26 July 2015

The Care and Keeping of Makeup Brushes

Despite the fact that I have been too busy (or sometimes unmotivated) to blog, my page views keep climbing and I have now passed 8,500 views! As someone who mostly blogs for myself, it's really awesomely fantastic to know that there are people out there reading what I wrote. Because I haven't been blogging lately, I have quite the backlog of things I want to write about. But, I decided to do a blog today on something much more current.

I never used to use makeup brushes much, but then I bought a few e.l.f. brushes and became a convert. I find that my eye shadow looks better when I use a brush and having nice brushes to apply my face powder, blush, and highlighter makes a world of difference. While I own 15 different brushes (plus extras of my favorites), there are five that I use every day.

My favorite e.l.f. brushes.

  1. e.l.f. Essential Total Face Brush : I use this brush to apply my Physician's Formula pressed powder. It gives me nice, even coverage that is easily buildable. I also use it to help clear away any fallout from my eye shadow.
  2. e.l.f. Essential Bronzing Brush : So it is called a bronzing brush, but I basically use it for everything that goes on my face besides powder. I use it to contour, to highlight, to apply blush, and, if I use it, to apply bronzer. The angle of it makes it great to apply to targeted areas on my face.
  3.  e.l.f. Essential Eyeshadow Brush : This is the brush I use to apply shadow to my upper lid. It's great for a subtle wash of color, or for packing on a lot of color on the outer corner. You will never apply shadow with one of those eye shadow applicator sponges once you use this brush.
  4.  e.l.f. Essential Blending Eye Brush : My other favorite shadow brush, I use this one to dust color over my entire lid all the way up to my eye brow. It is also the one I use to get highlight in the inner corner of my eye and it is great at blending.
  5. e.l.f. professional Concealer Brush : As someone with constant acne, this brush is a life saver. It does it's job marvelously and applies targeted spots of concealer with ease.

Honorable mention: e.l.f. Essential Smudge Brush : I do not use this brush every day, but it is the most used of all the rest of my brushes. I use it to pick up concentrated color and pack it over my liner. Sometimes it's just to reinforce whatever color I put down, other times it's to change it (like putting hunter green over brown).

There are of course so many different companies that make brushes, in every price range, but I love these because they are so affordable and effective (you can purchase all 6 brushes I mentioned for only $8!). Whatever brushes you choose to use, these shapes/sizes I think are highly useful.

As a brush owner, you are supposed to keep them nice and clean. First, because you don't want yesterday's product on your face, but also because over time, bacteria will build up on them, and no one wants to put bacteria all over their face. Now, I will confess that I do not clean my brushes as often as I should. After I use them, I always give them a cursory clean on a tissue or towel to remove the excess product, but I rarely remember to deep clean them. The reason I avoided it is because I found it to be so annoying and time consuming to do. Well, no more! I happened to see a "cheap trick" that absolutely works!

Presenting, Zote soap! It's a Mexican laundry soap and it is AMAZING. You can buy it on Amazon, but go to Walmart- it's only a dollar there! Cleaning your brushes with this is the easiest thing in the world. First, get your brush wet (avoiding the farrow- where the bristles go into the brush). Then swipe it along the soap to get some on the bristles. Swirl it in your hand so that it suds up. You can swipe again if needed. You'll see all the product come out in the suds. Rinse. For my larger brushes, I put a little bit of soapy water in a dish and swirled it in that before getting more soap on the brush and swirling it in my hand. For some of the really, really dirty brushes, I'd swirl, rinse, and swirl again. Once they're clean, gently squeeze the excess water out of the the bristles and let dry. It's best to dry them with the bristles down so that water doesn't get up in the farrow and make the bristles fall out. I solved this by pinning my brushes to a wire hanger with clothes pins. Worked like a charm!

Isn't that so simple?! Get it wet, get it soapy, rinse, dry. Done.

I found this so much easier than the oil + dawn method and much more effective than any of the brush cleaners I'd used. You should absolutely go out and buy a bar. It's one dollar and it will last you a very long time.

Warning: It does have a very light fragrance, so if you're sensitive to fragrances, you may want to do a spot test with the soap somewhere before you use it. However, my brushes rinsed very clean, so I don't think much soap, if any, remained on the brush anyways, but better safe than sorry when dealing with your face.

03 March 2015

Ruby Red lips that don't move

All dressed up with somewhere to go.
Last night I went to my first ever Feb Club. It's a Yale tradition centered around Seniors having parties every night in February. It has since expanded to Feb Club Emeritus, where Yalies across the world get together and have parties throughout February. The Boston Feb Club Emeritus this year was on the last night of February at The Vault, a cool bar downtown that's in an old bank building. I had initially wanted to wear a dress, but I decided it was too cold and not worth freezing my butt off. I still wanted to make a statement, though, and a red lip was an easy addition to my work look that would elevate it. I also wanted to make sure my lip color would last the night and that I wouldn't have to worry about it rubbing off while I drank or ate.

My solution was to layer two different lipsticks. I started by applying CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain in Wild Berry Wink 440. I love this lip stain; it's what I wore for my wedding! It is a nice, vibrant red and, once it dries, it does not move until you take it off with a make-up wipe. Why didn't I just put this on and call it a day? Well, I've found that when my lips aren't super healthy (chapped, dry, etc) it can go on a little patchy. But I had a feeling it would make a great base and help whatever I put on top of it go the distance. I put on two coats of this, letting it dry thoroughly after each coat.

Snuggled in a blanket on the couch.
On top of the stain, I layered L'Oreal Colour Riche Lip Liner in Always Red. It is a bit of a deeper and truer red than the lip stain. I've had great luck with this lip pencil's staying power on it's own, which is part of the reason I chose it instead of one of my other lip liners. When I applied the stain, I was very careful to stay within the lines of my lips. With the pencil, I allowed myself to overdraw just the tiniest bit, especially on my top lip (which is quite thin).

The result was a long lasting, vibrant red! Just for fun, I took a picture after coming home and eating a late-night snack. I paid zero attention to not smudging my lipstick, but it hardly moved at all. Clearly the combo of the lip stain and lip liner is a winner!

14 February 2015

Happy (Snowy) Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day from snowy, snowy New England. I've totally lost count of how many snow storms we've had. Another one just started, and there's a rumor there could be yet another one a few days after this one is over. We were already at around 60 inches of snow for this winter. There is snow EVERYWHERE.

Anyways, Happy Valentine's Day from my red lips to you! Stay warm, dry, and safe!

Apologies for the messy hair and blurry photo. My camera phone has not been cooperative lately.
On my lips:
Beautique Lipliner in Real Red 7142002 (Sally Beauty for only $2.19)
N.Y.C. Ultra Moist Lip Wear in 308 Retro Red (Total steal at only 99 cents from CVS)

26 January 2015

Product Review: Garnier Fructis De-Constructed Move It Manipulating Gel

Look no further for touchable texture!
This is one of the many reviews that is long overdue. I bought this gel several months ago to try out and have been thoroughly enjoying it. It is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. The Garnier Fructis De-Constructed Move It Manipulating Gel is the perfect product to add texture without making my hair tacky or stiff. It is also super quick and easy to use, which I love. Who has time to individually groom each section of hair?

I've found that this gel works best on wet or damp hair. Garnier's website says you can use it on dry hair, but for me, I don't find it works as well on dry hair. I usually use it right after I wash my hair. I tend to sit with a towel on my head for roughly fifteen minutes after my shower so it isn't sopping wet. Then I comb through my hair and get my bangs in order. Next I massage a little 100% pure Aloe Vera Gel into my scalp and scrunch a little more into my hair. I use the aloe on my scalp to help prevent dandruff and work a little volume into my roots. I scrunch it through the rest of my hair to give it a bit of moisture and shape. Then I take a small amount (roughly a dime sized dollop) of the Move It Manipulating Gel, rub it between my palms, and scrunch that into my hair. The Manipulating Gel really does a good job of helping my hair hold the shape that I made with the aloe vera gel.

This is what it looks like after applying the Manipulating Gel when my hair is still wet:
Got some nice reflected light off of the snow.
And here is what it looks like a few hours later once my hair has dried:
"Lovely" yellow artificial light
As you can see, it helps my hair keep a nice wave in it, rather than drying to an unattractive not-quite-straight. After I sleep on it, a lot of the specific waviness is gone, but a little water and some scrunching re-activates it. I've been super happy with this gel and, as a bonus, one tube lasts forever! I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking to inject a bit of tousled texture into their style.

Product Review: Neutrogena Transparent Facial Bar

Every day essentials
When there's a storm coming, most people rush out to buy milk and bread. Me, I go and buy my beauty essentials. Okay, so I also ended up going to the store and buying milk, but that wasn't because of the storm. In any case, these are two products that I absolutely love and use on a regular basis. This post is specifically about the Neutrogena Transparent Facial Bar for acne-prone skin (a review of the dry shampoo is forthcoming, I promise!). I was in luck today too, because it was on sale for $5.29.

I first purchased this facial bar when I was in Maui. I'd brought along a travel sized container of my usual morning face wash, but I found it was a little too harsh to be using both in the morning and at night. After a bit of browsing, I pulled the travel sized version of the facial bar off the shelves and decided to try it. I've been using it almost nightly ever since!

This is the first and only facial cleanser I've used that comes in a traditional bar soap form. It actually makes for easy use, since I can just wet my face with a wash cloth, get some soap on the washcloth, scrub my face, and then rinse. It's a very gentle formula that doesn't dry out my skin, a problem I have sometimes with cleansers despite the fact that I have oil/combination skin. And it really does help my acne prone skin. I've been out of it for over a week now and I've noticed more breakouts in that time. I also find that because it is so easy to use, I'm better about properly washing my face at night than when I use a different kind of cleanser, much as I might like them.

My nightly routine now always includes this cleanser. Depending on how much makeup I'm wearing, I'll use my CVS Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover (a knock off of the Neutrogena remover of the same name) and a CVS Exfoliating Apricot Towelette  to get the bulk of my eye makeup and foundation off. Then I use this Neutrogena Facial Bar to really give my face a good wash. I've found that if I'm not wearing heavy makeup, this works just fine on its own to remove makeup and cleanse all in one. After I've finished washing my face with this, I use witch hazel as a toner and top it all off with my favorite night cream- Neutrogina Naturals Nourishing Night Cream (review of the night cream here).

I cannot say enough about this facial bar! It's simple to use, the scent is very minimal, and it works great. Given that it took me over four months to go through the travel size, it's also a great bang for your buck. And anything that encourages me to wash my face more and cleanses so well is worth every penny, anyways, in my opinion!

17 January 2015

Hair Dye Adventures: Beyond the Zone Color Jamz

In my continued quest for vibrant color, I tried out a new kind of dye this month. I wound up with this dye because the particular color I got was on clearance for $5. The dye is Beyone the Zone's Color Jamz in the color Candy Apple Red. Sally Beauty Supply doesn't have this color listed on the site any more, so I suspect it was on clearance is because it's a color they're not carrying anymore. According to the Amazon page, it's supposed to come out a fairly bright red on bleached hair. The dye itself is actually more of a deep fushia. You can sort of see it in this photo:

Partially used bottle
One nice thing about this dye was that, like the Manic Panic, I only needed to use about half the dye in the container, meaning I get two dye jobs out of one purchase. Off all the dyes I've tried from Sally's (this, Manic Panic, and Ion Color Brilliance), this may have been one of the messiest. It wasn't too bad as far as the actual dying process and rinsing it out was about on par with the Ion Color Brilliance Brights in Red. However, what it did to my scalp was unprecedented. All of the dyes I've been using lately tell you not to get it on your scalp when you apply it. I have yet to actually find a way to reliably get all my hair dyed and not get dye all over my scalp. I applied this dye with my dye brush in the way I usually do and let it set for the maximum recommended time of 20 minutes. I rinsed it out and applied an after dye conditioner. I was then unpleasantly surprised at how much of it decided to adhere to my scalp. I expect my scalp to be a bit colorful after I first dye my hair, because it pretty much happens with all dyes, but this one took the cake.

Hello pink dye!
I was joking with Mike that my hair looked like an Easter egg. It was such a bright color and it was sort of speckled too, which made me think of eggs. And it was everywhere that I'd let the dye sit, so basically all along my hair line was super bright pink. Unfortunately, the dye didn't show up that well on my hair. It's certainly redder than it was before, but as you can see in the photo, it's actually a pretty natural looking color. Now that my scalp is no longer pink, it pretty much just looks like I have auburn hair. And that's fine, but not quite what I was hoping for.
Terribly back-lit photo.
As you can see in this photo, it does pop a bit more red when the light hits it. I don't know that I'd buy this dye again so long as I continue to dye over my naturally brown hair, but I think it was worth what I spent on it and I'll certainly use the other half of the bottle at some point.

04 January 2015

DIY Hand Warmers

In addition to knitting quite a bit so far this winter, I've also busted out my sewing machine to do a few simple projects, the first of which was actually a Pinterest DIY. It was for little reusable hand warmers that you make with some rice and fabric scraps. I'd repinned it a while ago and then realized they would make a great, quick Christmas present. I ended up making a pair for my Secret Santa and a pair for my friend Lauria (she is a tour guide at a historical site and is outside in period colonial garb very frequently). The tutorial I used is this one. I changed very little from what she did. This is her picture of the hand warmers (I forgot to take pictures of the ones I made before I wrapped them).

© 2015 rae ann kelly of raeannkelly.com
I thought they were just adorable, and I happend to have two pairs of square fabric scraps from when I made my knitting project bag. So one set ended up the green pattern and one set ended up the grey pattern, which was perfect since my Secret Santa likes green and the grey seemed great for Lauria. Because I was using scraps that were basically already cut for me, I just made sure they were proper squares and called it a day. As a result, instead of the 2 3/4 inches square she suggests, I used  3 1/2 inch squares. I thought they still seemed like a nice size for hands and coat pockets. In any case, they are the easiest things in the world to make and because you can use fabric scraps and there isn't much rice in them, they are very inexpensive as well.

Instructions:


1) Cut out two 3 1/2 inch squares of the fabric of your choice for each hand warmer. (You can make your hand warmers larger or smaller, so long as they're squares.)

2) Put the two squares wrong sides together and sew around with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving an opening about 1 1/2 inches wide. Backstitch both at the beginning and the end.

3) Fill about 3/4 of the way with rice. For squares that were 3 1/2 inches, I used 30g of rice. (I measured so that I could make sure they were all evenly filled.)

4) Pin the opening and sew shut.

5) Use pinking sheers to trim the edges.

If you don't have pinking sheers (I had to borrow a friend's), instead of sewing wrong sides together, you can sew them right sides together in step 2. Then, before step 3 when you fill it with rice, turn the bag right side out. After you fill it, you'd simply pin the opening and whip stitch it closed.

To use the hand warmers, all you have to do is pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

And that's it! Super simple and simply adorable. I think it took me longer to get my machine out than it did to actually make them.