June 19, 2012

REVIEW: Use Me! Products

“To look good, feel good, and do good—for yourself and the planet" - Alanna York, Creator, Use Me! Products

Use Me! is a line of haircare that I discovered this year at America's Beauty Show. The company was featured in the show's "Texture Pavilion" which included brands targeting wavy, kinky and curly hair. I'd never heard of the brand but the booth caught my eye with its design (recycled cardboard) and all the activity (numerous hair demos). Vanessa (Vanewpc on YouTube) and I stopped over and spoke with Nate from Use Me! about the brand and the products. Plus, they were nice enough to send us home with a few to try.

So, first thing's first let me tell you a little about the brand:

  • Alanna considers her line of gentle cleansers and moisturizers “skincare for your hair”.
  • Use Me! is based on a Refill, Reuse, and Repeat concept. Participating salons offer filling stations (which are made from reclaimed wood and steel) where clients can refill their products at a discounted rate.
  • There are 8 products currently available with 22 more to come. The entire line is sulfate and paraben free and is packaged in BPA free bottles. In addition, many of the ingredients are organic and vegan. ** The line is vegan aside from the lanolin used in some products, which is provided by a sustainable sheep farm where the sheep are treated humanely and not farmed for their meat.**
  • BPA free packaging. Sulfate & Paraben free.  
  • The products contain natual essential oils, such as lavender, jasmine, Spanish moss, and lemongrass.
  • $24.00 per bottle for styling aids and $29.00 for cleansers and moisturizers.
  • The products and packaging are both Made in the USA.

I love the company's commitment to the health of their customers and the environment. The BPA free packaging, the use of mostly vegan and/or organic ingredients, especially the use of so many essential oils,  weighs heavily in their favor. The concept of taking an empty bottle of product you've purchased and refilling  at a local salon from a station created with recycled and re-purposed materials is unique and shows their commitment to being eco-conscious that much more. And, personally, I think it's refreshing to see a product made in the USA. It's become so rare to see companies which design and manufacture products in this country. Regarding the design, the packaging is simple but well done and the metallic finish on the printing is a nice touch.

So, having said all that let's get to what I thought about the products themselves. I tried four products - Cleanser for Fine Hair, Moisturizer for Fine Hair, Get it Straight Gelee, and the Curl Up & Shine Creme.  Initially, I used the products, exclusively, for two weeks to give them a chance to work. Then over the course of the last couple of months I've gone back and tried them in a variety of ways. I'll just go product by product and give you a breakdown of my thoughts.

Cleanser for Fine Hair
Moisturizer for Fine Hair

Get it Straight Gelee

Cleanser for Fine Hair
The directions state that the cleanser should be focused on the roots, gently massaged and rinsed. I did this and found that the cleanser lathers well, even though it's sulfate free. It cleansed my hair without stripping it. It smells fantastic and I felt curl definition as soon as I massaged the product into my hair. It rinsed clean and my hair felt soft afterward.

Moisturizer for Fine Hair
The directions state that the moisturizer should be used in the opposite way. Focus the product on the ends and work up the hair shaft staying away from the roots. Again, and I smelled great and I felt great curl definition. The conditioner cuts through tangles and curls like a hot knife through butter. I felt great curl definition. I left it on about 10 minutes and then rinsed. My hair felt soft and I felt and saw curl definition after I rinsed. However I noticed that several hours later my hair felt dry.

Get it Straight Gelee
The Gelee claims to contain a humidity shield and I think it worked a little but not nearly as well as I had hoped. I will admit that I used too much product initially so that may have effected the performance. However, overusing the product was the result of the confusing instructions. 1/4 teaspoon is the recommended amount but how do you measure a 1/4 teaspoon from a pump bottle?? I couldn't eyeball that. I felt like I needed to go to the kitchen and get a measuring spoon. Suggesting a "pea size" or "dime size" amount or even "half a pump" or something similar would make a lot more sense. But, honestly I don't think that using too much was the real problem. I think the product just didn't deliver. It's water based but the second ingredient is silicone and I felt that artificial slip that silicones give the  hair. But, my hair felt dry and didn't get straight when I blow it out. In addition, I tried this when wearing my hair curly to stretch the curl/reduce shrinkage but my curls didn't stretch. This product was the biggest disappointment for me. 

Curl Up & Shine Creme
LOVED this product. This was actually a product that Vanessa got and I asked her for a sample. I applied this after cleansing and moisturizing my hair. The smell is amazing - it's what drew me to the product and the performance is what blew me away. My curls were defined, soft, and moisturized. I'd  reactivate the product with water everyday for 2-3 days and noticed that it held for several days this way. Of all the products, this was definitely the stand out and the one I would purchase. 


Overall, I think that I chose the wrong formula for my hair. Since my hair is fine I opted for the formula for fine hair. Unfortunately, I felt that the combination of the cleanser and moisturizer dried out my hair. Initially my hair felt great and I was excited but I think ultimately they don't perform well on curly hair, no matter your how loose or tight your curls happen to be. Curly/wavy hair naturally requires more moisture and these products don't provide that. In fact, my hair started to tangle at the ends badly after a few days and I have never had that issue with my natural hair. So, I think that this would work well for someone with straight, oily hair who likes volume. I think it would cleanse without drying out the hair and provide just enough  moisture not to weigh hair the down. I want to note that I also tried the cleanser with a richer, more moisturizing conditioner and still found my hair to be dry after a day or two. I just got samples of the formula for dry & coarse hair from Vanessa, who really loved them, so I'm going to try those and update you guys on how those work out.

Once I discovered that the products didn't work as I initially intended I started to look for alternate uses. First, I used the cleanser to wash my makeup brushes. I found that it cleaned well, removing the makeup and rinsing clean. But, the first thing that I noticed was how dry my hands were when I was done. This made me very nervous about the condition in which it would leave my brushes. As it turned out, I did feel that mt brushes felt scratchy and drier than normal. I used the cleanser AND moisturizer on another batch and that made a huge difference. The brushes were much softer. I decided to try something different all together and use the moisturizer as a shaving cream. That worked very well. I got a close shave and my legs felt soft and very smooth. I will definitely use it for that again.

I was disappointed that most of the products didn't work for me but I was able to find alternate uses for some. As I said, I'm going to try the other formula for comparison and hopefully I'll have better results.

Use Me! products are available at participating salons and on http://www.usemeproducts.com/

UPDATE: I have also reviewed the formula for coarse/dry hair on my YouTube channel.

February 24, 2012

Halloween Face: Mouse

This is a video that has been on my camera since I lost my camera cord around Halloween, so it never got posted. I just purchased a new one so I finally uploaded this. I'm also finally able to make videos again! 

This video also shows how to highlight and contour. It's like a tutorial within a tutorial and features me exclusively using Bdellium Tools Green Bambu Brushes.

February 16, 2012

IN THE KNOW: New additions to the Bdellium Tools line for 2012

Bdellium Tools is a brush company that I was introduced to in early 2011. I've purchased dozens (literally) of their brushes and have become a huge fan. I wrote a LENGTHY post reviewing a number of them here if you'd like to read it. The company recently launched a blog, which I've been stalking lately, where they announced the new additions coming to the Maestro, Studio and Green Bambu lines this month. It looks like the Mineral, Foundation and Smoky Eye kits that are currently available in the Green Bambu line will now come in Yellow Bambu. They'll be identical to the Green Bambu line in design and still offer synthetic hair but they will be all yellow. You can see a picture of the mineral brush set in the picture above. I can't wait to see them in person. I know that Bdellium exhibited at IMATS London and the ISSE show in California this month so if you were in attendance you may have already seen these.  Below are the eight brushes that will be added to both the Studio and Maestro line (and it looks like a couple will be added to the Green Bambu line as well). The pointed foundation brush really caught my eye. I don't know why but I am obsessed with them; I already have three or four. I hope to get my hands on it and a few of the others in the coming weeks to review for you guys.

February 9, 2012

EVENT: 2011 America's Beauty Show

Last March I attended America's Beauty Show. Below is the post I put together to discuss the experience but it somehow slipped through the cracks and never got posted. But, I have it for you guys now and I'm hoping to attend again this year to report back for you. Last year I was more focused on makeup but this year, since I've gone natural, I'm more focused on products geared toward styling, protecting and managing my natural hair. So, hopefully you'll see another ABS post in a few weeks.

February 7, 2012

DUPE: London Soho New York Beauty Sponge - Best Beautyblender Dupe On The Market??

The Beautyblender is one of the most popular tools used by makeup artists on their clients and consequently has become a favorite among beauty bloggers and makeup lovers. It has also become one of the most duplicated beauty tools I've seen since the stippling/skunk/duo-fiber brush. The upside to all of these "dupes" is that they provide cheaper alternatives to the $20 Beautyblender. The downside is that a lot of them aren't very good. Well, what I've found certainly changes all of that.

February 5, 2012

DIY: Tabletop Light Tent

Right now I've got a pretty low budget solution for taking the product pics for this blog. It's mostly poster board or paper placed on the dining room table and propped up against a few books to create an endless background. But, I want to take things up a notch so I have been on the hunt for a light tent. I keep debating on whether I should make my own or just buy one. I've browsed a lot of blog posts and videos showing various different designs and I think this is one of the best that I've seen. For around $20 - $25 you can create your own - including the frame with fabric, the lights and the backdrop. Plus, it folds up for easy storage! Genius! So, if you are taking pics for your blog or your website this might be something to consider.

Below is a link to the blog post where she provides a list of products, prices and where you can purchase them.

January 25, 2012

Because iLove It: Angelina Jolie at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards

I used to have a love affair with Angelina Jolie. I thought she was beautiful, sexy and fascinating. Well...that's kind of over. But, once in awhile she reminds me why I used to love her. I thought she looked beautiful at The Gold Globes a couple of weeks ago. The hair, the dress and the makeup were clean and simple but bold at the same time. A lot of people don't agree with matching makeup to clothing but I like it when it's done well - and here I think that it was. The red lip complements the red handbag as well as the red accent on the dress. I browsed a couple of sites to find good pics. Thanks and credit to Just Jared and Angelina Jolie Place.

January 23, 2012

REVIEW: LORAC Close Up: Real Life to Red Carpet Eye Tutorial

I've wanted to share this with you guys FOREVER! Ok, here's the story: the very first LORAC product I purchased was a matte brown eyeshadow from a department store about 10 years ago. The pigmentation and texture were okay but nothing mind blowing. I used it on occasion but it wasn't a favorite so after some time I tossed it. Well, as things go my indifference toward the product generated an indifference toward the brand and I never made another purchase. Fast forward a few years and I became curious about the brand again. Then I saw this kit. What sold it for me was the value. You get four (4) FULL SIZE products and a double-ended brush for $36. The price of a single LORAC eyeshadow trio, similar to the one included in this set, is $26. You can purchase the kit at Ulta and Sephora locations as well as Ulta.com and Sephora.com. I highly recommend it and it's a great way to try several products from the line for the first time. Now, I'm going to go through the different elements in the kit and give you my opinions.

January 19, 2012

Swatched: LA Splash Mineral Eyeshadow & Diamond Dust

Awhile back I did a video reviewing LA Splash Diamond Dust. Recently I got a comment on that video from MAKEUPNAILSQUEEN asking for swatches. I was going through all the pics on my drive and realized that I do indeed have swatches that were never posted. So, here you go. I hope this is helpful for you. Just an FYI, Ulta has most LA Splash cosmetics Buy One, Get One 50% until January 21, 2012. It's a good time to try them out or to stock up on some you've had your eye on.

January 13, 2012

Hey everyone! I knew it had been awhile since I posted but I didn't realize it had been this long! First things first: though I haven't been on the blog I am very active on Twitter and becoming more and more active on Instagram and Tumblr. So, join me! Here's the info:

Twitter: @aziajs_faces

This is me and all the nutty things and nutty people who interest me. Beauty and beyond.

99.9% beauty related. Pics of new products I find in stores. Beautiful makeup reblogged. Info on new products or links to reviews, etc. 

Instagram: @aziajs. It's an iPhone only app. You can download it here.
My life and love of beauty in pictures.

I have been suuuuuuch a lazy blogger. I know a lot of you have been there. There is so much that goes into my posts. So many pics. So many edits. So much prep. I just get tired thinking about it sometimes. And therefore nothing gets posted. But, the thing is that I have a lot I want to share with you guys. So, that's one of the reasons why I provided the links above. I am always tweeting, retweeting, reblogging, posting and pic-ing somewhere.  

So, because I have been gone so long I have a couple posts that I want to share with you and heeeeeere we go!

Halloween 2011

I can't believe I didn't post this! I did two Halloween makeup tutorials on my YouTube page. One I called Bubblegum Disco and the other was my take on Catwoman. I LOVED the Bubblegum disco look but the wig just ruined it. Next time I need to spend a little more and get a GOOD afro wig. Oh well. 



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