Friday, November 21, 2014

Maybelline Color Elixir in Signature Scarlet and Raspberry Rhapsody

Taking note of Shaaanxo's review of these Maybelline Color Elixir lip colors I decided to grab two of the shades that caught my eye -- Signature Scarlet and Raspberry Rhapsody. Both have a light vanilla scent and aren't too tacky, but still sticks to your lips nicely. 

The doe-foot applicator is angled to a point, making it very easy to get a nice defined lip line without lip pencil. The cute, stout packaging is easily thrown in my purse or pocket without taking up valuable space. Raspberry Rhapsody survived bar-hopping with me and I never felt like I was lugging around a bulky lip color in my jean pocket. It was a dream to apply in dimly lit bathrooms too. 

Signature Scarlet is a nice true red that applies evenly and straddles the line between not too sheer and not too opaque. The formula wears down well and is easy to apply, a great beginner red for someone who isn't used to working with bright colors on their lips. I like layering it over a red lipstick for that ultra-shiny patent leather lips look. 

Raspberry Rhapsody surprised me. I have a major soft spot for purpley-pinks, imagine Barbie's playhouse or a greenhouse of orchids, so when I saw the tube I knew this was the color for me. Swiped on the lips the color isn't as thick or opaque as I thought but, it turns out, that is just FINE. The color turns into a natural raspberry purple and stains beautifully, like I have been eating raspberry popsicles all afternoon long. 

I'm extremely impressed with both colors and plan to snap up more next time I'm at the grocery store. I'm thinking Mandarin Rapture, Breathtaking Apricot, and Amethyst Potion

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Am I the Last Person on the Planet to Get This? Urban Decay's Naked Basics Palette

I've finally purchased Urban Decay's Naked Basics Palette aka the best little neutral palette in the world. 

When my Sephora shipment arrived, I ripped open the box ready to dive into the goodies (I'm testing out products to use on my upcoming wedding day) and was shocked by just how small the tiny Naked Basics palette was. It's at least 1/3 the size of the regular Naked palettes but still manages to hold six great neutral shades. 

After thinking about it for a few moments and swiping my fingers across the creamy eyeshadows, I realized the size is a major PRO for this product. I can throw it in any of my purses or makeup bags. If I really wanted to, could slide it into the pocket of my jeans. I can already tell this will be a travel makeup essential. 

Each shadow is equally creamy and smooth but slightly powdery. Just remember to tap off excess powder when applying to prevent any shadow fallout. 

Crave, the matte black shadow, is incredibly opaque and easy to blend. I don't think any other matte black shadow compares to its jet black pigment, not even MAC's Carbon or Nehru shadows. 

Faint, the chocolate brown, is similarly highly pigmented and smooth as is Naked 2 the cool-toned taupe shade. 

The three lightest shades (left to right) W.O.S. (Walk of Shame), Foxy, and Venus look a bit disappointing when swatched on my fingers but don't let that fool you. Venus is the lone shimmer shade that really stands out when applied as a brow bone highlight or to your eye's inner corner. 

Both Foxy and W.O.S. are perfect transitional shades or can be used alone with thick eyeliner for a glam 1960s look. I really like how Urban Decay gave us both a yellowish transitional shade (Foxy) and a transitional shade that leans more neutral/pink (W.O.S.). It is those types of nuances between eyeshadows that really enhance your look. 

Just to demonstrate Crave's depth and opacity above is a smokey eye look I created using Crave, Venus, Urban Decay Glide-On Pencil in Perversion and a bit of MAC's Swiss Chocolate in the crease to add some warmth to the look. I'm absolutely obsessed with this look. I also used Ardell Wispies lashes, Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow in Dark Brown and Makeup Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Skincare Review: Ren Emollient Rescue Cream

In addition to Ren's Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil (eh, bit of a mouthful...), I've also been testing out Ren's Vita Mineral Emollient Rescue Cream. Sticking with Ren's "Clean Skincare" motto, the Emollient Rescue Cream is chuck full of vitamin E, magnesium, tocotrienols (a type of vitamin E), alpha-linoleic acids, and heaps of other goodies that won't irritate your skin.

The cream is thick and creamy, easily sliding over my face after a quick rub of my hands to warm up the product. I particularly enjoy this on days after I've had a strong acid peel or feeling the after effects of forgetting to wear sunscreen on beach days. I also layer the rescue cream on cracked, peeling acne scars sucked dry by strong acne treatments.

The cream doesn't have much of a scent but still covers up the odd (but not necessarily bad) smell of the Vita Mineral Omega 3 Serum Oil which reminds me of dried catnip. The cream does leave a small layer of sheen upon my face but quickly melts in an hour or so later. Mornings after using this I wake up with hydrated skin with no signs of whatever irritation was ailing me the night before. When combined with the Vita Mineral Omega 3 Serum Oil I feel incredibly radiant. 

I think this cream would benefit anyone's medicine cabinet. If you have dry skin use this daily in the winter, normal to oily, reserve it for dehydrated skin, specific irritations or even your winter skincare.

So far, I'm extremely impressed with Ren Skincare. I cannot wait to try out more of their products and find a regimen that is tailored to my specific skincare needs. Hopefully I can find some true "holy grail" skincare products from them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Skincare Review: Ren Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil

If you'd asked me about face oils or serums a few years ago I would have scoffed at you. Oils? For my skin? You're crazy. I don't want a face full of zits! I'm already oily! 

However, after educating myself and testing out the benefits of face oils and serums, I've since repented for my skincare sins and have fallen in love serums for my combination skin (oily t-zone, dehydrated cheeks).

I find that not only do face oils/serums MINIMIZE my oil production but they also NOURISH and actually TREAT my skin's woes. Instead of letting harsh anti-acne treatments fully strip my skin before throwing on some moisturizer, thus revving up my skin's oil production in response, adding in Ren's lightweight oil serum before applying moisturizer has kept my face's lipid balance in check. Less grease, less acne = happy me!

Ren says that the Vita Mineral Omega 3 Oil "strengthens the skin's vital lipid barrier and reenergizes skin cell activity" which "improve[s] moisture levels, boosts overall skin health" and "reduce[s] signs of wrinkles, premature aging, and sensitivity". 

And, I think Ren is absolutely spot on with their description. My skin is plump and glowing from drinking up this serum at night. If I've got time I make sure to rub it in with some facial massage motions which leaves me with that $300 facial feeling right in my own bathroom. 

The serum is paraben, sulfate, and mineral oil free which is great for sensitive skin. Because of the rosehip seed oil in the formula my old blemish scars are even looking smoother. My only issue is the smell. Others seem to enjoy it but I find myself thinking of catnip when I apply it. It's not necessarily a bad smell, just not my favorite. 

If the scent is odd for you, like it is for me, just use a moisturizer with a better smell and voila! No odd floral catnip smell. (Seriously, is there catnip in this? My cats GO CRAZY for my hands and face when I've put it on...)

If you're allergic or have sensitivities to linalool do avoid this product. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Link Love: November 12th, 2014

Looks like we've got an all beauty edition of Link Love this week. Take a load off this Wednesday and check out some awesome beauty posts that I've been loving this week. 

  • Tanya Burr's awesome Emma Watson Inspried Low Bun Hairstyle

Monday, November 10, 2014

October Favorites!

Oh October, October! Wherefore art thou October?

This month went by FAST. I suppose that may have something to do with California temperatures though. I'm used to Octobers with frostbitten mornings with scarves wrapped tightly around my face, threats of snow on Halloween night, and pumpkin patches where you actually NEED to wear a parka.

I've noticed Californians dress for the season it is supposed to be not what the actual temperature outside is. I can't help but giggle at the people wearing thick sweatshirts and beanies in almost 70 degree weather. Unless you're going to the beach at sunset there is no reason to be bundled up that warmly.

So, just in case you're wondering, there will not be any warm, fleece tights or thick cable knit sweaters in my October favorites list.

October Favorites:

1. Coming in at a whopping 1200 pages in its paperback version The Stand by Stephen King has been a constant companion to me this month. King creates an all-encompassing post apocalyptic world where 99 percent of the human population has been killed by fast moving virus (don't read this if you're squeamish about Ebola right now). The survivors find themselves slowly but surely congregating into two distinct camps where a showdown seems inevitable... Highly recommend this book if you're a lover of Stephen King (duh) and/or you're enjoying the post-apocalyptic/dystopian society trends going on right now (the Walking Dead, Hunger Games, etc.)

2. This Pumpkin Bread Recipe from Once Upon a Chef is absolutely delicious. Third time around I threw in some ginger powder, shredded coconut, lightly crushed almonds and some vanilla extract and found what I'm going to bring to holiday parties. You can make this slightly less carb-y by using some almond and coconut flour (just be sure to adjust for coconut flour's ability to soak up liquid like a sponge). But, if you're feeling extra naughty slap some cream cheese frosting on top of each slice.

3. & 4.

Both are "re-favorites" recently rediscovered when I was looking through a few boxes I've still yet to unpack.  First up, Fame by Lady Gaga which was her first fragrance release. The scent is honeyed and fruity but at the same time intensely moody. It's what I imagine a fortune teller's tent at a circus to smell like. The black liquid dries clear upon your skin and lasts for hours and hours. I've been wearing it all month long and my fiance absolutely loves the scent as well.

I've also been wearing Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' nail varnish in Black Metal Dahlia on my fingers and toes for a nice matchy-matchy but still rock n' roll glam look. Perfect for transitioning from neon summer colors to rich jewel tones for autumn/winter.

4. Hannah Maggs/The Michalaks Vlogs

It is no secret that I'm a huge Youtube watcher. I love anything from beauty tutorials to prank videos to just interesting people vlogging their lives. I've recently discovered the Michalaks, the cutest little English family living in London. Their vlogs, posted on Sundays, are extremely cinematic for a vlog and always has some great music accompanying montages of the family visiting local museums or just walking around their beautiful city. I absolutely love throwing on one of their videos while I'm cooking or washing dishes. Hannah also maintains a blog here. Check 'em out.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Expanding Your Makeup Kit - Part 1

Now that I've covered a makeup bag under $45 I want to get down to the fundamentals of a more well-rounded makeup kit. Adding on to your collection will pull in a few higher-end products and allow you to have more variation with your looks. You can go full-on glam with a smokey cat-eye and Kardashian-esque contouring, rock a statement lip with dewey, highlighted skin, or just play around with more color, in general.


If you already have glowing, blemish free skin or just want one less step in your routine, skip the concealer. While I personally don't and wouldn't leave out concealer, don't feel like you HAVE to use it. What makes concealer worth it for me is not pimple coverage, but the product's ability to create flawless, perfect skin by adding some extra coverage around my nose, by hiding a bad night's sleep with a dab under my eyes or the way I can clean up brow, lipliner, and eyeliner mistakes with a simple swipe of concealer.

I'm currently loving NXY Concealer Wand in Light and Green (I'll cover color correcting another time), as well as MAC's Select MoistureCover in NC15.

Eyebrow Gel

You know when you see someone with flat out amazing makeup? They look effortless and chic, totally enviable? 99% of the time the look can be boiled down to one important feature. A SPOT ON POWER BROW. Seriously, a well-groomed, proportionate brow will make or break a look. This step will majorly amp up your makeup game.

For more power to the brow ratio, use two brow products. You'll need the product that colors in and sculpts, like a brow pencil, shadow, or pomade, then your secret weapon-- eyebrow gel. Sweep this on top of your sculpted look to prevent your hairs from being to shiny and flat, keeping the eyebrow more realistic looking.

I  like Maybelline Great Lash in clear (which actually works really well for the brows) and Eyeko Brow Gel.



Now since we probably aren't on an unlimited budget, find a combo product when it comes to your bronzer/contour and highlighter. Nowadays, almost every single makeup company produces a multi-use product. And, why not? It is an easier solution for all of our makeup bags. Just be sure to test all colors for your skin tone.

Urban Decay has Naked Flush in multiple colors and includes a blush as well as a highlight and contour. The formula of all three colors are long-lasting and blend smoothly.

If you're willing to spend more time and money on highlighter, contour, and blush here are a few more options. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed - I am absolutely obsessed with this highlighter in Moonstone and cannot wait to try the other colors. The highlighter is somehow eye-catching and subtle at the same time. I never feel overdone or like sparkle is falling off my face like I should be in a 6th grade dance recital. 

For bronzer, I'm stuck on NYX's Matte Bronzer in Light and for contouring I mix it with NYX Powder Blush in Taupe (the "greigeness" of this blush tones down the orange
in the bronzer giving a more realistic looking contour. No one has red-brown shadows below their cheekbones). I can't seem to find anything else I like. Any suggestions?

Stay tuned for part 2 of "Expanding Your Makeup Kit"