April 30, 2013

My Current Beauty Wishlist

 Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer in Porcelain ($43)

I'm running low on my holy grail foundation, Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover, and I'm not sure if something that heavy is going to be my best bet for the humid DC summer. I tested the Laura Mercier tinted moisterizers in Sephora and was surprised at how full coverage they were. Plus, the oil free versions seem to be significantly less pink toned than most Laura Mercier face products which usually make my warm toned pale skin look sunburned or dirty.

Urban Decay Primer Potion ($20)

I recently switched to UD Primer Potion instead of MAC Paintpots to give my eye makeup that perma "night look in the daytime" vibe. I still have those so 2011 hard plastic versions where they made it physically impossible to scrape the last amounts of $20 product out of the bottom. I can't wait to use them up and make the switch to this all around easier packaging.

Urban Decay Moondust Eyeshadow in Diamond Dog ($20)

Beauty bloggers seem pretty united in their opinion on the new Urban Decay Moondust shadows: killer sparkle but are inevitably going to get fallout all over your face, clothing and belongings. For most people the latter is a con but to me it seems like an added bonus.

Nars Single Eyeshadow in Galapagos ($24)
My friend was showing me her Nars collection and I almost passed out at the site of this bronzey shadow.

Nars Single Eyeshadow in Mekong ($24)
And then I googled different Nars Galapagos looks and it looks extra beautiful next to Nars Mekong. I'm almost offended that it isn't a duo.

Hard Candy Candied Color Nail Polishes in Pink Taffy, Sugar Rush, Gummy Green and Peach Pop
image via loveforlacquer.com
 Hard Candy revamped their Wal Mart exclusive polishes and there's a ton of unique colors to choose from. Deborah Lippmann has a few similar glitters out right now and why pay $18 when you can pay $4?

Deborah Lippmann Memaids Collection ($19 each)

One of the few "worth it" Deborah Lippmanns I have is Mermaid's Dream and apparently a lot of people agreed because they released purple, pink, blue and orange versions for the summer. I just wait it out for the Revlon dupe with most Lippmann colors and I never regret it but I don't know if I can hold off on Mermaid's Kiss, the gorgeous pink glitter.

April 29, 2013

April Non Beauty Favorites

I'm sure everyone else has better things to do with their lives but I always spend the end of the month watching monthly favorites videos on Youtube. What did some irrelevant 19 year old from California like best this month? It's vital information for my everyday life. Why not add what some irrelevant 22 year old in Washington, DC likes best this month to the internet too? Admittedly, this was kind of hard for this month because I was recovering from surgery for half of it. A more accurate list would include things like pajamas, prescription pain killers, mouth breathing and soft foods.

 Orchid tulip bouquet spring flowers
I'm setting some spring ambiance with this photo of a bouquet my boyfriend got me last week. He remembered 2 of my top 3 favorite flowers AND threw out the baby's breath they added to the arrangement because he knows I don't play around with lowly filler flowers. What a guy.

April 28, 2013

Anthropologie Celestial Coasters

Anthropologie Celestial Coasters
Anthropologie has the most beautiful selection of coasters right now. My friend told me they look like they've grown mold but what does he know, he doesn't even HAVE a blogspot lifestyle blog. Yeah, yeah, they're functional and all, especially with the rubber grips on the bottom that keeps them from sliding all over the table. But let's get real, it was more of an aesthetic than a functional purchase. Coasters have only been a thing in my life since I purchased these and only because I want an excuse to use them. I truly feel like I'm neurotic in every way now that I can yell "PUT THAT DRINK ON A COASTER!!"

The Anthropologie website sells them in a set of 4 for $32 but I recommend buying in store. Not only will you be able to buy as many as you want for $8 a piece, you'll also be able to mix and match. There are 15 colors to choose from and each individual coaster is unique. I dug through the stacks to find the ones that interested me the most but there were a bunch of other knock outs that I left in the store. Two choice selections:

Celestial coasters, Rose, Anthropologie.com
Celestial Coasters, Dark blue, Anthropologie.com
The dark blue ones are particularly gorgeous to me. They look almost ink stained. The vibes for the entire line of colors range from earth science textbook to abstract watercolors of something from outerspace. Stylish and functional AND something that forces you to pretend that you're more adult than you actually are. It's like how I pat myself on the back for trying to wear flip flops less frequently because I'm not a teenager anymore. You don't have to commit to any real adult life changes, like being emotionally available or paying bills on time, but boy, do you feel mature. Buying coasters just because they're shiny and pretty, I really am growing up.

April 27, 2013

Nail Care Basics (Or, The Most Important Blog Post Of Your Lifetime)

Nail care basics essentials best Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator Butter London cuticle remover Nail Envy OPI Original Seche Vite Seche Clear glossy top coat base coat Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

You're never going to achieve Great Nails if you're not keeping them healthy and using the right tools. It's just science. Too many people just devote all their time to the polish and painting their nails and wonder why their nails are still looking a mess. For Great Nails, you need to invest in the health of both your nails and cuticles. The nail questions I probably get asked most have to do with cuticle upkeep and how to combat different problems relating to nail health. My nail routine is practically perfect in every way at this point and I'm about to divulge all my secrets in an ultimate nail care product guide.

Here are the basics that anyone who has fingernails should own:

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream Denco nail brush Tweezerman stainless steel cuticle pusher glass file nail care basics essentials
Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, Denco nail brush, Nail clipper, Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Pusher, glass file

Nail care basics essentials best Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator Butter London cuticle remover Nail Envy OPI Original Seche Vite Seche Clear glossy top coat base coat Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil
butter London Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, OPI Nail Envy Original, Seche Clear base coat, Seche Vite top coat, Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

butter London Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator ($19)
I will admit, the price of this is steep at $19 for .6 fl oz. I put off buying it for the longest time because I wanted to barf thinking about parting with 19 of my dollars for one little item. All that time is just months of my life that I could have spent with pristine cuticles, wasted. This stuff is amazing and truly does "melt away" even the driest cuticles. My old cuticle remover was a Sally Hansen gel and I just full on threw it in the trash after using this twice. Just threw away an almost full bottle of something I paid for, something sitting among nail polishes I hate or top coats that I think are just meh. I NEVER throw away nail things but I knew nothing was going to compare to the butter London version. Apply to your cuticles after soaking your hands in warm water (or after a hot shower) for best results.

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Pusher and Cleaner ($18)
 I use this with butter London's Cuticle Eliminator and the combination is almost too good. They remove a disgusting amount of skin without any effort so you have to use a gentle hand when using the two together. Scrape off all the dead skin and push your cuticles back so you'll have a nice, big canvas for your nail polish.

 Denco Heavy Duty Nail Brush ($3.19)
 I ordered mine on drugstore.com and it shows that I wasn't able to pick out the color myself (probably the only dark green thing I own). Use this with regular old hand soap to exfoliate the last of the dead skin off your fingers and remove the cuticle eliminator.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($8.50)
This is my favorite cuticle oil and it really smells like apricots. The only downside is that you probably will never be able to eat apricots again. I had apricot sherbert at a restaurant last year and could only eat a couple bites because it just tasted like hands. I apply this liberally to my cuticles (and my nails, on off polish days) both after my cuticle routine and after painting my nails.

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($3.49)
A cheaper alternative to Lush's Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter. If you prefer cuticle cream to oil, I recommend this.

For Shaping:
I use whatever nail clippers, just switching between a straight and curved edge depending on the nail shape I'm going for. That being said, anyone who tells you nail files don't matter is flat out untrustworthy. It's tempting to buy the dollar a ten pack emery boards or the cute, patterned emery boards many stores sell but for the love of your nails, don't do this. These files will rip apart the edges of your nails and promote peeling which will make your manicure chip. Long term use is going to make your nails brittle and they'll start falling apart, edges first. Stick to crystal or glass files and try to file in one direction instead of going back and forth, even if the latter makes you feel like Beyonce in the Irreplaceable music video.

When You Paint Your Nails:

OPI Nail Envy, Original Formula ($17)
 I've been around the block a few times and have tried multiple formulas of Nail Envy. I like the original the best; it dries quickly, it isn't thick or gooey and it really helps improve the quality of your nails. I think you're making a mistake if you paint your nails a lot and don't use a nail strengthener. This stuff will rebuild even the thinnest, peeling, brittle nails. I use it every time I paint my nails as the foundation for my polish to nourish my nails. You can also paint extra layers on top of your manicure if you plan stick with one color for awhile.

Seche Clear base coat ($7)
To be honest, I'm not married to a particular base coat. I think it's a good idea to shop around and find what fits you best. Do your nails chip no matter what you do? Orly Bonder Base Coat is probably the best choice. Do you suffer from ridges? Look for a ridge filling base coat. Regardless of what you pick, base coats are an important step because they form a barrier between your nail and the polish and prevent gross things like yellowing. Apply a coat over the Nail Envy and then paint your nails as usual.

Seche Vite top coat ($8)
I endorse no other top coat. I've tried Out the Door. I've tried Sally Hansen Insta Dri. I always come back to Seche Vite, wondering why I even bothered trying to beat perfection in the first place. Your nails dry quickly and to a glossy, mirror like shine. I know a lot of people complain that it gets thick and unmanageable halfway through but that's why they sell Seche Restore! Invest in that and add a couple of drops into your goopy bottle - good as new. People also worry about the California warning that says the product could cause birth defects but whatever, I'll give birth to a kid with a dorsal fin if it means my nails get to look this good.

Optional Extras:
  • Vitamins can make all the difference for the health of your nail and can be instrumental if you're trying to grow yours out. I'm no medical professional, but I've personally found that biotin works the best for me. Still, you have to realize that you're putting something into your body that won't stop at your nails. Biotin will also make your hair grow like crazy which can be good for growing your hair long but bad when you end up needing a weed whacker for your legs or have to invest in a waxing kit for a mustache you definitely didn't have before. Biotin can also do crazy things to your skin. I once bumped myself up to a 10,000mg per day pill and ended up with breakouts that extended all the way to my scalp. What works best for me is 5,000mg of biotin every other day. I still buy the 10,000mg pills and cut them in half to get double the crazy nail growth for my money. Drugstores also sell Hair, Skin and Nails multi vitamins if that's more your speed. Prenatal vitamins do wonders as well. Find what works for you if you're in a rut trying to grow your own long talons.
  • Steer clear of nail polish removers with acetone. It's very drying for your nails and just plain bad for them. I try to avoid acetone unless I'm particularly frustrated with a stubborn glitter polish (yes, I know about the foil method, I'm just not here for it) and stick with more nourishing formulas for everyday use.
Trust me, use this routine a few times and you'll find that you're worrying about your cuticles a whole lot less. I can tell you first hand that taking poor care of your cuticles can result in a trip to the emergency room (but that's a story for another time) so I, as a non medical professional, highly recommend giving them a little TLC. Healthy cuticles will not only promote general nail health but they'll keep you from becoming one of those tragic Instagram users who proudly take pictures of their manicures with messed up cuticles. You know the ones. Where they seem so pleased with their nails but their cuticles are dry and peeling and you're just recoiling and wondering how painful it is, totally too distracted by their sloppy cuticle hygiene to even care about their new nail polish or nail art. You'll soon be this judgmental about bad cuticles because your problem ones will be transformed with these products. You're welcome!

I realize the prices of some of these items are intimidating and may seem like a waste. $10 or $20 goes a long way and it can be hard to spend it on cuticle oil or base coat or a cuticle pusher instead of something fun, like a new nail polish. Still, think about it. You'll be using these products every single time you paint your nails, no matter the color, and get a lot more use out of them than a new eyeshadow or nail polish. You'll get your money's worth and your nails and cuticles will absolutely notice the difference. Painting your nails can take a lot out of them and it's just plain irresponsible to use things like chemicals and acetone on your nails without protecting and nourishing them.

For best prices, I usually order from drugstore.com/beauty.com as they're not susceptible to the inflated prices I suffer through in city drugstores. Another unexpected place to find great deals on all of these items in Bed Bath and Beyond. They have a huge selection of beauty products (such as the glass file shown above) and are usually a couple dollars cheaper than a drugstore. Every little bit helps, even when you're buying $19 cuticle remover, right?

April 26, 2013

Nail Polish Haul: Nordstrom Rack

I've lived close to a Nordstrom Rack for about a year now but never stopped in until yesterday, mostly out of fear that it would be all gorgeous designer things that are still too expensive for me even at 60% off. I finally went in with the intention of killing time while waiting for the bus and ended up full on missing the bus because Nordstrom Rack is amazing. I didn't even touch the clothes section and just spent some time squeezing my dirty middle class feet into fancy discount shoes. I petted a half off Rebecca Minkoff chocolate brown MAB. I looked at running shoes, pretending to know what the features were. I went to the escalator to leave when then, right next to the exit, I discovered that Nordstrom Rack sells discount makeup and nail polish. Then I blacked out and left with these.

Butter London Shambolic Jack the Lad Scuppered Nail Polish Nordstrom Rack 3 pack
These were sold as a trio but that packaging is long gone. They're holiday 2012 colors and the boxed trio retailed for $36. I almost passed out when I saw the price sticker said $14. $14???? For 3 butter Londons? $14 is the cost of ONE butter London a year ago since they recently bumped up the price to $16. There were about 20 of these packs on the shelves and I wanted to yell at everyone just milling around, ignoring this great deal. Like, hello, this store is just GIVING AWAY 2 full bottles of relatively new designer glitter nail polish.

Butter London Shambolic Jack the Lad Scuppered Nail Polish Nordstrom Rack 3 pack

They also had singles of Shambolic and Dosh, a butter London I've been wanting but not $14 wanting. $6 wanting? Yes. Like, do I want a butter London for less than the price of some Sally Hansens? And one I don't already have (a feat for me) and one I've been lusting after? Highway robbery.

 Butter London Dosh Nordstrom Rack Butter London Dosh Nordstrom Rack

Overpriced designer shoes and bags are still a hard sell for me but marked down nail polish is a done deal. 4 polishes for a little over the price of one? I'm going to be sleuthing all over DC's Nordstrom Racks now for this kind of gold mine.

April 25, 2013

J Crew Bright Berry Minnie Pants

I spend a concerning amount of time every week online window shopping. Unlike online shopping, online window shopping just involves browsing for hours without actually pulling the trigger on anything. I'll go through anywhere from net-a-porter to Forever21 just looking at cheap sundresses or $2,000 Dolce and Gabbana clip on earrings longingly before bookmarking them for the day when 3 billion dollars just falls out of the sky and hits me on the head. I have a whole folder of stuff like that, about 100 links deep of things I'm just never going to buy because 9 times out of 10 my window shopping results in nothing.

I was browsing JCrew.com last weekend, as I do, looking at things I can't afford when I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of these pants.

J Crew Bright Berry Minnie Pants
BRIGHT PINK J Crew Minnie ankle pants. I don't know if I've ever had such a visceral reaction to an item of clothing. I splurged on a pair of black Minnie pants around Christmas time and they're pretty life altering. They're thick, stretchy material that feels like you're wearing leggings but looks like you're wearing professional little Audrey Hepburn pants. No feeling disgusted with yourself like I personally do when I go to the grocery store in worn out, probably see through yoga pants even though I haven't done yoga since it was mandatory for gym class in high school. Just a polished, stylish look without compromising on the comfort and laziness factor. As you can see, I was passionate about these pants to begin with but in that color? That obnoxious, bright pink color? My all time favorite pants in a color that makes them look like they could hang in a closet in Barbie's dream house? Done. Sold. I don't care how much they are, I'm getting them.

I actually totally cared how much they were. $90 for one pair of pants kind of makes me want to pass out a little. I ran to my two preppy, New Englandy, J Crew savvy friends to ask when they'd go on sale. In a sign obviously from some deity themselves, that day was the next day (!!!) when J Crew began their spring 25% off offer that runs until midnight on the 28th both online and in stores. Knocking over $20 off the price of these HAVE TO HAVE pants just a day after I love at first sight saw them was almost too good to be true.

I actually went to the actual J Crew store to buy them because I just wouldn't be able to wait however many business days for these Jackie O Barbie doll pants to arrive in the mail. I don't think I've ever been in and out of a store so fast. I just walked in a direct line from the door to the table of Minnie pants to the register to the door again*. A sales associate asked if I needed any help and I was like, "NO! I KNOW WHAT I WANT! IT'S THESE BARBIE PANTS!" and she was like, "Oh, good, we have a 25% off deal- " and I was like, "I KNOW, I KNOW!! THAT'S WHY I'M HERE!! CHEAP PINK STRETCHY PANTS! I'M GOING TO BE CARMELA SOPRANO BARBIE!"

The real life color of the pants is a lot different than the site. They look less neon pink and more of the "bright berry" that J Crew lists. "Florescent fuschia" is a pretty accurate description. A vibrant, deep pink.

 J Crew Bright Berry Minnie Pants

 J Crew Bright Berry Minnie Pants
Shown pretty true to color here
Unfortunately, I don't have any tips on how to style bright pants or anything because I plan on wearing them to everything, with everything. Glowing pink is a neutral to me, like glitter or leopard print.

*That's another lie, I totally stopped in my tracks and kind of petted this cashmere striped sweated with BUTTERFLIES stitched onto the front before I was like, "Cool it, Vanessa, that's enough $60+ 13 year old girl purchases for the day" and then walked directly to the door.