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: 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, Bioderma Créaline H2O, $28 for 250 mL at 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:,,,

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 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,

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 Brand BCA Pink Eyelash Curler, $16 at 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, Boyfriend 1.7 oz Perfume, $65 at 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:,,


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