Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Favorites

July Favorite Makeup and Hair Products

It's been forever since I've done a favorites post, March in fact!  I figured it was high time that I get into the routine of doing these every month, so here are my favorite hair and makeup products for the month of July.

L'Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm :  This is the only product in this list that I haven't actually reviewed yet, but I'm getting ready to do one next month.  I'm almost completely done using this jar of conditioner, and I'm totally in love.  I think this treatment has pretty much replaced regular conditioner in my shower.  Already from experience, I learned that most traditional conditioners don't give me the kind of hydration and therapy that I need with my constant coloring.  I've been coloring my hair for half my life now, so there's nary a hair on my head that hasn't been almost processed to death.  I keep my hair healthy however by washing it only 2-3 times a week and using a treatment conditioner like this L'Oreal one instead of regular conditioners.  I think I've used just about every hair treatment mask out there at some point or another, and this one has impressed me the most.  And it's only $6.99!  I picked it up on a whim at Target one day, and I have barely used anything else since.  My hair is soft and bouncy, and the shine is great!  It's honestly the healthiest it's ever felt.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation:  {Read my review here}  Since I've got a bit of a tan this month from spending a lot of time outdoors (despite the ridiculous 90+ degree temps!), I've been using this foundation a lot.  I picked it up in a color I knew was a little too dark at the time, but now it's perfect.  But that's not the only reason I've been using it.  It really does last all day long, and it's proven to be pretty humidity resistant as well.  I just use a tissue to blot my face when I feel sweaty (I don't get oily much with my dry skin), and it doesn't rub off that way.  I do notice a bit of transfer on my cell phone screen, but I think that every brand of foundation does that to some extend.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse:  {Read my review here}  This has totally replaced my Elizabeth Arden brow powder that I've been using for the past six years.  Every once and a while I'll grab a pencil to fill in my brows, but pretty much this is my go-to product for getting perfect brows that last all day long.  I think my favorite part is that it comes with a dual ended brush to apply the product and brush out the brow hairs.  And this stuff is majorly pigmented.  Just a tiny bit will fill in the whole brow, and after an entire month of using it nearly every day I've made just the barest of dents in it.

NYX Lip Butter in Eclair:  {Read my review here}  I introduced my teenage nieces to this lip gloss, and they are all about now, too.  I recently stocked up again at Ulta when they had a sale (and broke my challenge, I know! Ugh!), and I added a few more colors to my collection. I need to just start buying them online instead of in the store, because the colors I want are always out of stock in my local store.  They seriously had 1-2 of only a few colors, and I had to be nice and let my niece get the only one in a color I've been wanting.  What a nice Auntie I am! ha ha!  Meringue is a pretty decent substitute for Eclair if you can't get your hands on it by the way.  Eclair still remains my favorite though, and I use it daily.  It is the perfect pale pink and positively LIVES in my purse. (Peter Piper picked a peck.... haha)  Moving on...

Be A Bombshell Blush:  {See my review on IPSY here}  If you've read my blog about Tarte's Amazonian Clay Blush {here}, you'll know how much I absolutely adore their product.  But I think I may have found a new brand of blush to obsess over for a while.  I got the Be A Bombshell blush in Sweet Cheeks, and I've used it almost every day.  I alternate it with my Frisky Tarte blush, and this color gives me a great flush without being too bright.  It's a subtle warm pink that goes great with my fair skintone, although it does look better on me now with a bit of a tan.  It's nice and pigmented and can be brushed on sheer with a brush like the Real Techniques Stippling Brush, or layered for more color with an angled blush brush.

Covergirl Flamed Out Mascara: I haven't published my review for this mascara yet, but I've definitely been recommending it via my Facebook and Instagram if you've been paying attention.  (If not, why not?  Check them out and follow me now to stay up to date with my top recommendations BEFORE they hit the blog!)  This has a unique hourglass shaped wand that deposits mascara perfectly, and the formula is rich and creamy without clumping. It delivers perfect volume and the perfect price point.  Every time this month I've done my makeup, this is the mascara that I've reached for, and it's not even waterproof!  It hasn't smudged or melted off, either.  Not sure if they make a waterproof version, but I'll definitely be hunting it down at the store before I head to Florida in a few weeks to double check.

What are your favorite products this month?  Share your thoughts with us on your favorite products or on these.  We'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Product Review- Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner

Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner Review

Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner


From the Brand: Our waterproof long-wearing liner provides bold definition for up to 8 hours. This creamy, easy-to-apply formula contains vitamin E and jojoba oil to protect. The cap houses a unique built-in sharpener so you'll always have the most precise application.


Retails for: $19.00

Where to Buy:, Sephora stores and online, Ulta stores and online  (Personally, I recommend buying directly from the Smashbox website.  Sign up for their rewards program and earn money off future purchases, bonus samples for your birthday, and a deluxe sample with every order. Shipping is always free, too.  PLUS, if you order on Tuesdays or Thursdays during the designated time, read more here, you'll get a bonus free product. It really doesn't get any better as far as rewards programs go!)

My Thoughts:  I'm a huge fan of the Smashbox liners.  I use them in my professional kit for all my weddings, as I find that the black is a nice deep intense matte black and the brown is a very rich dark brown without being too orange or too black.


My favorite feature is the fact that they have a sharpener in the cap!  I mean, in my world that's straight genius.  How many times have you forgotten your sharpener on a trip?  Yeah, me too.  All. The. Time.  Which is why I normally go for the twist up, but with the Smashbox liners you can get the super fine point of a wood pencil with the convenience of easy sharpening.  Win win in my book/blog. haha!


They do have a limited color range, but unless you're going for a bright look they cover all the basic necessities.  You have black, brown, navy, a khaki, a deep grey, medium tone purple, netural teal, and deep purple.


They go on smoothly without skipping and are very long lasting.  They don't dry too quickly to smudge for a smokey look, but they also aren't dry and waxy either.  I like that they have jojoba oil in the formula, which give it the creamy consistency.  They are waterproof, which makes them perfect for summer or brides!

Final Verdict:  Convenience and effectiveness in one little package.  A definite good buy!


**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Product Review- Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer

Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer Review

Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer Review

Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer


From the Brand: A full coverage, waterproof concealer that won’t crease, flake, or leave you needing more.


Product Performance: Maracuja creaseless concealer offers long-lasting, full coverage in a rich, creamy texture with pure, skin-soothing, and anti-aging ingredients. This velvety concealer is also ideal for masking discoloration and imperfections such as acne/blemishes, redness, scars, hyperpigmentation, and dark circles. This nutrient-rich, blendable, liquid concealer brightens and restores skin’s natural luster, leaving you with a flawless complexion.

Powered By: Maracuja: helps to improve skin’s texture, tone and moisture content while imparting a brightening dewy, luminous finish. In addition to promoting healthy skin.

Retails for: $24.00

Where to Buy:, Sephora stores and online, Ulta stores and online

My Thoughts:  This concealer is super creamy and the most pigmented stuff I've ever used.  The tiniest, and I mean tiniest, bit is all you need to smooth over your undereye area.  It's pretty budgeproof, too, even in the heat.  And when they say it's creaseless, it really is!  I haven't found it settling into fine lines at all.

I don't think I've used it often enough (since I don't wear makeup every day) to see any skin benefits from it, but it does outlast and outperform the majority of concealers in my repertoire.  The finish is nice and dewy, although I do usually add a touch of powder when I set my foundation/concealer.  It's also great for other areas rather than just under the eyes, and it won't budge or settle there either.

Final Verdict: Amazing concealer and worth every penny!



**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Product Review- Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner


From the Brand: Finally, a waterproof liquid liner that glides on with ease, won't smudge or run, and stays in place until you say when!

The thin marker-like tip is easy to use even for the least experienced, and delivers a defined thin line to a dramatic bold line with precision.

Goes on smoothly without skipping, smudging, or pulling, and lasts all day!

Key Benefits:

  • Waterproof and easy-to-use
  • Goes on smoothly without skipping
  • Lasts all day long!

  • Intense Black
  • Dark Brown
  • Indigo
  • Alloy
  • Moss


Retails for: $20.00


Where to Buy: Stila Cosmetics, Sephora stores and online, Ulta stores and online


My Thoughts: I think I may have found the perfect liquid eyeliner!  I began my search back in May with the Milani eyeliner, and I've been buying up liquid liner pens like they're going out of style.  Which, by the way with the way I have been hoarding them, I hope isn't any time soon!  This one has been my ultimate favorite so far, since it's a felt tip pen style versus the paint on liquid with a brush.  I prefer the pen style as I find that with the brush styles the liquid gets on my lashes and has a more wet/patent look to it.  I like my liner to be nice and pigmented and matte.  And the Stila waterproof liquid eyeliner delivers on both those counts.


The claims of waterproof are accurate as well.  With normal day to day activities, I know the eyeliner is going to last all day without budging.  If I'm sweating or crying, it also stays in place very nicely for many hours. 


It also doesn't skip along my lash line, which is admittedly becoming more and more crepey as I crawl past the 30 mark.  Years of tugging my lash line super taut to get a perfect line have taken their toll and destroyed a lot of the elastin in my eyelids, making them start to crinkle up at the base of the lashes and slightly droopy towards the ball of the lid.  This liquid eyeliner deposits deeply pigmented color evenly.


I think that these types of liquid liners are easier to use, so that claim is inherently true from my opinion.



Final Verdict: A definite buy!



**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.  This article contains affiliate links.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Product Review- Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Foundation

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Review


Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer 


From the Brand: Healthy Skin Enhancer is an alternative to foundation that provides everything you need for softer, healthier and younger-looking skin in one beautiful step.

This dermatologist-developed formula contains a vitamin-rich Retinol treatment to visibly smooth fine lines and reduce signs of aging. It nourishes skin and protects against future sun damage with a weightless Broad Spectrum SPF 20 moisturizer. Each skin-enhancing shade provides a sheer tint of color for a more even, naturally beautiful look.

Available in six sheer shades. Each shade works on multiple skin tones for easier shade selection.

Enjoy the power of three daily essentials in one beautiful step.

  • Broad spectrum SPF 20
  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic (won't clog pores)
  • Available in 6 sheer, skin-enhancing tints


Retails for: $10.49


Where to Buy:, mass cosmetic retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Target, and more


My Thoughts: Oh how I wanted to love this!  Unfortunately, it went in my "fails" bin.  I was highly enticed by the retinol in the ingredients list to help improve the texture of my skin along with spf and color to even my tone.  Sadly, this unique combination of ingredients was a cocktail for disaster where my skin was concerned.  It was very irritating on my face and caused me to continually break out.  I used it several times over a two month period, trying to see if it was a combination of my skincare routine, hormones, or heat/humidity levels.  It continued to irritate even under different conditions.

The shade that I purchased was also the fairest color, and it was far from light enough to accommodate my complexion.  It was at least a shade and a half dark for my lightest, although when I did have more color from being outside it was ok.  The consistency was also a bit difficult, too.  You can't use a damp sponge to apply it or else it will go on splotchy and separate.  I found much better coverage buffing it in with a dense brush like the Real Techniques Buffing Brush.


Final Verdict: I wouldn't repurchase this for myself, but it may work for other people.  It's not a bad product, but it definitely wasn't for me.  If you've had a different result, please share your experiences with us! 


**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Product Review- MAC Pro Longwear Foundation

MAC Pro Longwear Foundation Review

MAC Pro Longwear Foundation Review

MAC Pro Longwear Foundation Review


MAC Pro Longwear Foundation


From the Brand: A comfortable, long-wearing foundation that gives up to 15 hours of wear in any environmental condition.  Lightweight and creamy, applies and blends easily leaving the skin feeling soft and free to breathe all day while controlling oil.  Specially treated micronized pigments help give a smoother, more flawless, natural finish with stay-true colour.

Retails for: $31.00

Where to Buy: MAC boutique stores and cosmetic counters at major retails such as Macy's, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, etc;

My Thoughts:  I've never really been a big user of MAC products.  Not that I don't think they are amazing or anything, but I've always had a negative attitude about the company in general for years from working in the makeup artist community.  I started out in retail, so I understand the concept of sales.  I really really do.  When whether I could afford to buy ramen noodles or real food for my family depended on how much makeup I sold that week, it really drove home that even cosmetics retail is still retail and sales-driven.  However, when I branched out into the world of freelance, I found that so many uneducated consumers first assumptions of the term "makeup artist" were one of two things: I worked at MAC or I sold Mary Kay.  Since then, I've had a rather biased opinion of both brands and not on the positive side.


I'll admit my annoyance has colored my opinion, but I still use their products because they work and work well.  I limit my interactions with their salespeople however much like the plague.  I'm a natural girl at heart, and the MAC aesthetic is more similar to drag style makeup than everyday consumer looks.  I've yet to meet a salesperson that was professional and personable without being lofty and judgmental.  Because of this, I'd never branched much outside of their eyeshadows.  They have every color under the sun and in a handy and well-priced pan I can pop into a palette for convenience and organization.


This March after careful consideration, I've decided that I need to overcome my bias and form a more educated opinion of the brand's product range.  I wanted to start with their basic face items, like foundation and concealer as well as setting spray.  Plus, after watching so many bloggers and YouTubers reference their MAC foundation shades, I figured it was high time that I got my color match done if nothing else other than for reference.


Now onto the actual product... I really love this foundation!  The formula is nice and thin with a natural finish.  It's not overly matte, and the coverage is adequate without needing much.  I do layer it in certain areas like around my nose, since I tend to have more discoloration and redness there, and it doesn't make my pores more noticeable like some foundations can.  I use my blending sponge to apply it, although I also really like the finish provided by the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush or Buffing Brush.


I don't feel that the wear of this foundation is particularly miraculous compared to any other prestige brand formula, but it also doesn't fade, separate, or settle over time either.  The color did oxidize just a bit though, so it did become slightly darker and with a tiny bit of an orange tint compared to my skin.  It's also in my "summer" color, which is darker than I'd wear year-round because I'm getting more sun action this summer.  For when I'm a little paler, I mix it with a drop of the Makeup Forever HD foundation in #117, and it lightens it up perfectly.  The two formulas don't seem to interfere with one another and effect the finish or the wear.

Final Verdict: Great foundation for those who want a natural finish and buildable coverage. Also a great price for those who can get the pro discount.


**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Product Review- Ageless Derma Anti-Aging Skincare

Ageless Derma Stem Cell and Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Ageless Derma Stem Cell and Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Cream


From the Brand: 

Healthy, clear, silky, smooth; the exquisite skin of your youth. The radiant glow of young skin shines with lustrous vitality and allure. Our Ageless Derma Anti-Wrinkle Cream will help you recapture the natural freshness of skin untouched by the ravages of sun, environmental toxins, damaging lifestyle choices and daily stresses. 

How does Ageless Derma Anti wrinkle cream promote skin renewal?
Ageless Derma Stem Cell and Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Cream is a scientifically formulated blend of substantiated ingredients that revitalize your body’s natural abilities to heal itself. The aging process leaves our skin with diminished capacities to regenerate and repair but Ageless Derma supplies skin with the nutrients and vital plant stem cells that it requires to initiate rejuvenation. 

Why do we use plant stem cells in our Ageless Derma Anti-Wrinkle Cream?
We use stem cell extract because it has been proven in laboratory studies to stimulate growth in cultures of aged human epidermal stem cells. Comprehensive studies have demonstrated that plant stem cells delay the aging process. 

These positive effects were further confirmed in a study of women from ages 37 to 64 who used a stem cell extract enhanced cream. After only a month of twice daily application, 100% of the participants demonstrated measurably reduced wrinkle depth. 

Retails for:  $65

Where to Buy:


My Thoughts:  While I'm not aged 37 to 64, I am do come from an esthetics background, and it has always been my focus in skincare to concentrate on effective ingredients.  When I heard about Ageless Derma, I was intrigued by their use of stem cells in conjunction with retinol, peptides, and Coenzyme Q-10.  I'd learned in my education that those three were huge ingredients in the anti-aging game, and they are continually the ingredients I tell my clients to look for when shopping for skincare to promote smoother skin.  The fact that they also include green tea extract (which helps fight inflammation) and sodium hyaluronate (which promotes hydration and water retention in the skin) shows that they've done their research when it comes to key ingredients for anti-aging.   I'd heard about Argireline and Matrixyl 3000 as well in recent years as being two game changers in the skincare world.  They seem to be popping up all over the place.  You can go to the Ageless Derma website to read more about the individual ingredients, or even just do a quick Google search if you're skeptical.


Now back to those stem cells for a second.  I read that and immediately thought of all the controversy surrounding stem cell use and research.  But upon reading a little deeper I saw that they are plant stem cells, and they've been proven to help stimulate growth in old cells.  Being 30, I figure it's better to start early with my prevention than rely on correction later down the road.  I have some shallow forehead lines that are slowly starting to become more and more evident, so this was at least a small testing ground for the cream even if I didn't need major reversal.


I've been applying the cream every morning for the past three months, and I can run my finger over my forehead with only the slightest feeling of one line.  One, where there used to definitely be three forming.  I can only imagine what my skin would look like if I did have more advanced wrinkles.


The cream itself of more like a gel based moisturizer.  It's not a thick greasy opaque consistency like you'd assume.  It absorbs very quickly and leaves no residue.  It doesn't interfere with my makeup application at all, so I don't have to wait before applying my foundation like with many other creams.  It feels very silky on my fingertips.  The smell is the one thing that I'd change if it were up to me.  I'd either remove it completely or make it less herbal.  To me it smells like a combination of rosemary and grapefruit.  Not an unpleasant combination if you're talking about a candle, but not exactly something I want so close to my face.  Thankfully, it goes away super quickly, and I don't have to smell it all day even if I'm not wearing foundation on top of it.

Final Verdict:  This is an amazing product and an really amazing price for such a potent combination of proven effective ingredients.  I've seen similar creams with twice the price that rely solely on one or two of these main ingredients, so personally I find this a steal.  It's not a drugstore price brand, but the results I think validate the price if you really want something effective at regenerating the surface of your skin.  I'd love to test out more of their products, such as their eye cream (which contains retinol to renew the surface of the skin and Vitamin K to promote strengthening of the capillary walls- again two of the main ingredients I tell people to look for in an eye cream!).



**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  This product was sent to me for consideration.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Product Review- Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Concealer

Lancome Effacernes Concealer

Lancome Effacernes Concealer


Lancome Effacernes Concealer


From the Brand: This natural coverage concealer lets you instantly eliminate tell-tale signs of stress and fatigue. Provides complete, natural-looking coverage, evens skin tone, covers dark circles and minimizes fine lines around the eyes for a soft, matte finish.

  • Long-wear, waterproof formula won’t crease or fade

  • High-Resist Complex 


Retails for: $30.00

Where to Buy:, Lancome counters in major cosmetic retailers and department stores, Sephora stores and online

My Thoughts:  As you can see from the condition of the concealer tube in the photos, I've had this for a long time.  The concealer now comes in a beautiful sleek black tube instead, but I'm one of those people who has a hard time throwing away makeup.  Especially since I know I'm super vigilant about keeping my makeup sanitary.  I've had this for a few years now, and the consistency and wear of the concealer haven't changed a bit.  But I'll draw my conclusions on the efficacy of this product based on my early days of using it.  I didn't use it for the longest time, or else it wouldn't still be around in my makeup collection.  However, I've recently rediscovered why I loved it so much to begin with.


This concealer really does last all day long with absolutely no creasing whatsoever.  It makes an incredible eye primer as well.  It's very intensely pigmented, so a tiny little bit goes a long way. I swear I use a little dollop about the size of a grain of rice to cover both my undereyes.  It's pretty emollient to spread evenly with even that tiny little bit.


Final Verdict: I will be finishing out the tube and repurchasing a fresh tube when it's done!


**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Product Review- Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara

Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara

Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara


Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara


From the Brand: Stila's revolutionary Forever Your Curl Mascara "perms" your lashes immediately and over time! You no longer need an eyelash curler.

Forever Your Curl Mascara contains an encapsulated raw ingredient that enhances lash-curl memory and a proprietary styling resin that dries down and holds the curl of the lashes. A film forming polymer also wraps lashes and lengthens without fibers. Plus, a patent-pending brush coats and extends each lash, from base to tip, dramatically lengthening and curling the lashes.

Key benefits:

  • Curls your lashes instantly, this innovative formula perms your lashes the more you wear it
  • The encapsulated raw ingredient penetrates the hair follicle and enhances lash-curl memory
  • Special polymers lengthen the lashes
  • Carbon black pigment for the blackest lashes
  • Long-wearing

Retails for: $22.00


Where to Buy: Stila Cosmetics, Sephora stores and online, Ulta stores and online


My Thoughts:  I absolutely love my Stila products.  I really do.  And I was so so excited to try this one out.  I'll start off by saying that I adore the brush.  I love that it's nice and dense as well as small enough to not overwhelm my small eyes.  However, I didn't find that it gave me any curl.  My lashes are notoriously straight.  I can heat my lash curler with my hair dryer and crimp the crap out of them, and by the time that I'm done applying mascara to one eye both sets of lashes are stick straight again.  It's almost comical how quickly any curl falls from them.  Needless to say, it takes a lot to really impress me in the curling department for a mascara.  

Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara Review

Beyond all that however, I did really like the way this mascara looked on my lashes.  It lasted well thoughout the day without flaking or smudging, and it didn't feel like tried twigs by the end of the day either.  It was very easy to remove with my coconut oil and didn't irritate my eyes at all.  I'm curious what it would be like for my lashes with extended use, so after I'm done testing out all of the different mascaras I've got I'll try this for a longer period of time than a day to see how it effects their curl over time.

The pigmentation is great and is a very dense black, and there was a good lengthening to them compared to no mascara at all.  The volume was decent as well with two thin coats with no clumping. 




Final Verdict:  I really like this mascara, but for me with one use it didn't live up to it's instant curling claims.  I'll definitely be using it again to test the curling factor over time, and I may purchase a full size in the future.



**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.  This article contains affiliate links.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What You Need To Protect Yourself This Summer!

Summer skin and hair protection

Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal

Blistex Five Star Lip Protection

Bath and Body Works Pocket Bac

Summer skin and hair protection

Jergens Natural Glow Moisturizer with SPF

Summer skin and hair protection

Summer skin and hair protection

Neutrogena Banana Boat Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen for face, body, and lips

During the summer our hair and skin take a beating from the heat and the humidity.  At least they due in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States where I am.  In Virginia, the heat gets up over 100 degrees many days, and the humidity makes it a steamy hazy mess.  If you live somewhere hot and/or humid, knowing how to change up your skincare and haircare routine can be the difference for looking a radiant and glowing as J-Lo herself, or like a melting Popsicle.


Any time that you're going to be outside, make sure you're slathering every exposed area of your skin with a sunscreen.  I like to use three individual products targeted towards the face, lips, and body for the best forumlas for that particular area.  I know like many others out there sunscreen breaks me out, so the Neutrogena Clear Face is a definite for any extended time outside for me.  It doesn't break me out or make my pores itch.  Seriously, where has this stuff been all my life?  It's way stronger than my daily moisturizer with it's SPF of 55.  When I'm not outdoors all day and just want some general sun protection under my makeup, I like to reach for the Jergens Natural Glow SPF 15 for face.  It gives me a hint of color without looking like I'm using a self tanner, all while protecting me from actual sun damage.  I love that it's double duty.  It's also a nice lightweight oil free moisturizer, so it doesn't make me greasy and works well under my foundation without causing it to slide off in the heat.

For my lips again I have two different formulas I reach for depending on whether I'm going to be outside all day at the beach or theme park (or even just doing lawn work).  My heavy duty product is the Hawaiian Tropic with SPF 45.  During these times, I'm usually not wearing any lipstick or other products on my lips, so I want something with a slightly strong protection factor.  The eyes and the lips are the first two places we age since they are very thin skin with little to no oil glands, so they dry up and are effected by sun damage first.  If I just want some hydration and moderate protection, I reach for my Blistex Five star Lip Protection with an SPF of 30.  This is the best smelling, tasting, most hydrating chapstick I've ever used.  It's so nice, I use it even when I'm indoors all day!

On my body I use the Banana Boat Protect & Hydrate when I'm outdoors, since even in summer my skin can be dry.  This is lightweight, absorbs quickly with no greasy residue, and is fairly water resistant.  The rest of the time I like to use the Jergens Natural Glow.  Now they make it with an SPF30, so even if I do spend some unexpected time outside I know I've got some protection already soaked in.  Since I avoid the sun like the plague (my Irish roots means I'm highly likely of developing skin cancer!) I'm so pale, and the Jergens products keep me from glowing!  I've used this for years, and it's the brand I recommend to my spray tanning clients to use to extend the life of their color.  It doesn't turn me dark like a spray tan, but it does take away the edge and at least get me on the normal skin range scale.


Hair is just another form of skin, so it's just as critical to protect it from the damage of heat and humidy, not to mention chlorine if you're at the pool or salt if you're at the ocean.  First thing I pack in my beach/pool bag is a wide toothed comb to detangle it without tearing the hair.  Next, I make sure that I apply either a spray in conditioner with sunscreen or a serum to lock in hydration and lock out humidity and tame frizz.  I'm loving the Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal with Argan Oil.  A few drops worked through damp hair and I'm good to go.  I can toss my hair in a braid, and when I take it out have soft touchable waves.

The Accessories:

It's all well and good to protect your skin from the outside, but you have to nourish it from the inside, too! I always keep a bottle of water with me.  I'll even freeze some grapes and use those in lieu of ice cubes to keep my drinks cool without watering them down.  Then, when I'm done I have a healthy snack!  Sunglasses are a must as well, not just for fashion but for protecting your eyes from damaging sun rays.  Did you know that you can get skin cancer in the retina of your eye?!  Blue eyes are especially susceptible, so be sure to wear your shades out whenever you leave the house.   Bacteria also thrives in hot humid areas, and with so many people off of school and work, public areas are major breeding grounds for all things nasty.  I make sure I've got a handy little anti-bacterial gel hanging off my bag everywhere I go.  The ones from Bath and Body Works are the perfect size, and they have adorable holders, too!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Battle of the Boxes

In corner #1 we have... Glossybox weighing in at $21 for a Monthly Subscription, $60 for 3-Month Subscription, $115 for 6-Month Subscription, or $220 for 12-Month Subscription.  With Glossybox, you receive 5-6 products of luxury brands, with at least one of them being a full size item.  For example, in my April Glossybox I received three full size items- a Bvlgari tea bag for the bath, a lip balm, and Tigi blush.  The blush alone retails for $22, and the total value of the full size items in the box was $35.15, plus I got three other samples with two of them being deluxe sizes.  My May Glossybox was an even better value with two full size products with a combined retail value of $43.99.  They usually include some kind of discount coupon or voucher as well.  March's Glossybox had a $40 gift certificate to a bath product website!

May 2013 Glossybox Subscription
May 2013 Glossybox Subscription

This box is the last of my monthly subscriptions to arrive each month, usually in the last few days of the month or within the first week of the following month.  This box comes with a mini magazine with lots of information on products you can purchase through their website, but honestly I've never read it.  I do think it's a nice touch though.  Every month as well they have a nice deluxe size postcard with the product images, full size pricing, and descriptions.  It's nice to keep track of what I've received each month, so when I use a product and want to purchase more, I remember which subscription box it came from.  Also super handy for writing reviews!

The Glossybox is also beautifully packaged every month.  It comes in a gorgeous sturdy pink box that makes organizing my makeup collection so easy!  I can use the lid to keep small items from rolling around in the drawer, and the larger deeper box part to stand up bottles or hold my individual eyeshadows, concealers, etc.  I love the nice touch of the tissue paper and wrapped with a ribbon, too.

In corner #2 there is... BeautyBox5 weighing in at $12 for a Monthly Subscription, $30 for a 3-Month Subscription, or $99 for a 12-Month Subscription (Best Value, saves you $45!).  With BeautyBox5, you receive 4-5 products, with most of them being sample packets or deluxe size samples.  I have received full size items, but they have been increasingly less value each month.

BeautyBox5 May 2013 Subscription Box
BeautyBox5 May 2013 Subscription Box

This is always my first box to arrive each month.  It also comes with a nice card with the images of the products and their retail values.  I was really excited in April for my first month when I received a total value of $26.68.  That was more than double my subscription price (I do the quarterly, so I only pay $10 a month), and I got a full size lip pencil, brush hanger, and packet of blotting papers.  May the value shrunk to $18.00 with the only full size item being an eyeliner.  Still, it was almost double what I'd paid, so it was a very good box.  June's value dropped to even further with what I'm assuming is a full size loose mineral eyeshadow valued at $7.99.  The rest is deluxe size samples of shampoo, conditioner, and Aveeno sunscreen and then some coupons of I want the purchase the sample products at full size.  There were also two single use samples of a body bronzer.

This comes in a cute teal cardboard box with shredded raffia inside, but it gets thrown away when I'm done.  This is the least useful packaging, as it offers me no reusable box or bag to keep makeup in.

In corner #3 check out... Beauty Army weighing in at $12 for a Monthly Subscription.  With Beauty Army, you receive 6 products that you choose each month, with most of them being samples.  They do have full size items, but they don't have a lot of them.  You can "control" the value of your box by choosing as many of the full size as they have, but again out of the 8-9 products to choose from each month there aren't a lot of full size options.  I've gotten full sizes of the mark. Scanda-lash mascara by Avon in both a black and a brown, but the full size of these items are the equivalent of a deluxe sample size.  They are meant to hook together with other tiny sizes for convenient travel.  My most valuable box was April where I got another Scanda-lash mascara along with a $17 multi-use cream color and a $17.99 can of dry shampoo.  May was another mark. hook up product (at least it was a gloss this time) and a full size lipgloss which you can't buy on their website (so it has no retail value b/c I've never heard of this brand).  It does seem to recycle a lot of the sample options between months, which is a bit frustrating if they are things that do not interest me but could be awesome for people who love those items and want to stock up on travel sizes.

Beauty Army April 2013 Subscription Box
Beauty Army April 2013 Subscription Box

This is a tie with IPSY on the second box to arrive each month, usually the second or third week of the month.  I have to look up online the products and their information/retail values if I want to know more about the product.  However, their website is highly interactive with the ability to earn several rewards for participation such as a free box for referring three people to sign up, a free month for making three full size product purchases, $6 off full size orders for submitting 6 reviews of products on the site, or $15 off a full size order when you complete 5 surveys.  Also, when you receive three consecutive months of boxes, they will give you an online voucher for $10 off a $50 full size order, but they do expire quickly.  I'm not sure if the discounts can be stacked, or if they are only able to be used one at a time for an order.  They also do give you the option of skipping a month if your budget is thin.

The box is super handy for organizing my makeup though.  Some months it's pink, others it's black, which goes perfectly with my makeup studio theme/colors.  There's a card sitting right on top that says "Hello Gorgeous!", and it's a cute touch that brings a smile to my face every month when I open it.

And finally in corner #4 stands... IPSY weighing in at $10 for a Monthly Subscription.  With IPSY, you receive 4-5 products plus a cosmetic bag, with most of them being full size of drugstore price range items and the rest deluxe size samples.  Sometimes there are more expensive brands like a Zoya nailpolish or a gloss from Juice Beauty.  You cannot buy directly from IPSY's website, but they usually have a coupon code for each product they send with a big discount.  My June bag had a total retail value of $43.49 on the full size products! That's four times my subscription price!

May 2013 IPSY Subscription Box
May 2013 IPSY Subscription Box

Some months this is here the second week of the month, others it arrives the third week of the month.  I usually see posts by others much earlier than I receive it with what's inside, but those are typically people living on the west coast.  It's hard not to ruin the surprise, and I have to stay away from the website so that I don't see the list of items.  I like to be surprised!

IPSY has a very interactive website, the most interactive of all the boxes listed.  There is no charge for being a member of the website either.  You can earn free bonus products in your monthly bags by getting others to sign up as well.  There are tons of reviews, blogs, curated looks, and youtube videos on the bags themselves as well as how to use the products.

This comes in a hot pink bubble envelope rather than a box, but the samples come in a super cute cosmetic bag.  This makes is super convenient for taking my makeup with me, and I even use on in my purse to organize my business cards and keep my square reader and pen together so all my business supplies are in one place when meeting with clients.  I use another to keep my makeup products from rolling around in the bottom of my giant "mom bag".

And the winner is....  It's a dead tie between Glossybox and IPSY.  I really love the Glossybox packaging and the quality of the brands included in it's products.  However, the best overall value is IPSY every month.  You just can't beat four times the value.  They both have ways to earn free products or boxes, and they both have great packaging that's reusable.

I already do my monthly Glossybox reviews, but I'm going to start doing them monthly for each of these four brands, since there's something about each one to appeal to all the consumers out there.  Whether you want to spend only $8.25 a month with BeautyBox5, or you want luxury brands with Glossybox for $18.33 a month (both prices are for yearly subscriptions), or you love the full size products value and interactive features of an IPSY subscription, I want to share these amazing brands with you!  If you are looking to sign up for one (or more like me!) of these subscription boxes, I'd love if you'd use the links I've used in this blog article to help support my blog.  This way I can continue to receive the boxes either for free or at a significant discount and have more awesome products to review.  Plus, I plan on doing some gift subscription giveaways at  the end of the summer!

Do you subscribe to any of these brands?  If so, I'd love to hear your feedback and experiences with the brands and the products.  Who do you love?  Who do you dislike?  Let's share!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Product Review- Stila Countless Color Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments

Stila Countless Color Pressed Pigments


Stila Countless Color Pigments

From the Brand:  Introducing Stila’s NEW innovative Countless Color pigments in a beautiful and exclusive, first-to-market formula. Each pan is a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind piece of art, created with vibrant pigments and handmade using a proprietary pressing and baking process. Use your creativity and let your imagination run wild.

There are endless ways to apply… use each of the three shades individually, blend two shades that are side by side for custom colors, swirl a brush in a circular motion to create one pop shade or swipe the brush across the product to create a unique multi-shade streaked effect.

Use fingers or a foam tip applicator for intense payoff. It is not recommended to use this product wet.

Features and Benefits:

  • Endless color combinations in each pan
  • No two Countless Color Pigments are alike
  • Full coverage, pearl formula
  • Long-wearing
  • Vibrant, color-matched compact

Retails for: $22.00



Where to Buy: Stila Cosmetics, Sephora stores and online, Ulta stores and online


Originally available in 10 shades, you have to check different retailers to find who has what in stock.  Here's what I've found (online only, you might be able to find shades in stores that differ from the online listings):
  • Lyric- Ulta
  • Finale- Ulta
  • Indie- Sephora and Stila
  • Tie Dye- Ulta
  • Light Show- Ulta and Stila
  • Acoustic- Ulta and Stila
  • Groupie- Sephora
  • Center Stage- Ulta and Stila
  • Melody- Ulta and Stila
  • Encore- Stila



My Thoughts:  I love the concept of the pressed pigments, especially the multiple colors available in a single pan.  They are a gorgeous tie-dye pattern that is very visually pleasing in the packaging.  I purchased two of them, Acoustic (with a blend of neutrals and a vibrant coral red) and Center Stage (with a blend of pink, blue, and purple with a hint of peach at the outer edge of one side).  If you want a new color with each dip of the brush, use a larger fluffier brush to swirl the colors together.  If you want a precise application of a particular color, use a smaller more dense brush to pick up colors on their own.


These are a little tricky to use if you're going for a specific color, but the color payout is well worth it.  My favorite is the Acoustic one, since I'm a big fan of neutrals, but the bright coral red with hints of hot pink gives my eye look an unexpected pop of color that's really fun for summer.  Center Stage is a little less easy to wear all on its own, but you can use any of it's pigment colors in conjunction with a neutral eyeshadow color to add some fun to your look.  For a more watercolor look, you can use multiples blended for a soft smokey eye. 


You only need a little bit of product for a lot of color.  These are definitely pressed pigments rather than a traditional eyeshadow.  I recommend layering thin layers rather than trying to pack it all on at once and ending up with a lot of wasted product to fallout.  They are very long wearing as well! 


Final Verdict: Great to toss in your makeup bag for a versatile eye look any time.  My favorite feature is that no two pans are alike!  They are like mini works of art in an of themselves and were so much fun to photograph!


**Disclaimer: As with all my product reviews, I was not paid by the cosmetic company to provide feedback or review/promote their products.  All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.  These items were purchased with my own money.  This article contains affiliate links.

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