Evil Shades: Buyer Beware Part 3

Hola sports fans. It’s been a while since I’ve updated, I know – grad school has been more demanding than I ever anticipated, so the only time I have off is the time when I am asleep. While I sorely miss testing, writing and reviewing, my schedule will not be changing any time soon. But I did want to shoot out one quick update, for those who have been following the antics of Evil Shades and their cosmetic horrors. One of Andrea’s biggest supporters has set us up the bomb:

eslol
Source: https://www.facebook.com/MakeupZombie/posts/10151457304379331

Interesting. Very interesting.

I definitely agree, if you have an order, seek a refund, now. Even if you’re one of the unlucky folk who have waited six months with no product or refund, talk to your bank to have the charges reversed. But I’d go one step further and say that if you’re thinking of making an order from Evil Shades, don’t. Just plain don’t. Waiting for things to get better is pointless – this is not an isolated event, but an enduring pattern. Simply put, Evil Shades is a scam.

Holly Jolly Holiday Tag!

The lovely Ms Eight of Beauty Infinitum tagged me for a wee little holiday survey. Thanks, lady! If you haven’t done this tag already, consider yourself tagged RIGHT MEOW. Tell me where you’ve posted it and I’ll link you back!

1. Do you start your Christmas shopping on Black Friday or wait until last minute?
I generally start at the end of October/beginning of November. At the very least, I have a very solid battle plan.

2. If you could be in any Christmas movie what would it be?
Alien Sex Party. No, really. It’s a Christmas movie.

3. Which do you like better: Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Generally, Christmas day. For the past few years, and this year included, I’ll be working on Christmas Eve, so it’s really no big thing. However, there is a sort of excitement once the sun goes down. You know it’s coming. You go to bed, snuggle up with your sweetie (or, lacking a sweetie, snuggle up under piles and piles of warm blankets all to yourself, which is pretty freakin’ sweet, too), knowing that when you wake up, it’ll be time to have the warmth and snuggles and happiness of the big day itself. The food, the family, the happiness, the gift exchange (and for my family, the post-gifting sausage and cheese snackeon), is just the tops. So yes, I love the excitement of anticipation which comes with Christmas Eve night, but Christmas Day takes first place.

4. When does your family put up your Christmas tree and who decorates it?
Classically, my family always put up the Christmas tree on the first of December, because that’s my brother’s birthday. But that kind of started not happening once us kids grew up and everybody got busy with life, so that tree now goes up whenever Mom and Dad have time to do it (or whenever my brother visits and decides to do it). Our tree here goes up whenever we have the time or energy.

5. White lights or colored lights?
Our tree is pre-lit with white lights. I also like blue lights. No thanks to the mixed colors, though.

6. Are you guilty of peeking at your presents or do you like surprise?
I haven’t been a peeker for years and years and years. I definitely like to be surprised!

7. Would you rather live in a gingerbread house or Santa’s Workshop?
Santa’s workshop. Gingerbread houses wig me out. All dry and stale and blah.

8. Tell us your Christmas Eve traditions!
My family doesn’t really have Christmas Eve traditions. We would open gifts on Christmas Eve, but that was more out of practicality than tradition, and all that has changed over time. As far as Kev’s family goes, we’ve made it a thing to get together on Skype (new tradition) and get buzzed on white Russians (old tradition) while opening gifts we’ve mailed out to each other. It’s a lot of fun.

9. If you could be under the mistletoe with anyone, who would it be?
Kev of course. I’m boring like that, sorry!

10. What tops your tree?
We have a simple angel we got at Garden Ridge, which is lovingly referred to as the “tree chicken”. Each year she’ll be holding something different in her hands. This year she’s holding the Horde emblem… *sigh*

Last Minute Gift Ideas!

Seeing as the world didn’t end yesterday, Christmas is still coming, and we’re likely to still be exchanging gifts. If you’re in a pinch and are still looking for little somethings for your friends and family, here are some items I think are pretty darned brilliant.

Hot Chocolate!

When I was a kid, my favourite thing about winter was coming in from the snow and cozying up with a nice cup of hot chocolate. It’s just a holiday essential (especially now that I’m old enough to add a shot of Bailey’s!). Now, you can gift this in two ways. First, you can pick up a nice mug on the cheap from Big Lots, and pop a few packets of hot chocolate mix inside, and seal it off with heat-shrink plastic and a ribbon. This gift is extremely inexpensive, easily personalized, and perfectly unisex.

A second option which is just as inexpensive is the Too Faced Hot Cocoa Collection. This stocking-stuffer-sized deluxe-sample duo comes with an eyeshadow-sized Chocolate Soleil matte bronzer (made with real cocoa, which lends to its positively divine fragrance), and a mini tube of the Primed & Poreless SPF 20 Bronze Tint Skin Smoothing Face Primer. This duo is perfect for anyone who has been interested in trying Chocolate Soleil but is not keen on committing to a full-size, but it would also be a spiffy idea for anyone who already loves it (because who wouldn’t appreciate a convenient purse size?). At just $10 from Sephora, this set is an absolute steal, and a great gift for all ages!

The Gift of Indie

If you think you’re too late to gift indie beauty this Christmas, you’re wrong. Though you aren’t going to be able to order any actual product and expect it to arrive in time, there are many independent artisans and sellers that offer gift certificates through their online shopfronts. Some of my favourite shops that offer extremely quick customer service response are Shiro Cosmetics (allow up to 24 hours for code generation), and Madd Style Cosmetics (allow up to 48 hours for code generation). Other shops do offer Gift Certificate options, but may take longer to generate codes – although you may have luck in expiditing the process if you contact the shop owner directly (please be on your best behaviour if you do this, though! Shop owners are just people who are trying to enjoy the holidays, too!). Once the code is generated, just write it down in a seasonal greeting card, get creative and add some personalized decorations, and you have an instant, stress-free.

If you’re too late get a Gift Certificate, there’s still a way to gift indie this Christmas! You could just as easily go ahead and place an order to arrive after Christmas, print out a copy of the invoice, and put that in a greeting card instead, with a personal, heartfelt letter about how awesome your giftee is (because let’s face it, you did drop the ball just a bit, and you do need to do a bit of kissing-up to make up for it). If you’re particularly Photoshop savvy, you could skip the invoice, and make a holiday collage with all of the items you’ve ordered. Just be sure to include a note about Turnaround Time (TAT) and shipping time, so your giftee can know whenabouts to expect the item to be delivered.

Easy Nail Kits

If you’re keen with the shrink wrap, here’s another great gifting idea. Line the bottom of a cute gift box with tissue paper, and grab your shrink paper and some fancy ribbon. Then just hit your corner drugstore, and grab an assortment of nail goodies! Nail files, orange sticks, and a rich hand cream will fill out the hand care and maintenance needs. Grab a base and quick-dry top coat, and a bottle or two of nailcolor, and a bottle or two of glittery polish. Then top it off with some fun stuff like nail art stickers or no-dry manicure strips. Depending on your brands, this sort of gift basket can range from insanely inexpensive to fairly extravagant. If you need to keep your budget tight, Wet n Wild polishes are extremely high quality for the price (even the 99c polishes are great!), and your most basic nail art stickers will round out the basket for not a lot of cash. But if you want to splurge, most drugstores will carry your mid-range brands such as Orly and Essie.

Manly Gifts

While I hate to make broadsweeping generalizations about anything, I’ve noticed that when it comes to individuals of the male variety, they will appreciate just about anything you get them. In the health and beauty arena, they’ll use whatever is cheap, quick, convenient, or provided for them. So if you’re buying beauty for a male, don’t stress: They probably won’t care whether it’s a specialty brand or Suave, as long as it works, and it doesn’t smell particularly horrible.

For gifting on the cheap, do not underestimate the power of Old Spice. Though it is getting harder and harder to find good gift sets in the classic scent (all I’ve seen this year is “Fiji” – what is that I don’t even), you can still pick up individual pieces. And it’s a classic for a reason: it smells frickin’ fantastic, and it works well on most bodies. If you can’t find the classic variety, Fresh is a good second bet that works well the on the skin.

Bath & Body Works is also a good buy for dudes, especially since they brought body lotion into their mens line. Guys need to moisturize in the winter just as much as any of us women do, but for whatever reason, they’re just not as likely to buy a simple bottle of lotion. But if you do, it will get used. Oh yes, it will. So if you’re out buying Bath & Body Works for your work buddies, go ahead and pick up some for the dudes in your life. A shower gel and lotion makes for a fine gift. Don’t fuss over the sprays – while fragrance is important, it isn’t as important as function, and fragrance for its own sake has no real function.

De-Icer In A Can

Why the hell am I putting this on a beauty blog? BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST THING ON EARTH AND EVERYBODY NEEDS IT. Honest to God, just buy a can of De-Icer and put a ribbon on it. If they don’t appreciate it immediately, they will at some point in the winter. Especially if their back defroster is broken (*sigh*).

If you have any last minute gift ideas to add, feel free to post them in the comments!

NYC IndividualEyes Custom Compact

And now, for something I was entirely disappointed in. When I found out that my Influenster Beauty Blogger Voxbox included an NYC palette, I was pretty stoked. I’d tried some of their lipsticks before and loved them, so I was happy to have a chance to try their eyeshadow.

The IndividualEyes Custom Compact palettes come packaged in a fairly well-weighted package, with a dual sponge tip applicator, four eyeshadow colours, a primer, and a highlighter cream. On the back of the package are handy dandy application suggested for the average joe, which is always nice – especially since the directions actually make sense with the colours included (something that other extreme budget brands *coughwetnwildcough* seem to have a hard time doing).

Application and Wear

To test this bugger out, I applied the NYC primer to one eye, and my usual UDPP on the other. The results on initial application were similar between primers, so if nothing else, the NYC primer does serve as an effective base. Though I was rather disappointed at how much layering it took to show a somewhat satisfactory level of pigmentation on my lids. We’re not talking about a second layer to sharpen up what may have gotten lost in blending. We’re talking three layers before you can even get to blending, and two more to sharpen up what you may have muddied up. There was also fairly horrible fallout during the entire application process, due to how powdery the formula of these shadows. At this point, I’m less than impressed.

Fast forward to the end of the day, after a long day at work. I check my shadow to see how the primers have held up. The UDPP held fairly well, with only a slight amount of fading – which is great, considering how much packing it took to achieve what little effect I did get. The other side faded quite a bit more, and creased horribly. This is the first time in about ten years that I’ve had eyeshadow to actually crease on my lids – back when I was an idiot and thought chapstick was an effective primer. I don’t even have creasing issues when I wear eyeshadow on my bare, unprimed lids. But the NYC primer is apparently really, very “special”.

I’d comment on the highlighting cream, but it pretty much did nothing, so what can I really say about it?

Brass Tacks

All in all, I was quite unimpressed, and may actually qualify as dissatisfied if I had actually paid for the item. The eyeshadows were powdery and rather poorly pigmented, and the ‘primer’ was anything but effective. I’ll admit, I am still slightly interested to try other shade offerings, if nothing more than to see if they perform just as poorly – but I am hard pressed to say that I will be purchasing this product any time soon.

FTC COMPLIANCE STATEMENT: This item was sent free for review by NYC via the Influenster program. All opinions are my own. You can’t buy my love, baby.

Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream

Whoa nelly, I am seriously, seriously lagging on getting my Influenster Beauty Blogger VoxBox opinions out there. I was not able to test all of the products, due to some of them not fitting my needs (seriously, companies, if you’re going to send out hair product samples, make sure they are suitable for all hair types and lengths). But I did plow through most of the box, and we are going to kick this off with a product I was truly blown away by.

I just happened to receive my VoxBox at a time when my face broke out into some hideous, mysterious rash. Spider bite? Topical allergy? Who bloody knows. But after it progressed from mildly unsightly and vaguely uncomfortable to actually swelling my eyelids shut, I traipsed off to the doctor and got drugged up. Over the next few days, the rash stopped spreading, and the swelling went down, leaving me with a bad case of alligator face: the whole thing was a dry, flaky, scaly mess of horror and shame.

Image retrieved from Target.com

Since my face is already a wreck, I figure, what the hell can it hurt to try new and random face creams out? I can’t look much worse, right? So I take my sample tube of Boots No. 7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream for Dry to Very Dry skin, and apply it lightly. It soaks in immediately, so about five minutes later, I apply another light layer.

The next day, my face is smooth as a cherub’s rump. Two very light applications, and my post-rash-apocalypse face was perfectly smooth!

Now, we’ll just pretend for a moment that we’re not completely, entirely, unabashedly impressed by the performance of Boots No 7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream, and look for something else to rave about. First off, this is actually a pretty lightweight night cream. As I mentioned, it absorbed quite fast, so if you are the sort who doesn’t like a heavy feeling on your face, the Boots No 7 Beautiful Skin line may be well worth checking out. Furthermore, it’s actually a pretty great value. A 1.6oz helping will run you just $13.99 – about $11 cheaper than the night cream I had been using.

So would I buy this in the future? Most definitely yes. It is ultra-moisturizing, lightweight as far as night creams go, and at an incredible price to boot. Thanks to Influenster and Boots for letting me try this product out, and ultimately winning yourself a new customer!

FTC COMPLIANCE STATEMENT: This product was sent free for review by Boots via the Influenster program. All opinions are my own. You can’t buy my love, baby.