Friday, November 15, 2013

how to get "opal" nails

One can only read about classic Essie shades, like Ballet Slippers and Mademoiselle, for so long until you break down and purchase them. I recently picked up both shades, (happy birthday to me!) and decided to try the famous manicure that is supposed to be Essie (yes, the Essie) Weingarten's favorite, which is two coats of Ballet Slippers, followed by one coat of Mademoiselle.

But... this was my birthday mani, so of course, I couldn't just leave it at that. I decided to add one more Essie shade into the mix. I used:

  • Two coats of Ballet Slippers
  • One coat of Shine of the Times
  • One coat of Mademoiselle

Total magic! I wish I could capture the sparkle in a photo, but I can't do it justice. I think they look just like opals!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm & Lacquer Balm - Review & Swatches - Complex & Tease

 After watching Tati, at GlamLifeGuru, swatch a beautiful, wearable, orange lipstick, I knew I had to jump on the bandwagon, and try the new Revlon ColorBurst Balms.

These are yet another chubby stick lip product, which the drugstore has seen lots of recently. But hey, that's not a bad thing!

I picked up Tease, in the Lacquer Balm formula, as well as Complex in the Matte Balm. I've been trying them both out, and I'm pretty impressed.

Both have a minty scent, similar to the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain, which I liked. They are both moisturizing on the lips, but the matte balm less so. That said, I found it remarkable how the matte balm did not dry the lips out. One tip for the matte colors: pat the color into your lip after you apply. Then it won't sink into the lines of your lips. And exfoliate beforehand!

The lacquer balm is quite pigmented, and about as moisturizing as the Revlon lip butters. I think it's like a more pigmented lip butter, but in a chubby stick. Keep reading for swatches!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Winter Beauty Essentials - Skincare

Living in Michigan means living with all sorts of weather! I'm loving the beautiful and crisp autumn we're experiencing now, but gearing up for the colder weather to come. It always does a number on my skin! I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite things that keep my skin from becoming too parched.

This was a Pinterest find, I believe. My legs always get horribly dry and itchy in the winter, and this saved them. Right after a shower, while I'm still sopping wet, I rub this into my legs. It absorbs wonderfully, and doesn't leave my legs greasy. The key is applying it while your skin is still very wet. Otherwise, you will feel a bit greasy. I like the Cocoa Butter one during the winter, just because of the sweeter smell. Bonus, my 2-year-old can use it too!

Another Birchbox find! I sampled this over a year ago, and purchased it as soon as the weather turned chilly. It's very hydrating, and absorbs quickly. Embryolisse says that makeup artists use it as a primer, moisturizer, and a makeup remover. All I know is, it leaves my skin feeling blissful.

Nivea makes all of my favorite lip balms, but A Kiss Of Moisture is my favorite for winter. It's so thick and healing, and I always have a tube nearby! I just picked up two new ones the other day, thanks to sale at Walgreens.

After hearing so many rave reviews of argan oil, I finally broke down and bought a bottle. My favorite way to use it is on my cuticles. I usually get at least one hangnail per day, and don't even get me started about my poor, always-scarred thumbs. But, wow, when I'm faithful to use this everyday, I don't get any hangnails! It's made a huge difference, and my fingers are all thankful! I've also loved using it on my elbows, and in the ends of my hair.

Every time I use this hand cream at work, someone stops and asks me what it is, because it smells so delicious, just like buttercream frosting! More importantly, it's quite hydrating. I love keeping a mini bottle in my desk, and in my purse. If you prefer a non-scented lotion, try Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

So, that's how I (mostly) don't dry up like a prune by the end of winter! Do you change things up when the seasons change?

Off to warm my hands with some coffee...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birchbox October 2013 - Review / First Impressions

Where did October go? I was actually surprised to receive my Birchbox this month, because I don't think I quite realized it was October! Let's see what I got this month!

I loved this. This cleanser and muslin cloth arrived in their own beautiful turquoise box, with instructions. The cream is to be applied to dry skin, massaged in, and then buffed off with the wet muslin cloth. It smells fantastic, very earthy and spa-like. I've been using it since I received it, and I really like it. It's gentle and moisturizing, but the muslin cloth provides the perfect amount of exfoliation. I'll definitely be purchasing this. 

I received a Pop Beauty Aqua Lip Lacquer in shade Floating Rose. It's a lovely color! I'm not a big fan of the packaging over all. I was happy to see that the package has a stick applicator, not a squeeze applicator. The actual applicator foot is very unusual. It's like a spatula, not like the doe foot applicators, or brushes I have used in the past. It's a fine lip gloss, but no better than something I could find in the drugstore for less. 

Speaking of the drugstore... This month I received a "Birchbox Find". This is a mass market item that the editors at Birchbox have been loving. I received a full size Chapstick Hydration Lock, and a coupon for $1 off of a Chapstick purchase. I don't usually purchase Chapstick products, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It's not as moisturizing as my favorite lip balm, but I've been using it as a primer before lipstick.

I have heard great things about this line of hair products from curly girls. To my great dismay, I am not a curly girl. I am the total opposite, and can't hold a curl to save my life. The good news is, you don't have to have curly hair to love this conditioner. My hair looked great after using this conditioner, and several good hair days were had. 
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but this conditioner smelled a lot differently that I expected. It smells like soap. Not bad soap. I think I'm used to my conditioners smelling sweet.

Mmm. Beautiful floral scent. I've been loving wearing it.

Overall, a great box! What was in your Birchbox?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DIY Gel Manicure

I am so excited to share this! When I found this via Pinterest, I had to try it out. So I headed to Sally Beauty, and grabbed Gelous Nail Gel. I followed the instructions provided by Corrine, and here are the results:

I was totally stunned at how well this held up! I do not have a job that is particularly tough on my hands, but I am often typing. I have a two-year-old, which means lots of hand-washing! I also wash all my dishes by hand (with gloves). After a totally normal week, full of cooking, cleaning, work, and child-wrangling, my nails were fine! I did no touch up whatsoever.  Here's what I did:


  • Gelous Nail Gel takes longer to dry than most nail products. You don't have to wait for it to fully dry between coats, but you'll have to wait longer that you typically would between coats of color. I solved this by adding Essie's Instant Dry Oil after my very last coat of Gelous. 
  • It smells. Not good. But only while you are applying it. 
  • It's super easy to remove. I notice no difference between removing this manicure, and one done without Gelous Nail Gel.
  • I removed my manicure after 7 days, but it really didn't look bad. I just get bored with a color after about that long. I'm sure you could wear it longer. 
  • Since this test, I've used Gelous Nail Gel with different polishes, and had the same great results. The only exception: Essie's Beyond Cozy. It's full of glitter, and therefore a thicker polish than most. I think that Gelous does not work well with thick, glitter polishes. 

Let me know if you give it a try! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Easiest at-home Eyebrow Wax

I love going to the salon to get an eyebrow wax. My makeup applies better, and I just feel more put together. But keeping up with my brows can get expensive. I can think of lots of things I'd rather spend money on, that paying someone to inflict pain on my face. So of course, I've been looking for a great DIY alternative.

I've tried several at-home kits. Some were terrible, some were ok. The "professional" peel-off wax I tried was very effective, but incredibly messy, and more time-consuming than just plucking my brows in the first place. Sally Hansen makes a pretty good wax, but I ran out of the strips they provided very quickly. Both of these wax kits were about $8.

As I walked down the health and beauty aisle of my local supermarket, I noticed little packages of wax strips for only $1.50. I figured it couldn't hurt to try! They looked appealingly easy to use. Nothing to microwave, stir, or spread.

To use, hold a strip between your hands to warm the wax. Peel them apart, and apply to your eyebrow area. Rip it off... Done! There is no mess to clean up and the whole process won't take longer than 5 minutes.

The only drawback is that the strips are not in "eyebrow" shapes. I got the wax strips as close to my brows as I could, without ripping important bits off. And then cleaned up a few strays with tweezers. You can also trim them to fit your brow shape.

The package comes with 3 small, and 4 large wax strips. I cut the larger strips down, to get 2 waxes from each. There are enough strips in the pack for 11 eyebrow waxes. That breaks down to only $0.14 per wax! I'll take that over $7 at the salon, thank you!

I found the same strips here on Amazon, in case your supermarket isn't as super as mine. :)

Have you found anything fabulous at the supermarket? Do tell!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Birchbox September 2013 - Review / First Impressions

It's that time again! My September Birchbox was wonderful! I was excited to know that I would get a Ruffian nail polish in my box. Here's what I received:

I was thrilled to see Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips. We're getting ready for cool weather, and this product sounded like it would be great for the chapped lips that come with it. Wow, is it ever! It is super duper thick, but sinks into the lips in no time. I totally recommend it. I think I'll pick up a tube when my sample runs out. 

I wasn't super excited to see this because I had sampled the Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream, and wasn't impressed. But I gave it a try, and it is amazing! I like it just as much as my current favorite BB cream. At 3 times the price, I probably won't be indulging in this one, but it was amazing!

3. & 4. Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo & Protect & Condition $21.95 each
Shampoo isn't the most interesting this to me. I'm not a hair person. Probably because I have no skills in that area. But I actually cheered when I received this set! I have sampled the Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Spray in a past Birchbox, and It. Smells. Amazing. So good! This shampoo and conditioner smell exactly the same. I'm loving them! 

Yay! I love getting nail polish in my box. I wasn't sure I would like this orange color, but I have to say, it is so pretty and unique. In the light, it has a pink shimmer. I'm really glad that I got it. My daughter and I rocked a matching Fox Hunt pedi, which I shared on Instagram earlier this week. 

I hope your September was lovely as well! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fab Fall Fingers - My Favorite Nail Polish for Fall!

I love fall! It feels like fall has finally arrived here in Michigan, and I'm celebrating with some of my favorite nail polishes! These 5 colors are all in my stash, and are my staples for fall. 

I think my very favorite color is Essie's Damsel in a Dress. (How cute is that name?) It's a shimmery deep plumb, and I just can't get enough! 

Next, is Maybelline's Sapphire Siren. It's a deep cobalt blue polish, with no shimmer. It's darker on the nails than it seems in this photo. It reminds me of cobalt blue glass.

Essie's Mink Muffs is a lovely cocoa brown color. I'm not usually a fan of brown nail polish, but this one is so soft and yummy looking. I think it suits my pale skin tone. 

This cream polish looks almost black in indoor lighting. But in the fall sunlight, Zoya's Envy is a beautiful olive-toned green. I think if we could bottle envy, it would look like this.

Last, but not least, is Butter London's Wallis. This is one of the most unusual colors that I own. It's kind of a sheer black, packed with very fine antique gold glitter. You have to see it to believe it.  

Care to share your fall favorites? I'd love to hear them!
Happy Fall!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Meltproof August Eye Look - Maybelline Color Tattoo & Stila in the light pallette

August in Michigan has not been quite as steamy as usual. (Thank goodness!) But when the temperature creeps up, this is my go-to eye look, that I can be sure will not melt down my face.


For this look, apply Maybelline Color Tattoo in the color Inked in Pink all over the lid, and into the crease. Maybelline Color Tattoos are always a great base for your eyeshadow, but especially in heat and humidity.

Next, blend a coppery shadow into the crease and outer corner. I used Sunset from my Stila In the Light palette. (A great drugstore alternative would be the "eyelid" shade from Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio 334 I'm Getting Sunburned.) Blend what is left on the brush along the bottom lash line.

Then apply a dark coppery liner close to the lashline, and blend with an angled brush for a softer look. I used my Stila Smudge Stick in Lionfish. Finish with your favorite mascara!

Just in case your skeptical, here's a shot from 10 hours after I did my makeup!

Have a wonderful last weekend in August! And don't melt.

Friday, August 23, 2013

comfort food for lips - Nivea lip care

I have 5 Nivea Lip Balms at all times. One in my nightstand. One with my makeup. One in my purse. One in my desk drawer at work. One in my beach bag. You could say that I like this stuff.

During cold Michigan winters, I love to use Nivea A Kiss Of Moisture. It's super soft and smooth. In the summer, I prefer to use A Kiss of Smoothness, because it's a little firmer, and doesn't melt too much in the heat.

No matter the season, every night I swipe on A Kiss Of Moisture, and in the morning, my lips are still totally cozy.

Before I put on my make up in the morning, I use A Kiss of Smoothness. By the time I put on lipstick, my lips are in great shape.

I always keep A Kiss of Berry Swirl in my beach bag. It has SPF 10, which is great for being out in the sun. Also, it has a nice tint to it, as well as a yummy berry scent. It's a great low maintenance lip product for a day at the beach. Or any day, if you're a low maintenance gal!

The packaging for these lip balms is fantastic. I like that they are packaged more like a lip stick than a typical lip balm. The lid is large enough that I can't easily lose it, tight enough that it doesn't fall off in my purse, but still easy to remove.

I hope you'll give these a try! Now, I'm off to stock up on lip balm for the fall!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nail Polish Organization - Tips & Tricks

I have a bit of a nail polish problem. At least, my husband thinks so. Haha! This week, I decided to give a little makeover to the drawer where I keep my manicure supplies. My first idea was to label the tops of my nail polish bottles with their colors. I used:

  • small circle punch
  • white labels 
  • package the labels came it (you could use anything you don't mind getting nail polish on)
  • my nail polish

I punched several small circles out of the labels, peeled off the backings, and stuck the just the edge of each circle to the plastic package.

Then I painted each circle with one of my nail polish colors. Some colors will take 2 coats, so wait a few minutes and go over them again. It's worth the extra step. 

So that I didn't mix up the colors, I lined up the bottles in the same order as I painted them.

After they were dry, I gently pressed each colored circle onto the appropriate bottle. I love how they all look coordinated, and I can easily see the colors from above. 

My next step was to clean out my drawer, and rethink my containers. I decided to store everything in my empty birchboxes! I've loved the black and white chevron lining in the last couple of boxes, and this was the perfect opportunity to use them. I decided to divide the polishes by color in the boxes. I love how organized they look now!

Recently, I started using Zoya Remove Plus. The formula is great, but I think the bottle is my favorite part. You flip the cap up, and press a cotton ball down on the lid, until you have the amount you'd like! So nice. I leave that inside the drawer, and keep a glass cup of cotton balls next to it. 

One of the boxes is just for base & top coats, treatments, nail clippers, and other tools. When it's time to switch my nail polish, I can take this box with me, and have everything I need.

I hope you found this helpful, and maybe you'll try labeling your nail polishes! 
Happy Polishing!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My H.G. Mascara - blinc Mascara Amplified - review & swatches

I love mascara, and think it makes the biggest impact on my face. If I have a morning where I have 12 seconds to put on makeup, I'll choose mascara. However...

I get raccoon eyes. 

It doesn't matter what kind of mascara I use, waterproof or otherwise, I end up with the huge smudges under my eyes within only a few hours. And if I choose to put mascara on my bottom lashes, it will smudge like crazy in about 20 minutes. I would never put mascara on my bottom lashed, and then just try to wipe the smudges off throughout the day. Until... day, I heard about blinc Mascara. Here's what blinc says about the product:

This mascara doesn’t just paint your lashes to make them darker and longer — it uses a copolymer-based formula to create little tubes around each one of your lashes. And since it’s not a paint, the mascara won’t flake, run, or smudge. When you’re ready to remove it, each individual tube slides off in one piece — no more black smears under your lashline!

When I read that, I knew I had to try it. I ordered a small sample from eBay, because the claims sounded way too good to be true. Also, I don't usually spend more than $20 on a mascara. As soon as I tried it, I knew it was a winner. It stays put. It does not smudge. Even on me. This is because, as the description says, it does not paint your lashes. It creates tubes around them.

I love how it looks on my lashes! I've tried both the original version, and the Amplified version. My favorite is the Amplified. It provides more volume, and I like the big brush. But, if blinc hadn't come out with the Amplified version, I'd still be happily using the original.

Not only does it not smudge, it's super easy to remove. You get your lashes very wet, and gently pull the mascara "tubes" off. Which sounds weird. And it is. See?

Removing the mascara takes some getting used to, but the process is amazing! It comes off easily, and leaves absolutely no residue! I love that it all comes off without oil or scrubbing. It's also super easy to wipe off any smudges or mistakes with a wet Q-tip, if you're a little clumsy when you're applying. Not that I would know... 

Still going strong, and no more raccoon eyes.
(Thank goodness!)

*I am not affiliated with blinc. I just enjoy their mascaras.*
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