Saturday, October 22, 2016

Too Faced "Grande Hotel Cafe" Collection for Holiday, 2016 Review!

Welcome back for a review of another installment in the holiday makeup collection for 2016 from Too Faced, the "Grand Hotel Cafe!"

The packaging of this set is consistent with what we've come to expect from the Too Faced holiday offerings: very original, very fun, and absolutely adorable! I was so excited to find that Too Faced was offering three uniquely themed holiday palettes in one set! There are three card board palette "books" stored in a house shaped box decorated like a cafe, along with a deluxe mascara.

One of the things Too Faced is known for are their scented products. Each of the three palettes in this collection is billed as having a unique scent: one gingerbread, one eggnog latte, and one peppermint mocha. While Too Faced usually "nails it" when it comes to deliciously scented palettes, as is the case for their "Chocolate Shop" holiday palette, this product really falls flat in the scent category. Whether it is because the three palettes are packaged together and their scents "melded" into one, or some other reason, I cannot detect three distinct scents from this set. They all share a scent that resembles what I would expect from eggnog latte than either of the other two, so perhaps that was the dominant scent and it overpowered the others. I must say, this is nowhere near as intoxicating a scent as any of the Too Faced cocoa-scented products offer. It's o.k. - but definitely not a selling point I could argue for this set.

As for the shade range of the eye shadows, there is a good selection here, and each palette is comprehensive enough to be used alone on the eyes. There is a browbone highlight shade in each as well as a range of light, medium, and darker shades, as well as mattes, shimmers, and glitters. There are also neutrals and a variety of pops of color, including some very original shades that I did not have dupes for in my collection. While these are comprehensive eye palettes, two have blushes and another has a bronzer shade, so you may end up using more than one for your makeup application depending on your routine.

The quality is less impressive than the shade selection. I experienced that about a full third of the eye shadows had very poor pigmentation, a couple others were "just o.k," and the rest were well pigmented and blend-able. I was surprised to find that a couple of the chunkier glitters were some of the best-performing shadows, because in my experience that texture of shadow is one that fails in a lot of other palettes. With half of the shades being "just o.k. or worse," it is hard to recommend this palette. The two blushes and bronzer perform well enough, although one of the blushes, "Santa Baby," is rather dark for lighter skin tones and I am not able to use it with rosacea. It will be lovely on darker skin tones, however. "Peach Cobbler" I need to apply with a light hand, because it applies very heavily. There is some kick-up in the palette when using these, but nothing major. 

A lot of the eye shades require layering to show up well, or, worse, show up at all. A few others succeed on the first go. The worst offender out of the three palettes is the "Peppermint Mocha." With the exception of "Sprinkles," layer after layer I could barely get these shades to swatch at all (shown in the last swatch photo.) I found the most beautiful and pigmented shades were "Ginger Snap" and "Winter Dream," both included in the "Gingerbread Cookie" palette. Some of the other shades, like "Cold Brew" and "Central Perk" are beautiful but harder to work with (but worth the effort if you have the patience.) It's puzzling that even some of the brown shades, which tend to be some of the easiest to work with in other palettes, are so finicky here.

There is also a deluxe "Better than Sex" mascara included, which I can give my highest recommendation. As I mentioned in my "Chocolate Shop" review, this mascara is about as close as I've ever been able to come to a "false lashes" look with mascara. I also find that it doesn't transfer, smear, or flake, and the wand is very comfortable to use.

VERDICT: If you are a sucker for great packaging, you may not be able to resist this set. Without a doubt, it scores high on presentation. And there are definitely some stunning and original shades here - and those perform very well. This set also could be a very handy way to give a stocking-stuffer to three of your favorite makeup fans. But the quality of the shadows is very hit or miss - with enough misses to make a deal-breaker for a lot of people. And if you are looking forward to the aromatherapy some of the other Too Faced products offer, you may find this lacking. All-in-all I think this will probably be a pass for those who are not collectors and packaging addicts, especially given the $50 price point, unless you can forgive a number of misses or have the patience to really layer some of the more finicky shades. I expect to get a lot of use out of only a handful of these standout shades while ignoring many of the others for lack of pigmentation. If you are attempting to decide whether to pick up this set or the "Chocolate Shop," I would suggest the "Chocolate Shop" instead. The packaging is even better, there are fewer misses in the palette, and the cocoa scent is both convincing and intoxicating.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Too Faced "Chocolate Shop" Palette for Holiday, 2016 Review!

Forget what the calendar says, retail begs to differ - it's the holidays! And in celebration of the holidays, Too Faced has released the "Chocolate Shop" palette, "Christmas in New York!" This palette includes 21 eye shadow shades, a highlighter, a bronzer, a blush, and deluxe size samples of the "Better than Sex" Mascara, Melted Chocolate Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in "Milkshake," and a "Shadow Insurance" Eye Primer. This palette was created for Sephora; Ulta will have their own exclusive Too Faced holiday palette as well: the Too Faced "Merry Macaroons" palette. This set retails for $58, and is cruelty-free (kudos, Too Faced!)

Just like they have done in previous years, Too Faced has brought their signature, adorable "dollhouse" packaging back for the holidays! This kit is a little more condensed and less elaborate than last year's Paris palette, but still confirms that Too Faced is king when it comes to creative cosmetics packaging. This is totally display-worthy in your beauty room or bedroom. The eye shadow palette is a removable unit if you prefer to store it separately. When you open the lid of the eye shadow palette you are treated to a delectable cocoa scent - the same one you will be familiar with if you already have the chocolate bar palettes, chocolate bronzers, or cocoa contour kit. The aroma is truly delightful, and will give you one more reason to reach for this palette often! Get your aromatherapy during your makeup routine!

The included deluxe samples are great products, and the size is perfect for holiday travel. "Better than Sex" mascara is one of the best mascaras I have ever tried, and has become a staple in my collection. It causes my lashes to appear very full, thick, and long. This is about as close as I've ever gotten to false lashes in a mascara. The wand is made of fibers, which also is more comfortable on application than the plastic wands that are so common. The Melted Liquified Lipsticks are another product which I have kept going back for more shades, because they are very long-wearing, easy to apply, and non-drying on my lips. "Milkshake" is a very practical, nude brown shade. The primer is a functional primer that works to provide a good base for my eye shadows and help them last longer.

As for the eye shadow shades, there is an excellent range of light to dark shades, mattes, shimmers, and glitters, and a variety of pops of bright color, making this palette very comprehensive and fun. As for the formula... these are hit-or-miss. Some of them are very pigmented, while others I struggled to repeatedly apply trying to get them to show up. The glitters swatched far more pigmented than I was able to get them to show up on the lids. Most of the mattes and shimmers were less of a problem than the chunky glitters. I appreciated that a greater volume of product was included for the highlight shades, since I tend to use fewer of those in greater quantity than lid shades, which I tend to alternate more. I had some fallout with the glitter shades, but powder kickup in the palette was barely noticeable. The photo below shows almost no kickup after a full week of regular use. The shade names are delectable: "Indulge," "Cookie Dough," "Raspberry Rose," "Sugared Raisin," "Guilt-Free," "Tootsie," "Ginger Doodle," "Chocoholic," "Cake Batter," "Butterscotch," "Toffee Crunch," "Lava Cake," "Honey Dip," "Pound Cake," "Sugar Bells," "Mint Chip," "Jingle Berry," "Huckleberry," "Dessert's on Me," "Glaze," and "Banana Date." The swatches below are by finger and most of them appeared less pigmented with one brush application on my lids.

Also included in the eye palette are a highlighter, bronzer, and blush. The "Inner Light" highlighter is very light and not particularly pigmented, and barely showed up on my skin tone. The "Chocolate Soleil" bronzer performed well, and comparable to the full-size standalone product even though the ingredients are slightly different to hold up well in the different packaging. It blends well and does not appear orange on my skin. The "Chocolate Covered Strawberry" blush is a beautiful color and is very pigmented, but too dark and pigmented for my rosacea-impacted skin tone. I recommend applying with a less-dense brush and tapping it off before application to avoid too much of an overpowering look. While I can't use this as a blush, I was able to use it as an eye shadow - which was pigmented, beautiful, and long lasting! On darker skin tones and for people who do not have rosacea, this would be a great blush if not applied too heavily.

Full palette (individual swatches below)

VERDICT: Whether this product will be a good buy for you depends a lot on your priorities. If you are a collector who is interested in unique packaging, you may find this is a very worthy addition to your collection. If you don't mind a hit-or-miss palette as long as there are a lot of options, you may also enjoy it. But if you feel as though a palette is not a good value unless all or most of the shades are reliable, you may be disappointed with this. I tried most of the shades here over the course of a week and can say that there are definitely some I will want to use again and again and others I will simply avoid. But this would make a festive, delightful, and thrilling gift because of the beautiful packaging and wide array of choices that will cater to a lot of different people. If you are trying to choose between this one and the "Grand Hotel" Too Faced holiday kit - which I will have a review up for soon - definitely pick up this one. The "Grand Hotel" contains even more misses, less diverse shade selection, and the scents are way off from what they claim to be in comparison with the "Chocolate Shop" in my opinion. I definitely have no regrets about picking this up but concede that it definitely won't be for everyone.

Have a beautiful day!

Inner Light, Chocolate Soleil, Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Dessert's on Me, Raspberry Rose, Sugared Raisin, Glaze

Cake Batter, Butterscotch, Banana Date, Sugar Bells, Mint Chip

Indulge, Cookie Dough, Guilt-Free, Tootsie 

Gingerdoodle, Chocaholic, Toffee Crunch, Lava Cake

Honey Dip, Pound Cake, Jingle Berry, Huckleberry

Monday, October 10, 2016

September Favorites!

Paring down the list of favorites for September was a monumental task! Not only have fall collections been releasing, but even holiday collections have been hitting store shelves early! I also have a couple of favorites leftover for review from August that were just too good not to mention. So without further adieu, here are my September favorites!

Anastasia Glow Kit in "Sweets"
I was impressed with the other Glow Kits, so when I found out about this one, and how different it was from not only the other Glow Kits out there but also a lot of the other brands' highlighters that were releasing I was very excited! There are four highlight shades: "Marshmallow," a light cream shade, "Butterscotch," a golden shade, "Sassy Grape," a lavender shade, and "Taffy," a light orange. A couple of these might sound like they wouldn't work - but on my light skin tone all of them are flattering. The colors are not overly saturated, and just give you a hint of the shade with a wonderful glow. They are very buildable. I always have fun trying new and different colors - and when they end up being flattering to boot I am even more pleased. So I could not stop reaching for this throughout the month!

Shiseido "Synchro-Skin" Foundation
This oil-free foundation with SPF 20 has taken over holy grail status in my collection. This foundation does an amazing job of minimizing skin issues like scarring and large pores while still looking very natural. It is medium coverage - but doesn't look as heavy as other medium foundations I have applied because it looks so much like skin. As difficult as it is to find a foundation that hides imperfections so well without looking heavy, I was thrilled with this find. My favorite way to apply it is with a flat-top foundation brush, but it works very well with a beauty blender or your fingers as well. This is definitely going to be a permanent addition to my collection, and one I reach for often. (Note: although I am a neutral, I found that the neutral shade closest to my skin tone was too yellow, and that the rose toned foundation actually worked better - something you may want to keep in mind if you are thinking about ordering it online.)

Hourglass Foundation Brush
This new foundation brush that came out with the Hourglass "Vanish Seamless Finish" foundation stick is perfect for buffing in foundation - very soft and dense. It is also the perfect small size for travel. I've added it to my permanent travel kit. Unfortunately, I can't offer the same praise for the foundation stick - it turned my face into a greasy hot mess in no time at all, and emphasized rather than minimized every little imperfection. Fear not, however, if you need a travel foundation stick, because I have a great alternative below! (Note: I began using the Hourglass foundation stick as a concealer under other foundation, and can report that I have had a positive experience using it in that way - but not as a foundation!)

Lancome "Teint Idole Ultrawear" Makeup Stick
Now this is an excellent alternative, and I love using it with the Hourglass brush I mentioned above. This is the only foundation stick I have ever used that minimized, rather than emphasized, imperfections and looked flawless all day long. After the bad experiences I'd had with the Hourglass stick, Make Up For Ever stick, and others, I was very pleased to find this because it is so much more convenient for travel than a bottle of liquid foundation. It's smaller, less heavy, and doesn't pose a risk of breakage. This stick foundation looks very much like the liquid Teint Idole foundation, which I am also a fan of, when applied. If other foundation sticks have not worked for you either, I highly recommend giving this one a try. I was about to give up on stick formulas before I found this, and was glad I gave it a chance. It's in my permanent travel kit now.

Marc Jacobs Air Blush in "Flesh and Fantasy"
This is the perfect nude blush - not too heavy but buildable, pore minimizing, and very flattering. I have rosacea, so it's a tall order finding a blush that will work on my skin, and this handles the issue perfectly. It has light enough coverage that my rosacea is not emphasized. Of course, due to how buildable it is it will work great regardless of whether you have rosacea or not - or large pores or not - another bonus. I picked up the peachy shade "Lines and Last Night" as well, and it has the same pore-minimizing, flattering, buildable quality to it. I would highly recommend either one, but if you have rosacea, I would especially suggest "Flesh and Fantasy" to reduce the appearance of redness while still giving you a healthy, blushed appearance.

MAC "No Interruptions" Frost Lipstick
At first glance, this lipstick appears very green in the tube. But once applied, it is more of a light bronze and is surprisingly flattering. This is a very wearable frost lipstick. It has MAC's signature vanilla scent and long-wearing formula as well, and lasts several hours on my lips through drinking and snacking. It has become an absolute favorite in my collection.

MAC Viva Glam Ariana Grande 2 Matte Lipstick
Another big winner from MAC for fall, this is a brilliant and flattering purple-y hot pink. The packaging is special edition, with Ariana's signature on the tube. They did her justice with this - no small feat!

Urban Decay Vintage Capsule Lipstick in "Oil Slick"
I just finished a blog post on the full Vintage Capsule collection which you can view for further detail, but "Oil Slick" came out my favorite in the collection. It is a sheer black (read: wearable black) just when I thought those two words couldn't peacefully coexist - and what fun that is! If you like trying out non-mainstream colors without getting too wild, this provides a good chance to do just that! 

MAC Star Trek Pressed Eye Pigment in "Bird of Prey"
I also did a review of several products in the Star Trek collection you may refer to for more information, but out of the products I tried from the collection this one was my favorite. It is a beautiful, pigmented green with multi-colored sparkle that lasts well all day long and blends easily. Very vibrant and bold!

Elizabeth & James "Nirvana Bourbon" Perfume
This is another product I reviewed in a previous post, and I'm still reaching for it non-stop! It is a perfect harmony of slightly sweet, slightly musky for fall. The notes are vanilla bourbon, oakwood, and tuberose. It does resemble bourbon without the strong alcohol element to it. Sister perfume "Nirvana Rose" is wonderful too, but if I had to choose just one it would be this one. It lasts all day long and drives my man crazy (in a good way!) - always a plus!

I will be back next month with October favorites, and will have more posts for you in the meantime with more in-depth reviews of the hot, new releases for fall and holiday, 2016. Thank you for reading, and have a beautiful day!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Urban Decay Vintage Capsule Lipstick Full Collection Review, Fall 2017

As someone who has a short attention span for the new lipstick releases with high dupe-ability that are flooding the market (!), I was absolutely thrilled to see such a departure from the mundane in the shades that the Urban Decay Vintage Capsule lipstick collection sports! I have all nine shades, and I could not find a dupe for one in my admittedly bloated lipstick collection! This set honors the 90's founding of Urban Decay, and fan favorites from the original line that have been highly requested for re-release. There are a lot of bold shades and duo-chromes here. This collection is supposed to be a throwback to the 90's  - are they "wearable" in this decade?

The way that these swatched was different than the way that they wore on my lips. The sheerer ones were definitely more sheer swatched than when my natural lip color was added into the mix. When I first got them home and swatched them, I was concerned some of them would be too sheer for my taste, but after wearing all of them I can say that I was surprisingly pleased with all of the shades - even the ones I thought I was not going to like! Of course, in the case of the more sheer lipsticks, your results may vary depending on the shade of your natural lips.

The packaging is very nice - brushed silver tubes with a golden rim, and, best of all, stickers that show the actual lipstick color on the bottom so you can find the color you need quickly and effortlessly even if you have a larger collection. "Urban Decay" is ascribed on the gold inside of the tube, and the lipstick bullets themselves have the "UD" logo imprinted on them.The packaging is very similar to the Vice lipstick collection that was released over the summer. What is also similar to the Vice collection is the formula - and that is a very, very good thing. The performance of these was, again, excellent. They wore very well throughout the day and I was able to drink several cups of coffee or a have a light snack without a touch-up. A re-application will be needed after meals or after several hours, but I still find these perform better than many of the lipsticks I have tried. They also all feel creamy, comfortable, and moisturizing on my lips. One drawback - some of the shades do tend to show the fine lines of my lips, so I recommend using a lip primer under them. I have been using the MAC Prep + Prime, but any lip primer should do the trick.

Purple gets a lot of love in this collection. Asphyxia, Plague, and Palor are all purple shades.Asphyxia is a lavender with blue micro glitter giving it a blue shift. I've seen quite a few eye shadows with this effect, but not many lipsticks. The result definitely isn't something I would wear to a Board meeting, but it is beautiful and, in my opinion, "wearable" in most situations. (I use the term "wearable" loosely because everyone has their own take on what that means!) Plague and Palor were two I thought I wasn't going to like after swatching them, but I did. They were still slightly sheer, but that also makes them more wearable purples for more conservative situations. I would wear either of these to the office. Plague was a deep grape-fig color with a pink undertone, and Palor is a grayish lighter purple. All three of these purples are cream formulas. There's a lot of purple lipsticks out there right now, yet these still managed to be completely unique - kudos to Urban Decay for that!

Blue is represented by two creams, Frostbite, a darker, shimmery blue with multi color glitter, and UV-B, a bright, shimmery periwinkle blue. These may not go over so well at the office, and will probably take either a bold or artistic personality, or a bold whim or mood for anyone else, to go out with. If you are up for giving them a try, you will be well rewarded with absolutely gorgeous colors. There aren't a lot of blue lipsticks out there, and these are nothing like any of the others I've ever seen. Great for the club scene!

There are two "sheers" in the collection: Bruise and Oil Slick. Ordinarily I don't like sheers, however, I like both of these because they are opaque enough not to resemble lip gloss and because they come in shades I don't tend to wear often because of how bold their non-sheer counterparts can be. Bruise, a red with a barely noticeable green shift, is perfect in a situation where a full-on fire engine red would not be appropriate to wear but you still want to sport red, or for someone who wants to wear a red that is more subdued. Both of these have almost a gel-like appearance to them, mellowing them out. Which brings me to Oil Slick, the black with silver micro glitter. I LOVE this lipstick!!! If you are like I am, then you are dying to wear black out but can't conjure up the courage to do it unless it's Halloween. (By the way, I loved the way pure black looked on my lips for Halloween, so I wish it would become more mainstream!) With Oil Slick, you can make an exception! This is a wearable, yes, wearable black! (happy dancing!) How fun is that?! You can definitely tell it's black, but it's so subdued that there's nothing shocking about it. And if it still looks "too black," a little patting down with a tissue will mellow it out even more. Absolutely love this - if I could have just one shade from this collection it would be this one, because having fun with wild colors is something I can't resist!

Finally there is a copper-bronze color, Smog, and a burgundy toned brown, Roach. Let me just say right off the bat that this is the only "roach" I've ever met that I actually like - and I like it a lot! It's very shimmery, and a flattering, yellow-toned medium brown. Smog is a very metallic looking, almost frosty copper color. I find it odd that Urban Decay is calling both of these "cream" formulas. If you love your bold metals than this color will definitely be for you. I find that it's light enough that it's actually practical in a lot of situations, as an added bonus.

This is a predominantly bold, and very unique, collection. If you don't like your lipsticks to come in the "been there done that" variety you should definitely check these out. And if you want to try bold colors but want to take baby-steps, there are several shades here that are surprisingly wearable given their base color is such a stand-out shade.

VERDICT: Not only do I give this collection my highest recommendation, I can say it is one of my favorite lipstick collections to come out in a long time. During a season when a lot of products are coming out that are infinitely dupe-able, this is a very refreshing addition to any make-up lover's collection. And if the shades aren't enough to inspire a purchase, there is the outstanding quality of the formula to boot! Oil Slick and Smog are my top picks!

Have a beautiful day!

Bruise, Oil Slick, Smog, Roach, Asphyxia, Palor, Plague, UV-B, Frostbite

Monday, October 3, 2016

Erin Condren Life Planner 2017 Review and Etsy Sticker Haul and Plan With Me!

Today I have a quick review of the new 2017 Erin Condren Life Planner, as well as a planner sticker haul and plan with me including four weekly spreads (to include Halloween and Thanksgiving weeks), and the October monthly spread! These are limited white space spreads. The stickers used here were hauled from my favorite two Etsy Erin Condren Planner sticker sellers: the Glam Planner and Cricket Paper Co.

For anyone who is not familiar with the Erin Condren Life Planners, they are an extremely comprehensive planning system that is both functional and beautiful. Working full time, in college full time, doing volunteer work, and maintaining my website and blog require heavy duty time management - and the Erin Condren planner has been a life saver! I started with the 2016 edition, which I will compare with this year's version. These high quality planners are beautiful in their own right, but if you really want to glam it up you can use planning stickers! I really enjoy setting up my sticker arrangements, and they really help me stay organized! It is so fun and relaxing to tap into my creativity, and setting up my planner spreads is always a great pleasure. And I have to admit, decorating my planner has become mildly addictive...

I'll start with the planner review. Erin Condren Life Planners are available with pages for 2017 only as well as with the remainder of 2016 for an extra $5. They have both vertical and horizontal page setups, and they come in either neutral shades or colorful shades. They come with a plastic pouch (for stickers, pens, or whatever else you'd like to store), that is not attached to the planner, as well as a pocket folder for storing notes that is attached. A plastic ruler that doubles as a bookmark is also attached and removable. There are inspiring quotes throughout. The paper is thick, high quality stock. These planners are highly customizable - you choose from a wide assortment of colors and designs (which are interchangeable if you would like to own more than one cover and swap them out), neutral or colorful pages and tabs, and the spiral binder which comes in platinum, gold, rose-gold, and black.  You also personalize the cover with your name (or whatever other two-word text you would like to use). I have selected the neutral planner and rose-gold binder.

I had a tough decision whether to get the colorful planner or the neutral one. My first thought was to definitely pick up the colorful one, but a video from Elle of the Glam Planner convinced me that the neutral planner was the best choice for a harmonious layout if you plan on using  a lot of stickers. With the neutral layout, you can use whatever stickers you want without worrying about any of the colors clashing. She also mentioned that she preferred the cursive text of the neutral planner and I completely agree - it is more creative and whimsical in my opinion than the font style used in the colorful planner. But the colorful planner is absolutely gorgeous and I am sure many of you who decide to pick one up will choose that one! One thing I would note is that if you want to use stickers in your planner I have found a greater selection available for the vertical planners, so that is something that you may want to keep in mind.

Neutral Planner, Monthly Spread, No Stickers
October Monthly Spread With Stickers From The Glam Planner
Dry Erase Travel Planning and Packing Tool

In most ways, I like the planner even better than last year's. I feel the design is even more visually appealing. Unfortunately, my favorite cover was not brought back from last year, and while last year's plastic pouch was attached to the planner, inconveniently in this year's version the pouch is loose, creating a risk that it will fall out of the planner. But in most regards, what worked hasn't changed, like the convenient folder and high quality paper, which is a good thing. One available optional add-on that I particularly love is the dry erase travel planning and packing checklist. As someone who loves to travel and always forgets something (maybe you can relate!), this will come in very handy! This can be attached to or removed from the planner easily.

I am completely hooked on this planner! As much of a morning person as I am not (!), I really look forward to delving into my planner each morning and getting things done. I am so much more efficient and organized since I started doing this, and I'm sleeping better as well because I don't go to bed the night before thinking about what I need to do the next day (it's already in the planner!), or worrying I'm going to forget something!

Another great thing I've found about using the planner is the way it coaches me to stay on top of my personal goals, as well as my tasks and assignments. I made a resolution this year to get serious about skin care, and now that I am planning and tracking my skin care routine I am actually sticking to it! Whether your goals include drinking more water, getting more exercise, staying on top of household chores, or anything else, this planner will help keep you accountable.

The first place I hauled for stickers was the Glam Planner on Etsy. This sticker shop is the Rolls Royce of planner stickers in my opinion - the stickers are higher-end both quality wise and price-wise than a lot of other Etsy shops carry. I find the monthly spreads the best value - both because I use the monthly spread all month (and can enjoy the stickers for longer), and because they cost less than most of the other sets on the storefront. The "weekly" sets are a splurge, and I try to resist using them until a special occasion or holiday, because they make these events even more special. Of course, you can also do a spread with more white space and get more weeks out of them. These kits are stunning, and an absolute joy to use! I purchased the October monthly spread, "Queen Bee," and the weekly set, "Black Swan," pictured here applied to my planner, as well as "Elephant Wishes," a vibrantly-colored Indian themed set shown in the photo at the top of this post. 
"Black Swan" Weekly Set From The Glam Planner - Applied To My Birthday Week!

The second shop I have stickers from is Cricket Paper Co. on Etsy. This shop strikes a good balance between price and quality, their stickers have a high functionality, you can choose to buy only the individual papers you need or the complete set (which is great because everyone likes to do their spreads their own way!), and they have great holiday sets! They also feature "$2 Tuesdays" when a selection of sheets in a variety of designs are available for $2 each. I have the Halloween and Thanksgiving spreads to show today, as well as the "Pumpkin Spice" spread I am using this week. These are economical enough to brighten up the more mundane weeks as well as jazzing up those special holiday weeks! Finally, I picked up a few "a la carte" sheets from the fall collection.

Halloween Spread from Cricket Paper Co.

Thanksgiving Spread from Cricket Paper Co.

"Pumpkin Spice" Spread From Cricket Paper Co.

If you are a first time sticker shopper you will notice that on many Etsy shops you can choose between "glossy" and "matte" stickers. Glossy stickers are shiny and beautiful, but it is difficult to re-position them, and doing so can damage the planner paper. Matte stickers, on the other hand, especially if you get sheets specified as "re-position-able matte," are quite easy to pull back off the page and move. This is an important consideration if you either don't have the steadiest of hands or are a perfectionist who will be bothered if any of the stickers don't go on completely straight! I'm guilty on both counts! The matte stickers in both of these shops are re-position-able. 

These stickers really breathe life into my naked planner, and when I view the pages each morning I feel motivated and inspired! My planner definitely makes the daily grind a lot more palatable!

Have a beautiful day!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Naked Ultimate Basics, Fall 2016 Review!

The new Naked Ultimate Basics eye shadow palette has released, and it is different in some ways from the rest of the Naked eye shadow line. I will go over what’s changed (most notably the packaging), what’s stayed the same, and give a review of the shade selection and performance of the shadows. The price point is $54.00 for .48 ounces.

As far as packaging, this installment has swapped the long, narrow design for a new square design with a starburst embossed on the gold-brass colored case. The packaging appears more substantial than it feels – once you pick it up the plastic feels very light. But it is beautiful packaging, and the texture, with the raised starburst, is pleasing to the touch. There is a full-size mirror, and the case includes a double-ended brush that will especially please those interested in travelling with it. The light weight actually makes it very practical for travel. Storage-wise, square palettes are not my preference, but the beauty of the packaging definitely makes up for any inconvenience in storing it.

There are 12 shades included, some more cool-toned (on the top row) and others more warm-toned (on the bottom row), so this palette will suit a variety of skin tones. The palette is billed as “all matte” but there is one subtly shimmery shade. The shade selection is either going to be the biggest drawback or the biggest selling point for you, depending on the extent of your current make-up collection. In my case, it is a big disappointment, because these shades are similar to many others I already have in my collection from a variety of brands like Tarte, Stila, and Too Faced, as well as in other Urban Decay palettes. I could not find one shade in this palette that was not comparable to 2, 3, or more that I already had in another palette, and the palette as a whole even resembles a couple other full palettes that I own. (Note that the shades appeared slightly darker on my lid than in the pan.)

That said, however, some will be thrilled with the shade selection if they do not already have a lot of similar shades, and, admittedly, the name of the palette is “Naked Ultimate Basics” and the shade selection is not inconsistent with that. It’s not really fair to expect it to offer groundbreaking, bold, colorful shades! I will admit that although neutrals and nudes are not my first choice, they are very, very practical, and anyone will be able to wear them in any social situation, most notably to work in an office setting or to meet with clients. So these shades really are staples in almost anyone’s make-up collection, whether they are a personal preference or not. But once you’ve already got a lot of them, how many dupes are really necessary, even with occasion to wear them a lot, such as for work?

On the plus side, it is great that there is a good range of shades from very light to very dark. This is a very comprehensive palette, and you won’t need to reach for another to achieve a good range for your eye look. One of my pet peeves about eye shadow palettes are ones that I cannot use on their own.

All in all, I think this palette is best suited for someone who either is trying to build their collection and doesn’t already have many neutral and nude mattes, someone who only wears these types of shades, or someone who is just a collector and Urban Decay fangirl or fanboy. Others may want to take a pass, especially given the expensive price point.

The formula is outstanding on most of the shades. If you are familiar with the formula of other Naked palette shadows, you will have a good idea what the majority of these will be like. A couple didn’t perform as well as others (most notably “instinct” and “magnet”), but all-in-all the quality is very good overall, and with building I was able to make even the worse-performing shades look great! They are very nicely pigmented and go on the lid smoothly, don’t have a lot of kick-up or fallout, blend rather easily, and last beautifully all day long. I can’t find any fault whatsoever with the formula overall.

VERDICT: This palette will delight some and disappoint others, depending on whether you prefer neutral and nude matte shades and how many your collection already sports. This is an expensive investment for someone who already has many comparable dupes – and given how common most of these shades are (or at least very similar ones), that will be a lot of you. But if that is not you, these are very practical shades that will work for any kind of environment, including conservative work environments, and the formula is top-notch, so in that case I highly recommend it.

Check out our full website at, and have a beautiful day! 

Blow, Nudie, Commando, Tempted, Instinct, Lethal, Pre-Game, Extra Bitter, Faith, Lockout, Magnet, Blackjack

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall Bath and Body Works Candle Hall, and Candle Container Re-purposing!

Welcome back beautiful readers! The new, improved official website is officially up and running at! I will be continually striving to improve your experience on the site, and adding new, exciting content! Blog posts will also be more regular now that the heavy-lifting of getting the new website set up is done.

Well, Fall is officially here, and you know what that means… the wave of Fall scents at Bath and Body Works! I have a candle haul today, where I stocked up on the Fall scents – my favorite candle scents of the year! It was admittedly tough to choose from the dizzying array of diverse aromas. I picked up my five favorites, and will give you an overview below.

First a quick review on the quality of Bath and Body Works candles in general, in case you haven’t tried them before. You can purchase these candles in a variety of sizes, but the three-wick variety are the ones that I find the most practical. The quality is outstanding – the scent will fill an entire room and more, and the aroma will continue to linger for a long time after you put the candle out, in some cases even several hours. They burn quite evenly, so you don’t have to worry about ending up with a lot of wasted candle once it is exhausted. The candles also have a lot of stamina too – lasting between 30-45 hours. Finally, the glass containers they come in are great for re-purposing after use:

·         * Just freeze the container with the leftover wax in the freezer, which will allow you to break the wax easily with a knife and remove it (just poke it with the knife and it will break up and fall out).
·         * Set the container on a counter and let it return to room temperature.
·         * Boil water, and place the container in it to loosen up the stickers and any glue that was holding the wicks in place.
·         *The stickers and wick holders should peel off easily now.
·         * Let the container return to room temperature again.
·         * Finally, wash the container out in the sink with warm water and dish soap to remove any leftover wax, glue, or sticker residue.

After this process, the containers are great as storage for makeup brushes, makeup, cotton balls and Q-Tips, and many other things! Remember, it is important to return the glass to room temperature after each step to avoid cracking.

On to the specific candles I picked up in the haul!
The first one I picked up, (and the one I placed in my shopping bag the fastest!), is “Pumpkin Woods.” The candle description says that the notes here are woodland spruce, cedar, clove buds, and smoky vanilla. This is an ideal candle to save for November, on the cusp of Black Friday and the holiday season, because of the pine element. It smells very woodsy, Autumn-leaves inspired, and with a hint of vanilla to give it a wonderful depth. It is a Fall-friendly shade of olive green.

Next is “Wine Cellar,” which is from the White Barn line. Bath and Body Works renovated their floor space at my local shop to include a second shop next to it with more rustic d├ęcor called White Barn. Technically, they are the same store though, and you can move back and forth between them filling your basket, and the coupons work in both stores! The notes listed for “Wine Cellar” include fragrant red fruit, rare patchouli, and touch of saffron. Fall is the season for vineyard festivals, and the scent of this candle is very reminiscent. It does evoke memories of red wine, a little bit sweet and perfumed, but in a way that people who don’t like scents that are ultra-sweet or feminine will appreciate. This was my favorite last year, so I was happy to see it return!

“Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte” was next. Although I had a couple of candles left from last year on the sweet side, I liked this one more than any of the others in the “sweet” category. The notes are pumpkin latte, toasted marshmallow, creamy sandalwood, white ginger, and praline musk. It is very sweet, and most evident is a smell of vanilla frosting. It is a bit more mellow than some of the other sweet candles though, thanks to the subtle sandalwood and musk elements.

“Autumn,” like “Pumpkin Woods,” has a hint of pine to it that will be great in November in anticipation of the imminent holiday season. The notes are bright red gala apple, juicy fig, eucalyptus leaf, and fir balsam. The sweetness of the fruit balances out the woodiness. It smells like Autumn leaves and reminds me of a crisp Autumn day.

“Berry pumpkin strudel” was the one I picked up that I felt was the most unique. Bath and Body Works has a lot of candle scents, and sometimes they can be similar because the notes may be repeated. But this was quite different from any of the others. It is a great blue color, and the notes are sweet blueberry, baked apple, blackberry, pumpkin spice, and puff pastry. This candles brings together the perfect harmony of spicy-sweet, with berry fruit and nutmeg spice aromas the most noticeable. It has a lot of depth.

“Honeycrisp Apple” may be the most spot-on scent I’ve ever found in a candle. The notes are golden honey crisp, apple blossom, and fresh sugarcane, but to my senses this smells exactly like a fresh honey crisp apple, my favorite part of the Fall harvest! This would be a particularly great scent for a kitchen. I wasn’t sure I wanted something so fruit-focused for my office, but I just couldn’t put it down! The bright red color is an added bonus! It doesn’t have as much depth of scent as some of the others, but if you love honey crisp apples you will probably find this scent equally “delicious!”

Aromatherapy is an important part of my routine. I find that it lifts my spirits and keeps my optimism elevated all day. Beauty can be more than just visual! These candles are great for that! They are on the expensive side, but bear in mind that they frequently have sales that bump the price down to $12.50 each. If you keep tabs on their website, you will probably be able to catch one of these sales in not too long.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the new, improved website! Thank you for your patience as I work out any kinks this first week. I have some new photography equipment en-route tomorrow that will also help improve the quality of the photography and ultimately allow for video…

Have a beautiful day!