Saturday, January 11, 2014

ULTA Friends & Family Sale Details (20% Off!)

For those of you who haven't gotten an Ulta F&F Sale email yet with your 20% off coupon, here is the link to get one emailed to you.  (I believe the link to the coupon originally broke over on Nouveau Cheap...or at least that's where I first saw it!)  It runs January 12 through the 18th this year and excludes all the usuals (Lancome, Benefit Brow, etc.) plus all three Urban Decay Naked Palettes.  It includes prestige haircare/cosmetics though.

On my wishlist: It Cosmetics CC Cream ($38) and the Lorac Pro Palette ($42) (both cruelty free!) among other items ;)  

If any of you guys have tried the CC cream, please let me know!!  I've only heard about it from 1 person and I'd love more opinions.

I hope this post doesn't help break too many January no-buys!

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mascara Week Part 5: My Holy Grail Mascara

To wrap up Mascara Week, I want to share my detailed review of my Holy Grail Mascara: Benefit They're Real ($23).  

The first time I used this mascara, I was absolutely blown away.  I had heard good reviews, but nothing prepared me for the amazingness to come!

Image Source:
It gives absolutely amazing length and volume, separates your lashes flawlessly, and stays in place without smudging.  It is a wet formula, but that's right up my alley.  It does dry up a bit after a few weeks, but never to the point that you feel you're using a different mascara.  It always remains perfect.

The plastic brush is very unique and the spiky ball on top really lets you get every last lash.  I also find that the ball allows you to coat your lower lashes so much easier than a typical mascara wand.  (I prefer plastic brushes to typical bristle wands.)  

It is also one of the blackest shades I've ever used, which I love.  I really enjoy dramatic lashes even during the day, so the extreme length and volume you get from this mascara is perfect for me.

Removal of this one can be a bit tough.  It is very water-resistant, so an oil or oil-based remover is necessary.

I know it's pricey, and I know it's a pain to remove, but it is SO worth it.  I will repurchase this until the day they no longer make it.  And when that day comes I will run out and buy 39402630423948203984 backups of it. ;)

Do you love Benefit They're Real as much as I do?  What is your HG mascara?  Please share!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed :)

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mascara Week Part 4: My Top and Bottom 5 Mascaras

I am a complete and total mascara junkie, as if you couldn't tell.  I strictly adhere to the 3 Month Rule, but once that 90 day mark comes, I toss my tube and generally don't look back.  I'm always searching for a new tube to try in the hope that it will be my new favorite.  If you saw my makeup collection, you saw my stockpiles of new tubes to give a shot!  (Included in there...Cover Girl Clump Crusher, Hourglass Film Noir, YSL Shocking, Loreal Voluminous Full Definition, a bunch of samples, and more!)

Even though I've tried so many different mascaras, there are some clear winners and some total losers in my book.  Here are my picks and not-picks :)

...and for the record, I only use black mascara, so all my opinions are based on the blackest shade available in each particular type.

My Top 5 Mascaras

1.  Benefit They're Real ($23).  This stuff just cannot be beat.  It is my Holy Grail Mascara.  Tomorrow's Mascara Week post is going to be all about this gem, so stay tuned for my full review!

2.   Mac Extended Play Lash ($16) or Loreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes ($9).  LOVE me some tubing mascaras.  They're just so insanely easy to remove.  Both of these are great.  I've purchased the Loreal mascara multiple was especially great for right after my daughter was born.  It helped me look a little more awake but took seconds to remove.  They should hand that stuff out at the hospital ;)  Anyway...Mac's version definitely gives more length than Loreal's, which I find to be more volumizing than lengthening.  They're both wet formulas, and neither smudges or budges.  Mac's mascara has a smaller, narrower brush than Loreal's, although they're both bristle wands.  I should also add in the caveat that I only use the black mascara side of the Loreal duo, and not the white primer side.  I've found that the white primer just causes clumps and bunches your lashes together.

Image Source:
3.  Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 ($32).  The formula on this is so unique that I had to include it in my Top 5.  It's neither wet nor dry...more like a mousse.  It gives great length and volume with no clumps and good separation.  It does smudge a little on me, but nothing terrible.  The 3-balled bristle wand is also really different, although I cannot say it really made much difference in application.  The formula of this alone is what makes it great.  Plus the packaging is pure luxury, which helps justify the astronomical cost!

4.  Buxom Lash ($19).  Love the plastic brush and the wet formula of this.  It's a decently priced high end mascara that delivers.  Super black, great length and volume with no clumps, good separation, and barely any smudging.  I did find that this was better when the tube was it dried out I didn't love it as much. 

5.  Maybelline The Falsies ($6.99).  Another one that gives great volume and length.  This is totally comparable to Buxom Lash, but it's obviously much cheaper (especially if you can snag it on sale or with a coupon).  I really liked the curved plastic brush, and I found it very easy to pull my lashes outward to create a cat-eye effect with this one.  Another plus, you can load this stuff up with coat after coat, and if you're won't clump, but you'll just look like you're wearing some awesome false lashes.  Funny how they named it that huh? ;)  It's true though!  My hairstylist swears by this mascara, and I can't tell you how many times I asked her what lashes she had on so I could immediately go buy them because her lashes always look amazing.  She just loads them up with this stuff!

Honorable Mentions: Tarte Lights Camera Lashes ($19) (bristle wand, good volume, decent length...but a little on the dry side for me) and Cover Girl Lashblast Fusion ($10) (I prefer it over the original because I like both volume and length).  (I might also want to add Mally's Volumizing Mascara here, but it's too soon to tell!  See my thoughts on that one here.)

The Bottom 5
1.  Diorshow.  I'm sorry, this stuff is just overpriced crap in my book.  I am not a fan of dry formulas, which this is.  I found that it clumped, smudged under my eyes, and just did not give me the length I wanted from a $25 tube of mascara.  I will say that I have been more pleased with Diorshow Extase than with the original formulation.

2.  Revlon Grow Luscious.  I would go so far as to call this a dupe of Diorshow, which is why I didn't like it.  I got the exact same results...albeit at a fraction of the price.

3.  Maybelline Lash Stiletto.  I actually didn't mind the results I got with this mascara, but OMG the smell!!!!  The smell is awful.  It wasn't just my tube, sister's smelled the same way.  I felt like I could smell it on my lashes all day long and I just couldn't deal with it.

4.  Makeup Forever Smoky Lash.  Another dry formula that I just did not like.  One of the only 2 mascaras that I ever threw away after 3 or 4 uses.  I felt that it really didn't do much of anything to my lashes.

5.  Maybelline Great Lash.  The only other mascara that I threw away after 3 or 4 uses.  This stuff does. not. dry.  It smudged all over my face, let alone my undereyes.  For the lackluster length and barely-there volume I got, I would never purchase it again...even if it is only a few dollars.

Please share your picks and those you definitely recommend skipping.  Clearly I love to try new mascaras, so I'd love some recommendations!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed :)

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mascara Week Part 3: Removal

One of my least favorite tasks is removing my mascara at the end of the day.  It's SUPER important that it gets done, though.  You really just don't want to sleep in with those chemicals and products on your eyes!

It's no secret that some mascaras are harder to remove than others.  I've used everything from tubing mascaras that come off with just water and some pressure from your fingers (which are a cinch to remove!) to super duper waterproof (in other words, good luck).

Here are my tips for getting every last speck of whatever mascara you have on, off!

If it's pretty easy to remove...
Water usually does a pretty good job!  Wash your face with your normal soap and water, and if your soap is gentle, carefully rub a little over your lashes (eyes closed!!) to help break down the mascara.  I usually just use whatever is left on my fingers after washing the rest of my face.  This will usually leave a little residue that can easily be cleaned up after with some water based or cream based makeup remover.  My picks are Bioderma (find it on Amazon or Ebay) or Kiehl's Supremely Gentle Eye Makeup Remover ($16.50).

If it's average...
This is how I remove probably 80% of my mascaras.  First, use either water based or an oil based remover on a cotton pad.  I have yet to find my Holy Grail oil-based remover, but I did enjoy Sonia Kashuk Remove ($10).  Gently press the remover over your eyes for a few seconds to help break down the mascara, then wipe away.  You likely won't get everything off using this alone.  From there...either wash or face as described above, or go in with a makeup remover wipe.  Mac Wipes are my pick, but they aren't technically eye-safe.  For other great wipes, check out my post comparing a bunch of brands.  With your eyes closed, carefully rub the wipe over your lashes.  I also then open my eyes and "pinch" my lashes from the top and bottom with the wipe in my fingertips.  Be very, very don't want to pull your lashes out!  This method really lets me get everything off, but you have to be very careful and gentle.  

If it's stubborn or waterproof...
This is the method I would use to remove anything waterproof, or something stubborn like Benefit They're Real.  First, use an oil to get most of it off.  No, not an oil-based remover.  A straight oil.  My favorite is Josie Maran's Argan Cleansing Oil ($12 for 1.9 oz...which will last you forever, or $32 for 6 oz.), but you could even use something as simple as olive oil.  I like Josie Maran's because it is specifically meant for this and it does not irritate my contact lenses at all.  (I plan to do a full review and demo of this product, because I really do love it.)  BE VERY CAREFUL!  With your eyes closed, rub the oil into your lashes and all over your eyelids.  Your eyes will be completely and totally black and you'll look like a freak!  ;)  But the genius part of this is that the oils just wash right away with water.  No soap needed.  And they take about 90% of your stubborn mascara with them.  I clean up any residue with one of the two methods above.

Let me know your favorite products and methods to get your mascara off!  Do any of my tips work for you?

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mascara Week Part 2: First Impressions Review of Mally Beauty Volumizing Mascara

Back in October, I purchased Mally Beauty Volumizing Mascara ($20) during an Ulta haul.  I had seen it featured on QVC one night and totally fell for it.  I just had to grab it and give it a shot.  I finally opened up the tube last week and wanted to share my first impressions with you all.  (And yup, I paid for this one with my own money.  This isn't a sponsored post in any way shape or form.)

Image Source:
I'm happy to say that I was really pleasantly surprised by this mascara!  It seems like it's going to be a really great one.  The formula is on the wet side, although I would call it right in between a wet and a dry formulation.  It should be interesting to see how much it dries up over the next few weeks.  The brush is a bristle brush, not a plastic one, and is of average size.  The mascara only comes in Black, and I found it to be a dark black, although not the darkest mascara I've used.

Overall, this made my lashes really voluminous and fairly long, especially for a mascara that is marketed as volumizing.  I was really impressed with the way my lashes looked after just 1 coat.  I did not have any clumping, and it did not make my lashes stick together.  The separation and definition it gave were by far what impressed me most.  After 2 coats on top, I did have a little less separation, but my lashes still looked really good.  (Typically, thought, I find that mascaras clump and fail to separate as they get older.  This review is just based off my impression after my first use.)  The mascara also performed exceptionally well on the lower lashes.  The brush made it easy to apply just enough, but not too much.  My lower lashes were dark and defined.

no mascara

one coat on top lashes only

two coats on top; 1 on bottom

(These photos were taken with only this mascara on.  No filters or photoshopping.)

Another huge plus...this stuff barely moved throughout the day.  I did get a tiny little bit of smudging under my eyes, but nothing to complain about at all.  (And MUCH better than Mac's Haute & Naughty that I had been using. of difference!)  Plus I did wear it on my lower lashes, so I know that usually does cause some smudging.

The most unique thing about this mascara is that it did not leave my lashes crunchy or hard at all.  I've never used anything that still left my lashes feeling soft to the touch.  It was really incredible.  The only downside of that is it made removal a bit more difficult.  Overall, the mascara removes fairly easily...I would say it's average.  I was able to get everything off between some Bioderma on a cotton pad and a Mac wipe, which is my normal removal process.  The reason I say it is more difficult because your lashes are soft is because you cannot feel if there's any more mascara on them.  You just have to keep wiping until your cotton pad/wipe comes clean.

One last thing worth mentioning...Mally Beauty is a brand that does not test on animals!

Have you lovelies tried Mally's Volumizing Mascara?  What were your thoughts?  How are the other mascaras from her line?

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mommy Makeup Monday: My Mascara Rules

On Mondays, I share a tip, product or tutorial that will help you look polished and put-together quickly and with minimal effort.  You definitely don't have to be a rushed mom to benefit from these posts...anyone who needs to be out-the-door fast (and who doesn't?!) can appreciate Mommy Makeup Mondays!

Welcome to Mascara Week my lovely readers!  This week I will feature a post each day about my absolute favorite makeup product, which is obviously mascara :)

I chose Mommy Makeup Monday to kick off Mascara Week (instead of just putting up my first post on Tuesday) because even a busy mom has time for a quick swipe of mascara.  There's just no excuse ladies.  Mascara takes like 45 seconds to apply, if that.  Leave a tube out on your bathroom counter and swipe a coat on your top lashes after you brush your teeth.  In my opinion, it is the #1 way to look just that little bit more awake and refreshed, opens your eyes, and just makes you look prettier.

So.  That being said.  Here are my Mascara Rules!

1.  Follow proper hygiene with mascara.  I am making this my #1 Rule because it is SO IMPORTANT!!!!  I've heard women (and I've seen it featured on Pinterest, WTF??) say that they will drop some contact lens solution into an old mascara tube to get more life out of it, and I cannot fathom why on earth anyone would do this!!  These are your eyes you're messing with!!!  Just don't do it!  Toss your mascaras after 3 months, tops.  That's the industry standard as to when a tube of mascara is considered so full of bacteria that you really shouldn't be using it anymore.  If cost is a concern, go drugstore.  You can grab really great mascaras for less than $10!  And another hygiene point...don't share mascara.  Professional makeup artists use disposable wands in their mascara tubes so that there is no cross contamination for a reason.  You just never know.  (And if you're getting your makeup done at a place like Sephora or a counter in the mall, make sure they're using a disposable wand on you!)

2.  Don't pump the wand.  Swirl it while it is in the tube instead.  This reduces bacteria in the tube.

3. Application is important.  When you apply, look down into a mirror to do your top lashes.  Wiggle the brush at the base of the lashes and then pull it upward to comb through your lashes.  If you want a cat-eye effect, pull the brush outward as you swipe.  If you want to open up your eyes more and make them look rounder, swipe straight up.  One coat is really all you need for day time, but of course a second coat looks awesome too.  :)

4.  Wait to do your lower lashes until all your other makeup is done.  This way, you aren't blending concealer or anything else into your mascara.

5.  If you smudge, don't worry...just wait!  Waiting until any mascara that smudged accidentally on your face or top eyelid is 100% completely dry makes it much easier to remove it.  I know this seems counter-intuitive, but when mascara dries, it flakes off.  This means you won't just be moving it around your face even more, just causing black stripes.  After it's totally dry, just rub it off with a Q-tip.  If you use a gentle hand, you won't disrupt any makeup under the mascara smudge.

So those are my must-follow rules for mascara.  Stay tuned this week for tips on removal and to hear about some awesome mascaras that I recommend!

Thanks for stopping by :)  I hope you enjoyed and found these helpful!

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Nail Polish Collection

Soooooo, yeah, I have a LOT of nail polish.  Some of these bottles are really old and I keep them for sentimental reasons.  Like...10+ years old.  Over the years, though, I've justified having this much polish because I can count probably on one hand the number of professional manicures I've gotten.  I always polish my own nails, with the exception of my wedding day and a few other really important events.  I'm super picky about how they're done, and I just prefer to do them myself.  Besides, I get bored after a few days of the same polish color and I like to switch it up.  So rather than regularly spend $20 on a mani, I often bought a bottle of $8 polish and called it a day.

In terms of storage, I keep in-season shades in my polish rack, which is hanging above my vanity in my closet.  I purchased mine off Amazon, although I do not remember which one is specifically was.  I believe mine is a 90-bottle rack and I paid around $50 for it.  You can get them on Amazon or Ebay in that price range easily.

I keep off-season colors in ziplock bags in a plastic storage container on a shelf in my closet.  They are easily accessed, because I do like to use neons in winter and black in summer occasionally.   (There are no nail polish rules in my book!) 

I should probably get a Helmer, huh??  Oh well!

Here are the shades I own and love :)

Light/Sheer Pinks

Top Row: Rimmel French Tip White, Revlon White on White, Revlon Starry Pink, Orly Bare Rose, Orly Rose Colored Glasses, Orly Pure Porcelain, Ciate Strawberry Milkshake
2nd Row: (all OPI)  Don't Touch My Tutu, Sweetheart, Bubble Bath, Take the Cake, Passion, Barre My Soul, Care to Dance, Steady As She Rose, Pink-ing of You
3rd Row: (all Essie) Marshmallow, Allure, It's In The Bag, Like Linen, Hi Maintenance, Prima Ballerina, Topless & Barefoot, Fiji, Sugar Daddy, Au Natural
Bottom Row: Sephora by OPI Bare to Be Different, Sephora by OPI Going Nude, Eh?, Sally Hanson Princess Pink, Zoya Romy, Sinful Colors Easy Going, Maybelline Ballet on Ice, Milani Angel Pink

Bright Pinks

(still working on my photography skills lol)

Top Row:  Essie Mod Squad, Essie Lights, Essie Chastity, Essie Watermelon, Sephora by OPI Access 24/7, Loreal B. Daring, Loreal B. Powerful, NYC Pink Promenade, Zoya Aria, Essence Plum Perfect
Middle Row:  (the first 7 are China Glaze) Bottoms Up, Sugar High, Ahoy!, Sexy Silhouette, Pool Party, Hang-Ten Toes, You Drive Me Coconuts; and Sinful Colors 24/7
Bottom Row: (all OPI) Meet Me At the Bonfire, Cajun Shrimp, Charged Up Cherry, La Paz-itively Hot, It's All Greek to Me, Cha-Ching Cherry, Santiago Sangria, Kiss Me on My Tulips, Flashbulb Fuchsia

Oranges & Yellows

L-R:  Essie Haute As Hello, China Glaze Flip Flop Fantasy, Ruffian Fox Hunt, Ulta Sun-Sational


Top Row:  Sephora Formula X Ignite, Sephora Formula X Fahrenheit, Revlon Revlon Red, Revlon Firecracker, Essie Exotic Liras, Essie Toggle to the Top
Middle Row:  China Glaze Lubu Heels, China Glaze Pointsettia, China Glaze Riveter Rouge, Maybelline Night on the Town, Pixel (unnamed), Avon Ruby Slippers, Maybelline Succulent, Zoya Colbie
Bottom Row:  (all OPI) Dutch Tulips, Big Apple Red, Got The Blues for Red, A Man In Every Port-ugal, I'm Not Really A Waitress, William Tell Me About OPI, Every Month is Oktoberfest


haha clearly my photography skills still need help!
 Top Row:  Essie Island Hopping, Essie Bahama Mama, Essie No More Film, Sephora Formula X Haphazard, Zoya Marley, Zoya Julieanne, Ulta Celebutante
2nd Row:  (all OPI) Purple With A Purple, Anti-Bleak, You're Such a Budapest, Do You Lilac It?, Panda-Monium Pink, Talk About An Upgrade!, Louvre Me Louvre Me Not, My Auntie Drinks Chianti, Houston We Have A Purple
3rd Row: China Glaze Purple Panic, China Glaze Flying Dragon, China Glaze Grape Juice, China Glaze That's Shore Bright, Revlon Facets of Fuchsia, Revlon Perplex
Bottom Row: Finger Paints Pretty as a Portrait, Finger Paints Be A Pal-ette, Sephora by OPI What A Broad, Sephora by OPI I Don't Bite

A Few More Purples I Forgot In the First Picture ;)

L-R: Seche Vite Contemporary, China Glaze Seduce Me, Revlon Plum Seduction


Top Row: China Glaze Up All Night, China Glaze First Class Ticket, China Glaze For Audrey, China Glaze Midnight Mission, Essie Borrowed & Blue, Essie Smooth Sailing, Essie Bobbing for Baubles, Essie Dive Bar
Middle Row: OPI Ski Teal We Drop, OPI Can't Find My Czechbook, OPI Road House Blues, Illamasqua Raindrops, Butter London, Orly Blue Collar
Bottom Row: Loreal B. Fabulous, Sinful Colors Fly Away, Sinful Colors Midnight Blue (old!!!!), Revlon Royal, Ulta Bam-Blue-zled


Top Row: OPI Jade is the New Black, OPI Stranger Tides, Essie Navigate Her, China Glaze Emerald Fitzgerald, China Glaze Westside Warrior, China Glaze Re-fresh Mint, China Glaze Turned Up Turquoise
Bottom Row: Ulta Army of 1, Zoya Veruschka, Sally Hansen Emerald City, Hard Candy Sell Out (old!!!), Sephora by OPI Just A Fairy-Tale, Color Club London Calling, Butter London British Racing Green


Top Row: NARS Bad Influence, Essie Case Study, Essie Glamour Purse, Essie Lady Godiva, Zoya Codie
Middle Row: China Glaze Foie Gras, China Glaze Ingrid, China Glaze Fast Track, OPI My Private Jet (unfortunately not the holo one), OPI The World Is Not Enough
Bottom Row: Sephora by OPI Metro Chic, Orly Luxe, Orly Rage, Sally Hanson Golden Conduct


Top Row: China Glaze Icicle, China Glaze Hook and Line, China Glaze Pelican Gray
Middle Row: Revlon Carbonite, Sephora by OPI Run With It, Ulta Scene Steel-er, Ulta Concrete Evidence
Bottom Row: OPI Moon Over Mumbai, OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, Essie Chinchilly, Essie Power Clutch


Top Row: OPI Alcatraz Rocks, OPI Black Satin, OPI On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Middle Row: Sephora Formula X Umph, Sally Hansen Black Out, Sinful Colors Black on Black, Zoya Dovima
Bottom Row: Sephora by OPI Never Enough Shoes, Sephora by OPI Dark Room, Orly Naughty or Nice

Top & Base Coats

L-R: Essie Matte About You, Sally Hansen Gel Top Coat, Julep Polymer Top Coat, NYC Polish in Grand Central Station, Gelous Base Coat, Seche Vite Top Coat, Ulta Ridge Filler Base Coat


 Top Row: (all China Glaze) Snow Globe, White Cap, Bat My Eyes, Twinkle Lights, Some Like It Haute, CG In The City
2nd Row: Essie Stroke of Brilliance, Essie Beyond Cozy, Revlon Girly, Revlon Whimsical, OPI Pirouette My Whistle, OPI Teenage Dream, OPI Gift of Gold
3rd Row: Sephora by OPI Jewelry Top Coats (l-r) Don't Be Eggnog-ious, Be-Claus I Said So, Not Your Average Turquoise, Only Gold For Me, Sugar Plum Fairies Gone Wild, It's Bouquet with Me; Sally Hanson Big Money, Sally Hanson Perky Pink
4th Row: Sinful Colors Call You Later, Sinful Colors Frenzy, Wet N Wild Kaleidoscope, Color Blast by Orly (unnamed), Ulta Tink-Her-Bell, Sephora Formula X Chaotic, Milani Gems
Bottom Row: (all Deborah Lippmann) Stronger, Let's Go Crazy, Candy Shop, Happy Birthday (mini)

That's it! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed :)  Please share your collections, too!

As always, everything in this post is my honest personal opinion.  No affiliate links were used.  I have not accepted any consideration for sharing these items with you.  Unless indicated otherwise, all products were purchased by me with my own money.