Beauty

A cute (and easy) hairdo for the braid-challenged

I’m braid-challenged. I admit it. But I love the look of braids, and they’re so perfect for hot days when you just can’t be bothered to style your hair, which is why I love the look of this ponytail/braid combo on Blake Lively.

It starts with a slicked-back pony–perfect for hiding flat roots, grown-out layers, and a host of other hair issues. After the ponytail it turns into a rough, messy braid. It looks like her stylist teased her hair (and possibly added some dry shampoo for grip and body), then wove differently-sized sections of hair into a loose braid. You could tug on sections and/or rough up the tail a little more with a brush to make the braid even bigger and messier.

 

 

Here’s another view of it from the back:

Cute, right? And simple enough for even the clumsy-thumbsys among us to do. Just add some statement earrings and you’re ready to go. (Blake wore this look at Cannes, so you know it’s good to go for evening events, too!)

Product review: Beautisol Exscrub Me? Citrus Face Exfoliant

(Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way and as always all opinions are my own.)

 

The product: Beautisol Exscrub Me? Citrus Face Exfoliant; $17 for a two ounce tube. Available through the Beautisol website. Purchase it here and be sure to use the coupon code “BOGO2014” to buy one, get one free through June 30, 2014.

The claim: A gentle yet effective scrub with jojoba beads that leaves skin smooth and prepped for a flawless self-tanning application. Paraben-free and vegan. (See a full ingredients list at the bottom of this review.)

My experience: Unlike some facial scrubs that feel dry and gritty, this one is creamy, so it feels much gentler on the skin. The jojoba beads do a nice job of exfoliating without over-drying. I feel like this did a much more thorough job of smoothing my skin that some other scrubs that I’ve tried; it left my face super-smooth and soft, with no leftover residue.

The scrub is labeled for all skin types, but I do think it would be better suited to those with normal to combo/oily skin. The drier parts of my face (along the jawline and chin) definitely felt a bit dry after use. If you have very dry skin, you could use a hydrating self-tanner and apply a thicker moisturizing cream later on to keep skin happy. I did test this as a starting point before using a self-tanning mousse and found it really helped improve my overall end result.

Based on the ingredients list, this isn’t the most natural product you can find on the shelf, but it is vegan and free of parabens, sulfates and propylene glycol.

Final review: 8/10. It’s a bit of a splurge for me, but if you’re a die-hard self-tanner, then it might be worth it to ensure even, glowing results. Just keep in mind that if your skin tends to be dry, you’ll want to slather on extra moisturizer after using to avoid ending up with unsightly dry patches.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Polyethylene (Beads), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Jojoba Esters (Beads), Behenyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glyceryl Stearate, Sucrose Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Squalane, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Potassium Sorbate, Carbomer, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Tocotrienols, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Phytic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Alcohol, Tocopherol (D-alpha), Passiflora Incarnata (Passionflower) Flower Extract. (*Certified Organic)

(Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way and as always all opinions are my own.)

Product review: Oliva Garden Nanothermic Contour Brush

(Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

 

I really don’t like blow-drying my hair. Loathe. Detest. Do not want. Don’t get me wrong, I love the results, but the process gets more irritating as my hair grows ever longer. It tangles easily, takes extra time to dry, and requires extra care to prevent breakage or dry, fuzzy ends.

One thing I’ve learned in my battles with the blow-dryer is that, at least for me, a good brush makes a huge difference between a great blowout and a rat’s nest. So when Olivia Garden offered to send me one of their NanoThermic Contour brushes for review, I was curious to see how it would perform.

As you can see this brush has a pretty large barrel–2 3/8 inches, to be exact. It’s not just the large barrel that makes this brush so nice for blow-drying my long hair–the curved shape helps add bend and movement to my hair, very helpful since my hair tends to be very straight after even the most basic of blow-drys. The shape also hugs your scalp, helping to really lift hair at the roots for more body and volume.

As you can see, the bristles have a gently wavy shape; these bristles are designed to be gentler on the hair. But there’s something else–notice how the barrel is vented? I adore my vented brush for quick blow-drys so having a vented round brush is just the best of both worlds.

This short pick is hidden in the handle, so you can section hair without using your fingers or a comb.

I really like the tourmaline ion tech; it helps my hair emerge from a blow-dry session super-shiny and silky. Finally, I have to mention that I really appreciate the light weight of this brush. It seems like such a small thing, but as I mentioned earlier, I have long hair that takes extra time to dry, so the lighter the brush the better!

I actually received this brush a little over a month ago, so I’ve had plenty of time to test it out for this review. I really liked this brush the first time I used it, and it’s just grown on me even more over time. I feel like it cuts my blow-drying time down and leaves my hair much bouncier and healthier-looking at the end. Thank you Olivia Garden for sending me such an awesome brush, and just in time for spring styling!

You can find Olivia Garden brushes at stores like Ulta or over at Folica.com; these new NanoThermic Contour brushes retail for $28 to $35 and come in three sizes. You can check them out here, or visit the company website here.

Zoya promo order swatches!

I’ve finally got swatches for you from my Zoya Color Your World promo order!! I dragged my feet on swatching and was going to put it off a bit longer due to the terrible, terrible state of my nails, but I didn’t want to delay posting these shades any longer. They’re just too beautiful for words and I’m thrilled with all six of them!

Let’s start off with Rue, a dusty blush nude from the new spring 2014 Naturel collection. I have a lot of trouble with nudes because of the pink tones in my hands; straight nudes give me terrible lobster hands. (Which is odd, because too-pink lipsticks make my face look jaundiced…but that’s a dilemma for another post!) Rue is a perfect nude for me and I foresee wearing this a great deal. I used three coats for opacity. (You can see I botched my middle finger and my nail line is showing, which I didn’t notice until photo editing…oops.)

I also finally picked up Destiny, a coral PixieDust release of yesteryear that was very nearly a one-coater and dried super-fast. This shade is so beautiful and I love the idea of a 60-second manicure in the busy summer months! I used two coats here on principle but you could get away with one thicker coat if you were rushing.

Darcy and Purity were my wild card polishes–I have a lot of trouble with whites and yellows and wasn’t sure if I’d like these or not. Both drag and streak terribly, pool at the cuticles, and resist self-leveling. However, with a little work, these polishes are really beautiful; just make sure to wipe the brush, don’t drag too hard, and keep your clean-up brush handy for the edges.

I used only two coats for Darcy (sunshine yellow), with the first thinner and the second thicker; if you look closely at the pictures you can see it probably could have used a third coat for perfect leveling, but in real life there’s no noticeable flaw in the polish. I was able to get Purity in three coats (again, thicker on the second and third coats). A high-shine, ding-resistant topcoat is definitely recommended with both of these; I like the Julep Freedom Polymer topcoat.

Charisma is a neon matte magenta that dries lightning-fast and very nearly covers in two coats; there is some visible nail line in my photo, but in real life you probably wouldn’t notice that unless you’ve got longer nails. This is such a beautiful eye-popping shade and perfect for 2014’s Radiant Orchid trend!

Finally…Song. I bought this polish because a) Yun’s swatches at The Polish Hideout were stunning and b) the name reminds me of one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Aimee Song. This is a one-coater on me, though I think if you had longer nails you might want to do two coats to prevent any hints of VNL. The shimmers in this polish are what really kill me! The blue is very bold and not too dark, either.

All Zoya polishes are five-free and vegan. You can find them at the Zoya website or in beauty stores like Ulta.

EcoTools Flawless Face brush set GIVEAWAY (international)

It’s been forever since I last did a giveaway, so I thought I would pick up a prize as a sort of belated “happy Valentines day” for you lovely readers. This gorgeous five-piece mini brush set from EcoTools caught my eye and I thought it would be just perfect!

This giveaway is open internationally through the end of the month; the last day to enter is February 28th and I’ll be moderating the entries and contacting the winner by March 3rd. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post. Boom! That’s it.

Please click on the “terms and conditions” tab at the bottom of the widget if you would like to see the full giveaway rules. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julep Feb’14 Maven swatches!

Happy Monday everyone! Here are the swatches from my February Julep Maven box.

I decided to use Roc Solid (a vintage army green creme) on my fingers with Kristen (teal with silver microshimmer) as an accent. I’m really not loving the formula on Roc Solid; it’s so thick as to be almost unmanageable, making for a splotchy manicure, and I had pretty noticeable tip wear after just one day of wear. I think it will just take a little patience to make it look decent for future manicures.

Kristen, on the other hand, is a dream. It’s not too thick or thin and is completely opaque in a single coat. Like most dark blues/greens, it does stain pretty badly. For this mani I did a coat of Julep Sienna (an antique gold) on my accent nail and topped it with a heavy coat of Love (gold/fuchsia microglitter).

Here’s a single coat of Love on bare nails. It’s very pretty but very sheer, so you can either use it solo for a subtle effect or layer it over a base. One of my friends sampled it over pink and purple with great results.

Judi is a deep purple creme. This is a perfect pedicure color and almost a one-coater. Here I’ve used Cameron (lilac matte glitter) as an accent on my big toes; this polish was a one-coater and dried very quickly, making it a great quickie mani-pedi color. (Excuse the catnip all over the scratching post–it was the best place to prop up my foot in the fading daylight!)

Here’s Judi again, this time with two coats. Obviously it’s much darker with that second coat, which is fine by me. It’s a very royal color and was not too thick or thin.

I really want to try Cameron as an accent with Zoya Marley, since the two seem to be the same shade of lilac. I’ve also got all of my new Zoyas to swatch this week, so hopefully I’ll have a nice big swatch post up later in the week!

February 2014 Julep Maven unboxing

(Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.)
 
 
Happy February everyone! I had enough Julep reward points sitting in my account to earn a free box, so I thought I would treat myself this month and get some new polish to make the gloomy winter weather a little less dreadful. February’s Maven theme was ‘The Dramatic Collection’, and it did not disappoint! The colors were definitely dramatic and there was a nice mix of gloss and sparkle inside. 
If you’re new to Julep, it’s a monthly nail polish subscription box that brings you $40+ worth of fashionable polish shades and new beauty products for $19.99. When you sign up you’ll take a style quiz that will match you to the box type that best suits you: Boho Glam, Bombshell, Classic With a Twist, It Girl or Modern Beauty. Each month you can preview the box selections and elect to try a different box style or skip the month altogether. If you decide to sign up, I’d be super-duper thrilled if you’d use my referral link
Now, on to the polish. This month I decided to go with the “Bombshell” box, which contained two gorgeous shades: “Judi”, an “English violet creme”, and “Kristen”, described as “deep sea teal with silver microshimmer”. Personally I think Kristen looks nothing like the Julep blog swatches in her bottle, but maybe once she’s swatched the teal will really show up.
 
 
 
I also chose two add-ons. “Roc Solid” is described as a “vintage military creme”, while “Cameron” is a “silver lilac stardust (matte glitter)”. I’m really into matte glitters (or any glitters, really) right now so this is right up my alley.
There were two extras in the box this month. The Eye Sheen Liquid Eyeshadow should be interesting–I got the shade “Warm Fig”. The “Love” polish is a mix of “gold, pearl and fuchsia microglitter” and I really can’t say whether it will be full coverage or not. (I hope so.)
Both my Julep box and my Zoya promo order arrived within two days of each other, so clearly I have a lot of swatching to do! If you’d like to check out even more nail polish, take a look at my new Zoyas over here. Hopefully I’ll have a ton of swatch spam up for you over the next couple of weeks!
 
 
(Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.)

My Zoya promo order arrived!

My Zoya order (from the 2014 Color Your World promo) finally arrived! I ended up ordering three extra polishes to get the free shipping, so I now have a total  of six lovely polishes waiting to be worn. Zoya is my favorite polish brand–the formula is great, the color selection is massive, and the polishes are all vegan–plus they release tons of trendy new fashion colors each season that you won’t find in the drugstore.

 

I tried to order with an eye toward the polishes I’ll want to wear this spring and summer, rather than snagging more glitters and “winter” polishes. To that end, I grabbed “Charisma”, a neon orchid shade, to fit with the Pantone color of the year: Radiant Orchid! I also picked up “Darcy”, a warm yellow, and “Destiny”, a coral PixieDust that I’ve been craving since last summer. I think both of these colors will make great pedicure colors once the weather warms up.

 

I also picked out three wild card colors. I don’t normally go for blues, but “Song” was too pretty to pass up. “Purity” is a solid white that should be great for nail art, while “Rue” is a blush nude from the spring “Natural” collection that was just recently released.

 

Here are some shots in cooler light. I think you can see the shimmers in Song a bit better. I’m wondering what Charisma will look like on the nails, because it’s insanely bright even in the bottle! I’ve heard it has a semi-matte finish, so I might have to use a high-gloss topcoat with this one.

 

 

Now the swatching begins… :D