Category: beauty

This $12 Moisturizer Saved My Winter Skin – Maison Jules Haul Spring 2017

March 16
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This Elf Nourishing Night Cream is a winter skin life-saver

Winter dryness is no joke in Boston. Going outside without gloves can mean cracked skin for the next few days. I think I’ve found a cheap solution–completely by accident. I ordered a bunch of makeup from Target for my theater group and Target ended up gifting me a free e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream with my order.

I was surprised to find that the cream moisturized really well for its $12 price tag. It doesn’t absorb as easily as my “Holy Grail” L’Occitane cream ($22), but it dries completely in about 15-20 seconds, which is pretty good for a moisturizer that doesn’t leave a trace. It also doesn’t smell as good as other lotions (it really just smells like a tub of cream) but it would be perfect for people who hate scented products.

It’s hard to take pictures of skincare creams, because you shouldn’t see a residue if they are actually effective, but I took the following photo (without any foundation or makeup) to show you the luminance from the cream alone. Excuse my wet hair!

ELF Nourishing Night Cream moisturizer review

The e.l.f. cream gives you a nice glowy sheen but isn’t oily. I can put on makeup within 30 seconds of applying the cream. I’ve started using it in the morning and at night after my serum.

In the picture above, I’m also wearing a scalloped blouse ($31) from one of my favorite brands, Maison Jules (this post is entirely not sponsored–I’ve posted about Maison Jules before here). Above is one of my favorites from their new Spring line.

I also love the little boucle jacket ($52) below. It looks so Chanel-like, but for 1/100 of the price!

Chanel-like jacket dupe from Maison Jules

Maison Jules is only carried at Macy’s, and on my seasonal pilgrimage to Macy’s, I also picked up this Ralph Lauren bow-back dress and I can’t wait to wear it to cocktail receptions:

Bow back Ralph Lauren black dress

I’ve yet to find a trendy, feminine line that encapsulates my style as well as Maison Jules has. I always joke that I should ask Maison Jules to sponsor me given that I buy their entire collection every season. Expect more haul posts in the future!

Maison Jules is almost always on sale, so keep your eye on these spring pieces:



An Honest Review of SkinnyMint’s Ultimate Teatox

March 8
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Update: Win a Teatox! SkinnyMint is giving away a free Teatox to you and a bestie! Enter the raffle below and you can win a Bestie Value Pack (for 2 people, valued at $90).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When SkinnyMint asked me to review their 28 day Ultimate Teatox, I was initially skeptical. We’ve all seen the Instagram ads showcasing teas that supposedly help you lose weight. Usually these ads feature skinny fitness bloggers with blonde hair and 10 abs. Very unrealistic!

Ultimately, I decided posting my honest opinion was important for 3 reasons:

  1. I am not a fitness blogger and more of an average Jane. I can give a better idea of whether the Teatox is worth it for the average student.
  2. SkinnyMint impressed me with how it emphasized overall health and exercise as a crucial component of its teatox. There are no magic bullets, and SkinnyMint doesn’t try to trick you.
  3. The cute packaging and easy-to-make packets made me WANT to use the tea. Even if the tea itself doesn’t shed pounds, the teas gave me motivation to be healthier in my everyday life.

Does Skinny Mint 28 Day Teatox help with weight loss?

Bonus: You and a friend can win a free Teatox (see end of this post).

How SkinnyMint works:

  • The 28 Day Ultimate Teatox includes a caffeinated Morning Boost tea (drink every morning) and a Night Cleanse (no caffeine, drink every 2 nights).
  • The Morning Boost’s caffeine gets you moving faster and probably earlier in the morning, so you end up burning more calories.
  • The Night Cleanse has a calming effect to get you to sleep, since proper sleep is key to weight control.
    • It also has a “gentle” laxative effect in the morning so the tea helps keep you regular. Again, weight control maximization.

Here’s what I think can be improved:

  • The Night Cleanse has an ingredient called “senna” which causes the tea’s laxative properties.
    • But WebMD warns that you shouldn’t take senna for long periods of time or you might grow to depend on laxatives.
    • And according to WebMD, senna hasn’t been proven to help with long-term weight loss.
    • But for the short-term, it can work quite well!

Skinny Mint 28 Day Ultimate Teatox results - an honest review

My experience:

The Morning Boost: Drinking green tea is definitely healthier than a sugar-laced latte, so I was able to cut out some refined sugar that way, while still taking in some caffeine.

The Night Cleanse: Senna has its benefits. I would definitely recommend using the Night Cleanse before a wedding or formal dance, because it really helps you lose any, ahem, excess food you may have indulged in. SkinnyMint should clearly mark the amount of senna in its teas so consumers know if it’s safe to use often.

I didn’t want to become dependent on senna, so I only drank the night cleanse once a week. SkinnyMint does warn that you have to skip a month between Teatoxes, so I think they are aware of the possibility that senna will irritate your bowels.

If you do the teatox, I’d drink the Night Cleanse in moderation. And be sure not to try another Teatox for more than a month after your first one.

Skinny Mint 28 day Teatox package and exercise guide

What is special about Teatox:

  • The package includes more than just the tea packets!
  • It also comes with a 30-day exercise checklist that includes daily activities like “30 squats,” “20 crunches,” and “50 lunges” etc.
    • SkinnyMint doesn’t pretend that it’s tea is an elixir of weight loss.
    • The tools for weight loss include daily exercise, and SkinnyMint includes an important guide for beginners in its Teatox.
    • Combined with the Morning boost, an exercise regimen will help you to get moving and burn some extra calories.

Tips to make your Skinny Mint Teatox work

SkinnyMint also sends you a brochure showing “5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Teatox.” This helpful guide provides some healthy snack ideas and eating tips (like “trade white grain products for brown grain”) so that you can maximize your weight loss with the Teatox.

Again, SkinnyMint is pretty transparent that a 28-day health spree requires you to adopt new habits in order to actually lose weight. For those who seriously want to transform their bodies, the tips in the SkinnyMint package are a good start.

Skinny Mint 28 Day Teatox detox - Morning Boost green tea

How does the tea actually taste? It smells fantastic and tastes pretty good. The Morning Boost is a green tea blend that’s quite aromatic (like flowers, actually). I added in lemon and sugar so that it could replace my normal morning latte.

SkinnyMint packages the teas in very convenient little pods, so there’s no need for a strainer or pot. Just microwave a cup of water and dunk one of these pods in.

I actually grew to like the ritual of making a cup of tea every morning. It made me feel very *blogger* and *elegant*. (Unfortunately I couldn’t have these fresh pink roses in bed every morning).

Skinny Mint 28 Day Teatox Night Cleanse Review - do not use regularly!

The Night Cleanse has a deeper aroma that is more pungent and earthy. I needed a little more sugar for this tea. But other than my issue with the amount of senna in the Night Cleanse, the tea didn’t seem to do any harm.

Night Cleanse doesn’t have any caffeine so you should be able to sleep like normally. But be ready, because the *effects* of the Night Cleanse kick in the next morning.

Does Skinny Mint 28 Day Ultimate Teatox actually work? An honest review

TL;DR: Ultimately, SkinnyMint was useful as a jump start for a healthier month. The tea is so convenient and perky that I wanted to drink it in a fancy little cup.

I also tried to follow the exercise guide (in addition to my normal Bikini Body Guide workouts), so I’m hoping that my efforts pay off for spring break.

No tea can melt body fat, but this one gets you moving in the morning and helps move excess food along faster, plus it has the benefit of motivating you to make healthy changes.

Last note to SkinnyMint: I’d love it if Skinny Mint included some info on the effects of using senna for those of us who might not want to depend on it, since it’s a major ingredient in their tea! Skinny Mint is overall so transparent in their packaging and brochures, so it would be useful to maybe have a little guide as to the ingredients in their tea. I can imagine the guide telling us about the benefits of green tea, the reason to include senna, as well an introduction to the herb mix that gives a fragrant flavor to the Morning Boost.

Thanks to SkinnyMint for sponsoring this post. You can get the Skinny Mint Ultimate Teatox here (non-affiliate link).

Gray Eyes, Pink Coat

December 27
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Ralph Lauren Newbury tote and pink cocoon coatDupe for Prada double zip toteDupe for Prada double zip bag, the Ralph Lauren Newbury totePink cocoon oversized coat and black over the knee boots

My bf is in optometry school, which basically means that my eyes glaze over every time he starts talking about retinas and ocular disease, but one of the perks is that I get to try new contacts, including the gray pair I’m wearing in these pics!

{Outfit details: Coat: Sammydress c/o, similar here from MANGO ($59.99) // Sweater: Zara, similar here // Boots: bought from classmate, similar over-the-knee suede style here ($30) // Bag: Ralph Lauren (it’s a pretty good dupe for Prada’s double zip tote) // Lip and cheek color: YSL Kiss and Blush #8

Air Optix gray color contacts on brown eyes

Here’s a little close-up: you can BARELY tell the difference, but gray contacts on brown eyes is hard to discern. I did try the brilliant blue color last week, however, and the contrast there was much stronger.

Stay tuned: I’ll be writing a review post on these contacts soon. I really think they’ll be the next step for fashionistas who want to match their beauty products to their outfits. I definitely felt more “matchy” with my gray eyes, gray coat, and pop of pink. Besides, I’ve always been envious of those with brilliantly colored eyes, and these contacts seem like a safe way to try on a new look.

Best (and Worst) Holiday Beauty Gifts

December 6
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Best and worst last-minute beauty gifts

When you need a last-minute gift, beauty items are an easy way out: who doesn’t love new lip colors or pretty packaging? To help you navigate the best and worst holiday beauty gifts, I thought I’d merge a review post into a shopping post. My recommendations are all items that I have tested.

Holiday beauty gifts to avoid

First up, a general tip: avoid anything in a tub. The contents will dry out faster, and you risk contamination every time you dip your finger inside.

  • I do have to say that the Pressed Serum pictured above is the only moisturizer that works for me, but it looks gross after a few uses.

Instead, try gifting sprays! They’re more sanitary and last longer.

  • Plus, this Ouai wave spray (from the Kardashian’s hair stylist) gives you nice beachy waves with just a few spritzes and scrunches.

Best holiday beauty gifts

Avoid: Glosses. I don’t care if they’re “in” right now. Gloss + winter wind + hair = bad, sticky hair day.

  • The gloss above is Smith and Cult; although I love the packaging, there’s no denying the stickiness.

Gift: A lip color that’s more substantial yet still retains shine.

  • Dior makes a beautiful gloss/satin lipstick. Not only is the color beautiful (I’m wearing it here and here), but the tube proudly displays “DIOR” and looks lovely on anyone’s vanity.
  • In fact, the light pink sheer shade always sells out in Korea, apparently.

Dior Addict Lip Fluid

Above is a close-up of the packaging—anyone would love to see that design on their vanity!

Worst beauty splurge items

Now onto more specific items to avoid:

  • Personally, I dislike the FRESH line of lip tint/balms. They smell sickly sweet and seem really drying, even though they do come in lovely colors and have a fantastic marketing campaign.

Instead, try gifting Jo Malone’s lip balm.

  • Jo is famous for its candles, but you get the same brand name on a great lip balm for much less $$.
  • And I have to say that Jo’s is the best, most nourishing lip balm I have tried—even better than Rosebud’s famous lip balm.

Best makeup and beauty holiday gifts

Lastly, I wanted to end with two items that I believe would make great gifts, no matter who you’re gifting.

Hope this helps cross a few beauty gifts off your list! If you have any questions about the products here, just comment: I have over 90 lipsticks, 20 blushes etc, so I know which ones to avoid and which ones to buy!

Ptosis Makeup Tutorial – How to Apply Eye Makeup After Surgery

August 16
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Eye makeup tutorial to hide ptosis after surgery scars

A few years ago, I underwent two surgeries to fix my ptosis, a condition where my left eyelid (the right side in these pictures) was drooping and refused to lift properly. After my surgeries, I could now see properly and I no longer looked like I had a wonky eye.

However there were still some aftereffects: the crease on my “fixed” eye was higher than the other side, my “fixed” eyelid was thicker because of scar tissue, and the texture of my eyelid was a little rougher. Because of this, I had to change how I applied makeup, especially since I wanted to hide some of the scars and define my crease to match my normal eyelid.

Ptosis after surgery scarring aftereffects before makeup

Here I am, fresh-faced (hey, don’t judge, I took this picture early in the morning for maximum authenticity. This is just what my hair looks like in the morning). As you can see, my left eyelid (the right side of the picture) has a crease slightly higher than the other side. Also, as you will soon see, the crease on the “fixed” eyelid has a fork in the middle, where it splits into two creases due to the scarring.

Click on “read more” to see how I go from the above picture to this finished product:

Ptosis makeup tutorial to hide surgery scars and define creasePtosis eye makeup essentials

You will need (don’t worry, I explain all these products below):