Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nail polish haul

A quick post on the nail polishes that I picked up! On a Facebook group for selling things at my university, there were a couple of girls selling nail polish. I received these three, which was really the main reason that I bought them (both girls threw in a couple of extra polishes, like some "Dior" (I put it in quotes because from the quality, I am not sure how authentic it was) and a random off-brand polish. 

All in all, I got these three polishes and three other polishes, as well as a bonus costume necklace, for $10. Considering that these three alone would retail for around $24, I definitely think it was a steal! Plus, none of these polishes have been used that much, they were basically full. 

I know people who don't like to buy used polishes, but I don't think it's a big deal. If it's thickened, as old nail polish that hasn't been used in awhile often does, Seche makes a great restoring product. If you're really concerned, you could always clean the brushes in Acetone before using it (I have never done that, so don't take my word for it). 

From left to right: Essie Luxeffects in Stroke of Brilliance, OPI All That Razz-Berry, and OPI Tutti Frutti Tonga. 

I'm not sure how I feel about the All That Razz-Berry because I'm not a huge fan of deep purple-reds like that, but the Tutti Frutti Tonga and Stroke of Brilliance are just my type. Expect to see a design with them soon! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 2014: Target Beauty Box--For Her

Target has beauty boxes that go on sale every once in a while (monthly or bimonthly?), and this time I managed to snag a couple! The boxes differ from subscription services like Ipsy or Birchbox because you have to order them when they go on sale on target.com; they're not automatically sent to you. This December box was $10, limited edition, and is currently out of stock online. This was my first Target Beauty Box, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The website said that it has a value of $50. We shall see! 

The packaging. Very pretty and holiday themed, but in the end, it's just a cardboard box. 

The two cards included in the box. The white one on the left has a list and description of the 7 (!) full-sized products included,as well as two coupons: One for 20% off Women's Apparel on Target.com, and one for $3 off a Beauty purchase of $15+, either online or off. The red one on the right is another coupon, this one for $10 off a purchase of any size on Dermstore.com. I've never ordered from there before, but a free $10? Hard to resist. 

The products! The eyeshadow was flashed out, which I didn't realize until after I had already unpacked everything in the box. But this box had 8 products, most of them full-sized as I mentioned earlier. Most of these are drugstore products or products from Target's beauty section, but just from looking at it (without adding up any of the value yet), it looks like a much better value than the Ipsy glambag or Birchboxes (I say this having been a long-time subscriber to both of them). 

COVERGIRL Eye Enhancers in 286 smokey nudes. The website does not list the price since it's not sold online, but at my local Target, it was $5.99. It seems to run between $4.99-$5.99, but we'll just go with the local Target price. Value: $5.99
ChapStick Total Hydration 3-in-1 Lip Care in Sweet Peach. This is a Target exclusive. It smells incredible, and it actually works on my lips to moisturize, which is surprising because I have only ever found one chapstick that works. Value: $2.99
Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum. This is a .1 fl oz sample, so it rings in at about: Value: $2.99
Clairol Hair Food Moisturizing Hair Mask in Apricot Honey. This has an awesome smell and it left my hair feeling incredibly soft and smooth, even more so than my conditioner and previous Aveda hair mask. I will definitely re-purchase this in the future, if I ever run out. It's a 6.3 oz bottle and you don't need that much, even with my thick and long hair. Value: $11.99 
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. My picture makes it look much bigger than it is, it's actually 20 mL whereas the full-size bottle for sale is 80 mL. Even this small size has a lot in it, and I can't wait to try it. Laneige is a very popular South Korean brand, and I love Korean skincare products, so it's neat to see that Target carries it. Value: $5.75

L'Oreal Butterfly Intenza Mascara in Black Noir. I have not tried this out yet, so no idea on how it is, but it claims to "[give] instantly glamorous lashes with a formula that stretches and lengthens to create the perfect winged-out look." Value: $7.99

Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer in Strawberry Topaz. I actually already own a couple of these glosses, so I was happy to add this to my collection. It has a beautiful red color that I love in my lip products, and it's not overly sticky. Plus it's beautiful and shimmery in the tube. Value: $7.99

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir. This eyeliner is incredible. I tried it on when I got it, and it stayed almost the whole day, even when I rubbed at my eyes (the pain of wearing contacts). It's a crayon liner, but thinner than most other ones. The color is very intense. Value: $6.10

All in all, this box was amazing. I'm glad that I was able to grab one before it went out of stock! Although the products were not super incredibly high-end stuff, and it didn't include any nail polish, it was still a great value: worth $61.79, much more than they had advertised! I also bought the Target Beauty Box For Her Natural Version, so I will post a review of that soon!

(This box was purchased by me, and all thoughts and opinions are my own. The links lead to the Target site, as that is where the box was purchased, but none of the links are affiliate.) 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Black Friday Haul: Sephora Part 2

Part 2 of my Sephora haul from Black Friday shopping! (Part 1 is here). Sephora has the most incredibly makeup deals during Black Friday, usually involving awesome samples. This order was much smaller than the first one that I posted, but it still wasn't a bad haul. Here is what I ordered:

Anna Sui Mini Coffret. I have the Anna Sui Forbidden Affair rollerball that I actually ordered last Black Friday. I love Anna Sui's scents, so I had to get this set, which includes .14oz sizes of Flight of Fancy, Fairy Dance, La Vie de Boheme, Secret Wish, and Forbidden Affair. The bottles are glass and the toppers are plastic. Behind the bottles is the packaging that it came in; this is another one of the gift-ready sets that Sephora offers! It was $50, which I think was a good price for owning samples of Anna Sui perfumes, in a form that looks fancier than the tiny samples or rollerballs. 

The three free samples that come with every order. I chose Lancôme NUDE MIRACLEMarc Jacobs Daisy, and KP Duty Body Scrub. I always try to test out all of their perfume samples but they sadly did not have many at the time. 

They had a code for different grab bags, but by the time that I placed the order, a lot of the Black Friday specials were out or the codes had disappeared. Since I am obsessed with manicure and nail polish, I figured I would try the Manicure Bag they were offering. I probably would go for one like I ordered with the other package instead, this one was a disappointment. 

Actually, I take that back. It wasn't bad, I just would not order it again. I always carry around different beauty bags (since I can never remember to switch the bag, and I have so many products that it doesn't matter too much), so these are the perfect size to toss in your bag. I might re-order on the nail remover wipes, they're just so handy. I remember having to keep a full-size bottle of acetone and a bag of cotton balls in my locker at school because colored nail polish was against the school's uniform policy, but it was hard to resist (and I was already blogging at that time). This would solve that problem! Plus, if your nail polish is chipping (like mine currently is) and it bothers you when you don't have a bottle of remover handy, this is a quick fix. 

So that is that for makeup splurges! I paid $53 with tax and (free) shipping, so I think that overall it was not a bad deal. 

(No affiliate links are included in this post, I just wanted to provide an easy way for you guys to check out the products. All products listed were paid for by me.) 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sephora Black Friday haul: part 1

I am a major shopaholic, especially when it seems like a really good deal. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are some of my favorite things.

I did all of my Black Friday shopping online because a) I'm not crazy enough to go to crowded malls and b) I like to overthink my purchases. 

I order a lot of Christmas gifts at this time, but since I'll be living alone next year, I also bought a lot of kitchen essentials. I have made it a tradition to splurge on makeup from Sephora every year though! 

This is the haul that I was most excited for (I made two orders). 

A quick list of everything, with small descriptions and also the value (not the price I paid), starting with the ones that I paid for: 

  • Hello Kitty The Red Bow Beauty Diaries ($49 value). If you know me at all, you'll know that I am a huge Hello Kitty fan. It was listing at $49 on the site which I wasn't very eager to pay, but it suddenly changed to $25 when I added it to the cart! Lucky day. It comes in a gorgeous box, and would be a perfect gift for a Hello Kitty lover!
  • Tocca Beauty A Touch of Luxury Gift Set. (~$22 value) This was a special gift set that was being sold on Black Friday, which is now permanently out of stock. It includes two 1 fl oz. hand creams and 2 0.10 fl oz fragrance rollerballs, one in Giulietta and one in Stella. Although the gift set is out of stock, you can buy the hand creams here and the perfume rollerballs here
  • Shiseido Honey Cake in Green ($9.50) My mom uses the Shiseido brand, so it was very common to see the products in my house. I actually just needed something to push me over the free shipping minimum, and since I am planning a spa care-esque gift for her, this did the trick nicely. 
The three free samples that I ordered:

  • Prada Luna Rossa ($2 value) They actually accidentally sent me two, which was a nice surprise. I love perfume samples, and some reviewers on Sephora had actually said that this scent seemed more unisex than "pour homme." 
  • Agave Oil Treatment ($1 value) Because if you're not helping your hair, you're hurting it. 
And then finally, the freebies that came with my order: 

  • DKNY MYNY Rollerball ($2 value) This was because I had finally reached 100 points! I basically only order once a year, so thankfully they accumulate... otherwise I would never know what the Beauty Insider prizes are like. 

  • 2014 Make Up For Ever Birthday Set that includes their Smoky Extravagant Mascara and Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick. You receive this if you are a Beauty Insider and it is around your birthday. My birthday was actually at the beginning of November and I did not want to go pick up my gift myself, but I did not expect that the time still had not passed. So yay! 

I think that Sephora has the best Black Friday deals, because who doesn't love bags full of makeup samples (which is why I subscribe to different beauty subscription services). I paid $54.59 after tax, for a box that was worth around $127, give or take. Not bad! 

By the way, none of these links are affiliate links. I just wanted you to be able to find out about the product quickly, instead of having to search yourself. Stay tuned for the second haul (which was much smaller, but still quite awesome). I usually take my time going through beauty products when I buy them new, so if you want to see how something works out for me, just ask! 

And yes, the layout changed! I am working on re-vamping the blog and making it into something portfolio-worthy, which I just have not had the energy for since school started. Now that the semester is winding down (I have finals next week!), I will be posting more regularly. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Product Review: Swipe single-use deodorant wipe

I received a new product to try last week, and it is amazing. It's Swipe, a "pocket-sized, biodegradable, single-use deodorant wipe." Since school started just two months ago, it is super convenient to toss in your bag or to use before or after sports practice or gym when you don't have time to shower before moving on. It smells incredible, because it has tea tree extract in it, and it does not leave your skin feeling sticky like some other wipes do. 

The back of the box. 
It's affordable, too. You can buy it at Swipe's website for $2.99 for a pack of 3, $6.99 for a pack of 10, and $14.99 for a pack of 25. 

It's much more portable and discreet than carrying around a stick of deodorant, body spray, or any of those other packs of body wipes. Plus, since they're in individual packages, you don't have to worry about it smashing (like deodorant) or filling up your bag with the scent. 

I don't usually gush, but I seriously love these. It's so easy to use, fresh smelling, and inexpensive. Seriously perfect for the random hot fall weather we've been having. Slip it in your kids bags, or add it in your gym bags now that sports have started up again, or add it to late start-of-the-school-year gifts! 

(This product was sent to me for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own). 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ipsy glambag Review: July 2014

Not sure how I'm feeling about Ipsy Glambag. I have been getting it for almost a year, and I love the cosmetic bag and most of the products, but there's a lot of repeats. Birchbox, even though they ended up giving me a lot of cheap products towards the end, had a lot of different brands working with them. I think it's time to try a new beauty subscription service. I would prefer one around $10 like Birchbox and Ipsy, any suggestions? 

This month's bag. So cute, a pink square bag with a scalloped edge. 

This month, there were five products. Nail polish, lip product, hair product, tanning oil (???), and concealer/liquid eyeshadow. I don't really use hair product (and I've put that on my ipsy profile), and I 100% do not use tanning oil, so both of those products are kind of useless. But I am always game for lip products, nail polish, and concealer. 

Pixi Beauty Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm in Unique Pink. I like the color of this, and I always love lip pencil balms like this. The website says that it is $14 for a full-size crayon, I can't find specifics online, but it appears to be about half the size of one from the site, so value: $7. 

Whet nail polish in Facetious. A dark blue, very pretty, just my kind. Very nice, I tested it on one nail and it lasted for 3 days without chipping, and before I took it off, there was only minor tip wear. Value: $15 on the website. 

Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil SPF 08. I don't use Tanning Oil, mostly because I hate being tan and also I don't like going outside in the sun. I'll probably trade it off or give it away to someone. To me, this is worthless, but on the website the value: about $2. 

Marrakesh Endz by Marrakesh Hair Care. Split ends drive me nuts, so something that claims to repair split ends is a golden product for me. No promises on whether it actually works or not just yet, though. But it smells incredible and makes my hair soft. Value: $5.99 

Bare Minerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow in Barely Nude. Not a huge fan of cream eyeshadow because it usually smears a lot, but I tried this one and it's not too bad so far. Value: about $6. 

Verdict: The overall value of the bag was about $36, which is pretty good considering that it only cost $10. I think I will be waiting another month to see how the next bag is before I consider cancelling and switching to a new service; I feel like Ipsy is really limited, they seem to only have a few companies working with them; I've gotten Pixi products so many times in the past year. Any suggestions? Or recommendations for a bigger beauty service, preferably around the same cost? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunflower nail art!

I have some new nail art! It's been ages, but I had a ton of down time today and I was in the mood to do some nail art! I browsed Pinterest (Pinterest.com/rakuzen) and found a cute sunflower ish nail art.

The cast of characters: 
From left: China Glaze Agent Lavendar, Zoya Arizona, Zoya Wednesday, Zoya Shelby, Revlon Dreamer, OPI DS Illuminate, and a Sinful Colors yellow striper. 

First step, two coats of each color. These colors show up on my blog a lot because they're basically the only spring/summery ones that I have. Most are dark and more suitable for fall. 

Then using the brown color, paint a small circle in the corner. Using a yellow striper (it was yellow, although it did turn green on the middle finger), draw petals around the brown circle. Finish with top coat and voila!

Super simple design, but I love it! Has just enough sparkle for me. It was nice to get back into nail art too, I haven't had much time or energy lately with working and taking classes all summer. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Product Review: Gerard Cosmetics' BB+ Illumination

I have to tell you guys about an awesome new product that I got to review. This has been sitting in my drafts waiting to be written for a little while, but I like to try products for a few weeks to make sure that I have a good review and not just a snap decision about them. But I have been using this almost every day (which says a lot, because a lot of new products I will try for a week or two, but then it'll be too much of a hassle/I no longer like it and I will stop using it), and I think it's time to share. 

Introducing the BB Plus Illumination cream from Gerard Cosmetics. BB cream has been all the rage in America lately, so American companies have been jumping on the bandwagon to produce their own lines. Before this, I had mainly been using BB creams from skin79 and other Korean brands, since they've been producing it longer and have perfected it. I tried a few American BB creams but I didn't really like any of them. They were mostly either too heavy (almost foundation-like, which BB cream is not supposed to be like) or they were basically tinted moisturizer re-packaged to say BB cream on the bottle. But this one is not like any of the other ones on the American market. 

Not this one. The description from the Whitening Lightning website says that it is "creamy but sheer," just like a good BB cream should be. And it is. It's not sticky and heavy, nor is it too liquidy to apply well. It includes "light reflecting particles and golden shimmer," which is supposed to suit every skin tone or type. It looks awesome. Usually I do not really like shimmery products, just because in the wrong light it can make you look greasy instead of glowing. But this product makes your skin look amazing. It is super easy to apply (the site says that it "can be used alone, as a cream highlighter or mixed with your favorite liquid foundation", lightweight (perfect for the summer), and has wonderful coverage. 

And it comes with a pump top, which makes it so much better than most of the BB creams on the American market (which usually have the flip-top lid with the squeeze bottles). Since a little goes a long way, you won't accidentally squeeze out way more than you need and waste good BB cream. Plus, it's a lot more hygienic. It's made in the USA, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. 

Seriously, I swear on it. I am in love with the way that this covers my skin and makes my skin glow. It is available here on the Whitening Lightning website for $36 a bottle, which is comparable to the Korean brands, but you don't have to pay a ridiculous shipping fee or worry that the product is not authentic (all of which are reasons I was looking for a good brand in America.) 

(This product was sent to me for review, but all opinions are my own.) 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Product Review: Skindinavia Makeup Primer Spray

  I don't know about you, but in my city today it was 99% humidity and around 90 degrees. I work in a restaurant kitchen where it is at least TEN DEGREES hotter than it is outside. Add to that the fact that I have to run around like a chicken with my head cut off and I end the day sweaty and disgusting (tmi, maybe, but this is important to the rest of the post). Most of the time, I just skip make up because no matter what primer I use (and I have tried A. Lot.) or how often I blot my face during the day, my makeup runs and I look like a not-at-all hot mess. So my choices are looking like I'm dead (without makeup) or like someone dumped water and oil on my face. 

And in steps the Skindinavia makeup primer spray. Cue angels singing. This product is a miracle worker, and I am being 100000% honest right now. The one on the left is the makeup primer spray and the one on the right is Skindinavia Makeup Primer Spray Oil Control, which is best for oily skin. The original one is tested for sensitive skin, so it works best on either sensitive or normal skin. It is paraben-free and hypoallergenic, and silicone-free (which is wonderful news for your pores, especially because once you try this, you'll want to use it every day). 

The best part about the Skindinavia primer is that it is a SPRAY. I am really lazy when it comes to putting on my makeup, and slathering on a bunch of different products at night and in the morning is not my idea of fun. Plus, I'm usually a late riser and I have to rush to wherever I'm going, so I don't have time to evenly apply most primers, then wait for it to dry enough to be able to apply my makeup on top.

I find that waiting about a minute, or until the spray is dry to the touch on your skin, works best, but I have even done it hastily and applied makeup while it was still slightly tacky. It didn't last quite as long that way, but it still didn't make me look like a monster. Plus, spraying it on literally takes less than 15 seconds, so there really is no excuse not to apply it.

It has no scent, which is great because recently I've become very sensitive to scents and they tend to give me headaches. After it dries, it doesn't leave your skin sticky like a lot of primers that I've tried. I don't need to blot my face every ten minutes, and I don't have to worry about constantly checking the mirror to make sure that my makeup is still where it is supposed to be on my face.

Plus, the cost is a huge perk. A 4oz bottle is only $35, while an 8 oz. bottle is only $49. If you think that's steep (which, I'll admit, normally I would think so too), just remember that after you buy this, you will absolutely not have to spend so much money on blotting sheets, makeup (because you have to constantly re-apply), or testing other primers. Believe me, it really is worth it to be able to wear your makeup even in the heat of summer without having to worry about how you look ten minutes later.

This product is available at skindinavia.com and was sent to me for review, but all opinions in this post are 100% my own.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Father's Day Gift Ideas: FragranceNet.com

Father's Day is in two weeks! If your dad is anything like mine, he is impossible to shop for. Most of the time, I skate by without really getting him anything because there's nothing that seems perfect out there. If my dad sees something that he likes (such as a lawnmower, tool set, etc. all the usual Father's Day gift ideas) he usually buys it without hesitation, so I can't just get something he's been eyeing. Also, he has basically everything within my price range that he could possibly want so, that leaves very few options.

One thing that I never really think of gifting to people is cologne/perfume. It is just really hard to find a fragrance that someone will actually want to wear, especially if you're like me and you don't live near a perfume store where you can smell the fragrances before you buy it. But FragranceNet makes it super easy to pick out a cologne that dad would probably like! 

"Go for Polo Blue Sport men's perfume if you are looking for an exquisite masculine fragrance that can be used on any occasion and one that all your friends will envy. Recommended for casual use and launched in 2012, Polo Blue Sport perfume was composed by the house of Ralph Lauren and features woodsy notes of sandalwood, fern, and oakmoss, and for extra freshness, they're accented by hints of mandarin orange and sage." 

This is the description for Ralph Lauren's Polo Blue Sport for Men that comes from FragranceNet.com, and the feature that changed my mind about gifting fragrance. Instead of just guessing who would like it from the notes about the ingredients (do oakmoss and fern have a special scent? If they do, I have no idea what it is), it gives you a good guess about who would prefer it ("an exquisite masculine fragrance... recommended for casual use.")

Another awesome thing is the price. This bottle has an MSRP value of $59. However, FragranceNet sells it for only $45.19, or $36.15 if you use a coupon available on their site! The coupon is super easy to get, all you have to do is put in your e-mail and you will receive a 20% off coupon. That is an incredibly good deal! But the next one has an even better deal attached. 

Dolce & Gabbana "The One: Sport" For Men. FragranceNet's description says: 

"This boldly unique fragrance for men was launched by world famous design house Dolce & Gabbana in 2012. Warm and spicy yet woody and aquatic, The One Sport for men is a casual, sporty fragrance that he will want to wear every day. Designed for the active, modern gladiator, this fragrance opens with top notes of rosemary that combine with heart notes of Sequoia wood and dark base notes of musk and patchouli for a go-everywhere scent that captivates and invigorates."

Since this cologne is described as a "casual, sporty fragrance... designed for the active, modern gladiator," I figured that it would be a good choice for my dad. Once again, if I was looking on another site that said "top notes of rosemary... heart notes of Sequoia wood and dark base notes of musk and patchouli" only, I would have just given up, because I have no idea how any of those things smell alone. 

The bottle is so sleek and cool. And again, the price for this is killer. Originally, the MSRP for "Dolce &Gabbana: The One Sport" is $78, which is crazy. I know that it is designer and everything, but still. That is the other reason that I don't usually gift cologne/perfume because it is way too expensive for something that I will never use. However, FragranceNet sells it for $46.19, which is already super reasonable. But like I said, they also have a coupon that you can use, which will bring your price down to $36.95. Which is less than half the price of the retail value. Which is insane. 

Since Father's Day is a little while away, I have not gifted either of them to my dad. I did spray some on a tester sheet for my dad to smell, and success! He liked both of them. 

So don't be afraid of gifting cologne if you use FragranceNet. The description makes choosing a cologne pretty easy, and the pricing is so reasonable. Also, they offer free shipping under $59, so you will totally have enough left over to buy one for yourself! Even if you don't want to buy cologne, then you can always get a gift set, which they have tons of, or even just decide to buy something for yourself! They have so many different brands which is awesome. 

(This was sent to me for review).