Tag: 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).

Dupe Alert: 81 Piece Spinning Lipstick Tower

January 28
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81 Piece lipstick tower display holder

A few months ago, a friend came over to my apartment to prep for a party. “Can I borrow some lipstick?” she asked. I had an expansive collection of makeup, so I proudly revealed to her my stash. “It’s just so disorganized,” my friend finally said, to my utter embarrassment. “Where do I start?”

IMG_9140

I quickly saw she was right. My lipstick collection, in particular, needed organizational work. I had lipsticks in glass boxes, in plastic containers, and all over my vanity in puzzling configurations.

The next morning, I started a search for a lipstick tower that could house all of my products in one place—only to find that the most instagrammable was almost ofter over $60!

Now I’m willing to pay for makeup, but I’m not willing to spend $100 on a plastic tower to store my makeup. I knew that this company, Zahra Beauty, had to be buying these spinning lipstick towers “wholesale” and marking up the cost. A search through some Chinese wholesale sites proved my hunch to be correct: I found the same product for $27 less, and quickly ordered one, despite my reservations about products shipped from China.

Aliexpress spinning acrylic lipstick holder packaging

We’ve all heard the horror stories of Chinese wholesalers ripping people off or shipping an awful product that looks nothing like the picture. In my case, the product shipped within 2 weeks and came in a remarkably secure box that had been custom-made to fit the lipstick tower.

Sure, I had to watch out for a few nails and rough edges on the box, but it was easy to open and thoroughly reinforced with styrofoam lining to protect my plastic lipstick tower.

Aliexpress packaging for spinning lipstick tower display

Once opened, I found that the tower spun beautifully (although the base squeaks a little when you spin the tower very quickly). Also, the slots were perfect for every single kind of lip product. As seen below, even the larger “Kiss and Blush” bottles fit into the slots.

Dupe for Zahra Beauty's spinning lipstick display holder tower

I also found that the tower fit longer and oddly-shaped lip products as well, such as NARS lip crayons and even lip liners. The only downside was that the slots were too deep for my smaller sample lipsticks, such as the Marc Jacobs one in the middle (below). To get that lipstick out of its deep slot, I have to use a fingernail or two to claw it out. However, the slots were perfect for regular lipsticks, and there are even side barriers in place to prevent round lipsticks from slipping out.

Spinning lipstick display tower that fits 81 lipsticksSpinning lipstick display tower holder

The only difference between the lipstick holder I bought and the one made famous by Zahra Beauty is that their lipstick tower has a logo on the uppermost layer (the round rotunda where I stored my YSL lipsticks). Also, they seem to have different colors available, such as pink/blue/white. I loved the pink version from Zahra, but now that I saw how they were taking Chinese-manufactured lipstick holders and slapping a logo on the item just so they could raise the price, I wasn’t terribly inclined to pay more for a prettier color.

Although the wholesale seller I linked to earlier has currently sold out of the model I bought, he also sells similar models like this one for $68. At any rate, I think this dupe for Zahra Beauty’s spinning lipstick display tower was well worth the price. Now my lipstick collection doesn’t just look organized, it looks fierce and professional.

Too Good to be True? Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick 203 Rose Dentelle Review

September 27
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Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick in 203 Rose Dentelle ReviewWhen I saw that Temptalia gave the Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick an A+ rating, I knew I had to try it out. Supposedly, this lipstick “had rich pigmentation and yielded full color coverage when applied to the lips,” “was moderately creamy,” and its formula makes “lips appear healthier, fuller, and softer.”

Talk about hype! Of course, I was also a little suspicious: sure, the Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick comes in a cool, leather case, but Temptalia made it sound like this lipstick would change my life. I decided to try the 203 Rose Dentelle color, a deep rose with warm undertones, because I didn’t have any pretty rosy colors in my arsenal.

Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick 203 Rose Dentelle

Initial impression: Despite my cynicism, I had to admit that the leather and silver carrying case made me irrationally happy. It’s just so cool being able to slide your lipstick out of a little custom-made leather bullet. The Givenchy logo on the top of the case (plus the name on the side of the tube) made the whole thing look so glamorous. This is a lipstick that I would pull out at a dinner with girlfriends, just to show them how worldly I was.

Smell: I feel like beauty bloggers don’t talk about this aspect enough. Sure, a product can be excellent, but if it smells like grandma’s perfume, I will never use it. This lipstick smells waxy, unfortunately. If you own any L’oreal lipsticks, it smells a lot like those. I wish they had made the scent more floral or appealing.

Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick 203 Rose Dentelle ReviewLasting power: Temptalia claimed that the lipstick lasts over 5 hours, but it didn’t quite last that long on me. Right after I applied it, I accidentally swiped my hand across my lips and took off a huge chunk of the lipstick. It seems that the creamy-ness of the formula also makes it really easy to smudge.

After I re-applied, I made it almost 4 hours before the feathering and fading started. Still, the lasting power was pretty good considering that my lips never felt dry or tight while I was wearing the lipstick.

Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick 203 Rose DentelleWould I repurchase? I loved the color—it was a warm coral rose that bordered on a light red under indoor lighting. However, I should probably have chosen another shade for my Givenchy splurge, because this color didn’t get my heart racing or anything. When I save up again, I think I will purchase this lipstick in 302, a “muted neon pink.”

Bottom line: the formulation is creamy and as hydrating as Temptalia claims, although reapplication will be necessary. But who can complain, when you get to carry around such a pretty lipstick tube?

You can find Givenchy Le Rouge at department stores or at Sephora for $36.

10 Beauty Essentials for Back-to-School in Houston

August 29
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So you’re going to school in Houston, where a walk outside exposes you to 100 degree temps, and at least 50% humidity. When it feels like a rainforest in your city, your makeup routine has to become slicker, or else your face will. These 10 products—tested by moi!—will help you get through the summer/fall without melting.

(On a side note, I think every cosmetic should be tested in Houston. When I see a 5-star review on Sephora from Houston, I know that product is g-o-l-d-e-n).

1. Skip the liquid foundation.

If you wear liquid foundation, it’s time to put it away for a while. Walking to class in 100 degree weather means that the foundation will roll off your face in beige-colored sweat. If you must have coverage, try Bare Minerals, for powder, or Smashbox BB cream, which still looks flawless after a workout.

2. Blotting Sheets.

What happens when you sweat (which you will. Did I mention that already?) I usually get shiny from oil around my forehead and nose, so a pack of these blotting papers matte-ifies my whole face instantly. Pro-tip: If you run out of sheets, use toilet paper as a quick pick-oil-up.

3. TRESemme Keratin Smooth Shampoo

If you’re thinking that TRESemme sponsored this post, you’re wrong. But I totally wish that they would sponsor my blog, because this shampoo and conditioner leaves my hair the softest and smoothest that it’s ever been. It also does a great job combating the frizz factor that results from Houston’s humidity.

4. Cleansing Wipes

Sometimes, the sauna-like air outfit just leaves you dripping and feeling gross. These wipes help you clean up quickly and can refresh you in between showers.

5. Smudge-proof eyeliner

Wearing eyeshadow in this heat usually requires primer, or you end up with creasing eyeshadow by noon. I like to skip shadows completely in favor of the famous non-budge eyeliners by Urban Decay, which hold their ground even after a long day. If you’re on a budget, I also love Milani’s eyeliners, a cheaper dupe for the Urban Decay line.

6. Powder blush

Don’t let cream blush suffocate your skin and add another thick layer to your face. Powder blush gets the same effect, and doesn’t run. Plus, ELF’s powder compacts are cheap ($3.00) and last forever. This one pictured is also an exact dupe for NARS’s best-selling shade “Orgasm.”

7. Nail Polish

When you can wear sandals for 8 months of the year, pedicures become an art form. This 18-piece set (only $20) from NYX is budget friendly as well as longer lasting than even Essie, in my opinion.

8. Deodorant

{Source: Ehow}

No explanation needed.

9. Sunscreen

When lunch outside in the sun can make you a shade tanner, it’s wise to stock up on the sunblock. Neutrogena’s formula dries sheer and doesn’t feel sticky, so you can wear it all day. I personally own 3 tubes.

10. Water

{Source: Shutterstock}

This is no beauty secret, but lots of people still ignore the most important beauty essential. Lots of water—to stay hydrated, as well as to replenish your skin—will do much more good than a whole tub of potions. Invest in your skin as an organ!

Do any of you live in hot climates? What are your trusty products? (I’d love to try them out!)