Sunday, July 13, 2014

Swatches and Stuff - July 2014 + Giveaway

Hi friends,

I am back with another episode of Swatches and Stuff, a new series in which I review some of the latest products I have used in the past 30 days. If you missed the last episode, click HERE.

Don't miss the YouTube Companion to this episode of Swatches and Stuff:

Scroll down to end of page for Giveaway instructions.


This batch had a mix of good and bad, more bad than good to be honest, so let me dive right into it, starting with the first product:

1. Kiss My Face - Foot Scrub:

Libby Withnall (check out her vlog here), had mentioned the foot cream in one of her "empties" video. Because she raved so much about it, I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and did not realize that I had purchased the scrub instead of the foot cream. Big mistake! Though this product states that it is exfoliating and scrubbing, there barely is any scrubbing beads in there. I am not sure whether I purchased a bad batch or whether this is the way it is supposed to be, but quite frankly and as is, it is a complete rip off! And I'll say it again, there is barely any scrubbing in this scrub! The scent is pleasant enough and the texture (minus pumice etc,.) is actually very creamy/velvety, so that makes it a nice moisturizing cleanser. You can pass on this one!  Ahava has a good mineral dead sea water foot cream you may want to check out, in case you cannot find the Kiss my Face one: Ahava - Deadsea Water - Mineral Foot Cream

2. Every Strand - Argan and Macadamia Oil Hydrating Hair Mask:

There is this popular Macadamia Oil Hair Mask that is $36/jar but you can buy a sample at Ulta for under $7. This single use, and quite frankly very similar product is only $1.99 at Harmon Discount. You use it in lieu of your regular conditioner, maybe once or twice per week. I felt this left my hair very manageable and supple, so much so that I did not have to use a finishing product following my blow drying routine. It comes out as a fluffy white cream and the packet has enough product for two uses, making it very economical. I really thought this was a good buy and recommend it for those of you who have aging, coarse and damaged hair. If you do not have a Harmon in your area, I found a similar product at Target. If you are looking for something a bit more high end, L'Occitane en Provence also has a reputable Hair Mask: L'Occitane 'Aromachologie' Repairing Mask 

3. Yves Rocher - White Botanical - Exceptional Youth Complex

I purchased these on sale a few months ago and fell in love with the Youth Essence Complex. This part serum/part lotion product is packed with botanical Lupin and White Licorice. The two combined provide a brightening and dark spot erasing formula. After using the day time version (left) for over a month, I cannot say that my dark spots are gone, they are however, less noticeable and require much less concealing. This is also a very good and light moisturizer. A little goes a long way as well, having used it for over a month, I am only through half the bottle. Yves Rocher products are always on sale and I purchased this one for $26 instead of the standard $48. I recommend the day time version.
The Exceptional Youth Cream is the night time version. It comes as a light cream that blends very nicely. I have not used this one as much as the day lotion only because of the heat in my room at night. I prefer to simply use eye cream and call it a night. That being said, it is also a nice cream in that range. a but thicker than the new Elixir 7.9 Night cream (less gel like) but much lighter than most Yves Rocher night creams. So it is a good in between for those of you who have aging skin but do not like heavy creams.

4. CoverGirl - Stay Brilliant - Nail Polish:

These were just okay for me. The formula is very similar to Essie, very fluid but dries relatively faster than the average nail polish. The one on the left is called Leading Lady and the one on the right did not have a name but is numbered 160.

They do stay shinny and provide a good coverage with just one coat. However, I was not crazy about the brush, it is a bit stiff and very thin. So when you have a wide nail bed like I do, it requires a lot of application for each nail to be covered. For that reason, I probably will not purchase more in that range. But, if you have narrow nails, it could be perfect for you. Covergirl does have a wide selection of colors within the line and some of them can be really fun. If I were to pick a Covergirl nail polish formula though, I would stick with the XL Gel, if only they offered more colors.

5. Wet n' Wild - Fergie - On Edge - Longwearing Eyeliner:

Let me start with the color because that is the only good thing about this liner. It is gorgeous shade of amethyst with a hint of shimmer. Just perfect for my brown eyes. Part of the Fergie  collection, usually Wet n' wild offers very cheap and at times good quality products, their nail polish for instance is one of my favorites. However, this should be called "short wearing" as it has zero staying power on your lids. It is very creamy and waxy and while it glides on, making it super easy to apply, it just does not stay on, and I mean not at all. It's pretty much gone by mid afternoon. A real disappointment for me. So, unless you have a serious eye shadow base or makeup setting spray. Don't bother.

6. L'Oreal - Visible Lift Blur - Blush:

This was somewhat intriguing to me since I usually apply a cream blush underneath my regular blush (as a primer and also for stay on). I did not care about the formula of this product. It comes out as a fluffy "exploding" sort of substance that is neither dry nor wet. I don't even know how to describe it. Obviously, it is a primer mixed with a pigment. The color itself, I chose # 502 in soft pink, is very pretty on my fair skin. It applies evenly and very easily, one rub and you're done. So for ease of application and results I would definitely recommend this product. I just cannot get past the texture, it just feels weird. 
Now, in my video, I noted this is a matte, but it is not. And I apologize for that. There is a gold shimmer to this blush, so if you have fine lines on your checks, you may not want this product as it may accentuate your fine lines. Funny how they keep using shimmers to make wrinkles disappear when in fact, they do the opposite. Well, at least to me they do, I notice fine lines more when they have shimmer over them. Anyway, this was just okay for me, I am not rushing to get more colors in that range.

7. Yves Rocher - Intense Color Eye shadows:

These are fabulous! And so cheap too! They usually go for $8 per shadow but are always on sale for $4!!!
I picked a selection of colors I would normally wear so that I could compare with other brands. These are highly pigmented and very comparable to some higher brand collections such as the Naked Palettes.  They are similar in texture and formula but for a fraction of the cost. 
These are all shimmers. They have good stay on and very little fallout which is amazing for shimmer shadows. I would say that they are seriously pressed, making them long lasting too.
The packaging is also pretty sleek. I am recommending these.

8. Milani - Bella Collection - EyeShadow Singles:

These are also very good for the price ($3.99 each).
The ivory one has a bit more shimmer than the purple one, therefore more fallout, but it is perfect as a base shadow, it is almost the powder version of the Maybeline's  Color Tattoo in Barely Branded.
The purple one is a bit creamier as a formula with less fall out. Both stay one very nicely throughout the day. Milani offers a huge selection of colors within than range so if you have a local store that stocks a good portion of Milani products, I recommend you get yourself some of these shadows.

9. Rimmel - Kate Moss Lipstick:

Again, something that started as a good idea, pairing Kate Moss' love of nude colors with a good brand. It just did not work out for me. While these two shades are just beautiful and match my skin tone perfectly, these lipsticks have no stay on. They have a nice moisturized formula, but for some reason, the pigmentation you see here on my hand, does not translate on my lip. They actually pretty much look identical on my lips, which they are not in the swatch. They also have a perfume scent and a lot of youtube reviewers have complained about it. I personally do not mind the scent. I just wish these were better quality. So for me, they just good enough for a quick pick me up at work after lunch, I do not recommend them.

10. Live Happy Magazine:

I picked a copy of this magazine at my local WholeFood Market. This was a good and fun read. It offers a large variety of articles, all surrounding the concept of Happiness and what makes us happy. I also loved the layout and illustrations in it. Check it out!


Back by popular demand is the Monthly MGC Giveaway!
This month, I am giving away three products:

You could win:
1. Yves Rocher Hydra Vegetal - Instant Anti Wrinkle Moisturizer
2. Yves Rocher Single Eye Shadow in Taupe Rose 
3. Elf - Eye Shadow brush.

The rules are simple:

You must be a subscriber to my YouTube Channel (Subscribe Here)
You must be 18 years old or older (otherwise need parental approval)
You must follow me on either Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (see rafflecopter below on instructions)

This is open internationally - will ship to you free of charge - you will have one week to respond to my address request.

This giveaway is open until July 21, 2014 at 8 PM.

Connect with me:

Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.
Sophia, NJ.

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The Botanical Beauty Experts

My blog contains affiliate advertising which allows me to support my blog and giveaways. All items mentioned above were purchased with my own money. All opinions are my own.I am affiliated with Yves Rocher, Vera Bradley, Sanrio, Nordstrom, Target, Plow and Earth, CO Bigelow, Too Faced, Amazon, and Teavana. 


  1. I would love to see product reviews on cleaning products for future videos and posts!
    I'm subbed as Brightpurpleviking on youtube, by the way :-)
    Love your videos as usual!!

  2. I like that you are very in depth on products. Following on IG lobrainey

  3. I like that you are true and not try to make a product the best thing ever invented lol

  4. Love all yours vlogs and blogs and that you are real.

  5. I need wrinkle cream Sophia LOL!!!!

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  7. i'd like to see more haul.. and waiting for the 2nd part of staircase makeover ;)

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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