Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jouer Nude Lipgloss: Back to Nudes

For the first year and a half, give or take, when I started wearing makeup, I would only wear nude lip colors. I rarely wore any lip products for a long time but when I did, it would always be a milky nude lip. Heavily inspired by Japanese Gyaru gals, Korean pop idols and Taiwanese drama actresses, I thought nude lips were the most flattering on me and they seemed to be the "safest" lip color. I don't quite remember when I exactly changed my mind but I started to notice that nude lips made me look washed out and sick. I was erasing my lip color and making it a pasty color akin to zombie lips. I veered off my nude lip obsession to dabble in pinks, corals, reds and even the occasional burgundy.

A little more than a month ago, I purchased a shockingly bright Jouer lipgloss in Birchbox Pink and loved the formula. Then a few weeks after that I attended the Birchbox Sample Stop event and the Jouer lipgloss in Nude was one of the samples available. Nude is a shimmer-less brown toned nude with a touch of pink. I jumped at the chance to try another shade in the lipgloss range, hoping that the formula was just as great.

Long story short, my expectations were met. The lipgloss is non-sticky and easily applied. It does not goop up nor leave that unflattering white line where my lips meet. Nude has even better pigmentation than Birchbox Pink. The best part is that this nude lipgloss does not make me look corpse-like and gives me the milky lip look that I had hoped to achieve back in the day. The only aspect that Nude does not accomplish is moisturizing my lips as well as Birchbox Pink. Nude clings onto dry flakes a bit more so it is paramount to have healthy, plush lips prior to application. I've come to believe that nude lip colors are less forgiving on dry, peeling lips.

I am extremely pleased with Jouer's lipgloss in Nude and I am more confident that I will like the other colors in the range. I think the $20 retail price for .24 fluid ounces is reasonable and would definitely pick up a few more to add to my collection. Have you tried any Jouer lipglosses? What is your favorite nude lipgloss?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Follow-Up: Mini Origins Haul and Sample Breakdown

A few days after my recent Origins excursion when I picked up a few masks and skin treatment products, I realized I forgot to get one of the things on my mental list. I had intended to pick up the Super Spot Remover just to see if I would like it but absent mindedly forgot about it in all my excitement about new pampering products.

Then last week my skin goes crazy and several painful cystic spots pop up on my forehead and cheeks. Just great.... But Origins must have had psychic abilities because they had an offer of three deluxe samples with any skincare purchase and free shipping to boot. I figured, why not and a few days later this tiny haul came into my possession.

Also, the sample choices were quite generous and I wanted a few travel sized skincare samples to add to my stash. I am currently using the full size Checks and Balances cleanser and I actually quite like it. I thought a mini size would be great to have on hand since it's a product I know I can rely on. The value of the cleanser sample is $4 which is not much but the size will last at least a few weeks of use. During that aforementioned Origins trip that enabled this order, I got a sample of Vitazing which I liked. Into the basket the Vitazing sample went. The sample size is very generous and is worth $10.50 by weight in comparison to the full size retail price. I figured an eye cream sample couldn't do any harm and added the Plantscription Anti Aging Eye Treatment to my bag. The 5ml tube looks incredibly small but is actually a third of the full size product and has a value of $14.50. I paid $14.50 (plus tax) for the Super Spot Remover and got $29 worth of free samples and tiny sachet of Ginzing to try out as well. Not too shabby!

So it was by coincidence that this little haul happened. If I hadn't broken out at the time of the offer, you probably wouldn't be reading this post right now. The good value of the samples was another contributing factor and those of you who love beauty probably understand my affinity for samples. Hopefully the Super Spot Remover has good things in store for my skin and I will report back on my thoughts in due time.

Have you picked up any skincare goodies lately? Did you succumb to the Origins sample offer like I did?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Zoya Caitlin: A Periwinkle Dove Gray Polish

For some reason or another I tend to wear warm toned polishes on my nails; I think they suit me better than cool toned hues. But I thought I should have a few cool polishes to choose from for the fall and winter so along came Zoya Caitlin. Under certain lighting Caitlin looks like a flat, dark slate and in other conditions it looks like a deep periwinkle shade. I like it more when it looks lighter as gray is quite a depressing nail polish to look at.

Like Zoya Kendal, Caitlin had good staying power and only started showing signs of cracking on the fifth day. However, applying Caitlin was quite difficult as the brush head was cut at an awkward angle. This is probably a defect that only happened to my particular bottle and is not unique to this one color. I did not have this issue with Kendal and will have to see how the other brushes look on my other Zoya polishes. When a polish retails for $8 I expect the brush to be of high quality and this particular polish disappointed me in that aspect.

While Caitlin isn't as dainty as Kendal, it's a unique shade nonetheless and makes the nails look sophisticated. This polish will definitely be relegated to the colder parts of the year and is a nice departure from the usual reds and burgundies I tend to wear.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Origins Vitazing: Before and After

As someone who is all too familiar with the woes of spots and acne, any day when my skin is free of zits or active breakouts is a joyous day. I like to let my skin breathe but even on a clear skin day I have dark shadows under my eyes and fading acne scars. Therefore, I prefer light, almost imperceptible tinted moisturizers or foundations that even out my skin without looking too obvious. I don't mind if my spots peek out a bit or if my complexion isn't flawless because it's far from it. Enter Vitazing.

Vitazing is a cult favorite by Origins that I first heard about from TiffanyD. I was wary of Vitazing because it's categorized as a moisturizer but it has pigment in it to even out the skintone. I'm usually not a fan of skincare combined with makeup products but just out of curiosity I asked for a sample during my last foray into the store.

Vitazing is an all in one product: a moisturizer that hydrates, energizes and protects. It has SPF 15 and is fortified with mangosteen. I don't know if any of you are familiar with mangosteen but it's a fruit and I absolutely love it. It's incredibly tasty but hard to find in the states so I rarely eat it. Anyway, I'm not really convinced that Vitazing has copious amounts of mangosteen and the claim is probably just a marketing technique to pique consumers' exotic senses. There is a strong fruity scent to the product that I find nice but I could do without it. If you are not a fan of fragranced skincare or base products, I don't think anything Origins makes is fragrance free.

Price wise, Vitazing is $35 for 50ml which is mid to high end. A little bit goes a long way so the 50ml tube should last at least six months with frequent use. This is meant to triple up as a moisturizer, sunscreen and tinted product so that also makes the price tag a bit easier to swallow.

Suspended in the white liquid base are tiny gray spheres which do not feel like anything on the skin. As you rub the product into the skin the gray spheres transform the white base into something similar to your skintone.

As you can see the whiteness dissipates to reveal a glowy tan color. The shine is very noticeable and the color actually looks darker than my skintone. This could be great for fair skinned people who want a bit of tan but are wary of fake tanning.

Unlike my last before and after base makeup comparison, my skin has been through a bout of acne issues recently. I prefer to use Vitazing on my "good" skin days and I honestly love it when my skin is blemish free. On days when I have more redness and acne, I need to use a concealer if I want to look more covered up. Even though Vitazing has pretty much nonexistent coverage, it ever so slightly reduces the minor redness in my cheeks and around my nose. It definitely leaves a radiant finish that gives my face a more three dimensional look. I like that is raises the high points of my face and gives me a natural glow that my bare skin lacks.

Vitazing has no oil control and I get oily within a few hours of wear time. I usually have to blot two to three times over the course of a full day when wearing Vitazing under powder. Even though my oils peek through Vitazing, my skin never looks patchy. It does not look like I am wearing a tinted moisturizer or anything of the sort. I usually prefer to moisturizer, apply sunscreen and then whatever base makeup of the day but I find that Vitazing actually works better as a moisturizer rather than a separate base. I apply Vitazing right after my toner and it seeps into the skin better and is great for lazy days when I do not want to apply a separate moisturizer and sunscreen.

This was one of those hyped up products I was prepared to dislike but ended up being pleasantly surprised. Vitazing is a nice product when I want minimal perking up for a good skin day and I don't feel like applying moisturizer and sunscreen. This is not a product for special days nor one if I  need long lasting coverage but it's a great multitasking everyday product for a busy gal.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Birchbox Story

Birchbox first caught my attention when one of my favorite Youtubers, Missglamorazzi, mentioned them in a couple of videos. At the time I was a penniless student (still am to an extent!) who wasn't sure $10 a month on a box of samples was right for me so I held off on subscribing. Nonetheless I was intrigued and every month I would look up what other people received in their boxes. Just a little over seven months ago, I couldn't wait any longer and finally joined Birchbox. What I got was a whole lot more than a few tubes of night cream and lipgloss.

Throughout the past seven months and boxes, I've had some misses but definitely a good amount of great products as well. Above you can see a few of the products that I discovered through my Birchboxes or from their shop. Who knew Color Club had such fun nail polish shades with good last power or that cute bandaids would actually come in handy on multiple occasion? Thanks to Birchbox I finally mastered the art of applying liquid liner and I would have never thought of purchasing the Eyeko Skinny Liner myself. That's the thing about Birchbox: you get to try out products that you might not have thought were for you but sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised.

As a Birchbox member, I had the opportunity to attend a few beauty events such as a spa night at the Caudalie Spa in the Plaza Hotel and most recently a peek into the SampleStop for fashion week (which was actually for anyone if you did some research!). Birchbox brings people with similar interests together in a way that no other subscription box has done yet.

By joining Birchbox, I've not only only signed up for a monthly box but have also joined a community of beauty enthusiasts who love to share their tips and beauty must-haves. I love how Birchbox harnesses the power of social media to better reach out to their subscribers and their witty tweets and Instagrams put a smile on my face after a long day of class. On multiple occasions I have interacted with members of the Birchbox team and every encounter has been positive. I mean, have you seen their 2nd anniversary video?! Not only is Birchbox reinventing the way women AND men (hello Birchbox Man!) experience beauty and lifestyle products, they are also actively shaping old and new brands, finding new ways to stimulate the beauty industry, setting an example of how companies should treat their team members and so much more.

I have never spoken so highly of a company or brand before and all of my statements are my personal opinion. Even if you're not interested in subscribing, at least check out the Birchbox blog which is updated daily. Birchbox is a great company with a refreshing outlook on the beauty industry and I can't wait to see what they'll think up in the future.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beauty Essentials Haul: Skincare and Haircare

On the makeup buying front, I've been well behaved. But I can't help it when the products I use on the daily (or almost as often) are running low.... When I'm tipping the eye makeup remover for every last drop or squeezing the few bits of cleanser left in the bottle, I know it's time to restock on the necessities.

Surprisingly, I made a few repurchases which is rare for a beauty junkie like me who has to try every product ever made. I gave the last fifth of my beloved Thayers Rose Witch Hazel Toner to my mom to try and so I had to buy two more bottles, one for her and one for myself. This makes it my third bottle for myself and most repurchased toner to date! I don't mind paying the $10 for the 12 oz. bottle but it happened to be on sale for $7 or $8 which sweetened the deal even more. I also needed a gentle morning cleanser so I bought the Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel after using up a deluxe sample a few months ago. It's inexpensive (combined with my 25% off CVS coupon it's an even better deal!), gentle and effective so no complaints here!

I've been wearing makeup more often as of late since my classes start in the afternoon rather than at the crack of dawn. Thus, I've also been going through my makeup removers at a faster rate. I wanted to buy a bottle or two of Target Up&Up's Eye Makeup Remover since it's the most inexpensive and effective one. Unfortunately I couldn't find a bottle at my local Target two weeks in a row so I'm not sure if they make it anymore. A viewer recommended the Boots Eye Makeup Remover so I bought that instead. So far it does the job but it leaves a bit of an oily residue. I'm onto the last few pumps of the Bright Up Mandom Cleansing Express so I also restocked on a new cleansing oil. I somewhat blindly chose the Juju Aquamoist Cleansing Oil which works fine as a makeup remover but I'm not head over heels in love with it.

While picking up the Thayers toner, Whole Foods was running a deal on the Alba Botanica Mango Shampoo and Conditioner for under $7 so I thought it would be a great chance to try a sulphate free shampoo and some products from Alba. I later checked online and each of the bottles is usually sold for $7 each so I think I got a decent deal.

Last but not least I took the online skincare analysis quiz on the Mario Badescu website and they sent me some samples of products that should be suitable for my oily combination, acne prone skin. Anyone can take the quiz but I'm not sure if they have the samples offer year round.

Check out the video below to hear more of my first impressions of the products!

Have you tried any of these products? What are your skincare essentials and products you have purchased time and time again?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Zoya Kendal: Perfect Subdued Lilac Nails

After receiving six lovely polishes in my first Zoya haul, I faced the always difficult decision of which color to wear first. I chose Kendal, a muted gray lilac, as I was in the mood for an understated, prim manicure. The closest shade I have in my collection is ORLY's Dance Til Dawn but Kendal is more gray and cool toned. I think gray, ashy colored polishes are a great alternative to the dark, vampy nails that are popular for fall.

Kendal is a cream finish that applies opaque in two coats. I found the formula relatively easy to work with but the brush is thinner than I prefer. After sealing the polish with Seche Vite, Kendal lasted six days with very minimal chipping and no cracks at all. I removed the polish at the end of the sixth day but I think Kendal would have looked amazing after a whole week of wear.

I am undoubtedly happy with Kendal as it looks amazing on its own and will probably look beautiful layered under a glittery polish as well. I highly recommend this shade and will definitely be sporting it for the upcoming fall and winter.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September Issue Birchbox & Sample Stop Birchbox

Another month, another Birchbox... actually make that TWO Birchboxes this month! Along with the usual monthly Birchbox, I was lucky enough to pick up a special Birchbox from the Sample Stop pop up boutique. First up, let's talk about the September Issue box: it's a good one. I have to admit I'm not too crazy about it but all in all I got a more than decent box.

Every month Birchbox thinks of a concept for the box and the September Issue concept is ingenious. A little flyer with a Madewell coupon for $25 off a $75 purchase was included in every box as the two companies partnered up for Fashion's Night Out. I'm still debating if I should use my coupon but it's nice to have.

The perfume sample was underwhelming as I've gotten another variant of the Bvlgari perfume before in a previous Birchbox. I happily passed the sample onto my mom who is much less picky about fragrances than I am. The Color Club polish in Insta-This (love the name much?) was great as I do not have many shades of blue polish in my collection and none like this one. I've received a Color Club polish in my Gossip Girl Birchbox in an orange shade which I really love. The first thing I thought of when I saw the blue was how in combination with Clambake Coral, I'd have Knicks nails! The Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream was a nice addition as I love trying bases and I've had pretty positive results with the Dr. Jart Premium BB Cream. Thanks to Birchbox I'm more concerned (in the best way possible) about the health and look of my hair so the LiQWd volumizing catalyst seems like an interesting product to try. They also included sample packets of the LiQWd shampoo and conditioner which will be excellent for overnight trips. Lastly, another repeat product in a different color: a twistband. Some people actually love twistbands but I don't see the value in an overpriced, albeit colorful, piece of elastic. I will definitely use the twistband but would not buy the full size as it's just not for me.

Birchbox also created their first lookbook featuring many of their staffers. Seriously, Birchbox has the coolest corporate culture. The lookbook was a nice touch and the content is top notch.

Now onto my Sample Stop experience which was incredibly exciting and loads of fun. For Fashion Week, Birchbox launched a week long pop up shop in the Chelsea area for mostly people in the industry. I did some research and found out that for an hour on Sunday (September 9th), the Sample Stop would be open to the public. So I dragged my cousin along with me to get a peek into the venue. 

There was a line as Birchbox did not want the space to be overrun by sample hungry beauty loving gals and guys. I chatted with the Birchbox staffer who was acting as security for the time being and he was very pleasant to talk to. Everyone I interacted with had a genuinely happy vibe despite the hectic atmosphere. 

The Sample Stop was designed with a candy shop theme so there were rows of beauty products alternating with candy. We were all provided with an empty Birchbox and we moved down the rows to choose four to five beauty samples and as much candy as we wanted. When we were done we headed to a wrapping station where a lady carefully wrapped our goodies and sent us on our way. There were various booths where makeup, hair and skincare brands had set up stations where you could get a treatment but there was a two hour wait for most things. I saw some awesome hair styles and manicures even though I did not indulge myself. We were free to walk around the rest of the room where there were some other free samples of lifestyle extras. 

Here is the loot from my Sample Stop visit! I absolutely love the tiny Birchbox tote and mini water bottle. I picked up some Boscia blotting linens from the Boscia booth and a tiny pack of gum, both were necessities that I needed badly at the time!

It was quite difficult to choose only five of the beauty samples but I narrowed it down to the above and I am incredibly happy with the outcome. I love the Klorane dry shampoo that I ordered from Birchbox a few weeks ago and want to try out more dry shampoos before repurchasing. There were a few Oscar Blandi goodies to choose from and the mini dry shampoo is the perfect size for traveling. I've always wanted to get a Beauty Blender in my Birchbox because I've heard so many great things about it. So far I've never been lucky enough to score one in my regular boxes so I was elated to see it at the Sample Stop. I love my Birchbox Pink Jouer lipgloss so I jumped at the chance to try the lipgloss in Nude. I felt the need to toss in a base makeup related product into my box so I settled on the Per-fekt Beauty Skin Perfection Gel, only to come home and realize there was a specified shade and that it's the second darkest shade in the range. I somehow assumed there was no shade, like a BB cream, or that it would be clear. The product is a mousse like gel which is supposed to cover up blemishes, pores and wrinkles while drying to a matte, powder finish and preventing shine. My skin is still a bit tan at the moment so this blends into my skin quite well at the moment but I won't be able to use this in a few weeks. I think I might just save it for next summer as I'm sure to get tan again. Lastly, I chose an eye product which was Benefit's They're Real Mascara. I pretty much refuse to pay full price for a high end mascara since I love my Maybelline waterproof mascaras but I've heard many positive things about They're Real. No harm in adding another mascara to the back up stash, is there?

Of course, no Birchbox is complete without the little greeting card! It's really fascinating how much the small company has grown and accomplished in only two years. 

Since everyone got to pick out their own products, there was a checklist of the various products available. You can read through the list to find out what other beauty samples were available at the Sample Stop.

This month Birchbox was a hit for me as it was much more than just a box of beauty samples. At this point some of you must be getting tired of me raving about Birchbox but seriously, the perks make the $10 a month price tag very worthwhile, especially if you happen to live in a big city where Birchbox events are not uncommon. Also, Birchbox just acquired Joliebox in Europe so now Birchbox is international! I am very excited to see what Birchbox has in store for their customers next! Have you tried Birchbox before? What do you think about the Sample Stop?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Zoya Nail Polish Haul & First Impressions

Zoya is a brand I've been wanting to get my hands on for the longest time but I was always weary of ordering online for fear my nail polishes would shatter before they reached my doorstep. Coupled with the usually expensive shipping prices of nail polishes, I just never made an order... until a few weeks ago when Zoya was doing a BOGO offer. Plus, when you ordered six or more bottles, you qualified for free shipping! The deal was too good to pass up so I picked up some colors that are unique to my ever growing collection.

First off, I love how Zoya packages the polishes in a cardboard box within a bigger shipping box full of packaging popcorn. I've never ordered nail polish online so I'm not sure if this is standard. Is it?

From right to left I chose Jules, Wednesday, and Kristen. I love shimmery champagne and rose gold polishes and Jules fit the bill perfectly. This is less of a rose gold and more of a white gold which makes it different enough than ORLY Rage for me to justify getting it. Wednesday is definitely more of a spring and summer shade but I don't know when I'll be ordering from Zoya again so I had to add this to my nail polish stash just in case. I only have one other mint nail polish which is significantly lighter and greener than Wednesday. Kristen is a light dove blue which I think is gorgeous for fall. I've been loving the look of muted, grayed nails for the cooler months.

The other three I chose were, from right to left, Kendal, Caitlin, and Ki. Kendal is a very pale grayed lilac which is similar to ORLY Just Dance which is one of my favorite polishes. Kendal is more cool toned than Just Dance and I needed a replacement anyway. I'm wearing Kendal on my nails at the moment and will be doing individual swatches and reviews for these polishes in the future. Caitlin is a gray cornflower blue that is incredibly unique and beautiful. I think this will be my next manicure color! Ki is probably the most unique of the six polishes I chose due to the brown, teal and burgandy duochrome. Depending on how the light hits the polish, different colors are reflected back. I am really excited to see how this translates on the nails.

Along with the order, Zoya also sent some free spoon swatches of their new collections. These are great to keep as references and are a good way of gauging how polishes look when swatched.

A booklet containing all of Zoya's polish colors was also included in the order and this is great for keeping track of shades I already own and seeing which ones I might want next.

Overall I am highly pleased with my Zoya haul and I can't wait to wear each and every one of these new and unique shades! Have you tried Zoya nail polishes? Which are your favorites?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum

I edited the photos for this review quite some time ago when I was still using watermarks so please excuse the inconsistency (watermarks are now banished from the blog!). 

As someone who regularly experiences clogged pores, popped pimples and the scars that follow, I not only seek skincare products to reduce the severity of my acne but products to help my skin recover more effectively. At a Jurlique product launch event, I was introduced to their Purely Bright with VitaBrightKX Radiance Serum and given one to test out. I have been using the serum for over a month now so I have formulated my thoughts on this product and am ready to share them with you. 

According to Jurlique, the Purely Bright Radiance Serum has the following benefits:

  • - Helps reduce skin discolorations, brighten skin and inhibit melanin production.
  • - 80% of women noticed improvements in hydration, skin radiance and felt their skin appeared healthier after 12 weeks of use.
  • - 67% of women said their age spots appeared lightened after 12 weeks of use.
The ingredients list is quite lengthy but easily accessible on the Jurlique website:

  • Aqua (Water);
  • Glycerin;
  • Heptyl Undecylenate;
  • Citrus unshiu Peel Extract;
  • SD Alcohol 40-A (Alcohol Denat.);
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside;
  • Glyceryl Stearate Citrate;
  • Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables;
  • Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil;
  • Squalane;
  • Althaea officinalis (Marshmallow) Root Extract;
  • Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract;
  • Rosa gallica Flower Extract;
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root Extract;
  • Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) Extract;
  • Viola tricolor (Pansy) Extract;
  • Sambucus nigra (Black Elder) Flower Extract;
  • Calendula officinalis Flower Extract;
  • Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract;
  • Prunella vulgaris Leaf Extract;
  • Terminalia ferdinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Fruit Extract;
  • Anogeissus leiocarpus Bark Extract;
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract;
  • Chondrus crispus (Carrageenan) Extract;
  • Fragrance (Parfum*);
  • Carrageenan;
  • Xanthan Gum;
  • Dextrose;
  • Cera alba (Beeswax);
  • Tocopherol;
  • Bisabolol;
  • Lecithin;
  • Sodium Hyaluronate;
  • Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane;
  • Totarol;
  • Phenoxyethanol;
  • Ethylhexylglycerin;
  • Limonene*;
  • Linalool*;
  • Citronellol*;
  • Geraniol*;
  • Eugenol*;
  • Benzyl Benzoate*;
  • Isoeugenol*;
  • Citral*;
  • Cinnamyl Alcohol*.
*From Natural Essential Oil

You probably noticed that I highlighted an ingredient in red and I did that because I try to avoid skincare products with SD alcohol in them. It can be irritating and it dries out the skin. A lot of lightweight, easily absorbed skincare products contain SD alcohol as an ingredient. So far, I cannot feel any drying effects but with long term use the results may be different. Nonetheless there are a variety of oils and plant extracts as well as squalane which moisturizes the skin.

As with many brightening high end serums, the Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum costs a pretty penny. The full size glass jar contains 30ml and retails for $58. I use two squirts on my face only at night after my toner and before my eye cream and moisturizer. I like to pat this all over my face and on my neck as well.

The packaging is quite heavy due to the frosted glass jar. The plastic pump is easy to use and dispenses a fairly small amount. The pump also has a twist mechanism that locks to reduce spillage due to travel but I don't see this being a convenient product to travel with due to the glass and heaviness. 

The serum blends easily and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it refreshed. But does it give my skin a radiance and fade dark spots? To be frank, I can't be 100% certain that this helped fade my acne scars faster than they would have naturally but I think this helped a bit. For the last few weeks my skin has been looking more even than usual and I had a rather dark scar near my eyebrow where a pimple had popped which is now gone. In combination with my usual skincare routine, including a variety of masks and scrubs, this serum is a nice complementary product to help my skin even out. 

If you're comfortable with the price point and your skin needs some help reducing scars or dark spots, consider the Jurlique Purely Bright Radiance Serum. I think this serum has helped my skin but I just wish there was no denatured alcohol in the formula. If that does not bother you, then you might like this even more than me!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Few (Unnecessary) Bits From Origins

Thanks to the constant raves concerning a few Origins products a la Vivianna, I had to fight the urge to purchase some rather unneeded skincare products. But one fine day last week, I was an hour early for class and I found myself right outside an Origins shop... and of course, the rest is history.

I picked up two masks, the Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and the Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. My oily skin needs a good cleansing mask to draw out impurities so I chose to grab the mini size of the Clear Improvement Mask to try. If I love it, then I'll go ahead and invest in the full size. I wanted to find a less expensive alternative to the Jurlique Herbal Recovery Gel Mask, which I love, so I turned to the Drink Up Intensive Mask which many people seem to like. I was going to get the travel size of that as well but the sales associate convinced me otherwise as it's a better deal to get the full size.

I also asked for two samples: the famous Vitazing Moisturizer, made popular by TiffanyD, and the newer BB Cream in the lightest shade. I am constantly on the hunt to find bases that I love and can wear on a daily basis. The sales associate was really friendly, polite and not too pushy so that was a huge plus in my books.

I have only tried Vitazing once so far so I'm hesitant to say too much yet but the rest of the products are still untested. Watch the video below to see the samples better but until then, you'll have to wait for my reviews!


Have you tried any of these products from Origins? I'd love to read your experiences with the brand!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jouer Lip Enhancer: My HG Lip Balm Gloss

A sample of the Jouer Lip Enhancer was kindly sent to me when I requested some shades of the Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint and I'm shocked that this gem of a lip balm doesn't have a cult following in the blogging world yet.

Jouer claims that their lip enhancer will nourish and condition the lips with the clinically proven Maxi Lip formula. The Maxi Lip treatment is supposed to increase blood flow to the lips which makes them look more hydrated and youthful. Ingredients such as vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil protect the lips from evironmentally damaging elements. The full size tube contains .33 ounces and costs $14 which I think is reasonable for a great product.

The reason I prefer this lip balm over many other lip balms in squeezy tubes is due to the formula. As you can see in the photo above, the balm comes out of the tube as a pink tinged gel. Usually lip balms in tubes come out as a liquid which makes application messy and sticky. The Jouer lip enhancer melts on contact with the lips and makes application a breeze. The formula is non sticky and it is easy to get just the right amount of product on the lips.

In terms of scent, I can detect a very faint smell that is pleasant but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. If I don't make an effort to smell the balm, it's undetectable.

The balm looks clear on the lips but I decided to include a swatch photo anyway to show the beautiful shine that looks like a gloss. A very thin layer of product soothes my lips yet imparts a healthy glow. Unlike other liquid lip balms which tend to leave a white line where my lips touch, the  Jouer lip enhancer does no such thing. I think the plumping claims are very minimal and subtle but I don't mind as I'm not a fan of the huge lipped look anyway.

The Jouer lip enhancer was a surprising product because I usually prefer stick lip balms and my lips are quite sensitive. I am happy to report my little find to you all and I highly recommend this to those of you looking for a comfortable, glossy lip balm.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August 2012 Wrap Up

While June and July seemed to linger on and on, August flashed by so quickly I barely had time to process everything that happened. I kicked off the start of August by going to a few interviews for fall internships which is always a fascinating experience in and of itself. Lo and behold, I secured an internship which I will begin in a few days. I am extremely excited and can't wait to dive into the whole experience.

Also towards the beginning of the month, I headed to the Poconos with my family and spent a few days riding horses, rafting, and relaxing. I didn't snap any pictures throughout the whole trip in an attempt to distance myself from the internet for the few days I had escaped the clutches of everyday life. Those of you who follow me in Twitter might know I got my first sunburn ever and my shoulders are still recovering from the skin damage.

Now why did I start off this monthly wrap up with a photo of fruit in a bowl? Well, I actually spent quite a bit of time at home this month and have decided that I need to adjust my diet to be more wholesome. Also, I was thinking ahead to how I would plan my meals once school started again. I have been loving greek yogurt (yes, there is some yogurt under all that fruit and honey) which has been a breakfast food of choice this past month. A few months ago I tried Chobani for the first time and could not get over the tart taste and thick texture. This time I gave Fage a try and I like mixing in lots of fruits and some honey. I've tried various fruits and my favorite is probably banana with the yogurt.

I usually eat a decent amount of vegetables but over the past month I have definitely increased my vegetable intake, while lowering my meat intake. Partially this is due to my Mom having had her gall bladder surgery this month and her trying to eat healthier as well. I absolutely love broccoli and can eat it simply boiled.

I still don't have a variety of recipes under my belt so I normally cook some type of egg dish for lunch if I'm hungry. One omelette fails to fill me up so I usually prepare a side of sauteed vegetables. Mushrooms are another favorite ingredient that frequents my easy dishes.

My boyfriend and I also made mac n' cheese from scratch one day and it turned out fantastic but I didn't take a picture. It's not the healthiest thing in the world but sometimes I have to have my comfort food!

My cousins wanted to have dinner at Bare Burger so I went along and tried a combination I had never tasted before: the pesto red pepper burger. I just recently discovered that raw spinach actually tastes pretty darn good and I love how it tastes in salads and with proteins. Delish! Unlike the bareburger supreme and the california veggie burger I had ordered on previous Bareburger outings, the pesto red pepper was the perfect size and I finished it in one sitting.

On one of our outings on the Upper West Side, my boyfriend and I had an impromptu snack at a creperie. It was my first time trying a crepe and I was pretty pleased.

We chose the salmon, spinach, and cream cheese crepe which was pretty delicious. I'm not exactly sure what a crepe is supposed to taste or feel like but this one was decent. I want to try a sweet crepe next!

Just to continue on with the food pictures (am I making you hungry yet?), my absolute favorite type of pizza is white pizza. Once in awhile I will treat myself to a big slice from a local pizzeria while my boyfriend chooses one of the pasta pizzas. I do not want to think about the caloric content or  grams of fat that a single slice contains but my stomach is definitely pleased after a white pizza lunch!

Onto the non food related events of the month.... I finally visited the World Trade Center memorial for the first time. I had never been in the World Trade Center when it still existed and for a few years have wanted to visit the memorial. The process of gaining entrance into the memorial is quite a hassle but it is worth the wait and endless security checks. The waterfalls and whole plaza is beautiful and when the area is finally finished and opened to the public, I think it will be a gorgeous place. 

A week before classes started, I had two warts removed from both of my big toes which caused (and is still causing me) more discomfort than I imagined. I spent the last week of my summer vacation sitting at home because it was hard to walk around. Never take your toes for granted! I have some pretty graphic photos of the whole ordeal but I think you guys would appreciate not seeing them. Above you can see what my foot looked like the first day of school. I was limping around and I could not wear normal shoes as my left toe could (and still cannot) be touched. I really hope the wound heals enough so that I can walk properly this week....

After a fruitful summer, I'm not too upset about going back to school. The fall semester started last week and so far I find half my classes intriguing and the other half... not so much. Nonetheless, school is school and it's pretty crazy that I'm a junior already. Time is flying by!

What have you been up to this past month? Are you sad to see summer go or are you excited for fall? I know I'm already ready for fall in terms of wardrobe and makeup!