Month: June 2013

Product review: Julep DD Creme

Gather round, children, while I spin to you a tale of a magical beauty product that was set on world domination. The wondrous BB cream (short for beauty balm, blemish balm, or bogus balm, depending on whom you asked) took the beauty market by storm. Every beauty company rushed to make one, and every beauty junkie rushed to buy one, lured in by the promise of a multi-tasking product that masked imperfections, fixed blemishes, and felt as light and natural as your naked face.

But alas! It was not to be. No matter how many BB creams they tried, the beauty junkies could not find one that managed to live up to its claims. Nonetheless, the BB cream was determined not to die off, and so it unleashed on the world its younger sibling, the CC cream. And before the world could tire of this incarnation, the market gave us…a DD creme.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that bad, but that’s kind of how I feel about the whole BB-CC-DD fad. Beauty By Arielle actually has a great video here that I feel kind of sums up the average journey through the world of BB creams; while I’m sure some people love them, for the most part, they just don’t seem to work. Think about it: you’re asking one product to do two drastically different things (cover like a foundation and feel sheer like a moisturizer) and then getting mad when it doesn’t do both of those things–separately! On different areas of the face! But at the same time!

With all of that said, you can imagine my reaction when I opened up my June Julep Maven selection window and saw that they were throwing in a tube of their new DD Creme with each of the boxes. I’m not trying to be grumbly here at all; it was a FREE add-on (and a very expensive one at that) that cost me nothing extra at all, and while I would absolutely have preferred an extra nail color or two, I’m not going to turn my nose up at a free product. I just wasn’t thrilled about getting a product I didn’t expect to like.

So, without further ado, here is the full review I promised of the “dynamic do-all” creme.

The product: Julep DD Creme; $36 at ($28.80 for Mavens)

The claim: (from the package) “This lightweight damage-diminishing formula delivers dewy, buildable coverage to moisturize, prime, and perfect. Provides daily defense from UV rays and dramatically decreases the look of pores and fine lines.” SPF 25; not tested on animals.

I tried it: First off, the “dewy” part? Try “oily”. I realize that many “dewy” products don’t translate well on combo-oily skin, but when applied over the t-zone, this stuff made my skin look and feel slick and shiny. It doesn’t matter whether I apply it over bare skin or my favorite NYX primer, the result is the same; also, it seemed to make me break out. Over the rest of my face, the “dewy” effect translates better and I think it does make my skin look more hydrated and glowy.

There is no lasting power to this stuff, though. Between the overly greasy feel and the short lifespan of an application, I’m scratching my head over this being marketed as a summer product. It would be better in the winter, when your skin needed that extra boost of hydration and you wouldn’t sweat it away within an hour.

Finally, the coverage is moot. This comes out of the tube a dark tan but it sheers out to a nice light tone that seems akin to a tinted moisturizer, providing a nice glow to the skin. It does not, however, offer any coverage for redness, dark circles, or any other imperfections. The package promises that this creme is buildable and I suppose it is, but as oily as it feels, I can’t imagine why you would want to build it up on your face. The coverage was so sheer that I didn’t bother taking any face pics for comparison.

My verdict: I have raved and raved on this blog about how much I love the Julep nail colors, but when it comes to their beauty products, they’re a total fail for me; the products don’t live up to their claims and they’re massively overpriced. Fancy packaging does not guarantee a good product, and this one is just so underwhelming it wouldn’t be worth it at a third of the price, nor would I pass it on to a friend; it’s just forgettable. 

Books I read this month: June 2013

To be honest, I struggled to get through anything this month. I was super-busy so I didn’t spend that much time reading. However I did finish these three:

Atonement, by Ian McEwan (paperback, 480 pages). This book was such a hot mess. The plot sounds really interesting, but the tone and tempo jerks around so much that the whole book feels disjointed into parts, as if a few different authors teamed up to write different sections of the same story. And the ending was just too sad, and really ruined it for me. I guess the moral of the story is supposed to be that we should always be careful of what we say and do, because we may never get a chance at atonement. All well and true, but not really beach reading. (2 out of 5 stars.)

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (paperback, 499 pages). This was much better. You really get sucked into the story of Sayuri’s life. I think Golden did a good job of crafting the book as though the stories really were being told as a memoir to a biographer. I raced through this book as fast as I could. (5 out of 5 stars.)

Scarlett, by Alexandra Ripley (paperback, 896 pages). I love Scarlett O’Hara. She’s feisty and flawed and brash and she never, ever lets anything keep her down. I feel like Ripley did a good job of replicating Margaret Mitchell’s style and tone from Gone With the Wind. That said, let’s be adults and call a spade a spade–we KNOW how this story is going to end, more or less, so dragging it out over 900 pages seems a bit excessive, and the story did start to drag partway through, which is why I knocked off a star. (4 out of 5 stars)

What are you reading these days? Any recommendations? Tell me in the comments! (Don’t forget to hook up with me on Goodreads here!)

I’m a sucker for lists: here’s another one stolen from Katrin

I wanted to set up some posts to auto-publish while I’m gone so you guys won’t get bored! I was flicking through some older posts on some of my favorite blogs and I saw that Katrin had posted this list of things you have or haven’t done in life, so I thought I’d see how I tally up. I think 27 out of 99 isn’t too terrible, considering lots of the things involve Europe and I’ve never been there. :)

1. Started your own blog. Yes! You’re reading it now.
2. Slept under the stars. I’m going to count all those nights of tent camping in my teens.
3. Played in a band. Nope.
4. Visited Hawaii. Let’s see, giant island full of active volcanoes surrounded by miles of ocean…no thank you.
5. Watched a meteor shower. Not a really big shower per se but I’ve seen a few here and there.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. I’m going to assume this means giving money when you really were too pinched to afford to give it–the answer is yes–but I think that karma comes back to you in the end.
7. Been to Disneyland. No, and I don’t want to go. Too many kids!
8. Climbed a mountain. I’ve hiked at altitude before but I haven’t been rock climbing.
9. Held a praying mantis. One crawled ONTO MY FACE. Have I ever mentioned how fearful I am of bugs?
10. Sang a solo. No! I get stage fright.
11. Bungee jumped. Not yet anyway.
12. Visited Paris. I’d like to someday.
13. Watched a lightening storm. Multiple times.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.I taught myself oil painting.
16. Had food poisoning. I would rather stab myself than deal with that again.
18. Grown your own vegetables. I grew some poor neglected beans once.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Never been to France, period.
20. Slept on an overnight train. Never traveled via train.
21. Had a pillow fight. Who hasn’t?
22. Hitch hiked. Yes, when I was in the desert in Nevada and my car broke down, but a) I was with two other people so it wasn’t like I was alone and b) someone stopped to give us water, but no one would pick us up. I think we estimated that we walked about 14 miles to a town with a casino and a gas station where we bought water and waited for a tow truck to pull us about 200 miles to Winnemucca to have the car fixed. In case you haven’t yet figured it out–that whole trip was a cursed mistake.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. My family was coming to town so I took a sick day so I could sleep and see them.
24. Built a snow fort. Tons of times in my childhood!
25. Held a lamb. I so wish!
26. Gone skinny dipping. Nope! Too shy.
27. Run a marathon. I would probably die.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. No, and I can’t imagine ever doing it–I’m scared of water.
29. Seen a total eclipse. I think I’ve slept through several, to be honest!
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Uh, who hasn’t?
31. Hit a home run. I suppose–we used to play baseball a lot when I was a kid.
32. Been on a cruise. Dear goodness no–I saw The Poseidon Adventure when I was a kid, and that was quite enough.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. Not yet.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Not yet.
35. Seen an Amish community. Nope.
36. Taught yourself a new language. I’m working on my German, I swear.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. I think the answer is yes. I would like more, but I am satisfied with what I have now. We’re comfortable and can afford small splurges now and then so I feel satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. I think the person who wrote this is a European.
39. Gone rock climbing. No, just watching it in a movie makes my hands sweat. I’m scared of heights.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. In a picture! Ha, they didn’t specify, so I’m totally counting it.
41. Sung karaoke. No, despite the earnest endeavors of my friends.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. It’s cool but there are lots of tourists there!
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant. I’ve bought coffee for strangers so I’m going to count this one.
44. Visited Africa. Nope.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. If I have I don’t remember.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. No, the one time I went to the ER my husband took me in the car because I wouldn’t let him call an ambulance!
47. Had your portrait painted. No.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. No and I never will. Deep water + killing animals = just no.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. No.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I’ve never been to Paris but I suppose if I do go this is a rite of passage that I’ll have to complete, fear of heights or no.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. I am scared to death of water.
52. Kissed in the rain. Yes.
53. Played in the mud. Who hasn’t?
54. Gone to a drive-in theater. Nope, they’re a dying thing here in America.
55. Been in a movie. Does a short film written, directed and filmed by my brother and myself count?
56. Visited the Great Wall of China. Someday.
57. Started a business. Maybe someday.
58. Taken a martial arts class. No, but I would like to take Krav Maga classes.
59. Visited Russia. No, I imagine it being cold there!
60. Served at a soup kitchen. No. I know, I’m terrible.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. No, but I’ve eaten enough to offset the difference.
62. Gone whale watching. No, I dislike boats. But I have seen whales from the distant shore.
63. Got flowers for no reason. Many times!
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. I’m sorry to say no, but just having blood drawn for a test makes me woozy!
65. Gone sky diving. Not yet!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. No.
67. Bounced a check. Proud to say no!
68. Flown in a helicopter. No, and I’m scared of the idea!
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. All of my stuffed animals are still in storage at my parents’ house.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. Nope, never made it that far east.
71. Eaten Caviar. No, gross.
72. Pieced a quilt. No, I’m not that patient.
73. Stood in Times Square. Maybe someday.
74. Toured the Everglades. Nope, never been that far south.
75. Been fired from a job. Never!
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London. Not yet.
77. Broken a bone. I broke my leg when I was a toddler.
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle. As a kid, but that was driving slowly around the parking lot, so I don’t know that it really counts.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Not yet!
80. Published a book. My dream!
81. Visited the Vatican. No.
82. Bought a brand new car. No, we’ve always bought used cars.
83. Walked in Jerusalem. No.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper. No, I’m so shy that I always duck the camera.
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sadly, no.
86. Visited the White House. No.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. God no. For this my in-laws think I’m weak in the head. They’re all very big on hunting and shooting.
88. Had chickenpox. No, actually, and I wound up being vaccinated in the end because I just couldn’t seem to catch it.
89. Saved someone’s life. I saved my two cats so I’m going to count them in, since my pets are part of my family.
90. Sat on a jury. I’ve always wiggled out of it!
91. Met someone famous. No.
92. Joined a book club. No.
93. Got a tattoo. Not yet!
94. Had a baby. No, thank goodness.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. No.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. No. Water, people! I’m scared of water!
97. Been involved in a law suit. Thank goodness no.
98. Owned a cell phone. Yes.
99. Been stung by a bee. Multiple times.

[CLOSED] Happy birthday to me! GIVEAWAY

How can you not like this song?


I’m writing this post in advance so I have no idea where I am or what I’m doing while you’re reading this–hopefully, I’m eating good food and watching good summer movies! In the meantime, you guys can have fun with this giveaway, which features a bunch of my favorite budget makeup items.  Please read through the terms and conditions before entering. The giveaway is open internationally through June 27th and I will be drawing two winners, each of whom will receive the following:


  • Wet n Wild 8-pan Color Icon shadow palettes in Petal Pusher, Blue Had Me At Hello, and Comfort Zone
  • Hard Candy mini mascara trio (contains minis of Lash Ink, Lashaholic, and Ginormous + Growth mascaras)
  • Wet n Wild Fergie Centerstage To Reflect Shimmer Palette in Rose Golden Goddess
  • ELF Studio Blush in Twinkle Pink
  • EOS Lip Balms in Summer Fruit and Sweet Mint
  • Freeman Chocolate & Strawberry facial clay masque and Pink Grapefruit exfoliating facial scrub

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Random Thursday: Desert Island: 5 Items I’d Want To Have With Me…

Because I am the Queen of Indecision and could not possibly pick just five things to have with me, I’m going to dub this the “beauty edition” and give you the five beauty items I’d want with me, in the unfortunate event that I were to become stranded.

  1. Sunscreen. Just call me lobstah lady.
  2. Mascara. If I only have time for one makeup item I choose this.
  3. Some leave-in hair conditioner. All that sand and sun would turn my hair into a rat’s nest, I just know it.
  4. My favorite lip balm, which doubles as cuticle balm.
  5. A razor. I might be lazy, but you won’t catch me running around on a desert island with my fuzzy legs showing. Nosiree.

If you could only pick five beauty items to take to a desert island, which ones would you pick and why?

Ten on Tuesday: 6/18/13

1. I am now officially on vacation! Wheeeeeeeee!

2. I have discovered vegan cream cheese. Bagels, how I missed you.

3. Hello, gorgeous.

4. Why do magazine companies send you the renewal notices so darn early? I’m getting renewal notices for a magazine that doesn’t expire for another whole year. A YEAR, you guys. I’m pretty sure I’ll have ample opportunities to renew it before it expires.

5. So just in time for my birthday, the temperature decided to dip again, which is okay on the one hand and crappy on the other since it means no ritual birthday swimming trip. Maybe we can still go hiking?

6. Hair turbans are a lazy girl’s best friend. I’m just saying.

7. Speaking of hair–a big congrats to the wonderful bubbly lady who cuts my hair–she is quitting her job at the Ulta salon to open her own salon! It’s always awesome to hear of other people’s successes. I think when you share in another person’s happiness it makes your own life seem a little happier, too.

8. Is it just me, or did the t-shirt wall at Hot Topic used to have much cooler t-shirts for sale? There are hardly any of the cool rock bands I listen to, but they do carry Justin Bieber and One Direction t-shirts. In the men’s section. Let me repeat that for emphasis, THEY ARE CARRYING ONE DIRECTION T-SHIRTS IN THE MEN’S SECTION. I’m not trying to stomp all over anyone’s personal taste but I was hoping for something more like the Dropkick Murphys or AC/DC. What the hell, Hot Topic.

9. On the other hand, I found a slew of cool handmade shoulder bags at the local record store, and they have a cat prowling around inside now for belly rubs. I think we can see a clear winner emerging here.

10. And here’s your promised song of the week. I love the long twist in the video too. We finally bought the album and it’s slowly growing on me.

Product review: Burt’s Bees Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm

I normally prefer vegan lip balms, but when I was out, chapped and desperate, I picked up this Burt’s Bees balm, figuring it was at least better than buying something laden down with nasty chemicals.

The product: Burt’s Bees Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm, $4 at drugstores

The claim: 100% natural lip balm to hydrate and soothe. Free of petrochemicals and Leaping Bunny certified.

I tried it: Right off the bat, I have to say that I love just about anything citrus scented and I loved the fragrance of this product. I also love anything pink, natch. From there, it’s kind of downhill. For starters, I didn’t feel like this product was terribly moisturizing. I have very dry lips to begin with but I don’t think I should have to constantly reapply a lip balm in order to stay moisturized.

I’m also not thrilled with the ingredients list. Yes, it’s mostly natural, but two ingredients stand out to me: limonene, which is an allergen and toxin (listed 6 out of 10 on Skin Deep’s hazardous chart), and lanolin, which is derived from sheep fat. Honestly I just think that’s kind of gross, and I don’t want it in my beauty products, especially when there are so many vegan lip balms out there that work so much better!

(Edited: it was pointed out to me that I misphrased the bit about lanolin. While it’s referred to as “sheep fat”, it’s the sheep’s sebum, which collects in their wool and is collected after shearing. So, not a fat from a dead animal–but for vegans who wish to avoid the wool industry, which tends not to treat animals very well, it’s still a no-go. (And even if the animals are not harmed, I would still personally rather avoid having an animal’s secretions on my lips. Yuck.) Sorry if that bit caused any confusion!)

I have mixed feelings about Burt’s. On the one hand, it’s great that they’re giving consumers without ready access to natural and vegetarian beauty products a mass-market alternative. On the other hand, I feel like they’re not as “green” or as “kind” as they might be marketed, and it also bugs me that most people don’t realize they’re owned by Clorox, which is decidedly not green or animal-friendly. On a totally personal and opinionated note, I also feel like their products are a poor cross-section of the green/vegetarian beauty community, since many of them are a little more expensive and not quite as effective as other brands out there (Nature’s Gate, Giovanni, etc.)–so consumers might use them and say “meh, I don’t know what’s so great about this stuff!” before returning to their other brands. I hope that doesn’t offend any Burt’s Bees lovers out there–if the products work for you, great! They’re just not my first pick.

My verdict: I was good enough to get me through until I could go to the health food store for a different lip balm, but I would not recommend or repurchase this product.

Product review: Beautisol Tea Tan Glow

Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration by iFabbo and Beautisol. However I was not compensated in any way for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Another tanning product for you on the blog! Hey, just because I don’t mind being pale doesn’t mean that I don’t like testing out self-tanning products. This one is a little different though–rather than a gradual sunless tanner, it’s an instant body bronzer that washes off with soap and water, so there’s no wait time and no commitment. Gimmicky or cool?

The product: Beautisol Tea Tan Glow Wash-Off Body Bronzer; $25/4-fl.oz. through the Beautisol website. Use the promo code “ifabboglow” to get 20% off!

The claim: (From the Beautisol website) “Instant tan in a bottle – with no major commitment! Gives an immediate bronzing effect with tea coloring so you look tan and gorgeous instantly! Helps hide skin imperfections and enhance your natural coloring, moisturizes & nourishes the skin with anti-aging properties, and washes off easily with soap and water. Think of this as your “one night tan”!” Beautisol products are cruelty-free and vegan, and free of parabens, propylene glycol, and sodium laureth/laurel sulfates.

I tried it: You know those Pinterest how-tos and beauty website tip sheets on the little beauty cheats models use to look fabulous in a hurry? One of the items that always makes the cut is Photoshop leg makeup, or an instant body bronzer similar to this one. The idea is that if legs look a bit pale or have flaws, an instant bronzing lotion or spray gives them a light glow and helps to mask the little bruises, scars, veins and other imperfections.

I will admit that while I have no problem with my paleness, sometimes my legs make me cringe. Because I am a klutz and can be kind of careless, I’ve managed to wind up with a few choice bruises and little veins showing on my legs, and they’re more noticeable when I’m glowing like a moonflower. So I was curious to see what exactly this famous model-worthy item would do for my skin.

Like the Beautisol tanning mousse that I reviewed earlier this week, the Tea Tan Glow comes in a pump bottle with a soft cloth mitt for application and a guide card with application tips. The mousse is dark but thins out and absorbs quickly into the skin. As with the self-tanner, I recommend working in small sections and otherwise following any steps you would take when using a self-tanning product so you get even coverage.

One coat of the mousse dries quickly and imparts a very subtle glow. On my pale skin it’s less like a “tan”, really, and more like a nice healthy boost to my coloring that makes me look less like the book-obssessed hermit that I am. Here’s a comparison of my legs with and without the Tea Tan Glow. I think it looks slightly darker in person. (These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, before I tested out the Beautisol self-tanning mousse, so this is how pale my skin is naturally.)

(Eek, sock lines!)

This makes me think of the “Kate Middle-tan” that was so popular a year or two ago. It’s not really a true “tan” per se, it just makes you look vibrant and glowy and healthy and princess-in-waiting-y. If you really want to enhance your legs, you can use a bit of highlighter down the center of each leg to enhance the beautifying effect. It’s a nice way to make your legs look better in five minutes flat if you suddenly realize your legs are radioactive white and you don’t have time to apply a self-tanner and let it kick in.

Beautisol advises against wearing light clothing while using this product to avoid staining, and obviously you have to avoid water. I didn’t feel like this product left my skin feeling particularly tacky or icky as you might expect. And true to the claim on the bottle, it washes right off with soap and water, no muss, no fuss.

My verdict: While I couldn’t see using this all over my body on a regular basis–it’s a bit expensive for me, and a little too much fuss, in my lazy opinion)–I will definitely use this on my legs when I want to throw on a short skirt in a hurry and feel like my legs are glowing a bit too white and bright. Thank you Beautisol for another lovely tanning product that doesn’t turn me orange!

Want more Beautisol? Find them on Twitter (@beautisol) or Facebook!

Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration by iFabbo and Beautisol. However I was not compensated in any way for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.