Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mail Time: April Julep Maven Box

This month's theme is "Turn on the Brights" which is ironic because it's been raining and dreary here in Northeast Florida for two days. I usually love this kind of weather, but lately it's just bleh to me. I'm really feeling Spring colors this season and the gray skies are a bummer! But at least I get to break out my zebra-striped umbrella, so it's not a complete hardship. Accessories make all the difference, right?

My style profile is Classic with a Twist, and I ended up sticking to it this time. I love the colors, but I'm most excited about the Mighty Nail & Cuticle Serum! I'll have more information about the serum after we take a quick look at the box...

How gorgeous and fun are these colors?

The goodies inside

Information about Mighty Nail & Cuticle Serum from the Julep site:

"Kapow! Peptides – super-charged amino acids that build keratin (for your nails) and collagen (for your cuticles) – are our Mighty Nail & Cuticle Serum's secret weapon to transform dry and damaged cuticles almost overnight. Plus, get visibly stronger, smoother nails with fewer ridges and less splitting and brittleness in only 2-3 weeks.
To use: Apply to cuticle area twice daily for two weeks, then once a week for maintenance. This serum is so powerful, you only need one half-turn per hand. Can be used on bare or polished nails. Allow serum to dry completely before applying polish."

It sounds like just the thing I need for my sad cuticles! I'll test this bad boy out for a couple weeks and let you all know what I think. Until then, bright sunshine-y days to all of you out there! 

PS: Can someone pass me a towel? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Ecotools 6 Piece Day to Night Brush Set

The past three years have been a beauty revelation for me. Before I became obsessed with YouTube beauty channels I thought I knew what I needed to know about all things beauty. Man, was I wrong! I still have so much to learn, yet it amazes me how far I've already come. I didn't even own brushes until about three years ago! Can you believe it?

The Ecotools Alicia Silverstone collection was one of the very first set of brushes I've ever owned, and I still reach for most of my Ecotools brushes over my three lonely MAC brushes. If that sounds suspiciously like a paid "opinion" let me clear the air first by saying that I've never had any contact with either company, have never received press samples or compensation, and I will never be one of those gurus who sell out and dupe their readers for a quick buck or a nice lipstick. It completely goes against everything I believe in and what the blogging community is supposed to stand for.

Okay, stepping down from my (charmingly vintage) soapbox...

The fact is, I love these brushes. I feel like some of the eye brushes might be ever-so-slightly large for my eyes, but my eyes are droopy and annoying, so a lot of things pertaining to the eyes require tweaking for me. C'est la vie. What I love about them is how incredibly soft they are, how pampering it feels to use them. They pack powdered products very well and distribute them evenly. I don't use them for liquid products on a regular basis, but I have used them a couple times for liquid blush and the same quality remained.

For the Day to Night set, I have to give it the same thumbs up I give all my Ecotools brushes. I haven't found anything in the drugstore to rival the brand and I get daily use out of most of the brushes included.

So. Pictures!

The closed case.


The case itself has a hard exterior and is pretty compact. It works well for travel -- you can even fit a few more thinner-handled brushes (nothing like a blush or foundation brush with fat handles) inside. 

This set includes:
  • Round Powder Brush
  • Detailed Lip Liner Brush
  • Pointed Concealer Brush
  • Stay-There Shadow Brush
  • Smudge Brush
  • Zippered Clutch
My two favorites are the Stay-There Shadow Brush with its pointed end, which is great for getting into the crease, and the Round Powder Brush, which I love to use for blush or loose setting powders. They feel so soft and gentle on the face and eye areas and do the job very well. I haven't used the Detailed Lip Liner Brush because I have an aversion to using brushes for my lipstick. It's an illness called laziness, and I have it in spades. Give me a bullet and I'm a happy gal. The lip brush can be used for other things, of course. 

In my opinion, this is a great set that includes everything a beginner needs for the eyes with the bonus of a handy case and powder brush, and all for a reasonable price. I got mine at Walgreens for $16.99.

Physician's Formula Sexy Booster Sexy Glow Blush Swatch and Review

Again with the huge names! Yer killing me, Physician's Formula! But you make up for it with the cutest packaging ever, so all is forgiven.

Let's get down to business. I have this blush in Blush Rose, which looks like this:

Back view with mirror and brush.

Front view

The heel in the middle is coated with a silver overspray, which goes away after the first use. It's unfortunate that they didn't just go with another shade of pink for the heel that goes through to the pan, because with the current design you unavoidably ruin the heel design the moment you use the product. Not a deal breaker for most, but it was a bit of a bummer for me.
Sorry it's so blurry! You still get the idea though.

And finally, a swatch:

The above swatch was applied with a blush brush on bare skin. No primers or foundations were used. It was also applied with a very heavy hand and I'm pretty fair-skinned, if that gives you any indication as to how pigmented the product is.

Physician's Formula site description:

Irresistibly Sexy Blushing Glow: Wear this perfect blend of shimmery blushing tones like lingerie for your face for an instant sexy boost with an alluring blushing glow.
Sexy Boosting Formula: infused with the scent of warm vanilla, "afterglow" illumination and pheromone-mimicking ingredients including clinically tested Androstadienone, Cocoa Extract (aka "the Love Chemical") and ancient aphrodisiac Horny Goatweed to enhance your sexy side.

My overall thoughts:
The blush applied smoothly, but was very sheer and shimmery. Like the Sexy Glow Glossy Stain, it has a sweet, odd sort of floral scent that I have trouble describing. I've seen some bloggers pin down vanilla notes, but for me it's a scent I don't recall smelling anywhere else. Unfortunately, it's not a smell I really liked and it lingered on my face and on my brush. Shame on me for not cleaning my brush immediately, because it lingered for days. I also didn't get much wear time out of this product, which I suspect is because of its sheer nature. Personally, I prefer a bit more pigmentation and less shimmer on my cheeks.

You can find this and other Sexy Booster products at most drugstores, Target, Walmart, K-mart, and some grocery stores for $11.95.

Physician's Formula Sexy Glow Glossy Stain Review and Swatches

This product's full name is quite a mouthful -- it's the Physician's Formula Sexy Booster Sexy Glow Glossy Stain in hot pink. Sometimes I think cosmetics companies are just messing with us!

The Sexy Booster line has only been out for a couple of months and claims to contain pheromones that make you completely irresistible. So is this the makeup equivalent of Axe body spray? I'm gonna go ahead and say no to that one. (And how silly are the Axe commercials? Seriously.) The pheromone claims seem gimmicky to me, but I'm guessing that much is obvious to just about everyone. What really drew me to this product was the color of the glossy stain and the awesome packaging. I'm a packaging junkie -- what can I say?

The color is hot pink, and I'd say the name is pretty accurate. It's sort of a pinky raspberry shade that makes me think of Summertime.

Description from the Physician's Formula site:
Irresistable Sexy Color & Shine.
Innovative gloss+stain hybrid formula delivers richly pigmented color in an intensly glossy finish combined with our Sexy Boost Blend for the ultimate pout-enhancing effect. The result is full, voluptuous, SEXY lips!
Seductive scent and delectable flavor makes it irresistable to apply!
Kiss-Proof Performance: High-impact color takes long-wear to a sexy new level, lasts up to 12 hours (tested under controlled conditions).
Sexy Boosting Formula: infused with the scent of warm vanilla, "afterglow" illumination and pheromone-mimicking ingredients including clinically tested Androstadienone, Cocoa Extract (aka "the Love Chemical") and ancient aphrodisiac Horny Goatweed to enhance your sexy side.

My thoughts...

The formula is kind of interesting. It feels really thin while applying, but dries quickly with only the slightest amount of stickiness. 

It has a sort of sweet floral-y scent that I can't pin down, but I can tell you it's the exact same scent the Sexy Booster blushes have. Thankfully the scent goes away after a couple minutes because I'm not a fan. 

How does it wear?
I had pretty good wear time with this product. It isn't like the other stains I own, though, in that it doesn't seem to "set" and can transfer onto your glass or anything else you may touch with your lips. The upside is that it isn't drying like my other stains. The color is very opaque and it doesn't feel heavy on the lips.

Overall I think this is a great product. The price is pretty steep at $9.95, but you can usually catch good sales at drugstores. I stacked a BOGO 1/2 off sale at CVS with a $3 off coupon and ended up getting mine for a little over $2.00, which is very reasonable. The savings are out there, if you're patient!

Plus, the packaging. The adorable high heel charm! The fishnet around the tube! How could anyone resist?

The Balm Haul and Swatches

I'm playing catch up with some swatches and reviews, so prepare for a lot of information to come your way! This time around I have a haul from The Balm that I got from Mary-Lou Manizer, What's Your Type (Bodybuilder) Mascara, and The Balm Girls lipsticks in Mai Billsbepaid and Foxxy Pout.


Mary-Lou Manizer:
Adorable packaging!

And a swatch:

Back of packaging

Mary-Lou Manizer is a pretty popular highlighting product, and in my opinion it's worth the hype. It has a smooth application, blends easily, and definitely adds illumination to the skin. However, if you're looking for a very subtle sheen, this product is not for you; this baby packs some serious shine.

The Balm Girls lipsticks:

More adorable packaging. Don't you just love The Balm?

Left: Foxxy Pout   Right: Mai Billsbepaid

Mai Billsbepaid is a nice nude color while Foxxy Pout is a shimmery bronze. Both had average application and wear time for me.

I haven't pictured the mascara in detail here and I won't go into a lot of detail because mascara is so subjective from one person to the next. I got The Bodybuilder as a sample in a Glam Bag and loved the wand and formula. For me it really pumps up the volume in my lashes and works well when I layer a lengthening mascara on top of it. Your mileage may vary, of course. Mascara is a fickle beast!

Overall, I'm loving everything I got in this haul. I haven't found a dud from this brand yet and the packaging is right up my alley! Everything has a lot of personality. The Balm Girls lipsticks are obviously based on James Bond and the sleek silver tubes remind me of bullets, which is apropos. 

If you're reading this today, The Balm is revamping their site and they're having a 50% off sale on everything for today (April 1st) only.  Go get you some goodies!  

Beautifully Disney Collection

I don't have detailed information on this brand-new line by Disney, but this new makeup line was in my email today and I just had to share! A few months back Disney was promoting all their Villains and they had some makeup out at their store. It looked promising and had great packaging, but I didn't grab it and it was gone in a flash. I couldn't even find anything about it on the internet! It was a sad, sad day for little ol' me. So as you can imagine, I'm super excited about this line!

Click here for the Beautifully Disney Collection page.

Being a big Disney fan with an equal soft spot for the villains and the princesses, I'm hopeful that this line will continue to grow to include a lot of variety.

Did anyone grab up on the Villains collection while it was available? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the products!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Polka-Dot Mani and Seche Vite First Impressions

Let me officially go on the record here by saying I am most definitely NOT a nail guru and I'll never claim to know much about that end of beauty. But I do love color very much and I have fun trying simple nail art. Plus I have an obsession with polka dots.

With all of this in mind, this is my Hello Spring! manicure. Pay no attention to my horrible cuticles. I know they need some TLC.

Base color: Sally Hanson Insta-Dri in Fast Fuchsia
Dots: Nicole by OPI Selena Gomez Collection in Hit the Lights

Psst, deal alert! I got both of these polishes this week for $1 each! The Insta-Dri was at The Dollar Tree and the Nicole was on clearance at Walmart with the rest of the Selena Gomez line and lots of other polishes for a buck. Some of the other polishes were 50 and 75 cents! All together I spent $4 on polishes, base, and top coat. More on the base and topcoat later.

Some "creative" shots. Blurry buggers though they are...

These are all on day 2 of the manicure. Man, look at those cuticles! Anyway, moving on. I used Seche Vite top coat and base coat for the first time here and as you can see, there's already tip wear. I was really surprised since it seems most bloggers prefer Seche Vite. In fact, blogger opinion was why I decided to try the brand. I had a $5 off coupon to Sally Beauty Supply and it just so happened they were running a special -- buy the base coat, get the top coat free. So for $2 I got to try both. Score! I was so excited to test them out. Both base coat and top coat applied as usual, with great drying time. 

I don't have a full review for you all just yet, but I can tell you that five hours after I did my nails I had considerable chipping on my dominant hand and tip wear on the other. This was after 1 coat of base, 2 coats of the main color, dotting, and one coat of top coat, which I wrapped. I did one load of pre-washed dishes with a dish wand, so my hands weren't fully submerged. Nothing else was out of the ordinary. I do my nails the same all the time, lately with the Colorstay Gel-Smooth base coat, 2 coats of polish, and either Sally Hanson Insta-Dri top coat or Orly Glosser top coat. I use the same wrapping method with those top coats as I did with the Seche Vite and it usually lasts about three days before I start to see wear at all, and a few more days before I have to remove everything. But with Seche Vite I get less than 5 hours? 

Anyone have any thoughts on this? If I'd done anything different besides changing brands, I'd say I've done something wrong. I'll give the brand another test run and update when I have more thorough results.