cheers! this is my space for sharing skin care, makeup, booze, and anything else of my choosing. all views presented in this blog are mine and mine alone. rest assured that they are honest, un-sponsored and (mostly) unfiltered. all products presented were purchase by me unless otherwise noted. i reserve the right to change and/or edit any and all posts and comments without notice.

welcome and enjoy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Urban Decay Electric Palette

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

Of course I bought the Electric Palette from Urban Decay.  I waited until it was available from Sephora and then I used the 15% off VIB Rouge promo to make it mine.  This collection of colors is understandably intimidating to many, myself included, but after 4 different Naked palettes, it's good to see a blast of brights from UD.  You can find a slew of reviews and swatches online by using the Google. I know because I spent a few hours on a Saturday morning reading them and watching YouTube tutorials to figure out how I could wear some of these shades.  I settled on a slightly modified version of a look done by Temptalia featuring Urban (bright metallic purple), Savage (bright hot pink matte) and Slowburn (bright red-orange matte).

1. Urban Decay Primer Potion
2. Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in milk on the lid, blended with my finger up into the crease
3. Urban patted on to most of the lid
4. Savage patted on to the top part of the lid, into the crease
5. Slowburn into the crease and up
6. Urban Decay X (peach shimmer with gold shift) along the brow bone

To finish the eye look:
1. Too Faced 3-Way Lash Lining Tool to tight-line along/underneath the top lash line
2. Stila Stay All Day waterproof liquid liner in black  - thin line along top lash line
3. Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil in Perversion along the waterline and smudged out
4. Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil in Scorch on top/smudged with Perversion
5. IT Cosmetics Tightline mascara primer
6. Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes waterproof mascara
7. IT Cosmetics Brow Power

I wish I would have chosen a color other than Scorch, like silver or purple but it was fine smudged with black. The gold left it a bit muddied but less harsh which was what I wanted. 

There was zero fall out from these pigments and they were pretty easy to blend. The Nyx eye pencil gave me a sticky base that did make it a bit tricky.  I used a flat brush with tightly packed bristles to grab and hold the pigment, then patted rather then brushing them.  My blender brushes from Stila and Sigma worked well to soften the lines between colors, no special technique there.

Do you need this palette? I'd say yes, but I know not everyone enjoys playing like I do. So I guess the answer is yes if you like playing with awesome colors. We've got hockey playoffs and comic con over the next few weeks so I'll put together some more looks for you soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nail Polish Catch Up - Julep, Zoya, Colors by Llarowe, Jade Polish

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

Oh friends. I'm tired and I'm busy; I'm tired of being busy and I'm tired from being busy.  But enough complaining! Let's get caught up on looking at my polish.

You may remember Emerald City from when I showed you the Julep Wizard of Oz Collection.  I used that as a base color for Zoya Monet which is a glitter top coat from the Spring 2014 Awaken collection. Zoya calls it a "multi-colored, cellophane holographic special effect topper". Now that I see the word "cellophane" I maybe understand the thick consistency of the polish. And while the glitters are multi-colored, it's near impossible to see the holographic attributes out of the bottle and on the nail. Or maybe green just wasn't the best choice of base color.  Either way, isn't my favorite and I'm glad I got it for free during a promo earlier this year.  This is one coat of Monet over 2 coats of Emerald City along with Zoya Anchor base coat and Butter London PD Quick top coat.  Both Zoya and Julep are cruelty free.
fluorescent lighting
dim shadows of fluorescent lighting

My hunt for the perfect red holo has ended for now because I'm giving up.  I thought The Man in the Red Suit from Colors by Llarowe was the answer, but it's not.  It's pretty much the same polish as Little Red Corvette (which I renamed Little Fuchsia Corvette) though my husband swears he can see a difference between the two. Whatever, dude.  The formula remains incredible and is a potential one coater though I used two with Zoya Anchor base coat and Butter London PD Quick top coat. And the holo is incredible, there is no denying that.
fluorescent light
fluorescent light
I also bought That's a Fact Jack from Colors by Llarowe because it's super unique and super pretty.  This dark khaki green polish has serious holo with pink glitter/flash but the formula was a bit thick and it chipped within a day.  I'm going to add a drop or two of thinner and try again because it's gorgeous. I used two coats over Zoya Anchor, with Cult Nails Wicked Fast top coat. These pictures are in fluorescent lights.

On a whim, I decided to try Jade polish.  I believe it's Brazilian brand and I know that this polish is incredible. This color is called Aurora and it'a stunning pink holo.  I've been wanting more soft pink holos because they're great for work without being boring.  This one is perfect in color, formula and price.  It's on par with holos that will run you $12-$18 but is priced at right around $8 on Llarowe.  Yes, EIGHT DOLLARS. I'm having serious battles with myself about ordering more. You should order some for sure.  I used three coats with Zoya Anchor base coat and Cult Nails Wicked Fast top coat.  Stunning and Perfect.
fluorescent light
fluorescent light

What polish have you been playing with lately?  Do share!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Birchbox - March 2014

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

I can't even believe March is pretty much over.  What the hell? The Shamrock Shake will be gone before we know it!  Birchbox's theme this month was Spring Forward. They should have rethought that because springing forward sucks - I'll be crabby about it until May.  Know what I'm not crabby about?  The products I received in my Birchbox.

I thought for sure I had received the Coola before but it was the tinted moisturizer, not this BB cream.  Oh, who are we kidding? They're pretty much the same thing, aren't they?  I found this did absolutely nothing for me despite claims that it would "even tone and mask flaws".   This is disappointing because I have liked some of their other products but I don't know that this is one for me.  I've put it in my stash for now and will try it again in the summer when my skin is not so dry.  I believe this product is vegan and I know for sure that Coola is cruelty free brand certified by PETA.  They are also certified Organic and environmentally friendly.

Before I transitioned to only cruelty free brands, I used a lot of DDF products. I was pretty happy with them and would probably still be using some if they weren't tested on animals, including this moisturizer.  The name, Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew is a mouthful and left me hesitant.  When I think if of dew, I think of something that will leave my skin with the dewy, sometimes damp look of which I am not a fan.  However, this day lotion is actually really nice.  The consistency is like a cross between a gel and a lotion, there is no fragrance, and it absorbs easily into the skin.  Honestly, it's a nice product and this is an incredibly generous sample size.  Too bad DDF is not cruelty free.

English Laundry is a British line of men's clothing and accessories and I won't even lie, I got completely distracted by all of it when I visited the website.  I never did find the No. 7 for Her, just No. 7 for Him which according to Birchbox, is the basis for this fragrance.  The description says it's fruity with a hint of musk.  I don't know, I'm not good with scents other than identifying what I like and what I think stinks.  This one I liked.  It wasn't too fruity, too flowery or too soft.  For me, it was the right combination and I found it to be quite lovely. I used up the sample and would definitely wear it again. I'm not sure if English Laundry is a cruelty free brand.

Gilchrist & Soames is another British brand (though currently owned by a company out of San Francisco).  From the London Collection, I received this body lotion that I absolutely loved. It has a light, almost liquid-y consistency but it did a nice job of hydrating my skin and the scent is just beautiful.  This is not a super body lotion for super dry skin but it will be great for summer.  I've already purchased a full size bottle from Birchbox along with the Bee Kind lotion which is the same lightweight lotion with a fresh lemon scent.  Gilchrist & Soames has some great company philosophies which include cruelty free development and not testing on animals.

I have accumulated a number of Ojon samples and have never bothered to try them. They usually end up going to friends of mine when I reorganize my stash because I'm just not particularly interested. This time, I gave in and tried the "Original cult classic" damage reverse Restorative Hair Treatment. I used a whole packet because my hair was long with dry ends (I say was because I recently had a few inches chopped off). The goop is applied to dry hair as a pre-wash treatment and rinsed out after 20 minutes.  Honestly, I find it to be a bit stinky and my hair smelled like I had been sitting next to bonfire.  The scent is a definite turnoff.  The results were ok but I wasn't overly impressed, certainly not impressed enough to put up with the stink. I've not yet decided if I'll give the Treatment Plus a try since it has a "light scent". Ojon is not cruelty free.

As an extra treat, Birchbox included Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Cherry Tango square.  It's dark chocolate with cherry and almond bits.  I love all of those things!

I was super pleased with Birchbox this month; nice change after a few unenthusiastic months.  The sample sizes were great, they sent a nice selection of products to try and I found a new lotion to love, all for $10. I am hopeful that this is a sign of what I can expect in the future. What was in your Birchbox this month?

Yuzen - Spring

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

Spring Yuzen time!  And it is finally starting to feel like Spring around here, too. I did actually receive this in February but wanted to try out the products for a while.  If you're not familiar, Yuzen sends deluxe sample and full sized items once a quarter for $33.  Everything is eco-conscious, most are also all natural and cruelty free.  The packaging is always very pretty and Yuzen includes a card with information about each product as well as discount codes for future purchases.

From Acure Organics I received the Radical Resurfacing Facial Treatment.  It's made with lemon probiotics and is meant to brighten, correct blotchiness and hyperpigmentation, and smooth your skin.  It's applied to clean skin under your moisturizer morning and/or night.  I only used it in the mornings because of the acne treatment I do at bedtime.  It absorbs quickly into the skin and leave a slight matte finish, smooth for applying moisturizer and makeup.  There is a light lemony fragrance that I found pleasant, not at all overwhelming.  I'd say it's a nice product but not one I would necessarily incorporate into my everyday skincare routine.  Acure is PETA certified cruelty free and uses fair-trade certified organic ingredients.  Their products are also very reasonably priced and Acure offers free ground shipping.

The Balm Me Up body balm from Balanced Guru has been a welcome addition to my stash.  Just a little smudge mixed in with my not-so-great hand creams has helped a lot.  It is not greasy when used in moderation and absorbs pretty quickly.  There is a citrus scent thanks to mandarin, lime and orange essential oils but it's very subtle.  Balanced Guru uses organic ingredients, is environmentally friendly and PETA certified as cruelty free.

Chocolate. Yum! That's my review of the Chocolove cherries and almonds chocolate bar.  All ingredients are sourced ethically (the cherries are from Michigan) and there are no GMOs. Yum!

Yuzen sent us 2 products from 2 brands this time around.  From Sumbody we received this two bath products: a bath melt and a bath fizzer.  I haven't tried either one, though I have had the best intentions.  I even cleaned the bath tub!  Both of these are made with moisturizing butters and relaxing essential oils so I'm sure I'll love them....someday.  Sumbody products are handmade, all natural and cruelty free.  I looked at the website, Sumbody.com, and they have makeup, too.  Hmmmmm.....

Yuzen also sent 2 products from Sranrom: hand cream and a candle. The Urban Wellness Calm Down hand cream went with me to work because if there's a place were I need to calm down, it's there.  I really liked the lemongrass scent but the lotion left a weird film on my hands.  It's not greasy or sticky once it absorbs, but there's just a weird film.  Because of that, I can't say I loved it but I do like it.  The Mindful Living Compassion Candle is "hand-poured by a peaceful farming community in the heart of Thailand".  It's made with 100% vegetable wax and has a lovely lemon scent with just a hint of spearmint.  It is sitting with the Sumbody bath products on the ledge of my tub, just waiting for me to finally do a home spa day.  Sranrom products are free from parabens, silicone, and synthetics.  They are made with 100% plant ingredients and essential oils; and are cruelty free and vegan.

The description of this Infinite Love Mist from Lotus Wei says that it will "magnify [my] gentleness, compassion and receptivity...".  Wow, good luck with that.  I'm pretty abrasive, crabby and stubborn.  I sprayed it on my pillow and sheets, thinking that inhaling the red rose and mandarin scent while sleeping would enhance my calm.  It has not, but now my bed smells pretty.  Lotus Wei has a large variety of scents and I'd be really interested in them had aromatherapy ever worked on me.  This brand is vegan and cruelty free.

I am once again happy with my Yuzen box.  I think they do a great job of choosing a variety of products each season and send generous sample if not full sizes.  This continues to be one of my favorite subs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Julep Nail Color - The Wizard of Oz Polish Collection

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

On the night of the Oscars, I was comfy with a drink and a buzz on my couch, judging everyone with my girls when I spotted an offer from Julep. In honor of the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Julep released this collection of 4 polishes and it was priced at $19.99 for that night. I decided to cash in a $14 credit I had for ages and snagged it for $5.99 including shipping.

The polish choices seem to be a weird mix. Yes, they are all from the movie but not consistent as characters or things.  Ruby Slippers is a full coverage red multidimensional glitter. Tin Man is a silver holo. Glinda the Good Which is a pink frost. Emerald City is a green creme. I swatched them below over Butter London nail foundation base coat.  Ruby Slippers and Tin Man are great - really pretty with good formula.  Glinda doesn't appear very pink or very frosty. It looks to me like a pale nude creme color and the polish was really thin.  Emerald City is a nice enough green creme, mostly opaque and mostly streak free with 2 coats.  I applied 3 coats for the others.

My friends picked Ruby Slippers for me to wear first so here it is again, 3 coats with Butter London base and top coats.  There is a slight texture but it's barely noticeable.  If you love the color but hate texture, it shouldn't deter you from this polish.  Oh yeah, I chopped my nails off, too.

And two coats of Emerald City with Butter London base coat for St. Patrick's Day.  This left my nails slightly stained even though I used a base coat so beware.

I have mixed feelings on this set.  The colors aren't particularly original and two of them are boring creams (boring for me, that is), but I like the red glitter and silver holo.  I'll wear Ruby Slippers and Tin Man from time to time.  I'm pretty sure Glinda and Emerald City will rarely be used.

The Wizard of Oz collection is currently priced at $44.80 for Julep Mavens and $56 for non-members.  The package is super cute but the cost is probably pretty steep if you're not a polish hoarder or major Wizard of Oz fan.  I know that I'm comfortable with the $6 I paid but definitely wouldn't spend $44.

Julep is cruelty free.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Skyn Iceland - Saving Face Kit

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

I've been curious about Skyn Iceland for a while.  Then the stars seemed to align allowing me to try a great selection of their products: I found out Skyn Iceland is PETA certified as cruelty free and I got a 50% off promo code from somewhere off the Interwebz.  It was meant to be.

For $25 including shipping, I got this Saving Face Kit which includes deluxe samples of the cleanser and day lotion, 2 packets of the eye gels, and full sized eye pen and skin peel pads.  Skyn Iceland says that these "products work together to refresh and renew tired skin...".  Boy oh boy are me and my skin tired.

The Glacial Face Wash and Antidote Cooling Daily Lotion are my favorites, and I do love them so much.  I've been using the face wash in both the morning and at night, and it's wonderful.  I love the fresh, cooling sensation and it leaves my skin squeaky clean (literally) without feeling tight or dry.  It foams up nicely with just a small amount and easily rinses off.  The lotion has the same cooling effect as the wash (because what else would you expect from Iceland), while gently moisturizing.  It's not greasy, absorbs quickly and leaves a soft, satin finish.  This will be great in the summer when my skin is burning and oily.  I will absolutely be buying full sized versions of both of these in the future and highly recommend them.

The Nordic Skin Peel pads are to be used 3-5 times a week after cleansing to gently exfoliate the skin and clean out pores.  I'm always concerned about products like this irritating my skin because of the Tretinoin (retinoid) cream  I use for my acne at bedtime but after using this 3 times, my face is still ok.  I swept a pad over my face after washing at night, then let it dry.  My skin still felt clean and soft though I haven't yet noticed a difference.  I think this is something I'd have to use for several weeks, maybe even months, and I don't know that I'm ready for that kind of commitment. But I'll use these up (there's 60 pads in the container) and report back in one of my monthly empties posts.

I'm actually doing a-ok with crows feet and wrinkles around my eyes but I've acquired bags that rival the size of my Duran duffles.  I've had some serious puffiness thanks to a lack of sleep the past few months and have yet to find a truly effective treatment.  The Icelandic Relief Pen contains "a lightweight contouring eye cream" that is meant to diminish "puffiness, fine lines and dark circles".  Like the cleanser and the day lotion, this eye cream has a cooling sensation that I like.  It has helped a little with the puffiness, but I wouldn't say it's the complete miracle I'm looking for.  But it's also not greasy and doesn't cause my makeup to run.

People seem to rave about these eye gel patches so I was looking forward to trying them. The Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels are apparently loved by celebrities and have won several awards. You stick them under your eyes for 10 minutes and they depuff, soothe and brighten. I put them on one morning and they weren't uncomfortable, difficult to apply or remove.  I can't say that I noticed a huge difference either, but I probably would have loved these during my younger party days on the road. They aren't something I'd use frequently but are probably nice to have on hand.

Overall, I think this is a great kit and I'm very happy with my purchase.  I'm considering the Detox Kit which is $45 and contains 4 products, including the Glacial face wash and Antidote daily lotion.  Skyn Iceland can be purchased from a number of retailers including SkynIceland.com, Ulta and Ulta.com.  If you're looking for a boost to your skin care routine, check out their products.  They proudly display the PETA cruelty free logo, too.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Zoya Tamsen + Darling Diva Polish Ringer Goes Blonde

*Nothing to disclose: bought with my own money* 

I may have mentioned before that I've had a few polish orders arrive and after I've ripped into the box I wonder, "Who the hell ordered this color?"  Usually, I get over it and end up at least kind of liking the random polish I bought whilst drinking.  Zoya Tamsen does not have that happy ending.  I ordered it back in the spring of 2011 and wore it once.  Blah. Zoya describes it as a "medium warm brick red with strong orange undertones and an opaque cream finish" and that is accurate. I'm just not a fan of creams or this shade of red.  There's too much orange for my taste.  Here are two coats of Tamsen over Butter London nail foundation, no top coat and no clean up.

As uninterested as I've been in ever wearing that color again, I just knew it would be the perfect base for Ringer Goes Blonde (RGB) from Darling Diva Polish.  RGB is a red to green pigment in a clear base, according to the website. It's like a color shift or scattered holo top coat.

I applied one coat of Ringer Goes Blonde over Tamsen and it really brought out the orange undertones, plus added a lovely yellow golden glow.  The pictures below are after Butter London PD Quick top coat; the left is in natural sunlight and the right is under kitchen fluorescents.

Here's a close up under the artificial lighting.

I don't know what I find more amazing: that the formula of Tamsen is still perfect after sitting unused in my nail polish rack for nearly 3 years or how perfect it is as a base color for Ringer Goes Blonde.  I prefer my reds to be cooler rather than warmer tones but this combo really is beautiful and very happy in the middle of a painfully long and cold winter.

I really wanted to show you a picture with the flashes of green but couldn't get a good one. This was the best I could do, and so you know, this was after about 4 days of wear; only minor chipping around the tips.

You can order Ringer Goes Blonde from Darling Diva's Big Cartel shop.

Darling Diva polish and Zoya, as well as Butter London, are cruelty free.