, Inc.

May 23, 2016

StriVectin TSV: Super Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment Set (plus a giveaway!)

Today, May 24th, there is an exciting StriVectin TSV (today's special value) on QVC.  This sale is only 24 hours long, so don't snooze on this one if you're a StriVectin fan!  The TSV price is $129 for the Super-Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment Set (a value of $315).  The sale includes a 3.4 oz Firming Neck Cream, which is one of the best-selling neck creams there is, and 2 bottles of the 1.7 oz Firming Face Serum (3.4 oz total).  Bonus: if you sign up for auto-delivery you will received a free Advanced Retinol Eye Cream with every shipment you receive (an additional $75 value).  
We're giving away one StriVectin Super Size Firming Face & Neck Treatment set.  The set includes the 3 products pictured/listed above (1 Firming Neck Cream and 2 Firming Face Serums). 
To enter:
1. Follow @beautybybenz on Instagram 
2. Follow @strivectin on Instagram 
3. Comment on the above image on Instagram and tell us why you want to win!  
Contest rules:
The contest will start today, May 24th and end on May 31st, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be selected at random.  Contest is open to U.S. residents only.  Winner must have a valid email and U.S. postal address so that we can contact you in the event that you win.  Good luck! 

May 17, 2016

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish 003

We all know Pat McGrath is a makeup genius, but would you pay $72 to buy one of her highlighters? I bought BOTH OF THEM (that's right, $144 for 2 highlighting kits) to help you decide if it's worth it to you. By the way, that's not even inclusive of tax. 
When McGrath announced she was launching her own makeup line, instead of just collaborating with other brands as she's done in the past, people basically lost their minds. Myself included. Her first launch, Gold 001, was a gold pigment that sold out ridiculously fast. Not in need of a gold pigment, and not fast enough to get on the website even if I wanted it, I passed on that opportunity. Her second launch, Phantom 002, was a plethora of gorgeous pigments, included a blackest black, fuschias, and blue, but at a price tag of $240 I could not participate. Now here we are with Skin Fetish 003 at $72 a pop, and 2 available colors. I figured if there were ever a time to pull the trigger, why not do it with highlighters? We all know I have a fetish for highlighters (see what I did there?).

So here's the thing, friends: you don't NEED both highlighters.  Just as I didn't NEED to buy both of them and use my blog as an excuse to review the products.  Will you want both?  Probably.  I did.  And I'm glad I have both of them.  I'm a medium skin tone that can get pretty dark in the sun, and pretty darn pale in the winter.  For me, both might actually be necessary.  At this moment, I can easily wear both shades.  If you have a darker skin tone you'll definitely want to go for the Golden shade, versus the Nude shade.  The balm is clear on both of them (on one end of the highlighter/balm duo stick), and the pigment sort of looks the same at first glance, but they are very different. 

From left to right: Pigment 003 from Nude shade, Highlighter stick from Nude shade, Highlighter stick from Golden shade, Pigment 003 from Golden shade 

Of course, McGrath's Skin Fetish 003 shades are all mega-impact with very little effort.  They're totally fool-proof as far as I'm concerned.  The balm can be used basically all over the face: on the lids, for a shiny, but not greasy look, on the cupid's bow to highlight the lip without looking garish, or in conjunction with the Highlighter Stick or the Pigment 003.  Here are some swatches on my skin so you can see how the individual products look.  

Highlighter Stick in Nude
Highlighter Stick in Golden

Added the Pigment 003 in Nude on top of the Highlighter Stick

Added the Pigment 003 in Golden on top of the Highlighter Stick

So, like I said, did I need to buy both?  Eh, probably not.  Am I glad that I did?  100%.  I barely had to put in any work for that highlight and my skin feels radiant, but not like I'm wearing anything at all.  I'm in love.  Just what I would expect from Pat McGrath Labs.  

May 13, 2016

Beauty By Benz Approved: Youth To The People

Youth To The People is a foolproof skincare regimen that is gaining cult status for its chic simplicity.  Sometimes more is less, kids.  Forget about weird chemicals that you don't want to put on your skin.  This brand believes in superfoods inside and outside of the body, so their skincare line reflects that.  It's a simple 3-step process (cleanser, serum, and moisturizer) made of ingredients like kale, spinach, and green tea.  It's great for all skin types, which has served me really well in moving across the country and facing all different types of climates, but we'll talk more on that later.  Let's talk about the 3 products on the YTTP line.      
Age Prevention Moisture Cream ($48)
This super lightweight moisturizer smells faintly of greens (don't worry, it's not overpowering) so you know the ingredients are legit.  The smell is all natural, because there are no synthetic fragrances, sulfates, or artificial colors in any of the products.  
Age Prevention Cleanser ($36)
This is surprisingly my favorite product on the line, which is interesting because I don't generally like face wash.  I'm more of a micellar water type-of-gal.  This cleanser, however, is just the right amount of light suds to cleanse the skin, but not dry it out.  The scent is very light as well, smelling slightly of green tea.  
Age Prevention Firm and Brighten Serum ($62)
This serum uses Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C, and kale to promote collagen synthesis in the skin.  Vitamin C is my absolute favorite ingredient in any skincare product because it helps with dark spots/hype-rpigmentation.  I use at least one Vitamin C product on my skin every day.

May 12, 2016

Glossier Introduces 3 New Balm DotCom Flavors

Glossier's Balm Dotcom is an every day staple in my beauty arsenal, and when they launched Coconut Balm Dotcom I thought life couldn't get much better.  It's the little things.  Now, here we are, with 3 new flavors added to the mix, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  The only caveat is that this trio ($30) is limited edition.  Hopefully some of these will go into permanent rotation.
Mint Balm Dotcom is sheer with a bit of menthol, so it's a great pick-me-up in the morning or mid-day.  Breath feels fresher and lips feel cool and tingly.  Rose Balm Dotcom has just the slightest light pink tint, so unless you're very fair in complexion, I wouldn't count on this for its color.  It does, however, smell so deliciously rosy.  It's definitely on par with other rose favorites like Smith's Rosebud Salve as far as smelling a bit rosy, but not being cloying.  I saved my favorite for last, because Cherry Balm Dotcom better become a permanent item for Glossier.  It just has to.  This one has a bit more of a pink tint to it.  Think just-had-a-cherry-popsicle stain, only it's not a lip stain because it has the amazing texture of Balm Dotcom.  Now my beloved Coconut Balm Dotcom has a rival with the new Cherry version.  What's a girl to do?    

Apr 21, 2016

The New Dove Campaign Kicks So Much Ass

I have loved Dove for so long, but their newest ad campaign just about made my heart explode this morning (in a good way).  As a biracial woman, I know a thing or two about women being made to feel that their hair is not something to be cherished.  I won't go on one of my diatribes here about how women are oppressed SO MANY WAYS, including how society makes us view the hair of women of color, because I do that all the time and will continue to fight the good fight.  I'm not going to do that here, because Dove is doing it for me today.  See the amazing video for yourself, and then check out some of the statistics below.  It's important for women to lift each other up, and sometimes all it takes is the cold, hard facts about how society has made us feel about our hair to realize we have work to do.  I'm so appreciative to Dove for sharing this message!
Did you happen to peep one of my fellow XoVain writers in the video (the very cool and pretty Sable Yong)?!  Anyways, let's talk stats, because these are very important.  Dove found out the following sad, but not so surprising statistics:
-81% of women feel that the hair we see in advertisements and in the media makes women in general feel bad about the hair they have. 
-Only 11% of women love everything about their hair and wouldn't change anything about it.  
-90% of women agree that they need to embrace their own hair and stop comparing themselves to others. 
-3 in 4 women believe they would have greater self-conifidence if they didn't feel that they were being judged by their hair. 

Those are some harsh numbers folks.  We can do better!  Let's start now.  Let's embrace each other as women (starting with ourselves, please!  You are beautiful!) and fix this.    

Apr 15, 2016

Chosungah 22 is a Brand You Need to Know

I didn't know what to think about Chosungah 22 prior to playing with the products.  They'd only had a few cute products in Sephora stores, but I wasn't ready to dive in and purchase any just yet.  Now Sephora has started selling a full range of their products and I got a chance to actually touch and feel a lot of them.  Lemme tell ya, you should not be fooled by the cute packaging.  Though the packaging is young and fun, it is great product for all ages.  You'll probably see me talking about them a lot in the future, so I'm just going to give a quick rundown of some of my favorite products for you to investigate on your next Sephora run.

Dong Gong Minn Brow Maker ($22)
This may look like a sharpie if you're just looking at the packaging, but do not be deterred.  The applicator is like a half of a mascara wand, and the other half is a very unique pointed sponge tip.  To apply you just brush the formula onto the brows, like you would do to your lashes with a mascara wand, and then use the pointed tip to fill in spaces like you would with a pencil.  Because the tip is a sponge, you don't get the harsh lines that you would usually get with a pencil that you'd need to blend out.  There are 4 shades; Light Blonde, Medium Blonde, Grey Brown, and Black Brown.  I'm very impressed with the Grey Brown because it's just a cool-toned brown (no, you don't have to have grey hair to wear this), which I think is hard to find in a brow product.  Most brown brow products are VERY warm, so all you cool-toned folks out there will love this Grey Brown version from Chosungah 22.   

So Tiny Lip & Cheek Face Color ($14)
These remind me, in a way, of my most beloved Becca Beach Tint, that I've loved for so many years.  They're tiny, as the name implies, but they pack a punch with the colors.  They go on very creamy, but dry to a more matte finish.  They're great to wear as a stain by pushing into your lips (or cheeks) with your fingers.  They feel good on the lips because they contain honey and Argan oil.  The colors are so good.  I'm the most in love with the deeper berry colors.          
From left to right: Baby Pink, Misty Pink, Scarlet, and Orange. 

From left to right: Apple Red, Dark Red, Purple, and Burgundy.

C&T Blend Luminous Liquid Foundation ($58)
This foundation lets you play artist with the amount of coverage you want.  On one side, there's the foundation, and on the other side their is a honey and hyaluronic acid mixture to moisturize the skin and give you a luminous foundation finish.  Want to be more dewy?  Use more of the honey mixture.  Feeling like you need a little more coverage?  Use more of the foundation.  It's surprisingly full coverage, so I use more of the honey mixture, personally, for a more dewy look.  The small amount you see in the picture above covered my whole face with a full coverage.      
If you're not into the idea of playing painter and mixing your foundation, there is a C&T Blend Fresh Mix Liquid Foundation that is already mixed together.  Unfortunately there are only a few shades at the moment, since they just came stateside recently, but I'm sure as they get bigger here in the U.S. they will provide more shades for dark skin tones.

The line has so much more to offer.  All of it is fun, from the packaging to the finishes.  You'll definitely be hearing a lot more about this brand from me in the near future. 

Apr 13, 2016


MAKE UP FOR EVER is introducing the newest addition to their Aqua line; Aqua XL Pencils.  XL stands for extra long wear, which, knowing how long-lasting the original Aqua pencils are, is an incredibly long-wearing eye liner.  The liners are waterproof, sweat proof, and smudge proof. 

The pencils go on super creamy because of a combo of a new dry oil formula and mango butter. 
There are 20 shades, which are a mix of matte, satin, diamond, iridescent, and metallic formulas (indicated by the letter at the beginning of each color name.  S= satin, ME= metallic, etc). 
From left to right: M10 (matte black), D12 (diamond black), M14 (matte dark grey), M16 (matte white), S20 (satin teal), M22 (matte navy), I24 (iridescent teal), M26 (matte sky blue), M30 (matte mint), I32 (iridescent dark green), and I34 (iridescent bright green). 

From left to right: I36 (iridescent green/brown), M40 (matte yellow), ME42 (metallic bronze), S50 (matte taupe), M60 (matte chocolate brown), D62 (diamond brown), M80 (matte dark purple), I90 (iridescent purple), and M92 (matte light purple). 
Photo courtesy of MAKE UP FOR EVER

MAKE UP FOR EVER's new spokesmodel for the campaign is Charli XCX because of her bold stage presence and fun-loving attitude.  Also, who better to showcase a waterproof/sweat proof eyeliner than a pop star that is always performing on stage.   
Aqua XL pencils will be available in May at Sephora stores for $21 each. 

Mar 30, 2016

Benz's Book Club: Inspiration Edition

Writer's block, or any other form of artistic block, plagues many every day.  When I get writer's block, I have to make sure I don't get sucked into a Law & Order SVU marathon.  It's too easy to turn on Bravo and get lost for hours.  For me, a source of inspiration, that helps me unblock, is reading.  Normally, I turn to fiction to wipe out whatever's blocking me and get lost in someone else's world.  On occasion, I turn to inspirational books like the ones listed below.  While some are focused mainly on the craft of writing, some of the books on this list are great reads if you're in any creative field.  One book, I have basically been recommending to every woman I've ever met.  Read on for my inspirational finds.

Love, Style, Life, by Garance Dore
You may remember my glowing reviews on How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, and this is right up that alley.  This book is written from a more "creative lifestyle" perspective, since Dore is also a blogger, but it's still written with all the witty French-ness you're hoping for.  Add to the list Dore's stunning photography and illustrations, and you have the ultimate coffee table book.  It's beautiful to look at it, cover to cover, but, more importantly, a great read.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
I know this is a very unpopular opinion, but I did not like Eat, Pray, Love.  Not even for a second.  My Amazon kept recommending Gilbert's newest book to me, and I kept wondering why on earth it kept happening when I so loathed her previous best-seller.  After having a conversation with another blogger friend, where we were discussing my writer's block at that moment, she recommended this book to me.  I gave her my whole spiel on hating Eat, Pray, Love, and she informed me that this book was absolutely unrelated, and helped her when she was completely overhauling her website.  Intrigued, I purchased the book, but with low expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised that Gilbert and I share a lot of the same ideas about how the universe works.   Most importantly, Gilbert addresses a lot of the shame, hesitation, and fear of rejection that holds us back from living our most creative lives.  Regardless of which creative field you're working in, this is an important book about getting over some of our personal hurdles that hold us back. 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
This book is specifically about writing, by my favorite author.  Stephen King is still killing it with his writing game.  I've already pre-ordered the 3rd book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, which comes out this June.  Needless to say, I'm a big King fan.  I frequently find myself going back to excerpts from On Writing.  You learn about King's relatively normal childhood (is anyone's childhood all that normal anyways?) and realize that you don't need to be messed up in the head to write great stories.  Gilbert makes these points in her book as well, but you don't need to be a martyr in order to be a great artist.  You just need some motivation to get started, and King's book is the perfect motivation.  Really he can do no wrong in my eyes, but I'd say this is the greatest book about the art of writing that has been written. 

Yes of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes
Ok, this book... THIS BOOK.  Every woman should read this book, whether they're in a creative field or not.  This is the woman behind Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal, so you know it's hilarious and tear-jerking.  What was the most amazing thing to me, though, was that Rhimes is just like the rest of us weirdos on this planet.  She may be a creative writing genius, but she has faults.  She has anxiety about stuff.  She has fears.  This book is about overcoming those fears, but not in a holier-than-thou way.  It's SO relatable.  You finish this book feeling like you could be friends with Rhimes.  More importantly, you feel like you, too, can overcome your fears and be your best self.  You can be great.  Shonda believes in you!      

Mar 25, 2016

It's Official. I'm Ouai Addicted.

When I heard that Jen Atkin was launching her hair care line, Ouai, I was one of the first minions in line (aka online) to buy the product.  If you don't know who she is, she's the reason that celebs like the Kardashians, always look on point.  Now I'm not someone who automatically buys something that a Kardashian sister has endorsed.  I don't even own a single Kylie Lip Kit.  I am sort of obsessed with Khlo Money, but I digress.  The thing is, whether you're obsessed with them or not, their hair is flawless.  Always.  So, naturally, when I found out that their hair guru, Atkin, was launching the line I was READY.  I was honestly hoping it would be "just ok" so I wouldn't have to feel like I was always spending my money on it.  The thing is, it's perfect for my hair.  To the point where I'm contemplating throwing out a ton of my other products.  I have fine hair, but the ends are dry and frizz-prone.  I need body and texture, but also moisture.  Well, kids, this stuff could be my holy grail.  I've been using it for a few weeks now and I've been having some of the best hair days of my life, but I've put in next to zero effort.      

Full disclosure, I don't need another beachy wave spray in my life, but of course I went out and bought the Ouai Wave Spray.  You know what?  I have zero regrets.  It gives you a nice matte finish liked you'd expect from this kind of spray, but it feels a LOT less crunchy.  Oh, I should mention here that Atkin put up a bunch of how-to videos on her site, so if you're sort of hair-inept, like me, you can enjoy those.  There's a couple videos about creating beach waves with this product that have basically made this lazy girl's dreams come true.        

The Finishing Créme is supposed to give a "model off duty" kind of finish.  It adds a little smoothing and shine, but still with texture.  Nothing too overdone.  Again, lazy girls?  You can thank me later.  This protects from heat styling, but mostly I've been using it on my hair when it's dry and/or styled already.    

The Texturizing Hairspray is like a texturizer/hairspray/dry shampoo hybrid.  It's like Oribe's Dry texture spray except with more of a hairspray hold.  And more volumizing.  You really don't need a lot of it to get great volume.       

The Dry Shampoo is VERY texturizing.  If you're not someone who is into texture and volume... well, first of all, why the heck not?  But if you don't like texture and volume, then you won't like this formula.  Which is a shame, really, because it doesn't leave any white residue. 

My favorite product of the line, hands down, is the Hair Oil.  I've been using it every single day now since I bought it (I'm guessing it's been about 1 1/2 months).  I have a lot of trouble finding an oil that moisturizes my frizz-prone parts, but doesn't weigh down my fine hair.  It smells incredible.  It gives just the right amount of shine.  It's perfection.  I can't say enough good things about this oil.  It can be used on wet or dry hair, and I've been using it on both since it has heat and UV protection.  I use a pump on my damp hair before styling and then use another pump once my hair is dry.  Now, for hair as thin as mine, 2 pumps is pretty unheard of, but this stuff absorbs into my hair in minutes and just leaves it feeling shiny and not heavy.   

So, in case you haven't noticed, this line is all about voluminous, textural, sexy hair.  But still somehow effortless.  Everything smells clean.  There's a light scent there (Jasmine?) but mostly it just smells fresh.  I'm not even remotely surprised that when Atkin came out with a hair care line that it would be good, but I didn't think it would be THIS GOOD.  I'm thrilled and looking forward to many good hair days ahead.  

Formula X #ColorCurators: Ballet Beautiful

The latest Formula X #ColorCurators collaboration is with the founder of Ballet Beautiful, Mary Helen Bowers.  I'm SO excited about this one, because, as a former dance teacher, this collection speaks to my soul.  I got to celebrate the launch yesterday with a Ballet Beautiful class with Mary Helen herself, and, while I'm sore today as I type this, I'm feeling inspired by the gorgeous Soho studio and the colors of the collection.  Satin Slippers is a pale, peachy pink that Mary Helen worked on matching EXACTLY to a pair of dance slippers.  Lilac Fairy was inspired by the famous Sleeping Beauty ballet; its colors, its tiaras, and all the amazing fantasies that this particular show encompasses.  Ballet Barre is a metallic grey that is inspired by, you guessed it, the barre.  The barre was important for Mary Helen to get in the collection because it is the root of all ballet practice.  
Check out the collection (at Sephora stores now!) below and some images from around the gorgeous Ballet Beautiful studio.    

From left to right: Satin Slippers, Lilac Fairy, and Ballet Barre

Wearing Ballet Barre on my hands, and Satin Slippers on my toes


Mar 22, 2016

Urban Decay Summer 2016 Collection

Every day my love for Urban Decay grows.  The new Summer 2016 collection only reinforces my love for them, because it's basically easy, glowing skin served up to you on a platter.  The collection is made up of 2 bronzers, 3 highlighters, 2 eye pencils, and a "hybrid complexion perfector" called One & Done.
 The 2 eye pencils in the collection are an addition to the 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil collection in a new frosted pink color, called Heartless, and a new 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil in a nude color, called Walk Of Shame.  If you're familiar with 24/7 pencils, you know that these are wonderfully long-wearing formulas, that glide on super creamy, but stay put all day.  The difference with these new colors is they're much more versatile than, say, a black eyeliner.  Heartless can be used to highlight the brow bone, the inner corner of the eyes, the cupid's bow, etc.  Walk Of Shame is specifically meant for the water line, but, depending on your skin tone, can also be used as a highlighter or even a concealer.   
Pictured: Heartless on the left and Walk Of Shame on the right
Beached Bronzer comes in 2 shades: Sun-Kissed for light to medium skin tones, and Bronzed for medium to dark skin tones.  Simply put, they are perfection.  Not to orange-y, and the powders are super fine so they go on smoothly.  That way you can build up color gradually, instead of feeling like you have to blend until your face is raw to make sure you don't have streak marks.  They're great for contouring, as well, because they don't have that sort of ruddy, dirty-looking tone that a lot of contour powders have.  I'm pretty lucky to be in that "medium" shade range so I can wear both colors.      
Pictured: Sun-Kissed on the left, and Bronzed on the right
Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Highlighters are the perfect addition to my favorite Afterglow blushes.   Leave it to Urban Decay to make highlighters that even novices can understand, but can also be built up to blinding levels of highlight if you want.  I'm a light touch, like "OH, HEY, YOU LOOK SO AWAKE TODAY.  WHAT DID YOU DO?" type of gal, but I have been known to get a little crazed when I find a good highlighter.  Also known as "CAN'T SEE THE HATERS BECAUSE MY HIGHLIGHT IS BLINDING" levels.  Anyways, the moral of the story is that these highlighters are great for the minimalist or the maximalist.  Sin is a champagne pop, Fireball is a peach with a secret little pink shift to it, and Aura is an iridescent pink.    
From left to right: Sin, Fireball, and Aura

And just in case you were wondering how Fireball the highlighter compares to Fireball the eyeshadow (because I was!)... It's definitely a more subtle version, so it's nice that you can build the color.  Fireball the eyeshadow is so pigmented that if you're using it as a highlighter you'd have to start with a REALLY light touch.  But they both have that peach tone with a pink shift.  Aka, they're both incredible so you can still keep both in your arsenal.  
Fireball Highlighter on the left, and Fireball eyeshadow on the right
And last, but most definitely NOT least, we must talk about Naked Skin One & Done Hybrid Complexion Perfector (SPF 20).  What's left to say that is not already in the name?  Well, though the name is telling, there's so much to discuss.  If you're a fan of Naked Skin foundation, then you already know that the finish is key.  Airbrushed, flawless skin is the name of the game.  The difference with One & Done is that it's just a little more "natural" of a finish.  Still airbrushed, still flawless, but lighter somehow.  Like a BB cream without the grease that some of them can have.  This formula is oil-free so the finish is on the matte side, but not harsh.  Totally subtle.  And there are great skincare ingredients that improve the skin with continued use, so you really can't go wrong with this formula.  Don't worry, it plays well with others.  If you have a few spots that need a little more coverage it mixes flawlessly with a little concealer.  
In the pic above I'm wearing, naturally, all Urban Decay.  I started with One & Done all over the face, then lightly "contoured" my cheekbones and forehead using Beached Bronzer.  For blush I used my favorite Afterglow 8-Hour Blush in Video, which is also great for contouring the cheekbones in a more natural way.  On the upper cheekbones, and just a little bit above my brow bone, I used the Afterglow Highlighter in Fireball.  I used a few shades from the Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani Eye Shadow Palette on my lids, and then popped my brow bone with the Afterglow Highlighter in Sin (the champagne tone).  I used Walk Of Shame on my waterline, and Heartless on the inner corner of the eyes to make me look awake, because I assure you, at 9:00 am when these pictures were taken I was certainly not awake.  To finish the whole thing off, I used the Urban Decay x Gwen Stefani lipstick in Ex-Girlfriend and just a touch of Afterglow Highlighter in Aura on my cupid's bow.  I used everything with a pretty light touch, because that's how I roll, but the colors are SUPER buildable if you want a more dramatic look.  Especially the Highlighter in Sin!  You can really strobe the hell out of your face with that shade.
Overall, the collection gets 2 giant thumbs-up from me, but I can't say that I'm really surprised!  I knew I had to have all of it the minute I saw it.     

Beauty By Benz Approved: Bumble and Bumble Bb Curl Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil

Ok, I'll be the first to say that I love this entire new Bb Curl collection (the mousse is perfection, and I use the custom conditioner every day as either a co-wash or a regular conditioner), but we need to talk about the Anti-Humidity Gel-Oil all by itself, because it's SO special.  I'm a sucker for unique formulations (maybe that's what happens when the standard formulas of the past were never successful for me?) so I'm definitely embraceful of this gel-oil formula.  Confession: it's supposed to be for people with thicker hair than me, but if I can remember to not go overboard, it works on my thin strands too.  I just have to not be a wild over-user of product, which is really hard for me.  The thing is, the oils in this absorb so well into the hair that I can use it, just like my thicker-haired friends.  It also has UV protection, which is crucial for my red hair.  It's pretty idiot-proof as well.  You just work it through damp hair and either air-dry or dry with a diffuser.  That's it.  Perfectly hydrated and controlled curls, at your service.  It smells fresh, as all Bumble products usually do, but unlike a lot of curl products, it doesn't contain silicones.  I think this is why I'm able to use it on my fine hair.  You'd think brands that make curl products would stop making formulas with silicones, because it just weighs the curls down, rather than let them be their wonderfully springy selves.  Alas, I think a lot of people feel like you sacrifice smoothing if you leave out the silicones, so many curl products are just to heavy for me.  That's why this product is a game-changer.  No sulfates, silicones, or alcohol in this formula!  It's a rare breed.  Instead of heavy silicones, this formula has a trademarked HydraSculpt Blend polymer that controls your strands without leaving them weighed down.  Then the moisture comes from a blend of Brazilian oils like Brazil Nut and Babassu oil.
If you're a curly girl, I'd definitely check out this product, even if your hair is on the finer side, like mine is.            
I realize it's random, but I really enjoy that the product always bounces back to its original shape. 

Recipe: Super Easy Rainforest Chia Pudding (plus the benefits of Spirulina)

One of the easiest meal prep ideas you can ever incorporate into your routine is chia pudding.  It's absurdly easy to make, and in five minutes you can make yourself a bunch of different chia puddings to leave in the refrigerator for your week.  I tend to make 5 chia puddings at once to pop in the fridge, and then I take them out when I'm ready to eat and top them with fresh fruit.  My general rule for chia pudding is this: 1 cup Almond milk + 3 tbsp of chia seeds.
It's so simple!  After that you can get creative and add whatever sort of deliciousness you want.  Throw in some nut butter, or your favorite protein powder or edible beauty powder, or, like I have done here, toss in some spirulina!  Spirulina is a blue-green algae that you usually find in powder form in any health food store.  It's a great source of amino acids, B vitamins, Vitamin A, and tons of other good stuff.  The best part about it, in my opinion, is that if you don't overdo it, it basically tastes like nothing.  IT DOES NOT TASTE LIKE IT LOOKS!  There's nothing overly green-tasting about it.  This is not like making a smoothie with kale, folks.  The benefits of spirulina aren't just for the body though.  The skin loves some spirulina as well, so I like to use this Spirulina Toner from EmerginC Scientific Organics.  It balances skin PH and improves overall skin tone with spirulina, white tea, aloe, green tea, kombucha, and tons of other great ingredients.  If you're getting your spirulina fix on the inside, you might as well use it on the outside too!
For my super easy "rainforest" chia pudding, the prepwork tastes less than five minutes.  Just make your chia pudding and sit in the fridge overnight.  In the morning when you're ready to eat, top with fun, fresh fruits.

Rainforest Chia Pudding 

3 tablespoon Chia Seeds
1 cup Almond Milk (or favorite nut milk)
1 teaspoon Spirulina Powder 

Optional Toppings:
1/4 cup Coconut Yogurt
Sweetener, such as honey or agave

Directions: Mix chia seeds, almond milk, and spirulina powder in a mason jar or tupperware.  Leave in fridge overnight.  In the morning, when you're ready to eat, top with fresh fruit and/or coconut yogurt.  I find that I don't need any sweetener when I top with fresh fruit, but a tablespoon of honey never hurt anyone.  Sub the honey for agave if you're vegan.   

Important note: don't use more than 1 teaspoon or Spirulina Powder.  When used in the appropriate amounts, the powder has hardly any taste, but if you use too much it can be quite pungent.  

Mar 14, 2016

Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Quads

Your wallet is going to hate me for this.  When I first saw a sneak peek at the new Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Quads I thought "hey, no biggie.  I have the original Shade + Light Contour Palette, so I'm golden".  But I'm NOT good, because the new quads are completely different shades, and, dare I say it?  They might be prettier than the original.  I wish I could sit here and tell you that you don't need to buy these because they're close to the original palette, but that would be a lie.  If you don't already have the original Shade + Light palette, these little quads are a great intro into the whole world of eye contouring at $26 a piece.  Each palette has a Base, Highlight, Contour, and Define shade, along with instructions on how to create various eye effects.  These are out in Sephora stores in April.      

The Sage quad is a really easy to understand palette.  It comes with a warm Base shade, a Define shade of the prettiest green, a creamy taupe Contour shade, and then a light-colored Highlight shade.  

The Smoke quad is exactly what one would expect from a smoky eye palette, especially one from Kat Von D.  The surprise for me here though was the cool-toned taupe Base shade.  I LOVE this taupe and find it really hard to find a cool-toned one. 
The Rust quad blew me away.  The pink Base shade basically melted into my skin, as you can see from the swatch below.  I know I have pink undertones, but whoa.  Is this the perfect Base shade for me or what?  But really, the all-star is this rust color.  It's so pretty and pigmented and perfect.  I should mention here that all of the colors glide on so smoothly, in case you're not already familiar with the texture of Kat Von D eyeshadows.  If you pair with Kat's new Lock It Color Correcting Eyeshadow Primer, you're not going to believe the creaminess and the long wear.   

The Plum quad is really just a perfect way to do purples.  This is a good one to try if you've ever been scared of purple.  It has a great pinky-purple Base shade, a deep plum Define shade, a universally pretty mauve Contour shade, and then a light Highlight shade. 

In case you want to see how these quads compare to the original Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette, let's have a look at how some of the shades compare. 
The original palette is basically a neutrals palette.  While all the colors in it are delicious, if you want pops of color, you have to go with the new quads.  They are a great color addition to an already awesome collection of nudes. 


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