Monday, January 30, 2012

L'oreal Sublime Mousse

A few months ago I embarked on a mission to grow out the dye in my hair and get highlights once all my natural hair had grown back (I didn't want to damage it too much by dying it straight away, and the idea seemed to fit perfectly with the ombre hair trend going around). That ended about two weeks ago when I realized that I needed a change from my dark black roots and that the end of this project was no where in sight. 
I never stray too far from my natural hair color, but I wanted a cool toned light brown color. I picked out the L'oreal sublime mousse in light chestnut brown, admittedly because of the packaging. The reviews about this were on either end of the spectrum, you either love it or hate it, but I figured my hair is dark and there is usually a good amount of leeway for it when it comes to color. L'oreal usually make good at-home dyes and  as a mousse, it hopefully meant that it would be easy to do myself. 
Inside it comes with the usual suspects - the color, a developer, a deep conditioner, a pair of gloves and instructions - as well as an interesting mousse pump. 
The mousse formula was so easy to work with and allowed for precise application with no dripping. Surprisingly, it didn't stain anything, which got me a little worried, because it probably meant that it wouldn't dye my hair very well either. 
After rinsing it out and blow drying, I got the results I was kind of expecting - a very subtle tinge of brown that shines through in the sunlight. 
{It is very hard to capture on camera} 
Naturally black hair is very hard to lighten or color, especially with an at-home dye. I wasn't expecting it to do anything drastic, mostly just lighten up my roots, so for that I am quite pleased with it. It is definitely not as harsh as some of the other box dyes I've tried in the past. It doesn't sting when it gets on your skin and it doesn't make your hair feel stripped afterwards. I actually love the way my hair feels now - a little thicker, less flat and oily from the coating of dye on the strands and still very healthy. 
Looking back at the directions, it seems that I missed the part about massaging the hair in circular motions until it is completely saturated, which might have meant more drastic results if I had actually done this properly =I. Also a little tip, if you slightly wet the glove with water it makes the dye really foam up and distribute in your hair. With this added experience I would love to get another box and try it again in the future. 
All in all I think this is good for first time box dyers, and those with dark hair who want a subtle easy to use dye. I've never gotten my hair colored at a salon and although I want to, I'm kind of scared to see what I would look like with a full on color that actually turns out the way it looks in the tube. For now I will stick with the subtle, albeit somewhat unexpected, color that I get from drugstore box dyes. 

Do you guys dye your hair at home or have suggestions about getting it dyed at a salon? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Current Skincare

When it comes to skincare, I like to try a lot of different things and rarely does a product find a permanent home in my routine. For a while I had been sticking to a regular regimen of products, but they were coming to an end and I got a bit bored of it. After my skin started to change in the colder weather, I knew it was time to try something new. Since switching it up, my skin has gotten so much better and I've become obsessed with maintaining it. Here are the products I've been using. 
At night, I will take my makeup off with good old Johnson's baby oil. This gets everything off in seconds, doesn't irritate, and is incredibly cheap, but be prepared for an oil-face afterwards. 

Next I will wash my face with Cetaphil for normal to oily skin. After hearing all the rave reviews about this, I had to try it out, despite my hesitations because it just looks so boring. But, it's amazing. It makes the skin feel really clean, refreshed, and healthy. The only down side is that it contains a few ingredients that might raise a few eyebrows and although a more natural alternative would be nice, for now, this is incredibly addicting. 

Because my skin has gotten a lot drier, I started using Bio-Oil as an overnight moisturizing treatment. Now, I used to be one of those people that cringed at the thought of putting oil on my face, but I took a leap of faith in trying this and it has worked amazingly for me. You don't need a lot at all (I made that mistake the first time I used it) and it feels really nice to massage into the skin. It never completely sinks into my skin, but I don't mind because it really locks in moisture and leaves me with soft, smooth skin when I wake up. To my disbelief, this hasn't broken me out. 

Then I put some of the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo on my t-zone, which I have already raved about here
I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to try some products from the Mario Badescu skincare range, so I got the enzyme revitalizing mask and the hyaluronic eye cream. The eye cream is very rich and moisturizing, so it is more appropriate for night time use, although I sometimes use a little in the day time. As with many eye creams, its effects are not immediately apparent, but one thing that is obvious - it's extremely moisturizing, which hopefully means it is great for preventing fine lines and wrinkles. 

The mask I use every 3 days, although it is so good that I am tempted to use it everyday. It has papaya and grapefruit extracts which act as gentle, natural exfoliators and is also surprisingly moisturizing. After using this my face is brighter, softer, and more balanced looking. I absolutely love this and would recommend it to anyone, really, because it is so gentle. 

After my experience with these products and looking at the other products that Mario Badescu offers on their website, I have to say I am a little bit obsessed. There is something for every single skin type and the products just seem to cater to my every need. It shocks me how affordable they are for their quality and I am dying to get more. I have already ordered another product from them, a body wash =x. 

In the daytime, I keep it really simple and just use Clinique's dramatically different moisturizing gel and some sunscreen (I haven't found one I like yet). I got this at Sephora while looking for a daytime moisturizer. I was pleasantly surprised when I swatched it and felt that it's not really a gel as you would expect, but more like a cream-gel. Because of this it is perfect for a non-greasy but hydrated feel on your skin. 

I'm always in search for the next best lip balm, and the two that I am using now are the Nuxe Reve de Miel lip moisturizing stick and the Dr. Hauschka lip balm. The Nuxe one is nice, but I like my lip balms to have a little more slip to them than this one provides. 
The Dr. Hauschka one is the real winner here. It is pricey for a lip balm, but I think it's well worth it. Housed in a little glass pot, this product is fantastic for dry, flaky lips. Once it is warmed up with your fingers, it glides on like a creamy, luxurious oil. I use this at night and it really feels like my lips are repaired in the morning. The product states that its natural ingredients don't encourage dependency but, I'm addicted. 

Finally, I wanted to include my favorite hand cream, Eucerin intensive repair hand creme. I've been using this for over a year now, and I keep repurchasing it. It's definitely not something luxurious that you can be proud to pull out of your bag, but it works way better than some of the fancier hand creams out there in my opinion, kind of like "the Cetaphil" of hand creams. 

Wow, that seems really long. Thank you to those who are reading this, I hope you enjoyed it and will share some of your skincare tips! =)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Used and Reviewed: January Birchbox

I was very lucky this Christmas to receive a 3-month subscription to Birchbox from one of my good friends (ingenious right?). 
When these beauty boxes hit the blogging/vlogging world, I have to admit that the countless posts about what people got in their boxes got a bit redundant. Now that I have received my own, I completely understand the excitement that surrounds them. So I hate to say it but, here is yet another post about a beauty subscription service.  
These things look so much smaller in person. 
{From L to R: VMW Hypoallergenics Face-Hand-Body lotion; Zoya nail polish in Kristen; Jouer lipgloss in Birchbox Pink; Eboost Orange Natural Energy Booster; Harvey Prince Yogini perfume}

I wasn't expecting to find anything that I was going to love, but these three are amazing and I would actually repurchase them - except maybe the lotion because if you take into account its $45 price tag, it really isn't that amazing. 

I was shocked when I saw the Zoya nail polish, because the color is so up my alley and I don't have anything like it. It's a pale blue-grey (not at all lavender like it is showing up as) that I like to describe as my "winter blue". It is so beautiful and goes nicely with gold jewelry. Looking at my other nail polishes, this sample size bottle is all I need. 

While I was cleaning out my makeup for the new year, I decided that I hate lip gloss and was very close to getting rid of all the ones I own (except for the Clarins one; that one is amazing!). So I had below zero expectations for the Jouer lip gloss that came in this box. Knowing that I would hate the look of it on my bare lips I put it on top of completely nude lips achieved by MAC's naked lip liner. 
{SO sorry for the weird lip pout; it was the only good picture of the lip gloss}
I cannot believe how much I like this lip gloss. It's very sheer so it looks like a much more toned down version of what it does in the tube, it is completely non-sticky, and it actually feels moisturizing. I would actually purchase the full size of this, if it wasn't sold out on their website right now. 

So there's my 2 cents. Overall I really enjoyed receiving this months birchbox and I may have to subscribe myself once my gift period has ended. Hope you enjoyed reading!


Friday, January 6, 2012


Ever since moving to my new apartment, my makeup storage situation has been a cluttered mess. With a relatively small space, things were being tossed around, misplaced, and piled up so much so that I was really neglecting a large part of my collection and just working with a select few products out of my makeup bag. 
I had been dreaming up an ideal makeup storage system for a while, but being that I am extremely picky, all of my ideas were either too expensive, too much work, impractical, or just plain ugly. I finally decided that I needed to put my perfectionist personality aside and get my makeup sorted. Here are some tidbits from my new "vanity".

cutlery tray from Ikea holds daily skincare products and face makeup. 

An old box, originally the packaging of a clutch wallet, now houses my lipsticks and glosses. 

These simple white mugs from T.J.Maxx are a great way to store brushes and mascara. 

This acrylic organizer keeps my palettes within easy reach. 

As for the vanity table itself, I reused an old desk that I had used in college. It is a simple, inexpensive desk from Walmart that has a convenient pull out drawer, which was a must have for me because I wanted a system that would keep my makeup nicely concealed if needed. With a fresh coat of paint, the desk worked perfectly for me. 

To compartmentalize the drawer, I used a combination of these and the acrylic drawer organizers.

Finally, I propped up a simple mirror and now I have a fully functional vanity that didn't cost me much, and keeps my things nicely organized. 

I'm so happy with the way it turned out - it's not perfect, but it really makes getting ready in the morning so much more enjoyable and easy. Nothing brings in the new year like a newly organized space and a thorough clean out of the things I really didn't need =). 

What are some of your organizing tips?


Monday, January 2, 2012

Best in 2011

Happy new year everyone! I hope you've all had a good holiday and some quality time off. 
2011 was the year that my blog really grew and I discovered a new hobby and some really great products. I was contemplating not doing this post because a lot of the products I have already mentioned some time or another - obviously because they're my favs. But it's nice to reflect and recap, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to throw in some recently found, instant all star products. 
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo: an amazing skincare product that really had a dramatic effect on my skin. Perfect for blackheads, whiteheads and acne prone skin. I don't go a night without using this. 
Bioderma Crealine H20: a cult product that really works to remove makeup and cleanse the skin in a very gentle and soothing way. Instead of using this as my daily make up remover, I like to keep it on hand while doing my makeup because it is perfect for fixing mistakes. It's almost like a magic eraser - you get rid of the mishap and you can start right back where you left off without having oily residue on your face. 
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal: the best highlighter I have ever used. I do really like Dior Amber Diamond and MAC's cream colour base in hush, but something about this makes it the one I grab for the most. I much prefer cream/liquid highlighters to powder ones and this one has that dewy soft texture that is so nice to work with. It is a beautiful product that highlights while looking unbelievably natural. 
MAC mineralize skin finish: I haven't really tried that many face powders, but this one got a lot of use in 2011 and I really enjoyed using it. This plus some concealer, or just on its own equals an effortless and natural face makeup good for quick routines. 
MAC's viva glam gaga II & hue lipstick: a nude, and a nude. Sometimes it feels like my whole lipstick collection has whittled down to just these two. Hue is just a staple lipstick that works with everything; you can stick it on however you like, and it always looks good. Gaga II is a little too much when slapped on all over, but I love the nude lip it gives when dabbed on lightly.
Wet n' Wild nutty eyeshadow: of course it would be the 2 dollar eye shadow that I constantly reach for. I just love this color; it's great for all over on its own or in the crease with a range of different colors. It's buttery smooth and fits neatly into my makeup bag. 
Benefit Hoola bronzer: I use this everyday to contour and I think its cult following speaks for itself. 
Sephora by OPI Don't be Eggnog-ious: 2011 was the year for sparkly glittery nails. This one takes the cake for me; it's the prettiest coppery rose gold glitter polish and it is stunning. To savor it, I want to use it solely for accent nails. 
Illamasqua's Katie blush: I'm hooked on this blush. This baby doll pink is similar to MAC's well dressed, but minus the shimmer and plus pigmented-goodness. It's unbelievably pigmented, is one of my favorite colors for blush, and has a nice smell. There's also something about the packaging that really appeals to me.

So there are my favorite products of the year. I'm hoping in 2012 to stream line my collection, delve into more skin care, and only buy things that I know suit my tastes and that I will use and love. Easier said than done though, right?