Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best Kept Secrets: Beauty Schools

In college I was poor.

I just graduated...and I'm still poor. I'm going to go ahead and make the assumption that most college students or recent graduates couldn't keep up with their weekly manicures. So, we buy our own polish and just do it ourselves, which is fine, but it's so much better done professionally. Am I right? I can barely color inside the lines, you don't want to see me do my own mani and pedi. 

So, one day over Christmas break, my mother gave me this amazing idea to go to the local beauty school -- Empire Beauty School. They are the nation's leading beauty school and have over 100 locations. They also offer salon services to the public. AND THEY ARE CHEAP. You can't beat Empire's prices. 

Empire offers hair, skin and nail services at their student salon. The most expensive hair service? Hair extensions: $50. That is insane! I have friends that have spent thousands on extensions. Skin misbehaving lately? Treat yourself to a spa facial for $30. The prices are insane, check out the rest of the guest services here

My mom and I both got a spa manicure and pedicure that costed $28 each. A "spa" mani/pedi combo at any actual spa could cost more than $100. The spa mani/pedi at Empire includes an arm and foot/leg massage, a mask and polish. I'm not sure if it was the location closest to us, but there were only five polishes to select from. So, just in case you're unsatisfied with the colors they provide, I'd bring your own. And if you're anything like me, you have tons of polishes that you don't even use yourself! 

I also got a facial at this same location. Now, I knew this would be below par when the student told me it was his first time. There was no facial "experience." There was just cleansing, toning and moisturizing, which I could've done myself in my sleep. I think I only got the basic facial, so the spa facial could be better. 

Looking at the menu, I'm intrigued by their hair services. I'm feeling black violet hair color right now. For $25, I can't say no! 

The overall performance on each service definitely depends on the student. Some students are better with hair, while other are better with skin. My tip is to personally request someone who has more experience in the service you're looking to get. Empire is definitely a place where I'll go if I need weekly upkeep, but if there is an event or I need extra pampering time, I'll probably go somewhere else. 

I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick :: Audrey Hepburn 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Turn Offs and Let Downs

Honestly, anticipating something to be so great, and having it not live up to your expectations, is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. One second your intrigued, the next your disappointed. In these circumstances I'm talking about beauty products.

Nivea's Raspberry Rose Kiss
I fell in love with the lip butter in Vanilla & Macadamia Kiss and when so many people were raving about Raspberry Rose, I had to buy it. As soon as I left the store and got in to my car, I couldn't wait! So, I opened it up right away and smelled the wise words of Janice Ian, it smelt like a "baby prostitute." I was expecting it to smell like a unique combination of raspberry and rose, but it smells like the generic raspberry ice cream you get at your local bodega. I'm not pleased, but I do use it because the product itself is amazing, buttery and is the best lip product out there right now. However, Rapsberry Rose Kiss does not get my kiss of approval.

Estee Lauder's Take It Away Total Makeup Remover 
Not a fan. It doesn't wipe makeup off of your face as well as wipes or oil cleansers. It leaves a residue that feels like a moisturizer, but it takes away from your actual cleanser doing its job. It's not unusual to see leftover makeup on my cotton pad when applying toner. That is not okay! Makeup removers should leave your face completely makeup-free. That's that. The one situation in which this makeup remover is effective is in removing long-wearing lipstick. Personally, I like my makeup removers to, you know, remove my makeup. On to the next one. 

Maybelline's Color Tattoo in "Too Cool" and "Bold Gold" 
Maybelline really killed it with these cream shadows, but Too Cool and Bold Gold seem to have gotten shafted. Neither of these are as smooth and easy to apply as the rest of the colors in this line. It seems that the sparkles make the product gritty and chunky, which isn't the ideal texture for a shadow...especially a cream shadow! 
Stila's Stay All Day Foundation & Concealer 
I was looking for a full coverage foundation that would stay put while I danced during football season, so I was recommended this product. My review might be a little skewed because I was definitely color-matched incorrectly, but it's hard to love something when it looks terrible. The color is orange. No matter how tan someone is, no one is actually the color of a pumpkin (unless you went a little self-tanner-crazy). The concealer is too thick compared to this foundation so it just doesn't blend well together. The concealer is also the same exact shade as the foundation and most people know that concealer should be slightly lighter. Instead of hiding imperfections, it seems like this foundation flaunts them. Not okay. 

Juice Beauty's Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream in Warm Glow
I was so excited to try this product because it was the first "CC Cream" I had ever heard of and I love Juice Beauty products. Making this short and sweet, the scent is too strong and the texture is creepy. Yes, creepy. It feels like a sticky primer mixed with hair mousse.

Maybelline's Baby Lips
Not worth the hype. I don't feel like this lip balm is deeply moisturizing and it tastes like plastic. I like my lip balms to sink into my lips and feel like they are hydrating. Baby Lips doesn't cut it.

Benefit's Erase Paste 
I love brightening my under eyes. I strictly use yellow, peach and salmon-toned concealers so I was excited when my friend gave me this "brightening camouflage for eyes." This is definitely brightening, but it creases like no other. Concealers shouldn't crease under the eyes and I wasn't expecting this from Benefit. It's too creamy to be used on the under eye area, so all of the product collects in your fine lines. This was a huge disappointment.

Model Co's Fibre Lashxtend Mascara
Um, did I just put on mascara? That's what I first thought when I applied this mascara. It doesn't add length. It doesn't add volume. I'm a little confused...

Stila's All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer 
This would've been great when I was 12. It's too sparkly to be called a luminizer. It's unfortunate because I love the pink champagne color, but that completely blends away on your face and you're just left with awkward glitter. Obviously the name "All Over Shimmer" should've been a giveaway, but this came in my BirchBox so I figured it had to be good. False.

Organix Hyrdrating Macadamia Oil Intensive Moisture Mask 
I love Organix hair products, but something's off with their masks. This isn't the first mask I've tried by them and have been left dissatisfied. With the craze of macadamia oil circulating around the beauty community, but my college budget, I decided that Organix would be a great substitute. I was clearly wrong. It's not rich, hydrating, and not even detangling. There is no reason that after a mask I shouldn't be able comb smoothly through my hair. I can't wait for a real job so I can afford the good stuff. Sorry, Organix.

Keep your heels, head and standards high. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Fake It: I Didn't Go Out Last Night...

Ouch...that's how I'm feeling this morning. 

Your alarm clock goes off and all you're begging for is an extra 15 minutes...okay half hour of shut-eye. Once you get up, the first thing you do is either go to the bathroom or go for the kitchen to eat some carbs and chug water. It's not helping your hangover and it's certainly not helping what you look like.

How do you keep your boss or professors from noticing that you're fighting off getting sick in public? Easy. And I'll tell you. 

Take Care
Chances are you skin is dull and your eyes are puffy. Exfoliate your skin too refresh and brighten your face (I like to use my clarisonic with a gel cleanser). If you're eyes are puffy, cold spoons work magic! If you don't keep your spoons in the freezer (who really does), then green tea works well too. Steep two bags in hot water for five minutes and then let them cool until they are luke warm and safe to put on your eyes. The tea reduces swelling, soothes irritation and constricts blood vessels. Bye-bye puffy eyes! 

Cover Up
You're not cute when you wake up hungover. Be honest with yourself. You need makeup. So, after the regular skin care routine (read my Wake of Shame post for some good skin care info), cover up! You will need a BB Cream or Foundation -- depending on the coverage you wear daily -- to make up for all of the mistakes you made last night. If you want a lighter, more natural coverage, Dior is the BB Cream God. They have three: DiorSnow, HydraLife and Diorskin Nude. Diorskin Nude is their newest and most versatile BB Cream because it comes in five shades. It also is enhanced with mineralized floral water and antioxidants which will provide soothing coverage. But, all of their BB creams are simply amazing. If you need more coverage,  try Urban Decay's Naked Skin. It's a foundation, but has a more sheer coverage that won't make you look cake-y during the daytime. 

Color Correct
Your under eyes are proof that you're running on four, three, zero hours of sleep. Use color corrector to counteract those dark circles of shame. Bobbi Brown is the queen of color correctors. Her Corrector comes in peach or pink-based shades to neutralize dark circles. 

Bronzed & Beautiful 
Or blushed & beautiful...either way, you need some added color to your skin. For bronze, opt for something matte like NYC's Sunny bronzer. You don't need to contour, just sweep the bronzer across your forehead, along your cheeks/cheekbones, on your nose and chin. Choose a natural blush that mimics your natural flush, like a peach or pink. Rimmel's Autumn Catwalk or NARS Gina are great colors. 

Lips Need to Blush too
Healthy lips usually are brighter and pinker. Of course, all lips have their own natural way of "blushing" or giving off signs of healthiness. Luckily, Dior has created a product to force our lips to look healthy, while keeping them...healthy. How many times can I use the word healthy in this blog post? Anyway, Dior's Lip Glow enhances your natural lip color, while moisturizing and protecting with SPF 10. 

Live fast. Die young. Be wild. And have fun :: Lana Del Ray

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Love My BB!

Once again I was given an amazing product to review for free, thanks to the wonderful BzzAgent. I received the Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Oil-Free BB Cream shortly after spring break, and coming back from Miami was a huge bummer, but I was so excited to try this product when I received it in the mail! Ever since I got this, I've been using it most of the time over my other BB creams...and trust me I have a lot, from Dior to Maybelline. 

It's no secret that BB creams have been the new hype since they hit the Asian beauty markets a few years ago, but now with virtually every high-end and drugstore brand releasing their new BB creams, how do you know which to choose from? 

BB stands for blemish balm, and the point of these multi-use wonder products is to offer some sort of skin benefit like a skin care product, while offering coverage like a tinted moisturizer. The BB creams in Asia act like skin-brighteners, lightener's and blemish-fighters--since they've hit the US market, some brands have managed to overlook the point of BB creams (they make a tinted moisturizer with SPF and call it a BB Cream). 

However, Garnier has managed to create a fantastic BB cream that lives up to most BB creams' expectation's. 

Garnier's Miracle Skin Perfector Oil-Free BB Cream is their new multi-wonder product that fixes a variety of skin concerns: controls shine, minimizes pores, evens skin tone, hydrates and protects with SPF 20. 

This is meant for combination to oily skin and comes in three shades: Light/Medium, Medium/Deep, and Deep. Now, thinking that it would be after spring break, I decided to order the Medium/Deep. Boy, was I off. I'm not the tannest Asian out there, but I have the typical yellow skin tone and would not be considered "light". So, I was surprised to see how
 borderline orange this product was. Luckily, since I have a stash of BB creams, I found a light color to mix it with and it fixed the problem. That is just about the only complaint I have about this product, but there are a few things I found that differed on my skin than what was stated on the product. 

It's supposed to leave a matte-finish, but I personally don't think it does. The only products that really have the ability to leave a matte-finish are usually foundations because of their heavier consistency and ability to dry matte. I have no issue with this though! I don't like the look of a matte-finish because I like some dimension on my face. This makes the product more natural-looking. 

The best part of this product? It's a dupe for Lancome's Teint Idole Fresh Wear. It has the same consistency, staying power and also contains SPF, but the Garnier BB cream is much less expensive. 

I would definitely recommend this product to anyone, even those who don't have combination to oily skin, who is looking for a product to use on a daily basis. Because it contains SPF, I would apply this on days or nights when I'm expecting to take pictures. This is one of the best drugstore BB creams I have tried yet. 

Instant perfect. An all-in-one miracle.