19 July, 2014

Upgrading My Makeup Collection - a comparison between Mac Violetta and Milani Violet Volt

When I first got into makeup, I wanted to buy a lot of things, so I was very into finding drugstore dupes for high- end items. If I ever spotted a high- end item I really wanted, I would always google if there was a drugstore version - specifically for lip products. My rationale was that I could buy more for less money.
A few months later, and I have definitely developed a new perspective. I am absolutely not saying that I haven't found loads of amazing drugstore products, because I definitely have. But, I also see the value in purchasing more high- end items, and the price isn't as much of a protuberance to me as it once was. This is because I have learned how long makeup lasts, and how little I actually need. I don't need five bronzers like I had in the past; I need maybe two. So, I can spend more on a quality one that would be more versatile.
A case study: I saw a picture of one of my favorite celebrities wearing a gorgeous shade of lipstick - Mac Violetta. I became obsessed with the color, but I didn't want to spend $16 dollars on the lipstick. I laugh at myself now. So, I googled drugstore dupes. I tried a lot of them, but the only one that really came close was Milani Violet Volt.
Milani Violet Volt is a gorgeous shade, but I never really stopped wanting Mac Violetta. So, I just bought it. And I am so glad that I did!
One thing to note - these shades are definitely dupes for each other. Despite how they look in the tube - even in person, Violetta looks much darker - the differences are quite unnoticeable when swatched. Both lipsticks are a lovely purple shade with a blue shimmer running through it. I really love the shade, because it is so dynamic and interesting. The blue shimmer really makes it look different in almost any light - so catching the fact that these are actually dupes was quite challenging, and you might just have to take my word for it! I must have taken about 20 pictures, but the similarities were hard to capture.
Mac Violetta on top, Milani Violet Volt on bottom
In both of these, it looks like Violetta is much darker. In person, the difference is less noticeable - but yes, Violetta is a little darker. However, if it were just down to color, I could take either one of these and be extremely happy. 
What really sets the Mac shade apart - and in my opinion, makes it the clear winner -  is everything else. Violet Volt has the classic Milani lipstick smell, which is not appealing to me. It smells very cheap and artificial - like bad perfume. I don't like smelling it on my lips. Thankfully the smell disappears rather quickly. Violetta carries the classic vanilla Mac scent, which I enjoy quite a lot. Violet Volt's packaging is cheap - the purple plastic on the bottom could easily pop off, and often came off. I have only owned this lipstick for a few months and it was already showing wear. The Mac packaging isn't my favorite - I find the black bullets classic, but unimaginative, and it is smaller than Milani's. 
Formulation- wise, I feel like the pigmentation was on par for both - just one swipe left gorgeous, pigmented color on my lips, and I didn't have to worry about that with either one. However, Mac's left more of a stain on my lips for longer, and Milani's faded really quickly. Also, Mac's left my lips feeling more moisturized, while Milani's dried them out. They also made my lips look drier when I wore them, and I really don't have a problem with that normally.
All in all, I really do love Mac Violetta, and that would definitely be the one I chose, despite the more expensive price tag. I think the extra money is worth it, considering I will have this lipstick for a long time and be able to use it countless times before it ran out. And in general, that is becoming my stance more and more with drugstore versus high end. Honestly, there are some drug store things I really do prefer over high end - for example, I love my Revlon Brow Fantasy even more than the Anastasia Brow Wiz, which everyone seems to worship. But, I won't be as afraid to get more expensive products in the future!
What are your thoughts on the drugstore versus high end debate?

Xxx Kate

14 July, 2014

Skincare on a Budget: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

I think budget skincare is kind of a double- edged sword. On one hand, I really love to save money whenever possible, but on the other hand, I have definitely found better results when I splash out a little more on my skincare. That's not to say that anything you get from the drugstore is poor quality, but it is logical that you might find more high- quality ingredients in premium prices. However, I have definitely found some gems at the drugstore after years and years of trying and testing.
One of my favorites is the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. My skin is combination/ oily and definitely acne prone, and this face mask works very well for me. It promises to dry out pimples, shrink pores, and reduce blackheads. The mask is light green and very thick, with a strong minty smell and feeling - it makes my skin tingle as soon as I put it on. However, for me, it doesn't dry my skin out too badly, but it does do a nice job of drawing out impurities. I don't think this mask would work for everyone - I think it would be too drying for dry skin - but it really does seem to help calm my breakouts and make my skin look a bit clearer. I use this about once a week, as it is an intense mask, but I think for $3.99 (the retail price at Walgreens) and an insane amount of product, this is a good deal.

Xxx Kate 

Review - Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Pink Cadillaquer

Apologies for our delay on posting! We are hoping to be on a more consistent schedule from now on :)

I first hear of Sally Hansen's new nail polish line via one of my favorite blogs, Nouveau Cheap. The new Sally Hansen Miracle Gel line promises 14 days of no chip nail polish. It's supposed to be like gel without the salon - no heat, no lamps. This is a 2- step polish program: you use your color, and then you use the topcoat. Easy peasy. It seemed too good to be true!
Especially for me - my nail polish - no matter what brand, topcoat, basecoat I use -  chips within 24 hours. It's almost guaranteed. I have tried almost everything to stop my nail polish from chipping so fast, as I hate having chipped nails so I end up redoing my nails almost every night - which damages my nail and cuticle. It's quite annoying. The only time my polish has lasted longer than a week is when I get a true, salon gel manicure.
Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled that I could theoretically buy 2 bottles of nail polish (retailing at just under 10 dollars each at all major drugstores) and get the same results! And, I absolutely love the wide range of colors in this new collection. Sally Hansen really pulled out all the stops with this new collection - the colors are fantastic, and it's quite unique to put out so many colors in a fledgling collection.
I picked up the shade Pink Cadillaquer and the Topcoat. I must have spent about 20 minutes pouring through all the colors and deciding which one I loved the most, but I chose this relatively classic light pink because I wanted something that would go with a lot of colors, that wouldn't be too in your face, and that I would enjoy on my nails for two weeks. I was very optimistic.
The application of this product was pretty classic Sally Hansen polish. Sally Hansen is one of my favorite polish brands because the polish colors are pretty consistently very close to one coat wonders. That's to say, I usually end up using two coats, but I know I can get away with one coat in a rush. It was a great consistency, and very easy to apply. I used two coats and got a lovely opaque finish. I didn't have to wait too long between each coat - I felt like the polish dried pretty quickly. I then applied the topcoat. I was expecting the topcoat to be quite thick, but it was very thin and easy to apply. I waited about 15 minutes and had no problem with drying time. So far, it was great. I painted my nails at 10:30 pm on sunday night.

On monday, I woke up, and washed my hair. Generally, when I wash my hair, I always always always get chips on my nails. I was absolutely thrilled to have no chips after my long shower.
Unfortunately, by 4 PM on monday, I discovered a chip. It's on my dominant pointer finger, which is where I always get chips first. I am not expecting this polish to last very long. It is now 8:30 pm. I only have the one chip, so I will keep it on for longer to see if it was a fluke, but I am so far disappointed as this polish does not do what it says. Unfortunately, I got a noticeable chip within 24 hours, which is very standard for me. I see no benefit in the Miracle Gel range, as the application was relatively standard, and this polish hasn't lasted any longer on me. This isn't necessarily a bad product, but it definitely didn't do anything special for me.
I will definitely continue updating this post as I see more chips. I am still hoping it is a fluke, because I absolutely wanted to love this and declare it an actual miracle. Unfortunately, so far, the Miracle Gel is not a miracle at all.

Xx Kate

21 May, 2014

Perfume Splurge: diptyque

I have heard of diptyque talked about quite a lot in the beauty community, and the packaging for their candles is so ubiquitous because everyone keeps the jars and uses them for storage. However, it was only recently that I discovered there's actually a diptyque counter at my local Nordstrom's! I was shopping there with my mom recently, and we got pulled in to smelling all of the wonderful scents that they had.
Diptyque is a french brand. It's very luxury and very much a splurge, but the quality of their products is undisputed. I have alway been so interested in trying their products, but again, I can barely afford them.
However, when I smelled their new Geranium Odorata perfume, I knew I had to make it mine. I purchased a roll on of that scent, and it was $48. That seems absolutely mental, but it's a larger roll on than what you typically see, and I figured you need such a sparing amount that this will really last.
The scent is almost straight- up geranium. I hope you've smelled geraniums before, but they smell fresher than sweeter, and have the smallest hint of bite. I'm seriously in love with how fresh I smell, and since wearing this, I have had more than one person tell me how good I smell. Every time I take this out and apply it, it makes me happy. I know that it smells great, the packaging is absolutely gorgeous, and it just always makes me feel like I am treating myself to something special. I think that this perfume is the definition of a splurge that works, because I have truly enjoyed using this so far, and have barely used any at all.
Geranium might not be your scent of choice, but I strongly urge you to check out a diptyque counter if you have one near you and smell their amazing candles and perfumes. I am sure you will fall in love with one as well, and I can promise you - it was well worth it.
Xxx Kate

09 May, 2014

Nails of the Day - Essie Van D'Go

You might recall that I made a post about my five favorite nail polishes for Spring a while back. If I had known about Essie's polish in the color Van D'Go, I would revise that list! This is definitely my new favorite pink color. I just think it looks super flattering with my skin tone, and I love the formulation - coat one was a bit streaky, but coat 2 made my nails look uniform and opaque. I think if you google search this polish, you will see that it can almost look a little pink- orange in certain lights and with certain skin tones. On me, it's definitely a candy pink color. I am including two nail pictures because I took one in natural light and one in artificial light, and it definitely looks different, even though this was the same day, just to show you how the polish is somewhat of a chameleon. I just find it such an interesting and pretty color, and I am definitely so glad I purchased this!

hand/ nail pictures are so awkward! 

Xxx Kate

07 May, 2014

Three Current Favorites: Lipstick

Lip products are without a doubt my favorite makeup product to purchase, so I am constantly buying new ones and therefore finding new favorites. Here are my current three must- have picks!

From left to right:

1. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Stormy Pink - This is a matte pink shade that is extremely flattering on me. It's basically the perfect classic Barbie pink - it definitely gives your lips a pop of color, but the matte effect makes it suitable for everyday use.
2. Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour in Clementine - My mom and I went to the Laura Mercier counter and a makeup artist picked out this shade for me, saying that the pretty orange was perfect for me and very flattering for spring. I think he was right! Orange and purple colors are my current lip obsessions, and this is one of the most wearable true orange shades I have found. My favorite thing about this lip colour is that the gel formula makes it very sheer, but buildable. It's extremely versatile, because you can use it for a very subtle shade with one swipe, or you can build it up into the color that you see in the tube. Also, it smells like vanilla!
3. Collection Little Mix Lipstick - Perrie - Little Mix is one of my favorite girl bands, so I was so excited when I learned they were launching a makeup collection! I love this color because it's so interesting - is it purple, is it mauve? It seems to be a different color every time I open the tube. However, for a purple, it's very wearable and makes a great bold lip. I especially love this for a night out.

I hope this post makes you inspired to purchase a new lipstick soon! :)

Xx Kate

06 May, 2014

Lush's Mother's Day Treats!

Mothers Day is a week away and if you are anything like me, you never quite have a gift planned ahead of time. This year Kate and I decided that we would sample Lush's special Mothers Day Collection and review it. Mostly because we both like bath products and a little bit because we need gifts for our mothers. So here we go....

First up is the bath bomb Secret Garden. According to the description from Lush, this ballistic is supposed to smell of rose and orange oil, I disagree. When I first dropped it in the tub the scent I smelled was more along the lines of grass, which I liked but not particularly one I would choose for a bath scent. As far as fizzing, the bomb lasted a lot longer than I am used to and I actually ended up speeding the process along. Once the green layer dissolves, the center is a bright yellow filled with wild flowers and did give off a faint floral scent. Again I was a little disappointed. There seemed to be more leaves than flowers in the small amount that was included in the center. Color-wise the water turned a dark green. Overall, I would pass on Secret Garden for my own mother. She would not appreciate the clean up of the flowers or the color of the water.

Next, I tried Wonder Woohoo, a bubble bar, which is the one I was most excited about due to the scent which is orange and sandalwood. However, I was also a little weary about the glitter due to many horror stories I have encountered about the clean-up associated with that particular add in (also I work in childcare and have experience in the persistence of glitter). Luckily, I had nothing to fear! This bar broke down in the water fairly easily, although a part of it was a bit more difficult to break apart than anticipated. The water was a sunny, golden yellow that shimmered prettily underneath a mountain of bubbles. The shimmer is a result of the inclusion of some of Lush's Lustre powder (a favorite of mine) according to the employee who sold it to me. I did have to rinse the tub quickly once the water drained but that was due to the glitter on the outside of the bar and none of it transferred to my person once I was finished. I am planning on making my mom try this one (and buying approximately 5 more for myself), she is definitely not one for glitter but I think she will make an exception this time.

The third item I tried was Rose, another bubble bar. This is probably the most mom-friendly of the three I sampled. The scent is rose and lemon, it's easy to use, and turns the water a pretty pink that is a few shades lighter than Lush's seasonal Prince Charming (I checked). The description online says this bar is intended for two baths and has "glimmer" which I don't necessarily agree with. I can't say that I noticed any sort of shimmer or glimmer when I used Rose. I also don't think that I would have been satisfied with the amount of bubbles that half the bar would create. But this was also an obvious yes for my mom.
--Now it's Kate's turn! xJenna
I also tried rose - I agree with Jenna that I didn't see a satisfying amount of bubbles or glimmer (which I wasn't fussed about), but the scent is really amazing. Apparently, the smell is the same as Lush's Amandopondo which is a part of their permanent collection. I don't think you can go wrong with rose scents for a mother - generally, it's a pretty safe bet.

I think the Mumkin bubble bar is so cute, honestly, which is definitely why I grabbed for it. Of course, pumpkin- themed items aren't very traditional for spring, but I just found it adorable and I knew that the colors would turn my bath a really gorgeous coral color (which it did). As for scent,  Lush describes it as raspberry with bergamot, lemon, and violet leaf. I couldn't pick out any of these scents specifically - unfortunately I found the scent to be extremely subtle. It did smell sweet and fresh, but I wish the scent had been more intense. As with any bubble bar, you want to crumble it in your bath while the faucet is on to get the maximum amount of bubbles. I was pleased with the amount of bubbles I got, but I hated the stem and leaf, which were made out of a material that was very difficult to break down in the tub, so it just lasted for ages.

I believe Madame Butterfly bubble wand was my favorite product that I tried. While the bubble bars retail for about $4 and you can only get one bath out of them max, madame butterfly retails for around $7 and you could get 2 or 3 (if you were being stingy) baths out of this. I absolutely loved the scent - again, the primary scent is rose, but this bubble bar boasts the same scent as Lush's Rose Jam bubbleroon, and Ro's Argan Body Conditioner which is rose and lemon oil. So, if you know your mom loves rose scents, I think it would be a great duo gift to get her madame butterfly and the body conditioner for a nice pampering set! I was hesitant to buy this despite my love for the scent because I haven't had luck with the bubble wands in the past - I swirl them around in the bath and nothing happens. The sales girl at Lush gave me some advice which changed my life - you want to stick the bubble wand under the running faucet as your tub fills up! I tried that, and was amazed at the amount of bubbles and scent I got. I seriously didn't use much of this at all, but I had a bath I really enjoyed. I can't wait to have another bath with it later on, and I think I might repurchase this before the mother's day collection leaves Lush's stock.

We hope that this post gives you some great ideas for mother's day, or even for a pampering night of your own!

Xx Kate and Jenna