Monday, December 31, 2012

Inspired By: Cacti

I considered doing a "year in review" post, but decided that I spend enough time on here rambling introspectively, and as this is a beauty blog, I should perhaps spend some time doing beauty things! So, I decided to attempt something never before attempted here: an "inspired by" post. Generally my FOTD posts are based on products I'm testing, but I so enjoy reading other bloggers' posts that center on a theme (Getting Cheeky and Cute and Mundane, in particular), so I've decided to take a page from their books. The source of inspiration: the cactus and succulent garden at Sherman Gardens and Library in Corona del Mar, outside Newport Beach. The entire gardens are delightful––my mother and I went there when we had a few hours to spare before tea on the Queen Mary, and had a marvelous time wandering around with the mere $3 entrance fee––but the cactus and succulent garden was particularly breathtaking. I took nearly 50 photos in an attempt to capture the magic, and while I don't think I quite did, here are some that came close. (I was going to try and get this into an awesome collage, but ran out of time. Something to plan for in 2013!)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winner of the giveaway is...

Neens! With her entry for "happy place" being "Swarthmore", which is also where we met! (Yes, she's a friend in real life, but I swear I didn't do it on purpose! It just happened to work out that way, weeeeeird.) I'll have post-trip pics and oodles of posts headed your way, just as soon as I nap––flights were delayed a bit last night getting back, so I did not get nearly enough sleep! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homeward Bound

This is just a quick post to remind y'all to enter the giveaway if you haven't yet, since it ends tonight! There's currently 3 people vying for it, so...your chances are good. And, while the "loot" is quite small, all items are tested and Amy-approved!

Crystal Cove on Christmas


I am excited about the ocean!

Proof that we aren't in Oregon anymore––surfers!

Obligatory pre-dinner in front of the Christmas tree photo

Hope you've all had a fantastic holiday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

To everyone who celebrates, Merry Christmas! And to everyone who doesn't, enjoy the last day of Christmas music for the next 10 months! (That last one applies to those of you who celebrate, too––I'm so looking forward to the absence of holiday tunes.)

Window display at Neiman––I mostly took it because look at the frog! It's so sparkly!

Fountain at Fashion Island on Christmas Eve

Chandelier and awesome ceiling at the Benson in Portland

One of the many, many decked out houses on Balboa Island

Nutcracker in our lounge

Things shaped like trees
Cranberry orange rolls at Great Harvest, center decoration at Pioneer Place in Portland

Christmas Tree in one of the lounges of our hotel

Baths: When you don't have to pay for the water, there's nothing better
Lush Sakura bath bomb

Bubble bath in our jetted tub on Christmas Eve with Philosophy Holiday Lights Aglow: it didn't bubble under the faucet, so my mother poured the whole little 1 oz container in, and then when I turned the jets on the bubbles just EXPLODED. Ended up turning off the jets because the bubbles wouldn't stop growing and they were about to engulf me!

I was giddy, absolutely giddy

I hope you all are having a lovely day, wherever you may be :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Make Up For Ever Love: Aqua Brow in Ash 25 and Full Cover Concealer in Pink Porcelain 1

I considered breaking these up, because brow gel and concealer have basically nothing in common, but they're both in squeeze tubes and they're both MUFE, so I figured I could get away with combining them. Plus, I don't really have all that much to say about either!
MUFE Pink Porcelain Concealer (top), Ash Aqua Brow (bottom)

Friday, December 21, 2012


I'm on vacation (Portland, then Newport Beach!) until the 28th, but you'll probably still be hearing from me. Regardless, as has become somewhat of a tradition around these parts, I offer you a giveaway!

Included are:
––A MUA eyeshadow palette in Undressed––MUA is a drugstore brand in the UK, and I ordered two of these when they had a sale with free shipping. I haven't gotten around to doing a review of the whole shebang, but I find it to be a nice neutral palette, not the most amazing thing ever, but definitely something I enjoy wearing. Here's (blurry) swatches of all the shades:
Yes, it's an UD Naked dupe, clearly.

––A mini French Baguette candle from Bath and Body Works, aka the candle that launched a thousand obsessions. It smells like buttery croissants when burning (and like sweet popcorn cold, which my mother deemed "disgusting", but don't let that put you off!), and it is delicious.

––A brand new L'Oreal Colour Caresse lip gloss in 190 Endless Red. I know some of you haven't been able to find these in your area yet (though probably by the time I get the package off to the winner, they'll be everywhere, ha!), and this is just such an awesome product that I paid full price so I could give it to you. Yes, that's how much I like it. It's an easy, flattering, long-wearing, gorgeous red that I think everyone can make work––if you're not a bright lips kind of girl, you can always wear it as a stain! You can check out my full review here.

Rules: Open until midnight Pacific on Dec. 28 (aka 3 am Eastern on Dec. 28), to US residents only (I can't afford international shipping, I'm sorry!). I'll inform the winner sometime that day, who will have 24 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I hope you have safe travels if you're going anywhere!

Fragrance Friday: Solstice Scents, Part 2

For most of the past week I felt vaguely nauseated whenever I smelled perfume or scented products, which led to an unintentional embargo on perfume, candles, hand cream, and all those lovely things that usually bring me such joy. I felt better yesterday, though, and decided to ease my way back into the world of fragrance with the woodsy scents from Solstice Scents, as that family is one of my favorites. As before, these are scents that are primarily woody, not just ones that contain woods notes, since that would be...everything ever. Also, I tend to gravitate towards woods that aren't cedar, which tends to read a bit sharp to my nose, but Solstice Scents has several cedar-centric scents (unintentional alliteration ftw!), Attic (from the Autumn Collection) and Old Cedar Magus (from the core collection) that are undoubtedly lovely if you like that sort of thing.

Manor (musk, vanilla, aloeswood, agarwood): This is the very first Solstice Scent that I tried, thanks to a sample sent to me by Larie who can't do oud, and I fell in love with it. My feelings haven't changed with time! This is a beautifully simple, simply beautiful perfume that smells like oud (aloeswood and agarwood are both names for oud, and refer to two different oils used in the blend) and vanilla. The vanilla is just lovely, not too sweet, rich but not cloying, and the oud gives it depth and longevity. I plan to get the whipped soap of it when I use up my current one (Dark Ginger Spicecake!). I wore this a lot during the hell weeks before the end of the term, and it was supremely comforting and happy-making.

Spellbound Woods (vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, amber, incense): This is quieter than Manor, and also lacking in oud, but similar in that it's a softly sweet woodsy scent. I really love how it starts out, heavy on the sandalwood but still airy, but after an hour it becomes a little too sweet for me, like sugar cookies next to incense in a cedar holder. It's certainly nice, and I think many would love it, but it doesn't top Manor for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Indulgences Aren't

Another one for the "things I sent back" mental pile: Guerlain Meteorites in Teint Rose.
$58 for 1.05 oz, via Sephora

I bought it after finishing the term, and because I had the $20 off Sephora coupon, and eagerly awaited its arrival. Beautiful packaging, lovely presentation, I actually really like the smell (like candied violets, which is a perfume I would never want to wear, but it's nice as a face powder), and even the fact that I didn't see much of a (okay, any) difference when wearing it didn't mute my excitement. Care to guess what did?

Yep, it broke me out. SURPRISE! To no one, ever. It may be the bismuth oxychloride, which is known for causing break-outs, or it may be some completely innocuous ingredient that no one has ever reacted badly to, ever, and ugh, wouldn't it be nice to not have insanely reactive acne-prone skin?

So back to Sephora it goes. And now I'm on the lookout for a replacement "hurray, you not only survived the term but got good grades to boot! Way to go, self!" present. I'll probably pick up something when I'm in SoCal––where I'll be for Christmas, yay! My mother and I are vacationing down there for a few days, bracketed by some time up in Portland (starting tomorrow!), and I plan to do lots of cosmetics shopping, or at least swatching, while I'm around places that actually carry a variety of brands.

Have you tried Meteorites? What did you think? Any suggestions for luxe beauty indulgences I should check out? Or places in the LA/Newport Beach area we should visit (and, more importantly, eat at)?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

L'Oreal Shine/Colour Caresse Gloss in 187 Infinite Fuchsia and 190 Endless Red Review and Swatches

Lipstick-gloss-stain hybrids! From the drugstore!
Pristine display at Rite Aid
Ever since reading about these on Nouveau Cheap, I've been eagerly anticipating their arrival in the states (why does L'Oreal release their awesomest stuff overseas first? The anticipation is terrible), and when I heard they had landed at some Targets a couple weeks ago, I put it on my to-search-for list. I didn't see it at Target, but luck struck when I went to Fred Meyer. There, a nearly-perfectly intact display––and at BOGO1/2 off! Angels sung, the sun shone (but seriously, the sun was shining that day, which is miraculous around these parts in December––see photo above), and I dithered for 15 minutes on what shades I should get. Now, a good, non-selfish blogger would have gotten two that were different in pigmentation intensity, in order to compare the longevity/application within the line, but I chose to go with two of the deeper shades because they were both just too pretty to pass up.

In case you'd forgotten what they look like since the last post

Monday, December 17, 2012

L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lip Gloss Preview

I found the new L'Oreal Shine Caresse lip glosses at Fred Meyer, and snatched up two of them (because how could I resist BOGO1/2? I would have bought more, but OPI polishes were buy 2 get 1 free, so I had to restrain myself somewhat). I debated whether to get two brights, or one bright and one more natural pink, but then decided that OF COURSE I should get the bright ones (187 Infinite Fuchsia and 190 Endless Red, to be precise). It is a decision I do not regret. I'm still testing these out and all that jazz, but I thought I should get swatches up sooner rather than later. So far, they seem very similar to the YSL Glossy Stains, are a relatively thin consistency which makes spreading/getting an even layer quite easy, and they smell like roses for a good 20 minutes after application. I'll have full reviews and looks up in the next few days! (ETA: Here it is!)
Endless Red (left) and Infinite Fuchsia (right)

Things I Sent Back

I went pretty crazy with the beauty shopping last month, because my life, it was stressful. Many of said purchases ended up not working out for one reason or another, so after finals got done, I returned a lot. It was a little awkward, but I am used to way huge awkward so I didn't let it phase me. Herewith, a summary.

Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + Liquid Foundation in 20
via Sephora
There were a few issues with this foundation, unfortunately. For one, the shade I got was too dark by a smidge; I probably should have chosen 15, the lightest, but I was afraid it would be too pink. Had shade been the only issue, I would have exchanged it, but that was, alas, not the case. It's a very pigmented formula, which wasn't a bad thing, but it dries down quickly so you definitely have to work in sections. My problem with it was that it was not successful at withstanding my oiliness and big pores. After merely a couple hours, I would notice increased shininess, and after 5 hours, the oil had broken through and broken down a lot of the foundation, sinking into pores and looking generally pretty terrible. I tried everything I could think of, from different application method (with damp brush, dry brush, fingers, sponge) to different base and powder (bare skin, Cover FX ClearPrep FX, MUFE primer (samples FTW), Kryolan Anti-Shine powder), and nothing worked. So, back it went. For a foundation that is supposed to control oil, MUFE Mat Velvet + sure didn't stand up to my oily skin. That being said, lots of people really love it, and it might work for you if your skin isn't as horrifically oily as mine!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fragrance Friday: Solstice Scents, Part 1

I'm going to be reviewing Solstice Scents fragrance oils the next few weeks, because I have a buttload of samples from them and don't want to review them all at once (for one thing, you would all unfollow me for being stupidly longwinded, and for another, I need more time to get acquainted with some of them). Today, I discuss the incenses.

I'm sort of neutral on incense scents in general. I didn't grow up going to church regularly, and the only church I did attend was with my aunt and uncle's family and I hated it and there was no incense there at all, so I don't really have the association of religion and spirituality and otherworldliness that many have with incense. I do, however, tend to like heavier, richer scents, and most incense perfumes fit the bill. Incense perfumes are anchored by frankincense and myrrh, but they vary wildly in how they combine those notes with others (for an excellent comprehensive guide to incense perfumes, see Perfume Posse's here). Solstice Scents has several incense-oriented perfumes, and many more that include it as a note, but I'm restricting myself to the incense-r-us scents I've tried (the only one I haven't is Scrying Smoke, which is just frankincense and myrrh).

Basilica (labdanum, frankincense, rosewood, myrrh, hinoki wood, sandalwood, galbanum, vanilla): This was the first incense perfume I tried, part of their main collection. It's, to my nose, the most traditionally incense of the three, though likely that title really belongs to Scrying Smoke. The opening is somewhat sharp, as most incense scents are to me, and almost bitter, but it softens quickly into a really nice, quiet, meditative blend of incense and woods, sweetened by a touch of vanilla. It's very wearable, quite unisex, and lasts about 8 hours on my arm. $15 for 0.35 oz

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Reds: Rouge Dior in Rouge Favori 752 and Lipstick Queen Chinatown Gloss Stick in Thriller

I've had Rouge Favori for months now and never gotten around to reviewing it, and since I recently picked up another red lippie, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and review them together! Because I am lazy. I mean, because it made thematic sense. Obviously. (Also, a prefatory note: The Rouge Dior photos were taken in September, when there was still abundant sunshine, while the Thriller photos were taken in November, after the rain killed the sun and peed on it. What I'm trying to say is that the photos are not in the same style, and for that I apologize.)
Post-rain Lipstick Queen Thriller, pre-rain Dior Rouge Favori

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Empties and Stuff

I have a huge backlog of products I need to talk to you about, but I'm a little overwhelmed and don't know where to start, so instead, I'm opening with an empties post! Though it's more accurately an "empties and stuff I didn't like enough to put up with" post. Also, I just realized there were a couple other sample packets I finished and didn't photograph. WHOOPS.

But anyways! Here is a real post! About beauty! With pictures! Aaaaah, it's good to be back.

Skincare Samples
Clockwise from top left:
Biotherm Skinergetic High Recovery Moisturizer: The lovely Liz sent this to me, and I used it when my skin was being dry and grouchy*. Didn't break me out, was nicely moisturizing, not too thick, nothing remarkable.
Eve Lom Moisture Mask: I've already written about how much I liked this. While the packet is empty, I still have some mask left in a jar which I will happily use until it's gone.
Eve Lom Cleanser: This packet's not actually empty, because I decided it was too much effort to try and wash my face the Eve Lom way so I didn't bother finishing it.
Eve Lom Intense Hydration Serum: Nope nope nope. It's almost empty, because the packet was really small, but I didn't bother to use up the last little bit because I so disliked it.
L'Occitane Ultra Rich Face Scrub: Another Liz gift! I really liked this and found it to be just what it claimed, a richly moisturizing face scrub. Excellent for dry skin.
Montagne Jeunesse Dead Sea Mud Pac mask: Got this and another MJ mask for 2/$3 at Walgreens. It was fine, though the packet contained way more than 1 use's worth, but as it was a tear-open foil thingy, I couldn't use it more than the one time. Probably wouldn't buy again, but I guess it was fun to try.
*My skin has become dry and grouchy and absolutely horrible these past couple weeks, due to the perfect storm of bad skin influences––changing birth control, stress of finals, the fact that I touch my face a lot when I'm stressed, trying out a new foundation––and I've been desperately seeking ways to fix the rash, dry skin, zits, and cystic acne that's been plaguing me. YES ALL AT ONCE. Ugh. I'll have a post about that at some point, assuming I ever figure out what the heck fixes it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The End of the Deluge

I am officially, completely, 100% done with fall term! Grades have been turned in, all my final projects have been submitted, and I can feel the traditional post-term cold coming on. I don't know how I did in my classes, but honestly, this term was horrible and I am just glad to have finished. While the quarter system sucks for a lot of reasons (50% more finals weeks, 50% more textbooks, a mere 10 weeks to write major research papers), it can be a bonus when the classes aren't your favorite.

I've already rewarded myself for surviving and, at the very least, getting my work done on time, with some more candles (finally trying out the French Baguette from B&BW––I blame Liz, Larie, and MM) and Guerlain Meteorites in Teinte Rose (because damnit, this was the worst term since senior fall, and it's not like I could let that $20 Sephora gift card go to waste, now could I?). I also just received my Solstice Scents Winter Collection samples order, and I'm enjoying slowly making my way through those. I'll need a little time to decompress, but there will be lots of legit content coming your way soon––right after I get caught up on all the other posts I've missed! For now, I'll just say HI! And talk to you soon. (Also, the mini-blog sale will be open until Monday, when I'll return anything that hasn't sold, so if something catches your eye, let me know!)
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