Thursday, March 31, 2016

Forbidden Kiss Infallible Pro Matte Gloss by L'Oreal

Disclaimer:  Received as compensation for participation in consumer study.
Did you know that L'Oreal has a Consumer Product Testing Program that you can sign up for?  I've participated in a few of them now, including one this month for a brow product.  In return for testing and giving feedback on products in development, L'Oreal will send makeup products as a thank you, which is how I received the Forbidden Kiss Infallible Pro Matte Gloss.
Forbidden Kiss is a raspberry magenta that I associate color-wise more with fall, although there is really no reason why I wouldn't wear it in warm weather as well.
This looks mighty glossy in the arm swatches, doesn't it?  I decided to compare it with a similar matte shade that I own, Pucker Up by Julep.  Pucker Up is distinctly matte when swatched, with more of a mousse-like texture.
However, Forbidden Kiss does become matte when sheered out/patted on the lips, which is how I like to wear it.  The color of Forbidden Kiss also becomes very similar to Pucker Up when sheered out, although Pucker Up has more of a violet undertone that makes it lean more pink.. The formula is comfortable on and my lips did not feel like they were suffering even after several hours of wear. While not transfer proof, the color did last for a good 3-4 hours.

Pucker Up by Julep
Forbidden Kiss by L'Oreal
Overall, thumbs up for Forbidden Kiss!  It's not something that was on my radar, but I'm quite happy to have received it as compensation for the consumer study.

Monday, March 28, 2016

March Yogi Surprise Jewelry Subscription Box: Creating Space

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
The theme of the March Yogi Jewelry Subscription Box ($24.99) was "creating space".  Let's ponder for a moment:
Yoga is all about space.  And according to Einstein, space is relative.  Our task then is to discover how we can create and control space instead of being controlled by space.  It’s a virtuous cycle, to let go of what’s unhealthy and to fill that space with what we most need.  Let these unique jewelry pieces serve as a reminder to cultivate our abundance space that exists within the mind, body and soul.
Letting go of what's unhealthy and filling that space with what I most need....hmmm....this may be my mantra for the next few months.  But for now, let's look at the box items, starting with the Pearl & Amazonite Buddha bracelet. I really like this, and fortunately I have small wrists so this actually fits nicely without feeling too tight.  Amazonite is associated with communication, and in particular speaking the truth while remaining calm and unemotional.  Kind of like the Buddha.

The Feather Rose Quartz Point Pendant necklace is a double-strand antique bronzed with the feather on the shorter strand and the rose quartz on the longer. My rose quartz is very light in tone, almost white, with striations that give it some texture. Quite a striking necklace. Rose quartz is associated with universal, unconditional love, while pearls are associated with purity and spiritual transformation.  Yogi Surprise suggests letting the piece "be a reminder to continuously create the space necessary for evolution to a higher plane".
This month's treat was the Buddha Chocolate Quinoa Crunch Bar.  Think a much healthier Nestle's Crunch Bar made out of dark chocolate and crunchy quinoa. It was very, very good and I love the added protein factor from the quinoa.
I'm really enjoying my Yogi Surprise Jewelry subscription box thus far, and think this month's theme and items were spot on!

Friday, March 25, 2016

NOTD: Yiyi by Julep

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
I've been remiss in taking pictures of my manicures lately, at least partly due to the sad state of my cuticles and not wanting to see hangnails that seem to pop up again as soon as I clip them. However, Yiyi by Julep is too pretty to not post about.
Described as a "pink freesia holographic jelly", Yiyi was a breeze to work with. Due to it's sheer nature, I used 3 thin coats over Julep's Oxygen Bonding Base Coat. Wearing polish almost non-stop has got my nails peeling, and I'm hoping the Oxyden Bonding base and Oxygen Performance top coats help out with that. I did get a good five days of wear before the first chip showed up, so that's pretty good.
I hope Julep does more of the holographic jelly Special Effects finish polishes, as the delicate holo shows up quite nicely in the sheered out pigment.  It's got me wondering what a jelly sandwich would look like..............

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Julep March Maven Box: Lighten Up

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
I recently received an email from Julep letting me know that my old subscription plan was being upgraded to the newer plan at no extra cost to me. Sweet. Essentially that means I can now customize my box while still paying the grandfathered in price of $19.99.
It was really perfect timing, as I was just about to run out of the Rethink Your Shower Hydrating Body Cleansing Oil, which I really enjoy and even made my best of 2015 list. Considering it's a more expensive item ($38) and I can still add it to my box?  Extra sweet.
This cleansing oil has Grape seed oil to sooth skin and tighten pores, coconut oil to prevent dryness, Kukui nut seed oil to moisturize and protect, grapefruit peel oil to cleanse and even skin tone, and glycerin and urea to help skin retain water. It has a light citrus fragrance and will suds up nicely if you use a net poof. Otherwise it's low sudsing but still effective.
For my polish I chose Yiyi ($14), a pink freesia holographic jelly.  This is a new finish from Julep, and it performed and wore very well.  I love jelly polishes and this is the first time I've seen a jelly holo.  NOTD pics will be up on Friday featuring Yiyi and an azalea or two, as they are currently blooming in Mobile.
I'm also a big fan of Julep's When Pencil Met Gel eyeliners ($16), and there were two new colors offered this month:  a blue and a teal. I went with the Electric Teal Shimmer, and it's a beauty.
Seriously, these rival any pencil eyeliner I've tried, and I've tried a LOT.  The color is vibrant, smooth, and budge proof once it sets. Julep claims these have a 10+ hour wear time, and I can get a good 8-9 hours on my oily lids, which is about as good as it gets for me.
Quite happy with the March Maven box and I think Julep is hitting their stride with their non-polish/nail products. I still remember the naysayers who were dismayed that Julep was venturing into new territory with cosmetics and skincare, but I say keep going! There have definitely been more hits than misses for me in the past year.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bronze Goddess Summer Glow Illuminator by Estee Lauder

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Part of the 2016 Bronze Goddess collection by Estee Lauder, the Summer Glow Illuminator ($32) is a apricot hued shimmer designed to bring a glow wherever you decide to use it.  Since I'm a sucker for liquid highlighters, I decided to venture down this lane and give it a shot.
The packaging is a potentially nifty dropper bottle.  I say potentially, as I do not find the dropper does a good job of picking up and dispensing the liquid illuminator.  I've taken to just smearing the side of the dropper along my hand to pick up the liquid, which is workable but puts me a slightly bad mood because IT'S NOT WORKING LIKE IT'S SUPPOSED TO.
The shimmer particles are very fine and once blended on the skin you get no obvious glitter particles, but rather a subtle glow and brightening of the face.  I've been applying it directly under my foundation and if I peer very closely in the mirror I can see a faint shimmer, but nothing really detectable from a normal distance.
What I have noticed is that I like how it wears under makeup, as at the end of the day I think my skin looks brighter and just a little bit better.  There isn't a "wow" factor, but there is a bit of je ne sais quoi.  Is it $32 worth of je ne sais quoi? I'm not completely convinced it is, but it is pretty and I will use it despite the non-functioning dropper.
So far, I'm kind of 'meh' about the Bronze Goddess items I picked up. One more item to go...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spicy Smoothies: Getting Healthy from the Inside Out

I eat a smoothie for breakfast about 4-5 times a week, and I love them. LOVE THEM. I've fine tuned my ingredients after doing a fair amount of reading and now include several spices and "super foods" in the mix, aiming for high impact health and skincare benefits.
Healthy greens such as baby spinach and/or kale (vitamins K, A, and C) make up at least half of the smoothie, and if I have celery (vitamin K and molybdenum) on hand that will get tossed in as well.  I hate the taste of uncooked celery, but I'm finding I can tolerate things in smoothies that I won't touch otherwise (beets, anyone?).
I'll also add bell peppers (vitamin C and carotenoids). A quarter of an avocado adds healthy fat, which is important for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and carotenoids. I also like adding fresh ginger root for both it's flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits.
I'll vary the types of fruits I add each day, although half a banana (potassium) is a staple. I'll typically buy a bunch of 5-6 bananas and be able to use 2 before they start getting too ripe. I'll then cut up and freeze the rest, which works just fine for smoothies.
I buy large bags of frozen fruit from either Walmart or Costco, with my favorites being mixed blueberries/blackberries/raspberries, cherries, and mixed peaches/pineapple/strawberies. So, my fruit blend would be bananas with one of the mixes or the cherries. The fruit provides a great balance to the greens and vegetables, rounding out both the flavor and nutritional aspects.
Next come spices and protein powder. Yes, spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Turmeric and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory powers (although their benefits extend far beyond that), and the less inflammation in our bodies, the better. I can tell a major difference in the level of joint/muscle pain that is an almost constant for me (due to scoliosis) since I started eating them regularly. While I still need to do yoga to keep my muscles stretched out, the level of pain is much less on a day to day basis.
Cinnamon helps with blood sugar control, cayenne with revving up your metabolism, and black pepper helps with the absorption of turmeric.  I actually like my smoothies better with the added kick from the spices, so don't be afraid to try them. I buy my spices in bulk for much cheaper prices than I find in grocery stores, and I suspect they are fresher as well.
I use 1 teaspoon of turmeric, half a tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of cayenne, and throw in 1-2 whole black pepper buds. I've been using a soy-based protein powder and usually put about 1/3 of a day's serving in, as I do better with some protein first thing in the morning.
I'll sometimes add "boosters" like Maca powder (vitamins B, C, E, increased energy levels) or cacao powder (flavanoids, oleic acid) as well, and purchase mine from Amazon. I then fill up the container about half way with water (green tea and almond milks are my other two liquid go to's).
After mixing everything I'll typically add 4-5 ice cubes and mix some more. The result is 2 servings of smoothie and I can honestly say I look forward to these. Oatmeal is my other breakfast staple (see my recipe here) for my non-smoothie mornings, but I've yet to tire of either making or drinking these.
If you've got a favorite smoothie recipe or ingredients, please share!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Le Métier de Beauté February/March VIP Boxes: Get Your Glow On

Disclaimer:  I purchased these.
After several lackluster months, Le Métier de Beauté has redeemed themselves with the February and March VIP boxes.  Both boxes feature products that are designed to make your skin glow, so let's take a look.
The cult favorite Peau Vierge Tinted Luminizer is both skincare and makeup. You can use it as a face primer or mix it with liquid foundation for a soft glow that is truly lovely.  Here is how Neiman Marcus describes it:

Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complexe contains the breakthrough, proprietary delivery system Syntoc Actif. This exclusive and patented technology aids in the improved delivery of key ingredients. Among those ingredients is retinol—the most efficacious anti-aging active proven to smooth lines, refine texture and even tone. SPF 18 protects the complexion, while light-diffusing pigments help to instantly blur and diffuse imperfections for a smooth, radiant, natural-looking finish.

I still have a Peau Vierge that I received back in 2014 from the VIP subscription, so I've broken that one out to use up.  It will take a while, as a pea sized amount is enough to cover my face and the tube sent back in 2014 is a whopping 2 ounces, which is twice as much as the pump (1 oz, $125).  So, I'm set for a while :-)
Peau Vierge somes in 4 different shades, but these are sheer in nature and I think the difference is subtle at best.  I've only used Shade 2, which is described as a true neutral beige, and it's perfect for my skin.  It's actually hard to see Peau Vierge in skin swatches, but if you enlarge the picture below you can see the shimmer on my hand after I applied it to my face.
March's offering is the Trompe l'Oeil powder highlighter, which was designed for the VIP program. It's a gorgeous pink champagne hue and I'm definitely looking forward to playing with this one.  While I use highlighters year round, spring definitely brings them even more to the forefront.  I will post a more thorough review once I have used this a bit.
The enclosed card indicates you can wear it over blush or as an eyeshadow as well, and the powder is finely milled with that ethereal type of glow that should look good wherever you decide to wear it.  Trompe l'Oeil is French for "deceive the eye" and is an art technique where objects appear to be 3-dimensional.  Great name for a highlighter.

Well done, LMdB, well done. You can't go wrong with Peau Vierge, and Trompe l'Oeil looks very promising.