Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Better late than never, right? (Um, right??) Halloween makeups! Quick, easy, and pretty darn cute, if I do say so!

So, things have been a bit hectic around here, but Halloween is my Christmas, so I decided I had to do at least a little something to get into the spirit. I spent half of the day at school with my (not so) little one, (deep sigh for 7-year-olds choosing thier own costumes!) so requirements were something that didn't take much time and was appropriate for wear elementary school kids. This is what I came up with!

I used Kryolan UV Aquacolor in Green mixed with a bit of MAC Face and Body in white and applied it in a rough rectangle over my eye with a stippling brush. I used a q-tip saturated with a bit of oh-so-handy Crealine (keep an eye out for an upcoming review) to clean up the edges of my little franken-patch. Then I lined around the edge of the patch and painted on black stitches and a wickedly slanted eyebrow using #00 and #2 round artist brushes (like those from Loew-Cornell) and Wolfe Hydrocolor in black.

To make things just a touch more sultry, I added some depth by placing black (Urban Decay Primer Potion, MAC Blackground Paint Pot and the old square NYX black shadow) to the lid, blending it into the crease and out over the orbital bone with a MAC 217 brush. I popped a special effects lens in my monster eye, added black mascara and a quick red lip (MAC Ruby Woo, on all night!) and I was out the door.

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! As I mentioned things have been crazy lately (finally got married, husband left his job to start his own business, my baby started 1st grade, room mom, Girl Scout leader, art-class assistant, dance/karate taxi service, need I go on...?) but I'm hoping to be able to carve out a bit of writing time to get back to this soon- I miss it and all of you!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Quick Tip: Easy Beachy Hair!

Photo by Molly Stronczek
Almost everyone loves those "fresh from the ocean" waves, but what if you're don't happen to be coastal? Of course, you can go out and buy "beachy hair" spray, but why waste all of that summer sunshine shopping when you probably have everything you need to make a great wave spray within reach.

"Beachy Hair" Wave Spray Recipe

spray bottle
spray detangler (or your favorite rinse-out conditioner)
1-2 tsp. sea or Epsom salt
warm water

Fill an empty spray bottle halfway with almost-hot water, then add your favorite spray detangler; make sure you leave enough room so that you can add the salt and screw your top on without overflowing. Next, add salt- if you have fine hair, start with just one teaspoon and add salt in 1/4 tsp increments until you get the results you like, otherwise go ahead and add 2 full teaspoons.

If you don't have spray de-tangler laying around the house, fill your spray bottle with warm water, add the salt and then add about a nickel-sized dollop of your regular rinse-out conditioner (I use that amount with about 8oz of water. If you have very fine hair or are using a smaller spray bottle, use a bit less. Thick, dry or coarse hair, or a bigger bottle? Add a little more). Then, shake-shake-shake to blend.

That's it. I usually use my salt spray on damp or dry hair and "scrunch" to enhance the curl. I've bought plenty of wave spray in my day, but always blend my own now, because I can control the formula better (more or less conditioner, more salt for more curl- but crunchier- a little gel for hold, etc...) Enjoy!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Sprinkles NOTD and
China Glaze Gelaze First Impressions

So...have you seen these limited edition Peeps?

I am OBSESSED. Of course, I don't actually like Peeps, so it's all aesthetics to me. I could stare at these all day. So when I stopped by Sally Beauty the other day and my eyes landed a Gelish polish called "Lots of Dots", my mind went "Peep!"

LoD is a clear coat sprinkled liberally with small multicolored dots (to my eye, I see red, coral, blue, yellow, grassy green, pale pink and and lilac). I knew right away that I wanted to layer it over a white creme base, a'la Peep, and when a Buy One Get One Free sign called my attention to China Glaze's new gel polish, Gel├íze, it was a done deal. I grabbed White on White and Shocking Pink and headed out the door.

The potentially cool thing about Gelaze (aside from the fact that it comes in 49 shades, including CG all-stars like Ruby Pumps and For Audrey) is that CG's gel polish offering is a base and color in one- no separate pH bond and foundation step like Gelish. You still need a UV/LED topcoat, and since my Sally's was out of the Gelaze one, my first run was a mishmash of products.

I Used:
Base (2 coats): China Glaze Gelaze in White on White
Accent (2 coats): Gelish in Lots of Dots
Top Coat: Gelish Top it Off
Cured under a 36 Watt UV Lamp

And here are my results:

Pretty darn cute, I must say. Now obviously, Lots of Dots is, well...dots. The end result is a bit closer to a vanilla cupcake than my coveted flaky Peeps, but I was still pleased with the look (and got tons of compliments on it).

As far as performance, I don't feel comfortable giving a definitive yay or nay on the products just yet. I'm far from an expert in my application technique, which can have a big impact on the performance of gel polish. As I mentioned before, I also mixed and matched lines, and while I've seen plenty gel-polish of connoisseurs say that's no big, I don't want to judge a line based on a "not used as recommended" experience.

Here's what I will say: First, application was a breeze- no different to me than a regular polish. I was a bit discouraged when I noticed the polish shrinking away from the free-edge after curing (and again, while I'm no pro, I do cap my tips as well as I can). I also experienced quite a bit of wrinkling, though I tried my darndest to keep my coats thin. Luckily, the wrinkling pretty much disappeared once I layered on 2 coats of Dots, so I didn't have to remove & start from scratch.

Shrinkage on tips of middle finger and thumb.
Wrinkling on thumb, ring, and index fingers.
I was also very bummed to have one nail lift just a day after I did my manicure. I removed and reapplied the offending nail, but unfortunately, by the end of day two, I noticed another nail coming up. Three days in, almost all of the nails were lifting at the free edge, and by day four, I had to remove the entire manicure.

Like I said, these are just my first impressions. I am hoping human error can explain away the issues I had, and am currently testing out a few other shades. I also plan on grabbing the Gelaze Top Coat as soon as I can to see if that makes a difference.

Until then, I'd love to hear what you think about gel polishes- have you made the jump yet? What are your favorite brands (and do you mix and match systems?) OH- and does anyone know of a multicolored flaky polish that will get me closer to my Peep-esque objective?!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rise and SHINE!
Pre-Prep for Your Best Early-Morning Face

For those of you who don't know, I am currently in the thickest thick of planning my upcoming wedding- less than 3 weeks to go (eeek)! Given my predilection to research, and of course my love of social media, you can bet I've been hitting the wedding forums pretty heavily. Recently, I happened upon a fellow bride-to-be wondering about how she should prep for an early morning photo shoot.

As I typed out my response on how to avoid common morning-time pitfalls (puffiness, redness, etc...) it occurred to me that my lovely (and, I apologize profusely, much neglected) readers may appreciate some tips too- after all, wedding or not, no one wants to leave the house looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

Here are my best tips and tricks for looking fabulous, no matter what your call time is:
  • First and foremost, if you're gearing up for photos or a special occasion, don't expect most of these tips to take effect overnight. Though some will give more instant-gratification than others, in general, the further in advance you start, the better. 
  • Take care of your skin! Remove all of your makeup before bed and moisturize well. Be especially careful to get all traces of eye makeup off, lest it migrate around and into your eyes at night. This can cause redness, puffiness and watery eyes, and though you may not even be able to see the traces left behind in the morning, they're there- and can cause subtle shadows that will make eyes appear smaller and darker (and for some reason, mascara left on overnight seems SO much harder to remove!) 
  • Reduction of alcohol and salt, and of course, lots of water, can help to minimize puffiness. 
  • Sleep on a satin pillow case- it reduces tug on the skin & hair and you'll wake less creased and ruffled.
  • Sleeping with your head propped up with several pillows will keep fluids from settling in your face overnight (which causes puffiness).
  • There is some evidence that caffeine applied to the skin can relieve puffiness and redness. Soak a tea towel in strong, chilled coffee and apply it as a cold compress mask for 10-15 minutes before you apply your makeup. (Black and green tea will work too, though possibly to a lesser extent because of a lower caffeine content). Bonus: coffee and tea are full of skin-protecting antioxidants! 
  • If you can, pinpoint the cause of your issues. Redness, puffiness and under eye darkness can all be brought on by allergies. If you notice such things seasonally or just on occasion, an over-the-counter antihistamine like Claritin or Benadryl, or anti-inflammatories like Advil, may help. Of course, I am not a doctor, so please speak to yours before beginning any medical treatment!
  •  A cool shower, rather than warm, is more beneficial to your skin and hair. It strips less of your skin's natural barrier, so you're likely to see less dryness, flakiness, redness and irritation. Cold water also helps smooth the hair's cuticle (outer layer), which will make hair look smoother and shinier. 
  • When applying makeup, highlight skin under the brow bone, in the inner corners of the eyes around the tear ducts, and on the orbital bone under the eye (right on the top of the cheek bones- imagine a line coming down from the arch of your brow and start there, extending the highlighter almost to temples). Choose a champagne shade (white if you're fair) with a pearly finish. Your objective is to mimic the way light hits healthy skin- visible glitter not only gives away the trick, it can appear as white or black dots in photos!
  • Line the lower, inner rim (waterline) with a white or nude eye pencil to make eyes appear brighter and more opened. And don't forget the mascara!
  • Last, smile!!! This lifts the entire face, and you'd be surprised how visible a good mood is in photos! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spa Sonic Black Friday Giveaway!

If you forgot to get yourself a little something special in all of this year's shopping hubbub, never fear! My friends over at Spa Sonic have us covered, and they've offered my lucky readers a chance to win their choice of a pink, lavender or classic white Spa Sonic.

This waterproof device can be used on both the face and body to deeply cleanse, exfoliate and remove impurities. Enter below, and if you haven't peeked at my MONSTER list of cyber week deals, make sure you check it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2013 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals!

Hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing day of thanks! Now, on to the shopping! Feel free to add any deals I didn't list in the comments!

Adventuress Skin Care 
50% off the Adventuress Skin Care Intro Collection kit (limit 2). Use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout. Offer valid 11/28-11/30.

Use code 40KARATS to get 40% off site wide from Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 through Monday, December 2nd.

alba Botanica
Buy 2 get 1 free from Friday, 11/29 through Monday, 12/2 with code ALBATHANKYOU (unconfirmed)

Alpha Hydrox 
Now through 12/16, Buy 1 product and get a second product (the same product) for 1.99 online only. Excludes kits, includes Batiste products.

Friday, 11/29 only, get 20% off, excluding special packs.

Deluxe Skin Care Set for $39.95, along with 25% off the entire website with coupon code 25DISC. Offer valid until December 2nd at midnight.

30% off orders of $15 or more from 11/28 until 11:59pm, PST on 12/4. Excludes Thursday Deal items, but Clearance items are included.

Avalon Organics
Cyber Monday: 20% off online with code AVALONTHANKS.

Bath & Body Works
2013 VIP bag, valued at over $100, just $20 with a $40 purchase, use code VIP13 at checkout.

from 10AM 12/2 to 10AM 12/3, enjoy 40% off site wide.

Becca Cosmetics
20% off on orders of $50 or more with code FAMILY13. Ends 12/2.

BFTE Cosmetics
Cyber Monday: $20 grab bags

Black Rose Minerals
Use code BF2013 to get 50% off full size jars. Offer valid at Blackroseminerals.com and at brm.storenvy.com

bliss spa
20% discount on full-sized bliss, Elemis and Remede products on Friday, 11/29 and Monday, 12/2

Bobbi Brown
11/28 - 11/30, get a free full-size Extreme Party Mascara, a travel-size Makeup Remover, and free shipping with any online order. Use code TGIBF.

Butter London
20% off online orders, excluding “last-call” items, which are 50% off. Use code CYBER13.

Carol's Daughter
Free Almond Cookie Hand Cream and free shipping with any purchase of $25 or more. Ends 11/30.

25% off with code EBONY

November 26th through December 1st, get 20% off store wide with code TKG2013.

Cirque Nail Lacquer
20% off with code HOLIDAY2013 Now through 12/5, 11:59pm EST

Concrete Minerals
Black Friday: 30% off with code BLACK30
Sat. 12/30-12/2: 25% off with code BLACK25
Free Wanderlust eyeshadow with orders of $50 or more, discount excludes "I Want it All" Collection and Beauty Blogger sets.

Cult Nails
Black Friday – save 40% off all lacquers (including limited editions) and treatments with a purchase of $36 or more. Use code THANKYOU13 at checkout.

Mia First for $99

Coastal Scents
50% off all purchases at Coastal Scents, now through Monday, December 2nd. No code required.

C.O. Bigelow
25% off all Bigelow brand products. Online only, expires 12/2.

20% Friends and Family discount on all online purchases through 11:59 PM EST on December 1st.

Darling Girl Cosmetics
20% off all orders with code GOBBLEGOBBLE. Orders over $20 before shipping and discounts will get a limited edition mini of “Who Cares, It’s on Sale” eyeshadow.  Samples will not be available during this sale.

40% site wide discount on Friday, 11/29 from 9am-12 pm EST only, 30% through Monday, 12/12. Use code SPECIAL30.

Desert Essence
25% off all orders with free shipping on all orders $25 and up with code CYBER

Dream World Minerals
Black Friday: 20% off orders $10 or more with code BF20
Cyber Monday: 25% off orders $30 or more with code CM2530

Ellen Lange
Cyber Monday 12/2 only: 50% off all Ellen Lange skin care, online only.

Geek Chic Cosmetics
30% off everything, excludes samples and The Collective. Ends 12/2 at midnight, or until supplies last.

Dr. Brandt 
40% off your entire purchase with free shipping.  Expires 11/29.

15% off site wide, plus free shipping on orders over $25, now through 11:59 pm, PT on 11/30.

Black Friday, 11/29: Buy one get one 50% off, plus a FREE $10 Gift Card, on orders over $30. Use code BLKFRI at checkout.

Sunday 12/1 through 12/3: 50% off all orders of $30 or more with code CYBER50.

em Michelle Phan
Black Friday savings:
spend $30, get $10 off
spend $50, get $20 off
spend $100, get $50 off

Giorgio Armani Beauty 
Friends and Family 20% off purchases of $75 or more on the website, no code required. Ends 12/5.

Glamour Doll Eyes
Use code BLACKFRIDAY13 for 35% off everything in the shop with a $16 purchase. At Glamourdolleyes.storenvy.com buy two get one free on all eye shadows.

Haughty  Cosmetics
40% off your entire purchase with code BF2013. Expires 11/29.

Online: 20% off all products (excluding Freedom System palettes and accessories) plus a free 77 Gel Eyeliner with purchases over $80. Offer valid from 3AM EST 11/28 to 3AM EST on 12/4.

In stores: 11/29 through 12/1 get 20% off all products (excluding Freedom System palettes and accessories).

Jindie Nails
25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY25 with free shipping on orders over $50. Ends Monday 12/2.

Kiss my Sass
Black Friday: 25% on any $15.00 purchase with code blackfri13
Cyber Monday: 30% on any $15.00 purchase with code cybermon13

50% off must-have sets, plus free shipping on orders over $50.

Kate Somerville
Friends and Family now through December 2nd. Use code HOLIDAY2013 for 30% off one single order. Online only, some items have maximum purchase limits and some kits are excluded.

Laura Geller
20% off all online order on Cyber Monday only, with free standard shipping on all orders placed within the 24 hour window.

$5 off $25 with code 5HOLIDAY
$10 off $50 with code 10HOLIDAY
$20 off $100 with code 20HOLIDAY
$50 off $200 with code 50HOLIDAY

Lime Crime
30% off 11/29-30 with code LOVE30. Not valid on Pink Velvet.

35% off all orders with code BLACK35. Valid through Sunday 12/1.

If you haven't heard yet, M.A.C. will be releasing a limited edition matte black lippie,
Hautecore, available online on Black Friday only. You know this won't last more than an hour or two online, so if you want it, better hurry!

Manna Kadar Cosmetics 
50% off on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Use coupon code MANNABF50 at checkout.

Melt Cosmetics
Black Friday: 25% off with code PAINTITBLACK

Meow Cosmetics
20% off with code GOBBLE (no minimum order) OR
20% and free shipping on orders of $40 or more with code LIGHTUP

Miracle Skin Transformer
30% discount on purchases of $50 or more on Monday, 12/2.

All items 40% off, now through December 25th, 2013

Blck Friday: 20% off with the code NARSFRIENDS

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Free "Little Black Dress" Stained Gloss on all orders over $75.00 (limit one per customer). Free shipping on all orders $50 or more.

Ofra Cosmetic Laboratories
Black Friday: 50% off site wide, can not be combined with free shipping.

70% off site wide. 11/29-12/3. Use code NUME70

Paula's Choice
15% off everything, now through December 3rd.

20% off with code PERLIERTHANKS20. Ends 12/1, 11:59PM EST).

Peter Thomas Roth
20% discount site wide on Friday, 11/29.

30% discount site wide on Monday, 12/2.

Purely Cosmetics 
11/30, Small Business Saturday only, get 25% off everything with min $15 order. Use code SBS13 at checkout. Orders containing full sized products will also include a free gift, while supplies last.

Rain cosmetics 
On Black Friday, get 50% off all products and 25% off classes and services. Cyber Monday 40% off all products.

$10 Dealtopia sets, Black Friday only.

Shiro Cosmetics 
15% off with code FRIDAY

Shu Uemura
Orders over $50 get 20% off and free shipping.
Orders over $100 get 25% off and free shipping.
Enter  code SHUJOY at checkout, offer ends on 12/2 at 11:59 PM EST.

Skinn Cosmetics 
Use code BFCM1320 at checkout to get 20% off all products. Valid 11/29 - 12/2.

25% off Friends and Family discount on orders of $50 or more.

Spa Sonic
After you check out the deals, make sure you enter my weekend giveaway to WIN YOUR OWN SPA SONIC!!!

Visit Target.com on Black Friday to purchase the Spa Sonic system for $33 and Cyber Monday through Cyber Week for $32.

Through December 30th, Walmart.com is offering the Spa Sonic system for $39.99.

Drugstore.com will have the new DermaLight on sale for $119.99 and the Spa Sonic system for $35.99 November 24th through December 7th.

Black Friday: get a free Pro-Artist brush set with $50 purchase, use code BLACKFRIDAY.

Cyber Monday: Warehouse sale, up to 80% off.

Studio Gear 
Black Friday Deals and on Cyber Monday get 30% off all complexion products.

Sugarpill Cosmetics
Pink Weekend sale! All items 20% to 50% off Thursday 11/28 though Monday, 12/2.

Tarte Cosmetics
Through 12/1, get 25% off your purchase with the code TURKEY.

Tokyo Milk
Free Tokyo Milk Waltz No. 14 travel candle with any purchase $50 or more. Exp. Midnight EST 11/29.

Cyber Monday: Free shipping and Gift with Purchase for each order of $50 or more.

Urban Decay
Badass Lip Set for $50 (Value: $132)
NYE Arsenal $35 (Value: $72)

Vapour Beauty
30% off your order with code BLACKFRIDAY13 Ends 12/2.

VMV Hypoallergenics
Cyber Monday sale, up to 70% off

Whitening Lightening
Use code BLACKFRIDAY to receive a Holiday Gift Pack (a $633 value) for only $89.

Yes To
40% off all online orders with code Y2BLACKFRIDAY.

20% off Friends and Family. Valid on online orders of $75+ or more, ends 12/1.

Z Palette
Ends 12AM PST,  11/29. Get 20% off site wide on the Z Palette website (excludes Crocodile Collection).

Black Friday: use code DREAMBIG to get a free "Cheers to All" 12-piece Dream Box, plus a Mini Color Lock System and free shipping with a $72 purchase!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Must Have Item:
Graham Professional HandsDown Ultra
Nail and Cosmetic Pads

Pack away those puffs and check out these genius little do-dads! HandsDown Pads ($5.69 for 240) are a must-have for your makeup kit. They are, of course, ideal for polish removal- the super absorbent pad somehow holds remover without allowing it to dry out, and they're tough enough that even my chunkiest glitters don't shred them! Today I finally got around to removing my Julie G Gumdrops pedi, and one pad did the job. ONE PAD. Unheard of, especially considering the hefty texture of the polish I was disposing of.

So, what's my favorite thing about these? Well, tell me: is there anyone out there who has *ever* successfully removed polish from one nail without completely destroying your mani on the fingers that are holding the remover-soaked cotton? If you have developed that skill set, you may not be as impressed by this nifty little feature as I am, but I adore the flexible plastic tab that completely covers the back of HandsDown pads. The tab is easy to hold, and even pure acetone won't soak through, so I can now remove goofs at-will while keeping my perfect, unruined fingers un-botched!

HandsDown Pads aren't a one trick pony, either. They're lint-free, so they work well for applying makeup. They make great disposable powder puffs, and I've been known to pre-load a bit of blush onto the pad and throw it into my purse for late-night touch-ups. I've even moistened the pad with a bit of micellar solution (if you don't know what that is, keep your eyes out for my upcoming post) and used it as an impromptu exfoliator! Grainy scrubs, and even my Clarisonic, irritate my skin, but these have just the right amount of texture.

So, what do you think- is it worth a trip to the beauty supply store? Have you tried HandsDown pads? What's your favorite way to use them?
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