Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Kitties Got a Jungle Gym!

So Chris and I saw this fun little thing on clearance at WalMart the other night and I convinced him to buy it. We weren't sure if the cats would even like it... or if the mesh things could support their weight (!) but there was a Russian Blue on the box that looked like Earl and I wanted to see Earl be cute like that... so... we bought it with the plan to give it 2 weeks to see if they take to it before returning it.

I think it's so cute! It's not really that big, but it is actually very sturdy! It can support both of their weights if they get up on the mesh but I don't think they like being up on it. We've put them on it a couple times and they stay up there about 30 seconds before they get down. They do sleep underneath it, though and Earl likes to curl up in the bottom part of the popup tend and sleep. I wish the popup tent had 2 floors, but it doesn't. Ours also didn't come with the little ball thingies. I guess the picture is of the deluxe version.

Overall, I'm impressed with it and I'm glad to see that the cats are taking to it. They don't really play with toys, and while they love food... sometimes we'd like to give them other things but they make it hard to spoil them. Andy just craves belly rubs and Earl gets ecstatic over a hair band. The dogs are so much easier. Buy them big rawhide bones and a frisbee and they'll be your best friends for life. 

So what are your favorite ways to spoil your pets? Do you buy them toys? Treats? Clothes? It's so much fun to pamper them!

♥,
M

Meet the Hubby!


I decided to film a little surprise for everyone and do a "Couples Tag" video with the Hubby! Coincidentally, he was less than thrilled with the idea. But, like the trooper he is, he did it for me anyways. I came up with the questions and we ended up covering every topic from favorite pets to driving.

Watch the hilarity that ensues below!



♥,
M

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Check Me Out on Facebook!


I don't know if y'all are aware, but I do have a FB page set up for the MandysSecrets blog and channel. 'Like' me so you'll always be up to date on whatever I post on either site!

...Otherwise Earl will be forced to eat his feelings. Seriously. Look at what I mean:


Please don't make him any fatter than he already is! I won't be able to pick him up! :(


♥,
M

REVIEW -- 2 Products I Don't Like in 1 Post.

First, I hope y'all like the new blog layout! I decided to make it match my YouTube channel. I just love the pink polka dots... I even have the same background on my phone! Haha! Okay... down to business.

HERBAL ESSENCES TOUSLE ME SOFTLY MOUSSE
I've been wanting to scrunch my hair again, and most of my hair and beauty products are currently boxed up in the back of our storage unit. I prefer to use SunSilk products when I curl or scrunch my hair, but since they are no longer sold in the US, I didn't want to wait to order them from Amazon. I was at Target and I picked this little bottle up.

It was $2.84 and I figured it might work with best with some hair spray. Unfortunately, the mousse wasn't very foamy and it completely dissolved as soon as I rubbed my hands together. However, I applied it to my hair anyways and it did nothing but make my hair limp and greasy. No curl. No crimp. Whatsoever.

I actually used it on Friday, when I filmed the video on salons. If you've watched it.. you know I had to end up pulling my hair into a knot on the top of my head. I don't know if I got a bad bottle, or what.. but I'm not going to spend more money to find out.

GARNIER FRUCTISE BRILLIANTE SHINE GLOSSING SPRAY
I'll be honest and admit that this was a total impulse buy. I have very fine hair, but I have a lot of it. Unfortunately, the down side to having fine hair is that EVERYTHING shows up on it. If my hair has the slightest bit of oil, you can tell. If I don't properly warm my hair before I clamp my flat iron on it... You can tell that too. I've had reasonable luck with Garnier... so I thought I might be able to make this work.

Buuuuuuut... Not a chance. I've tried this product at least 4 times and every time my hair has ended up so greasy I've had to fight the urge to immediately re-wash my hair. Even 1 spray onto my hands and rubbed around BEFORE being applied to my hair is enough to ruin my clean hair.

Maybe this product would work better for thicker hair? I'm not sure. But I do know that I'm chalking this product up as another waste. If you're interested, I think it was like $3.30-something at WalMart.

Have you used these products and had success with them? Let me know!

♥,
M

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foolproof Sunless Tanning! (Part 2)


Okay. So now that you've hopefully found your perfect sunless tanner, let's talk about how to apply it.

APPLYING SUNLESS TANNER:
I'm mainly going to focus on how to apply lotion based sunless tanners. I absolutely don't recommend using any at home spray tan product. I have never seen ANYONE pull it off successfully and you will most likely turn everything around you tan from the fallen spray. If you are having difficulty applying foams or mousses, you can rinse a baby wipe out in the sink, hang it up and let it completely air dry. Pump your product on the wipe and use it like a wash cloth to apply. Use more product as the wipe dries out. Also plan on using 2 wipes for a full body application.

Also, I suggest completely shaving (legs, armpits, bikini area, etc) 12 hours BEFORE you apply a self tanner. If you shave right before applying it, your pores are still open from the warm water and the tanner will collect there and you'll be covered in tiny dark brown dots. Eeep.

And now... onto your application process: (Remember that I told you this was not for the lazy and unmotivated...)
  1. Take a hot shower and exfoliate from head to toe. You don't need a fancy (or expensive) exfoliating scrub. I use St. Ives Apricot Scrub or the WalMart equivalent if I have to. Also, use a soft cotton washcloth or an exfoliating glove instead of a nylon puff or a loofah. In my experience, loofahs tend to lead to streaky applications. Just remember to switch hands so that you can get both of them if you're using the exfoliating glove!
  2. Towel dry yourself completely. Give yourself a good 10-15 minutes to fully dry BEFORE applying any self tanner. During this time, go ahead and prep the area you will be tanning in with the tanner, gloves and your baby wipes if necessary; choose the outfit you will be tanning in (if necessary) and apply regular body lotion as follows:
    1. Apply a dime sized amount along the edges and to the sole of each foot.
    2. Apply a pea sized amount to your fingers and tap each toe knuckle. Rub the lotion in.
    3. Apply somewhere between a pea sized and dime sized amount to each ankle.
    4. Apply a dime sized amount to each knee.
    5. And a dime sized amount to each elbow.
    6. Rub a pea sized amount into each wrist.
    7. And rub repeat the pea sized amount with each of your knuckles.
      • These areas of your body are normally "drier" than the rest of your skin and will absorb the pigment of the tanner more easily. They also have fine lines for the tanner to settle into. The lotion creates a barrier so that less of the self tanner will be absorbed into your skin and you will end up with an even glow instead of dark patches.
    8. Lastly, take a dollop of lotion and apply it to each toenail, completely covering the nail and slightly rub it in to your cuticles. Repeat this on your hands when you eventually get to tanning them.
      • This will prevent the self tanner from turning your nails orange!
  3. Your skin should be dry enough so if you are wearing a bathing suit to tan in, go ahead and put it on now. I suggest a black, tight fitting one.. but I also think having to work around fabric to get fake tan lines is a huge hassle. Just my opinion, though. Go ahead and put on your gloves. Regular vinyl or latex gloves work perfectly. You can buy a huge box of them at WalMart for less than $5.
    • You might not think you need gloves, but is it really worth the risk of putting all this work into fake tanning only to end up with the dreaded orange palms? Even if you scrub your hands, there is no guarantee you won't end up with them... unless you use gloves. I strongly recommend them.
  4. Starting with your feet, apply a small amount (penny sized?) and work in thoroughly. Avoid the soles of your feet, but do get the edges of your feet. Don't forget in between your toes! Work your way up to your ankles, applying more if necessary. Less is definitely more with self tanner. You want enough to completely cover the area, but not too much where it won't completely absorb into your skin. Also be mindful of streaks. You may have to rub some areas more than once.
  5. Using a quarter sized amount for each calf, blend upwards from your ankles to your knees.
  6. Using another quarter sized amount, blend from your knees to your hips.
  7. What you do with the areas covered by your bikini is up to you. I personally use a quarter sized amount on my butt, but that's just me.
  8. Continue on with quarter sized amounts, covering your abdomen and lower back... working your way up to your chest.
  9. While tanning your chest, also get your armpits. Yes, most people don't have tanned armpits, but it will look kind of funny if you skip them because you'll have an awkward (and definite) tan line. Also cover your shoulders and as far down onto your upper back as you can reach at this stage, too.
  10. Now it's time for your back. Use a mirror for this part! Personally, I can reach my entire back without requiring additional help. But if you can't.. when you buy your other tanning supplies, you should invest in a lotion applicator. They look like this and can be found at WalMart:
     11.   After your back is complete, cover your neck up to your jawline and behind your ears. You can also  lightly coat your ears as well, just don't go IN your ears.
     12.   Unless you choose to use a specific face tanner (I don't find it necessary), take a dime sized amount and work it ALL over your face. Cover your eyelids, nostrils, and lips. Blend, blend, blend! Also work the tanner up into the very edges of your hairline. It will give you a completely natural look and cover the definite change in your skin color.
     13.   Lastly, work a quarter sized amount into each arm. Gently cover the undersides of your wrists and blend it down into (but not ONTO) your palm. Use a cotton swab to achieve a perfectly blended look if you need to. Now it's time to take off the gloves and do your hands... one at a time. Also, don't forget to protect your nails and cuticles with dollops of lotion! Do that as soon as you take the glove off.
     14. Pull off one glove and use a pea sized amount to cover the back of your hand, blending toward your knuckles. Use another pea sized amount to get between each of your fingers. (Don't forget about the space between your thumb and index finger!) Then use ANOTHER pea sized amount to spread around and tap on each finger and work in. I use 3 separate dollops instead of one big one so that I don't end up with too much product and have orange hands! Put that glove back on and repeat the process on your other hand.

IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD:
Check yourself over completely for streaks. If you have any, try to fix them now. Don't add more self tanner to a streak unless you absolutely can't blend it out any other way, and even then... only add the tiniest possible amount. Remember your mantra: Less is more.

If you've used gloves (like you should), there is no need to wash your hands. Unfortunately, here comes the fun part: You can't get dressed OR sit down for at least 20 minutes. Sorry! If you didn't use a bathing suit and you sit down, you'll end up with a discolored butt. And no one wants that!

Personally, I like to give myself an hour to completely dry before I put clothes back on. However, I will sit down on a maroon or brown towel after 30 minutes have passed. I suggest having a book or magazine handy. OR your iPod so you can do the 'Naked Tanning Dance' ...I kid, I kid. Sort of.

The way I like to apply my tanner is to shave that morning, and start the tanning process about 2 hours before I want to go to bed. Showering and application take a little under an hour (but I also take long showers) and that leaves me with an hour to dry. Once I've put on my loose fitting clothes, I usually head to bed and shower the next morning before getting dressed.

Speaking of showering.. Any activity that will get you wet or make you sweat in any way, shape, or form is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN for at least the next 3 hours. If any moisture touches your body, you will see it in your tan. I promise. Don't shower for at least 8 hours. I recommend pushing it as long as possible. Also, don't shave for 24 hours after you tan.

Oh. I almost forgot. When you do finally get dressed, opt for dark, loose fitting clothes and go sans undergarments if possible. They tend to leave marks in your tan.

Okay. I thought I could get all this info into only 2 posts.. but I think this one is long enough as well. Hopefully You're not cross-eyed yet! Part 3 will discuss what to do if you've somehow made a mistake and how to care for your fake tan.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 3!

♥,
M

Foolproof Sunless Tanning! (Part 1)


Yes, spring has sprung! Well, if you live in the south, anyways. Daily temperatures are ranging from 75-82 here, and it will only get warmer! And since it's time for Spring Breaks, I thought I'd go ahead and talk about tanning now.

Does it surprise anyone that I have used practically every drugstore and salon tanning product EVER? It shouldn't. I was decently obsessed with tanning in my younger days, both sunless and baking.. and sometimes in conjunction with each other. (Yikes!) However, due to actually having had a job during the summer for the last 2 years and the strong fear of skin cancer, I've drastically limited my time spent in the sun and tanning beds.

Even though I am QUITE an expert in sunless tanning, I haven't done that in years either. Why? Because it's a lot of damn work. I'm not even going to lie and tell you otherwise. But it's one of those things that you have to weigh out for yourself: spend a LOT of time safely tanning and protect your skin from premature aging and skin cancer or go bake yourself like a lobster and end up looking like a saddlebag with skin cancer when you're 40. I'm just saying.

If you choose to sunless tan on your own, I'm going to show you how to do it and NOT end up looking like an Oompa Loompa. 

Because, as far as I know... this has never been a highly requested look.

SELECTING YOUR SUNLESS TANNER:
Ohhhhh my goodness. There are lotions, gels, creams, foams, mousses, sprays, wipes, pills and practically anything else you can think of to make you tan. And now you can even tan gradually if you prefer to go for a more realistic approach. While I haven't tried tanning wipes or pills, I have tried everything else and this is what I've found: 
  • Foams and mousses tend to come off the first time I get wet. Even if it's been upwards of 24 hours since I applied it. There's nothing like washing your hands only to have them return to their normal color and the rest of you is still tan. Or, worse, getting in a pool and end up standing in a cloud of self tanner, and then getting out to have the entire lower half of your body be white. Trust me on that one, I speak from experience. Personally, I avoid these.
  • Sprays are best left to the professionals. Whether you choose to go into an automated booth or have a technician spray you is up to you. The tanning salons I have been to didn't offer sprays by technicians, so I have always used a booth and had decent results. This is definitely the "easiest" method of application as long as you follow the directions you are given. However, this is also one of the more expensive options.
  • The gels I've tried seemed to not last as long as lotions. I wouldn't say they are as bad as foams or mousses, but I felt like they gave an overall more sheer layer of color and I was having to reapply them more frequently than I cared to.
  • In my opinion, lotions are completely the way to go. EVERYONE knows how to apply lotion. They give the right amount of coverage and it's easy to make sure you're evenly coated. Plus, I feel like this is the easiest DIY method. Gradual or not is up to you. I've used and like both.
NOTE: What type of tanner you choose is up to you. However, I strongly  suggest that you pick one with color. It will show you exactly where the product has been applied and if you have any streaks. There's nothing worse than applying a tanner with no color and finding out 6 hours later that you now look like a fried zebra. Am I right?

The two sunless tanners that I have had the best luck to and will recommend to anyone without hesitation or fail are:
L'OREAL SUBLIME BRONZE LOTION: Regular self tanner
and
JERGENS NATURAL GLOW DAILY MOISTURIZER: Gradual self tanner
Both products can be found at any Ulta, mass retailer, drug store or supermarket. The L'Oreal retails for around $5 to $6 and the Jergens goes for $7 to $9. These lotions have the best (and least off-putting) overall scents that don't have that "tell-tale fake bake smell." They also dry relatively quickly. If you absolutely had to, you could get dressed 20 minutes after applying them. Both lotions also come in more than one shade so that you won't end up orange if you have fair skin! They last decently long and usually wear off evenly provided that you take care of them once they are on your body.

In the interest of not turning this post into a novel, I'm going to break here and tell you how to apply your tanner in a separate post. Stay tuned!

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2!

♥,
M

EDITED TO ADD: Be sure to also read my review on Ocean Potion's EverGlow Gradual Sunless Tanner. It's my newest favorite!

Foolproof Sunless Tanning! (Part 3)


Whew! Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? I told you it's a lot of work! Now that you've picked your tanner and applied it... let's talk about what to do if you've somehow managed to make a mistake (which you shouldn't have if you have followed my instructions to the T) and how to care for that fabulous new tan of yours.
SO YOU LOOK LIKE A FRIED ZEBRA. NOW WHAT?
Let's go area by area to solve your tanning disaster:
  • Face/Neck
    • Your tan shouldn't last more than 36 hours on your face. You can either use a toner, makeup remover or an exfoliating face wash to remove the tan and reapply if necessary. 
  • Hands/Wrists and Feet/Ankles
    • A cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide blotted over the area will help lighten the color, but be careful that you don't lighten it too much!
    • The Orange Goop mechanics use will also lift any unsightly orange tanning disasters from more calloused areas like hands and feet. Do not use this on large areas of your body!
      • My dad has been in the automotive industry for almost 40 years and car restoration is one of his favorite hobbies. Needless to say, Orange Goop was in ready supply around our house and I can personally assure you that this trick works.
    • This is important: Only use ONE of these methods (Hydrogen Peroxide or Orange Goop). NOT BOTH. If you use both, you run the risk of severely irritating your skin. Red, blotchy skin is not an improvement over orange skin! Also, under NO circumstances should hydrogen peroxide be applied to large areas of your body. It is for spot treatment only!
  • Fingernails and Toenails
    • Denture cleaner works well for fingernails and body hair bleach cream will take out stains from your toenails and cuticles.
  • Underarms
    • So your fake tan disappears from shaving and using deodorant... use a soft washcloth to buff the sharp edges of your tan lines, exfoliate your armpits and reapply. Pay careful attention to blending when you reapply your tanner!
  • Knees and Elbows
    • Combine lemon juice and sugar to make a scrub. The lemon juice will lighten the color of the tan and the sugar is a great exfoliant. Just don't rub enough to make the area raw. A little buffing is all you need!
  • Legs/Arms/Torso
    • These areas of your body have lots of soft flesh. Coat yourself in baby oil for half an hour, then take a nice, long bath. Use a soft washcloth to gently exfoliate. Your water should be brown by the time you're done!
  • ...You're orange. All over.
    • Sometimes, it's unavoidable. Especially if you've never used the product before. Again, take a long bath. One might be enough to lighten you up. If not, continue taking baths every day until your tan is either where you want it to be or completely gone.
TAN MAINTENANCE:
  • Your face will have to be exfoliated and redone every day to every other day, same with your armpits.
  • Avoid shaving as much as possible. Shaving removes the entire top layer of skin... which is where your tan is. If possible, use a depilatory cream before you start tanning.
  • Avoid sweating as much as possible. Sweating will also shed the top layer of your skin... which will end up all over whatever you're wearing. Say, have you ever noticed how fantastic you look in colors like black, navy blue and dark purple? If not, now's the time. :)
  • You should be able to push 3-5 days out of the rest of your tan. At the end of that period, you need to completely exfoliate and reapply to your entire body.
  • If you are using a gradual self tanner, you need to apply it every day and exfoliate every OTHER day. Exfoliating every day will most likely irritate your skin.
And that is it! Everything you need to know about DIY sunless tanning in three installments. I have written all of these before any of them were posted and I am going to publish them in reverse order so that you can read them from the top down instead of having to read and then scroll all the way up to the next entry.

I'm not gonna lie. This was a LOT of work and took a lot of time, y'all. I really hope you like it! Or at least learned something from it. Please let me know if you have questions that I haven't answered. And, I'd like to also add that these are MY tips and tricks based on my own experiences and disasters.

Happy self-tanning!

♥,
M

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Should You Expect When You Go to a Salon?


This post is based on generalizations of standards found in US salons. It is important to note that every salon and stylist are different. Thus, protocol might be different in a salon or hair cutting franchise that you choose to visit.

This is going to be a condensed text version of the video I posted last night. If you would like to see the video with full explanations of each discussion point and additional commentary, I will put it at the end of the post. And I would like to take a moment to send a special thank you to my very dear friend and beloved stylist, Angie. Without her professional insight, this post would not have been possible.

Disclaimer: The information found in this post is expressly from my conversation with my stylist and only reflect our views, knowledge and opinions.

GENERAL GUIDELINES & WARNING SIGNS:
  • If the salon generally looks unclean, leave. Immediately.
  • If you have questions about their cleanliness, ask your stylist what their sanitation procedures are. They should be able to confidently answer you. If they can't, leave. Immediately.
    • By law (in the US), everything that touches a client's head (like clips and combs) must be sterilized before it can be reused.
  • If your hair is not shampooed before your cut, that should be a big red flag.
    • The shampoo process is meant to sanitize the scalp and hair and prep the hair for cutting. A spray bottle with water is not the same as a shampoo.
  • If the salon or stylist wants to charge extra for a consultation, they are probably more interested in your money than anything else.
    • 15 minute consultations are the industry standard. Your hair stylist should discuss your hair type and everything that has been done to your hair with you along with your life style to see if you would benefit more from a low-maintenance or high-maintenance hair style.
  • Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask if you can see your stylist's portfolio.
    • If they don't have one, it shouldn't be a deal breaker, but it is always nice to see samples of their work.
BOOKING APPOINTMENTS:
  • Even if the salon accepts walk-ins, it's always better to have your appointment booked to guarantee your time is set aside.
  • Your stylist should initiate your pre-book at the end of your appointment. However, if they don't then you definitely should.
    • As a general rule, your appointments should be made:
      • Every 4-6 weeks for short hair.
      • Every 6-8 weeks for medium to long hair.
      • Every 6 weeks for color.
STANDARD HAIR CUTTING PROCEDURE:
  • Consultation
  • Shampoo
  • Cut
    • Salons usually include a blow dry and style in the price of your cut. However, always double check just to make sure. Nationwide haircutting chains usually charge extra for these services.
COLOR OR CHEMICAL PROCEDURES:
  • There is no pre-wash necessary for color unless you arrive at the salon with a lot of product in your hair.
  • Try to go by friend referrals to find a colorist, if possible.
  • As far as chemical treatments go, perms always need a pre-wash first.
SELECTING YOUR CUT AND/OR COLOR:
  • BE SURE if you think you want to go for a drastic change.
  • Be conservative with your length while getting your hair cut. 
    • Remember that hair shrinks once it's dry!
  • Bring pictures if you can! A picture is a much better description than words can ever be.
    • Bring them from several angles if at all possible so the stylist can see the cut or color from several angles.
  • If you're wanting to copy a celebrity's hair style, remember that they also have extensions, wigs and lots of other helpful tricks to get their hair that way.. most of what you see is an illusion!
  • Take into account your skin tone, face shape and body type when considering possible hair styles or colors.
TIPPING:
  • Industry standard in the US is 20% on the total salon amount, but feel free to leave more if you were exceptionally pleased with your service or stylist.
    • Remember that service industries are tip-based industries, meaning this is how your stylist makes a majority of their money.
  • If your stylist has an assistant, their tip should also come out of that 20%.
  • If your stylist offers you a deal, you should still tip on the original amount of the service.
  • To divide your tip among several people, you can either physically hand each person cash after they have completed the service they are performing on you OR you can verbally explain how you want the tip split to the person who checks you out.
    • For example: If your salon services total $100, you would tip a minimum of $20. If you had 3 people work on your hair, you could tell the person checking you out that you wanted $10 to go to your stylist, $5 to the salon assistant who washed your hair and $5 to the stylist's assistant who blow dried and styled your hair.
And that's it! So now I'll link the video below in case you want to watch it to get some extra information, because as I said.. this is definitely the abridged version.


♥,
M

Thursday, March 24, 2011

REVIEW -- LUSH Cosmetics "Each Peach (And Two's A Pair)" Massage Bar

Limes sold separately.

As I stated in my last haul video (which you can watch below), I had seen LUSH products before and always wanted to try them. Well, last week I went out and got myself a massage bar!


THE PRODUCT:
I don't know if there are actual entire LUSH stores. The one near my house is a little sub-section in the upper floor of Macy's in the mall. Like, near the makeup counters and purses. If there isn't a LUSH near you, you can also find them online. The massage bars vary in price from $6.95-$11.95. This one was $9.95 and I also got a protective tin in the same shape of my massage bar for $3.95. It looks like this:


Anywho, the bar is kind of peach-y.. but more citrus-y... Like, I'll open the tin just to smell it. It smells SO good. Since it didn't come with packaging, I had to reference the website to see what the company has to say about it:
We make Each Peach Massage Bar with fruity avocado and mango kernel butters, mixed with our cocoa butter and shea butter base for an extra nutritious, softening treat. It's a best-seller and people have fallen in love with this peachy massage.
Perk up your spirits. Essential oils of Persian lime, red grapefruit, sweet orange and mandarin help to encourage a sunny disposition. Use it to help boost your partner's confidence. Very reviving: best for mornings. 
INSTRUCTIONS:
Again, from the website:
Massage bars serve double-duty as luxurious massage oil or after-shower body moisturizer. Glide the massage bar directly over dry skin; it will melt upon contact. Massage or rub the oils into the skin. As massage bard are made with natural butters and oils, take care to ensure they absorb completely before putting on your best silk pj's. Massage bars melt at body temperature, so be sure to keep yours somewhere cool, dry and out of direct sunlight.
MY RESULTS:
Since I was warned numerous times about letting my bar melt by the sales associate, I was panicked because the mall was my first stop of the day and I was petrified that I would bring home a puddle instead of a bar. However, I immediately put my bar in my tin and kept it in the shady floorboard of the car and it was perfectly fine when I got home a couple hours later. I think the temperature that day was like... 75 degrees?

I've probably used my bar about... oh, maybe 5 times in the week that I've had it? The first time was RIGHT after a shower, and even though my skin was dry.. I think the heat from my body might have been a little much for the bar because it got pretty melty by the end of my application. The other times haven't been as bad.

But OMGZ. This thing is AMAZING. It makes your skin feel so awesome! Seriously! I don't tan like I used to, but if you have a tanning bed membership or love to lay out during the summer... you would love this. It is so moisture rich I can't even begin to explain it to you. But apparently that's the point. The website also says:
Mango butter is softer in texture than cocoa butter and has beneficial moisturizing, lubricating and damage-repairing properties. It is particularly useful on neglected or sun-damaged skins in need of extra care.
One of the reasons I fell in love with it is that I love to have smooth, slightly shiny legs when I wear shorts and this provides the perfect amount of softness and sheen without any stickiness. OH. AND it doesn't burn at all... even immediately after shaving!

I've also noticed that it's made my tattoo brighter? Seriously. I got Margot (that's her name) just over a year ago and after using the bar on my wrist, my tattoo looks just like it did after it completely finished healing. How cool is that?!

 VERDICT:
Seeing as this product is all-natural and vegan, it's basically perfect for everyone. I cannot WAIT to go back and buy more of these. I honestly felt harassed by the sales associate and just ended up picking a bar to make her leave me alone. Next time I think I'll be a little more forceful about just wanting to browse on my own. Chris has requested that I find a more "manly" scent so that he can enjoy the next one, too... if that tells you anything. :)

Happy massaging!

♥,
M

REVIEW -- Sonia Kashuk "Remove" Makeup Remover


So I'm definitely one of those girls that has probably tried every drugstore make up remover on the market. And since I wear contacts and have naturally sensitive eyes (Why yes, I am that awkward girl at the pool wearing goggles. Thank you very much.) most of them tend to sting and burn and turn my eyes into a red itchy mess. It's... less than attractive at best.

Literally. I've tried Cover Girl. And Maybelline. And Rimmel. And Neutrogena. And I had actually had decent success with the Physicians Formula Organic Wear Makeup Remover Pads. They come in this cute little tin, didn't (really) irritate my eyes and they smelled like lavender. But the pads aren't that big and there are only 60 in a tin. If I wore my daily amount of eye makeup, it took 4 pads to get it all off. Doing some quick math, I was spending $7 on a tin that would last me... 15 days. Not entirely cost effective, right?

Also, the pads didn't dissolve my makeup very easily. I'd have to rub at my eyes over and over to mostly get the makeup off and even then.. most of the time I couldn't completely remove it all! There's nothing like using makeup remover just to smear everything halfway down your face!

So one day about a month ago, I was completely out of the Physicians Formula pads and my running around brought me to Target. I thought they would have them, but apparently they don't carry Physicians Formula? Or at least the one I was at didn't. I just didn't have it in me to go somewhere else to get those stupid pads so I looked around for a makeup remover I hadn't tried. Enter... Sonia Kashuk's "Remove."

THE PRODUCT:
Sonia Kashuk's product line is only available at Target and online at their website. The "Remove" eye makeup remover retails for $9.99 for 4.75 fl oz/134mL. Honestly, I wasn't thrilled to be spending $10 on a product I wasn't even sure I was going to like, but I figured I could always return it the next day with my itchy, bloodshot eyes for proof if I had to. But THEN I read the back of the bottle:
My fresh-as-water eye makeup remover activates when shaken to gently whisk away even waterproof eye makeup, while conditioning and refreshing the skin. No stinging, it is ideal for sensitive skin and contact lens wearers.
'Huh. Alright, Sonia. Challenge accepted. Let's see how well you do!' I thought to myself as I headed for the 25 checkout lanes.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Again, from the back of the bottle:
Gently shake the bottle, then apply small amount to cotton pad. Wipe gently from the inside of the eye to the outer corner to remove regular and waterproof eye makeup. Rinse your eyes with cool water. Leaves a refreshing feeling. -Sonia Kashuk
MY RESULTS:
That night, I actually couldn't wait to take my makeup off. I dug around for my handy bag of cotton balls, and shook the bottle. It mixes from the opaque white and clear purple solutions to a lighter, opaque lavender one that looks like this:

I saturated my cotton ball, held it against my eye for 5-10 seconds and wiped. After 3-4 more gentle wipes, ALL of my makeup was gone. With NO rubbing or burning! I was absolutely astounded. And just to put it in perspective for y'all... this is how much eye makeup I wear on a daily basis:
  • foundation or tinted moisturizer
  • concealer
  • eye shadow base
  • 4-6 different eye shadows from lashes to brows
  • liquid liner
  • waterproof eyeliner
  • eye shadow on top of the waterproof eyeliner
  • 3 different mascaras -- 2-3 coats each
It's been just over a month since I picked up this product, and I still have somewhere between 1/2 - 1/3 of it left. However, the more I've used it the further it separates when not in use. There's now a large clear portion at the top, with a small section of the white opaque liquid in the middle and a medium size amount of the clear purple at the bottom. I have not noticed any difference in the product since the separation has increased.

VERDICT:
I am so in love with this product it's not even funny. I've told my mom. And my best friends. And now I'm telling you! This is ABSOLUTELY the only makeup remover I will use from now on. It's perfect for sensitive eyes, it removes makeup like no other, and it lasts forever! Definitely worth the buy!


Happy makeup removing!


♥,
M

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I ♥ surprises!


Can I just say... this is one of the many reasons why I love my husband?! Not only does he spoil me sometimes by giving in to whatever random oddity I absolutely MUST have at the moment.. he also goes out of his way to surprise me.

I absolutely LOVE Dippin' Dot's ice cream, and there was a location right down the street from us. My order was perfect: Half Chocolate, Half Cotton Candy. If you haven't tried it, you simply must. It's delicious. Unfortunately, one day we went and Dippin' Dots was just... gone. Like it'd never been there. I was devastated.

Dairy Queen and Sonic, while delicious, are no Dippin' Dots and there's not another location near us. (Vending machines in the mall don't count.) So Chris did some investigating and found something else I love: Italian Ice!

Therefore, my surprise today was a trip to...

RITA'S!

It was a FANTASTIC surprise! I love Italian Ice! And they had so many flavors to choose from! I got Mango, and it was absolutely delicious! Chris got Cotton Candy, in case you're interested. But he was also contemplating Watermelon. I have to say.. getting it in a store is MUCH better than buying it frozen from a grocery store. You can even get pints to go! I'm so excited! Our summer is going  to be MUCH happier now!

♥,
M

REVIEW -- Oscar Blandi "Pronto Invisible" Volumizing Dry Shampoo


So you might have seen this product in my most recent haul video from Ulta. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the video here:



I'll be honest and say that my hair usually can't make it to "2nd day hair" status and even though I've had it chemically straightened and it takes a lot less time now.. Sometimes I either just don't have the time or energy to wash, dry and straighten it. As I mention in the video, I have been wanting to try the Tresemme line of dry shampoos for a while but I can't find them anywhere. However, I have consistently heard that dry shampoos leave behind a white residue for people with dark hair.. which was something I wasn't honestly looking forward to. I was browsing in Ulta and saw the Oscar Blandi dry shampoo that promises to leave behind "no white residue" (check the cap in the picture) and decided to splurge and give it a try.

THE PRODUCT:
You can find the Oscar Blandi "Pronto Invisible" Volumizing Dry Shampoo in Ulta and Sephora and online at various retailers. My Ulta only had 1 size which was 142g/5oz and retailed for $23 but it is also being remodeled. I don't know if that makes any difference on their product selection.

The back of the can says: 
No time to shampoo? No problem! Clear the way for the newest innovation in dry shampoo. Pronto Dry Shampoo Invisible sprays on clear, which means it's completely undetectable in the hair and is ideal for all hair colour. When applied, it instantly boosts volume and cleanses the hair without water. Ingredients such as gentle starches absorb excess oil and product build-up, while vitamin E and wheat proteins strengthen and protect the hair shaft. The end result: hair that looks and feels freshly shampooed, without a trace of residue. 
INSTRUCTIONS:
Again, from the back of the can:
Hold can 6-8" away from head and spray product onto scalp and hair, especially at roots. Allow to dry before using fingers to shake out excess product. Brush out thoroughly. Style hair as desired.
MY RESULTS:
When I used the spray, I initially used a couple of small spritzes right at my roots like the can suggested. At $23 a can, I want to make it last as long as possible. It has a really pleasant lemon scent that reminds me of Froot Loops in a way. After the small sprays, I didn't notice any real difference in my hair, so I gave it a few more minutes, lifted my hair again and really sprayed my roots.

While waiting for my hair to dry, I continued on with my makeup and once 5-10 minutes went by I flipped my head over and brushed my hair out. I didn't see any product fallout. I can't honestly say I noticed that much in the way of "volume" but my hair did look clean and decent enough to make it through the day. And, true to it's claim, there was no white residue. However, I will say that if I ran my hands through my hair I definitely felt some type of residue and I couldn't wait to wash my hair the next day. Also, Chris commented that my hair smelled good.
VERDICT:
While I think it's an expensive option for regular use, I would definitely recommend this product if you are in a pinch and just don't have time to wash your hair. I do, however, suggest using slightly more of it than you think you need, as it took a pretty decent spray to refresh my 2nd day hair.

♥,
M

Monday, March 21, 2011

NAIL ART -- Abstract Dots on Blue Background

THE DESIGN:


Honestly, I wasn't even sure what to call this... besides crazy. Haha. This design is a toned down version of the "Rainbow Abstract Nails" that can be found in the Nail Art Tab in the top banner. I did those last year based off of a design from the nail art guru LOVE4NAILS on YouTube, and while they were very fun.. they were a LOT of work and the end result ended up being a bit much... even for me.

However, I liked the basic dotting design and decided I would try it again with a single background color to see how that toned the overall intensity down. And, I have to say.. I still don't think it's the right design for the faint of heart or those who favor subtlety. But if wild, trend-setting nails are right up your alley, then these are definitely for you!

PRODUCTS USED:


  • essence -- Pool Party
    • Found at Ulta
  • essence -- Check Me Out
    • Found at Ulta
  • essence -- SunDancer
    • Found at Ulta
  • Pure Ice -- Don't You Wish
    • Found at WalMart
  • Rimmel -- Tequila Sunrise
    • Found at WalMart or Ulta
  • Sinful Colors -- Cream Pink
    • Found at Target
  • Sinful Colors -- Dream On
    • Found at Target
  • Folk Art Acrylic Paint -- Wicker White
    • Found at WalMart or any craft/hobby store
  • Jumbo Glitter Shaker -- Sparkling Silver
    • Found at WalMart or any craft/hobby store
  • 3 Double Ended Dotting Tools -- Green, Blue, Yellow
    • Found on ebay
  • NOT PICTURED -- Ulta Salon Formula -- Clear Top Coat
    • Found at Ulta
Let's quickly discuss the advantages of using acrylic craft paint instead of nail polish for nail art. While it might seem odd (or even "cheap") to use craft paint on your nails instead of nail polish, I assure you that this is normal practice. Acrylic paints provide better color blending, longer working time, stronger pigmentation, and many other benefits when compared to "nail art" polish. Also, think of the pricing! You can buy a nail art striper for anywhere between $2 and $6 USD and it will last you.. oh, I don't know.. maybe a year or two? BUT.. you can buy a bottle of craft paint that is 10-20x the size of the nail art polish for 99 cents and have it for much longer! Plus, acrylics come in every color under the sun, just like nail polishes! So I suggest investing your money in good detailing brushes that will last you a long time and buying acrylics.

And I'll be honest and say that you should probably use nail art glitter or "flat rhinestones" on your nails instead of regular glitter. However, I bought that huge thing of glitter to dip canes in for recital dance that I choreographed and I still have 99.7% of it left. I've never had a problem with the craft glitter affecting my nails, but I also have acrylic over my natural nails so I don't know if that makes a difference. The craft glitter is a little challenging to get off, but it's no worse than removing regular rhinestones.

HOW I DID IT:

NOTE: I skipped applying a base coat because I have acrylic over my nails. However, if you have natural nails ALWAYS remember to apply a base coat!
  1. Apply 2 coats of 'Pool Party' and allow to dry.
  2. Apply 1 coat of the glitter polish 'Don't You Wish' and allow to dry.
  3. Put a drop of white paint on a spare piece of paper. Using the big end on the green dotting tool, place your "focal" white dots on each nail. The focal dot will have a smaller, colored dot placed in the middle of it later.
  4. While the focal dots are drying, use the smaller end of the blue dotting tool to make semi-circles of white dots on various parts of your nails. The goal is to create a homogeneous overall design between white and yellow dots and silver glitter. Keep this in mind when applying your white dots.
  5. Place a drop of 'SunDancer' on your paper and use the same end of your blue dotting tool to place circles and semi-circles of yellow on your nails. Allow to dry.
  6. While your yellow dots are drying, place drops of the remaining colors on your paper. Using the large end of the blue dotting tool, place one colored dot in each white focal dot. I used green on my pinky, pink on my ring finger, yellow on my middle finger, orange on my index finger and green and purple on my thumb. (My thumb has 2 focal dots.) Allow to dry.
  7. Once ALL dots have dried, sprinkle a small amount of glitter onto your paper. Apply top coat to fingers one at a time and use the smallest end of your yellow dotting tool to apply glitter in circles and semi-circles like you did with the white and yellow dots. Allow time to dry.
  8. After your nails have completely dried, apply another layer of top coat to protect your glitter and you're done!
Happy dotting!

♥,
M

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EXPIRED -- Wet N Wild Coupon


Thanks to one of my astute Facebook friends for this coupon! Just in time to get yourself ready for St. Patick's Day tomorrow, you can get 50 cents off of ANY green Wet n Wild product! Considering that their nail polish usually retails for around $1.09, it's just under half off. Coupon is valid through March 25th, 2011. I'll post a link to the coupon below so that you can print your own copy.


Happy saving!

♥,
M

NAIL ART -- Crackle Nails with Rhinestone Bow

Welcome to my nail art installments! When I do a new manicure, I'll post a picture and show you the products I used and tell you how to recreate it! Also, check my 'Nail Art' tab up at the top of the blog for a gallery of past designs!

THE DESIGN:


As I've mentioned in my YouTube videos, I am in LOVE with China Glaze's Crackle Glaze. Currently, I only have Black Mesh, but I definitely intend to get the other 5 colors. So.. this is my manicure for the week! It's a very pale pink glitter topped with the Crackle Glaze and I added a contrasting bow out of rhinestones for good measure. I'm not big on repeating nail art designs, but you will see the rhinestone bows a lot. I love them for a subtle bit of fun. :)

PRODUCTS USED:


  • Pure Ice -- Lilac Mist
    • Found at WalMart
  • China Glaze Crackle Glaze -- Black Mesh
    • Found at Ulta or Sally's Beauty Supply
  • Ulta Salon Formula -- Clear Top Coat
    • Found at Ulta
  • Essence Rhinestone Picker
    • Found at Ulta
  • 1mm Rhinestones
    • Found at Sally's and online.
Now.. Let's talk about pickers and dotting tools and rhinestones for a minute. Do you need a special tool to apply rhinestones? Absolutely not! You can use anything from a tooth pick or a pencil to apply them. It's just my preference to use a picker or dotting tool. And rhinestones.. you can buy them at Sally's and get a few rhinestones and a big wheel for around $6 OR you can go online. I bought mine on ebay from Hong Kong. I found an amazing deal and got 5 wheels of 1500 1mm rhinestones (a piece) for $3.50. That's 7500 rhinestones! Granted, it did take them almost a month to arrive.. but I definitely won't have to order any more for a very long time! Here's a closeup of what one of the wheels looks like:


HOW I DID IT:

NOTE: I skipped applying a base coat because I have acrylic over my nails. However, if you have natural nails ALWAYS remember to apply a base coat!
  1. Apply 3 coats of Pure Ice. Let nails dry between each coat.
  2. Working quickly, apply an even layer of China Glaze to each nail. Allow a good 10 minutes for polish to completely crackle and dry.
  3. Open your rhinestones. 
    • If I'm using 2 colors, I like to have 2 wheels open. However, if you only have 1 wheel, dump enough out from each color so that you don't have to flip back and forth. 
  4. Apply a layer of top coat to one of the fingers you want to apply the rhinestones to. 
    • I chose my ring fingers.
  5. While the top coat is still wet, dip your picker into it and use the picker to apply rhinestones to make a bow. The pattern looks like this:

      6.   Repeat as desired.
      7.   Apply topcoat to all nails and allow to dry.

And that's it! Super simple and TOTALLY cute!

Have fun and happy rhinestoning!

♥,
M

EXPIRED -- FREE SEPHORA MASCARA SAMPLE!


THE FINE PRINT:
This coupon is only valid at Sephoras inside of JC Penney stores and is not available at sephora.com. Valid until April 7th, 2011. Limit one sample per person, and if they run out they'll give you a free custom sample of anything else in the store! 

I'll post the link to print your own copy below. Happy sampling!


♥,
M

Monday, March 14, 2011

Scratch Track @ SOB!


This morning I'd like to introduce you to two of the best guys you haven't met. DJ Lee and Jason Hamlin have themselves an awesome band called Scratch Track and I highly suggest you check them out.

Taken from their website:
Some might label it acoustic hip-hop soul, others could call it a deft blend of beats and unplugged instrumentation, The Chicago Sun Times christened the band a slick cross section between “Digable Planets and Jack Johnson,” while On Tap attempted to identity them as “Outkast or the Neptunes…throw in a guitar and more beat boxing, and you might come close.” But no matter what adjectives are put in place, Tennessee-bred/Kansas City-based Scratch Track is an anomaly to the most ambitiously extreme degrees, that is perhaps best left to the words of a New York University reporter who praised the pair as “mind-bending, style-bending and undeniably original.”
If you are anywhere near Atlanta tonight (3/14), come out to Smith's Olde Bar on Piedmont Ave. They're rocking the Atlanta Room at 8pm. Tickets are $10 at the door. And.. if you're nowhere near the ATL, feel free to check out their website. I'll post a link to their music page below.


♥,
M

When does your makeup expire?

Like everything else, your cosmetics have expiration dates.. but do you know when they are? While some products may not show visible signs of deteriorating, others may dry up or develop an "off" smell. Depending on how your makeup is stored and the way you use the products themselves, your makeup may thrive past its prime or even go bad before it's supposed to!

I was reading an article online about different types of makeup and when it expires, and that made me think about my own collection. Even though I went through and weeded out about 80% of what I had when we moved in January, I still have some eye shadows from when I was in high school. Yikes! But it's hard when you love a color that has been discontinued.. so I'm not going to tell you to throw your products away the day they "expire", but certainly use your best judgement. If something changes consistency or color.. or generally just doesn't look or smell right.. toss it. Immediately.

With that being said, I'm going to give you the expiration guidelines from the other article and some general hygiene tips when it comes to makeup with my own advice sprinkled in.

First and foremost: the shelf life of your makeup begins the second you open the product for the first time.. which is handy if you stock up and buy your makeup in bulk!

A trick the other article listed that I'm going to start doing is to take a small dot sticker and calculate when my new products should be thrown out and write it with a permanent marker, then apply it directly on the product. However, there are some things I use a lot of (eye liners, etc) that I use up before they expire.. but for concealers, mascaras and any loose powder items, I will DEFINITELY be doing this. You can get the stickers in the office supply section of WalMart. And they even have fun neon colors! Super cute!

And now onto the guidelines:

Concealers: Stick concealers and liquid concealers with applicators (packaged like lip glosses in tubes with a wand) should be tossed within 6 months of being opened since they are known to grow bacteria. However, if you use a brush that is cleaned regularly (and does NOT stay in the product) to apply your concealer, you can hang onto your sticks, liquids and compacts for up to 1 year.
Foundation: Liquid, cake and mousse foundation should be thrown away anywhere between 6 months to 1 year after opening. For instance: If you use a liquid foundation with a brush that's cleaned regularly.. you can definitely get a year out of your bottle.
Pressed Powder Cosmetics: These include face powders, bronzers, blushes, and eye shadows and can be safely kept anywhere between 1 year to 18 months.
Lipsticks and Lip Glosses: Unfortunately, these expire after only 1 year. If you use a brush to apply your lipstick, you might be able to push it to 18 months.. but that would be something you'd have to decide for yourself.
Eye and Lip Pencils: If you keep your pencils sharpened regularly and they don't become dry or crumbly, you can easily get 1 year to 18 months out of them. Unfortunately, my pencils never last that long but I guess it's still good to know!
Mascara and Liquid Eyeliner: Ladies, please. I can NOT stress this enough. Mascara MUST be replaced EVERY 3 MONTHS. Personally, I will push my liquid eyeliner to 6 months (if it even lasts that long) but you really should throw that away every 3 months too. If you get an eye infection, throw your mascara, liquid AND pencil eyeliners away IMMEDIATELY and buy new ones after the infection has completely cleared up.
Organic cosmetics: Any all-natural or organic cosmetics must be disposed of after 6 months because they have no preservatives in them to prevent the growth of bacteria.

And finally, here are some general hygienic tips when it comes to getting the most out of your makeup:

  • Always wash your hands before applying your makeup or other face products.
  • If you wear contacts, be sure to put those in after washing your hands and before applying your makeup or other beauty products. You don't want any of your cosmetics getting in your eyes!
  • Never share your makeup. With anyone. Ever.
  • DON'T put your fingers in your products. Use a makeup brush or an applicator to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Speaking of makeup brushes, make sure you clean your brushes weekly using a mild shampoo, brush cleaner, or a gentle face cleanser. Personally, I prefer to clean my foundation brush after every one or two uses.
  • Sponges and sponge tip applicators should be replaced as soon as they become saturated and soiled. On average, they should be replaced once a week.
  • As I've already said, if a product changes color, texture, consistency or smell.. toss it. Immediately.
  • Keep your makeup containers tightly closed and store them in cool, dry places out of direct sunlight.
  • Again, DON'T use your eye products if you have an eye infection and throw what you're currently using away immediately. Buy new products and resume use after your infection has completely cleared.
  • Don't use saliva or water to wet your brushes for a smoother application and never add liquid to a product unless specifically directed to by the manufacturer. Adding liquids can breed bacteria and cause unwanted breakouts and infections. Gross!
  • Lastly, don't sample makeup at beauty counters and stores. If you feel like you must test, always use a clean applicator (cotton swab or sponge tip applicator) to apply the sample. Also try testing products on the back of your hand if at all possible.
Whew! I know that was a lot of information, but hopefully with a little bit of knowledge and proper use, you can be sure to (safely) get the most out of your makeup!

♥,
M