Sunday, August 5, 2012

Winter/Spring/Summer 2012 Favorites!

Holy crap, you guys. I cannot believe how long it's been since I posted anything! I really have no excuse. Christmas time was super busy, and so was January. Then I kind of went through a dry spell with makeup and I was trying to save some money. I also had turned my attention to other things like fixing up our house and making crafty things for various people. But! I have been enjoying quite a few great products along the way, and I'd like to run through some of them today for you. Even though it's the middle of Summer, let's just call this my "Favorites from the last 8 months or so". LOL

My nails with a Gelish
french manicure.
The best thing that's happened to my nails in a long time is the Gelish do-it-yourself gel nail kit by Harmony.  I am never able to grow my nails much further than just over my finger tips. My nails are brittle and peel like crazy. Especially on my index and middle fingers they start to peel just as they grow over the tips of my fingers and it forces me to cut them down immediately. But with the Gelish manicure, I'm able to seal everything up and grow my nails as long as I want! And it creates extra layers of strength and protection. Not to mention the manicure will remain in pristine condition for several weeks. 

It is a DIY gel nail kit that you do need a UV lamp for curing - that's the only possible downside. It applies just like polish, so it's incredibly easy. But do be prepared to set aside at least an hour at first. But over time it will go faster as you become more familiar with the procedure. I got my kit (and LED lamp sold separately) through Amazon (click here for the kit) and it's a starter kit with smaller bottles, but honestly they last a very very long time. I have had to replace the kit with a new one, but only because I was an idiot and one day did my manicure in a beam of sunlight at the dining room table. Sunlight (b/c of the UV rays) will cause the brushes and the gel inside the bottle to cure and harden almost immediately *face-palm*. So try to do it either in a room with no direct sunlight, or in the evening. There are TONs of tutorials on YouTube, which I watched first before attempting the manicure.

Another favorite thing, which has completely saved my skin, is the Clarisonic Mia. I got it around Christmastime (late on the bandwagon, I know) through Sephora b/c they were having a sale. I was skeptical at first. I had heard both good and bad things about it, so it took me awhile to just give in and try it already. My main goal was to have fewer blackheads. I swear I've been dealing with blackheads straight out of the womb. I can't remember a time when my nose didn't have little black dots all over it. Lucky for me it has totally worked! My skin feels and looks better and I have fewer breakouts and fewer blackheads on my nose. It's made by the same people who created the Sonicare electric toothbrush, using the same principle - sonic waves to deep clean. I sanitize the brush every week using a mild bleach/water solution (thanks for the tip, Alex!) and I replace the brush itself every 3-4 months. I use it only once a day in the shower with my usual Purpose facial cleanser. I have really sensitive skin so I didn't want to stress it out by using it more than once a day. Plus, I heard that if you use it too much it can cause broken capillaries (eek!).

On the makeup side of things, I am still completely in love with the Naked Palettes by Urban Decay. After a lot of consideration I broke down and bought the Naked 2 Palette, and I'm really glad I did. It has come in SO handy for all the weddings and other functions I've been going to a lot this Spring and Summer. Not much else to say about it, except that the two palettes combined offer an endless variety of neutral, smoky, or quick & easy looks to choose from. Highly recommend having these as staples in your collection. I also highly recommend the Urban Decay 24/7 liners. I've been using them for years and they hold up beautifully in the summer heat.

Neon polishes from Love & Beauty
NEON!!! I've fallen victim to this year's neon polish craze, I'm afraid. Yes, I'm 31. Yes, I remember the late 80s and early 90s when neon was the height of children's fashion. No, I'm not embarrassed to admit that neon anything still makes me happy as a pig in slop. Whatever. It's cheerful, awesome (totally rad?), and completely acceptable when the temperature is above 75 degrees. If you're bashful, wear it on your toes or as a french manicure! 

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain. It's a mouthful, but holy crap, this stuff is AWESOME! Revlon has really been coming out with winners lately in the lip department. First it was the Lip Butters and now it's these Balm Stains. I've been wearing these pretty much every single day since I discovered them a month or so ago. They are really good lip stains in a chubby pencil stick that you twist up (don't sharpen!). They have a slightly minty flavor to them and are moisturizing, but not as much as the Lip Butters. I find them moisturizing enough for me, but the reason I'm so obsessed with them is because the staying power is really great. I have them in a few colors so far and I'll do a more in-depth review with swatches in the near future, so stay tuned. The brighter the color, the longer-lasting the stain - even after a meal! So keep that in mind if you want to give it a try. They have a really nice variety of shades, too. I hope they keep new colors coming in the future; at the moment most of them are pretty summery. I look forward to some autumnal shades. I had purchased a few of Revlon's original Just Bitten Stains in the "marker" type applicator, but for whatever reason I didn't reach for them as much as I do these Balms. Color me impressed.

One more lip product...and it's another stain. Surprise surprise. 
It's Yves Saint Laurent's Glossy Stain, which is a deliciously scented (rose, maybe?) lip gloss/stain that goes on super creamy and stays on for a long time. It's very moisturizing and envelops your lips in fancy pigmented goodness. I gave some to my mom for Christmas and she really loves them, too. I rarely splurge on a lip product like this but sometimes you just have to treat yourself. Especially on something of quality where you know you'll get good wear out of it. And I'm not going to lie...whipping out a YSL product from your purse kind of gives the ol' ego a boost, am I right? The applicator is really nice, too. It's pointed for precision, but also spoon-like so it gets a perfect amount of product out with no gloopiness. 

Real Techniques Core Collection Set
I've finally found a brand of makeup brushes that I consider absolute perfection. I've purchased SO many different high and low-end makeup brushes over the years and I think I can safely say that none have impressed me as much as the Real Techniques line of brushes by British makeup artist (and YouTube beauty guru) Samantha Chapman. They are synthetic, durable, and unbelievably soft. I have several brushes for face and eyes and have been using them since this past Winter. Not once have they shed during use or during cleaning. Seriously. No, seriously.
Also, they are a breeze to clean! I use my Expert Face Brush every single morning to buff in a perfect foundation application, and the fat fluffy Blush Brush for blush or powder. I got mine at Ulta, but you can also order them on Amazon.

Just for fun, here are a few non-beauty related favorites:

  • Chef's Choice 675 International Cordless Electric Hot Pot. My husband gave me this for Christmas and I don't know how I made tea without it! Oh wait...yeah, the microwave. But this thing is awesome. I use it ALL the time and it has gotten us both through a few colds (and even bronchitis...ain't nobody got time for that!) since I received it.
  • Bath and Body Works candles. I used to be a Yankee Candle girl for years and years, but I've eschewed the Yanks for Slatkin & Co. brand candles that BBW sells. Cuter presentation (with one of those metal decorative sleeves), stronger scents, and a more even burn make for a better candle in my humble opinion.
  • Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Fat Free Brownie Mix. Mmmmmm. It's just brownie mix that you use non-fat vanilla yogurt in instead of eggs and oil to make. I like to add chocolate chips to it for some extra chocolate flavor. Sooo good. Note that it's "reduced guilt" not guilt-free. :-) Your guilt levels may vary.
Ta-ta for now!  

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