Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Boots Essentials Lip Salve in Strawberry

When I was in London a few days ago, I was all over Boots.  Literally.  My friends thought I was insane.  It's cool.  I stocked up on some awesome products and picked up this lip balm.

Say hello to the Boots Essentials Lip Salve in Strawberry, about 1 pound at boots.co.uk.  I think I have a serial lip balm-collecting problem.  I pick one up in literally every country in every drugstore. 

The deal with this lip balm is that it comes in a little strawberry-red tube with lipstick-esque packaging (the whole red part slides up and the lip balm twists up).  The balm itself is white, goes on clear with a pretty sheen, and has a lovely, firm but buttery consistency.  It doesn't have SPF, but it keeps my lips soft and moisturized for at least a few hours--I probably reapply 3 or 4 times a day, which is standard for me.

But the best part is the smell/taste.  It's just like strawberry candies!  Like Smarties!  It's DELICIOUS.  It smells delicious and tastes delicious and the smell lingers for a long time, which I love.  If you don't like your lip balms with strongish smells, then this isn't for you.  But it makes me very happy.

Awkward Chic Rating: B+.  It's a pretty standard lip balm, cute but not excellent packaging, no SPF but good moisturizing power, no tint but a yummy smell.  It's definitely worth picking up if you're near a Boots or a Target, and since it's so cheap you can get the Strawberry and the Original (with SPF!) and the Spearmint!

Images via boots.com.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Dermelect Resurface Stem Cell Reconstructing Serum

Let me clear one thing up before I start: I'm 20 years old.  Anti-aging ingredients and eliminating fine lines or age spots are definitely not my top skincare concerns.  Generally what I'm looking for with skincare is to even out my acne-prone skin and make my skin more radiant-looking and just brighter.

The folks at Dermelect sent me this Resurface Stem Cell Reconstructing Serum to try out.  Generally, I'm terrified to try out fancy skincare products because my skin is very acne-prone and sensitive, but I liked the packaging of this serum so much that I decided to try it out anyways.  Look at how pretty that packaging is!  It's about half an inch taller than my iPhone, for reference, and has a very cool, space-age feel to it, all shiny and silver with white font.  You push down a button on the top of the cylinder to release the product.  I really like the delivery system here; it's easy to control how much product you get, and it's much more hygienic than sticking your fingers in a jar.

Here's the PR copy:

A new generation of skin care is ushered in based on the science of Botanical Wound Healing (BWH). By harnessing the plant stem cells from natures mysterious wonder- the Alpine Rose- Dermelect has infused a pioneering, anti-aging innovation for the prevention of facial wrinkles and regeneration of healthy skin. Dermelect Resurface Stem Cell Reconstructing Serum is the first to feature a dual function stem cell technology designed to boost facial skin stem cell activity and help stimulate skin’s protein production. With the first application, the cycle has begun as the serum absorbs evenly and beautifully to protect precious skin stem cells by neutralizing the environmental free radicals and stressors that threaten it.  By preserving the stem cells, the potential to regenerate new, healthy skin cells will only yield youthful-acting, glowing, smoother skin.  Resurface skin-perfecting serum utilizes extracted stem cells of the Swiss Alpine Rose characterized by it’s resilient and resurgent ability to flourish in the most unfavorable conditions- high oxidative, UV stress and environmental aggressors. Also formulated with EcoSkin, a stimulator of skin’s natural defense mechanisms and Vitamin C antioxidant to complement the skins natural healing ability. 

The Alpine Rose: Defying the odds, the Swiss Alpine Rose is an anomaly that grows remarkably beautiful while being exposed to the most unfavorable of conditions: mile high altitude, extreme dryness, severe cold and an intense sun/UV index. Usually, roses are known to oxidize quickly once picked and exposed to the environment. The Alpine Rose has an amazing extended life span of up to 100 years. The key to its unlikely longevity lays chiefly in its unusually resilient stem cells.
Stem cells in plants function much as they do in people. Their job is to maintain and repair tissue.  Adult human skin stem cells have a limited life span as aging and environmental assaults decrease their number and their ability to regenerate tissue. Plant stem cell extracts have been proven to protect skin from UV oxidative stress and inhibit inflammation. It can also control metaloproteinase activation (skin discoloration), collagen loss and tissue damage while combating destructive free radicals that lead to photo-aging.

Environmental stress and aging compromise and infiltrate the skins barrier function resulting in a drier skin and accelerated aging. Because our skin stem cells control the formation, maintenance, renewal and repair of the entire skin, the initial strategy to implement is to enhance the skin barrier by:
  • preserving the function of epidermal stem cells
  • protecting them from environmental stress
Dermelect Stem Cell treatments help maintain the rose stem cells characteristics to help protect the skin from UV stress, prevent the formation of wrinkles while reducing the look of fine lines and creases.

17 Day Study:
  • wrinkles were 45% less visible
  • complexion was 54% more radiant

I can't pretend to know anything about fancy skincare ingredients or stem cells, but what intrigued me about the serum's claims were that it would decrease the effect of free radicals and UV rays, decrease hyperpigmentation, and help keep my skin moisturized.  I know free radicals contribute to my acne, I want to get rid of my acne scars, and I have extremely dry skin, so this sounded like a match made in heaven.

My impressions:

The serum itself is clear, with a watery but not too runny consistency.  I use one pump for each half of my face and rub it in with circular movements right after I wash and dry my face in the morning and night.  It absorbs quickly and leaves no residue, and it has the most AMAZING rose scent.  It smells just like a rose garden!  It's not an intrusive scent and it fades very quickly, but it does make applying this serum more fun.

Now, what it did for my skin: I put it on only half of my face so that I could really compare it to my normal skincare routine and see the difference.  I've noticed that, over the last week that I've tried this product, the side of my face that had this serum on top of everything else I use feels more hydrated--but it doesn't look greasy.  That side of my face has also broken out less, and my acne flareups seem to be healing faster and with less scarring.  I was terrified that this would clog my pores, since it does have some silicone in it (which usually turns my face into a volcano), but it seems to be having the opposite effect!

Awkward Chic rating: A-.  It's $75 for 1 oz at dermelect.com, so it's not cheap.  I also feel like some of it's age-fighting properties are probably lost on me, but I love what it's done for my skin--keeping it hydrated, clear, and radiant.  This would be a great last minute Christmas present for an older female relative that deserves some pampering (my mom has already been eying it).

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review, but all opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Updates and Nails Inc. Magnetic Polish

Sooooo I've been a blogging failure.  I admit it.  I'm the worst.  In my defense, though, I was traveling for most of December without reliable internet, and then I had finals, and then I traveled again, and then I came home!  To a 'very aggressive case of viral pinkeye in my cornea' (to quote my obnoxiously hot eye doctor) which basically means I look like a monster and my vision is crazy blurred--apologies in advance for all the inevitable typos in this post.

But on the plus side, I have a TON of products to review and clothes to share!  First up is the Nails Inc. Magnetic Polish in Houses of Parliament, which I got during the Sephora Friends & Family sale.  It's $16 at sephora.com, and comes in chrome, teal, and purple (which I got).
So how this polish works is that there's a magnetic rectangle on the outer lid.  When the polish is wet, you hold the magnet over your nail (putting the little ridge on your cuticle to keep the magnet away from the nail) for about 15 seconds and the magnet effect shows up!  It's really cool.  I noticed that the longer you hold the magnet over the nail, the thinner/more graduated the design becomes.  I only needed one thickish coat of the polish for opacity, so you do get bang for your buck here.  The polish is a little on the thick side, which works in its favor here, but it does take a little skill to apply (hence the awful manicure, since I'm blind as a bat today, which you can probably tell from the polish smeared all over the magnet).

The purple itself is a medium, grey-ish purple with a metallic finish.  Look how awesome the magnetic effect is!  I'm sure you could get all fancy and hold the magnet in different directions for different effects, but I'm vision-challenged today and I didn't want to push it.  I just think this looks really cool.  It feels like Minx, but for way less effect and cost.  I can't comment on the wear time yet, since I just did this today, but since I did one thick coat of polish it probably won't be stellar--but with the cool swirly effect, I'm not bothered.

Awkward Chic rating: A+.  It's not cheap, but I think the end effect is so great-looking and easy to achieve that it balances out.

Merry Christmas all!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Paris, Je T'aime

Sooooo I was in Paris this weekend.  I know.  It's insane.  I still haven't processed it.  

Now, I was there for just under two days and running around like a headless chicken the entire time, so I'm not gonna give many travel tips because I literally just did the stuff you'd think to do (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc...).  The two things I would say to do would be to buy the 'youth' metro pass on weekends--it's like 3.5 euros and you get unlimited metro use for the day, which is great when your hotel is on the outskirts of the city and it's too cold to walk outside for extended periods of time.  The other thing I'd do is go to Sainte Chappelle.  It's the king's private chapel from the 1200s, it's 5 euros for students, and it looks like this:

Yeah.....you should go. 

What I am gonna talk about is Laduree and my little French pharmacy shopping trip.

So I dragged all my friends to the Laduree on Rue Royale with me.  The line was ridiculously long, and surprisingly full of French people (and not tourists!), and the store was just too cute for words.  It's all white and bright pinks and mirrors, and the tiniest, most colorful little macaroons.  They also have baked goods, but I didn't see anyone order those.  The macaroon situation is basically that they have 15 or so flavors, and you pick the number of macaroons and flavors you want in order to full up the box you want (they have tons of different boxes in different adorable shapes, sizes, and colors).  I got a variation of the round box on the right, but in a different color and less cutesy, filled with three chocolate macaroons and three salted caramel macaroons.  The chocolate macaroons were delicious, just chocolatey enough on the outside and nice and fudgy on the inside.  But the salted caramel ones...oh my goodness.  I have no words.  HEAVENLY.  I think they have a store in Manhattan now, and while they are ridiculously overpriced (about 2 euros each!), it's so worth at least one trip.

Caudalie Lip Conditioner, $12 at sephora.com, Bioderma Créaline H2O, $28 for 250 mL at amazon.com: I went into about 5 pharmacies looking for Embryolisse lotion, and NO ONE HAD IT.  Cue epic sad face.  I picked up this lip conditioner partially because I needed to break a 50 and partially because France was so, so cold and the air was so, so dry.  I've been craving a clear lip conditioner that's not as greasy as Aquaphor for a while now.  I got this for about 4.5 euros, about half the price it is at Sephora.  It's 99.5% natural and full of happy ingredients, like natural plant oils.  I really love the lipstick format--it feels very classy and chic.  It goes on smooth and not at all waxy--it has a bit of a matte finish but feels both light and deeply moisturizing on your lips (like it sinks beneath the surface and gets work done).  It has a subtle vanilla scent/taste that I really like.  My only critiques would be that it doesn't last the longest time on my lips, so I have to reapply more than I would with, say, Aquaphor, and it doesn't have SPF.  The other thing I picked up and smuggled through TSA was the Bioderma makeup remover.  I've heard such raves about it that I had to try it.  I got the 100mL bottle for 5 euros.  It comes in that cute little pink bottle and both smells and feels just like water.  Seriously.  My usual Neutrogena makeup remover has a bit of an oilier feel and can sting my eyes, but this could literally be water and I would not know the difference.  On a cotton pad, it gets rid of the makeup on my face in seconds. It takes a bit longer to get rid of my waterproof eyeliner/mascara, but just as long as it does with any other remover I've tried.  In short: I totally get the hype, and would definitely buy this if it was easily available in the US.  It's easy to use, great for sensitive skin, and extremely effective.

Oh, and one last thing about Paris: if you're looking for somewhere affordable but nice to stay, check out the Maison Bacana.  It's not right in the middle of things, but it's about 10-15 minutes on the metro to Notre Dame, which is pretty darn decent.  We paid about 25 euros a night for two giant double beds, an adorably and quirkily furnished room, cookies and coffee on check-in, home-made and giant breakfast every morning (even to-go when we had to run to the airport), French-themed DVDs and a giant flat-screen in our room, and the most helpful hotel owner I've ever talked to.  Seriously.  STAY HERE.  Do it.  We struggled so much to leave the hotel room in the mornings.  It was so cute and cozy!

Images via: fatallyfemininedesigns.blogspot.com, msdbelleza.com, beautyhabit.com, sephora.com.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Essence Gold Old Buffy Nail Polish

So Twilight: Breaking Dawn comes out today in Spain (wahoo!) although it isn't being shown anywhere near me in English. :(  But Essence, a newish, affordable drugstore brand, came out with a Twilight-themed makeup collection to coincide with the movie called 'Vampire's Love.'  It has perfume, cheek highlighters, nail polish, and a few other things.  I've tried Essence polish before and wasn't all that thrilled about it, but when I saw this polish from the collection, Gold Old Buffy (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer!) I had to get it.

This polish was 2 euros for 10 ml.  For reference, OPI polish is 15 ml for $8, so by the ml this is quite a bit cheaper than OPI or Essie.  It comes in a round bottle, a lot like the Nails Inc ones, with 'Vampire's Love' on the front and the polish name on a sticker on the cap.  The brush is short and pretty flat, but easy to deal with.  I took a bunch of pictures to try to capture the color, and totally failed.  In real life it's a blackened olive-green packed with gold shimmer and tiny, tiny flecks of pinky-orange shimmer.  It is absolutely stunning!  The blackened aspect makes it dark enough to feel vampy (hehe), and the browny-olive-green makes it a fun, off-beat twist on a neutral shade.  The shimmer makes it just look magical.  I've never owned a green polish before, but now I'm totally obsessed.  I usually have a 5 day manicure rule, where I can't change my manicure until I've worn the polish for 5 days or it's chipped off (to save my pathetically weak nails some stress), but this polish made me change my manicure at day 4.  That's a big deal, y'all.

As for application, the first coat went on sheer and patchy, but a thicker second coat fixed that right up and made it opaque.  All in all it was very easy to apply, self-leveling with no pooling or dragging at the cuticles and it was fast-drying. 

I really, really like this polish.  I think the color works for the vampire theme because it has a bit of a gothic, antiqued feel and it's a deep shade.  The pretty shimmer could theoretically work into the shimmery vampires in Twilight (probably taking that too far haha) and vampire thing aside, this color is just so pretty.  I think it would be flattering on most skin shades, light to dark and warm to cool, and it's a great value for the money.  I would definitely get other colors from this collection.

Awkward Chic rating: A+.  I'm not sure if you can get this online, so hit up your usual Essence retailers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: Nelly Biphase Conditioner

One of the tricks about studying abroad is that you can't pack your suitcases with multiple bottles of your favorite beauty products (unless you want to pay some crazy overweight baggage fees).  I've started to use up some of my US favorites, and I've been scouring the Spanish beauty shops for replacements.  I've struggled the most with hair products.  I have very thick, very shiny/slippery straight hair with no volume, no texture, and dry ends.  I usually use a mousse for volume, a salt spray for texture, and a serum for my ends.  However, I ran out of the last two and couldn't find an affordable European alternative...until I ran across this little guy:

Nelly Biphase Conditioner, about 3.50 euros in Spain: I've never used a leave-in conditioner before, but this was so much cheaper than all the imported Garnier Fructisse and Pantene products that I had to grab it.  Nelly is a Spanish beauty company, so if you want this in the States you have to order it online or scour TJ Maxx.  It's a biphase leave-in conditioner, with a watery layer on the bottom and a lotiony layer on top.  You shake the bottle until it's all one color, and spritz it a few times onto towel-dried hair (starting at your ears and going down to your ends).  Here's the PR copy: "Recommended for fine, fragile, or limp hair.  Detangles and conditions in one go, without overloading the hair or adding oil.  Acts on the hair both internally and externally.  The aqueous phase provides internal care with its active conditioning agents and proteins that nourish and repair the hair shaft.  Its marine extracts repair damaged hair like a 'hair bandage.'  Its silicone phase provides the external care, adding shine, softness and volume and making the hair easy to brush."  It smells like the beach in the most natural way possible and even though it's extremely light on my hair and seems impossible to overdo, it keeps my ends so moisturized!  I am absolutely in love with this.  It was so cheap, it isn't oily or heavy, and it packs a serious moisturizing punch and smells yummy.  I've dyed my hair like ten times this semester, and it's still looking crazy healthy--all thanks to this blue bottle!

A few days ago I ran out of my beloved salt spray, Blow Beach Blow, which I can't find anywhere in Spain.  Desperate for some hair texture, I had an idea.  The ingredients of this leave-in conditioner are very similar to those in Beach Blow, minus the sea salt.  So I added two teaspoons of fine sea salt to my Nelly conditioner.  I know.  I'm silly.  But it totally works!  It helps to give my hair a bit of grit and texture, and when I put it up in a bun after I spritz on some of this, I get nice little waves.  Not dramatic waves (I need me some 400+ degree heat styling tools for that) but not straight Barbie hair.

Conair Infinti You Curl, $29.99 on sale at ulta.com: Speaking of waves, one of the things I'm most excited to get when I go back to the US is a conical wand curler.  Conical wands are curling irons without the clamps, so they don't leave those awkward little dents on your hair.  I can curl my hair with my straightener, but it takes forever and gets a little wonky on the back of my head.  This curling iron from Conair seems basically foolproof.  You just wind your hair around the wand.  That's it.  It's perfect for beachy waves, which just happens to be my favorite.

That's all for now, guys!  Besos from Espana!

Images via nelly.es, drugstore.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hair Dye and Sephora Hauls

I am a little blogging failure.  I've been so busy traveling and working and studying for midterms and dealing with my terrible internet that I haven't been able to blog.

But, on a plus note, that Chanel manicure I did in the last post lasted NINE DAYS.  It probably could have gone longer, but I had to go on a weekend trip and didn't want to risk beat-up nails.  So Chanel polish = totally worth the investment.

In other not that exciting news, I'm getting my hair dyed on Thursday!  Now, I know what you're thinking.  Megan, didn't you just do a drastic hair color job?  Yes, yes I did.  But the problem is that I have so much hair and the red I have underneath all the brown dye isn't taking color evenly.  So basically I have neutral brown hair on top and then a ton of medium-light reddish-blonde-brown hair underneath.  Literally.  Someone asked me if I got highlights.  No, I just fail at dyeing my hair.

Normally I'd just suck it up and dye my hair again, but at the salon right by my dorm they have a deal for wash+blow dry+color (with L'Oreal Inoa!!!) for 25 euros.  Um, what.  That's just under $40.  For professional hair color AND styling.  So that's happening.  What I want is a medium-dark warm brown, something like these two pictures below (Paz Vega and Leighton Meester): a little lighter and warmer than the dark brown I have on top right now, but much darker than my roots.  So hopefully that goes well and I'll have pictures!

So, sad news: Sephora does not ship internationally (except to Canada).  BOO.  This is especially sad because they just had their Friends & Family sale, where you get a 20% off discount code.  Sales on makeup are like sales on Christian Louboutins and double rainbows.  They never happen.  So I bit the bullet and made a little order, which should be waiting for me at home.  In California.  Until the end of December.  Sob.  Here's what I got:

Nails Inc. Magnetic Polish in Houses of Parliament, $16 at sephora.com, Sephora Brand BCA Pink Eyelash Curler, $16 at sephora.com: I finally cracked and got the magnetic nail polish.  I got the purple one, and I am so pumped!  I dismissed magnetic nail polish as a fad for years, but the Nails Inc. version has such a strong pattern from the magnet that I couldn't ignore it.  It almost looks like Minx.  The purple is a gorgeous, velvety color, and you get a ripple effect with the purple and a lighter, more silvery purple.  Gah so excited.  You put the magnet over the polish right after you paint your nail and the magnet pulls out particles in the polish to create the pattern.  Sometimes I love science.  I also picked up an eyelash curler.  I know, I don't have one.  I've never really seen the need, because my lashes have a bit of a natural curl, but I've been told time and time again by my makeup-loving friends to buy one, so I caved.  I'm thinking it will make my lashes pop more and look even longer.  Plus, it's pink and $1 goes towards breast cancer research!

Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in 15 Taupe, $22 at sephora.com, Boyfriend 1.7 oz Perfume, $65 at sephora.com: I spent a really long time deciding what to buy on the Sephora site.  I ended up going back to my fail-safe--eyeshadow.  I saw this taupe cream shadow in an AllThatGlitters21 video, and it is so pretty--a shimmery taupe brown.  I usually go for powder or loose shadows, but cream shadows have such a pretty sheen and are so easy to use.  I'm thinking I can do a simple, but polished daytime eye with just this across the lid and a bit of an inner corner highlight with some gel-liner smudged into the lashes.  Easy-peasy.  I got a ton of samples with my order, but the one I'm most looking forward to trying (in like 100 years) is this Boyfriend perfume by Kate Walsh.  The notes are dark plum, myrrh, night blooming jasmine, benzoin tears, skin musk, golden amber, and vanilla woods.  I love oriental, woody scents with twists of vanilla and amber--heady and musky, but not too sweet or too girly.  I think the idea here is that it's the smell of your boyfriend's perfume mixing with yours, which I love.  The bottle, not so much, but still.

Images via: agirlnamedbong.wordpress.com, trendencias.com, sephora.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Chanel Graphite Nail Polish

I have resisted the siren call of the Chanel nail polishes for years.  Years!  No one needs to spend that much money on that little nail polish, I told myself.  And then I went into the local CVS-meets-Sephora-esque-beauty-shop for some toothpaste, and found myself in front of the Chanel counter, foundling the nail polishes.

They are such pretty nail polishes.  At first I wanted Pirate (a gorgeous bright red), and then it was Rose Insolent (such a lovely bright pink), then the infamous Black Pearl (jaw-dropping blackened green-grey metallic frost), but then I saw Graphite.  I actually didn't know much about Graphite.  I saw a swatch on Temptalia a while back and thought it was pretty, but promptly forgot about it.  But in person this polish is pretty unforgettable.  I'd describe it as a grey foil (with the smallest hint of green) base that is jam-packed full of silver and gold shimmer.  Like jam-packed to the point where I'm not entirely sure there is much of a base color, but that green has to be coming from somewhere.  In the US Chanel polishes are usually $25.  In Spain it was 20 Euros.  Not cheap, but I reallllly wanted it (actually that pricing was pretty competitive for the exchange rate.  Success!)  Here you can see the cute Chanel box, the nail polish with the outer cap still on, and the bottle with the outer cap removed.

In the bottle it looks a bit murkier and greener, but on the nail the shimmer really comes out to play.  The combination of gold and silver gives it a bit of a pewter effect.  It's just really lovely.  Because of the silver, it works for cool skin tones nicely, and the gold does the same for warm skin tones.  It looks different in every light, too.  The finish of this is what really makes the polish for me, though.  It has a foil base, so it's crazy metallic, but the fine shimmer packed on top of that gives it a completely new dimension of pretty.  It's like fairy dust on your fingers.  I thought my OPI Let Me Entertain You was the limit for sparkle, but oh my goodness, was I wrong.  I adore this.  The murkey silver hue keeps the shimmer from being too twee and girly, and I really like that it's not dark enough to be too vampy.  It's just a light-hearted foil-shimmer with a fun, pewter twist.  The formula was equally divine.  It was opaque in two coats with extremely fast dry time (although it dries shimmery, not glossy.  If you want a glossy finish, I suggest getting a glossy, Seche Vite-esque top coat), with minimal drag and no pooling.  The brush is long and flexible, and I had no trouble covering the nail with it.

Overall rating: A-.  The price is the only thing standing between the polish and an A+.  I was hoping one Chanel polish would stop my cravings, but I think this has only made it worse.  Black Pearl and Rose Insolent, I'm coming for you next!  You can get this in The States at amazon.com for around $34.  I've seen it all over Spain, but apparently it's selling out in the US, and since it's a limited edition color, get it while you can! 

My little adventure into the world of expensive fairy dust nail polish crack got me thinking.  What other brands had cool (but slightly more affordable) polishes on the market?  I was bouncing around Sephora, and I found Nails Inc.  Hello, new best friend.

Nails Inc Magnetic Polish in Trafalgar Square, $16 at sephora.com, Nails Inc Special Effects Electric Lane Holographic Glitter Top Coat, $10 at sephora.com: At first I was skeptical of this magnetic nail polish thing.  It seemed so expensive and the patterns weren't all that great.  But this Nails Inc version looks amazing (and has great reviews).  It comes in a metallic silver and purple, and while the top coat of the polish dries you hold a magnet in the cap over the nail, and you get a pretty pattern like that one below!  I love the idea of patterned nails, but I am lovely and not all that skilled with nail polish brushes, so this completely fascinates me.  And don't even get me started on the holo top coat.  Basically add one coat of that over your polish to get a finish that's packed with rainbow-colored glitter.  It makes any polish into a holo!  Ack.  I need both of these.

Images via sephora.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Outfit of the Day!

So I've done a little bit of shopping here in Spain.  Not a lot--trying to practice that whole self-restraint thing.  It's going pretty well, except where baked goods and Diet Coke are concerned (as usual).  Anyways, I've picked up a skirt, a dress, two tops, and a pair of shoes (for about 75 euro! not bad, huh...).

Here's the dress I got (no full-length mirror in Espana, sadly).  It's from a store called Sfera and it was about 22 Euros-ish.  It's a scarlet chiffon-weight dress with little white polka dots, tank sleeves, smocking at the waist and a bow tie at the v-neck.  The belt is vintage and the leather jacket is from Wilson.

I really, really like this dress.  It has a very Alps-y feel to me for some reason (probably the Swiss dots), and I love the sweetness of the ruffles and the bow, especially against the toughness of a leather jacket.

And I might even be getting a little better at this hair curling thing!  Now I'm just waiting to go back to the States so I can buy a curling iron like a big girl and stop using my straightener.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hair Dye Adventures in Espana

I know, I know, I'm a bad little blogger.  To be fair, I have been traveling a lot and my internet is so slow it takes 3 hours to upload an album to Facebook.  Excuses, excuses, I know. (I also have to read all of Don Quijote, parts 1 and 2 for class.  Please, kill me).

I don't have that much news, but I did dye my hair!  Again.  So long story short, it's naturally a dark blonde/light brown.  Then I dyed it brown for year, and for about the first 6 months of the year it was red.  Like red-red-red.  But I got tired of it, and I wanted it to go back to brown.  So I dyed it medium-dark golden-brown literally 3 separate times.  It was still red, and worse than that, it was strawberry blonde on the bottom half because I have too much hair for one box of dye and the color on my ends had faded away.  This made me very frustrated.  So one day,  I freaked out and grabbed 2 boxes of a neutral dark brown and dyed my hair.

It's dark!  Dark dark dark.  It also looks like I have highlights because now my hair isn't taking dye evenly (damn you, red hair dye), but I guess that makes it more natural looking?  Either way, I really like the dark.  I had it this dark when my hair was way shorter--just over chin-length--and that felt a little harsh.  I think the extra length softens it up a lot, and I feel much more Spanish now!  Haha.  But no, really, the red hair + epic paleness was getting stares and comments from creepy old men on the street.  So.  Oh, and I slept with it in braids last night and attempted to make it wavy today.

I've been bouncing around Spain quite a bit since I got here.  So far I've been to Madrid, Toledo, Cadiz, Sevilla (obviously haha), Huelva, and Granada.  Here are some pics I took of the Alhambra in Granada--the last Moorish palace built in Spain in the last city conquered by the Catholic Kings.  Sigh.  Isn't it gorgeous?  It was abandoned by centuries and random squatters lived there before it was reclaimed and restored by the state. 

And on a totally random note, I've been doing a lot of online shopping in my downtown.  Being in Spain without being able to use my beloved iPhone and being stuck relying on my stupid little Movistar piece of junk has gotten me thinking about watches.  I'm normally that girl that walks around clutching her iPhone in a death grip so she always knows what's going on.  But not being able to do that has gotten me thinking, and honestly...it's a little obnoxious.  I'd like to be able to have a watch so I'm not constantly playing with my iPhone.  The one problem is that I HATE how watches look on me.  So when I found these bracelet-watch hybrids from La Mer, I got really excited.  La Mer Collections Moscow Braided Chain Wrap Watch, $110 at lamercollections.com, Brown Leather-Copper Motorcycle Chain Watch, $120 at lamercollections.com:

I know these are basically the same.  I really like the combination of skinny watch face, long brown leather straps, and chunky chains mixed in.  The watch face is so delicate and lady-like, the leather adds an equestrian/slightly preppy-aristocratic feel, and the chain brings it all back down to earth and gives it some grit.  The basic dilemma is between silver or gold.  I think I like the silver one better.  And all the rest of my rings/bracelets are silver too...hm...And momma, if you read this, I may or may not be asking for this for Christmas.  Love you! 

That's all for now, darlings.  Hasta luego!

Images via lamercollections.com.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Bourjois Chocolate Bar Bronzer

I finally found it, kids.  The mythical Bourjois chocolate bar bronzer.  I say mythical because I couldn't find it in the US or at any of the Boots stores in Heathrow (unless you want to buy it online) but I found it in a Spanish version of CVS!  Great success.  Even though I paid astronomically more for it than I should have--thanks for that, Euro exchange rate.

Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder (price ranges from about $10 to $20 depending on the country as far as I know):

So, the skinny on this bronzer is that it looks like a chocolate bar (and sorta smells like one too, hence the hype).  The packaging is carboard, and it opens like a little book, with a heavily magnetized closure, to reveal the chocolate bar-shaped bronzer inside.  For cardboard packaging, it's pretty decent.  I'd say it feels on-par with Benefit's packaging, and it's much less expensive. 

The bronzer itself smells like chocolate with a hint of citrus--overall rather delicious without being too sweet or foody.  The scent won't linger on your skin, however.  I got the Medium shade (#51) which was the lightest shade offered (curse those tanned Spaniards).  Seeing as I am a NW15 at MAC and the real life equivalent of Snow White, I was a little scared by that Medium description.  The bronzer swatches as a medium-light yellow-based brown that's 90% matte with the tiniest amount of sparse gold shimmer.  I saw complaints on Makeupalley about this not being very pigmented.  I had the exact opposite experience.  This stuff is so ridiculously pigmented that I need to be very careful with how much I get on my brush.  

The pressed powder feels very finely milled and goes on smoothly, blending with little effort.  I'd say this would be 100% fool-proof if you were naturally a bit darker than me.  For fairer-skinned gals, you do need to be careful not to overload that brush and end up looking like Snooki.  Given that, though, this Bourjois bronzer lasts a very long time, especially on my oily skin and in this heat.  If I apply it in the morning and I want to go out 12 hours later, I'd do a touch-up, but it really does stick around for most of the day.

Now if only my ridiculous sun burn would fade and I could get an even tan all over...

Awkward Chic rating: A+.  If you can get this online for less than $15-$20, it's a great value.  Makes me wish Bourjois was more widely available in the US.

Image via boots.com, superfabme.com.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spain Style

I'm still alive!  Sorry for the lack of updates (yes, mom, I am still alive), but crazy schedule + spotty internet does not lend itself to lots of blog updates.  But I am trying to get on top of it, I swear.

In terms of life updates, I am still getting mocked all around for speaking Spanish like a Mexican (apparently it's a problem in my grammar class) and I'm traveling all over!  So far I have trips planned to Cadiz, Granada, Ireland, London, Paris, Bologna, Germany, Portugal and Austria.  Busy busy busy but excited to get to go to some new places.  I start class next week, so that should be pretty interesting.

So, clothes.  I'm noticing that the trends in Spain (right now at least) are less colorful/floral and more neutral.  There are seems to be less structure/clean lines and more draping--which could be related to the fact that it's a million degrees here.  Today I wore an outfit just like this.  The tank was the same but a burnt pinkish-red instead of purple (the picture is evading me) and it was that exact skirt.  I saw 'Friends with Benefits' before I left and something about Mila Kunis' pencil/mini skirt-based daytime outfits stuck with me.  I'm running out of clean clothes so I decided to recreate one using a skirt I normally wear out at night (yay, repurposing).  So I had the black shirt and then the reddish tank on top and loose, but I tucked a tiny bit of the hem of the tank into the waist of the skirt (in just one spot).  It's hard to describe, but it highlights the high waist of the skirt and creates this pretty draping effect because the rest of the hem of the shirt hangs down.

Then I wore these Frye boots and a leather jacket I have that's pretty similar to the Veda one pictured here.  The leather jacket adds a little structure and some edge (you can never have too much edge!  Jk, you totally can, but I still love it).  I like the boots with this outfit because they make it a little more casual since they're basically gussied up cowboy boots, but the little heel keeps it all sassy.  I throw on some antique necklaces on top and overall was very happy with the look.  I'd do a photo for y'all, but I actually have no full length--or even remotely full-length--mirrors here.  Boo.

On a makeup related note, I've been dying to pick up some Spanish makeup here, but there don't seem to be any Spanish makeup brands, at least that I can find??  All I've seen here is marked up makeup from the UK and the States, like $16 CoverGirl mascara (that must be a joke).  So I've been loving my Coastal Scents Metal Mania palette.  It was about $20 on the Coastal Scents website, and has 88 metallic shadows, mostly neutrals.  I love it because the shadows are pretty high quality for the price and since there are so many it's keeping my cravings for new shadows at bay--for now.  Also, I've been living off Nutella.  Unrelated, I know, but I'm struggling with not eating in my dorm dining hall and not wanting to spend a lot of money on groceries to cook for myself.  It's been lots of cheese and bread and apples with Nutella (which I'm eating right now.  Shocker).  Someone force me to feed myself nutrients.

That's all for now.  Besos de Espana!

Images via stylehive.com, loveinpink88blogspot.com.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hello from Spain!

I know it's been a while since I blogged, and I want to apologize for that.  I got so caught up in packing and getting ready to go abroad that I forgot to schedule some posts in advance, and then I had to travel and get to Spain and bounce around with no internet and move into my apartment and basically be all over the place.

But now I'm all moved in and starting classes tomorrow and so hopefully I should be back to blogging on a (semi) regular basis.  In the meantime, I thought I'd do a post on my experiences in Spain so far, with a little note on Spanish fashion tucked in too.

So, thoughts on Spain:

First off, this eating thing.  SO DIFFERENT.  Getting over jet lag was easy, getting used to the Spanish eating schedule was HARD.  As far as I've gathered the Spanish daily meal system goes something like this: a tiny piece of toasted baguette with jam/olive oil and coffee at 9 am.  A mini sandwich/pick-me-up snack at 11 am.  A big lunch with soup, meat, rice dishes (etc), coffee, and desert at 3 pm.  Another pick me up snack at about 7pm (more carbs) and then tapas for dinner at 10 (featuring, shocker, MORE CARBS and fried foods).

I do not understand how Spain isn't obese.  I haven't seen a fresh vegetable at a single meal here, let alone a meal that doesn't heavily feature carbs or starches.  And forget about vegetarian food--so not culturally understood in Spain.

Just for comparison, my daily diet at home is something along the lines of: breakfast of oatmeal cooked in almond milk with a dash of cinnamon.  Snack of fruit or cheese or some little protein a few hours later, then a big salad for lunch (love me some greek salad), another snack, and then a big bowl of sauteed spinach for dinner.  

Don't get me wrong, though, Spanish food isn't bad.  The baked goods and pastries--I die.  And the coffee!  So good!  Aside from the stubborn aversion to all forms of iced coffee (sob, it's 90 degrees here).

But even given all the baked goods and carbs, Spain seems to have less of a problem with obesity than the US.  I'm not saying everyone here is 100 pounds and in perfect shape--in fact, they seem to be more healthy/average across the board.  And the same goes for clothes.  Spaniards do not wear sweats or sweatshirts or gross college tees, etc, in public.  I don't think well-dressed Spaniards are any more fashionable or numerous than well-dressed Americans, but Spaniards in generally seem to be a little less casual than Americans.  It's refreshing.

Also, Spain is SO PRETTY.  My dorm is in the old center of Sevilla, and not in a particularly historical bit, but the little windy streets everywhere are the most adorable things.  I want to do a photoshoot all over this neighborhood.  Possibly in the new Spanish clothing I plan on acquiring.

Well, that's all for now!  I'd add some pictures butttt I haven't gotten a converter to charge my camera with so I actually have none.  Boo.

Besos de Espana!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Orly Red Flare

This hurricane messed up all my plans for the weekend, so I ended up with way too much time on my hands and nothing to do.  Blah.  So I found an excuse to run into town this morning and picked up some polish at CVS.

Orly Polish in Red Flare, $5.70 at amazon.com: I didn't see the need to take swatch pics of this color because it's so basic.  It's a red creme, no shimmer, with orangey-brown undertones.  It looks a bit like blood, actually, brighter in artificial light and more like dried blood in sunlight.  I did my toes with this today and it looks fab.  I really like vampy colors on my toes, and this one is light enough not to be too harsh but still intense enough to have that edgy feel.

Red Flare is a very smooth, pigmented creme.  I find the Orly brush to be a little on the long/skinny side, but Red Flare is very easy to apply.  It goes on smoothly, doesn't bleed, and only takes 2 coats to become opaque--you could probably get away with one thick coat.  It dries to a nice, shiny finish, and if it wears like other Orly polishes, I can get at least 2 weeks of good wear out of it on my toes.

All in all, I really like this color.  It's more interesting and offbeat than a traditional red, but it's still in relatively classic territory, and would look equally great on fingers and toes.  Awkward Chic rating: A+.

Image via monstermarketplace.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Forever 21 Steal

So I'm supposed to be keeping myself from buying anything until I got to Spain next week so that, you know, I can buy clothes in Spain.  Well, when it comes to self-restraint, I am TERRIBLE.  I went shopping today.  But hey, I was practical!  Kinda.  Here's one of my favorite things I got:

Forever 21 Ruffle Trimmed Woven Dress, $17.80 at forever21.com: This Forever 21 dress comes in a bright, coral/petal pink, a blush pink (not on the website) and a teal/turquoise blue.  I got the bright pink and the blue because when they're less than $18 a pop, you can get all your favorite colors!  It's a rayon dress, so it has a nice drape but has to be hand-washed, and has an elasticized waist with a ruffle around the front and the back of the neckline.

Dress: Forever 21, boots: Frye, belt: vintage, jewelry: Tiffanys.  I really like this little dress!  It's lightweight, easy to style around, and very comfy.  I think the shape is pretty flattering for most body shapes because it floats over the hips/butt without clinging or adding too much volume, and the ruffle fills out the chest area.  If you're like me and have enough going on in that area, the ruffle can still help balance you out if you're a little bottom heavy, like me.  This dress is also adorable with a little leather jacket, or you can go a sweeter route and add a cardigan.

Images via forever21.com.


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