e.l.f. Cosmetics Aqua Beauty Products

As I was walking through the aisles in the target beauty section I tend to skip over e.l.f. cosmetics. Now don’t get me wrong, they do have some great products that I love (especially their brushes). But I haven’t seen anything new out that really caught my eye from them in some time. Once I saw this line, which I think some or these products have been out for some time now, I picked out some of the products to try out. Unfortunately they were out of the liquid eye shadow which I will have to pick up on a different trip. There are some other products in this line as well including a mousse foundation and an expanding skin care line.

The three products I did pick up were the Aqua Primer Mist, a Radiant Gel Lip Stain, and a Blush and Bronzer Duo. I’ve been testing these out for a couple months now and have experimented enough that I feel confident in my opinions of these products.

Aqua Beauty Blush and Bronzer | $6.00

First lets start out with saying that $6 for a full-sized blush and bronzer duo is just out of this world. I was praying to love this product just for the price point. I was really expecting this to be more of a powder product that has a very creamy ‘wet’ kind of feel. It’s definitely a cream product which I’m not the huge fan of, so I tried to put that aside for this review. The product itself blends wonderfully on the skin and on top of makeup. I purchased this in the color bronzed pink beige which is perfect for the summer months. The bronzer is very warm toned and the blush is a more pinky coral. It reminds me a lot of NARs cactus flower without the shimmer. These both are matte but since they are creams they add a nice hydrated glow to the skin. Overall I’m not the biggest fan since I don’t care for cream blushes and bronzers but if you’re in the market for this kind of product, this is a great option at an evener greater price point.

Aqua Beauty Radiant Gel Lip Stain | $4.00

Again with the price point, you can’t ask for it much lower. This product mostly intrigued me by the name. What is a gel lip stain? Well in this case it’s very similar to a traditional lip stain product. It comes in 6 colors but at the store there were only two for me to pick from. I chose Dewy Berry because I love a good berry lip. On the lips this product feels very light and wet but does dry down with a sticky feeling. It wasn’t as pigmented as I was hoping, even after a couple of layers on the lip. It was hard to build up as it started to get streaky. I’m really wondering how the nude shade would look on the lips because this one seemed like every other lip stain product I’ve used. It gave my lips the look you get after finishing a cherry popsicle. I definitely won’t be purchasing more of these and don’t see myself grabbing for this very often, just because the lip stain look is a little dated now and there are so many better products out there.

Aqua Beauty Primer Mist | $8.00

This is marketed as a product to prime, refresh and set makeup. I would highly not recommend spraying this over top makeup as it is not a fine mist and comes out very fast onto the face. As a primer though this products is alcohol and silicone free. It contains cucumber, vitamin E and B which helps hydrate and soothe the skin. I like to use this as kind a ‘pre-primer’ step – yes I’m that extra. I really like the added skin care benefits, especially when my skins feeling dry but for a primer I’m looking for something that’ll cover my pores and smooth my skin out. All together though, I do like this product. I don’t think I’ll be jumping to repurchase it, as I have other mists that do the same thing but the mister is much better for refreshing throughout the day.

From L-R: Bronzed Pink Beige Blush and Bronzer, Dewy Berry Lip Stain

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Transitioning my Makeup from Winter to Spring: What’s in and what’s out?

I don’t think I’m the only one who can say they get excited as soon as the warm weather hits. It really inspires me to switch up most things in my life. Most recently I dyed my hair a deep auburn that shines bright red in the sunlight. Besides my hair I also feel inspired with changing up my wardrobe and make-up routine. This really inspired me to create a What’s In and What’s Out post about my make-up routine switch ups for the spring and summer months. Obviously I’m just speaking for myself and my usual make-up transitions during the hotter months so if you do the complete opposite transitions there’s no harm! There are no rules in make-up!

Cool Toned Mattes Vs. Warm Shimmers

During the winter months I tend to gravitate towards more matte shades of eyeshadow, in particular cool toned mattes. My go-to palette this winter was The Balms Meet Matt(e) Nude palette. I love this one because of how versatile it is. You can easily create an everyday look or a more smokey night time look. I also love how cute these palettes are and all the shades names. For the spring summer months I really like to add more shimmery warm browns to my looks. My favorites are my Natasha Denona 5 color eyeshadow palette in #4 and two Make Up Geek shades in Magic Act and Legend. All these shadows are so rich and pigmented. When foiled with some Fix+ they really just pop on the eyelid.

Dewy Setting Spray Vs. Matte Setting Spray

I know this one can really depend on your skin type but since I have such combination skin I can luckily pull off the dewy skin look and matte skin as well. During the winter months my skin is so dry that I do enjoy a more luminous look. This Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist does break the bank but all you need is a spritz or two. During the summer though I’m putting this away for a more matte look. I really want my make-up to stay on and look fresh throughout the heat from the summer days. Two of my favorite matte setting sprays that really SET my make-up are Urban Decay’s De-slick setting spray and Boscia’s White Charcoal Mattifying Setting Spray.

Stark White Highlight Vs. Bronze Glow

My first in your face highlight I ever purchased was Becca Pearl. I have very fair skin so in the winter I’m as white as can be and this highlighter really pops on my skin. When I have a slight tan it’s a little too stark for me and I tend to go for my of all over bronzy look. I love the Jeffree Star Skin Frost in King Tut. He offers so many bronzey shades that there is definitely one for all skin tones. This one really warms up my face and adds the prefect glow on top of my cheek bones.

Deep Purple Vs. Vibrant Bright Plum

During the colder months my go-to going out look is a deep purple lipstick (or a deep red but we’ll get into that later). I love a dark liquid lipstick that you can put on and forget about, especially when you’re drinking throughout the night. My favorites are Huda Beauty Material Girl and ColourPop Ultra Satin Lip in Panda. During the warmer months I love to try out brighter more vibrant lip colors. Maybelline Vivids in Hot Plum has been a staple for me for years now. It’s such a fun color and a comfortable formula.

Wine Blush Vs. Bronzey Cheeks

I think this is a very popular switch that most make-up lovers make. During the winter months when I’m pale I love a natural eye and face look with a deep wine blush on my cheeks. I think it just really amps up a plain every day look. My two favorites are Milani Red Vino and NARS Goulue which is the Sephora VIB Blush NARS made. During the summer I like to simplify my makeup routine a sometimes combine my whole bronzer, blush and highlight. This is a great product for that. NYX Ombre Blush in Nude To Me adds the perfect bronze look to any cheekbones.

Deep Red Lips Vs. Bright Red Lips

Like I mentioned above during the winter months I love a deep lips. Whether it’s  purple or a deep wine lipstick I love have sultry these colors look in the winter. For my winter red lips I switch between Hourglass in Icon and Maybelline Divine Wine. During the summer though I love a true blue toned red lip. This is such a classic look that you can never go wrong with. I think every brand makes a red like this but my favorite formulas are Urban Decays Vice Lipstick in 714 and Mac’s Ruby Woo.

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Dry Shampoo Foam: Does It Work?

The second I saw people talking about OUAI’s Dry Shampoo Foam I immediately threw it in my Sephora cart. I’m a dry shampoo junkie! My hair is currently dyed a dark auburn and if anyone knows anything about dyed red hair, it’s that red fades unbelievably fast. Because of this I try to wash my hair as little as possible, which makes dry shampoo my best friend. The two things I really look for in a dry shampoo is it leaving NO white residue (that’s a tough one, which anyone with dark hair I’m sure knows the struggle) and it actually working. So many dry shampoos don’t actually make me feel like my hair looks any cleaner. They just leave it stiff full of product and I’m forced to throw it into a bun for the day. I’ve been able to find many drugstore dry shampoo products that work for me, so shelling out a high-end price for something I know I can find for cheaper is hard for me.

OUAI Dry Shampoo Foam | $28

This is the first and only product I’ve tried from this brand so I can’t compare this product to others or there regular dry shampoo. Their normal spray dry shampoo runs for $24 for 4.5 oz where the foam is $28 for 5.3 oz. This for me is a large price to pay for dry shampoo. As an avid user I usually go through a bottle in about a mouth or two so for me to repurchase this product that often it would really have to blow me away.

This products promises to:

  • Refresh hair in between washes
  • Gently cleanses
  • Detangles
  • Quick drying, waterless foam
  • Removes oil, product excess and buildup
  • Leaves hair conditioned, cleansed and ready to be restyled

How it Performs:

Now that’s a lot of claims for this product, but for the price it would be awesome if those claims were true. Unfortunately I have not been able to fall in love with this product like I hoped. It comes out just like a normal foam/mousse product does. They recommend to use a palmful, which seemed like a lot for me but I followed the directions. I’ve this product around ten times now and each time I’m disappointed. This goes into your hair making it feel wet, which is weird at first. You then work it in your scalp and it dries in a couple of minutes. This whole process is different from your regular dry shampoo experience which makes it uncomfortable the first couple of times using it.

Even after the product dries I still feel like my hair looks wet and even greasy. Every time I’ve used this I’ve ended up putting my hair into a bun or even adding a headband to hide the oil. I do think it looks okay immediately after but within a couple of hours my hair looks like it did when I woke up, if not worse. With normal dry shampoo I feel the powder stays in your hair, making it continuously hide oil throughout the day.

The perks of this product though is that it does create a massive amount of volume. I think this is great if you add dry shampoo to even clean hair just for the volumizing effect it has. Another huge perk is that since it’s a foam and not a powder spray there is absolutely no white residue to worry about!

Overview:

Over all this product is a huge pass for me. The price tag alone makes it hard to justify when my go-to dry shampoos are around $5 at CVS. This product really did nothing for my hair and somedays I feel like it even made it look worse as the day went on. Unfortunately I would not recommend this product to anyone. The only real perks I could see was the lack of residue and how much volume it adds to your hair. This could be used as a volumizing foam on clean hair which may be how I continue to use this product. So sadly this was a miss.

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HUM Nutrition: Is it worth it?

After seeing these vitamins everywhere, in magazines, Instagram, through my favorite vloggers, and even inside Sephora, I was instantly intrigued. Was it the bright packaging, the cute hummingbird logo, or the variety these vitamins come in? Probably a combination of all the above. I can’t necessarily pin point why these grabbed my attention instead of some other vitamins that are constantly pushed on us through social media (I’m looking at you, bright blue gummy bears). After over a month of using these and purchasing a refill of each product, I think I can fully put in my two sense.

Getting Started:

The website itself is super easy to navigate and offers many tools for those new to taking vitamins or skeptical of HUM. They recommend that you first start out by taking their “3 minute quiz” which definitely was much quicker. Through out this quiz you’re asked questions about your lifestyle and what problems you face day-to-day – fatigue, acne, carrying an extra few pounds. You’re then handed personalized recommendations for a combination of their products and a $10 off coupon. You have the option to check out with the products they selected or browse through everything and make your own decisions.

The amount of products they offered and learning what supplements were meant for what was a little overwhelming for me at first. I decided to check out with what was offered for my lifestyle through the quiz. The supplements I purchased:

  • Daily Cleanse – This is the first bottle from this brand that I began seeing everywhere that really sparked my interest. With green algae as the leading ingredient this promises to clear your body and skin from toxins.
  • Uber Energy – Probably the one I was most excited to try out, I’ve self diagnosed myself as having chronic fatigue due to the multiple coffee cups I down a day. This supplement promises to support consistent energy and resist fatigue and tension.
  • Runway Ready – This packet of vitamins combines their Red Carpet and Killer Nails supplements. It’s advertised for ‘glowing skin, glamorous hair and perfect nails’.

How To Fit These Into Your Daily Routine:

This was something I struggled with at first because I’m not used to taking a vitamin daily, let alone multiple at different times. The Daily Cleanse supplement is meant to be taken without food while Uber Energy and Runway Ready are meant to be taken with food. After many days of failing, I finally got into the habit of taking Daily Cleanse right as I woke up. This meant leaving the bottle on my bedside table or in my medicine cabinet so I saw it as I completed my morning grooming. Then I would take Uber Energy and Runway Ready after eating breakfast or lunch. Each of the bottles recommend you take two pills daily while the packets have three pills inside.

This habit was very hard to form considering I don’t have a normal Mon-Fri 9-5 work schedule and I’m in a long-term relationship where we split sleeping at each others apartments. The biggest investment I made that helped me stick to taking these every day, and at the correct time regarding when I’ve ate, was a compact, travel-friendly pill case. I can’t find the exact one I purchase below, but did find these cute Macaron Cases.

Benefits – Outcomes:

Each of the supplements I picked up had different promises and were loaded with a variety of ingredients. All of them though are GMO-Free, Gluten Free, have no animal products (diary, fish, eggs, gelatin), no artificial colors, preservatives, flavors and are free of sugar, salt, yeast, and nuts.

Daily Cleanse contains 15 detoxing herbs (taken from HUM’s website):

  1. Green Algae (Organic Chlorella)
  2. Beetroot (Nutrient Rich Detox)
  3. Red Clover (Skin Cleansing Extract)
  4. Dandelion Root (Powerful Detoxifying Extract)
  5. Oregon Grape Root (Nourishing Root Extract)
  6. Milk Thistle (Restorative Herb Extract)
  7. Alpha Lipoic Acid
  8. Zinc (Metal Detox)
  9. Selenium (Metal Detox)
  10. Copper (Mineral Skin Support)
  11. Manganese (Skin Cleansing Mineral)
  12. Spirulina (Nourishing Green Algae)
  13. Matcha Green Tea (Rich in Antioxidants)

This is the one I was most torn on repurchasing, because it’s the only one I purchased that primarily affects the inside of your body. Making it hard to decide if it was really doing anything. Between finishing my first bottle of this I had about a weeks time before receiving my second bottle. During this time I could really see the difference in my body from not taking the supplements. I felt more bloated and didn’t have that feel-good healthy feeling that’s impossible to describe.

I read online that this caused some people to have digestive problems, which I did notice at first but after getting used to taking this daily that feeling disappears. This supplement really makes your skin and body feel truly cleansed. This acne prone girl had less breakouts and more controllable skin.

Uber Energy contains 12 effective ingredients (taken from HUM’s website):

  1. L-Tyrosine (De-Stressing Amino Acid)
  2. Rhodiola Rosea (Calming Root Extract)
  3. Eleuthero (Rejuvenating Root Extract)
  4. Ashwagandha (Relaxing Root Extract)
  5. Ginger (Energizing Root Extract)
  6. Licorice Root (Adrenal Assisting Extract)
  7. Astragalus Root (Fatigue-Fighting Extract)
  8. Vitamin B6 (Metabolic Wake Up)
  9. Gotu Kola (The “Fountain of Life” Leaf)
  10. Schizandra Berry (Adrenal Adaptogen)
  11. Vitamin C (Energy Flight)
  12. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

This has hands down been my favorite supplement out of the three of them. I still drink my morning cup of coffee, because that truly motivates me to get my day started. But I’ve completely cut out the second and third cups through out my day. I’m the biggest culprit of brewing another pot of coffee when I catch myself yawn, especially since it’s readily available at my job, and then getting that obnoxious jittery feeling you get when you know you’ve drank one too many glasses.

This helped me have enough energy for my entire day and stops that mid afternoon yawn fest. After work I generally take a nap before dinner and I’ve also completely cut that habit out. I have nothing but good things to say about this supplement. If you’re also a self-diagnosed coffee addict and fatigue is your middle name, I highly highly suggest giving this a try.

Runway Ready contains 3 powerful ingredients (taken from HUM’s website):

  1. Black Currant Seed Oil (Perfect Source of ALA & GLA)
  2. Sunflower Seed Oil (Great Source of Vitamin E)
  3. Vegan Biotin (Strengthening Formula)

I know there are cheaper alternatives for adding Biotin into your diet so I was super skeptical about this at first. I can 100% say though this has had a great effect on my hair and nails. My hair is very prone to breakage and it got to a point where I felt as if it wasn’t growing at all. Since taking this I have noticed a significant amount of growth the past month and far far less hair falling out in the shower. My nails have also seen a vase improvement. I tend to keep my nails short for my job, and also secretly because they would break the second they grew a little long. I have to trim my nails much more often now and have also noticed how much stronger they feel. Since beginning to take these, I haven’t had a single nail break.

These do come in a convenient travel pack which is nice, but also not very convenient when you’re taking multiple vitamins. I find the package just seems to be a waste. It would be more helpful if their was a way to get all the vitamins you’re purchasing packaged together in the same way.

Where Can You Find These? And For How Much?

I ordered mine off of www.humnutrition.com but these are also available at Sephora! I’ve seen these available also online at a variety of retailers such as Anthropologie and Lord & Taylor.

As for pricing for these supplements:

The regular bottle, see Daily Cleanse and Uber energy, they run for $25 and contain 60 pills (2 per day)

The box of daily packages, see Runway Ready, are $35 and include 30 packs with 3 pills in each

Coupons and Discounts (HUM Nutrition website only):

  • Free Shipping on orders over $50
  • $10 coupon code for first order when you sign up and take the quiz or with my referral code: 116530
  • 25% off when you purchase 3 products

On their website they do set up an automatic order/delivery. This is great if you love the vitamins and don’t want to have to worry about remembering to purchase them every month when you run out. Right before 30 days after your first order was delivered, you receive an email stating the same products you previously purchased are being shipped out on XX/XX date. You can easily click to their website through the email and change the date to be delivered at a later time, this could even be months later or just cancel the order. You can also easily change the supplements to switch things up or add ons to your order.

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Brighten Up! How to add pops of color to your everyday spring make-up

I don’t know about you but when this time of the year rolls around I immediately want to start wearing brighter colors. This doesn’t have to stop with your wardrobe. There are many easy ways to add pops of color in your make-up routine, even for the neutrals only girl.

Bright Lips:

The easiest way to brighten up any look is a bright coral or plum lip. Keep the eyes and the rest of the face light and pop on your favorite bright lipstick. Finding the right lipstick for your skin can always be a struggle. Testing out drugstore options before making the plunge for a higher end bright lipstick is always a great idea. I love corals much more during the warmer months when I have a tan. Any type of bright lip really just screams spring/summer to me.

Above I have a few of my favorites:

  • Mac Costa Chic – This is my go-to coral lipstick. It’s bright enough to really pop but not too much to wear for an everyday look
  • Maybelline Hot Plum – This is part of their Vivids line so you know this is a bright lipstick. I love this color for me when I really want something out of the box but I highly recommend checking any of their lipsticks out from this line.
  • Hourglass Muse – The first liquid lip I tried and still one of my favorite formulas. This is the perfect lip to throw on and forget about as this formula does not budge!

 

Swatches from L-R: Hourglass, Maybelline, Mac

 

Blue Eyes:

My favorite and go-to way to add color throughout the spring/summer months is lining the lower lash line with a bright blue or turquoise liner. When I really want my eyes to pop I’ll even smoke out my lower lash line with blue shadow as well. If you really want to go out of the box, keep the whole face neutral and add a graphic blue winged liner to the upper lid. One that has shimmer in it is an even brighter touch. If all this is a little much for your spring make-up routine, keep it simple by doing your regular liquid eyeliner and adding a touch of the blue to the top of it.

For liquid liner I recommend:

  • Wet N Wild Megaliner in A Case of Blue – This is such a pretty pale blue liner that could brighten any look. For such a cheap drugstore liner this is so pigmented and easy to apply.
  • Stila Bora Bora – This is one of their sparkle waterproof eyeliners so it has a little shimmer in it and also stays on all day!

Eyeshadow:

  • Nars South Pacific – This is great duo of eyeshadows that allows you to pick the paler shade for day looks or the brighter shade when your really trying to make your lower lash line pop.

Eyeliner:

  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Radium and Flipside – These are my all time favorite eye liner pencils. They stay on throughout the summer heat and apply so smoothly. Urban Decay bundles multiple of these colored eyeliners together occasionally which I would recommend checking out.

Bright Coral Cheeks:

The perfect way to brighten up any neutral look is to add a bright pop of color on the cheeks. I love a bright shimmery coral blush during the summer. This color looks great on a summer tan. I like shimmery blushes more during the summer because I don’t need to wear a highlight. Adding multiple products to your cheeks can cause them to look cakey and over done, especially during the hot summer days.

Above are my two favorite coral blushes:

  • NYX Ombre Blush in Feel the Heat – This line of blushes has to be one of my all time favorites. They’re perfect because they’re buildable and you also have the option to swirl in the lighter side which is where the shimmer is at.
  • Too Faced Perfect Flush Blush in Sparkling Bellini – This blush also gives you the option to customize the shade you’re looking for. This blush has an all over shimmer in it which gives you that glow from within look instead of straight on sparkles.

These are all my favorite ways to brighten up a neutral look during the warmer months. As someone who was once scared of any sort of colored make-up products, playing around with brighter colors can be fun and exciting! What are your favorite ways to change up your make-up looks in the spring?

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Tarte Make Believe in Yourself Eye & Cheek Palette l Swatches and First Impressions

When I saw this collection launch I knew I had to pick up the Make Believe in Yourself Eye & Cheek Palette. I also grabbed the brushes but haven’t had much time to play around with them to really form an opinion. First, I love the name of this collection. I feel like many brands are recently creating product names and packaging that promote a “self love”/”love the skin your in” vibe.

Breakdown:

The palette itself is absolutely stunning from the box it comes in, the outside and inside of the palette, from the sparkling eyeshadows to the large luxurious looking mirror. The four shades on the right immediately grabbed my attention as you can tell they’re packed with glitter whereas the shades on the right are more of a shimmer. This palette includes one matte shade located at the top of the palette called Myth. This shadow is the perfect transition/crease shade to work with all of the high shine shadows in the palette. I was very excited to see that this was included, as many brands create shimmer/glitter only palettes that pretty much require you have to use other eyeshadows or palettes in your collection. The middle shade, which I completely looked over when I first saw pictures of this palette, is considered a pearl highlight for the face and eye.

Swatches:

From Top to Bottom (shade descriptions are taken from Tarte’s website):

  • Myth – matte nude
  • Magic – bronze
  • Wings – copper
  • Marvel – metallic sage
  • Trance – taupe slate

This side of the palette really grabbed my attention first. Wings, Magic and Trance have a gorgeous sparkle to them that are perfect for an all over the lid color. These look even better when used spritz with Fix + and foiled onto the eyelid. The top shade Myth is the only matte shade in the palette. I was super disappointed with how this shade swatched on my hand but on the eyelid it performs much better and is the perfect transition shade. These shades do come with a lot of fallout on the eye but so do many other glitter shadows. I would recommend doing your eye make-up first or using a glitter glue, my favorites is Too Faced Glitter Glue .

From Top to Bottom (shade descriptions are taken from Tarte’s website):

  • Fairy – metallic lavender
  • Mystic – blue pearl
  • Dream – turquoise
  • Crystal – iridescent champagne
  • Pixie – golden pink

Far Right:

  • Believe – pearl highlight

This side of the palette really disappointed me when swatching it. They are pretty shades don’t get me wrong but they were very hard to capture through a camera. These shadows are much more toned down and could easily be worn everyday. I’m excited to use the blues on the my lower lash line during the summer months. Believe, which is a face/eye highlight swatches really patchy and powdery. I was kind of disappointed in this shade because I felt the whole palette was centered around it in a way. It’ s a very wearable highlight and does look beautiful blended on the brow bone or the inner corner. It’s not a high shine, in your face kind of highlight but since most of the shades are that way it works well with them.

Overview:

All together I wouldn’t say this palette blew it out of the water but I was very happy with it. Some of shades weren’t the greatest swatched but on the eyes they did look beautiful. I’m excited to play more around with this palette and see what looks I can come up with. The packaging is sturdy and gorgeous making this product feel very high-end. I’m intrigued with all these brands putting out ‘unicorn’ and ‘fantasy’ inspired products and know I’ll be grabbing a few more in the future. It does seem a little gimmicky but I’m a sucker for cute packaging and anything pastel or holographic.

 

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The Skin Care Product I Didn’t Know I Needed

Real Techniques recently released multiple new sponges at Ulta. These included a dual-ended sponge for foundation and contouring, a Miracle Finish Sponge for a more natural look, contouring wedges, blotting cushions, a body complexion sponge and lastly their Miracle Cleansing Sponge. All of these sponges are shaped like their original Miracle Complexion Sponge but I’m assuming have different textures and feelings to them. The only one that really caught my eye, which I decided to purchase, was the Miracle Cleansing Sponge.

The Product I Didn’t Know I Needed:

Originally I was nervous this sponge would be too harsh for everyday use since I do have very sensitive skin. I started off using it every other day just in case it irritated my skin. This turned out to not be necessary. The sponge itself feels rough when dry but when it’s wet it becomes super soft and comfortable. When used with a cleanser on the face it provides the gentlest exfoliation, making it okay for every day use. I used this sponge with my regular Cetaphil cleanser but also tried it with a variety of other cleansers. I even tested this out with a light exfoliater that I use every couple of days and it still worked great.

This is such a simple product to add to anyones skin care routine and can create a huge difference. Any facial cleanser will be amped up to provide a deeper cleanse and a smooth base for make up application. This product is latex-free and retails for $5.99 making it a cheap product to transform any cleanser. Another added bonus of this product is how easy it is to clean after your finished using your cleanser and then set out to dry. On Ulta’s website it is recommend to replace the sponge every 1-3 months.

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Real Techniques: Bold Metals Collection

I’m huge fan of Real Techniques brushes and have been eyeing their bold metals collection for a while now. These brushes do come with a heftier price tag than their other brushes so I always found away to talk myself out of purchasing a few. A couple of weeks ago they ran a BOGO sale on Ulta.com, making it the perfect time for me to pick up a few. Since I’ve been able to use them and the diamond sponge for a couple of weeks now, I figured it was the perfect time to review them for others wondering how the quality compares to their other brushes.

These brushes run from $12.99 to $20.99. The collection also includes a sponge shaped like a diamond costing $9.99. The brushes are color coordinated for which step in the make-up application process they are used for. The gold handles are for base products, the silver handle for the eyes and the rose gold handle for finishing products. These brushes are marketed as their ‘softest bristles ever’ and have weighted handles for ‘balance, control and comfort’.

Silver

I picked up three of the silver handle eye brushes. From left to right: 200 Oval Shadow brush, 201 Pointed Crease brush, and 203 Tapered Shadow brush. All of the brushes have super soft bristles and make applying product super easy. I have really enjoyed using these brushes for applying my eye shadow, I use 200 for my all over lid color, 201 with darker colors in the crease or outer corner, and 203 as a blending brush. I believe you can never have enough blending brushes and actually picked up two of these. The only negative thing I have to say about these brushes is they are pretty basic shapes so you most likely already have similar brushes in your collection. All three of these brushes are $12.99.

Rose Gold

The only rose gold handle brush I purchased was the 300 Tapered Blush Brush. At first I was a little turned off as this brush was a lot smaller than I thought it’d be. It seemed to be a perfect brush to blend out contour but I put it to the test and used it for my blush. After multiple applications I did get used to the brush shape and absolutely love it now. The bristles are super soft and make blending out blushes so easy. I love the long handle and the fact that its weighted makes it feel luxurious. This brush retails for $18.99.

Gold

The last brush I picked up was a gold handle brush, 100 Arched Powder brush. Originally I used this as a regular powder brush to set my foundation. Although the bristles were soft, much like all the other brushes, I just wasn’t wowed by it. I usually use flat top brushes to set my foundation and this just didn’t compare. I put it down for a couple of days and then decided to use it with my bronzer. Now I love this brush and it’s the only brush I enjoy using with my all over face bronzer. Again, like the other brushes, it applies the product so beautiful and flawless. Out of all the brushes I think I would recommend this one the most as I didn’t have a similar brush in my large brush collection. The other brushes could be easily duped but for this one I can’t think of a similar brush. This brush runs for $20.99.

Diamond Sponge

The last thing I purchased was the Miracle Diamond Sponge which I was unaware was a part of their Bold Metals collection until I saw the packaging. I’ve also tried their Miracle Complexion Sponge which I’m a huge fan of for the price. This sponge has such a unique shape which I think makes it sort of gimmicky. Although the sponge is beyond cute and stands out from all the other sponges in my collection, the shape does not benefit this sponge at all. I like the flat surface on top but that’s about the only part of this sponge I can use. The multiple edges provide no added benefits for application. I tried the pointed side numerous times to blend out my concealer under my eyes but it’s so slim that it makes that side sort of flimsy and hard to get control over. This sponge is super unique and pretty but I would definitely pass, it’s not something I would repurchase. This sponge retails for $9.99.

 

Altogether I thought this was a great collection and really steps up Real Techniques brushes. The bristles live up to their claim of being softer than their original brushes and the weighted handles help the brushes feel great in your hand which adds control.  This collection feels like higher end brushes but they do come with a higher price tag than their normal brushes. Luckily this brand usually has sales going on at Ulta (I think right now if you buy two products you get one free).

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Battle of the Meal Boxes: Home Chef

I was really excited when I stumbled across this subscription meal box. Originally, I was going to go straight for Hello Fresh for my second installment of Battle of the Meal Boxes since it’s the one I’ve heard most about next to Blue Apron. When first I came across Home Chef I immediately knew it blew Blue Apron out of the water. From its wider variety of meals to it’s easier customization Home Chef has been a great experience when it comes to subscription meal boxes.

Home Chef

I came across Home Chef fairly easily during my research into subscription meal boxes. Upon looking at the website and going over what the service offers, I very quickly signed up for my first box. Like many other subscription meal boxes this one offers $30 off your first box.

Getting Started:

The website itself is fairly easy to navigate. Upon entering your email and your zip code the site takes you to select your dietary preferences. What I like about Home Chef, compared to the other meal boxes I’ve tried, is you can enter all of your dietary needs instead of just being offered three vegetarian options a week. You also have the option to choose 8 meals a week for up to 8 servings so any type of household can be accommodated. 

Each week you’re offered 10 dinner options to choose from, a breakfast option and additional add ons which include smoothie ingredients or a seasonal fruit basket. You can filter through this options by having only low-carb, low-calorie, gluten-free, etc. options show if you didn’t originally select those dietary preferences. Before selecting the meal you have the option of exploring the recipe and seeing the nutrition facts, the amount of time the meal takes and the spice level.

Each week you have the option to add the smoothie or fruit basket for $4.95 and occasionally there are higher end meals you can add-on for a small additional cost. What’s great about Home Chef is that all the meals are always available so that it doesn’t matter if you pick a certain meal all the other meals are still available and can be added to your box. You also always have the option to skip multiple weeks. 

The Cost:

Like other boxes there are several different meal plans you can select from. For this series I have decided to stick with 3 meals a week for two people. Without any of the add-ons this comes out to $59.70 per week with free shipping. This comes out to $9.95 per meal which seems about standard for subscription meal boxes. Home Chef offers free shipping for all order over $45.00 so if you’d like to do only 2 meals a week you’d have to factor in the $10 shipping as well. A referral program is also offered through Home Chef. You can give a friend $30 off a meal and receive a $30 credit for your next box.

My referral code to receive $30 off: Home Chef 

Inside the Box:

In your first box you receive an empty binder as your ‘cookbook’. I think this is such a small but cute and thoughtful touch. Each recipe is hole punched so you can easily add it to the binder. Inside the binder a couple of pages were already included that described some cooking techniques, information on where the ingredients are from, and how to recycle everything included inside the box. All the ingredients for each recipe are wrapped together and then the meat is included under ice packs in the box. The box was very well packaged and easily recycled.

Cooking the Meals:

I thought the recipe cards were so much easier to read and follow compared to the other meal boxes I’ve tried. On the front you can easily see how much time the recipe takes, the ‘spicy level’ and the difficulty level. It also includes how long you have before you should cook the meal so you can plan which meals you should cook first. On the side of the recipe they also include interesting facts about the meal, ingredients and cooking tips. They also clearly state when an ingredient is used twice so you know ahead of time.

 

 

All of the recipes were very easy to follow and fun to cook. There was no confusion with the instructions which made all the recipes, even the more difficult ones, pretty easy. I really enjoyed all the recipes as they were definitely not things I thought a novice in the kitchen could complete. These were recipes I wouldn’t pick out to cook for myself which made cooking them even more enjoyable.

 

 

Overview:

Throughout this whole process – the website, picking out the meals, receiving the box and cooking the meals, I was overly impressed. This is definitely the meal box to beat as of now. Just like the other ones I think these are a great idea for those who have a busy lifestyle and aren’t the best with planning out meals or grocery shopping. As somebody who thought they were terrible at cooking, which in return caused me to hate it, I look forward to cooking these meals. Its such a fun thing to do with a partner or even by yourself. I liked this box a lot as well because you can easily select a quick meal when your hungry and don’t have much time. Saving the more difficult meal for later on in the week when you’re feeling adventurous.

Home Chef was great because of all the options it offered. I loved how it included a breakfast meal you could pick but you aren’t forced to include this every week. I also love the add on smoothie and seasonal fruit options. This is such a great idea as you can easily add this on one week and not the next. The meal varieties are what really sold me. There’s so many different meals to choose from that there’s bond to be something for everyone.

Again the price point does set me off. $60 does seem to be about average for these meal boxes (for 3 two serving sized meals a week) which is a little pricy for something to commit to week after week. With the coupon code and other added perks from this service I do highly recommend checking it out.

My referral code to receive $30 off: Home Chef 

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BareMinerals x Ingrid Nilsen I Swatches and Review

As I was scrolling through Sephora.com, in the market for a new face powder, I stumbled on this new collection from BareMinerals. I’ve seen some of Ingrid Nilsen’s videos but I wouldn’t label myself as a big fan by any means. I’ve also used BareMinerals powders before and have a couple of brushes from them that I love. So after seeing how cute the bag in this collection was, I knew it was something I wanted to pick up.

Inside the Bag

The kit itself includes a full size BareMinerals Original Foundation in your choice of shade, Invisible Glow Highlighter in Resilience, a rose gold Beautiful Finish Brush with the phrase “be you” written in cursive on the handle and a make-up bag with the quote “Be your best self”. I think both the bag and the brush are so cute. I love how this collection is so positive and promoting your best self. This bag is great quality and I know I’ll be getting a lot of use out of it. I’ve used the Original Foundation before and have found myself coming back to it a lot.

 

The brush has such an odd shape that I was really worried about how it would it apply to powder. It’s advertised that it works perfectly with their ‘swirl, tap, blend’ method of applying powder and I couldn’t agree more! The concaved center of the brush picks up a good amount of powder and the longer outside bristles help trap the perfect amount of product when you tap of the excess. The bristles are beyond soft and blend the powder out seamlessly.

The highlighter itself is a unique shade designed by Ingrid. It’s a gold pearl shade that looks beautiful in the pan. Since the highlighter is marketed as an invisible glow I was surprised at how shimmery it appeared in the pan. Once swatched though it appears just as a subtle glow. This translates onto the face as the prettiest glow from within highlighter. It reminds me a lot of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. The powder itself is super finely milled and blends beautifully. There’s no stark glitter or pigment so it’s a very natural looking highlight. The swatch below is very heavily layered to show the color and glow.

 

 

 

 

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