Color Club & e.l.f. at Hautelook

Another sale post?  I know, I’m sorry, but my buying ban has somehow heightened my sale sense and since I can’t shop, I have to at least share the opportunity!


Color Club nail polish is on at Hautelook today until Monday with single bottles priced at $5 and duo sets for $8!  There are also a few mini sets that would make great gifts.  Each bottle is normally around $8, so it’s a decent deal.  I haven’t used Color Club personally, but I did receive a bottle in my August Birchbox and the color looked great!  I had a similar shade, so I gave it to my sister.  I noticed it on her nails recently and loved it – the color is a lot brighter and more saturated than it looks in the bottle.

e.l.f. cosmetics go up tomorrow, and I don’t know what kind of products they’ll feature, but I’m astounded they’re even doing a flash sale!  Could they BE any less expensive?  I’m not the hugest fan of e.l.f.’s makeup, but I do like their brush shampoo and facial whips (creamy highlighters that look beautiful mixed with body lotion).  It won’t break my heart to miss this one, since the brand is so affordable already.

Bargains all around.

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

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

Battle of the Topcoats: Kensington Caviar vs. Polishield

It’s no secret that I’m faithfully committed to Orly Polishield top coat ($10), but I recently caught wind of an intriguing new neighbor in the polish department.  Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar top coat (also $10) has a solid 5-star rating on Sephora, and I had to see if I was missing out.

I gave into temptation and Kensington Caviar came home with me.  We had a few good runs, but it just wasn’t the same.  It didn’t last as long as Polishield, and while it’s a decent contender, it just doesn’t wow me.

Here’s how I’d rate these two:

Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar
Packaging: 5/5
Consistency: 4/5
Strength: 3/5
Shine: 5/5
Durability: 4/5
Value: 3/5

Overall: Kensington Caviar is the same price as Polishield, but the bottle is smaller.  The plus is that the brush reaches close to the bottom, and I’d be able to use more of the product.  By contrast, Polishield’s big bottle usually means I can’t use the last 1/3 without some serious bottle and brush maneuvers.  K.C. isn’t as strong as Polishield, though – I had surface chips and scratches the day after my manicure – seriously disappointing.  It’s also not too durable, and my tips had chipped off completely in about three days.

Orly Polishield
Packaging: 3/5
Consistency: 5/5
Strength: 5/5
Shine: 5/5
Durability: 5/5
Value: 4/5

Overall: Polishield is my main squeeze (I’m so sorry I strayed!)  It’s magical melding formula can’t be matched and it lasts a good 5-6 days without chipping.  My only gripe is that the big bottle combined with the thick, syrupy formula, makes it impossible to use all of the product.  For $10, though, I get months of flawless manicures, and I’m totally satisfied with that.  U + Me = Us.


M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Conditioner

The Splurge: Bumble & Bumble Creme de Coco Conditioner

It’s no secret that I’m deeply in love with Bumble and Bumble’s Creme de Coco scent.  I love the Hair Masque, and this conditioner is equally fantastic.  While I don’t see the dramatic improvement I do with the mask, I get smooth, soft, and deliciously scented hair without the time commitment.  Perfect for the everyday shower routine.  $24 at Bumble & Bumble (and buy one get one free at Target!)

The Steal: Aussie 3-Minute Miracle

Surprisingly effective for the low, low price, Aussie 3-minute Miracle delivers “deeeeep conditioning.”  There’s a noticeable difference in my hair texture after one use.  It’s not as softening as Bumble & Bumble, but it’s the nicest drug store conditioner I’ve used.  The scent is a little bit like a strong, cheap fruit punch, but it’s not unpleasant.  For the $4.29 price tag (at Ulta and drug stores), it’s worth smelling like the Chiquita lady.

The Skip: Terax Crema Conditioner

Insultingly priced at $24.99 at Amazon, this ‘luxury conditioner’ was surprisingly lackluster.  I’ve read about its cult following, and checked out the rave reviews… but for me, it did almost nothing.  It has a truly bizarre scent – a little bit fishy with hints of plastic and play doh – but I rubbed it into my hair anyway.  (Seriously, why did I do that?)  I gave it a few minutes to get to work.. then a few more minutes when it didn’t feel any different.. then eventually I had to get out of the shower.  Nothing.  Even after a few tries, I’m struggling to see what this fish paste does to my hair.  I don’t know what the hype’s about, but this bottle’s been lonely in my shower for a few months now.  Skip.

M

Splurge, Steal, or Skip – Lip Balm

The Splurge: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15

If you’re fancy enough to drop $20 on lip balm, this is the one to buy.  It’s nourishing and smooth, like rubbing a warm stick of butter on your lips… if you’re into that kind of thing.  I most certainly am.  This lip balm is not at all waxy or sticky, and there are tons of great colors to choose from.  Luscious as hellll.  $22.50 at Sephora

The Steal: Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20

Baby Lips should really have its own Best Stuff post, it’s so good.  For being such a cheapy cheap lip balm, it out performs almost every other brand.  Baby Lips skips the waxy chapstick feel, and soaks into my lips comfortably and quickly.  It’s a must-have in every purse and car compartment, especially since it’s cheap enough to replace if/when it melts.  Quenched and Peppermint (both clear) are my two favorites – I didn’t realize the other four kinds are tinted, and picked up Cherry Me and Peach Kiss also.  The tint is noticeably cheap; the colors are Bonne Bell awkward and they apply unevenly.  Save yourself the patchy peach lips, and stick to clear.  $3.99 at Ulta and drug stores

The Skip: Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

I know I’ll probably be one of the first official Burt’s Bees haters, but hear me out.  A few years ago, Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm was in every one of my jacket pockets.  It was my miracle drug – smooth, but a little waxy, with a soothing minty tingle.  But over the past two to three years, something at Burt’s Bees has changed.  I was thrilled when I saw the lip balm in grocery stores and gas stations, but when I picked up a replacement tube, I noticed it was hard.  Like a solid beeswax candle.  It wasn’t a fluke, I received more tubes as holiday gifts, and they were exactly the same.  Solid, waxy, and almost impossible to rub on my lips.  So I gave up on Burt and every single one of his bees.  Farewell, old friends, you were loved.

M

Everyday Skin Care Arsenal

I love makeup to death, but at the end of the day, I want every speck of it off my face.  It creeps me out thinking it’s lingering in my pores, so I go hard on my skin care regimen.  Here’s what’s working for me:


First I pre-wash the majority of my makeup off with my hands and Noxzema deep cleansing cream ($4.39) – the kind in a big blue pot.  (I pre-wash because I don’t like to get my Clarisonic brush too clogged up with makeup… it feels like I’m rubbing foamy old foundation around on my face.)  I’m not especially attached to this cleanser, I mostly use it because I get to scoop handfuls out like ice cream.


Next I deep clean with my Clarisonic Mia 2 and a cleanser: Purity Made Simple facial cleanser ($20), old school Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($11.49) or Biore Complexion Clearing Ice Cleanser ($7.49).  Whichever I blindly grab.


Usually, my eye makeup sticks around even after the brush, so I rub in some Clinique Naturally Gentle Eye Makeup Remover lotion ($18) and wipe it off gently with tissue (cotton balls leave awful little fuzz strings in my lashes.)

After that, I swipe my face and neck with Clinique Clarifying Lotion 1 ($13) and CVS’s hugest cotton balls ever ($1.49).  (I know, I’m sharing my favorite brand of cotton balls.  But they’re seriously huge and luscious.  I love them.)  It removes the last traces of makeup or dirt and leaves my face feeling fresh.

Then I apply Clinique Repairwear Eye Cream around my tired old eyes, and Alba Even Night Cream on my face and neck.  And it’s relaxing and wonderful, and my skin is grateful.

What skin care product or routine do you swear by?

M

Best Stuff: Alba Botanica Even Advanced Night Cream

I’m going to make this really simple – I love Alba Botanica Even Advanced night cream, $10-$15.

It smells great and it’s non-greasy, thick night cream that doesn’t feel suffocatingly heavy.  I don’t have a lot of “discoloration,” but regardless, this lotion really beautifies my skin overnight.  When I wake up, my skin looks as smooth, calm, and well… even.  My pores even look smaller.  It’s the only moisturizer I’ve used that noticeably changes my skin, as opposed to just keeping it hydrated.  I love it so much, I use it any time I don’t need an spf boost.

Annnnd it’s easy to find!  I’ve seen this stocked at Target, drug stores, and grocery stores – so there’s no waiting for an online shipment, or braving mall parking to go to Sephora.

Great find, pretty skin.

M