Friday, October 31, 2014

Fekkai Blowout | Dry Shampoo + Texturizer

When I wash my hair, I'm typically a wash it and leave it kind of girl. Maybe I'll smooth in a little oil to reduce frizz, but more often than not I skip any form of heat styling. I like to keep my hair in tip-top shape and I find avoiding heat does this for me. However, when I want to go the extra mile and make my hair look really great, I will pull out my blowdryer. I recently cut my hair quite dramatically (see my Instagram) and as I learn to style it I've been incorporating more heat styling as it's been necessary to really get a glam, done look to my locks.

Two products have really changed up my hair styling game - Fekkai's Blowout Hair Refresher Dry Shampoo and the Texturizer. These products are fabulous. On hair wash days, I take a squeeze of the Texturizer gel and run it through my damp hair, root to end - focusing on my roots. I then blowdry my hair (of course using a heat protectant first!). I like to blowdry my hair with my head down to really get some volume... plus, I'm not too skilled with the round brush technique. 

My hair naturally tends to fall flat and limp pretty quickly, but the Texturizer gives my hair CRAZY volume. Like... I pinned it back because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of volume when I first used it! Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad volume... I just didn't know what to do with so much of it since I'm not used to such a thing! It doesn't make your hair crunchy, nor does it weigh it down over the course of a couple days. Such a plus for those of you who like to go a few days without a hair wash, like me.

To keep my look fresh for a couple days post-wash, I've been using the Fekkai Dry Shampoo. You guys...... I think I found a new dry shampoo that fits in the "top 5" category! For those of you who have darker hair like me, this will not give your hair a white cast! I am so impressed by this dry shampoo. It adds a boost of volume, it soaks up excess oil and it doesn't make your scalp feel full of gunk. I will absolutely be repurchasing this in the future!

If you're looking for blowout volume, and a silky style you can sport for 2+ days this Blowout line by Fekkai just might be what you're looking for! 

What are your favorite blowout techniques? Have you tried these products? Let me know!

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Neat & Tidy | Paring Down My Makeup Collection

There comes a time in every beauty blogger's life where he or she becomes entirely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products he/she has. Let's just say that time came for me about a week ago. I came to realize I always grab for my tried and true products, and there are SO many things that I just don't reach for anymore, and there's simply no reason to keep those things hanging around. 

About 90% of what you see in this post was purchased on clearance or from a deal site, many items are from beauty boxes like Ipsy or Birchbox (so the products may not match my skin tone or be something I'd buy for myself), some of it was sent to me as press samples, some things were gifted to me and some things are just flat out old or past their prime.

Above you'll see just a slice of what I chose to purge from my makeup stash. (Can you tell lippies are my weakness?) I can see 3 gold toned lip glosses that I'm saying sayonara to - how did I even acquire 3 of such a horrendous lip shade? The failed nudes - goodbye. Charlotte Russe eyeshadow purchased years ago and never used in the last couple years - see ya later. Glittery lipstick - adios! Unused eyeliner pencils - buh-bye. 

I'm not saying everything above is a bad product - in fact, maybe some of you own some of these things and love them! That's awesome... but they just don't work for me, or heck ... they might just be old. Most of this stuff I loved at one point, but my tastes change, and I sample a LOT of stuff for the sake of this blog but not everything is worthy of keeping around. And have no fear, I'm giving my family and friends the chance at grabbing what they want before I pitch it in the trash can. But I have no regrets or guilt, and I feel SO good for getting rid of what doesn't work for me anymore. 

Here's how I reorganized part of my makeup stash... not the full lot either - we'll save that for another day. Here's just 2 of my makeup drawers (in my IKEA Alex 9 drawer). 

The top 2 drawers in my Alex 9 Drawer are devoted to lippie products, the most diverse and expansive part of my makeup collection (and also my favorite). While it's not as cohesive as I'd like quite yet, I have found a way to organize that works for me at the moment. 

The top two green containers house lip crayons and pigmented lip wands. The triple-segmented tray behind that holds a variety of my favorite lipsticks - mostly Revlon, MAC, and Rimmel. Behind that I have the top of a Birchbox filled with random leftovers - some stuff by e.l.f., Maybelline, Pixi, etc. I'd really love for all of the containers to match (the Type-A in me...) and I'm kicking myself for not having bought more of those triple-segmented trays  at Target before they went missing, but hey - I'm just happy to have the start of my organization done. 

Drawer #2 is composed of glosses and tinted balms. In the front I used another triple-segmented tray with NYX Butter Glosses (LOVE!) on the left, an assortment of NYX Xtreme Lip Creams, Benefit Glosses and more in the middle, and the right has various balms. The middle trays are Birchboxes, split up with Buxom glosses and Baby Lips on the left, and NYX Color Lip Balms, LeGloss and Stila glosses on right. The back is an assortment of random glosses. 

Phew.... I don't know about you, but there is something so refreshing about "cleaning house". My makeup collection is so much less intimidating and overwhelming (I really do like to have a "usable" amount of makeup... even if my lip drawers don't reflect that)

 Do you feel the itch to purge? What did you pitch? Let me know!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pavay Organics

As a blogger, I test out many products - some natural, many not... but in my own daily skincare I prefer to use more natural products. And as I've switched many of my skin creams and face washes over to natural products, I've found my skin really loves the switch and has responded well to it. So naturally, I was excited when given the chance to review a slew of products by Pavay Organics.

I really like this statement from their website: "Our extraordinary line incorporates over 70% of only the best certified-organic ingredients from around the globe, and is also 97% naturally derived. These incredible ingredients are then scientifically formulated to create the best skin care products possible that meet our Organically Effective promise."

I was sent three products - their retinol eye cream, the cooling hydra-gel face mask, and their face bar for normal/oily skin. Let's get right to the goods...

My most favorite product was the Face Bar ($32 for 4 oz). This bar is made with ionite™ clay harvested in Arizona. The zinc in the clay is said to aid a multitude of skin issues, including eczema, dry skin,and acne, as well as other skin problems. I love using this as a morning cleanser to remove any oil or dirt that comes to the surface of my skin as I sleep. It has a subtle fruity scent, and it lathers nicely. You might be hesitant, thinking that a bar of "soap" is going to dry your face royally, but I can guarantee you this does the exact opposite. It cleans without drying and it leaves the skin refreshed and hydrated.

I found the Cooling Hydra Gel Mask ($44 for 4 oz) to be nice as well. This mask is formulated with vitamin E and aloe to really penetrate the skin and provide a boost of hydration. This is different than any mask I've tried, as it goes on clear and is almost liquid-like. It slowly firms up to a sticky consistency on the skin, and as it dries it has a pleasant cooling effect and it smells nicely of aloe. It did irritate my eyes slightly, and they stung on and off for about a minute, but that quickly subsided. I left the mask on for 20 minutes, and after I washed it off, my skin felt hydrated and even..

The only item I wasn't head over heels for was the Retinol firm and lift eye cream ($58 for o.5 oz). This wrinkle cream is infused with antioxidants and restorative oils, and aims to regenerate sagging skin by lifting and firming and eliminating fine lines. This cream is formulated with pure vitamin A retinol, C and E, pomegranate, sea buckthorn berry and certified organic essential oils. I think the retinol is just too strong for me, as I found my eyes burned when I applied the cream to my under-eye area. Pure vitamin A is often drying too, which unfortunately was the case for me. I have very dry under eyes to begin with, so a formula this intense just isn't meant for me. If you have oilier under-eyes or more mature skin, I think this cream could be for you.

What natural skin care items have you been using? Have you tried anything by Pavay Organics? Let me know!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Zoya - Toni

I am all about the classic fall shades this season. And there's really no better way to describe Zoya's Toni than a classic fall plum purple. This is an older shade, despite being new to me, as it was part of the fall 2012 Designer Collection. 

Zoya's Toni is an intense burgundy plum cream polish, ranking 5 on Zoya's intensity rating (on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the most intense). It is completely opaque with two coats, which I am wearing here. In most light it almost looks like a brick red, but in direct sunlight is very obviously a plum purple. If it looks a little bubbly, that is due to the top coat I used - Sally Hansen's Insta Dri top coat. This top coat used to be my favorite but I realized it is the culprit for all my polishes bubbling! Grr! 

I have gotten 4 days of wear out of this polish with very minimal chipping. That is the power of Zoya! I absolutely love the beautiful purple nail polish and would highly recommend it to those of you who love classic autumnal nails!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ipsy | October 2014

You guys.... HOW AMAZING IS THIS IPSY BAG?! Seriously, I was shocked by the awesomeness! I'll preface this post by saying, Ipsy is a monthly beauty subscription service that costs just $10/month. Yes, only $10! Click any of the hyperlinks in this post to start receiving your very own Ipsy bag.

Here's what I got this month:

ROGUE by Rihanna Eau de Parfum (o.5 oz) - I have two other Rihanna perfumes which I adore, and I was so excited to receive Rogue, which I did not yet have in my collection. This is a warm floral scent that is very feminine. Love love love - and what an awesome sample size this is!

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser - Love the packaging of this product, and how adorable is the brand name? This has a sweet scent, and is 100% natural and is free of parabens and pthalates. That's my kind of face wash.

Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer - I believe this is a fairly new formulation of the popular Smashbox primer line (correct me if I'm wrong). It claims to visibly reduce pores, mattify shine and control oil and is supposedly sweat & humidity resistant. 

Starlooks Lip Gloss in Guilty Pleasure - Talk about a beautiful "my lips but better" color! I tried this on and was pleasantly surprised at what a pretty pinky-nude this is. It also smells like vanilla, which is a definite plus!

MicaBeauty Mineral Eyeshadow in Harliquin - (no, I didn't spell Harlequin wrong, that's how it's spelled on the packaging!) This is such a gorgeous color! It is a shimmering grey-green that would really make a statement as a smokey eye color. 

What does your Ipsy bag look like this month? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mia Mariu RestauraCel-C Thermal Microdermabrasion Set | Review + GIVEAWAY

I have never booked myself a spa day for a facial. While it sounds lovely, it's just not something I want to spend the money on - especially since I have a boatload of my own skincare items to use! When offered the chance to test out Mia Mariu's Microdermabrasion set, I happily obliged as it's a little taste of the spa in my own home. 

If you're new to the world of microdermabrasions, they're basically very focused and intense exfoliation. There are a number of reasons why to get one - they sweep away dead surface cells, remove signs of sun damage and/or discoloration, and they make the skin smooth and soft. The Mia Mariu RestauraCel-C set has key ingredients of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, and AHA's. 

This RestauraCel-C Thermal Microdermabrasion Set claims to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, acne scars and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's paraben, oil and fragrance free, which is great if you have sensitive skin... however, this product is suitable for all skin types (according to the packaging). 

Use is simple - start with a fine application of the Refinisher Cream (pictured above). It's a gritty paste-like substance that serves as the exfoliation agent. Next, take a small amount of the Thermal Activator and massage it in to the skin, over top of the Refinisher Cream, careful not to massage any one area too much. You'll feel the exfoliation and slight warmth as you scrub away the dead skin cells. It's a really nice feeling and it leaves my skin feeling super soft. The next day I can see a difference in the appearance of my skin, especially in my pores which appear tighter, as well as the tone of my face.

This set can be used once or twice a week if you have normal or oily skin, but if you have more mature or sensitive skin, it's recommended you use it every other week. 

I REALLY enjoy using this product and highly recommend adding something like this in to your skincare routine. If you're interested in trying this out, one lucky winner has the chance to receive a RestauraCel-C set for themselves! Sorry, this contest is open to US residents only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Failed Nudes

Get your head out of the gutter... this post is about LIPSTICK, ya crazy!

For years I've been on the hunt for the perfect nude lipstick. It seems like an easy thing, right? Just pick up a skin-colored lipstick and it should work. WRONG. Picking the perfect nude lipstick is very dependent on your skin tone, and being a mega-pale girl makes this task even harder than it should be. 

As I cleaned up my makeup stash a bit ago, I found evidence of my search for the perfect nude lipstick- and I promptly disposed of the evidence... but not before showing you my failed attempts. There have been many others, but these 4 stuck out to me, only because I thought I'd found "the one" when I purchased all of these - boy, was I wrong!

First up is a complete and utter failure of a lipstick for me. This is 112 from the Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate lipstick line. This has a semi-matte finish that is literally like applying a peachy concealer to my lips. I've tried, and this just does not work for me. I find the Rimmel Lasting Finish lipsticks to have a drying, uncomfortable texture on the lips, and the whole "dry foundation lips" look just isn't going to work. 

I talked about this lipstick before.... I'm referring to Revlon's Jungle Peach. I loved this when I saw it in the tube, and since it was part of a limited edition collection I decided I just had to have it. I honestly think it's one of THE worst looking lipsticks I've ever worn. The color and formula are fabulous, but on my skin it is so unflattering.

I so wanted this lipstick to work for me because I love the formula, but unfortunately NYX's Black Label Lipstick in India was another failure in my book. My skin is  very pale with a tendency to be pink, and so this light pinky nude just washes me right out. Again, the formula is super creamy and it's hydrating and comfortable on the lips, but it just doesn't look right.

Lastly is Revlon's Colorburst Lipstick in Soft Nude. This is another fabulous lipstick - it's creamy and hydrating but the color is far too brown for my skin tone. This would be great for someone with a darker complexion, but if you're pale like me - stay far away!

Despite all the failures I've had searching for my perfect nude lippie... I have found a combination of two products that work for me.

Say hello to my favorite nude lip combo...

When I need a nude lip color to complement a busy eye look, I reach for MAC's Well Loved. This is a beautiful creamy pink-nude that is so complimentary for those of us with fair skin. I purchased this at a Cosmetics Company Store on discount and it was so worth the mere $10 I paid!

(Forgive my hella pores - totally makeup-less in this pic) When I want to step up my nude lipstick game a notch, I layer the BonneBell LipLite in Strawberry Parfait over Well Loved. This gloss has often been dubbed a dupe for NARS' Turkish Delight, and honestly - it performs just like a high-end gloss! It is one of my all time faves, and it's perfect to layer over a variety of different lipsticks. 

What is your favorite nude lipstick? I'd love to know what works for you!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Josie Maran Haul

Clearly I'm not the only one who loves Josie Maran products - Winnie does, too! When I sat down to prepare this blog post, Winnie kept trying to eat the little lippies you see above. And even now, as the products sit next to me on the couch, Winnie won't leave me alone. So, take Winnie's word for it - Josie Maran is awesome (and Winnie has good taste). 

About a month ago, my favorite deal site Hautelook, had a Josie Maran sale and I jumped on it. If you're not familiar with Hautelook , it offers flash sales with mega discounts on awesome brands. It's owned by Nordstrom, so you know the brands are going to be top of the line. You can sign up to receive the daily emails here

Here's what I picked up from the Josie Maran sale. 

 "A naturally age-defying, Argan-infused lip-treatment balm that conditions, repairs, and protects dry, fragile lips." (

I was thinking these Lip Argan Treatments were more like chapstick, but turns out they have pigment. I got three colors: Heaven (left), Rosey (top), and Kiss Me (right). These smell slightly like citrus and aren't the most pigmented lippies, but they do leave some color.

These little minis are part of the Head to Toe Radiance kit, which I don't believe is available anymore. The pink bottle on the left is 100% Argan Oil with Radiance, and the blue bottle on the left is Argan Oil Hair Serum with Radiance. Both of these are honey lavender chamomile scented. I've already tried the hair serum, and I don't find that the scent lingers at all in my hair, which I'm completely fine with. 

The added "radiance" is just code for shimmer. On left is the Argan Oil and on right is the hair serum. The mega shimmer is so pretty when used on hair.

Lastly, I bought the Whipped Argan Oil in the scent In Bloom. You may remember I reviewed a different scent of this product in a previous empties post, and I really enjoyed using it. I wanted to get a full sized version of this to use as a full-body moisturizer, and I think this will be really nice, especially on leg-shaving days! The Whipped Argan Oils are extremely moisturizing and buttery and are really great if you have dry skin.

Have you tried any of these products? What's your favorite Josie Maran product? Let me know!

(Winnie clearly thinks it's funny that she keeps trying to eat my makeup!)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Insta Natural Vitamin C Toner & Eye Gel | Review

I am a self-professed skincare junkie. As much as I love makeup, I thoroughly enjoy washing it off at the day's end and pampering my skin. So naturally, when given the chance to review Insta Natural's Vitamin C facial toner, and Youth Express eye gel, I couldn't say no. 

Insta Natural's Vitamin C facial toner is comprised of three main ingredients: sulfur - to penetrate deep in the skin and increase elasticity, witch hazel - to purify the skin and reduce the size and appearance of pores, and vitamin C - to strengthen the skin and reverse signs of aging. 

I am always looking for products to minimize the appearance of pores, as I do have noticeable pores, and I found this toner to be a nice addition to my skincare regimen. I didn't notice any extreme pore-minimizing properties, but my skin definitely felt tighter and my pores were less noticeable. My one qualm with this toner is the smell. If you are sensitive to smell, this has a very strong orange-pine type scent (can't quite figure out exactly what it smells like to me). 

The real gem of these two products is the Youth Express eye gel. I am continually trying new eye creams in the hopes of finding something that helps with the dehydration lines I am prone to, and I have to say I was blown away by how this eye gel performed.

Right off the bat, I assumed this wouldn't work for me. How is a gel going to work for a girl who battles dry under-eyes? I don't even know how, but this gel dramatically reduces the appearance of fine lines underneath my eyes. I use a little dab on my ring fingers and smooth it gently on to my eye area. It dries, and leaves kind of a sticky feeling that does go away after an hour or so. I use this morning and night and have had such a positive experience with it so far. It also performs well under makeup.

I would highly recommend trying out this product if you have fine lines you want to diminish. 

Both the Vitamin C toner and Youth Express eye gel are available for purchase on Amazon. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne

I have been searching for my perfect Jo Malone scent for quite some time now. A few months ago I wandered to the Jo Malone counter in Nordstrom and sniffed all of the scents. I couldn't find anything that gave me that instant excitement you get when you know you've found something perfect for you. Granted, my nose was probably a bit overloaded from sniffing so many scents, but either way, I walked out empty handed.

Fast-forward to a month ago when my boss brought in her newest Nordstrom catalog and said "you have GOT to smell this!" and lo and behold the little sample in the magazine was the latest Jo Malone release - Wood Sage & Sea Salt. I have never done this before, but right after I smelled the little perfume flap in the magazine, I went online to and ordered the perfume right then and there. 

"Escape the everyday along the windswept shore. Waves breaking white, the air fresh with sea salt and spray. Alive with the mineral scent of the rugged cliffs. Mingling with the woody earthiness of sage. Lively, spirited and totally joyful." (from

Wood Sage & Sea Salt is characterized by three scents - top notes of ambrette seeds, heart note of sea salt, and a base note of sage. One of the very first things I noticed about this scent is how very unisex it is. It almost smells sort of cologne like, and frankly - it smells almost like something that Abercrombie & Fitch would come out with, but a million times better and certainly more earthy. 

This is the perfect scent for the transition to fall. It's sexy and earthy, and isn't heavy in the slightest. The one and only qualm I have about it is it's short wear time. After 5 or 6 hours, the smell is very faint and a reapplication is necessary. And unrelated to the scent, I find that the packaging is rather cheap. For a $60 bottle of perfume, I'd expect more. The glass itself is sturdy and looks nice, but the design on front and back is literally just stickers - and they're not even centered! That peeves the OCD, marketing professional in me. Other than that, I'm completely obsessed! You have to get this before it's gone!

I now want to explore the world of Jo Malone more deeply! Have you tried any Jo Malone fragrances? If so - what do you love? Let me know in the comments!
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