Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet the Metro Atlanta Beauty Bloggers!

Hey everyone! It is with great excitement that today I get to finally share one of the projects I've been devoting a lot of time to lately!

For the last several months, I had been wanting to find a better way to connect with other beauty bloggers in my area. I felt like I was missing a sense of camaraderie and knew that I couldn't be the only blogger in metro Atlanta. In June, I finally created a group called the Metro Atlanta Beauty Bloggers (MABB for short) and I'm thrilled that several wonderfully talented bloggers have already joined!

This month we've been hard at work designing logos and a website, and coming up with a weekly blog segment that we thought our readers would enjoy. That weekly segment will start tomorrow, so please be sure to stop by and check it out!

In the mean time, I hope you will take a moment to stop by and say hi to the other MABB ladies:

Quinn from Mama Fashionista
Sihui from SiSi Sparkles

If you are a beauty blogger living in the Metro Atlanta area and would like to join us, please visit our website and fill out the form under the "Join Us!" tab! We would LOVE to connect with you!

Monday, July 30, 2012

@MMMandysSecrets is Now on Instagram!

Hey everyone! Happy Monday! A couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and joined Instagram. Please follow me with the same handle I use on Twitter: @MMMandysSecrets! I'd love to follow you back! I'm slightly obsessed and check in at least 10 times a day. My feed needs more fresh material! lol :)

And just to pique your curiosity.. here's some of the great stuff you could be missing out on by not following me (in no particular order):

HILARIOUS pictures of overweight cats doing awkward things.

Awesome stuffed animals that my Mother-in-Law makes for me!
(Yes, that's Hobbes from Calvin & Hobbes. Be jealous!)

Manicures that never make it to the blog...
(NOPI Others Pale by Kim-Parison, FYI)

Pictures of adorable puppies.
(Look at that FACE!)

Delicious noms.

And lastly...

Fortune cookie philosophies.

You see?! Something for EVERYONE! Beauty stuff, adorable animals, food, philosophy, and wisdom... You should TOTALLY be following me. Like right now. No, seriously. :)

Hope you all had a great weekend! I've got some epic stuff to kick off this week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NOTD -- A New Franken: Infinity Pool

Hey everyone! Happy Thursday! Today I have a new franken that I whipped up on Monday night. I always hate when I can never find a polish that I want to wear (which is happening all too frequently lately..). Hubby was like "Well, why don't you just make one, then?"

Why don't I indeed? :P

So as I sat there muttering about what an insufferable jerk he can be sometimes, I started grabbing polishes and mixing. There was really no rhyme or reason.. I just wanted to see what Revlon Royal would look like with some flakies.. and it sort of spiraled out of control from there.

A little Bettina Hot Pants for some shimmer.. Some extra glitter for the hell of it.. You know how it goes. Since I wasn't intending for this to really turn into anything, I didn't bother to write down measurements.. but I wish I had because it's awesome! Here's what I used:

  • Wet N Wild Kaleidoscope
  • Revlon Royal
  • Bettina Hot Pants
  • Venique Twinkling Snow
  • Finger Paints Flecked
  • Finger Paints Motley
Gratuitous bottle shot.
Overall, I really like it! I just wish the flakies showed up more, but hey.. You win some, you lose some. I decided to call it Infinity Pool because I'm honestly quite fascinated by infinity pools and this polish just seems to have such depth to it, even though it's still pretty much a jelly. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Controlling My "Impulse Buys"

Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday! Is it just me, or does it feel like this week is dragging? I feel like it should be at least Thursday... but maybe that's just because I have Friday off and I want it to get here as fast as possible! ;)

Anyways, today I'm going to talk to you about how I've learned to control my "Impulse Buys".. You know, where you go into a store to buy one thing and walk about with 14 other items? Yeah.. I've been there. And done that.. And I'm now a (mostly) reformed Impulse Buyer!

Admittedly, I went through a couple of

phases a little while back.. First, when I started MandysSecrets. I was a beauty blogger! I needed items to review, damn it! I needed to expand my stash to include EVERY MAKEUP ITEM EVERRRR!!! And so I bought. And I bought. And I bought. And finally my poor husband was like "No, seriously. You're cut off."

So I abstained. And then I got hired at my current job. Where I work in a makeup/beauty store. And the vicious cycle started all over again. "But it's on sale! And I get a discount! And I neeeeeeeeeeeeed it!" I was like a woman possessed. Makeup had become my crack and I could barely leave work without buying something. 

And then I took stock of my beauty products and realized how much stuff I truly have. (Trust me, it's a LOT..) So here's how I now decide if I truly need that 32nd pink creme polish, or that 11th taupe shadow:

1. Do I have something similar?
This is especially true for my 400+ bottles of polish. I don't need 5 versions of the exact same color in different brands. What makes this bottle unique to my collection? And if I buy this one, would I be willing to part with at least TWO other polishes I already have to keep it? If I can't answer the first question, or the answer to the second question is "no".. then I put the product back.

2. Do I actually need a new one?
Since I get products to review for MandysSecrets, and I get gratis makeup at work.. I already have a large bag of brand new makeup for when I run out of my current products. Do I really need that black liner when I already have 3 new ones sitting at home? Or am I just in a snatch-n-grab kind of mood? 

3. Am I buying it for the sale?
At my work, we're always running great sales: BOGO, B2G2, B2G1, etc.. and that weighs very heavily on my impulse to hoard beauty products. Do I NEED 4 shower gels right this second? Absolutely not.. "But it's Buy 2, Get 2 FREE.. and then I get my discount on top of that! That makes them SO cheap!" Or I get lured in by our countless Gifts with Purchase that we have. So now I ask myself: Would I buy this without the sale or the promise of a GWP? If not, I keep walking.

4. What attracts me to this product?
Most of the time, I want things just because they're new. "It's new! I can review it on MandysSecrets!" ...And then what will I do with it after that? I have a whole pile of products that I've swatched once and won't touch again. Or I get sucked into the whole "Limited Edition" gimmick. Now, I have to make sure the product will solve a beauty problem that I already have before I plunk down cash.

5. Will I actually WEAR it?
This seems like an obvious question, but we've all bought a product at some point that we simply know we will never use. For me, it's colored liners. I usually only use a pop of colored liner below my bottom lashes.. and I've actually found that I enjoy using shadow so much more than liner for that purpose anyways. Even though I find it hard to step away from a gorgeous liner (Urban Decay Woodstock, I'm looking at you..), I think back to the 20+ colored liners I have in my makeup bag that have been used once or twice, and I slowly step away from the product.

Now that I follow these guidelines and really analyze what I'm buying and why I'm buying it, my impulse shopping has dropped dramatically! Even though I admit, sometimes it sucks and I'm standing with an armload of products going 

..Knowing that I'll have more money left over and a happy husband at the end of the day can generally convince me that I'm doing the right thing. And don't get me wrong, I still indulge myself occasionally, but I've found that buying myself something once in a while gives me much more satisfaction and makes me appreciate it more than buying myself something every day. :)

- - - - - * - - - - -

So now I'd love to hear from you! Tell me your tips & tricks for avoiding impulse buys.. and if you're the type who always gives in.. tell me why you're okay with doing so! I love to hear your opinions!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NOTD -- Mermaid Nails... And a *NEW* Ulta Polish! (Ulta Love Fern)

Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday! I'm calling these "Mermaid" nails because I've managed to create a reasonable dupe of Deborah Lippmann's Mermaid's Dream, which retails for $18.

On my index and pinky fingers, I have two coats of Zoya Charla. On my thumbs, middle, and ring fingers I had two coats of Zoya Zuza topped with a brand new Ulta polish: Love Fern! Love Fern is teal microglitter and small round glitter in a clear base. 

I love accent manis where everything ties together seamlessly and you can't tell which nails are supposed to be the accents. Honestly, I can't tell you which is which in this one. They both look awesome! In real life, there difference between the nails isn't as obvious as I would like, but it looks good in pictures and sometimes I feel like that's all that matters when you're a blogger.. lol!

I definitely had to double up on my basecoat because both Charla and Zuza have stained my nails horribly in the past. Also, my nails were completely smooth with one layer of top coat, which is always a plus when you're dealing with glitter.

Here's a pic of Ulta Love Fern on its own. I can't remember exactly, but I want to say this is 5-6 coats. Clearly, it will never build up to opacity, which is kind of a bummer because it looks like it would have a colored base in the bottle.

And here's a bottle shot of the polishes I used. They're sooo pretty! I definitely recommend grabbing Love Fern as soon as you see it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NOTD -- China Glaze First Mate / Skyscraper

Hey everyone! I'm sorry I've been MIA since last Friday. (Btw.. the Lit concert was EPIC!) I've been super busy working on several projects that I'll be sharing with y'all over the next few months. I like to pre-plan wherever possible, so I sat down on my day off yesterday and devoted the day to those side projects. I think it was a worthy investment.

On the downside, now I feel like MandysSecrets is incredibly behind.. when I feel behind, I tend to post almost all nail pics until I can get my head above water again. Since I change my polish almost daily, it gives me a super quick way to get a post up because I hate when I go more than a day or two without posting.

Chatting aside, let's talk polish! This is 2 effortless coats of China Glaze First Mate (which is seriously the most perfect TARDIS blue!) combined with 1 coat of China Glaze Skyscraper on my middle and index fingers. Skyscraper is a denim jelly with silver glitter. The colored base disappears against the background of First Mate, leaving just the glitter visible.

Look at that awesome glitter coverage, though! Seriously.. that's one coat. Skyscraper had been on my wishlist for a long time and I finally got around to picking it up at work. It was on mega clearance, and by the time I took off my discount.. it was like $2. Can't argue with that!

I promise to be better about posting if y'all promise not to mind a few more nail pics until my blogging activities can return to normal and I can catch up on taking/editing pics. :) #BloggerProblems

Hope you've all had a great day!

Friday, July 13, 2012


HAPPY FRIDAYYY, EVERYONE!! I'm super excited because not only do I have a Friday off.. but I'm going to the best concert EVER tonight! Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Marcy Playground... and Lit! 90's throwback FTW!

Lit was a staple in my high school days.. I totally had a HUGE crush on AJ Popoff (he was on my binder for 3 years straight!) and I still love the crap out of them a decade later. And I've never seen them live, so yea.. I can't freakin' wait!

In honor of the occasion, I decided to break out my new Sally Hansen Magnetic Polish in Silver Element that I received from my Summer Beauty Influenster VoxBox and pair it with simple black polish (Wet N Wild Ebony Loves Chris) on my ring fingers and thumbs. On my left ring finger, I did the Lit logo because I wanted a little bit of pizazz. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out! My writing/detail work has really seemed to improve lately. I wasn't motivated enough to repeat it on my right hand, though.. I think that would have been the true test!

I'll give you a full review of the Sally Hansen Magnetic Polish next week.. Today's post is quick because I have a ton of errands to run, but I'll leave you with one of my most favorite Lit songs ever.. FOUR!

What are your favorite bands from your high school days? Blink-182 and Simple Plan also rank very highly for me.. They just capture teenage angst so well! Even though I'm now in mid (to late.. gasp!) 20's, those songs still hold such great memories for me. :)

Hope you all have a great and safe weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NOTD -- Cult Nails Toxic Seaweed

Hey everyone! I can't believe that I haven't shown you this polish before.. Cult Nails Toxic Seaweed was a LE polish from the Let's Get Nekkid! collection that came out a while back. Unfortunately, it's no longer available.. so I'm very thankful that a great friend was kind enough to look out for me and snag me a bottle while they were still around!

Toxic Seaweed is a gorgeous kelp green jelly packed with glitter and flakies! The flakies always look copper to me, but other people say they do shift from red to orange.

My picture is 2 coats of Toxic Seaweed over 1-ish coat(s) of Essie Mojito Madness. Some nails have half of an extra layer of Mojito Madness because it streaked badly when I applied it, but I didn't care enough to do 2 coats since I was covering it up with Toxic Seaweed. You can see a lot of VNL in my pictures, but it's not obvious in person.

I love Toxic Seaweed and always get so many compliments when I wear it, I just never want to wear it because I know I can't get another bottle and I'm stingy! Haha!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NOTD -- Coral/Turquoise/Glitter Nails

Hey everyone! Sorry I couldn't think of a better name for this post.. but today I have some super "on trend" nails to share with you! Turquoise, coral, and gold are some of the hottest colors this summer and I think they look amazing when combined together. 

For this mani, I used OPI Cajun Shrimp, Color Club Age of Aquarius, and OPI Spark de Triomphe over LA Colors Live. I'm also sporting a Cajun Shrimp pedi! It's just such a fun color. I have a mini bottle of it, and I'm definitely going to have to buy a full-size bottle ASAP.

Originally I had both hands with the same color pattern, but it just didn't do it for me. I took my right hand off and alternated the placement of the colors, switching the coral nails for the teal ones. It breaks up the pattern a bit and makes it look a little less predictable. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

REVIEW -- Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream

Hey everyone! Today I have a review of Fekkai's Brilliant Glossing Creme for you. Since my hair has been flip-flopping from blonde to brunette, it's been looking a little worse for wear lately.. and I'm definitely well past time for a trim. I can't stand having scraggly looking ends, and no matter what I've tried they won't stay smooth anymore. Even though I'm generally wary of any hair product containing olive oil, I figured it was worth a shot.

Fekkai's Brilliant Glossing Olive Oil Creme is a frizz-fighting creme that boosts shine with an encapsulated shine-release complex, and seals the hair's cuticle for added smoothness. It is available at salons, Ulta, various etailers, and comes in 3 sizes: 7 oz ($34), 4 oz ($25), and 1.6 oz ($9).

For best results, you should apply a "pea sized" amount to damp or dry hair and then work the product through.

Olive oil hair products aren't usually my favorites because they weigh down fine hair and can tend to make it look greasy, so I let Fekkai's Brilliant Glossing Creme sit on my bathroom counter for almost a month before I broke down and tried it. But when my ends could no longer be tamed by Argan oil, I figured it was time to break out the "intense" product.

Using the smallest "pea sized" amount possible on dry hair, I was instantly impressed that the creme doesn't feel heavy or greasy. It's a little bit thin,  absorbs quickly, and leaves no oily residue behind on my hands when I'm done! Oh.. and the smell? Amazing. Light, but a little bit spice-y.. It's very fresh and clean.

I concentrated most of the product on my ends, and it did make my hair look a bit piece-y and weighed down. After a few passes with my flat iron though, my hair was shiny, smooth, and my ends were definitely tamed! When I've used the product on wet hair, my hair looks normal after blow drying. It's not weighed down or greasy looking at all.

Overall, I really like the Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme. It does a great job of smoothing my hair without weighing it down, and I enjoy the smell. I think it's a bit pricey (1.6 ounces for $9).. but since you use so little, it will last a long time. I have medium-long hair and haven't even made a dent in my 1.6 oz tube after several uses.

I think the creme is a great option for people who don't like to use Moroccan or Argan oil, or who need a product that's a bit more intense. 

I'm going to give it a 4.0 out of 5 star rating.
RATING: 4.0 out of 5 STARS

- - - - - * - - - - -

Have you ever tried Fekkai's Brilliant Glossing Creme? If not, what's your favorite product to smooth your hair? You know how much I love hearing about amazing products!
I received a sample of this product as gratis from my work.
I am in no way obligated to review this product.
All opinions are my own, honest views.
Please see my Disclosures & Policies page for more information.

Friday, July 6, 2012

FRIDAY FAVORITES -- Revlon's Just Bitten Kissable Lip Stains

Hey everyone! Happy Friday! Today's post is going to be a quick one, because frankly.. I'm exhausted. Today is my one day off and the county had a road crew out at our house by 8am redoing the pavement that they tore up... three weeks ago. It would figure, right?! Not like I'd like to sleep in or anything.. Currently, they're out there with a steam roller.. and our ENTIRE house is shaking due to whatever they're doing. Oh well, hopefully they'll be finished today and then we'll have our peace and quiet back.

Anyways, today's Friday Favorite is a product that's been getting a lot of buzz lately! The Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains are pretty new, and they're an excellent drugstore alternative to Tarte's LipSurgence Crayons, which retail for $24 each.

I have three of them (so far!) and I plan on doing a full review soon.. but I did want to go ahead and share them with you because they're awesome! They twist up like the Tarte crayons (which means no wasted product), give a lovely stain that is oftentimes more intense than Tarte, and seem to last longer.. plus they're a third of the price!

Here's a quick swatch of Lovesick, which is a medium/dark hot pink:

If you've been thinking of trying these, I definitely suggest picking one up! They have a great selection of colors to choose from, and I think the quality for the price point is superb.

- - - - - * - - - - -

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ULTA FRIENDS & FAMILY IS BACK! Sun 07/15 - Sat 07/21

Hey everyone! I'm super excited to share with you that the Ulta Friends & Family coupon is back! This coupon gives Rewards Members 20% off of their purchase and Non-Rewards Members receive 15% off of their purchase. If you don't have a club card, you can sign up for one at the time of your purchase to be eligible for the 20% discount.

If you happen to have a friend or family member near you that works for Ulta, you can get an actual postcard copy of the coupon that works like the 20% postcards that get mailed out a few times a year: The only exclusions are Benefit Brow Bar services and Lancome products.

If not, I'm here to share my coupon with you! This version has normal exclusions: No prestige cosmetics, fragrance, and hair artistry items.. but it's still a good coupon because it will work on every qualifying item, instead of just one! I've already input my store's number for you, so all you have to do is print and go!

The coupon is valid in-store and online from Sunday, July 15th, 2012 until Saturday, July 21st, 2012 and you can print and share it as many times as you like, so be sure to pass it on!

**You MUST have a printed version of the coupon to use it in-store.**

Click here to be taken to the printable page, and I will also put the coupon below as well. Enjoy! :D

Please read all exclusions and fine print prior to purchase.
Online redemption instructions are listed on the coupon.
Valid only 07/15/2012 - 07/21/2012.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

NOTD -- Simple & Easy Fourth of July Nails x 2!

Hey everyone! Happy Fourth of July for everyone in the US! The 4th is always one of my favorite holidays, so I'm super stoked for today! I'll be working from 12-5 and then we're going to head up to Chris' dad's farm and have a yummy dinner and possibly shoot off some fireworks! :)

This year I did two sets of patriotic nails.. and neither design is original to me, which is weird. I usually enjoy coming up with my own themes, but this year I just haven't had time.

This is the design I wore on Tuesday. It was originally done by Caitlin of Caitlin's Creative Corner. You can see it here. It's very simple, but stunning all at the same time. I love the simplicity of it and that it's matte! My matte top coat has been woefully neglected for far too long, so I enjoyed rediscovering how much I love it!

I used Wet N Wild Saved by the Blue on all my nails and then topped my ring fingers and thumbs with one coat of China Glaze Love Marilyn, which has red and silver glitters in a clear base. Then I topped everything with 1 coat of Hard Candy's Matte-ly in Love matte top coat.

And these are the nails that I'm actually wearing today! I think this may be one of the only times that you're actually getting to see the design that I'm currently wearing! These are still minimalistic, but a bit more in-your-face than the first set. I also like that they're themed without being "FOURTH OF JULY!" ...Meaning that I don't have to race home and take them off before heading to work at 630 am tomorrow morning, or just leave them on and feel weird about having holiday nails the day after. (Yes, stuff like that really bothers me!)

These adorable nails were originally done by Selena from Pink, You Rock. You can see them here. Hers have a red heart on the ring finger, but I didn't feel like adding it. I also couldn't replicate her middle finger, so I opted for straight silver instead.

For this look, I used Zoya Sooki on my thumb, index, and pinky fingers, LA Colors Live and OPI Crown Me Already! for the silver glitter nails, and Orly Glowstick and Wet N Wild Saved by the Blue with striping tape for the ring fingers. Those fingers definitely needed a good coat of Seche Vite to even everything out.

- - - - - * - - - - -

I hope y'all have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July! And if you're not in the US, I hope you still have a wonderful and safe day!

Be sure to check back tomorrow.. I have an exciting special offer to share with you that's coming out soon! :D

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

PARTY ROCK Nails.. and Tournament Fun!

Hey everyone! This weekend Hubby had his Mid-Season Tournament for Frisbee. He plays through the Atlanta Flying Disc Club and it's become one of the highlights of our summer every year. This summer, his team is called Party Rock (like the LMFAO song), so naturally I had to do some themed nail art when I went out to support him!

The team jerseys are royal blue with black and lime green Party Rock glasses on them. Since black wouldn't really show up against my blue polish, I opted to use white instead. I took inspiration from the Party Rock glasses themselves, the "Shuffle" guy, the Party Rock logo, and Redfoo's love of leopard print. These actually weren't that hard to do and I'm proud to say that my polish-writing skills are improving! Unfortuantely, the Seche Vite that I used had gotten too thick and these didn't make it through the end of Saturday. :(

For Sunday, I cut all of my nails back and wore Sally Hansen Salon Effects strips in Cry Baby. It's a bright (almost neon) baby pink.. very similar in color to Sinful Colors 24/7.

Products Used:
  • Orly -- Royal Navy (blue)
  • Wet N Wild Spoiled -- I'm So Jaded (green)
  • LA Colors -- Live (silver dots on Party Rock glasses)
  • Seche Vite
  • White acrylic paint
  • 1mm green rhinestones on Party Rock glasses
  • Small detail brush
  • Dotting Tool

- - - - - * - - - - -

Chris is wearing the Party Rock jersey.. I'm wearing a party on my shirt. :)
As for the weekend.. it was CRAZY hot outside! Saturday was the hottest day EVER in Atlanta's recorded history. It got up to 106 degrees! 

I know my phone says the high was only going to be 103, but it kept climbing higher throughout the day. No wonder it was already 83 degrees at 10am! We'd been out there for about an hour at that point and were already sweating like crazy. Needless to say, hydration was top priority!

That's my guy! :)
Hubby had a couple of really good plays and made an awesome catch for a score on Sunday. Saturday they went 3-0 and made it to the quarter finals! Sunday wasn't so good.. they were 0-2, but they still have half of the season left to make up for it!

The team captain decided to channel Redfoo's awesomeness for one of the games.. even in the heat! I have to admit that I'm totally jealous of his style and want a pair of those tights. He said he got them on Amazon.. so I might have to rock some at the End of Season Tournament! Haha!

- - - - - * - - - - -

I'll leave you with the Party Rock video because you KNOW you want to watch it. :)