Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012 Wrap Up

Can it be the end of November already?! The year is almost at an end and November was a relatively good month just as we approach December, my favorite month of the year. In the past the brisk weather was more of a downer but aside from the first week or so, the weather was quite agreeable. This was the month that a lot of exciting things were coming together and while the preparation was (and still is) stressful and troublesome, I am looking forward to the upcoming months. I know I am being quite vague but in the next few weeks and months you will get a better idea of what I mean!

So about that weather.... Days after Hurricane Sandy, we experienced a sudden cold front with a decent amount of snow. Thankfully the snow melted pretty quickly and the streets weren't completely slushy. Snow is great only when I have nowhere I have to be and I can avoid public transportation.

There are still quite a few trees that are in the process of changing colors which always makes for a beautiful scene. I make it a point to try to walk through Madison Square Park on my way to class because I love seeing all the tiny critters and being enveloped in fresh foliage. Not to mention Shake Shack smells pretty darn good.

The Madison Square Park squirrels are incredibly friendly and one of them thought I had food so he or she (let's just assume it's a boy) proceeded to climb onto my boot. I already had my phone out snapping photos of another squirrel so I quickly took this shot before shaking my boot to get the hungry little guy off. Even after I had gently shaken him off, he continued to stare at me from about a foot away, waiting for scraps. If you drop food accidentally, the squirrels and pigeons of the park will not be afraid to swarm you. Consider yourself warned.

I don't know about the squirrels in your neighborhood but these squirrels are definitely packing the pounds! I saw some tourists hand feeding the squirrels and sneakily took a picture. As much as I would like to feed the little critters, as a child I was taught in school that squirrels have extremely sharp teeth. I would rather just watch them from afar and keep the tips of my fingers intact.

For the longest time I never found the Empire State Building to be attractive at all. The Chrysler Building is a lot easier on the eyes in my opinion. However, the Empire State in various colors is really breathtaking and definitely eye catching. The building was red, white and blue for awhile during and after the national election. 

Although I try not to eat at the same restaurant too many times for fear of getting bored of the food, Bare Burger is a go-to for my friends and I. The prices are reasonable, service is always good and the food is delicious! The pesto red pepper burger is my favorite and it will probably be my burger of choice whenever I go to Bare Burger. 

This November my boyfriend and I celebrated our third year anniversary and we took advantage of the brilliant weather by going to Central Park and having a mini photo-op session. Despite having lived in New York City pretty much my entire life, I have yet to explore every nook and cranny of Central Park and each time it feels like a new park. 

While there were a few downed trees, most of the large ones were intact and still as majestic as ever. Everyone who visits the city must spend a few hours walking about Central Park! After we walked around quite aimlessly, we worked up an appetite and headed to a Greek restaurant I found on Yelp. 

Kefi, at 505 Columbus Avenue, is a two floor restaurant that fills up very quickly once dinner time is in high gear. We arrived somewhat early without a reservation and we were seated without a problem. Most of the patrons come in groups of four or more so the atmosphere is very festive and cheery. The decor is authentic and evokes a sense of intimacy between guests and food. 

Above are the appetizers we chose, the kalamari and selection of spreads for two with pita. We always order kalamari no matter where we go and Kefi's was tasty but nothing amazing. The spreads were fun to try and come in (from top right clockwise) "caviar", yogurt, eggplant and chickpea. The flavors were mostly salty and slightly tangy which we both really liked. The pita was warm and soft, making for great finger food. 

For our first entree we chose the sheep milk ravioli which was incredibly savory. The serving size is quite small but the creaminess of the filling makes the dish heavy and satisfying. I would highly recommend this dish and have read amazing things about the sheep milk dumplings as well. 

For our second entree we chose the lamb chops over spinach rice which I had read quite a lot about on Yelp. For some reason this dish is not listed on their menu at all but the server should verbally suggest it when you are first seated. My boyfriend loves lamb while I am lukewarm to the very strong lamb taste. The porkchops are quite small but very tender and succulent. They were seasoned just right and cooked enough to give off a rich, smokey flavor. The spinach rice was creamy, buttery and had a subdued flavor that complemented the lamb. 

We were both very happy with our dinner at Kefi and would gladly return. The prices are reasonable and our waiter was very polite and attentive (if anything, he was overly attentive and would check on us every 15 minutes). If you are in the Upper West Side area, I highly recommend a meal at Kefi. 

Gobble gobble! Thanksgiving evening was spent at home as my parents always cook a huge meal for close relatives and family friends. This year my mom decided to serve mainly non-Asian food as we usually have a mix of Asian classics as well as American fare. 

I feel quite bad to have not helped with anything but my Mom prefers that I stay out of the kitchen as she thinks I will only cause more trouble.... Oh well. The potatoes were especially delicious and I was so busy eating that it totally escaped me to take some shots of the other dishes.... Whoops. 

Following the hearty Thanksgiving meal I slept in until almost 10 A.M the next morning. I rarely ever find good deals in stores during Black Friday and the whole day is more hype than actual savings. My boyfriend and I visited one of our favorite date spots, the Queens County Farm, instead. There were a lot of animals this time around including about a dozen goats, a dozen miniature horses (Lil' Sebastians! I hope at least one person gets this reference...), two alpacas and more. We then drove around Long Island a bit and randomly found a theater that was playing Wreck it Ralph. I am not a huge cartoon person (the boyfriend is a different story altogether) but I cannot remember the last time I laughed as much during a movie. I think I was laughing and smiling throughout 85% of the movie and the other 15% I was on the verge of tears or being scared. It's a great film for both kids and adults and I give it two big thumbs up!

Looking back, November was a really good month and I am very thankful for so many aspects of my life. I hope that my good fortune and positive outlook will continue throughout December so 2012 can be closed out on good terms. How was your month? What were some of your November highlights?

Black Friday Haul: Sephora and Kiehl's (Samples Galore!)

Black Friday never really appealed to me because I despised waking up at odd hours of the cold morning to stand in line with hundreds of other irritable people. I skipped the brick and mortar shops and took to the internet instead because Sephora and Kiehl's were having decent sample deals and I wanted to get some Christmas shopping done.

From Sephora I grabbed two of the $10 deals for myself and everything else in my order was for friends. The Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes Duo seemed like a decent deal and I am stockpiling makeup removing wipes for a travel opportunities (my most used excuse for hoarding beauty products). The nail wipes sound too good to be true as they claim that one little pad can remove polish from ten nails. I will report back when I've tested them out. The Stila Merry & Bright Holiday Palette and Kitten Lipglaze turned out to be a much better deal than I had anticipated. I had originally added this to my cart thinking it was going to be a gift but while my order was still shipping, I thought of something else I would rather get my friend, So the set became mine and the six eyeshadows are strikingly similar to the shades from the In The Light palette. The convertible color in Lillium is gorgeous and so is the lipglaze. A full review with detailed swatches will be up in a day or two because I cannot wait to share this awesome set (which unfortunately was only for Black Friday, bummer).

From Kiehl's I only ordered the Ultra Facial Moisturizer because I have been wanting to try it out for some time and the price is very reasonable for the amount you get. Honestly, I just wanted to purchase something relatively inexpensive so that I could get a bunch of samples to try. Samples are my downfall....

The pile above is the hoard of samples that I received with my orders which I am very excited about. Some of the samples are pretty worthless like the Too Faced Shadow Insurance paper sample but a lot of the skincare and haircare ones will be fun to test out.

Check out the video below to see the products a bit better as well as some of the sample highlights!

I have two orders from Bumble and Bumble that I purchased during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and will do a video and post on both orders when they arrive. Bumble and Bumble have been having some issues regarding backorders and the like so watch out for that post in upcoming weeks. Did you haul any beauty goodies during Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Revlon LipButter in Créme Brulée Revisited

When the Revlon lip butters were all the rage on Youtube and blogs, I held fast to my wallet and steered away from the drugstores. But my willpower never lasts too long and I grabbed two shades from the colorstay lip butter line, just to see what the hype was about. That was many months ago and I never really reviewed or even mentioned these lip butters aside from the original haul post. Honestly, these were neither fantastic or complete duds so they never got a mention. Recently I dug out Créme Brulée, a beige nude, just for kicks and decided to swatch it just for the sake of sharing another lip swatch with the world.

The color pay off is sheer but semi-buildable with Créme Brulée and pigmentation varies depending on each shade. The swatch below is about two or three light swipes across the lips. The color is nice for toning down my naturally dark lip color without looking completely washed out, which is a good thing. The bad? This is not a moisturizing lip product whatsoever. I have to apply this over lip balm or else the product will cling onto any dry areas or flaky skin. While my lips are not dehydrated after wearing this, my lips seem to flake, making it impossible to reapply and get a good look.

If you never have issues with dry lips and you're looking for a sheer nude lipstick, Créme Brulée is a nice budget friendly option. I think the darker shades are usually more forgiving in terms of clinging to dry spots so I'm still interested in trying darker shades. Have you given the cult favorite Revlon lip butters a shot? Which are your favorite shades?

Monday, November 26, 2012

French Pharmacy Haul: La Roche Posay, Nuxe, and Klorane

My obsession with skincare, bodycare and haircare (essentially everything beauty that is not makeup) continues with a few French pharmacy bits from the drugstore!

My dehydrated skin is craving my favorite moisturizer, La Roche Posay's Toleriane, and a 25% off coupon from CVS was the perfect excuse to pick up a new tube. I have been happy with the three products I have tried from La Roche Posay and generally hear good things about other French pharamacy brands so naturally, I had to expand my horizons.

I stumbled upon two great travel sets from Nuxe and Klorane at Duane Reade on 34th street and 3rd avenue. The Nuxe Winter Travel Kit retails for $15 so it breaks down to about $3 per product which I think is a reasonable price. The set is available online through the Nuxe website as well. The kit includes a micellaire water, face moisturizer, multi-purpose oil for body, skin or hair, handcream and shower gel. This set will be great for getting a feel for Nuxe as a brand and the sizes are perfect for short trips. The plastic pouch is reusable and is airport friendly.

After having much success with Klorane's Oat Milk Dry Shampoo, the Travel Friendly Faves kit looked like a fantastic way to try the Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner as well as their Cornflower Makeup Remover Wipes. A travel sized version of their award-winning dry shampoo is also included in set. The entire set retails for $19.50 and the box states the original value as $30.50.

Check out the video below to get a closer look at the products!

Have you tried any of these products or brands? Do you like to explore beauty products from various countries?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm: Before and After

Last year I tried my first BB cream, the Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream to be exact, which I liked but was not amazed enough to buy the full size. A few months ago I received the Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream in a Birchbox and was excited to see if this would be a bit more moisturizing and than the Premium version.

The Water Fuse variation supposedly contains 50% water to hydrate and impart a dewy look to the skin. This BB cream is oil free and contains SPF 25 PA++ which is decent for day to day wear. I almost always apply sunscreen underneath my makeup but on very lazy days BB creams are great because they have a bit of sun protection. Like most BB creams, this one comes in one "universal" shade which will only suit people with skin on the lighter end of the spectrum. The 50 ml tube retails for $34 at Sephora but $32 at Birchbox.

Above you can see my bare face on the left with absolutely no makeup and the right side is only with the BB cream applied with my fingers. I dabbed the cream all over my face and used it like a concealer over my dark circles. Although not all of my discoloration and acne scarring is covered, I think the coverage is quite good for a BB cream. My under eyes are significantly brighter and the general unevenness of my skin is reduced.

A really cool feature of this BB cream is that when applied with the fingers, you can see particles that look like shimmery water droplets glide onto your skin. I failed to notice this aspect until my third time wearing it because the effect seems to show under certain lighting conditions. There is no shimmer in the formula and the feeling is only a very brief cooling, almost wet sensation but it actually looks like you are rubbing water into your skin. This effect does not seem to show if you use a buffing brush for application. Using a brush actually allows me to use less product so I can avoid a heavy layer of makeup sitting on my skin.

After you have fully blended the product in, the skin is not tacky or sticky at all and my skin felt a bit dry. I do not find this BB cream moisturizing at all and it even seemed to highlight some of my drier spots which was disappointing. However, I found that throughout the day the BB cream seemed to meld with my natural skin oils and it looked better after a few hours of wear. The oil control is highly impressive as only my nose got a tiny bit oily after eight hours of wear. My cheeks, forehead and chin were impressively non-greasy thanks to this BB cream. Even though my oil is controlled, this BB cream imparts a lovely sheen to my skin that gives me a subtle glow that allows me to skip a highlighting product altogether. My skin looks brighter and healthier even if some spots aren't totally covered.

The Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream is a nice product if you are fair, like natural looking skin, have normal to oily skin and want a glowy complexion. While I enjoy using this product for daily wear, I wish it was just a touch less heavy on the skin as I can definitely tell I am wearing makeup. I am currently debating if I should purchase the full size as an everyday base product. If you have tried this, let me know your thoughts! What is your favorite BB cream?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pampering Products For a Relaxing Night In

While my makeup spending has waned over the past few months, I have been spending way more on pampering goodies which is probably mostly inspired by the likes of Vivianna Does Makeup and other beauty bloggers. Sometimes a bit of unnecessary primping is... well, necessary. As a child I used to detest showers as it meant half an hour of tedious scrubbing and less time for play. Now, I look forward to coming home from a long day of mucking about the city and enjoying a nice warm shower and a moisturizing face mask to sooth my skin. These are my top picks and products that I have been using often as of late to treat myself a few days a week!

Lush Almond and Coconut Shower Smoothie - If you read my review on this, you'll know that I quite adore it because it smells like a delicious vanilla milkshake and is a nice body wash that softens the skin. I particularly like to use this before shaving my legs for optimum smoothness.

Lush Ro's Argan Body Conditioner - This is another gorgeous smelling product and is a great treat for the skin as a last step shower measure. It adds a hint of moisture and the slightest slip on the skin which will be great for people with normal skin. Unfortunately my severely dehydrated, chapped skin needs a bit more TLC and this does not replace a moisturizer for me. I have yet to find my holy grail, pampering body moisturizer so it is exempt from this post. Let me know your recommendations in the comments!

Elemis Sp@home Tranquil Touch Creamy Body Wash* - I picked this up from Apothica purely because it was on sale and Elemis is a brand I have been wanting to try. This body wash feels luxurious and moisturizing and does not contain harsh ingredients such as SLS. I really enjoy the texture of this body wash and it definitely feels very luxe. That being said, the scent is not really up my alley as it has a very masculine scent. I think this would make a lovely gift for a boyfriend, husband, brother, father or whatever male relation you need to shop for this holiday season!

L'Occitane Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap in Milk - Ah, good old bar soap is sure to be a shower time staple for the rest of my life. Only around last year did I first try bar soap as I had always associated bar soaps as a masculine product since my dad is the only one who uses bar soap that I know of. There is definitely some kind of old time novelty that a good hunk of bar soap delivers and this particular one from L'Occitane is moisturizing and pleasant smelling. The scent is faint and pairs well with other scents from lotions and whatever I decide to slather on my body that day. A bar will last a decent amount of time and is not too pricey. The environmental benefits include saving water by not having it in the formula and reducing plastic consumption as the soap comes in recyclable paper. It is also more energy efficient to transport lightweight soaps as opposed to heavy bottles of diluted body wash so the carbon footprint is further reduced. Seriously, bar soap is awesome and you should all give it a try!

Jurlique Herbal Recovery Gel Mask* - Moving onto skincare, the most pampering masks are definitely ones that inject moisture into my skin and bring out the inner plumpness that can sometimes be lost. I like to use this gel mask in place of my night time skincare routine and leave it on overnight. This mask is one of the best skincare products I have ever used because it not only soothes the skin but also leaves it feeling hydrated and healthy. I find that it helps acne scars and scabs heal faster as well. 

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask - In the same vein, this is Origin's answer to plump and moisturized skin. Although this is meant to be an overnight mask, I prefer to leave it on for about an hour or so before bed and rinse most of it off before hopping under the sheets. The thicker formula includes silicones that aggravates my skin sometimes and could be the culprit to some minor breakouts I had experienced recently. Letting my skin soak up a bit of the product and rinsing the excess away helps my skin from feeling too weighed down. This mask is exactly half the price of the Jurlique option for the same amount of product and many people seem to agree with the Origins one. 

Orofluido Beauty Elixir for Hair - Before this year I had never really paid much attention to my hair but after applying oils and other after-wash treatments, I noticed an improvement in the strength and texture of my hair. The Orofluido Beauty Elixir is made with a blend of oils to help with a variety of hair issues. Honestly I am trying several different hair serums and treatments and this is one that I have on hand at the moment that is decent. I recently ran out of Josie Maran's Argan Oil which I really enjoyed as well.

Lush R&B Hair Treatment - This is another hair treatment but is a solid balm as opposed to an oil. This is particularly nice for pre-styling as it gives my hair more hold and texture. The scent of this is also very nice and lingers in my hair. Taking a few extra minutes to put some product on the ends of my hair has helped my locks look healthier and further adds to the pampering regimen. 

Nail Polishes - I try to make some time to paint my nails about every week because it is a very calming way to de-stress my mind. Having pretty fingernails when I'm out and about is also much better than having uneven, brittle nails. A few of my favorite picks for this time of year are ORLY Rage, Zoya JulesZoya Kendal, and Spoiled Breakfast in Red. 

L'Occitane Amber Candle - I vowed to not succumb to the candle craze and yet somehow I still did. I picked up this candle from L'Occitane when I went in to get the soap because the musky yet sweet scent was quite unique. I can imagine some people finding this scent to be very old or maybe even granny-ish  but it personally evokes images of a log cabin in the woods. 

Voluspa Panjore Lychee Candle* and Pomegranate Patchouli Candle* - Continuing with the candle love, I acquired these small candles purely because of the adorable size. The panjore lychee candle is a bit too sweet for my liking but the pink tin makes a beautiful mantle piece and the pomegranate patchouli candle is more musky and sensual. Unfortunately I think the sheer tininess of these candles make it very difficult for me to detect the scents unless I directly try to smell the candles. They definitely make pretty decorations and having a few mini candles lit around a dim room sets up the environment for a night of rest and relaxation.

Bath & Body Works Leaves Candle - First and foremost I am not a fan of Bath & Body Works but I am a huge fan of Ingrid so I had to pick up this candle when I found it for 50% off. I absolutely adore the smell of this candle. It invokes memories of Christmas and a warm, cozy home. The fragrance is very strong and I love the way it fills the room for a few days after I've burned the candle. 

Check out the video below to see the products a bit better and to hear more of my ramblings!


How do you pamper yourself after a long and stressful day? Let me know what your favorite beauty products are when you want to unwind in the comments below!

Items denoted with a * were given to me for free by companies for consideration. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lush Ro's Argan: Another Shower Time Add In

My shower routine used to be simple: face cleanser, shampoo, hair conditioner and lastly body wash. After discovering the wonders of the beauty world, a whole new array of bath time goodies joined my daily routine. Lush adds another luxurious step to your shower with Ro's Argan, a body conditioner meant to nourish the skin post wash.

This body treatment comes at a price of $32.95 for a 8.4 oz tub; it is not a bargain product but will not empty your bank account either. The ingredients list is full of tantalizing oils and butters that make the price justifiable. Argan oil is towards the middle of the list so the name is a bit misleading. There are parabens at the bottom of the list which may be troublesome for people who avoid preservatives in their skincare but I usually do not mind.

The scent lives up to the name and smells absolutely gorgeous. I personally love rose scented beauty products and Ro's Argan has a unique rose scent that many seem to adore. The scent lingers a bit after use but is not overpowering in the slightest.

Ro's Argan feels like a lotion when you scoop a dollop onto your palm but when spread onto the skin and mixed with water, it dissolves into a diluted milky liquid. I apply the product all over my body as I need all the moisture I can get and I find that stepping away from the shower water is best. I like to let the product soak in for a few seconds before rinsing off quickly as it would be a waste to wash all the product off before your skin gets a chance to appreciate it. After using this product there is the tiniest bit of residue left on my skin that I do not find greasy or oily.

In fact, I actually prefer if the residue was a bit more substantial given my dry-as-the-sahara skin and that is my biggest qualm about Ro's Argan. It just does not replace a good old fashioned body moisturizer for me and that will prevent me from shelling out for another tub after this one bites the dust. I was hoping Ro's Argan would condition my skin enough so that I could skip body lotion but adding another step just for the sake of feeling pampered doesn't make too much sense to me. Maybe Lush will make a more intensive version of this someday and then I can indulge happily.

Have you tried Ro's Argan by Lush? What's your secret to smooth, moisturized skin in the winter?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Walk in the Park OOTD

Coat, Peplum Top, Necklace - H&M / Jeans - American Eagle / Cardigan - Gap /
Faux Fur Scarf - Uniqlo / Boots - Vince Camuto / Bag - Cole Haan
I think of myself first and foremost as a beauty blogger but personal style occupies a small space on the blog as well and I convinced the boyfriend to play photographer during a Central Park outing. We just celebrated our three year anniversary (more details in this month's wrap up post) so I wanted to pick up some new pieces to wear.

I jumped onto the peplum bandwagon when I found this lovely pink and white floral top for $18 and a 40% coupon to make the deal even sweeter. All jewelry and hair accessories were buy one get one free so I picked up this gem encrusted necklace that is a nice statement piece for plain outfits.

The rest of my outfit was styled from old favorites including my much loved faux fur scarf and my trusty two tone riding boots. The weather was chilly but the skies were clear so a light coat from last year's sale (scored it for only $15!) was enough to keep me from freezing. I opted for a slouchy crossbody bag from Cole Haan as I needed a roomy purse for my camera.

From afar, the H&M necklace looks quite majestic and it's definitely a trendy piece I would rather save than splurge on. I wish you could feel how soft the fur collar is because a photo does it no justice. I picked it up at Uniqlo for under $10 last season and it is one of my most worn fall and winter accessories.

I wanted my boyfriend to join in on the fun and I also needed to practice taking some shots so here's a little bonus outfit. Even though I'm not by any means a fashion blogger nor a photographer, it's really enjoyable looking for scenic areas and snapping a few memories we can both look back on. Hopefully we can sneak in a few more outfit photo sessions before the end of the year!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Origins Clear Improvement Mask: Just Another Purifying Mask?

Those of you with oily skin may be familiar with the woes of congested pores and the greasy wells of bacteria and breakout causing agents. Okay, fine, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Nonetheless, congested skin is a no-no and a once a week purifying mask does the trick for clearing the skin and banishing zits. Pretty much every skincare company makes a purifying mask and Origins' answer is Clear Improvement, an "active charcoal mask to clear pores".

I wasn't sure if I would love this mask so I opted for the 50ml tube which retails for $16 whereas the full sized 100ml tube is $23. The larger tube is a much better value for money but honestly, you only need the smallest bit and 50ml will last me a long time.

The ingredients in Clear Improvement include kaolin and charcoal powder to really absorb grime from the pores. I somehow forgot to take a full photo of the entire ingredients list because apparently foreign language instructions on how to apply a mask are more important.... But a cursory glance reveals no eye brow raising ingredients and Origins prides themselves of not including parabens in their skincare.

I only use the tiniest bit of product and what you see above is probably enough for my nose area. I find that this mask stings my skin as it dries so using less is definitely more. If you have really sensitive skin, this mask might be unbearable for you so I suggest trying a sample of it before purchasing. The mask is very easy to spread and dries within 10 minutes but of course this depends on how thick the layer is. Like most other clay based clarifying masks, Clear Improvement dries to a hard consistency that makes it difficult to move your face. The feeling is akin to what I expect a face lift to feel like because your skin feels very tight. The mask is very easily removed with warm water and there is no leftover residue or film that hangs around.

There is only the slightest scent to this which is surprising considering most of Origins products are heavily laced with fragrance. I can barely detect the smell even when I consciously try to so I am pleased about that.

Clear Improvement seems to help keep my oily skin in check for a day or two and is like a "reset" for my skin as I think it does draw out some hidden impurities. The product is pleasant to use and is thus far my favorite purifying, clay based mask. The trial size is a great value and I would highly recommend this mask to those with congested skin who can tolerate some stinging.

Have you tried the Clear Improvement mask? What are your favorite products from Origins?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Color Club Insta-This: Electric Blue To Get Over the Blues

I have come to terms with myself that I am a warm toned gal and that warmer tones pretty much suit me better on all aspects from eyeshadow to jewelry. I typically love wearing warmer nail polishes like pinks and reds that lean orange and will occasionally throw in a dusty cool toned polish to mix things up. So imagine my surprise when I unboxed Color Club's Insta-This in my September Birchbox. Luckily, I love it.

Birchbox and Color Club worked together to create four limited edition and exclusive shades inspired by social media. As you can probably guess by the name, Insta-This was based off Instagram, one of my most used and loved apps.

Like Color Club's Clambake which I sampled from another Birchbox, Inst-This has a great formula that applies opaque within one to two coats. I always apply two coats to even everything out and the dry time was decent. This color is incredibly shiny and glossy. On the first day of application it looked pretty amazing if I do say so myself. I received more compliments than usual about this color and the fact that it looked like a gel manicure because it was so shiny. The bright color is definitely fun to look at once in awhile among the sea of vampy and dusty shades of fall.

The shine did not last long after the second day but that may be due to the type of topcoat you use. I used my Revlon Fast Drying top coat but Seche Vite may have fared a bit better. By the third day of wear I saw a few cracks in my nails but nothing chipped until the fifth day and those were only very minor tip chips. I removed the polish on day five and the color came off easily and did not stain at all.

I am once again impressed by Color Club and think I need to check out some of their other shades. They seem to be one of the underrated nail polish brands compared to Essie, OPI and China Glaze but I think the quality is definitely on par, if not better. Have you tried Color Club polishes? What do you think of Insta-This?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Give Birchbox: November 2012

Despite Hurricane Sandy delaying the November Birchbox for some subscribers, my box happened to be amongst the first wave of boxes so I received it on time. I am quite happy with my box and as you can see, it came packed with beauty goodies!

This month's theme is giving due to Thanksgiving being in November and Birchbox is quite big on social responsibility so this month they are working with The Art of Elysium. I like learning about non-profits and various organizations through Birchbox's collaborations and think they are beneficial to both parties.

The two most exciting products in my box are the ModelCo Fibre LashXtend Lengthening Macara and Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray. I believe the mascara is full size and I am excited to try my first fiber mascara. I've been getting into doing more with my hair and the spray is a nice size for traveling and ample enough for me to decide if I like it. The Caldrea Hand Soap samples are incredibly adorable as I love the packaging and font (yes, the typography is important to me). Although I probably will not be purchasing luxury hand soap, it was a nice lifestyle extra that somewhat related to beauty. The Stella Cadente Miss Me Eau de Parfum came in the cutest pouch and actually smells quite lovely. The Feeling Smitten Holiday Bath Bomb was exciting yet not so much because although I love the ideas of bath products, I never take baths as my bathtub is not suitable for them. The scent was nice and smelled of almonds and I ended up melting the whole thing in water and using it as an after shower wash.... The Soyjoy Cranberry Snack Pack was a nice addition as I like trying new snack bars and this is perfect for school days.

A little paper pouch was included in the box and came with a cute message. I am excited to use it but am still undecided on who I want to give it to and what I want to put inside. There was also a Holiday 2012 pamphlet full of gift ideas that may come in handy once I start shopping for presents.

I enjoyed this month's Birchbox as I had a nice variety of familiar and new brands to try out. I really hope the mascara does wonders for my lashes as it will make this month's box that much better. What do you think of the contents of my Birchbox?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

September and October 2012 Empties

This post is going up a bit later than usual but I hope you all are still interested in seeing which items are on their way out of my beauty cabinets! Skincare dominates the roundup as usual and there were a mix of outstanding products I hate to say goodbye to and others I couldn't wait to use the last drop of.

C. Booth Original Bath and Body Oil - As I'm a shower kinda gal and not a bath person so I used this as my body moisturizer. I was keen on trying a body oil as opposed to a normal cream or lotion. It feels a bit more luxurious to moisturize with an oil but the process can be messier and this particular oil takes awhile to sink in and not all of it does. The price tag is very easy to swallow so I cannot fault this for not living up to my moisturizing needs but the hunt is on for a better body oil.

Mandom Bright Up Cleansing Lotion - I mentioned this cult favorite in my Disappointing Products Not Worth The Hype post simply because it just seems like a giant fuss and waste of cotton. Yes, it removes eye and face makeup decently and gently but it takes about four cotton pads in one go and cleansing oils are a lot more convenient for me.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Fluide - This is the lighter version of my HG moisturizer, La Roche Posay Toleriane, and I loved this for the summer time. Everything about this is perfect for my skin and I cannot find any faults. I need to run to CVS to pick up a few more tubes of these moisturizers as my skin acts up more often when I use other moisturizers.

Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens - These oil blotting sheets get the job done but they are a bit thin for my liking. I prefer the Clean and Clear version over these as I feel they remove more oil.

Josie Maran Argan Oil - This is meant to be a multi-purpose oil that can be applied to the hair and skin. I tried this once on my face and did not fancy the feeling (it did not seem to do anything) so it became a product I used after washing my hair. After towel drying my hair, I rub two or three drops of oil between my palms and run my hands through the ends of my locks. This oil seems to have strengthened my hair and kept it more healthy looking. After starting to use this oil as a hair treatment I feel that my hair has become more manageable and less frizzy. I intend to purchase the full sized version somewhere down the road.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate - Initially my impression of this chemical exfoliator was not highly positive as the price is outrageously high. But to my surprise (and delight), this tiny 15 ml sample lasted me about a year with weekly usage. This is an above average exfoliant which I would recommend and may come back to one day. However, there are many more exfoliating products that I would like to try before repurchasing this.

Korres White Tea Facial Cleanser - This came in the Korres pomegranate regimen kit and was easily the most disappointing product out of the lot. The scent is extremely similar to generic handsoap (ick!) and the lather is very weak. I used this up as a morning cleanser but would not recommend this to anyone. I believe this product is discontinued and with good reason!

Benta Berry G-1 Exfoliating Facial Cleanser - This incredibly small sample came in one of my Birchboxes and I was quite put off by the size. The product itself feels like a creamy moisturizer loaded with minuscule scrubbing particles that slough off dead skin. I prefer chemical exfoliants so this was not right for me. The scent of this is strikingly similar to that of the Korres pomegranate line which kind of bothers me.... I cannot quite pinpoint my annoyance at the similarity of the fragrances but it just irks me. 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum - Speaking of small samples, this measly tube lasted me exactly three applications. I thought it was going to last me one and a half so I suppose I was lucky. This has the classic Caudalie scent which I like and this serum sunk into my increasingly dehydrated skin like a dream. I would consider purchasing this if the price was not so out of my price range.

Lancome Bi Facil Eye Makeup Remover - Another sample bottle of my favorite eye makeup remover bites the dust. Nothing really has to be said about this other than it works!

Mario Badescu Collagen Moisturizer SPF 15 - Surprisingly I really enjoyed this sample despite usually avoiding moisturizers with SPF in them. I normally prefer a SPF-less moisturizer coupled with a separate sunscreen for daytime but this product was surprisingly light, non-greasy and sans fragrance.

Mario Badescu Cucumber Tonic Mask - This purifying mask dried quickly and seemed to help clean my skin and temporarily minimize enlarged pores. But I just cannot stand the strong scent of this product. It's as if they tried masking the clay smell with overpowering, chemical smelling additives that make the whole thing smell highly artificial and off-putting.

Maybelline One By One Waterproof Mascara - It was a sad day when this mascara started clumping and failed to hold a curl as well as it used to. I absolutely love this mascara and proclaim it as my current favorite mascara, ever! I will definitely repurchase this.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Mascara - I do not purchase high end mascaras and this was given to me by my mom's friend who works for Estee Lauder. I like this mascara mostly for my lower lashes as it separates and lengthens very well but tends to smudge easily. This looks decent on the upper lashes as well but fails to hold a curl well.

Milani HD Advanced Concealer - This was a product I hated at first before realizing I had to moisturize very well before using it. It first showed up in Products I Regret Buying post but later made it to a favorites post! What a difference! This is a great product for low maintenance makeup days when you can only be fussed to apply a few strokes of concealer before starting the day. You can see it in action in my Five Minute Makeup Challenge. I will not repurchase this specific product but am looking to picking up a similar style concealer from another brand.

Stila In the Light Eyeshadow Palette (sample) - I know, I know, how can I possible include a paper eyeshadow sample in an empties post? Well, this sample lasted me about a month of use which was incredibly surprising. I did not realize how much I would love these shades until I received this sample in a Birchbox. Honestly, I've used this sample more than my full sized Urban Decay Naked Palette. Where is the logic?!

Benefit Hellow Flawless Powder (sample) - Unlike the eyeshadows, this powder lasted me about three full uses which was still decent. I liked how natural this powder looked while keeping my shine under control. This probably won't be a purchase but it was definitely nice to try out a new powder for a few days.

Check out the video below to hear a bit more about the products!

Have you tried any of these products? What did you finish up recently? 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lush Almond and Coconut Smoothie

On my quest to discover some new Lush goodies, their Almond and Coconut Smoothie landed into my shopping basket due to raves from MissGlamorazzi. As a shower only gal, I'm always dreaming of bubbly baths with fun bath bombs and melts. Luckily Lush has us shower folks on the mind and formulated a variety of shower smoothies which look like lotions but foam into soap.

The Almond and Coconut Shower Smoothie retails for $21.95 for an 8.8 oz tub and contains a blend of vanilla infusion, a variety of oils, sodium lauryl sulfate and others ingredients. I am happy to see some oils further up on the list than sodium lauryl sulfate as I can feel a bit of creaminess in the product when I lather up. The lather is not very thick and dissipates into a milky wash when it comes in contact with more water.

The scent is lovely and predominantly vanilla-like. I think they should have named this Vanilla Shower Milkshake instead due to the scent and texture. The smell is light but noticeable and just the right balance of sweet and warm. I personally enjoy the scent and find it one of the winning features of this product.

As a once or twice weekly shower treat, the Lush Almond and Coconut Shower Smoothie is a nice product to have on hand. It also works very well to prep the skin for a smooth shave or scrub. If you're a fan of the scent and want to jazz up your shower routine, this might be a nice pampering product to consider!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apothica Haul: Too Faced, Elemis and Voluspa

A box of beauty goodies landed on my doorstep last week courtesy of Apothica. I selected a variety of products and brands that I have been wanting to try for some time.

First there's the Too Faced Amazing Face Foundation that comes in the most exquisitely adorable packaging I have ever seen for a foundation. All of my base products have SPF in them are better suited for day to day wear rather than special events where flash photography will bounce off of the SPF particles. All of my full size base products are too dark for my fall and winter skin tone so I wanted to get a foundation for my paler complexion. I was between this foundation or Nars Sheer Glow but after testing out samples from Sephora, I like the Too Faced a bit better. You can see how this looks on my skin and how I apply it in my recent Get Ready With Me post.

Elemis is a brand I've heard a lot about but their products are quite high end and out of my budget. I found the Tranquil Touch Creamy Body Wash on sale for $10.50 so I thought it was a great deal considering the usual price is $35. I quickly added it to my shopping cart as I've been obsessed with finding new bath time products to treat myself with. The scent is surprisingly masculine and, to be honest, not my favorite. But the product itself is a nice viscous liquid that feels comfortable on the skin.

I've also been on a candle kick lately which I blame the blog and Youtube world for as I had never really been interested in home fragrances before. I acquired two mini Voluspa candles, one in Panjore Lychee and the other in Pomegranate Patchouli. The jars are beautiful and I wanted the small sizes so I could test out the scents to see if I liked them. I'm picky with fragrances so I was somewhat wary about ordering these without prior sniffing. Panjore Lychee is a very sweet (too sweet for me to love) smelling candle while Pomegranate Patchouli is musky and demure (more up my alley).

More in depth reviews and photos are on the way as I usually need a few weeks to really see how I feel about new play things. So far I'm happy with the products I chose and can't wait to incorporate them into my beauty routine!