Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years' Eve! / 2011 in Review


Happy New Years' Eve, everyone! I hope you have big plans for tonight, but please remember to stay safe!

It seems like 2011 was the year that simultaneously dragged and flew by. I know, it doesn't make sense, does it?! There were a lot of changes in my life this year. Some good, some bad, but overall it's been a successful year.

Here are my 2011 Resolutions, as I wrote them back on January 1st. I'll post my commentary of how well I did in hot pink below each one.

1. DRINK MORE WATER.
I'm not so concerned with the whole "8 glasses a day" business. However, considering that I don't drink any water now, I think my body would appreciate the switch from the massive amounts of caffeine I currently consume.
I failed at this SO incredibly miserably. But.. it's never too late to try again! Supposedly it only takes 30 days to create or break a habit.. so wish me luck!

2. SPEND MORE TIME PURSUING MY OWN ENDEAVORS.
I've spent the last 3 and a half years killing myself with 2-4 jobs and 18 hours at school on top of dance company. It's been a pretty tough road and I've lost a lot of my interests and self-expression along the way. I used to love reading. And painting. And going out. And just being able to do whatever I want to do in my spare time. Wait. Spare time?! What is that?! ...That's exactly what I aim to find out.
Success! I've rediscovered my love of nail art and fell in love with the blogosphere! I also realized how much I love computer games as well. Puzzle, time management and hidden object games rock!

3. START MY OWN YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
I have been talking about this for MONTHS. I want to have a guru channel (beauty, etc) but I also want to have a vlog channel too. Maybe I'll start TWO channels!
Half success? I started both channels, but haven't made a video since September. Oops. :\

4. MAKE EFFING BANK.
I've graduated. I'm competent. I deserve it.
Okayyyy, so I'm actually making the least amount of money I've made since like... 2007. But I love my job and it makes me SO happy.. So even though it's not in my degree field, it IS in beauty and I'm going to count this as a win. If I stay and move up in the company, "bank" will come. :)


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I'm not quite sure what Chris and I are doing to celebrate tonight. We don't have big plans.. we're just glad to be with each other. He's had to work on 4 of the 7 New Years' Eves that we've been together, so I was really excited when he said he had this one off!

Tomorrow I'll share my 2012 Resolutions with you!

Friday, December 30, 2011

BEST OF 2011 -- FRAGRANCE


Hey everyone! Today is the fifth (and last!) day of my "Best of 2011" series! I'll be sharing my favorite/must-have products of the year with you. Some of them are new, some of them aren't.. they're just products I've discovered in 2011. Either way, I'm super excited to share them with you!

Each day has a new category: hair, skincare, nails, makeup, and fragrance. Are you excited to see what makes the lists?! Let's get started!

THE BEST OF 2011 -- FRAGRANCE

BRITNEY SPEARS -- Curious
I have loved this perfume ever since it came out back in... 2004? It's a light and slightly fruity floral that is still distinctive and unique. With notes like vanilla, pear, magnolia, tuberose, jasmine and musk.. it's a perfect daytime scent that's a staple in my fragrance collection!

BURBERRY -- Burberry Brit
This is my absolute favorite Burberry fragrance. Walking the line between traditional and "modern" perfectly, it's a very sweet smell with a strong vanilla base and has notes including: lemon, pear, almond, white peony, amber, and mahogany. I wish the wear time on it was a little bit longer, but I think I might need to switch over to an EDP instead of the EDT.

FAITH HILL -- Faith Hill
This is a personal favorite of mine because the bottle I have belonged to my late Granny, so I don't use it as much as I would like to. Faith Hill is such an iconic beauty and amazing woman.. and her fragrance embodies her femininity. With notes of peony, magnolia, jasmine, gardenia, musk, and iris.. it is floral, while still managing to be decadent and seductive. Plus, the bottle looks amazing sitting on a vanity!


GIORGIO ARMANI -- Emporio Armani Lei
First, let me start by saying that I love the simplicity of this bottle. While fun and fancy bottles can be a great addition to the fragrance (Purr by Katy Perry, anyone?!), there's something about the bland and utilitarian aspect of this that makes it stand out for me. But now onto the scent itself.. Powdery and citrus-y, it's the perfect combination. Notes include: pineapple, lime, mandarin orange, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley, cedar, amber, musk and vanilla.

HARVEY PRINCE -- Yogini
I got a sample of this in my December Birchbox and immediately knew that I had to at least buy the travel size. (It came today! Hooray!) Woody, warm and spicy, Yogini is a "meditative fragrance that calms the mind and frees the soul." And it definitely is calming! Notes in this include: grapefruit, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, incense and Egyptian Myrrh. Now that I have my mini, I think I might be asking for a full-size bottle for my birthday. It seriously smells SO amazing.
**Affiliate link used**

JENNIFER ANISTON -- Lolavie
"Lolavie" roughly translates to "Laughing at life" in French. Chris loves this one because he has a huge crush on Jen and upon smelling this said "I bet.. if you smelled Jennifer Aniston.. she would smell just like this!" Ahh, the simplicity of men. :) Lolavie is clean, sensual and reminds me of the beach. Standard notes of basically every perfume I love: citrus, rose, jasmine, musk, sandalwood and amber.


VICTORIA'S SECRET -- Love Rocks
This is definitely a statement-making, rebellious fragrance. Chris describes this one as "Axe for girls" and I think he hits it right on the head. Notes of plum, violet, vanilla, bergamot, peony, sandalwood, jasmine, and amber complete this and make it a true joy to wear. I have the body spray and even it lasts for a very long time on me.. actually longer than most of my EDTs!

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Sorry I got this in so late today! That's what I get for procrastinating, I suppose. So YAY! That wraps up my "Best of 2011" series. I hope you enjoyed it.. did you find any of your favorites on my lists? Or did you learn about something new that you want to try? :)

Tomorrow I'll be looking back at my 2011 Resolutions and seeing how well I did!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

BEST OF 2011 -- MAKEUP


Hey everyone! Today is the fourth day of my "Best of 2011" series! I'll be sharing my favorite/must-have products of the year with you. Some of them are new, some of them aren't.. they're just products I've discovered in 2011. Either way, I'm super excited to share them with you!

Each day will have a new category: hair, skincare, nails, makeup, and fragrance. Are you excited to see what makes the lists?! Let's get started!

THE BEST OF 2011 -- MAKEUP

Smashbox's Photo Finish Foundation Primer
I had to give this one a few tries before I discovered my absolute love of it. Even though it's expensive, I strongly believe it's worth every penny. My makeup glides on so smoothly, and it helps keep oily skin at bay. Plus.. a little goes a long way so you'll actually end up saving money in the long run! Read my full review here.

ELF's Golden Bronzer
A very subtle bronzer that is great for contouring. The price is great ($3!!) and the packaging is similar to NARS. I've had mine for over 4 months and it is still going strong. Plus I like that you blend the four colors to create the perfect shade. It's not too dark and not too shimmery.. It's absolutely perfection. Read my full review here.


ELF's Mellow Mauve Blush
This is a new favorite for me.. and I'm sad that it took me this long to discover it! Mellow Mauve is the perfect healthy flush. Plus it's the same price and has the same packaging as the bronzer listed above. I used to switch my blushes up for different seasons, but I think I love this one enough that it might become my new year-round staple blush!


ELF's Liquid Liner
I love everything about this liner: the pigmentation, the line it leaves, and the price! It's only a dollar! They also have a ton of fun colors and it lasts all day once it's dry. I can confidently proclaim that this liquid liner trumps my former tried-and-true $7 liner. If you try it, you'll be sure to see why! Read my full review here.

ESSENCE Lip Gloss
I think essence is one of the most under-rated beauty brands, and I wish we got more of their products here in the U.S.! These glosses are only $1.99, come in a wide variety of colors, and aren't drying or sticky. I absolutely love them. I have duplicates for my makeup bag at home and my purse. 

MAYBELLINE's Color Sensational Lipstick #140 Fuchsia Fever
2011 is officially the year that I mastered both the true red and bright fuchsia lips. While I originally only bought this lipstick for my Katy Perry Halloween costume, it quickly became a staple in my makeup bag when I realized how gorgeous it is! The Color Sensational line is smooth, long lasting, and non-drying. Read my full review here.

MAYBELLINE's "Lots of Lashes" Great Lash Mascara
Great Lash is a love affair that has lasted over a decade for me. The iconic pink and green tube.. It's the mascara my mom used, and the first tube I ever bought for myself. It doesn't hurt that the formula is also amazing.. But the newly redesigned "Lots of Lashes" brush has made me fall in love with it all over again! Now it's so easy to get each and every lash and into every corner with the tapered wand. I'm officially in love!

NYX's Eye Shadow Base
While I actually prefer the flesh-toned base to the white for daily use, I love that they offer 3 varieties: flesh, matte white and white pearl. These and the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils make the best long-wearing non-creasing shadow base and it's inexpensive and lasts forever! I never go a day without using this little miracle!

PALLADIO'S Waterproof Herbal Eye Liner
FINALLY. A waterproof liner that is inexpensive and stays put... even on your bottom water line! The pigmentation is superb, and I've always been partial to crayon liners. These come in an array of colors, but I use the black one practically every day. Read my full review here.

TARTE's LipSurgence Crayons
These are another "higher-end" makeup discovery I've fallen in love with this year. The crayons are convenient, super-hydrating, and smell like peppermint! Yummy! Plus they have such a wide variety of colors and finishes (matte, shimmer, and shiny). They last a long time, and I love wearing them over coordinating lipstick to get a brilliant shine and make my lips feel moisturized. Read my full review here.

WET N WILD'S Eye Shadows
Instead of picking one palette, I decided to just include all of WnW's shadows in my favorites. They're so buttery smooth, blendable, and pigmented! I always get compliments when I wear them and people are shocked when I tell them it's Wet N Wild. If I had to pick a favorite palette, it'd be the soon to be discontinued Vanity Palette. I wear that practically every day. But Walking on Eggshells (pictured above) is amazing too.

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Alright.. we're almost done! Come back tomorrow to wrap up with week with the Best of Fragrances!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BEST OF 2011 -- NAILS


Hey everyone! Today is the third day of my "Best of 2011" series! I'll be sharing my favorite/must-have products of the year with you. Some of them are new, some of them aren't.. they're just products I've discovered in 2011. Either way, I'm super excited to share them with you!

Each day will have a new category: hair, skincare, nails, makeup, and fragrance. Are you excited to see what makes the lists?! Let's get started!

THE BEST OF 2011 -- NAILS

OPI's Designer, De Better!
When I first saw swatches of this, I thought I would pass it by.. but upon seeing it in person, I knew I had to have it. Funny how that works, isn't it? Designer, De Better! is a gorgeous light, metallic champagne/bronze flecked with red that is certainly unique in my collection. It looks great by itself or as a subtle base for nail art.

CHINA GLAZE's It's Alive!
While I'm not a huge fan of green polish, there's something about It's Alive! that caught my eye. The army green color is definitely not one I'd normally wear, but it looks amazing with the glitter and also plays nicely with my skin tone. Plus, as I've said before.. I love chasing Chris around the house while wiggling my fingers and saying "IT'S ALIIIIIVVVVEEEE!!!!" :D

OPI's Sweetheart
This one definitely isn't a new polish, but it's so simple and delicate that I can't help but love it. Sweetheart is perfect palette cleansing color for when I want a more subdued and clean look. It's great for spring or a job interview and I've found myself wearing it more than I ever expected.. and I'm not a even a fan of pastels!

CULT NAILS' Unicorn Puke
I feel like any top polish list would be incomplete this year without the addition of Unicorn Puke/Clairvoyant. Man, what a gorgeous polish! It's one of the few flakies that actually does flash an entire rainbow instead of just 2 or 3 colors.. and I love it all the more for that. My bottle is extra special to me because Maria surprised me with it when I replied to one of her tweets after it was released. This is 2 coats of Puke over Color Club's Pucci-licious.

REVLON's Whimsical
If you've ever checked my "Wish List".. you've definitely seen Deborah Lippmann's Glitter in the Air polish on that list. I've been lemming it for everrrr and now? I don't need it! Who would have thought that 2011 would be Revlon's year?! They've come out with so many amazing colors, and several are great dupes for high-end polishes! Whimsical is spot on what I wanted and needed from GITA and it's even more special since it was a Christmas present from my dear friend Jacqui. Shown is 2 coats of Whimsical over 1 coat of ChG Sea Spray

ZOYA's Carey
Carey is easily the most special polish in my entire collection. I've mentioned my grandparents a few times on here before. They were very close to me, and I loved them very much. My Granny passed away in May, but my PawPaw passed away in 2007. His name was Carey.. so you can see why this polish means so much to me. And this cool periwinkle grey is the perfect color for him. I even got my mom a bottle of it for Christmas.

Me with my grandparents. I think I was about 4 here?
OPI's I Lily Love You
This is one of the most unusual polishes I've seen come out of OPI in a while. Somewhere between a glitter and a flakie, I Lily Love You is a cheerful bottle of pink iridescent goodness! I've layered it over one coat of Zoya Ali here and it looks right at home. If you're looking for an easy way to jazz up a mani, this is definitely it! It's been on my wish list forever, so I'm glad it's finally mine. (♥)

ZOYA's Savita
I'm usually not a big fan of matte polishes, but Savita is something special. Even though I love her more with a coat of SV on top.. there's something special about her matte-ness that puts her on this list. It's just the quintessentially perfect purple. (Say that 5x fast!) And Savita has actually made me reconsider mattes in general. Before, I would have never given them a second thought. Now I have a couple more and I'm planning on getting the rest of the Zoya mattes at some point. :)

ESSIE's Shine of the Times
Since I missed out on Sally Hansen's Hidden Treasure, I literally tripped over myself to get 2 bottles of SOTT for myself and I can't say I regret the decision. For those who are fortunate enough to own HT, I know SOTT isn't much to brag about.. but it's a FLAKIE from ESSIE. No offense to the essie lovers, but it is one of the most underwhelming polish brands for me.. so the fact that they put this out gives them a lot of credit in my book! I love that SOTT completely changes depending on what you layer it over. This is over one coat of WnW Ebony Hates Chris.

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Are you enjoying my picks so far?! Stay tuned... Tomorrow is the Best of Makeup!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BEST OF 2011 -- SKINCARE



Hey everyone! Today is the second day of my "Best of 2011" series! I'll be sharing my favorite/must-have products of the year with you. Some of them are new, some of them aren't.. they're just products I've discovered in 2011. Either way, I'm super excited to share them with you!

Each day will have a new category: hair, skincare, nails, makeup, and fragrance. Are you excited to see what makes the lists?! Let's get started!

THE BEST OF 2011 -- SKINCARE

BEST SKIN REGIMEN: Murad Acne & Aging Skin Solution

2011 is the year I was finally able to take control of my acne and I feel super confident in the way my skin looks and feels! Yes, I still get an occasional breakout, but I've been able to switch over to using tinted moisturizer (or even just powder!) instead of heavy foundation every day.. and that's worth everything to me! Read my full review here.

BEST GENTLE CLEANSER: philosophy's purity facial cleanser

My experience with Purity was basically love at first use. This cleanser is so gentle, but so effective. And the smell is amazing! Very light and herbal. Purity is non-greasy and perfect for those days when I can see that my skin is a little dry and needs some extra TLC. It's lightly hydrating without exacerbating my oily skin. Read my full review here.
BEST CLEANSING CLOTHS: Pond's Morning Refresh/Evening Soothe Wet Cleansing Cloths

I originally gave these an average review.. but the more I use them, the more I love them. I've even begun to appreciate Morning Refresh. I just adore how convenient these are for nights when I can't be bothered to wash my makeup off, or for mornings I wake up SUPER late for work. (Happens to the best of us from time to time.) But the Evening Soothe is still my favorite by far. I just can't get enough of the smell! Read my full review here.
BEST FACIAL SCRUB: St. Ives Blemish & Blackhead Control Apricot Scrub

I've been a devotee of St. Ives' Medicated Apricot Scrub for about a decade now. I love how it smells, and how smooth it makes my skin feel. Plus, it's gentle enough for me to use daily if I want! I like to use this in the shower after I wash my face and then let it sit while I do everything else I need to. I rinse it off as the last thing before I turn the water off, and my skin is soft and glowing! I also like that this is a great drugstore product that's all natural, doesn't test on animals and retails for under $5!

BEST DRUGSTORE MASQUE: Freeman Mint & Lemon Clay Masque

I love everything about this masque. It's inexpensive, smells amazing, and is green! Who doesn't like walking around with a green face every now and then? :)

Haha, but seriously. This masque truly does deep clean your pores to remove any excess dirt or oil. It also helps control acne and blackheads. I love how it cools while it dries, then you get to rinse if off with warm water. Your skin is left feeling super clean and refreshed! Plus it's less than $4. What could be better than that?!
BEST LUXURY MASQUE: June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque

I love everything about this masque... except the price. It's thick, and rich, and smells just like my suntanning body butter which is amazing and gives me a little bit of summer all year long. Unfortunately, it's $60+ a tub. But oh my gosh, it's SO worth it. 

It's a luxurious treat for my face when I feel like I need some extra special pampering. Chris can always tell when I use this masque because he says my skin feels "baby soft" and I notice that my face seems less oily the next day. Both are wins in my book!

BEST SUNLESS TANNER: Ocean Potion Ever Glow

It's true that I've tried practically every sunless tanner on the market.. and this is by far my personal favorite. It's gradual, natural-looking, smells good, is easy to blend.. and you can get a 20 oz bottle (which is HUGE) for $3.98 at WalMart. Tell me that's not the most amazing news you've heard all day! Read my full review here.

BEST MAKEUP REMOVER: Sonia Kashuk Remove

As a contact lens wearer, I appreciate that this product is safe for contacts and sensitive eyes and completely removes all of my makeup without any burning or irritation. It's not oily, has no scent and leaves no residue. I'll never use another makeup remover because I don't think I could ever find one I like better. Read my full review here.

BEST SHOWER GEL/BODY WASH: Bath & Body Works Products

Pick your favorite scent, and B&BW probably has it. I love their shower gels so much. They smell great and they're always on sale. I don't even want to tell you how many bottles I have in reserve right now.. except that it's probably entirely too many. But when they're $2, how can you refuse?! I just wish they wouldn't retire my favorite scents. It makes me so sad!

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Whew! That's a lot of stuff! Stay tuned tomorrow for The Best of Nail Products!

Monday, December 26, 2011

BEST OF 2011 -- HAIR


Hey everyone! Today is the first day of my "Best of 2011" series! I'll be sharing my favorite/must-have products of the year with you. Some of them are new, some of them aren't.. they're just products I've discovered in 2011. Either way, I'm super excited to share them with you!

Each day will have a new category: hair, skincare, nails, makeup, and fragrance. Are you excited to see what makes the lists?! Let's get started!

THE BEST OF 2011 -- HAIR

BEST SHAMPOO: Redken Smooth Down

Believe me when I admit that I've tried a LOT of shampoos and I have to say that I was skeptical about plopping down big money on some.. because let's face it: More money on shampoo means less money for makeup and polish. However, I got a 10.1 oz bottle of Smooth Down to try when I could get it 40% off and.. I can honestly say I'll never go back to drugstore shampoo.

Not only does it have a rich lather and smell amazing (Clean and slightly masculine. Hubby uses it, too!) it gives me a chance to actually have second day hair! Drugstore shampoos do nothing to halt my hair's copious production of oil.. and then it turns into a vicious cycle because washing my hair everyday makes it produce even MORE oil.

But for the most important part: It really does make my hair super straight! I only have to lightly go over the ends of my hair with my flat iron just to get them stick straight like the rest of my hair. It's awesome!

BEST TREATMENT: It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner

I did a full review on this product months ago, but I love how well (and quickly!) it helped repair my severely damaged hair. And how it smells great, detangles my hair, and doesn't weigh it down or make it greasy looking! A small bottle retails for $18, but lasts a long time because you only need 4-5 sprays per use!

BEST DRY SHAMPOO: Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Dry Shampoo

For beauties with dark hair, Pronto Invisible is a must! Not only does it smell amazing (just like Froot Loops!) but it really is invisible in your hair, so there's no fretting that you'll leave the house with unsightly white powder in your hair! Great for quick hair refreshes or to add texture to your hair to aid in teasing or creating volume. I love a good multi-use product! Read my full review here.

RUNNER UP: Suave Professionals' Keratin-Infusion Dry Shampoo. 

BEST OF HAIR ACCESSORIES: TwistBands

A cute hair band that looks fantastic on your wrist, holds your hair securely and doesn't give you the dreaded ponytail crimp OR a headache?! I know it seems impossible, but TwistBands deliver on all of those promises! And they come in a slew of fun colors and now they make headbands too! I'm officially hooked. I use them all the time and absolutely refuse to share them with anyone. No matter how desperate their "I-Need-A-Pony-Holder-NOW" situation is. :)

BEST OF HAIR COLOR: I-Tip Colored Remy Hair Extensions

After destroying my hair earlier this year, I wasn't really in the mood to bleach or color it again for a very long time.. but when I saw these super cute I-Tip extensions in my signature hot pink.. I simply couldn't resist. They are attached to small sections of your hair with a little plastic or metal bead and then simply come out when you're ready to remove them. There's no damage to your hair, and mine stayed in for about 10 weeks before they'd grown out too far and I had them taken out. I had 6 put in and I could wash/dry/straighten/curl them because they were real human hair. The color stayed pretty bright the whole time I had them, and they blended in well with my real hair and never shed. Plus, they were pretty inexpensive, compared to getting real highlights!

I'm anxious to get another set of them, but I think I might try another color this time. Teal, perhaps? We'll have to see!

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Well, that wraps up Day One of The Best of 2011! Come back tomorrow for The Best of Skincare! :D