Product: Rimmel Lycra Lash Extender Mascara
Use: Lengthening and curling eyelashes
SRP: Unavailable from Rimmel
Best Price: $4.99 @ Ulta (http://www.ulta.com) – 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: Electric Cosmetics Eye Shadows (Pictured above, starting in upper left hand corner and moving clockwise: Deep Black, Creek, Frost, Bronze Shimmer, Soft Red, Grapette)
Use: Loose powder for eyelids; can also be added to clear lip glosses, nail polishes, etc.
SRP: $5 for 5g, $1.50 for 1/4 tsp. sample bag
Best Price: Sign up for the newsletter at http://www.electriccosmetics.com to receive notices of sales Many years passed from the time I first picked up a sponge-tipped applicator and made my inaugural foray into the world of eye makeup to the day I resolved to up the ante and start taking the stuff seriously. For a while, I balked at bright colors, felt that all makeup should look “natural”, and immediately removed any mix of colors that I felt was too attention-getting.¬† My, how things have changed…

Today, when I get ready for a date with my partner, have an event to attend, or just feel like giving people something to talk about, the many brushes and color pots are laid out, my mirror is cocked to the perfect angle, and not a bit of my lid is left untouched by vivid shades that would have made my former self gasp aloud. And when this happens, you will find that many of the hues I choose are from Electric Cosmetics.

Dez, the young woman who started the company with her hand-crafted eye shadows, is a brilliant entrepreneur for her age (19) and strives to meet the needs of her ever-growing client√®le. She even offers to create a custom color for you, asking for details such as matte versus metallic, glitter versus shimmer, and whether the color you’re envisioning is comparable to another shade she can use as a guideline. Her products are all cruelty-free, and contain a very small number of ingredients, making them a good bet for those with allergies or aversions to certain items often used in makeup.

I have purchased from Electric Cosmetics on two occasions, and have a total of twenty-seven colors of EC eye shadow. Each color is unique and blends well with other shades using any basic technique. While I definitely recommend the use of a primer to bring out the intensity and longevity of the loose powders, once they are applied, they stay put and stay vivid for hours. Without a primer, as with most mineral shadows, the colors are a bit lackluster and tend to slide.

The process of purchasing from Electric Cosmetics was a bit bumpy; I placed both of my orders during sales Dez has promoted heavily, and I found that it was difficult for her to keep up at the rate necessary to provide timely production and shipping. The first order was significantly delayed, and I received a page of coupons to be used on future purchases by way of apology. One of the lids in my second order was broken apart, though none of the product was lost thanks to the paper seal inside each jar. When I brought it to Dez’s attention, she responded that she would replace it, but I didn’t hear from her again. Considering that the shadow itself was still perfectly usable and that I’d just scored 25 shadows for $20, I didn’t follow up; I knew she was likely still overwhelmed with the sale, and it just wasn’t that big a deal to me.

I know that Dez, like any small business owner, is working hard to streamline her processes and get her product line out there for the world to see. Rather than waiting until Electric Cosmetics blows up on the makeup scene – which it will – check this stuff out now. Go fill up your virtual shopping cart, have bit of patience and understanding, and you will be rewarded with high-quality shadows in colors that rival the big name brands’ offerings at a fraction of the cost.

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Product: Bath and Body Works’ Manicure Kit
Use: mani/pedi tools in a convenient carry-case
SRP: $18
Best Price: $10 with any $20 purchase at Bath and Body Works

I’m a big ol’ sucker for anything that comes free or discounted with purchase of other items; I can’t tell you how many of these products languish in the deepest corners of my vanity drawers, having been used once, never again to see the light of day. Once in a while though, one of these deals makes up for the other foolish add-on sales to which I consistently succumb. The Manicure Kit from Bath and Body Works is such a find.While the file remains untouched, it’s the only item I’ve not used for every manicure and pedicure I’ve done at home in the weeks since I first picked up the kit. The tools are conveniently sized for traveling in a medium to large handbag, but not unmanageably small, and the case itself is cute and functional.

The real prize, however, is the one item for which I still can’t imagine a reason it’s in the kit in the first place – the tweezers. Oh, the tweezers. I would buy the kit again, at *full price*, for the tweezers alone.

It took several times making the same mistake over and over again for me to realize that waxing my eyebrows would never bring me anything but pain and suffering. I have very sensitive skin, and no matter what solutions my well-meaning friends offered, I always, every time, broke out after a waxing. Finally, I decided it was time to take my brows into my own hands, and I started tweezing. Pair after pair of tweezers came home with me, from the el-cheapo to the biggest, baddest, highest-priced pair in the health and beauty aisle. While they all, to some degree, served their purpose, the pair that came in this nail care kit are pure gold. Precision and as much painlessness as is possible are the keys to a good pair of tweezers in my book, and this kit’s offering rocks my world on both counts.

I won’t go away for a weekend without this handy little case of tools, and there’s room enough to throw in any other essentials that are tiny enough to get lost in a purse, train case, or carry-on. Next time you find yourself aching for a good bargain but don’t want to be duped into something you’ll sadly surrender to your pile of beauty busts, head to Bath and Body Works for an add-on you can really use.

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Product: Benefit Eye Bright
Use: “waking up” your eyes
SRP: $18
Best price: Macy’s Online, $16

One of the perks to having an adopted “son” at home is that he loves to give “mom” presents! A recent gift has proven to be a great addition to my makeup collection; Eye Bright by benefit.My morning regime is often hurried and harried, consisting of little more than a spot of mascara, a swift sweep of finishing powder, and a touch of gloss before I grab my coffee cup and hit the door at a run. I never knew how much of a pick-me-up my eyes could use on those mad dash mornings until I tried the eye bright stick.The color is a muted pink with a hint of shimmer, and the consistency a perfect balance of cream and powder. It doesn’t take precision or practice to apply – just a pea-sized dot under the inner corner of the eye and then trace the outer “V” – with a few dabs of a fingertip to blend, you’re done. Your eyes appear brighter, more engaging, and larger in seconds. It blends easily into foundation or bare skin, and doesn’t detract from a complete eye look, though application needs to be more precise and deliberate if working around shadow colors.

I tried a few other more affordable products in an attempt to recreate the effects; loose powder applied wet and blended, a white eyeliner crayon, even a similar pink to the eye bright in Burt’s Bees lip shimmer, but nothing compared. The powder reflected too much light and wasn’t subtle enough, the white liner was stark against my skin and didn’t blend well, and the lip shimmer, well, that was a bit of a sticky mess that I don’t recommend to anyone. I’d be curious to hear from people of color to find out if the shade works well on skin tones besides my own fair complexion.

So there’s the scoop on eye bright – if you need something to perk up your eyes after a late night, or to freshen them up before one, this is a product you should definitely keep on hand.

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