Friday, September 30, 2011

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Super Strawberry Review and Swatches

Note: I've been wearing this pretty much constantly since I got it a month ago.  In spite of its shortcomings, it's been a wonderfully easy, flattering lip balm/gloss for me.  Sadly, when I was running to catch the bus, it fell out of the outer pocket on my bag that I'd stashed it in for easy access, and now all I can hope is that some lucky person comes across it, disinfects it, and uses it for themselves.  I don't want to think about it being wasted or run over by a car!  I still had 80+% left!  Lessons to learn here: 
1) Keep expensive makeup somewhere it won't get jostled out of
2) Maybe just don't buy expensive makeup, since apparently it'll just get lost (why couldn't I have lost one of my $2 lipsticks?!)
3) While the Clinique Chubby Sticks are expensive and you only get 0.10 oz, they should last several months with daily use (since a month of multiple-times-a-day application wore the point down to not even below the rim)

I would consider buying this again, especially since Sephora's Friends & Family sale is coming up soon (I'm not sure of the exact dates, but I'll post when I know), but I'm planning on getting the Tarte lipsticks of a similar style (value sets are awesome), so depending on how I like those, I may find myself not needing this again.

Okay, so that's my tale of woe.  Here's the review for my lost love...

After I'd found a lipstick that suited me at the Clinique counter, the SA asked if there was anything else I wanted to see.  The title of this post should indicate to you that yes, yes there was something I wanted to see: the Chubby Stick Gloss Balms.  I'd read so much about them on other beauty blogs, and thought they sounded right up my alley, so I couldn't pass up the chance to give them a try.  The SA applied Super Strawberry over After Party, which added some glossiness and softened the color a bit, but I bought it with the intention of wearing it alone, because a sheer pink-red gloss balm stick is everything I've ever wanted.
Clinique Chubby Stick in 07 Super Strawberry

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recommendation Thursday: Nail Polish Base and Top Coats

I always wear a base coat of polish, even when I'm just doing quick swatches for the blog, because it helps prevent staining and allows the polish to glide on and stay put.  Top coats are equally important for sealing, evening out any bumpiness from glitter, and extending the wear of polish.  When I go to the trouble of painting my nails, I want the color to last!

A couple of RTs ago, I wrote about nail care, which included some base coat options (but only those that had other "bonus" features), and there will be some repeats here, though most of the products recommended do not overlap.

Note: The usual size of nail polish bottles is 0.45-0.50 oz, but I note if the size of a product differs from that range significantly (there are some that are only 0.25 or 0.33 oz, and others that are as big as 0.60 oz).

Base Coats
Base coats can be sticky, to help the polish adhere better, or contain treatment ingredients, to make your nails healthier.

Orly Bonder, CND Stickey, and Butter London Nail Foundation
For the sticky type, Orly Bonder ($9 for 0.6 oz from Sally Beauty) and CND Stickey Base Coat ($8.50 for 0.33 oz) are by far the most popular.  Less popular, but perhaps better performing, are China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat ($6 from Sally Beauty) and Essie First Base Basecoat ($8 from salons and some drugstores) are great choices.  If you want to go high-end, Butter London Nail Foundation ($18 from Nordstrom) performs excellently.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wet N Wild Fast Dry Polish in Hannah Pinktana Review and Swatches

First off, let me just acknowledge the truly terrible name of this polish.  It's part of Wet N Wild's TV-themed Fast Dry nail polish line, which is full of bad puns on the names of TV shows, but this is particularly bad, in part because the pun part of it doesn't make any sense.
Hannah Pinktana

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clinique High Impact Lip Color SPF 15 in After Party Review and Swatches

Most of the things featured on this blog are either cheap, a great value, or both.  Clinique After Party is neither.  So why am I talking about it?

Between the trip back east to visit the boy, and the start of a teaching job, I felt I was in need of something to make me feel mature and capable, and nothing screams "adult" to me like a nice lipstick (and nice jackets, but that's a post for another blog).  I decided I wanted a nice, sheerish berry-plum, because darker colors are nice for fall and I feel much more comfortable in berries than I do in reds.  I checked out Sephora's Rouge Creams to see if there were any colors there that fit into my desired look, but they were all bolder than I wanted.  So I went to the Clinique counter at Macy's, because their lipsticks are the cheapest out of all the department store brands, and with the help of a lovely SA found a lipstick that I liked.  This was no mean feat: I told her I wanted a sheer to medium neutral-to-cool berry with minimal sparkle.  

First, she tried the Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, of cult makeup fame, but it was way too brown for me (which I suspected it would be, after seeing swatches online).  She then tried a few more on the back of my hand, but they were all also too brown, or too dark, or had too much shimmer (there were a couple that I liked and would buy, but they weren't what I wanted, so I had to pass for the time being).  She finally decided to try the full coverage lipstick range to see if there was anything there that would work, and indeed there was!  Hurray!
Clinique After Party tube and raised lipstick (sorry it's not in pristine condition!); I adore the lipstick casing

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Summary

Hello, lovelies!  I hope you've all had a nice weekend :-)  I start grad school tomorrow, so I've spent the weekend quietly freaking out about that and immersing myself in beauty blogginess to keep my mind off of it!

Here are some of the posts I found interesting this past week:
Beautiful with Brains details how to conceal dark circles, a problem I don't yet have but someday may! 
Makeup and Beauty Blog reveals the target audience for Chanel Ombres Tissées Iridescent Effects Eyes in Beiges: sparkly princesses
The Beauty Look Book does a comparison of her favorite eyelash curlers, from which I learned that you're apparently supposed to change curlers every 9 months (and lash pads every 3!), which I've definitely not been doing...
I reviewed NYX eyeshadow in Iced Mocha, because you can never have too many taupes
In a completely non-beauty related post (and blog), the Books of Adam tells of the time he got out of jury duty thanks to having been arrested for breaking into a school to go will laugh until you cry.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt Review and Swatches

The second eye product I bought when in New York is the ever-hyped Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt, touted as a great cream shadow on its own, and an equally great base for other shadows.
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt

Friday, September 23, 2011

Borrowed Products: Mini Reviews

While I was on the East Coast, I had to resort to the generosity of the people I was staying with for bath supplies, since I couldn't bring my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and shaving cream on the plane with me (at least, not without paying to check my bag, and I wasn't about to do that!).  The one really nice thing about it, though (besides how nice my housemates were), is that I got to try some products I wouldn't have otherwise.  I'm just going to do all of them in this post, because I'm too lazy to do detailed reviews for each of them, but if you want more deets, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do!

Aussie Moist Shampoo and Conditioner
This is one of those products that is really well liked by huge volumes of people.  It's lightly moisturizing but doesn't weigh hair down, which makes it a good choice for many types of hair.  My hair, however, being fine and curly, goes crazy in humidity, and this shampoo-conditioner combo just didn't cut it.  I found the shampoo didn't lather as much as I like, and I had to use a lot of the conditioner to detangle (that's pretty much always the case, though).  I wish it had more heavy moisturizers, honestly, because my hair tended to grow 3 sizes whenever I stepped outside.  On the upside, it was nice and soft, but still: '80s-style poodle puff isn't my best look.  $3-$5 for 13.5 oz, from drugstores

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NYX Eyeshadow in Iced Mocha Review and Swatches

One of the NYX items I picked up while I was in New York was this eyeshadow, Iced Mocha.  It's reputed to be a dupe for MAC's Satin Taupe, and I've been hearing about it for ages, so I decided it was worth the $5.50 to try.  I've used it several times since purchasing (and before photographing, so it's not in pristine condition!), and I'm liking it!
Iced Mocha (I keep wanting to type Satin Taupe...)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Putting on the Brakes

Hello, my lovelies!  I've successfully gotten through day 2 of orientation, and have only one more day of such activities left, and school actually starts next Monday (and have I gotten my textbooks?  What do you think?).  Needless to say, the blog will be slowing down considerably.  Most of my time will now be devoted to school and teaching, but I'll try to keep posting with some frequency.  I can definitely say the weekly features will no longer actually occur every week, and that daily posting is a thing of the past.  I have a fair amount of products to review (more stuff from Meow, the NYX I picked up in New York, a couple other things I picked up in DC), so you can look forward to those, at the very least!

Thank you for reading and commenting; I feel so lucky that you all find my musings worth your time!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jordana Easyshine Gloss Balm in Watermelon Juice Review and Swatches

I recently made my way up to Kmart again, and while there picked up one of the Easyshines I didn't already have: Watermelon Juice, a sheer bright pink.  There were several other shades that I could have gotten, but they all had glitter, and after my experience with Berry Colada taught me to steer away from the glittery shades, and the only other colors I would have wanted were out of stock.  For my review of the other Easyshines, see here.
Watermelon Juice

Monday, September 19, 2011

RSS Feed Issues

Hello, all! I'm currently in the Salt Lake City airport en route back home. Feeling a bit sweaty and gross, but not nearly as bad as I have some trips. Nothing quite like cross-country travel to make you feel pretty...

I noticed that the blog has been really delayed with showing up on my RSS feed, and I'm not really sure what to do about it. I'll look into some troubleshooting options in the next couple days, but I apologize for the inconvenience.

I hope your Monday has been going well, and that technical difficulties haven't been a problem elsewhere!

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder Review and Pictures

While I love my BB cream, I unfortunately do need to blot/powder after a few hours to keep it looking fresh.  This meant I had to search for a good mattifying compact that I can port around with me for those times when I'm out for longer than a couple hours.  I wanted something cheap and well-liked, so after extensive research on MUA, I had my list and I was ready to go.  Hard Candy's Welcome Matte powder got really good reviews, but it was $8, which is way more than I want to pay for a powder compact I don't plan to use too often.  Rite Aid used to carry Jane, which had a powder I wanted to try, but at least the Rite Aid near me replaced their Jane display with Rimmel (where am I supposed to get Jane now, huh?!).  I'd used Rimmel's Stay Matte powder several years ago and didn't dislike it, so I decided to give it a try.  It was cheaper than the Hard Candy at $5.69, but there are several problems with it that led me to conclude it was not only not worth bringing with me to DC, but that it wasn't worth keeping at all.
Revlon Stay Matte powder

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Summary

I've decided to augment Survey Sunday with a roundup of posts that I found particularly enjoyable/informative over the past week, and a list of the products that I'm currently coveting (bundling it all under the "Sunday Summary" label).  That way there's hopefully a little something for everyone, and I can learn what you're loving now, too!

Blog posts of note
Beautiful with Brains investigated whether powders with SPF offer adequate protection
Ebrushka's Makeup Bag swatches and reviews her favorite MAC neutral eyeshadows (now I want them!)
Makeup and Beauty Blog finds lots to love in the fall collection polishes from Sonia Kashuk
Pink Sith reviews the new Bliss Fabulips Treatment Kit––it's apparently less gimmicky than I thought (though I'm still not sold!)
Scrangie introduces us to LCN Magnetic Power Magnet Nail Polish, a concept I'd never even heard of, but now desperately want to try
Temptalia confirms what we all feared, that the new MAC Art of Powder Street Art Eyeshadow Palette is prettier to look at than it is to use
The Beauty Look Book shows us the new Rococo Nail Apparel Nude Wardrobe Collection, and her swatches make me almost believe I want to try nude polish
Vampy Varnish has swatches and reviews of much of MAC's new Posh Paradise collection, and I gotta say, I'm liking the paint pots!

And, if you haven't checked it out already, this week's Tip Tuesday was part 2 of DIY beauty solutions, full of ideas for how to use natural products you have around the house for hair and skincare!  I spent a lot of time researching for it, but I know there's other tricks out there that I didn't include, and I would love your input!

Skincare Saturday: Clarisonic Review and Pictures

If I actually had disposable income to speak of, buying a Clarisonic would have been a no-brainer.  Given my rather limited funds, however, I debated it for weeks.  I read all the testimonials on MUA and elsewhere about how well it worked, how much it improved people's skin, what a great decision it was, etc., etc.  For those who don't know, a Clarisonic is a facial cleansing brush.  It uses some kind of magical sonic pulses to rotate the brush head miniscule amounts, resulting in a deep clean without irritating the skin.  There are three models, the Pro, Plus, and the Mia; the former two have different vibration speeds and can be used on your body, and the latter is smaller (though the brush heads are the same size) and more portable, as well as being cheaper, though still very expensive: buying one new was, at the time of my purchase, $150 from Sephora, or ~$120 from Amazon--both of which were out of my price range.  They now range from $119 to $129 on Sephora (depending on whether you get solid color or print handles), and the same on Amazon.  I looked into other cheaper options, like one made by Olay, but ultimately decided that if I was going to drop a chunk of change on something, I wanted it to be the real deal.  On eBay I found a Mia brush handle for $45 and a brush head for $12, which I bought first.  The handle came fully charged, which, if used once a day, lasts about 2 weeks, so I figured I could fork out that money first and then buy the charger from Clarisonic for $25 after I got my next paycheck.  And so I did.  It totaled $80 for the whole shebang, which is something that still causes me some pain, but I will say it has made a difference...
  Clarisonic Mia is available in multiple colors
Image from Clarisonic

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Essence Stay With Me Longlasting Lipgloss in Kiss Kiss Kiss Review and Swatches

Essence has almost made a lipgloss girl out of me.  After seeing more swatches of their Stay With Me longlasting gloss (for review and swatches of Berry Me and Candy Bar, see here), I added one more to my collection: sheer red Kiss Kiss Kiss.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fragrance Friday: Dolce & Gabbana L'Eau The One and DKNY Women Mini Reviews

For a summary of Fragrance Friday and an introduction to the basics of perfume, see here.

DKNY Women
DKNY Women
image from DKNY
This opens with vibrant citrus, and dries down to about the same, but with more grassy, green notes (I can definitely smell the vine-ripe tomato leaves), which makes it smell like a freshly-cut bouquet with lots of leafy greens.  Since so many of the notes are light citrus, the scent does not last very long, only a couple of hours.  If you like bright citrus and fresh greens and don't mind the hassle of reapplying, consider checking out DKNY Women at Sephora (they have the current exclusive).
$36 for 1 oz, $50 for 1.7 oz, $68 for 3.4 oz, available at Sephora

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mini Mid-Trip Post

I'm still in DC, but I thought I should post some photos and updates of my trip!  I won't bore you with all the details, but here's a few pictures and some notes.
The Chili Cheeseburger from Ben's Chili Bowl, where we went after a night out (drinking and socializing always makes me ravenous); it's right next to the U Street Metro and they're open til 4 am.  Their cheese fries are unbelievable.  I don't usually like cheese sauce, but something about theirs was just so delicious.  You should definitely get them if you're ever in the area.

Recommendation Thursday: Facial Masks

Facial masks can serve many purposes.  Some are designed for acne-prone and oily skin (usually containing clay), some for dry skin, some for irritated and sensitive skin, and yet others work as peels and exfoliators.  I've scoured the web for the best masks of each type, and will now share them with you, my lovely and devoted readers!  For DIY mask ideas, see my Tip Tuesday posts here and here.

Peel masks, not necessarily the same as peel-off masks, are masks that contain AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) to chemically exfoliate and reveal brighter, fresher skin.  I've never used them myself, but I've read that you should leave them on for absolutely no longer than instructed to, as the acids can be too strong if left on for longer, and if you have very sensitive skin, it's probably wise to stay away.  This field seems to be one where higher end (and higher cost) products do give better results than cheaper ones, though you can still find affordable options that work well, too.
Glyco Lactic Skin Renewal Peel MaskAlba Hawaiian Facial  Mask, Papaya Enzyme
REN Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask and Alba Hawaiian Enzyme Facial Mask
REN Glycolactic Skin Renewel Peel Mask ($55 for 1.7 oz) and Mychelle Incredible Pumpkin Peel ($22 for 1.2 oz) come especially highly recommended, though Alba Hawaiian Enzyme Facial Mask ($10 for 3 oz) and Freeman Feeling Beautiful Facial Enzyme Mask, Pineapple ($3.99 for 6 oz) are good choices if you're on a budget.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick in Sexy Game Review and Swatches

This is a lipstick I've had since last fall, but haven't gotten around to reviewing, in part because I don't wear it very often.  It's a lovely deep pink, very creamy and long-lasting, but it's too bold for everyday wear for me.  I decided to give it a try again last week to see if it would be good to bring with me to DC, since I knew I'd be going to some professional/fancy gatherings (my definition of "fancy" is informed by my Eugene upbringing, and therefore includes anything business casual and above) and figured it could be a nice choice to make me look classier.
Sephora Rouge Cream in Sexy Games (used to look nicer, sorry!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tip Tuesday: DIY Beauty Solutions H-Y (Plus a bonus C)

For a summary of Tip Tuesday, see here.  For part one of diy beauty tips, see here.  And for a video of bunnies wiggling their noses, see here.

Used as: Cleanser, mask, scrub
Good for: Everyone
Bad for: People who don't like stickiness
I've already done a couple of posts on the wonders of honey, so I'll keep this brief.  Honey is great.  You can use normal honey, raw honey (opaque and light yellow in color), or Manuka honey (full of super nutrients, with a price tag to match).  I've used normal and raw, and prefer the latter because it's less sticky, but both work well.  You can put it on dry skin as a mask or cleanser, or use it on wet skin as a quick cleansing treatment.  Honey combines well with yogurt and aspirin in masks, and with sugar as a scrub.  The possibilities are many, and the results are great––it's moisturizing, anti-bacterial, and it smells and tastes nommy!

Jojoba Oil
Used as: Moisturizer, hair treatment
Good for: Everyone
Bad for: No one
Jojoba (apparently pronounced hə'hoʊbə, who knew) oil is very similar in composition to the sebum and oil produced by your skin, so it can help convince oily skin to stop producing so much oil by making it think there's enough already (I have yet to try this, so cannot vouch for it, but am intrigued!), and its moisturizing properties make it good for normal and dry skin, too.  It's also great for moisturizing hair and reducing frizzies.  You only need a leetle beet, no more than a few drops, which is good because it can apparently be expensive.  It should be available at natural food and health stores, and if you've ever used it, I'd love your input!

Monday, September 12, 2011


You may have heard of this before, but if you haven't, I figured it would be nice to share!  Ebates is an online shopping rewards program; accounts are free, and different online retailers offer anywhere from 1% to 20% cash back on purchases done through Ebates ( has 20% off your first order plus 6% cash back, Nordstrom has 3% cash back, JCPenney has 5%, among many, many others).  There are often specials, where the normal cash back amount at a given store is doubled, as when I bought my perfume from Sephora (normally 4% cash back, but I got 8%, saving me $5.44).  Cash back checks are sent at least 4 times a year; I received my Sephora check last week with no trouble.  It can take a few days for the credit to show up in your account, so don't be worried if it's not there right away!

If you shop online with any kind of regularity, Ebates is a great program to join (though Amazon is sadly not one of the available stores), and can save you quite a bit of money over time.  Here's a link to join; that is a referral link, so if you sign up through it, I get $5 cash back, but I wouldn't recommend the site if I didn't like and use it myself!  It is well and truly risk- and cost-free, and while I really don't know how or why Ebates/retailers offer cash back, I'm quite thrilled they do, since saving money is always fun :-)

Do you use Ebates?  Are you a member of any other shopping rewards programs?  What do you think of them?

Philosophy Vanilla Birthday Cake Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath Review and Pictures

I've been hearing great things about Philosophy body washes for a long time, but the price has always put me off ($16 for 16 oz).  Zum Glück, the birthday freebie from Sephora is a 6 oz bottle of Vanilla Birthday Cake shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath.  I've had the chance to use it in each of its intended functions, and can now report to y'all what I think.
Vanilla Birthday Cake

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wet N Wild Fast Dry Nail Polish in Buffy the Violet Slayer Review and Swatches

If you can get past the bad-pun name (just wait for the two holo sparkles coming up; their names are even worse), this is a gorgeous purple shimmer.
Buffy the Violet Slayer

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Skincare Saturday: Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser

Philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser is one of the most popular cleansers, ever.  I'd never really had any desire to try it, in large part because it's so expensive, but going on a 10-day trip to DC gave me an excuse to buy one of the little 3 oz. travel sizes.  I tried it out the week before I left to make sure it wouldn't break me out or irritate me, and can happily report that it did not!
purity made simple

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fragrance Friday: Gucci Flora and Dior Miss Dior Cherie L'Eau Mini Reviews

For a link to the overview for this series, click here.  Today's offerings are both florals, but not really very similar beyond that.

Gucci Flora
Flora Eau de Parfum
image from here
This fragrance came out in 2009 and has been pretty popular since then.  I don't know when I got my sample vial, but it was awhile back.  After spritzing it on for this review, I realized why I still have an almost-full vial: it smells horrible on me.  Sickeningly sweet and overbearing, it's like a bad fragrance spray that people keep in their bathrooms to cut down on stinkiness (this is an observation made by my mother, and I wholeheartedly agree).  I hated it so much that I tried to wash it off after half an hour, but was left with the pungent remnants on my arm for the rest of the evening, thanks to it being an eau de parfum.  I can't say if it changed or mellowed any over time, since the soap and water undoubtedly messed with that, but I can say it didn't really change from the opening to the heart (unfortunately).  Given its popularity, though, I think I'm in the minority here, so don't let my opinion stop you from giving it a sniff!  Here's the fragrance pyramid should you wish to see it.
$60 for 1 oz, $85 for 1.6 oz, $100 for 2.5 oz, available from Sephora and Amazon (cheaper from the latter)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Recommendation Thursday: Lip Stain

I'm always on the hunt for a good, long-lasting stain, though so far I've had little success at finding one that actually works.  This is, again, a rather self-indulgent Recommendation Thursday, so if there's anything in particular you'd like to see featured, leave a comment below.  See the original post for an explanation of RT and for further contact info!

There are several formulations for lip stains (which can often also double as cheek stains).  One of the more common ones lately is the felt-tip pen variety, but they also come in balms, gels, liquids, and sticks.  There are also many other lip products that can be used as lip stains––many dark lipsticks can be blotted and last as long as stains––but I'm not including those here.  These are just products that are intended to be lip stains (and that's still a large pool of contenders!), and out of those, only ones that are very well reviewed.  Without further ado, then, here are the best lip stains, according to popular opinion.

Wet N Wild Comfort Zone Palette Review and Swatches

I'd seen swatches and read reviews of Wet N Wild's Comfort Zone 8-pan palette, and have been keeping an eye open for it around town.  I finally spotted it at a Walmart superstore (that I went to just to check out the Hard Candy cosmetics at, because Walmart is evil and I always [seriously, always] go to Target instead––I think this was the 2nd time I've been to a Walmart in my life) and couldn't resist for $4.68...I wanted the greens for those very rare occasions when I want to play up the green in my eye and venture outside of neutrals, and the browns are lovely and I knew I would get a lot of use out of them.  (Warning: This is really long, and very pic heavy, so if you have a slow connection, it may take awhile to load!)
Wet N Wild Comfort Zone

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I'm headed to DC tomorrow for 10 days with the boy (and a mini-trip up to New York to visit Z and L!), so posting will slow down a little, though I've got lots of posts scheduled.  I'm planning on seeing some of the DC sights (Museum of Natural History and Gallery of Art, it's been too long!) but I should still have time to keep tabs on the blog, especially on the 4 hour bus ride to New York and back.  I still have to finish semantic tagging on the Tuvan dictionary, too, so I've got several coffeeshops and dessert places with wifi on my map that I can go and hang out in––ostensibly so I can use the internet, but really, mostly so I can eat and drink deliciousness.  I'll be back the 19th, and the next day is the first of 3 days of grad school orientation...methinks I'll be needing lots of naps!  Then school starts, and I don't really know what will happen with the blog after that, though I'm currently planning on continuing to do posts, just less frequently.

So that's that!  What do the next couple weeks hold for you?  Do you have a favorite place to get coffee and/or cake?  I love getting recommendations for food :-)

Holika Holika Clearing Petit BB SPF 30 PA++ Cream Review and Swatches

BB Creams have been all the rage in Asia for the past decade or so, but are only now making inroads in the American and European markets.  If you read other beauty blogs, I'm sure you've heard a lot about them, but in the off-chance you don't know what they are: BB creams, short for "beauty balm" or "blemish balm", are supposed to be an all-in-one face product, serving as moisturizer, foundation, concealer, sunscreen, and treatment (many have whitening ingredients, or anti-aging treatments, or, as the case with this one, anti-acne ingredients).  Here are a couple of posts summarizing them from the Muse, who is an expert on Asian beauty and has been using BB creams for many years.

In the past few months, there have been several BB creams introduced in America, but they are all high-end (and therefore out of my price range) and tend to be closer to tinted moisturizers/primers than actual BB creams.  I wanted to try a legitimate BB cream, especially one targeted towards acne and oily skin, so I turned to eBay.  I'd read many positive reviews from other bloggers on Holika Holika brand of BB creams, and had heard from them of bello-girl, who sells a ton of Asian beauty, including many, many kinds of BB creams, from South Korea.  I ordered the Clearing BB Cream, which has tea tree oil, from her at the beginning of August for $9.99 with free shipping.  It took 2 and a half weeks to get here, on the early end of the 2 to 4 week window I'd been told to expect when I ordered, and she included a very nice note and free sample (I need to find that, hmmm).  Overall, it was a very positive eBay experience, and I highly recommend buying from her if you're wanting to try a real BB Cream for cheap (not that $10 is particularly cheap to me, but compared to other BB creams, it's a fraction of the price).
Holika Holika Clearing Petit BB SPF 30 PA++

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tip Tuesday: DIY Beauty Solutions A-G

For a summary of Tip Tuesday, see here.  For reviews of diy beauty I've personally used, see here (or click on the "diy" tag at the bottom of this post).

There are many appealing things about diy natural beauty.  For one thing, you get to feel like a mad scientist, and who doesn't love that?  (If you don't, go away, this post is not for you.)  For another, you have control over exactly what you're putting on your skin, which means you can avoid ingredients you know irritate you, and don't have to worry about the negative effects from chemical additives.  This does not mean, however, that diy beauty is without its hazards, so please, use caution!

So, here is the first half of the many ingredients you can use in your beauty concoctions (though there are even more that I'm not covering here!), as well as what problem areas they address, and the major concerns to keep in mind regarding side effects and the like.  I hope this is helpful to you, and I welcome any diy suggestions of your own in the comments!  H(oney) through Y(ogurt) will be posted next week.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Used as: Toner, hair treatment
Good for: Acne-prone and/or oily skin
Bad for: Sensitive skin
ACV, as it's known in the biz, is used as a toner to restore the pH balance of skin and help combat acne.  I've never used it, but the intertubes say: it smells nasty, though the smell dissipates after application; you should mix it with water (start with a 1:8 ratio of ACV to water, then increase the amount over time); organic is generally gentler than conventional ACV; and tread with caution if you have sensitive skin.  If you pour it through your hair, it helps get rid of residue and build-up from hair products, though unless you want to smell like a salad, you should probably shower and wash your hair afterwards.

Used as: Mask, toner
Good for: Acne-prone, oily, and/or sensitive/red skin
Bad for: People who are allergic to aspirin
Aspirin, it is claimed, is a source of salicylic acid once it breaks down, though the Beauty Brains did a post about this and said the science isn't really there to back the claims up.  I've tried mixing aspirin in with a yogurt mask, and saw a decrease in redness and swelling, but that could have been due to the other ingredients in the mask.  To use, crush 4-6 uncoated aspirin tablets (uncoated can be hard to find, though health food-type stores often have them) and add a few drops of water to make a paste.  As a mask, you can either spread it over your face like that and let it sit until it dries, or you can mix it with yogurt or honey.  I prefer to do the latter, because the powder has a tendency to fall off as it dries, and mixing it with something else gets rid of that problem.  Some people swear by it as a toner, though when I tried it as such, I got really annoyed with the little pieces of aspirin that stuck to my face.  Do not use this if you have an allergy to aspirin (though I hope that would go without saying!).

Monday, September 5, 2011

E.L.F. Cream Eyeshadow in Dawn Review and Swatches

I went upstate last weekend to visit the family for Labor Day, and managed to convince my brother to stop at Kmart on the way up so I could pick up a few things.  One such thing was this cream eyeshadow from E.L.F.'s studio line.  I was drawn in by the neutral shimmery brown, and have been wanting to try a cream eyeshadow (the only other one I've ever used was not very successful), so plunked down the $3 for it.  Following, my thoughts.
Dawn in window sunlight

L'Oreal EverPure Moisture Shampoo Review

I dye my hair every couple of months, because I have some grey clusters on my head that I'm not ready to succumb to (I'm only 22!  I don't want to have a big skunk streak in my hair!).  While I use a conditioner aimed at curly hair most of the time (when I'm not using my Aussie), I try to use shampoo designed for dyed hair in an effort to prevent fading.  The one I've been using for the past few months is L'Oreal's EverPure Moisture shampoo, which is sulfate-free.  I don't put much stock in the sulfate and paraben avoidance craze, because there hasn't been any research that shows a definitive link between them and cancer––the most anyone has said is that they may contribute to cancer, but that can be said about many things (microwaves, cell phones, sunlight, puppies, chocolate...okay, I may have made some of those up, but you know what I mean).  I have re-bought this shampoo, but I think I'll try branching out when I run out, because it has some issues.
L'Oreal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo, 8.5-Fluid Ounce
image from L'Oreal

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Degree Motion Sense Deodorant in Fresh Energy Review

I'm going to DC to visit the boyfriend in a week, and since I don't want to pay baggage fees, I'm having to figure out how to bring all my necessities in a quart-sized bag and small makeup pouch.  Fortunately, Target has mini-deodorants, so at least I'll be able to keep from sweating and smelling too bad without having to waste half my allotted space on it.  (I imagine some places don't require you to put your deodorant in your liquid baggie, but I like not to risk it!)  I'd read a review of Degree Motion Sense deodorant on one of my blogs (I don't remember which one, my apologies!) and added it to my to-try list, so I was thrilled that it was one of the small deodorants available at Target.  I've worn it for a few days now, and am thinking it may actually unseat my Secret...

image from Degree

Sinful Colors Nail Polish in I Miss You Review and Swatches

I Miss You is, perhaps, my favorite out of all the Sinfuls I've tried.  Or at least, my favorite at the moment (keeping track of my whims is somewhat difficult).  The formula sucks, in a way similar to All About You––very watery, though it's not as sheer as AAY, and the glitter is more varied.  The thing that appeals to me most about this, though, is the holographic shimmers.  They're mesmerizing, especially in sunlight, and my photos do not do them justice.
Sinful Colors in I Miss You

I Miss You, out of focus to show holographic shimmers

Survey Sunday Vol. 001

Because I know you were just dying for more alliterative-with-days-of-the-week weekly features, here is Survey Sunday.  I borrowed this particular survey from the lovely delicate hummingbird, tweaked somewhat at my whim (it's my blog, I can do those things!).  It's a play on the 7 deadly sins, but without the prescriptive behavior rules!

Greed: What's your cheapest beauty product?
Most of my beauty products are cheap, though it's less because I'm greedy with my money and more because I'm a grad student and just don't have money.  Probably the cheapest of the cheap is the Wet N Wild nail polish I got for $0.69 at Rite Aid awhile back.  That was a good day.

Expensive beauty products make me feel greedier, though; my $35 (though I paid $28!) Too Faced Natural Eye palette is the most expensive thing I have apart from my Clarisonic (I paid half of retail, but the price still makes me grimace...and reminds me that I really need to get around to reviewing it, my bad!).

Lust: What is your current most-wanted beauty product?
I have lots, though none that are incredibly pressing "have to have it NOW" types of things.  I would still love to play with the Urban Decay Naked palette, and right now I've really got a hankering for Korres lip butter in Wild Rose.  Le sigh.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Skincare Saturday: Baking Soda Facial Exfoliator Review

I've heard back from a couple of you that you'd like to see more skincare reviews, especially of the homemade variety.  Lucky for you, I've got quite the arsenal to share.  I'll try and post a review on skincare weekly (Saturdays, naturally), though it may be less frequent than that, so I'm going to have to ask you to bear with me!

First up is a scrub I've used and liked to tide you over until my next skincare posts.

image from Arm & Hammer

Wet N Wild Color Icon Trio in We're Blasting Off (from the Dream Weavers Collection)

I've read a lot about Wet N Wild's limited edition collection, Dream Weavers, over the past few weeks.  They released several new shadow trios for the collection, and they've been somewhat hard to find in some places.  I've happened across a couple displays in the area, and one at Rite Aid had the only trio I was interested in, We're Blasting Off.  It looks very similar to the other trio I have, Silent Treatment, but there are enough differences that I'm glad to have both.  Not least because I got 40% off this palette, making it only $1.79!

Friday, September 2, 2011

DKNY Be Delicious and Kenzo FlowerbyKenzo Mini Reviews

I figured I would start with two of the more popular perfumes in my collection (two arms = two sniffing platforms), DKNY Be Delicious and Flower by Kenzo.

DKNY Be Delicious
Be Delicious
image from Sephora
This is one of those fragrances that is a popular entry fragrance, because it's not too complicated and it smells nice.  I definitely wouldn't buy a full bottle of it, just because it's not complex enough to keep me interested, but I have enjoyed using the sample vial I have of it.  It smells like apples, but with a wonderful warmth and floralness.  These definitely aren't normal apples.  As an edt, it's not terribly strong and only lasts a few hours before it needs to be reapplied, but it's a great running-errands type smell: simple and non-fussy and makes you smile when you smell it.  It's classified by Osmoz as a floral chypre and by Sephora as a fresh citrus; I don't really have a strong preference in either direction.  Here's the fragrance pyramid for your reference.
$42 for 1 oz, $60 for 1.7 oz, $75 for 3.4 oz, available from Sephora, department stores, and Amazon (the latter is cheaper)

Wet N Wild Wild Shine Lip Lacquer in 922 Enamored and 923 Rapture Review and Swatches

I picked these up last week when Rite Aid had their 40% off Wet N Wild sale in the hopes that they could be HG material for me and the mother.  They're normally $2.99 each, and are quite generously sized for a shiny, slim lipstick, at 0.11 oz (compare to the Jordana Easyshines' 0.07 oz, and the normal lipstick average of 0.14).  I got two: Enamored, a light frosty pink, and Rapture, a shiny berry-red.  I'd hoped they would be on the sheerer side of things, since I find those much easier to wear than more opaque lipsticks.  Following are my thoughts.
923 Rapture (on the left) and 922 Enamored (on the right)

one swipe of Enamored (top) and Rapture (bottom) in sunlight

Fragrance Friday, or: Amy Sniffing Her Way Through Her Collection of Perfume Sample Vials and Then Talking About It

Another weekly feature!  Yaaaay.

I have a lot of perfume vials in my collection, having received them as free samples with many orders and purchases.  I love getting perfume samples, and gravitate towards them when choosing my free Sephora samples.  I discovered my winter fragrance that way (Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb)!  Though who knows if that will remain my winter fragrance...

Anyways.  One of the other bonuses of getting samples is that you can figure out what scents you don't like, with the ability to try them in different circumstances and weather (I find perfumes smell very different on me after I've been sweating than when I'm cold, and sample vials give me the flexibility to experiment). In this new ongoing series (zomg I know you're so excited like wow), I'll be giving snapshots of my perfumes.  As I've mentioned before, I'm really bad at describing fragrance notes, but I will do my best to do a couple of sentences on how it smells to me, as well as provide links to the fragrance pyramid for each perfume.  Keep in mind that all opinions are my own, and perfumes smell different on different people!  What I hate, you may love, and vice versa.

Before I get to the reviews, here's a quick tutorial on the basics of perfumes.  
First up, perfume oils.  These are what make perfumes smell, and the concentration of oils is what distinguishes the different formulas from each other.  Perfume (extract) is the most strongly scented, longest-lasting option (and therefore the most expensive).  According to Wikipedia, even perfume extract isn't 100% fragrance oils, and is rather generally around 20%.  The strongest commonly-available concentration is in Eau de Parfum (edp), which has ~15% aromatic oils.  Eau de Toilette (edt) comes next, around 10%, and Eau de Cologne is around 5%.  Body splashes and the like are generally 1-3%.

Besides being classified by concentration, fragrances are also grouped by family.  From Osmoz's fragrance families for women, we have:

Citrus: composed mainly of citrus notes, often with floral or chypre notes mixed in, citrus fragrances are generally light and fresh
Chypre: based on oak moss, bergamot, and patchouli, chypre fragrances contain floral and fruity notes as well (my beloved Chance eau fraiche is a chypre);
Floral: the most widely used category in fragrance, floral notes combine well with all of the other families
Oriental: characterized by amber, musk, and woody warmth, orientals often feature exotic spices and floral notes

There are 4 big groups of male fragrance families as well, but I'll leave it up to you to explore those.  Each of the families above can be broken down into further subcategories, which I will deal with when they apply to a particular fragrance.  I highly recommend going to Osmoz and playing around, because there is an impressive wealth of information there that is very useful when getting into fragrances.

Fragrance pyramids are a way of visually representing the components of a perfume.  Top notes are what you smell right after spraying the perfume, and they're the first to fade.  Light florals, citrus, and green notes are often used as top notes.  Middle notes are heavier than top notes, and they combine with the top notes to form what you smell for most of the time wearing a perfume.  They include bolder florals, citrus notes, and lighter woods.  Base notes are the heaviest, and the last to fade.  They include amber, musk, woody notes, and are the platform upon which the top and middle notes stand.  All of the notes interact with each other, and the combination of notes is nearly as important as the notes themselves.

Okay then!  Questions?  Comments?  I'll link back to this post for my future reviews, in case you ever need a refresh of the infos.  I don't know how long this series will take me (depends on if I go on an obsessive streak with it or not), but I hope you find the posts at least a bit interesting and informative!
End tutorial/rambling

This is where the links to the reviews will go!  Yay!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Recommendation Thursday: Nail Care

For a summary of Recommendation Thursday, see here.  For tips on nail care, see here!

There are a lot of product areas to talk about with nail care, but I'll just go in the same order as I did for Tip Tuesday to make it easy on us.  First topic, then, is nail treatments, and boy, is it a doozy.  Future Recommendation Thursdays will focus on smaller topics (for example, "pink blush" or "lengthening mascara"), because you do not want to know how much time it took me to sift through all this information!

Sinful Colors Nail Polish in All About You Review and Swatches

All About You is the sheerest, wateriest of all the Sinful shades I got.  It's a gold and copper foil (when built up enough) that shimmers and glows in the light.  It reminds me of a candle (but without the risk of getting burnt!).
All About You
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