Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to | Wash Make-up Brushes

I mentioned in this post that I was going to share how I clean my make-up brushes. It's really not anything innovative, but there are a few products I love to get this annoying, yet essential, job done.

Many of my brushes I have had for years, like a decade, and all are inexpensive, but yet they have lasted me so long. I think it's all in the maintenance. I make sure to wash everything once a week. I have been using the Sonia Kashuk Brush & Sponge Cleaner for years. The spray bottle makes it easy to use, and it's great for removing any powder products like eyeshadow and blush. For more stubborn stains, I use my eye make-up remover (it's little purple cap is peeking in the corner). It's Target's Up & Up brand, so like the brush cleaner super affordable and accessible. It dissolves foundation like magic. Before getting the Beauty Blender Blender Cleanser Solid, I would use the eye make-up remover for my Beauty Blenders. I ended up using quite a bit of the remover, but since it was cheap it wasn't too big of a deal. However, now I am hooked on the Solid for my sponges. It cuts down deep removing any traces of make-up with just a little bit of the soap. After I am finished using my cleansers, I just lay my brushes flat on a wash-cloth. I don't worry about any weird upside-down contraptions-they don't get bent out of shape and water won't get into the ferules either. I usually do this at night, and by the morning, my brushes are dry and fluffy-ready to start the process all over again.

What are your favourite brush cleansers?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Favourites | March Beauty

Better late than never, I suppose. I’m still within a reasonable time frame, right? Plus, these products have been mentioned throughout the month and should come as no surprise, but I rounded them up anyway to give a little picture of what I have been loving this month.

I have been trying to wrangle my hair, and I love using detanglers, oils, and other treatment products in lock-in moisture and shine. Beauty Protector Protect & Oil and It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product are favs. A couple of new face products have made their way into rotation. The Michael Todd Tropical Fruit Scrub has a slightly scrubby texture but the brightening really comes from the fruit enzymes. The Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask is from the Whole Foods Beauty Bag and is the quintessential clay mask. I love how the instructions say to 'apply until you look like a sea monster'. Yup, we all know the look. Loving the Anastasia DipBrow Pomade for bold brows and the Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black for a sexy scent. Finally, I thought I'd give a shout out to my favourite Wet 'n Wild eyeshadows. These are amazing, especially for the price. My favourite eyeshadow ever has to be Nutty-I even bought a back-up. Smoke & Melrose is perfect for that dusty rose eye, and Panther & Creme Brulee are staples for setting eyeliner and subtle highlighting, respectively.

What were your favs from this past month?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Weekend | Happy Easter

Hope you are having a lovely weekend! I am relaxing in Jersey which has been the tradition since we moved to New York (see 2013 & 2014 here). It's so nice to be near family for these occasions. The weather is spring-like, but I am not going to jinx it.

I had been hoping to be on top of the Easter basket making, card writing, and egg hiding this year, but alas, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. This is my 'Kim, why are you wearing bunny ears & you have failed at Easter presents' face. I might just have to send "spring" gifts out this year. I love the idea of having little traditions every year. While spending time with Preston's family we shared our traditions from childhood, like having scavenger hunts for easter baskets and hiding a prized egg with geocaching. I guess a lot of these things come with having kids, but why not have some fun traditions before too. I know I'd still spend time searching for pastel-coloured plastic in the yard...

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 3, 2015

#birchboxbrag Vol. III

Beauty Blender Blender Cleanser Solid
Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade in Soft Brown
Beauty Protector Protect & Oil Argan Oil
Mystery Pack: Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair, Manna Kadar Lip Locked

Every few months, I like to cash in my BB points on some new things (or some sampled favourites). The rewards system is one of my favourite parts about Birchbox. Actually, I like everything about Birchbox-the well-curated boxes, the large community, the Birchbloggers program. There are a lot of perks. Anyway…with points, percent-off codes, and the freebie mystery pack, I got this haul for two-dollars.

I had been wanting to try the Beauty Blender Blender Cleanser Solid for awhile now, but $15 for a bar of soap-it just never made it to the cart, especially since I love the six-dollar Sonia Kashuk brush cleanser. I will have to do a brush-cleaning post soon. I feel like there are a million & one blog posts on the topic though, so let me know if you want there to be a million & two… I have to say the solid is great.  It gets deep into the sponge to truly deep clean; it also works great on your regular brushes. I am still testing it out-my biggest concern is how long the bar will last. Soap bars just seem is disintegrate on me, but the packaging has a little plastic strainer in it to keep it dry.

As you may know, I am all about the brows of late. I fell in love with the Anastasia Brow Whiz, but after trying the Dip Brow Pomade, I can’t imagine using anything else. It looks so natural- I got the same shade as I have in the Brow Whiz, Soft Brown. It lasts all day. I use it with an angled brush, and it’s surprisingly quick and easy to use. I start by using the spooly end of Brow Whiz and then just dip my brush into the cute little pot-which actually is not so little.

Isn’t it the best when you try a sample and just know you have discovered something awesome? Well, it’s bad when you don’t want to have to buy the full-size. A little vial of the Beauty Protector Protect & Oil got me hooked. Shiny, healthy hair. And it smells so good.

Mystery pack time-and it’s two things I have tried already. I guess they had a lot of extras from the Relax & Recharge box. I’m not complaining as it was one of my favs. Check out that box here. I can’t decide if I just want to use these samples again or share the silky hair and mauve lips with a friend.

See my previous Birchbox hauls here: 1 & 2

What BB samples have you bought in full-size?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Birchbox Book Club | Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

One of my reoccurring New Year's Resolutions is to read one book a month. This month it was Better Than Before Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. It's the Birchbox book of the month. I have read several of BB's other book picks and have enjoyed their selections, so it was fun to be able to read and review this.

Better Than Before is a self-help, pop psych book about how to start, shape, grow, and keep habits. I can be a bit wary of the pop psych genre being trained as a psychologist, but there are enough personal examples that it makes it not read overly authoritative. In fact, the biggest message is that not one size fits all when it comes to habit formation. It was interesting to hear her reactions when she was testing out her new habit theories on friends and family and when worked for her didn't work for them.

It's super easy to read. I had a few long commutes this past month and having this with me actually made it not so bad. I found it interesting to think how her different principles applied to myself and my friends, and how to think of those differences not as better or worse but as what they are differences. There is actually a little section about the tendencies and distinctions. I thought I would list mine out. If you read the book, leave your answers in the comments! I almost wish there was a little quiz...

The tendencies are her overarching philosophy on habit formation. She breaks people down into four categories: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. She refers to these archetypes throughout the book to give strategies a different perspective for the types and describe how some strategies work well for one type of person but might backfire for another. I am definitely an Upholder, but no offense, to the author Gretchen, who is also a fellow Upholder-I am not as overbearing...And as a side note, who doesn't like pets, games, or music? Preston is a Questioner, I have met many Obligers, and my sister is, no doubt, a Rebel.

The distinctions are your preferences for activities, habits, projects, etc. Knowing how you operate can help you know how to best frame your habits to be successful.

No matter how badly I want to be a lark, I am an owl. My prime time is 10pm and later. I think I would love a super late night shift but that isn't really how the world works. 

This one was a little harder for me to answer. I would have to say I am more of a sprinter. I like being against a deadline and setting a lot of time to focus on one thing. What tripped me up was that I seem to like my productivity bursts right when I am first assigned or decide on a project and then right before it's due. I guess the excitement of a new thing and the completion of it makes it easier for me to work.

I am sure you all could guess this one-overbuyer. Honestly, I am proud of my overbuyer-ness. If I need something, I am not afraid to pick it up, and I am always prepared for anything. I am pretty good at not going too crazy. Like for the typical exercise example, I wouldn't shell out huge expenses before a commitment like a gym or a treadmill, but I would buy a new outfit and some dumbbells to jump-start. 

This one was another hard one to decide. The line that put me over the abundance lover edge was the example of a full pantry. It probably goes hand-in-hand with my overbuying. I also really liked her point on how to use your preference to your advantage-if you are a simplicity lover to save money you might cut down on something, but if you are an abundance lover you might consider making more money by starting a side gig. 

I'm a finisher. I like to see things through to completion, but like I mentioned in the sprinter question, I like to start new projects too. I think what got me is her story about her husband opening all the bags of granola instead of finishing them-Preston does this too, and it drives me crazy. 

Familiarity lover. I like to feel super comfortable and know what I am expecting. Whenever I start a new habit,  I research it to death and once I get used to something I stick to it. 

Promotion focused. I strive for achievement and gains-to mastery. I never really thought of this being a dichotomy, but it makes sense-adding a good habit is the same as decreasing a bad habit. It's all about perspective.

I want to go with medium here? Several medium steps along the way. I like having big goals and to see progress, but I try to be realistic to not get overwhelmed or feel like I let myself down.

If you are trying to resurrect your New Year's Resolutions or keep wondering why you have a hard time keeping habits, check this book out. Even to just feel like you aren't alone in having trouble with it. She goes through quite a few different strategies and how to best use them to your advantage with a lot of anecdotes from herself, her family, and comments from readers of her blog. I have heard a bit about her other books like The Happiness Project, and I think I will have to give that one a shot.

If you read Better Than Before, let me know your thoughts-and your tendency!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black & White

I've shared my love for Elizabeth & James Nirvana White in a recent monthly favourites. I instantly fell in love with the fresh scent. Someone else noticed as well...Preston. We aren't the typical couple when gift-giving. He has never bought me flowers or make-up or taken me shopping-I don't know do couples do that? In high-school, I remember when we were first dating after Bio and before lunch, he would always say to me, "You smell funny" and I would ask "Funny good or funny bad?" He responded, "Just funny." To his credit, all through high school my signature scent was Britney Spears Fantasy, so it probably was very funny...

Anyway, back to present day, Preston commented on the perfume I was wearing, and it was Nirvana White. I went on to explaining probably too much about it and how it had a pair, the Black version, and how you could layer them and...yeah too much detail. A few days later, a Sephora box arrives. At first, I thought I must have been online sleep shopping, but Preston had ordered me Nirvana Black. I was so surprised. 1. He remembered what it was called. 2. He went to 3. He bought me perfume. What?! I think it appealed to his Pokemon sensibilities where you have to catch them all.

I love both these scents. White is fresh and floral while Black is warm and cozy. Combine them and you have a sort-of spicy scent. White is perfect for the daytime while Black is perfect for night. Though, I have been wearing Black during the day as I like its warm scent during the colder weather. Admittedly, they aren't the most long-lasting fragrance. I am not one to really bother with reapplying perfume, but with the rollerballs, I could easily throw it in my purse. I would love to get the actual bottles one day as they are super pretty.

What's the first fragrance a boyfriend has ever given you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nail Art | Marble Mani

Marble is having quite the moment. The luxe look is everywhere from the expected home decor to clothing to electronic accessories. I thought it would make a super cool natural yet high contrast pattern for nail art.

This is very similar to the Turquoise nail art I posted several months ago. I loved that mani and was excited to do something similar. It's basically the same tutorial except for the colour choices. For my marble base, I started with two coats of Zoya Dove, a light gray, and then sponged on Color Club Mod in Manhattan, an off-white. You can switch the order of this and get the same effect. For the veining, I used Zoya Geneviev, a dark gray.

Now, I tried to do the same thing with the turquoise mani by using hair spray in the water marble, but I was having some major technical difficulties. I think my room was too cold making the water tough to marble with and probably making the hairspray too cold too. So, I just dropped some nail polish into the water and went at it swirling around. The hairspray method would work much better, but this wasn't bad.

Are you loving the marble trend? I really want this laptop cover!