Pin of the Day: Franken Nails

Courtesy of nailfilesfromthebasement.blogspot.com

How fun are these for a Halloween Party? Find some bright green polish and use a nail art pen (or a thin sharpie!) to paint on the stitches. I have found a lot of great Halloween nail ideas…perhaps another Inspiration Board is on the way? These are on my Ghosts and Ghouls Board.

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Kaia Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths

I liked these cleansing cloths. I love the way they smell and the way they feel – so soft!

I tried these against the wipes I currently use, the Yes to Cucumbers wipes. I used these on one half of my face and my usual on the other half. If you dare, I did post a before and after on my twitter account.

I was pleased with how these worked, but I don’t feel they worked better than the other (much cheaper) wipes. They were easy on my sensitive eyes, but I did not find them more effective at removing even my eye makeup. Overall if you’re looking for a quality, gentle, effective facial cleaning cloth I would recommend these as an option but my bottom line is that I’m sticking with the less expensive option.

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Stila Spring Palettes

As part of my June Bloom Beauty Ambassador Kit, I got to try out 2 of Stila’s Spring Palettes: In the Garden and In the Moment. They are $39 at Bloom.com. I think it’s a great price for an assortment of 10 eyeshadows.

In The Garden Palette

In the Garden is a collection of botanical- inspired shades. They are all shimmery, which was not my favorite – I like matte eyeshadows as well and when you are buying a collection of 10 different eyeshadows, I would prefer some variation. Here is a look I did using “nectar”, “sage”, “moss”, and “juniper” shades:

 

I love posting creepy close-ups of my eyes. Next…

In The Moment Palette

In the Moment has light baby pinks, pale lavenders, deep plums, mid-tone neutrals, and sparkly black. It was definitely my favorite of the two. Here is the look I did using the “instinct”, “impulse”, and “glance” shades:

Like I said, I liked them both, but In the Moment was definitely my favorite! As someone who does not wear heavy makeup everyday, I was pleased that these are not super potent and to get them very dark you need to apply quite a lot. Perfect for spring!

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Lashfood Mascara and Eyeliner

The LashFood love affair continues! As a Bloom.com Beauty Ambassador I also got to try their Conditioning Drama Mascara and Conditioning Liquid Eyeliner

I was so impressed with my Nano-Peptide Natural Eyelash Conditioner that I was very excited to see how their other products worked. They lived up to my expectations! My favorite thing is that they are TRULY black – the color is deep and rich and makes your eyes POP! When you consider the added benefit of them being from LashFood, I think I just found a new mascara. It is a big brush, and I usually prefer smaller bristles, but this one separates and defines your lashes beautifully. It really gives you that “falsies” look (when you aren’t wearing your Winks of course 😉 ).

I am hopeless at putting liquid eyeliner on, but I managed for the last couple days and it really stays in place and stays very bold all day. The brush is really similar to the brush in the conditioner, so it delivers the perfect thickness of liner to your lashes.

The only thing I did not like about these products is when it comes to removal – they are SOLIDLY on your face, haha. If you have ever used Blinc mascara the removal of this is really similar. It comes off, but I use makeup remover towelettes and you really have to rub to get it off. It kind of flakes off instead of dissolving. It does come off, though so I think it is a minor complaint considering all the great things about it!

LashFood is definitely my new go-to for all things eyes – I am going to try out the Nano-Peptide Natural Eyebrow Conditioner! I can’t WAIT to see how that works!

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Alchimie Forever Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask

I recently got to try another amazing product from Bloom.com: Alchimie Forever Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask. It’s an ultra-soothing and hydrating mask that leaves your face looking bright and fresh.

I have liked this brand for a long time. They use some ingredients I could live without (particularly Tocopheryl Acetate and Benzyl Alcohol in this formulation) but all in all I think this is a great product.

The consistency is wonderful, and it is flesh-colored so you don’t look totally scary when you’re wearing it. It’s a bit of a time commitment to use it, the instructions recommend 15-20 minutes. I know it’s really not that long, but it feels like it when you have to sit around! It may be a good treatment for a rainy day…

When I washed the mask off, my face was slightly splotchy but it resolved itself within a few minutes. My theory is that the mask is really very invigorating and increased blood flow to my face, so it was not so much a skin reaction as much as it was simple flushing.

The results from this mask were great. The only drawback for me is that there are a lot of similar products, some of which I own, that also give similar results. I still definitely recommend it because I felt the results lasted longer than others (and why can’t there be another great product out there?). My skin truly was brighter and so smooth – I was impressed. It retails for $60, and I think for the amount of product you get it is well worth the money – you will get many uses out of one jar.

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Lashfood Conditioner

I’m back! And I have a lot of wonderful products to review from Bloom.com! The first is one I’ve been working on for awhile – LashFood Nano-Peptide Natural Eyelash Conditioner. I started using this back in April since it takes several weeks to get results. (and you do see them!) It’s like a non-prescription, all-natural “Latisse” – designed to strengthen, lengthen, and otherwise enhance your lashes. I like the ingredients and who doesn’t want longer, stronger, fuller lashes?

You simply apply a thin line to your lash line (like eyeliner) every night before bed. It felt wet for a bit, but after it dried, I did not notice it at all!

I applied the conditioner religiously and I would say I started to see real results in 4 weeks. My lashes are definitely longer but more than that, I noticed that they were stronger and that they do not fall out as much – they hardly ever fall out at all. They don’t just look different, they feel very different and that is something only I would notice, but it makes a big difference. I am disappointed that my pictures really do not do it justice!

before

after

I thought I had good lashes, but now they are great! My best evidence is that when I was at the dentist last week, the hygienist actually made it a point to comment that I had really thick lashes. I can honestly say I had never received that compliment before! (I told her my secret). I’m pinning it to my Green Goddess Board too!

I loved this product and I really was not sure that I would. I saw real results, and the $80 price tag seems worth it to me. I definitely recommend it!

Cheers,

Caroline

Review: Winks by Georgie False Lashes!

It’s time for me to review my second Bloom.com Beauty Ambassador Kit! This time it was all about the eyes, with a set of Winks by Georgie false lashes and a tube of Lashfood. I will have to review the Lashfood in a separate post because it takes awhile to see results, but I am all about these falsies today!

I received Style no.2, “L’Avant Gardiste”.  They also have 2 other styles available at Bloom.com. The instructions on the site are thorough and really helpful. The packaging is gorgeous and I love that you get a nice clean and convenient compact to store your lashes!

Gorgeous, right?

As always, I did a quick ingredient check. These lashes are free of formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances. They are dermatologist tested and PETA and vegan certified. The adhesive is made of USDA certified organic blue chamomile, which soothes delicate skin and ensures maximum adhesion of lashes along with natural latex, a new technology to remove allergens found in other latex products. It’s made with the first and only botanically-infused adhesive. So…green light!

Now I had to get down to business. I was a little wary because I have only attempted to apply false lashes once before and it was a disaster. Even at my wedding, when a pro was applying them, my eyelids got glued together and it was, you know, a disaster.

Check the lashes before you apply them to see if they will fit your eye. These fit mine, but you can trim them a bit if they are too big. I love the tube of glue – it works really nicely. A big glob did come out at first, but then I just spread it over the lash and it worked great. Since these are reusable, I recommend using a clean q-tip to spread the glue so you don’t get any bacteria on the glue tube itself. Here’s a pic of how much glue I applied:

I read up on Bloom.com for tips on applying falsies. I didn’t know that you are supposed to do your eye makeup before applying these, and if you put mascara on them it will actually make them wear out faster. Trust me, you don’t need to add mascara – they look great!

The best tip was once you have the glue on the lashes, wait about 30 seconds so that the glue can get a little tacky. I think that is really what makes the difference – plus you decrease the chance of glue dripping in your eye.

They weren’t tough to position since the glue is sticky but not dry you have a little time to make sure you get them on just right. However, if you move them too much the glue doesn’t stick at all. On my first attempt, I didn’t get the glue to stick to the outside corner of my eye, which you can kind of tell in this picture (you can see the line where the lashes didn’t stick on the left). Then I realized I put the left lash on my right eye. duh. This may have had something to do with my troubles.

falsies. backwards.

So, I tried again. And the second time, they were perfect. They were also on the correct eye. Cue creepy eye close-ups.

Can you tell I'm smiling?

They were also very comfortable. The only other time I have worn falsies I was totally aware of them until the moment I removed them. I forgot I was wearing these. When I was done, the lashes peeled right off. It wasn’t painful, and they didn’t take any of my natural lashes with them.  To remove any excess adhesive from your eyelids, the manufacturer recommends using a tiny bit of olive oil on a cotton swab.

Needless to say, I am really impressed. I am going to pick up the other styles to see how they look. They retail for $28 and I think it is well worth it, since they are reusable.  I can’t wait for my next excuse to get glamorous – I will definitely be donning these!

Cheers,

Caroline

The Rainy Day Box and Green Beauty

Recently I announced I was chosen as a Bloom.com Beauty Ambassador! I am incredibly honored and totally excited to start posting reviews! Look for my first one this afternoon.

Before I post, I want to make myself heard on one issue I am incredibly passionate about and one that will make it’s way into every review I write: Green Beauty. You can check out products and companies I think are fabulous and green on my Green Goddess Board.

What it is:

I’m a huge fan and advocate of “green beauty”, meaning I believe quality beauty products should be free from harsh synthetic chemicals including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), fragrances or dyes, should be friendly to the environment, and should never be tested on animals. That doesn’t mean I have a completely green routine (yet!) or that I don’t occasionally get “duped” too. It’s a huge amount of information to take in and understand. It’s hard, y’all.

Who I am:

Before I preach about these issues, I’ll give you a little background about myself: Back when I was a grad student studying Public Health education (think designing smoking cessation classes and breast cancer support groups), I read case study after case study on topics I thought were no big deal and finding out how big an impact they actually have on you and the world around you. I learned to design health-related programs, which is actually really tricky because you have to make it easy for people to access and even easier for them to participate. If you’re trying to do something that’s already tough (like giving up smoking…or giving up your favorite blush, no judgement!) anything that stands in your way will be just another reason to give up. Especially if you don’t totally believe what you’re doing is bad for you.

Moving toward green beauty is the same. The beauty industry is totally saturated with every product imaginable and some of it is great, can’t-live-without-it stuff. Some of that same stuff is filled with harmful substances. Once you decide to “go green”, where do you start? As soon as you find out your favorite shampoo is packed with Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), you might be ready to throw in the turbie twist. I understand, I really do. I hate bad hair days.  Things will stand in your way on the journey to green beauty, and it’s up to you to decide what to do about it. My goal is to help sort through some of the confusion and give you the bottom line on these products.

Why I care:

For those of you who have never even thought about the ingredients in your cosmetics, or those of you who have but still need to know more, there are a lot of resources. We need help! But it is hard to find. Sometimes there is conflicting information. Sometimes you’ll find out that NARS Orgasm Blush has enough chemicals to burn your face off. Sometimes I just buy it and use it anyway. Sometimes I freak out and think I shouldn’t really be using it and then I use another blush I don’t like as much and then get mad that NARS doesn’t just remove the BHA, triclosan, and parabens. Sometimes I look GREAT in that color, ok? I digress.

If you look at the “Black List” from Julie Gabriel’s Green Beauty Guide you might really start sweating. Type your favorite cosmetics into The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and you might just give up the whole endeavor.

Don’t. Let’s take it one product at a time.

What I’m going to do about it:

I’m going to review the products. If I get one that is a particularly good example of a company doing something they shouldn’t (in my opinion). I’ll write it. You take it as you will.

My reviews and recommendations will focus on 3 things: the brand behind the product, how the product performed, and how safe I feel using it.

I hope everyone shares their thoughts, tips, and resources too! Thank you for reading!

Cheers,

Caroline

Website to Watch: Birchbox

Meet Birchbox, a beauty subscription service that delivers deluxe samples to your door every month…for just $10!

I have been a Birchbox member since December of 2010. Since then, I have seen the company grow and change in so many ways! Every month I look forward to seeing that pink box in my mail…it is always full of great stuff! Don’t just think makeup: it’s all beauty products, (face, body, nails, hair), but also great fragrances, beauty tools, lifestyle products (tea, snacks, laundry detergent, notebooks, mp3 downloads), you name it! When you find something you can’t live without, you can buy the full size in their shop.

Here’s the thing: To subscribe to Birchbox, you need to have an open mind. Sometimes what you get will not thrill you. Your Birchbox is only $10, shipped to your door, and I believe my subscription is well worth the money. Here is a photo of my March Box:

It contained a Twistband Hair Tie, a sample of Annick Goutal Petite Cherieessie® Luxeffects Nail Polish (I got “set in stones”!), Shiseido Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Papers, and tarte LipSurgence™ lip tint. Both the nail polish and the tarte lip tint were full-size. That is worth $10, no?

You many notice the Teen Vogue logo on the box. Birchbox often partners with other companies (Like BaubleBar!) So I’ll begin my review of Birchbox’s features with partnerships!

Partnerships and Promos:

Birchbox does a great job of connecting you with other amazing companies. Off the top of my head, I remember collaborations with Cynthia Rowley, BaubleBar, Poppin, and Teen Vogue. When you go to buy products in their shop, check to see if they have any kind of promo happening, either for a free product or for extra points. I got a notebook and pen from Poppin for free once when I placed an order on Birchbox. Now I swear by their pens!

Beauty Profile:

Fill out your beauty profile to make sure Birchbox will send you samples suited to your beauty needs and preferences. A tip I’ll give about the Beauty Profile is: be careful about your answers. For example, I answered that I have curly hair. Which I do. But there was no way to add “Curly hair that I blow-dry straight”. So for months I got samples of products for curly hair. That is, for women who wear their hair curly. Once I changed it to “straight hair” I got some truly awesome samples, more than one of which I now use regularly. So really think about your answers!

Reward Points:

I love any company that rewards you for using their service. Bloom.com has their Bloom Dollars, BaubleBar has credits, and Birchbox has Points. For every 100 points you earn, you get $10 off in their store! Points add up quickly – you get points for purchasing your subscription, referring friends, answering surveys, giving feedback, and purchasing full-size versions of your samples. Make sure you review everything in your Birchbox every month to get 10 points per review!

Videos:

Birchbox has a library of videos to help you use the products that come in the box and tutorials for makeup trends. They are a great added resource even if you do not subscribe.

Blog:

Checkout Birchbox’s Blog for even more tips, to get connected to their fantastic community, and to hear about their many giveaways and prizes!

Birchbox Man:

Birchbox even has something for the men folk. Soon they are launching Birchbox Man, which has samples geared toward men. If you can convince your man to get one, good for you. I will be very interested to see what this service will offer!

So, have I convinced you? If you want to sign up, go here and start getting your beauty on!

Cheers,

Caroline

Website to Watch: Bloom.com

Bloom.com is a fabulous resource for all things makeup! They are a “Social Beauty Store” where each user contributes to the online community.

I especially love it because it is personalized! If you take some time to build your profile Bloom will generate recommendations for you based on skin type, coloring, hair type, beauty concerns, and personal beauty style, among others. Their “BEST4YOU” recommendations are based on your “beauty matches” or women whose profiles match yours.

Every user gets a “Beauty Cabinet” where all the items you have purchased show up and you can write your reviews. You can explore other users’ cabinets as well. It’s a wonderful way to see what people who have the same beauty needs as you have tried, what worked, and what didn’t. If your friends are on Bloom you can connect with them too and see what they are trying out. They have over 150 brands and are always adding more, so odds are they may have something you are looking for! I especially love that they have premium brands and less expensive drugstore brands! I swear by Maybelline falsies mascara and you can buy it on Bloom! So when you are trying to get over the $49 threshold for free shipping, you can grab stuff like that from Bloom and it comes straight to your door!

With every order you also get 3 trial size free samples. You get to pick 3 from 8-10 options and I have really loved most samples I have chosen. A great feature I have noticed is that they usually offer several products from the same line (for example both a facial cleanser and moisturizer) so you can try them together if you would like.

Ordering from Bloom is great because they guarantee their products for one full year! Their whole concept is that they do not want you to waste time or money buying the wrong beauty products ever again. All Bloom asks in return is that you share why your product didn’t work out. If you’re a VIP member (keep reading!) return shipping is free, otherwise it is $5.

Bloom Dollars:

You get at least 10% in rewards, called Bloom Dollars, on every purchase. I say at least because the site often offers promotions where you can get up to 30% back! Bloom Dollars are real dollars that go into your rewards account and can be used on any purchase. They expire 1 year from their issue date, so make sure to remember to use them up- I have paid $0 for more than one Bloom order because of my Bloom Dollars!

VIP Status:

Spend more than $100 in a 6-month period and you become a VIP! You get VIP status for the 6-month period in which you become a VIP and the next 6-month period after that. This is a little complicated. Their “6-month periods” begin in January and July, so if you joined VIP in June you would only enjoy VIP status for 1 month of the 6 month period in which you became a VIP, and then for the following 6 month period; basically from June to December. However, if you had become a VIP in January, you would have the full 6 month period in which you became a VIP and the following 6 month period as well, essentially getting VIP benefits for one year. See the difference? Make that VIP-qualifying purchase in June or July.

Let’s talk about what you get…it’s much more fun. VIPs get more promotions where you can earn extra Bloom Dollars, get exclusive access and previews of their products, a surprise birthday gift, and free shipping on returns! The best VIP perk if that if you spend more than $50, you get to pick your 3 trial size samples and 2 additional mid-size samples. If you spend $100 or more, you get 3 trial size, 2 mid-size, and 1 full-size product- absolutely free.

So, have I convinced you? Whenever I find something that I love I want to make sure not only do other people get to hear about it, but the company gets tons of customers- a company like Bloom.com definitely deserves it!

Join Bloom Today and fill out your profile, get some free samples, and start earning those Bloom Dollars!!!

Cheers,

Caroline

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