Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 2012 Wrap Up + Mini Rant

July was possibly one of the most eventful yet relaxing months I've had this year so far. Summer classes simmered to a close at the middle of the month and I enrolled in driving classes. I met up with a lot of friends who I hadn't seen in awhile over lunches and dinners. If I had a point and shoot there would have been many more photos but alas I'm not trekking around the city and back with a bulky slr.

The photo above was taken at the end of a long day at the beach with old friends. We had to make sure we went to the beach at least once this summer so we planned early! We drove out to Jones Beach the day before Independence Day and the weather was amazing. The sun was shining and the waves were refreshingly cold. The best part was that there wasn't a whole lot of people on the beach so we had no trouble finding a place to set out our beach towels. I've been lusting over the graphic tees from Brandy Melville but I'm curbing my shopping so I cut up an old abercrombie kids tee. What better place to wear my little creation than the beach?

Summer blockbusters always get me and in July I watched Ted and The Dark Knight Rises. I really wanted to watch Spiderman but the timing didn't work out for me so alas I've given up on seeing Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone together on the big screen. Ted isn't a movie I'd normally pay to see at the theaters but I got a few chuckles out of it. The Dark Knight Rises was amazing and I could not get over how gorgeous Anne Hathaway looked. I really hope there will be another installment in the Batman series. 

The highlight of July was a three day trip to Boston with the boyfriend. We had never been to Boston and never taken a trip by ourselves either so this was a trip of firsts. Boston was one of the more practical destinations for us since it's relatively easy to get to from New York ($15 buses from Chinatown!) and we don't need a car to get around. Unfortunately almost all the hotels in the area are quite expensive, or at least not wallet friendly for us college kids. We decided to stay at a hostel instead, another first for the both of us. I was incredibly worried about dirty sheets and bugs all over the place before arriving.

But lo and behold, the room was clean and the only problem was the lack of air conditioning. We happened to pick the three days when the East coast was having a heatwave. At home I do not have an air conditioner in my room and I've been sleeping in my room for the whole month of July so I could deal with the hostel. My boyfriend on the other hand did not fare so well. For $35 a night for each of us, it wasn't totally horrible but we both agreed we'll probably be sticking to hotels in the future. 

On our first evening we strolled around the neighborhood as we were too tired to journey back to the downtown area. With the help of Yelp and some googling, my boyfriend found a quaint little Italian restaurant which had a sweet, romantic atmosphere. I honestly forgot the name of the restaurant and had to google it just now but it's called Trattoria Toscana. Thank you Google. The servers were obliging and I didn't feel the rush that New York usually imparts.

We shared an appetizer of mixed crostinis which were generously topped. My favorite was probably the simple tomato crostini but the chicken pâté was nice too.

My entree was the penne alla carrettiera, essentially tomato pasta. The pasta was al dente and the sauce was good but it wasn't a particularly interesting dish (my fault for ordering it, I suppose). I only ate about a third of it and my boyfriend finished the rest along with his risotto. When the weather is too hot I usually lose my appetite so I didn't eat much during this trip. That would probably be my biggest annoyance during the whole three days because meal times were difficult for me to handle. 

The next morning we walked to Fenway Park to take a tour of the stadium. I am not a baseball fan by any means but I appreciate architecture and history so both of us loved the tour. Our tour guide was a young kid who was actually younger than us. He had been going to Fenway since he was a baby so he really felt attached to the park. I highly recommend the tour if you visit Boston.

Next we took the T (Boston's public transportation system) to the New England Aquarium. Let me just say that I was very excited to take the T for the trip because I think you can tell a lot about a city by it's transportation. I think I'm so used to the constant construction and delays on the complicated New York City MTA that the T was too simple for me to grasp. Boston is a pretty small town and if the weather wasn't so blistering hot, we probably could have walked to all of our destinations. The whole Charlie Card or Charlie Pass system doesn't really make sense to me.... Why not just have the Charlie Card and save paper than have two types of passes.... When we were heading back to the hostel at around 10 p.m., we were the only ones waiting on the platform while the opposite side was full of people. Never have I ever been the only one on a subway platform in New York. I'm assuming most Bostonians drive in from surrounding neighborhoods to go to work.

As for the aquarium, it was smaller than I expected as I believe all the live animal exhibits were located in a single building. The number of groups of small children were quite overwhelming and the place was pretty packed in general. Also, admission is over $20 per person which I thought was quite expensive. Hopefully they reinvest that money into the resident animals or research.


Next we wandered to Quincy Market and by this time it was scorching. We strolled through the interiors of Faneuil Market and Quincy Market hoping there would be air conditioning but no luck. The halls were lined with overpriced food stalls and tourist galore.

I thought we may as well pick up a cup of clam chowder and a lobster roll since we were in New England but I was very mistake. The chowder was decent, not bad but not the best I've ever had. The lobster roll was a complete ripoff as they barely cut into the bread so the meager shreds of lobster meat only sat on the huge bun. There was barely any lobster and it wasn't high quality meat. I was very disappointed and I can't recommend purchasing any food from Faneuil or Quincy. 

For dinner we dropped by Durgin Park and I think the air conditioning and ice water were much more welcome than the food. Don't get me wrong, the food was good but when it's hot I only need water. My boyfriend and I almost always order calamari if it's on a menu so that was our appetizer. Not satisfied with the sub par lobster roll we shared earlier, my boyfriend ordered Durgin Park's special of the day lobster roll. My appetite was still M.I.A so I ordered an incredibly boring salad. I stole some bites of the lobster roll though. Their french fries were delish!

After dinner, the sun had set and a steady breeze cooled the city down to a comfortable temperature. We wandered around the city and ended up getting somewhat lost as the GPS on our phones was messing up. We managed to find the T by retracing our steps and promptly headed back to the hostel. The next morning we left quite early so nothing much to say about that day. Overall I'm fortunate to have had a chance to visit Boston and it was great to plan everything with my boyfriend. For our next trip we will probably be setting our sights a little further.

Back in the city I finally went out to The Meatball Shop with two friends. I had three of the sliders, the veggie meatball with pesto sauce, the beef meatball with parm sauce, and the special lamb meatball with mushroom sauce. The beef meatball was probably my favorite but all were scrumptious and surprisingly filling. The side of mashed potatoes was fluffy and buttery, perfection in a dish. I left a very happy and full gal and my wallet was quite happy as I paid $17, tax and tip included. Dinners usually cost around $30 for a similar restaurant.

To wrap up the month, I attended Birchbox and Caudalie's event for Birchbox subscribers at the Plaza Hotel. This was my first time attending a Birchbox event and I was extremely excited. The guests were treated to mini facials and it was a good chance to network with other beauty enthusiasts. The Caudalie Spa at the Plaza has a unique aesthetic in that there is a wine cellar in the main room. As you can see from the photo above, every guest was supposed to receive a Birchbox with some Caudalie deluxe samples. Unfortunately it was a grab and go type of system and I didn't think of getting my box early in the evening. I saw multiple people take more than one box and in the end I didn't get to take a box home which was very disappointing. A member of the Birchbox team went around and collected email addresses from the gals who didn't get a box so hopefully I receive my box in the mail soon. I have pretty high expectations from Birchbox so I think they'll pull through. If and when my box comes in, I'll definitely do a post showing you guys the contents! The box fiasco definitely put a damper on my evening and for many of the other girls too. For the people who took more than one box, you should really be ashamed of yourselves because it was a complimentary event and your greed made the night less than amazing for others. I really wish the honor system was fool proof but alas I think Birchbox should keep a better eye on their gifts. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with the mini oxygen facial treatment which felt like a long cooling mist on the skin and the entire event in general. I hope I can attend another Birchbox event in the future. Thanks Birchbox!

How was your month? Did you do any traveling or sightseeing? What were some of your favorite meals this month?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tackling Spots With La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo is one of the most highly raved about spot zappers on the online beauty community so naturally I had to give it a try since I get a new blemish about every other day.... For those of you who might be new to the whole beauty and skincare scene, La Roche Posay is a French brand that specializes in delivering quality, straight to the point skincare. There are no frills, no gimmicks, practical packaging and readily available at most pharmacies.

The Effaclar line is targeted towards people with oily and acne prone skin and Duo is supposed to treat blackheads, whiteheads and inflamed breakouts. The 40ml tube will last a long time which somewhat warrants the retail price of $36.95. I usually get my La Roche Posay products at CVS because they sometimes put the whole line on offer for $19.95. I purchased my tube for about 50% off!

Effaclar Duo looks like a white cream that has the consistency of a moisturizer. This treatment is fragrance free, paraben free, and oil free. I believe most, if not all, of La Roche Posay's products are fragrance and paraben free.

The directions say that Effaclar Duo can be used up to three times a day and works as a good makeup base. I can't attest to those claims as I only use this as the last step in my nighttime skincare routineThe formula blends in really well and is undetectable on the skin unlike some other acne medications that dry and form crusty, white residue. The LHA in the formula can make skin more sensitive to sunlight so if you decide to use this in the morning, be sure to layer a good sunscreen over top. Since I don't have to worry about the sun, I put this on top of any active breakouts or developing spots as well as on my nose where I get blackheads and whiteheads. I think this has been helping keep my enlarged pores fight acne causing bacteria.

While I can vouch for Effaclar Duo now and say that it is an effective acne treatment, I didn't always like it. The first few times I used this on my spots, my skin felt a burning sensation. This was most apparent in the lower half of my face, especially on the chin area. The formula was possibly too strong and while my skin didn't look any different (no redness or dryness), it hurt a lot.  I didn't give up and managed through the pain (probably not a brilliant idea) and my skin seems to have gotten used to the ingredients. I would warn those of you with sensitive skin to be aware that this is a serious treatment that may be irritating for you.

I can see why La Roche Posay is such a success among people who have tried hundreds of skincare products that were lackluster and quite useless. La Roche Posay actually works from my experiences with their Toleriane Soothing Protective Care, Toleriane Facial Fluid (review on this to come soon!) and Effaclar Duo. If you're fed up with skincare that's been marketed to oblivion and you just want simple, basic skincare, look no further than La Roche Posay.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Updated Skin Care Routine for Oily and Acne Prone Skin

My day and night skincare routine has gotten a total transformation since my last post about it back in February (read about it HERE). My love for quality skincare products might even trump my obsession with makeup products because unlike makeup, I apply skincare everyday. Routines and organization help calm my nerves so applying my skincare day, night, and a few weekly treatments every once in awhile is a nice way to perk up not only my skin but my mind and soul as well.

If I'm wearing makeup I always remove all of it first thing when I come home. I'm on the last few drops of the Sonia Kashuk Remove Eye Makeup Remover which is good but I still prefer Lancome's Bifacil Eye Makeup Remover (which I still have some tiny samples of but save for trips and such). I don't have a cleansing oil on hand at the moment so the Mandom BrightUp Cleansing Lotion is what I use to remove my face makeup. If I'm wearing very light makeup (i.e., a bit of skin tint or just concealer and a teeny bit of powder) and feeling incredibly lazy, I'll wipe everything off with the Equate Hydrating Cleansing Cloths. The Equate cloths are dry and you simply add some water and they turn into makeup removing wipes. The fabric is quite abrasive and I do not like using makeup wipes but some nights I'm just too tired to be bothered with the Mandom Cleansing Lotion (and I can't wait to finish up the Equate cloths and be done with wipes once and for all!). After removing the makeup I wash my face with the Origins Checks and Balances Face Wash to really cleanse my skin.

I am currently very much in love with my night time skincare routine if I must say so myself. The ominous black spray bottle is actually an old, used up bottle of Lush's Tea Tree Toner but I poured in Thayer's Rose Witch Hazel. The opening of Thayer's Witch Hazel is not practical for daily application and a mist of toner feels incredibly refreshing on the skin. After patting the toner in with a cotton pad, I proceed to apply the Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum. I've only recently started using this serum, which was given to me by Jurlique, but so far so good. I spread the serum gently all over my face and press the product in with my fingers until most of it is absorbed. Then I use the Korres Evening Primrose Eye Cream on my ring fingers to hydrate my under eye area. This eye cream is very hydrating without leaving congested pores around my eye area.

If you've been following my blog for the past few months you'll be well aware of my love for La Roche Posay's Toleriane Moisturizer. It is just too good to be true and my skin drinks it all up! For the summer months I chose to go with the La Roche Posay Toleriane Fluide which essentially the same moisturizer with a lighter formula. Turns out my skin loves both versions of the La Roche Posay Toleriane and I'm so pleased with the way my skin looks after using these moisturizers. If I had to recommend only one product in this whole routine, it would be this moisturizer. I use about one pump of the moisturizer at night since the Jurlique serum gives me a bit of hydration.

The last step of my evening skincare routine is my spot treatment. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo is highly raved about and I understand the hype now. It is a good spot treatment and reduces the severity of spots quite quickly. The only negative is that it really stung parts of my face the first few weeks that I used this treatment which has never happened to me before. Now my skin seems to have gotten used to the product and I feel no more discomfort. It's something to keep in mind for those with very sensitive skin though.

My morning routine is very simple. I cleanse my face with the Origins face wash to get rid of all the dirt, sebum, and remnants of my skincare from the night before. Then I spritz on some toner, apply my moisturizer, and top it all off with a blob of the Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream SPF 38 PA+++. This sunscreen was in my last skincare routine and I still enjoy it a lot. It has a matte finish and acts almost like a makeup base. The scent is very nice and it never feels greasy like many other sunscreens tend to do.

Lastly these are most of the special skincare products that I use a few times a week. I have a few other samples of masks and the like which I'm not going to show as they're not really part of my routine. Right now I'm mostly using the Jurlique Antioxidant Gel Mask about twice a week, Kate Somerville Exfolikate once a week, and Boscia Luminizing Black Mask once a week. The Boscia mask is on it's last few uses so The Face Shop's White Mud Nose Pack will take its place soon. Exfolikate just doesn't want to be finished but once it's done the Olay Regenerist Microdermabrasion Treatment will be my go to chemical exfoliant. The Korres Pomergranate Mask and Korres Pomergranate Scrub are products I reach for once in awhile but I haven't used them too much so far. The Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask has been in my skincare stash for awhile now but I only use it sparingly as it's not something I enjoy using. 

Watch the video below to hear more of my thoughts on the products I am currently using!

That is my current skincare routine in a nutshell! Besides these topical products, I have been trying to drink more water to cleanse my body and I rarely drink milk anymore. I tend to drink soymilk instead to get my calcium and I still eat cheese and other dairy products the way I used to. I think my skin has looked better in the last few months so I'm very pleased with my regime at the moment. Have you tried any of these products before? I have a ton of skincare products on my wishlist that I will get a hold of eventually as I run out of my current stash. What's on your skincare to-buy list?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadows in Bronzed Taupe and Amber Rush

I'm probably the last beauty blogger to feature the L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadows on my blog but here goes nothing. In a nutshell, these are cool and they work beautifully on the eyes. I don't think I've ever come across a negative review on the two particular shades that I have thus far, Bronzed Taupe and Amber Rush.

The sleek plastic containers look quite dainty and classy for a drugstore product and at under $8 the L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadows are a nice alternative to their Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill cousins.

These pressed pigments are so saturated with metallic color that they feel almost like a cream eyeshadow. Each pot comes with .12 ounces or 3.5 grams of product. This is the same amount as a Bobbi Brown Cream Eyeshadow and .02 ounces less than a Maybelline Eyestudio Color Tattoo Eyeshadow. A little goes a long, long way so one jar will last a very long time, especially for someone like me who switches products almost everyday.

Bronzed Taupe is a rich, medium brown taupe that all taupe lovers need to have. Amber Rush is a bronzed champagne shade that is amazing for the summer time. Surprisingly I have been reaching for Amber Rush more than Bronze Taupe because I think it's easier to pull off for daily wear. Bronzed Taupe is more of a smokey eye color that I think will be more suitable for the cooler months.

I prefer to use my fingers to apply these straight to my eyes over a clear eyeshadow primer. I tried using an eyeshadow brush to apply these but the color did not transfer well at all. I love the metallic shine that these impart on my eyelids. This is a great product to wear alone on the eyelids to give you a wide awake look. I highly recommend both of these shades and have my heart set out on a few more of their newer released colors. Have you tried the L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadows? What are your favorite shades from the line?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day to Night with Wet n' Wild's Comfort Zone Palette

A viewer on Youtube requested that I do a tutorial with Wet n' Wild's Comfort Zone palette and I was more than happy to do one. I didn't know what type of look she wanted me to do so I decided to do both a super easy, effortless look as well as a more dramatic, pop of color look. 

The "daytime" look above consists of a shimmery beige all over the lid with a midtone shimmery brown in the outer half of the eye, blended softly into the crease. I lined my eyes without doing a wing using the darkest "definer" shade in the palette. This look is all about looking natural and not obviously made up. 

Adding to the look I did above, I packed the shimmer brown shade all over the lid and used the brown with green and red reflects on the outer corner. I then lined my lower lash line with both of the green shades in the palette. I completed the look with eyeliner and a bit more mascara.

To see exactly how I did this look, please watch the video below.

How do you transition your makeup from day to night?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sooth and Soften Skin With Jurlique's Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Gel Mask

Does your skin ever feel tight and flaky, uncomfortable to the point that slathering on a layer of moisturizer just doesn't satiate your skin? Despite having oily combination skin, my face gets dehydrated and a hydrating mask is needed. Jurlique's Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Gel Mask is designed to leave the skin feeling hydrated and radiant while addressing signs of aging so it seems like the perfect product to use when your skin is a bit lackluster.

I received this product from Jurlique at the blogger event I mentioned last month and I've been testing it out since. After more than a month of testing this about twice a week, I think I can properly review this product sincerely and accurately.

First off, the price is steep as Jurlique is a higher end brand that can be found at Sephora as well as in free standing stores. The 100ml tube of mask will set you back $48 which is pricey but about average when compared to other mid to high end skincare brands such as Clarins and L'occitane. The 100ml tube should last quite a while if used once or twice a week so no need to run out and repurchase this every month.

The mask is a semi translucent gel with beads of Vitamin E which are easy to pop on the skin. Supposedly the Vitamin E beads have antioxidant properties and protect the skin from environmental damage. The scent of the mask is slightly herbal, pleasant, and not overpowering for my preference. The amount shown above is more or less enough for a full face application.

When applied to the skin, the mask feels very cooling and refreshing. The gel is easy to smooth all over the skin and sinks in less than five minutes. I was surprised at how quickly the gel dried into my skin and left a slightly tacky feeling. After about ten minutes of letting the mask soak into my skin, I use cotton pads soaked in warm water to wipe off the mask. I can still feel some residue of the mask on my skin but I don't wash it all away and instead go promptly to sleep and use this as an overnight treatment.

In the morning my skin feels plump and hydrated, just the way I want it to be. The effects are short term and this is one of those products you can use right before an important event. My skin has not broken out or suffered any type of irritation from using this mask. I think this is a great pick me up mask, especially for dry and flaky skin. I hope this mask lasts me until the fall and winter because I think it will be especially helpful in the cooler months.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In My Stash: Revlon Lip Products

Revlon is one of my favorite drugstore makeup brands due to their incredible variety of products and shades. Out of my entire collection, the brand I own the most products from is definitely Revlon. My lip products drawer is dominated  by Revlon glosses and lipsticks simply because I can't help myself to their endless colors. 

As you can see, I have a variety of Revlon products from most of their lip product lines. Everything I own swatches wonderfully on my skin.

My most disappointing Revlon lip purchases were the Matte Lipstick in Pink Pout and the Super Lustrous Lipstick in Twinkled Pink. Pink Pout is something of a cult favorite but the cool toned pink just doesn't look right on my skin and the matte finish is very drying on my lips. Twinkled Pink is a frost finish which I dislike due to personal preference. The shade looks gorgeous in the tube but on my lips it comes off as mostly shimmer. 

The Colorburst Lipsticks are far superior and I have the shades in Peach, Petal, and Soft Nude. Soft Nude is a creamy, shimmer-free nude that looks great on my skintone. Petal is one of my most reached for lipsticks because it looks like my lips but better. Petal has a bit of shimmer in it but it does not feel gritty or uncomfortable on the lips. Peach is my least favorite of the three simply because I expected it to look more coral. 

The Colorburst Lipglosses are nice if you like the colors they offer. Strawberry is an intense pink red shade that I love to wear on its own when the rest of my makeup is very subdued. Peony actually made it into My Top 5 Lipglosses post because it looks great over almost any nude, pink, or coral lipstick.

The Super Lustrous Lipglosses are also really nice (aside from Pink Whisper which I tossed a few months back because the color and shimmer really did not suit me). I love Coral Reef and Lilac Pastelle. The creamy texture adds a nice pop of color to my lips. Peach Petal is not a gloss I reach for often but its a staple nude gloss.

The Colorburst Lip Butters were all the rave when they first started popping up in drugstores and although I think they are good products, the shades I bought are just 'meh'. Creme Brulee is a semi sheer nude that I really do not need as I have too many nude lipsticks already. Gumdrop appealed to me simply because it looks like Lilac Pastelle which I already really like. Both of these shades are sheer and easily wearable. I'm looking into purchasing some of the more potent, bright shades in the future to see if I like those better.

Check out the video below to see the products mentioned up close and to see some better swatches!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Travel Makeup Bag: Two Nights in Boston

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may know that I'm about to take a short 3 day, 2 night trip out of town. Of course I had to show you the contents of my travel makeup bag! Like most beauty obsessed travelers, I tend to over pack but I'm giving myself a pat on the back this time. As you can see, all of my makeup fits in a small pouch! I only intend to wear makeup for one day so there was no need to pack multiples of any products.

For my face I'm bringing a teeny sample of the Smashbox Photofinish Primer with Dermaxyl as I need my makeup to last a long day of walking about. Benefit Erase Paste concealer is guaranteed a spot in my travel essentials as it works beautifully under the eyes and has enough coverage to conceal post acne scars on the rest of my face. Since I'm not bringing a foundation, the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Pressed Powder Foundation is going to be my powder of choice since it lasts long on my face while giving a bit of coverage. I'm only bringing one cheek product which is theBalm's Hot Mama blush. I can do without bronzer and the shimmer in Hot Mama will act as a illuminating glow so I can skip a separate highlighter. 

For the eyes I never travel without a sample of Urban Decay Primer Potion because my eye makeup will melt off otherwise. Instead of bringing an eyeshadow palette I opted for a sample of Stila's In The Light Eyeshadow Palette. I received two paper cards of single use eyeshadows in my July Birchbox and thought the top strip of neutral eyeshadows was perfect for this trip. The strip has a combination of matte and shimmer shadows so I can do a whole look. Buxom's Insider Eyeliner in Chocolate Citrine is coming with me because automatic pencil liners are easy to use and there is no need for a sharpener. The dark brown shade is also very summer appropriate. My trusty Koji #73 eyelash curler and my new favorite mascara, Maybelline One By One Waterproof, are staples in my makeup routine. The Face Shop's Automatic Eyeliner Pencil in Black Brown is fuss-free and my current preferred brow product. 

Aside from Softlips lipbalm which will be in my on-the-go makeup bag, the only other lip product I am bringing is L'oreal's Caresse Lipstick in Sunset Angora. This bright color will go well with my neutral makeup and the semi-shiny finish means I won't need a gloss to go over top. 

I never thought I would actually use the small brush holder that came with the Real Techniques Core Collection but it is actually perfect for this short trip. I am bringing inexpensive, easily accessible brushes with me because I'm paranoid of losing or breaking my more expensive brushes. The E.L.F Studio Complexion Brush is one of my favorite brushes for a light dusting of face podwer. The Ecotools Blush Brush applies and blends blush effortlessly onto my skin. The E.L.F Eyeshadow and Blending Eye Brushes are great to bring on trips because they are only $1 each. They're not my favorite brushes by any means but they do the job and there won't be any tears if they happen to get lost or broken. Ecotools' Angled Eyeliner Brush is necessary to set my eyeliner and the Ecotools Eyebrow Comb is a tool I use daily.

Watch the super short video below to hear me talk about each of these products a bit more in depth!

That's all I'm bringing in terms of point makeup! Pretty impressive, eh? Skincare and bodycare is a different story entirely but I probably won't dedicate a post to that since it's pretty much my normal  routine. Speaking of which, I need to do an updated skincare routine soon.... Anyways, are you going on a trip soon? What are your travel packing tips and how do you prevent yourself from overpacking?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Senses (Glamour Magazine) Birchbox: July 2012

Nothing gets me through the mid-month slump better than a good ole' Birchbox. I know some people don't think the $10 a month is worth the subscription but I've been really pleased with Birchbox and it's fun to discover some new brands that I wouldn't have tried on my own. 

This month Birchbox teamed up with Glamour Magazine to create a box that would entice all five senses. I thought the idea was quite creative and not something I would necessarily expect from a beauty subscription box. 

The blinc mascara is one of the highlights of my box as I've never tried a "tube" mascara. I will try the mascara soon and see if it performs better than my current favorite, Maybelline's One by One Waterproof. The dirt. body scrub smells amazing but the sample is incredibly tiny and I doubt it will last me one full use. The perfume sample is decent although I don't think I like it enough to purchase it. Even though the Stila eyeshadow sample is only good for a few uses, I am happy with it because I didn't realize how flattering the colors looked together. I will be taking some of these shadows with me on an upcoming short trip so this sample came at just the right time! Call me crazy but I'm really exciting to try the Uber bar from Lara bar. Doesn't Banana Foster just sound delicious? Lastly, the adorable earbuds add a lot of value to this month's box as I can never have enough earphones lying around.

This month's Birchbox wasn't my favorite out of all the ones I've had but it was still decent and the box lived up to the price as usual. What did you get in your Birchbox or monthly beauty subscription in July?

My Take On: Acne, Skin Problems and Bullying

This is the second post in my made up My Take On series and I knew right away that I wanted to dedicate a whole post to how my skin has changed over the years since I started getting acne along with the bullying I went through because of it. Was that a run on sentence? All of the photos in this post have not been retouched at all. Please click the photos to enlarge them if you feel the need to. I try to be as candid as possible for these types of posts because they are pretty meaningless if I'm not being honest. The point is to encourage others to come out of their shell to tell their story. So here goes nothing!

My skin was smooth and clear as a child but around 7th grade my hormones kicked into overdrive and pimples appeared all over my forehead. My acne pretty much stayed on my forehead and the rest of my face was pretty clear. It was incredibly difficult to find photos of myself during my early to mid teenage years because I disliked taking photos. I hated how my skin looked because I was bullied constantly. Almost everyday someone would make a remark like "Have you tried Proactiv?" or "Do you know you have a pimple there?". It was frustrating to be faced with endless criticism yet not know what to do for my skin.

I was not interested in skincare or makeup at all for most of my teenage years (but that's another story for another post!). My Mom bought me some face wash and some salicylic acid cream but I rarely used the cream due to laziness. My situation and skin just seemed hopeless.

For more than half of high school I had the same notion that my skin was just bad and there was no hope for me. Some people told me the acne would naturally go away and I hoped they would be right (they were wrong). During high school my acne started migrating downward and I pretty much had breakouts on any given section of my face. 

Certain people still made fun of me but the bullying lessened. If you read my other post on weight and body image, then you'll know that I started defending myself from bullies. I think defending myself played a big part in getting people to stop making fun of me and being outright rude. People would literally ask other people to come over and look at my skin to tell me how bad it was. That was not helpful at all and incredibly humiliating. I was constantly embarrassed about my skin. It was during my high school years when I finally had enough and I would not tolerate the mean remarks any longer. When someone made fun of me, I would say something along the lines of "Why do you have to say that?" or "I know I have bad skin. Can you stop pointing it out?". It was actually really easy to defend myself like that because the person would usually get the hint and realize they were being rude. I felt liberated when I could speak up for myself. 

Photo on the right is from 2011. I made a mistake and failed to save the .psd and was lazy to start over. You get the idea.
During my last few months of high school I started using a skincare regimen (of sorts). Unfortunately I thought the Clinique 3-Step would be good and it wasn't. It took me awhile to realize how ineffective and downright harmful that skincare line was. Nonetheless I finished up the set and moved on. Now you all know I love trying new skincare and I treat it like a hobby. 

I still struggle with acne, discoloration, and the like. It still bothers me when I have a huge pimple on the eve of a big day. I wear makeup to conceal my acne scars. BUT I realize my skin is not as bad as I used to perceive it. Looking back at my old photos, my acne really wasn't that horrible. I can't believe that I let people's words cause myself to suffer from very low self esteem for years. 

The funny thing is that I have a few friends who still tell me when I have a pimple or some acne. They are some of my closest friends but their remarks are still mean and I still take offense. It is still bullying. Partially I am offended by the fact that they ask me if I notice that I have a pimple. It's like I don't have eyes to see for myself. I blog several times a week about beauty related topics. I think I would know if I had a pimple on my face thank you very much. I try to restrain my initial anger and calmly tell them that I am aware I have a spot on my face. I always ask them to stop telling me when I have a pimple or a bad skin day. The remarks have decreased over the past few months so I'm glad.

So while I still have acne and will probably continue to have "bad" skin for the rest of my life, I've come to terms with this fact. I realized that the words hurt more than the actual fact of having acne. Therefore, I train myself to not judge people's skin and I don't believe I have ever told someone they had a spot. It just comes across as being incredibly rude whether you are truly trying to help or not. It's only a horrible thing if you believe it is. Having acne is not life threatening at all. It's not the end of the world and you should not feel miserable due to a spot or two or ten. 

Check out the video below to hear my chat a bit more about my skin experiences and to see my skin up close! I had to do a close up to really show you guys how my skin looks, pores and all (skip to 14:00 to see the close up portion if you don't want to watch me talking for 16 minutes)!

I want to read all of YOUR skin experiences and how you came to terms with them (if you have). Were you ever bullied because of your skin imperfections and did you ever find the voice to stand up for yourself?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Black Maxi OOTD

Gap maxi dress, Brandy Melville bandeau, Club Monaco belt, Zara shirt, Zara bag, Afaze sandals

Apologies for boring those of you who already follow me on Instagram and have seen this outfit of the day already. I thought I would share this for those of you who might not have Instagram since I really loved this outfit. Maxi dresses and skirts are one of my favorite summer time trends but I've only worn them a handful of times. Last year (or maybe it was the year before...) I wore a strapless maxi dress to a movie theater and my outfit got stuck in an escalator and I was almost totally declothed in public.... Accidents aside, maxis are incredibly comfortable, not to mention stylish!

I picked up a basic black maxi (with straps!) from Gap a few weeks ago on sale for $20. They were out of smalls so I went up a size which doesn't quite fit me but I can make it work. I made sure to wear a bandeau since so much skin was being exposed (arm holes were way too large for me) and the floral pattern helps balance out the black fabric. Maxi dresses can be heavy and the top tends to drag and slide downward (thanks gravity) so the belt helps everything stay put. The air conditioning in school is quite powerful so the shirt is a great way of keeping me warm and covering up so I don't look like I'm headed to the beach. 

Do you wear maxis? How do you style them? Please share if you've ever had a maxi disaster like me! I'd love a good chuckle!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Anne Hathaway Catwoman Inspired Makeup Tutorial

This tutorial will come as a surprise for those of you who regularly read my blog. My tutorials and looks are often bare bones and incredibly wearable. This... is not normally my thing. But a PR company contacted me and asked me if I was interested in doing a tutorial for Anne Hathaway's Catwoman look. I was about to decline the offer (I am not getting paid or anything of the sort for doing this but the mask and poster were given to me for free) but I figured why not. Anne Hathaway is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, I really enjoyed the previous few Batman films, and I like a good challenge.

I researched a few photos of Hathaway's look and came to the conclusion that she had pale, matte skin with not much blush at all. Her eyes were not smoky but rather light with a reddish brown crease color. The eyeliner is very dramatic and dark all around the eyes with sharp edges in the inner corners. Hathaway's lips are a dark, almost berry red with no glossiness.

Check out the video below if you're thinking of getting a head start on your Halloween costume or just to see me attempt a more theatrical (than usual) look!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Collective "Best of Drugstore" Haul

My makeup buying ban went bust and here's what I have to show for it. An innocent little foray into CVS last month for a pack of lashes and some Duo glue started this mess. Granted I didn't purchase this all at once. It took at least five separate drugstore trips to accrue this massive (to me) pile of beauty goodness. I do not believe I paid retail for any of these products as I only purchase drugstore cosmetics when they are on offer. Swatches of most of the items can be found in the video at the end of this post! Individual reviews with swatches will be linked or forthcoming!

I just finished the last bit of my daytime moisturizer and everything in my backup stash is too heavy for the summer heat. I love the regular La Roche Posay Toleriane moisturizer so I bought the La Roche Posay Toleriane Fluid to try this time. This moisturizer is quite pricey at around $30 but I had a 30% coupon from CVS and figured it was a good enough deal.

I picked up quite a few things from Maybelline as I have had great experiences with their eye products. I already reviewed the Expert Wear Quad in Plum Smokes. I have had the Color Tattoo Shadow in Bad to the Bronze on my wishlist for quite some time and I'm happy I finally picked it up. I ran out of mascaras in my backup stash so I really went mascara crazy the past month. I like having an arsenal of new mascaras at home.... Not sure why, I just do. I only have one or two mascaras open at one time as to not let too many dry out and go to waste. As you can see I already tore in the One by One Waterproof Mascara and it's great! My experiences with Maybelline mascaras are unmatched by another other brand. I also picked up the Colossal Waterproof Mascara and the Falsies Flared Waterproof Mascara.

Wet n' Wild was 40% off at Rite Aid so I finally broke down and bought two of the eight pan Color Icon Palettes in Comfort Zone and Petal Pusher. I also scooped up the Color Icon Blush in Mellow Wine and a Megalast Lipstick in Red Velvet.

The L'oreal HIP Color Chrome Eyeliner in Gold Charge was 50% at CVS and I have yet to have a gold eyeliner pencil in my stash so I figured why not. The L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadows in Amber Rush and Bronzed Taupe have been on my lust list since their inception and I am SO pleased with them. I'm already eyeing a few colors from the recent collection. The L'oreal Single Eyeshadow in Gilded Bronze was a random purchase just to qualify my total for some Rite Aid rewards but it is a very nice eyeshadow. I already swatched and gave a preliminary review of L'oreal Rouge Caresse in Sunset Angora because I knew a lot of people want to know about this ASAP. 

Believe it or not I've never tried a Covergirl mascara despite everyone loving Lashblast. I purchased the Natureluxe Waterproof Mascara and the Lashblast Waterproof MascaraI was shocked to see the prices of these to be between $8-$10 because I always thought Covergirl was more inexpensive than most drugstore brands.

I told you I went mascara crazy! CVS had this amazing deal for $7 any Physician's Formula product and I spotted this Physician's Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara twin pack. This brought my total down to $4 and I had $6 in Extrabucks so I picked up a pair of Ardell lashes and paid only $2.97 (including tax). Score! I've never tried a Physician's Formula and I picked this twin pack out of the other two twin packs review unseen. Hopefully I like this mascara but I wish it came in a waterproof variety.

Lastly I picked up a few packs of lashes. I originally bought the Ardell Flare Short Lashes and Duo lash glue for my Pin Up tutorial. I was so impressed with these lashes that I wanted another pack and I ended up with the 110 Lashes. I have yet to use the 110s but they look beautiful in the packaging.

Watch the video below to hear more of my thoughts and mini reviews. I also swatched most of the products and included close ups!