Saturday, January 24, 2015

Elizabeth and James Nirvana White

I love perfume. It's nice to smell good. I recently finished up bottles of Marc Jacobs original Gardenia and Daisy. There is only a whisper of Miss Dior left in the bottle.  I received sample vials of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's brand, Elizabeth and James, scents, Nirvana Black and White, with a Sephora order.


Nirvana Black is described as a "sensual violet, sandalwood, and vanilla."
Nirvana White is described as a "delicate peony, muguet, and musk."

I like the White more than the Black. I go for more fresh and bright florals, I can't stand anything too "old lady." I bought the Rollerball for $22. I keep it in my purse for when I'm rushing out of the house and forget. My next purchase will be the 1 oz Eau de Parfum Spray ($55) and I want to try the Pure Purfume Oil ($35) because I adore oils. I want to bathe myself in oils.
My husband kissed me the other day and told me I smelled good. "Really? It's a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen perfume!" I replied. It was probably not what he wanted to hear.
Well, I guess they know what smells good," he said.

face candy grade: A+

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Concentrate Boosters & Alpha Beta Peels



Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Concentrate Boosters ($58) - A trio of professional strength concentrates for balanced skin. Includes a Radiance Booster, Hydration Booster and Purifying Booster.

Skin changes daily and with this trio you can customize your routine to suit your needs.
-Radiance Booster - Transforms dull skin into a younger-looking, glowing, luminous complexion.
-Hydration Booster - Infuses and seals deep moisture for firmer, softer, smoother-looking skin.
-Purifying Booster - Controls excess oil as it works to clear and tighten pores for increased clarity.

You can either mix the concentrates with serums, moisturizers or even your makeup. Or you can apply them directly to the face. You can't go wrong with these, you're bound to find one that you like. My favorite is the Radiance Booster, which uses pyruvic, tartaric, and linoleic acids to reveal brighter skin.

face candy grade: A


Dr. Gross is also known for his Alpha Beta Peels. Now, you can buy 5 for $16, which is $3.20 each. I only suggest that you buy 5 if you've never tried it before. At Sephora if you buy 30, you get 5 free for $88, making them $2.50 each, clearly the best value.  It's a two-step treatment that deliver visible anti-aging results without any recovery time.

The system combines alpha beta hydroxy acids with retinol, ubiquinone and resveratrol. It's the #1 best-selling at-home facial peel. It claims to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, fight blemishes and help with dark spots and redness.

I was worried that these would irritate my skin but they are recommended for sensitive skin. You simply apply Step 1 in circular motions over your face and neck until the pad feels dry. Wait two minutes. Apply Step 2. Don't rinse. I like doing one of these once a week and using the First-Aid Beauty pads the rest of the days. These pads are awesome. I highly recommend if you're new to the peel game.

All the products are vegan and cruelty free.

face candy grade: A+

Exfoliation is important. If you're not exfoliating, you're missing out! Physical exfoliation is good, I like to do it once or twice a week in the shower, but chemical exfoliation is the best. The alpha hydroxy acids are small enough to penetrate the top layer of skin to promote cellular turnover and remove skin cells. When dead skin accumulates it can cause zits and clogged pores, and make the skin appear duller. At the very least, chemical exfoliation is going to reduce your scars, hyperpigmentation and acne; provide better absorption of your skincare products; and make your face glow! So go for it!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

First Aid Beauty Must-Haves

The first product I tried from this brand was the Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask ($22).


It's a nice 10 minute mask for the winter to repair dry skin. This doesn't have the same immediate results as say a clay mask but skin does feels nicer afterwards. I'm not entirely sure why. It's nice but it's not a must-have.

face candy grade: B
A week into using the Facial Radiance Pads ($14 for 28 pads, $30 for 60 pads), my husband asked me if I was doing something different to my face. I told him about the pads and he said that they were working.

Now that I've just turned 30, I'm getting serious about exfoliation. These contain a small enough amount of lactic and glycolic acids to make them safe and effective for daily use.  My skin can be a bit fussy so I love that all FAB products are safe for the most sensitive skin. I love these things and cannot live without them now.

faee candy grade: A+

I bought the Ultra Repair Cream ($12 for 2 oz, $28 for 6 oz) with the Ultra Repair Lip Therapy ($12) in a set from Sephora for $18, but that's no longer available. I like the 2 oz better than the 6 oz, that's in a tub, just for sanitary purposes of being able to squeeze it out as opposed to dipping your dirty finger in the tub.

The emollient cream uses collodial oatmeal, shea butter, soothing eucalyptus oil and ceramides to hydrate deep down. It can be used for anyone with dry skin from winter weather and a variety of other skin conditions.

This is a thick cream is no joke. I worried it would be too heavy or greasy and clog my pores but it hasn't. The eucalyptus oil provides a fresh feel and smell when you apply the cream.

One of the best things about the Ultra Repair Lip Therapy ($12) is that it's petroleum free, moisturizing and pepperminty.

face candy grade: A

Next up is the Facial Radiance Overnight Mask ($38). It's a leave-on gel mask that you apply after your serums and moisturizers to lock all the magic in. Overnight products are the best, aren't they? While you sleep, the actives are absorbed and when you wake up, the skin is hydrated and refreshed, revealing a brighter, even-toned and smoother complexion. It's seriously, magic. You just look generally better the next morning.

face candy grade: A+

Friday, December 26, 2014

Becca and Smashbox Contouring Options

If I had to pinpoint a time when contouring became popular, I would have to say it was with the rise of the Kardashians.


I personally never feel comfortable with that amount of makeup on so my approach to contouring is a lot more subtle. Some people will use bronzer to contour but bronzer is for adding warmth. It lacks the gray tones that imitate natural shadows.

It is generally suggested that you create a 3 shape, using a contour color- starting at the center of your forehead, moving to the middle of your ear and along the contour of your cheek, go back to the ear and continue along the jaw line. I also go on both sides of my nose to add more dimension to my flat nose.

Then highlight along the cheekbones, center of the forehead and down the center of the nose, cupids bow and chin.

My favorite two products are:

Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette ($42) - a natural shadowing cream and a luminizer cream. The contour color is the perfect mix of brown and gray to be very natural. Both formulas are somewhat sheer so you'd really have to cake it on to mess it up. The luminizer reminds me of RMS Living Luminizer but more golden.


Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit ($45) - a trio of powders: a bronzer, a contour, and a highlighter. There's a handy little sticker on the mirror that instructs you on how to use each color. It also comes with a small angled brush. I really like the bronzer and contour but I'm not crazy about the highlighter.

It would be really difficult for me to choose between the two. But if pressed I guess it would be the Becca because the highlighter and contour are both amazing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

BITE Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayons

I love a dramatic, matte lip. Mattes stay on longer than other formulas. These never make your lips feel dry and they always fade evenly! There's nothing worse than realizing all the color has faded from the inside of your lips but the edges are still intact, and you look crazy.

The creamy formula is made with Resveratrol (antioxidant), orange peel wax and organic fruit butters, jojoba and castor oil. It smells citrusy thanks to orange peel.

BITE products are free of parabens, phthalates, polybutenes, sulfates and petroleum byproducts. The lips-only collection is made with food-grade ingredients.

After trying Framboise, a vibrant pink/purple, I had to have Brandy, a muted raspberry and Aubergine, eggplant. I love them all. Framboise was more of my summer lip, but now that it's fall, I love a dark, dramatic, matte lip. These are $24 each. But, they're probably a little better for you to ingest than other brands that use things like lead.

These are a MUST for me. The creamy color will never dry out your lips. With some long-lasting lip products, the color fades in a strange way. These last about 3 hours for me when I use one layer. Available in 12 shades. Absolute love. After purchasing them I thought I accidentally threw them away and freaked out. But I found them.

Smashbox Always Sharp 3D Liner - No Sharpener Needed

I love Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner. In thought I'd never need another formula.

While Smashbox Always Sharp 3D Liner is not as creamy, its staying power is about the same. I chose 3D Sparks, black with gold pearl. Somehow this liner stays sharp, I assume with some contraption in the cap. I don't know where the shavings go... but I love that I don't have to deal with locating my sharpener. Both are $20 each.

*Sometimes you can find an Ulta coupon for $4 off, making it $16.


I am very tempted to buy this Always Sharp On The Rocks Always Sharp Liner Set ($39, $100 value.) It includes 5 liners. But how many eyeliners does one person need?!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide

Laura Mercier knows how to do foundation. She gets it. One of my old standbys is her Silk Creme Foundation so I was quite interested in the Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide ($48.)

It's described as a long-wear, oil-free foundation that magically blurs the line between real skin and makeup. When I first got it, I used my fingers to apply and the finish was kind of thick and weird. I wasn't impressed. Then I read an interview of Laura Mercier somewhere and it said her favorite way to use it was dabbing it on with a damp beautyblender sponge. So I tried that method and was completely sold. *She mentioned she also liked using a small amount with fingers and blending until it was gone. I think I was initially using too much.

The two-part formula is designed to provide the most natural looking color and coverage. Color true pigments and reflective waters separate in the bottle and need to be mixed, so you need to shake it for at least 10 seconds and tap it at the end. 

This is a very liquidy, watery foundation. I put a small line on the back of my hand and then use my fingers to dot some on my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin before using the beautyblender to bounce and smooth everything. I get light coverage with one layer and medium with two. The finish is nearly imperceivable, which is no easy feat. 

I had some trouble finding the right color. I don't like to actually go into Sephora because I will inevitably spend more money, so I guessed and ordered online. My dog ate the first one, which was Golden - light-medium with warm undertones, and it was too dark anyway, but I got lucky when I tried Honey - light-medium with neutral/slightly warm undertones. Perfect match. 

I LOVE this foundation, but I also have pretty clear skin so I don't need a whole lot of coverage. If I get a blemish and need more I use my Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick. 

***Disclosure: Sample provided free of charge from a PR Company or brand for consideration. That did not change my opinion of those products. See disclosure for more info.

You Need This: Beautyblender, micro.mini, sur.face pro

The beautyblender* ($19.95) is latex free, non-allergenic and odor free. The hot pink, egg shaped sponge doubles in size when you get it wet. You need to hold it under running water and squeeze it about 10 times, then wrap it in a towel and squeeze out the excess water.


I've been using Laura Mercier's Smooth Finish Foundation ($48, review coming soon) and LOVE the results using the Beautyblender. All foundations look better when you use this sponge. The finish is totally natural.

I use the large rounded end to bounce dots of the foundation around my entire face before I go back in with more on my cheeks or wherever I'm red. I turn it upside down and use the pointed end to roll on under eye concealer and on the corners of my nose.

The beautyblender micro.minis* ($17.95) are 2 tiny, lime green beautyblenders, they're 1/4 of the size of the original. These are adorable. I think they're perfect for cream highlighter, contour and blush.

I love the new sur.face pro by beautyblender* ($40), it's a clear palette that sits on top of a 6 well dish with a flexible spatula. The fact that it's clear allows you to custom blend to perfection.
I personally like to mix a NARS multiple bronzer with 2 shades of Illamasqua cream pigments for my contour and this makes that super easy. It's designed so you can write on it with a dry-erase marker and label your creations.

Overall, I think that the beautyblender is a definite necessity for anyone that wears foundation. I'm not sure how I lived without it. It really makes all the difference in the world. It's also great for powder products.

The micro.minis and the sur.face pro are super fun extras. If you do a lot of contouring I recommend the micro.minis and if you're a makeup artist, you'll adore the sur.face pro.

***Disclosure: Samples provided free of charge from a PR Company or brand for consideration. That did not change my opinion of those products. See disclosure for more info.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Extra Points @ Sephora through 4/10


Don't forget to use Ebates! If you don't belong, click here. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Physical Exfoliation - Sponges and Dry Brushing

I love a good scrub. For the face, I like the original St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub. For the body, Tree Hut's Shea Sugar Scrub in Coconut Lime sloughs away dead skin and moisturizes. I wanted a cheap, physical option that would do a good job removing dead skin around my nose.


On an Ulta trip, I picked up an EcoTools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge - Deep Cleansing for $5.99. It's a natural sponge made from Konjac vegetable fiber and exfoliating bamboo charcoal. It's hard in the package but once you get it wet, it becomes a sponge. I love the texture of it. Simply apply your cleanser on top and massage it into your skin. Boscia makes a Konjac cleansing sponge for $18 that I might try out. But for $6 it's a great find. I will probably buy another one.
I also picked up an Earth Therapeutics Far-Reaching Body Brush ($8.99), which has natural bristles. Dry brushing is a practice common in European spas. Look at some of the benefits:
- tones muscles
- stimulates circulation
- removes dead skin cells filled with toxins
- cleanses lymphatic system
- removes cellulite
- tightens skin to prevent premature aging
- helps digestion

Use long, sweeping strokes from your feet upwards, hands to shoulders and torso in an upward direction.
Always brush toward your heart and women should avoid brushing their breasts.

The first time I tried it, it made my skin a little raw but I did notice a lot of skin flaking off. Now I really enjoy doing it, it's a pre-bath or shower ritual that makes me feel good. My skin is softer than it has ever been. I use a sugar scrub one day a week and dry brush all the other days. After I bathe, I massage in an oil and a body cream or lotion to seal it all in. I enjoy dry brushing and highly recommend it.

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