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Product: Boots Restore & Renew Beauty Serum
Use: Anti-aging
SRP: $21.99

Nothing makes me happier than getting to try a new product without plunking down my hard-earned cash for the privilege. I’d been hearing about Boots for some time, and once the line arrived at Target, it was only by physical force that I could be removed from the Health and Beauty aisles. So many products, none of which I’d tried, and where to start? Thankfully, Boots saw fit to provide samples and knowledgeable employees to Target stores, and I walked away with about two weeks’ worth of No7 Restore & Renew without lightening my wallet. And now, dear readers, the results are in!

Boots recommends using No7 R&R for about four weeks to see reduction of pores, fine lines, and an overall restoration of youthful skin. I’ve got this fabulous makeup mirror with the 10x magnification side – you know, the one we never use because we’d rather NOT see all those imperfections up close and personal first thing in the morning – and I made a point of giving my face a good hard look before my first use of Restore & Renew. Then, I told myself to give it some time, use it every day until it was gone, and see what happened. Here we are, a week and a couple of days later, and let me tell you, I didn’t even need to go back to the magnified mirror to know that this stuff works.

After ten days’ use, I can *feel* the difference in my skin when I apply the serum, followed by my usual moisturizer. The area around my nose and my chin are the “trouble spots” for enlarged pores, and where I didn’t have to before, I now need to get right up to the mirror and truly LOOK for my pores. My skin appears smoother, more uniformly colored, and has a radiance I didn’t know was missing until I got it back. I leave my face naked but for a dusting of mineral finishing powder, which also goes on more evenly than it did a week ago, and that’s all it takes to eliminate those imperfections I generally have to work to cover and mask.

The product itself is thick and a bit paste-like; I have to remind myself that it’s a *serum* and not a moisturizer. It’s not meant to feel completely weightless – it’s got work to do, and that requires a bit more substance. It feels good, though – like a thin mud mask that you rub in rather than letting it sit on the surface. It takes only moments to completely absorb into the skin, and doesn’t leave a shine, so you don’t have to apply a powder over it if you don’t care to. A very small amount covers my entire face and neck, and there’s only a faint scent – more medicinal than fragrant – which doesn’t linger past application.

It’s no wonder Restore & Renew is flying off shelves everywhere; we all hear the hype about every new anti-aging system, every recommended proactive measure for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and tautness, every cream/toner/cleanser that’s going to turn back the years. Finally, there’s one product, applied in seconds every morning, that delivers on the promises made by every skin care company known to femme. Head to Target or CVS and see if you can grab up a bottle of this serum before it’s sold out; by the time they get it back in stock, you could already have seen the results for yourself.

Do you own this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me at Frugal (@) Femme Flavor (.) com!


Who’s excited that Britain’s number one cosmetic and skin care company has finally landed in the states? I know I am! I managed to score a handful of samples of their Restore & Renew Beauty Serum in addition to a couple of other skin care products, so you know I’ll be delivering a report before long!

How many of you have tried Boots? Was it in England, or not until they debuted the line here in the US? What are your overall thoughts? Can’t wait to hear, and from there, of course, I can’t wait to try it all!

I hope you’re enjoying a safe and relaxing holiday weekend; until later then, my lovelies!




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Product: Bumble & bumble Styling Creme
Use: creating the perfect ‘do
SRP: $22
Best Price: $22 at participating salons (visit and click the Store Locator at the top to find one near you)

It’s been a while, I know; thank you all for your patience while I was on vacation and catching up afterwards! As a reward, I want to tell you about the first styling product I’ve been willing to spend more than $5 on in *years*.

I have plastic totes under my bathroom vanity that are full of various products, not the least represented of those being hair styling goos of various types. Spritzes, gels, mousses, pomades, you name it, we’ve got it. A very few get a second go-’round, and when they do, it’s almost always due to price rather than performance. No longer is that the case.

My dear stylist, Chris at Anvil Salon in San Francisco, made a believer out of me when he introduced Bumble & bumble’s Styling Creme. After telling me that my hair is in fact not just wavy, but *curly*, and after allowing my laughter to serve as a challenge, he hit my hair with a dollop of this stuff and watched my smirk fade into sheepishness.

The bottle reads, “Well, it’s not a mousse and it’s not a gel – some call it magic.” Count me among them. With about a quarter-sized amount of product worked through my ridiculously thick, shoulder-blade length hair, he turned stick straight into just shy of ringlets. While other brands will promise not to leave your hair stiff, sticky, or immobile, this one delivers – I was able to run my fingers through without getting stuck, OR ruining the curl.

If you’ve not yet tried Bumble & bumble products, do yourself, and your hair, a favor – treat yourself to a cut and style at a salon that carries them, and ask the stylist to use this creme. Grab a bottle to take home, and discover how easy it is to finally reproduce salon styling at home with one product in a large enough bottle to last you at least until your next visit.

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Product: L’Oreal Infallible Lip Color
Use: Long-lasting lip color in a variety of shades
SRP: $11.99
Best Price: Target, $9.99 (in stores only – click the picture to go to Ulta for online shopping)

What’s the point in getting all dolled up for a hot date if kissing said date results in lipstick ruin? Thankfully, there are products out there that will keep us free from reapplication for hours of luscious lip locking.

I’m a big fan of MAC makeup, I’m not going to lie. I’m also a big fan of being able to pay the bills, so my supply of MAC is much shorter than that of drugstore brand cosmetics. When it came time for long-lasting, no-worries, this-stuff-isn’t-going-anywhere lip color, I hit the MAC counter, knowing I’d find what I needed, and I did – the pro longwear line has some great colors, they last through most anything, and they don’t dry my lips. All of what I need in a lip color, to the tune of $20 plus tax. A small price to pay, if it’s the only product out there. None of the others I’d tried had provided the same results, so I was content with the price tag. Until now, of course.

Let’s start off by saying that L’Oreal sure does know how to push our packaging buttons. The mirrored case with the lip color locked into one side and the moisturizing sealant on the other is pure genius, and let’s not forget how much I love the shiny stuff! At about the size and shape of a compact flip phone, the case is pocket-ready or easily thrown in any size bag. The mirror isn’t compact-quality, but it does the trick, whether you’re applying the color or touching up the sealant. The color applicator is a molded sponge-tip, which may need to be used somewhat carefully by our thinner-lipped friends, but which fits the curves and corners of the mouth perfectly so that one swipe is all it takes to apply evenly and thoroughly.

The colors seemed somewhat limited to pinks and browns, but it appeared to be because several of the reds (Pomegranate and Crimson among them) had already sold out in both Target and Walgreens, despite the fact that the product had hit the shelves mere days before I shopped for it. The 24 shades do range widely enough that anyone should be able to find at least a couple that work well for them, and there are close color options for frost or matte based on your preference.

I picked up Azalea, a really pretty pink with purple undertones, and I wore it all weekend, through lunches and cocktails with straws and bubble gum and smooches. The color didn’t move until I wanted it off. I reapplied the sealant two or three times over the course of seven or eight hours’ wear, more because I was checking out color’s staying power and happened to think of it than because I felt the need. The stick sealant moisturizes without feeling greasy, and it soaks into the color and the lips rather than sitting on top. When the days were done, a quick once-over with makeup remover took the color away without any scrubbing necessary.

Grabbing me with the packaging, hooking me with the price, and winning me with the proof, L’Oreal’s got a new convert when it comes to keeping my lips dressed all day.

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For anyone who is interested in trying out Electric Cosmetics (see my review here), all eye shadows are on sale – 5 gram jars for $3 each as opposed to the normal $5 each. Dez is also offering a free shadow with each purchase. The sale is through this Sunday, August 5th, so definitely check it out if you’re in need of some new shadows! My favorite EC shadow colors are Plue, Soft Red, and Creek. Have fun shopping!!!



I’m mid-test, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one; stay tuned for tomorrow’s full report on L’Oreal’s new Infallible Lip color! I hope you’re all having a lovely week!



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Product: Color correcting Primer from Smashbox
Use: Correct and balance overage of red (green tint, pictured above), yellow (lavendar tint, not pictured), or other skin discoloration (apricot, not pictured)
SRP: $38 for 1 oz. pump bottle
Best Price: Sephora, get two 0.5 oz. tubes for $33 ($16.50 ea.)Anyone with perpetually rosy cheeks can tell you, calming down the redness and trying to reach that utopia of skin tone uniformity is a quest for the ages. Like many people, I have the triangles of deep red that never fade entirely, and burn true crimson if I’m given a reason to blush. And, like many people, I spent a while trying to cover the red rather than correcting it. Of course, this didn’t work, and I made my way through a handful of liquid, cream, and powder foundations before I realized that it wasn’t the makeup’s fault – there was just no holding this red back.

I started seeing green tinted face powders on the scene a couple of years ago, and of course it made sense – the green neutralizes the red! Wow, what a novelty! Why didn’t I think of this??? I picked up a green concealer stick and was on my way, or so I thought. Sure, it neutralized the red, but it left me looking like I’d either just been ill, or was about to be, and that was NOT what I was going for. I ditched the green and returned to my red-cheek-acceptance mode, where I remained for some time. Until the phone call.

One of my girls knows that my flaming cheeks have the tendency to drive me insane, primarily when my makeup for the day does not include colors that are complemented well by fuschia. She’d just picked up the Smashbox photo finish primer intended to correct redness, as she’s got a couple of trouble spots, and it was a miracle! The red was gone! The sky opened and the angels sang hallelujah! I knew I had to get this stuff, and fast. I found the half ounce tube at my local Sephora and in moments, I was out the door and headed back to my makeup mirror.

Smoothing the primer on was a unique experience for someone who had never used a facial product with silicone before; the consistency was light and airy, and it was like silk on my fingertips and my face. I could see the difference the tint made, not in an earth shattering way, but in a piece of the puzzle way – the green didn’t completely eradicate the red, but it did neutralize it enough so that a light mineral finishing powder was all it took to give my skin a consistent tone. The primer itself, aside from the color correct quality, worked nicely to provide a smooth base by filling pores and fine lines weightlessly. I was glad to have purchased the tube as opposed to the bottle, as I’ve had other “whipped” types of foundation in pump bottles, and the pump becomes useless towards the end of the product; I would have been scraping the sides long before I felt I’d gotten my $38 worth, I’m sure. As for the amount of product needed, I used less and less each time for the first several days, and ended up with a pea-sized amount providing enough coverage to prime my entire face without excess.

As Smashbox is one of the more expensive brands I’ll purchase myself, I’ll likely be picking up the next product I see that promises the same results, but has a more forgiving price tag. At the cost for the Photo Finish Primer, I would certainly rather find a comparable product for less, but I wouldn’t say no to purchasing this one again. As the color correct is only slightly more than the clear, I’d opt for
that as well, but if you’re trying to find complete color correction in a single product, I wish you luck, dear reader, and I wish you’d share if ever you find it!

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Product: Rina Rich Bags (Specifically, the Shoulder Bag)
SRP: $25-$50
Best Price:; also available at Stuf on Haight St. in SF, CA

Let it be known that I am not a handbag kind of femme. Half of the time I forget to carry one, and I frequently forget to bring it back home when I do. This has been the source of no small amount of shame for me, given that a couple of my nearest and dearest girls are all about the clutches, the totes, the hobos, you name the bag, they’ve got four of ‘em. As for me, I get confused if something I’m carrying has more than one zipper, or requires both hands to access the treasures within.

Unfortunately, one of the truths I’d hoped could be avoided has hit me full-force this year – the older you get, the bigger your purse must be. I made it through several successful bar-hopping years in five-pocket jeans, where each pocket carried the same items every night. Then I started small; a little black clutch, purchased because I couldn’t resist the price (go figure!), and oh, how proud I was of myself! I could throw my five pockets’ worth of stuff in this cute little seven dollar bag and not look like I had something growing out of my mid-thigh on each leg! Then, last year, my partner’s mom came on the scene, and she lives within credit card charging distance of a Coach outlet. Handbags, 1, Frugal Femme, 0. But as cute as the swing packs and wristlets were, they couldn’t keep up with this girl’s growing assortment of items that had moved from the “I sure wish I had that with me,” world into the realm of, “Dammit, I need a purse that can hold all of this.” Enter Stuf on Haight Street.

The store is easily missed; the display window isn’t gaudy or crowded, the space itself is narrow and dimly lit, and more than two people can hardly shop comfortably at one time. It is here, though, that I find myself actually drawn to handbags – small ones, HUGE ones, granny-styles ones, flashy ones – and every bag that catches my eye bears the same tag. Rina Rich? Never heard of her. NOT that this should come as a surprise; I couldn’t tell the difference between a Vuitton bag and Le Sportsac if you took off the labels. (OK, maybe that’s a bit drastic, but this is not my area of expertise)

Rina Rich’s bags are elegant, sturdy, and, for the most part, designed to wear well and ride the tides of fashion. The faux leather is supple but not flimsy, the hardware prominent but not overwhelming. Each of the bags I inspected had a minor flaw or two, primarily a spot where the thread had broken or gone slightly off track. It didn’t detract from the overall attractiveness of the piece, though, and I left with a handbag that not only fits my fashion needs, but will hold everything a working girl needs from day to day. And as a comfort, however small it may be, it’s still nowhere near as big as my mother’s purse.

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Product: Rimmel Lycra Lash Extender Mascara
Use: Lengthening and curling eyelashes
SRP: Unavailable from Rimmel
Best Price: $4.99 @ Ulta ( – Also available at Wal-Mart in the US, see store for price

Let me preface by noting that if there were a prize for the cosmetic item with the fewest “must have” votes given to any particular brand, it would go to mascara, hands down. It seems as though no one can truly agree on the mascara that every lash will love. That being said, this review is going to tell you what the product does, what it doesn’t, and the rest is up to you, dear reader.

My first experience with Rimmel’s lycra lash-enhancer is a bit of a blur, mostly because I was entranced every time my dear friend blinked. Her lashes swooped down and laid upon her cheeks, thousands of them, a mile long, then returned, with each bat of her eyes. I could NOT wait to get my hands on a tube of this stuff – finally, I was going to have the lashes I’d always wanted, the long, lush, voluminous lashes that I was meant to have! Perhaps this was a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but hey, it could happen, right?

My second experience was the real test, the moment we’d all, or at least I’d, been waiting for. I’m a stickler for precise and purposeful mascara application; what with it being the last thing I put on when completing my eye makeup, any mistake means not only cleaning up the mess, but reapplying anything that came off with it. Suffice it to say that it’s a good thing I hadn’t spent any amount of time applying eyeshadow that morning. After each of the first several strokes of the brush resulted in mascara being deposited on both upper and lower lash lines, I finally just finished the job and tidied up when I was done. The results delivered by the mascara were perhaps less dramatic than I’d hoped, but the length did appear to be somewhat extended, and, without using any torturous devices, it did appear as though I’d curled my lashes. While the fringe didn’t gain any volume or thickness by way of the new product, it also didn’t promise either of those things, so I can’t really complain, can I?

In the end, I’m essentially in the same place I was before I bought this new mascara – trying a different one every time it comes on the market. Perhaps one of these days, I’ll splurge on a tube from a high-end counter and fall in love, but until a group of twenty makeup lovers can say in one voice that *this* is the brand to have, I’ll stick with trial and error. And of course, I’ll share the results with you.

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Product: Sally Hansen Diamond Lip Treatment
Use: Shimmer, tint, and plumping for lips
SRP: $4.99 at most drugstores
Best Price: Ulta, in-store, $2.39 ea. PLUS buy one get one free

While most of my makeup collection grows slowly, with painstaking consideration for each color, brand, and end result, I have no shame when it comes to lipstick and gloss. I gravitate towards anything that purports to be long-lasting, is a shade I know works well for me, or is under five bucks. Make it shiny, and I’m a goner. This is how I happened upon Sally Hansen’s Diamond Lip Treatment.

I’d been trying to find something that would perfectly match my OPI Bogota Blackberry mani/pedi for an upcoming event, and I was striking out. Everything was either too red or too purple. I figured I’d try and find two products that would combine to create the perfect match, and Always Ascher, a deep purple with incredible sparkle, was the Sally Hansen lip color that hit the mark.

I didn’t think that, for five dollars, I’d find a gloss that had enough tint to be worn on its own with a full face of makeup, enough glitter to satisfy my deep need for dazzling light-refraction, AND enough plumper to be effective without making my lips feel like they had been doused in cayenne pepper. Thankfully, I was wrong – this lip treatment is all of the above.

The product comes in a limited number of colors, but they run the gamut from warm to cool and, with only a few shades, I don’t find myself wishing they made X, Y, or Z for use with certain looks. There’s also an opaque colorless gloss that can be applied over your favorite lipstick to create the desired effect. The tube is perfectly sized for a pocket or purse, and the brush applicator means that you’re only putting the gloss ON, and not taking the lip color beneath OFF.

Yesterday, I received a gift of Chanel’s Limited Edition Galactic Glossimer. It’s been advertised everywhere, and I’d seen it at the department store counter, but I wasn’t about to plunk down $25 for a lip gloss. The Sally Hansen treatment is a comparable product, and never you mind what the price tags say. The Glossimer does add an intense frost finish to any color over which it is applied, but the blue and pink overtones in Galactic limit it to use over cool shades. You also need to use a fingertip to apply it, as the Chanel tube comes with a sponge-tipped applicator that will pick up your base color and tint the gloss when it’s replaced if you use it over a highly pigmented product.

Finally, as if the price and the results weren’t enough, the Diamond Lip Treatment shades coordinate with ten of the Sally Hansen Diamond Strength No Chip Nail Colors, so if you’re like me and you’ve got to have the perfect match, this is a foolproof and affordable way to go. Just don’t tell Coco I sent you…

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