Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Product Review:
Broadway Nails Nail Dress Stick-On Wraps

With nail art making a comeback, Broadway Nails Nail Dress Stick-On Wraps are an at-home alternative to sleek yet pricey ($125 Minx nails, anyone?) high design nail art. These full nail decals are available in 5 patterns, and take just seconds to apply. I've been curious about this new trend in nails for a while, so I was thrilled to try them when they hit my mailbox. Since I'm a total n00b when it comes to nail wraps, I chose my least favorite pattern to try first (lest I botch the ones I really liked!). To my surprise, I liked the look of them on much more than I did in the box.

According to the package you can apply Broadway Nail Dress Wraps to either natural or artificial nails. Since I'd been testing out Kiss Everlasting French Nails, I decided to go ahead and apply the wraps over those- with one natural nail done as a control. The vinyl-like material takes no special prep aside from clean nails (wipe natural nails down with acetone first). Application was simple- the wrap material is sturdy enough not to bunch up on itself and if you do goof & need to reposition them, they peel off easily enough. However, this may not be a good thing, but more on that later.

Since each package comes with wraps in 14 different sizes, choosing the right size was fairly easy. I did learn to choose a decal that looks a size or two larger than what I thought I'd need so that the decal extended all the way to the edge of my nails. I actually think it would be more convenient for sizing if each wrap came separate instead of on 2 large sheets, so that you could hold them up to the nail prior to removing them from their backing. I suppose you *could* cut them up to make sizing easier but...

After sticking the decal to the nail, all that's left is smoothing out the wrap and filing the excess material off the tip. The pink side of the included mini-file did a great job of smoothing the wraps on the nail bed and around the cuticles, but for some reason on almost every nail, after I'd filed off the excess, a wrinkle would pop up right in the middle of the free edge. I do feel like I got a cleaner cut on the tip (and had no problem with the wrinkling) on my natural nail than on the thicker artificial tips.

The package states that for extended wear you can put a top-coat over the decal, but even with a coat of Seche Vite, this is what my nails looked like after only a day of wear (prepare yourself for...claw hand!)

As you can see, wear at the tips of my nails is significant. Though it's not as apparent in these pictures, the edges around my cuticles were beginning to peel up also, annoyingly catching on my clothes or in my hair. In the photo on the right, you can see how the wrinkling on the tips worsened from the initial single crease that I saw on most nails when I applied them.

Luckily, the decals were as easy to remove as they were to apply- they simply peeled right off, leaving little residue and no noticeable damage to my natural nail.

So would I buy these? With a suggested retail of $5.49, these are about half the price of other drug-store options, but with a wear time of only a day, I think I'll be testing other brands. I do have another set of Broadway wraps (a super-cute silver fishnet style) that I won't hesitate to slap on- I'll just make sure I apply them the day I want them seen!

The products featured in this post were submitted for review consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed in my product reviews are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the review influenced by the featured company.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quick Tip:
Your Favorite Scent...Now in a Hand Soap!

Ever wish your favorite scent came in a hand wash? Guess might- it's just not called that on the label!

If your scent of choice comes in a body wash or shower gel option, buy a pretty refillable pump and fill that baby up- after all, hands are a part of the body, aren't they? All kidding aside, the surfactants in body washes are the same as those typically used in hand soaps, so they really do clean your hands just as well as your body.As an added bonus, body wash often has added moisturizing ingredients, so your hands are less likely to dry out with your new cleansing option.

Used to antibacterial soap and worried about germs? Consider this: studies have consistently found that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular formulations, and could even be harmful. The plain fact is that washing with regular soap for just 20 seconds kills harmful bacteria. Since Triclosan, the antibacterial agent used in most popular anti-bac soaps, takes around 30 seconds to off the little buggers, you can see, totally not necessary. So grab some shower gel, smell good and be clean!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week's Sales:
Smashbox & Too Faced Friends and Family
Ricky's Memorial Day Sale & More!

10% off your entire purchase this week online or at any of your favorite Ricky's locations! Just print out your coupon or use coupon code MD10 online - PLUS, this week only, get FREE SHIPPING on any order $25 or more! Offer expires May 31, 2011.

Now through Friday, May 27th (midnight PST) get 20% off any purchase with code FF2011.

Semi-annual Friends & Family sale gets you 20% off purchases now through May 26, 2011. Use code FF2011S at checkout (spend over $35 and shipping is free too!)

Monday: Michael Todd Cosmetics

Beauty and Fragrance Gift Boutique Always Open

Ends Tuesday: Designer Haircare Solutions
Ends Wednesday: Designer Fragrance
Monday: Skincare Solutions featuring Yes to Carrots, This Works and more.

If you're not a member yet, click here for an invite and we can both earn a £10 voucher!

Monday: Freeze 24-7
Tuesday: Macadamia Hair Oil
Wednesday: QuickTrim
Thursday: Three Custom Color Specialists, Bremenn Research Labs Skincare
Friday: Beauty Gadget Event

Monday: Pangea Organics

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stila Friends & Family

Now through Tuesday, log on to and get 20% off and free shipping on your entire order! The offer isn't good on "last call" items or with any other offers, and can only be used once per person, but otherwise use code FRIENDS11 at checkout and your discount will be automatically applied. This deal ends on May 24th at midnight PT, so don't dawdle!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Product Review:
Kiss Everlasting French Pearl Nails

I have, for lack of a more elegant word, sucky nails. I occasionally go on polish buying sprees when a really cool new color or collection catches my eye, only to remember why I don't hassle with nails in the first place. I need two full weeks of coddling just to get my nails in condition to paint them. Thrice daily cuticle oil, wearing gloves if I so much as think of cleaning anything, and a clear coat on my nails at all times is the necessary order for me to get any respectable length- otherwise they snap or peel right off (and let's not even start about the sad state of my cuticles!) So when I was sent a pack of Kiss Everlasting French Pearl Nails, I figured, what do I have to lose?

The Everlasting French Pearl nail kit contains 28 French-tip nails with a sheer peach base and a pearlized white tip. The kits comes with just about everything you need for application, including Pink Gel Glue, a tiny orange stick and a double-sided mini file. You may also want to have some pure acetone on hand in case you goof (you'll need it to get the nails off anyway).

The most time consuming part about applying these nails for me was sizing myself. It's vital to get the correct size, if you go to small you'll be able to see the edges & it ruins the illusion that the nails are real. I also found that if you have to press the nail flat to fit your nail, you run the risk of creating a white stress mark in the plastic of the nail. It also seemed like the nails were more likely to pop up & create air bubbles once you've glued it down if it's being "stretched" to fit, so it's a better idea to file down the edges of a larger nail if you're struggling to find the right size. For first timers, you may want to have an extra set lying around in case you mess up- since there's only 2 sizes of each nail, there's not a ton of room for error.

Once you have your nails sized (and marked down for future reference!) the nails are pretty easy to apply. One trick I remembered the hard way is to apply your nails to your dominant hand first. I'm right handed and made the mistake of applying the nails to my left hand first. Consequently, when I went to apply nails to my right hand, I had to deal with the awkwardness of using my left hand and the added clumsiness of not being used to the new nail length.

Sizes laid out, I opened the little dropper of glue and went to work. The directions for the nails say that you should first apply glue to the Kiss nail, then apply a thin layer to your own. I found the dropper bottle very rigid, and while this did a good job of making sure the glue didn't leak or go on too heavily, it did make applying the glue more work than I think it should be. If I could have my way, I'd vote for a brush applicator (Kiss does sell a brush-on formula separately). The easy-application tabs definitely made application simple, and they snap off easily, though on some nails I had to file off the tiny nub left behind.

My only real issue with the nails seems like a catch-22. One of the things that makes the nails appear so life-like is the fact that the nail bed portion of the Kiss nail is sheer; it has about the same opacity as an actual skin-tone nail lacquer would have. This is a great concept, but the downfall is that it means any air bubbles under the nails are very apparent, and try as I might, I was simply not able to apply most of the nails without these tell-tale bubbles. I did find the orange stick that came in the kit helpful- the flat, angled side was good for smoothing out some bubbles, and it also worked well to gently pull my nail away from the skin where the glue had seeped underneath the nail.

Admittedly, I'm a novice at glue-on nails (I always favored tips as a temporary option) and I highly suspect there's a learning curve involved here. I think the prevalence of air bubbles in my Kiss mani could be caused by a few things, and I'm not ready to blame the defect on the nails themselves. As I mentioned earlier, I noticed that the curvature of the Kiss nails was more dramatic than the curve of my natural nail beds, and this could well be why I noticed some lifting in the center of the nails. Kiss does make some styles of nails for flat nail beds, so I'd be interested to see if those might be a better choice for me.

Discounting the bubbles, which I have to say ruined the illusion for me, I actually was really impressed with the way these looked. The style I tried came in the "Real Short" length, which I really liked- they were long enough to lend a graceful touch to my knobby man-hands, but short enough that I could still function (by which I mean type on my iPhone keyboard!) The tips of the nails are a non-tapered square, which I easily filed into my preferred "squoval" shape. The base color looked very natural to me, and the pearl white tips actually looked hand-painted, rather than molded into the plastic- there are small flecks of shimmer like you'd see in a nail lacquer, and the tip is even raised a little bit like it would be if it were a layer of polish.

Kiss nails are widely available at places like CVS, Target, Ulta, and Walgreens, and retail for around $6.99, so they're definitely worth a try if you're looking for an inexpensive, quick alternative to the salon.

The products featured in this post were submitted for review consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you- my readers- and to myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). The opinions expressed in my product reviews are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the review influenced by the featured company.

Monday, May 16, 2011

NYX 12th Anniversary Debacle

This past Saturday I was one of (I'm guessing) thousands of people who got an email from NYX Cosmetics announcing a phenomenal 12th Anniversary Sale. For 12 hours only, a select range of items on NYX's website would be available for the unbelievable price of $1.20. I, like many others, set my alarm and was on the site at full noon on the dot...and...nothing. The site overloaded so quickly, I wasn't even able to refresh it to load the sale prices when the clock struck 12. I tried, and tried...and tried...and tried...and still, nothing.

Due to the modern miracle of mobile internet (and the fact that I had relatively nothing to do yesterday) I was on the NYX site literally (like, literally literally) from the beginning of the sale until the bitter (and I do mean bitter) end- over 24 hours when all was said & done. Six hours into the sale, when it should have been more than half-way to over, no one I'd spoken to had even been able to log in. At some point, it was announced by NYX that the sale would be extended, and instead of ending at midnight, it would continue until noon the next day. So we all kept trying.

Luckily, I'm able to subsist on very little sleep when I need to, so I sat with a book and my laptop and pressed refresh for hours on end. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, the page partially loaded for me and I was able to begin shopping. After several hours and what seemed like thousands of hits to the refresh button, my cart was filled and I was ready to checkout. But no.

I tried for about 5 hours to get past my cart page, and never even saw the NYX checkout page load. According to NYX's Twitter representative, "several hundred" people were able to make purchases. No, Really...

Now let's ignore the oddly placed apostrophes in those tweets and think about what this means. NYX has over 56,000 people following their Facebook page, so it's safe to assume most of those people knew about the sale. We'll never know how many emails were sent out, but NYX sure does- and it seems like a mighty big oversight to tell tens of thousands of people about a sale that you're only equipped to honor to several hundred people.

It's pure conjecture, but let's say "several hundred" means 500 people (I doubt it was much more than that or they would have said "almost a thousand"). Looking at the number of Facebook fans (at this moment, 56,398) That means less than 1% of their readership was able to participate in the sale. After asking my 1000+ Twitter followers if any were able to complete a sale, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON stepped forward to say they had. I also notice thousands of comments on the NYX Facebook page; I only saw ONE that mentions a competed sale.

Believe it or not, I actually wasn't mad at all through all of the site crashes and slow loading. Once I got on to the site, I was pleased with how much was included in the sale and how little had sold out. Then I started reading the tactlessly worded responses NYX was sending out on Twitter, and, even worse, hearing accounts of horribly rude customer service interaction when frustrated customers called NYX. What finally set me off was when I realized, 15 minutes before the sale was scheduled to end, that NYX wasn't going to attempt to honor their offer for those of us that literally spent all day trying to give them our money. When the Twitter rep posted that the sale would be ending at noon and that any sales not completed by then would not be honored, it was basically like NYX had just looked me in the face and said "your time isn't worth anything to us, so fuck off and deal with it."

Now, in a career spanning over a decade managing retail cosmetics, I've planned events and promotions and I know how uncontrollable things like this can be. I've dealt with irate customers and know that the customer is not, in fact, always right. HOWEVER, I firmly believe that what sets companies apart is how they deal with things when things don't go as planned.

NYX has offered a 50% code as retribution for this mess, but in my opinion (which seems to jibe with the prevailing pubic opinion) this is not honoring the spirit of their advertised promotion.
During the sale, my 37-item cart subtotaled $44.40. After the sale ended the site was rebooted and the sale prices were cleared from the system, taking my cart up to $248.50. This means that my original savings was around 82%. To purchase the products in my cart, even after a 50% discount, would cost me almost three times as much . This is simply not acceptable.

I hate to go all "the truth is out there" with this one, but after seeing the company's response to this mess, I have to wonder if there isn't a little more to this fiasco than meets the eye. I find it unfathomable that NYX did not anticipate these issues, especially after a similar fate fell upon Sleek cosmetics last fall (the Sleek sale garnered a lot of attention, and I'm sure NYX was aware of the event). Yet where the Sleek response, botched as it has been, was to attempt to honor the original deal, NYX has made no such concession. It seems to me that NYX promoted a sale they had to know they might not have the resources to handle, only to offer a lesser retribution when the entire thing fell through. That, folks, is called "bait and switch" and it's illegal.

I feel I have been mislead, and I have filed a complaint for internet-related false advertising with the Federal Trade Commission, the California Attorney General, and the Better Business Bureau. I understand that many people feel like they've already contributed enough time to this- but really, how much time have you spent reading this & other posts, talking about it on Twitter, Facebook, etc...spend another 10 minutes & tell your story to someone who may be able to make a difference! For reference, here's NYX's info (you'll need it to complete the forms):

NYX Cosmetics
2230 S. Tubeway Ave
Commerce, CA 90040

If you're stumped about what to say, contact me (there's a button for that up at the right hand corner of the page) & I'll forward you a copy of my letter to use as a template for your own!

I sincerely hope NYX reconsiders it's current course of actions swiftly and somehow finds a way to honor the $1.20 price for those of us who spent hours of our valuable time trying to patronize them. I will not be using the 50% code, and if this situation is not rectified, NYX has lost at least one customer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Week's Sales:
Michael Todd Cosmetics, Pixi, kaplanMD and more!

Get 10 free mineral shadows of your choice with any purchase over $25. Enter code MINTEN at checkout, offer expires May 23rd, 2011.

Now through Friday, May 20th, get 15% off of all skin care items with the code glowingskin. Offer valid at and free-standing stores.

Monday: Michael Todd Cosmetics
Thursday: Sweet Scents- Bath & Body

Always Open: Beauty & Fragrance Gift Boutique

Monday: Pop and Pixi Cosmetics

If you're not a member yet, click here for an invite and we can both earn a £10 voucher!

Editors Closet
Friday: Isomers Skin Care

Wednesday: H2Pro Hair Tools
Thursday: By Terry

Monday: Rock & Republic Beauty, kaplanMD
Tuesday: RapidLash, Barielle
Wednesday: Skinn Cosmetics
Thursday: Lotus Cosmetics
Friday: Beauty Problem Solvers, Sprayology, Lash Advance

Sunday: Biotherm
Monday: Deep Sea Cosmetics

Sunday: skincando
Sunday: E.V.A., Jacadi Fragrances
Tuesday: Not Soap, Radio
Wednesday: Cala

Quick Tip: Buy One Get One...Or Not.

If you know what the acronym BOGO means, this post is for you! If the sight of those letters followed by a 50% gets your heart racing but occasionally leads you to over-indulge, here's a more logical way to look at it that may help you abstain when your wallet is groaning.

"Buy One Get One Half-Off" sounds great, but in reality it's a fairly average deal- just with a little marketing pizazz to make it seem more than it really is. In reality, every BOGO deal in existence comes with a stipulation that limits your actual savings: *Free item must be of equal or lesser value. Sound familiar?

What this means is that, no matter what the cost of your items, you'll never get more than 25% off your total purchase. Time for some math:

You buy a foundation for $10 and a powder for $10. The first item you pay full price, $10. The second, you save a whopping 50% so you pay $5. That makes your discounted total $15. Without the discount, you'd have paid $20. Your discount, $5, is 25% of the original total, thus, you saved 25%.

And this is a best case scenario. Say your more expensive (full price) item is $15 and your less expensive (50% off) product is only $5. That means you're paying $17.50 for what would normally be $20. Your savings? A totally not-head-turning 12.5%

Now, don't get me wrong, I like a sale as much as the next gal (more, if you ask most of my family and close friends. And casual acquaintances). But a company needs to do a little better than 25% to turn my head. If it's something you were planning on purchasing anyway, then it's your lucky day, but otherwise, don't feel as if you're missing out on the deal of the century if you decide to pass!

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Week's Sales: Lorac, Isomers, Sk1N, and more!

Monday: Isomers

Monday: Ban.Do
Always: Gift Boutique Beauty & Fragrance

Ends Wednesday: Designer Cosmetics- Elizabeth Arden, Stila, Benefit & more.
Starts Wednesday: Philips Sonicare & Yotuel

If you're not a member yet, click here for an invite and we can both earn a £10 voucher!

Monday: LORAC, BriteSmile
Tuesday: Being True
Wednesday: VIOlight, Creative Hair Tools
Thursday: ME! bath, Divaderme
Ends Wednesday: Suncare
Ends Friday: Summer Essentials Pop-up Shop featuring Summer Nails by Ginger & Liz

Wednesday: Sk1N Probiotic Systems

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beauty Buzz Words:
Natural Moisturizing Factors

Our skin is protected by a natural barrier, which is composed of lipids and components called Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs). It's this barrier that holds moisture in and keeps bacteria out. A weakened barrier can result in irritation, inflammation, moisture loss and a hospitable environment to bacteria. This can mean acne, wrinkles, and dry, rough, flaky skin.

Natural Moisturizing Factors in skin care mimic the skin's natural structure, and have been proven to help repair barrier damage. These ingredients are virtually identical to the naturally occurring components in your skin. Since your skin can't tell the difference between what's naturally there & what you're adding, this means NMFs have very little potential to irritate.

Ingredients to look for include amino acids (like arginine, glycine, lycine, and tyrosine), ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids (like glycerides and sterols, glycerin and hyaluronic acid (aka sodium hyaluronate.)
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