Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mingy March/Project 10 Pan

Hey everyone!

So, I've recently come to the realization that I have a compulsive shopping addiction. Actually - it's not a recent realization. I've always known - I've just chosen to overlook it because it's kind of an ugly quality/trait to have if you think about it. I literally cannot stop spending money on myself... clothes, makeup, nail polish... basically, beauty items. It's a problem. More than that, it's a problem for our family. If we want to have another baby, I can't keep going the way I'm going. Heck! Just maintaining our current lifestyle requires a cease-and-desist of my frivolous spending habits. I don't even want to think about the amount of money we could've been saving up in the time that I've been blowing away our precious dollars on myself.

I have no desire to know how much I've wasted away the past several months in personal expenditures, but I'm positive it's repulsive. I avoid checking our bank account online because I don't want to put a number to the damage I've done. I feel ashamed and guilty - what do I have to show for all the dollars I've dropped at Sephora, Shoppers, Winners, Walmart, etc? A larger wardrobe and a bursting makeup drawer, but the compulsion to spend is still as strong, if not stronger, than it was before I whipped out my debit card to purchase that delightful sweater. As a result, I felt a pulling at my heart to participate in a "no-buy" month. If I'd done it last month, I could've titled this blog post "Frugal February" or something catchier than "Mingy March." Sigh, this will have to do. Depending on how well this goes, I might continue on to "Abstemious April" if need be :) If you're wondering how I came up with "Mingy March," I simply looked up synonyms for "frugal" on thesaurus.com and LO! "Mingy" was one of the alternatives. According to dictionary.com, it's defined as "mean and stingy." I'm going to forget the former part of that definition and stick with "stingy," haha.

Basically, I'm going to stop buying clothes, makeup, nail polish, and all beauty related items for myself for the month of March. I've relinquished my debit card to my husband, and I'm hoping that this will take away the compulsive urge I have to spend our money willy-nilly. To help me focus my energy elsewhere, I've created a list of items I have (makeup, beauty, candles, teas, soaps, etc.) that I need to finish/use up. Oye. That was quite the eye-opening list.

Sure it's great to have extra soap downstairs for when a bathroom runs out, but I'm pretty sure I don't need 10+ bottles. I love my home to smell nice, but I'm positive I do not require 30+ wallflower bulbs. Yes, I will always be on the hunt for "the one" hand cream to end my battle with dry skin, but I should probably finish the five products I've already got on-the-go.

In addition to "Mingy March," I've also decided to tackle Project 10 Pan. Some of you may be unfamiliar with this project, but it's basically a personal initiative to use up 10 (or however many you choose) almost-empty beauty products before spending another dollar on new items. These items could be makeup, skincare, haircare, personal hygiene... You could probably do Project 10 with anything in your life however; working on too many open bags/boxes of tea? Do you have several bottles of almost used up nail polish wasting away on your shelves? Do you have a shrine of Bath and Body Works candles needing some TLC? The list should be predetermined, so you're forced to actually finish those 10 items before breaking your no-buy.

The items in my Project 10 Pan are:
- L'Oreal Infallible eyeliner
- Murad Skin Perfecting lotion
- Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
- UniqOne Hair Treatment
- Urban Decay Primer Potion
- Body Shop Wild Argan Body Butter (I have two almost empty tubs that I'm counting as one item)
- Hard as Hoof Nail Strengthening cream
- Boscia Clear Complexion cleanser

Anyways, I thought I'd write up this post to keep me accountable, and to invite any of you to join me on this journey of NO SPENDING! Technically this project started yesterday (March 2) for me - I did buy a mascara for myself on March 1, but that was it! So for the rest of March - no personal beauty purchases allowed!

Who's with me!? Oh geez. I feel like Gaston raising his torch to rally the villagers against the Beast and his castle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. No, I'm not rallying an angry mob against Belle's beau, but I am hoping to rally some of you up against indecent spending habits, and perhaps you'll be able to save up a hefty chunk of money to put into your savings account... If I had to guess, I'd say that if I completely stop spending money at my personal leisure, I'd probably save us enough money to buy a TV or a washing machine or a new FitBit Charge. Blah. Those aren't things I wanna think about, and yet it's a reality.

I hope this inspired you guys to rethink your own purchases, and maybe you'll join me in this adventure. Only 29 days to go in Mingy March! I'll update you guys at the beginning of April to let you know how my month of penny-pinching went :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Body Shop: Wild Argan Oil Body Butter

A 200 ml (6.75 oz/192 g) tub retails for $20 CDN. The Body Shop body butters are also sold in 50 ml travel size tubs for $6 CDN.

Click for enlarged view
Photo credit: www.thebodyshop.ca
Now, I'm not a Body Shop girl. Never have been. Any time someone would gift me a lip balm or lotion set, I just couldn't get into it. That being said, the lotions never did anything for my skin. I might as well have been bathing myself in air. So maybe that's why I always had such an aversion to their products. Alternatively, those little tubs of body butter from Walmart that are the knock-off versions of The Body Shop scents... those probably also left a sour taste in my mouth for anything from the Shop.

Recently, my sister and I were out and about, shopping for Christmas presents, as we do. I needed to stop in The Body Shop to peruse their stock for some gifts, and I stumbled upon a colorful display with 'NEW' splayed across it. It took me a second to process that this collection was made with argan oil; which immediately peaked my interest. Let's just say, I opened the tester, took one whiff, and I was sold.

I bought a gift set for $29, which contained a 200 ml tub of the body butter, a 200 ml tub of the body scrub, and a full size massage soap. I deemed it appropriate to gift the body scrub and soap bar, but felt it completely necessary to keep the body butter for myself to give it a test run.

The packaging is... well, The Body Shop. This particular tub is a satin bronze color, with a vibrant cerulean blue label that catches your attention immediately. It has a twist off lid, and the product inside is a very thick 'butter' consistency. I am not typically a fan of this packaging; however, I don't really see a better alternative seeing as though the thick texture of this product would not allow it to be dispensed via a pump or squeeze-tube, so I think I'll get over it.

The website claims that this product provides "24 hour hydration," as well as being enriched with Community Fair Trade argan oil from Morocco.

The scent is the most divine aroma - clean and fresh, yet subtly sweet and intensely nutty with a hint of vanilla. I told my sister that I want this Wild Argan Oil scent to be my 'signature scent,' just as The Body Shop's Vanilla fragrance has been my mom's signature scent for as long as I can remember. Anytime I smell The Body Shop's Vanilla perfume, I think of my mom. Well, step aside ballers, because Argan Oil is now MY scent, haha.

As someone who's never really indulged in products from The Body Shop, I never really knew what I was missing out on as far as body butters were concerned. As most of you may know, I have severe chronically dry skin - like not just, a flake here, or only-dry-in-the-winter-months, but full on scaly-mama-beast-mode 365 days of the year. Nasty. So I'm always on the hunt for the next best moisturizer for my cray-cray epidermis.

This butter is SO luxurious on my skin - it's thick, but begins to melt with the heat from your body. It spreads into a thin, spreadable balm. It sinks into your skin quickly, but leaves an oily residue behind on your skin. I know that most people are probably like, "An oily residue!?!? HELL NO, girlfriend..." but this isn't the kind of residue that keeps you from opening doors or having objects squirt out of your grasp... it's a thin residue that keeps your skin feeling supple and looking healthy and radiant.

I love this body butter for my hands and arms, as well as my legs post-shaving. Not only do I smell like a freaking Mediterranean goddess, but my skin looks vibrant and radiant. I will definitely be purchasing a mini tub to throw in my purse on the go.

Unfortunately, my skin seems to get acclimated to new lotions and creams fairly quickly (about as long as it takes me to work my way through an entire container of product) and then they'll stop working for me. I hope that this isn't the case with this product, as it is simply too fantastic to not repurchase in the long run. I figure, even if I can't keep using it on my hands forever, I will still pick it up and use it on my legs and body after showering. 

I give this product a heaping 5 out of 5 stars. The body butter alone has me itching to try the Miracle Solid Oil for Body & Hair, as well as the Solid Lip Oil and the Radiant Oil for Body and Hair. Eeeek! If they had a fragrance mist, I'd snatch that bad boy up in less than a heartbeat. I'm pleasantly surprised and ecstatic with my purchase, and highly recommend you guys to go check it out if you happen to be passing by The Body Shop. Maybe you're not a Body Shop regular, but I encourage you to stop in and at least smell the tester...

Let me know, what are your favorite products/scents from The Body Shop? Any other product recommendations for me?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara

Heck yes, it's another mascara review!! I swear, I go through mascaras faster than I go through eyelashes...

Let me start off by saying this - I thought this mascara was going to be a dud. Sure, bend the wand a little bit and throw it in a green tube with a different name, and you've got... the exact same thing as the original CoverGirl LashBlast! I mean, the original version wasn't clumpy to begin with - so how different could this version be?!

I must admit, I got sucked in by the pretty green tube and the curvy wand. I'm so shallow. I mean, I loved the original LashBlast way back in the day, but now it doesn't seem to meet my wants/needs as far as mascara goes. I don't know why I thought Clump Crusher would be any different...

I paid about $8 CDN for a tube of this mascara (non-waterproof version), but I'm sure I've seen it average anywhere between $7-$10 CDN. Like I mentioned previously, it comes in a delicious green tube with one of those flexible silicone wands. The wand on the Clump Crusher is a lot slimmer and bendy than the wand on the Original LashBlast. The bristles are curved as well, which makes this noticeably different from the original version.
Photo credit: www.allure.com
CoverGirl claims that this mascara will give you "200% more volume" without clumps, not to mention the "beautifully separated lashes" that you will have after you sweep this across them. The brush is described as having a "lash-loading" and "clump-combing" zones. 

This mascara is... in one word... amazing. 

It's also exceptionally buildable. In fact, I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of working with a mascara that I can build quite like I can build the CoverGirl Clump Crusher. I can apply one coat, which gives me a very natural but voluminous finish, or I can apply four coats which gives me intense volume, curl, and separation. I have no fear about putting on several coats, as I don't feel like this mascara gives me the "spider lashes" look, regardless of how many layers of mascara I've piled on. In fact, I'd love to try 5, even 6 coats, sometime, just to see what the end result would be.

Top left: (left eye) 2 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Top right: (left eye) 3 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Bottom left: (left eye) 4 coats, (right eye) 1 coat
Bottom right: (both eyes) 4 coats

Both (top) sets of lashes with 4 coats of the Clump Crusher mascara
As for lengthening, it's not anything mind-blowing. My lashes do seem longer, but they aren't sky high like they were when I tried L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes mascara. I feel like it's a respectable and noticeable length, but there's certainly room for improvement.

This mascara isn't heavy or crusty or flakey on my lashes, it's soft and flexible. I have ZERO problems with flaking or smudging or transferring (unless I go crazy and start pawing at my lashes intermittently throughout the day...). I have the non-waterproof version, and if you get water or tears on your lashes, you're going to see some bleeding. I'm wondering what the waterproof version is like...? Probably super h-core. I'm guessing it would be an excellent alternative for days when you need exceptional wear from your mascara (i.e., weddings, funerals, graduation, prom, girls' night out, breaking up with your boyfriend, watching a romantic tragedy, etc.)

For my every day purpose, this mascara is wonderful. The longevity is stellar - my eyelashes look almost exactly the same as they did in the morning when I first applied my mascara. 

I do feel like this mascara holds a curl reasonably well - I even used it with and without a lash curler to see, and I feel like it's respectable in the curl-holding-department. Nothing mind-blowing, mind you, but I think it's suitable for day-to-day wear. I may notice that the curl has fallen just the slightest bit, but it's nothing to complain about.

The formula is on the drier side of a wet mascara. It's not too liquidy, but it's not like piling paste onto your lashes either. I think the drier formula is what gives you that buildable quality and enhances the volume of your lashes as well.

And who in the heck wouldn't love this brilliant green tube, I ask you!? I love to leave this out on my vanity, just to catch my attention and make me smile in the mornings - no joke. I mean, you can have your elegant, sleek, expensive-looking tubes, leave me with the simple lime green tube, and I'll be a happy camper for life.

Can I just spend a moment singing the glories of the wand, as well!? I love how Clump Crusher has a flexible wand that fits the curve of my eye, and bends to accommodate every angle of my lashes. I love how the one side of the brush features some longer bristles that catch less product, so that I can comb through my lashes and dispell any clump-age before it dries. The little 'resevoir' or 'valley' in the brush picks up more product and deposits it at the base of my lashes, where I can easily pull it through to the ends in one smooth sweep. This brush is far more easy to work with than the Original LashBlast, as the wand is more forgiving and accommodating.

I feel like this mascara would be great for layering. If you found a lightweight, but stellar lengthening mascara, you could build up some crazy intense lashes using Clump Crusher as your volumizing and defining layer(s).

All in all, I am thoroughly impressed. While this is no L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes mascara, it's still a fantastic volumizing, separating, and surprisingly buildable mascara. I can see myself using this every day indefinitely. I encourage everyone to give it a chance - especially those who tried Original LashBlast, and didn't find the volume or length they were looking for. It's an affordable mascara to try, even if you're just curious, and you're not going to be out your life savings if you hate it.

I'd definitely recommend this mascara to anyone looking for a buildable, volumizing mascara that gives great separation and definition, while still remaining flexible and weightless on your lashes.

4.5 out of 5 stars - what WHAT!?

Let me know: have you tried the CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher mascara recently!? What did you think of it?!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Revlon Nearly Naked Liquid Foundation Makeup

Hola my beauty lovin' babes!

I have ANOTHER Revlon foundation review for you today!! Revlon seems to be pumping out some really fantastic products lately, and I was super pleased to see another foundation in their line of hits. I did a little bit of research before picking up this foundation, but not as much as I usually do, as I was super intrigued by the whole "naked" concept and my shopping compulsion just overcame me.

As most of you probably know by now, my combination skin (lately) has been more on the oily side, as opposed to being truly "combination" in nature. I figured that the Nearly Naked foundation would be a bit of a gamble, since 'skin-mimicking' foundations tend to lean on the more dewy, or glowy, side anyways.

I picked my foundation up from Shoppers Drug Mart for about $15 CDN. I haven't really seen this foundation anywhere else yet (I've been avoiding shopping lately as we're trying to save money), but I would imagine that it ranges anywhere between $10-$17 CDN, depending on where you buy it. The bottle contains 1 fl oz (30 mL).

Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup
Photo credit: www.revlon.com
My shade is Vanilla, which is the lightest warm shade available from the line. There are 16 shades available, all split up into the "warm" and "cool" toned foundations - so virtually anyone can find a match. Revlon offers an interactive online tool to help you choose your appropriate shade, in addition to providing a little card on the display that will also help you determine which color to pick.

I don't particularly love the generic packaging. The sleek rectangular bottle and white cap make it different from every other foundation I own, but it's not really outstanding. Additionally, I hate the fact that there isn't a pump included with this foundation - it would be a nicer alternative to the open mouth that you have to dump foundation out of. Sigh de la sigh. This can get incredibly messy, very quickly.

As far as foundations go, I feel that Vanilla is as perfect a match as I'd ever find at the drugstore. I actually have more neutral undertones in my skin, but to counteract the pinky-redness in my face, I purchased the warmer foundation to cancel out and better conceal this.

The foundation has an SPF of 20, which does create a bit of a white cast across my skin in flash photography, but it's nothing too overwhelming. I think that powdering the skin definitely helps downplay the white cast as well.

The foundation itself is incredibly liquidy - in fact, its even more runny than Revlon ColorStay. I'd have to say it's as runny as my NARS Sheer Glow foundation was - and that's saying something. Revlon boasts that the coverage is buildable, and I would definitely agree. If you're applying a light first layer, the coverage is definitely sheer to light. If you use more product and a heavy hand, you can definitely achieve a light-to-medium coverage. Applying a second (or even third) layer will give you a very respectable coverage of the medium-to-full variety, depending on what all you need covered up. For my own purposes, I tend to go with a light layer around my face to even everything out, and then I go in with a little bit extra product on my brush to build additional coverage in my problem areas (cheeks, around the nose, chin, etc.).

Upon application, I find that this application is fairly tacky. It's not that it takes a while to set, it just feels sticky on my skin. Usually this is remedied by applying a powder to the shiny and/or tacky areas. I do find that towards the end of my 8 hour day, my foundation does tend to feel a little tacky, especially in my oily areas, but it's nothing a little powder won't fix.

I've tried several different ways to apply this foundation to my bare skin including my Real Techniques Buffing brush (wet and dry), my beauty blender sponge (damp), my Real Techniques Stippling brush, and my ELF Studio Powder brush. By far, my favorite way to apply this foundation is using my Real Techniques Buffing brush (dry). I feel like it gives me the coverage I want on the first go, and allows me to easily and efficiently buff the foundation into my skin. It doesn't seem to leave too many brush streaks behind in my foundation, which is a huge plus. Additionally, it makes building up the coverage incredibly easy. If I'm building up several layers of foundation, I'll usually roll a damp sponge over my face to ensure there aren't any weird streaks or marks left in the foundation from the bristles of my brush.

The longevity of this foundation is incredible. I'm not 100% sure how it manages to outwear the Revlon ColorStay on my skin, but it does! I can apply this around 8:30 am, and when I get home in the evening around 6:30 pm, it still looks EXACTLY the same as it did when I left the house in the early morning. It wears off beautifully in any event, not leaving any harsh lines or obvious 'bald' patches on my face. It wears off gradually, just fading slightly throughout the day. In fact, the most wear and tear I see is around my nostrils, but that's about it. The only other thing I notice is that my T-zone is slightly more 'dewy' than it was when I left the house in the morning. It's nothing that can't be remedied by a little powder, but it's not obnoxious or glaringly obvious... it just doesn't look quite as fresh as it could. For this reason, if I'm planning on being out later in the evening, I'll pack a powder along just to touch up after work.

At 9 o'clock am in the morning, in natural sunlight.
At 9 o'clock in the morning, in direct sunlight.

An up-close picture of my foundation at 9 o'clock in the morning.
Direct sunlight.
At 5 o'clock pm in artificial light.
On the left: no flash, On the right: with flash.
The left half of my face is clean, and the right half has foundation on it.
See how natural it looks!?
Another huge plus to this foundation is the fact that it increases the wear time of my blush and bronzer/contour astronomically. I look in the mirror at the end of the day, and I'm actually surprised because I can still see blush on my face... in fact, it looks almost as good as it did at the beginning of the day.

One of my favorite aspects of the Nearly Naked foundation is the way it sits weightlessly on my skin. I literally cannot feel this foundation at all. I get the coverage I want, without feeling cakey or weighed down by my foundation. Even when the end of the day rolls around and my face feels less than fresh, I still don't feel the nagging weight of my foundation. It's a comfortable, flexible wear - it is the picture of 'minimalistic.' 

Nearly Naked doesn't break me out at all. In fact, I've noticed that since using this, my skin has been happier and less 'upset' in general. Maybe it's my diet or something, but I've had fewer zits, and my complexion in general has been more even and smooth. 

What can I say? I'm in love.

I'd highly recommend this to everyone, except maybe those whose faces mimic the McDonald's deep fryers. Your skin might not fair so well with this foundation, but I'd say that anyone with dry to combination/oily skin could utilize this foundation and love it.

I cannot sing the praises of this foundation enough. I am so pleasantly surprised with this foundation. I am actually excited to get up in the morning and plop this on my skin. I love looking in the mirror and seeing my flawless skin look back at me. 

Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.

Let me know: have you tried the new Revlon Nearly Naked foundation!? What do you think of it...?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The 90-Day Body By Visalus Challenge

Hola my beauty loving babes!

So this is a little bit of a different review, as you guys can probably already tell, I'm not your typical blogger. I'd say that beauty and in general, feeling good about yourself, goes a lot deeper than just eyeshadow and blush.

After a lengthy battle with my weight, I've decided, once again - to start getting healthy. And by 'getting healthy,' I mean several things. First, I want to start eating more veggies and fruits. I've always been the picky eater in my family, and I want that to change. I want to crave fruits and fresh vegetables instead of cookies and chips. Second, I want to keep up with my in-laws on our Christmas trip to the States. Josh's family is all of your mountain-climbing, ninja-athlete types - and I am not. With the walking and 'hiking' we've been talking about doing, I don't want to be the one that is slowing the pack down. Third, I want my digestive system and skin to be happier. I've noticed that a lot of the foods I eat (namely the processed, durum semolina, caffeinated foods) irritate my stomach within minutes-to-hours of eating. This is reflecting in my overall health and well-being, essentially. And finally, to be a better steward of the body that God has given me - by losing some of the weight that is hurting my health, and feeling more confident in the beautiful person God has made me to be. Fourthly,

I got interested in the 90-day Body by Visalus Challenge after having several friends and family members boast extreme success in the kits. I thought that I might as well hop on this bandwagon and see what all the commotion was about. I attended a Challenge party and bought my first installment of the mix, heck, we even purchased a blender from good old WalMart.
Photo credit: www.visalus.com
  The whole campaign focuses around a few miraculous products, but most primarily, their shake mix. The shake mix is an uber nutritious powder that one can mix into virtually anything to add missing nutrition to their day. In the case of weight loss, it's meant to be consumed as a meal replacement option as opposed to a daily supplement.

I went on the challenge for about 90 days - though never religiously following the challenge as it is intended. I couldn't force myself to replace two meals of my day with a mere shake - no matter what was in it. I'm one of those people that needs to chew food at a meal... not drink it away.

The most radical and fantastic difference I experienced was in my sleep patterns. I noticed within the first week that I was having more restful sleeps at night. Additioanally, I would wake up earlier without feeling exhausted and sluggish. Most days I could get away with 7 hours of sleep, as opposed to the 8 or 9 I had been accustomed to getting prior to starting the Challenge.

I didn't notice feeling exceptionally 'fuller' throughout the day - in fact, I was often more ravenous than before because I needed the sensation of chewing to feel comfortable after a meal. My appetite wasn't curbed or suppressed. It remained the same, mostly.

I found the shake mix flavorful and easy to use. It easily mixed into oatmeal (for breakfast) or shakes, should I have made the more frequently. Quite often, I just mixed the shake powder with water and gulped that down in lieu of breakfast (likely a large mistake in potential progress) as I didn't have time to whip out the blender and mix up a smoothie before I waltzed out the door in the morning. And who has time to mix one of these up at work, I ask you!?

In any event, the whole Challenge business got more overwhelming and frustrating than helpful. I started using the shakes less and less, because I felt that I didn't need them and they weren't exactly tipping the scales in my favor.

Now, don't think that I'm dissing the product because I'm not. As I said earlier, I know of several close family members and friends who have had stellar results on the Challenge. If you have the tenacity, patience, and determination to commit to the Challenge and follow it through, I think you'll see the results you're expecting and then some. I think that for those in a fast-paced lifestyle, this is an excellent alternative to making a meal (or in some cases, skipping out on a meal).

That being said, this is not a miracle product. You won't use the shakes and have 20-some years of obesity just melt away; it's merely a tool as a means to an end. In all honesty, I firmly believe that if I cut back my calories, replace highly processed and refined foods with more fresh and natural things like fruits and veggies, increase my water intake, and commit to spending at least 30 minutes a day (5 days a week) doing cardio exercises, my chances of achieving the same results as participating in the Challenge are very high. And they'll last longer (provided I maintain these changes), because they'll become part of a habitual healthy lifestyle that I will be accustomed to. It might take longer, but the results will be more concrete, in my opinion.

Personally, this product didn't work for me. It's not something that I could seamlessly incorporate into my everyday life, and I found it more cumbersome and intrusive than I did helpful and beneficial. Maybe further down the line when I've managed to make some new healthy habits in my life, it would be worth trying again, but for now, it was a flop and not something I'll likely be repurchasing.

Tell me, have you tried the 90-Day Challenge? What did you think of it?
I'd love to know!