Mar 30, 2013

Guilty Pleasure Products

Although I strongly encourage all of you to buy products with the very best ingredients possible, I can admit that there are times when I do not follow my own advice. I realized this when I was close to finishing most of my remaining body washes (I had maybe a 3-4 day supply and I wouldn't be home for spring break for another week). See, my school is in a rural area, so in the immediate area there is a CVS and a local grocery store. If I am willing to drive a little, I can get to a Walmart, but getting to the nearest Whole Foods would require a lengthy drive (and consequently, I would end up driving straight past my home anyway, so it makes sense to wait until I am home). This makes my purchasing options very limited when I am in need of something. And yes, I know... I am the kind of person who typically plans far ahead so things like this do not happen. This time, I just wasn't prepared.

Since I do look at the ingredients of everything I buy, just looking at and choosing soaps and body washes at Walmart can be a nightmare. On the particular occasion when I caved and bought what I am about to mention below, I was also helping my boyfriend to find a product that wouldn't irritate his eczema. We probably spent ten minutes in the aisle analyzing prices and ingredients. He is less picky about his ingredients than I am (and more conscious of price) and his goal is to buy something that will work. I can appreciate that because sometimes "natural" products just don't work AND they cost more than conventional items. Eventually he decided to try the Dial Gold Antibacterial soap bars for nostalgic purposes (they were a staple at his grandmother's house, as was the liquid hand soap by the same name). Even though I try to avoid heavily fragranced products, I had to take a whiff of the soap and it reminded me of hotel soap and something else (I still don't remember where else I have smelled this soap). Some people may be cringing at this point, but for some reason I was a big fan. We went on our merry way, but the soap crept back into my mind when I was showering (and it reminded me that my supply was running short - normally I would be willing to try my shampoo as a body wash, but for some reason my brain rationalized that just buying the Dial soap was necessary). Later that day, I caved and drove to Walmart to buy the same soap my boyfriend had purchased the day before.

That was an excessively long introduction. My point is that sometimes there are products I just want to buy or use even though they conflict with my purchasing norms. Typically I buy these things when I am feeling nostalgic or in a pinch. Sometimes I am happy with the purchase, but other times I realize why I do not usually jump for joy when I see certain products
  • Dial Gold (bar soap): I adore how this smells. It doesn't feel too bad on my skin. The ingredients annoy me, though. Oh, and you can buy them in bulk at some Sam's Club locations if you have a membership (and I have looked through different prices near where I live and it is just under $7 for 20... which I will have to confirm in person). 
  • Lip Smackers: the Dr. Pepper one actually burns my lips. The rest just smell good and taste waxy.
  • Neutrogena skin care products: It has been about a year since I have bought Neutrogena skin care, and although external skin care is no replacement for healthy habits, I still find the temptation to buy Neutrogena products from time to time.
  • Suave Professionals Almond & Shea Butter Shampoo/Conditioner: I first tried this in high school when I was playing my family's annual Christmas Bingo game (we all bring items under $5 and when somebody gets a "bingo" they can choose anything that is on the table - I chose these). Although the ingredients are not impressive, I love how affordable the shampoo and conditioner are. I also love how they make my hair feel. I have a bottle of each left at my mom and dad's house and even though I have said goodbye to sulfates I feel the temptation to finish the bottles. I probably will at some point.
What are your "guilty pleasure" products?

Mar 22, 2013

Review: Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner

Note: I was sent the Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner to review. However, I refuse to review products in an unethical manner. That being said, let us continue with the review!

I love simplicity. This means I can be lazy when it comes to applying steps that I personally do not find to be necessary. Something I consider unnecessary is face primer because I have yet to find one that doesn't make my skin look or feel gross by the end of the day. I do think eye primer is a necessity, so I take the extra time to put it on. I didn't really think about how I would feel about adding a lash conditioner (essentially I see it as a primer even if the description doesn't call it that) until last year when I started watching mascara routine videos for some bizarre reason. When I saw the difference that a lash primer/conditioner can do, I was intrigued. The problem is that it is difficult to find products to prime your eyelashes. Enter the Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner.

This lash extender promises to condition lashes, make it so you need to use less mascara (therefore you'll get more bang for your buck), allow your lashes to grow to their full potential, and prevent splitting.

Since (I believe) it is impossible to grow your lashes past their full potential, it would be unrealistic to expect false-looking lashes after using this for an extended period of time. However, I've read that each person's lashes can only reach a certain length, and that length is predetermined by genetics (but please correct me if I am incorrect here). For me, I did notice my lashes staying in longer and feeling softer and stronger when I don't wear mascara. However, it doesn't dry completely clear, so I don't recommend wearing this product alone. I've tried it under every mascara I own (including some that dried up) and it works nicely with a variety of formulas.

The hardest part of getting used to this lash conditioner is that you're not supposed to let the conditioner dry before you go in and apply mascara (so it still needs to be a little wet and you have to work fast). It just took me a few tries to get the technique just right. I think the price is just right ($16) and the ingredients list is impressive since almond oil is known to condition lashes, but actually using almond oil would probably not work well under mascara ;)
Ingredients: Water, Algae Extract, Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Carnauba Wax, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Oleic Acid, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit Extract, Sweet Almond Seed Extract.
I won't say this item is necessarily "essential" for everybody but I will say it is a fantastic addition to my daily routine and I will repurchase it because of the benefits and the fact that my lashes definitely seem to be longer and fuller on their own. I highly recommend it.

FTC: I was sent the Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner to review. However, I always give my honest opinion on products and will not compromise my own integrity for the sake of a product's reputation. I am not being compensated for this review and my ties with Jane Iredale are informal, but friendly (as in, I haven't signed a contract with them or anything). You can buy this product here or anywhere that Jane Iredale products are sold!

Mar 21, 2013

Review/Swatches: Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

When the original Urban Decay Naked palette was released, I wasn't impressed. It featured neutrals that definitely leaned on the warmer side. I already knew that a lot of warmer colors just make my eyes look swollen/like I had been punched, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a palette full of colors that would do that (by the way, the color I was most reluctant about was Half-Baked, which I have changed my mind about). A year later, Urban Decay released the Naked 2 palette, which featured what the Urban Decay website describes as "12 taupe and greige neutrals" - which is something I could get on board with. I didn't buy it immediately because I kept telling myself I didn't need it. I was given it for Christmas and once I played with the different shadows, I regretted not trying this sooner.

Left to right: Foxy, Half-Baked, Bootycall, Chopper, Tease,
Snakebite, Suspect, Pistol, Verve, YDK, Busted, Blackout
The colors in this palette are: Foxy, Half-Baked, Bootycall, Chopper, Tease, Snakebite, Suspect, Pistol, Verve, YDK, Busted, and Blackout. I'm terrible at describing colors, but I will make the attempt. And if you don't want to read my descriptions, I don't blame you in the slightest ;)

Foxy is a matte cream color. It is smooth and not chalky in the slightest.

Half-Baked is a golden-y bronze. It is the reason I didn't want to buy the original Naked palette (as I said before), but I really like it!

Bootycall is a shimmery champagne color, but it is not so shimmery that it makes me feel like my eyes are at some sort of disco.

Chopper is a glittery bronze (maybe on the copper-y side). The glitter in this one is obvious, but I personally don't have *too* much fallout when I use it, but I recommend applying this one with caution.

Tease is a semi-matte taupe. It is a color that I would personally consider great for somebody to wear to work as it is not over the top.

Snakebite is a cool, medium-dark shimmery brown.

Suspect is a shimmery medium brown.

Pistol is a shimmery taupe (more on the gray side).

Verve is a shimmery sand-y color.

YDK is another shimmery bronze.

Busted is a dark shimmery brown.

Blackout is simply black.

This palette also comes with the Urban Decay Lip Junkie lip gloss in the color Naked as well as a dual-ended brush. The brush is average and the color and consistency of the gloss is quite nice (although of course I don't have it where I am at the moment and don't have pictures, but it wasn't a very pigmented gloss to begin with - I'd describe the color as a pinky nude). The packaging is also very sturdy, which is something I appreciate when I travel. Naked 2 isn't as easy to travel with as Naked Basics, but this is best for longer trips.

Is Naked 2 worth $50? Personally, I'd say it is! If you aren't sure you want to spend the money on it, I recommend testing it out before you buy it. For me, it is worth every penny and I will repurchase it perhaps once I've finished every shadow in the palette.

Mar 20, 2013

Review: Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara

I can safely say that of all the beauty products I've tried, I am the least picky about mascara. I've had a few that I didn't like (and I've never liked a Revlon mascara), and too many to count that I've loved.

As some of you may recall, I was sent the Jane Iredale Magic Mitt a couple of months ago (by the way, I still use it nightly and I still adore it). After posting that review, the company offered to send me a mascara since that would fit under my Project Minimize requirements (especially since I am adamant about throwing my mascara away after three months), and I ended up receiving Jane Iredale's Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara (as well as their PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner, which will be reviewed in a separate post).

I tend to ignore the appearance of packaging, but this mascara just looks so darn sophisticated when it is in the same container as my less "posh" looking eye products. The tube is gold and unlike typical mascara tubes - this one is "squishy" (pardon my inability to find a better adjective). I've never had a mascara with similar packaging. To be honest, I was worried that it would dry up within a month. I've had it longer and it is still going strong. I actually feel like I will be able to get more product out of the tube, which is great, since the mascara itself costs $33. Considering the performance of the mascara, I think it is worth the money.

This mascara is meant to lengthen and volumize (and separate) lashes while still giving a natural appearance to your lashes. It can also be layered (I usually throw on one coat and go). The formula is also meant to be moisturizing so lashes stay healthy and conditioned. It is free of some of the more controversial ingredients found in mascaras (petroleum-based ingredients being one I personally am concerned about). Finally, it is said that this mascara contains 50% more product than most other mascaras. That is one claim I can't confirm or deny without doing some dangerous work with scissors and other sharp tools, so I trust that it is a true statement.

Here are the ingredients:
Ingredients: Water, Algae Extract, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Cellulose, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Algae Extract, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit Extract, Sweet Almond Seed Extract, Tribehenin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Oleic Acid. May contain: Iron Oxides, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide.

I believe that the mascara lives up to its claims. My lashes look nicely lengthened and volumized. I always fear having spidery-looking lashes, so it is great that I can get a natural look for every day. I also love that when I remove this mascara (along with the lash extender underneath), my lashes don't feel brittle. I may be wrong, but I feel like they have been given a chance to grow a little longer and thicker than usual, and that is amazing. I've used this mascara both with and without the lash extender and it is nice both ways, but I definitely see a little more "oomph" when I have the lash extender on.

Do I recommend this product? Certainly! I like putting a mascara on my eyelashes without wondering if something nasty is in it. I've got a long list of products I want to try in the future, but I can definitely see myself repurchasing this in the future.

Below are pictures of my lashes!

My lashes without mascara - they're pretty obnoxious.
Some point in the wrong direction and are straight, and others
are fine and hardly need to be curled. First world problems, eh?

My lashes with one coat of the Jane Iredale mascara (and
lash conditioner)! look shocked. But really I just can't take
 pictures like this.
This was taken on a different day and without the conditioner.
I also didn't curl my lashes.
FTC: I was sent the Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara to review. However, I always give my honest opinion on products and will not compromise my own integrity for the sake of a product's reputation. I am not being compensated for this review and my ties with Jane Iredale are informal, but friendly (as in, I haven't signed a contract with them or anything). You can buy this product here or anywhere that Jane Iredale products are sold!

Mar 7, 2013

1 Year of Blogging

I've tried to blog consistently ever since I first learned about blogging when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, it just never happened. Life got in the way or I would lose motivation. However, I'm pleased to announce that it is the one year birthday of this blog and I would say that I have posted consistently, aside from the last month (which was HECTIC). Now if I could just get comfortable with posting videos... ;)

But I honestly never imagined that I would get any followers on my blog. I may not be in the hundreds, but I know that my readers are loyal and so kind. I'm not great at writing emotional posts, so all I can say is thank you for staying with me. I'm beyond excited to see what my next year of blogging (and life) will bring.

And that is honestly all I could think of to say. Normally I ask a question, but this time it will be something generic: tell me something about yourself. I'm interested to know more about my readers :)

Mar 6, 2013

February 2013 Empties!

I am finding myself having fewer and fewer empties at the end of each month. I won't complain, though. I feel like this means I am making progress and finishing the little things that took up extra space. I already have an idea of how I want my collection to look by the end of the year, so we'll see how that happens.

The only thing I bought in February was a nail polish, so Project Minimize 2013 is going very well! I thought I would have used up half of my purchasing limits by now, but I'm finally learning to tell myself "no" when I am shopping. I can even go into Ulta without feeling the need to purchase something just because I am there. On with the post!

J.R. Liggett's Herbal Bar Shampoo (not pictured): I used this on my hair and body. It was a good product, but I want to try other bar shampoos before trying the other J.R. Liggett formulas (other than the Original, which is at home)

Cosmetic sponges: I used these on the days when I felt too lazy to clean my makeup brushes, which has unfortunately been quite often lately. Since I didn't use these every day, they lasted a while.

Rimmel Extra WOW Lash in Extreme Black: I really liked this mascara. It cost me less than $4 and gave me a nice amount of volume and length. It wasn't a miracle performer, but again... it was $4 and better than mascaras I've used that have cost me two to three times the amount of this.

Fibre Lashxtend Extreme Black Lengthening Mascara: I got this in a Birchbox, I believe. I'll leave it at: I didn't really like it and I won't repurchase. I also have a new mascara that I like better (which I'll be reviewing!)

Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Instant Imperfection Corrector: I got this in a subscription service and used it on a scar on my arm. It wasn't great. I just wanted to use it up since it was a tiny sample.

Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation: This seemed to last a while until I hit pan (back in November). Then the last bits just wouldn't go away. I used it til the end and then cleaned the pan so it would be all shiny for the picture.

Organix Renewing Moroccan Oil Conditioner: I bought this to use in a DIY project and then ended up just using it as a regular conditioner. I liked it, but I want to try other conditioners.

Couture Colour Pequi Oil Treatment: I think I got this in an Ipsy bag. I really liked it! However, I have too many hair treatments to justify purchasing the full size right now.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (Almond): I had four smaller bottles of the Dr. Bronner's soaps. I finished Rose in January and Almond in February (I already know I will be finishing Tea Tree and Baby mild in March). Almond is definitely my favorite because it just has a warm and comforting scent.

Dr. Woods Shea Vision Pure Black Soap with Organic Shea Butter: I bought this a few days before I decided to begin Project Minimize and I didn't really begin to use it until January (save a few days in December). I loved the way this felt on my skin and smelled. I think I want to try the Alaffia products.

What did you finish this month?