Wednesday, July 17, 2013

nail 911!

I began a lifelong love affair with nail polish at an early age: I believe I was about 6 years old. I vividly remember hanging out at my then best friend's house, and her teenage sister agreed to paint our nails. We both chose a bright red. After my dad picked me up and we went home, he told me I would have to take it off; he didn't think it was "appropriate" for girls my age to wear nail polish. What?! That was the end of me wearing nail polish..until I turned 10.

I remember my 10th birthday party, where my mom bought several bottles of Wet'N Wild nail polish to put in goodie bags. I was allowed to keep one for myself, and I never looked back. Around the same time, my dentist was giving away little prizes for every time we went in and didn't have new cavities. Naturally, I chose the nail polish.

Oh, and my dad never said anything about me not being allowed to wear nail polish again- although he did laugh at some of my color choices, particularly the blacks and blues I favored in middle and high school. (I still do, to this day.)

Anyways, moving on from the back could be a combination of factors, ranging from diet to overdoing my nails, but I've noticed that lately, my nails are in less than top shape and they split pretty easily.

Au naturel- is there any wonder why I like to keep them polished 24/7?
I'm placing a portion of the blame on my base/top coat: I'm currently using the Base/Top Coat Pro by Rimmel. I like that Rimmel is a brand that doesn't conduct animal testing, but the quality of this product is something to be desired. I've seen a fair amount of reviews on MUA that it causes nails to split/peel. Not to mention that I can do my nails hours before bed and STILL end up with creases the next morning.

I'm also thinking I might be encouraging damage by redoing my nails every week. When I was in high school (and even college), I would go for weeks between paint jobs. But now that I'm attending job interviews/meeting new people as part of my volunteer job, I feel I should look more put-together - no more three-weeks-in chipped nail polish! I suppose I could go au naturel every once in awhile, but I've become so accustomed to having my nails painted that I can't go more than a couple days with naked nails. Is it even realistic to have your nails polished almost 24/7 and still healthy? Or am I gonna have to suck it up and...*gulp* go bare?

What are your favorite base/top coats? Do you prefer multitasking products (base/top coat, 4-in-1's, etc), or stick to separate products? How often do you do your nails? Let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear what other nail fanatics have to say!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

happy feet (new shoes!)

I currently work in women's shoes, so I spend a lot of time trying not to give into the temptation of buying every sneaker, boot and sandal I lay eyes on. Still, there are times when I can't resist. Here's my latest deal, a pair of oxfords by Rachel Roy. They feel like butaahhh! I haven't worn them yet, but they're so soft on the inside, I'm pretty sure I could work an entire shift in these babies. At $34.50 (originally $89), these were a bargain. Can't wait to wear 'em out!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Purify & Refresh (Philosophy gel cleanser and moisturizer review)

In my opinion, Philosophy is one of the best-smelling bath and body lines out there. The first product I purchased from them was their Raspberry Sorbet shower gel. You know how they say scent can trigger memory? That shower gel reminds me of my junior year of high school. Good times, haha.

Anyways, I digress.

My most recent Philosophy purchase was the Purify&Refresh set from the Impulse counter at Macy's. It contains the Purity Made Simple gel cleanser and Take a Deep Breath gel cream moisturizer.

Purity Made Simple gel cleanser

   I've been intrigued by the Purity Made Simple cleanser since I saw the original one-step facial cleanser in the shower caddy of one of my college housemates. Because I have oily skin, the SA recommended I use the gel cleanser, but she was also nice enough to provide me with a couple samples of the creamier original formula.

To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed by this product, especially since it was expensive. I'll admit I was sold by the claim that it could double as an eye makeup remover- in my ongoing quest to simplify and green my routine, I've decided to cut back on using the cleansing wipes, i.e. use them only when I end up crashing at a friend's place and am too tired/drunk to really wash up. Unfortunately, this only does a subpar job of removing eye makeup- especially liners/shadows with more pigment to them, a la MAC and Sugarpill. Not to mention, if it gets in your eyes, it stings!

I recently asked my mom what she uses to take off her makeup at night, and she said Cetaphil! D'oh! How did I not think of that? I've been using the Purity gel cleanser for almost three weeks now, and it hasn't caused me to break out, which I take as a good sign. Once I finish up with the tube, I think I'll make the swap to plain ol' Cetaphil. It's a tried and true classic, no?

Take a Deep Breath gel cream moisturizer- found in both tube and pot!

I was slightly more impressed by the moisturizer, but not by much. However, it didn't do a very good job of making my skin feel hydrated. I guess this is ideal for oily skin, but I'm used to the heavier texture of Origin's A Perfect World- a much better antioxidant moisturizer, imo. The microscopic sparkles give my skin a nice faux glow, which is kind of pointless when I'm just going straight to bed after I wash up. I would consider using this moisturizer during the day- IF it had SPF! Also, I was disappointed that this cheap plastic jar isn't even slated for recycling. (Its recycling program is another reason why I'm pro-Origins.)  

Overall, both products were just OK. If there's anything from Philosophy I'll repeatedly go back for, it'll be their shower gels, but not their facial products.     

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gimme the Fine One One (Product Review)

Benefit Cosmetics- one of my favorite brands. The quality, the retro packaging, the quirky names they give their products...unfortunately, they don't meet my requirement list (green packaging, no animal testing, etc), so Benefit makes it onto my guilty pleasures list.

During the last employee appreciation at Macy's (see previous post), I picked up one of their newer products, the Fine One One. It's a blush/highlighter that can also be used to give the lips some color.

The full product.

Product view from the top (shades L to R): pink champagne, sheer watermelon, soft coral.

I'm not the most confident blender, so I typically tend to stay away from cream products. However, the handy size of the product made it relatively easy to use. The colors are gorgeous, and give me a nice flush. It looks nice in person, but my crappy little camera does not do it justice.

Other reviewers have complained that the color doesn't last, but I also made sure to put on the POREfessional beforehand, so we'll see how it goes! The girl at the Benefit counter also recommended putting a powder blush over Fine One One, so I just used a MAC blush over it. I'll probably try it again tomorrow with the Nars Orgasm blush.

As I mentioned earlier, Fine One One can also be used on lips, but I think I'm just going to use it on my cheeks only. Call me a weirdo, but there's just something not right about putting a product on my lips that's been rubbed up my cheekbones.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beauty Mini Haul (Macy's Edition)

I started working at Macy's during my first year of community college. One of the perks is employee appreciation! As I may have mentioned before, this is the only way I'm able to afford department store beauty products! Anyways, during the last employee appreciation I went on a mini-haul and came home with some goodies from Philosophy and Benefit. Here's what I ended up with (also got a pair of high-waisted shorts, which aren't included):

  (In no particular order): Philosophy "Purify & Refresh" kit, Benefit Fine One One, Philosophy freebies

 The Freebies. (Pictured left to right): Field of Flowers shampoo shower gel & bubble bath, Kiss Me Color tinted high-gloss lip shine in pink, Miracle Worker anti-aging moisturizer, Purity 3-in-1 cleanser

I'll do a product review of Fine One One in a separate post. I haven't tried any of the skin care products yet (I believe in using up old products before opening new ones ;p), but hopefully they work out! Have you tried any of these products? If so, did they work out for you? I'd like to hear what others think!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

E.L.F. Brow Kit product review and eyebrow herstory

This is an adapted version of the review I posted on makeupalley.

For most of my short life, I've had issues with my eyebrows. As demonstrated by the following pictures, they've gone from too bushy to too thin, with far too "just right" moments in between.

2013: Finally more or less at peace with my brows, thanks to the Benefit Brow Bar and E.L.F. brow kit. (I'm on the left.)

2007: Best friend and I, back when our only makeup strategy was black pencil eyeliner. (I'm on the right.)  I had my eyebrows waxed once at the beginning of high school; this picture was taken right after our first semester/quarter of college. Clearly I didn't keep up with plucking.
Summer 2007..or 2008? Strategy to avoid dealing with caterpillar brows: wear sunglasses so oversized, they cover your brows entirely! (Still not really a good look.)
Early 2009: More of a shape, but my brows still look a little funky. Also, why am I not wearing more eyeliner? I can't believe I thought I looked cute when I went out like this! 

Summer 2009: 20th birthday. Overplucked.
Fall 2010: Another strategy to avoid brow issues: grow out your bangs so they're covered! This was more or less my go-to solution, til my bangs grew out, I couldn't afford as many trims, and I was forced to confront the situation..

Enter the e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit. With this product, they finally feel just right. (That being said, I could stand to take a trip to Benefit and get them cleaned up!) Anyways, I digress...

This is the first brow kit I've ever purchased. I usually like to start with cheapie drugstore brands before investing in the more expensive stuff, but as far as brow products go, I'm content to stick with E.L.F. This product does a good job of making my dark hairs look more polished/keeping them in line, which is more than I ever expected for $3. Because my brows are naturally on the thicker side, I feel I have to use a lot of the gel. But like I said, luckily this product is cheap! 

I've laughed at the E.L.F. Studio line for its dupe NARS packaging, especially when the product was terrible. But because the Eyebrow Kit actually works, it deserves to look luxe! 

My only issues is that the brush is TINY. But we all know that's a problem easily solved. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

clean slate (nighttime skincare routine)

At the end of a long day, there's nothing more refreshing than taking off my makeup. Here's a short and sweet list of what I'm currently using. (However, the makeup cleansing towelettes are subject to change, as I'm still on a quest to find one I like best!)

Step 1: Cleansing towelettes. I use these to make sure I'm getting off the majority of my makeup, with the bonus of cleansing my face. At the moment, I'm using the Burt's Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes. (I'll probably do another more detailed post on this product later...based on the review I wrote on MakeupAlley.) On nights when I'm extremely tired (or let's face it, just plain lazy) I'll count this as "washing my face," but otherwise, I'll wash my face anyways, even though most towelettes claim there's no need to rinse. Which brings me to...

Step 2: Facial cleanser. I'm currently using A Perfect World Antioxidant cleanser with White Tea by Origins. This was a stocking stuffer- I'm probably gonna have to look for something new once I run out, as Origins is on the pricier side and I am but a somewhat broke college grad. After rinsing and patting my face dry, I go on to...

Step 3: Moisturizer. I was acne prone as a teen, but now that my skin's more or less calmed down (one of the few perks of getting older), I'm in love with Origins A Perfect World Antioxidant moisturizer with White Tea. Again, this was another stocking stuffer. When I was in school, my mom would buy all my skincare products, so I could "afford" higher-end products. But honestly, I love this moisturizer so much, I think I'll go beyond my budget to splurge on it.

Additional Steps:

-Spot treatment. When my skin does flare up, I'll use a spot treatment. I currently have one by Clean & Clear, but I'm planning to move on to a different brand once this one finally runs out.

-Eye makeup remover. I like to layer on my eyeliner (pencil and liquid), so cleansing towelettes don't always get the job done. I'm currently using Almay's oil-free liquid makeup remover. This isn't my favorite brand, but 1) it's formulated for sensitive skin, and 2) Almay doesn't conduct animal testing. (I know, I know, some of the other brands I use still do- I never claimed I would cut them out completely, but I'm in the process of seeking alternatives.)       

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

City Eats

For the past four months, I've been interning at a nonprofit in San Francisco. The office is located right between North Beach and SF Chinatown, so I'm close by some good eats! As much as I love me a good Subway sandwich, I've been trying to avoid chains and try as many new places as possible. I've written about a couple of these places on Yelp.

Here are the places I've tried so far, organized by cuisine:




  • Bund Shanghai Restaurant
I also tried an international food court one day, and have been wanting to go back ever since. (It's on Bush Street, for those of you who are familiar with the FiDi!) They serve Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese. I was so overwhelmed that I broke down and bought what I felt most familiar with- a bento box. Too safe! I really want to try the bibambap next time. =) Luckily, my internship got extended, so I'll have at least another month to try more places! I'm hoping my wallet and waistline are up for this, lol.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Personal Beauty Buying Guide

This list was compiled by another beauty blogger. I'm taking this list with a grain of salt, as I know some of the companies here are questionable. But it's a good place to start!

Call me a little late, but I've finally decided collect my thoughts and put down my beauty resolutions in (virtual) writing. This year, I want to become more conscious about the products I use on my face, hair, body and nails. And if I can accomplish this while lessening my impact on the environment, that's even better.

My goal is to buy products that meet as many of the following standards as possible (if it's only meets one, that's cool, but the more it meets, the higher its chances are of becoming a product I rebuy in the future)

1) environmentally friendly* (including recyclable packaging)
2) cruelty free*
3) benefits a charity of some sort

*I know there's broaaad definitions of "environmentally friendly" and "cruelty free"- believe me, I will take more time to read up on the topic.

I know and openly acknowledge that I am not perfect- a lot of the products I still own do conduct animal testing and contain questionable sounding ingredients. But this year, I will take the time to research and support companies that do not test their products on animals/support green policies, and cut down on products that do.

While doing a Blackle search (a "green" search engine option), I came across multiple lists of beauty companies that supposedly do not test on animals. I notice that many of the brands are still questionable (see above photo), so for now, I'm going to list brands that I personally use and that I've done research on, and provide links that lead directly to their policy page. I'll be editing this post again soon- I use way more than the two I have below, but I'm too lazy to add everything right now. ;p

Burt's Bees
-e.l.f. cosmetics
LUSH Cosmetics
-Rimmel London
-Too Faced
-Urban Decay
-Yes To