Friday Five:

This week has been weird, weird, and busy. Thanks to starting Cymbalta, I’ve been sleepy and tired and not really up for much. So I apologize for the lack of posts and the lack of inspiration. Once again, here’s my Friday Five, with five things I loved this week.

1. Bath and Body Works True Blue Spa Line.

I’m not really a fan of bath products, usually. As long as my hair looks good and my skin looks fine, I don’t care what I’m putting on them. However, this stuff has totally changed my mind. Full of fresh scents and some seriously great products, this is the bath product line I’ve been waiting for. I’m never going back to my old drugstore soaps and shampoos.

2. Vanilla Coke.

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This is one of those things I know I should quit but I never will. The caffeine really doesn’t do much for me, which is sad as I’m currently fighting to keep my eyes open after even the smallest exertion. The taste, however, is awesome. It’s a small treat in a world where all of my favorite foods were taken away from in one fell swoop with my celiac diagnosis several years ago.

3. Tom’s of Maine.

From gluten free deodorant to some seriously awesome toothpaste, I’m loving Tom’s of Maine. My last deodorant was giving me rashes from gluten I didn’t suspect, so finding something all natural and gluten free to take its place was awesome. The deodorant comes in several awesome scents and the toothpaste doesn’t taste as bad as most do. Seriously am I the only one who thinks normal toothpaste tastes like chemicals?

4. Beach Waves!

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I thought I couldn’t rock this look because I have short hair. Which doesn’t make sense, because my hair is naturally curly. With a bottle of Not Your Mother’s beach wave spray and a Pinterest tutorial for putting summery waves in short hair, I set out on a hair journey that would change my life hair forever.

Seriously, I got a good two days out of this hair before I had to do anything to it. I had the help of Not Your Mother’s beach wave spray, Got2B styling gel, and some Batiste dry shampoo. Ignore the fact that I’m not wearing makeup in the photo- I had an allergic reaction to something and had to give my face a break.

5. Basil.

Yeah, another food item. But a very appropriate one for August! From basil infused herb lemonade to some pasta salad with fresh from the garden veggies, basil is so versatile! I’m loving it in Caprese salads and infused waters especially.

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The Skin Post.

I’ve been blessed with good skin this far in life. It’s a side effect of my genetic disorder, and it’s the only acceptable symptom of it. I have zero acne, my pores are minimal, my skin is constantly baby soft. If you ignore the easy bruising, skin tearing, and the horrific scarring from even the slightest touch, then you’d think I was pretty lucky.

However, I want to keep my skin healthy. Several of my friends and family members have had skin cancer removed, and I have had a few bad sunburns to my name. Skin tearing and scarring have affected my skin, and I have some pretty rough looking under-eye bags. Since I’ve recently entered my twenties (okay, almost two years ago, but shh), I’ve been trying to take better care of my skin. Here’s what I have learned.

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1. Use Sunscreen.

Whether it’s a primer, BB cream, moisturizer, or foundation, I make sure I never leave the house without some sunscreen on my face. In the summer, I generally use a BB cream with at least SPF 30. In the winter, I can knock it down to an SPF 15, but it depends on your climate and weather. Even if you’re just running a few quick errands, it’s really better safe than sorry when it comes to your skin and the sun.

2. Wash Your Face (And Moisturize).

I admit, I didn’t do this when I was a teen. It wasn’t until I went off to college that I got in the habit of washing my face regularly. This is the one area of my beauty regimen where I will really shell out, other than my hair. Using a better face wash and moisturizer regularly can really make the difference, especially during seasonal changes when your skin can get dry. I really like Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar moisturizer, and it’s what I use regularly. I also use an intense moisturizer on my scars and stretchmarks to keep them from tearing, but that’s probably not necessary for most people. Find something you like, and stick to it.

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3. Eat and Drink Well!

I’m probably not the best person to talk about this, because I definitely had gluten-free macaroni with bacon and extra cheese for lunch today. But, I drink a lot of water- thanks POTS- and I’ve definitely noticed that my skin looks better when I keep my liquid intake up. Water is great for your skin, but it can be hard to drink enough, so eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies can get water AND vitamins in you. It’s a win-win, especially while it’s still produce season. I love getting food from local farmer’s markets, especially meats, because I’m less likely to break out in weird dermatitis from preservatives or chemicals.

There’s a million more skincare tips out there, but these three are the basis. What’s your go-to skin routine?

ELF Baked Palette Review: Texas

When I was browsing elf’s annual half off sale, I saw a “back by popular demand” banner on the front page of the site. Intrigued, I clicked on the banner, and found myself staring at the baked eyeshadow palette in “Texas.” Of course, since it was half price, I had to add it to my cart to try out. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised.

The palette is a collection of shimmery neutrals, ranging from a shimmery white to a deep brown. In between are several metallic shades, including a gold, rose gold, and bronze.

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Here’s a picture of it in it’s original packaging, along with most of the rest of my haul, because I accidentally deleted all my good pictures of the original packaging. In fact, I had to retake the picture of the palette itself after spilling HD finishing powder on it, which makes it look a lot less nice than it actually is.

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I was so excited to swatch the shadows for you, I forgot to take a picture of the palette before using it. As it was, I wound up having to take a picture with a little bit of fallout. That’s going to be expected with this palette, as I got it for $5, but even so, it wasn’t extreme. The shadow fallout wasn’t enough to compromise any of the other colors, just enough to make it look a bit messy.

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That’s a well-swatches palette right there, folks. Most of the colors don’t look the same on the palette as they do on the eye, which is why I always look up swatches before buying. The Texas palette appears to be a cult favorite, because there were swatches all over the internet, along with some incredibly mixed reviews.

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The first picture of the swatches is in terrible indoor lighting from the fifties. This is probably what your eyeshadow is going to look like if you wear it to your office job. Well, if you wear it to your office job and you wear it over primer. I used e.l.f. eyeshadow primer to form a base for all my swatches.

Outdooor Swatches

The second photo is of the first five shadows (the top row) in natural light. The rose gold in this photo is probably my current favorite eyeshadow shade. I wear it for everything, from family events to doctor appointments to dinner with friends. My least favorite shade is probably the pink in this row. I don’t have much against it, because it creates some lovely looks, but I would never wear it alone.

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These four are the bottom row of the palette, barring the darkest shade, because my dog got hold of my hand before I could take the photo. Although e.l.f. eye primer has staying power, it can’t stand up to the teeth and slobber of a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix who is determined to love you. The shades on the bottom row include a lovely gold, and a bronze that I’ve been using for metallic brown smoky eyes.

All in all, this is a solid eyeshadow palette. It’s versatile enough to go from day to night, with a little creativity, and the shades are fairly pigmented. I have read about people who have trouble getting the shades to show up on their eyelids, but I have not had this problem so far. At $10, that comes out to a dollar per shade, which is a bargain. If you can get the shadows during one of e.l.f.’s regular sales events, it comes out even cheaper.

The palette is small enough to tuck into a purse or makeup bag, in case you need to touch or change up your makeup on the go. The included mirror is also nice, and doesn’t distort like some of the palette mirrors I’ve seen before.

As with all e.l.f. products, this is going to be a hit and miss. Some people will love it, and some people will hate it. I’m one of the people who love it. The only thing I could wish for would be more matte shades, as I used to have a beautiful matte brown eyeshadow that would have worked perfectly on/with this palette. Since not all of the colors were metallic, a few matte shades would have been nice!

If you’re still undecided about purchasing an e.l.f. baked palette, I’ll be sharing a post detailing a date night look I’ve done with this palette, just as soon as I can get my face psoriasis to clear up!

Have you tried e.l.f. baked eyeshadow palettes before?

 

Less Than Glamorous.

Time for another Mostly Wordless Wednesday! Today’s photo is me, sitting in bed, using my TENS machine. Although I’m sometimes a beauty blogger, a lot of the makeup I do is to hide the fact that I constantly look tired. The whole tired thing is, of course, a side effect of being chronically ill. It’s hard to sleep when your knees have dislocated earlier in the day and are now throbbing with even the lightest touch. If my knees could hover, it would be a perfect world.

Unfortunately, they can’t,  so a TENS unit is the next best thing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, a TENS unit uses electrical stimulation to stop your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain. That’s pretty cool technology, and it’s pretty helpful when you’re debating if taking another advil will definitely cause stomach ulcers, or just probably.

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Many companies that make TENS units also make electric pulse massagers, which massage the muscle using electrical stimulation and reduce inflammation and prevent atrophy. A lot of chronically ill people, myself included, actually use both machines! They take a little getting used to, because the feeling of using them the first time can be pretty weird! After a while though, they’re fantastic. There are days I actually rush home to put my TENS unit on my legs!

Anyway- this has been a glance into the less glamorous side of my life. Stuff like this is what I’m doing when I’m not reviewing makeup or traveling to exotic locales, haha!

E.L.F. Eyebrow Kit Review

I’m obsessed with perfecting my eyebrows. For several years now, my staple has been a brow set from Billion Dollar Brows. When I got the brow set as a gift,  I had no clue you were even supposed to do your brows.

Since then, I have tried several different brow products, but I always went back to my trusty BDB kit. Well, the kit has finally run its course,  and it was time for me to move on to bolder and better brows.

Enter the e.l.f. 50% sale. If it’s half price, and it was already a great price, you gotta buy it, right? I think so, anyway, so I snatched up the Brow Kit (a gel and a powder, with a tiny little brush) and got ready to try it out.

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Here’s my daily brow look. It’s pretty nice, I get a lot of compliments, but it could be better. It’s just a basic brow. And it’s time to move past that.

When I opened the e.l.f. brow kit, I was a little concerned. The powder side looked really light, and the gel looked really dark.

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Swatching them soothed my fears almost immediately, although it proved the tiny double-ended brush a little unwieldy. I stocked up on brushes during the last sale, so providing my own wasn’t a problem. I also realized I would need my own brow brush- my last few kits came with them, so that wasn’t really a problem either.

Here’s the swatch, for comparison to the packaging:

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The powder is on the left, and the gel is on the right. As you can see, it’s a lot more natural than it looked when I first opened it up!

Using my own brushes, and my eyebrow brush, I applied the powder first to fill in blank spots, then went over with the gel before using an e.l.f. all-over color stick (I’ve totally forgotten the name of the shade!) To highlight underneath the brow.

I’m pretty proud of the results.

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This brow look is a lot bolder than I usually go for, but I love it. It’s stayed put through playing with a dog, packing for a business trip, and a nice dinner, so I’d say it will stand up to just about anything.

Usability-wise, I’d probably say average if you’re trying to use the tiny brush it came with. If you have your own brushes, it’s much easier and the end result is better, too!

All in all, will I buy it again? Definitely! Even if it’s not on sale, it’s really inexpensive and I love the results.

e.l.f. Makeup Haul!

e.l.f. cosmetics recently had their annual 50% off sale. If there´s anything I love, it´s sales. Especially makeup sales, which is surprising to anyone who has known me for more than three years. I was the last to wear makeup in my group of friends, but also the first to fully master it. Now, I have friends coming to me to ask my advice on various cosmetics, eyebrow techniques, and most anything else beauty or fashion related. It´s fun being the go-to, but it also means I constantly have to…okay, want to try new makeup so I can let my friends know if it´s a buy or if it´s a bust.

e.l.f. is a great brand to try new makeup techniques with, because it is incredibly cheap and most of it is good quality, at least for beginners. Add in a half price sale, and of course I had to go shopping! So, without further ado, here is my haul!

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Can´t see that? Here´s a closer look!

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I grabbed a few of my basics for this haul, but I also wanted to try some new things. My trusty Billion Dollar Brows set has seen better days, and I wanted to branch out in the brow world, so I bought an eyebrow kit. A baked highlighter and baked blush join the baked bronzer I already own, rounded out with the baked eyeshadow palette in Texas, which has excellent reviews. e.l.f.´s eyelid primer and mineral primer are two of my everyday supplies, so I restocked on those while grabbing a spf 20 BB cream!

I know, BB creams don´t really live up to their hype. However, my skin type requires only the lightest coverage, especially with a smoothing primer, so a BB cream that´s basically a renamed tinted moisturizer is perfectly okay by me.

Finishing off the purchase were a pair of slanted tweezers, not pictured, along with two brushes and a 3 piece eye set. I also bought the lip exfoliator on a whim, because I love lipstick but my lips are often too chapped to wear my favorite matte shades!

So far, I have only tried the tweezers and the BB cream, but I will be posting a review of the brow set and the Texas baked eyeshadow palette once I put them to use!

What are your favorite e.l.f. products?

The Search for the Best BB Cream.

So, I spend a lot of time outside. On my back porch, in my hammock, at my grandpa’s farm, as long as the weather’s nice, I can be found outside basking in the sun. Unfortunately, the sun does not love me like I love it, and skin cancer runs in my family. Between that and a super-sensitive surgery scar on my neck, I’m always trying to find the best products to keep my relationship with the sun in balance.

Image The area I’m most concerned about getting burnt is my face. And yeah, I could put on sunscreen, then put foundation on over it- but that’s a lot of junk on your face when it’s 88 degrees and 80% humidity. There’s nothing worse than getting your makeup done for the day, then walking out side and looking like the melting witch from The Wizard of Oz. 

Last summer, I discovered tinted moisturizers and BB creams. While many BB creams are indistinguishable from tinted moisturizers- and they both work great for your everyday summer look, some BB creams actually deliver on the supposed benefits they offer. This summer, I’m on the hunt for the best tinted moisturizer and the best BB cream. After finishing up a tube of Covergirls AquaSmoothers BB Cream, which worked decently- very light coverage, great when applied with a Beauty Blender, but basically a tinter moisturizer:

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 I have decided to branch out. This week, I ordered a trio of Stila Beauty Balm samples. I have several Stila products that I swear by, so these seemed like a great investment. Especially since they were on sale! Of course, since I order from Ulta, they came with three free samples: Biolage Matrix Exquisite Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, which is the best thing to ever happen to my hair, an Argan Oil hair treatment, and a strange shiny purple lipstick. I was really not expecting the last one- I tried it on and it goes on very sheer but definitely purple. Kind of a “Jack in the water while the Titanic is sinking” chic, I guess. 

Image The Stila Beauty Balms are: Original, Illuminating, and Bronzing. I haven’t tried them out yet, because I can’t move my head or neck very well after my recent car wreck. However, I know that they are very thick and lightly tinted, so I plan to apply them with the beauty blender or maybe a brush- although if they are thick enough to need a brush, they probably won’t be on my list of things to order again. 

The Beauty Balms are all spf 30, which is fantastic for someone like me! They have a very mild makeup smell, which is totally tolerable. The sample size is perfect to try for a few days and see which one you like best of the Trio. I will definitely be updating you guys later about my impressions once I get to use the products!

Do you use BB Creams or tinter moisturizer in the summer, or do you stick to foundation? What’s the best BB cream or tinter moisturizer you have found?