Thursday, February 19, 2015

Makeup Review: L'oreal Butterfly Intenza Mascara

mascara review

ProductL'oreal Butterfly Intenza Mascara

Review: In the land of drugstore mascaras, there are a lot of hits and misses. Some rival even the best high-priced products out there, while others turn you into a sad, raccoony/spidery mess with red eyes.

spider lashes
What my mascara nightmares are made of... 
Fortunately, this mascara is one of the great ones. It's under $10 and it out-performs almost any expensive mascara in my arsenal, because it's a no fuss solution for my sparse, stick-straight lashes. As long as I curl them beforehand, my lashes look amaaaazing. Each one is perfectly defined, volumized, and lengthened to the point where I've gotten compliments, and believe me when I say that is no small feat. You know how some Asian women complain about their lashes? Well, a lot of Native American chicks have the same problem, and I happen to have inherited that issue.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Makeup Review: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

Blog Review of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

ProductHourglass Veil Mineral Primer

Review: I wanted to love the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. I wanted it to be the epitome of what a primer should be. I'd heard nothing about amazing things about it: my friend endorsed the shit out of it, magazines are all over it, and it's been loved up by other reviewers, makeup gurus, etc. I think I might have gotten caught up in the hype, because I placed this primer on a pedestal before I bought it. I thought "Oh, I'll try a bunch of less expensive primers and when I finally buy this one, it'll blow me away." Nope, nope, nope.

I finally bought it last August, tried it out, and was just... underwhelmed. There is nothing exceptional about this product to me. The formula is kind of runny and separates, so I have to shake the bottle every time before I use it. Once on my skin, it feels like a less silicone-y version of Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer. It does nothing to really improve the texture of my skin or lessen the appearance of my pores. It only does an OK job of controlling the oil on my T-zone; other primers work just as well. I also don't notice much of a difference in application or wear-time of my makeup. It's just so very MEH to me! It's fine for what it is, I suppose, but it's like an apple in a pile of tropical fruit. So glad I bought the $18 travel size version to test it out, because I'm only just now finishing it up. I never reach for it! It's more of a last resort kind of primer for me. An afterthought, if you will. And if you're paying more for your primer than you are for your foundation (the full-size 1oz bottle is $52), it shouldn't be an afterthought. I guess it doesn't break me out or drive me nuts with fragrance, so at least there's that?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Makeup Review: Julep Glow Highlighting Powder

ProductJulep Glow Highlighting Powder

Review: I'm all about my highlighters. I love shimmer in general, but I loooove a good champagne highlighter on my cheekbones. It makes me look awake and alive, which is hard to do in the morning, and I like to think it makes me glow all sexy-like, like those elves in Lord of the Rings. Yes, that's right Coworkers. Bask in my ethereal elven glow.

In order to give you a baseline on my preferences, my all-time favorite highlighter is TheBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer, which I reviewed way back when. 2 years later, and I think I love it more than I did initially. However, I have been using Julep's Glow Highlighting Powder this month and am loving it almost as much. Almost. 

So, so glad that I opted for it in my Maven box last month, because it's a beautiful product. The shimmer is created with actual diamond powder, I guess, which is fun. Very pigmented, finely milled, long-wearing, and a great neutral that should look good on everyone. I would define the color as another champagne shimmer tone that works with any makeup color selection. I think it's tiny bit lighter than the Mary-lou Manizer, but it's hard to tell. It's definitely more sheer, so I don't think it doubles as an eyeshadow like theBalm's does. Also, the glitter bits a bit more pronounced, so I wouldn't use it all over my face. I use it just for highlighting, which is what it's marketed for, and I'm cool with that. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Makeup Review: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara

Product: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara

Review: I actually got a free sample of something before it was available in stores. Wooo! Yay, Birchbox! I feel all elite now. Haha... jk.  Anyway, I was excited to try out this mascara because I had liked Benefit's They're Real mascara, even though it's no longer in my rotation (it's my sister's favorite though). This product is marketed as a "super-curling and lifting mascara," which is exactly what I need in my life.

 I did not luck out in the Native American/German genetics lottery where lashes are concerned. They're stick-straight, sparse, and entirely unimpressive unless curled and mascara-ed to death. I wish I had the patience for falsies every day, but I don't, so my never-ending quest for my dream mascara continues. Over the years, I've found a couple I really like for my stubby lashes, but nothing to the point of "OMG HOLY GRAIL." Benefit's Roller Lash isn't quite at that level for me. But it's close.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Haircare Review: It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product

Review: I remember trying this product once in high school and loving it. At the time, my hair was glorious - thick, lots of body, super shiny- so I didn't notice much of a difference using this leave-in as opposed to other, cheaper ones. Fast forward to now. Bitches don't warn you that in your mid-to-late 20s, you might lose a bunch of your hair or your hair might change texture. Whether it be stress, hormones, nutrition, aging, or all of these factors combined, you might start to notice hair issues you never had before once you pass the quarter century mark. And it SUCKS! I hate it so much!!!!

Over the last 2 years, I've probably lost 40% of my hair. Fortunately, I've always had a lot of it, so it's not too noticeable, but I now have a whole new host of issues I have to combat. Like lack of body, tangling, fragility (I get split ends super easy now) and because it's much thinner, it gets greasy so fast! I never thought fine, greasy, and limp would be adjectives I use to describe my hair, but there you have it. I've had to change everything about my haircare routine and have spent the last year or so experimenting with all sorts of product combinations. At the worst point, I think I was using 5 or so products after every shower to get my hair to look like it once did. Then I got a travel-size version of this product in my Birchbox, and it changed my hair life. 

I never thought I would say this, but this product really is a miracle product. It sounds so cheesy, but it's true! It is really rare for a hair product to live up to all its claims, but for this one really does. It detangles even the worst of my rats nests after a day of scarf-wearing, has pretty much eliminated the creation of new split ends, protects my hair from blow-drying, and gives my hair shine and body without the grease. It also smells nice, exactly like a Ralph Lauren perfume I used to have. Ralph Lauren Ralph, I think? I can't remember... but the scent fades after it dries. Anyway, it's amazing! I can't say enough good things about it. 

Not only do I adore it, but my new favorite hair stylist swears by it as well for all her clients. I think she uses one of the other variations now, but she loves the original too. 

One tip: If you're on a budget, spray this stuff into your hands and work it through your hair that way before using a wide-tooth comb. It only takes 3 sprays for me, and I have long hair. I read about this technique somewhere, and it makes a bottle last me a couple more months. 

Rated Beauty Grade: A+

Price: $12-29 at, Amazon, Birchbox

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Makeup Review: Too Faced Boudoir Eyes Soft & Sexy Eye Shadow Collection

ProductToo Faced Boudoir Eyes Soft & Sexy Eye Shadow Collection

Review: I've wanted this palette for ages, and I was super happy my sister got it for me for Christmas. Everything about it is so pretty! From the packaging to the actual colors. It's now my most-used shadow palette, by far, because the colors work well for me for work and date nights. I'm actually wearing Fuzzy Handcuffs, Lap Dance, and Voulez-Vous in the crease/outer corner right now.

To get all technical, the shadows are finely milled with good to great pigmentation. The colors in the pic are a pretty decent representation, but they apply much cooler than I was expecting. If you don't like how you look in cool shadow colors, I would avoid the palette and go with the Too Faced Natural Eye Collection or the original Chocolate Bar Palette instead. Speaking of, I realllly want that Chocolate Bar Palette. It's gorgeous, and the shadows are supposed to smell like chocolate. Noms.

Back to the Boudoir palette though! I've experienced very good color payoff - I'm currently using Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Wheat as a primer, Real Techniques brushes and occasionally my fingers if I want a bit more intensity - and I love all the colors except for Sugar Walls. I get insane amounts of glitter fall out from it, and I hate that! I don't want to have to deal with glitter clean-up in the morning when I'm half asleep.

The only real downside to these shadows is that they're not a densely packed as I'd like them to be, so when I use a brush, I feel like I'm wasting product because it kicks up a lot of extra powder. This also leads to fall out, so be vigilant about tapping your brushes before applying. Other than that, I love it! Pretty colors for day and night, buttery texture, some mattes and some shimmers/satins. It's great and a good value for what you get. The larger shadow pans are gonna last me forever.

Rated Beauty Grade: A-

Price: $36 at Sephora, Macys, Amazon, Ulta, , Too Faced Cosmetics

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Health Fad Review: Bulletproof Coffee

My love affair with coffee started when I was around 3, thanks to my grandma who caved to my demands for a cup of that delicious-smelling hyperactivity elixer. It was mostly milk and sugar, but whatevs. I was hooked and thus began my undying love of all things coffee.

I also don't eat breakfast. It's sad, because I love breakfast foods. Pancakes, muffins, biscuits, eggs, bacon, you name it. But I'm just not hungry in the mornings and the idea of food before 11am makes me a little nauseated. I can force myself to drink my calories in the form of shakes, but most of the time, I'm too tired and crabby to even do that. Just give me my coffee and be done with your morning shenanigans. 

This year, my sister and I are on a health kick together, so when I stumbled across bulletproof coffee and read the outrageous claims and reviews from devotees, I thought my breakfast woes were behind me forever. Bulletproof coffee, for those of you not aware, is 2 cups of freshly-brewed coffee blended with 1-2 Tbsp Kerrygold butter and 1-2 Tbsp coconut or MCT oil. The "creator"/"brander"of this interesting beverage throws around a lot of crazy promises and talks about it like it's the Jesus of coffee (dude isn't a nutritionist or scientist, from what I've read, so I take all his claims with a grain of salt). You're supposed to drink it as a meal replacement. So of course, I decided to try it for a week. For science! Give me a practical way to inject calories into my body in the AM that involves coffee? Sold! 

Honestly, I went into my week of bulletproof coffee without any expectations except for the whole extra calories thing. After drinking coffee for so long, I barely react to caffeine anymore and usually start the morning with around 20oz in my giant travel mug. It's more about the taste and the warmth, I think. Anyway, for this experiment, I opted for Nutiva Cold Press Coconut Oil, the prescribed Kerrygold butter, and regular store bought coffee beans because I refuse to order my coffee online from some guy with dubious claims about mycotoxins. I'm too lazy to french press anything in the morning, so I used a normal coffee pot to give me around 20oz of coffee. Same goes for dumping everything into a blender; enjoy less morning hassle by using an immersion blender instead. 

I tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes by using 3 cups coffee, 2 Tbsp butter, and 1 Tbsp coconut oil, immersion-blendering the shit out of it until it looked like a latte. It actually tastes great! If you get flavored coffee beans, you can pretend you just got yourself a nice hazelnut latte, or whatever you're into. It's thicker, creamier and more flavorful than using plain cream. I don't even taste the coconut. And as for the effects? I was so convinced it was bullshit, but the first day I did it, I felt almost high. I was so energetic! I am never energetic at work. Place sucks out my soul and sumo pounds it, so this was odd. And I'm energetic all day, even late afternoon, when I usually want to nap. It's weird as hell how adding all that extra fat to my coffee makes me feel so much more amazing than coffee or regular breakfast food alone (prior my bulletproof coffee week, I was eating steelcut oats every morning). So I'm now convinced that the "more energy" claim is valid. 

Other than being energetic and more motivated than I am when I don't drink bulletproof coffee, I haven't noticed any other effects. I'm still hungry at the normal times, no immediate weight-loss, still feel at the same intelligence level... and that's 100% fine with me. I'll take being energetic all day while still getting calories into my mornings. 

Will I continue to drink my coffee this way? Yep. It appeases my latte cravings, energizes me,  and makes the day go by quicker. I do, however, think that if you're a person who regularly eats a hearty breakfast, you will have a hard time adjusting to your new liquid breakfast, like this guy. Maybe eat something small, like an egg, along with it if you want to try it out? 

If you google "bulletproof coffee," you can find camps of nay-sayers and camps of bulletproof coffee addicts, each with their purported "scientific evidence" that supports or debunks the effects.  I probably fall in the neutral zone, because I have a hard time considering nutrition a "hard science": it's so individual and the human gut microbiome isn't fully understood yet. Therefore, it's hard to figure out the actual facts of fads like this, because it works for some and doesn't work for others. Lots of conflicting studies and all that, so I can only use myself as a guinea pig and go from there.

Have you tried bulletproof coffee? Let me know how it worked out for you! I'm curious! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Makeup Review: Stila Convertible Color Palette

ProductStila Convertible Color Palette

Review: I bought the Stila Convertible Color Palette as a birthday present to myself, because I can't say no to the pretty shiny new things.  Plus, I've been pretty happy with everything I've tried from Stila. I have some of their eyeshadow singles, their Stay All Day Liner, Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick and a Covertible Color blush already... and probably some other things I'm forgetting, because I do that. Anyway, I like the blush I have, so why not buy a whole palette devoted to cream blushes that double as lipgloss/liptint?

I got my lovely palette on Wednesday and then got horribly sick with the cold/sore throat from hell. I am proud to say I managed to drag my ass to work on Thursday and even looked decent, largely because I combined some of these colors to make me look less like death. Success! People thought I looked normal and were all like WTF when I told them I was pretty sure flesh-eating bacteria was attacking  my tonsils. Seriously, guys. I sounded like one of the people on those scare-tactic anti-smoking commercials.

Aaaand back to being on topic: I think this palette is a solid investment. I love the packaging. It's beautiful and comes with a very nice mirror. All the colors are lovely. I use the brownish colors for when I want to look a little more bronzed and the rest for everything else. You can mix and match them for a custom blush and lip color as well, which is fun.

As for the product itself, I think it's a different formulation from the normal Convertible Color blush, because it's definitely more sheer than the one I owned prior. It kind of reminds me a bit more of the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee (god, that's a mouthful) in terms of how natural they look on the skin, and I don't think that's a bad thing. While they're sheer, they're buildable, and I don't need much to get results on my medium/olive skintone. They are also super easy to apply. The pans are small, so I just use a finger for application, dot on my cheeks, blend, and that's it! Takes a couple seconds. Also, wear time on the cheeks has been great for me so far. Put it on in the morning, still have cheek color when I wash my face at night. Oh! And my skin hasn't reacted to it at all, so that's another good thing.

My only real complaints about this palette are that I just don't like it as much as a lip palette and it smells like No. 2 pencils. The colors are pretty on my lips, but they aren't as long-lasting and they're just not as comfortable to wear. Having a palette of potential lip options is handy,  yes. But it's not something I'd use for lips every day because they're a little drying for me. Also, if I don't like the smell of the product, I'm less likely to put it on my lips, and my whole palette smells kind of like pencil shavings. It's not unbearable, but it's there, and it's not my favorite. Is anyone else having the same issue or did I get a rancid palette? I might do a return and swap at Sephora, just to see if there's a difference. But other than those 2 minor-ish things, I've been very happy with it.

To end my ramblings, this palette would probably be a handy addition to a makeup artist kit, but it's also fun to have and play with if you're really into your blushes or like a lot of variety. I would recommend it as long as you're not looking to use it primarily for lips instead of cheeks.

Rated Beauty Grade: B+

Price: $49 - it's exclusive to Sephora

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Makeup Review: Milani Baked Powder Blush

Milani Baked Powder Blush in Luminoso

Product: Milani Baked Powder Blush

Review: This Milani blush is one of the most hyped must-haves with the vloggers and bloggers I like, so I decided to test it out myself.  I now own it in Luminoso and Delizioso Pink, and I love them! Luminoso is a lovely peachy shimmer shade that can be used on its own, over other blushes, or as a highlight. I think I've even used it as an eyeshadow once. I can't imagine it looking bad on anyone. Delizioso Pink is a cool-toned matte pink that is super pretty and great for days when I want to look fresh and dewy.
Delizioso Pink
Milani Baked Powder Blush in Delizioso Pink

They are, hands down, one of the highest quality drugstore makeup products you can buy. Not only are they insanely pigmented, but they are finely milled and last all day long on my cheeks. I want them in every damn color, but my makeup collection is thisclose to being embarassing. It's almost overflowing the giant organizer I have! So I'm not allowing myself to buy any more of these blushes until I've reviewed all the blushes I currently have in my stash and have purged the shitty ones. Which might take me a year or so, cause I get lazy. Let's be real.

I have zero bad things to say about this blush. Zip. Nada. Even the packaging is adorable AND it comes with a little mirror and a brush for touchups! Is the brush great? Haha, no. But you can make it work if you want to. Overall, I like this blush better than Lancome, better than Clinique, better than any other drugstore blush I've ever tried.

All in all, I would say that all the raves I've heard from bloggers/vloggers is 100% true, except for 1 thing. Luminoso is totally not a NARS Orgasm dupe! I mean, they're both a little shimmery, but they are totally different shades! Luminoso is a champagne peach shimmer shade that is almost a light gold. So different! Beautiful, but not the same. Maybe on some people in certain light in can look similar, but on me with my neutral medium shading, they are waaaay different. If I were to apply Luminoso on the left and Orgasm on the right, it would be really noticeable. I should actually do this and take pics for you guys at some point. If I do, I'll post an update.

But yeah. Buy this blush. And if you order the wrong color online, it's only $7.50!

Rated Beauty Grade: A+

Price: $7.50 - I get mine at