Overnight Success

It’s great waking up to pretty skin.  Most days, it’s just my foggy vision blurring my face into evenly toned, pore-free gorgeousness – but I do have an arsenal of no-fail products for days I need to wake up looking like a Disney princess.


For smooth, ready-to-go morning hair, I start with a good blow dry (either left over from my day, or after a night shower).  Sleeping on wet hair has never done me any favors.  Before heading to bed, I rub a few pumps of Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Overnight Hair Rescue $38, on my palms and coat my hair from the middle to the ends.  A quick pass with a wide tooth comb, and it’s good to go.  In the morning, I have freshly conditioned, pretty-scented, silky hair that’s ready to walk out the door.  My only word of caution is to err on the side of too little product – too much looks greasy.


For my face, I can’t forsake my old stand-by: Alba Even Advanced Night Cream $15.  It really evens my skin tone and makes my pores less noticeable.. but for can’t-risk-it days (weddings, brunches, and DRIVER’S LICENSE PHOTOS) I turn to AMOREPACIFIC Moisture Bound Vitalizing Masque $60.  After cleansing with my Clarisonic brush and finishing off with Clinique Clarifying Lotion, I apply the “masque” generously all over my face and neck.  It feels like a moisturizer, but takes a little longer to soak in.  It’s miraculously not greasy, sticky, or chalky, so my compliments to the chef.
In the morning, my face is plump (in a good way), smooth, soft, and even.  After a quick rinse, I have the perfect canvas for Big Day makeup.


Lastly, there are the eyes.  One big problem with my “need to look good tomorrow” nights is that my sleep is often compromised, and the eye bags give it away.  I don’t typically have issues with redness or puffiness, but when I do, it’s on an important day.  I’ve found out, though, that I can usually nip the problem in the bud with Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage $28.  It’s an eye serum with a metal roller ball applicator – which I always found a little gimmicky until this.  I rub the cold metal under my eyes and over my lids before bed, and by morning – normal eyes with normal eyelids.  I couldn’t ask for more.  It doesn’t do the miracle work of my everyday eye cream, but I can easily tap that on in the morning to take care of fine lines, dryness and circles.
These three products are my best shot at overnight success.  But I’ve also heard amazing things about Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery and I’m kind of dying to try it when my buying ban is up.

Do you have a no-fail night routine?

M

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Best Stuff: Yves Saint Laurent Golden Gloss

I don’t know what inspired me to get back into glosses, but I did.  I fell for the look.  But the look isn’t easy – most of the glosses I’ve tried clump up, slide around, or just feel heavy, sticky and awful.  I haven’t been very lucky.

Then I read an article about how much Kelly Clarkson loves YSL gloss.  To be honest, I don’t care about Kelly Clarkson much, but she seems like a down-to-earth “real girl,” so I trusted her.  And more than anything, I like to try on makeup.. so I jumped at the chance to check these out.

So gorgeous.  They’re filled with flakes of “real 24-carat gold,” so they’re sparkly/shimmery in a whole new way.  (You can share that tidbit of upper-classness when you’re strutting around feeling fancy as hell.)  The gloss smells faintly of watermelon – not necessarily what I’d expect, but it’s not unpleasant.  It brushes on smoothly, and the look is very high impact.  I bought it in #30 Golden Satin, a pinky coral that almost matches my natural lip color.  It adds a whole lot of shine and a grown-up douse of glitter – super sexy.

Before I found YSL, my personal rule was no gloss without an updo.  One of my hugest pet peeves is getting my hair stuck in my lip gloss (so gross).  This is the game-changer – the high-shine solution that doesn’t turn my lips into fly paper.

As for durability, let’s be real about my lifestyle needs.  I eat ice cream literally every day.  And this smart little gloss is my partner in crime.  Even after a couple (yes, more than one) rounds of afternoon soft serve, it looks completely gorgeous.  Unexpectedly perfect.  Like I’ve never even picked up a spoon.

So while this is a bit of a splurge ($30 at Sephora), I know it will be a lasting favorite for me.  Plus, I’m going to act crazy classy around my house knowing my lips are coated in gold.

M

The Kick-Off

Today’s the day!

Actually, yesterday was the day, but I sleep through most of my weekends so it barely felt like I was missing anything.

For those who don’t know, I’m taking a vacation from beauty spending for 60 days.  I celebrated my last days of freedom by mall-cruising Ulta, Sephora, and Target as well as partaking in some over-the-top online shopping.  I’m happy to say I think I’ve binged myself beyond satisfaction for a while, and I’m hoping the overkill will carry me through a few weeks.

With that bridge crossed, let’s get back to normal blog things.  I’ve got drawers full of products I’ve loved, hated, or never tried at all, so reviews are in order.

M

VIB Clutch o’ Samples

One of my final hurrah purchases came in yesterday along with the VIB jam-packed sample clutch (fun size everything!)  The clutch is hideous, naturally, but here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Photo Finish Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)
  • Hanae Mori EDT, 1.2mL

This is how it’s done, Birchbox!  The original clutch featured Stella, but mine was replaced with Hanae Mori – and I’m glad!  I think it’s actually for men, but it smells strongly of vanilla with a little jasmine, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat.

I haven’t had a chance to dig in to the rest of the samples, but with the spending freeze fast approaching, I expect I’ll be cherishing them soon.  Even though I have a hoarder-style stash of samples already, I always find them useful for car and purse extras, saving suitcase space on trips, or to fill up my basket of guest toiletries (my girl friends love that!)

On a related note, Sephora’s offering 5 free samples (rather than their usual 3 free) til 8/28.  Double points for VIB’s AND extra samples?!  Get it, girl.

M

 

The Spending Freeze

While touring Sparkle Girl’s Life’s blog hop, I came across an interesting post by Beautiful Kayekie in which she challenged herself to a 60-day buying ban.  At first, I admired her, because I knew I could never go two months without buying a beauty product.  But the more I thought about it, the more I welcomed the challenge.

I spend a lot of money (and time) on beauty shopping.  I have more makeup than I could ever use, and it lies neglected in my vanity for months on end.  I’ll admit I’ve gotten a little out of control, and it’s time to pull in the reins.  I’m hopping on the buying ban bandwagon!

My rules are similar to Kayekie’s:

  • No beauty purchases for 60 days – including hair styling products, nail polish, skin care, makeup, or freebies.
  • Refills on my existing daily use products are acceptable (moisturizer, cleansers, primer).
  • One week of hogwild buying freedom, starting today, before the ban begins.  I’M ONLY HUMAN.
  • Birchbox doesn’t count as a purchase, since it’s a subscription and I’ve already paid for it.
  • I’m free to add to a wish list, play with makeup in stores, and daydream about shopping as necessary.

Here we go.

I’m planning to pick up the Urban Decay Naked palettes this week, while I still can.  I’ve had them on the back burner for a while, and I know they’ll keep my attention while I’m “fasting”.

If you had one week left before a ban, what would you stock up on?

M

Birchboxes – August & July

TA-DA!  I found my July Birchbox photo.  I’m overwhelmed with pride.

So let’s talk about what’s in these babies:

JULY BIRCHBOX

Color Club Mini Nail Lacquer in Blu-Ming
I love this color, but it’s too similar to Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos, a staple in my polish collection – so I handed it off to my sister.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black
It’s “fine.”  A felt-tip black eyeliner, very similar to the tokidoki Perfetto liner I have in Sabo-chan.  The formula is a little more consistent than tokidoki’s – it goes on smoothly, like writing on my face with a fresh new fine-tipped Sharpie.  I like it, and I always have room for another black liquid liner.

Harvey Prince Eau Flirt
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty monogamous about perfumes.  I don’t feel like I need to mix up the way I smell, but when I get samples, I’ll give them a whirl.  I brushed off Eau Flirt at first sniff – it’s girly, sweet, and fruity.. not something I’m especially fond of.  I dabbed it on anyway, and noticed a little more depth once it had absorbed.  It’s slightly more sophisticated than a high school sophomore’s locker stash of body spray… but only slightly.

Supergoop City Serum Sunscreen
I actually have this already, and I dig it.  It’s a nice alternative to scented, sticky, oily sunscreens.  It’s an SPF product that feels like a nice facial moisturizer.  These little sample packs will be great to throw in a purse or for short airplane trips when I don’t want to check luggage.

Tea Forte minteas in Ginger Pear
Odd in a good way, these tea-flavored mints are shaped like little leaves.  They’re definitely more tea than mint, and the taste is unusual, but it grew on me.  I can’t say they actually help me “focus” like it says on the tin, though.

Birchbox neon ear buds
I don’t use ear buds and if I did, I wouldn’t use these ones (ouch, sorry B-Box).  I don’t like the way they feel in my ears, and this gaudy color combo didn’t help anything.  These suckers were a total waste.

AUGUST BIRCHBOX

EYE ROCK Designer Stick-on Liner
These are the most interesting things in the box – four styles of stick-on cat eye liner.  I’m a little scared about trying these out, and I don’t expect it to end well.  At least it’ll be hilarious, and I can use the extras to put fake eyebrows on my Halloween jack-o-lantern.

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur
The name alone is a whole lot of fancy.  Juicy Couture, in my opinion, often walks a very thin line between cute and tacky.. and what’s adorable on a teenager can be horrifyingly awkward on me.  A spritz of this perfume smells like grapefruit and sugar-covered daisies.  It’s sweet enough to entice the varsity quarterback, but that’s reaaallly not on my agenda nowadays.

theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen
I’m actually really liking this stain!  It’s thick, red and gelatinous in the tube (not the first thing I want to slather on my face), but the result is a soft raspberry color.  On my cheeks, it takes a few carefully blended layers to show up, but that’s preferable to a sudden blob of color.  As a lip color, it soaks in quickly and doesn’t dry me out, so I approve.

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream
This tiny tube (smaller than a super glue, much smaller than travel toothpaste) makes me feel like Yu-Be could’ve been a bit more generous.  I hate stingy samples because I can’t get a good feel for 0.1 oz of skin cream.  I guess my knee caps are adequately softened.  Yu-Be seems like a decent lotion, but nothing special, and the strong medicinal scent is very nursing home.  No, thank you.

Schick Hydro Silk Razor
One of my full-sized perks in this box was a razor.  I know shaving is technically part of a beauty routine, but it feels like a stretch for a beauty box.  At least it’s a crazy 5-blade mega razor, and it came with a couple of coupons (for more razors).  I don’t know what more to say.

Beauty School pamphlet
This is a cute idea – a fold out pamphlet that talks a bit about brushes, how to read product labels, shaving tips (again with that?) and makeup quick fixes.  Helpful little hints, but if you’re a makeup junkie, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

I’m holding out for a Birchbox that makes this subscription worth it.  Two months in, I’m fearing the worst.  On average, I place 2-4 orders a month (eek) to online makeup retailers, meaning I’m getting handfuls of samples and full-size products that I love delivered to my door.  I’m a sucker for surprises of any kind, so Birchbox reeled me in with the novelty aspect, but I’ve yet to receive a sample better than Sephora’s freebies.

My fate is in your hands, Birchbox.  Hook a girl up!  (and not with a drugstore razor!)

M

August VIB Perks

Sephora VIB’s (and VIB-curious): Have you checked out the August promos?  Killer deals!

This weekend (Aug 17-19), Very Important Beauty Insiders have the hook-up with a sample-packed clutch with purchase.  Spend $35 in store or online (way, way too easy) and enter VIBCLUTCH at checkout.  If you bulk up your cart to $50, free shipping too!  Here’s what’s inside:

  • Benefit POREfessional (0.25 oz)
  • Lancome Hypnose Drama Mascara (0.14 oz)
  • Sephora Instant Moisturizer (1 oz.)
  • Smashbox Hydrating Primer (0.25 oz)
  • L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream (0.34 oz)
  • Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel (0.33 oz)
  • Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream (0.5 oz)
  • Stella McCartney Stella (0.05 oz)

Promos like this are why I’m probably too spoiled for Birchbox.  Buy some thing(s) you know you love for $35, AND get a bunch of generously-portioned freebies, PLUS three free samples, AND a points perk, if you’re a frequent shopper.  Deal$.

Also, while I was in the store last week, I picked up a VIB August schedule flyer I hadn’t seen before.  I tucked it into my purse feeling sly as hell – insider info!  I’m sure they have these out all the time, but this is the first one I’ve noticed… so allow me to share, if you’re a little unaware, like I was:

Aug 17-19 VIB Event Weekend – Special events with complimentary express service looks for fall.  Exclusive gifts for VIBs with minimum $35 purchase.  I’m really DIY about my makeup, so I won’t be taking them up on the service – but hop in, if you’re into that!

Aug 20-26 VIB Double Points – Double Points on every merchandise purchase, online or in-store.  Now’s the time to splurge!  Picking up one Urban Decay Naked palette ($50) will get you 100 points – meaning an instant gift with purchase.

Aug 27-31 Free Shipping – Online orders ship for free with no minimum purchase, enter code VIBSHIP.  The bummer with this promo is that you have to use a code.  Sephora famously allows only one promo code per transaction, so you can’t cash in on any other freebie offers.

If you’re not a Sephora Beauty Insider, definitely consider signing up!  If you spend $350 in a year (again, TOO easy), you’re automatically upgraded to Very Important Beauty Insider (VIB) status, which gives you access to crazy events and deals like these.

I realize I probably sound like a Sephora corporate drone sometimes, but I promise you, I’ve got no affiliations with the company (aside from being a die-hard fan for life).  I’m an avid shopaholic across the board, and this store has the greatest customer loyalty program I’ve ever seen.  Aside from the freebie offers, points with every purchase, birthday gifts, and in-store events, their return policy is simply the best.  I may spend a lot at Sephora, but I know that if I don’t love a product, I’ll absolutely get my money back.  Even if I’ve tried it on.  Even if I’ve just changed my mind.

But I’ll end my enthusiastic love letter now.  Enjoy your August perks!

M

Essie Mirror Metallics

I posted my polish picks for August yesterday, and mentioned Essie’s Penny Talk from the Mirror Metallic collection.  This is a great color, and no photos can do it justice.  The finish is uniquely metallic – the most mirror-like lacquer I’ve ever tried!  But it took me some serious trial and error to get a good mani, this is a really different formula than most.

The mirror metallics are super tricky, because they dry really quickly, and they show every imperfection on your nail surface.  It’s a very unforgiving polish, and I had to restart three times to get a finish I was happy wearing.  It’s a daunting task, but hopefully I can help you out with my experience.

  • First, start with squeaky clean, absolutely polish-free nails.  Any residue will show up as bumps and bubbles.
  • Buff the surface of your nails with a very fine buffer block.. the smoother, the better.
  • Start with a good base coat (or a top coat AS a base coat – more on that later), painted on as evenly as possible.  I used Essie’s Feed Me, after Orly Bonder caused problems.  (I think the sticky base was holding the polish too strongly.)
  • Paint from one edge to the next, with full strokes from the cuticle to the tip.  I normally polish in little half-strokes, starting in the middle and working outward.  This polish will SHOW if you have any short strokes.  It dries so quickly, there’s very little time to blend brush strokes together.. so they build up into unsightly little dunes.
  • Be FAST!  If you hesitate or go back to the bottle for a dip, your brush will pull at the existing polish and leave gaps.
  • Don’t use a top coat.  As soon as I added Polishield (usually a lifesaver) to my manicure, I knew it was a mistake.  It somehow deflected the light, and rather than blending the polish, it emphasized brush strokes and imperfections.  BUT Polishield smoothes surfaces like a dream – which gave me the perfect canvas for one last layer of Penny Talk.

All-in-all, one layer of basecoat (although next time I’ll probably start with Polishield), two coats of Penny Talk.. and if there are any uglies, another coat of Polishield followed by polish.  It sounds like a hassle, but the finished look is totally awesome – and worth it.

M

August Polish Picks

August Polish Picks

Left to Right:

August is a tricky summer/fall month – I can’t get into jewel tones and dark polishes just yet, but neons don’t seem right either.  Right now, I’m totally feeling neutral blush and copper colors.. rich, grown-up and unbeatably easy to wear.  I also love a matte finish (especially over a metallic polish) – it’s unexpected but not outrageous.   And if I start feeling old and boring, I stick on a couple of back-to-school decals.  Nerdy cute, these look great over clear polish or Decades of Dysfunction.  (And for my noncommittal ladies, they peel right off for unexpected business meetings.)  The Hello Kitty nail stickers aren’t the highest quality I’ve used – they tear pretty easily – but use tweezers and some extra caution, and you’ll be fine.

M

Hoppin’ Blogs

Since leaving my crazy, hectic, overwhelming career in the fashion industry, I’ve led a pretty insular life of freelancing and good old-fashioned housewifin’.  The freedom is fantastic, but my only coworkers are the UPS delivery guy and the occasional microwave repair man.  I miss out on all those fashion and beauty tips you typically share on a lunch break (or in my former life, a sugar-free Red Bull and cigarette break).

The blogosphere has introduced me to a whole new world of like-minded ladies (and gentlemen!)  I love to explore, read, review and share with you all.. it’s like a sleepover every day!  So when Katie at Sparkle Girl’s Life set up this beauty blog hop (a totally foreign concept to me), I jumped.  Or.. I guess, hopped.

I’ve had a great day clicking through over 60 beauty blogs, and finding some fascinating new friends to follow.  If you’re feeling browse-y, click over and dig through yourself… guarantee you’ll find some good reads!  And keep an eye out, because she’ll be doing another blog hop next month.

Thanks, Katie!

M