Thursday, January 31, 2013

Polish Review: Orly Velvet Rope

This is a case where buying a small sample is the best thing in the world. I'll explain after the review. For now, here are some pictures of this polish.

Orly's Velvet Rope is deep, medium purple with a metallic silver shimmer. On the nail, it is much less shimmery than it is in the bottle.

Overall, I really like this color. It's not a purple that's going to detract from your professionalism. It's not vampy, or obnoxious, or anything else. The color is fabulous.

But the formula...well, that's not really something I'm super excited about. The formula was really runny. I normally don't have an issue with polish getting in the edges of my nails. Well, I don't anymore. I spent over two years getting to that point, but with most higher end polishes, my amateurish application isn't an issue. Here, it was. I had to use three thin coats for this swatch. I made the mistake of using a lot on the first nail and it ended up pooling everywhere.

Then, there are the bubbles. You can see them if you look closely at my middle finger. I have only ever had a couple of polishes bubble like that, since I take my time with painting my nails. No rush usually means no bubbles.

And last but not least, I bought this because of the purple with silver shimmer. It looked awesome in the tiny bottle at Sally's Beauty Supply. But in the end, that just didn't translate on the nail well. I was hoping for lots of shimmer, but it ended up just being bits of microglitter spattered randomly on the nail.

This polish could be a lot worse. But it could be a lot better as well.

Luckily, I only paid $.79 for the pint sized bottle. I probably won't be buying the full size, especially because this polish isn't super unique. I'm sure I could find dupes with a better formula.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Making Your Own Makeup

If you're at all into beauty, you know that one of the big deals right now is to have a tinted moisturizer or a tinted primer under all the other stuff.

But here's a big secret: I don't wear primer. Ever. I am lucky enough to have skin that holds onto makeup all day with little need for refreshing. For those of you who have oily skin or skin that just can't seem to like makeup, primer is a good choice.

The problem is that it can get a little pricey.

And for me, my moisturizer is pretty expensive as well. After all, I use an all natural moisturizer with no parabens or artificial chemicals. And the cost of natural is high.

So when I read about a brilliant way to stretch that moisturizing dollar, especially during the winter months when I have to slather it three or more times a day, I was so totally game.

And now, I'm going to share that tip with you guys.

The trick to make expensive moisturizers last longer without decreasing their effectiveness is this: make your own tinted moisturizer.

That's right. And you want to know what? It's really not that hard. In fact, I can make a small pot of mine every morning and it only adds about 30 seconds to my routine time. Which is always a plus when I'm in a hurry (which is every day).

Here are some tricks that I've picked up on since starting this.

First, use a healthy amount of moisturizer. Use a little less than what you would use on your face.

I found that this spare contact case that I had floating around was the perfect size to hold one or two days worth of my handmade tinted moisturizer. Making it that often keeps it fresh so you aren't using stale makeup on one of the most sensitive areas.

Next, add about the same amount of liquid foundation as you would use on any given day. Use more if you want more coverage, but generally, this amount is just right.

And last but not least, stir! Make sure that all of the moisturizer is mixed in with the foundation, and you don't have any spots where one is more concentrated than the other. That will cause streakiness and uneven placement of the makeup.

 Now, when you use this, not only are you making your foundation winter ready by adding moisturizing capabilities, but you're stretching out how much moisturizer you use in the morning by making your makeup do double duty.

Mixing in your moisturizer will make sure that your makeup stays longer by helping it soak into the skin. It looks sheerer and more natural, and using it this way makes it nearly impossible to get that icky cakey skin look.

When I first started getting into makeup, I was terrified of looking like I was wearing makeup. You know those people. The ones who look like they have a pound of makeup covering their skin, which only makes their flaws that much more noticeable.

My foundation wasn't really getting used until I started mixing it with my moisturizer because it felt so heavy. Even a good foundation can feel heavy for me. But this makes it light and comfortable. Sometimes, I'll have to get out of bed at night because I forgot that I was wearing makeup and so hadn't taken it off. Most people don't even know I'm wearing makeup. They just think I look airbrushed naturally. Which, hey, no complaints here!

Try out your own combinations and let me know how it works out for ya!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Budget Beauty Products

Sorry for the lack of updates this past week.

Friday, during the first really big freeze in Georgia, I slipped down the stairs to my apartment and severely injured my tailbone. As a result, I haven’t been able to sit down for longer than a few minutes for several days.

Which means the segment I was going to post on Saturday has been postponed until…well, until now. And I’m changing the subject.

Because of my injury, I had to miss a day of work. Which means a tiny paycheck for me. So this little chat is going to be about budget.

Namely, how do you supply a beauty addiction with a small amount of income? Do you get substandard beauty products? Or hold off and splurge on something expensive?

There was a time when I would have said to go with drug store beauty products and just suck it up. But now, my opinion has changed. Because I realized what happens more often than not, is those substandard products don’t get used. If the concealer is cakey, or the moisturizer leaves your skin greasy, it’s going to be unused in a drawer. That’s money down the drain, even if it was super cheap.

Now, if you can find a product that’s affordable and awesome, you’ve hit the jackpot. Bask in that glory, because it doesn’t happen often.

Usually, beauty products are a case of “you get what you pay for.”

That’s why I’m more the type to spend a lot of money on one or two products, and only buy things occasionally. It’s tough saving up for something and doing without for a while, but in the long run, it’s worth it. You’ll end up with a product that is amazing, that you love, and that you’ll use regularly. And honestly, there’s nothing better than that.

For instance, there's a really great hair protecting spray on Birchbox's store right now. I have lots of points, so I can get it pretty cheaply, but I'm waiting until my bank account has recovered from Christmas. It's difficult, but I know that if I don't buy the best, it's going to end up like the hair putty that I bought ages ago: I had to throw it away because it dried up in its little container. That was a $7-8 product that just went to waste. 

And to get things more often? I recommend putting up a wishlist online. Anywhere visible really. That way, when a birthday or anniversary comes up, or your friends want to give you a gift, they can give you something you’ve had your eye on for a while.

Another tip: Like your favorite beauty suppliers on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. A lot of companies have giveaways for their products and that’s a great chance to enter to win goodies. In addition, they’ll post coupons or promotional codes that can cut the price for something you really want.

Basically, you just have to be smart about it. And spend the big bucks on something you know you’ll use rather than something that might fester away in some dark corner of your bathroom.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I’ll be able to put up a longer post once my tailbone isn’t in agony. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zoya Cheryl Nail Polish (And Story Time!)

As I stated in my introduction post, nail polish is what first got me into beauty products. What started as a lacquer addiction turned into something more. Something transforming.

So here, I give you Zoya Cheryl. One of the polishes I got from the Try 3 Free promotion. It’s a color I wouldn’t have paid for at the time because I didn’t know whether or not I would like it. But more on that later. For now, here’s the color:
Apologies for the terrible lighting. It has been raining in Atlanta for the past several days straight and I've had to rely completely on my desk lamp for lighting.

Zoya describes this polish as a smoky brown base completely packed with metallic copper, gold and mahogany metallic microglitter. A jeweled brown for a very rich look!

I couldn’t agree more. The color doesn’t look how I thought it would look. The brown is rich and shiny and goes on in two easy coats (like all of Zoya’s polishes). I think this would be a flattering color for pretty much every skin tone, and it especially looks great with mine.

And now it’s story time.

I wouldn’t have paid for this polish because it scared me. I love wearing brown, don’t get me wrong. But on my nails? I was worried it would look dirty or weird. Like I had dipped my nails in dirt or chocolate. But I figured that if ever there was a chance to try something out of my ordinary, it would be when it was free. So I took the dive. And it turned out brilliantly! This shimmer in this is gorgeous and I really like the way it looks on my tips.

And that’s what this whole post is about. Because let’s be honest, all those ladies out there who can paint their nails perfectly have reviews of this color. Their edges are neater. Their application less patchy. Their lighting professional. They do this for a living, or they received the color as a freebie from Zoya for marketing purposes. This isn't a new color to the world of nail polish.

But it was new for me. And I just really needed to step out of my comfort zone of greens and blues. And if you’re new to makeup/beauty/skincare/polish, I can’t recommend that highly enough. Prod the bubble until it pops and then step beyond the soapy ring that you thought was your happy place.

This blog, the beauty routine that has now become my standard, it’s all outside of my comfort zone. But I’m doing it. I’m trying new things and testing the waters and learning what does and doesn’t work. And for me, that’s the most important thing in the world. 

And if your money is tight? Don’t worry. Lots of online retailers do wonderful promotions to get some of their products moving. They’re hoping you’ll fall in love with something that you got for free and you will turn into a regular customer. And that happens really often. So if you don’t love it? Don’t feel obligated to buy it. Makeup is an evolving world and you have to constantly be learning and moving and changing, finding your go to items. 

What’s important here is trying out everything you can get your hands on because you never know what’s going to make you look and feel amazing.

There’s a big, wide world of makeup out there, you just have to take that first step outside of your normal.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Setting Up Your Meez!

Five internet points if you get that reference.

For those of you who don't, it's a food service phrase. What I'm talking about is your mise en place. It's a term for your work area, the particular arrangement of food/herbs/prep items that is arranged just the way you like it. It's a sacred space and you risk bodily harm by messing up someone else's mise.

Why am I talking about food service on a beauty blog?

Because mise en place isn't just for the kitchen (or in my case, the coffee shop).

One of the best things to do with your makeup and skincare regimen is set it up in some way that it will be used. Because if it's not organized, or something gets shoved to the back of drawer, or you have to search for that cool sample a friend gave you, you're never going to like getting into makeup. It's going to feel like a chore, and that's just awful.

Trust me on this one. For most of college, I didn't wear makeup because it meant dragging my makeup bag out from the counter, digging out what I needed, putting it on, cleaning up the (shared) bathroom, and then throwing everything back in the bag for the next time. And I just wasn't feeling it. I was lazy and busy and anything that took more than a few minutes didn't make it into my schedule.

That didn't really change once I graduated college and got my own place. I have tons of sample shampoos and conditioners that I haven't tried because they're somewhere in the depths of my sink.

So, I said all of that to say this: Set. Up. Your. Station. I don't care if you live in a tiny flat in New York or a sprawling house on the West Coast. Find a corner, claim it, set up a flag, and then start building your makeup stash from the ground up.

Here, for starters, I'll show you mine.

This is one of my reused Birchboxes, which I use to hold all of my main ingredients. Everything is easy to reach, although it looks a little cluttered. 

This is the top of the above Birchbox, which I use to hold my eye shadow. I have more eye shadow palettes than anything else, so I like them to have their own container.

This is the top drawer as a whole. It looks crowded, but everything has its own place so that my routine is cut from infinite minutes to about ten. Which is useful when I'm rushing off to work or run errands.

This is the top of my sewing/makeup table. Everything that I use really often is up here, including my box of BPAL perfumes and lotions (I have such dry skin, guys). I also have a mirror, a good desk lamp, makeup removal towlettes, and a spritzer of water.

I know, I know, my collection isn't much. But it's growing. And if you're just starting out and you're looking to make a habit out of this whole prettifying thing, you're going to need your goodies set up for success.

Wow, I sounded like a high school counselor for a second there. Sorry about that.

Having your own little corner (complete with an outlet) is also great if you don't have your own bathroom or, like me, you share that bathroom with a man who wouldn't know foundation if he was bathing in it.

That's it for today. In case you can't tell, I'm starting with basics and going from there. Also, there is a cat on my lap demanding attention. Who am I to deny him?

Tomorrow, a review of a Zoya nail polish (not a new one, but it comes with a story, so there's that).

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Birchbox January 2013 - Eyeko Eyeliner and theBalm Hot Mama

This is a twofer because I don’t have a lot to say on the Eyeko eyeliner.
It is a very pigmented black liquid liner with an “easy” pen applicator. It goes on super smooth, and I admit the pen tip looks like it would make life easier. However, I have the absolute worst trouble with eyeliner. I can’t seem to put it on without making the line jagged, shaky, broken up, and far too wide. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’m hoping to figure it out soon because I really like the looks of this eyeliner. Hopefully I can use it in the near future and I’ll be able to provide a better review. As it stands, I don’t have the skills to apply eyeliner properly. 
This all in one is another story completely. I only one one shade of blush, and that’s the Bare Minerals Ready shade Natural High. I like it, despite it’s hint of shimmer (I’m not a big fan of shimmers). 
So when this came I didn’t quite know how to feel about it. It looked a little too peach, a little too shimmery. But I tried it. And you know what?
I love it! The shimmer is just right and the color? Nothing to be worried about. It makes me look like I’m positively glowing. I don’t know that I’ll be wearing this a lot until it gets a little warmer (I heard on the interwebs that golden shimmers should be kept for warmer months), but I know once the sun comes out, this is will be awesome! I put a little on the apples of my cheeks and then a touch on my nose, forehead, and jawline. It makes me look like I went out in the sun yesterday, which is nice considering I haven’t seen healthy amounts of daylight in forever. 
This is definitely something I will be buying once the (generous) sample runs out. 
So happy!

Birchbox January 2013 - pūr~lisse pūr~moist

hydra-balance moisturizer
Alright, now this is something could be dangerous to my budget.
Upon opening, I immediately loved that it wasn’t really scented. Why, you ask? But Jessica, you love scented lotions! Yes. Yes, I do love scented lotions. But when I’m planning on wearing a face moisturizer to bed, I don’t want it perfumed. That’s bound to give me an instant headache and set me up for a long night of little sleep.
Instead, this smelled pleasant and clean and just like it should when all of its ingredients are super awesome natural powerhouses for hydration.
At first, I thought I had to use a lot of the moisturizer for it to soak into my skin well enough that I felt confident in the product. I later found out that I was supposed to apply a nickel sized amount (which is how much they say on Birchbox), rather than the dime sized amount I usually need with other formulas.
It soaked in really quickly, which was excellent, and didn’t make my skin feel greasy or slimy in any way. But when I woke up in the morning, my skin was so wonderfully soft. I really wish you guys could feel my face through the computer screen. I rarely feel my skin this nourished, especially during the winter.
I am absolutely going to be buying this for night time use, since I already have a day moisturizer that I adore.
Thanks for reading!

Birchbox January 2013 - Rahua Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner

So far, this is the only thing I’ve gotten from Birchbox that I didn’t care for. I was really excited because I really love all natural shampoos. And I’ve been definitely feeling the hair oils lately, especially with winter making even my normal hair kind of dry.
But after opening it in the shower, I had to force myself to use the product. The smell was so overpowering. I can’t identify the culprit, but I just really didn’t like it. The sharp, woodsy smell, kind of like this neem hair oil I tried ages ago, made me really unhappy. And then there was this undercurrent of black licorice. Normally, I love black licorice, but this just seemed super overpowering.
And worse, it stuck around for ages. Normally, shampoo smells fade relatively quickly. But this one wouldn’t. I would catch whiffs of it every time I moved. It even lasted through the night, although by morning it had faded into something more tolerable for me.
I only used half of the sample and will be giving the rest to my best friend in the hopes that she will like it more than me.
The product itself, however, does as it is intended. My hair is soft and silky, a little shinier, and very, very voluminous. It really brought out the waves in my hair, which would be excellent for lots of people. This is by far one of the best volumizing shampoos I’ve ever used, and I would love it to bit and pieces if it weren’t for the unfortunate smell.
So if you can’t handle strong smells, this product probably isn’t for you, as it isn’t for me. But if you like that woodsy, really strong scent that smells like you’ve been clawing your way through a rainforest made of licorice, and you’re also looking for lots of volume, then this might actually be great for you!

Birchbox January 2013 - Harvey Prince Skinny Chic

Let’s start off with something simple, shall we? 
I’m a huge fan of Birchbox. I mean a HUGE fan. It’s really assisting my foray into the world of makeup and skincare and everything in between. If you’re lost in this world, you should absolutely subscribe. 
By far, Box day is my favorite day of the month. It’s like Christmas and Spa day all rolled into one. I know that I’m bound to find some favorites the ladies in New York know what they’re doing. 
In fact, I would love to work for them. Birchbox, if you’re listening, HIRE ME! ;) 
Now, on to the review. 
The first thing I am going to talk about is going to the perfume sample that I got in my Birchbox. It’s by a brand called Harvey Prince, which at first I knew nothing about. After reading the blurb on, however, now I’m really excited to recommend this “company” to my friends. 
Here’s my thoughts on the perfume.
Harvey Prince – Skinny Chic perfume
Birchbox description: The dominant note of crisp green apple is tempered by marine mint and lovely lotus blossom. In the background, notes of grapefruit, bergamot, fennel, white cedarwood, amber, and iris mix and mingle.
Overall, this scent is exactly what it says on the label. It’s a light, delicate, young fragrance. The apple is there, but I especially smell the lotus and marine notes. Not exactly up my alley, since I usually go heavy on the foodie scents (and I generally use oil based perfumes), but this is still a really great scent. I can definitely see myself wearing this during the spring.
This fragrance does wear close to the skin, so if you’re looking for a lot of sillage, it might not be for you. I also didn’t get super long power out of it. It faded relatively quickly, but then again, my skin tends to eat floral notes faster than others. I would say this would be great sprayed into hair after a workout if you’re looking for more length. I don’t think it would weigh it down at all. More throw would also be an effect of putting it in clean hair. 
Also, as the perfume wears, the amber really comes out to play. What starts as a bright, sharp hit of floral and fruit mellows into something great for day time. It’s a simple smell that my skin and preferences just didn’t like, except for the rare spring day. But it is not by any means a bad perfume. I’m thinking about giving this one to my sister-in-law, since it suits her 15 year old sensibilities more than mine. 
Thanks for reading!

A new blogger has appeared! And she's scared!

This is a new concept for me. This whole…beauty…thing. 
For almost all of my life, I have been the person who never wore make up. Unless you count the black eye shadow from my goth phase (but that shouldn’t ever be counted, trust me). Occasionally I wore concealer to cover the odd zit or two, but for the most part, I thought women wore makeup to cover up their natural beauty. 
Boy, was I wrong!
First, it started with nail polish. For I realized that once I started painting my nails, I stopped biting them, and then I liked the way my nails looked. Long. Professional. Stunning. 
As that addiction grew and grew, I felt something in the background. Something like a cat rubbing against my legs insistently. 
When I finally addressed it, I realized that I rather like this whole pretty girl thing. I kind of liked the idea of putting on mascara with some sort of regularity. I liked the way it made me feel: like I was amazing and radiant and everyone noticed me. 
It was then that I realized that makeup wasn’t to cover up natural beauty. It was to enhance it. Before long, I was won over by the beauty world. 
But here’s the kicker: I’m still new. I’m still young, I’m still confused, and most of all, I’m still intimidated. All of those bloggers out there who can do a perfect cat eye in a single stroke scare the living daylights out of me. I feel like I don’t belong in their world sometimes. 
But I have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is here. A place to talk about everything in my journey from novice to…less…novice. And it’s for all of you, too. All of you men and women who want to get in touch with makeup but don’t know where to start. 
Here’s the line:
Let’s cross it together.