Friday, May 21, 2010

Unique Totes! Limeade Handmade :)

A video review of this is long overdue, but I have been so busy with school that I've hardly had any time for YouTube! I thought I would write a quick blog review until I have time to film the review it deserves.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a woman named Liz about a new business she was starting, featuring handmade totes and unique bags. She also has a beauty channel on YouTube which is great! Check it out here:

Her business is called "Limeade Handmade," which is an adorable name that reminds me so much of my childhood, for some reason! Here's the link to her Etsy store, which I really hope you visit and browse!

She sent me a tote of my choosing, and I picked a bold floral pattern that has almost a tribal influence. The first thing that came to mind when I spotted it was one of Vera Bradley's bold, colorful prints, so I was excited to try it out.

My favorite thing about the bag is that the print is very transitional. When paired with a cute sundress in beige, cream or another neutral color, this tote is perfect as a casual, beachy spring/summer accessory. At the same time, the beautiful burnt reds and oranges in the color scheme allow to to also function as a great fall or winter accessory. This tote lends an unexpected and intriguing pop of color to any outfit. I can see matching this with a pair of adorable red flats and a statement headband with a red fabric flower!

Here are some other designs that I really love:

I love this unique, abstract neon design! I would pair it with a pair of dark-washed boot cut jeans, a fitted white ribbed tank under a light black cardigan, and black flats. The outfit itself is pretty basic and casual, but this would create a burst of visual interest.

This design is simple and sweet, and perfect for spring. I would pair it with a white sun dress for another one of those pops of color. I can also imagine using this as a beach tote paired with a neon-green bikini (neon looks great on tan skin!) underneath a white jersey tube dress.

Let me say that I love almost ANYTHING that has paisley! This bag, to me, has a country feel to it. I would wear it with a girly white sundress and a pair of black cowboy boots to really play off of that western vibe. I would also wear it with a flowy black top, a pair of dark-washed denim shorty-shorts, and a pair of simple black flats or flip flops to add some visual interest to a casual ensemble.

Another great thing about this company is that whatever you purchase from it will be virtually one-of-a-kind. There are a ton of beautiful, unique prints to choose from in varying color schemes and patterns ranging from simplistic and modern, to fun and whimsical. Liz has also mentioned that she would open to working with you on custom orders -- through Etsy, you can message a seller and request specific fabrics, patterns, color schemes, etc., and the seller will let you know whether your vision can be made possible. This allows you to find the bag that expresses your personality 100%.

The quality of the bag is fantastic. The straps are sewn sturdily and there has been absolutely no wear and tear, even though I've lugged the tote all over the place! These are a far cry from the cheap, disposable totes you can buy for 1-2 bucks at Forever21, and are going to last you forever as long as you take good care of them.

All her totes are hand-sewn and come in various sizes - small, medium and large. I have the small size, which is ideal, as I use it as a makeup bag. I am constantly transporting makeup back and forth between my dorm and my boyfriend's, depending on where I'm filming. This bag fits both of my Coastal Scents 88 palettes, a plastic zipper pouch full of my lipsticks, concealer, foundation and other cream products, and all the makeup brushes I need.

Since I use it as a makeup bag, there is always the chance for spillage and smudging -- you girls all know what I mean! I've ruined at least one good bag due to a lipstick melting over the interior on a hot day. What's great about Limeade Handmade is that most of her totes are washable, so this problem is easily fixed.

Finally, the bags are very reasonably priced. The largest ones cost $15, which is a great deal considering the time and effort Liz pours into every project. It's also a very reasonable price to pay for a bag that will be completely unique to you! The small-sized bags cost $10 apiece, again very reasonable.

In short, I really recommend you check out her Etsy shop and both her YouTube channels. She is a great person and really deserves attention and support from the beauty community in her endeavors! I always like to help shine a spotlight on women who take the initiative to pursue what they love.

Thanks so much for reading this review! Till next time! :)

Rave! Mea Culpa Body & Bath

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll probably know that my latest obsession has been handmade bath and body products off of Etsy. I've discovered so many great sellers, but one has stood out in particular. I am planning on filming a video review and *possibly* hosting a mini contest with this company's products, but I thought I would create a blog post anyway!

First off, I want to mention that everything I'll mention here was purchased with my own money or given as a gift by my boyfriend. I know people tend to be suspicious of sponsored reviews. Not that my opinion would change even if this were sponsored -- but I just want to get across that I paid for all these products and I think they're worth every single cent and more!

The company is called "Mea Culpa Body & Bath." It's owned by a woman name Jasmina, whom I've talked with via YouTube and Etsy convos, and she seems like a really cool person! You can tell she really loves what she does and she is always glad to help answer your questions or help you create a custom order on Etsy. Check out the shop here:

And her YouTube channel here:

Now let's get into reviews of the products I've tried.

1) "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" Face & Hand Cream w/ Shea Butter

This is designed to be a dupe for the "Honey I Washed the Kids" scent by Lush, and it is very very similar, though not 100%. I almost like this fragrance better -- it's a little less "edible," and a little more floral, in my opinion. Very feminine! The cream itself has a fantastic whipped texture. I use it on my face at night and in the morning right after washing my face and it moisturizes incredibly without leaving the greasy feel I associate with store-brand lotions. It has not broken me out AT ALL, which is great, because the original soap from Lush caused a horrible breakout all over my chest/back. This comes in a variety of scents, and I HIGHLY recommend you try it out!

2) Blackberry Amber Handmade Skin Softening & Conditioning Soap

I received this as a free sample with the cream above. It isn't a scent I would have ever picked out on my own - typically avoid "amber," musky and herbal scents and stay toward brighter, fruity or floral fragrances. But I am so glad I received this! It lathers very well and is incredibly moisturizing, as the title claims. Best of all, the scent clings softly to the skin. This is the best soap to shower with right before bed, because the amber scent really relaxes you and lulls you to sleep, in my opinion.

3) 1/2 oz samples of goats milk soap in the following fragrances:
Brown Sugar
Midnight Pomegranate
Very Sexy (Victoria Secret Type)
Pink Sugar
Christmas Cookie
Code (Georgio Armani)
Pink Sugar
Happy Men
L'eau d'Issey Miyake

She sells all of these fragrances and more in her Goats Milk Soap section. I simply couldn't decide on which fragrances to get, so I asked her if there were any way I could get samples. She happily created a custom listing, and sent me samples of these fragrances. Each came in an adorable little heart shape with a floral design in the center. I've used almost all of them at least once -- and even though they're tiny, they've lasted me a good 3+ washings apiece. I use a loofah and simply store them in a dry space afterwards.

The bottom two are men's fragrances which I bought for my boyfriend. I love them both, but prefer Happy Men and will probably repurchase him the full sized bar. Both smell exactly like men's cologne and make him smell incredible. :) If you ever want to pamper your boyfriend, I recommend one of the men's fragrances. Specialty soaps are something that most men probably wouldn't have the guts to buy for themselves, but I guarantee you they will love it as a gift. :)

My three TOP favorites, which I 100% know I'll repurchase in full size bars, are "Brown Sugar," "Midnight Pomegranate," and "Very Sexy." More details:

Brown Sugar

I am really big into "edible" type scents -- chocolate, coffee, cake, fruits, etc. -- and this one is honestly my all-time favorite. It smells exactly like brown sugar with maple-y, caramel-y undertones... I seriously want to take a bite out of it! The full-sized bar contains brown sugar to exfoliate the body, which I think is ingenious!

Midnight Pomegranate

This is a perfect dupe for the Bath & Body Works fragrance. It smells sweet yet sophisticated and the scent clings to the skin long after bathing.

Very Sexy

This is a dupe for the Victoria's Secret Very Sexy fragrance. I'm typically not a perfume fan, usually opting for body splashes or body sprays. This soap has a distinctly "perfume"-y fragrance, but I find myself in love with it anyway. It makes me feel beyond feminine and incredibly pampered. This is another scent that really holds onto the skin for hours. I love it!

That's it for my mini blog-review of Mea Culpa Body & Bath. Check out her shop and if you purchase anything, tell her Sarah sent you. :)

FTC: As I mentioned, all products were purchased with my own money or received as a gift from the BF. :) I'm not affiliated with this company -- just a huge fan! I'm not being compensated for this review, and every statement is 100% genuine. Photographs of products were used from her Etsy site, listed above, and are not my property.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blog Sale


Pricing: Prices are non-negotiable.

Shipping: Shipping is free of charge for North American residents. For other international buyers, I will charge only as much as necessary to send the items to you. Smaller items will come in a plain white envelope wrapped in tissue paper to ensure safety. Larger items will arrive in a bubble mailer.

Acceptable forms of payment: PayPal or Debit/Credit Card.

How to purchase: E-mail me at listing the items you would like to purchase. I will send you the invoice as soon as I receive your e-mail. First come, first served.

Return policy: No returns. I will not be held responsible for lost/damaged items.

Items for sale:

1) Covergirl Eye Enhancers Single Eye Shadow: Shimmering Onyx
Used 5x
Retails at: $3.15 + tax
My price: $2.00

Reason for sale: I have a million other shimmery black shadows among my Coastal Scents and other palettes. This is excellent for a shimmery, dramatic smoky eye. Very pigmented!

2) Revlon Matte Eye Shadow: Rich Sable
Swatched 2x, Used 4x
Retails at: $5.00 + tax
My price: $3.00

Reason for sale: This was kind of an impulse buy - it's a really great product, but I already have a few dupes of this color in other palettes. Perfect for your everyday, neutral eye.

3) Empyre Boot Cut Jeans w/ Back Flap Pocket: Midnight Blue, Size 3
Retails at: $40.00 + tax
My price: $25.00

Reason for sale: I received these as a Christmas gift, but they were the wrong size so I could not return them. I tried them on but have never worn them anywhere. I love the wash and the pocket design and would love them if they were only my size!

4) Aeropostale Bootcut Jean w/ Embellished Pockets: Light wash, Size 0 SHORT
Worn 2x
Retails at: $39.50 + tax
My price: $17.00

Reason for sale: These are too small for me! I received them as a gift and, again, really wanted to make them work, but they just don't fit. They're adorable jeans, very sturdy denim, with super cute embellishments on the back pocket to add a little something special. Please note that they are short sizing. I'm 4'11" and they are still a little long on me.

4) ELF Makeup Kit (PENDING)
Retail price: $3.00
My price: $2.00

-Brightening Eye Quad: Ethereal
Used 1-2x
-Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder: Warm Tan
Swatched 1x
-Liquid Eyeliner: Black
Used 1x

Reason for sale: I have dupes of all these products and just never found myself using them. This is a good opportunity for those of you who don't have ELF available at nearby Targets to try out the products without having to order online and pay the $7 shipping fees!

5) Maybelline New York Stylish Smokes Quad: Amethyst Smokes (SOLD)
Used 4-5x
Retails at: $5.00 + tax
My price: $3.00

Reason for sale: I have dupes of basically every color in this quad in my Coastal Scents palettes.

6) Milani Powder Mosaics Blush: Sweet Cheeks (SOLD)
Used 4x
Retails at: $8.00 + tax
My price: $4.00

Reason for sale: I love this blush, but have so many others in my collection that I hardly found myself reaching for it.

7) Milani Sunset Duos Blush & Bronzer: Sunset City (SOLD)
Swatched 3x, Used 1x
Retails at: $5.00 + tax
My price: $3.00

Reason for sale: I like this, but I found myself reaching for other products more. Both products have a beautiful sheen, perfect for the dewy spring/summertime glow. This product was recommended by popular beauty guru emilynoel83.

8) Maybelline Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Foundation SPF 18: Natural Ivory (SOLD)
Used 2x
Retails at: $9.00 + tax
My price: $4.00

Reason for sale: Yet another impulse buy. The consistency and coverage is great, but it is completely the wrong color for my skin. Too light and has reddish undertones, whereas my skin has yellow undertones. I really wanted to make it work by overlaying bronzer to darken it up, but it was more trouble than it was worth.

9) Milani Glimmer Stripes All-Over Color: Honey Glimmer (PENDING)
Used 5x
Retails at: $8.00 + tax
My price: $4.00

Reason for sale: These are absolutely gorgeous shimmery colors, but since I purchased this I have purchased dupes for practically all the colors and use those more. This can be used as eye shadow for a beautiful pink or bronze look, or can be used as face products - includes a cheek highlight, a shimmery blush, and shimmery bronzers. Very multifunctional product.

10) Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick: Kasbah (SOLD)
Swatched 1x, Used 1x
Retails at: $5.00 + tax
My price: $3.00

Reason for sale: This color simply doesn't go with my skin tone. I love how it looks in the tube, but not on me. I've only worn it once, for a contest look where it didn't necessarily have to match my skin tone! I have 4 other Rimmel lipsticks in different colors that I love and use all the time, so I can attest to the quality. This color just was a miss with me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spring Dress Haul!

Hey y'all! It's been forever since I've written an actual beauty-related blog, so I decided I would give my blog followers a little sneak peak of the spring dress haul I'll be filming hopefully in the near future. This past week I placed two orders on Amiclubwear, a site with inexpensive yet cute clothing that many of us learned about from Juicystar07's review last summer.

One of my favorite ways to shop is to scan clearance sections, and I found a lot of cute dresses. Many weren't in my size or were sold out, but I managed to find 4 that I really loved. They were all incredibly inexpensive (each under $15), and they're all very different from anything I've ever owned, so I'm excited!

Dress #1
I love this dress. It's very mature yet fun. The print is beautiful and it's something that could be worn probably at any time of the year. It also looks incredibly light, which is ideal for the hot California climate in which I live. I'll probably wear this dress with this cute pair of black satin flats I own from Rocketdog.

Dress #2
This dress I'm a little lukewarm about, because I don't typically wear red. But I know I can make it work somehow. On its own it definitely isn't something I'd wear on an everyday basis, but I'm thinking of pairing it with a black cardigan to make it more daytime-appropriate, and probably the black flats I mentioned before.

Dress #3
I am absolutely in LOVE with this dress. It also came in pink but it wasn't available in my size. Again, yellow isn't a color I wear very often, since I tend to think it brings out the yellow undertones in my skin. However, I was so in love with the dress I couldn't pass it up! I love the strapless design and the bubble skirt. It doesn't come with the belt, but I think I'm going to try to find a similar white belt (or maybe cognac to mix it up?) because I like the effect it gives.

Dress #4
This is similar in design to the last dress, but I love the colors. It's a little more nighttime-appropriate to me, and I could see wearing this on a date with my boyfriend, along with some black platform pumps and a little black clutch. I could also dress it down with the black cardigan and flats I mentioned before. I love transitional pieces!

Also, keep in mind that the blond model especially is very busty. :) I have a more modest frame, so I expect that these dresses will look a lot less "clubwear-ish" on my body than on hers, and more suited for your regular warm spring day. We'll see when the order comes in! I will definitely post a haul video with my first impressions and model the dresses when they arrive.

Thanks for reading!


Sarah <3

FTC: Even though this isn't YouTube, I thought I should mention that I paid for all these dresses with my own money. I'm not affiliated with AmiClubwear. Also, the pictures of the dresses are from their website. I hope it's OK that I included them in my blog. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Giveaway Honorable Mentions

I just posted the 9 winners to my latest giveaway. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to narrow down just 5 hand-picked winners, and I honestly wish I had the resources to send all of you prizes. You really captured the spirit of makeup and put it into words.

While I was reading all the entries, I copied and pasted my favorites into a Word document, and then picked the top 5 winners from that. Here are some excerpts from the other entries that made it into that document - unfortunately I couldn't give you all prizes, but you definitely deserve kudos!

Honorable Mentions:


I truly love makeup because it is a temporary way to change the way you look. so many things these days are permanent, so it is nice to have a way to change your look and something about you and then be able to wipe it off at the end of the night.


i love makeup because it allows me to express my personality in a very artistic, feminine and fun way and everyone has their own way of expressing it, whether it may be a rock-and-roll style or even a plain neutral look. :) it just helps me appreciate my features more by enhancing it.


Makeup celebrates style, beauty, being a girl, woman and feminine.


Whatever i'm feeling that day, I can express with my makeup. It makes me feel free to be able to do something different everyday. Makeup to me is a way to enhance your natural features and express your emotions


It provides an artistic outlet for woman all over the world, and what they create is something that makes them feel beautiful and confident


makeup gives confidence by creating the appearance you want others to see and building your self worth through the confidence gained.


think of makeup as truly and honestly a form of art. ... makeup is a way to express yourself. It can be explanatory for things you cannot explain in words.


I believe that makeup is just an extension of yourself, and allows you to enhance your natural beauty!


makeup motivates me to get up and get on with my day! I love that I can create any look I want based on my mood, or my outfit. I love trying to challenge myself to create new looks by just using certain products

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wish-Haul: MAC!

I decided to do something a little different from the traditional haul and share with you instead my current wish list. This is just a list of some products I am really dying to have right now and why. Of course, I probably won't get many of them any time in the near future, but a girl can dream, right?

#1: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in "Soft & Gentle"
This would be the perfect shimmy highlight to apply to my cheekbones and temples for that dewy, glowy springtime skin.

#2: MAC Select Cover-Up Concealer
I've heard so many great things about this concealer. Even though I'm in love with my Coastal Scents Camo Quad right now, I would still love to try this out - especially for my under-eye circles.

#3: MAC Rubenesque Paint Pot
Again, this is a product I've heard a million good things about. MAC's site describes this as a "golden peach w/ gold pearl" and a frost finish. I would love to use this as an everyday eye base. I could also see myself patting a tiny bit of it along my cheekbones for a beautiful frosty golden highlight.

#4: MAC Blushcreme in "Lady Blush"
This is a product I heard about from Meganheartsmakeup - it's her everyday blush. I love cream blush formulas for the springtime to achieve dewy skin. MAC describes this as a "demure cool pink flush."

#5: MAC Powder Blush in "Pinch Me"
A sheertone blush described as a "medium dirty rose coral" on the MAC site. I adore coral-colored blushes and lipsticks - something about the color gives such a soft, glowy appearance. It's also a color that flatters pretty much any skin tone.

#6: Fix+
This is one of those products that I thought was a huge gimmick for the longest time. Why would I pay so much for what appears to be enriched water? But I've heard a lot of great things about this product - some use it to set their makeup, to dampen brushes and apply shadows wet, and I've even heard of some spraying it into their hair after the shower to use as a detangler. I would love to try this out, but it's still one of those things that isn't super high on my "things-to-buy" list.

#7: MAC 217 Brush
I need this brush. Enough said!

Personal Vlog 1: Art!

Hey all!

Until this point, this blog has been 100% devoted to beauty, but I realized I could also use it to write about my life. Since I don't have a Vlog channel - and probably won't get one until I have quite a few more subscribers and more interest - I've decided to write "Personal Vlogs" on here whenever the mood strikes me.

I'm really awful at updating my Twitter - I don't have a cell phone with all the fancy internet capabilities, so I can't Tweet on the go like most do. Blogging about it at one time seems to work a lot better for me.

So what's going on in my life right now? I'm probably happier than I have been in a long time. I came to college planning to follow the pre-med route with a major in psychology. Before that, I had toyed around with being a lawyer or a civil engineer. All of these paths seemed like the "obvious, safe" routes, and I thought I could torture myself with years of boring schooling if it meant being financially secure in my future.

Then something happened. I started making YouTube videos in early January, and the support I got from all of my viewers and subscribers made me realize how much makeup art really meant to me. It was something about which I was passionate, something that got me up in the morning. I couldn't wait to log into my YouTube each morning to see if I had any new subscribers or to answer any comments or messages I may have received overnight. It sort of became an obsession.

What does my makeup obsession have to do with my future or my educational path? Well, a lot. My makeup addiction really is a subset of a greater passion of mine - art. I've loved art for as long as I can remember, since I was a little girl whose favorite gift was a new sketch pad or a carton of Crayola crayons (the more colors the better). I would sit on the floor on my stomach for hours trying to draw duplicates of the front covers of video cassette cases. I would make life-sized 2D figures out of construction paper and tape them to the walls.

That's what makeup is, really: art. And art is what I love and always have loved. When I was little and teachers asked what I would be in the future, I would say, artist, author, singer. I was born to create. So as noble a pursuit medicine may be (or law, or engineering), it just isn't for me.

A few days ago I went out to the Cheesecake Factory with my boyfriend for dinner, and as the waiter seated us I had an epiphany. I decided in that instant to leave the pre-med track (goodbye needless years of chemistry, biology, cadaver labs) and double major in Studio Art and Psychology. That night I was simply giddy - I planned my schedule out for the next 3 years. Next year I get to take two introductory courses in drawing and oil painting, a course on color and composition, and a few art history courses, along with some other GER-fulfilling courses. I could not be more excited.

So that's the most important development in my life lately. I'll keep you all posted. :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

February-March 2010 Collective Favorites

February-March 2010 Favorites

Coastal Scents 88 Warm Palette
Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette

These palettes allow incredible diversity in my tutorials. I have been trying to do a lot of tutorials lately because I feel one of my key jobs as a guru is to teach people techniques and innovative methods to use makeup. The color variety and payoff is great, the palettes are affordable, and I know a lot of you (my viewers) probably own the palette, so it makes it easier for you guys to replicate the looks in my tutorials.

Coastal Scents Sable Blending Brush
I use this brush every single day for every single makeup application. I use it to apply color to my crease. It pretty much does the blending itself. The bristles are soft and don't shed, and the brush itself is well-constructed and looks professional. The best part is that it cost only $2.90 on Coastal Scents.

Coastal Scents Camo Quad
Eco Tools Concealer Brush
I use these two things together. I use this concealer everyday to conceal my under eye circles, blemishes, and redness. The consistency is great; it's incredibly blendable. This is the first concealer I've ever owned that looks like I'm wearing nothing. On days when I'm running late in the mornings, I wear concealer alone with a little setting powder, and it looks like it's my natural skin. Usually I like to apply concealer with my fingers, but for this particular one I prefer applying it with a synthetic brush. I'm going to publish an updated foundation routine using this product and I'll explain how I apply it then.

Coastal Scents Taklon Liner Brush / Studio Tools Angled Liner Brush (Winged liner)
Lately I've been really into winged liner, and angled brushes make applying it pretty much effortless and foolproof. I've done this in a few tutorials, and basically what I do is just wet the brush with water - you could also use Fix+ or a mixing medium - and dip the brush into an eyeshadow of my choice. Using this method you can pretty much make a liner out of any color, which I think is great for springtime since bold color is very in.

ELF Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder
I just got this a week ago and have literally used it every day since then. The blush is one of those shades that would look great on literally any skin tone. It has very fine glitter and really illuminates the skin. Given the title, the product is intended for contouring, but I use it as an all-over bronzer. It also has very subtle shimmer and makes the skin look dewy, which is perfect for springtime. This brings us to my next favorite:

Mac 182 Kabuki Brush
I use this everyday to apply my bronzer in the 3B method, and then to buff it into my skin to make it look more natural. During the winter I use this to buff setting powder over my liquid foundations for a matte effect, but now that it's spring I prefer to use a lighter application of powder for the dewy effect.

ELF Studio Line Blush - Candid Coral
This was my go-to blush before I purchased the blush and bronzer duo, also by ELF. The two blush colors are very similar - they're both universally-flattering peachy coral colors with very fine glitter. I bought this blush in the middle of last summer and about 8 months later, I am just starting to hit pan. For $3, that is fantastic. I really want to buy more of these Studio Line Blushes, and now that ELF is just starting to be available at Target, I am definitely going to stock up.

NYC Liquid Lip Shines
I mentioned before that I wasn't a huge fan of lip gloss. I'm bothered by its texture and the fact that my hair oftentimes sticks to it, especially on a windy day. However, I'm trying to get over that fact because I really love the effect that it gives, and I think that glossy nude lips are perfect for spring. So far these are some of my favorite lip glosses. They're by NYC, which is available at Target, Wal-Mart, and most drug stores. My favorite three are Dusty Rose and Pink Sand. The best part is that they're $1.99 apiece, and NYC is constantly going on Buy One, Get One Free Sales - so you can wait around and get them for a dollar each!

Covergirl LashBlast Waterproof Mascara
After hearing about all the hype about this mascara, I finally caved and tried it out, and I am in love with it. I wear it everyday, and it's now tied with L'Oreal Voluminous as my favorite Volumizing Mascara. The brush design is perfect - I have never had a clumping issue with this mascara. It offers separation and volume, and I also find it really lengthens my lashes. Since it's waterproof, the wax in the formula also makes my curl last all day.

Herbal Essences Body Envy Shampoo & Conditioner
I had been using the Tresemme Anti-Breakage shampoo and conditioner for a really long time, but after I ran out about a month ago I decided I would try something new. My hair is so flat and very fine, so I decided to get the Body Envy system. My favorite part about the shampoo is the scent. I wash my hair every other day, and usually my hair will keep the scent of the shampoo for the first day. But with this shampoo, my hair literally smells like I just washed it by the end of the second day.

Queen Helene Pomegranate Raspberry Facial Scrub
I love this product as an exfoliator. It smells great and costs a little over $3 at any Sally Beauty Supply. The exfoliating beads are very fine and gentle, unlike the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, so they don't irritate the skin or leave it overly-dry. The tube of St. Ives I'm using now will be the last I purchase, and this is going to be my new primary exfoliator.

Non Beauty-Related Favorites:

Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino Bottled Drinks
What can I say? I'm obsessed with these. The best part is that they sell them in the cafe on my campus, so I can get a Starbucks drink without having to ride the bus to Starbucks!

Sex & the City
My university library has all six seasons of the show on DVD, so I've been renting them and watching marathons each weekend. Right now I'm on Season 6 and eager to be done in time for the release of the second film!

Gossip Girl
Since Gossip Girl has started airing again, I've had something to look forward to on Monday nights. Again, I'm obsessed with the show - also loving the Serena x Nate pairing. :) I'm pretty sure they belong together. ;)

Banana-nutella crepes
Another delicacy served at the cafe on my campus. A favorite dessert, but of course I can only have it on occasion...

I love the long days - sunlight makes me happy. :) The sun doesn't set where I live till around 7:00 PM. It's still cold and occasionally it rains, but the sun has been showing more often and I cannot wait for it to be permanently warm. I am really wanting to get some nice spring/summer sundresses to wear.

Hope you enjoyed my favorites - beauty-related and otherwise!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lady Gaga "Telephone" Makeup

For AsianBeeuty's 500+ Subscribers Contest, I decided to recreate one of my favorite Lady Gaga makeup looks - one from the kitchen scene of her latest video, "Telephone," featuring Beyonce. The look is very "ugly-beautiful," with very thick black brows, dark blue makeup, and attention-grabbing magenta lips. Here's a screen cap of the actual makeup on Lady Gaga in the "Telephone" video:

There are a few differences between her makeup and my version of it, of course. Her brows are much more arched/angled than mine, so there is a greater distance between her makeup and eyebrows than in my recreation. Additionally, her makeup actually connects with her brows at the inner corners; after a few practice runs I decided to leave some space, because on my particular eye shape it would have looked much too ugly and heavy. :(

A list of products and detailed instructions for achieving my variation of this look soon to come!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February Collective Haul

Some things I purchased or received as gifts during the month of February.

Products mentioned:
1) Coastal Scents 88 Warm Palette
I cannot rave enough about this palette. It has an incomparable variety of neutral shades, from browns, blacks and grays to plums and many highlight shades. Shadows range in finish from matte to shimmer. I use this palette almost on an everyday basis and have especially been loving the shimmery copper and bronze shades for the lid with a deeper chocolate brown in the crease, followed by a shimmery highlight. If you are looking into getting your first CS palette, I would urge you to go for the 88 Warm over one of the color palettes. This palette is more functional for daily use and has colors that will flatter every skin tone!

2) CS Pink Oval Fluff Shadow Brush
What can I say? I'm addicted to the Coastal Scents brushes, especially the pink ones! Not only are they incomparably priced, but they are fantastic quality. This is just your basic eye shading brush, very similar to the $1 elf eye shadow brush in terms of quality and application. The bristles are very soft and fluffy, and really pick up and apply powder shadows perfectly. You can use it to either pack on color or sweep it gently over the lid for a subtle wash of color. At less than $2 each, I suggest getting a few. You can never have too many regular shading brushes in your collection.

3) CS Pink Round Crease Eye Brush
As shown in the photo on the CS site, this brush has very short domed bristles. It is slightly denser than your typical crease brush and therefore ideal for deepening the color in the outer V of the eye. For those with larger eyes, this brush may even be small enough to use as a pencil brush for application of shadow to the lower lash line. Again, very soft bristles and zero shedding after two washes. I don't recommend this for blending. I use it to apply the color and use a clean fluffy blending brush to diffuse the color.

4) CS Pink Angle Taklon Liner Brush
This brush has a tiny, tiny head, making it your best bet for precision lining with gel or cream formulas on the upper or lower lash line. The bristles are stiff enough to apply a precise line without scratching or irritating the lid. I also wet this brush slightly and dip into dark shadows to transform them into liners when I want a softer line. Could also be used to fill in brows, though the small size would necessitate many strokes.

5) Sally Hansen Diamond Shine nail polish - "Wedded Bliss"
I was attracted to this beautiful, pastel pink color to help build my springtime nail polish collection. The polish has a cream finish and required 3 coats for me to get an opaque finish. I adore the color but am not as impressed by the formula of these polishes. The brush is poorly designed so it applies color "goopily," and with streaks if you're not careful. It also takes quite a long time to dry, meaning you're more prone to ruin or dent the polish unless you avoid using your hands altogether for a good half hour. Perhaps OPI's drip-dry or the Seche Vite top coat could remedy this problem, but I used to nail polishes that don't require so much effort to make them look decent.

6) Milani Sunset Duos Blush & Bronzing Powder
After hearing about this product from EmilyNoel83 on YouTube, I gladly snatched it up when I noticed it on clearance at CVS. It includes two beautiful shades - a pink blush with peachy undertones and a bronzer. Both have a very, very slight pearl finish to them, but have no noticeable glitter or shimmer. This makes the bronzer a perfect candidate both for an all-over glow or for a cheek/nose contour.

7) L'Oreal Color Riche Lipstick - "Pink Lady"
I fell in love with the formula and packaging of this lipstick when I got the "Peach Fuzz" shade in December, and eagerly repurchased when I saw this shade on clearance. One coat of this lipstick applies fairly sheer for those looking for a subtle color. For those wanting more pigmentation, the color is easily buildable. "Pink Lady" is a dusty pink color with a high-shine finish, so no gloss is needed to top off the color. Additionally, I find the taste/scent of these lipsticks very pleasant, unlike others I've tried.

8) L'Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara - Black
This is my all-time favorite mascara for the false lash effect. As the name indicates, this mascara gives you thick, dramatic, voluminous lashes with just one coat. My only complaint is that the mascara does occasionally clump lashes together because of the brush design, but it's nothing that can't be remedied by running a mascara spoolie through your lashes between coats. The next time you're at Sephora, pick up a few of these mascara spoolies (they're at the end of most aisles so you can sample mascaras in a sanitary manner) so you don't have to buy one yourself. :)

9) Up & Up Makeup Remover Wipes
This is the Target brand and is designed to compare to the Ponds Clean Sweep makeup wipes. I haven't tried the Ponds variant so I can't say whether the comparison is accurate, but I can say that I am satisfied with the Up & Up version. I cut mine in half and use one half at the end of the day to remove my eye makeup and whatever's left of my foundation. It will not remove mascara unless you really scrub your lashes, which I wouldn't recommend, but as for shadows and liner, it does a great job. I only use these at the end of the day just before using my nighttime facial cleanser. I find if I don't cleanse my face after using them, it leaves a somewhat sticky residue.

10) Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel
I'd heard about using this strange product as a face primer from a few videos on YouTube. Its top 3 ingredients (one of which is dimethicone crosspolymer) are the same as the top 3 ingredients of the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which retails for $38 - $49 at Sephora for either 1 or 2 oz, respectively. The Monistat gel, though admittedly less glamorous, comes with 1.5 oz and costs only $5-6. More in-depth review will come very soon!

Help plan my next giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I started the month with just over 50 subscribers and now have about 120! I am super excited about my progress and hope it continues. Partnership is definitely my long-term goal. :)

To thank all my subscribers, I want to plan another giveaway when I reach either 250 or 300 subscribers. I wish I could host giveaways more often, but being the typical college student, that would not be ideal for my budget. :(

This time, I want to make the prize a little more special than a drugstore product - I'm thinking something from MAC, Sephora, etc. I'm not positive how many prizes I'll give out, but I am aiming to keep each below about $20.

Here are a few ideas I've been considering:

1) MAC eye shadow, lipstick/lip gloss of choice. I only have a department store MAC counter available, so it would need to be something I could purchase there.

2) OPI/Essie nail polish of choice. A salon near my residence has a full window of OPI and Essie polishes so I'm confident I would be able to find most any color the winner might choose. I could also offer one of the Sephora by OPI nail polishes.

3) Another idea I had was to personally assemble a brush set from Coastal Scents, which has been my favorite source for inexpensive yet quality cosmetic brushes as of late. I was considering giving away a set of 5 or 6 of the brushes from the pink collection, many of which I own and love already. The pre-assembled brush sets that are in my price range didn't get the best ratings, so I am steering away from those.

These are just a few things I thought up, but this list is by no means definite. Please leave me any suggestions you may have, preferably on my YouTube account so I can have all the ideas in one place.

Thanks so much!


Cotton-Candy Inspired Look

This is a fun look inspired by the pastel pinks and blues of cotton candy.

Products used:
  • e.l.f. Eyelid Primer
  • Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadow Palette - Skinlights
  • Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette (Colors used shown below)
  • e.l.f. Waterproof Eyeliner Pen
  • Almay One-Coat Nourishing Mascara - Lengthening

Brushes/tools used:
  • Coastal Scents pink synthetic concealer brush
  • elf eye shadow brush
  • CS pink eye shadow brush
  • CS pink deluxe fluff shadow brush
  • elf blending brush
  • Studio Tools blending brush
  • CS Italian badger blending brush
  • CS Italian badger pencil brush
  1. Prime the eyelids and lower lash line. Use a synthetic concealer brush or a finger to apply a sheer white or champagne cream shadow to the eyelids and up to the brow bone.
  2. Use any eye shadow shading brush to apply a matte, baby-blue shade to the outer half of the lid.
  3. With a clean shading brush, apply a matte, pastel pink to the inner half of the lid. Gently pat an eye shadow brush along the seam of the blue and pink colors to create a gradient.
  4. Use a fluffy shading brush to apply a matte white to the brown bone, sweeping the color slightly downward toward the crease. This will highlight the brow bone and make the crease colors more easily blendable.
  5. Take a crease brush and gently apply a mixture of cerulean and indigo to the outer half of the crease. Make sure to tap off excess shadow beforehand - we want the look to be very soft.
  6. With a clean crease brush, apply a mixture of purple and raspberry shades to the inner portion of the crease. Begin where the dark blue ends, blending slightly where the two colors meet.
  7. Tap a clean blending brush into the matte white from before and use this to blend out the harsh lines created by the crease colors.
  8. Add extra definition to the crease by applying a small amount of indigo to the outer V, and a small amount of the raspberry shade from before to the inner half of the crease. Make sure to blend the colors.
  9. Use a small precision brush to apply the white or champagne cream shadow to the tear duct area and lower lash line, patting in with a finger if necessary.
  10. Apply a matte white shade over the cream shadow to brighten the eyes.
  11. Use a pencil brush to apply the soft pink lid shade to inner half of the lower lash line. Similarly, apply the baby blue shade to the outer half of the lash line and connect with the blue crease color.
  12. Line the upper lash line thinly with a black liquid liner.
  13. Curl the lashes and apply a mascara of your choice. Pick a mascara that will offer soft, wispy lashes to reinforce the innocent, soft cotton candy theme.
  14. Apply a true pink blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend outward.
  15. Optionally, highlight the cheek bones and temples for a youthful glow.
  16. Finally, apply a vibrant pink lipstick and top off with a sheer pink gloss.
Enjoy your fun, sweet, candy-inspired look!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Makeup Essentials for Beginners: EYES

When I first started out wearing makeup, I'll admit that I was completely overwhelmed by the variety of products, all with different uses and manufactured by countless companies. The sprawling makeup aisles at my local Target or Wal-Mart were a little intimidating and I didn't know where to start! There is a lot I wish I'd known when I was first starting out.

I decided to begin a series of blogs about products and tools I believe are essential for everyone starting out with makeup. I'll be covering all the bases - eyes, lips, face, and possibly skin/haircare. I'll talk about general products I think everyone needs and then offer my specific brand picks.

Category 1: EYES

1) Eyeliner: Eyeliner is one of the easiest ways to make a noticeable difference in your appearance, and it comes in many forms: pencils, liquids, creams, gels, etc. For beginners, I would recommend a pencil liner, as it is much more forgiving. It can be easily smudged and is easier to control, whereas liquid/gel liners dry quickly are much less forgiving. Every girl needs at least a black and a dark brown liner - when your collection gets bigger, you can explore with plums, navy blues and other liner colors.

Brand picks: For the classic pencil liner (the kind you have to sharpen), Wet n' Wild kohl kajal liners are excellent and affordable. The formula is bold and creamy, and at 99 cents apiece, you can experiment with different colors. One warning: if you have oily lids, you may choose to set this liner with a similarly-colored eyeshadow, as the creamy formula might smear on oily lids.

If you're looking for a retractable pencil liner, I would recommend the Revlon Colorstay liners. They come in waterproof and original formulas and are highly-pigmented, long-wearing and available at most any drugstore or Target/Wal-Mart for a reasonable price.

2) Mascara: If I were running late one morning and only had time to put one makeup product on, I would pick mascara. The right formula can add instant intensity and polish to your look. Beginners who are younger (age 15 or younger) might consider going for mascara that will add natural length and thickness to your lashes. For a less-dramatic effect, try a mascara that is "brown black" or "soft black." Beginners looking for a more dramatic effect should pick colors like "carbon black" or "blackest black" and seek out a formula that boasts the enhancements they desire - length, volume, fullness, etc.

Brand picks: For a more natural look, I recommend Almay One-Coat Nourishing Mascara's lengthening formula. This mascara gives lashes instant length and separation, for a soft and wispy effect that isn't too harsh for everyday.

For a dramatic look, my absolute favorite mascara is L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Black; this mascara claims to make lashes 4x fuller. The applicator is expertly crafted and makes lashes look incredibly full - the closest I've gotten to the false-lash effect without actually wearing false lashes!

Two other picks are the Covergirl Professional Mascara (it's the blue tube), which has a waterproof and original formula, and the Maybelline BIG Mascara in Blackest Black. The Covergirl mascara has the perfect wand to ensure zero clumping and expert definition, while the Maybelline mascara coats every lash in a single swipe for effortless application. Both also have an excellent price tag, retailing at under $5 apiece at Target or Wal-Mart.

3) Shadows: For beginners looking to get into the world of eyeshadows, my #1 piece of advice is to buy prearranged palettes rather than single shadows. Palettes generally include colors that coordinate with one another and can be applied together in many different ways for a complete look. It will be more difficult and much more costly to buy individual shadows. Your best bet as a beginner is to start out with neutrals - browns, grays, taupes and black are universally flattering and are easy to pull off regardless of hair/eye color, skin tone or the outfit you're wearing that day!

Brand picks: Maybelline and Covergirl make great quality eyeshadow palettes at affordable prices. I have heard a lot of hype about the Maybelline Chai Latte Quad, and though I haven't tried it myself I would recommend it just based on all the rave reviews I've heard about it.

If you (or your parents, if you are younger) are willing to order your makeup online, I would recommend purchasing a few of the Brightening Eyeshadow Quads off of The colors are perfectly coordinated for a complete look, including all-over lid colors, darker crease colors, and highlight shades for the brow bone. My favorite palettes from ELF are "Brownstone" and "Drama."

Even better - order the Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette. It may seem to have way too many shades for a beginner to use, but believe me: when you really start getting into makeup and experimenting with different, bolder colors, you will be glad you bought this from the very start. It's a great tool for any makeup beginner OR fanatic to have in his/her arsenal.

4) Eyelash curler: Whether or not you're planning to wear mascara, curling your lashes instantly makes your eyes look wider and more doll-like. I don't have any particular brand picks for this - I find all the curlers I own do about the same job. I carry a curler around in my purse to touch up my lashes throughout the day and give my look a little pick-me-up!

5) Brushes: Most eye shadows, especially drugstore picks, come with little sponge-tipped applicators. These will do the job, but they are difficult to clean and therefore aren't sanitary for continued use. The are also not ideal for blending out shadows or applying them quickly and evenly to the lid. If you are planning to eventually wear makeup everyday, I wholly suggest investing in some brushes to make your look easier to achieve and more professional. Here are the two basic brushes I believe every makeup user should have:

-Eye shading brush: This brush is an absolute necessity for applying a full eyeshadow look. There are any variations - some are very flat while others are fluffier, but they all serve the same purpose of packing color onto the lid.

-Blending/crease brush: This will be a fluffy, dome-topped brush that is necessary for applying color into the crease and blending it out so there are no harsh lines. Applying a darker color to the crease adds dimension and depth to the eyes, making them appear larger.

Brand picks: For those who are comfortable with ordering online, I highly recommend the $1 eyeshadow brush and the blending brush from The bristles are soft and pick up color perfectly, applying it with full intensity. For those who would rather buy brushes in-stores, check out the Studio Tools brushes from Target. They are inexpensive and good quality and were the very first brushes I owned.

Probably the most popular brand of brushes are from MAC, but these are fairly expensive, most of them costing between $20 and $50 apiece. If you are willing to make that investment as a beginner, these brushes will last you a very long time and make your application of makeup all the more easy and professional.

Those are my suggestions for eye makeup products I believe every beginner should pick up right away! Hope I helped.

NEXT UP: Face essentials

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pink, Bronze & Champagne - Wearable Valentine's Day Look

This is a wearable Valentine's Day look with pink, bronze and champagne shades. Below is a complete list of the exact products and brushes I used; they are not specified in the step-by-step written tutorial.

Products Used:
ELF Eyelid Primer
NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil - Strawberry Milk
Revlon Colorstay Lipstick - So Blushious
Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadow - Skinlights
Coastal Scents 88 Palette
Sally Girl Eyeshadow - Champagne
ELF Mineral Eyeliner - Coffee
Revlon Matte Shadow - Rich Sable
NYC Liquid Liner
Maybelline Great Lash BIG Mascara - Blackest Black
ELF Studio Line Blush - Candid Coral
ELF Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder - Luminance

Brushes Used:
Coastal Scents Synthetic Concealer Brush
Studio Tools Angled Brush
Coastal Scents Deluxe Eyeshadow Brush
ELF $1 Eyeshadow Brush
ELF $1 Blending Brush
ELF Studio Line Contour Brush
Coastal Scents Italian Badger Blending Brush
Coastal Scents Italian Badger Pencil Brush
Studio Tools Dual-Finish Brush
ELF Studio Line Blush Brush

1) Begin with primed lids. Apply a pale, shimmery pink cream shadow to in the inner half of the lid and lower lash line, tracing around the tear duct. Do not apply too much, as cream shadows will crease when applied too heavily.

2) Apply a brighter pink cream shadow/lipstick to the outer half of the lid. Take a synthetic concealer brush (synthetic bristles will not "eat up" the product) and blend the cream shadows together.

3) Use a champagne-colored cream shadow to the brow bone as a highlight. Using an angled eyeliner brush, apply a light brown cream shadow to the outer half of the lower lash line.

4) Apply a light, matte peachy color from the crease to the brow bone with a fluffy brush. This will not add much color but will soften the crease colors we add later and make them more blendable.

5) Using a fluffy shader brush, pack a pale, matte pink onto the inner half of the lid over the light pink cream shadow.

6) Apply a slightly shimmery raspberry color to the outer half of the lid over the darker pink cream shadow with the same brush. Sweep the brush back and forth where the two pink shades join to make them to fade together.

7) Apply a bronze shade to the crease using a blending brush, focusing first on the outer half of the crease and then dragging the shadow gently to the rest of the crease.

8) Taking a smaller and denser crease brush, apply a slightly darker brown shade to the outer V. Trace the outer V till desired intensity is built; don't worry about harsh lines at this point.

9) Now take a clean fluffy blending brush and blend the colors together. Try to reserve blending to the crease, as we don't want to make the pink shades appear "muddy."

10) Once desired blending is achieved, apply a shimmery champagne shade with a fluffy brush to the brow bone as a highlight. With a pencil brush, apply the same color to the very inner corners of the eyes, around the tear duct, to bring focus and light to the eyes.

11) Apply the raspberry color from before to the middle of the lower lash line using a pencil brush. Then apply the darker brown shade from before to the outer part of the lower lash line, connecting it with the crease color.

12) Line the waterline and tightline with the chocolate brown shade. If desired, set with a matte brown powder to prolong the wear and intensify the color.

13) Apply a liquid liner with a very fine applicator to the upper lash line. A thin, precise line will keep the focus on the beautiful pink shades rather than on heavy liner.

14) Curl lashes and apply mascara of choice in the blackest color available for long, dramatic lashes.

15) Apply a coral-colored blush with gold reflects to the apples of the cheeks using a stippling brush (or brush of choice). Coral shades tend to flatter any skin tone and will keep the look from being overwhelmingly pink.

16) Optional: Highlight the face by sweeping a pearly highlight powder from the top of the cheekbones to the temples for a subtle, sun-kissed glow.

17) Apply a true pink shade to the lips to pull the look together and reiterate the Valentine's Day theme.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010 Favorites

Here is a list of some of my favorite, stand-out products of the past month, along with a brief description of each. YouTube video relating to this post coming within the next day or two!

Coastal Scents 88 Palette
This month I finally jumped on the bandwagon and ordered this palette. I fell in love right away - it has every color I could imagine ever using and more. The colors are incredibly pigmented and the price is unbeatable. It also allows me to experiment with unique colors I wouldn't typically use without having to go out and buy those individual colors. Next on my wish list: the 88 Ultra Shimmer Palette - I am a HUGE fan of shimmery eye shadows!

Revlon Illuminance Cream Shadows - Skinlights

This has become one of my staple products that I will definitely repurchase time and time again. This palette has four beautiful, shimmery shades perfect for use as eyeshadow bases. I use the champagne shade everyday as a brow highlight beneath the next product I'm about to mention.

Sally Girl Eyeshadow - Champagne
I use this shadow daily in tandem with the cream champagne shade mentioned above. It provides a beautiful pearly highlight for either the brow bone or the inner corners of the eye near the tear duct. For only 99 cents, this is a great buy and has me eager to try a few more shades by Sally Girl.

Revlon Colorstay Lipstick - So Blushious
These lipsticks usually sell for around $10 at a drugstore, but I picked up 4 shades for $2.50 apiece at a CVS clearance. Having tried them out, I now would willingly pay the full price. The formulation of these lipsticks is beyond impressive: they have incomparable pigmentation, go on very creamily and then dry slightly to a long-lasting finish true to the Colorstay name. Of the four shades, So Blushious is my favorite; it's a vivid, lustrous pink shade that gives an instant pop of color to the neutral eyes I often wear.

ELF Eyeshadow Brush
I've heard so many rave reviews about this brush and finally ordered one myself. The quality of the brush is great - sturdy design, soft bristles, zero shedding when washing - and at $1 apiece, adding several to your collection is justifiable. The fluffy bristles pick up shadows and pack them onto the lid effectively, for full-intensity color.

ELF Blending Brush
I love that this brush has slightly shorter, denser bristles than your typical blending brush, and therefore defines the crease effectively. I generally use this to lay the color down into my crease and use a clean blending brush to blend out the edges.

ELF Studio Line Blush Brush & Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder - Luminance
I use this combo every single day to highlight from my cheek bones to my temples for a beautiful, subtle sun-kissed glow. I love the sleek design and super-soft bristles of the blush brush; it's perfect for a gentle yet noticeable application of the luminance powder.

ELF Studio Line Blush - Candid Coral
Coral shades are my absolute favorite to wear on the lips and on the cheeks, and I find they are generally universally flattering. This blush is a beautiful peachy-coral color with subtle gold reflects, providing a lovely, soft flush to the cheeks. I wear this as part of my everyday makeup routine, applied with a stippling brush. Not only is the product itself great, but I adore the sleek packaging, which mimics NARS.

Queen Helene Pomegranate & Raspberry Facial Scrub
After using the St. Ives Apricot Scrub as my sole exfoliant for quite some time, I received this as a Christmas gift and fell in love after first use. It is now an integral part of my skincare routine. I find I actually like it better than the St. Ives scrub, as the exfoliating beads are much finer and gentler, and never irritate my skin the way the apricot scrub sometimes does during dryer weather. The scent is fantastic, and at $3 it is affordable.
*I forgot to mention this in my favorites video - it will make an appearance next month!*

Aussie 3-Minute Miracle & Pantene Pro-V Restorative Mask
I began incorporating weekly deep conditioning treatments into my haircare routine this month and noticed an instant difference. I alternate using these treatments every other week, and I attribute my hair's new-found softness and manageability to both products. I find myself looking forward to Saturday nights when I can pamper myself and use these treatments.

AMI Clubwear Boots
Back in November I took advantage of's Black Friday Sale and ordered two pairs of boots at 50% off. One of the pairs is chocolate-brown faux leather with a cute satin ribbon detailing at the top. My town has been experiencing cold, rainy weather on/off for the past few weeks and these faux leather boots have kept my feet warm and dry - with jeans tucked into them, they are both cute and functional.

Conair 3-Way Lighted Mirror
I don't know how I ever got along without this mirror - with four different setting, it provides balanced lighting for the perfect application of makeup. The side panels allow me to see my look from all sides and the magnifying mirror helps me zero in on areas for extra precision - a big help when it comes to liquid liner.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coastal Scents Shipping Rumors/Myths

I just published a blog about the six Coastal Scents brushes I ordered and thought I would write another talking about shipping, pricing, etc. when it comes to the company. As someone fairly new to Coastal Scents, I know there were a lot of things I'd heard about their products/shipping that put me off from ordering for quite a while.

1) Shipping Time

One of the big complaints I'd heard was that their shipping would take forever - people said their orders took as long as 6 weeks to arrive. I was worried about this but finally bit the bullet and ordered my first product, the original 88 palette, through Fedex Ground. I had no such problem with shipping. I received notice that the order had been processed and shipped the very day after I placed the order. It made its way across the country (from Florida to California) in a week and a half. I've also made two brush orders via USPS First Class Mail and both arrived within the 4 business bays after I placed the order.

2) Shipping Costs

Another complaint was that shipping would be expensive. I paid about $8 for the default shipping method, Fedex Ground, which I think is reasonable considering how affordable the products themselves are. Fedex will also send you a tracking number after it ships so that you can track the status of your package and be notified when it arrives at its destination.

For any orders that aren't palettes and are under 13 ounces, I will always use USPS First Class Mail, which cost me UNDER $2 for the two brush orders I placed. Prices for expedited or overnight shipping are MUCH, MUCH steeper, but if you are willing to wait a week or so for your order, then I think the shipping prices are more than decent.

3) Shipping Quality

The final big complaint I'd heard on more than one occasion was that the packaging/presentation was poor. People said some of the shadows in their palettes were shattered or looked like they had "exploded" in transit. Others complained that the brushes smelled bad and shed copiously upon first wash. I suppose this varies from order to order, but I was not in the least disappointed about the state of my order when I received it.

The palette was wrapped generously in bubble wrap followed by paper, then placed in a cardboard box, so the palette was safe and none of the shadows were broken. Within the palette itself there is a clear plastic sheet protector over the shadows to keep any free powder from mixing into other colors.

As for my two brush orders, both came in envelopes with bubble wrap interiors. The brushes were wrapped in tissue paper (my second order even came in adorable Valentine's Day tissue paper, with hearts!). They were arranged in a small mesh drawstring bag (first order's was gold and second was pink) and each individual brush had a plastic, resealable wrapper. None of the brushes smelled bad and only the Pink Deluxe Oval Shadow Brush shed when I washed them (and only a tiny bit).

All 3 orders also came with a little mineral eyeshadow sample, which was a pleasant surprise. I received two samples of "Indigo" and one of "Pandora's Box," both of which are gorgeous bright colors with a pearly, high-shine finish.


I have had nothing but good experiences with Coastal Scents and I'm blown away by the quality and prices of their products. For me, the three main complaints about the company that I've heard on the internet and from reviewers on the CS site itself have all proven false. This isn't to say that those people were lying, but I definitely think that CS has really stepped up its game and tried to improve its customer service. And I definitely think that if you have been interested in their products for awhile but just haven't been able to bring yourself to try them out, you should definitely do so!

So that's my mini review of Coastal Scents' shipping!

Coastal Scents Brush Haul

I was curious about the Coastal Scents brushes, having heard mostly good reviews about them and noting the incredible prices, so I decided to try out a few. Below is a list of the brushes I purchased, their prices, first impressions, and a link to pictures and reviews of each brush on the Coastal Scents site if you're interested in purchasing or learning more about them.

1) Pink Oval Deluxe Shadow Brush - $2.39
This brush reminds me of the MAC 227 but with slightly shorter bristles. I got it to apply highlight to my brow bone, but it could also be used to pack on shadows to the lid. The brush also comes in black, but I love the candy pink handles - the perfect addition to any girly-girl's makeup collection. :)

2) Pink Oval Synthetic Concealer Brush - $2.89
This brush is stiff with very soft synthetic bristles. I think this would make an excellent concealer brush, but I purchased it to have a very flat, stiff eyeshadow brush to pack on shadow for maximum color intensity and control (similar to the concept of a MAC 249). Could also be used to apply cream shadows or bases, as the synthetic bristles will not absorb or "eat up" cream-based products.

3) Italian Badger Blender - $2.95
I was instantly attracted to the design of the Italian badger brush line - the burgundy handles are beautiful. The bristles are incredibly soft on this blender brush, but I wish the brush were a little stiffer; as it is, it does not pick up much product and applies it very sheerly. If you're going for a more intense crease color, this would not be ideal brush to use. I find this brush works best when used clean to simply blend out other shadows or soften out harsh lines.

4) Italian Badger Pencil Brush - $3.29
Initially I expected this pencil brush to be slightly stiffer, but after using it I'm completely satisfied with its design. It's perfect for applying shadow to the lower lash line and to the inner corners of the eye to brighten your look. It could also smudge out liner for a smokey effect.

5) Chisel Angle Fluff Shadow Brush - $2.00

This brush is a lot smaller than I expected it to be, and much less fluffy; Coastal Scents includes the dimensions of most of their brushes, but not for this one. I expected it to be like the MAC 275 and planned to use it to shape the outer V. The actual brush head is very thin, almost like your typical angled brush for liner, but just slightly fluffier. I actually like this, as it provides a very controlled application shadow. One could use the belly of the brush to pack shadows on to the lid, or could sweep the brush along the crease to blend out color.

6) Sable Blending Brush - $2.90
After reading and hearing reviews comparing this brush to the MAC 224, I absolutely had to get it. I love everything about the brush, from the softness of the bristles to their tapered shape. The shape, density and performance of this brush is everything I expected from the Italian Badger Blending Brush but didn't get, so I am glad I placed a second order for this brush. I can easily see it becoming my new go-to brush for basic crease color. It might not be great for applying very intense, concentrated color in the outer V (I would suggest a much smaller, denser brush for that), but everyone needs a basic, fairly long-haired crease brush like this! For about 10% of the price of the MAC "equivalent," I am really pleased with this brush.

These are just my first impressions of these brushes; I've only had the first 4 for about a week and the last 2 for two days, but this is what I think of them given my personal experience thus far. Detailed reviews in the future!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Skincare Routine

Below is a list of products I use to maintain my skin and a brief description of each.

Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar
This is a gentle yet thorough cleanser. It entirely removes liquid foundation, liquid liner, mascara, etc., leaving a clean face with no residue. It comes in an original and a fragrance-free formula, both of which I have tried. The fragrance-free formula is definitely NOT fragrance-free, and doesn't have the most pleasant scent, but the cleansing ability of this product is perfect. It costs $2.77 for a single bar at Target, and can also be bought in packs of 3 for a cheaper price per bar.

St. Ives Naturally Clear Apricot Cleanser &
St. Ives Fresh Skin Olive Cleanser
Both of these have comparable cleansing abilities. They are very, very gentle and will not remove makeup from your skin as easily as the Neutrogena bar would. However, this is ideal for a morning moisturizer as all it has to remove is oil/bacteria that accumulated over the course of the night. Does not leave skin feeling tight or excessively dry and would likely be ideal for sensitive skin types. The main differences are in the scents (the Olive Cleanser smells pretty bad) and in the fact that the Apricot Cleanser has a very small amount of exfoliating beads in it, but not too many to still be an effective daily cleanser.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub - Blemish & Blackhead Control &
Queen Helene Pomegranate & Raspberry Facial Scrub
These are both effective exfoliating scrubs that leave the skin feeling soft and pores looking clear. The St. Ives Scrub is slightly more abrasive, with larger exfoliating beads that might be too rough for some sensitive skin types. The St. Ives scrub also contains 2% salycyclic acid, which should help clear out acne. The pomegranate scrub has finer beads and is therefore more gentle. I exfoliate with the St. Ives scrub on Sundays to clear my face completely of dead skin cells and use the Queen Helene as a kind of gentler maintenance step in the middle of the week.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque
At around $4 a tube, this masque is a really inexpensive way to pamper yourself and improve your skin. Every Friday night I apply this green masque to my face, most generously in my problem areas, and allow it to dry for 15-20 minutes. It has an incredible cooling sensation, and when it dries, you can see where it has sunken into pores and removed any impurities. I also use this as a spot treatment when I have a breakout mid-week; I apply a small amount just to that area, allow to dry and rinse off. It works wonders!

Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Moisturizing Lotion
I purchased this at the end of the summer because I didn't want to bid adieu to my summertime glow. I used to apply this nightly to my face, neck and upper chest area but have since kind of fallen out of the habit of using it. It has a small amount of glitter in it and very faintly has that distinctive self-tanner smell, which is why I avoided using it for daytime. I purchased the Revitalizing formula for Medium Skin tones, and now think that for a more pronounced tan, I could have gone with the version for darker skin.

Up & Up Facial Cleansing Wipes
I picked these up for a few dollars after hearing a makeup guru on YouTube give them the thumbs up. This is the Target brand, but the package claims these wipes were designed to mimic the Ponds Clean Sweep makeup wipes. The scent is fantastic and they do a great job at removing foundation and eyeshadow. They definitely do not effectively remove mascara, so I just follow the wipes up with my usual nighttime facial cleanser to get that off. Generally I cut the wipes in half and only use one half - it's enough to remove my eye makeup and all my face makeup before I cleanse my face.

Planning on trying: Cetaphil Daily Moisturizing Lotion

ELF Brush Review

I own quite a few of the brushes from ELF (, and am overall very impressed with their quality, especially for the price. The white-handled brushes are $1 and the black-handled brushes from their Studio Line are $3 apiece. Here are my in-depth reviews for the ELF brushes I currently own.

Regular $1 Brushes Mentioned:

Eyeshadow brush - 5 stars
This brush is very soft and fluffy, as opposed to a flat shader brush. It does a great job at picking up eyeshadow (it would work very well with pigments) and packing it onto the lid. It is also great for an overall wash of color from the lid to the brow bone.

Blending eye brush - 5 stars
This blending brush is shorter and denser than most of the other eyeshadow blending brushes I own, which makes it great to build color intensity in the crease. I use this brush to apply the preliminary crease colors and then use another clean, less-dense blending brush to blend out shadows for a softer finish.

Total face brush - 3 stars
The bristles are neither optimally soft nor dense, so the quality is kind of underwhelming on this brush. It is definitely very fluffy and would be good only for applying a very sheer layer of powder or bronzer to one's face. Personally, I don't believe it picks up enough product to use for the application of setting powder, but it could be decent for touch-ups throughout the day. Definitely not an essential.

Blushing, bronzing & blending brush - 3 stars
The bristles are of the same density and texture as those of the total face brush. The angled design makes it ideal for contouring the cheekbones, nose, and sides of the forehead. It could be used as a blush brush, but there are better inexpensive alternatives for that out there. If you want to experiment with an angled brush but don't want to spend too much on a higher-end brand, give this one a try. I know there are probably better variants of this brush out there - I am going to give the Italian Badger angled brush from Coastal Scents a try next.

Concealer brush - 0 STARS!
The brush is too small to conceal anything of notice. It was incredibly poorly-made, with the ferrule detaching from the wooden handle within the first few uses. I used glue to re-attach it, but I may as well have thrown it away given how little I use it. If I ever do use it, it will be as a lip brush for a more controlled application of darker colors.

Studio Line $3 Brushes Mentioned:

Eyeshadow "C" brush - 4 stars
This brush's bristles are slightly softer, shorter and stiffer than those of the $1 ELF eyeshadow brush. Because of the stiffness, it does not pick up color as effectively as its $1 counterpart. I mention in my video review of these brushes that this brush is of decent quality, but it doesn't do anything distinct that any other typical eyeshadow brush can't do - so I just don't see this as a necessity.

Contour brush - 5 stars
Its synthetic bristles are very soft and very dense. It has the same dome shape and stiffness as a pencil brush but is slightly too big to use for that purpose. It applies very concentrated, controlled, intense color to the crease, so I would recommend using it to darken the outer V. Because of its small size and denseness, it is not ideal for blending crease colors (use a fluffier brush for that purpose).

Complexion brush - 4 stars
I swirl this brush in powder to set my foundation on a daily basis. Its bristles are very soft and the design is sleek and sturdy. It could also be used to sweep bronzer from the temples to the cheekbones or to provide a slight contour. My only complaint is that I had expected the brush to be a little stiffer, for a more controlled application of powders (something like the MAC 134). Because the brush doesn't offer the stiffness I had expected, it applies powder in a very sheer layer.

Blush brush - 5 stars
The same soft synthetic bristles and sturdy design are featured in this flat blush brush. I personally think the brush is too small to use for the application of blush, though it is a matter of personal preference. This brush is ideal for sweeping a highlight color from the top of the cheekbones to the temple, and down the center of the nose. It picks up the perfect amount of product and its soft bristles make blending effortless. It has become an integral part of my daily face routine.

Powder brush - 5 stars
I use this brush to stipple on liquid foundations and then blend it out for a glowing, airbrushed finish. It is a very dense, soft, flat-topped brush (probably comparable to most flat-topped buffer brushes out there). Unlike your typical stippling brush (e.g. the MAC 187), which has white bristles that are not dense, this brush is full all the way through, which I believe prevents the streaking effect I sometimes get with a stippling brush. It would also be excellent for buffing powder foundations or setting powders into the skin.