Wednesday, November 27

Updated Skincare Routine

I was prompted by a reader to write about my skincare routine a couple of months ago. You can read about it here. After getting another comment recently, I realized that I no longer follow that routine and wanted to update everyone. My skin has changed since then and I'm sure several of your faces have changed as well. We grow, gain weight, lose weight, stress out, and so many other things to affect our skin. So things need to evolve.

I don't think I mentioned this last time, but I went off birth control last year and come three months later, my face was a HOT MESS. That's when I started using the OXY Maximum Face Wash. After many many months of nothing happening, I decided to finally see a dermatologist.

She recommended switching to a very mild facial soap and prescribed an acne medicine called Ziana. After using it for a few months, there has been improvement, but it's not completely cleared up yet. If you've been prescribed a similar medication, you were probably told that it would get worse before it got better. And it's true. It sucks, but it's true.

This is now how I clean my face:

I first use a facial cleansing wipe (or two) to remove all of the makeup. Any hypocomedogenic brand will work but I use wipes by LA Fresh. It was free in my October Ipsy bag so why not, right?!

I then cleanse my face with Cetaphil oil-control foam wash. I first bought Cetaphil daily face cleanser but it was not foaming so I didn't feel like my face was getting clean. The foaming soap is nearing its end so I'm thinking about pouring the other in its' bottle. I've read on Pinterest that when you do that, the foaming action will still hold true.

Next I shake the bottle of makeup remover, pour a little on a cotton ball, and swipe off the remaining eye makeup from the surrounding areas. My favorite is the Wal-Mart brand that compares to the Neutrogena makeup remover.

I apply a pea-sized amount of Ziana to my entire face and wash my hands afterwards. I'm not really sure what happens if I leave it on my hands but they stress to always wash it off.

Finally, I apply moisturizer to my entire face and neck and call it a night. I didn't use to regularly wear it but I swear by it now especially in these colder months. My absolute favorite is Neutrogena oil-free moisturizer for combination skin.

And to add that extra special step, I like to either schedule a facial at my local spa once a month or apply my own mask. I'm still on the hunt for my favorite brand of at-home masks. So if you have a brand you can't live without, I'd definitely LOVE to hear about it in the comments below!

If you're curious about an acne medication, please visit your dermatologist and let the experts advise you. Ziana works for me but it might not for your skin.

Tuesday, November 26

My version of winter brights + a little layering

I know Winter hasn't officially made its appearance, but as far as my 1" snow-cladden car goes, it has. Yep. It's snowing three days before Thanksgiving in Nashville. We always have a few warm-spurts right before the seasons change so I had one or two more bare-legged outfits to show. But I'm not so sure now with this weather.

I'm still going to stick with one of those outfits today, though; I'm just going to change it a little and show you two of my favorite Winter brights.

When you think of Winter brights, what comes to mind? Maybe snow white, maybe deep maroons or plums. Or maybe even some metallics. Well here's my outlook on some accessories: hot pink pointy-toed flats and purple matte lipstick. I wore it to one of our Thanksgiving gatherings and I didn't want to be too dressed up but I didn't want it to be too casual either.

Francesca's Lace Tunic // Target Sweater // Francesca's Ribbon Necklace // Target Rose Gold Watch // Old Navy Olive Rockstar Jeans // Old Navy Hot Pink Flats // TJ Maxx Taupe Studded Purse // Revlon Colorburst Matte balm in Shameless //
All outfits items were purchased in previous years so none can be found online any longer. You can find similar items, though, if you search hard enough.

I'm linking up with Walking in Memphis in High Heels.

Monday, November 25

November Birchbox

My November Birchbox FINALLY arrived over the weekend. I didn't think I was ever going to get it. My card associated with the account had expired so I got an email asking to update it, so I did it that night but I never heard anything afterwards. I usually get this box before Ipsy so when it arrived first, I was confused and was hoping this month wasn't going to be skipped.

Month after month, the boxes contain two, MAYBE three, things that I like and the other stuff I'd chunk. This box is no different.

[ONE] Atelier Cologne
Vanille Insensee Cologne Absolue | Full-size, $70
   WHAT   A fresh blend of soft vanilla, romantic jasmine, and bright lime notes.
   HOW     Apply to pulse points--a little goes a long way.

[TWO] Color Club
Nail Polish in Baldwin Blues | Full-size, $8
   WHAT   On-trend pro-quality lacuqer that will take you easily--and gorgeously--from day to night.
   HOW     Apply two coats for an opaque finish. Always use base and top coats to make your color last.

[THREE] derma e
Evenly Radiant Skincare Collection | Full-size, $15.50 - $29.95
   WHAT   This all-natural trio uses an intensive brightening complex for even, glowing skin.
   HOW     Apply Cleanser and rinse, followed by the Serum. Use the Night Creme in the p.m. only.

[FOUR] Eyeko
Skinny Liquid Eyeliner | Full-size, $16
   WHAT   Direct from the UK, this user-friendly liquid liner freatures a velvety smooth formula.
   HOW     Trace your upper lashline, or try your hand at a cat-eye.

Crema da Mano in Cleopatra | Full-size, $8-$20
   WHAT   Loaded with natural oils, this grapefruit and cucumber lotion absorbs in a flash.
   HOW     Rub generously into hands--and anywhere you need a moisture boost.

[SIX] Birchbox Find Alert!
Ghirardelli Mint Cookie Chocolate | (price not listed)

My Initial Reviews:
[ONE] I am always very skeptical when it comes to perfume/cologne samples. How does anyone know what your scent will be to package you something in a box like this? But I was very curious with the vanilla, jasmine, and lime blends. I'm not normally a sweet perfume wearer but after applying this to my wrists, I think it's my new favorite scent. It's sweet, but a very subtle sweet, and the jasmine brings a beautiful balance. I was about to tell you that I'd never pay $70 for a bottle of perfume, but we've bought Armani Code for J and it was around that same price, so....maybe I'll add it to my Christmas wishlist?

[TWO] This nail polish is the perfect in-between color to navy and royal blue. It's almost got a teal-ish quality to it. Eight bucks isn't bad either considering Essie costs that much too. The quality is as nice as it's described so I might just pick this brand up the next time I'm in the market for a new color.

[THREE] I'm very iffy about skincare products. My facial skin is still in protest with the rest of my body so I have to trust the brand to put it on my face. I like that this sample comes with a cleanser, serum, and night creme. Most people would just send one or the other.

[FOUR] I don't know that I can stray from the current liquid liner that I use everyday. I use the cheap-o brand, ELF, and it hasn't turned me away yet. This liner by Eyeko comes in one of those refillable pointy brush things. I've tried similar products in the past and hated them. So if anyone wants it, just let me know!

[FIVE] I'm also not a big hand lotion-er. I do like how light the scent is and the consistency is not heavy at all so maybe I'll keep it in my desk at work for those dreary winter days.

[SIX] Hello?!?! Chocolate. Mint cookie chocolate. It's wayyy better than the Girl Scout Thin Mints. That's all I'm going to say.

I'm still planning on staying with Birchbox for a year to see if the products improve. I just don't think I would ever buy this high-end products in real life. It's cool to get chocolate and nail polish in my boxes though.

If you're interested in signing up for Birchbox, just go to their site and create and account! Set up your beauty profile and they'll begin your customized boxes.

I'm linking up with Monday Morning Gossip and Mingle Monday for today's post!

Friday, November 22

high five for friday

I'm thankful for my brain allowing me to be creative this week. Well, not so much creative, but thoughtful and productive. There are weeks in this whole blogging biz that I'm honestly stumped on what to write about. I don't want to spend money every day just to review beauty or clever products. And I don't want to mimic every single one of the beauty blogs that I follow just so I'll have something to talk about on my own site. But I want posts of my own!

Speaking of thankful, I was doing that "I'm thankful for..." thing on Facebook and each day would be something different. It wasn't to say that November is the only time I'm ever thankful each year. But there's friends acquaintances of mine who were just hateful about it. "How about SHOW what you're thankful for instead of just writing about it!" And then they'd go on with how they are pretty much superman. It's things like that that make me want to get rid of all of my social media. They just want to 1) "one-up" you or 2) brag about what they've accomplished in life and how I couldn't ever compare.

UGH. Rant over.

Let's all recap our favorite things from this week.

ONE | temporary tattoos
I found this on Pinterest about how you can draw temporary tattoos and they're supposed to last 30 days. All you were supposed to do was draw the design with a sharpie, dust it with baby powder, and lightly spray it with hairspray. I drew this lovely skull on my wrist last Friday and it's completely gone from my wrist today. I'm very disappointed that this didn't work! But at least I got a few days to decide if I liked what I drew or not.

TWO | #asherandsophie
I'm sorry if you're getting sick (no I'm not) of seeing cat pictures every week. I took off work Tuesday this week and had the ENTIRE day to snuggle with my babies. They usually aren't caught touching each other but I was able to snap two pictures of them neck in neck--or neck in crotch.

THREE | catching fire
Iiiiiin case you missed it this week, I did my own Capital collection makeup look based on District 12 in The Hunger Games trilogy. It was so much fun doing something different. It makes me want to explore more makeup techniques other than everyday wear.

FOUR | new glasses
Jerbear had to get new glasses because his old ones literally snapped in the middle of one of the arms. He was able to use a virtual picture thing with one of the online stores so he could "try on" each pair of glasses. He still wanted to see them in person so he ordered their home pairs with no lenses so we could get a better feel. Aren't these the cutest things ever?! Don't mind his "No shave November" beard.

FIVE | makeup haul
I knew I want to post about a makeup haul but haven't narrowed it down to what exactly I wanted to get. I'll eventually do posts for "If my makeup bag were to go missing tonight, what basics would I buy to replace it?" and specific areas of my face like a haul on just eye products or just moisturizers and things like that. But I figured since there are several things in stores that I want to try out, it's going to be a review on them all. So be looking out for this post next week!!

Thursday, November 21

Brush cleaning

This is a LONG overdue post. If you wear makeup then you know it's safe and sanitary to clean your brushes every so many months. After doing the two "Catching Fire" makeup looks yesterday, I realized that I needed to clean those brushes because they were getting naaasty.

You're probably going to be grossed out, but I can't remember the last time I cleaned my own makeup brushes. There is no telling what is built up within the bristles. So I pulled out the Dr. Brommer's peppermint soap and got to work.

It's a rather simple process to clean them and I'll show you my routine. You need a bottle of very mild soap. I'd recommend Dr. Brommer's or Dial soap if you don't possess any specific brush cleaner. Grab a bowl, squirt in a little soap, and clean each brush with water. Then lay them out to dry on a rag or towel for at least 24 hours.

I was okay with just swirling the brushes around in the water for those that just come in contact with loose powders. But those that work with liquid foundations and such, I had to get my hands in the water and rub the bristles to make sure it all came out. If you use a lot of liquid or creamy products, rinsing the bowl with fresh water every couple of brushes is a smart thing to do. You don't want to be cleaning in dirty water. I lightly squeezed all the brushes once I thought they were clean and laid them out on a rag.

So that the brushes don't dry in a funky form, you can dry them for the first 12 hours on a rag like I did, but I would suggest hanging them upside down for the remaining hours. This should allow them to fluff back up to their natural form.

And there it is! Maybe by documenting this today will keep me accountable for future brush cleanings. I need to be on a better routine!!

Wednesday, November 20

Catching Fire

I'm not sure that I want to admit this, but I wasn't always a fan of The Hunger Games. I know, right?! I hesitantly watched the first movie after it was already playing on Netflix and because there wasn't really anything else I wanted to see at the moment.

As we all know, it was an uh-mazing movie. I decided that I wanted to see the second, third, and fourth movies, but I wanted needed to read the books first. So I started from the beginning. I read the first and I finished the second book today (did I mention that I'm listening to the audio books?) just in time for Catching Fire's premier on Thursday at midnight.

Where am I going with this? Well, I decided to show you two eyeshadow looks that were inspired by The Hunger Games trilogy. The first one I tried to mimic District 12's look based on the Covergirl ads--because we are all obviously behind Katniss--and the second is my own interpretation.



I used this gray color from the ELF holiday eye shadow palette all over my eyelids. 

And then I used two things for the gold color. I first applied the gold side of Covergirl's Smoky Shadow Blast in Turquoise Ember. And then applied this gold shadow below. It gave the gold a lot more depth.

The second look is something I'd actually wear to work. Instead of the District 12 "coal" look like above, I wanted to focus more on the burning embers of the coal. So there's some purples, blacks, reds, and golds to represent the fire.



I applied Korres eyeshadow in Plum to my lids, BH Cosmetics baked eyeshadow in Aphrodite to the creases, and MAC pearl eyeshadow in Expensive Pink to the inner part of the crease and inner lids, and Covergirl's eyeshadow in Shimmering Onyx to the outer corners. I finally applied that same gold shadow from above to the inner tear ducts and completed the look with some black liquid liner and mascara.

Are you ready for the premier of Catching Fire? Are there any District looks that inspire your makeup routine? Here are some of the others that I'm dying to try out one of these days.

I'm linking up with Whatever Whenever Wednesday and Random Wednesday for today's post!

Tuesday, November 19

Curling with a flat iron

I first learned about this styling trick back in December of 2010 when I was getting my hair done for some bridal portraits. The stylist curled it using her straightener. What?! Her straightener? I know it's no big deal to curl it this way now because EVERYONE is doing it, but a couple of years ago, I had never heard of that method.

I feel like I have evolved sooo much in the beauty world from the last three years. I have perfected a winged liner, started filling in my eyebrows (which I am obsessed with), began wearing lipstick almost on the regular, and now started curling my hair with the straightener.

In case any of you have missed out on this hair method or have been hiding under a rock, then I wanted to show you a pictorial of just how easy this can be! Just keep in mind that everyone has a different way of approaching this so if what you see below doesn't exactly work, tweak it a little until you get your desired look. And if it still doesn't work, tweak it some more.

This method is a lot faster than curling your hair with an actual curling iron. And if you keep burning your fingers with a wand (like me, ouch) then maybe you should try it. [Just FYI, I've been playing around with GIMP for the pictures in this tutorial. Pardon my bad cropping, but I just had to give it a try to see what the outcome would be.]

Step 1 | Grab your hair with the flat iron as if you were going to curl it by flipping it out.

Step 2 | Twist the iron once, a full 180, and instead of pulling down horizontally, pull it vertically away from your head.

Step 3 | Pull all the way out, slowly, while making sure the end of it is going through straight.

Step 4 | The curled piece of hairs might look like a way but twist it with your finger and it will form into a curl.

Step 5 | This isn't really a step...Just continue Steps 1 - 4 until your entire head is complete. If it's easier to section it off, go for it!

My hair is so thick that it takes me about half an hour to curl it with a flat iron, maybe 20 minutes if I'm in a hurry. It's about 40 minutes with a traditional curling iron. Plus, depending on how slowly you go with it, you can create tight curls or loose waves.

What do you think? Do you have other hair tools that you can use in more than one way? For example, did you know that in addition to using hairspray to set your hair, you can lightly spray it on your face to set your makeup? Orrr, I just learned that you can use it make a temporary tattoo!

I'm linking up with My Thrifty Chic.

Monday, November 18

November Ipsy Glam bag

I'm really excited with this glam bag. With the theme of "Glam it Up", I knew there must be something sparkly or glittery involved. And at the very least, I better get some sort of red lip product. WHAM BAM, THANK YOU MA'AM! I got it all. The products came in this gold snakeskin clutch with a pink zipper and surprisingly they were able to squeeze six things in there. And without further ado, your reveals:

I've gotten this brand nail polish before but it was in my very first glam bag so I'm okay with getting another this many months later. The first color was a pretty orange, very fitting for Summer, and this one is a gorgeous Winter color. It will go with everything.

This will be the third time receiving a pencil by Starlooks. The first I loved because it was a kohl eye liner. The second I hated because it was this weird mauve-y lip liner. And this one I'm in the middle about because it's silver, sparkly, and brings me back to middle school where all I wore was silver eye shadow and some gel glitter on top. Yep, I was THAT girl. But, I will say that I've seen it on some celebrities worn only on their lower last line. I'm not sure that I'll actually wear this out anywhere, but I'll play around with it and see what I can come up with. (See swatch below)

I'm not sure that you can purchase this color solo but I'd be cool with getting the entire palette for only fifteen bucks. Eighteen colors plus some really interesting marbled shadows has me hooked! I've done a couple of mahogany smoky eye tutorials on some friends in the past and this color is almost the exact same. So if I didn't already own it, I'd totally love it! I've gotten some other shadows by this brand in previous glam bags and the quality is pretty good. The colors really shine when you wear some sort of primer underneath. (See swatch below)

Let me just start by saying I have a hard time buying lipsticks that are $8, much less $14. With that aside, I LOVE this lip crayon. I have your true red and ruby red lipsticks in my possession. I even have your pink-y reds and crimson reds. This crayon is brighter similar to candy apple red. Gorgeous! The best part about it? It's matte. I have been dying to own a matte red lip color for a while now. I didn't want to buy a new shade nor did I want to DIY anything because I'm always applying it on the go. I'm not sure what I'll do once my others run out, but I'm glad this came in a full size. It'll last me a while. (See swatch below)

five | Pixi bronzer in "Subtly Suntouched" | $18.00 (with kabuki brush)
I just bought a bronzer from Sephora several months ago and I still love it. It's not too "warm" nor is it too shimmery. Bronzers should be gray-based and matte because you want those areas to look sunk-in, as if a shadow were really there. This bronzer by Pixi is more pink-y but still a good shade. I wore it over the weekend and when I looked in the mirror hours later, I didn't think I made a mistake. I took a picture of it with my Sephora compact so you could see the tiny difference. (See swatch below)

I'm going to just be honest with you. This lipstick is HIDEOUS. You know they say that nude lip colors need to either match your gums or be a shade darker? Yeahhhhh, this color is as pale as pale can get. I will say the texture was creamy like it says it's supposed to be. But ew. I'm definitely tossing this stuff. I took a picture comparing it with what I think could be my perfect nude: Revlon "Soft Nude".


I know this lipstick might look okay in this picture, but trust me, it's not. Here's some swatches on my lips.

And finally, here are the swatches on my hand, as promised.

Hot Damn // Subtly Suntouched // Topaz // Aphrodite

If you're interested in getting a subscription like this one, I urge you to visit Ipsy's website. I'm still going to stick with my Birchbox like I planned, but Ipsy has my heart right now.

I'm linking up with Monday Morning Gossip and Mingle Monday for today's link-up.