Monday, July 30, 2012

A Bit Overdue

Don't worry though, it's only for a month. The guest bloggers are getting ramped up so they might take over the helm while I focus on some projects. I'll be back and in the mean time I'll be doing my research and getting ready for September. If you do miss my writing for some strange reason, I'll be posting to etceteros about my projects and general rambling.

Reputation Grinds

Thanks to my friends, my interest in WoW has been piqued although it comes with some unintended consequences. Mainly... I do what I want and I probably won't be playing much with them. This is generally the way it goes down: Friends get super serious about WoW and I flee into a world of whismy because WoW is supposed to be relaxing for me and not stressful. Translation: I'm a terrible player. In fact that majority of my screenshots starting from 2007 are all of my toons dancing.

Except for when I did useful things.

Like get a bunch of Hefflalumps (Elekks).

Lately though (since dinging 85), I've been interested in reputation grinds. Mind you I still haven't completed the full Alliance faction rep grind, but you name some offhand small faction and all of a sudden I want it.  I don't need it and it won't help me, but I love it. Take the Sha'tari Skyguard, I played through this area and made a mental note: Come back. You need to find out more about these people. Why are they in the trees and what's up with the Skettis hate? Of course, some time past and then earlier this year I decided it was time to return. And so I did it, I got Exalted (even though I can't remember why I told myself to do it in the first place). And then I remembered why. When you get Exalted you can buy the fry as a pet, but I forgot about that just as I forgot that these people give you a mount (one that you must buy, but still).

So now with my interest waking up, I look at my bookmark bar and I know that grinding for Aldor is next. I don't remember why, but I know that it's the goal. I'll find out at the end why I put in that work but two years from now when I finally do it and finish it, it will be like a sweet surprise to myself. You're welcome future Lei.

The Art of Book Plates

Earlier I wrote an epically long ramble about how "saving money" actually translates to "acquiring more books and useless junk" but then decided to just write about books instead. Those of you who are aware of my bookwormismness, know that I'm somewhat active on GoodReads. And by active I mean that I track books that I'm reading but I don't actually write reviews (I thought about it seriously for a while, but then decided against it -- I cannot remember why). On LibraryThing, I have two accounts: one for my huge library back in New York and another to track the books I have with me in California (or are still boxed somewhere).

All of my life, being someone who had semi-permanence in the school library (see: Library Club in grade school, Librarian Achievement Award in junior high, and knowing every member of my library on campus) the one thing I always loved the classic Browne Issue System. This may be a foreign concept to some of you so I advise you to read the Wikipedia page along with ex libris.

Of course, this took to the absolute back burner because my library back in New York is at 380 books. Can you imagine trying to glue 380 pockets to books? Cataloging them was hard enough the first time (and then the second time when someone messed with my library and it will be difficult a third time because that's going to happen at some time). Luckily my library in California is sitting pretty at 84 books (and no, I'm not counting ebooks, I've actually removed them from my catalog) so I figured it was time to invest in an ex libris. 

Luckily this is where Etsy came in handy. At first I thought that I'd invest in two different bookplates with one being a classic design and the other being one with a Ravenclaw design. One would be used for the New York library and the other for the California one. I decided to just get one but then I had to narrow it down because there are so many choices. So I had to narrow it down, I knew that while I loved the pockets, those were out along with any stickers. I needed a stamp and I ended up in Asspocket Productions' store. 

I told her what I wanted and she worked closely with me to figure out the aesthetics of it. I'm incredibly happy with the stamp I got and I think it's cute that it's now part of her catalog. It's the Teapot & Teacup stamp and you can see it below. 

This was definitely a frivolous spend but you know what, I love it and I think it adds a bit of character to all of my books. Now the only catch is to make sure I don't mess up when I'm stamping.

Oh and a message to my beloved bibliophiles that have been waiting over my New York library like vultures... I love you but my dear Cheshire cat but now there will always be proof of what was mine. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara

You know when you've made that terrible mistake of purchasing an item but you can't undo it? That crushing feeling of knowing that you now have to haul yourself to a store to replace the bad item that you can't return but you can't give away either. A while ago I had purchased a tube of L'Oreal Voluminous False Lashes Mascara (you can check out the review here) and had it in storage till I was ready to replace my current mascara. Problem was that I picked up Black Brown and well, I'm Brown so it kind of looks like I'm putting on clear mascara. So I decided that in addition to getting a tube of the Voluminous in black (and making sure that it only says "black") that I'd try another mascara.

Given the success I had with Physicians Formula recently (which is somewhat rare) and the desire to have a natural mascara, I decided to give the Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Jumbo Lash Mascara a try. Plus it comes in a leaf form and I am a sucker for packaging. I know that one of the critiques out there is about how cumbersome the packaging, but I for one bought it alone based on it's packaging. Plus they touted something about 100% Natural Origin and since I left my Sante Naturkosmetik Mascara Endless Lashes № 03 by my boyfriend's place, I needed another one as soon as possible. Might as well stick with the natural trend.

Anyhow, right off the bat the thing that I noticed and that I liked was that it definitely gave my lashes a bit of a lift and looked overall, pretty nice. I wouldn't say that this is a replacement for my beloved Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! but I will say that it's a good contender. It stands up well and delivers the same performance that my Sante mascara does.

How does it stand up to 8 hours? It fares somewhat well. I will admit that by the 7th hour it doesn't quite have the same staying power at Tarte's does, but it's still there holding out.

Overall, I think it's good backup to Tarte or even the L'Oreal Voluminous, but definitely not a replacement. I'm still very happy with it's performance but I honestly wonder what would have happened if my lashes weren't so full to begin with.

Product: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara
Price: ~$10
Would Recommend? Sort of...
Takeaway: I love this mascara -- I've been using it now in lieu of L'Oreal Voluminous and I like how it works. It gives my lashes a boost, curls them ever so slightly, and just overall, pretty good. It does wear down over the course of a day but there's no flaking. What I do wonder about is how well the mascara would fare on it's own if my lashes weren't already so full -- and that's where my hesitation about it comes in. While it's a good spare, I don't think it would permanently replace my two staples.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Elongated Pennies

Somewhere on this blog I have mentioned that I am a bit of a collector. I did think that I was going to get to talk about my Vinylmation collection first, but I was able to take photos (albeit very bad photos) of my penny collection first. It all started with road trips as a child, you stop into a rest stop, find some way to make my parents spend 51‌¢ (it's the easiest angle) then promptly loose said coin. As I got older, I got better at remembering to keep the coin and put it away in a safe place but I also got better about not asking for an elongated coin.

Then it happened. The perfect storm of teenage stubbornness, elongated coins, and Disney (by the way, I blame Disney for this collection). At the age of 16, we're in Disney World -- I now absolutely assume that we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios (more evidence to follow) but there my parents said that they wouldn't give in to getting us elongated coins since my brother and I were officially too old but mostly because we kept loosing them. To which I retorted that if they got us the Penny Passports (conveniently it was located in the store that we were in right next to the machine) that we wouldn't loose them anymore.

As a joke almost, they gave in just to prove me wrong and to sweeten the deal, they let us get an elongated quarter. Little did they know that I actually did remember to save some older ones and had a total of two back home, which brought my grand total up to three with the new one.

I won.

Last year, which is about 10 years later (give or take, mostly give) I finally completed the first one (which is in black). After I completed it, my boyfriend was incredibly kind enough to keep his eyes out for a new one and we found it in Monterey, CA after visiting the aquarium. 

I'm actually kind of surprised at myself that I've kept up with it for so long. Even more surprised that every penny comes from a place I visited. I somehow managed to loose all the "Good Luck" ones but not the landmarks, cities, or attractions ones. Anyhow, it's been an interesting journey in the world of pennies and it's something I plan on ending anytime soon (well, unless I fill out the second book).

Now while I can say that I have a lot of them that I like such as the one from NASA Kennedy Space Center, Maui, Kauai, and the variety I've picked up from Disney these three are my favourites (probably because you can take better photos of them.

Lilo & Stitch and The Nightmare Before Christmas are in my top favourites so I couldn't go without having a coin from them. (If I had one for Alice in Wonderland then I could say that I had all of my favourites). The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride during Halloween is one of my absolute favourite rides and I generally can't leave without getting on it at least once. It's been so long since I've been on it when it's just The Haunted Mansion ride that I don't remember what it's like to not have Jack Skellington take over.

Finally it's this coin from the Tower of Terror -- this was the one that I got along with my first Penny Passport as a memento of my first roller coaster ride.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Serious Talk About Disney

Title explains it all, but let me get into a bit of the background here. I've always been a huge fan of Disney and that comes from my parents but moreso mother. She is a huge fan of animation in general and growing up as I found myself enamored with art, I had an abundance of appreciation for cel-animation, storyboards, claymation, and so forth. While I'm not a fan of the princesses, I can absolutely appreciate the art and production of them which comes from a simple book my parents bought me as a child: Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs & the Making of the Classic Film 50th Anniversary -- I could go on about this, but I sort of wanted to explain the long history in a nutshell. Anyhow, if you ever have the chance -- even if you're not a fan of Disney, watch the videos of them doing the voice recordings, storyboards, or just the production.  To date my favourite Disney movies are Alice in Wonderland, Lilo & Stitch, and The Nightmare Before Christmas -- three movies that use very different techniques.

The next layer of fandom comes through the visits to Disney World. Now I couldn't tell you much about the visit as a child though there does exist a fantastic picture of my crying over the loss of a balloon. My family loves pointing out that picture, I don't even remember that happening but I know the emotions in that picture. Anyhow, we got the chance to visit again when I was sixteen and I had a lot of fun which includes riding my roller coaster rides (though which came first, I forget). Rock 'n' Roller Coaster which I got a migraine from and/or the Tower of Terror where my glasses flew away from me and then my mother and I proceeded to visually search for them while my brother and father had fun enjoying the ride. (Enjoying the ride is for chumps who... well, ah. I think this means Tower of Terror was my first ride because of my newbie error).

Side Note: I developed an extreme fear of heights sometime after this. Oh well.

Moving along to years later, during the advent of Blizzcon, I decided that my friends must endure Disneyland. Somehow they didn't disagree with me so we went two years in a row. But did I just skip the most important part? Yes. Well, no.

See in the three visits that I remember to a Disney park, the one thing I've always wanted to do is participate in pin trading. I'm a collector and an organizer, and each time I saw those magical pin trading posts, I really wanted it. When I was 16, my parents tried to reason with me to tell me that it was a phase and that I shouldn't indulge because I'd end up doing nothing with them. I relented because I wasn't even sure who I'd trade with or how, especially since it was just one visit to Disney World. Then during both visits to Disneyland I talked myself out of it just like I talked myself out of the Vinylmations. But the funny thing is that I still wanted them and so over 10 years later I finally decided to jump into pin trading.

And by jump, I mean, barely touch the water. I really wanted the Mechanical Stitch but I figured that if I was going to do this then I needed to get a starter kit. The problem was that during my last two visits, there were no Stitch packs avaiable so I had settled on getting The Nightmare Before Christmas. However with a bit of poking around online, I found that there were some Stitch sets that came in red or blue.

Frankly, I would have gotten them both but I thought I was being ridiculous. Mostly because I'd never trade Stitch which made the whole "pin trading" part kind of hard. I'll deal with that when the time comes.

After much analyzing (and disbelief that I actually got it), I'm quite content with what I got. I did check (and double check) to make sure that I didn't get any scrappers or counterfeits. The bag they came in still had the Disneyland price tag on it and everything looks legit, so perhaps I didn't need to check as much as I did but as a newbie, I might as well educate myself.

So why write this lengthy post about pin trading? Partially because I wanted to. I'm a verbose kind of gal and I need a hobby. But this new hobby away from the old hobbies is also a bit on the consuming side. I was lucky to go to Disney parks as many times as I did (actually, I'd like to thank the friends and family that allowed for that to happen) but never picked these things up. Which meant that I had to get them online which creates a bit of a risk (not to mention one hell of a markup) so it's better off to have the small indulgence but to not quite jump in.

Who knows though, perhaps if there's another Disney trip in my future I can get some new ones and actually participate in the pin trading. But I'm going to need an Alice in Wonderland set in order to trully give in (again).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tiffany Blue Nail Polish

So I've got a nail polish problem but this post isn't about that -- that is a whole other post for another time. But I've got explain this before I delve further. See, for some reason I go on these odd quests and there's no real beginning but there's always an end. It starts with something incredibly simple and then... Well, you'll see. 

The Quest Giver
It started with Nouveau Cheap's post entitled "Some Sinful Colors blues and greens: a comparison" where she literally does what she stated. And I for some strange reason I fell in love with Sinful Colors "Be Happy" which then reminded me of an earlier post where she swatched "Cinderella." Next thing I know I'm in the store trying to find Cinderella and Be Happy -- except that deep down I know that Be Happy has not been missing in action at my local Walgreens.

So I secured a bottle of Cinderella but now I was determined to find out more about "Be Happy" because all of my research kept turning up China Glaze's For Audrey. Which sparked a whole new ridiculous quest. Tiffany Blue was all the rage in 2010 which spawned a bunch of dupes. (Don't judge me for being two years late to this train, I spent half of that year playing World of Warcraft and it was worth it. My NE Rogue (I can see you judging) finally mastered herbalism. Moving on, for now.)

>Anyhow, as I said, this spawned a hunt for a Tiffany Blue. I did get free cookies and coffee from them when they first opened a store on Wall Street (NYC -- that was the greatest week) which was right across from my old job. And even now, I walk past their store in Union Square (SF) every day. But nothing has quite prompted me to go in, but I will say I have always loved the Tiffany Blue colour. And so, I went on a quest to find nail polish that would perfectly match Tiffany Blue because I love the colour blue.

The first attempt at getting a robin egg blue that was similar to that of Tiffany Blue was Orly's Gumdrop. While I think it's cute it did take some time to get used to and right off the bat, you'll notice that it is not the colour you want if you're aiming for a Tiffany Blue. It's a good colour, with a great consistency and amazing coverage, but not quite the one I was looking for.

Now Nouveau Cheap did a great swatch of China Glaze For Audrey and later did a fantastic comparison of the CG to Wet n Wild Megalast I Need A Refresh-Mint. More research yielded that it turns out For Audrey isn't a good point to compare the Tiffany Blue to though especially since the bag, box, and wherever else you might have seen Tiffany Blue is slightly different because of how printing occurs. So luckily after a bit more searching I found Polish Hoarder Disorder's post entitled "Closure... finally!" which is just about the most comprehensive look at Tiffany Blue nail polishes that you will find (for now, I guess). While the post was written in 2010, it does take out a lot of the legwork for you (and me).

Content with her hard work and comparison, I set out to find Essie's Turquoise and Caicos. I searched all of my local drugstores -- the one CVS and then the 5 other Walgreens and I couldn't find it. I finally found it at a beauty supply store and finally could put a rest to my crazy quest. 

I haven't tried the Essie yet (and I apologize for the super flash overkill pictures, but it was the only way to see the colours) but you can see that it's a bit darker than the Orly. It's only a tiny bit more green than the Orly but overall, I'm still content with the Orly. Here's a picture of all three (that includes Cinderella) just to see a side by side comparison of the bottles. 

And now, to return to that WoW moment, 2010 was awesome. So what if I missed the boat on Tiffany Blue nail polishes? I dinged 85, not only on my rogue but also on my DK. Too bad I lost all my screenshots and the lone survivors are all ones that are of terrible quality. 

That Used to Mean Something

The meaning isn't lost however it has gone missing.

As a side note, several of these "cards" were released into the wild and I have no idea where the majority of them are. 

A Cheshire take of the ShauKat Principle

The principle whereupon he is a "Corporate Drone" (her words, not mine) by day and a hacker by night whilst she (the Sims in question, not the person playing the game) is a Lab Technician who has penned four fiction novels and one sci fi thriller. Additionally there will always be at least two computers around them and he will find time to play video games.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Physicians Formula Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls Blush

When I saw this it tugged at two weaknesses that I have: one is that I suddenly want to try all of the different types of blush that I can find. The second is that anything with the word "pearl" in it I will immediately desire. Anyhow, I grabbed the Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls Blush in rose pearl. 

First impressions about the packaging is that I love it (my adoration for pearls strikes again). It's definitely a nice shade of pink that is a bit demure. Note that this type only comes in two colors: rose and natural, my local store didn't not carry the latter.

Under the pan you will find the mirror and the brush. Sure the packaging is a bit flimsy (as in the pan doesn't lock in properly) but otherwise I think it's a decent compact. The brush is a bit coarser then some of the other ones I've tried out. And yes, I always test out the brush that came with the packaging before tossing it. 

Excitement aside, I finally got to try it on and I was disappointed by how it actually worked out. The brush was coarse but when I brushed it on, the colour just vanished. I tried to build upon it but that was a fruitless effort. There's a lot of shimmer to this blush but colour? No. Very lacking. Obviously there's no need for endurance here because it never showed up in the first place.

Sadly, as cute as the packaging is, this is something you should probably skip on.
Pardon the sadness. I really wanted a
compact with a pearl on the lid.

Product: Physicians Formula Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls Blush
Price: $10.95
Would Recommend? No.
Takeaway: I couldn't get any colour from this product but I did get a lot of shimmer.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Aged BPAL Imps

A little while ago, I posted reviews for some of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab imps that I had ordered earlier this year. In that post I had mentioned that it was someone from LiveJournal who got me hooked on them by sending me a few imps for Christmas. Well, some time after that post I visited my parents who found my old stash of imps -- and here I thought I had just lost them when I was moving. So the really awesome thing is that there was still a bit of perfume in some of the imps but the down side is that I got these imps back in 2006 which means they are very aged -- which would be fine except that a lot of these aren't in production any more. So if I get any of the information incorrect, I apologize in advance.

How I store my Imp's Ears. More about
this below.
Gennivre, L’Artiste du Diable
Description: Hyson tea leaf, pale mint, sugar cane, orange blossom, lemongrass, and honey.
Line: Carnaval Diabolique, Act II: Fiat Nox (BPAL.ORG)
Reaction: I vaguely remember drooling over this line but I don't remember this scent. I put it on and it smells like honey, which I love. It an amazing light scent which you can make out the orange blossom and in a far distance get the notes of the tea leaves.
Currently Unavailable.

Description: The devil’s herb, which he cultivates with skill and pleasure. According to lore, the spirit of this plant may take the form of a breathtaking, achingly beautiful woman, deadly to behold. This scent is a tribute to such a dark and magnificent plant: a rich green and floral blend, earthy and haunting.
Line: Rappaccini's Garden
Reaction: Oh my goodness, this was like Bengay out of the bottle. Very, very strong scent of menthol and it took a little while for the true scent to come in. When that strong methol died down, there was a hint of something else... something erring on the side of floral, but not quite. The interesting thing though is that time apparently has changed this imp very much especially since all the reviews on BPAL mention the same thing. Super strong florals though which caused a headache.
Still in production.

Description: She is the Muse of mimicry, and inspires both erotic and romantic poetry. She is crowned in roses, holding a lyre. Her scent inspires creative expressions of love and lust: a crush of roses with sweet pea, myrrh, ylang ylang, orris and stephanotis.
Line: The Muses: Erotic and Romantic Poetry (BPAL.ORG)
Reaction: It smells like incense -- not in a bad way but has this musky like feel to it (but it's not musk). It smells antiquated with that rose coming through strong and just a slight hint of ylang ylang. Very strong florals come in so a headache tends to come in with it. Luckily it doesn't completely dominate so I can definitely get on board with this one.

Description: A lazy, warm deep green scent with a thick aquatic undertone: Spanish moss, evergreen and cypress with watery blue-green notes and an eddy of hothouse flowers and swamp blooms.
Line: Wanderlust
Reaction: This definitely has a darker and almost deeper scent to it. The florals lightly come out but I can't quite distinguish the scents. It's a bit woodsy but over time the florals really dominate. Overall, I really like this one and I'm glad there is more of a woodsy undertone so that it doesn't make me need to wash it off.
Still in production.

Description: A dark, palpably sacred chthonic blend: black narcissus and cypress, stephanotis, opoponax, labdanum, onycha and ambergris.
Line: Excolo
Reaction: Out of the sealed bottle, this one had a very very light scent. You can just barely make out all the florals but once it is on your skin it slowly grows. The florals just completely dominate and you can make it out with complete ease. It's not overpowering as some of the other florals I've smelled but gracefully treads on that line as it remains solidly earthy.
Still in production.

Brides of Dracula
Description: Unquenchable desire, seething lust, malevolent sexuality, and voracious hunger lurking beneath a shimmering veil of unearthly beauty: gleaming skin musk, honey and white amber, plum blossom, osmanthus, sandalwood, calla lily, and a light, sensual blend of Eastern spices.
Line: The Order of the Dragon (BPAL.ORG)
Reaction: Powdery scent with a bit of musk and you can make out the hints of spices. This was one of my favourites when I first got these imps 6 years ago and this one continues to be my favourite of the batch. The spices and the honey comes in smoothly with just a hint of the florals. Overall I love this scent and I'm pretty sure I'll continue to hoard it.

About the holder that I created, I used balsa wood and glued pieces together. The black fabric is actually ribbon that was cut and fitted to hold the imp's in. I used to hang the holder in a dark place (the imps should always be kept in a dark and cool area), and the black ribbon assisted in making sure they weren't exposed to light.

Prior to getting my Imp holder back (special thanks to my parents who found it), I had them stored in a drawer organizer (pictured on the left). Sorry for the blurry picture but it's dark in there.

BPAL sells the Imp's Ears for $4.00 each (they are 1/32oz). Some imps cannot be purchased if they are part of a set (and they make it clear what you can or cannot request) and you can get 6 imps for $22.00. These imps were a gift back in 2006 which is why many of them are no longer available. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Swatches: Sugarpill Cosmetics Eyeshadows

One thing that I am a sucker for -- well, aside from black eyeliners and black mascara, -- is black eyeshadows. For some reason I tend to rack these up and use them a lot. Even if they aren't very good, I'll keep them around with the confidence that come Halloween, they'd be put to good use. Ever since hearing about Sugarpill Cosmetics, I couldn't wait to give them a go but as you might have noticed, I'm very weary about colours. After all, I have a yellow undertone and it seems to kill the joy as it sucks the colour out of makeup. It's a fine line to tread so I decided to play it safe for my order from Sugarpill -- I'd buy colours that I always use on Halloween. 

This was my haul! And I got a bit carried away since there were a couple things that I wanted to give a try. The very noticeable first thing is false lashes! I've never worn false lashes before since my own are pretty full so I figured that if I were going to give them a try then I should go big.

In my box I got the CatEye False Lashes, Daydreamer, Flutter, and the adhesive. I have yet to really try them out just yet. (You can check out a slightly close up picture of the eyelashes here.)

For eyeshadows, I sprang for the Chromalust Stella Loose Eyeshadow (which is black) and for the pressed eyeshadows I got Bulletproof, Love+, and Tako. (You can check out a closeup of the eyeshadows here).
Initial swatch without the primer.

From left to right on the initial swatch, you're looking at Stella (the loose powder), Love+, Tako, and finally Bulletproof.

This was exactly what I was expecting for the makeup without a primer. They come off a bit weak however they still show potential for when the primer is applied. Generally speaking, the white and red usually disappears on me so I'm forced to use stage makeup. This was a refreshing change that at least they were kind of showing.

Second swatch with primer.
The picture below for the second swatch shows them with primer. And yes, I did use all clean brushes so I don't really know what happened to the red there. however, you get a smoother application with the primer and I know it looks much cleaner.

The great part is that at this point during the secondary swatch, there's the potential to build on the colour. Now with a clean and even application this can definitely be built upon which is another good sign. The only one that I'm still on the fence about is the loose eyeshadow but since that one is the one with all the glitter (which I wasn't able to capture), I assume that if I pair it with the Bulletproof pressed eyeshadow that I can get the dark black that I am looking for.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with but it remains to be seen how well it all pulls together. So hopefully soon in the future I can actually pull together a look with the eyeshadows and the eyelashes. 

Sugarpill Cosmetics sells all of the pressed and loose eyeshadows for $12 each. The eyelashes range from $5 - $8 and the adhesive is $6.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Creme

When I got my hair cut, my stylist said she'd recommend a couple of items for me, especially since I told her that I will probably never blow-dry or straighten my hair (because I really want to grow it out again). As a result, she gave me a cut to accommodate for the pending curliness. Before I left though, I figured that my usual routine wouldn't cut it anymore.

Before with long hair: Shampoo scalp, condition ends, add in a nickel size worth of Argan oil to the ends, and the blow dry my bangs.
Current haircare: Scramble to adapt. Shampoo and condition everything, use the Curl Conscious creme, and hope my hair doesn't dry in some weird pattern. (It usually does.)

It's been about two weeks now that I've been using the curl creme and I have to admit, I'm very impressed with it. My hair is naturally wavy and usually at this short of a length it reverts to long wayward waves which means that I have to straighten it.

With the curl creme, my hair forms shorter waves which allows it look a bit more lively. It still dries in weird ways and can get wild, but overall I'm impressed with how well my hair likes this creme. The curls aren't too defined so I don't know how other curly-haired mavens would like it but those with wavy-haired might like it a lot.

The great thing is that even when my hair gets all greasy (I have yet to figure out that part) I can definitely crunch it up and get some shorter waves in. I've temporarily made the switch to this from Argan oil till my hair grows out.

I have noticed that my hair has been a bit more greasy as of late and I'm not sure if it's attributed to this creme (I guess that will be next week's experiment) so I will mention that you should keep that in mind, especially since I've seen reviews that explicitly mention that greasiness was attributed to this product.

I don't have any pictures of my hair just yet, but you might start seeing it in all it's ridiculous glory in some of the other makeup shots. 

Product: Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Creme
Price: $28.00
Would Recommend? Yes, with caution.
Takeaway: Those endowed with wavy hair might appreciate this but there is the risk of potential greasiness.  It definitely shortened my waves creating a nice wind tossed look but I can't imagine this doing much were my hair longer.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Primer Samples Time!

Since my stress has been a bit overwhelming lately, my face decided to take a break (and by break, I mean, break out) so instead of trying to perfect the cat eye or any general eye shadow technique, I decided to gather up all the primer samples that I've accumulated and try them out for a week (well, approximately a week anyway).

Our starting point is that I've only ever used one clear primer and that is Revlon Beyond Natural Smoothing Primer. To be honest, I actually don't use primers that often but overall I've been content with the Revlon one. It is a gel like consistency and I always end up using just a dab of it -- it goes on a bit greasy but absorbs really quickly. Overall, I'm satisfied and I have no real complaints toward it. So that's what I'll be comparing the others to -- so just understand that we're starting from a "satisfactory" (hereby known as a "C" rating) standpoint.

For this post I'll be grading each of them and since grading varies, here's the breakdown is below. (Interestingly, there is no use of the letter "E" in this grading system because like that of grade school, it was temporarily phased out [depending on the system used] so in that way one couldn't confuse "E" as standing for "Excellent." (Source)).

A = Excellent
B = Good
C = Satisfactory
D = Bad
F = Fail
I got this in the Target Beauty Bag and I was kind of hesitant to try it out. I looked at the colour and immediately went "Oh no..." which is my usual reaction when I see anything that boasts "Suitable for all skin types and tones" but isn't clear. Sorry, I'm a cynic when it comes to that and rightly so. I put this on and while the consistency which was a cream like texture was good, I immediately noticed how "bright" my face was. And by bright I mean, I had this ghastly pallor, one that can be described as ashy or an indication of wearing a shade too light for my skin tone. This was before I had even put on makeup which meant that my medium coverage mineral makeup went into overtime which was a rough start. Overall, this is something that I'd stay away from since it just looked terrible.
Grade: F

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
This one has SPF 15 in it which is a plus. I loved the light creamy consistency of this one and also liked that a little went a long way. It was lightweight, absorbed quickly, and left my face feeling like a blank slate. Which was fantastic (if I didn't have bags under my eyes but were not counting that). Overall, I am in love with this primer, it goes on like a dream and lasts all day. When I was creating Sugarpill Cosmetics swatches, the colours looked so smooth and vibrant. Love, love, love this primer, but really hating on the $52 price.
Grade: A

Amazing Cosmetics Anti-Aging Face Primer
This one is clear -- not quite a gel but a bit liquid-like. It turns out that it does have a moisturizer in it (or at least that is what the packaging claims). It applies just like the Hourglass primer which is just dreamy, with that new added bonus of being a two-in-one. It is smooth and silky and the absorption is quick so on the first day I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed. I'm still incredibly happy with this one and it's at a much more affordable price of $34.
Grade: A

Sephora Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer
I will completely admit that after trying to the Amazing Cosmetics primer, I kind of didn't want to try any others. I was in love and that was all that mattered (in regard to a primer). I finally got over that (took about two weeks to get over it, to be honest) and started using a different primer again. The Sephora primer feels pretty good and is almost comparable to the Amazing Cosmetics and Hourglass primer but it was a bit more thicker in consistency. This wasn't a problem; it held up well and felt good. This one goes for $15 and I have to admit, I'd really consider it -- I think the only thing that puts Amazing Cosmetics in the lead is the fact that it doubles as a moisturizer.
Grade: B

BritePrep FX
I was kind of excited to try this one since I already have other CoverFX products. When I tried it on though, the first thing I noticed was that it was ridiculously greasy. Maybe I just got a bad one but my skin did not like it at all. It didn't absorb into my skin and just created an oil slick which meant I ended up using way too much powder to try to cover it up. The bright side I guess what that my makeup didn't look caked on even though I knew that it was. My assumption was that maybe it didn't react well to my moisturizer.
Original Grade: D

I tried this one again without a moisturizer and overall, I really like it. It is very moisturizing on it's own and definitely helps the makeup go on well and stay put. It is trully amazing how well it works together with mineral makeup. It made my skin look fantastic and this is definitely one to consider (but it does cost $45).
Updated Grade: A

Let's do a recap... A few days out of the weeks that I tried these primers, I'd throw in the use of Revlon Beyond Natural Smoothing Primer for comparison. I made sure that I kept the tubes around to mix them up over time (which is why this post took so long to create). The ones that I kept coming back to was the Amazing Cosmetics -- even if I forgot that it had a moisturizer in it, the primer was able to accommodate for the extra moisturizer and make the makeup look good.

The others were not so kind to that error -- the BritePrep FX looked hideous if I tried to add a moisturizer  but alone it looked fantastic. If I were to run out to Sephora right now, I'd definitely get either the Amazing Cosmetics or the BritePrep FX. Don't get me wrong, I think that Sephora's own primer along with Hourglass are good, but Hourglass comes with a hefty price tag and Sephora's own lacks the moisturizer.

Moisturizer is incredibly important because I have combination skin and the parts that get really oily and really dry need to be balanced out. So what is the final verdict?

Winner: Amazing Cosmetics Anti-Aging Face Primer
Reason: Lightweight moisturizer and primer that feels good and absorbs fast. It can handle the extra moisturizer if need be and allows for makeup to look amazingly flawless.

Runner-Up: BritePrep FX
Reason: Brightens the skin, great for "setting the canvas" -- but it naturally greasy on its own and while it absorbs semi quickly, don't think that you need a moisturizer with it. If you do put moisturizer on, it will not be kind to your error. It does help to brighten the skin and even out the skin tone.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Gardening and Holding the Fort Down

Sometime last year, I endeavored to take on gardening -- after all, I wasn't going to be using my kitchen for cooking so I figured I'd throw some planters in there and try. Then the great mistake happened. I bought organic soil (looking dead at you Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix) and then my plants and kitchen was taken over by a swarm of fungal gnats. I ended up loosing most of my plants with the exception of one baby basil sprout (let's recount what I lost: moon flowers, basil, cucumber, squash, argula, and chives). I tried using flypaper, tried to "clean" the soil (this is when you wash the soil out), and then tried the potato slices. None of this worked and it came down to the final attempt.

Hydrogen Peroxide. Generally speaking this isn't what you want to use and should probably be a last ditch attempt. Probably because it is very effective but can also kill the plant if you don't do it right. I do one part hydrogen peroxide and three parts water (although some online sources will tell you to use more water). Either way, it annoys the hell out of the bugs and slowly kills them.

After I successfully killed them all off, I was left with one basil baby sprout (which is doing well now) and I was able to bring in a terrarium. Overall, the kitchen is doing well which means that it's time for another set of my plants to go awry. At work I have a pot of basil, moon flowers, and a terrarium as well. Go figure that sitting next to the kitchen has finally reared it's ugly head. The fruit flies from the kitchen have migrated over to my plants and now I'm having trouble with flies yet again.

Work station trio. From left to right, moon flowers,
basil sprouts, and terrarium.

I've employed the use of hydrogen peroxide but I'm trying to keep it's use down to a minimum. The terrarium is new to me and I don't know how well it will react to the use of it. In the center you'll see a little fruit fly trap (filled with apple cider vinegar). I don't know how well the duo (hydrogen peroxide and fruit fly trap) are going to work but fingers crossed that I don't loose the plants in the process.

Review: Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

In my Quest for Dry Shampoo, I had to wait a while to finally test out the Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo (which is like one of the only two dry shampoos that my local drugstore carries. Which is odd). Anyhow, I have a better idea of what I'm looking for in a dry shampoo.

  1. White spots are okay, so long as I can work them into my hair.
  2. Creating dullness because of said white spots (or just general dullness)  is also okay because my hair is super shiny at times and that doesn't matter as much.
  3. The scent needs to be good or at the very least, tolerable.
  4. It cannot weigh my hair down or make my hair feel dirtier than prior to using the dry shampoo.

I'm pretty easy to please in terms of dry shampoo so with that being said, NYM works out well! I did get a few white spots which I was able to work in quickly. This one didn't create any dullness in my hair, so my hair remained bright, shiny, and black. The scent was good as well, I couldn't quite place it but it was pleasant and didn't smell too fake. The absolutely best part? It didn't weigh down my hair and didn't make my hair feel dirtier, in fact my hair felt cleaner because it was bouncing and the waves were still short. 

How does it stack up to the others? I think that the NYM should be high on your list. It's a pretty good starting point for a dry shampoo. In fact, with the NYM I don't feel the need to have another bottle of dry shampoo stashed at my desk at work. It lasts for a long time and keeps my hair in check which is awesome.

For a cheaper version that is tropical, go for the Suave. It does almost everything that the NYM does but I will admit, Suave left my hair a little bit dull. In terms of overall performance, they are comparable -- and the Suave was about $3 cheaper. Also you will probably have to reapply it throughout the day which is kind of annoying.

TRESemme, well. I get why it may have weighed down my hair so much: it has a lot more ingredients and in general I think the clay in particular weighs down the hair which makes it feel dirtier. In concept, it sounds great however in execution, it was terrible.

Product: Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo
Price: $6 online, $7 in store
Would Recommend? Yes!
Takeaway: I highly recommend this one over the other two -- lightly scented, doesn't weigh down the hair, and is long lasting. Overall, my hair rejoices in this and I'm happy to give up the other two for it.


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