Friday, November 22, 2013

Revlon Matte Balm : Product Review/Follow Up

Remember when I did my first review on these? And I absolutely hated the color that I had gotten? Well, after stalking and talking on Reddit and Youtube, I decided that I should give this product another chance. Everyone said that this shade, Standout, was awesome and that it wasn't drying and it didn't flake and so forth and so on. Walgreens is having a 40% off sale on Revlon products this week and partnered with some coupons, I got this for $2. I decided I could test it out again for $2.

The Facts

Price: $8.99/each (this was at Walgreens in Kansas)
Amount of Product: .095 oz
Number of Shades: 10 

Shade that I used: Stand Out
Coverage: Full (Matte)
Application: Tube to lips!

Wear Time: The wear time for this shade is about 10x more impressive than the other shade that I had, Unapologetic. This wear for a solid work day with minimal touch ups.

Thoughts: Like I wrote up above, I was ready to write this product off after that first experience, but after much internet sleuthing, I found this shade. I've seen lots of reviews that are good and bad and I've come to the conclusion that the quality really really depends on the shade that you pick up. Since these are so cheap at Walgreens this week (sale runs through tomorrow and you can pick up a coupon in the coupon books at the front of the store for extra money off!), I think I might pick up one or two more. Standout is amazing quality and I really like this. I am a big fan of matte reds and this one does not fail to impress. It's a semi-dark and flattering-for-many-skin-tones red. It applies like a dream, doesn't emphasize any flakes I might have on my lips, and it stays on without excessive drying. I've worn this several times since I got it and it wears amazingly. 

(after 8 hours of wear)

(freshly applied)

Sorry that the pictures above are in soft focus, but I wanted to show you how it wears after an 8 hours work day. It's almost completely intact and that's after a bag of cheetos, a granola bar, string cheese, a sandwich, and pudding (and several cups of water). 

Final Verdict: This red is definitely worth the cost of this Matte Balm, but please be wary when purchasing other shades as the quality differs greatly from color to color. Check for reviews from YouTubers and other bloggers if you are interested in a shade other than this or Unapologetic!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Let's Talk Skin Care

This is going to be a full text post, no pictures, so if you aren't in the mood to read, I suggest coming back another time (like tomorrow when I review another Revlon Matte Balm shade!). I just wanted to do a write up on skin care and routines since my skin and I have been having a tumultuous relationship for the past six months or so.

I am not going to preach too much about what you have to do to have good skin, because I don't know; I don't have great skin. I think that a lot of it comes down to genetics and environmental/lifestyle choices. We all know that people who smoke tend to age faster than those who don't, same with those who are in constant sun exposure and those that drink heavily; those things are changeable, genetics are not. The first step to being happy with your skin is acknowledging what you cannot change. For me, I know that the pores on my nose and cheeks will always be "large"; my mom and dad both have large pores and so do about 90% of my family members. Pore size is not something I can change and I have just learned to be ok with it.

There are very general things that work for most people out there, but keep in mind that these techniques don't work for everyone. I am going to speak about these general techniques and then I will link you to other methods in case these ones have never worked for you. So keep reading!

1) Figure out how often you need to cleanse your face.

  • Just like everyone has different skin, everyone has different needs when it comes to fully cleansing your face. I would recommend cleansing your face no more than twice a day since more than that can lead to some serious dryness and stripping of your skin's natural oils. Some of you out there are definitely going to fall into the category of cleansing your face once a day or maybe not even at all. Not at all? Let me clarify; if you are not wearing makeup or sunscreen every day, the need to full on cleanse may not be there. Some folks can get away with just splashing some water on their faces (e.g. my boyfriend, who should be wearing sunscreen but I can only convince him of so much). 
  • However, if you are wearing makeup or something on your skin each day, you should be cleansing it at night. You might not see the effects now, but honestly, I don't think every dermatologist in America is wrong when they say that this contributes to premature aging. Plus, your pores will thank you when they are able to breath at the end of the day.
  • For oily folks (and those who just like to cleanse, I suppose), twice a day will probably be good. If you wake up in the morning and your skin has some excess oil, you should be ok to go ahead and cleanse in the morning as well. 
  • For the rest of you, sometimes you don't need to cleanse in the mornings and might be better off just splashing luke-warm or cool water on your face and patting dry. Too much cleansing can lead to dehydrated skin.

2) Use a gentle cleanser & cool/luke warm water

  • This may seem counterintuitive for those who have suffered with acne, but it's one of the best methods out there. Scrubbing your skin or severely drying it isn't going to make your skin magically look better. If you are suffering from acne, the number one thing you should not be doing is scrubbing your active breakouts; you are contributing to the spread of the bacteria on your face. If you think you need to exfoliate, look into chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic acid (more on this to come, but you can avoid cleansers with it, it isn't doing much to help).
  • Cool or luke warm water is your best friend! I think we've all heard our entire lives that taking long, hot showers is not great for you skin and that translates directly to your face. Dry skin tends to be rougher, which leads to uneven texture of your face. 

3) Treat the issues you have not the issues you think you have

  • We are all our own worst critics. Believe me, I know this very, very well. If you can not be objective, ask someone who will tell you the truth to evaluate your skin. Some issues are fixable, some are not. You cannot change the size of your pores, sorry (unless you want them bigger? You can do that). You can work on clogged pores, acne, texture, and signs of premature aging.
4) For the sake of all that is holy, wear a moisturizer EVERY DAY

  • You know how if you go a day without drinking anything, you would be incredibly dehydrated? That's probably how your skin feels without moisturizer. I don't care if you have some of the oiliest skin on the mofo'ing planet, slap a moisturizer on. You don't need something fancy out of a department store, just something that is simple and doesn't contain high amounts of alcohol or fragrance (which, coincidentally, is usually an alcohol). Hydrated skin is happy skin and it's also young looking skin. We are a youth obsessed culture and one of the best ways to keep your skin happy is to feed it with moisture. 
  • On top of wearing moisturizer, make sure to drink water. Aside from being great for your entire body (and I mean, it's fucking great for your entire body), it keeps your skin, which is your largest organ, happy. I don't mean drink liquids, I mean you need to be drinking water, at least a few cups a day. Just drink it, please.
5) Wear sunscreen

  • Ok, I know that there are a lot of people out there that don't wear sunscreen every day... including me. I'm going to break this down a bit and you can decide where you fall on the sunscreen debate. Honestly, I'm a pretty big believer in genetics having the most important role in your aging process. 
  • If you are going to be exposed to the sun for really, any amount of time past about 30 minutes a day, I would recommend wearing sunscreen. If you are exposed for less than 30 minutes (like me most days), then you can maybe skip the sunscreen. The reason I say this is because your body needs vitamin D and one of the best ways to get it is through sunlight (you can read this highly scientific article /s or just google it).
  • However, consistent sun exposure has been linked to premature aging and the most obvious thing of all, skin cancer. It's your choice whether you wear sunscreen every day, so keep in mind all of the above. Cancer is not discriminatory, it affects everyone, so don't put yourself at a high risk just because I said you might need some sun every day.
6) Do NOT exfoliate every day (unless it's chemical)

  • This goes back to the whole idea of being nice to your skin; don't scrub the life out of it every single day. Scrubbing your skin ruins, can you guess (?), the natural barrier of your skin. Scrubbing every day can lead to excess oil production and dehydrated skin. It's recommended to physically exfoliate 1-2x a week, but I think it's pretty ok to do it 3 times. Everyone has different skin and some people can tolerate physical exfoliation better. 
  • I unfortunately call into a group of people who don't react well to this, but there is also chemical exfoliation. This is using Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs - such as glycolic or lactic acid) and/or BHAs (salicylic acid) to exfoliate the skin in a gentle way. If you have acne, BHAs are your best friends as they gently get rid of dead skin that can cause clogged pores (which then lead to acne). 
7) Cut out the bad shit to make your skin look younger

  • I know that was kind of harsh (I swore!), but it's true. If you smoke, drink in excess often, and fill your body with crap... it will come through on your skin. Besides all of the other horrible things that smoking will do to you, it's going to manifest in your face and make you look a lot older. Just stop smoking, seriously, you will thank yourself for it later. Excess alcohol consumption? Yes, getting drunk, a lot, messes with your skin as well. I'm not saying you can't have fun and getting a little wastey faced every once in a while, but if you do it multiple times a week, every week, you're ruining your skin. You know how you wake up and feel like crap after a rough night out? Your body is dehydrated and what have we learned about bodies being dehyrdated? Yup, your skin is going to manifest that loveliness.
  • In regards to putting crap in your body, again, I don't mean you can't eat some delicious, delicious McDonalds or Taco Bell or Cheetos, but don't make that your diet every single day. There are healthy fatty acids and natural anti-oxidants that your body and skin will thank you for. 
8) Just be nice to your skin

  • Because honestly, you have one skin and you're kind of stuck with it. If you want to pick that zit until it bleeds, deal with that fact that you might have a nice scar because of it. If you want to have horrible wrinkles around your mouth from sucking on you cigarettes, deal with it. Treat your skin nicely.
9) Don't pick your skin

  • This is pretty stupid for me to say, because I am a picker and quite honestly, I think I have a very small case of dermatillomania. If I could go back and not pick at the things on my face, I would. I have scars, albeit small ones, on my face from my compulsive need to pick. Popping an angry zit is one thing and I won't admonish you for it, but picking at your skin until you bleed or trying to get something out that is very clearly under the skin is another. If you have issues with picking, look online for methods to help you stop. 

If you have tried the above and nothing has worked for you, there are other methods of cleansing to make your skin happy. A lot of people have found success in the Oil Cleansing Method (I actually double cleanse sometimes if my skin is feeling particularly icky), which you can find out about at Crunchy Betty's Website <- This is seriously one of the best articles that I've read on it.

Also, I want to note, these are just tips and suggestions. Like I've stated a bunch up above, everyone has different skin and this is just a mass generalization. Some people's skin responds fantastically to different things. If you have a routine that works for you and your skin looks fantastic, then don't feel the need to change anything. If you have skin that bugs the crap out of you, why not try some of the above? 

Just remember, if you are trying out new products, introduce them one at a time in case you have an allergic reaction to something. It is much easier to identify one product that is irritating your skin rather than have to decide between 4 different things.

If you have any questions or are looking for product recommendations, please feel free to ask me. I have been dealing with my skin for about 6 months after a lovely allergic reaction and mild chemical burn during a product testing for a company. My skin is finally almost back to normal after trying a whole bunch of different things until finally going back to this routine. I'm all ears, so ask if you are curious!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Influenster : Rose Vox Box

If you haven't figured it out by now, I sometimes get free boxes o' stuff because of websites that I use. One of those websites is Influenster, which is kind of difficult to explain rather than to say that they are a mass accumulation of reviews of products, but all types of products. If you want to check out the site, you can go to

I "qualified" for their Rose Vox Box, which was kind of billed as a fall box full of fun samples. It came to me in a very nice, bright pink, box and upon opening it, it had all of these lovelies inside.

(missing the Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.... because I ate them)

In my box, I received:

  • Kiss Gradation Polishes
  • Rimmel ScandalEyes Retro Glam Mascara
  • Lindt Lindor Truffle
  • Belvita Breakfast Biscuits
  • Dr. Scholls Cozy Cushions

And now that I've had this box for a bit, I can give you some educated opinions on the items. I'm going to skate over the two food items because this isn't a food blog. So, the food? It was yummy. I don't have a picture of the Belvita biscuits because I ate them as soon as I got the box. I also ate the Lindt truffle, but luckily that came in a bag that my dog didn't immediately destroy. Food = good.

The next thing that I'll talk about, but only briefly are the Dr. Scholls inserts; which I have also thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, these are probably my favorite thing out of the entire box. I just bought some new rain boots and I shoved these in there to provide some nice "cozy cushion" for my feet. They're pretty awesome and since I wear a size 10, I didn't have to cut them down to fit in my shoes. A+ for the cushions, I would definitely buy them if I had another pair of boots that could stand some cushion.

On to the beauty items!

I used this mascara for about a week, so I feel like I can give you some pretty firm opinions about it; it's really just a "meh" mascara. The brush is a modified hourglass shape, but that's probably the only intriguing thing about it. I don't know if it's just my tube, but the formula was pretty dry to begin with, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was for this. The bristles on the brush are really close together, so it's hard for your lashes to fit in between the bristles; this means less product on your lashes. The dry formula in addition to the tightly knit bristles means that your not getting much lash action. 

(photo from Rimmel)

The statement on Rimmel's website is this: "Bold, wide-eyed false lash look. Hour-glass brush shaped to the lash line to plump lashes, fanning them up and out for bold, wide-eyed volume. Coats lashes individually for a big, false lash look in one simple stroke. No clumps!" Sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on most of those claims. It did not plump them, fan them, or create volume. I would skip this and if you're already at the drugstore, just go for some Maybelline Full N Soft.

And last, the Kiss Gradation Polishes. This took a little bit of figuring out exactly how to use it, but I did like this concept. Since ombré has proven to be the trend that never dies, I think it's safe to say that ombré nails are still pretty on trend. The idea here is to paint your entire nail with one shade, then 1/3 of the nail with the darker shade, and then layer the glitter topcoat to get a seamless gradation. Sounds simple, but it's a little harder to execute.

First and foremost, you need to use a base coat and top coat with these polishes. I painted my nails with these and had every intention of taking a photo, but they were already chipped the next morning (I painted them at 9 p.m.). I'm sure the life of the polish could be extended with a good base and top; positive of it.

The thing that made this application somewhat tricky is how fast the polish dries in step one and two. The polish is thin to begin with, which is actually preferable to me for gradation work, but it starts to dry in about a minute.Since the polish dries so quickly, you have to be speedy with step three unless you want a clear cut, obvious line where your gradation should be. I messed up my first hand, but on the second hand, I realized it was easier to apply step two and three finger by finger.

It's fun to do if you want to sit down for a manicure and at $6.97, it's not too horrible a price point. I don't think I would buy this for myself, but since the polishes are so quick to dry and are fairly sheer, it might make a nice gift for someone younger.

And that was my Rose Vox Box. I don't think that there was anything too mind blowing in this box, but the Dr. Scholls were awesome!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Birchbox : November 2013

Here I go, changing up the fonts again! I keep changing the design on my blog little by little until I find what I truly like. I think I'm digging this classy design, so it might take over the entire blog in a few days... we'll see. Anyhow, it is time for Beauty Box Roundup  Birchbox review! Since I used to do Beauty Box Roundup, but have subsequently cancelled all my other subscription boxes (aside from Julep, but I'll post my November box for that next week), I wanted to at least keep you guys up to date with my Birchbox. Surprisingly, I am not missing my other beauty boxes and I am kind of excited that I can take that extra $35 a month and spend it on cosmetics that I can choose. I'm sure at some point, my box envy will strike and I'll resub, but for now, I'm golden.

The theme for this month's Birchbox is "More Good", which has more to do with the month than the box itself. They wrote on the little included card "All month, we'll be bringing you ideas for how you can bring more good to your life, from a roundup of our favorite charitable beauty brands to easy ways to give back. In addition, we're donating a portion of the proceeds from the Birchbox shop to No Kid Hungry, a nationwide organization that works to end childhood hunger." I am actually really stoked that they are donating to an organization for children in the US since I feel that people often forget about helping those in their own, immediate surroundings and there are a ton of hungry children in this country. 1 out of every 5 children in America live in a household where it's a struggle to put food on the table; for more info on the organization, click the link above or seriously consider donating to a local food pantry! Ok... I'll get off my soapbox and back to the actual blogpost.

What I Received:

  • Color Club Nail Polish in Baldwin Blues
  • DDF Amplifying Elixir
  • Eyeko Black Magic Mascara
  • TOCCA Crema da Mano in Cleopatra
  • Fatty Sundays Chocolate Covered Pretzel in Toffee Crunch (which I promptly ate... hence the ripped open packaging. I COULDN'T WAIT, OK?)

My Thoughts: Spoiler; I love this box. You're going to see down below that this is among some of the highest value Birchboxes that I've ever received, but that's not what makes it so good. What does make it so good is that all of the sample sizes are amazing AND I got a chocolate covered pretzel. Why does the chocolate covered pretzel make it so good? Because I love it when they include delicious food in my box as an "extra" instead of stupid crap that I'll never use (hellooooo to those cheap ear buds that they sent out like two years ago).

Color Club nail polish isn't the best in the entire world, but I'm down with this color. I don't own very much in the way of dark blue/navy polishes, but I just got one in my Julep box (which is a lot darker than this) and this one, so I feel like the universe is trying to tell me to really embrace the navy. With a base coat and a top coat, the Color Club will actually last a decent amount of time and I use my hands every day at work. Also, I think I automatically like this because I live in Kansas City and we have a company named Baldwin Denim here, so the name and color makes me think of them! (and I do realize that this color is NOT named for them)

The DDF elixir is actually what I'm most excited about since I've started looking into adding a serum (let's face it, this is a serum) into my skin care routine. Since my skin is finally starting to clear up, thanks to going back to my old school skin care routine, I feel like I'll be comfortable to add another product in a few more weeks. I've already heard great things about this and it's a hefty sample size, so if I do like it, it will last a long time.

The Eyeko mascara intrigues me; the last time I got a mascara in a squeeze tube format was a Jane Iredale mascara and I hated it. I do like Eyeko's skinny liners, so I'm definitely interested to see if I like this as well. However, I just bought three, yes three, new tubes of mascara during Nordstrom's mascara madness. I think I will delay the testing of those so that I can open this first and try it. And last but not least, the Tocca hand cream. This sample is the best hand cream sample I have ever gotten from Birchbox because of a few simple things; it has a seal on it, it has a pop cap top, and it's not in a foil package. Has Birchbox been listening to the incessant bitching from everyone about the foils? I hope so. I like Tocca and their scents and this one doesn't let me down. It's a weird mix of cucumber and grapefruit, but I dig it.

As for the sample that I already ate... it was delicious. Seriously though, I got this box last night and the first thing I did upon opening was rip open the pretzel package and shove that thing in my mouth. It was really small, but really delicious. I'm extremely happy that it was good because I have a box of them (in the PB&J flavor) being delivered today.... and a second package being delivered next week because of an order mix up. So yes, I have two boxes of chocolate covered pretzels on their way to my house. Sorry that I'm not sorry?

Monetary Values:

Color Club Nail Polish$4 for .25 fl oz (full size: .5 fl oz/$8)
DDF Elixir: $20.59 for .5 fl oz (full size: 1.7 fl oz/$70)
Eyeko Mascara: $10.78 for .13 fl oz. (full size: .29 fl oz/$24)
Tocca Hand Cream: $5 for 1 fl oz (full size: 4 fl oz/$20)
Pretzel:???? $0.50?
Full Monetary Value: $40.85

Final Thoughts: I love this box and I will use every single thing that came in it. Seriously, best box that I've gotten in the past few months. L♥VE.

If you want to subscribe to Birchbox, you can follow my referral link here or visit

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jordana Twist & Shine Balm Stain : Product Review

Gather round, gather round, it's time for another product review! After last weeks product review that was not so happy, I am proud to present a product review that is for a successful product! This would be the Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain in the shade Cranberry Crush. I haven't talked about my Revlon Balm Stains in quite a while, but this is along the same lines as those... but I'm discovering that they might be better!

The Facts

Price: $2.99/each (this was at Walgreens in Kansas)
Amount of Product: .095 oz
Number of Shades: 8... I think

Shade that I used: Cranberry Crush
Coverage: Light/Stain
Application: Tube to lips!

Wear Time: The wear time needs to be broken down into two categories for this. The glossy/shiny effect that the balm has only lasts for a few hours if you are not eating or drinking. The stain lasts for much longer, probably somewhere around 6 hours? This, however, is not true if you have a dog licking your face for an extended period of time (not that I know this by personal experience or anything).

Let's start with the basics for this balm stain. It's made by Jordana which is a very low-cost makeup brand that is found at Walgreens. Their products can be a little hit or miss, but everything that I've bought from them, I've ended up liking pretty well. After a little bit of research, I found out that everything they make is made in the USA and they are cruelty free, which is pretty cool.

The packaging is very simple, all one color and plastic witch metallic writing on it. The balm stain is like almost every other brand and twists up from the bottom, eliminating the need for a sharpener. I got Cranberry Crush because I'm a sucker for berry shades, but all of the shades seem to be pretty safe; nothing is extremely pale or extremely bright. I believe that some of the shades contain glitter flecks, but Cranberry Crush does not, which is perfect by me. 

The color applies very easily and evenly, but I still need a mirror to apply this shade because it's darker than my lips. It sits nicely on the lips for a few hours retaining its shine, but if you are eating, the shine and moisturizing factor are going to disappear pretty quickly. However, that's kind of to be expected from a balm. It does stain your lips for a pretty long period of time. Cranberry Crush leaves behind a light magenta stain, so a bit different than the hue that shows up on your lips directly from the tube.

One of the most important factors to me though is that this doesn't dry out my lips. I have applied this when my lips have been chapped and it doesn't make them any more chapped and it doesn't make any flaky skin more noticeable; both wins in my book.

Final Verdict: If you love the Revlon Kissable Balm Stains, definitely pick one or a few of these up, they might make you change your mind (and at $2.99 a piece, it's ok if they don't). Great color, moisturizing, and a stain? Pretty much perfect!