March Beauty Review

I haven’t done a beauty-related post in quite some time now, and considering how cold it is in Minnesota this time of year, I haven’t been getting out much to do activities worth writing about. The dry air of the winter has done a number on my skin and hair and thus, I felt it would be a good time to write a review of some of the products that have been helping me to survive the winter months, which are now (finally!) coming to an end.

St. Tropez Self-Tanner 

Whenever I read about self-tanners, I always think of the nasty smell that I’ve associated with them ever since first trying them years ago. I had seen this product in multiple magazines over the course of several years, always ranked as the #1 self tanner, and finally I decided to take the plunge and try it after returning from my trip to Roatán in order to maintain the tan that I had worked hard to cultivate over the week that I was there.

This self tanner does work wonders and can give anyone an amazing glow with just one application, but careful steps must be taken to make sure that you don’t have a bronzing disaster occur on your skin. I always make sure I exfoliate in the shower before applying this product, and I mix it with the body lotion that I am applying to my skin. It comes out as a mousse foam, and it can be difficult to spread it evenly without using some sort of moisturizer alongside. Wash your hands VERY carefully after using this product too, otherwise it will stain your cuticles an ugly brown color. It’s also not a bad idea to have someone help you apply it to the back and hard-to-reach areas

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Buy it here

Bobbi Brown Twilight Lip & Eye Palette 

This beautiful palette was a birthday gift from my dear roommate Julie. I’ve always loved Bobbi Brown cosmetics, as the company has a strong commitment to producing cosmetics responsibly, and often donates a portion of sales to various charities. The palette is gorgeous in packaging and the contents are awesome. I particularly like the creamy consistency of the lip colors and the variety of eyeshadows; there is a range of colors but all of them are very wearable- none are shocking or absurd colors like some of the eyeshadows in my Urban Decay palette.

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Buy it here

Pond’s Dry Skin moisturizer

This product has been a lifesaver; no matter how hard I try, my skin really suffers from the dry winter air. My daily moisturizer was not enough to help quench it, and using this twice a day has really saved my skin. It is inexpensive and available at Target, CVS, Walgreens and many other similar drug stores. The one thing I do not like about it is that it is in a jar instead of a pump container, so it is super important to make sure your hands are clean before dipping them into the cream.  

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L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara 

At first, I hated this product. I thought it was clumpy and made my eyelashes stick together. Eventually, when I ran out of the other mascaras that I had, forcing me to use it, I gave it a second chance and ended up falling in love with the results. I’m not sure what it is, maybe the first couple uses out of the tube are just extra thick and do not apply well, but I am glad that I kept giving it second chances because I am very happy with the results now.

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Leave-in Conditioner 

This spray-in conditioner by Davines is the newest addition to my hair product collection and I am loving everything it does to my hair. Davines is a family-owned international hair product line that is strongly committed to sustainability in all of their products, which is something very important to me. This spray-in conditioner leaves my hair silky smooth, tames flyaways and is a heat protectant, so I spritz it on before using any heated tools.

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Buy it here

LUSH Sandstone Soap

Not only does this product smell amazing, it works wonders on dry, flaky winter skin. The rough sandstone that is integrated into the soap exfoliates like a dream; just make sure to moisturize after using this soap. I love it, I am so happy my roommates picked this up for me for my birthday. By far the best bar soap I have ever owned and used.

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Buy it here

Dove Dryspray

This deodorant is not really worth taking pictures of, but if you’re in the market for a new deodorant that is applied a different way from a usual stick, this is the way to go. Spray it on and within minutes it is dry, and I have gotten the best protection from this product than every other deodorant I have ever tried. It isn’t perfect and still sometimes doesn’t work, but I would say I’ve had the most success and would definitely buy this product again.

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Makeup Haul: MAC, L’Oreal and The Body Shop!

Besides the changing color of leaves, cooler weather and the re-emergence of the Starbucks “Pumpkin Spice Latte,” the transition from summer to fall to winter brings with it the excuse to change up a makeup collection and experiment with new shades and products. Recently, in the spirit of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, I decided to “treat myself” with a trip to the MAC counter as well as the Body Shop and Target for some fall staples.

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MAC PRODUCTS

This was definitely a day that I was in a splurge mood – I went to the MAC counter with the full understanding that I would be spending a hefty amount of money. Without that attitude, I probably would have grown frustrated with the sales techniques of the makeup artists that hustle the customers who merely browse the counter. I had my makeup done by a lovely woman who was very mindful of my request to have a nice “natural” look, which was a huge relief considering that half of the MAC artists tend to look like drag queens. She was not pushy, very blunt and to the point, which I really liked, as it made the experience far more comfortable.

1. Foundation

I am lucky and am blessed with typically non-problem skin. I like a simple foundation that has a bit of coverage, but most importantly, sunscreen, at least SPF 15. Sun protection is so important yet it often goes unrecognized by women when they are selecting a foundation for everyday wear. I now wear the MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 foundation in 2.0. I love the coverage that it gives me; a thin layer makes my skin look truly flawless. One thing I would be cautious with when it comes to this foundation is if you have sensitive skin, as I have heard from others that it can be itchy and cause irritation, so always try a sample first before buying.

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2. Eyeshadows

This purple-toned palette was the perfect investment, and by the careful advice of my MAC counter consultant, I purchased the palette fully understanding how to combine the different tones of purple in order to have different “day” and “night” looks. It is the MAC cosmetics “A Passionate Quest Quad” and the names of the colors starting from the upper left and going clockwise: The Wrong Man; Serenade, Brazenly and Stay Sultry

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This palette is $40 which is a bit steep for eyecolor, but I really love how the shades look. The darker shades are pigmented while the light purple is a nice crease highlighter

This MAC electric cool eye shadow in SUPERWATT is my favorite eyeshadow I have ever owned. It is a rosy-gold color that has a creamy texture and it goes on super smooth. It can also double as a highlighter which can be great when trying to achieve a contoured look. price: $21

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3. Lipsticks

The three lipsticks I purchased were all from the Maybelline color sensational line, and to have a decent variety I picked three different shades to add to my collection.

I picked up No. 615 “Summer Sunset” – a Deep pink and red blend with just a slight bit of shine that intensifies the natural color of my lips nicely, a nice lipstick to wear to add color without getting too dramatic.

Plums have been all the rage this season and when paired with a natural looking eye color, they can truly be a stunning and dramatic statement. No. 435 in “Plum Perfect”

A pretty coral color can add a pop to any look – No. 515 “Coral Crush”

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4. Brushes

To add some tools to my collection, I picked up the MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face brush for easy and smooth application of the foundation. I used to almost always use my fingers to apply foundation, but I’ve found that using a brush makes the process much easier and the final result is a much more even and professional looking appearance. It is a bit expensive at $42, but good quality brushes are an important part of any makeup collection.

5. Skin – The Body Shop

This mango body butter has worked wonders for my hands as the air has gotten noticeably drier in the past few weeks with the weather getting colder. The only complaint I have would be the price for the size; The Body Shop is not a cheap investment for purchasing lotions, and the container pictured here is rather small; regular use of this product would lead to running out of it real quick. But it works wonders for moisteurization of my hands and it smells absolutely delicious.

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The Cocoa Butter Body Scrub was a great purchase for winter, it sloughs off dry skin while adding much needed moisture. And it smells delicious!

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Dessa Remixed: The Elixery Lipstick Review

I am not a professional when it comes to wearing lipsticks. I eat and drink things almost constantly, smudge it accidentally by touching my face and sometimes even downright miss half of my lip surface area when trying to apply it. This inability to master the in’s and out’s of wearing lipstick has resulted in a collection of colors that is quite small, and is limited almost exclusively to cheap drugstore brands, which are nice colors but nothing special when it really comes down to it. A few weeks ago, I read an article about one of my all-time favorite musicians, Dessa, an incredible rapper from my own city of Minneapolis. The article mainly focused on music of a re-release of one of Dessa’s old albums, but a small snippet at the end mentioned that she now had her own lipstick color that she got to design herself at a local cosmetics company in Minneapolis. The Elixery Cosmetic House is a locally owned company that specializes in original, vegan and cruelty free cosmetics, including lipsticks, body care products and essential oils. Despite my lack of passion for lipcolor, I was intrigued at the prospect of owning a lipstick that was designed by none other than the *gasp* Dessa Darling of Minneapolis. I had to have one.


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After searching around on their website, I soon learned of an upcoming event where their products would be featured: The No-Coast Craft-o-Rama 2014 hosted in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. I alerted the troops (read: roommates) and we all bundled up and headed off to the event, excited to see what guilty pleasures it would hold in store.

I quickly sought out the Elixery booth and informed the saleswoman that I wanted the lipstick. She was very friendly, and I soon learned that she was the owner of the Elixery, and she had a chemistry and biology background. It was very refreshing to hear her story of how she had started the company, first working as a microbiologist and then branching out to start her very own cosmetics line, fulfilling a dream that she had since she was seven years old. As a soon-to-be graduating senior with a biology degree, sometimes I feel like my passions do not always line up with my field of study, but people like her really remind me that no matter what you go into, you can use the skills that you’ve gained to fulfill passions or expand on a hobby and turn it into a career.

Ok, enough blabbling. Here is the actual product review of The Elixery’s “Dessa Remixed”.

Criteria 1: Packaging

The gold-colored metal casing of the lipstick is one of the novelties that made the experience of purchasing a lipstick that much more special. It feels vintage compared to all the other lipsticks in my (rather limited) collection. It is a sturdy design without being too that I will pay more attention to take care of, and it is a unique piece amongst all my other lipsticks in identical plastic cases. I love the feel of it and the imprint of “Elixery” around the perimeter.

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Criteria 2: Color

Looking past my bias from being obsessed with the lipstick solely because it is from the “Dessa” line, I sincerely do love the color of this lipstick. It is a rich red pigment with some purple undertones that not only compliment most skin tones, but also work really well for winter. For me, I have to pair it with a more natural eye-makeup scheme to prevent my face from looking gaudy and overdone.

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Criteria 3: Application ease and resilience

The application of the beautiful, perfectly sculpted color stick was intimidating at first, but once I got over the initial anxiety I had about putting it on, it glided on with ease. So far, this lipstick has stayed on well even through drinking some wine and eating, but it is not a lip stain, which is a good thing.

IMG_3854Overall, I love this lipstick. I love the color and I love that I am not only reppin’ one of my favorite rappers, but I am also supporting a local business run by a dedicated and inspiring woman. Props to the Elixery.

Get your “Dessa Remixed” lipstick here! 

Summer Beauty Update!

haven’t done a beauty post in awhile, and I don’t really do many of them as it is far from my field of expertise, but I truly enjoy reviewing products and trying out new things for my skin/hair, so I figured why not do a “summer makeup” routine post.
If you have been reading my blog, you are well aware that I am studying abroad in Toledo, Spain for this summer. This means a lot of heat and sweatiness and sunshine, which has forced me to modify my makeup routine a bit since being here.
Foundation

Because it is so hot, I really try to avoid excessive use of concealer and powder on my face, as I would probably sweat it off quickly and it would clog up my pores and cause breakouts. Sunscreen is almost a necessity, as it is always super sunny here and I burn easily. Lately I have been combining neutrogena’s oil free moisturizer (SPF 15) with my maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream (SPF 30) to protect from harmful rays and even out my skin tone. I really really love the maybelline BB cream, this is probably the third or fourth time I’ve purchased it, as it’s a great all-season foundation for me. The titanium dioxide sunscreen component does wonders for protecting skin against ALL forms of harmful UV radiation. Many people don’t know this, but not all sunscreens protect from burning rays as well as aging rays, but titanium dioxide does!

On the far left in the above picture is my travalo. If you haven’t heard of travalo, it’s a perfume atomizer, which means a travel size spray tube that you can pump your own perfume into. It’s really awesome for traveling due to small size and it’s refillable and it sprays, which I highly prefer to purchasing rollerball versions of perfume for travel. My current scent is Vera Wang princess, a personal fave. 

 
The far right is a new one for me, it’s the European Wax Center’s baked brow powder. ($18?) I bought it after my last eyebrow wax because I wanted a product to use to shape and intensify my eyebrows for going out, and so far I have really enjoyed it. Shaping eyebrows is not an easy task, however, but I am slowly improving. Patience is key. 


I like to keep it light when it comes to lipstick colors in the summer, as being hotter can run the risk of smudging. Above is maybelline color sensational lipstick in sugared almond, my personal favorite at the moment.

 
Another product that I’m not sure if I would recommend to others (because I’m still not quite sure what it is) would be this 

Aveda’s Balancing Concentrate blue oil. I sort of got talked into buying this in a moment of money spending frenzy and didn’t pay much attention to what the stylist at the salon was saying. Basically it’s a rollerball oil to rub on temples or pressure points to relax. It is a strong minty scent, and while it is relaxing, I’m not sure I would recommend it as it is quite expensive and not really a super useful product, unless you get a lot of headaches. It is nice to relax and gently rub into temples, just a pricy item ($20 or so for this small tube) for a broke college kid like myself. 
 
A new product that I have been LOVING is the Hawaiian tropic silk hydration after sun lotion. Normally for sunburn, I use aloe gel with lidocaine but because this little bottle was so cute in the travel product section, I had to buy it. 
 

I absolutely love it!! I have always had good luck with Hawaiian tropic products, and I have been using this aloe as a normal moisturizer even when I am not burned because I love the way it hydrates my skin and smoothes out imperfections.

And that’s about it as far as new beauty products go, hope you enjoyed this post! More beauty reviews in the near future, with one being specific to Toledo, Spain!

Natural Beauty Experiment – HENNA HAIR COLOR!

Since middle school, I’ve always been active in changing up my hair color and style. Lately however, primarily for financial reasons,  I have been removed from the hair industry and haven’t done much to upkeep my color or style. It’s too much money to spend when I know I will need to go back in to have the color fixed in a matter of weeks, so this time I opted for a more natural option to try at home. I have tried several times in the past to color my hair myself with boxed dyes from drugstores, and every time the job turned out terribly and I had to spend far more money getting it fixed professionally than I saved. Boxed dyes are the enemy, but this time I did it different. It’s called “Light Mountain” Natural hair color and conditioner. It was very inexpensive, I purchased it at the Wedge co-op in Minneapolis for $6.99. It is made from henna, a flowering plant that has been used as dye for tattoos, fabrics and hair since Ancient Egyptian times. It is all natural, with no ammonium or peroxide, and USDA certified organic. After being reassured it wouldn’t cause any dramatic change and it was very conditioning, I decided it was worth a shot.

It was a fairly easy process to set up with very clear directions, boil water in a non metal container and mix in the powdered plant mixture, stir thoroughly and let set for about 30-45 minutes. The smell was a little funky, very hippie-esque and not chemical like a boxed dye. The mixture was a bit intimidating in color, a dark green with a lumpy consistency, but vigorous stirring smoothed it out to a more desirable texture.

Applying it was a bit messier than normal boxed dyes, it is a much thicker mixture than any color I’ve worked with before and it doesn’t blend into hair strands quite the same way. Care must be taken to ensure no clumps fall out and stain carpet or clothing. My roommate Katie helped to work it through my hair to ensure even coverage.

Definitely kind of gross in appearance, but overall pretty fun to experiment with. After letting it sit in my hair for just over an hour, I hopped back in the shower to shampoo it out. This was the tricky part. It was messy, making my shower look like it was covered in mud, and it took two shampoos to fully clear all the product that caked on to strands. It was conditioning, but I still used my own conditioner to smooth out my hair. The plant smell also lingered for a few days even with shampooing. It’s not unpleasant, just different from what I am used to.

The end result: Richer hair color without a dramatic change or any catastrophe. What I would do differently next time would be to buy an even darker shade to have a bit more dramatic of results, knowing that the color isn’t damaging or extremely permanent.

PRODUCT REVIEW: LATEST SEPHORA HAUL

A huge goal of mine since entering the blogging world and becoming addicted to various bloggers and vloggers has been to enter and become a part of the beauty community found on YouTube and other platforms of social media. I have always liked make-up and various beauty products, but never was adamant about wearing it everyday, as school and work makes it hard to have the time to put much effort into appearance. Lately though I have managed to spend more time on getting ready and my appearance, and overall, I have better days when I put in the time to put on makeup and style my hair in the morning. It just gives me an extra boost of self-confidence, overall brightening my attitude throughout the day. My recent trip to Sephora left me with a lot of great products, and I’d like to do a review of them on here for anyone interested!

The main purpose of my journey into the store was to pick up a concealer. I am very fortunate to not have problematic skin most of the time, but every woman needs to have a good concealer available for when blemishes arise unexpectedly. The artists working in the store showed me a few options, and I settled for the Benefit cosmetics “boi-ing” concealer in 01 light. It has a creamy texture without being thick and gross, and it covers any spot amazingly.  I love the light, non-greasy application and that just a tiny bit will cover up any problem spots.

Next product I needed was a bronzer. I have a terrible time picking out bronzers, because of my light complexion that tans fairly well, I almost always either pick out one that is way too dark and makes me look like Snookie, or one that is so light that there’s no point in applying it to my skin.  I tried out the Sephora bronzing powder in bora-bora, and it works magnificently for my skin. I also learned some very interesting consumer information while testing out Sephora products. According to the artist who was helping me select the perfect shade for me, all Sephora products are consumer-tested against MAC cosmetics products and the only ones that make it to the store shelves are one that consistently beat out their MAC counterparts. Definitely an interesting insider secret that makes me trust the Sephora brand, even if it may be a bit pricey.

Next thing I “needed” was a new lipstick. I’ve really been loving coral colors lately, and the Sephora skinny-tubed lipstick in 2074A is a fantastic shade for a dramatic, but professional look. The skinny tube of the lipstick makes it easier to apply to small lips like mine and avoid smudging. I absolutely love this lipstick and I am excited to try out more Sephora brand lipsticks in the future.

SO that’s the end of all the products I actually purchased, but the wonderful thing about Sephora is all the little samples that you get when you check out. For my purchase, I “earned” a sample of the Sephora body butter, a philosophy microdermabrasion face wash, and a small tube of “Too Faced” Primed and poreless pure facial primer. Giving out samples is truly a brilliant way to market products. Companies like BirchBox have figured this out, because for myself and many consumers, if I have a positive experience with a sample of a product, it’s more likely than not I will continue to purchase and use that product.
The philosophy face wash was amazing, generally I do not like the products by Philosophy, as all of their body washes and other things are heavily scented, and all the scents are very sweet and nauseating. Their face-wash definitely redeems their reputation and I definitely plan on buying a big bottle in the future.  The wash is exfoliating without being harsh, and is an excellent cleanser, leaving skin feeling extremely fresh.
The Too Faced primer was a new product for me, I’ve never thought to use something to prime my face before applying foundation, the very thought seems to be one of extreme excess. I gave it a shot nonetheless, and I must say I am a primer convert.

Successful makeup trips are the best, because spending money on products that I enjoy using everyday makes the effort worth it. Hope you all enjoyed this haul 🙂

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