Tag Archive: review


This is my first Manicure Monday post!  I’ve seen them on the blogosphere for quite some time now and it seems like a fun way to share about what colors I’ve been enjoying lately.  I’m no nail artist, but I DO like to change things up.  Sometimes, I’ll wear neutral colors, but other times, the shades will be bold.  There are also occasions where I’ll wear different (but complementary) shades on each hand.  It all depends on how I feel.

IMAG1169This week, I went for Julep’s Avni, described as an African violet shimmer.  I applied a Sally Hansen base coat, two layers of Avni, and Julep’s Freedom Polymer Top Coat.  I decided to add a little sparkle to my ring fingers using Sephora’s Formula X Effects Top Coat in Oh! Zone, a silver holographic microglitter.  I was happy that Avni looks just as nice on the nails as it does in the bottle.  I think it’s a shade that will look lovely on a variety of skin tones.  The Formula X Top Coat adds just the right amount of festivity while still being subtle.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Julep polishes.  I like them, but they took some getting used to.  When I first started using them, I had a difficult time getting even layers because it has a really long wand.  The polish on the end of the brush would be really thick and goopy because of all the excess polish on the wand would drip down onto the brush.  I’ve found that if I wipe that excess polish off the wand as I’m pulling it out of the bottle, I can get much better control over the amount of product I’m using.  It also prevents the excess polish from drying up on the wand and adding goopy polish into my fresh polish.  Ugh.

Aside from that issue, I like that Julep polishes are 5-free (free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, and DBP), vegan, have a UV filter and made in the U.S.  They also have oxygen technology that lets your nail beds breathe.  Each polish is named after a woman and each purchase supports different organizations that empower women.

You know, blogging is making me realize that I like supporting companies that give back somehow.  I guess if I’m going to buy something, it may as well support a good cause, right?

Anyway, what are some of your favorite nail polishes from January?  Any recommendations on colors to try?  Please let me know!

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Wow, so how’s that for a title?  I think it may be the longest title I’ve ever had on a blog post…  🙂

I really enjoyed writing that last review, so I decided to write another one.  I’ve never considered myself to be a beauty blogger, but the more I’m honest with myself, I like beauty products and being able to talk about them with others.  Isn’t that why we blog?  To find a way to connect with others who are passionate about similar things?  I genuinely enjoy reading/watching what other people have found on their journey and what works for them.  You know those “Best of 2014” videos that were flying around YouTube recently?  Love them.  I’ve watched so many of them during my time off and I am not ashamed.

So, this brand, Tatcha.  I’ve never heard of it before, but I learned about DSC_0414it from someone’s “Best of” list.  Tatcha was founded by Victoria Tsai.  She used to work for large corporations, but changed course after a visit to Japan.  These luxury products were inspired by geisha beauty rituals, following a mantra of “less is more.”  According to the Tatcha website, the ingredients are free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA or TEA.  None of the products are tested on animals.  This company even supports education for young girls with an organization called Room to Read with every full-sized purchase!  The more I read about it, the more I respect the brand.  As an aside, the packaging is really pretty.  Holy schmoly, these photos don’t do it justice.  The bottles are plastic, but don’t feel cheap.  Another plus is that plastic is more travel friendly.

What about the products?  A company can be great, but it doesn’t matter if the products don’t deliver.  I purchased the cleansing oil and rice enzyme powder (they’re meant to be a duo) to see if it would counteract this giant colony of angry acne that developed on my chin upon my arrival in Chicago.  I left most of my makeup/toiletries in California because I was only supposed to be in Chicago for a week.  I think my skin was irritated from the flight, lack of sleep, stress, drastic temperature change, etc.  Usually, when my skin breaks out, it clears up within a few days.  This colony of acne frenemies stuck around for a week.  I was also starting to break out in areas I don’t typically have problems.  I was looking for something that would be a good makeup remover and cleanser, but would also soothe my irritated skin.  I also wanted a gentle exfoliant to help keep my skin looking fresh.  I’ve learned that if I don’t exfoliate with some regularity, my skin breaks out more.  Go figure.

The cleansing oil was a pleasant surprise.  It’s meant to be applied to your dry face with dry hands.  It took off my waterproof mascara like a champ without making my eyes burn!  After you work the oil into your skin, you dampen your hands and the oil becomes milky.  Once I rinse all the oil off, I pour some of the enzyme powder in my wet hand and apply all over my damp face.  The powder turns into this light “lather.”  It’s not bubbly or foamy like soap, but it’s not a powder anymore.  This all sounds like it takes a long time, but it really doesn’t.  My skin felt clean afterwards, but not dry.  Usually, the area around my lips gets crazy-dry after washing my face and if I don’t put some moisturizer on quickly, it’s uncomfortable.  With this system, I was able to take my time.  These two products work nicely together.

I’ve been using these products for a little over a week and my skin feels soothed.  My cluster of acne didn’t look so angry after my first use and went away within a day.  Nice!  I get the occasional blemish appearing, but it goes away within a day now, instead of lingering.

Here’s my take on this:  I really like the cleansing oil.  I think DSC_0416it’s a great product, even though it’s pricey ($48 for 5.1 fl. oz).  My philosophy is that skin care is worth investing in, though.  The product is made with natural ingredients, gentle, and effective on my skin.  I don’t feel like there’s oil residue all over my face after using it.  It takes off waterproof mascara without burning!  I only use this product at night (1 pump for light makeup, 2 for heavier application).  If I didn’t put on any makeup that day, I’ll only use the rice enzyme powder.

Speaking of the rice enzyme powder:  As an exfoliator, it’s pretty gentle.  I think I still need to use a stronger exfoliator throughout the week.  It’s really nice as a gentle cleanser.  It’s supposed to even skin tone, hyper pigmentation, and breakouts.  It’s definitely helping with the breakouts.  I’ll keep you posted on evening skin tone.  You don’t need much of it, maybe 1/2 teaspoon, give or take.  The price for this item is $65 2.1 oz.  I will let you know how long it takes for me to get through this jar.  I don’t recommend using this product in the shower because it’ll get ruined if water gets in the container, so if that’s your thing, you might need an alternative.

All in all, I really like the combination of these two products.  I’ll give you an update once I finish them up and let you know if I’ll repurchase.  You know, it’s one of those situations where I’m glad I found something that works, but my wallet is horrified.  Hopefully these items will last me a while and my wallet will have a little time to recover.  I bought my items at Sephora (per usual), but I hear you can also get these at QVC and also the Tatcha website.

How do you feel about cleansing oils?  Do you have a routine that works for your breakouts?  Any recommendations?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

It’s been a long time since I did a beauty review!  If I’m correct, I only did one, but I definitely have drafts of other ones… I just never posted them, BUT it’s 2015 and I’m just going to do it!

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Anyway, do you remember when that show, The Blacklist, first came out?  I was on a mission to find the perfect pinky-berry lip, much like the main character of that show.  Her makeup was great, even as she was taking down bad guys.  I thought, hey, I don’t usually wear a shade like that, but maybe if I find a matte version, I would be more likely to wear it.  I don’t know why I thought that to be true, especially since I typically NEVER wear matte lip products.  Little did I know…

Remember the Guy Bourdain Nars collaboration from 2013?  I totally picked up a lip pencil set back then during a sale at Sephora.  I had heard so much hype about how awesome these lip pencils are and there was a great pinky-berry shade included in that set.  It was a steal, especially considering how pricey an individual lip pencil typically costs.  There were five lip pencils:  four of them were the velvet matte lip pencils (Cruella, Dolce Vita, Sex Machine, and Never Say Never) and one was a velvet gloss lip pencil (New Lover).  The Velvet Gloss lip pencil is not photographed because truthfully, I can’t find it.  It’s in one of my bags somewhere…

Nars Lip pencil swatches

According to the Sephora website, the velvet matte lip pencils are like a combination of lip pencil and lipstick.  They are supposed to be hydrating, super pigmented, long-lasting, and glide on.  The shades are described as follows:

  • Never Say Never: lilac rose, the shade I was looking for! I love it!
  • Sex Machine: pink mauve, has slight shimmer to it
  • Dolce Vita: dusty rose, a really nice, everyday shade, one of my favorites
  • Cruella: scarlet red, one of the most popular shades in this line

DSC_0417So, why am I posting about an old set I bought a year ago?  Well…  it’s because it’s taken me about that long to figure out how to wear these and actually like how it looks.  I’ve been experimenting with them during my time in Chicago because I left a lot of my makeup in California.  These lip pencils were definitely on my list of regretful purchases until recently.

My advice is, if you have dry, peeling skin on your lips, you may want to use a lip scrub.  Here’s a DIY recipe you can use, no need for super fancy stuff!  If my lips are doing okay, I’ll just put on some lip balm (Nivea’s A Kiss of Olive Oil & Lemon is my current one) and apply the Velvet Matte lip pencil.  I usually use the side of the pencil, not the very tip, to fill in my lips.  If my lips still look a little sad and dry, which happens, I will sometimes apply a tiny bit of Buxom gloss (in Sophia) pictured above to make things look a little more hydrated.

Now that I’m actually using these, I will say, they are rather long-lasting and unfussy after you put it on.  There are 14 different shades currently, so there’s plenty to choose from.  My favorite shades are Dolce Vita and Never Say Never, but maybe one of these days, I’ll be bold enough to rock a red lip.  Sex Machine is kind of meh…  it doesn’t inspire me to wear it, maybe because it’s a more cool toned pink with shimmer…  Meh.

The downsides:  unfortunately, you have to sharpen them.  Word to the wise – my generic pencil sharpener is not quite the same size/shape as these lip pencils, so it wastes even more product than sharpening already does.  I’ve read reviews saying you probably need to get the $6 NARS pencil sharpener…  You decide what’s more annoying to you: shelling out $6 for a sharpener, wasting product, or high-maintenance, expensive products to begin with.  :p  Another thing is you still have to re-apply these after meals.  This doesn’t really bother me though because I don’t expect lipsticks to survive after meals.  The biggest downside for me, however, is the price.  It’s $25 for a 0.09 oz pencil.  Wha?!  The good news, though, is you can find limited edition holiday sets.  The set I’m talking about is over and done with, but if you’re looking for a current Nars lip pencil gift set, you can check it out at Sephora at $49.  This one has two velvet mattes and three satin lip pencils and cool packaging. It’s a better deal if you know you like these lip pencils or if you want to try a bunch of shades without paying for them individually.

Me?  I’m just going to work on the ones I have until they run out.  The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll repurchase, but I’m glad I’ve been forced to find a way to use them.  What about you?  Have you been forced to revisit old items in your makeup collection?  Do you know of any dupes for these lip pencils?  Any tips or tricks to make them apply better?  Please leave suggestions in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

* This is not a sponsored review.  These are my honest opinions and I bought these items with my own money.

Holy cow, I can’t believe I have seven of these!  I rarely ever have seven of anything!  Seriously.  I’m literally trying to think of something else I have seven of…  

Oh…  yes, I do have multiples of something else.  Heh.  Heh.  

Anyway, I digress:  Take a look at these!

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These are not new by any means and if anything, I’m late to this party.  My little collection all started with Bad to the Bronze and the rest is history.  Here is why I enjoy these so flippin’ much:

  • On a superficial level, I like the containers: 
    • They are made of glass, so they feel good in my hand. 
    • I like how they are stored upside-down to showcase their colors. 
    • They are also quite portable – I usually only bring one with me though, so I don’t have to worry about them hitting each other and breaking in transit.
  • They can be applied with (clean) fingers or a brush with ease and blend out nicely.
  • Used as a base, they help my powder shadows last at least 6-8 hours without creasing (depending on the quality of powder shadows I use).
  • These can also be used alone, especially since they are so blendable, but they won’t last as long unless you use primer.
  • They can be applied to be sheer, but also buildable to higher degrees of pigmentation, if that’s what you’re going for.  
  • The shimmer does not look like a giant glitter bomb exploded on my eyelid and the shimmer can be matted out with shadow, if desired.

I’ve been collecting these for maybe 18-24 months, but the only one I’ve had dry out around the edges is the Tough as Taupe shade – it’s still usable, even though it dried out maybe a month after I got it!  I tighten the lids as much as I can every time I use these. 

Here’s a really quick rundown of the shades I have:

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(Left to Right):  Tough as Taupe, Audacious Asphalt, Bad to the Bronze, Barely Branded, Electric Blue, Inked in Pink, Pomegranate Punk

Tough as Taupe:  This is a matte taupe cream eye shadow.  Maybe it dried out a bit because it’s a matte shade?  Not sure.  Nonetheless, I would prefer to use this almost exclusively as a base because it applies a little streaky on me, as you can see in the photo above.  I use it with the Smoked palette from Urban Decay, but it will tone down the vibrant colors (Loaded, Rockstar, and Evidence).

Audacious Asphalt:  Um.  I just got this shade, so I haven’t done much else but swatch it.  It took a few layers to get this shade to be opaque enough, but I think it would be awesome for a dark smoky eye.  *Edit:  I layered the Smoked palette over this one and it looks great!  Loaded, Rockstar, and Evidence do NOT get muted with this as a base, so if you want your color to pop, this one is better than Tough as Taupe.  

Bad to the Bronze:  It’s still my absolute favorite and works splendidly with every eye shadow palette I have, especially the Naked and Naked 3 palettes.  I will also use this shade alone with a bit of eye liner and mascara and call it a day.  I’ve had this one the longest and it hasn’t gotten dry or cracked yet.  

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Barely Branded:   This shade is a great light champagne color.  Sometimes I use it to make colors pop a little brighter on my lids.  You can also just use it to neutralize the natural color of your eyelids.  If you have duo-tone eye shadows, try them out over this shade to get some color variance.  For example, when I use this under a duo-tone eye shadow like Sigma’s Triomphe, you get more of the brown with flashes of iridescent jade green vs. when I use Triomphe over Audacious Asphalt, I just get a deeper green.  Triomphe is swatched alone on top, on the left is over Barely Branded, and on the right is over Audacious Asphalt.

Electric Blue:  Shocker, this is the shade I use the least.  I do, however, love electric blue and pair this with Nars Outremer.  Outremer applies really patchy, so it desperately needs a base in order to show up properly.  Even with a base, it takes a lot of patience and layering.  I put Outremer over Barely Branded, just to see if Outremer would pop out even more.  Take a look and see what you think.  It has more of an underlying shimmer over Barely Branded, but I think I prefer it over Electric Blue.

Inked in Pink:  I only use this as a base because it doesn’t really show up much on my medium toned skin.  I pair it the most with the Naked 3 palette for obvious reasons.  🙂

Pomegranate Punk:  I got this after seeing all these gorgeous, autumnal eye looks and wanted to be able to use it with my Sigma Dare palette.  It also looks like a dupe for the Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Ebloui too, only Ebloui has more brown, more shimmer, and is more expensive.  I think Pomegranate Punk ends up being cranberry with gold shimmers and that’s really what I was looking for… so maybe it’s not so much of a dupe for Ebloui? I wear this shade alone with some dark brown eyeliner and mascara.  I haven’t really layered with other shadows yet.  If you want a good matte shadow to smudge out your liner with, the NYX Nude Matte Shadow in Skinny Dip is pretty good.  I was worried about whether or not I’d look like I got punched in the eye, since it’s kind of a “bruise” color, but it’s surprisingly wearable. You really need to have mascara on though.  It makes a difference. 

There are definitely more shades in this line of cream eye shadows, but these are the ones that suit my tastes.  What are some of your favorite colors?  Do you have a favorite product that you have multiples of?  If so, please comment below!  

Thanks for reading all of this and I’ll be posting again soon!

My first review is on a beauty product.  For those of you who know me, this might seem a little out of character.  So, within the past two years, I’ve learned to embrace makeup.  Before that, I was always intimidated by how much I didn’t know about it and assumed that I wouldn’t be good at it.  I was also one of those girls who thought that by not wearing makeup, I was being more honest and authentic to everyone.  I have since learned that being honest and authentic is more about saying what I mean and acting on what I say and less about what I choose to put on my face.  In the name of honesty, here’s the truth:  in these past two years, playing around with makeup has been really fun and I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the products I’ve tried.  I don’t get to really talk about this stuff with my friends and co-workers, so I figured I’d share these thoughts with you.  So, without further ado…

The very first makeup item I wholeheartedly embraced was lip color.  I had issues with being anemic in the past and when that happens, my lips are deathly pale.  I wish I were exaggerating about that, but I straight up look like the undead.  Since then, I’m always on the hunt for a low maintenance lip color and when I heard/read about these, I was intrigued.  A lip stain that starts off glossy, but has staying power?  Let’s give it a try… 

I picked up shade #29 at Nordstrom.com and I believe it was $34. Since I ordered it online, I didn’t get to check out the colors in person, but I was definitely trying to get a natural looking shade.  This shade is like a rose pink that leans a bit redder on me.  I heard that it works best when you apply one layer, wait a few minutes, and then apply a second layer.  This is supposed to help it last longer.  Here’s a rundown of how it lasted.

When first applied (11:20 a.m.), it feels really liquidy, but then thickened up to be more of a gloss.  The color was brighter than I would normally wear, but was still rather pretty.

Three hours later, the color was still vibrant, albeit less glossy than at first.  It started to wear away at the inner edges of my lips, looking like I lined that area or something.  Weird.  To be objective, I had only taken one drink of water during this span of time, so I had yet to see how it lasted through a meal. 

At seven hours, it survived a light lunch, some serious snow shoveling, and cooking dinner.  At that point, I still hadn’t touched up.  It did look lighter, not glossy at all.  There’s no weird lining to the inner rim of my lips, but just a natural and relatively even wear down.  All in all, not bad.  When I pursed my lips, they sort of stuck to each other, though. 

After dinner, there was pretty much nothing left.  I’m not too torn up about that though. It had a great run.

So, I’ve read other people’s reviews on this product and a lot of folks said this product didn’t last after their first drink of water or meal.  I thought it was actually pretty stinking impressive.  Granted, I could have touched up earlier if I wanted to, but I wanted to see how far I could push it.  In real life, not in a controlled experiment, I’m pretty bad at touching up my makeup throughout the day, so I really wanted to see what this product could do.  

Would I recommend it?  Yeah, I would.  It’s expensive, yes, but if I can put on two coats in the morning and proceed with my life without having to think about it, that’s worth it to me.  I’d definitely like to check out more colors, but will try and swatch them in stores first before purchasing it blind.  I didn’t like it when the inner rims of my lips looked lined, but it wasn’t noticeable to the casual observer (at least not this time).  The initial application process is sort of high maintenance, but the resulting staying power was worth it.  Please let me know what your experience has been with this lip product.  Do you have any favorite shades you recommend?