Friday, January 27, 2012

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Hello, dear readers,

It probably feels like every other post is an update; that's how it feels to me. However, I always like to know what's going on with bloggers when they're unable to post. It's sort of reassuring to know they'll be back eventually. Right now I'm working on testing out some samples to review. I have three lipsticks, two powders, and a powder concealer. The idea is that I'll be able to put all the lipsticks in one post, and hopefully the powders in another.

I like to give [much too] thorough reviews, so I'm testing the first one today and noting details on a Word document. Yes, I do that. You may have to excuse me for some terrible photos, because my camera's lighting just won't cooperate with me, and I don't have the expertise to know how to fix it. The goal right now is to test these out by Monday, and then put up a review as soon as possible.

At the moment I'm frantically emailing college counselors with questions about transfer applications and writing seven million extra essays. Some of these schools really grill transfer students. Yeesh! It's not like we enjoyed our last schools, so give us a break!

Anyway, rant over. I'm also starting to get homework and spending a lot of time at the library, as well as posting twice a week on CHAOS. I know plenty of bloggers who are much busier than I am and still manage to get posts out almost every day, but I just can't do that.

I hope you've all had a pleasant work/school week, and tomorrow you can relax.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Some Kind of Wonderful

Yes, dear readers,

The product picture above is kind of a miracle worker for the lips. At least, I'd like to think so. In case you couldn't tell, this is Burt's Bees Super Glossy Natural Lip Shine in Sweet Pink. Whew! Another incredibly long name. [NOTE: I just discovered that this is discontinued! Oh, no! It is still available on sites like Amazon]

I received one of these from my aunt during the 2010 winter holidays, and I absolutely love it. However, I don't really use this as it's intended to be used. I'm a bit out of my lip gloss phase, so you won't see me wearing this out and about, but if you were to see me at night, chances are I'd be wearing this.

Instead of using this as your traditional gloss, I prefer to use it as a lip treatment before bed. The packaging says that it "moisturizes like a balm," but I'm going to disagree here. It moisturizes better than any balm I've used. 

That's not to say my lip balms are bad, because they aren't, but this just seems to leave the lips incredibly soft and smooth. It's non-sticky, and it glides on like no other gloss I've tried. There aren't any irritants, such as the requisite peppermint that you often find in plumping glosses.

The way I like to use this is to apply it maybe half an hour or so before bed. After that, I can feel that the moisture has absorbed into my lips. I promptly remove the gloss with a tissue, for it is, after all, a gloss, and marvel at the effects.

My lips somehow have hardly any visible lines and they look and feel incredibly hydrated. I then use a lip balm to seal in the moisture, hit the pillow, and drift off.

If you're looking for a really moisturizing gloss, or if you want to use it like I do, you may want to consider purchasing this. As noted above, it is discontinued, but it's still available to buy on the web, possibly just on Amazon. I'm not sure.

What are your favorite moisturizing lip products?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bits and Bobs

Hello, dear readers,

This post is just a little bit of this and a tad bit of that. Creative, huh? I apologize for not covering Golden Globes fashion, and I promise I will do Oscars fashion once more. I'm so excited for the Oscar nominations that will come out on January 24th. In any case, I've been rather busy lately, hence the lack of Golden Globes fashion. I haven't even read about it yet in the newspapers.

What am I up to? I'm just starting two classes at community college, which doesn't seem like a lot, but I'm also applying for colleges. If you're in the U.S., you know that the Common Application requires a short statement and an essay. As a transfer student, however, there are separate supplements and different essays for each school. I have four schools to write for, and a completely separate application for another university.

I will be testing out some makeup products soon, so I'll have at least one post on those. I also recently rediscovered a product in my own collection, and I think I'll be talking about that in the coming week. Besides classes, college applications, and college visits, I was lucky enough to get a fashion features internship on CHAOS Magazine's blog. I'll be a beauty writer for the blog, and my posts will come out twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. If you're interested in ever checking it out, the link is here, and the magazine's main page is here. My first post comes out tomorrow.

CHAOS is an indie magazine, predominantly focused on current news in fashion, music, and art, but I believe you have to register [it's free] to actually read the editorials. The blog, however, is open to everyone, and there is quite a lot of fashion coverage. It seems to focus on higher-end fashion, with not as much coverage on the latest beauty news, so I'm excited to inject some more beauty articles into the blog!

Ramble, ramble, ramble...I know I've gone on for quite awhile here, but I'm pretty excited to be in such a good place at the moment. I just had to share it with all of you.

I hope your week is going well. Let me know if you have any exciting things going on in your life right now.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Put on Your Happy Face

Hello, dear readers,

Today was one of those infamous "Blah!" days. You know the kind: You're dressed in sweats, no makeup on, and you're probably doing some work that you don't really want to finish. Maybe you're just lazing around the house with absolutely nothing to do.

I was working on college applications today, and feeling extra blah. Luckily, I had a friend to keep me company through AIM, a form of instant messaging as archaic as the family phone at this point. I was wearing leggings and a huge T-shirt, the kinds of clothing I would never leave the house in, at least not as an outfit. I was feeling particularly unglamorous with extra dark under-eye circles and some nice new breakouts. My hair would just not cooperate, and my wrists and arms were sore from all the typing. In short, I just felt like complaining.

Now that it's nighttime, I decided to make myself feel a little better in the most superficial and gratifying ways of all: makeup. I'm sure you're shocked and surprised, jumping and falling out of your seats as you read this. In all honesty, though, sometimes putting on a little makeup is just the trick. No, Mom, it doesn't mean I think I'm hideous; makeup just makes me feel extra pretty when I need a little boost. 

That's how I went from feeling and looking like this... improving my mood and looking like this:

Drastic change? No. I just put on some concealer, powder, and lipstick, and shoved my hair over my shoulder so it would look half decent for the picture. When I think I look more alive, I feel much more content. It's so satisfying to know that sometimes all it takes is putting on my "face" to actually feel happier.

Does putting on makeup give you a happy face on glum days? I bet you fellow beauty bloggers out there will agree that it does.

I hope you've had a wonderful weekend, and have a great start to the week.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Favorite Posts and Series of 2011

Hello, dear readers,

For fear of appearing to self-promote, I initially decided against writing this post. As you can tell from the title, this is a list of my favorite posts. Emphasis on the word "my." Don't get me wrong; I subscribe to a zillion blogs with better picture quality, writing, and/or post ideas. The reason I'm rattling off the names of the posts I wrote is for no other reason than how proud of them I am. During one of my personal worst years, I was able to get this blog going. Hence, I feel no shame in naming the posts or series that I consider my personal best, found the most fun to write, etc. I know we're well into January now, but if you don't mind, I don't mind. You don't have to click the links to any of them; they're just there so that if you do want to have a look, you don't spend time searching for them.

In no particular order, here we go:

Top 3 Posts

1. Pop Culture Favorites of 2011

This was one of the most fun posts for me to write. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love pop culture. Movies, books, music, websites: You name it; I can name a current favorite. I'm especially fond of movies and books, so it was a great deal of fun to write the most concise summaries I've ever written about all of my favorites. This post also took quite some time to come up with, write, and find pictures for. I'm very happy with the way it turned out, and I think it's also fairly original, as compared to other favorites posts that I've done.

2. Skincare Tips Parts 1 and 2

Skincare is somewhat of a scientific hobby for me. What I mean by that is that I research ingredients to the best of my ability, compare articles, and go with science in the end. There may be conflicting ideas on different beauty blogs or magazines, but it's ultimately down to chemistry as far as products go, and science as far as following skincare rules goes. Technically, these are two posts, but they were really meant to be written as one. That post was far too long, so I split it in two. These were quite labor intensive in the most entertaining of ways. I loved writing everything I know about skincare, and I do believe that at least most of it is correct!

3. Best 11 of 2011

Ah, finally a post in which I use my own pictures, shot in pretty decent daylight. I'm pretty happy about the way these pictures came out, and how short the descriptions were on each product. This took a long time, too, but mostly because I needed to decide which products to choose. The picture-taking and editing didn't actually take too long. I got lucky with the lighting.

Top 3 Series

1. Let's Do...A Book Review 

It all started after I read Water for Elephants. The movie had either just come out or was about to come out, so I frantically rushed to read the book, and I fell in love with the story. That review started the series. I also realize that after this series I began to use the ellipses a lot more. I really enjoy reading, and this series encourages me to keep reading books so I can find more to review. The most rewarding part is when the reviews make people want to read the books afterwards.

2. Awards Show Fashion Series

I have always been an Oscars fanatic, far before my friends found out about it, but I never fail to watch the red carpet interviews for the half hour before the show. I absolutely love hearing stars answer the "Who are you wearing?" question with the names of famous designers casually slipping off their lips. Half the fun of awards shows is seeing the fashion, and reading about it in the paper the next day. So I thought: I'm watching the Oscars; why not do a review myself? That started my series of awards show fashion favorites posts.

3. Lately I've Been Loving... Series

This is just something I started to remind myself of the good things going on at the time. I know beauty bloggers tend to write about favorite makeup and hair products, and I figured it would be nice to write about all the other wonderful things I happened to appreciate at the time. The series has helped me focus on the positive, even if just for a short time after each post.

Those are all my favorite posts and series. What posts did you write that you liked the best this year?

Have a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lay Off The Paint

Hello, dear readers,

In case you haven't read this post, you may not know that I recently downsized my nail polish collection from 84 to somewhere around 50 polishes. Granted, this came from about eleven years of collecting, but a great deal of these polishes were recent acquisitions. With my somewhere-around-50 nail polishes in mind, I bounced on over to a beauty supply store with a friend for, big surprise, discounted high-end nail polish! Once inside, my friend, whose collection is slightly less than half of mine, justifiably scoured the shelves for colors she didn't have. What did I do? I looked for new shades of polish, and suddenly had a revelation: There was not a single shade I liked that I didn't already have!

Sure, my polishes may not have been the same brand, maybe not exactly a perfect match, but when it came down to making a decision, I just couldn't validate a purchase. I also learned that I tend to go through phases with nail polish, sometimes liking only blues; sometimes pinks and reds; and currently aqua, turquoise, and Tiffany blue colors. I realized that I have some manifestation of every one of these colors.

Based on this experience, I made a decision: I'm not buying any more nail polish for a good, long while. And so, dear readers, begins my self-imposed nail polish-buying ban.

Think about it:  Have you ever used up a single polish? Is it really necessary to own 80 nail polishes? Fifty?

Is it really important to have every shade of ballet pink or metallic gold?

The answer, I think we can agree, is no.

But it sure is nice.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Mini Review: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Lash Boosting Mascara

Hello, dear readers,

Today I bring you another product with an extremely long name, also sent to me by Physicians Formula courtesy of the "Buzz Makers" program. This product is relatively new, so it should be hitting shelves around this time. If you're curious to know how to become a "buzz maker", the official page is here. In any case, let's begin the review and hope it doesn't last as it takes to read the name of the product.

I have to confess that I'm no expert at all on mascaras. I've probably worn maybe four others ever, and three of the four were strictly worn for a few jazz performances. Before I get into my own opinions, here is the description from the website:

100% of the Total Ingredients are from Natural Origin.
44% of the Total Ingredients are from Organic Farming.
100% saw enhanced lashes INSTANLY!
1st Ever 100% Natural Lash Boosting formula enhances the appearance of lash length, thickness and volume for dramatic lashes instantly and long-term.
Delivers ingredients to the base of lashes for best results!
93% saw thicker & longer looking lashes instantly! 92% saw extended & fuller looking lashes after 4 weeks! *Based on individual perception of results of a panel of women wearing Organic Wear Lash Boosting Mascara.

I can't tell you anything about the statistics of the ingredients mentioned in the description, so I have to skip that part. This mascara has a pretty wet formula, which I don't actually mind. I find that immediately after I apply it, it transfers onto my bottom lashes as soon as I blink. It doesn't smudge under my eyes, just coats the lashes. Maybe I'm just lucky because I have fairly long lashes. I'm not sure if this will happen to anyone else. However, it does not transfer to at all once it's dry, so no raccoon eyes. It's also important to note that this is not a waterproof mascara.

I find that two or three coats makes my lashes look a bit darker, more defined, and longer. I never curl my lashes, because I don't need to, but this mascara seems to hold them up in a curl on its own. The tell-tale sign that this mascara actually does something for me is that my mom notices I'm wearing it [sometimes right away, sometimes eventually]. I have naturally dark and long lashes anyway, so if my mom notices it, it must be doing something right. After I remove it, my lashes seem more curled, at least temporarily. As for the "enhanced lashes instantly" claim, unless the mascara is clear or doesn't have any product in it, you're obviously going to notice enhanced lashes right after applying.

The problem I find with this mascara is that it can get clumpy with more than three coats. Sometimes it clumps into spider lashes by the third coat. This may be my application technique and lack of practice, but it's a trial and error process. When I get it right, it looks great, but with too many coats it merely clumps up my lashes. I have an average amount of lashes, so I imagine if yours are more sparse you may have a problem with clumping.

I didn't see a volume boost with this mascara, to be honest, despite the brush that looks like it's meant to do just that. I think it's great for lengthening and defining lashes, and makes them look better immediately after mascara removal, but, again, it doesn't seem to give very much volume.

That is my humble opinion on the product. Do let me know if you've tried it yourself. Do you think it boosts volume?

I hope you had a fabulous start to the week.


Let's Do...A Book Review: The Beach House

Same title, different covers!
Hello, dear readers,

I'm proud to say that yesterday I finished my first book of 2012! This one is, as you may know from the title, The Beach House, by Jane Green. She happens to be my favorite author of adult chick lit, and one of my favorite writers in general. I've also read Promises to Keep, Swapping Lives, The Other Woman, Babyville, and Bookends. Needless to say, I'm a fan. Some of these titles have different names in the UK, but, lucky for us, The Beach House is The Beach House wherever you go to read it.

Here's what the website has to say:

Known in Nantucket as the crazy woman who lives in the rambling house atop the bluff, Nan doesn’t care what people think. At sixty-five-years old, her husband died twenty years ago, her beauty has faded, and her family has flown. If her neighbors are away, why shouldn’t she skinny dip in their swimming pools and help herself to their flowers? But when she discovers the money she thought would last forever is dwindling and she could lose her beloved house, Nan knows she has to make drastic changes.

The above summary really describes the premise of the book, and not the rich intertwining of stories within. Besides Nan, the main characters include married, but troubled couple Daniel and Bee; divorced mom Daff and her daughter; Nan's son Michael; Daff's ex-husband Richard and his girlfriend Carrie. For reference, most of the characters are in their upper-30s to 40s.

If you're familiar with the movie Love Actually, or even Valentine's Day, you can more easily understand the style in which this book is written. It bounces seamlessly among the characters and their separate lives, gradually sewing them all together into one storyline. Most of the characters decide to take a break from their lives, or try to repair their lives, by visiting Nantucket. That's where they meet Nan, and things get very interesting.

Before they reach Nantucket, a good half of the book goes into their character development. The author is third-person omniscient, so each section jumps into what the character is doing and thinking, eventually delving into each of their pasts. There's no rush to get to know the characters, even as the reader is introduced to them in the middle of their lives, because for some reason Green paces the story in a reassuring manner; it's easy to see that you'll find out everything you need to know by the end.

I can't say that this is a completely unpredictable book, but everything unwinds in a way that doesn't cause eye-rolling. Nothing is ever too cliché, and there are certainly some surprises as the characters meet in unexpected ways. 

The novel is bittersweet; not every ending is completely happy, but it's still deeply satisfying. I find The Beach House extremely moving and touching, and I highly recommend it if you like more intelligent chick lit with a lot of reality to it.

I hope you enjoyed this book review. I know it's pretty darn short for one of my reviews, but I can't imagine describing more of it without giving away the entire plot sequence.

I guess you'll just have to read it for yourself to discover the wonderful stories within.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Mini Review: Physicians Formula Mineral Wear® Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30

Hello, dear readers,

I'm sure that after reading the title, you're not looking forward to reading another one of my rambles. This is the longest cosmetic title I've probably ever seen. In any case, as a Physicians Formula "buzz maker," I received a few products in the mail for the purpose of review. Don't worry; I'm not suddenly special. You, too, can become a "buzz maker" if you go on the Physicians Formula website and click the tab that says "Buzz." I'm not sure if everyone gets picked, or if it's random, but it's worth a shot if you're a fan of the brand.

Before I tell you my thoughts, let's have a look at the product description and claims from the official webpage :

Hypoallergenic. Fragrance free. Paraben free. Non-Comedogenic. Dermatologist approved.

Ultra-fine mineral powder delivers impeccable coverage for a flawless airbrushed finish.
Visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pores and sun damage.

I was pretty scientific about this review, so I tried it over each of my tinted moisturizers as well as over concealer alone. For reference, the tinted moisturizers I used were the Clinique Moisture Surge SPF 15 in shade 01, and CG Aqua Smoothers in shade 805. Both are the lightest shades. When I went with just concealer, it was the Hard Candy Glamoflauge in light, also the lightest of the three shades offered. I received the powder in the shade "Translucent." See a pattern here?

As far as claims go, "hypoallergenic," "non-comedegenic," and "dermatologist approved," do not, I hate to say it, guarantee that your skin won't have an allergic reaction or break out from the product. This goes for every single beauty and skincare product out there, so I'm not digging on this brand alone. The powder is paraben free, and I'm really happy with the SPF ingredients included. This uses both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, mineral sunscreens that should block all UV rays from penetrating the skin. If you're afraid that it will leave a whitish cast, don't be; it doesn't leave any sort of white cast on the skin.

As far as the description goes, I honestly cannot comment upon whether it reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, or sun damage, because I don't see any signs of those issues as of yet. However, I do find that it gives very good coverage for just a pressed powder. I actually think I prefer this over concealer alone, because, wait for gives my face a bit of color. I know this is a translucent powder, but for someone as pale as I am, this product will definitely add some pigment to the skin.

Worn alone over concealer, I honestly don't think it reduces the appearance of pores. I have pretty visible pores right around my nose and on my forehead, and they didn't seem to disappear. I do really like the coverage, though, and it does a great job of working with the concealer to cover up discoloration and created the look of even-toned skin.

With the Clinique tinted moisturizer, it blends seamlessly over the top, but gets slightly cake-y on the sides of my nose, which tend to get dry. It looks more cake-y around my nose when used over the Cover Girl tinted moisturizer, so I'm going to have to blame this on tinted moisturizer. With any powder I use, my skin can look flakier if it's over a tinted moisturizer. For me, the less makeup, the better. Besides the t-zone area, the combination of the products makes my pores appear smaller, as makeup tends to do.

This is not a mattifying powder, nor does it claim to be, so my t-zone area still looks shiny. Of course, the more makeup I wear, the more noticeable the shine. Therefore, I prefer wearing this powder over concealer alone. It gives enough coverage that I don't need the extra makeup, anyway. I find it to be very long-lasting despite the shine, and it really only separates slightly on my t-zone after several hours.

The great thing about this powder is that this shade is actually neutral, not too yellow or pink. The only downside about the shades is that there are only three offered, all on the light to medium end of the spectrum. As for the packaging, I think it's adorable but unnecessarily bulky. I don't use the mirror inside or I'd be flipping back and forth to reload my brush. I don't use the brush that comes with it, either, because it's really long, thin, and dense. I don't understand how anyone can use that. Instead I use an all over face kabuki brush that's meant for mineral makeup.

Overall, I think this is a good powder for those with dry-combination to dry skin, because it won't hide the shine of oily skin. It has fantastic sunscreen ingredients and gives pretty great, long-lasting coverage. The directions on the package are reminiscent of directions on the back of sunscreen, including the warnings about not using the product on broken skin, and it's convenient that you can use this if you forget sunscreen and not have to worry about it.

That's it for this "Mini Review." I should probably start calling them "Long, Rambling Description," but that doesn't have quite as much of a nice ring to it.

Let me know if you've tried this powder, or if you have another favorite.

I hope the first week of the new year has treated you well.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Post!

Hello, dear readers,

I know I've said "Happy New Year!" in a couple of the last posts, so there it is. Seeing as it is the beginning of January, I suppose I should write something this week. I'm not particularly interested in sharing resolutions or reminiscing about the past year, but I will say I'm glad that 2011 is over.

The reason I haven't done my first 2012 post until now is because I'm up for round two of the College Search, this time as a transfer. I'm throwing myself full force into the process with the knowledge of what I want and can't handle in a school. With my arsenal of personal experiences from the year at my previous university stored in the back of my mind, I hope that I am better equipped to find a college suited to my needs.

In other news, I notice that I've gained a subscriber or two since the end of December, so thank you for that. As for upcoming posts, I know I always fail to keep my promises when it comes to actually getting things up on time. I will say, however, that I have a few reviews on the way. I like to try products out for a week before I can review them, so they won't be up tomorrow.

I remember last year, around this time, I was writing about how New Year's resolutions seemed silly to me. I think that after the past year, I'm changing my mind a bit. This isn't to say that I'll make resolutions every year, but I definitely need them this time. I'm writing them down so I can go back and look at them, because that tends to be helpful for most people. I hope to benefit from these first-time resolutions! We'll see how it goes.

But back to you, readers: How has the first week of the year been for you? Do you like to make resolutions?

Wishing you the best this new year.