Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z: Z is for Zzzzzz....

Ahhhh, sleep. Something that I always have trouble with.

Fun fact, did you know the one-two punch of anxiety and depression can trigger insomnia in some folks? Guess who has two thumbs and is that unlucky soul!

So I have a looooot of tricks to get around the lack of sleep look. Perfected, of course, during college. Enjoy!

My personal favorite trick for waking up looking refreshed even after not getting enough sleep? Water!

Water is a miracle, let's be honest. Universal solvent. Polarity. Necessary. It's really cool, right? But did you know that one way to fight under eye circles in the morning is not to get dehydrated when you sleep? 

It's easy, actually. Just drink a really tall glass of water before you go to bed. Most nights, I try to down 12 oz of water. When I started this routine, it was because I would wake up with the absolute worst case of dry mouth. And I sleep with my mouth closed! However, after a couple days, I began to realized that my skin looked awesome in the morning, even if I hadn't gotten a lot of sleep.

If my eyes look really tired in the morning, I'll rub a little bit of my morning green tea in under my eyes. Usually, I just squeeze the excess water out of the bag and onto my fingertips and then rub it in under my eyes. The warmth helps me relax and the caffeine does wonders for my eyes. 

If my eyes are still a hot mess, I'll actually use a tiny amount of coconut oil. I don't know why it helps, but it does. I just get a tiny bit on my finger, rub it in (gently) in circles, and then add my makeup on top. I discovered this by accident when I rubbed my eye after applying my lip scrub. 

And last but not least, eye drops. My eyes tend to get really dry because I wear contacts 99.9% of the time. Usually, after a long night of no sleep, my eyes are tired and sore and dry and itchy. It's miserable. I invested in some of the best eye drops around.

Awww, who am I kidding? It's just saline drops from the drug store. Nothing special. Right now, I think I'm working on a bottle of the CVS brand. But first thing on waking up, I'll add some eye drops. And then again before I put on my makeup. And once more before I leave the house. If it feels like you're applying too much, apply some more. Your eyes could always do with the moisture. 

And I have to say, all of these things seem to work. Even when I'm physically exhausted, no one seems to notice unless I mention it. Of course, working at coffee shop has to help, too.

Thanks for reading! And thanks for sticking with me through the A to Z challenge. I know it's been weird and behind schedule, but I promise, this has definitely gotten me in the habit of posting more regularly. And soon, I'll have lots of fun goodies to review!

A to Z: Y is for Youth

This is more of a mini rant than anything else. And it was inspired by Brightest Bulb in the Box. This wonderful woman does a segment called Beauty Bullshit, and I just had to jump on that bandwagon for Y, AKA the letter I couldn't think of anything for.

Why is everyone so obsessed with looking younger? Yeah, I get it. You always want to look healthy and gorgeous. But I, personally, think that you should work with your age. Remember W? Work with what you've got? Yeah, it goes for age, too.

My mom is 50. And she doesn't try to look young or hip or sexy. She looks gorgeous and wise and collected. Pics or it didn't happen? Fine.

Yes, that's my mom (and me). She doesn't wear a lot of makeup because she's already gorgeous. She doesn't try to hide her wrinkles or that worry line between her eyebrows. She would never consider botox. Or lipo. She is beautiful just the way she is. 

And in a way, I gleaned a lot of my opinions about beauty from her. Which is why, when someone asks if I'm using any products for anti-aging, I just...I can't even think about that.

I'm 23. I'm relatively healthy. I take care of my skin, sure, since it's an organ. But beyond the basics of being able to pronounce what I put on my skin (or in my body, for that matter), that's it. I feel like as long as you treat your skin well, it will work well for you. And if you get wrinkles? You earned them! You have laugh lines? The name says it all!

Not to mention, I feel like a lot of anti-aging products on the market are, as Brightest Bulb would put it, total bullshit. Most of the ingredients listed don't soak into your skin. They don't rewrite your DNA (and we would be in trouble if they did). They don't make you suddenly look 30 years younger. 

I truly believe that everyone should love the one body that they have, for all of its flaws and lines and quirks. If you want to take care of your skin by using youthful looking products...just be careful. Read the labels. Try it first. Ask if it's worth the money. And as for makeup...Well, I think we all know what can happen when someone wears makeup that is out of their age range. 

Yes, this is a rant. But I also don't have any products starting with Y. So there you go. 

And yes, that picture was taken at my wedding. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z: X is for eXfoliation

This is a review of Aveeno's Smart Essneitla Daily Detoxifying Scrub.

This was a sample I received in one of Target's beauty bags, and it's what I carry with me on long trips.

Overall, I feel like exfoliation is something that everyone has strong feelings about. Some people do it every day, some never. Either way, pretty much everyone in the beauty industry has an opinion about exfoliating, and every opinion seems to be different. 

My opinion? I exfoliate very slightly with the face scrubbies I reviewed previously. Every time I was my face, I use that. I wouldn't term that exfoliation, though. It's more of a deep scrub. 

I exfoliate pretty seldomly, to be perfectly honest. I feel that if you scrub off too much skin, it's either going to be really dry or really oily. And I know this because my skin likes to go both ways. If I exfoliate too often my skin either flakes off or I break out because of all of the oil. 

I find that exfoliating once a week or even once every two weeks is perfect for me. That, in addition to using the face scrubbie, keeps my skin relatively balanced and happy. 

When I do need to exfoliate, I pull this stuff out of my travel bag. 

The exfoliating bits are small, so I don't feel like I'm sandpapering my face off. The solution that the bits are suspended in is gentle and cleansing. It doesn't make my skin feel tighter than usual. It doesn't cause any adverse reactions for me. And while the ingredients aren't exactly wonderful (sulfates are the third ingredient), I use this so seldom that I don't think it's going to cause any long term effects. 

This is a pretty decent product for the price, and I know that it's getting the job done in the safest way possible. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Ruby Wings Take 2

Like I said in my first review of Ruby Wings, their customer service is unbelievable!

Within a few days of talking to them via email, I had a package containing the color changing Fate, a lavender indoors and a rich violet outdoors.

What follows is the review. Just for sanity's sake, I will state that this sample was provided to me for consideration.

This is Ruby Wing's Fate indoors. It actually looked a little lighter, but unfortunately no light seemed capture the color exactly right. It's a nice, muted lavender. A little on the dark side. Not pastel or frilly, but still feminine.

Outdoors, within seconds, it changed to a dark, rich purple. Definitely a significant difference, I'd say, and a lot better than the sample bottle that I received in my Birchbox.

Overall, this polish was much better to work with than the sample of Peony that I reviewed earlier. What you see here is three thin, manageable coats of Fate. It went on smooth, with none of the weird, stringy, pooling mess from before. There were no bald patches after two coats, but I put on a third just in case I missed something. 

You'll notice in the second photo that there are some decent chips in my polish. That picture was taken at the end of day three of wear. And I have come to assume that I will always chip my polish within three days since I work with my hands a lot. 

Even without the staying power of a standard polish, this is a fun little addition to my collection. I like that the colors are within the same family, so both indoors and out my nails looked good with my outfit. It was also a great conversation starter.

I'm very proud to say that Ruby Wings has good polish and amazing customer service. I can't wait to try out more of their products in the future. 

Thanks for reading!

A to Z: W is for Working with What You've Got

I was going to write this post on another topic, but I covered my makeup wedges is another post. So here goes. This is completely unplanned and off the cuff!

Aw, who am I kidding? Most of my posts go through only minor editing because I like writing from the heart. Not from the agenda.

This is something that I struggle with ALL THE TIME. Seriously. Because in addition to the other issues I have, I have some pretty bad self esteem issues. I mean... totally, self loathing, can't look in the mirror issues.

I find myself in a flux of desperately wanting to love myself for how I am and how I look, but then hating glancing in the mirror. And honestly, I feel like this is what a lot of women struggle with. Especially women my age. 

But in the end, you can't just give up. You can't. Because that would be the absolute worst thing to do. 

So what do you do? You work with what you've got!

Round face? You can pull off rosy cheeks and bold lips to make yourself look like a classic pinup. Or do something bold with your eye shadow to make yourself look less cute and more edgy.

Long nose or jawline? There are tutorial everywhere for diminishing the shape through special highlights and contours...Or, you can rock it! Show off what evolution gave you. 

I know that one that got me to love the way my face looks is to check up on why my face is shaped this way. Genetically speaking. I'm Irish and German, and both of those cultures had some interesting bouts of feast and famine. My face (and body) is designed to hold onto weight to survive a potentially tough future. 

And the fact that my body recognizes that? BRILLIANT! I, personally, love to do simple eye shadow and the really add blush to my cheeks so that I look young and fresh and adorable. I'm not a fan of myself with the edgy look because I always feel like I'm trying too hard. Not to mention, the faux blush emphasizes the roundness of my face, which is what I'm working with.

I could say a lot more about loving yourself for who you are, but there are a myriad of videos on the internet to help with that. Watch them if you're ever in need of a boost. I like to watch something empowering right before I put on my makeup, that way I feel more confident and more awesome.

Thanks for reading this random text post!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Juice Beauty CC Cream Review

This was a sample that I received from my friend Patricia. She already has a BB cream that she’s in love with, while I’m having…not so much luck. I was eager to try this, though, since Birchbox sells it. With my accumulating Birchbox points, I could easily afford this.

Right out of the bottle, I knew this CC cream and I were going to be fast friends. It smells. Like. Heaven. Fruity and floral, but still natural, Juice beauty got “fresh” right on nose.

This CC cream does have a slightly thicker consistency than what I’m used to, but that didn’t hinder its application at all. In fact, this stuff applied like a dream. It wasn’t streaky or thick, and soaked right in. It didn’t look like I was wearing makeup at all! In fact, I looked like I was just naturally awesome.

It didn’t cover up freckles or blemishes, but it did even out my skin tone something fierce. Even the redness in my t-zone was pretty much gone.

This also lasted all day. It helped the rest of my makeup stay on even longer, and it didn’t feel heavy at all. In fact, it felt light and comfortable. A few times, I had to remember that I had put on makeup in the morning.

Let me tell you, this stuff is absolutely a winner. I can see myself buying this once my current foundation (Covergirl Natureluxe) runs out. Which could be a while, but I might accidentally spill the Covergirl so I can get this sooner.

Way to go, Juice. You guys did very, very well.

Thanks for reading!

A to Z: U and V are for...UV!

Cheating? Maybe. Creative? Oh, I think yes.

Today's post is all about something near and dear to my heart: Sunlight.

I'll be the first to tell you that I spent a good portion of my senior year of college tanning. Yes, me. The pale-skinned, easy-to-sunburn redhead. I would slather on a thin layer of low SPF and lay out in the sun for at least an hour, sometimes more, taking a few chances to jump into the pool to cool off. 

Although my skin got slightly darker, I did start to notice a few side effects. First off, my skin started getting really oily. Whether it was from the sunscreen or the sunlight, I don't know. But it got to the point where I would have to use oil blotting sheets several times a day. Normally, my skin isn't that oily. In fact, it's a little on the dry side.

I also started getting serious heat problems. I would be in my air conditioned apartment and suddenly feel like I was back out in the sun again. Frying. I would have to shower off to deal with it. 

Then came the acne, the hair turning from red to blonde.

Sure, the skin color was nice. I don't like looking like the underside of a trout. But then my dad came home with skin cancer. And that was the day I called it quits. I stopped hanging out poolside unless I was actually hanging out. 

And from then on, I wore nothing less than 30 SPF. I still won't.

I've had a history with bad sunburn. Once, it was so awful, it ruined an entire vacation with my then boyfriend/now husband's family. I spent the rest of that week trapped inside the beach house, miserable. 

Now that I'm a little older and have all of that knowledge to pull from, I'm super careful about sun exposure. I still like sitting out in the sun, soaking up the vitamins, reading, listening to music. But I don't do it purely to tan now. I don't want to be 40 or 50 and look like I'm 80, y'know?

As if reading my mind, Birchbox has been putting out all sorts of videos about sunscreen and SPF lately. And I really like them. I'm slowly wrapping my mind around the fact that it's something I have to do to keep my skin healthy. Limit sun exposure and always wear some form of SPF.

My general routine? My moisturizer has SPF 15. As does my foundation powder. My chapstick, also, is a great protector. And if I know I'm going to be in the sun for a while, I always don my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer that I mentioned earlier. Usually, 30 SPF. 70 if I know I'm going to be out for a while.

Seriously, guys. I know that it's super popular to look tan and glowing and golden. But be safe. There's no reason that something as fleeting as a good tan should ruin your skin later. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April Birchbox: Number 4 Blow Dry Lotion

First and foremost, I really don’t blow dry my hair that often. Maybe once in a blue moon. I usually just let my hair dry naturally, since that seems to be what makes it happiest. Not to mention, blow drying often can really damage hair, and mine is finicky enough without assistance.

So when I received this product in my Birchbox, I was pretty ambivalent. I knew it probably wouldn’t end up being purchased simply because I have no need for a blow dry lotion.

But I used it. And reviewed it. For you guys. (You’re welcome.)

And really, I’m glad I wasn’t too excited about it. I think I might have used too much, but even on the side where my hair soaked it in fine, it wasn’t impressive. My hair wasn’t shinier or healthier looking, and it didn’t seem to make the style stick anymore than usual.

On the side where I accidentally put too much in…well…My hair was mostly dried and I had to rinse it out in the sink because it was like wearing a helmet. A sticky, oily looking helmet.

Even after rinsing it out, my hair was kind of tacky all day. It certainly made my hair stay in place, but it worked almost like the hair putty that I have for costuming.

Overall, it just wasn’t a pleasant experience. Maybe if I used it properly, but even then I don’t think I would get the results I was looking forward to. Still, it was nice to try! And it also established BeautyProtector as my  number one hair product for blow drying.

Thanks for reading!

A to Z: T is for Tools

Today's (on time) post is going to be all about the tools that I use.

I think they're pretty important. But more on that later. First, pic spam!

This is, quite literally, the first serious makeup brush I ever bought. It's a kabuki brush that I bought with my first blush. In college. Yeah, I was a bit of a late bloomer. Still, this brush has lasted me for about four years. I keep it clean, treat it like gold, and love it to pieces. Because it is the absolute best (IMO) for putting on my BareMinerals foundation powder. Nice coverage, good natural bristles. I love this thing. And really, having one brush you love and use regularly is so much better than a hundred that you don't. 

This is a small travel set of brushes that I got at Sally's Christmas clearance for less than a dollar. Everything I need, on the go. 

I never use the spongy white one (you shouldn't, they're terrible), but I keep it in case of emergencies. Sometimes I will use it to remove smudged mascara when I don't have a q-tip handy. 

These...these are also precious to me.
I got them on Amazon for about $5, plus shipping, and they are the absolute best eye shadow brushes I have ever come across. All of the brushes I could ever need, each uniquely designed for a specific purpose. This is one of those times where the tool really changed how professional my makeup looked. 

Before these tools, I was just using the sponge applicator that came with the shadow. That really just wasn't giving me the accuracy or coverage that looked good, though. These tools changed all that. Now I can contour, shade, and smudge to my heart's content. 

Here's the brand, in case you wanted to invest in these for yourself.

More cheap brushes from Sally's clearance section. The one on the right is what I primarily use for blushes. The mini kabuki on the left I use for lots of different things, sometimes translucent power, sometimes blush. The middle one I haven't used yet, but it for foundation. 

This is the reason I haven't used that middle brush for foundation. I have found that these super cheap makeup wedges are perfect. The front side is for foundation, the back is for fixing blush if I need to. It gives me pretty good precision and nice coverage. 

If you'll notice, I don't have a whole lot of brushes. Because, honestly, I don't need them. Everything here I use pretty regularly, with a few exceptions. I wouldn't know what to do with one of those fan shaped brushes. I don't have a clue about the vibrating makeup puffs that are all the rage in Korea. 

So really, this is all that I need. And I'm not ashamed to say that, either. 

Now maybe, down the road, if I get better at applying my makeup...sure. Then I'll invest in fancy brushes whose uses I can't even imagine right now. 

But as a beginner, this is all that I need. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A to Z: S is for Soap

All natural, all the way!

I'm a HUUUUUGE fan of soap. And I'm not just saying that because it's a wonderful, cleansing product. And I'm not talking about that crappy bar stuff or, even worse, body wash. Shudder.

Ever since college, I've been a huge fan of this stuff:

Handmade, all natural soap. No SLS, no chemical perfumes, and lots of love.

Each bar is crafted by someone, out in the world, that I have met or talked to in person. Each bar smells delicious and unique and true. And I know that these soaps are the absolute best for my skin. Moisturizing bars? Got 'em. Bars that smell like a fresh cup of chai tea? In the shower now.

As far as vendors go, I've gotten soap from lots of different places. A couple of my currents bars are from conventions. A few are from Etsy. I'll include a list of all of my favorite retailers at the tail end of this post. For now, more bragging.

These soaps also last forever. I use a loofah soap holder from Walmart that cost me less than a dollar, and I can keep a bar of soap going for at least a couple of months. And because they're in a loofah, they don't grimy or gooey. They stay just as fragrant as when I purchased them. 

And what really makes me happy? The fact that I am helping folks at home run their own business, doing something they have a passion and talent for. Big box soap manufacturers don't care. They only see dollar signs. But the people that I buy soaps from love making things that make people happy. And that along makes me happy! Not to mention having a wonderful soap that feels amazing, is good for me, is great for the environment, and smells absolutely divine. 

Yay artisan crafts! Try out some homemade soap from one of the below retailers. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Thanks for reading!

Soap retailers that I use regularly:

A to Z: R is for Revlon Customeyes

This is a review of a Revlon eye shadow palette.

When I was first getting into makeup, nail polish was my starting point.

But eye shadow was a major stepping stone.

Why? Because in the end, it made a huge difference. It took me from "oh, pretty" to "oh, damn." Now I was (and still am) scared of anything other than neutrals, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a nice, complimentary brown that makes my blue eyes pop.

I started with some nice and simple and cheap from the local drug store: A Revlon Custom Eyes palette, of the Naturally Glamorous variety.

One of the main reasons I purchased it is because of that diagram on the back. I have no idea how to give myself a normal eye, let alone a smokey one. I was lost and confused and didn't know where to start. And it was at that point that I spotted one of these upside down in the makeup section. 

I like the colors on this palette: simple, smokey, natural. It looks excellent with my blue eyes. And it was easy to apply. 

Also, the wear on this is pretty good. It fades a little by the end of the day, but with a little primer, it can last through a whole work day without the need to reapply. 

Here is the (amateurish) application by yours truly.

That's with no eye liner, no mascara, and no primer. Just straight up, rapidly applied eye shadow. 

This really is a palette for beginners, which is awesome. Because the mass amount of options for eye shadow is super intimidating. It's nice to have something simple to start with, or something subtle fall back on. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A to Z: Q is for Q&A

I know this is kind of cheating, but I absolutely cannot think of anything for Q. It's like my mind is drawing a blank except for the weirdest, most random stuff. And none of that stuff fits with this blog.

So, in lieu of an actual post, I'm going to host a Q&A.

Where? Here.
When? Whenever you want.
Why? Just cause.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask them here. I will either do my best to answer them or find someone who can answer it and have them....interrogated.

Mwahaha! Mwahahahaha! MWAHAHAHAHA!



Ask away! And this isn't just for today. Ask me anytime!

Friday, April 19, 2013

April Birchbox: Lierac Paris Toning Radiance Serum

Let me start off by saying that I have never used a serum before. Let alone with instructions almost completely in French. So I don’t really have anything to compare this to, but I’ll try my best.

Right out of the box, I love the bottle. It’s glass and tiny and adorable. You can never go wrong with adorable.

The product itself smells clean and fresh, not overbearing. A little hint of floral.

The serum is a mix between a cream and a gel, I feel. Soaks in fast enough, so there is no greasy texture. But once it dries, it feels just a little bit tight. However, I have come to expect that from anything that says toning.

Now, I used this product after removing my makeup and before applying my moisturizer for the night, just as the instructions said. Then, in the morning, I would apply before my moisturizer and makeup. Honestly, I would have used moisturizer over it even if the instructions hadn't said to, since it didn't make my skin feel nourished enough without a little something extra.

After several days of use, I did notice a slight improvement in my skin. It was brighter, clearer, and looked healthier. Now, whether that was from the added sunlight I got during that time or whether it was the serum remains to be seen.

Overall, though, the product was pleasant enough to use. Not moisturizing enough to replace my daily face routine, but it was light and brightening and made my skin feel healthier. In fact, it even seemed to reduce some of the acne that I was getting along my hairline.

While I won’t be buying this exact product, I’d never tried a serum before and now I might keep an eye out for one that strikes my fancy a little more. It was soft and subtle and didn’t make my face oily, like most moisturizers tend to do during the summer. And let me tell you, that’s always a plus. 

Thanks for reading!

A to Z: P is for Perfume!

Again, sorry about this being a day late. Life, you know? But I'm going to try my absolute hardest to make sure that I do every single letter, even if one or two are a day late.

So today, I'm going to talk about perfume!

First and foremost, I'm a huge fan of oil based perfumes. They tend to be more expensive, but in my opinion, you get more bang for your buck. The throw isn't as powerful, and a lot of the scents can react with body chemistry to produce something awful, but in the end, I love them. The scent is purer. More true. It can smell exactly like that chocolate cake you had for your fifth birthday, or bring to mind the exact smell after a strong spring rain. 

Not to mention, I find that most mass manufactured alcohol perfumes smell too floral. They are a combination of scents that are heady and unfocused. Misguided and overpowering. Cloying and pricey.

I'm also a huge fan of indie perfume brands. My personal favorite brand of perfume is Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. They have such unique collections, each with their own story. They have Neil Gaiman scents, RPG scents, fairy tale scents. If you can dream it, they probably have it. And each scent will have its own history and meaning.

And let's just say...I have a bit of an addiction.

Yes, those are each a completely unique, individual scent. Packaged in 5ml "imps ears" so that I can wear whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Some of those perfumes are delicate and floral and smell like "tears and wet straw" and some smell like the beach. Some smell like candy and cookies, others smell like fruit. 

Really, my tastes run the gamut. And I love that with BPAL, I can sample what I like and if I love it enough, I buy the full bottles that you see in the top picture. 

Not to mention, the great thing about indie brands is that most of them have a cult following. BPAL is no exception. The family of BPAL lovers are, as a whole, intelligent and cultured, loving and passionate.There is a website called BPAL.org where fans of the scents swap, sell, and giveaway the perfumes and products. Have a perfume you want to buy, but want to test it first? See if someone has an empty or nearly empty that they can send you cheap/free. Love something that's impossible to find? There's surely someone who has it and is willing to strike a deal. Or, if you're lucky, "fairy" will gift you that limited run perfume you have been searching for. 

Indie perfumes have love in every bottle. And in the end, I think that's what I'm drawn to the most. The passion, the commitment, the pure and unadulterated heartfelt joy (or intricate sadness) of each scent. 

Thanks for reading!

If you're curious about my collection, here is my stash of imps and bottles.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Birchbox: Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish in Peony

I was so excited to get this polish in my box this month! When I heard it was an option for some of the subscribers, I cross my fingers and wished very hard.

And, voila, I got it!

Unfortunately, that was the only good thing to come out of this polish. What follows is one of the most disappointed polish reviews I've ever had to write.

This is the polish, indoors. Hm...I was told it would be bubblegum pink.

Something doesn't seem right here. In fact, this looks more like a coral. A very bright, very orangey coral with an undertone of pink. 

And...wasn't it supposed to change color? Y'know...like...a lot?

Oh look, an imperceptible sliver of color change, after spending ten minutes in the sun. And the instant the sun went behind a cloud, wham. Gone. 

My left hand had been in the sun for about ten minutes, my right hand had been in my back pocket. Also, pardon the terrible picture. My husband had to take it since my hands were busy modelling. 

Now, that was just the tail end of my woes. Let me start at the beginning. 

Out of the box, I knew something was wrong. This was coral, not pink. Maybe in some bizarre planet where the sun sets in the East, this is pink. But on this planet? In this time stream? This is an orange coral. 

Fine, whatever. It wouldn't be the first time I've been lead astray by marketing, especially nail polish marketing. And I like the color, so I decided to roll with it.

The formula, however, was an absolute nightmare. Even being very careful, using very thin coats, this polish was dreadful. It was thick and goopy, stringy like my bottle of Seche Vite towards the end of its lifetime. There was so much pooling around my cuticles that I had to pause my television show just to focus more on my manicure. 

Five coats later, and it is still patchy. There are bald spots aplenty near my nail beds and right before my nail line. 

And the color change? Non existent. I don't know if I just got a bad bottle or what, but the color change was so imperceptible I would hesitate to call this color changing polish. In the sun, it came out as a little more pink. Just so slightly deeper. But still, definitely, a coral. 

Even after ten minutes of sitting in full, bright sun, the only spot on my nail that changed color was one of the baldish patches along my cuticle. 

I'm thinking that this polish's cool effect works best with two coats or fewer, but the formula just does not allow that. 

Unfortunately, this is one product I'm iffy about buying. I've heard some of the other, full size bottles are much better. And that this shade, in particular, has issues. 

But I'm honestly kind of upset that they sent an iffy formula to Birchbox subscribers. 

Luckily, Ruby Wings has excellent customer service. After informing them of the problem, they have offered to send me a different bottle of Peony or another bottle of my choice. I'm going to try out a different polish and see what happens. Keep an eye out for that review!

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Birchbox: Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-On

Simple is a brand I have heard about through various avenues for about a month now. I was excited to be receiving a rather large sample in my Birchbox this month.

I would like to think that my under-eye circles aren't that bad. Relatively speaking, they're not. I get some decent sleep most times and try to drink lots of water. But sometimes, I just look tired. 

Usually, for me, the culprit is stress. I'm at a very transitional time in my life, so my stress is at an all-time high. 

I was excited to try this product to see if it could help me look more alive after a long, restless night spent worrying. And honestly? It kind of delivered.

The product goes on smooth and easy, and is absorbed quickly. Always a plus. And the coolness of the roller and the extracts did remove some of the puffiness from under my eyes. 

But it really wasn't such a huge miracle product as I was expecting. It works pretty well, but for dark circles, I don't think it's going to cut it. I think other than getting more sleep and drinking more water, concealer is still the best for those under-eye circles. Or Benefit's FakeUp. 

Over all, though, I think it's going to be nice in the summer when my eyes need a little pick me up. Not to mention this stuff is super affordable and the ingredients are awesome. This is something I feel ok with putting near my sensitive eye area. 

Thanks for reading!

A to Z: O is for Orly Flash Dry

A rare negative review has been appeared!

This is a review of Orly's Flash Dry nail drops.

This is a product that I bought upon recommendation from a sales woman at a Sally's Beauty Supply. From reading the label and what the woman told me, I was lead to believe that these drops would help my manicure dry faster and would increase the shine of the lacquer. 

Boy, was everything wrong. 

First off, this product has a pretty decent price tag. This cost me about $8 all told. And really? It makes my manicures consistently worse. I have only used the product a couple of times because it, without fail, makes my manicure gummy and squishy. Even fully dried polish is susceptible to its ruination. 

This is an utter failure of a product, in my opinion. It doesn't work as advertised, and it ruins manicures. 

When I contacted Orly about this, I got absolutely zero response. None. Not even a "we got your email" email. Just radio silence. 

Most beauty companies are excellent about offering refunds. Orly, apparently, not so much.

I was so severely disappointed in this product that I'm kind of surprised I still had the bottle to take a picture of for this review. It was buried in the recesses of my makeup drawer. And there it shall return, because there are tons of products out there that actually live up to their name. And don't, you know, ruin half an hour's worth of work. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Birchbox: Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue

Birchbox describes this perfume as follows: Top notes of Italian bergamot sourced from Calabria, Sicily work in sync with Italian green mandarin to create an amber halo. The fragrance opens to middle notes of fresh jasmine and exotic cinnamon Ceylon from Sri Lanka, while base notes of African myrrh and Indian sandalwood provide an earthy counterpoint.

Over all, I have to agree with their description. It's an earthy scent with just a breath of floral. It's grounded by a cinnamon that blends with the sandalwood to smell almost like fresh-cut cedar. It's earthy without feeling dirty, and would smell absolutely heavenly on both genders. 

As the perfume dries, it smooths out even further and the cinnamon really comes out to play, especially with the jasmine. It smells a little sweeter once completely dry, but it remains true to the original scent. Rich, earthy, and inspiring. 

I love this perfume. I have added it to my favorites to remember the name. I'm sure I'm going to be wanting a bigger bottle of this soon. 

Thanks for reading! 

A to Z: N is f or Neutrogena Ultra Sheer

Today is another sunblock review. This time for one that I completely fell in love with about a year ago. 

This sunscreen is one that I received in a bag of beauty samples from Target. And let me tell you, it's one of the most luxurious feeling sunscreens I've every used. 

Right out of the tube, this sunscreen isn't like others. It smells floral, not like usual sunscreen. There is still that summer time classic, but it is mixed in with something soft and summery. 

Once applied, it begins....well, melting is the only way I can describe it. Like when you use coconut oil and your body heat makes it transparent. 

As the sunscreen is rubbed in, it dries. Not greasy. Not tacky. Just smooth, soft, protected skin. It doesn't feel heavy, like some sunscreens tend to feel. It's light and moisturizing. It's practically a miracle in a bottle! 

Even when wet, this sunblock remains dry and weightless and steadfast. Because the last thing you want is to reapply and have to wait ten or fifteen minutes for your sunscreen to absorb just so you can go out and enjoy the beach again. 

Above and beyond, this is one of the best sunscreens I've ever used. And for around $7 for the full size, you can't really go wrong. 

Give it a try, I promise you'll be impressed. 

A to Z: M is for Microfiber (And Minerals)

Apologies for the late post, guys. I went on a spontaneous road trip with my best friends yesterday. And let me tell you, getting out and about for the day was absolutely marvelous. I'll make up for it by reviewing two products today! That's right, two for the price of one!

Not that my posts cost you anything, but y'know...

First up is a dollar store find that has completely changed my skin. 

This little thing is about the size of my palm, made of microfiber, and is perfect as a facial scrubber. In fact, the packaging once said that was what it was for. 

Before using these microfiber scrubbies, I used my hands to wash my face. A little squirt of cleanser, some gentle rubbing, bam. Done. And during that time, I had pretty bad acne. 

Now, I didn't know this then, but apparently that wasn't cutting it for my skin. I needed exfoliation. I needed a deeper clean. And then the dollar store stepped in. 

Ever since I have started using these little green circles of amazing, my acne has mostly cleared up. The scrubs on one side are perfect for daily use. Exfoliating, but gentle about it. Not so intense that my skin is dry and red afterwards. The other side, the mesh side, is perfect for days when I feel really grimy or think my skin could use an extra scrub. It's a little bit more exfoliating. 

And the best part is, I can throw these into the washer and dryer with my regular clothes. Completely reusable, over and over again. In fact, I have rotated between the same three of these for over two years now. Once a week or once every two weeks (depending on when I remember), I toss them in the laundry and use a clean one. And on and on it goes. 

My skin is happy, and healthy, and glowing. No complaints from me, especially since I only spent a dollar on all three.

Next is my mineral makeup. Now, I know this is a hot topic right now, but here's my two cents. For what it's worth. (Two cents.)

I use the standard BareMinerals powder in fair. It's fast, it's simple, it does exactly what I need it to do. I've mentioned that I don't like wearing a lot of heavy makeup, and this stuff is about as light as it gets. 

I personally love that I can just brush some on and immediately look more put together than I did before. It's awesome before work because if I'm running behind, I will still look like I woke up brilliant and beaming.

And another great thing? It lasts all day! I don't refresh my makeup much throughout the day, but this stuff holds up to the standard work day just fine. In fact, when I wash my face at night, I still take some of it off. 

The blush that I use is also BareMinerals. It's The Natural High, one of their recent special collections. I didn't go into the store wanting blush, but after the salesperson applied some, I loved the way it looked. So I walked out of the store a little poorer, but happier. 

This blush is a nice, light pink with a slightly peachy undertone. My photos all seem to pull out that peach color. It's actually a little more pink in person than it is in the above pictures. Here's a picture from a beauty blogger I absolutely adore, Temptalia, that captures a better image of the color.

This is a very buildable color. I can apply just a little for a naturally fresh look. Or a little more to look like I'm super vibrant and flushed. It's an absolutely wonderful color. 

Now, for a mini discussion. I know that right now, there is an article circulating that mineral makeup isn't as good as everyone says. That it clogs pores. Makes your pores look bigger. Has bad chemical reactions for some people. Doesn't have enough SPF for what is advertised. 

In fact, some out there absolutely hate mineral makeup for these reasons. 

But for me, I have never had these problems. I don't notice a difference with my pores. I haven't had any bad reactions. And it doesn't make me break out (unlike some liquid foundations I've tried). I feel that just like with any makeup, you need to find the one that is right for you. Liquid, powder, cream, whatever. The beauty industry is vast and specialized. So go out there and find what is right for you. What makes your skin and soul happy. 

Thanks for reading, and again, apologies for being late!