Two new mascaras… and a new baby!

Well, friends the past few months have been busy – my husband and I welcomed our son Hunter in June to our family. We (as well as our cat Emma) are in love and enjoy every minute (even ones spent listening to crying)! Although I have had a lot going on, I still have made some time to purchase a few new beauty items and wanted to share my thoughts in case you were thinking of purchasing either of the below in the near future. But first, a picture of the kiddo 🙂

Hunter

 

Dior DiorShow Pump ‘N’Volume

When this came out in the spring, I couldn’t WAIT to try it. I read about it on blogs and was waiting for my Too Faced Better Than Sex tube to dry up so I could order this from Sephora and not feel guilty about forking over the $29 for it. The hype about this mascara is that it comes in a squeezable tube, so that you can use all the product inside and prevent dry out by squeezing the tube and warming it up as it gets older. I read that the formula was also great, very black and resulted in fake-like lashes. SOLD. When I actually tried it however, I was less than impressed. I found that although it was cool that I could squeeze the tube, it didn’t really do anything. I also did not like that the mascara (although very black and dense in color) did NOT come off for about three days. I don’t mean that in the good sense either. For three days I had raccoon eyes, even with face wash and remover used. I don’t like product of any kind that is that hard to remove so for me this was a no. I don’t know if I was disappointed because my hopes were so high or that it was just wasn’t worth the price tag. Either way, my advice is to pass on this product.

 

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Loreal Voluminous Lash Paradise

One mascara I would recommend is the new Loreal Voluminous Lash Paradise, which I just recently purchased and tried. Judging by the packaging (light metallic pink with thin black type), I think this is supposed to be a dupe of Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. Like the more expensive version, Loreal’s new mascara also promises volume, length, and intensity- all for the low price of $10. I am usually really happy with Loreal’s mascaras, so I had a feeling this would be a winner with me and I was right. It provides drama-like lashes from a drug-store brand. For the same price as one Too Faced mascara ($23 – still super reasonable for department-store mascara), I was able to get the Loreal Lash Paradise and the Voluminous Primer that I enjoy using under my mascaras to give some extra oomph. I still love Too Faced’s version but this is a great option for a cheaper price tag – and you can get it anywhere.

Thinking of trying either of these? Hopefully these reviews helped!

 

 

“Silicone Valley”

For the past few years, the Beauty Blender has changed how we apply makeup, creating an airbrushed look for liquid foundations, concealers and even cream blush. What once started as simple egg-looking soft foam sponge has blown up – now available in all colors and sizes and even has created a slew of copy-cats at a cheaper price. I am no stranger to the Beauty Blender and I love it for the great application and airbrushed look it creates. Here is what I don’t like about it – its a pain to clean. Like a big pain. And you have to clean it regularly in order to keep it in great shape. Internet photos and videos have showed what happens if you don’t clean – disgusting results of cutting the egg sponge open and seeing grossness in it. The other thing that made me hesitant in trying it is the cost. For what it is, its not cheap. One Beauty Blender costs a whopping $20! All that being said, I would say if you are looking to try it, I would. I can guarantee you will love it.

But this post is not about the Beauty Blender. Its actually about a new makeup applicator looking to rival the egg and you’re never going to believe what it is – a silicone sponge that yes, resembles a breast implant. I was shocked at this too when I saw a ton of articles and posts about it on the Internet but give me a minute to explain. The applicator, although takes a while to get used to, really has some great benefits that the Beauty Blender lacks. First, the price is a lot cheaper. Because you can’t get one yet at any of the major beauty retailers like Sephora or Ulta, I took my search to Amazon, which of course had many options to choose from. The one I choose was only $7 and came with Prime shipping so I was able to try it right away. Secondly, you are able to clean (we’ll call it the implant) immediately after use with soap and water and then either dry it or have it sit out. That’s probably my favorite part about this little thing as I really dread cleaning the Beauty Blender (and don’t do it as often as I should). Lastly, after you figure out how to use it, uses a LOT less of your makeup product than the Beauty Blender, which means you save more product and ultimately, more money. How you want to apply it is lightly apply your foundation first with your fingers and then use the implant to pat it on and get into all creases/areas. Its definitely not as easy to use for a first timer as the Beauty Blender or even a brush or sponge, but I think the results are great and the other factors far outweigh it.

Silicone Sponge

 

Have you tried this yet? What did you think?

“Bring it on Home”

Throughout my life I have had many, many manicures. Unlike most women,  I don’t doze off or get lost in my thoughts during this relaxing time. My eyes on glued to the manicurist’s hands, holding mine and using tools, polish and cream to make them beautiful. Although not a certified nail technician, because I spent so much time studying their techniques I have taught myself to recreate the perfect (or at least a really well done) manicure at home. I know all the steps from the prep to finish, with some extras like paraffin wax and oil thrown in occasionally. This is far from my first rodeo. Although I can recreate to the best of my abilities their manicure at home, sometimes it just can’t happen due to lack of resources (ie, I don’t have a gel UV lamp, I don’t know how to do acrylics or have a paraffin wax heater at my disposal). For the first time however, the gel look is becoming more of a reality than a salon-only habit.

Creative Nail Design (who make one of my all-time favorite lotions) is a leader in the gel arena and if you go to your local nail salon (specifically the New England chain Miniluxe) you will find it as one of your only choices for gel. The company also has the same colors offered in a gel-like polish that promises to last one week, without the use of a uv lamp. The line is called Vinylux and won’t cost you any more than your standard manicure at a salon. But here is the best part – now you can buy the polishes on your own! This means two coats of the Vinylux plus their special topcoat and you’re good for a solid week, with the same color as you can find in the gel line. You can’t purchase the line on their site, but you CAN purchase it at Ulta as well as other salons. As of this year, you can also purchase this line on Flash Sale sites like Rue La La for a discount ($7.99 versus Ulta’s $9.99). You will not be able to find all the shades that are available but if you find a color you like, its well worth it to scoop it up at a discount. I just scored Plum Paisley and love it!

If you’re just fine with doing your nails yourself, I strongly suggest checking out this line. For the same price as my beloved Essie and rival OPI, you will get more wear out of the polish and save your dollars for something else – say the pedicure you CAN’T do yourself 🙂

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Happy Polishing!

 

“Two are better than one”

I love mascara. And I mean, I LOVEEE mascara. I take after my mother in this sense (as well as many others), and we are both have a thing for big, bold, doll-like lashes. I personally don’t feel complete until after I’ve applied it and if I only had to put one thing on before I left the house, it would be this. As you may have read in some of my other posts, I am always on the search for the newest, latest and greatest if it means I’m going to achieve fake-lash status (without wearing actual fake lashes). Two products I’m going to talk about in this post actually work really well together- even better!

I actually found the first one by asking two of my team members at work the same question – “What mascara are you wearing?”. I kid you not, I only asked the two of them, in the same email. To my surprise, they BOTH answered with the same mascara – Lancome’s Hypnose Drama. It has a nice dense black color with a curved wand to give a subtle curl. One of them suggested I also try out the primer from Lancome to really up the pow-factor (which I did, obviously). When I was out of the primer and mascara, I decided to re-purchase the mascara for sure, but wanted to try out the Loreal version of the primer. Good decision. The Loreal Paris Voluminous Primer I found to work just as well, if not better than the Lancome version for half the price! I don’t use this everyday but if I really want a dramatic effect, I put this on top and bottom first (it comes out white which actually helps as a guide for the black mascara to be applied to) and then apply two coats of the Hypnose Drama. I highly recommend both products if you like your mascara like me – big and bold – and don’t mind adding a second step.

mascaras

Pretty pink pout

Since mid-winter, I have been on the hunt for the perfect shade of pink lip. It doesn’t matter what form it comes in (gloss, lipstick, stain) but I have been searching for the color that can best be described as feminine and soft, natural with a little oomph. To me that means peony, blush, nude-pink, and demure. You would think with all the shades out there and with me Pinning on Pinterest like crazy, that this would be an easy task. Not so much. The colors I like on Instagram and  social media don’t look the same in the store. The girls in the pictures have skin darker than mine so the colors look ridiculous on me. After several unsuccessful trips to Ulta, I came across the perfect pink that I was looking for spring – at CVS!

Burt’s Bees has a few lip lines out from gloss to cream lipstick to balm and while on my search, I found the perfect shade of pink I was looking for in their Lip Shine in Blush. The texture if moisturizing, not sticky and smells/tastes like berries. There were other colors I wanted to try in the line as well, two being their muted nude-purple in Spontaneity and their juicy red berry in Pucker.

The best part? It was under $10 and better than all of the colors I was looking at in the $20s at Ulta! If you’re fair like me and looking for a pretty pink pout, try this one from Burt’s Bees out! (I didn’t mean that to rhyme I swear)

 

BB

Maureen

Discounted Beauty

The only thing I love more than beauty products is finding a bargain on those beauty products (although if you ask my husband he will say it’s spending money).  I am a true bargain hunter –  my idea of the perfect Saturday afternoon is spending an hour perusing TJMaxx (my happy place), latte in hand, looking for the best deals on everything from clothing to shoes to jewelry to home items. Beauty was not an area that was always associated with discount in a pleasant manner – it used to imply used, old or imperfect products – ones that you wouldn’t actually want to use on your face, body or skin. Well the times they are a’changin for beauty and the off-price world is ALL over them. If you’re looking for beauty at a discount, check out my top picks for getting your favorite brands for a good deal.

Brick and Mortars:

TJMaxx and Marshalls – this family of brands under the TJX umbrella has managed to grow their beauty department to something of a marvel in the past few years. I once could never tell what I would be able to find there and now brands are consistently brought in on the regular and merchandised well in the store. You can almost expect to find liters of Biolage, Redken, Sexy Hair, and Biosilk hair products, Essie and OPI nail colors, along with brushes and hair tools from brands like Hot Tools, GHD, and T3. Skin and body products are merchandised by color and you can expect to find drugstore brands like Sally Hansen, Loreal, Aveeno and Neutrogena in the mix. If I am looking for a particular product, I often check here first before paying full price as these stores have been known to get obscure brands like Bliss and Ahava on occasion. Something you will also see :  clothing and accessory brands that you didn’t know had makeup lines. Did you know that Max Studio sold makeup? I didn’t either until I saw it in TJs.

Ocean State Job Lot – for my New England gals you might be shocked to know that I check this lower budget chain quite often (when we moved this fall we discovered we are down the street from one). I would not believe it either if I didn’t see it myself but if you have the time to look, you can find a good gem of a beauty product here. The chain gets loads of makeup and skin products on the regular from mostly drugstore brands like Maybelline, Loreal, Wet n Wild, Almay and Neutrogena. Some of the makeup is there due to packaging changes or discontinuation but there are plenty that are at your local drugstore being sold full price (so why pay it?). This is where I picked up my Essie growth treatment for $3.99 and love it! I have also found more Essie products as well as OPI shades. If you live near one of these stores, this is worth a look! Bonus: you can also pick up some cleaning products for your bathroom while you’re there.

Nordstrom Rack – although not an extensive beauty department, you can find some good options at this store, while your checking out the amazing clothing and shoe selection. The mix includes Sephora –type brands like Stila, Smashbox, Philosophy and drugstore brands like Loreal, NYX and Neutrogena. The store also includes nail polishes from Essie, OPI and Orly. Kind of a random mix, but not a bad one.

Flash Sale sites:

Rue La La: Now I am partial to this first one, probably because I am employed by them but Rue La La’s beauty department has EXPLODED over the past year. It’s become a major category for the organization and is on track to be even bigger in 2016 (I’m just a LITTLE excited). We have many recognizable department store luxury brands such as La Mer, Dior, Shiseido, Oribe, Chanel and Kerastase. We also have tons of the same brands you would find in your nearest Sephora such as Too Faced, Clinique, Lancome, Clarins, Nars, Bumble and Bumble, bareMinerals, Clarisonic, L’Occitane, Davines, Living Proof and Philosophy. The items are sold in multi-day boutiques with names like Blowout Bar or Beauty Bar and encompass hundreds of high quality, discounted beauty finds.

Hautelook: I am a regular Hautelook shopper and really enjoy their jewelry department. They tend to have brands I have never heard of and that definitely translates into their beauty department as well.  This flash sale site, which is predominately driven by brand events, has two beauty events per day, ranging from hair and skin appliances to gel nail polish and obscure makeup brands. Brands you can expect to find on Hautelook are Kevyn Aucoin, theBalm, Crown Brush, Laura Gellar, Josie Maran, NYX, FHI Hair Tools, as well as ones that you have never heard of (but could easily become your newest find).  One franchise that I do miss – #mani Monday – a weekly nail event that would include lots of uv gel nail polishes and lamps that were affordable options to the nail salon.

MyHabit: Amazon’s flash sale site’s approach to beauty is much like Hautelook’s  – brand driven.  This is great – unless you don’t know the brand and just want to browse around. In that case, the website does have a Beauty tab in which you can click to see all products live on site at that time. Brand offerings are much like Rue La La’s and Hautelook and include Living Proof, Kerastase, Lancome, Borghese as well as UV nail polish brands.

If you are a beauty lover who doesn’t like to pay full price (like me), there are definitely options for you out there, as long as you don’t mind a little digging. For me, its half the fun.

Where are your favorite places to find discounted beauty products?

Maureen

My best of 2015 Winners

Everyone has else has posted their favorite 2015 items so its time I summed up all of my favorites as well! Here are the items that I found in 2015 that I love and think you should give a try as well! And unlike everyone else, I will also be posting a second part of this (which is hard for me to write but just as important)- my disappointments of 2015. Hopefully those will save you some time in purchasing if you were interested in those items. Ok, let’s get down to it! Here is who impressed me this year:

Face:

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Gel Cream has been a big winner for me this year. I blogged about it at the beginning of the year and since then, it’s the only foundation I have used. The only change I have made is my application- I now apply it with a wet sponge instead of dabbing it my dry face with my fingers.

Laura Mercier Invisible Loose Setting Powder – I found out about this product (along with the one below it) together in a video tutorial about the “baking” process. Although I don’t use this powder for that, I use it regularly when I don’t want a dewy finish, but a more matte look. Its invisible and a little goes a long way!

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer – I have been advised to use this on many Sephora trips as it’s a bestseller, but didn’t try it until this year (I’m a stubborn Taurus). It’s fabulous for under eye and along the nose coverage, as well as hiding any blemishes. This was a big find this year.

Cheeks:

benefit lollitint cheek & lip stain – I received this in a Sephora 500 perk set and honestly did not think I would use it. I have used the original Benetint Rose stain in the past and found it was just a bit too pigmented for me (given being pale), so I figured I would feel the same way about this color. This is more of a very pretty purpleish pink and looks feminine on both lips and cheeks. I liked it so much I even tried more colors when I went to Sephora  (on one of my MANY trips this year)!

benefit watt’s up! highlighter – this took me awhile to find! I was looking for a great champagny- gold highlighter to use on my cheekbones, nose and under my brows and after trying almost everything in the store, I stumbled on this. It’s the perfect color for someone with light skin tones, comes in a creamy/easy to apply formula and has a soft focus sponge on the other side for easy blending. SOLD.

Too Faced Cocoa Contour Makeup Palette – so at this point at the end of the year, I had watched about a million contouring videos and tried about every contour product available at Sephora, including reading reviews. I tried all the fan favorites (Kat Von D creamy AND powder formulas, Nars, Clinique, etc) and finally got to this. It has four total colors (two browns, two highlighters) all named after chocolate, which by the way, it smells like. This is the first palette I have found that has a lighter brown for a pale girl like myself that was not ruddy brown/red, but a true brown to give you that real contour shading. The palette also comes with a guide to several different looks, depending on how dramatic you want.

Eyes:

bareMinerals 5 in 1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eye Shadow – I jumped on these so fast as soon as they came out, I can’t believe I didn’t do a blog post solely about them! I bought three colors – all of which are gorgeous. The formula goes on creamy and dries to a powder. This is the perfect product for someone who wants to swipe this one without too much work and look polished quickly- either with fingers or the applicator it comes with. The lighter colors I have really open up the eyes (Barely Nude and Candelit Peach ) and the Divine Wine is a nice crease color.

Urban Decay Naked2 Eye Shadow palette – I mean, do I even need to write anything here? Its 12 colors of absolutely gorgeous nude shadows, in which you can take the look from day to night to super drama depending on how much you want to add. The only thing I wish is that I had ALL the Naked pallettes, but that give me something to strive towards for this year.

benefit they’re real! lengthening mascara– I received this in the same 500 point perk gift that I got the lollitint and knew I would like this. I did have to apply at least two coats to get my desired drama look, but I was very happy with the result, which was wide-eyed, long and curled lashes. I would definitely consider purchasing this the next time I need a new mascara. Comes in three colors!

Lips:

Urban Decay Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss in Beso – this is GORGEOUS. A little pink, a little purple, it is ultra-feminine and makes me feel so pretty. Not sticky but shiny and you can feel the moisture.

Fresh Sugar Lip Shine Treatment in Rose – if you love any of the Fresh Sugar lip balms, you will love this. It’s a super nourishing lip gloss with a bit of color and the same light lemon scent as the rest of the Sugar line. I loved it so much I wore it on my wedding day!

 

What were your favorite finds of 2015?

Maureen

How to Choose a new Hairstylist

November 3, 2015

So as many of you may know, I have had a lot going on within the past several months. I got married in June and bought a house in early September, making the late summer and early fall a whirlwind that is just finally settling down now. Because we moved to a suburb about thirty minutes south of where we were living, everything is changing – my commute, gym, schedule and most importantly my hairstylist 🙂 I was going to someone in Boston that from my previous location was easy to get to but now its out of the question. So I found myself in the suburbs with grey hairs in need of a trim and a good stylist. What’s a girl to do when she is not familiar with the area? Research! I thought many of you might be in the same predicament (or could be in the future) so I wanted to share some of my favorite ways of setting out to find a new stylist.

Start with your close network first. If you know people in your new area (friends, family, old coworkers) who love their stylist (or you love their hair) ask them where they go and who they see. If you feel comfortable, ask generally how expensive the stylist/salon is because although you might have a styling budget cap, the person you may be asking may not. Not comfortable enough to ask? Call the salon and ask that particular stylist’s price range.

Hit the web. Yelp is a great resource for finding entertainment, restaurants and businesses in your new area and salons are no different. Often what is good about Yelp is they will mention a specific stylist’s name in the review. This is how I found my new salon and stylist and I have to give full credit to Yelp. The reviews on the salon were great and several mentioned my specific stylist by name (and included pictures of her work) so I called and made an appointment with her. It turned out to be a match made in Heaven 🙂

Googling salons in your area is also a good option but try hard to look for reviews. I also like to see pictures of the stylists themselves because they usually do their best work on themselves, as they know themselves best.

“Best of” issues. I am huge fan of these kind of lists and have used this method in the past to seek out new places to go. In Boston, Boston Magazine annually puts out a “Best of” issue and breaks it down among area in Massachusetts, not just inner cities of Boston. Allure magazine (aka the beauty Bible) also puts out an annual list by major city. Their website is another great resource to search on best of beauty businesses. Keep in mind usually these businesses are on the pricier side, so if you are on a budget be sure to check the salon’s website before you go in.

Ask a stranger. I know this sounds insane but it works and sometimes you will find someone you absolutely love – and make someone’s day at the same time. In a local coffee shop and see someone’s hair you just absolutely have to have? Ask her where she goes. Trust me – she might be shocked when you ask her but she will be 100% flattered. My mother found a stylist this way years ago and we ended up going to this woman for over ten years. Not so crazy, is it?

Still stumped? Ask me! I love to do this research because I’m crazy but I don’t mind at all. Even if you’re not in my area, let me know where you live and your budget and I will find you the perfect match.

Happy hunting!

Maureen

Back in Business

August 6th, 2015

Well, hello. It’s been awhile. A lot of has happened in the past several months which have taken me away from blogging. I was promoted into a new role, got married and most recently am in the process of purchasing our first home. All exciting things which have definitely kept me busy but I must admit I have missed my blog and plan to pay more attention to it going forward. Although this is not a post about actual beauty, here is a little peek of  topics you can expect to see in the near future:

  • Tips for choosing a hair and/or makeup artist for your wedding
  • Where to purchase discounted beauty online and in stores
  • When to get rid of makeup (and my tip for taking stock of what you have now)
  • Product reviews on my new favorite finds… as well as some disappointing ones

Be on the look out for these soon!

Maureen