09 December 2009

Right Said Red

I was wondering around Walmart Monday night, perusing the make up aisles as I often do, when I stopped in front of a Sally Hansen display. At first, it looked like they were just reissues of old favourites just in time for the holiday, but then I actually read the sign- Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure. It's supposed to be base coat, nail colour, and top coat in one simple step, which is great for me, because I hate the drying time between layers.
I actually really liked Complete Salon Manicure, which surprised me, because I typically have an on-again-off-again relationship with Sally Hansen products. Complete Salon Manicure has a wider brush that tapers into a slightly thinner point, which means that the polish gets better, more even application across the nail bed, without painting your cuticles. I'm pretty sure Miss Manners says that's a no-no.

If I had one complaint about the polish, though, I would have to say that I don't particularly like the drying time, but that's more because I want my polish to dry like it was yesterday. It will take a little bit of time to get used to not having to apply topcoat at the end.

Cost: $6.49 at Walmart
Is It Worth It: Yes

16 November 2009

Smooth Away? Only if you've got all day.

I had been thinking about buying the Smooth Away pads for a while now because who doesn't want to not have to shave their legs? It's a task that I don't particularly enjoy and Smooth Away made it sound like all I would have to do is give my legs a bit of a buff with their magic sandpaper pad and I'd have silky smooth legs that lasted.

In reality, you have to buff your skin for quite a while to get any hair off. It took me the better part of fifteen minutes to get one leg done which is quite annoying, because beauty should be quick and easy. Now, the bonus of Smooth Away is that it exfoliates the skin as it removes the hair, which is awesome because I like beauty products that multitask, like tinted lip balm. However, I don't think that the level of exfoliation I got was really worth the work it took to remove that little bit of hair that Smooth Away removed.
For comparisons sake, I only did one leg using Smooth Away and shaved the other, because I wanted to see if the results would really last longer than traditional shaving. Sadly, they did not. The leg that I shaved actually stayed smoother longer than the leg that I used the Smooth Away on.

Cost: $9.95 at Walgreens.
Is It Worth It: Not so much.

15 November 2009

What's short, black, and red all over?

I couldn't think of a witty title tonight, but the answer is "my nails."
In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm a fan of things that are typically considered "vintage," especially when it comes to make up. Last night while chatting with one of my girlfriends, I decided to try the reverse French manicure that was popular during the 20s til about the mid 40s. With the reverse French manicure, the focus is on the moons of your nails instead of at the end and the colors used are typically more contrasting than the classic pink/nude and white French manicure we're so used to seeing.
I decided to go a bit bold with mine and did the moons of my nails black in a triangular shape, then did my nail bed a striking red. The triangular shape is two-fold: my moons don't really show too well/are hard to trace and the triangular shape is easy to make.

The reverse French mani was definitely easier than attempting to do my leopard print nails, but it was a bit difficult trying to keep the lines clean. Next time, I'll be using some clear Scotch tape to serve as a clean edge for the polish and that top coat saved me from having some crazy uneven surfaces.

I used "Cardinal" by Sally Hansen and the same black polish I used for the leopard print nails, "Black Lace Cream" by NYC.

Cost: For me, free since I already had both polishes, for everyone else under $5 since both polishes are very inexpensive.
Is It Worth It: You'll garner some stares, so yes.

12 November 2009

These Boots Are Made for... Your Pucker, Actually!

Boots Stay Perfect lipstick in "Classic Rose"

I love a good rose shade of lipstick and “Classic Rose” is no exception. Boots hit this one way out of the park when they made it. The Stay Perfect lipstick goes on very smooth and creamy and actually stays on very well without the excessive drying that many lipsticks that claim to last seem to have.

According to the Target website, Stay Perfect lipstick comes in 16 different shades, ranging from nudes to pinks (including a coral looking shade called "Gay Geranium." Love it!) to nice vampy reds ("Cherry," I’m looking at you). Since I am so enthralled with “Classic Rose,” I may be picking up more of these lipsticks in the future.
My favourite part of the lipstick may be the actual tube itself, if I’m completely honest. It’s very sleek, but has a slight vintage flare to it with No7 stamped into the tube in gold. Definitely a pretty tube that you wouldn’t feel bad about pulling out in front of other people.

Cost: $9.99 at Target
Is It Worth It: Very much so.

Eyes Lips Face for a buck?

I’ve been seeing the scant E.L.F display at my local Target for quite a while and I finally decided to give them a try today. I very carefully perused what little selection they had and was torn between a three pack of liquid liners for $3 or a five piece eye make up set for $5. That’s right, it breaks down to just $1 a piece. I really was not expecting much out of this set.

The eyelash curler that comes with it is very bulky and difficult to use, BUT once you get it positioned comfortably, it actually curls lashes very well.

The eye shadow quad is called Drama and I wish that it offered it. When I swatched the colours on my arm, they looked pretty nice, but when I actually applied them, they were pretty wimpy. The teeny little eye shadow applicator that came with it is particularly horrid- very scratchy and so small it barely picks up any of the little pigment that these eye shadows offer.

I hated the “brightening” eye liner in black (how is black “brightening”?), but that may be because I am much more comfortable with liquid liners or applying liners with a brush. Apart from that though, it seemed to tug at the eye lid a little, which is always bad, and didn’t apply very darkly. When I wear black liner I want it to be BLACK, not a pale imitation of it.

However, I LOVED the Lengthening and Defining mascara! It applied very well with no clumping, even after three very liberal coats and my eyelashes are still pretty soft.

And to round out the package, it came with a “professional” smudge eye sponge. I usually use cosmetic sponges (you know, the round or square one that come about twelve to a pack for under $5) and really love those, so I was hoping “Oh, a stick form of it would be fabulous!” It’s decent. Not good, not bad, just decent.

Cost: $5 at Target
Is It Worth It: Debatable

09 November 2009

Two for the Price of One, Kiddies!

Tutorial and Review Rolled Into One

Today I was at my local Walmart, browsing the make up aisle for some good steals, when I came across the Hard Candy display. To say that I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. Hard Candy? In Walmart? I believe I made a “buhhhhhh?” noise. I wound up getting Ginormous Lash Volumizing Mascara and Painted Lady Lip Color, because they were both super cheap (six dollars and five dollars respectively) and the packaging was adorable. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for great packaging and gimmicks that promise you the moon, even though I know you shouldn’t judge things based off of appearance.
I was torn between doing a straight up review of the two products or doing a tutorial that I’ve been thinking about doing for a while when I decided to just roll the two into one post. Killing the proverbial two birds with one stone. The look we’re going for is a classic pin-up inspired one. Think luxe lashes, winged liner, red lips, and smooth, even skin with flushed cheeks. Tres chic.

Step 1: Moisturize skin. I know that this usually goes without saying, but it’s something you absolutely cannot skip. Well hydrated skin is the most important part of any make up look.
Step 2: Use concealer where needed, then follow with foundation to even skin tone.
Step 3: Use eye shadow primer. It smooths out the surface, evens out the colour, and helps your eye shadow stay on longer without the dreaded crease marks.
Step 4: A beige or a taupe shadow make a great base shadow to sweep across the entire lid.

Step 5: A lighter shade, such as a white or a very pale pink, makes an excellent highlighter shade to be used across the brow bone and in the inner corner of the eye.
Step 6: A darker shade, like a brown or a gray, is perfect for the crease of your eye to add depth. I also smudge a little of it across my lash line. Make sure you blend your base shade and crease shade to avoid harsh lines.

Step 7: Curl lashes, follow with 2-3 coats of mascara on top and bottom lashes. Use mascara comb afterward to ensure no clumps.

Step 8: A liquid liner is going to give you the best result for this look. Follow as close to the lash line as possible and end the line with a slight “wing” at the end. If you are not comfortable with liquid liner, it is easiest to draw small dots along your lash line and connect them instead of trying to draw one continuous line. If you mess up, use a little make up remover or mineral oil on a q-tip and try again.

Step 9: Emphasize eyebrows using a brow powder and a slant brush. Brow gel is optional

Step 10: Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks. A peachy pink gives skin a naturally flushed, healthy look.

Step 11: Line lips with a pink or red liner, depending on the colour of lipstick you plan on using, and fill in the entire lip. This gives your lipstick something to hold onto and when your lipstick starts to fade throughout the day, it won’t be as apparent.

Step 12: Finish off with some great lipstick.

Items used in tutorial:

Olay Total Effects moisturizer
Rimmel Stay Matte Clarifying Matte Foundation
Estee Lauder Stay In Place Eye Shadow Base (splurge, worth it)
Maybelline ExpertWear Eye Shadow in Mocha Motion
Revlon eyelash curler
Hard Candy Ginormous Lash in Black Out
Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner in Navy
Studio 35 Brow Powder
Rimmel Powder Blush in Santa Rose
Clinique Quick Liner for Lips in Soft Rose (splurge, worth it)
Hard Candy Painted Lady lipstick in Kitten

Review: I absolutely loved both Hard Candy products I used. The mascara went on very well with no clumping, nor with too much definition of individual lashes to give that awful "spider leg" look. The lipstick went on very smoothly as a rich, creamy red with no hint of dryness.

Cost: $6 for mascara, $5 for lipstick at Walmart
Is It Worth It: Yes :)

08 November 2009

You Mocha Me Crazy

Today, we'll be taking a look at Sally Hansen Lip Inflation in Sheer Mocha.
I’m generally not a big fan of nude lips, because to be frank, I think it’s a bit boring. I love painting my pucker with bolder hues of reds, berries, and on occasion pinks, so it takes a lot out of a nude to impress me. In order to get more than an "eh" accompanied by a shoulder shrug, it needs to be perfect, and preferably for less than what I spend on coffee per week.

Sheer Mocha is a nude that is on my “so-so” list. I would probably rave about it if I loved nudes, but it just isn’t that special to me. That being said, I don’t dislike it. It applies well, thanks to the brush applicator with a very high shine and only the slightest touch of pink to it. Sheer Mocha is from the Sally Hansen Lip Inflation line, so it is supposed to plump your pout with it‘s cinnamon and ginger-infused formula, however I see no discernible difference. What I do notice is that my lips feel nicely hydrated and this lip gloss doesn’t leave them sticky and tacky feeling like a lot of other glosses do.

All in all, Sheer Mocha is a basic nude that pairs well with heavier eye make up or is great for gals who don’t like to make a statement with their lipsticks. I’d rank it at a solid “B” if I was in the business of giving grades.

Cost: $7.99 at Walgreens
Is It Worth It: If you love nudes, yes.

06 November 2009

A Walk on the Wild Side

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a fan of animal print, particularly leopard. It's fun, it's sassy, and a bit sexy. Last night, I got the idea to do leopard print nails, kind of a "go big or go home" personal challenge. It turned out, well... not as well as I had expected, but not bad for a first try.

Check it out:

I used NYC In A New York Color Minute in Bryant Park (base color), Milani Nail Lacquer in Brown-A-Licious (leopard spots), and NYC Long-Wearing Nail Enamel in Black Lace Cream (outline the spots) as my polishes, then standard fine-tip orange sticks to do the spots. In retrospect, because you know hindsight is 20/20, I should have just trimmed the brushes for Brown-A-Licious and Black Lace Cream to have better control and better polish distribution.

Best thing about this, though, is it only cost about five bucks to buy all three polishes and the orange sticks.

Cost: About $6
Is It Worth It: If you have the time and patience to do it and are comfortable with "out there" nails, then yes.

02 November 2009

Nailed It

One of my favourite go-to colours is "Charmed By A Snake" by OPI. It's a slightly burnished looking gold that looks great against my skin tone, and most others for that matter. It's definitely not a nude, but it goes well with almost anything.

Cost: $8.00 at a salon in TN, but can be found at Ulta, some Targets and some Walgreens.
Is It Worth It: Yes, love it.

High brow

Brow maintenance- something everyone hates doing, but is a necessity.Your eyebrows provide a frame for your face, they draw attention to your pretty peepers, and if they go untamed, it's one of the first things you'll notice.

You will need:
-Tweezers, I recommend Lacrosse or Tweezerman.
-White eye pencil to do markings. I used grey in this post so it would show up better.
-Brow comb
-Magnified mirror
-Good lighting
-Eyebrow pencil

Step one: comb eyebrows to get a good look at their natural shape.

Step two: use eye pencil to make three marks to guide your shaping. Lay the pencil perpendicular to your nostril and mark there. That will be where your eyebrow will start. Looking straight ahead, mark above your iris. That is where your arch should be. The last mark should be just above the edge of your eye.

Step three: tweeze slowly, think only one hair at a time. It's easier to go back and tweeze a hair that you did not get than it is to wait a couple of weeks for your eyebrow to come back when you have a bald spot.

Step four: using brow pencil (or powder), fill in where necessary. Use brow comb to make sure the lines don't look too harsh.

28 October 2009

Product testing

I've been rather slack in posting lately, due to family in town and lots of stuff going on with school, but in the time that I have not been posting, I've been actively testing things for your enjoyment. I've tested lipsticks, eyeliners, lip gloss, perfume, tooth whitener, shampoo and conditioner, and a couple of nail polishes here and there. I've even been retesting products that I didn't like in the past, hoping that I'll like it now.
Watch this spot though, because there is going to be a mass influx of posts for the next few days!

Love and kisses,

22 October 2009

Fall back in love with colour

The air is getting crisper with a little bite to it, the leaves are starting to change to brilliant oranges and rusts and Halloween is a week away. It's time to take the trench coat to the dry cleaner, pull out the gloves, and take a cue from nature. Fall is a great time to start experimenting with colours that are a little darker, a little more saturated than you would normally wear.
Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick in Rosewine is an amazing muted red that Revlon categorizes as a 'Rose' shade. It goes on very creamy, with full pigmentation and a slight matte finish. It's perfect for people who want to start wearing reds and aren't quite ready to wear vibrant, brick reds, but it's also great for those of us who just fancy a bit of a change. I've seen this shade on a couple of people I know, with varying skin tones, so I can pretty confidentially say it will suit just about everyone.

Cost: $7.99 at Target
Is it Worth It: Yes

17 October 2009

High Roller Red

I love all things red. Red lipstick, red nail polish, red hair, red shoes, red cars, red flowers... you get the idea. Because I love all things red, I have enough different red nail polishes to fill a shoebox. That's right. I collect red nail polish like how some people collect stamps.
My bottle of "High Roller" by China Glaze has been sitting on my coffee table, taunting me, for about three days now. I thought that perhaps I could ignore it's siren song and try different colours, like the gunmetal polish I picked up three weeks ago and haven't opened, or maybe a blackened purple like "Midnight In Moscow" by OPI. The more I saw "High Roller," the more I wanted to use it again.
"High Roller" is a gorgeous, blue-based red that would compliment about any skin tone. I would say that it is almost a classic, bright red, but it has more depth to it.

Items used:
Pink Cuticle remover (unknown brand) from Sally Beauty
Revlon full-jaw cuticle nippers
Ulta crystal nail file
Ulta Base Coat
"High Roller" by China Glaze (obviously)
Seche Vite top coat

Price: $6.50 at Ulta
Is It Worth It: Look at my nails and tell me it isn't.

16 October 2009

Mask-erade Party

One of the favourite things in the world is using a good face mask. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, they are a great way to clear up problem skin without paying a ton of money to go see a facialist.
For the majority of us, we have combination skin and the best type of mask to use is one that is clay based. Clay based masks are going to soak up excess oil without being overly drying, tighten pores, and draw impurities like oil, make up, and dirt to the surface. A word of caution, though: it is entirely normal and expected to break out a little after masking, so most people recommend using it only once a week.
The best and most inexpensive mask I have found is Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque. It can be found all over the place, but most of the time I pick it up in my local Walgreens since they often have it on special price. Queen Helene's is a clay based mask, with a smooth, even texture that smells slightly of mint and has a relatively quick drying time.

If you're going to mask, I recommend thoroughly washing your face to remove make up so the mask can actually do it's job. It's not a bad idea to go ahead and exfoliate prior to masking to remove any dead skin lurking on the surface. Spread a thin, even layer of mask across your face, being careful to avoid your eyes and lips. Allow the mask to dry for about fifteen to twenty minutes, then rinse. If you use toner afterward, it will pick up any mask you may have missed. I often follow masking with using an acne spot treatment that is made with Salicylic acid, to get a head start treating any bumps that may pop up after masking.

Price: I've picked it up for as little as $3.46 at Walgreens.
Is It Worth It: Absolutely, yes!

p.s. a good spot treatment is Murad Acne Spot Treatment.

14 October 2009

Best Foot Forward?

I know you've all seen the commercial for the Ped Egg. It's egg shaped for ergonomic comfort and ease of use, boasts ~150 wee little blades, and best of all, has an internal reservoir to catch all your nasty foot shavings.
I was really excited about getting the Ped Egg, because I like foot mantainence to be as quick, easy, and painless as possible. I wear heels a lot and I'm on my feet all day at work, so I get those lovely little calluses that are annoying to get rid of. I bought the Ped Egg, hoping to be blown away by how wonderfully well it worked and how it made my feet feel baby soft and sandal ready in just a few short minutes. I had hoped that I could call everyone I know and enthuse about how amazing the Ped Egg was, but my expectations fell short. If I were to talk about how great I thought the Ped Egg was now, it would be in a very sarcastic tone.

The Ped Egg was awkward and uncomfortable to use, my hand cramped instead of being in a 'natural' position, and the callus shavings went everywhere in a fine, chalky dust. The stick-on emery pad you're supposed to use to do the fine smoothing with doesn't work particularly well and wears down very quickly.
Now, before you start thinking that perhaps I have mutant, dragon lady feet and that's why the Ped Egg didn't work well for me, hush your mouth. I spoke to several of my girlfriends and they all came to the same conclusion: The Ped Egg is a dud.

Cost: $9.95
Is It Worth It: No. Save your ten bucks, by some Sally Hansen Deep Callus Remover, and a good pumice stone.

12 October 2009

Make Up Clean Up

Every couple of months or so, I try to go through my boxes of make up and get rid of any make up that I a) don't use anymore and b) have expired.
As a general rule of thumb, I throw out mascara after three months. Mascara tubes are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria that can cause all sorts of optical problems, that can lead up to and include blindness. They're warm, damp environments that are constantly introduced to new elements- such as mold spores in the air, dirt, soap from face washing, and even just general eye germs- during use, after which the brush is returned to the tube where any new bacteria that was picked up can incubate. If you notice a change in the application of your mascara, like thickening or it becoming watery, or if you notice a change in the smell, be on the safe side and toss it out.
With lipstick, foundation, and concealer, you have a bit more time before you should toss it. Like mascara, if you notice a change in the scent of your lipstick (or foundation or concealer) or the texture of it, toss it. The components of lipstick, etc. can break down and separate over time, so you're not going to get an even application and the colour can change on you.
I know, it's a bummer to have to toss out make up- to me it's like having to toss a good friend- but your health is worth much more than a $5 tube of mascara.

11 October 2009

A disappointing purchase

A few weeks ago, I started seeing commercials for Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick. I was hooked as soon as they said that it was last all day without being drying, since it was supposed to have a moisturising topcoat built in. I promptly went out to the closest Walgreens to find the perfect one for me to test out. I chose Top Tomato, a red, which to me is always the right choice, went back out to the car and started applying.
To say that I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. ColorStay has a doe-foot applicator, which I usually love, but I feel like a brush would have given better control and product distribution in this case. The doe-foot seemed to give a more pronounced line at my lip line and it was hard to fill in the center of the lip. I also found the ColorStay formula to be EXTREMELY drying and it made any lines in my lips stand out, making my lips look like they belonged to a 60 year old.
I dislike this product so much, that I'm not even going to post a picture of it being worn.

Price: $10.99
Is It Worth It? Absolutely not. Buy a nice matte lipstick and just use a base of foundation and you'll get much better results.

10 October 2009

L'Oreal HIP Kohl Liner

When I first saw the Kohl Liner in stores about a year ago, I was a little perplexed by it. Why is in such a tiny packaging and why is it seemingly so expensive? Why is it a powder? What's going on with the brush? I looked at it a few times and finally decided that it wasn't really that expensive and that I may as well give it a try, after all, they had such a gorgeous teal liner, and who doesn't love teal liner?
I recently purchased a burgundy liner from the HIP Kohl Liner line and it is gorgeous. I was hesitant, because I thought the red in it would emphasize eye-redness that many of us get from lack of sleep, and no one wants that. After I tried it, I saw that it was a gorgeous bronzy-brown with a hint of shimmer. For you ladies with the beautiful blues and enchanting greens, this is really going to make your eyes pop. For those of us with the sultry browns, this is going to make the brown clearer and richer.
As a side note, when they say "High Intensity Pigment" (AKA HIP), they mean it. A little bit goes a long way with this liner.

Price: $10.99 (at Target)
Is It Worth It: Yes!

09 October 2009

Taking the Day Off

I'll admit that I'm not the best about always taking my make up off before going to bed. There's some nights that I'll come home from work and I am just too tired to do anything but crawl in bed. On those nights, it's good to keep make up remover wipes on my bedside table.

I've tried a lot of different ones, but I've found one that I really like: Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Cleaning Towelettes. It's a mouthful to say, but a great product.

I love bold, dark lashes and a lot of the removal wipes are kind of wimpy and don't get all of my mascera and eye liner off. However, one of the wipes from Neutrogena is plenty to take the day off without leaving a filmy, greasy residue.

08 October 2009

Today's Nails

It’s no big secret that I change my nail polish almost every day. I get bored of looking at the same colour all the time, so it’s rare that I have the same polish for more than two to three days, maximum.

The constant changing does a number on my nails, so I try to pamper them as much as possible. I use nail polish remover instead of just chipping the polish off, I (almost always) use a base coat, and I don’t use my nails as tools. That last bit seems obvious, but if you stop to think about it, we use our nails for so much that is definitely not their intended purpose- prying things apart, anyone?

Today’s nails are “A Peony for Your Thoughts” by OPI. It’s a very pale pink, almost nude shade, with a slightly opalescent finish. It’s perfect for using in French manicures, since it is an almost nude, but it’s also great worn alone.

It has a great, smooth formula that layers well. I usually do between three to four coats of it so it isn’t so sheer.