Review: Ecotools | Konjac Facial Cleansing Sponge

Washing your face is now a very serious business. But if you’re really the low key (and low budget) type of skincare enthusiast and you’ve tried the face towels, sponges and manual face brushes on the market, the next order of business is obviously washing your face with a vegetable.

THE BASICS
Brand: Ecotools
Product: Pure Complexion (Sensitive Skin) Konjac Facial Sponge*
Variation: Regular Sensitive (shown), Charcoal Deep Cleansing
Size: 8cm x 6 cm
Price: $11.99 CAD via FarleyCo (online), $6 USD via iHerb (online)
Availability: Drugstores nationwide, Farleyco, iHerb
Would I (re)purchase: Undecided but possibly yes.
Website: www.ecotools.com

Konjac or konjac root as it’s usually known in the culinary world looks like a root vegetable, something akin to the shape of a taro and is high in fibre but low in calories making it a popular alternative to pasta and rice and is especially liked in many Asian countries.
In the beauty world however, its been made into facial sponges recommended for gently but thoroughly cleansing your skin. I recently put the Ecotools version to the test and their Pure Complexion Facial Sponge has temporarily replaced my regular sponges, face towels and even my high end gadgets.
Designed to be used on even the most sensitive of complexions, it comes out of the box as a tear drop shaped, palm sized, hard sponge. Upon first inspection, it certainly doesn’t look very skin friendly but quick few seconds under running water quickly turns this into a soft, jelly/cellulose textured sponge with no trace of its former self.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/47848761@N08/15076947294/player/

The accompanying instructions were simple (and rather vague), just add a mild facial cleanser and you’re ready to go but in practice this did require some experimentation. I found that it was best for foaming type cleansers (milk types quickly absorbed into the sponge) and that it was most effective to create a lather in your palm and apply it to your face first before using the sponge instead of attempting to do it all with the sponge alone.
From a functional perspective, it’s a well designed product. The size and shape made it easy to hold and the dual ended sides made it effective to navigate facial contours such as between the eyes and around the sides of the nose. When wet, the konjac sponge had enough textural difference for a light exfoliation without the grit of other physical scrubs and can be a great choice for young skin or those with sensitive skin. Though this wouldn’t replace my regular exfoliating treatments, no redness or irritation means that you can use it everyday to accompany your cleansing routine.

Post washing, simply rinse, squeeze out excess water and lay it flat to dry. It’s recommended that you replace the sponge every 1-3months depending on how often you use it and how quickly it wears down.


THE FINAL VERDICT
As far as manual facial cleansing gadgets go, the Ecotools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge (and likely most konjac based sponges) is an interesting and certainly innovative product that you can add to your daily regime that’s just a step up from simply using your hands. The gentle texture makes it safe for all skin types and it does provide some mild smoothing effects every time you wash your face. However for my own skin, I just didn’t find it to be any more effective than the cellulose sponges and face towels which are already part of my routine and it certainly will not be replacing my Clarisonic. For the minimalists out there or those who are just staring out with a basic routine I think you’ll certainly have a good time with this but for the skincare connoiseurs out there, you’ll probably be over it in a week or two. Personally, I can see myself keeping one around as a quick and easy travel companion when I’m not ready to risk loosing my gadgets.
STAY IN TOUCH

Twitter | Youtube | Instagram | Facebook 

Review: The Original Beauty Blender Sponge

Rarely has a makeup gadget caused a thundering response the way that this little pink sponge has done. The Original Beauty Blender needs no formal introduction. If you’ve never seen the real deal then you’ve most definitely encountered various spin-off of the “magic” foundation sponge. Now days, these sponges come in various shapes, sizes and price points.

THE BASICS
Brand: Beauty Blender
Product: The Original Beauty Blender
Price: $26 CAD
Availability: Sephora, Beauty Blender online
Would I repurchase: Only at discount.

The Beauty Blender is the reinvention of an old product redone with modern technology. Simply put, it is a makeup sponge that is generally used to apply liquid or cream foundation products. Its tear drop shape was certainly unique on the mass market at the time and it’s claim to produce an air brushed finish without the muss and fuss of complicated tools made professional results accessible, even for the makeup novice.

Packaged in its own dashing plastic display box (which also doubles as a drying stand of sorts), the Beauty Blender is designed to be used damp by wetting the sponge completely under water, squeezing out any excess and then squeezing it further between a towel. A fully dry sponge is about the size of a medium egg while a probably towel squeezed damp sponge grows almost twice as large.
Then, with a few dots of foundation applied to the skin, the sponge is pounced on the skin for a seamless blend of your liquid foundation, concealer and even cream blush. This method is designed particularity to avoid stroke marks that can easily be left behind when using a brush and with a little practice of the right motion, large areas of the face can be done much more quickly than a traditional flat shaped brush. 
I find this to be especially usefully for blending thicker/creamy products that can cake up easily if not spread evenly over the skin. The Beauty Blender makes it easy to apply a thin layer of product at a time and is excellent for quick layering in problem areas such as dark circles or a blemish patch. The pointed end can be used around the eyes, edges of the nose and other facial contours so it’s been my go-to product when I’m short on time.
Now having attempted a few blending sponges from other brands with less than satisfying results, I was eager to finally try the Beauty Blender just to see exactly what was the crucial difference. The answer? It all came down to the material. The Beauty Blender is non-latex but does have a rather porous foam like surface with a suede feel. It’s very easy to squeeze yet restores its shape immediately when you release it. So while many products have a similar shape and function, its indeed the proprietary material of the sponge that makes the real difference. 
My only concerns with this product is that it’s very slow to dry. Even when I leave it sitting in its container stand, it could be a full day or two before it returns to its fully dry form and that worries me due to potential bacterial growth. Also, sponge itself is very delicate, meaning if you squeeze it too hard in your palm, chances are you are going to nick it with a fingernail and I’ve heard plenty of laments over a ripped new Beauty Blender.
THE FINAL VERDICT

In terms of function and ease of use The Original Beauty Blender delivers impeccable solid results. When pressed for time, its a great one product wonder that applies and blends your product all in one go. I’ve used it successfully for liquid foundations, cream foundations, cream blusher and concealers and what has really impressed me is the sponge’s ability to make layering products so much easier. I often have a hard time blending concealer without it caking up and this makes the task easy and flawless. If you’re a frequent traveler, this one tool will replace the need for multiple brushes. Personally, I am still reluctant to pay full price for the Beauty Blender as I can (albeit with a little more time) achieve the same result using my other tools. The price point coupled with its unhygienic potential makes this just short of a perfect product for my normal everyday use. However if neither of those things concern you then its absolutely a high performance beauty tool worth trying.

STAY IN TOUCH

Iconic Eyelash Curlers | Shiseido vs. Shu Uemura

This is a post for us straight lashed girls. You know who you are, devoted to waterproof mascara in an attempt to keep your lashes perkier just a bit longer and hiding your lash curler in your purse so you can re-curl during the day. In the finicky world of eyelash curlers, it’s no secret that Shu Uemura and Shiseido come up as the top contenders for most beloved lash gadget.
L | SHISEIDO Lash Curler ($16CAD)
R | SHU UEMURA Lash Curler* ($24CAD)
I’ve never been convinced about eyelash curlers until I met Shiseido, frustrated at not getting the perfect curve I finally walked into The Bay one day and slapped down on the table what I thought at the time was a ridiculous amount of money for a small beauty tool. Now an indispensable part of my full beauty routine, I’ve recently also added the iconic Shu Uemura lash curler to my collection and with this, it’s only proper that we talk about it.

On the level of mechanics, both gadgets are traditional spring-less hinged designs made of metal parts with a black plastic rubber pad (Shiseido sells refills, uncertain about Shu). While both fit comfortably in my hand and are of sturdy quality, Shu edges out as being just a bit heavier though the difference is rather negligible.

The key to finding that perfect fit comes right down to the curvature of the clamp and its width which should both be close to your own natural eye shape. While the difference might seem minimal to the naked eye, once traced on paper it seems that the Shu Uemura version is a tad wider and its curve just a few millimeters deeper. This means if you have deep set eyes, double eyelids or even slightly larger eyes, Shu would likely be your better pick.

On the other hand, if you have a flatter eye space, single eyelids or smaller eyes then Shiseido’s design with its less sever curvature will be much more promising and a few dollars cheaper as well.

When it comes down to the final choice, I find that eye lash curlers are much like shopping for undergarments. It’s all about the fit.

While I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing the Shiseido lash curler many years ago (in fact, it is to date the best money I’ve ever spent on a beauty item) I will say that the Shu Uemura design makes just that miniscule difference for me to like it better. Though I never regarded myself as having wider eyes per say, once I put on the Shu, it was evident that I could reach my lashes from edge to edge in one squeeze while getting straight to the base. There was less readjusting, re-curling and altogether just a smoother experience.

So for all you lash curling connoisseurs out there, do you have a favourite?
STAY IN TOUCH

Bunnie Loves : Ep. #7 | The Sneaky Beauty Favourites

I wanted to roll in a bit of a different direction for this months beauty favourites. This episode will focus on some of my behind the scenes beauty loves, those which don’t get enough air time but are most certainly staples in my beauty routine (some for years!).

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

  • L’OREAL | Superior Preference for dark hair LC61
  • DAISO | Metal core velcro hair rollers
  • ICHIBAN KAN | Clip on vented hair rollers
  • REVLON | “Perfect Heat” Curling irons (1″ & 1.5″) | website
  • BODY LUXURIES | Facial buffs
  • SHISEIDO | Eyelash curler

L’Oreal and Revlon items are easy found in your local drugstore, the gold version is likely discontinued but the silver “Perfect Heat” version is still being sold. The funky velcro hair rollers were from Japanese/Asian drugstores but I’m certain they aren’t an exclusive brand, SaSa carries similar ones. Body Luxuries appears to be a Walmart only brand, however Ecotools carry something almost identical and that can be found in quite a few drugstores across the nation. Lastly, Shiseido is exclusive to high end department stores (and perhaps a few random beauty shops) so head on over to The Bay to get your curlers.

Now it’s your turn to spill the beans!
Do you have a secret beauty favourite?

Review: Sigma | Flat Kabuki F80

Let’s talk makeup brushes today, I’m an avid user of them and while they are indispensable in my makeup routine I’m not one to get too fancy about them. There’s only a small handful that I can truly call my favourites, ones that have earned their place because of their shape and performance. A new member has recently joined this elite circle, the Sigma Flat Kabuki* so I thought I’d best introduce everyone.

Sigma F80 brush

THE BASICS
Brand: Sigma Beauty
Product: Flat Top Kabuki (F80)
Size: 15.5cm (L), 3cm (brush diameter)
Material: Synthetic Sigmax hairs, wooden furrel
Price: $18 usd
Availability: Exclusively at Sigma online
Back when I first started makeup, MAC’s 187 Duo Fibre brush was all the rage and considered the it item for any makeup lover but those fibre rushes and I never quite hit it off. It wasn’t until I discovered kabuki brushes that I was really swept off my feet, they provided an airbrushed finish with minimal work and was unlike anything I’d used before.
Sigma F80 brush

Sigma’s F80 is a full sized long handled brush, with a dense set of synthetic fiber hairs cut in a short blunt shape and a sturdy weight in your hands. In design it’s very similar to the Everyday Minerals flat top brush (see it), which was my favourite prior to discovering this. The size of F80 is designed large enough to easily buff product onto larger areas of the face (cheeks, forehead) but also maneuvered easily around tricky spots like the sides of my nose and between my eyebrows.
Sigma F80 brush

Long bristles on buffing/kabuki brushes can sometimes make the head feel too flimsy when trying to apply your product (my problem with the duo fibers) but the shorter length on the Sigma made things easy, indeed I’ve never encountered a brush that had such high efficiency; low effort, big results every single time. It’s the main reason that this has become my most used foundation brush, you can of course also use this to apply powder foundation and give yourself a bit more coverage this way but I tend to pair mine with creams or liquids.
Beauty Tip: The big fluffy bristles can suck up a lot of product so if you are using a liquid foundation, I recommend dotting the product onto your face and then blending/buffing it in with the F80 using small circular motions. It will disperse the product evenly in a thin veil but provide a seamless look.
Sigma F80 brush

It’s probably important to also let you know that this brush has never shed a single hair in my presence in the months that I’ve owned it which surprises even myself. It’s always kept its shape well after washings and because of it’s sturdy synthetic fibers, it stills feels superbly soft every time I pull it out. For the Sigma F80, I think it’s the combination of quality and attention to detail that makes this brush so loveable. This has become my indispensable foundation sidekick and I would gladly repurchase it again.
Do you own any Sigma brushes?
What is your favourite foundation brush?

Sigma F80-01