Sunday, August 31, 2014

Haul Update & Dupe?!

I posted a few hauls with several products that are new to me and figured and update is due. Two products I can't put down are the Bobbi Brown Illuminating (not-so-bronzing-more-like-blush-and-highlighter-combo) Bronzing Powders. I find Antigua to be much more of a natural every day color, while Santa Barbara is good for when I want to look extra glowy and have more of a look-at-my-sexy-cheeks color (can cheeks be sexy?).  I just wish it was socially acceptable to do mid-day makeup changes so I could wear both every day. 

But wait... you say you want to wear both every day? What if you could?  What if blushes could make love and have babies?  If Santa Barbara invited Antigua out on a date, conversation went well, sparks flew... then badda-bing badda-boom... baby Rose D'Oro from Milani! Okay so it's not a true dupe since it's not one for one, but it is a GREAT drugstore blush that has great pigment and blends out well.  

Moving on... another product that I am really enjoying is the S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum from my Caudalie 500 point bonus gift. I've been putting this on under my moisturizer before applying my makeup in the mornings - it has helped add an extra boost of moisture my skin has really been needing. I'll definitely be adding this to my Loves bin to pick up on another Sephora shopping trip - right in time too as I was thinking I need to add a serum to my skin care routine. Does anyone recommend any other serums?  Along those lines, I notice the Moisturizing Sorbet to be much lighter and mousse-like texture than the Intense Moisture Rescue that will work well when I'm not needing my daily drench in layers of serious moisture.

I don't have an opinion on the NARS pressed setting powder yet. I feel like I'm not picking up any product on the brush to give it a good review. Does anyone else find this to be the case or recommendations for how to fix this?

I make it a point to use my NARS dual intensity eyeshadow and lipstick in Cruising, both can be worked into any makeup look and are a joy to use. I am really enjoying this new found relationship NARS and I have just entered into. I'm glad I got over thinking the products were too glittery, instead they are less shimmery and more glowy.

I'm still giving the ORIGINS spot treatment some time. I've used it on a very large cystic spot on my chin. While I feel like it has helped to reduce the size dramatically (better than any other product I've tried), it may have dried it out the surrounding area way too much for my liking. It may also be because I've been doubling up using this and the Dermalogica spot treatment. Is is bad to layer benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products? 

What's your favorite NARS products?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mini Haul

Okay so to be honest, the only reason I put in a Sephora online order was because there was a 500 point perk that sparked my interest - the Caudalie Instant Hydration Facial kit. I have recently transitioned to using the Vinosource Intense Moisture Rescue Cream because I felt like my First Aid Beauty facial moisturizer just wasn't cutting it for my dry skin, so I was wanting to try some of their other products. Within this kit are small samples of their Makeup Remover Cleansing Water, S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum, S.O.S. Morning Eye Rescue, and Moisturizing Sorbet.

There were a few 100 point rewards that coincidentally where products I've been wanting to try... "Add to Basket". I picked up the LANCĂ”ME HD Mascara, Philosophy eye serum, Smashbox Primer. I used coupon "PMDSERUM" to get a very generously sized trial of the No Foundation Foundation Serum - based on MakeupByTiffanyD's recommendation. This free 'mini' size is 0.3 oz, yet the full size is 1.0 oz and sells for $55 - thanks Sephora!

Does anyone else do this, pick their rewards and samples before having anything else in their basket? I looked in my Sephora Loves bin (where I put products that I hear a lot about and want to try at some point) and decided to try the NARS pressed setting powder. I was slightly irritated that I allowed myself to fall in love with the Make Up For Ever HD Loose Powder because it doesn't travel well. I'm hoping this NARS powder works just as well at blurring imperfections... fingers crossed.   

I was recently at our mall that has outlet shops and poked my head in Off 5th because I spotted a beauty counter right inside. Am I the last one to know that Off 5th (Saks Fifth Avenue's outlet store) sells high-end makeup at a 20-70% discount? I found the ORIGINS spot treatment I had in my Sephora Loves Bin based on a recommendation from Zoella. I've recently been using the Dermalogica Emergency Spot Fix which has 5% benzoyl peroxide, while the ORIGINS one has 1.5% salicylic acid. I don't know which one my skin will respond to better, because I didn't know to look for those ingredients before now. I'll let you know what I think about both of these products.

When I saw a display of Bobbi Brown's Illuminating Bronzing Powders, my heart went all a flutter. Could it be... could I find love again?!  In my Oops I Haul'd It Again! post, I had picked up my first BB bronzing powder. I have been wearing Antigua every day since I bought it, so I picked up Santa Barbara, thinking it looked similar to the cult classic Orgasm blush by NARS. Here you can see the two shades next to each other. Antigua is rosey, while Santa Barbara is more pinky-coral with a gold sheen - neither are shimmer, they just have a nice sheen to them. 

I'm looking forward to trying these products and letting you know what I think. I have my makeup trial for my wedding makeup coming up, so I feel another haul isn't far away. :) I'm looking forward to being made more beautiful.

Products mentioned in this post

ORIGINS Super Spot Remover - $15.50  $12 @ Off 5th 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Am I Glowing With Glam? (w/ BIG DEAL)

Bloggers, YouTubers, and just us Normals have our heads spinning with all this talk about GLAMGLOW -  "...designed for exclusive professional backstage use in Hollywood", "'no name' magic mud", "a product just for their actor friends, not for sale to anyone, not for retail to anyone"... Oooo fancy! So you're tell me if I smear this mud on my face I'll be as pretty as those Hollywood starlets with perfect skin ready for an closeup in HD?! 

So is it worth all the hype? I can tell you I have seen some less-than-miracle-level results... but I have seen results! I have dry-to-combo skin that generally has patches of flaky skin but also blackheads, mild breakouts, and the occasional cystic acne (those terribly painful under the skin, sore, swollen lumps that you can never pop and seem to take forever to disappear). Because of that, I have steered away from the YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment since I read in reviews about how drying it was and some people felt the tingling experience to be intense and uncomfortable. Even when I've taken a whiff of it in Sephora, the smell is just not pleasant to me. 

First mission, tackle dryness. My GLAMGLOW cherry was taken by the THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment. I use this as an overnight mask (as opposed to the recommended 20 min. mask) and wake up with very moisturized, fresh, and plumper skin and LOVE IT!  It doesn't harden like a typical "mask" would do, the smell is devine, and the color of the product soaks into your skin and essentially disappears, making you not so scary looking to whomever you share your bed with. The packaging seems small, but it will last you several dozen treatments, worth your money!  Mission complete!

Since I had such great experience with the hydrating treatment, I figured I'd leave it up to GLAMGLOW to help me with my clogged pores so I emptied my wallet on the POWERMUD Dual-Cleanse Treatment. My skin just must not be a good candidate for this product, because I have not noticed much of a difference after using this product after nearly a dozen times - at least not $69 worth of results. Call me a tough sell, but I'm just not blown away by the mud-to-oil formula like many of the reviews rave about - it hardens like a mask and then you wet it and it gets melty and oily, what's so magical about that?  I can think of lots of other things that change states when wet as well (e.g. cotton candy, dirt, marshmallows, cats). I find myself reaching for my ORIGINS Charcoal Mask much more. Perhaps I need a more focused treatment that can stand up to my problem skin. I'm going to trust that GLAMGLOW knows their stuff and pick up a sample of the SUPER-MUD Clearing Treatment next time I'm in Sephora. Mission incomplete!  

BIG DEAL! If you are interested in trying GLAMGLOW products and also like to save money, check out  I just saw they have the Eye Treatment and the Tinglexfoliate Treatment available at a highly decreased price! [takes a bow]

Products mentioned in this post:

THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment - $69  $37.99 @ - currently sold out
YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment - $69  $36.99 @
ORIGINS Charcoal Mask (1.7oz) - $17
BRIGHTMUD Eye Treatment - $69 $37.99 @

Disappointing Products:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oops I Haul'd It Again!

I took a trip to Sephora the other day to get a new fragrance for my Fiance's birthday... and accidentally had a mini-haul for myself (thanks honey!). Disclaimer, I did have 2 products to return, so that's how I justified it to myself, I'll talk about these in another post. Here's a little preview of what jumped into my basket (minus Nick's gift because I didn't know if I'd be posting this before I had given him his gift or not):

I began at the overwhelming wall of men's fragrances, gravitating towards the ones with the coolest bottles. Nick wears Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue everyday - which I really do like, but it has very soft, subtle notes - so I knew I wanted to get him a more "spicy" fragrance for nighttime. Here's a glimpse of the image I had in my mind:

I honed in on two fragrances, Viktor & Rolf's Spicebomb and YSL's L'Homme. While both have spicier, peppery notes, I decided on the YSL one because I felt it was a bit more of a middle ground. If Nick gets into switching up his fragrances, I would definitely like to add Spicebomb because it is so yummy! 

Foreground:  YSL L'Homme  Background: birthday card I made for him

Now onto my beauty finds, I have been looking for a nice pinky-nude lipstick for a bit now and found NARS' lipstick in Crusing and one from BITE in Retsina. The colors read similarly, but they do have different finishes, when swatched and on the lip. Retsina is more opaque with a satin finish, while the Crusing one has more of a semi-sheen/semi-gloss. Both look good with MAC's lipliner in Dervish (if you want to bring out the pink tones) or Whirl (if you want to bring out the brownish tones) and layered with MAC Nymphette gloss.

While in the NARS aisle, there was a NARS rep there giving someone a demo of the Dual Intensity eyeshadows that got me so interested I became less and less nonchalant with my eavesdropping. She showed how to use it dry to get a more subtle wash of color, and wet for a more opaque, metallic finish. I threw the Himalia color in my basket figuring with it's brownish-taupe color would work well with my everyday neutral eye looks. I wanted to be able to get the most use of out the product because it's so frickin' pricey! After using it for only a few days, I have found it to be buildable and I'm already having dreams of what shade I would like to get next. Also, she recommended using a synthetic hair brush. 

I picked up Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb ladies fragrance in a rollerball on my way to the checkout. It has a very sweet, floral, and addictive smell. I spontaneously grabbed a mini size Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
to give it a try. I've heard good things about this, I'll be interested to see if it's really worth the price and can replace my Garnier BB Cream (specifically the combo-oily skin one). This may be going back if it doesn't blow me away - $20 is pricey for only 1oz of product. 

Last but not least... I was looking around at Nordstrom for the Armani counter wanting to see what all the hype is about surrounding the Luminous Silk Foundation (which I couldn't find at any department store in my mall), I was stopped in my tracks. My eyes were drawn to the Illuminating Bronzing Powder at the Bobbi Brown counter. I don't know why it is considered a bronzer, but the Antigua shade gives a beautiful rosey, glow-from-within color to the cheeks. Sephora only seems to carry 2 of the 6 shades online. To me, these are much more wearable than the much obsessed about shimmer bricks, which I find way too sparkly. I definitely recommend checking these out!!! So that wraps up my haul for this time. 

I always have this internal argument with myself when purchasing from Sephora, I LOVE swatching the products to really determine whether I like them or not. However, I also REALLY love getting the cash back from Ebates (right now Sephora is offering 8% cash back!). If you can hold back from that "I MUST HAVE THIS NOW" urge, I recommend waiting to put your order in online using Ebates - Sephora online usually offers better samples and rewards gifts as well. In fact, I recommend checking out Ebates when purchasing from any store online for available cash back and coupon codes. Who doesn't want make money for shopping?  (That's another justification I make to myself for my online shopping habits.) 

Until next time... stay beautiful!

Products mentioned in this post:

NARS lipstick - Cruising - $26
Garnier BB Cream - light - $10

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Homemade Thank You Cards

Last winter, I was feeling like I needed a new hobby. During good weather months, I keep busy running, playing rec league softball, volleyball, and football. So when I was invited to a Stampin' Up! "Stamp-a-Stack Party" by a coworker, I didn't know what to expect but I figured what the hell. The demonstrator walks you through how to create 20 handmade cards in 5 different styles. You get to test-drive some of the Stampin' Up! products and walk away with 20 greeting cards! She had lots of the pieces prepped to save time, as some also required more complicated techniques. It was so much fun! I was immediately hooked!

I purchased a basic set of Stampin' Up! products. My first few stamp sets were from the engagement, bridal shower, and wedding designs - being in my late-20s, everyone around me seems to be getting married and starting families, so it seemed like a good place to start. After becoming more comfortable in designing my own cards, I decided that I wanted to make all of the Thank You cards for our wedding. I had no idea what I signed myself up for! But it does offer a nice quiet "meditation-like" time to just slow down and enjoy the moments of these months leading up to the wedding.

I wanted to come up with 4 - 5 different styles that brought in our wedding colors (grey, white, and navy), had somewhat simple designs, yet had a little something special. Here are a few of the styles I came up with...

Upper-left: Smoky Slate / Polka Dot embossing  Upper-right: Night of Navy / Silver embossing 
Lower-left:  Night of Navy / Banner Punch  Lower-right: Smoky Slate / Thank You

I got into the groove and once I completed 25 cards pre-made, I slowed down thinking I had a good head start... until my bridal shower and I depleted my stash! Now with the wedding being only 7 weeks away (eek!), I need to drink some energy drinks and become a Hallmark Machine!

What I really like about Stampin' Up! products is that they are of really great quality, have really cute stamps, and they take the question out of color/pattern matching. I've bought some Martha Stewart punches from Michael's and they just don't make as clean as cuts. I'd encourage anyone who's into paper crafts to check them out online!

Share your personality with your friends and give them handmade cards - I can guarantee they will B'more Beautiful than any you can find in the store!

Leave me a comment below if you'd be interested in my recommendations for a good card-making starter-kit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hey There Sugar Lips!

I can't hold it in anymore... I have to share my favorite lippy with you! First, let me just put it out there early and say I had a mini anxiety attack in the store over the price tag. I can give you the over-used "it's totally worth the money, trust me" line but instead, I'll just dare you to go into Sephora tomorrow and swatch one. I'm warning you now, you will get addicted - you'll want MORE! Now that we've got that out of the way, let's move on.

These Sugar Lip Treatments are the only Fresh products I've tried so far and I'm extremely pleased with the quality - of both the formula and the packaging. I love how the cap screws on so I can throw it in my purse and not worry about it ruining my bag. I can just sweep this across my lips and get great moisturization, a nice sheen, and fabulous pigmentation for a lip balm!

Left to Right:  Honey, Petal, Tulip, Coral, Passion, Berry

I took out a lone and got 6 of the 10 colors Fresh has available and the untinted Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment (not shown). Tulip and Passion are my favorites, both give a pop of color without looking overdone. Honey and Petal both have warmer brownish undertones, so I find myself grabbing these for when I want a nude lip in the cooler months. Coral makes your lips looks like you just finished eating a popsicle, a very on-trend color for this summer. I was surprised by how wearable Berry is, with my light complexion I usually can't pull of these richer colors (or at least I'm scared to try), but it is gorgeous! Come Fall, this will be my go-to color.  I find the formula to be a little softer in the Coral and Honey tubes (perhaps I just got some lemons), so be careful and spin it up just a wee bit to apply or else your whole tip with pop off (that's what she said?!). Has anyone else seemed to experience this? 

If you are going to get an untinted one, I would recommend spending the few extra dollars and getting Advanced Therapy vs. "normal" Lip Treatment. I was using the Advance Therapy every night before going to bed and was loving it. Then I switch to try using a sample size I had of the standard one and I was instantly missing that extra oomph.

I've heard Fresh offers some top rated skin care products. If I were going to try one, which should it be?

Products mentioned in this post: 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm an IT girl?!

Last September, the Ulta near me began carrying IT Cosmetics in-store. While this brand was available for sale from their website and on QVC prior to this, I don't like ordering products online until I am familiar with a brand just because I find returning products by mail such an unnecessary hassle. I saw the tester of this GOREGOUS Ombre Bronzer, once I swatched it on the back of my hand I knew I had to take it home with me. I gives a natural warmth with a subtle amount of sheen. I apply it to my cheeks and around the edges of my face with a fan brush and it just brings such life to my skin.  I find myself reaching for the Matte Bronzer more-so in the cooler months when I don't want the glow of the other one.

My IT Cosmetics collection has grown since.  Next was the CC cream, while it's "pricey for a CC cream", the coverage it provides is more like a medium coverage foundation. I have dry skin and find that this is super easy to use (apply with my fingers), provides enough coverage for every day, and doesn't accentuate my dry, flakey patches. The only negative thing I have to say about this is I wish the packaging didn't rub off so easily; I noticed the label rubbing off within the first 2 weeks of use.

I will never travel without the next two products again.  I love having my highlighter, bronzer, and blush all in one convenient palette - the Face Disc and Shadow Trio help create the perfect every look. If you like to have more shadow options even when traveling, the Eye Shadow palette offers 12 velvety, super-blendable colors with a good mix of matte and satin finishes. While the palette doesn't lock shut, I think there is plenty of padding/structure that would protect it enough to throw it in a travel bag. This standard neutral-eye girl is still working on building up the courage to use the purple and blue shadows. :)

The two products I will definitely not be repurchasing are the Liquid Oxygen Foundation and the Radiance Illuminator. There's nothing super wrong with the highlighter, but there's nothing really right about it either. It isn't a powder, it isn't a creme... it does offer a subtle highlight but there are other brands I prefer much more. On the other hand, I HAD to return the foundation. I had high expectations for it to be moisturizing for my dry skin based on it's name and claims, but the formula just didn't impress me... especially for the whopping price tag!

The most recent additions include an Under Eye Corrector (I have a feeling this will match, if not replace my beloved Bobbi Brown corrector), Celebration Foundation Illuminator (seems like a good compact that I'll throw in my purse for on-the-go touch-ups), and Vitality Lip Blush Hydrating Gloss Stain (a long name for an over-priced lip gloss). Supposedly the lip gloss color I got is a color changing one that looks different on everyone. I'm thinking this will be similar to my current obsession, Dior Addict Lip Glow. < I'm hoping one of these products will give me the lip color I want for my wedding day with staying power and, since it's a "clear color", won't transfer. I haven't had these products long enough to give a good review - I'll post an update later.

Have you tried any IT products? Which are your favorites?

Hey IT Cosmetics, what's up with the excessively long names by the way?!

Products mentioned in this post: 

CC+ Radiance Ombre Bronzer - $34
Vitality Glow Anti-Aging Matte Bronzer - $34
Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+ - light - $38
Vitality Face Disc - $38
Eye Shadow Trio - pearl luxe - $24
Luxe Anti-Aging High Performance Eye Shadow Palette w/Dual Brush - $38
Under Eye Corrector - light - $29
Celebration Foundation Illuminator - light - $35
Vitality Lip Blush Hydrating Gloss Stain - je ne sais quoi - $24
Dior Addict Lip Glow - $33

Disappointing products:

IT-O2 Ultra Repair Liquid Oxygen Foundation - light - $38
Hello Light Anti-Aging Creme Radiance Illuminator - $24

The Journey Begins!

While driving home from a shopping trip today, I realized that I REALLY like beauty products and that I should turn my obsession with researching, discovering, and shopping for beauty products into something that others might find helpful. I get this crazy high from roaming the aisles of a beauty store, swatching colors, looking at the beautiful packaging, dreaming of different looks I could create. Wait... let's get something clear, just because I purchase a lot of beauty stuff doesn't mean I know how to schmear it on my face.

Two years ago, I would have never wandered from the 'drugstore' side of Ulta into the 'luxury brand' side. I was too overwhelmed by the thought of spending more than $5 on an eyeliner. After spending way too many hours watching YouTube beauty gurus completely transform themselves, I began to feel more adventurous and found myself exploring Ulta's 'other side'. I discovered that sometimes spending more money meant better quality... and better results (don't get me wrong, I still love me some drugstore products). I have this dream that someday I will learn how to be a makeup magician too - winged eyeliner, flawless skin, the smokey eye, contouring/highlighting, the perfect lip (oh no, there I go... getting way too excited again!).

I'd like to welcome you to join me in my journey to Be More Beautiful!