February 2017 Wish List

Every month (okay, every month that I actually take the time to do it..) I  like to compile a list of the things I’ve got my eyes on.  This month we’re looking at a few different kinds of sweet treats and even a new kind of crayon.  Read on!

 

Wicked Good Cupcakes:  If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for all things sweet, and cake/cupcakes are at the very top of my list.  With Valentine’s Day around the corner, all of the best sweet treats are coming out with limited editions for V-day.  I’ve been dying to try these Wicked Good Cupcakes.. I mean, Wicked is in the title! How could I not want to try these?? Has anyone ever tried them? Are they as good as they look?

 

Too Faced Sweet Peach Collection:  I know this collection is SO hyped up, but I’ve also heard it’s as awesome as it looks.  Too Faced is the company that really got me into high-end cosmetics (with the purchase of an eyeshadow duo called “bon-bon”) years ago, and I love trying all of their products, but I just haven’t been willing to purchase anything from sweet peach yet. Now they have more than the eyeshadow palette (which I’ve wanted for months).  There are lip glosses, a highlighter palette, and a blush that looks amazing.  If I do cave, I’ll be sure to give you a full review of whatever I get.  What do you recommend?

Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites: Did I mention I love cake?? Now I’m looking at a more Weight Watchers friendly version of cake with these protein cake bites from Optimum Nutrition.  They come in 3 flavors: Birthday Cake, Red Velvet, and Chocolate Dipped Cherry.  How does one choose?? Each serving packs 20g protein, giving your cake fix a bit of a nutrition fix as well.  I’m dying to get my hands on these. As per usual, if I find them, you’ll hear about them.

Clinique Crayola Chubby Sticks:  The latest lip product line from Clinique, a company I adore, is a set of Chubby Sticks inspired by Crayola crayons. How cute is that?? They even look like giant crayons.  I saw them swatched on social media, and every shade is one that I would wear in a sheer, hydrating stick, so it is definitely a collection I’d like to get my hands on. You can get the full set of 8 for $49.50. Read more

January 2017 Sephora Play Box

After years of being a subscription box addict, trying many different varieties since the dawn of Birchbox, I’ve unsubscribed from all but one: Sephora Play! Sephora is one of the 2 primary stores that fuels my beauty addiction (Ulta is the other), so this subscription makes sense to me.  It’s $10 a month for themed boxes with deluxe sample sizes (equivalent to the 100 point perks you can get in-store) of products you can find in Sephora.  

The theme this month was “Beauty, Set, Go” and is filled with products to help detox and refuel your beauty routine.  Let’s see what’s inside.

Tarte Frixxxion Stick: At first, I wasn’t sure what this was, but it turns out it’s an exfoliating gel cleanser.  You apply it to your skin straight from the stick and it lathers up to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin.  You can also leave it on for 10 minutes to act as a purifying mask.  Being a skincare addict, I am looking forward to trying this out.  

Ouai Treatment Mask: A restorative mask that helps care for dry, damaged hair.  My only experience with this brand is in a wave spray that I happen to love, so I’m excited to have the chance to try something else from Ouai. 

*Update* Okay so I used this yesterday (I had a draft written a few days prior), and after using this and blow drying my hair I must say, my hair looks amazing.  I will be buying this. 

Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Face Lifting Moisturizer: This is an anti-aging moisturizer that uses resveratrol and hyaluronic acid to firm, lift, and plump the skin.  It also contains broad spectrum SPF 20 to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.  

Boscia BB Cream: I’ve tried this product before and I remember loving it, so I’m excited that it made an appearance in my box.  This B.B. Cream adds a bit of tint and skin perfecting coverage while SPF 27 protects from the sun.  It’s also oil-free, which is a huge plus for me and my acne-prone skin. 

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey: I had a sample size of this product in a different shade, and I loved it, so I’m excited to give this cult-classic shade a try.  While it appears to be crazy dark in the tube, this actually delivers a beautiful sheer wash of color that is perfect for the winter months. The formula is also hydrating and feels great on my lips. 

Fragrance bonus: Pinrose Wild Child: Notes of florals, vanilla, and amber combine for an exuberant and confident scent.  The sample is in wipe format for easy, on the go (but a single) application. 

 

* Links are affiliate links which gives me a small commission to help support my blog. Thanks for your love and support*

2017 Goals

I know I’m a little behind, it being almost the end of January and all, but better late than never, right? As I’ve mentioned in vlogs over on my YouTube channel, 2016 was a year of me failing to reach my goals.  I just wasn’t motivated, and was easily distracted and discouraged so not much got done. This year, I have some goals (some old, some new) that I’m hoping to achieve. Along with the new goals comes a fresh new dose of motivation.  I’m hoping to buckle down and really make 2017 the best year yet.  

Health Goals

My number one goal is to get back down to my goal weight. The only thing is..I don’t know what my new goal weight is yet.  Last time I hit goal, I weighed 135lbs, but it turns out that was a little too thin for my body, and certain parts of me looked too bony. That being said, I clearly overcompensated with fixing that problem. This time around, I plan on starting the journey back down (because no change really happened in 2016), but I’ll lose at least 15 lbs and then I’ll play it by ear. 

I want to focus more on being healthy and fit rather than just losing weight, so who knows what my body will look like, but I do know I want to fit back into my goal jeans (aka my pair of clearance jeans from American Eagle I had as my goal jeans last time). I love those jeans.  We’ll just have to see what the final number ends up being, but I’m hoping to reach it in 2017. 

Blog Goals

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Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 Review

Everyone knows that a crucial part of any skincare routine is exfoliation.  Exfoliating regularly gets rid of the dead cells resting on the surface of your skin that could result in dull, flaky, and even broken out skin, leaving you with a flake-free bright and fresh glow. There are two different types of exfoliation: physical and chemical.  Physical exfoliation is the type we probably think of when we hear the word “exfoliate.” Physical exfoliants use a buffing motion and some sort of grainy texture to remove the dead skin cells, while chemical ones simply require product application (and a little time) with no other action necessary. Today we’re taking a look at the AP25 Performance Peel from Exuviance, which is a chemical exfoliant.

About the Product

The Performance Peel AP25 contains a 25% blend of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA) including Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, and Gluconolactone. It works at skin’s surface to exfoliate the surface layers of the skin which are dead and dull, and it also enhances cell renewal to reveal fresher, healthier-looking skin. With regular use (up to twice a week), Exuviance has found that this peel:

  • Refines pore size and smoothes texture
  • Visibly diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improve clarity and brightness
  • Brighten and even skin tone
  • Provide an overall healthy glow to the skin

How to Use

Cleanse face.  After your face is clean and dry apply a Step 1 (the packets are labeled for you) activator pad all over your face. Be careful to avoid eye and lip areas, and any areas that are super sensitive. This step 1 pad is applying the actual chemical peel to your face so pay attention to any stinging, tingling, burning, itching, peeling, or redness that may be happening while you’re waiting. As with most peels, a slight tingling sensation is to be expected. Leave step 1 on for up to (but no more than) 10 minutes.

When your 10 minutes are up, open and apply the Step 2 neutralizer pad. This is a solution that cancels out the acids in the peel effectively stopping the chemicals from doing anything else to your skin. Rinse your face with water.  If you find the tingling sensation too much to handle you can apply step 2 before the 10 minutes are up. This is your call, but if you’re really hurting or turning pretty red I suggest not trying to wait it out. Better safe than sorry. 

Use up to 2 times per week.

My Results

First, I am happy to say that I had zero burning and hardly any tingling sensation, save one application where I had a slightly irritated pimple (ie, I might have picked it a little the day before.. I know, shame on me). That burned, but only where the angry pimple was lurking. I shouldn’t even talk about application because it’s the easiest thing ever, but I will anyway.  Each packet contains one product soaked cotton round, and you apply it to your face like you would a toner. Okay, I’m a tad more thorough with the peel than I am my toner, but you get the idea.  After 10 minutes (I set an alarm because otherwise, I’d forget it was on) I do the same with the step 2 pad, taking care to make sure I apply it to every single millimeter of skin that I put the peel on.  After a quick rinse, I apply a strong moisturizer and I’m on my merry way.

While I haven’t used up the whole box of peels yet, based on ease and cleanliness of use and the lack of burning alone, I enjoy this peel. While I don’t necessarily see any improvement in my fine lines (that have just started to make an appearance on my face), I will say this does a great job of getting rid of my dead, flaky skin and leaves things looking a bit brighter and clearer. 

The Exuviance peel is $77 for 13 sets of 2-step packets (12 uses and an extra to skin test for reactions before your first use). I’ll be honest, this is definitely one of the more expensive peels out there (in terms of price per use), but it’s definitely still cheaper than going for a facial.  There are other options that have a bit less power, or a higher price tag and more uses, but at the end of the day, skincare is all about finding what works for you, and the Exuviance peel is a product that does what it claims it will do.  

You can find the Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 on the Exuviance website or at Ulta.

 

*I was sent this product for review via Exuviance and Brand Backer, but all opinions are my own*

My 2017 Word of the Year

The new year is upon us, and many people (myself included) use the new year to reevaluate, reset, and set some stellar goals for the year.  A trend that I’m seeing in many goal setting workbooks and tools nowadays involves choosing a word of the year.  This word is the word you use to inspire and remind yourself of your primary focus for the next 365 days.  There are so many words to choose from that I’ve often found it difficult to narrow it down to just one word for the year in years past, but this year I’ve managed to do it.  This year’s word of the year is: flourish.

The definition of flourish is:

  1. to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
  2. develop rapidly and successfully
  3. to be working at the height of one’s career during a specific period.

Basically, this word completely sums up what I hope to do in 2017. 2016 was a year where, while some awesome things happened, I didn’t do a very good job of working to achieve any of my goals except for one (getting back on stage), and I find that very disappointing. I have nothing or no one to blame but myself. I have since forgiven myself for my failure that was 2016 and am ready to move on and embrace this new year with some new goals (and some of the same goals), a new game plan, and a fresh dose of motivation.   Read more

Happy New Year!

Well hello there!  It has been a hot minute (or 5!) since I’ve sat down to write a blog post on here! A lot has been going on in my life the last few months, and with my show, the holidays, some family changes, and other life things that just get in the way sometimes, I haven’t been good about dedicating time to sit down and create blog posts.  While this site hasn’t been very active, I have been doing quite a bit over on my YouTube channel doing Vlogmas.  I’m happy to announce that my hiatus is over and I’m back and ready to hit the ground running with my blog and channel for 2017. First, let’s recap what’s been going on. 

  • I managed to achieve my goal of getting myself back on stage in 2016 by being in a production of Pippin in November.  It was so much fun and made me feel great, but it definitely messed with some of my routines, especially on the weekends.  Great times for me, not so much for my blog.
  • We’re homeowners now! On 11/30/16 we closed on the condo we’ve been renting for the last year.  Now we’re plotting and planning some of the organizational changes we want to make now that it’s ours to change. 
  • I traveled to Florida for Christmas to spend time with my husband’s family.  You can see all of my adventures in December in my Vlogmas videos on YouTube. Again, tons of fun for me, but no time (and no desire, if I’m being totally honest here) to sit down and dedicate time to creating content on here. 
  • Biggest change: we got a puppy!  Our newest family member, Gracie (a 2 month old Yorkie) joined our little family on 1/1/17. Anyone that has had a puppy probably knows how we’ve been spending our time.  While pups are adorable and so much fun, they are a TON of work ad require constant supervision if you’re trying to potty train them.  Since we live in a condo and it’s currently single digit temperatures in Chicagoland, we decided that pad training Gracie is the way to go for us.  My husband actually took a week off of work for “paternity leave” so he could bond with her before he starts traveling again, and while she’s loose, one of us has to be watching her.  So not only has all things Diva and the Divine suffered this past week, but house chores and such have as well.  
  • The icing on top of the crazy cake is that I’m also suffering from a cold. A big deal? No, but it does complicate things just a tad.  Thank goodness for Sudafed, NyQuill, and a puppy that now sleeps through the night. 

That’s the quick life update, and honestly, that’s probably all you need.  Now that Gracie has been with us for a week and Mister goes back to work tomorrow, it’s time that she and I learn how to balance our lives together.  It’s time to get back to work on my body, my home, my blog, and my life back in order. I’ll be training my pup, working on losing weight and creating content, and making 2017 the best year yet.  Stay tuned for a lot of exciting things starting with some discussions on 2016 reflections and 2017 goals.  

Happy New Year, friends. I hope your holidays were amazing and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!

 

6 Lip Products for the Holidays

With Christmas looming a mere 12 days away, this coming weekend is bound to be filled with holiday parties galore.  Winter is when we break out darker colors, smokey eyes, and bold red lips.  While I’m not usually a bold-lipped kind of lady, being in a show and rocking a bold red lip in Pippin has forever changed my opinion of red lippies, and I now have faith that I can rock them.  Here are 6 lip products I’ve been using this holiday season.

Smith & Cult Lip Gloss in The Warning:  This is the sheerest of all of my picks, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a perfect look for the holidays.  This bright red gloss brings a pop of Santa red to your lips without forcing you to panic about getting red lipstick everywhere. It’s hydrating, not sticky, and even has a little bit of subtle glitter in there for an extra pop of party bling. ($22 @ Smithandcult.com)

Too Faced Melted Berry Liquid Lipstick: Melted berry is a stunning shade of berry red (almost deep, dark pink.  Almost.) that will surely pop on your lips this season.  I’ve found that I really enjoy the formulation of the Too Faced Liquid Lipsticks, and this is a bold shade I found I wasn’t afraid of even on the very first wear. ($21 at Ulta)

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic Stained Gloss in Nomad: I’ll be honest, at first I thought this shade appeared to be far too dark for me to even consider trying on. Turns out that this deep colored gloss sheers out into a great winter maroon. It can be sheer or be built up for a more intense coverage.  I was incredibly surprised by how much I liked this shade, and have been wearing regularly. ($18 on Amazon)

Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Matte Lipstick in Dolce Flirt: I got a mini of this lipstick from an Influenster campaign a year or so ago, so I had to try it for review purposes. This was another product that really surprised me by how much I liked it.  This matte formula was very comfortable and non-drying. The shade “dolce flirt” was such a beautiful, flattering true red color that I loved wearing it to my husband’s office Christmas party. I felt sexy, feisty, and very festive. (available at Nordstrom $38)

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella: This lip pencil is in a shade that feels like it was inspired by Miss Cruella DeVil herself. This is a deep scarlet red that definitely feels like the perfect bold winter lip in a long wear, top rated formula by Nars. ($26 @ Sephora)

Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate: This lip product is the one I used in my show that made me accept that I could pull off a bold red lip color.  Pomegranate is a gorgeous rich red that made my lips pop on stage, made my teeth look a bit whiter, and made me feel like a sexy little vixen going out on stage.  This is definitely a shade I will now rock on a regular basis. This product felt great on, stayed put, and lasted my entire show ( and afterward) without needing to be reapplied. This baby is the reason I’m no longer afraid to rock a bold lip, so shoutout to Bite Beauty to opening my eyes to a world beyond nudes and light pinks. ($24 @ Sephora)

What are some of your go-to lip products for the holiday party season? Do you wear the bold statement lip, or do you have some deeper neutrals that you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below. 

*This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliate links*

 

Exuviance Purifying Cleansing Gel

Exuviance Purifying Cleansing Gel Review

At the base of any good skincare routine is a solid cleanser.  After all, you need your skin to be squeaky clean so all of your lotions and potions can work their magic.  When I got this new cleanser in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it out.  Exuviance was kind enough to send me their Purifying Cleansing Gel to review, and while I did get it for free, you know that my reviews will always be honest.  Let’s dive in and see what it’s all about.

About the Product

The Exuviance purifying cleansing gel is an anti-aging face cleanser with Alpha (AHA) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA).  The acids offer chemical exfoliation and help clarify the skin. The gel is soap-free which is gentle and prevents the skin from drying out. Conditioners soothe the skin and help improve the skin’s texture.  It’s also allergy and dermatologist tested (in case that’s important to you).  

Basically,this cleanser foams up to wash away makeup, impurities, and surface oils without stripping the skin or altering skin’s natural moisture balance and is suitable for all skin types .

My Experience

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Too Faced Merry Macarons Palette | Holiday 2016

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The second edition of my Too Faced holiday 2016 review (I also reviewed the Grande Hotel Cafe set) is the Merry Macaroons palette.  This is an Ulta exclusive and retails for $39.  Of all of Too Faced’s holiday palette releases, Merry Macarons is hands down my favorite.  

The packaging of the entire line is stunning, featuring a Christmas in NYC theme. All of the palettes feature packaging decked with beautiful pastel pinks, purples, and mint, and is accented with gold foil.  Merry Macarons takes place ice skating next to a pretty famous tree in NYC, only this one is made of colorful macarons.  Next to our skater is a deluxe mini of Too Faced’s best-selling Better Than Sex mascara.

macarons-packaging

The 12 eyeshadows ( 0.03 oz each) are an excellent balance of mattes and shimmers in a mostly neutral color range (aka my perfect palette), save a purple shade. I’ve had to resist using this palette in order to focus on using the other palettes from the line to review for the blog.  

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merry-macarons-swatches-1

Coconut: Matte beige

Champagne Rose: Champagne Rose gold shimmer

Praline: Gold shimmer

Dulce de Leche: Matte milk chocolate brown

Mint Chocolate: Matte,  cool, dark mauve

Honey Lavender: Lavender purple shimmer

merry-macarons-swatches-2

Banana Cream: Dark brown shimmer

Tiramisu: Deep peach nude

Violet Cassis- Bright purple with shimmer

Almond Mocha- Dark chocolate brown, satin 

Chocolate Raspberry- Maroon shimmer

Cookies and Cream- Matte black with silver micro glitter

As I said, the Merry Macarons palette is my favorite of all the Too Faced holiday releases this year.  I find that the quality of these shadows is somehow better than the quality of the shadows in the other two sets.  Seeing how this is the least expensive set of the 3, that is both a positive (for those wanting to buy only one of the sets) and a negative (for those that spent more money and got poorer quality).  Granted, this is just my personal opinion, but it is an opinion formulated after using all 3 sets pretty thoroughly. 

Like the other Too Faced sets, Merry Macaroons is scented (vanilla), but like my statement in the Grande Hotel Cafe review, don’t let the scent be a big selling point for you, as it isn’t very strong to begin with, and it fades over time.  The real stars in Merry Macaroons are the shadows themselves.  I love the neutral shades and the variety of finishes this palette offers. It’s very easy to create many looks suitable for every day with this palette.

I always use an eyeshadow primer before applying shadows, and I find the longevity of the shadows in the Merry Macarons palette reasonably substantial. These shadows are also soft and blendable.  While some shades are powdery, none of them are dry. Overall, I really have been enjoying this palette, and it’s something I’ve been reaching for frequently since it’s arrival.  

The Too Faced Merry Macaroons palette is an Ulta Exclusive for $39.  

Have you purchased any of the Too Faced Christmas in New York collection?  What are your thoughts?

 
*I purchased all Too faced Holiday 2016 with my own money. All opinions are my own*

Too Faced Grande Hotel Cafe Review | Holiday 2016

grande-hotel-cafe-review

I’m a sucker for the holidays in pretty much any way, shape, and form, and the holiday releases from my favorite beauty brands are most definitely my weakest spot.  Since I wasn’t overly impressed with Too Faced’s releases from holiday 2015, I swore I wasn’t going to get hooked this year..and then I saw the holiday collection.  Christmas in New York is like a dream to me, and with the stunning shades and adorable packaging, I quickly broke my vow. I knew the collection had to be mine.  I ended up buying all 3 eyeshadow sets, as I couldn’t decide on one.  Today, we’re taking a look at the Grande Hotel 3 palette set.  

The Too Faced Grande Hotel is a collection of 3 individual eyeshadow palettes (Eggnog Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Gingerbread Cookie) that can be given as gifts (there’s even a To/From label on the back of each one) or can be kept as a set and includes a deluxe mini of Better Than Sex Mascara.

grande-hotel-packaging

First, let’s talk about the packaging.  Grande Hotel Cafe comes in a gorgeous box that’s shaped like a hotel you’d find in the heart of NYC.  When you remove the roof and open the doors you see the stunning interior decorated with Christmas trees (complete with famous Too Faced products underneath them) and you’re clearly meant to be sitting at the hotel’s coffee bar, where you would order one of the holiday beverages the palettes are named after. It’s genius packaging, and I’m not going to lie, the packaging definitely helped sell me the products.   Read more