Friday, October 31, 2014

Old Factory Candle Gift Set Review

As a fully formed person I like lots of different things besides makeup and skincare stuff, and while I won't talk about most of them on this blog, there seems to be a general consensus amongst beauty bloggers that candles are awesome. Actually, I think pretty much every person out there likes candles. So when I was given the opportunity to test out a trio of candles I did my happy dance and busted out the lighter.

Old Factory Candles is a USA based company (HUGE fan of buying locally) that creates hand poured soy based candles. Each trio comes with 3 complementing scents and is suppose to burn for 20 hours each, which I think is pretty good for being smaller candles. I chose the "Spa Day" trio, which came with Lemongrass, Cucumber, and Green Tea, but there were tons of options available. I wanted something I could burn while taking a much needed home spa day in my bath tub, and this seemed perfect. The candles are available from Amazon (I've provided links further down) and since I have a Prime membership they arrived in two days.

They were packaged quite well, I don't thing these would have broken unless someone played tackle football with my box, so points there. Each candle is packaged in a little clear glass jar with a black plastic lid and a really nice label on the front and a scent sticker on the bottom. Mine are all a whitish color, not sure if that is true of every set. For those not familiar with soy candles, they tend to burn cleaner and the wax has a lower melting point so in the event your 3 year old grabs it you know there won't be horrific third degree burns. I also think soy candles last longer, but that may just be the specific candles I buy. I personally prefer soy to regular wax, so I was very happy to see these were soy.

The first candle I opened up was the cucumber one, which on cold sniff (meaning an unlite candle) reminded me of a cucumber lotion, very soft and soothing smelling. Not cucumber melon smelling, just straight cucumber, so I think it fits with the theme very well. I have not burned this one yet, but I think it will be a subtle scent once burning.

The second candle I opened was the lemongrass one and this is my favorite of the three. It legit smells like lemongrass and smelled strong on cold sniff. I've been burning it on my desk off and on for the last day and a half and after that first initial hour burn you can really smell it. Not in your face strong, but I can smell it around my living room and it smells so good you guys. Burns super clean too, no soot around the edge of the candle, even after being blown out and relighted three times now. The wick is doing good, no real mushroom top (when the tip of the lite wick blows up like a mushroom top). There's a little bit of a lean going on, but my spawn was messing with it earlier (no spilled wax, he just tipped it to blow it out) so it may not be a fault in the candle.

The third candle is green tea and is more lotion with green tea in it than straight green tea, but it still smells good. I'd say this is in the middle of the trio for cold sniff scent, and I have no idea how it will do one I burn it. I think it will be strong once started, but I can also see it being a softer scent. I'll probably try this once next so keep an eyeball out on my Twitter for an update.

Each set contains 3 2 oz candles and is $25 (free shipping if you are Prime), which I think is fair for the candles. 60 hours of burning time total, which now that I've burned one for a while I can totally see each one lasting that long. Some of the other scent combos sound really great, so I may pick some up for Christmas gifts and maybe another scent or two for me. Below I've provided links to each trio they have available so you can easily check them out.

Baby Born Trio
Coffee Shop Trio
Fall Harvest Trio
Fresh and Clean Trio
Happy Holidays Trio
High as a Kite Trio
Man Cave Trio
Romance Trio
Spa Day Trio
Vacation Trio
50 Shades Trio
Winter Wonderland Trio

*I received this item free for the purpose of testing and reviewing. All opinions expressed are my own*

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Last Thursday of October, and also the day before Halloween, who else is excited? As per usual, I'm joining up with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her weekly link up.

  • Can you believe tomorrow is Halloween? The weather is looking nasty so I probably won't dress up while we take my son trick-or-treating, but he's excited to wear his Batman costume around for a whole day.
  • Friday will be a good mail day too, my Coastal Scents Revealed 2 palette and a travel brush set should be here then and I can't wait to play with it. The sample palette I received this month from Birchbox was amazing, so I cannot wait to see all the other colors. Expect pictures on my Instagram as soon as they arrive. 
  • Speaking of makeup, I've been test driving some new foundation and powder for my own personal use and I'm super loving the Rimmel Stay Matte brand, has anybody else used it? Really liking how well it stays put and keeps me unshiny even during work days at the Taekwondo school. Next time Ulta has them on sale I'll be snagging an extra set for my makeup bag.
  • I'm thinking about doing a weekly roundup of blog posts every Sunday on my Facebook page to help people keep up with my blogging. I will make this Sunday a test day and see how well received it is.
  • Speaking of social media, this Monday is my next Mani Monday link up, so if you want a head start on the theme make sure you're following me on Twitter. I'll be posting the theme on Saturday and again on Sunday.
  • Its been raining nonstop pretty much all week, so I really need to buy some new rain boots. Anybody rocking really cute ones this year? I had black with rainbow polka dots last year, but they broke so I need new ones. My local Costco always has a really good selection of them, so I'm hoping to pick a pair up this weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just How Long is too Long to Hold onto Makeup?

I have a confession to make, I keep makeup waaaaay longer than I should. Some of it is just so expensive and the cheapskate in me just cringes to throw it out. So just how often should you be throwing out beauty and skincare products? And what can you "forget" to throw out for a few months longer?

Mascara: Mascara is the one thing I will not keep past the allotted time period, once you've had a really horrible eye infection you will be extra careful too. Mascara should be replaced every 3-6 months, but if it becomes super clumpy (which is a sign of air drying it out and bacterial growth) or starts to smell weird (bacteria!), throw it out. A tube of mascara costs less that a two week supply of antibiotics and that eye patch pirate look is so two seasons ago.

Lipstick: I will fully admit, some of my lipstick is more than a few years past the "throw is out after a year" rule, but who finishes a tube of lipstick in a year? Check for changes in texture and smell, those signal a lipstick going bad. I clean mine with alcohol every few months so I have yet to have one go bad (fingers crossed, knock on wood), so I think this is a rule you can fudge a bit. The one year rule also applies to lip liners.

Foundation: Both liquid and powder should be replaced every two years, though I think most people finish them up well before the toss by date. I do have a foundation I quit using for like a year that is now quite old and smells funny so I will be tossing it next time I remember and am in the bathroom. Remember, old makeup can be the cause of that persistent acne you've been battling.

Blush: Blush has a two year window, but so long as you store it properly and clean it with alcohol every once in a while I think you can fudge that rule a bit. If it gets really dry and crumbly (or wet, ew) or develops a smell toss it.

Eyeshadow: This also has a two year life, but I think with proper care and maintenance you can keep it longer like with blush. I know some of mine is well past the two year window and hasn't changed one bit.

Eyeliner: Both liquid and pencil should be tossed after a year of use. Pencils you can sharpen can be kept a little bit longer but do not keep liquid, cream, or gel eyeliner past that year. Germs and bacteria will hide and grow in the actual eyeliner and give you a nasty eye infection.

Face Creams/Lotions: These should be tossed after a year. They'll separate and lose their effectiveness as time goes on, and can actually exasperate the problems they are suppose to fix, like dry skin and acne.

Sponges: If you use sponges to apply your makeup they should be washed after every few used and completely replaced after 6 months. If I use wedge sponges I'll replace them every week, but something expensive like the Beauty Blender can be replaced every 6 months if you take really good care of it. Brushes should be cleaned weekly as well, but don't really need to be replaced unless they are coming apart.

This just covers the basics, but a good rule of thumb is if it changes or starts to smell toss it. What's the one makeup item you've had for so long it's embarrassing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: Homemade Facial Toner

My nightly skincare regime almost always includes a facial toner of some sort, and when my bottle hit my empty sack I decided to make my own instead of spending hours looking for just the right one. I needed something gentle on my skin, but with the acne busting powers of a stronger cleanser. My answer was right in my beauty stash. I already had a bottle of Tea Tree Oil and I had received a bottle of Rosewater that I was testing out (review coming later this week), perfect for my needs. And man am I happy with this recipe!

To make your own toner you will need:

  • Tea Tree Oil. I recommend the Apothecary Extracts brand, I've been using it off and on since I received it and I'm really happy with it.
  • Rosewater. I'm using Instanatural Moroccan Rosewater, which I'll be reviewing in full later.
  • A 1/4 cup measuring cup
  • Regular water. You can use distilled water if you want, I used tap since I know I'll use it up quickly
  • A stack of flat, round cotton swabs. I buy mine at the dollar store.
  • A small jar, I used one of my jelly canning jars.
  • Something to poke the swabs down into the jar, I used a butter knife.

First, measure 1/4 of a cup water and pour into your jar.

Next, add 1/4 of a cup of Rosewater.

Now add 10 drops of the Tea Tree Oil. You can add less if you have extra sensitive skin, or more if you want to go nuclear on some acne. Just make sure you aren't allergic to Tea Tree Oil before you do this project.

Screw the lid on TIGHTLY and give it a really good shake to mix everything up.

Now in small stacks, start adding your cotton swabs, using the butter knife to press them down. Keep adding them until they are wet but not completely soaked. I filled my jar up about halfway once they were pressed down.

And you now have facial toner swabs, all prepped and ready to go. To use just grab one out and swab across your face and neck. No need to rinse off afterwards either. I like to do this after I've washed my face but before I've applied my moisturizer and eye cream. This should last for a while, if you use a swab a day you should rub out before the mixture goes bad. Using distilled water will increase the shelf life of this product. Store it in the fridge for added cooling/soothing effect as well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mani Monday: Dripping Blood

Greetings and welcome to the last Halloween themed manicure of the month. These have been fun for sure and I've saved a great one for last. Nothing quite says scary/horror like dripping blood, so today I'll show you how to create a dripping blood effect for your nails that is honestly so simple you'll be done in a flash.

For this you'll need:

  • Base color. Surprise surprise, I'm using my go to nude color. Maybe in November I'll branch out and use a different color.
  • Red nail polish.
  • Small paint brush and a piece of paper
  • Clear top coat

First you want to paint your nails the base color, making sure it's smooth and streak free. Remember once you start painting on the blood you won't be able to go back and fix the base so pay attention to what you're doing. Let this dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Create a puddle of your red nail polish on your paper for easy access, then create two dots on your nail. Size and area don't really matter, and they don't need to be perfect.

Now paint straight down from the dots and then across the tip of your nail. It should look like a 5 year old was making blood drops on your nail. Don't panic, we're not done yet.

Using your brush, smooth out and round off the edges until it looks like liquid dripping down your nail. Think about how a thicker liquid would move and use that as a reference. You just need to make sure there are no corners at all or it will kill the effect. And that's it. Do it on all nails or just one as a creepy accent nail.

My next Mani Monday link up is next week, if you want a sneak peek at the theme make sure you are following my Twitter account, I'll release it this weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vitamin C for your face

*I received these products free for testing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own completely*

Hopefully this post goes up on time like it's suppose to, we've been having really terrible wind storms here and have already lost power once due to trees crashing into power lines. Fingers crossed everything works out OK.

Everybody knows vitamin C is good for you and your immune system, but what about for your face? Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so all of the good for you benefits also works great on your face to help with sun damage, pollution damage, dark spots, and signs of aging. Sano Naturals makes a Vitamin C Serum as well as an eye gel that are designed to be like a shot of Emergen-C (which I love and highly recommend this time of year) for your face. But is is worth all the hype?

Sano Naturals claims that their vitamin c serum is better than other ones on the market, due to not having any water in the ingredients. The claim is that water will cause the vitamin c to oxidize and can be harmful to your face. I actually looked this up and that is absolutely correct! So a really good thing to know when you buy skincare products with vitamin c in them. I looked at the first three results that came up on Amazon for "vitamin c serum" and 2 of the 3 contained water as the first ingredients. I'm giving the win in this category to Sano Naturals for having a non-oxidizing product.

The rest of the ingredients are things I like in my skincare products, like aloe, hyaluronic acid, and witch hazel. There wasn't anything listed on the serum (the eye gel did not have an ingredient list) that made me cringe, and it appears to be vegan friendly from my knowledge of ingredients. The product is also made in the USA, which is great! I love supporting companies who produce their products here.

As far as the actual performance, I'll start with the eye gel. The texture is thick and jelly like, so easy to apply without making a mess everywhere. It also won't spill if you forget you're holding it and tip it over, as I discovered. I'm pretty sure you'd have to hold it upside down for an hour to get any to spill out. This worked great on my dark under eye circles, I really noticed an improvement after the second day. I didn't notice any changes in my eye wrinkles or in the puffiness I had from not sleeping very well that week. A cold spoon takes care of the puffiness though, so an improvement on the black rings was really all I cared about. Now this did smell...weird. Like a wet field, not at all how I thought it would smell. The scent dissipated fairly quickly once it was on the skin.

The serum is very thin in viscosity, almost like water. There was no color to it at all and it smelled pretty much like the eye gel did. It helped with some of the dark spots I had and my skin looked better and brighter after my test week, but I broke out while using it. Now I can't say if it was from this product or from coming down with the plague at the same time, I will give it another week long try after I'm done testing something else and report back on it if was the product.

Overall I really liked the eye gel and was so so on the serum, but am willing to give it another try. These are interesting products and from the brief looking I did they are better than a lot of similar types out there. I think if you are looking for a vitamin c product, these are a really great product. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekend Tips and Tricks

Hello! Some of you may have noticed that there was no post yesterday, and that was because after a week of burning the candle at both ends I was beyond exhausted and decided to take a day off to take care of myself for once. So this week's tips will have a "take care of yourself" slant.

Tip #1: Sleep. It sounds so simple on paper, getting 8 hours a night, but for someone of us we never seem to get anywhere near that. Make getting at least 8 hours a priority for you, your body cannot survive on 4-6 hours constantly.

Tip #2: Stress can cause your skin to breakout, so use that stress filled week as an excuse to use that really good face mask you've been saving. Or use this as an excuse to buy that one you've always wanted.

Tip #3: With the weather turning colder your skin is going to need some extra moisture. If you are someone, like me, who avoids face lotions over fear of breakouts, look into a hyalauronic acid serum like this one. Serums typically absorb better and won't sit on your skin causing breakouts like a lotion can.

Tip #4: Your nails need a break too, polish can dry them out and cause them to peel, crack, and be brittle. Put a good oil on them 3 times a week and give them a good buff once a week to improve the health and look of your nails.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

This week has gone by way to quickly, can anybody hook me up with an extra day please? I need about 14 more hours to get things done, that's not to much to ask is it? There never really seems to be enough hours in the day. Since its Thursday that means its time for my weekly link up with Ramblings of a Suburban Mom, who if you're not reading you really should be.

  • Halloween is just around the corner! I'm so excited and I'm loving seeing all the great makeup people are posting on Instagram. Who still dresses up for Halloween? I may wear my Batgirl costume so my son and I match.
  • Trying lots of different skincare products this month, some really good, some not so good. When you buy stuff for your face, what do you look for? I'm a big fan of multi-taskers since my time is valuable to me, but sometimes I wonder if just focusing on one thing per product will give me better results.
  • Is anyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I always tell myself I'm going to do it then I get to busy and I blow it off. I want to try it this year but instead of chapters in a novel do blog posts. I really need to get back into queuing up posts a few days in advanced and with the holidays coming up I really need to build up a buffer so I'm not awake at 2 AM writing a post about eyeshadow. I'm pretty sure this is a terrible idea but I'm going to give it a try. Worst comes to worst I'll have a bunch of posts already done and I can relax a bit.
  • I keep eyeballing that Benefit Holiday Blush Palette and I may need to just go and pick one up. For $36 it is a great value and lets you try pretty much every blush Benefit makes plus their most popular bronzer and highlighter. Obviously they aren't full sized pans, but it takes forever to get through a blush anyways so size isn't a big deal. I may poke around and see what reviews I can dig up on it.
  • Speaking of holiday sets, have you guys seen the Urban Decay Naked Vault? That is one seriously huge set! If you have the money to get it it would be super neat to get, but I'm not dropping that much money on anything. But I can dream can't I? What's one product you would get if money was no option?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

E.L.F. Studio Endless Eyes Pro Eyeshadow Palette

I'm the kind of person who like a lot of variety, I need options all the time. This spills over to my makeup as evidence by my dozens of tubes of lipsticks and more eyeshadow than I want to admit right now. So an eyeshadow palette with 100 different shades was something I just had to have, especially when I saw the price! The E.L.F Studio Endless Eyes Pro Eyeshadow Palette is one of the largest eyeshadow palettes out there, and at $10 (technically $20 but it always seems to be on "sale" for $10 so I'm calling BS on the $20 price tag) you really can't beat that price.

There are a wide variety of shades in this palette, from mattes to shimmery satins and from lovely neutrals to bright pinks and blues. There is literally a color for every situation and mood, its awesome! I've been slowly making my way through the palette since I bought it in April, and while some of them aren't great or are such a weird color I'll never use it (like the oranges, who wears orange eyeshadow?), I'd say at least 90% are well worth it. Generally they apply well and when paired with primer last all day. I'd say the matte colors tend to perform worst than the shimmery ones, and some of the lighter colored matte ones are chalky and pretty unwearable (like the matte white).

I'm not going to do swatches because doing 100 of them will take me forever but, I will show you my favorite colors. The pink shadow I marked with the red square is my absolute favorite color and I think I'm getting close to hitting pan. The frosted pink shade just goes really well with the brown color I marked with a green square and some winged eyeliner. The shade directly below that, marked with a pink square, is a lovely champagne color perfect for highlighting or for special occasions. The gold color I marked with the yellow square is also a great highlighting color as well. And oddly enough the pink color marked with the black square gets used a lot when I'm doing "sunset" inspired eyes. Those are my favorite colors out of the palette but I use pretty much all of them.

I really love this palette and think it's a great investment, especially when it'll cost less than a lunch to buy. And if you have patience you can pick it up during a special for free like I did. I have not seen this in stores so I'll call this an online buy only (ELF has the slowest shipping ever, so keep that in mind while shopping). And if you fall in love with a color you won't be able to buy just that color, which I think is a huge error on their part. I would buy full sized pans of several of these colors in a heartbeat if I could. But overall I'm calling this a really savvy buy for people who need lots of variety.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: Sweet Fall Lip Scrub

Ah Fall, the time of year when the leaves turn beautiful colors, pumpkin spice everything comes out, and all the moisture from you skin gets sucked out. My lips especially get dried and cracked this time of year, and since I'm almost out of the chocolate mint lip scrub I made a while back I figured now would be the perfect time for another lip scrub recipe. This time I'm going to pull my flavor cues from the season, though I'll be avoiding the pumpkin spice cliche for now.

For this recipe you'll need:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Oil of some sort. I'm using olive oil because I forgot to buy more almond oil, but you can use whatever
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon
  • Measuring spoon and cup
  • Bowl and fork
  • Container to put the finished scrub in.

First, measure out enough brown sugar to fill your container about 2/3rds of the way up. For my container I used 1/4 cup packed brown sugar. All of my measurements will be in proportion to my 1/4 cup sugar, so you may need to adjust depending on the size of your container.

Add in 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Now mix well, taking care to break up any clumps of brown sugar you find.

Next add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix well.

Now slowly drizzle in your oil. The amount will depend on your personal preferences. I wanted this scrub to be a little wetter so I added more oil than I normally do. Just drizzle and mix till you get it where you want it. Then scoop it into your container and you are good to go. To use just scrub some onto your lips then either rinse away or lick away, the choice is yours. You can also make this in a larger volume and use it as a body scrub instead, it works quite well.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Franken Fingers Mani Monday

Good morning ghouls and goblins, this week's Mani Monday is inspired by my favorite monster story; Frankenstein. First kiddies, Frankenstein is the scientist, not the monster. The monster is Frankenstein's Monster. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. As you know, the monster was created by stitching pieces of different people together then working some science mojo on it to bring him to life. Great book if you haven't read it yet. So today's manicure will be a two toned french manicure with "stitches" connecting them. This isn't to hard, just takes a steady hand and some patience. And if it looks a little rough that just adds to the spooky charm.

For this manicure you will need:

  • Base color. I used my usual ELF nude color that I seem to almost always use.
  • Contrasting color for the tips. I used my ELF nail polish in orange to make them extra Halloweenie
  • Black nail polish
  • A thin paint brush
  • A piece of paper of some sort
  • Clear top coat
  • Nail polish remover

First, apply your base color. I like to do three coats to make sure it's smooth and streak free. Just remember you can't go back and fix any mistakes so pay attention to what your doing. Let it dry completely before you move onto the next step.

Now apply the contrasting color in a straight line across the tips of your nails. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect but, if you really want it straight use a piece of tape to cover the area you don't want painted. Make sure you can't see any of your base color through it, then let dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Put a blob or two of your black nail polish onto your scrap piece of paper, this will serve as your palette. Don't put to much nail polish down, it will start to get dry and goopy after a bit so only put down enough for two nails at a time. 

Dip your brush into the polish and try and flatten the brush a bit before you paint a thin black line along where the contrast color touches the base color. Try and keep it as even as possible, but don't stress making it perfect. The roughness gives it a spookiness.

Now paint three "stitches" connecting the contrast color to the base color. You can make these as long or as short as you want, I winged it and had different lengths to mine. Any more than three and it starts to look crowded but less than three looks incomplete so try and stick with just three per nail.

Throw on some top coat to protect your hard work and clean up any polish on your skin with some nail polish remover (I used the brush I was painting with so I could clean two birds with one stone) and you are all done. Go show off those amazing monster nails!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Battle of the Primer: Ulta vs ELF

I've been on the eyeshadow primer train since before there was an actual eyeshadow primer (foundation works, though not as well as the new fancy primer), so I thought I would pit some different primers against one another in an ultimate battle to see which one really is the best. Today I'm comparing the ELF essential eyeshadow primer with the Ulta extreme wear eyeshadow primer. Full disclaimer, the ELF primer is the one I wear on a daily basis, but I want to see which primer is the best so I can use it. I'm serious about my eyeshadow, what can I say.

The ELF Essential Primer is $1, making it the cheapest primer out there hands down.  My personal container has been in use since April, so they do last a while (I use it roughly 5 times a week).The buzz on other blogs and forums is that this is a great dupe for the Urban Decay primer, but since I haven't tested it personally I can't say for sure. I actually haven't read a bad review about this stuff, though I'm sure they're out there. The doe foot applicator makes it quick and clean to apply this to my eyelids and it comes in several different shades (sheer, champagne, pearl, and golden) though I always use the sheer which is just a basic primer. I may eventually buy the other types and test them out, just for testing purposes. These are available at any place that sells ELF stuff, like Target, Kmart, and my local 7-11 (weird right?) or online.

The ULTA Extreme Wear Eyeshadow Primer is $10, making it about mid-range on the cost scale for primer. I got one of these in my ULTA gift bag, this one is more than a deluxe sample but less than a full sized one by a little bit. It looks very identical to the ELF one, complete with the doe foot applicator but only comes in a shade exactly like the sheer ELF one, so that makes comparing them easier. This primer is only available at ULTA stores and on their website, making it a little harder to get than the ELF one as well.

To test these I put one on one eye and the other on the other eye. The ELF went on my right eye (so the left one on the picture) and the ULTA is on my left eye (so the right side of the picture). Application wise they went on exactly the same, couldn't tell them apart at all.

Once I applied my eyeshadow (a plum color) I noticed a difference. The ELF kind of muted the color a bit while with the ULTA the color was exactly like it was in the pan. You can't really tell in the picture and my husband couldn't tell, but I could tell. So that's a point for the ULTA brand right off the bat and I will admit that has been a frustrating thing with the ELF one, if you don't let it dry a bit it messes up your colors. Not a big deal if you're doing neutrals but that bright teal shadow will be a pastel mess.

Once I added my cream color and blended a bit you couldn't see the difference as much I thought but I still thing the left eye is more true to the pan color wise than the right eye.

This is the end of a typical day for me, which included teaching an hour of Taekwondo then working out a bit. As you can see the left eye creased horribly by the end of the day. That's the ULTA eye. My ELF eye held up really well, no creasing though the shadow has faded a bit. The whole point of primer is to keep your shadow in place and prevent creasing so the point goes to ELF here. I was pretty disappointed with how poorly the ULTA held up for me, and while I know my typical day isn't what the average user goes through I still expect it to perform better than sometime ten times cheaper.

At the end of the day I have to declare the ELF primer the winner. Though it can mute or muddy up my colors if I rush things, I need my primer to keep my shadow in place and not crease on me and the ELF primer delivers that every single time. And you seriously can't beat that price, that's couch diving money not lunch money.

So round one goes to the ELF Essential Primer! What primer would you like to see try and take down the champ?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekend Tips and Tricks

Getting close to Halloween, anybody else beyond excited? We're doing the whole pumpkin patch and costume building thing this weekend so I'm looking forward to it. Since my weekend will be packed, here are some of my favorite tricks and tips to getting the most beauty time for me while I'm trying to do 50 other things.

Tip #1: Hang your clothes by the shower while you shower, the steam will help the wrinkles to release and help it look sleeker and like you just picked it up from the cleaner.

Tip #2: Lay your makeup and tools out the night before in the order you use them in to cut down on all the time you spend looking for that particular shade of lipstick or just the right eyeshadow brush. This seriously cuts at least 5 minutes out of my getting ready time in the morning.

Tip #3: Look for double duty products to cut down on your time in front of the mirror. Use a BB cream that contains primer and SPF protection, use a cheek and lip stain, and a mascara that makes your lashes look so good you won't need to curl them.

Tip #4: Use dry shampoo in place of that morning shower for days you are really crunched on time. A good brand (I'm partial to the Psssst! Dry Shampoo) will leave your hair looking like you just hopped out of the shower. Baby wipes work for a quicky sponge bath as well, because some morning you wake up stinky AND 20 minutes late.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 2014 Birchbox

*This Post Contains Referral Links*

One of the things I love best is going out to my mailbox and seeing a package there for me. Even better when it contains makeup and beauty goodies. So when my Birchbox comes every month I get extra excited because I know there's going to be at least one amazing thing in there. October was my second month getting a Birchbox, so the newness hasn't worn off yet. This month's theme was "Obsessed. Addicted. Can't get enough.", so I guess these are all really popular items? My box came super quickly this month too, I received it on the tenth! Loving not waiting till the end of the month like with Ipsy.

My first look was super disappointing, I thought they forgot stuff till I opened the pillow box and discovered two things were in it and one was hiding under it. This month was back to the plain brown boxes, which I'm fine with. These boxes are really well made and I'm using mine to organize my stash of stuff. The one from last month is holding extra makeup I haven't opened yet, and this month's box is holding extra tubes of stuff like sunscreen and eye creams.

The Beauty Protector Spray was one of the items in the sneak peak I REALLY wanted to get, so I was so happy to get it this month. I have super long hair so anything that'll help protect it AND detangle it is awesome in my book. This stuff does everything, detangle, lock in color, protect from heat and UV damage, condition, and it smells amazing. Like I find myself smelling my hair all day. It works great too, so I'm super thrilled with it and will be buying a full sized one soon. A full size retails for $21.95 and is 8 oz, making my sample about $2.74. Did I mention it smelled divine? 

This was another item I was hoping to get, I hear so many good things about the Dr Brant brand that I really wanted to give them a try. This is the Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner, which is suppose to suck the blackheads and nasty stuff out of your skin. I actually haven't tried it yet, I'm testing out some other skin care stuff so as soon as that's done I'll take this puppy out for a test drive and get back to you on how I liked it. I did hear that it changes colors to let you know it's working, so that's pretty cool. A full sized retails $45 for 1 oz (ouch!), which makes my sample a whopping $11.25! That's more than the box cost, so a pretty high value sample. Now $45 for an ounce is a bit steep for me, so I will not be purchasing this even if I love it.

This was in the pillow box, and is the Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream. Supposedly it will help with wrinkles and dark under eye circles, which is a-ok in my book, but it has coconut in it so I'm not sure if I'll try it. My allergy therapy is going well so I'm fairly sure I could safely use it, just waiting till my seasonal allergies die down a bit more. It smells like Fruit Loops to me, which is weird I think but so long as it doesn't smell like butt I'm not picky. Nothing that smells like butt will ever touch my face. A full sized one retails for $38 and is 15 mL, making my 7 mL sample worth $17.73! I actually went back and double checked my math on this one, that's a high value sample, almost double the cost of the box. Very impressed with this box so far.

This was one of the samples you could have picked this month (I didn't pick any, I wanted to be surprised), a ModelCo Party Proof lipstick in the shade Kitty. I wasn't super familiar with the brand, though I had seen their nail polishes before, so I wasn't sure if this would be a good lipstick or a give to my son to play with lipstick. They claim this lipstick will "last as long as the party does", but I haven't really noticed any difference between this and other lipsticks.

The shade is lovely, kind of a shimmery/metallic nude pink color, or what I call "my lips but better". I've work it at least 3 days a week since it arrived, so I'm calling this one a hit. It even smells nice, which is a weird thing to say about a lipstick. The only downside is if your lips are dry, flaky, or cracked it can highlight that so I recommend exfoliating your lips on the days you want to use this. It appears this packaging was created just for Birchbox so this exact tube can only be bought in a trio with two other lipsticks for $24, but you can still buy the actual lipstick from their website for $16.95. No idea if the one from their site is bigger than the Birchbox one, mine appears to be a full sized lipstick so I'm calling the Birchbox trio a way better deal. I'm assigning a value of $8 to my tube and I'll probably order the whole trio at some point.

Last but not least is my favorite item from the box, a Coastal Scents Revealed 2 sample palette in the shade "Ballerina". If you frequent beauty forums you may have heard all the buzz about this palette being a great dupe for the Naked 3 palette by Urban Decay. I've seen lots of reviews about it so when I saw this sample in the sneak peeks I prayed to my makeup guardian angel to stick it in my box and I got it!

The colors that come with this palette are a matte baby pink, a shimmery rose, a shimmery dusty rose, and a matte light plum. They work really well together so these were a great choice for the sampler. The colors are gorgeous but I was so excited to look at everything I did the worlds worst swatch and barely got any on my finger, so keep that in mind.

This is one light swipe, so applied with a brush they were much more pigmented. I've actually been wearing them quite a bit since I got it and as soon as next pay day hits I'll be buying the full sized palette. The actual palette has 20 eyeshadows in it and each pan is about twice the size of these and retails for $19.99, so a really good value. And I've seen enough side by side reviews of this and Naked 3 to call it an official dupe for half the price, so this gets a gold star from me. I'm giving this a value of about $2.

This box ended up being really high value, coming to a grand total of $41.72! That's over four times what I paid for it, and I'll use everything I got for sure. I couldn't be happier with my box this month and I found some new favorites, which is the main reason I do Birchbox. And I also get 50 points for reviewing them on the Birchbox page, which equals $5 to spend in their store. I'm going to save mine up till April and treat myself to a big haul for my birthday. If you got a Birchbox this month what did you think of it?