Tuesday, March 24, 2015

YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara: Pics + Review


I could write paragraphs about my excitement on receiving the most coveted Influenster Vox Box yet, but we just don't have the time and basically, we all know you're here to get the goods on this iconic mascara. To sum it up, the makeup geek within passed out, died, and went to voluminous lash heaven when I got the email and when I got the package I had to clutch my heart and ask myself "Is this real?"

Okay! Now that I've got my cosmetic fangirling out, let's get to the review!

The mascara retails for $32.00 and comes in 6 colors (High Density Black, Extreme Blue, Burgundy, Rich Brown, Fascinating Violet, Deep Night)

I got mine in High Density Black, and thank goodness for that because that's basically the only color mascara I wear! 

The mascara wand itself is long with tightly bunched nylon fibers of the same length distributed evenly throughout the brush, tapering in size near the tip.

The formula has been reformulated to not dry out + includes B5 Pro-Vitamin to strengthen and protect lashes.

Upon opening the mascara I was pleased to see they didn't skimp on packaging. The lighter gold tube looks so sleek and frankly, expensive, sitting on my makeup desk. I'm sure to rotate it to the YSL insignia so everyone will know exactly who made this gem. They get a solid A for packaging!

When It came to applying the mascara for the first time, I was a little disheartened by the smell. As soon as I twisted the wand out of it's tube, a strong hair dye scent wafted up to my face. I mean it smells EXACTLY like hair dye! That did freak me out at first and I wasn't sure I wanted it on my lashes because sometimes I'm a bit sensitive to certain ingredients but everything worked out fine. While it was wet, it continued to smell like hair dye but once it dried, the scent faded This was honestly the only real complaint I had about the product so I thought I'd get it out of the way first.

Now onto the goodies! Check out these Before & After shots!

Top Row: No Makeup or Mascara, Middle Row: Left Eye No Mascara, Right Eye Mascara, Bottom Row: Both Eyes Mascara.

The pictures speak for themselves. My lashes have never looked more voluminous or long. I felt like I applied false lashes, except I didn't have to go through all of the fuss. All I did was curl them, apply one layer of mascara and BAM, full on false lash effect (exactly like the name suggests). The curl stayed over 12 hours and when It was time to remove it, the mascara didn't give me much fuss.

I feel confident in saying this is the best mascara I've used. Ever. 

So is it worth the $32 price tag? Yes, yes it is. If you are fully invested in buying the best of the best, don't settle for anything other than YSL's Effet Faux Cils. These blow my previous favorites out of the water (one of which is a prestige brand, the other a drugstore brand). 

Just look at those "Bedroom Eyes", I feel so sexy with this mascara on. Thank you Influenster and Yves Saint Laurent for providing me with a full sized mascara to try + review, I really appreciate it!

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

NutriBullet Review + High Fiber Juice Recipe

For months I have been debating between getting either the Nutribullet or Ninja blending system. I've watched Youtube reviews, asked friends and family and compared the devices on amazon but in the end the Nutribullet won out. Why? Because I spotted it for $10 cheaper than the asking price at Wegmans. Cheap always wins! 

So Saturday I brought it home and this afternoon, I took it out of it's box to inspect what I've purchased. Frankly, I was still nervous I picked the wrong device, especially since I own the original Magic Bullet and was VERY disappointed by it's weak motor and over heating problems, but I'm choosing to forgive. Forgiveness is important, right?

The contents of the Nutribullet

-$89.99 retail (I paid $79.99)
-1 extractor blade
-1 milling blade
-3 cups (2 medium size & 1 large)
-2 lids
-2 lip covers with handles
-1 Nutribullet base
-Recipe Book/Instructions

It took my a while to pick a combination of ingredients to blend. I would've used a recipe but I seem to always be missing one of the components! I ended up using a carton of blueberries, 1 banana, a handful of spinach, 1/2 cup of ice, a couple splashes of unsweetened almond milk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of flax seed. 

Unfortunately, It turns out I am very inexperienced with making smoothies & juices and I had to alter that recipe...I'll get to that in a bit!

This is my first juice or smoothie with a vegetable that I've tried, so I was very hesitant about adding the spinach, but everyone else jumped on the train, I may as well get a ticket!

Before I could test my taste buds, I had to prepare the flax seed. To digest them better, I need them to be in powder form so I put them in the medium cup with the milling blade to pulverize the seeds.

As you can tell, It did a really great job reducing the flax seeds into a powder. It only took about 4 seconds total to achieve this. Overall, I am very impressed with the milling blade. Next I'd like to try cashews to see how well it'll grind larger and harder nuts.

Before & After blending with the extractor blade.
I put the ingredients in the large cup, the fruits went in first followed by the spinach & ice with the almond milk and flax seed poured over top, and secured it to the base. It took me maybe 8 seconds before it looked blended, so I removed it and give it a little shake like the instructions told me to do and returned it to the base for another 8 seconds. I touched the sides of the base to determine if it was overheating like the Magic Bullet tends to do, but it was cool to the touch. I twisted the cup out of the locked position and tried the juice, if you could call it that. The result was a semi-liquid, clumping....pudding?

Before you think this is a testament to the quality of the product, I'm going to stop you and admit I'm fully to blame. I didn't add nearly enough liquid and ate some of the portion with a spoon before adding about 1/2 cup of water and blending that for another 8 seconds. The result was a creamy juice....no spoon required!

I was surprised to find the spinach wasn't even remotely noticeable. I'll definitely be looking up more vegetable based recipes!

High Fiber (12+ grams) Blueberry Banana Juice Recipe:
1 Carton of Blueberries
1 Banana 
1 Handful Spinach
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Flax Seed
1/2 Cup Water
Abt. 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
NOTE: I added Ice to mine, but it had no affect. Omit it.

1. Gather and measure ingredients. Set aside. Cut the Banana in 4 sections.
2. Pour the Flax Seeds into a medium cup and attach the milling blade. Twist to the "on" setting or hold down for 4 seconds.
3. In the large cup, add the Blueberries, then the Banana, and on top the Spinach. Pour the liquids and Flax Seed on top. Attach the extractor blade.
4. Twist to the "on" setting or hold down for 12 seconds, remove the cup and shake for a few seconds before reattaching to the base and blending for 12 more seconds.
5. Remove the extractor blade, attach the lip with the handle and enjoy!

Overall, I am very relieved that this product works! I was totally freaked that I may have spent a lot of money on a dud, which it's predecessor definitely was. I have a lot to learn about how to portion ingredients but I am happy with my purchase and will be using this product almost daily! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Smashbox Double Exposure Review + Swatches

Price: $52 USD

-Double Exposure Palette
-Double Ended Brush
-Full Exposure Mascara Deluxe Sample
+Eye Look Instructions
+Shadow Name Sheet

I had been eyeing Smashbox’s Full Exposure heavily when the brand announced a Double Exposure Giveaway. When I say heavily, I mean I had been visiting websites daily just to put it in my cart and then spend the next half hour trying to talk myself in and then eventually out of purchasing it, so of course I had to enter to win part 2 of the series! I entered the photo contest and within about a week, I received an email that I won the palette! Ahhh, my wallet was saved after all. Fortunately, I got to try a similar palette completely free….Unfortunately, compared to reviews of Full Exposure, I got the dud of the series.

While the Full Exposure Palette offers a variety of nudes in shimmers + mattes, the Double Exposure Palette offers more colors than true nudes and has 7 shimmers, 4 satins and 3 mattes.

The gimmick here is that the 14 shadows will turn into 28 shadows when wet. I do feel gimmick is the right word because most shadows will do that, and while they claim to transform into new shadows, I've found they mostly just improve and deepen, which is to be expected in any shadow made wet. It was good marketing though, It grabbed my attention!

Swatching these shadows dry with a primer was a little depressing. They were too soft to the point of excess fallout and the color was blotchy in spots when I glided on the shadows. When I switched techniques and began packing them, the blocthiness problem went away. Definitely pack these on!

Swatching them wet was a much easier experience, I could glide or pack them on easily.

The only major differences in the wet transformation comes from Midnight (The Navy Shimmer) which looks almost black dry but turns more true to color when wet and Blanc (Silver Shimmer) which was intensely amplified when wet. 

The duds of the bunch were Veiled (Last On The Top) which was unspectacular both wet and dry, though improved when wet and was difficult to swatch with a somewhat sheer pigmentation, and Noir (The Matte Black) which dragged when both wet and dry and was difficult to blend out.

The stand outs are Silver (Top First) which was a beautiful silver/blue buttery duochrome that improved when wet and Blanc (Top Middle) which, although standard when dry, amplified considerably when wet and was easy to apply in both the wet and dry technique.

Top Row (L,R): Silver (Shimmer), Mauve (Satin), Peony (Shimmer), Blanc (Shimmer), Quartz (Shimmer), Flushed (Shimmer), Veiled (Satin), Bottom Row (L,R): Midnight (Satin), Temper (Satin), Haze (Shimmer), Noir (Matte), Copper (Shimmer), Fig (Matte), Espresso (Matte)

Top Row (L,R): Silver (Turn Metallic), Mauve (Turn Metallic), Peony (Turn Metallic), Blanc (Turn Metallic), Quartz (Amps Up Vibrancy), Flushed (Gets Deeper), Veiled (Amps Up Vibrancy), Bottom Row (L,R): Midnight (Adds Sparkle), Temper (Adds Sparkle), Haze (Gets Deeper), Noir (Gets Deeper), Copper (Turns Metallic), Fig (Gets Deeper), Espresso (Gets Deeper)

Eye Look Using (Wet) Peony on the Lid and (Wet + Dry) Haze in the Crease, Full Exposure Mascara & Both sides of the dual ended brush.

The mascara included is a Full Exposure Mascara in a deluxe size, which I've gotten for free several times in the past & have used often. The brush itself is large with groups of bristles distributed evenly throughout. 

It produces slightly voluminous lashes that looks more like your natural pair, just "amped up" a step. 

The positives are that it's nearly impossible to clump this formula and It removes remarkably well with makeup wipes.

The palette includes a dual ended brush.

The angled brush is too small and stiff to be a blending brush, but I used it to shape the outer corner and before I blended it out with a Sonia Kashuk blending brush, the outer "V" was very crisp.

The flat brush is pretty dense and worked well with packing on color, which is good because this palette sort of demands that technique.

-Comes with an array of Colors & Nudes
-Has Shimmers, Satins and Mattes
-Deluxe Sized Mascara
-Dual Ended Brush
-Eye Look Pamphlet Organized According To Eye Shape
-Pretty Packaging/Looks Nice On Vanity

-Hit & Miss With Pigmentation
-Must Pack On, Drags When Glided & Dry
-A Bit Expensive For Most ($52 USD)

The verdict is for you to decide. Personally, I'm glad to have won it but If I lost it or hit pan, I would probably not repurchase. $52 is too much to spend on a palette I feel lukewarm about.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

8 Tips For An Easier Period

Ah, menstruation. Many of my bravest, frilliest underwear weathered your storm...though hardly untouched. Your crimson wave of cravings, pain, and mood swings come almost without warning and leave zero survivors in its wake. In preparation for this monthly Red-Pocolypse, I made a handy survival list. Get ready, friends, "Winter is coming!"

1. Apply Heat.

Battle the cramping, leg pain, and backaches with either a plug in electric heating pad, microwavable pack or hot water bottle....OR take your heat "To Go" with the Thermacare menstrual pads. I stock up on these every time I spot them in stores. Like most girls, I have an "at home" heating pad but before I stumbled across these at my local supermarket, I was left moaning and groaning every time I had to leave my bed. Next time you're the "walking red", Slap one of these sucka's on your lower abdomen and in 15 minutes you'll be blinking your eyes like a happy cat! 

***Bonus Tip: Log into Netflix and let your laptop be your heating pad!

***Smaller Bonus Heat Tip: Whether it's summer or winter, put those heated seats on while you are in the car! This tip has saved my legs and lower back a world of trouble multiple times.

***even smaller bonus-bonus tip: Take a warm bath with essential oils. Use Lavender & Chamomile to calm or Peppermint & Rosemary to Energize!

2. Protect Your Sheets!

I understand there will be causalities during this time but I'd really prefer to leave my clean white sheets out of it. Seriously, uterus, you don't pay that Target bill! Period's can be unpredictable so there is no fool proof way of protecting your bedding but when you do know there's about to be some crime scene activity happening in your downtown neighborhood maybe put down an older towel or standby sheets that have taken more than a few bullets.

You think you're safe with that, but you're not. The trick is to add another barrier by way of pads....because you really shouldn't be wearing tampons to bed (you know the drill about tss!)! The only problem is sanitary companies think it's cool to make pads "sleek, thin and super short" That ain't working for bedtime when you're rolling around in every which angle. The best tip I can give you is to buy the granny-est looking pads you can find....as long as they are super long and wide near your butt (because you know the blood slides down during the night!)

My mom picked me these Stayfree Maxi's from a gas station when I was in desperate need for pads. any pad. like literally just give me some cotton. I was completely out. I turned up my nose but being completely desperate, I crinkled those bad boys out of their packages and in that instant my life was changed.

They have wings. They are longer than most pads. They fan out at the butt. THEY FAN OUT AT THE BUTT. 

These are my "I don't want to wake up and do the penguin waddle to the laundry room" pads. 

3. Take Some Drugs!

WELL....take some legal drugs, i.e. pain killers, supplements and birth control! Writing about birth control and supplements would take up several pages but I'm going to keep it simple with these two. Ready? Okay, here goes! Talk to your doctor about birth control. Seriously, unless you are morally opposed to this option, nothing should be stopping you. I have experienced periods both on and off my daily pill and let me tell you, If birth control became illegal I would be the first to look for a dealer. It makes a world of a difference, especially if you have vomit inducing cramps, like I do. I would not leave my bed on my period without it. It has given me my life back. Okay *tear* I'm ready to move on from that.

The second deal is vitamins, minerals and supplements. Since I would have to write a book on the subject to be truly done, I will keep it simple and stay with the basics that most people will know. Fish oil is key. Taking Fish Oil (specifically Omega-3) thins the blood and decreases inflammation which makes for a "happy" period....If ever there was one. Next up, Magnesium which helps with muscle spasms and pms symptoms. If you're cooking up some dinner, why not add some Turmeric? It will help reduce the inflammation! There are a ton more to talk about like Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, and Vitamin E but like I said, I'm going to keep this short, sweet and not write a novel about it!

***always check with your doctor before adding new vitamins, minerals or supplements to your diet. 

Now onto the last of the pharmaceuticals and the most crucial to have on hand....painkillers. Oh yes, numb the pain of chunks of your body flowing out of your most sensitive cavity with a trusty OTC! My favorite for many years was Extra Strength Aleve. Do you know what I found out about Extra Strength Aleve? It's an NSAID and you probably will get a burning ulcer if you use it every month for several years. While that is the best painkiller I've used to date (and every person with a uterus should have them on hand) I keep my medicine cabinet stocked with Tylenol now, which will not burn a whole in my stomach.

***SUPER EFFECTIVE TIP: Take an NSAID (Yes, I am giving you permission) a few days before your period. Enjoy how less painful it is without the excess inflammation.


You heard me...put it down. Drop the Coffee too. Oh, God and the Caffeinated Tea. For the love of your uterus, do not consume products with Caffeine in them during this time of the month. If you feel I am exaggerating just do it for one month. Two days before your period, just stop completely and tell me about how that went. I can guarantee you it will go like a bloody slice of heaven. While you're at it, cut down on sugar (causes blood sugar spikes which worsens mood swings), foods high in sodium (causes water retention) and alcohol (responsible for irregular periods and hormone fluctuation).

So stock up on non-caffeinated herbal tea's like Yogi's Moon Cycle Tea and snacks like Triscuits with Cheddar Cheese slices and fresh Blueberries....which actually help fight PMS! Yum!

5. Keep a stocked "Pantry".

What's the only worse thing than running out of pads on a heavy flow day? Oh right, NOTHING. Instead of hiding and losing track of how many pads, tampons and liners you have, march yourself to Target and buy a pop-up cube basket. Organize it with Tampons, Pads, Liners, Wipes, Thermal Patches, Pad Cases, etc. I have one of these in my open closet and seeing it while walking past makes me oddly proud. Not only am I owning something that used to feel shameful but I always know when I'm running low on the essentials. Embrace your period by organizing your materials in a cute container. It seems small and silly but believe me...It does help!

This is the storage cube....well rectangle....I use. I bought it from Target. Of course, you can get more crafty with it!

***Extra Important Tip: Put a pad, tampon, and liner in EVERY purse/backpack you own. You never know how Important that decision was. More than once, I've been in the bathroom thanking Past Lauren for remembering to do this!

6. Don't Dress To Impress.

I know that you are a divine God/Goddess sent from Mt. Olympus to melt mortals into puddles of lust and admiration but you CAN do that in sweats. This is all up to you but a majority of people do feel most comfortable in their favorite pair of sweatpants and a zip up but It's your choice. What makes you feel most comfortable? You can match style with comfort by visiting stores like Aerie, Gap or Victoria Secret. If you're on a budget Target & T.J. Maxx are tried and true. 

If you can muster it, skip the hair and makeup as well. The extra time I don't put into applying full-face makeup and straightening my hair is well appreciated during that time. DO NOT skip the SPF. No exceptions! Also, Keep a spoon in the freezer to apply under your eyes in the A.M. to alleviate the inevitable puffiness.

***Bold Tip: "Dare To Go Bare", Ditch the Bra and ease up on those sore boobs!

***Period Makeup Tip: The Minimal Routine is this....Tinted Moisturizer, Under Eye Concelear (if needed), Cheek and Lip Tint, Line Upper Lid With A Smoldery Gray Liner, Curl Lashes, Waterproof Mascara, Clear or Tinted Brow Gel.

****Hair Tip: Buns, Braids and Ponytails are the way to go for hair. If you need to look cute, throw on some foam rollers on wet hair the night before, wake up with beautiful curls. Just tousle and comb through!

7. "Treat Yo Self!" *Pamper Tips*

If anyone deserves a "Treat Yo Self" day....It's you! Do like Donna & Tom and give the gifts to the one person who truly deserves it, you! Now I'm not saying take the next flight to Rodeo Drive but if you've been eyeing a cute lipstick or a really cool iphone case, go ahead! Don't have the funds to live like Parks & Rec royalty? There are a million ways to pamper yourself, and they all depend on what you most enjoy. Personally, my routine on my worst day (the day I pamper myself) is to get into a pair of flannel pajamas and fuzzy socks, pick out a Netflix show or movie and heat up some Dr. Oetkers Spinaci Pizza. If I'm feeling up for It, a bath with essential oils followed by doing acupressure on my feet while I apply soothing lotion. In the P.M. I do a mask to treat the problem pimples periods give me and by that time I am basically Mayor of Happy Town.

If a cup of tea makes you feel pampered, fill up your cup! If you want to binge on the latest game on Steam, log on! Maybe you're more of a reader and just need some quiet time? Take that book in the bath!

Treat. Yo. SELF.

***Bath Tip: Try some Epsom Salts in your Bath which are known to alleviate muscle soreness. An added bonus is that the Magnesium also facilitates relaxation.

8. Track Your Period!

Okay, So I'm not going to be your best source on how to track your menstruation cycle on a paper calender BUT I can direct you to an A+ app that does all that grunt work for you! I've been using Period Tracker for several years now and I can confidently say it always guesses my period's arrival in a range of 1-3 days. I have the free version of the app and with that you can log the start and end dates of your period as well as notes, customizable symptoms and ovulation & fertile dates. They even have a chart that lists how long each one of your cycles is and calculates your median. Now you can finally be aware of which day NOT to wear white denim.

***Bonus Tip: Use the notes & symptoms section to track the changes you make each month and how they affect your period!

I leave you with my last bit of advice which is to get to know your body and individual needs. We all have different types and levels of symptoms so only #1 will know what's best for their body. Okay, you ready? You got this! BRING ON THE PAIN!