Friday, January 31, 2014

Eyelash Extension Q&A

Quite often, I get comments about my eyelashes.

lashes eyelashes extensions mascara fake

"Your eyelashes are gorgeous."
"Are you eyelashes real?"
"Your eyelashes are amazing."
"Who does your lashes?"

Dear reader, THIS is what I look like with no mascara on, completely au naturel:

lashes eyelash extensions mascara fake

I know, I know. It's not that bad! But honestly, I feel naked when I don't wear mascara. I'm naturally a medium blonde, and my eyelashes and brows are seriously completely transparent without any added help. It's incredible how much longer lashes can boost your appearance. It makes the rest of your makeup really stand out and your face looks much more "put together." So...*confession*...I get lash extensions. Yes, it's a luxury, and well worth it. 

I'm lucky enough to have Housewife2Hostess as my lash specialist and master esthetician. To put it mildly, she's incredible. Check out her post on "Eyelash Extensions 101" over on her delightful blog. She was generous enough to grace my blog with her beautiful presence and witty personality for a Q&A session.

Housewife Hostess
Q: Who should get eyelash extensions, and why?
Anyone who wants to have more time every morning. They are seriously the best getting-ready time saver! The only people who shouldn't are those with lots of allergies or sensitive eyes (not like that has stopped some).

Q: Some people think lash extensions are too "high maintenance." What would you tell them to dispel this myth?
They are as high maintenance and you want them to be. Some of my clients are very picky and literally comb through them every day, while others never touch or mess with them and they seem to last a bit longer. The main commitment is the financial one.

Q: Does it matter who does your lash extensions and what type of products/materials they use? 
Finding a licensed professional/someone certified to do lash extensions would be the only way to go. Because of how delicate the area is and considering you'll have sharp tweezers and glue and tape near your eyeballs you really want to see lots of training before you lay down to have it done. Or you could always go with your cute friend who learned how to do them on YouTube yesterday; its not like you were using your eyes anyway.

Basically, you need lash extensions. Here's the process from the last time I got a "fill."


Eyelash Extensions fill long lashes

You're probably thinking, "Before? What?! Your lashes look great! Yes. You are correct, they do. But wait until you see the "after"! This about 2 weeks after my previous fill. Sometimes I go a bit longer, but I don't enjoy waiting until they are super sparse before I get a fill.

Step 1

Eyelash Extensions fill long lashes

First, your lash specialist will attach a special tape to keep your bottom lashes from sticking to the top ones. Otherwise, your eyes might be stuck together by the end of the application. Then he or she will apply a solution that removes proteins and basically anything that would keep the extensions from best adhering to your own lashes.

Step 2

Eyelash Extensions fill long lashes combing

Next, the lash specialist combs through your lashes to separate your existing extensions. They will also fix any tangles and/or remove extensions that are problematic or about to fall off.

Step 3

Eyelash Extensions fill long lashes

Finally, the lash extensions go on individually, which creates the gorgeous finished product you see below: thick, long, dark, luscious lashes. Note: There are several different lengths of extensions, ranging from subtle to dramatic (I get the latter, and I unabashedly refer to them as my stripper or Vegas showgirl lashes. The more "wow" factor, the better!).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evolution of Emotions during Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1

exercise Jillian Michaels cardio strength training

It's officialand unbelievableI did cardio for 20 minutes each day last week. Even on Saturday and Sunday! I'm easing back into working out, because it's been (picture my head drooping in shame) a year since I've regularly exercised. And believe me, my body has felt it. After multiple sinus infections, a bout with mono, the flu, and a few colds thrown in to even out the mix, I decided last week that I was tired of not feeling well. I've been jogging each day at my local Gold's Gym, but to my chagrin, it closed at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Enter the DVD of Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred that I ordered months ago from Amazon but until Sunday was still resting in the shrink wrap packaging. After I opened it, there was definitely no more resting. 

exercise Jillian Michaels cardio strength training
My unassuming roommate, Emma, had no idea what she was getting herself into after she agreed to give Level 1 a whirl with me. At the onset of the video, I felt energetic and ready to go. Let's be honestJillian has a fantastic body. Plus, my good friend Gayle told me about a friend of hers that has seen incredible results with the workout.

exercise Jillian Michaels cardio strength training
A couple of minutes into the exercises, I still felt positive, but I was astonished at the intensity of the routine. I figured Level 1 would be fairly mild, and that at the end of the workout I might have broken a light sweat.

exercise Jillian Michaels cardio strength training
By the time we were 10 minutes into the diabolical exercise routine of death, I checked the time (which I could barely do, because if you take your eyes off Jillian for even a second, she will know and you will be chastised), and could not believe I still had 10 more minutes to go. My heart was pumping and beads of sweat formed on my forehead and upper lip. The light sweatshirt I had on now felt like I was sporting a heavy parka at the equator. But Emma and I persevered. Obviously, we could do this!

exercise Jillian Michaels cardio strength training
During the last half of our workout, I felt more of an intense push than I can remember in the last 2 years. Obscenities were yelled, water chugged, and groans uttered as we somehow trudged through to the end. The end of what would have been our lives if we had been on Level 3. 

I will never, ever complain about the treadmill or elliptical again. Nor will I ever underestimate Jillian Michaels. She is a taskmaster. And that's a good thing. I've been unimpressed with exercise videos in the past, but two days later, my butt and quads are quite sore (I did the treadmill the day after, the thought of doing the video again in my state of jelly-like weakness scares me right now). Even after only one use, I guarantee this video will get your results. It's only $6.99 on Amazon . I will keep you posted on my progress!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Best Moisturizer I've Ever Used

moisturizer facial skin types Shiseido Ibuki
While I love that one product can do so much for your skin, what bothers me about moisturizer is how difficult it can be to find the best one for your skin. This is one product where I have never really had a tried and true standby. I have tried a plethora of varieties—drugstore, high end, organic, with SPF, without SPF, etc. Some of them have been good, but there has always been a part of me, deep down in the soul of my skin, that believes there is a Prince Charming of moisturizers out there who will treat me right and make my life simply magical. And, I just might have found my soul mate.

My Skin Type

First, to give you some background on my skin (because the type of moisturizer you should use depends on your skin’s needs), it is normal to oily (especially in the T-zone), and my primary concerns are aging prevention and evening out my skin’s tone and texture. I usually get a couple of zits a month, so thank goodness acne isn’t my biggest concern. However, due to a medication I started taking about a year and a half ago, I started getting these strange bumps and patchy redness on my left cheek, and it drives me bonkers. Yes, just my left cheek.  I went to a dermatologist and her recommendations honestly made the condition worse. Argh.

Time for a Change

A few weeks ago I finished using Peter Thomas Roth’s Camu Camu PowerC X 30™ Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer in conjunction with the Camu Camu Serum. I’m a big fan of Peter Thomas Roth products, and I had high hopes for this fairly pricey duo.  While the two potions did not cause my skin any adverse reactions, I also felt like they didn’t render any noticeable benefits. For a combined price of $157, I expect benefits! After that foray, my next move was to return to Shiseido.

Why Ibuki is Best

moisturizer facial skin types
Honestly, I’m not sure why I ever stopped using Shiseido skincare. Probably because as a skincare and cosmetic junky, I love trying new products. However, I’m a bit more selective with switching up my skincare routine unless there is an imminent concern. The redness/bumps issue on my left cheek definitely qualifies. A little over two weeks ago in Sephora I spotted Shiseido’s new Ibuki line, and I ended up leaving the store with a jar of the Enriched Refining Moisturizer. Normally product claims don’t mean a great deal to me, but I do trust Shiseido skincare. Here’s the lowdown on the cream from the Shiseido Web site:  
 This multi-action formula intensively corrects the appearance of unevenness such as visible pores, breakouts/ blemish marks and skin roughness. It renews the skin’s surface, revealing an incredibly smooth, uniform texture, while keeping skin hydrated all day long.

2 Weeks Later

Well, my dear readers, from my brief two-week experience, these claims are true. I’m not wearing foundation today for the first time in quite a while. The main reason for that is because I have a raging cold and am blowing my nose every 5 minutes, but it is also because my left cheek (Ok and btw every time I write that I giggle because I feel like I’m talking about my butt cheek, which I’m definitely NOT!) is clearer and smoother than ever for the first time in over a year—impressive. I was slightly hesitant to buy the enriched version of the moisturizer, since my T-zone usually gets quite oily by midday, but I compared the textures and absorption of both it and the regular refining moisturizer at Sephora. The latter almost has a serum-like texture, and the former, while appearing thick and creamy, felt light and absorbed quickly as I smoothed it on.  Here are the other benefits I’ve observed:

  • It keeps my skin moisturized all day long, without any excess oil. So, those of you who feel like you’re connected to the trans-Alaska pipeline, I promise that even the enriched version will not be too heavy for your skin.
  • A little goes a long way. I’m using much less to cover my entire face and neck (you better be moisturizing your neck,  because I don’t want your face smooth and pretty in 20 years and your neck looking lizardy) than I have with previous moisturizers. I have a feeling this 50 ml jar will last me much longer than the same size jar of the Camu Camu.
  • It works great under makeup. It provides a great surface to apply my Benefit The POREfessional primer and then my L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator mixed with Kat VonD’s Lock-It Tattoo Foundation. There is nothing worse than a moisturizer that starts to flake or peel off like dead skin when you go to apply your foundation, and believe me, this does nothing of the sort.
  • The price point: $45! For a high-end skincare product, this is insanely affordable. Other than Shiseido’s Pureness Matifying Oil-Free Moisturizer, this is their most affordable one.

Moisturizer: If You Are Not Using It, Shame On You!

soothing sensitive irritated skin moisturizer anti-redness

To me, moisturizer is the most essential step in keeping your skin in its optimum condition. To name just a few of its incredible benefits, moisturizer hydrates your skin, plumps up fine lines, protects it from the elements, preps it for makeup, prevents aging, and, if contains SPF, prevents sun damage.  Seriously, EVERYONE needs moisturizer—guys included! If you are not currently using a moisturizer, you should go punish yourself like Silas in the DaVinci Code. Just kidding! I’m really quite anti-violence. But seriously, get thee to the nearest Sephora and vow that you’ll never go a day without moisturizer again! Here are five guidelines you should follow in regard to this must-have product:

night cream all skin types antiaging rich skincare

  • Everyone needs a moisturizer, even if you skin is oily. I’ve met a few people over the years that have told me, “Oh, my skin is so oily that I don’t use moisturizer.” AGH!!!  I then try to tactfully explain that not using moisturizer is actually counterproductive, and that their skin can overproduce oil to compensate for a lack of moisture.
  • Never wear anything with SPF at night. Unless you’re sleeping outside in a place where the sun shines 24/7, you obviously don’t need SPF when it’s dark. Moreover, your skin needs to breathe, which sun protection doesn’t allow, as it forms a barrier over your skin.
Shiseido skincare Bio-Performance moisturizer antiaging refining
  • Make sure your daytime moisturizer has an SPF of 18 or less. Now, this is my own personal piece of advice. Six years ago when I was the counter manager for Shiseido at Nordstrom, I learned quite a bit about skincare from Shiseido, which greatly improved the quality of my skin. One of the tips I learned at the time was that any “moisturizer” with an SPF over 18 is no longer a moisturizer, but a sunscreen, which can’t effectively absorb into your skin. If you want a higher protection factor, then use a facial sunscreen after you apply moisturizer.
Vitamin C moisturizer skincare Target rich creamy light

  • Give a new moisturizer at least two weeks (preferably three) before you decide to chuck it or try something new. Any time period shorter than this will not give your skin a fair chance to adjust, nor will you be able to accurately judge the product’s benefits.
  • Introduce new skincare products slowly. If your skin is freaking out, ditching everything you have and starting over with a new cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, exfoliator, etc. all at once could be a really bad idea. And even if it isn’t freaking out, suddenly using a plethora of new products could induce this! Again, use the two-week rule here before introducing each new product.
Next post: finding the right moisturizer, plus a review of Shiseido’s Ibuki Enriched Refining Moisturizer. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tinder 101: A Crash Course on the Perils of the Ubiquitous Dating App

Tinder swiping online dating apps profile
Nooooooo! We’ve all done it: you meant to swipe left, but you got so carried away showing your roommate how offensively horrible this guy was that you accidentally swiped right. Or you hit the stupid tiny “x” button in the upper right-hand portion of the screen while you were flipping through his photos. I have fairly small hands, but each time I try to use one of those instead of swiping, I think, “Is this an app for ants?!” Worse than the accidental swipe, however, is waking up the next morning semi-excited at the “You have a new match!” alert, only to discover the long-bearded, crazy-eyed hobo you accidentally swiped on has not only also swiped on you, but has already messaged you. Block. Block. BLOCK!

Tinder swiping online dating appsThen, you suddenly feel even more despondent with your dating life, when you ask yourself, how come Meatloaf is messaging me, but the hottie that supposedly swiped right on me has yet to say a word? And yes, you messaged him. It’s not like you’ve got to play hard to get that much given the fact that you both found each other’s pictures enticing. But seriously, why do people even use this app if they never talk to each other? I know it’s not just me. It happens to guys too. Despite the false comfort of anonymity behind the private texting function within the app, and that fact that you can block the person and make them disappear (but be careful, I’ve had “blocked” individuals suddenly reappear in my swiping pool), most people seem to still be morbidly afraid of branching out. There’s an epidemic of not being able to start a conversation in real life or online, evidently.

Tinder swiping online dating apps
My other question is, and let me know if you feel the same way, what's up with the plethora of unattractive guys on Tinder lately? I feel like for every 15 scary ones (and I do mean scary—some photos make my jaw drop or I scream) there’s one normal-looking guy to whom I might consider giving a little right-side swipearoni love to. Honestly though, I have never seen so many ZZ Top-bearded, creepy-eyed, freaky deaky men on there as I have in the last month. Truthfully, I’m not sure which is worse—those guys or the Vegas-slick ones with the bathroom or gym selfie pics in basketball shorts that are so low-slung you wonder…yeah, you know what I’m talking about. But let’s be honest girls, haven’t you truthfully always envisioned your knight in shining armor to really be wearing inappropriately low gym shorts taking a picture of himself? What a stud.

Speaking of studly behavior, I must give props to the guys who don’t pretend to be interested in my stellar personality, but who instead give me flat-out honesty by asking me immediately if I want to make out/hook up/etc. I honestly respect their honesty way more than the other Tinderizers looking for booty calls under the guise of gentlemanly small-talk that eventually turns into them asking you (heck no they aren’t going to drive to your place, c’mon) to drive over and “watch a movie.” While my answer is no, I do applaud their gumption.

I must admit, I’ve gone out on a few Tinder dates, and most of the guys have been normal and the dates have gone well. Yes, there was the rapist (that’s not a joke), but the guys I’ve met in person from Tinder have been much more down to earth than those I met when I was on That’s another story.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Lash Lowdown: Finding The Right Mascara For The Look You Want!

Greetings to all my beauty-obsessed (and that’s a good thing) blog readers!

So, my posts have lapsed because not only did I discover that I was sick with mono, just as I was recovering I got the flu! I’m much better now and ready for bigger and better things in 2014. This post will be part of a series of fours posts dedicated solely to…(drumroll) lashes! If you want fuller, longer, or just generally better-looking lashes, I will show you how to achieve that look, whether it’s through mascara, false/fake lashes, or lash extensions.  


I worked at Nordstrom as the counter manager for Shiseido, and during that stint I got to experiment and play with a variety of makeup and skincare products. It definitely opened my eyes to a few secrets, including which product lines are the best, hidden treasures in a brand you might not normally try, and, in the case of mascara, a huge secret that I’ll let you in on: DRUGSTORE MASCARA IS JUST AS GOOD AS THE EXPENSIVE KINDS! Seriously, right now, commit to yourself that you will never again spend beaucoup bucks on mascara that burdens your wallet. There seriously is no need. While there’s a difference between types of mascara, you really don’t need to look further than your local Target or drugstore for a mascara to suit your needs.  If you’re going to dish out dollars, do that on eyelash extensions. Before I get to that post, here are my faves:

lashes mascara MAC makeup eye high end

MAC Haute & Naughty Lash

I decided to throw in the only department-store mascara I really feel is worth the money. Nope, it’s not DiorShow or any belonging to the Lancome Line. It’s MAC’s Haute & Naughty. For one, I love the name. Meow. But two, it really is an all-around great mascara that provides an intense effect. What’s particularly great about this sexy little tube is that it’s really two mascaras in one, which often helps with application (see my tutorial below). When I’ve used this, I start with the “wiper” that gives a cleaner application, let it dry a bit, then go back for round two with the other wiper inserted to build upon the first layer. This gem is $21, but again, don’t feel compelled to spend that much!

lashes mascara L'Oreal makeup eye drugstore

L’oreal Voluminous Carbon Black

This is hands-down my all-time favorite mascara. Although it is touted for its volume-building benefits, I discovered it also has incredible lengthening capabilities. One tip: this mascara is better after you’ve used it for a few days and you’ve pumped some air into the tube. This slightly dries out the mascara, which makes the texture a bit tackier, thus better adhering to your lashes. If you desire a really intense lash look (not spidery now, that’s just gross), this mascara is particularly great when used in conjunction with L’oreal’s Voluminous False Fiber Lashes, which I will explain later.

lashes mascara false lashes

L’oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes
If you want all the benefits of Voluminous, but with an added lengthening boost, choose this option. The only caveat I have found with this mascara is that it dries out much quicker than the traditional Voluminous, so don’t expect it to last quite as long. But at an average price point of $8.99, replacing the tube after a month won’t break your budget.

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