Friday, April 29, 2011

Finding Beauty in Illness

The plague has visited our house this week and if that wasn't bad enough allergies came along with it.  Like unwanted guests, they seem destined to never leave.  Luckily Miss S has been spared the worst of it, but even she is being assaulted by pollen.  Yesterday while "resting" my eyes on the couch and feeling terribly sorry for myself, I started to wonder how one feels beautiful when they are brought down by a common virus. It's especially hard to feel good when the face looking back at you in the mirror looks even worse then you feel.

Thinking I might feel better if I pampered myself, I headed upstairs to take a bath.  All my luxurious bath products would have to wait, since the mere smell/sight of them gave me a headache.  As I slipped into the tub I was shivering, I just couldn't get the water warm enough.  Finally the water warmed up and I relaxed.  Less then a minute later I felt like I was having the mother of all hot flashes.  How did this water get so darn hot?  Sweat was poring down my face.  I was sweating in the bathtub...gross!

Since the bath left me feeling worse then when I started, I decided maybe a nice cool face masque would do the trick.  Problem was that my sinuses were so swollen that even touching my face was a miserable experience.  Hmmmm, what to do?  Maybe I should put some makeup on, but the mere though of it was unpleasant at best.

Manicures always make me feel good.  Who doesn't like nice sparkly nails?  I gathered my supplies and sat down to polish my nails.  By now though, I was so exhausted I just didn't have the energy or desire to do my nails.  About this point I gave up.  I came to the conclusion that you just can't feel beautiful when you're sick.

I laid down in bed to participate in one big pity party when Miss S slipped into the room.  She laid down on the bed with me and cuddled.  She then whispered in my ear, "I love you Mommy".  That was all it took.  I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world.  Four little words and my head didn't hurt as bad, my body didn't ache nearly as much and my sinuses just seemed a mild irritant.  My world changed focus onto the beautiful girl cuddled up against me and I realized all is right in the world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Royal Wedding DIY

Tomorrow is the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  The coverage is sure to be extensive. Every detail will be scrutinized, criticized and copied endlessly.

A lot of speculation was going around as to who would be doing Kate's makeup and today People magazine confirmed the name of the lucky artist.  It will be Kate Middleton herself and I say BRAVO!  No one knows her style and her face better then Kate herself.  Kate has a very natural style and will surely be beautiful.

People magazine reported that Kate had a series of private makeup lessons with preeminent artist Arabella Preston.  Arabella Preston is known for her beautiful natural bridal looks. Check out her gallery of bridal looks here

I'm excited about the wedding.  I can't wait to see the dress, the hair, the makeup, the flowers, the cake, the processions....Tell me what your thought are on the wedding.

Fabulous Lashes Thanks to Fabulous Mascara

One of the questions I get asked the most is "What mascara do you use?".  It's a question I have a hard time answering because the look I'm trying to achieve determines the mascara I choose.  I have eleven mascaras in my make up drawer.  Yes, you read that right, ELEVEN!  I'm a bit of a mascara slut, but in all fairness, I've been testing a lot out lately.  You probably know that I use Clinique Bottom Lash on my bottom lashes and that is the ONLY mascara that goes on them. 

Because I have so many mascaras and mascara is only good for 3-6 months once opened(maybe I don't always follow that rule)  it's not practical to stick with high end brands.  Sure I have had some expensive mascaras in my arsenal and my all time fave is not exactly cheap, but reality sent me to the drugstore. 

I have average size lashes that don't require curling (but benefit from it).  I don't always want too much length because then my lashes bang against my glasses (so not an attractive look).  I generally divide my mascaras into 4 categories: Natural Look (if I'd been blessed with gorgeous lashes), Thick Knock Them Dead Lashes, False Lashes, and of course Bada Bling Lashes.

Natural Look
  • Loreal Telescopic Carbon Black- no thickening, just darkens my lashes and does a nice job lengthening.  Will not be repurchasing because too hard to wash off.  I would recommend this for guys though.
  • Bare Mineral Flawless Definition- nice thickening of lashes, decent amount of lengthening with next to no clumps.  Will not be repurchasing, but only because of the next mascara...
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash-if I could only have 1 mascara this would be it.  With one coat it lengthens and thickens nicely, but layers beautifully without clumping.  Love the hourglass brush shape.
Thick Knock Them Dead Lashes
  • L'oreal Voluminous Carbon Black- gives you bold, dark, thick lashes.  Works better as the mascara "matures", it's clumps a bit on the wand when it's brand new.  Will not be repurchasing as it is very difficult to wash off and every morning I wake up with smears of it under my eyes.
  • Covergirl Lash Blast Volume-absolutely love this one.  Layers beautifully and produces thick lush lashes.  Easily washes off, but stays put all day.  Would definitely repurchase.
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash-yes this mascara is that good.  It can easily go from a natural look to thick and sexy. 
  • Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express-I just discovered this one and really like it.  It gives lashes a nice shine and unbelievable volume and length.  Creates more of a "wow" then the Buxom Lash, but more likely to clump if you're not careful.  For some reason I have repeatedly stuck my eye with this wand.
False Lashes
  • Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash-this little wonder even works well on false lashes, blending them nicely into your own.
  • Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express-for when you really want obscene lashes.  Applied to both natural and false lashes you can't tell that you're wearing false lashes, except for the fact that no one should have lashes this amazing.
Bada Bling Lashes
  • Benefit Prrrowl Iridescent Mascara Topcoat-this is the best glittery topcoat on the market.  The glitter is micro and highly reflective.  It doesn't flake in your eyes.  You can layer it without getting gloppy.  Has a pretty iridescence to it.  To make it even cooler it has a pretty iridescent pink lip gloss on the other end.
  • Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume Luxe-I wanted to love this one because I just love the original version.  I bought both the green and platinum versions.  I HATE the green one; makes my lashes look grey.  The platinum version is fine as a regular mascara, but has zero sparkle. Will not repurchase.
  • L'oreal Double Extend Eye Illuminator-this is a two part tube.  One end is a regular mascara and the other end is a glittery brown with slight sparkle.  The mascara clumps my lashes horribly and the glittery brown just doesn't show up, no matter how many coats I apply.  Will not repurchase.
To sum it all up, if I had to only have one mascara and price wasn't an issue I would stick with Buxom Lash.  If I needed to be more economical I would probably go with either The Colossal Volume Express or Lash Blast Volume. For a luxury I would treat myself to Prrrowl.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April's Birchbox

After much anticipation and many disappointing trips to the mailbox, my April Birchbox finally arrived.  It was a bit late this month because it contained something a little different, and required special shipping. 

This months Birchbox "theme" was Earth Day, and in honor of Earth Day the boxes were loaded with earth friendly products.  I was excited to receive this months Birchbox because I had heard it contained nail polish.  Nail polish can't be shipped by air, hence the special shipping and long wait for my box.

My box was indeed filled with eco friendly products.  Inside the box I found skincare, fragrance, nail polish and as an extra, a lovely tin of Italian Chamomile tea.  Unfortunately,  the cleanser lid had cracked and leaked a bit in my box.  It wasn't a catastrophe by any means, just a bit disappointing.

The perfume sample was Liv Grn, Natural Eau de Parfum.  The description on the Birchbox card states it is "made from biodegradable and sustainable ingredients".  The scent is described as "bright, grassy and laced with orange and neroli".  I really like this fragrance and will definitely be putting this on my wish list.  The fragrance is not overpowering and brings to mind a bright spring day with big fluffy clouds.  Best of all, 10% of the sales go to Global Green.

The nail polish that I was so excited to receive turned out to be Zoya,  DoveDove is one of the colors in Zoya's spring collection, perhaps my least favorite. Birchbox describes it as a "chic gray hue".  Obviously there are people who love this color as it is very popular, I'm just not one of them.  I also already have the color;  I received it as part of their International Women's Day promotion.

The skincare portion of the box contained the cleanser I referred to earlier and Weleda, Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Lotion.  The facial lotion contains organic rosehip oil, which is full of antioxidants and vitamins.  I love the light rose fragrance and have enjoyed using it the last few nights.  Would I buy it?  I'm not sure.  It is lovely on the skin, but I don't notice anything spectacular about it.

The cleanser was the biggest disappointment.  It was the Suki, Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, something I had been wanting to try.  Obviously the cracked lid and spilled product played a part in my disappointment, but it was the way my skin reacted that sealed the deal .  Birchbox describes this cleanser as a "magical two-in-one" cleanser that foams when you add water "and remedies dull skin and clogged pores with raw sugar, rice flour, and organic lemongrass".  I loved the strong smell of lemongrass, the feel of the cleanser foaming up and the gentleness of the exfoliant, but it left my skin stinging and red.  A full size of the Suki, Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser is $29.95.  Thanks to Birchbox, that's money I have saved.

The bonus sample in this months Birchbox was a tin of Zhena's Gypsy Tea, Italian Chamomile.  I'm not a lover of chamomile tea in general, but this one is pretty good.  After making a cup of tea, I throw the used tea bag in a bowl of hot water for an hour.  I then use this water to rinse my face at night after cleansing. 

I contacted Birchbox by phone and by email 4 days ago regarding my cracked cleanser.  I have not heard back from them.  I'm not overly upset about the cleanser being cracked, but I am upset about their lack of response.  A simple return call or email apologizing for any inconveinance would of gone a long way.  Today (4/25) I received a very nice email from the Birchbox team apologizing for the cracked cleanser.  That's all it took, and now I'm very happy.

Overall I'm very pleased with this months Birchbox.  Not all the items in my box were a hit, but that's kind of the point.  I got to try products I've been wanting and was introduced to products I was not familiar with.  For $10/month I still feel my Birchbox subscription is a good investment.  Let's not forget how fun it is to open it every month.

April's Birchbox
Sorry for the picture quality, my camera took a siesta.

For more information about Birchbox click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Have a Beautiful Earth Day!

Earth Day is almost here and I'm hoping you all are thinking of at least one way you can be kind to Mother Earth.  For those of you looking for idea's, I have a great one for you.  An idea that will not only benefit Mother Earth, but be good for your health.  Wait for it...nail polish!  Yup, that's right, nail polish.

Formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene are 3 toxins common in nail polishes today.  Not only are they bad for the environment, they are harmful to your health.  When looking for nail polish you should look for products that are free of these toxic ingredients.  Lately more and more companies are reformulating their polishes and introducing 3-free lacquers.  One company that has been on the leading edge of this movement is Zoya

Zoya make a great polish and unlike most 3-free companies they have a huge range of fashionable colors (over 300!) that will appeal to everyone.  The colors are intensely pigmented and very easy to use.  One word of caution though, don't mix them with a topcoat containing those nasty toxins.  Not only will you defeat the purpose of using an earth friendly product, but Zoya doesn't last as long when combined with DBP, formaldehyde and toluene.
To help you celebrate Earth Day, Zoya is introducing a polish exchange program.  You send them your old toxin filled polishes and they will responsibly dispose of them.  In exchange for sending your old, nasty polishes you can pick out the Zoya colors of you choice for only $4 a bottle.  That's 50% off the retail price.  If you prefer not to ship your old polish, you can donate it to a women's shelter or some other shelter that would benefit, just don't toss it into a landfill.

This is your chance to clean your cupboards out, get rid of those old polishes you never use, get some great new colors that are good for you and be kind to mother earth all at the same time. Click below for more information. Happy Earth Day!


Out with the old - in with the new! In honor of Earth Day from April 20, 2011 - April 27, 2011(11:59PM EST) Zoya Nail Polish will exchange* your old, out-of-style, unwanted nail color and replenish your nail polish supply with fresh Zoya fashion colors. All you pay is $4.00 per bottle for shipping and processing. Choose from over 300 formaldehyde, toluene, camphor and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) free, long-lasting, award winning, healthy colors to replace your old color! Zoya will properly dispose of your old polish.

Here's all you need to do!

  1. Go to and pick out the polishes you would like and add them to your cart. You must select at least 6 bottles  and no more than 24 bottles of polish (Salons accounts minimum 12 maximum 48 bottles.)
  2. Apply the code:  EARTHZOYA
  3. Your order value will be adjusted to reflect the promotion
  4. SUBMIT your order!
Then Zoya will ship out your NEW polish! YEA!

Once you get your order (Here is where the exchanging* happens)

Ship back the equivalent number of bottles to the ones you received to the return address below. (ie. If  you got 6 bottles of Zoya – you would send us 6 NON-ZOYA polishes)
Include a copy of your order receipt and ship to the following address(please check with you carrier on the proper way to ship nail polish)

Art of Beauty, Inc.
c/o Polish Exchange
5060 Taylor Rd, Unit D
Cleveland, Ohio, 44128, USA

Once we receive your polish we do the rest! It’s that simple!


The bottles you send in cannot be Zoya, Qtica or Nocti polishes (but they can be any other brand). We are using the honor code here folks! We want to make sure you get your Zoya Nail Polish! We send you the polish first then you send your old polish back to us! If you do choose to send us your old polish we promise to properly dispose of it according to EPA guidelines. This offer is only good for 1 week so hurry – Don’t Wait!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brush Love

I'm in love.  I'm deliriously happy.   It makes me glow like nothing else.  It feels so good, I just can't stop touching it. Now before you start thinking naughty things, let me tell you what I'm in love with.  It's a blush brush.  Yes, a makeup brush.  I realize it's silly, but until you try it, you just can't appreciate the way I feel about this blush brush. 

Real Techniques has recently introduced a line of brushes by Samantha Chapman.  For those of you who don't recognize the name, Sam is one of the Pixiwoo sisters on YouTube.  They are extremely talented makeup artists who have some of the best tutorials on YouTube and now a great line of makeup brushes.

Unlike other celebrity inspired/endorsed products Sam had hands on input in developing these brushes.  It was important to Sam that the brushes be vegan.  Unlike many other vegan/synthetic brushes, this blush brush actually picks up pigment nicely and deposits it smoothly.

The bristles on the Real Techniques brushes are hand cut taklon.  I have always been biased towards animal hair bristles.  The synthetic fiber brushes I have used in the past haven't held pigment the way animal hair does.  The taklon fibers on the Real Techniques brushes are finely spun and pigment clings to them.  The fibers don't break and fray the way animal hair does.  Perhaps most importantly taklon bristles are 100% cruelty free. 
The shape of the brush head is tapered and glides along the cheekbone, depositing the perfect amount of color.  Blush brushes come in basically 3 shapes; angled, domed and tapered.  I have tried them all, and let me tell you the tapered brush is the way to go when it comes to applying blush, it's almost idiot proof.  This blush brush contours and blends easily.  I use it for applying my blush and bronzer. 

The Real Techniques blush brush is comparable to MAC in quality in every way.  Where they are not comparable is in price.  The equivalent blush brush will run you $52 at the MAC counter.  At Ulta the infinitely better Real Techniques brush costs $8.99, that's a savings of over $40!  Give it a try, you might fall in love to.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is This Really a Gender Bender?

J. Crew has done it again.  An ad that has stirred up unbelievable controversy. The ad features company president Jenna Lyon's and her adorable son spending some quality time together.  Problem is, that the quality time they spent together involved painting his toes pink.  Mind you, it's a pink Essie polish exclusive to J.Crew and pink is Beckett's favorite color. 

"Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who'll be affected by your 'innocent' pleasure," Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a Fox News Op-Ed.  Dr Ablow is not alone in his views.  The outrage over a little boys pink toenails has created a firestorm.  It's a controversy I just don't understand.

I think it's great.  Quality time is quality time.  Pink toe polish is not going to "make" him gay or gender confused.  To think that even today we are still caught up in gender specific roles makes me very sad.  I hate to think that my daughter is growing up in a world that still thinks in terms of boy/girl.  Plenty of men (gay and hetro) wear eyeliner, and toenail polish.  In fact one of the biggest trends in polish right now is manpolish. 

I'm all for little girls and little boys being able to express themselves in a way they feel comfortable, even if it makes some narrow minded people uncomfortable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Goodbye Dark Puffy Eyes

Dark undereye circles.  We hate them and perhaps equally, we hate puffy swollen eyes.  With allergy season upon us the daily skirmishes we fight to suppress them  are about to become a full on war.  Fear not, there is a new weapon in our arsenal.  It is effective, fast acting AND not exhorbitantly priced.

Garnier Skin-Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller is a fabulous product.  It's an undereye concealer and treatment in one.  It covers those dark shadows under your eyes and reduces visible puffiness quickly.  Unlike about every other undereye concealer on the market it doesn't crease or settle into fine lines.

The Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller contains caffeine gel that Garnier claims "energizes and stimulates microcirculation".  Caffeine pulls water from cells, which is why you have to pee after drinking a cup of coffee.  I'm not sure if topically it does anything, but something in this product does help reduce puffiness. It just might be the cold roller ball on the end of the wand reducing the puffiness. 

The product is tinted with mineral pigments that cosmetically cover circles.  If you have very dark circles, this probably won't do much for them, but for the average person, the coverage is more then adequate.  The actual product is quite watery and easily blends in with your skin if you are fair to medium.  In Europe Garnier makes several shades of the rollerball, but unfortunately here in the United States I've only seen it in one shade.  Shame on Garnier!

I do a lot to battle dark circles and puffiness under my eyes.  I take allergy medicine, use eye drops, sleep with my head elevated and use cold compresses when necessary.  The rollerball doesn't replace any of these steps, but it does finish the job. 

To use I simply swipe the rollerball under my eye and blend lightly with either my ring finger or a fluffy blending brush.  I find that by storing the rollerball upside down, it always dispenses the right amount of product for me.  I love the feel of the cool ball as it rolls across my skin.  Unless I'm going out at night I haven't had to reapply, but when I do, the product is sheer enough to swipe on over makeup without looking cakey.

The Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller is not an eye cream.  It will not moistuize your eyes.  I consider it part of my makeup and not part of my skincare routine.  On days when I don't wear much makeup, I just swipe it under my eyes, pat it in and I'm good to go.  How easy is that? 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let's Get ...

Come on, it'll be fun!  I'm not talking about taking off your clothes. I'm referring to the infamous Naked eyeshadow palette by Urban Decay.  Released last summer the Naked palette was flying off store shelves quicker then Urban Decay could produce it.  Finally,  Urban Decay has solved their production issues and the Naked palettes are back on store shelves.

The Naked eyeshadow palette comes loaded with 12 eyeshadows, all of them neutral.  Unlike most palettes produced, all these colors are easily wearable.  Naked will allow you to create a neutral everyday look, an appropriate office look and the perfect smokey eye.  This one single product could easily replace all your other shadows.

Originally the Naked palette came with a duo ended eyeliner, but due to production issues, they have changed to an eyeshadow brush.  I'm one of the lucky ones who was able to get an original palette with the pencil, but fret not, the eyeshadow brush is a keeper.  Unlike most brushes that come in kits, this one is actually good quality and more importantly works beautifully with the shadows.  The brush is also Vegan, which is always a good thing.

To help you get the most out of your shadows, Urban Decay includes a small tube of their cult classic eyeshadow primer-Primer Potion.  If you haven't already tried Primer Potion this is a great time to try it without having to shell out any serious money.
The Naked palette isn't without it's drawbacks.  Of the 12 shadows, only 2 of them are matte.  Though, unlike other Urban Decay shadow palettes, there's not a lot of glitter in any of the shadows, and the shimmer/metallics are kept to a minimum.  For those of you with more mature eyes, you may want to be careful how you work with some of the more shimmery shades.  They are still workable, but I would use them more as a highlighter.

Naked is a great palette for someone who isn't comfortable with applying makeup.  The shades are not intimidating and look good on every skin tone.  The colors are very easy to work with.  The shadows are highly pigmented, blend easily and there is little to no fall out (powder that falls on your cheeks).  I think this would be a great palette for someone just starting out wearing makeup and it definitely makes a nice gift.  It's also a great value with each shadow costing about $4.  Urban Decay's single shadows retail between $17 and $20. 

So go ahead, get Naked, you won't regret it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March Favorites and Not So Favorite

There are some products that I reach for over and over again.  There are other products that I use to excess and then I get bored with them. Unfortunately there are products that are duds from the get go.  Some things are so great I want to share with you, but I don't have enough experience with them to warrant a whole blog post.  Each month I want to share with you my favorites and not so favorites.  Some I may have already shared with you and others may be new.

The nail polish color that has been my go to color this month has actually been a combination of two colors; OPI's Last Friday Night layered over OPI's Teal the Cows Come Home.  A fun blue combination that literally will blow your socks off in the sun.

  Last Friday Night is part of the Katy Perry collection that OPI released earlier this year.  It a transcluscent blue gel with beautiful blue, teal and silver glitter. I most appreciate the fact that the polish has a sophisticated edge to it.  It doesn't scream, "craft store accident".  Last Friday Night is the perfect "fix it" polish.  Any time I have a polish that just isn't working for me, I can slap a coat of Last Friday Night on, and what was once boring is transformed into something amazing.  If you like glitter polishes, Last Friday Night is an absolute MUST HAVE!
I'm still searching for my HG Drugstore Mascara.  I may have found it this month, and I'll let you know after further testing and wear.  Hate to tease you with that, but...

Lately my 10 year old daughter has been asking me to straighten her hair.  Not wanting to fry her hair I have been looking for a protectant spray that works well in her wavy hair AND my own defy the rules of gravity locks.  got2b Guardian Angel Protect 'N Flatten has worked really well for us.  It protects your hair up to 420 degrees and after running the flat iron through, you are left with a lustrous shine, no crunchies.  It does have a rather strong fragrance, but that rapidly dissipates and doesn't bother me at all.  For $6.99 a bottle, I don't see any reason to look further.  got2b makes a spray for use with a curling iron and I'm not really sure what the difference is, but I may give it a try after I break down and buy a clampless curling iron.

Perhaps my biggest disappointment this month has been my MAC Viva Glam Gaga II lipglass and lipstick.  I was really looking forward to this release as the promotional shots are gorgeous.  Granted I'm no Lady Gaga, but goodness these are hard colors to wear.  They are nude, not just R rated nude, more like XXX.  I don't regret the purchased though as 100% of the $14.50 purchase price goes to the MAC AIDS Fund.

As much a I love Lush, not everything they make is wonderful.  Turkish Delight Body Polish is a complete dud in my opinion.  The fragrance is what lured me in.  A beautiful rosy scent that literally draws my mind to a field of dew dropped rose petals.  Turkish Delight is the most expensive of the Body Smoothies that Lush produces, and at $29.50 for 7 oz I really hesitated purchasing it. Now I really wish I hadn't.  It leaves a film on your skin that is NOT moisturizing and in fact makes you feel dirty (not in a good way).  I still love the fragrance, but that doesn't even have the courtesy to linger on your skin.

Did you have any great finds in March?  Did any products disappoint you?  Tell me about them.