Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

I’ve been a JustFab member for a long, loong time now, and they’ve provided my closet with many pairs of lovely shoes. Some have been great, some have sucked, some have sizing issues, but through it all, JustFab has been there (with returns, exchanges, and congratulations) and I love the convenience of their business model. In case you’re unfamiliar with the way their site works, I’ll give you a 20-second recap: each month on the first, stylists select several pairs of shoes and several handbags based on your preferences (preferences are determined by a style quiz you take at sign-up). You can buy as many items as you’d like for $39.95 each, or you can skip the month by the 5th and not pay a dime. If you forget to skip, you’ll be charged for one credit ($39.95) and the credit is placed on your account for you to use anytime.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about shoes. While both flats and 5″ heels have very special places in my heart, I’m always on the lookout for a nice mid-height heel because let’s face it – as cute as those 5″ heels look, they’re usually deemed inappropriate for the corporate world. Now let’s not misunderstand each other here – I wear the hell out of some high heels, and height is not the determining factor in whether or not I wear them to work. But we have to keep it real, and mid-height heels just look more polished. One of the cutest heels I saw from JustFab this month is Nicolette, a strappy summer sandal with a moderate four-ish inch heel. I chose the cream color over the coral, and I am VERY pleased! It’s comfortable, casual and dressy all at the same time, and it has a sassy lining below the toes. I anticipate getting a TON of wear from this shoe throughout the summer – peep her pics below, and I’ll add more of my own later.

Not a JustFab.com member yet? Click here to sign up and receive a discount on your first purchase!

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The perk of being a BzzAgent is the awesome trade-off; I receive samples to try out in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s the simplest business model EVER, and it really works. I’m always excited to try out a new product, and I’m always hoping to discover the next best thing. One of my current BzzCampaigns is for Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo & Conditioner. In general, I am very particular about the products that go on/into my hair, and I wouldn’t normally use Garnier. I’m a Wen girl and I am VERY devoted to my Wen haircare! I’ve just started using Garnier, and while there are some great things about the product, there are also some less-than-great aspects of the product. Let’s get into it.

Sleek & Shine products now come packed in “Eco-Fructis” bottles containing PET and 30% recycled plastic. They’re also 10% lighter in plastic content than the previous bottling. I’m very pro-recycling, so this makes me happy. The bottles are really sturdy and they have great flip-tops. As for formulation, I was less than impressed with the shampoo. Now, let me put my disclaimer here: because I am a Wen user, I no longer like traditional shampoos. They strip the hair, no matter how many oils or vitamins they contain.  Anyway, back to the shampoo; it didn’t feel nourishing at all, and I was not pleased. The scent also leaves a lot to be desired – it has a very childish, forcefully fruity scent that made me feel like I just showered in Skittles. Ugh.

This particular kind of Garnier, the Sleek & Shine, contains Argan Oil (or at least the bottle says it does). Now, Argan Oil is something that I already know and love; Josie Maran’s formula is unbeatable and I regularly use it on my hair. This Garnier, though… either it doesn’t actually contain Argan Oil or the amount is so tiny that it doesn’t make much of a difference. I definitely did not notice any of the silkiness or shiny perfection that Argan Oil usually imparts. I feel like the “Sleek & Shine” label is a bit misleading, because my hair was neither sleeker nor shinier (again, comparing this to Wen – not any ordinary shampoo/conditioner coupling). If anything, it was fuzzier and my flyaways were more apparent.

On to the conditioner – this I liked. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a solid 6.5 or 7. The scent, again, was overpowering and inappropriate, better suited to my six-year old’s detangling conditioner (Very Berry! Wacky Watermelon! Overly Orange!) than to my adult noggin. I just can’t get over how annoying I found the smell of these products; no grown woman wants to walk around smelling like so childish. Garnier should have thought that through. Getting back to the conditioner, it was VERY detangling and left my hair extremely easy to comb, so that’s a good thing.

I will use this several more times and let you know if my opinion of the product changes. As it stands, I can’t in good faith give this any higher than a 6 out of 10, and the biggest detractors are the scent and the shampoo.

Meet my spiders!

Posted: December 7, 2011 in beauty, talk
Tags: ,

My sister has an amazingly talented friend (well I’m sure she has several, but we will concentrate on just the one right now), who makes darling beaded spiders! My sister got two for me… be prepared to die of adorb. The first two photos are the same spidey; he’s my fave.

 

With the end-of-year insanity at a full rolling boil, my precious blog has unfortunately gone the way of the Christmas spirit: a.k.a, completely overshadowed by the presents, maniacal shopping, and 2012 preparations/false commitments. Fortunately, the behind-the-scenes goings-on have continued: Sephora boxes arrive on my doorstep weekly, eager to fulfill their role by earning a place in my heart and a recurring designation as a beauty necessity. Just as fortunately, I don’t only shop for myself; my kiddo is blessedly opposite from me (Pisces and Virgo… oh lord) in nearly every way possible (except the smile – that’s all me!) and it’s opened my eyes (and my wallet) to a variety of products. On one head you have my hair (naturally straight, fine strands but a multitude of them, blonde, color-treated, prone to split ends, very long) and then on the other head is my small person (extremely curly, silky texture but prone to dryness and frizziness) and then in the middle is an entire world wide web of solutions.

What I’d also ask my kind readers to keep in mind is that although many of my notes tend to wax superficial, the everyday-mundane can be overwhelming when chronicled in Times New Roman (or horrifying, when in Comic Sans *shudder*). Therefore, in an attempt to avoid a) only talking about beauty products, b) espousing the rad-beyond-rad, possibly-tied-for-best-trip-ever trip to London I just took, and c) continuing to ramble, I will tell you not only about all the decadence that’s newly littering my vanity but a delicious, sit-your-ass-down-and-read-me book which has engulfed me (and weighed down my handbag).

Well, I think I reneged on point c already… but 2/3 ain’t bad, as they say. Let’s begin, shall we? And last things first.

The delicious, sit-your-ass-down-and-read-me book is: 11/22/63, the engulfing new novel from my idol, Stephen King. Whenever I’m lost inside his newest world, I’m reminded of the secret underwater pull of the written word, a glazed-over Bluety riptide that waits for you about three pages in… and this book is no exception. What IF one could go back and prevent Kennedy from being assassinated? How would world events have been altered? Would MLK have been assassinated? Would Vietnam have followed the same course? Would RFK have run for the Democratic endorsement in ’68? Would he have been assassinated as well? Unlikely, but unknown. If there’s anyone fit to tell the story it’s King, and I am his devoted Constant Reader and disciple of words. Eh, I’m giving myself too much credit… but hey, everyone starts somewhere.

Nextly, we venture back onto the Polaroid Express with a serum sure to give you the kind of hair you BEG to have photographed. My newest friend and morning routine staple is Couture Colour Pequi Oil hair treatment serum. I couldn’t tell you with 100% certainty that I am more in love with this than I am with Josie Maran Argan Oil, but they are pretty much on the same level. The smell of JM is better, but I like that the CC promises to protect my golden locks. Truthfully, I wouldn’t leave the house without one or the other on my hair! It smooths, adds incredible shine, increases moisture retention, strengthens, and just all-around guarantees a good hair day (even if all you do is blow-dry and go — which I frequently do. I consider it a fringe benefit of being blonde… most people consider “blonde” a style of its own. I can’t disagree). It does not contain alcohol, parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan, and it is not tested on animals.  Cost: $32 for 2 oz or $12 for .5 oz.

Next, the quartet that harmonized my child’s seriously curly locks. Ouidad clamped on like so many tentacles, encircling each hair from root to tip and lovingly encasing it in supple, silky protection. The shampoo and conditioner are full sized (Ouidad Curl Quencher moisturizing shampoo: $15 for 8.5oz; Ouidad Krly Kids 2-in-1 Conditioner: $14 for 8.5 oz), and the products are travel-sized (Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner: $9 for 2.5 oz; Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel: $9 for 2.5 oz). Combined with the new silky overnight cap I bought to preserve twisties, fishtail braids, and etc, these products ensure that kid hair is one less thing I have to worry about in the morning.

So hey. There we go, three sections as promised. Guide me with your comments and suggestions. 🙂

In one of my many days spent browsing the internet (who knows what I was looking for… maybe deals on a ping pong table? a Nook? a new Urban Decay palette?), I came across a website called eSalon.com. It’s set up as a personal online hair color consultation and formulation website, and so far I am VERY impressed. Home hair coloring is no longer for the cheap people who won’t pay to have it done at a salon – it can be done, and done well, on your own. I’ve always believed this, and regularly touch up my own roots at home or make all-over changes when I’m bored with my head.

Anyway, back to eSalon. You begin with a thorough questionnaire, which identifies your general shade, the tone, undertones, which treatments you’ve previously used, which ones you’ve used recently, and your desired new shade and tone. Let me put this out there – they have TONS of shades to choose from, and they will grey out some shades as unselectable (yes,I made up that word) based on your answers, desired results, and skin tone (you’re encouraged to upload photos of yourself so the colorists can get a feel for your style, current hair color and skin tone).

So you’ll start with this:

And then go through a five- or six-minute questionnaire that begins like this:

And gives you a broad color selection, like this:

After you receive your results, you are able to chose from a rainbow of new haircolor selections. As part of the questionnaire, you’re asked about the length and style of your hair – as a “long-haired, no-layers,” my first kit came with an extra-large bottle to ensure that I had enough color for ALL my hair. The kit came in lovely packaging – it was a sturdy, gift-wrapped box with an instruction booklet, a personalized card detailing my selected color and some particulars (I really liked this part – it included a note saying, “The normal recommended leave-in time for this color is 35 minutes; based on your photos and current hair color, your application should be left on for only 25 minutes”). It also came with a brush and bowl (for applying color, not to comb hair), gloves, a cap, a “stain guard” to put on your skin around your hairline, a “stain remover” and gauze in case you miss a spot, and a packet called “Shine and Rinse” to ensure even color distribution and to lock in pigment and shine. All in all, I was EXTREMELY impressed with the presentation.

The first doubt I had was when I saw the size of the bottle – although larger than normal, I wasn’t convinced that it would be enough to cover my long hair. Surprisingly, it was! The clarity of the pigment was impressive, it was low-odor, and I could see the color developing before my very eyes. The entire process was simple and fast, and a week later I am still very impressed with the quality. There has been no fade-out, no missed strands, and no loss of luster or shine. So far, I’m happy. Now, here’s something cool; within your own account, you have the opportunity to leave a note for your colorist in case you want a bit of a change in your next shipment. For example, I like my color but as far as shade goes, I find it a bit cool for these fall months. So, I left my stylist a note that I’d like it a bit warmer next time, and once it’s sent, my profile photo showing my personal shade will be updated. All in all, I’m pleased. I’ll let you know if I experience any negatives in the future (with fade out, or with my new shade in a couple months) but so far I’m really enjoying this service. It’s like Nerflix for my hair.

Lemon-Basil Pasta
ingredients
10 oz. dried linguine or desired past
1 19-oz. can white kidney (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 of a lemon
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

directions

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding beans for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquids; set aside. Drain pasta and beans; cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, finely shred peel from the lemon half (about 2 teaspoons). In a small skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add lemon peel; cook and stir 1 minute, or until lightly golden. In a food processor combine cooked lemon peel, basil, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice from the lemon half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and process until smooth. Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency, processing mixture after every addition. To serve, toss hot cooked pasta mixture with lemon-basil mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Caper Tuna and Noodles with Alfredo
ingredients
12 oz. extra-wide egg noodles
1 lemon
1 15-oz. jar light garlic Alfredo sauce or 1 10-oz. container refrigerated light Alfredo pasta sauce
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
1 12-oz. can solid white albacore tuna, drained
Cracked black pepper, and/or chives (optional)

directions

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Cover and keep warm. Finely shred lemon peel and squeeze juice from lemon; set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine Alfredo sauce, lemon juice and capers. Heat through. Add tuna and noodles to sauce; stir gently to combine. Return to heat just until heated through. Top with lemon peel, black pepper, and chives. Serves 4.

Chicken and Pasta in Peanut Sauce
inggredients
8 oz. thin spaghetti
1 bunch broccolini, cut in 2-inch lengths
1 medium red sweet pepper, cut in bite-size strips
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup bottled peanut sauce
Crushed red pepper (optional)

directions

In Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccolini and sweet pepper during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain. Return to Dutch oven and set aside. Meanwhile, halve chicken breasts horizontally. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In extra large skillet cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes each side, or until no longer pink (170 degrees F). Transfer to cutting board. Slice chicken; add to pasta and vegetables. Heat through. Add peanut sauce. Pass crushed red pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Apple-Sausage Rigatoni
ingredients
6 oz. dried rigatoni (about 2 cups)
8 oz. cooked smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 lb. Golden Delicious apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Snipped fresh basil (optional)

directions

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Set aside. In same Dutch oven cook sausage until lightly browned. Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, whipped cream, and cheese. Heat through. Garnish with basil. Makes 4 servings.

As an extremely fair-skinned individual who has been on an unending search for the world’s best foundation, I finally slammed the brakes on that expensive hit-or-miss game. At about $40 a bottle, sampling foundations is no cheap feat, and my feats definitely need to be cheap lately. I took stock. What is going on with my face that I want to cover? Why do I need full-coverage foundation at 26? What are MY facial concerns? This is what I came up with: overall dullness of complexion, a very oily T-zone, and a lack of evenness of skin tone. “Well shit,” I thought, “foundation won’t fix ANY of that, but if I divert the money spent into quality skin care…” and here we are. Meet my muses:

First: Origins Clean Energy gentle cleansing oil. Yes, I of the oily skin, clean my face every night with an oil-based cleanser. It doesn’t strip away my skin’s natural moisture, and therefore my skin doesn’t produce as much oil. This stuff is really, I mean REALLY, magical. With about a quarter-sized bit of the oil on my fingertips, I can rub it over my entire face and it literally melts away all my makeup (waterproof, gel eyeliner, concealer, even Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray makeup primer, which is amazing on but notoriously hard to remove) with only one wash. It’s my BFF. It’s silky and delicious and cleans deeper than anything I’ve ever used without disturbing the natural pH of my skin. Result: my skin was more evenly toned after about five days of use, and oh-so-glowy! Cost: $21.

Second: my morning cleanser! It smells like a delicious fruit pie, and since it does exactly what Origins states it does, I’ll let you read it from the horse’s mouth: “Simply swirl this lush-lathering, fruit-smoothie of a face wash over splashed-moist facial skin and let the Extract of crushed Papaya coupled with creamy cleansers dispose of dingy, dried up cells. Melts makeup, dirt and pore-clogging debris to further banish bleakness. Skin emerges fresh, radiant. Never stripped or dry.” Result: My skin is GLOWING, it’s radiant, and it has a luster that it hasn’t had since I was preggo. It’s genius and gentle and takes less than a pea-sized amount for each wash, which means the bottle lasts a reeeeeeally long time. Cost: $19.50

Last but not least (dear Lord, I originally wrote “leased…” too much work on the brain), the miracle moisturizer I told you about previously: Origins Balanced Diet lightweight moisture lotion. Never has my combination skin been so in-check. This enhances the glow and overall gorgeousness I’ve obtained by using the previous products. I thought the bottle was really small when I got it, but like the other products, you need so little that it lasts for a very long time. Cost: $26.00

Overall result: I use significantly less foundation on the days I do wear it, because I’m happier with the sheerest of coverage. On the days I don’t wear foundation (which are increasing in number), I dust on some mineral powder and call it a day. I don’t want to cover my skin anymore! It just goes to show, once you discover the root of an issue, you’re that much closer to solving it. What are your skincare miracles?

Origins Balanced Diet

 

I have FINALLY discovered the perfect moisturizer for my skin, and I am currently enjoying silky smoothness and a delicious smoothie smell that makes me wish I could kiss my own face. It’s designed for all skin types and the tiniest pea-sized drop will balance your entire face and leave you with a supple, evenly moisturized dermis. You can thank me (or, you know, Origins) later.

okay, i know it’s super annoying to have to click to another link, but look at this girl’s hair. this is so awesome. if my hair was that long, and everyone didn’t have their heads up their you-knows, and colorful bodies weren’t opressed, i would do this to my hair right now and be the happiest rainbow-headed girl EVER. this is what inner me looks like. rainbow freakin brite.

payback

Posted: August 8, 2011 in backtalk, beauty
Tags:

since we got mark wahlberg’s back muscles…