Monday, August 19, 2013

My Favorite Beauty Product

My favorite beauty product, without a single doubt, is HAPPINESS. I know this is super corny, but it's true, and sometimes truth is corny. 

While I am admittedly prone to mood swings, I consider myself a generally level-headed person. I'm not always happy. Happiness is a struggle sometimes. It's part self-awareness, part circumstance, and part environment. Those elements can be tricky to coordinate, since not all of them are up to us. 

There are obviously a lot of happy things in my life. I have an awesome family, amazing friends, and my life is just peachy. Sure, there are a few things that I'm struggling with: I can't find a job in my field, I feel like my life is buffering, and all of my best friends live across the country. BUT...

Something has been making me super happy as of late. The sort of happy that can never be spoiled. The kind of happy that glows, radiant. No matter how bad my day is, I can go home and I know that a big bundle of happiness is waiting for me.

Let me introduce you to the source of my happiness.

On June 10th, my family got a new addition: a purebred yellow lab named Gus.

My dad recently retired, and we bought him a dog as a retirement present. My dad is constantly outdoors, and he had a very special attachment to our previous dog, a Golden Retriever named Goldie, who was a part of our family from 1994-2006. Retirement marked the perfect occasion for a new furry addition, since pets obviously require a lot of time and attention.

It was my job to find and choose a puppy.

I first started at local humane societies and animal shelters, but we knew that my dad wanted a yellow lab (or a mutt that "looked like a yellow lab"). The shelters and kennels didn't have anything remotely like a yellow lab. I then moved to breeders, using websites and local classifieds to track down anyone with available puppies in our price range. I ended up seeing a few different puppies, which were all super cute, but I didn't "click" with any of them. They didn't seem like "our dog."

Then I saw the above picture of baby Gus, and I fell in love. My dad an I went to see him the next day. When we drove into the driveway, the breeder was sweeping out the garage, and a little yellow furball was chasing the broom around. Dad and I immediately said, "Oh. My. God. That's our dog!"

We took him home that very same day, and he slept in my lap the entire ride home. 

Each day Gus's personality shines a little bit brighter. He's bumbling and silly, cuddly and mischievous, floppy and very, very lovable. He could chew your arm off and you'd still love him when he gives you his puppy eyes.

Every day I fall a little more in love with him, and he has brightened my life more than I  ever thought possible.
Gus and a makeup-less me, right after we bought him

his collar was too big.

The cuteness is unbearable.

On the dock at our cabin, likely getting scolded.

They see me prowlin', they hatin'...

His little puppy nose never developed all of its pigment, so it's freckled with pink spots.
Oh hai! I brought you a humongous stick!

In closing, I'm in puppy love. And I think that puppy love is the best kind of love! Sorry for the super-gush about my dog, but I'm sort of crazy about him.

Do you have any pets? I'd love to hear about them and/or see a picture! Tweet me some pictures! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

MUG Sweet Dreams VS MAC Naked Pigment

All products shown in this post were purchased with my own money.

In the past few months, I have purchased a fair few pigments. I love pigments. They are gorgeous, sparkly amazing-ness in a jar. Two of my favorite pigment formulations are from Makeup Geek and MAC. 

On the Makeup Geek website, they provide swatches of their products. Sweet Dreams is swatched beside MAC Naked Pigment. While I absolutely love Makeup Geek, I don't always agree with the swatches posted on the website. When I say I don't agree with them, I simply mean that the colors that I experience in-person are not the same as the colors I see in the pictures. There could be several reasons for the differences, like variances in skin tone, lighting, and editing.  Therefore, I wanted to compare products side-by-side myself to see if Sweet Dreams is really comparable to MAC Naked pigment.

I swatched both Sweet Dreams and Naked Pigment side-by-side. When I swatched them dry, I found that Naked Pigment has a satin base with sparkles, whereas Sweet Dreams is all-around shimmery. Naked is  also much more peach-toned than Sweet Dreams. When swatched wet, the difference between the two becomes more pronounced. You can see that Naked becomes more shimmery, whereas Sweet Dreams turns metallic. The difference in color also becomes more apparent.

L-R: MAC Naked Pigment  //  MUG Sweet Dreams
Swatched Dry

L-R: MAC Naked Pigment  //  MUG Sweet Dreams
Swatched Wet

Texture-wise, the two are relatively similar. Naked Pigment is silky smooth and milled extremely fine. Sweet Dreams is a bit grainier, but still very soft and smooth. I prefer the texture and work-ability of MAC pigments, but considering that Makeup Geek sells their pigments for 1/3 of the price of MAC pigments, I think they are an amazing "drugstore" alternative. 

L-R: MUG Sweet Dreams  //  MAC Naked Pigment
Packaging sucks on both. While both packages are cute, neither are practical. Makeup Geek pigments are messy because they are packed so full, so when you go to unscrew the cap it's like pigment Armageddon. MAC provides a little cap on the interior of the pigment that keeps it from coming out when you screw the cap on and off, but the jar is still quite annoying. I think Makeup Geek's jars are great, they would just need a sifter. 

So, is Sweet Dreams a dupe for MAC Naked Pigment? Not really. The colors are similar, but they aren't dupes. Sweet Dreams (and the other Makeup Geek pigments, for that matter) is a really great product, as is MAC Naked pigment. They just aren't dupes.

Over all? If you have one, you probably don't need the other, but don't expect them to be dupes.

Don't forget to subscribe/follow for more blog posts like this!

Do you have any good MAC dupes in your makeup stash? Let me know!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Transformers: MAC Sketch & Coppering

Another look to commemorate MAC Eye Shadow Month here on my blog! Hip hip huzzah!

Coppering is one of my favorite MAC shadows. It has a buttery smooth texture and blends like nobody's business, but a bright burnt orange color isn't exactly a "daytime" sort of color for me. I devised this look for a Girl's Night Out, the sort of night where you can wear fun colors and don't give two ticks what anyone thinks.

Before & After

This look was fairly easy to do, as long as you're okay with blending... a lot. Here's how I did the eyes:

1. Use a piece of tape to get a clean edge on the outer part of your eye. I like to de-tack the tape a bit on the back of my hand before putting it on my face to ensure that taking it off won't hurt like a b*tch or remove 7 layers of skin.

2. Pack Sketch on the outer 1/3 of the eye in a triangular shape, blending the edges out as you work up the intensity of the shade. Take your time with this step, making sure the color is working for you instead of against you. I took the shade quite far up, creating a cat-like shape.

3. Once Sketch is blended, pack Coppering on the inner 2/3 of the lid. Blend out the edges ever so slightly.

4. Dust Sketch on the outer 1/3 of the lower lash line. Place Coppering on the inner 2/3 of the lash line.

5. Take a damp brush and apply Vanilla pigment to the inner corner of the eye, also taking it along the tear duct area.

6. Line the water line and tight line with either a black or a dark green. I used Jordana's 12 Hour Liquid Eyeliner Pencil in Jade Jewel

7. Line the upper lash line with black liquid liner. Add lashings of black mascara, adding falsies if you'd like. 

For the rest of the face, I used the usual suspects: MAC Face & Body foundation, Maybelline Dream Lumi Concealer in RadiantCovergirl Classic Color Blush in Soft Mink, Rimmel lip gloss in Non-Stop Glamour

Just a few thoughts on the shadows I used: 

Sketch is one of those shades you hear about a lot. While it is a lovely shade, I find it very difficult to work with. I probably spent 20 minutes building it up and blending it out, only to have it go patchy on me. I had the same problem a few weeks ago, but chalked it up to patchy primer. The more I used my MAC shadows, the more I notice that I have similar issues with Black Tied and Trax, which are also Velvet finishes. While I'd like to blame the finish, Mulch is also a Velvet, and I have no qualms with it whatsoever. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

Coppering, on the other hand, is a delight to work with. It is lovely and smooth and blends fabulously. I've never had trouble with Veluxe Pearl finishes. They are all quite wonderful. 

Are there any MAC shades you don't like to work with? Do you like Velvet finishes?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Transformers: MAC E/S Month, Feat. Patina, Mulch, & Twinks

It's MAC Eye Shadow Month on my blog! Woo-hoo! I promised a look a week, and here is the first installment! Woo-hooooo!

For this look, I used some of my favorite MAC shades, mainly Patina, Mulch, and Twinks. You can find swatches of all of these shades HERE in my MAC swatch post.

For the eye shadow look, I followed a few easy steps:

1. For easier blend-ability, I put a layer of Grain all over the lid, from my lash line to brow.

2. Buff Twinks into the crease and outer 1/4 of the lid, creating a subtle "V" shape to emphasize the shape of the eye.

3. Place Mulch on the outer 1/3 of the lid, blending it in with Twinks.

4. Pack Patina onto the inner 2/3 of the lid, blending it into Mulch.

5. Pop Shroom onto the inner corner of the eye.

6. Finish off the look with a bronze eye pencil (I used Wet N Wild Bronze) and lashings of black mascara.

To finish off the look, I popped Covergirl Classic Color blush in Soft Mink onto my cheeks and used L'Oreal Gloss Stain in Lilac Ever After on my lips.

I love that this look is classic yet fun, incorporating some bronze and purples. I also love any look that incorporates my dear Patina, which is my favorite MAC eye shadow. 

What looks have you been wearing lately? Send me pictures or links! I love to see what other people are wearing!

*NEW* Products from Jordana

As always, all products featured in this post were purchased by me, with my own $$$.

I'm supposed to be on a spending ban, which is why I spent $19.00 today at Walgreens on new Jordana products.

So this whole "spending ban" is going really, really well.

Jordana is one of the best and most underrated drugstore brands. The brand itself contains some real drugstore gems. I, for one, am in LOVE with the Best Lash Extreme mascara. It is the best mascara I've ever tried, period. Their lip glosses are also very comfortable.

When I heard Jordana was coming out with new products, I almost peed my pants. Okay, not really. But almost. As soon as other bloggers and blog-readers started seeing the new products popping up at Walgreens, I drove as fast as I could to my local Walgreens to get my piggy little hands on all the new stuff.

As a sister-brand to Milani, a lot of the products Jordana recently launched are very, very similar to some tried and true Milani products. There are also some non-Milani-esque products in the line, though. Take a look!


Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stains

L-R: Rock N Rouge // Candied Coral // Cranberry Crush

L-R: Bare Lips // Rock N Rouge // Candied Coral // Cranberry Crush

If the Revlon Balm Stains and the Neutrogena Color Sticks had a love child, it would be the Jordana Twist & Shine Balm Stains. These are awesome. They go on smooth, feel great on the lips, and leave a really powerful stain. As you can see in the swatches, they are fairly glossy, and the glossiness remains for about 1-2 hours before fading. The colors range from a dark nude to a strawberry red to a bright coral. At $2.99, I think these are a phenomenal steal.


12 HR Made to Last Liquid Pencil Liners

I'm convinced that these are exactly the same as the Milani Liquif'Eye Liners, which we all know and love. These are creamy, pigmented, and last forever. Jade Jewel is a metallic emerald green, whereas Espresso Last is a creamy dark brown. Again, these are so incredibly similar to the Milani Liquif'Eye pencils, and they are half the price.


12 HR Made to Last Eye Shadow Pencil

Again, these are very similar to another Milani product, the Shadow Eyez pencil shadows. The range contains a matte black, matte brown, matte almond-y color, and some shimmery shades. I bought the matte white pencil in Everlasting White, and I'm already in love with it. It's very similar in formulation to the Milani Shadow Eyez, although I think the Jordana version is a little bit drier and not as emollient. It's still very creamy, just not as creamy as the Milani version. I can't comment on lasting power, since I haven't worn it across my lid yet, but the swatch stayed on my hand for hours and hours.


Best Lash Extreme Volume Mascara

Anybody whose read some of my past blog posts knows that Jodana's Best Lash Extreme Original mascara is my holy grail mascara. High end, low end, whatever end you like, the original Best Lash is amazing. Now it's time to see if Jordana's new mascaras hold up to the original version. As you can see, the Best Lash Extreme Volume has a very big brush. I've included comparison photos to compare the Volume version to the Original. I haven't tried this yet, but I'm very, very excited to do so.


In case you haven't noticed from my above gushing, I'm very excited about these new Jordana products. From swatches and initial impressions, I think these are going to explode onto the drugstore scene. Check them out at your local Walgreens!

What products are you excited to try out? Does anything from the new Jordana launch look appealing to you? Let me know in the  comments below!

Monday, August 5, 2013

August = MAC Eye Shadow Month

On my blog, I am making August "MAC Eye Shadow Month." 

I have over a dozen MAC eye shadows. A few of them I wear quite often, if not on a daily basis. Many of them, however, get neglected. 

At $12.00 a pop for a refill pan, MAC shadows are expensive. When I buy a new MAC shadow, I always buy it with the intention of wearing it (not just having it). As many of us know, with a huge makeup collection, wearing and having don't always overlap.

I love MAC eye shadows, and I'm often guilty of perusing the MAC website, thinking about which ones I want to buy next. Before I buy more, I want to get a really good wear out of each and every one that I currently have. Therefore, for the entire month of August, I plan on wearing only MAC eye shadows. I will aim to post one look a week on the blog, using various color combinations and color families. 

What shadows do I most look forward to using? The ones outside my comfort zone, of course. This includes Coppering, Antiqued, and Cranberry. As odd as it sounds, it also includes Satin Taupe, which is cult favorite yet a shadow I almost never wear.

I'm excited! I like the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone with some of these shades, ensuring I will jazz up my regular makeup looks.

Stay tuned for some MAC looks in the very near future.

Which MAC eye shadow do you have and love, but never wear? Which MAC eye shadows are your favorites? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taylor by Taylor Swift

I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm a big Taylor Swift fan. While everyone has their opinion, I think she's a great role model for young girls and I find her girl-next-door persona very refreshing in an otherwise sexed-up Hollywood scene. 

A few months ago, I read in a magazine that she was coming out with a new fragrance. Ever since reading the article, I couldn't wait to smell the new perfume. From what I remember, she said that the new fragrance is based on what she wants to smell like on a daily basis, and its not necessarily based on a fantasy like Wonderstruck and Wonderstruck Enchanted. While I like Wonderstruck and Wonderstruck Enchanted, I never bought them because I am so in love with Calvin Klein Shock to justify buying another "sweet" perfume.

Not so with Taylor by Taylor Swift.

I stopped by Ulta today with the intention of just smelling Taylor by Taylor Swift. Instead, I ended up walking out of the store with the 3.4 oz. bottle of the stuff, which set me back $59.50 + tax. While that strikes me as a bit expensive, especially for a line targeted at younger consumers, it's relatively in-keeping with perfume prices these days. 

The more I smelled the perfume, the more I liked it. It starts off smelling fruity and sweet, but those top notes fade into a lovely floral aroma. As it settles on the skin even more, the perfume mellows into a very fresh, ever-so-slightly musky scent.

Two things really surprised me about the perfume: it's a very complicated smell, and it lasts for hours. A little bit goes a long, long way. If you spray too much of it on yourself (like I did!), it might be a  bit overwhelming for both you and those around you.

This perfume is very different from what I normally wear, but I like it a lot. It's very fresh and feminine, perfect for hot summer days when you just want to smell like a lady. I got three compliments on it within hours of buying it, which greatly helped my buyer's guilt.

My one complaint is the bottle. The silhouette is beautiful, and from far away it looks very expensive and elegant. When you get up close, however, the top of the bottle has this horrible, 70s style swirly design. Just looking at it makes me feel slightly nauseous. There is also a string of pearls surrounding the base of the cap; normally pearls are classy, but these are just cheap-looking and campy. I would have loved to see them replace the swirly design with a pattern similar to those on Wonderstruck and Wonderstruck Enchanted.

Doesn't she look AMAZING in this picture?
Bottom line, T-Swift fan or not, this perfume needs to be on your To Smell list. It's the perfect combination of fruity, floral, and fresh.

What is your favorite summer fragrance? Do you prefer floral, fresh, or sweet? 
Let me know!