to kill your skin by using a lot of makeup remover and then washing it a few times with cheaper cleanser. I’m quickly becoming a fan of these Clinique skin care products — I might just have to rethink my bias towards not buying Clinique makeup.

Beauty Review: Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

My mother-in-law is a hero and picked up some Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief for me when a department store she visited was having a special. I’m not a huge fan of Clinique makeup — their foundation just doesn’t do it for me, and I haven’t found their products to be all that exciting, but this changes the game. This is a moisturizer that is intended to hyper-hydrate your skin for 24 hours. It’s supposedly made for all skin types and can also be used as a moisture mask or over makeup.

This stuff is no joke. It is heavenly. The cream-gel formula is silky and luxurious and beautifully lightweight. Just a dollop was able to completely moisturize my face and get it ready for the next day. Walking around in a city is super drying for my skin, and when I add makeup on top of that, I’m in for a lot of recovery work. Not when using Clinique Moisture Surge, though. My skin looked FANTASTIC after using it as a moisturizer. It also wasn’t oily at all — my skin is crazy and is often really dry but has a hard time actually soaking up any moisturizer, so if I do try to moisturize it, it just ends up looking oily. Not so with Clinique Moisture surge. It just looked dewy and gorgeous. (I can’t wait to try this after flying!)

It’s on the spendy side — $52.50 for 2.5 ounces, but it should last a while. The tiniest dollop goes a long way, so for me, I’m thinking it might be worth the investment — maybe not as an everyday moisturizer, but as something to have when my skin decides it’s not happy with the weather or environmental conditions. If you can get a sample of it before spending a lot of money, or want to try the smaller size (Sephora has a 0.5 oz one for $12), I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot! It’s wonderful.

Beauty Review: Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask

This was very much a “meh” for me. While it’s a gentle face mask and certainly didn’t harm my skin, I really didn’t see any difference after I used it. The smell is DIVINE, but the texture is chunky with the fruits they put in it, which was kind of gross. Not my thing at all. It does what any sort of vitamin A/E infusion would do — make skin a little bit brighter and plumper, but for $62 for 3.3oz/100mL? No thank you. Not worth the price AT ALL. Just break open some Vitamin E capsules and rub it on your skin to get the same results.

Beauty Review: Formula X Nail Polish Effects – Thunder

Sometimes, your nails need just a touch of glitter or something to complete the look. I love adding little effects (usually in the form of glitter) to my nail polish, and I thought I’d branch out and try this one.

The Thunder Nail Polish Effect is very different than what I’m used to. It’s not metallic or glittery at all, it’s super matte, but I completely love it for what it is. It completely transformed my nails and while I don’t think it’ll work for every color, it totally worked for the color I first tried it on.











See? The look goes from “Eh, that’s fine with that right outfit” to completely cute for an every day look. It’s basically confetti for your nails — I love this!

It glided right on and it was easy for me to place the large polka dots where I wanted them, which is important. You can customize the look by adding as many or as few little dots as you want for yourself. I’m excited to try this again to see how it looks with other colors.

Beauty Review: Formula X Full Strength Nail Polish – Pink Prowess

I love nail polish and recently started trying to build up my nail polish collection in an effort to save money by doing my nails myself — when Sephora  had a sale on these, I had to try them out! Unfortunately, Sephora recently stopped selling these, but you can find great deals for them right now on Ebay.

I’m very neutral about this nail polish. While I think the color is fairly pretty, it’s sort of plain by itself. It’s incredibly creamy-looking and brushes on rather thickly — I only needed one coat for complete coverage! You definitely need a top coat for this one, first to add some shine, and second to protect it. I experimented with it and the nail polish started to crack and chip almost immediately after it dried. The color itself is kind of weird. Too pink for me to wear “just because,” but something that would definitely work with the right outfit/look.

Live shot of the nail polish at work (please excuse the very messy pinky)

In terms of the strengthening effect it’s supposed to have on your nails, I would say that it’s not a miracle worker by any means, but it certainly doesn’t weaken the nails like many nail polishes do. I think that’s sort of the trade-off between how creamy/chip-able it is.

Overall, I’d say this is fine. If you get it on sale, like I did, it’s a pretty good bargain. A slight step up from a drugstore brand. But, it’s nothing I would pay top-dollar for.

Beauty Review: Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

I have always wanted to love dry shampoo, but I have never found a brand that worked for me; a lot of the drugstore shampoos, like Garnier Fructis or Herbal Essences, just didn’t work for my fine hair. They left too much residue, or left my hair with that sort of lank, unwashed feel to it, even though it didn’t look oily. Or, it tried to hard to smell “fresh” and had an overwhelming perfume-type odor. I resigned myself to just suck it up and wash my hair every day, not wanting to deal with spending money for a product that didn’t work.

I caved last week when I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep and was too exhausted to do much else but get my lunch and coffee ready for the next morning and roll into bed. I couldn’t even bring myself to hop in the shower to wash my hair. Now that I’m earning a bit more money, I’m able to spend a little more on beauty products, so I searched for the best dry shampoos, especially for my fine hair and sensitive scalp. Yes, Klorane is expensive at $20 for a 3.2 oz bottle at Sephora, but I was going to try just one more time, and if the expensive one didn’t do it, I’d be done with dry shampoo forever.

Luckily, Klorane is so, so different from the dry shampoos have tried before.

Just a couple of sprays, and my hair looked like it had just been washed; the volumizer in the shampoo lifted it just enough to not have that lank look I hate so much, but it didn’t volumize it so much that it looked like I just flipped upside down and hairsprayed my hair. It was a little sticky, so it definitely felt like there was product in it, but again, not to the point where it bothered me. The smell is very subtle and pleasant, and it didn’t irritate my scalp at all, which was a plus. It worked so well, that my hair looked ready to go even the morning after I used it.

I’m so excited to have found a shampoo that works for me, and it’s going to save me a couple of hours every week of unnecessary showering, which is a great plus. So, even if dry shampoos haven’t worked for you in the past, maybe you should give this one a shot!

*As a note, if you color your hair, make sure to get dry shampoo that is made specifically for color treated hair — this is not one of those.*

Beauty Review: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Daily Peel

This daily peel is supposed to combat aging skin and wrinkles, and is also said to help with some acne. Basically, it uses 7 safe-to-use-at-home acids to exfoliate and smooth out your skin. It comes in pre-soaked pads, so you don’t need to measure anything, just pick up a pad, rub it on your face. Wait 2 minutes. Take a step 2 pad, rub that on your face. And voila! Beautiful skin.

This stuff did work for me and didn’t at all irritate my skin like I thought it was going to. As I always warn in skincare reviews, I have very sensitive skin. I thought this would cause a lot of redness, like my prescription acne creams used to, but it didn’t at all! It just gave me very smooth, healthy looking (and feeling) skin. I’ve only used it for a few days, so I can’t attest to its amazing anti-aging properties, but it has definitely given me smoother, softer skin. However, this is something that you’ll have to use regularly in order to enjoy the benefits. There are some products out there that say you can use them daily, but I feel like it’s unnecessary because the effects last long enough. This is not one of those. After a full day of living (working, being outside, doing chores, etc), you’ll need another treatment. I’ve heard some people say they use this as a boost to their regular routine and only use it 2-3 times a week. If you have a really good cleanser/toner system that you’re already using, I can see how only using it 2-3 times a week would work.

The one con about this is that it’s definitely medicinal. Don’t think that just because it has a cute orange color theme that it’s going to smell citrusy and give you that feel-good feeling when you pamper yourself with products. It smells like medicine. But, it’s a great product and it WORKS. It costs about $84 at Sephora for 30 treatments; if you want a better deal, you can get 60 for $148, which slightly lowers the pre-treatment cost.

Beauty Review: Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser

I love cream cleansers, because my skin has a tendency to be flaky, and I feel like these do the job while also keeping my skin a bit more moisturized than a normal gel cleanser would. The Korres Greek Yoghurt is super foamy and a small amount goes a long way — I just used a pea-sized drop and it worked for covering my entire face. It felt very gentle and silky against my skin, and my skin felt a lot better than it usually does after a wash with the Neutrogena cream cleanser. I think this one leaves less residue or something, which makes sense, because it goes for $26 for 5 oz. Not a terrible price, but when you can something similar for $5, it’s something to think about.

It didn’t blow my socks off or anything, and it doesn’t seem to be ruining my skin or helping it either — it is saving on moisturizer, because I don’t feel the need to slather it on my face after using it, so there’s that. I have very sensitive skin, so if you’re looking for a decent cleanser, this one could be a good one to try and see if it works for you.