Walgreens Haul, Makeup Edition!

I know, I know. But those Balance Rewards points keep racking up, and what’s a girl to do? I seriously had over $250 worth of points!! So I did what any normal girl would do – took an audit of my makeup collection and used my rewards points to fill in the holes.

walgreens BR order
I am OBSESSED with these L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows. As you know, I’ve had Amber Rush for awhile, and after rediscovering it last month, had a total one-track mind when it came to acquiring some of the other colors. The green (above left) is Golden Sage, and the brown (above right) is Bronzed Taupe. Both are shimmery pots of gorgeousness, with amazing long-lasting wear. I seriously can’t say enough good things about these shadows. They give eyes depth and polish, without having to do a whole involved eyeshadow routine – I just gently pat my index finger into the product and tap lightly all over my lids. If I’m feeling fancy, I take a highlighter shade and buff the color up above my creases. I don’t even have to use primer! And 10 to 12 hours later, after a long workday, my eye makeup looks just as pretty as it did in the morning when I applied it. AH. MAY. ZING.

walgreens mini haul slices
A close up look at my goodies. From left to right:

Milani Easy Brow Automatic Pencil – I love double-ended products, especially double-ended brow products. The pencil is deeply pigmented – this is Dark Brown 02 – so I advise going in with a light hand. It’s perfect for the tail end of my brows, which tend to be non-existent and need darkening. And the spoolie brush is perfection – it packs a punch and gets every last unruly hair into place. I’m using this every day and loving it.

Milani Illuminating Facial Powder in Hermosa Rose 02 – When reviewing my makeup collection, I realized that I didn’t own a really good neutral blush. I have corals, hot pinks, rosy pinks, all kinds of pinks actually, but nothing that ran more towards the nude pink end of the spectrum. This is one I’ve had my eye on for awhile, and I must say, it’s absolutely gorgeous in person. The powder is pressed into overlapping roses, and has hues of light brown, nude pink, and champagne. I like to swirl my big fluffy Sonia Kashuk blush brush in it, and tap on the apples of my cheeks and up towards my temples. The result is very subdued and neutral, and leaves me with a perfectly flushed face, which makes it perfect to pair with more dramatic eye or lip looks.

L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Balm for Lips in Nourishing Nude – I am not, nor will I probably ever be, a lipstick person. But this is not technically a lipstick, but rather a balm. The color is almost exactly my lip shade but a little deeper, and it goes on smooth and creamy. Does NOT dry out my lips, as many lip products tend to do, and it looks natural. I highly recommend this, especially if you are lipstick-averse like I am. It’s a nice way to have a more polished lip without going full on lipstick.

And finally, all the way to the right in the collage above, a better look at that gorgeous Golden Sage eyeshadow.

swatches walgreens BR order
I hardly ever do swatches because unless you have the exact same coloring as I do, it’s probably not very helpful. But these shadows are so amazing, I had to swatch and share. From left – Bronzed Taupe, Golden Sage, Milani Brow.

And there you have it, a pretty nice makeup haul, if I do say so myself! How about you – any great makeup hauls lately? What are you buying and loving right now? Let me know!


A High Street Wish List

Last month, a good friend of mine was traveling to England. Putting my intense jealousy aside, I immediately thought of a way she could make it up to me for traveling to my favorite place in the world without me – bring me back some Brit beauty goodies!

After perusing some of my favorite British beauty blogs and doing some investigative research on Boots UK website, here’s the wish list and instructions that I sent over…

1. Bourjois Paris Happy Light Matte Serum Primer – only comes in one color, just be sure to get the *matte* version and not *radiant*.
2. L’Oreal Paris Miss Manga Mascara in Violet – they just came out with this here, but not in the colors. And violet looks so fun!!
3. Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless 3 in 1 Foundation in “Natural” or “Beige” (whatever you thinks look like the best fit) OR Bourjois 1,2,3 Perfect Foundation in “53 Beige Clair” (just one or the other – whatever is cheapest or you can find)

wish list text

The only thing I love more than a good British drugstore find? Sending passive-aggressive emoji texts…

boots haul

Here’s the final result of the haul – this was a pic of my goodies to tide me over until she actually got them packaged up and in the mail to me. There was much rejoicing throughout the land when they finally arrived – I’ve been using all three regularly and will be reporting back with an in-depth review soon!

How about you – any beauty goodies from abroad that you are coveting?


Birchbox May 2014: A [bijou] Review

My latest Birchbox contained some great products, and also illustrated an important concept that even a self-professed beauty snob like myself must take to heart – an expensive or luxury product does NOT necessarily mean that it is going to perform better or work miracles.

bijou may 14 birchbox
The striped insides of the box were a fun twist. I think this somehow tied to the Kate Spade Saturday “theme” but to be completely honest with you, I never have paid too much attention to the themes or inserts because they never seem to really be that important to the overall products received.

bijou May 14 Bb swatches
Swatches of the Pixi lip balm and Cynthia Rowley eyeliner.

Here’s the full contents of my box and my thoughts on each:

Kérastase Cristalliste Bain Cristal Thick – Cleanse (Shampoo) and Treat (Conditioner) – Kerastase is by all accounts, a luxury, upscale brand. At roughtly $40 a pop, this is definitely not cheap. Accordingly, I was expecting it to perform. Best case scenario, I would have the gossamer threads of an angel post-shower, worst case scenario, it would still be an excellent product because it costs so dang much. But guess what? The shampoo left my hair knotted and tangled beyond belief, to the point that the conditioner was of no help whatsoever. But honestly, the conditioner was so wimpy, I don’t think it would have made much a difference in my hair no matter what shampoo I used. For the hair I ended up with, I might as well just used the 99 cent bargain bin stuff. Very disappointing, and definitely turns me off on trying any other Kerastase products in the future. But at the very least, I guess it was good to be able to sample them in this setting, so I didn’t have to waste $40 on a bottle of horrible shampoo.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream – Absolutely lovely scent, and fun to try. This will definitely be going on vacation with me this summer. I don’t think I would give up on my beloved eos to get a full sized version of this, though.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eyeliner – This eyeliner is amazing. See the swatch above? I swatched this the evening I got my box in the mail. It was STILL there, 18 hours later, after cooking dinner and doing dishes, taking a shower, and numerous other things. It’s super creamy and makes for a great metallic eye look. I was very glad to receive this in silver and not black or another neutral. I didn’t already have a silver eyeliner in my collection, and this is a very welcome addition.

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm – I received this in “Pixi Pink”, an extremely bright pink. It’s a little too bright for my tastes, but it goes on nicely and is very pigmented. I’ve been using it as a first layer, with another gloss or lipstick on top to tone it down a notch.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Overnight Detox Oil – Caudalie is a brand that I’ve tried before, and I really like their products. They are natural without being over hippie-dippy (apologies to anyone that might offend) and luxurious to boot. Not many other brands I can think of do that combination, or do it as well as Caudalie does. I’m always a little hesitant to use oil on my face, given my history of acne issues, but this seems to hydrate my face without overdoing it. It stinks like crazy, but I kind of feel like that means its working, as crazy as that sounds.

How about you – anything luxurious or luxuriously disappointing in your box this month?


Brushing Up

About two months ago, we started getting really obsessed with learning about makeup brushes. After going through every palette, kit, and other products with brushes that we had, here was our brush collection:

brushing up
Hmmm. Not *too* shabby for makeup novices, but it definitely need some brushing up (ha) and rounding out to make it a little bit more functional for us.

There’s nothing we love more than reading other beauty blogs to research products/ideas, so we powered up and started reading. Kate over at The Small Things (one of our faves – we want her hair!!) has some great posts about brushes – not only what you need to start out, but what you can add over time to round our your collection. Beautylish and Refinery29 also have some great info on brushes – types, brands and where to start.

Pretty much everything we read recommended two brands above all others – at least in terms of affordable, in-our-range brushes – Sonia Kashuk (Target) and Real Techniques (Walgreens, WalMart).

We picked up a 5 piece kit from Sonia that has a foundation brush (kit no longer online but similar brush can be found here) that – no joke – changed our life. Foundation goes on evenly, lasts longer, and looks like perfection. All 5 brushes are soft beyond belief with fancy printed handles that make us feel like we paid $100 instead of $12 for these.

With our recent Walgreens order, we picked up the Real Techniques Core Collection which is a set of four face brushes. While we wish the foundation brush were a bit bigger, the blush/powder and highlighter brushes (second from right and far right in the pic below) are absolutely fantastic.

real techniquesAll in all, if you haven’t jumped on the brush bandwagon, we’d heartily recommend it. It makes sense – if you want your makeup to look good and be long lasting, it helps to have the right tools. Actually, we think if we had figured this out earlier in life, we wouldn’t have had such a love/hate relationship with makeup! C’est la vie, though.

What are your favorite brush brands or types? Do tell!


Operation Reorganize

During August, which was our first ever “no-buy” month, we embarked on a huge organizing streak. There’s something about not being the self-imposed mandate of not being able to buy anything that makes it necessary (and rewarding!) to go through what you already have. We took an inventory, and really re-examined what our personal pitfalls are (for birdie, it’s hair products; for bijou, it’s nail polish).

Part of reorganizing was moving things around in a way that makes sense and keeps them visible. We know that’s a very “duh!” statement, but think about it: of course we keep on buying products we don’t really need – because it’s hard to remember that you shouldn’t buy that pretty, shimmery brown eye shadow when the ten you already have are stuffed in the back of your overstuffed makeup drawer.

organized drawer
This is an after pic … the before pic was accidentally deleted, but just imagine a much messier, crammed full drawer.

Here are a few things we tried:
De-potting eyeshadows and blushes, to have a much better view of what we have.
– Re-using adorable candle jars – we used this tutorial here, thanks Gemsmaquillage! – to make pretty storage containers for our eyeliners and brushes
– Completely revamping the way our makeup drawer was set up, and using up several of the empty Birchboxes we’d been hoarding
– Taking an actual inventory of everything we had in our stash: makeup, hair products, and skincare. We used Evernote, which is a great app we already had. It’s easy to access on phones, so the next time we are contemplating a bronzer, we can pull up our list and see that we actually already have ten bronzers, thankyouverymuch.

Tell us – have you ever had a successful no-buy month and/or gone on an organizing binge? How do you manage your stash?