Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Stylish Awards: Best in Beauty 2014 - EYES

Happy New Year, dear readers! obviously, I failed at Blogmas.  Maybe next year? *shrug*

Now that that's out of the way, I can get to the point! I present to you the first of a series of posts dedicated to the best beauty products I've used last year. I'll be dedicating posts to makeup, hair products, skin care and beauty "helpers". I'm excited to be starting with eye makeup and I'll be giving two awards per product. One award for a drugstore product and one for a higher end product. These are products that I have actually tried in 2014, so these may not be the best out there, but they are the best I've discovered. There are also no limited-edition products here because...hey, that's not fair. So, here we go!

Best Eyeshadow Palette (High End): Too Faced Chocolate Bar $49

Swatches on my arm from the top left to bottom right - no primer!
This palette is my favorite palette that I have purchased all year and I purchased a lot of palettes last year. I have a thing about eyeshadow palettes and I just can't resist them. I like to rotate which ones I use throughout the year so that I give love to my entire collection, but this one has been my hands down favorite. Not only does it smell like chocolate (it is made with cocoa powder), the color payoff is amazing, the shadows are buttery soft and the neutral color selection is a knockout. It comes in an adorable metal tin with a magnetic closure (they actually redesigned this packaging to be less bulky, but I have the bulkier original packaging). It looks like a chocolate bar (A+ for cuteness) and as soon as you open it, you get a whiff of beautiful chocolate scent. It's not overpowering, it's just enough to make you go; "Yum!". The scent does not stay on your skin once you apply the product (unlike the cocoa powder foundation, but we'll get to that in a little while), but the palette does smell like one of those packets of hot chocolate. Every color you need in the world is here, but I have my favorites of course. However, there is not a single color here I haven't tried and they are all beautiful. The only downside is that there is no black color here, which is important if you want to create a smokey eye look, but I hardly ever do that, so it's not a deal breaker for me. If you buy ANY high end eyeshadow palette, I would recommend this one over the Urban Decay Nakeds (although I like them, they are just GLITTER CITY). It smells good, you get a huge mirror, color payoff is bomb...seriously, get off your butt and order this palette right now! There is a newer version of this palette that exists, but I have not gotten a chance to try it yet and word on the street is that it's not as good.

Best Eyeshadow Palette (Drugstore): Wet n' Wild Color Icon 8-Pan Palette in Comfort Zone $3-$5

Arm swatches, no primer...can we talk about that duo-chrome blue/brown for one second? I mean...come on...
I remember the days when cosmetics from Wet n' Wild were just cheap...and also terrible. Well, this company (as well as every other drugstore brand) has stepped up its game. This little 8-Pan palette is in-credible. They are long-lasting, the color payoff is super and the colors are beautiful and comparable to the Urban Decay neutral colors that are offered in the Naked Palettes (The dark color in this pan and Blackheart in the Naked 3 Palette are exactly the same color). This is a BEAUTIFUL palette and for around $5, you really can't go wrong here. There are a couple of other color selections offered in this 8-Pan Palette format, but I have not tried them. This palette comes with a couple of applicators, but I would go ahead and use your own brushes as I do with every product. Companies do not spend a lot of money giving you a nice brush to go with your product (with the exception of Urban Decay, who gave a decent brush in all their Naked Palettes. I still don't like the brush very much, but it's better than some others I've seen). I do want to say that products in EVERY line of cosmetics are hit or miss. I find generally that Wet n' Wild eyeshades are nice in general, but sometimes, the formulas in their "limited edition" palettes is not as good as the formulas from the permanent line. However, I reiterate that this is true with most cosmetic brands, both drugstore and higher end.

Best Single Eyeshadows (High End): Urban Decay $18 ea

Urban Decay Single Eyeshadow in Sin
In my opinion, if you want a single color and you're new to high end makeup, buy one of these or maybe even two. I know that some people love the Makeup Forever Shadows, but I can't speak to those. These are expensive, but they are fantastic. The texture is buttery and the color payoff is spectacular. The only thing I have to mention is that there are a lot of glittery shades offered (oooh, sparkly!) and there is a tremendous amount of fallout that you may experience. Use a good primer (Urban Decay happens to make a fantastic one, but we'll get to that later!) and have a clean fluffy face brush on hand to brush away the particles.

Best Single Eyeshadows (Drugstore): **A TIE!!!!** L'Oreal Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow $5-$9 ea. & Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow $3-$5 ea.

Bella Gold, Bella Bronze and Bella Emerald...
I just could not decide between the two of these products because BOTH of them are amazing. So, I will give a little love to the both of them. First, I'll talk about the Milani eyeshadows, which are beautiful and very affordable. I find that they are between $3 and $5 at CVS. I'm not sure what the name "gel powder" implies since these are a fun shape in the pan (looks like they are baked?). Milani says the product starts as a gel but is transformed into a powder by a "special process". Sounds magical, doesn't it? Anyway, don't let that fool you, this product is, in fact, a powder. It's stiff when you put your finger or brush in it which is slightly disappointing because it looks as though it would be bouncy or something. However, this little eyeshadow is AMAZING. I find that it works best to use your finger to apply it (or a damp brush). Every color I've tried is beautiful and they are long-lasting. I wish I had every color.

L'Oreal makes beautiful products and this eyeshadow is no exception. It is actually a pressed pigment in a pot (meaning it's not a packed powder, but highly pigmented color particles that are pressed together but not adhered together, if you dropped it, it would fall apart...I've found this out the hard way). It comes in a cute little pot with a little press stopper that you are supposed to keep inside the product. I've also find that this product is best applied with a finger and the color payoff is PHENOMENAL. It is also extremely long wearing and great for single eyeshadow looks or for slapping on if you are in a hurry. My favorite shade has been Amber Rush. I just slap this on my eyelids and BOOM, I'm out the door. These are gorgeous, go get you some! Don't drop yours on the floor like I did. You'll be sad. They are a little expensive for a single drugstore eyeshadow (I think they are about $9 at CVS), but worth it.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (High End): Stila Stay All Day Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner $20

It's no secret that I love liquid eyeliner, but I was always hesitant to try a pen form. I was pretty attached to a bottle and brush type applicator until I got one of these in a Sephora Giftset. It. is. amazing. The tip is precise, the liner is very black and it stays in place all day. I have this in three other colors and the product seems to last a long time. It's very easy to use.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (Drugstore): E.L.F. Liquid Eyeliner $1

This shiz is ONE DOLLAR. Brush and a bottle, so you need some practice if you're not good at it. I'm not saying it's amazing, but it's pretty good and it's ONE DOLLAR. It does smudge a bit if you touch it though.

Best Pencil Eyeliner: JURY STILL OUT

I struggled a bit here throughout the year and I'm open to suggestions. I have used a few pencil eyeliners to tightline with (I don't normally wear liner in my waterline), but by the end of the day. it's halfway down my face. It infuriates me and I need a waterproof eyeliner to tightline that is going to stay in place. I might try to tightline with a gel liner and give up on pencils altogether.

Best Gel Eyeliner (Drugstore):  L'Oreal Infalliable Lacquer Liner 24 HR about $10

So, I have never used a higher end gel liner (aside from the Benefit They're Real Pushup Liner which...*sigh*, will appear in a later blog post) but I don't think I need to. This liner is awesome. It's super black, stays in place and glides on super smooth. I don't use the brush that came with it because I need to use an angled eyeliner brush otherwise, it's a hot mess. That being said, it does come with a nice brush that you can use if you are skilled or if you don't have curly lashes that get in the way, which is my issue. I'm new to gel eyeliner and I find that it is really nice if you need your eyeliner to be intensely black (or whatever color you prefer). The Maybelline Eyeliner is nice too but I found this dried out quickly, even if stored upside down. That being said, I don't have a favorite high end gel liner because I didn't like the one that I tried this year.

Best Mascara (Drugstore): L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $7-$8

The truth is, I happen to think a LOT of drugstore mascaras are EXCELLENT. I like them more than most high end mascaras and I find that both L'Oreal and Maybelline make excellent formulas. I happen to love a LOT of L'Oreal Mascaras, especially lately, the Miss Manga, which I hated at first. It's got a funny brush on it and it's bendy and weird...however, once you get past that, the mascara is actually very good. However, I have been using L'Oreal Voluminous since I was a teenager and it was one of my favorites (along with Lash Out which is sadly discontinued). I hadn't used it for a while and the Carbon Black version of the formula is amazing. Not only is it volumizing, I also find that it lengthens my lashes as well and doesn't make them hard or crispy. It allows my lashes to be soft, full and super, super black. This stuff is amazing and costs under ten dollars. Holy Grail. Again, though, I like a lot of L'Oreal formulas, but this one seems to be my most favorite.

Best Mascara (High End): Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $23

This is the only high end mascara that has impressed me enough to re-puchase it. It is very similar to the L'Oreal Voluminous, but it is even more dramatic. I am not a natural lash girl. I want my lashes to be like BAM!!!!! This mascara is very dramatic. It's very, very black, volumizing and lengthening. I don't have issues with mascaras flaking or anything like that, but I also have to say that this mascara also doesn't leave your lashes crunchy either. It's the bomb and I'm on my second tube. This formula is a little wet upon opening, but dries to a nice consistency the longer you use it. I think talking about packaging is kind of stupid, but the packaging is cute (pink!) and feels very heavy and substantial. The name,'s doubtful any mascara is better than sex. If it is, you may need to work on some things in your life, just sayin'...

That does it for my favorite eye products of 2014! Are any of these your favorites too? Any recommendations I should consider trying? I'd love to hear from you!

My next installment will be Best in Beauty for the face! Blushes, powders, primers...get excited!
Thursday, December 4, 2014

One Direction Makeup and Bad Clam Pistachios

This is going to be a totally random post. First off, I love pistachios. They are the perfect nut. Good flavor and they come in their own little shell. Maybe it's because I'm from Maryland and I am used to eating crabs and I like to unshell things. There is something about a pistachio that makes it so fun to eat and the fact that it is actually good for you (save how salty they usually are) makes them even better.

That being said, don't you hate it when this happens?

It's a bad clam. You know, the one clam that is already dead by the time it hits the pan and it doesn't open. There are always a few in the bag that are completely un-openable. What do you do with these? Do you smash them? It seems like you would end up smashing the whole thing then and you'd end up with a pile of shells mixed up with nut pieces parts. No one wants that.

Then there are the ones that opened too much and the nut fell out. Those are also super disappointing.

I digress...I went to Target this evening to grab some paper towels (and maybe grab a few makeup brushes) and I saw a few things that really baffled me. First off...One Direction Makeup Palettes. Just...what?

Last time I checked, One Direction was a bunch of Brit boys who were a pop band. Not makeup artists. They don't give a crap about makeup but they will put their names on anything I guess. It also appears they have a this really necessary? Do you have daughters that buy this? Someone please enlighten me. I didn't smell it by the way...Am I just baffled because I'm in my thirties? Someone explain. If I am fourteen, do I want my favorite boy band to create a makeup palette for me? Not really. I haven't really looked into this. It's probably a top-seller or something.

I also found an entire end cap that had celebrity name and endorsed perfumes. Gross. Do they all have to be on the same end cap? I like some Taylor Swift. I have 1989 on like repeat right now all day long, but perfume is where I draw the line. Maybe it smells good, but she's a singer. She has no experience making perfume she just slapped her name on it. So annoying. I hate this actually. Poor Coach, Juicy Couture and Cool Water were just stuck in there. I wish Target had just gone all out with the theme of celebrity perfumes only on that end cap. I would have had more respect for it.

Pumpkin Everything 2014™ is finally coming to a close...pumpkin items have reached clearance. Brace yourselves...Minter™ is Coming (I'm not complaining).

And finally, we have reached this point: Seasonal Kitty Litter exists. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Singing at the Copley Square Tree lighting!

Copley Square Trinity Church
Just a quick post! Every now and again, I'm grateful that I am able to do some pretty cool fun stuff and get paid to do it. Last night, I sang Christmas Carols at the Copley Square Tree Lighting in Back Bay with Copley Singers and it was pretty fun and festive. This was the main event that made it okay for it to officially be the holiday season. Being outside at night in December meant I had to dress pretty warm, so I broke out my wool under layers so I could sport my Karelia Coat on top! If you have this coat from Anthropologie, you know that it's awesome, but it's NOT warm at all. (Also, for the record, there have been TWO products called Karelia Coat).

Here's a lame mirror photo of me at Nordstrom Rack, LOL.

While I was there, I spotted a bunch of Nars Foreplay Blush Palettes! Thinking about picking one up!

Copley Square with the Library and Old South Church in the Background
I also picked up two of the new L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow Pencils at Walgreens on my way home! I will post a few review when I try them!

Can't wait to try these!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November Favorites 2014 & Blogmas Minus One

Hello, readers! I have been away for a few weeks, but for good wedding was a little less than a week ago and we are still in crazy newlywed mode! Yesterday was the first day we REALLY returned to work (although I did go to a rehearsal the night after the wedding, so I didn't really take time off from work). So, I'll be doing a full series of posts on my wedding because we got married in an urban area for a really low cost. Considering the average wedding costs $25,000 (in the USA at the time of this post), we spent half as much money and had a GREAT time. bridal bouquet was only $10. Here is a sneak preview and of course my first November favorite was...

My Wedding Gown: Zinnia Gown - BHLDN ($1800 retail, no longer available)

Our first dance!
Okay, so seriously: I am OBSESSED with Anthropologie. We all know that as this used to be an Anthropologie focused blog so OF COURSE, I would be a BHLDN bride. For those of you who don't know, BHLDN (pronounced "beholden") is Urban Outfitter's bridal brand which launched in 2011...otherwise known as Anthropologie Wedding Style. I was of course...obsessed with it when it launched. This dress is from the original collection that launched so it's not available anymore, but I was able to snag one on eBay of all places. It was in perfect condition and had only been worn for 2 hours. I am OBSESSED with this dress. It was so fun to wear and non-traditional as it had the fun pops of coral and smoke. The buttons in the back are pretty intense and it took 4 hands to button them, but I was in LOVE with this dress. It's not for a very shy bride, that's for sure. BHLDN still sells beautiful dresses, but I have not been as impressed with subsequent collections after the launch. It seems as though the whimsy has dissipated a bit from the line. However, it's still a really great place to shop for your wedding as most of the things are really lovely. But this dress though...

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow & Argan Illuminizer: (From the Winter Dreams Argan Color Collection Giftset $34, Exclusively at Sephora, Limited Edition)

Coconut Water Eyeshadow in Rio De Rose Gold, Argan Illuminzer
I honestly only got this set for the Coconut Water Eyeshadow in Rio de Rose Gold because it's so lovely. That product is GREAT. I have a review of my thoughts on the Josie Maran collection forthcoming which concentrates on this set, but the Illuminizer is to die for. For those of you who may be a little scared of glittery powders for your face, this illuminizer is the perfect little bit of glow. You can apply it with your fingers or a small stippling brush and it just gives you a little bit of subtle glow without looking glittery or too shimmery. It's just beautiful and I have been LOVING this.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes ($10-$42, Sephora, Ulta, Tarte Website)


Let me make this perfectly clear: I have NEVER purchased a full-sized Tarte Amazonian Clay blush on its own. It's $26 and you freaking get ONE. HOWEVER, I'm totally obsessed with this. I have 8 limited edition colors (you can see 6 here, I have another really cool palette with two more in there) and I can let you know with full confidence, these blushes are worth the hype. They are the Super pigmented, go on smooth, and last FOREVER. When Sephora had its Black Friday $10 little Tarte Set which came with one of these little blushes (in "Magic"), I jumped on it. I thought for 2 seconds about giving it away as a gift, but decided to keep it. The palette on the left is the Pin Up Girl Palette which was exclusive to Sephora, but is sadly sold out forever I think. I was so happy to get my hands on one of these and I am very happy with 4 out of the 5 shades in here and it was a STEAL at $42 considering you get so much product in here. I'm not sure what's going on with that super light beige shade on the left there (Breathless), but it's useless for anything but layering since it doesn't show up on my complexion. I have unexpectedly been just ridiculously obsessed with that cool-toned pink color in the center there (Whimsy). I love the look of the flush of baby pink on my cheeks and I have been basically assaulting this pan with my brush. I'm afraid I will use this color up (not a bad thing). However, all the colors are lovely. This formula is amazing. I can't bring myself to buy a full-sized one yet, but if you can get them in a set, you'll find that Tarte will give you a great deal on a blush in a set as opposed to a single, stand-alone product. If you are a blush lover and you don't have a few of these in your collection, you need a few.

Stila Stay-All-Day Liquid Eyeliner: ($20 at Sephora, Ulta, Stila Website)

This is the bomb. I like to use liquid eyeliners and for a while, I had been a purest and didn't want to use anything but a bush applicator. But I got one of these in a Sephora Giftset and I figured I would try it. It was awesome. It applies like a dream, is super black and is pretty much waterproof. It's the eyeliner I have been reaching for the most and I grabbed a gift set with a full-sized black and mini green, blue and brown liners too at Nordstrom Rack this weekend (the husband and I were Black Friday binging). Not much to say except that these are a great product. 

Bite Lip Products: ($12-$28, Exclusively Sephora

My complimentary VIB Rouge Lipstick Mini, Palomino Mini, High Pigment Lip Pencil Mini in 
Maybe I'm the last one to discover how wonderful these lip products are, but I love this line of lipsticks and lip pencils, etc. I had to be given a lipstick (when I became VIB Rouge at Sephora) to try one of these. It. Is. Amazing. No lipstick out there is as creamy, as pigmented and feels as good on my lips than these products. Don't kiss your man (or lady) though...(s)he'll be wearing it too. I don't care though, this lipstick FEELS AWESOME on your face.

GLAMGLOW Supermud™ Clearing Treatment: ($69...omg, Sephora, GLAMGLOW Website

Yes, this is a $69 face mask. SIXTY-NINE DOLLARS. I kind of hate myself a little for even recommending it here on this blog but let's be real...whatever is in this is a freaking miracle worker. I got a sample of this from Sephora (as well as the Youthmud one which I was not impressed with) and I was HOOKED. I don't know if there's magic or voodoo or whatever in this, but it's pretty much worth the stupidly absurd price. It pretty much destroys blackheads and has a bizarre pore shrinking effect, which seems to last for a couple of days after using it. My blackheads pretty much wave a white flag after a few times using this. I can't get over the effectiveness of this. That being said...$69 daaaayyyuuummmm...I couldn't bring myself to pay the full price, even during the Sephora VIB sale. I ordered this directly from GLAMGLOW and I used a 30% off discount code (which is no longer valid)  so I only paid $48 dollars for it and I got some free samples (I say ONLY $48, but that's still insane).  The customer service experience with GLAMGLOW was also stellar. A great company. A great product. The price point is pretty crazy, but the product performs and so they pretty much have you by the lashes there. Plus, the packaging says, "Hello Sexy".

So those are all my November obsessions! Do you see any of your favorites here? Let me know! I also have decided to do Blogmas...which means I blog every day in December starting today! I missed yesterday, so I guess one of these days, I'll have to do two posts! *gasp* Are you excited?!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(Late) October Favorites

Okay...I know it's almost halfway through November, but I just moved house and my wedding is in less than two weeks! But I wanted to post these anyway, because I have been obsessed with a few really awesome things last month (and I'm still obsessed).

Fresh Soy Cleanser: $15-$38 from Sephora or Fresh Wesbite/Stores. 

Fresh is one of my favorite brands that I have a love/hate relationship with. The first Fresh Store is on Newbury Street here in Boston which is basically the "Rodeo Drive" of Boston.

Photo credit:
I used to love to browse there when I was in college and couldn't afford to actually shop there. They had all of these beautiful smelling body products in beautiful bottles. Everything in the store was just so gorgeous. They had this AMAZING line of products called Milk, which they sadly discontinued. They also had an amazing line of niche fragrances called Index, which they also discontinued (I believe a few original ones remain, but not my favorite which was Ylang Ylang Hibiscus). They also ventured into a cosmetic line, which is now also gone, save from all the Sugar Lip Products. I still have ONE unopened Supernova Mascara. It frustrates me that they have discontinued all of the product lines I loved, but I guess there's nothing I can do. The Sugar Line seems to do really well and their skincare tends seems to be where they have put their main focus. I digress...

I LOVE the Soy Face Cleanser. It doesn't lather much and it will NOT take off your eye makeup very well, but it's great for cleansing your face gently. It leaves my skin feeling clean...not tight, not stripped, just clean. It smells amazing and I love it. It's incredibly expensive, but oh well.

Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster & Restoration Serum: $48 at Palmetto Derma's Website

I got this in my Boxycharm in October and I love this. If I had not received this, I would have never tried this and this has made a HUGE difference for my skin. I have been using it pretty faithfully morning and evening before my moisturizer (just one pump). I feel like my skin is brighter, smoother and I haven't gotten a super bad breakout in a while. It could be that I'm being ore sanitary in my makeup application or this, but I can't stop, won't stop. This product is pretty expensive, but there is a discount code that you can use until the end of 2014 to get 20% off: BCPD2. I say, give it a try! It doesn't have a scent and it just feels like a water on your face and dries pretty quickly. I think this bottle will last me a long time considering I only use one pump per application. 

L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $6-$10 at Drugstores

I've been using L'Oreal brand mascaras for a while, probably since high school. Their mascara formulas...they have that DOWN. Lash Out Mascara was my favorite forever (I think it's discontinued?) but I recently re-discovered this one. This is a GREAT mascara. It's super black, super volumizing and I also got an unexpected lengthening from this as well. It competes with the Better Than Sex Mascara that I love. It's just awesome and it's inexpensive. I actually love some other L'Oreal mascaras too, but right now, I'm reaching for this one every day. 

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette: $56 Sephora Exclusive

*sigh*, I think this is sold out again. I'm not sure if Sephora will re-stock this (I'm guessing so, since it's still on the website), but it's AWESOME! The main reason I love this is that the eyeshadow colors are AMAZING. I love my Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette and I also LOVE this palette. I swatches "Girly" in the store and I knew this color alone had to be mine. All of the shadows are soft and buttery and well pigmented. The colors I didn't expect to love so much (especially Totally Fetch, the pink), I ADORE. The blushes and the highlighter (and the brushes)...meh. Oh...and it also comes with a cute pink glittery makeup bag and a travel-sized Better Than Sex Mascara. Win all over the place. If you can find this at your local Sephora store...GET IT...but mainly for the eyeshadows. The face products are nothing special and the brushes...meh.

Milani Bella Eyes Eyeshadow: $3-4 at Drugstores

These are awesome and they are only about $4. They have an interesting shape and look like they should yield when you touch them, but they don't. They just feel like a normal powder eyeshadow. They are so pretty and so good! You should use your finger to apply them, but I have been wearing a combination of Bella Gold and Bella Bronze and it's been working for me.

*My New glasses $35-$40 from Firmoo Website (Promotional Sample)

I'm pretty obsessed with these frames. I have 9 pairs of glasses but I pretty much always wear these now. I get compliments every time I wear them and they are mother-fricking cool. I'm not being paid to say this, or anything...I just genuinely love these even though they were sent to me by Firmoo. If you want your own pair, I still have a coupon code that goes until 11/25! It's good for $15 off regular frames. STYLISHSOPRANOBLOGS4 

So that's it for my October favorites! 

*All items were purchased with my own money with the exception of items marked with an (*)asterisk and marked "promotional sample". All opinions are my own. 
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ten Beauty Truths I've Learned the Hard Way

In the past 9 months, my makeup collection has gone from rather modest to this:

I'm equal amounts proud and ashamed. I have spent a lot of my hard earned money on face paint, but I have enjoyed every second spent making up at this vanity. There's nothing I love more than getting ready here and playing with all of the treasures and things I have collected. I really do use everything in this space. In my adventures becoming a "Beauty Girl" are some things I have learned about taking care of your face and making yourself up.

1. Your Tools are Everything: The right brushes and applicators can make a heck of a difference in applying your makeup. You don't need expensive brushes (you can buy some really cool ones at the drugstore and at Target. Hello? Some are crap, but a few are really great) and you don't need a Beauty Blender (if you want to buy one, more power to you, but it's a $20 sponge.) Even your finger can be the right tool in a given situation. Your tools can make a difference between a great makeup application and one that looks not your best. And while we're at it...

2. Wash Your Brushes (and your hands...and ALL your tools!): Listen to me and listen good. If you're new to makeup and haven't used it very much...TRUST ME ON THIS ONE: Wash and sanitize all your makeup tools. I keep a spray bottle of alcohol at my vanity to sanitize things like my eyelash comb, etc. Every time you touch your brush to your product and then touch your brush to your face, you're depositing a little bit of oil, dirt and dead skin cells from your face, moisturizer and what else was on your face onto your brush...your innocent clean brush. Don't want to clean your brushes after each use? Fine; You're opening up your poor facial epidermis to clogged pores, acne, blackheads, name it.

TRUST ME. Buy a spray-on brush cleaner and wash them at your vanity or your makeup area daily AND give them a deep clean maybe every two weeks? Every week ideally. Don't listen to me and make your skin breakout. You don't need anything fancy to wash them with...some baby shampoo will do just fine. No, it's not fun to deep clean them. Sorry. But it needs to be done if you want your face to be beautiful.

Don't know how to do it? Read how here:

By the way, this applies to your fingers and any other non-brush tools that touch your face too. Always touch your face only with clean fingers.

3. Wash Your Makeup Off Your Face Every Night...ALWAYS
Need to go to bed? Tired? Wash your face. Drunk? Wash your face. Not doing this has the same consequence as applying your makeup with dirty brushes. This is a way of being...

4. Be Kind To Your Skin
Because I have oily skin, I have been treating it like it needed to be punished. I have been using pretty harsh cleaners to try and strip the oil and completely dry my face out before applying my oil-free moisturizer. I have also been scrubbing the living daylights out of my face. Everyone loves a good exfoliation, but if you treat your skin as if it's "sensitive" will like you much better. Use a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin and make it feel tight and make sure it gets adequately moisturized. I used to think that "tight, squeaky clean feeling" meant that my oily skin was really clean, but I really just didn't hear my little skin cells screaming. Be kind to your face. It's the only face you have...treat it well.

5. Products Expire
Admittedly, powder products last the longest, but all of your products that you use on your face have a shelf-life. Mascaras last the least amount of time. If it smells, throw it in the trash, no matter how much you paid for it. case you didn't know...a lot of beauty products come with a little "Best Used after Opening" symbol on the packaging that looks like this:

The M stands for months. It's a guideline of course...if you take care of your products (especially your eyeshadows and blushes) you can probably safely use them for longer. But be careful with products that you are putting on your eyes...mascara and eyeliner are particularly hairy. Replace these often.

6. Apply All Your Powders With A Brush
You know that little sponge all your pressed powders come with? That little round one or square one that comes in the compact? Go get it right now and throw it in the trash. You heard me: THROW IT IN THE TRASH. Applying your pressed powder or whatever with that thing can make your powder look cakey but more than's gross. It's the same as using an unwashed, the oils on your face contaminate the sponge, you put the sponge back on top of your powder and then your powder gets oil and grossness in it. I've had several pressed powders that have had their lifespans shortened by oily sponges. Let's take a moment to weep over the money I lost buying new pressed powders.

Don't use this sponge!
7. Making Up Takes Practice
Liquid Eyeliner? You need to practice that. Gel Eyeliner? You need to practice that too. Perfect blush? Take your brush and give it a go! Know are not going to be good at everything right away. I am still struggling with eyeshadow and blending and all that, but I'm a hell of a lot better than I was 6 months ago. Put on your eyeliner and looks like crap? Grab some remover, take it off and try again. That's the great part about makeup. You messed up? You ALWAYS get a do over. When to practice? Before bed! You're going to wash it off anyway...right? RIGHT? (Do you need to read number 3 again?!)

8. Serum Is Actually Worth Using
I have been in a box all my life...wash your face, put on moisturizer. Done. All the sudden, these serums started getting popular and I am like, "Why do I need to add another step to my skincare routine? When I'm ready for bed, I can barely get it together to wash my face."

Stop: About a month ago, I started using a Vitamin C serum and my skin has been in a good mood ever since. Coincidence? I think not. My skin looks brighter, smoother and is less prone to breakouts. Can't stop, won't stop. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to put on the serum after I cleanse and before my moisturizer, but it's worth it. It's not a dumb fad, it's not a craze, it's legitimately beneficial for your skin to apply topical Vitamin C and other things like hyaluronic acid in the form of a serum. Consider one.

My current favorite serum! Thank you Boxycharm
9. Good Quality Makeup is Everywhere
If you haven't shopped for cosmetics at the drugstore since the '90s, you will be shocked. Drugstore brands have stepped up their game. You don't have to spend a lot of money to look pretty. Some of my favorite products are from the drugstore. Although the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is pretty much my favorite, I happen to think L'Oreal mascaras are to die for and can compete with high-end brands any day. Wet N' Wild and E.L.F. also make fabulous affordable products that you can buy at the drugstore. Not saying you shouldn't buy Urban Decay or Dior...just saying you don't have to spend a million dollars to look like a million dollars. Product quality varies in EVERY BRAND from color-to-color/product-to-product. Just read some reviews and try things out. You may like a $2 lipstick more than a $30 one...or vice versa. Don't be a snob and don't be closed minded. After is funny. L'Oreal owns the YSL Cosmetics line...hmmm...

10. A Primer is Actually Worthwhile
Just as you may put a primer on a wall before you paint it, a primer is a worthwhile step if you want your makeup to last or to get the biggest color payoff from eyeshadow. The primers you can put under your foundation or wear alone can smooth your skin's texture and place a barrier between your skin and your foundation. Eyeshadow primers (or a base) allow colors to appear more vibrantly and last longer. It's worth it.

So there you have it! Those are the 10 hard lessons I've learned the hard way this year. Do you have any more you can think of? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know!
Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Problems During the Sephora VIB Sale!

Admittedly, I only started really shopping at Sephora this year. I've had a Beauty Insider Account (which, for those who don't know, is a point-based loyalty problem) for a while, but I just hadn't really been shopping there until this year when I threw away a bunch of old makeup and started buying high-quality replacements. There are three levels of membership, based on how much money you spend at the store over the calendar year. The next level is VIB and then VIB Rouge. I went a little crazy and reached VIB Rouge about a month ago. It's exciting when you reach that level because they give you a Bite Lipstick. If you've never tried a Bite Lipstick, then you don't know what you're missing. It's extremely smooth and long wearing...but I digress.

It's my impression that once a year, Sephora extends a 20% off discount to VIB and VIB Rouge customers. I was very thrilled to get the notification in my email about the sale and the event (which, because of a rehearsal, I was unable to attend), which was supposed to begin yesterday the 6th and end the 10th. Being the beauty junkie that I am, I filled my cart up with goodies that I would only really want to buy if I got a discount on it. I think, in total, I had 8 things in my cart. Sadly, the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush Palette sold out the day before the sale. SAD! I deleted it from my cart and decided I would try and find it in a store. All I wanted to do was click the checkout button when the sale started and I was going to be good to go. Even though I live near several Sephora stores, I like to shop online because of the mobile offers and/or Ebates. com. I logged on to the Sephora App on my phone, and then this happened:

High Traffic? Wow...amazing. Everyone else must be excited about the VIB sale too! I waited several hours to log back in and got the same message. So, the website and app were officially CRASHED. The website and app were crashed during the most anticipated sale of the year.

When I first learned of this, I thought I would wait it out because I love to shop online, but then it was down for HOURS. By 10am yesterday, I decided that I would just drop by the Boston Sephora store before a rehearsal and try to remember all the items that were in my cart. I honestly was having a hard time, but I managed to snag nearly everything that was in my virtual cart, save one item. I even snagged a Tarte Pinup Girl Amazonian Clay Blush Palette, which was completely sold out online. You can't even view the product on the website anymore.

The sales associates didn't seem to really notice that the website was down when I talked with them about it, but all of them were nice and helpful. I was very thrilled to receive my first 500 point bonus which was a little Urban Decay eye set with four beautiful little eyeshadows and a 24/7 black eyeliner  and a super lame sample of primer potion. I'm a little pissed they adhered the sample to the stupid box, but I guess it's nothing a pair of scissors can't cure. I haven't tried this yet, but the colors look pretty neutral.

The bottom line, is that it's now (as I'm writing this) November 7th at 10am and the site is still down for most customers. Even worse, there is some bug in the system (I am guessing this because I can't imagine a major company would do this on purpose) that is locking the accounts of some customers who use an email address from some Chinese servers, such as and The accounts are not only being locked, but the system is giving those customers the reason for locking as some sort of "Violation of Policy" such as reselling, etc. From what I am reading on the Sephora Facebook Page, store associates have not been very helpful regarding this error and neither has the "Beauty Concierge" via the phone. Sephora PR has been less than responsive regarding this whole blunder, with one Twitter post 20 hours ago apologizing for their website being down. They have been replying to tweets in response to the craziness, but there has been no mention of the Chinese email blunder or any mention of how they are going to attempt to make disappointed customers happy.

I feel for them, because there is a major dropping of the ball here from their IT Department and their PR department. A major retailer's website being dysfunctional for over 24 hours during its major promotion is pretty unacceptable. It hurts me a little to say that because I do love Sephora, but I am shocked that the way this situation is being handled. What do you think? Have you tried to unsuccessfully place an order? Have you gone to the store instead? What are your experiences with the "Beauty Concierge"?