All That Glitters is Not…Great

(Yes, it’s another post about nail polish…I’m on a nail polish “kick”, I guess…)  

I’m a girl.  I like shiny, sparkly stuff.  Including nail polish.  But glittery nail polish can be a pain…

Problem 1:  Even application.  If you’re OCD like me, you want the glitter to be distributed evenly on your nails.  This can be difficult.

Problem 2:  Durability.  Glitter nail polish often chips off more readily than other nail polish, because its texture allows it to “catch” on things and come off in chunks. (Yes, I know I should be using top coat, but glitter is usually my “quick fix” for another nail polish that is starting to show signs of wear!)

Problem 3:  Removal.  Glitter nail polish is notoriously hard to remove.  If you use cotton pads, it will shred them up.  As the nail polish remover dissolves the polish, it can make the problem worse, since it will stick AND shred simultaneously.

Solution:  What I refer to as “hybrid glitter” nail polish.  These polishes have glitter – albeit a bit more subtle than some of their counterparts – but are still smooth to the touch (don’t chip) and are easier to remove.

The Good, the Bad, and the Good Enough:

Evil:  Nicole by OPI in “All is Glam, All is Bright”.  Encompasses all three of the “Problems” listed above. (note: It looks a little more pink “in real life”)  However, I love the color(s) and it’s often my go-to nail polish when I need to hide a bad/worn out nail polish job.

nicole opi all is glam

Nice:  Piggy Polish in “Sunshine on Snowflakes”.  Has a VERY strong odor. Despite my perfect eyesight, I’m unable to read the ingredients.  Maybe it’s got the not-as-bad-for-you stuff and that’s why it smells that way. Also, it’s allegedly made for toes. (Don’t tell me where to put my polish!)  However, it is the perfect level of glitter for me.  Enough of the sparkle, none of the hassle.  I love this one.

Piggy Polish

Meh:  China Glaze in “Fast Track”. It’s a subtle gold glitter that’s mostly sheer but good for layering.  I used it over the “Debra” Julep polish I didn’t love, so my nails would resemble something tolerable. Boring-ish color aside, this is a great glitter solution – and it’s super shiny (like you added a top coat).

china glaze

Disclaimer:  I got all of these nail polishes at different times in the Ulta clearance section.  They’re probably all discontinued.  However, they give you a good idea of what’s available in the “glitter family”.

In Summary:  Choose your glitter polish wisely.  Figure out if you really need that super-heavy glitter look or if you can settle for something a bit more subtle.


My New Weapon in the War on Dirty Brushes

I have tons of makeup brushes, partially because I hate the cleaning process.  I used to buy cheap brushes and just throw them away, but in an attempt to be more eco (and budget) friendly, I started buying better brushes that will hold up to repeated cleaning.  Now, I’ve made the process as easy as possible…

Background:  I had been using Ulta’s “Professional” brush cleaner – until I read the ingredients and found out it contains parabens.  I got one of those cool 20% off anything” coupons from Ulta and decided to use it to buy a huge bottle of Japonesque brush cleaner. (Review here:

japonesque brush cleaner

16 oz. bottle for $30 at Ulta

Bad Luck:  I have terrible luck when it comes to spray bottles.  It seems that no matter what kind I buy or what I’m using them for, they don’t last very long.  Also, the bottles I was using for brush cleaner made the stuff spray all over my sink and faucet, which is a waste of brush cleaner!

More Background:  A while back, I bought Misto brand sprayer to use with my Urban Decay De Slick oil control spray.  (They’re marketed as “olive oil sprayers” and I have a couple in my kitchen as well.) It didn’t work so great for the De-Slick.


Misto Olive Oil Sprayer. Approx. $10.

Solution:  I use the Misto sprayer for brush cleaner.  It’s SO much better than the regular pump bottles for several reasons:  1.  It hasn’t broken yet.  2.  It allows you to create an aerosol spray that’s easier to control and gets into brushes better.  3.  It’s reuseable and eco-friendly because it uses air pressure to create the aerosol – not chemical propellants.

In Conclusion:  I’m glad I kept this sprayer around.  After using it (unsuccessfully) for the De-Slick spray, I didn’t want to use it in the kitchen, so it was collecting dust in my bathroom for a while.  Luckily, it works perfectly for cleaning makeup brushes.  Totally worth the $5 I spent on it!


Dumbest Idea Ever…or not

While browsing around the clearance section (I had “store credit” to spend and it was expiring)  I saw this product.  At first, I thought “Wow, that’s stupid!” but then I got to thinking…

Beauty Fixation (by Japonesque) Pre-Filled Portable Lip Conditioner Swabs (clearance price $3.75)

Why I Thought it Was Dumb:  “Seriously?  A lip balm takes up too much space in your purse?  You seriously need a bigger purse!” was my initial thought.  It does seem kind of wasteful to have basically just the applicator part of a lip product to use and throw away.

Then I Realized:  You know all those times when you have a cold (or maybe a cold sore) and you keep using your lip gloss/balm?  Yeah, that’s pretty unhealthy.  I personally don’t get sick very much (probably because I’m mildly germaphobic…)  When I do, I make sure not to use the applicator part of my lip products.  I apply them with a Q-tip instead.  So, these would be a great solution to those times when you really need to have something portable that isn’t going to lengthen and/or cause the resurgence of your illness.

So…  If you have young kids and get sick regularly (kids are disease-carrying vectors!), have immune system problems, or get cold sores/fever blisters, you might want to get some of these.

Dryness – Enemy of Oil Control

If you struggle with acne and oily skin (or hyper-oily skin, like me), you may be doing everything you can to “control” the oil.  Unfortunately, you can be doing more harm than good if all you’re doing is focusing on ways of drying up that oil…

Truth:  Overly-dry skin will often try to compensate by producing more oil.  Yeah, it’s annoying.

Solution:  Moisturize your skin, but be reasonable.  Find a good oil-free moisturizer.  Avoid products with petroleum, glycerine, and other pore-cloggers.

Suggestions:  Use your salicylic acid cleansing wash, acne treatment, or whatever your dermatologist has given you, but find a way to work moisturizer into your routine.

Example:  My dermatologist had given me a .025% strength retinol cream.  It wasn’t working as well as I’d like, so he prescribed a .05% version (double strength!).  The stronger one is a little harsh, so I’ve worked out an evening routine (to follow my salicylic acid wash) that’s helping my acne without leaving me looking like I’m molting:  Day 1 & 2:  .025% cream.   Day 3:  Oil-free moisturizer.  Day 4:  .05% cream.  Day 5:  Oil-free moisturizer.  (Repeat.)  This seems to be working out for me so far.  I also work an “exfoliation” in when my skin starts getting really flaky, which is a side effect of the retinol cream.

Recommended Products:

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer ($14)

(packaging varies, and it comes in SPF 15 or 30)

Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF 15 ($36)

Love this, but not the price

Nail Art for Lazy (and Cheap) People

I’ve always been a traditionalist when it comes to my nails – all one color, usually “safe” colors like pink, purple, etc.  However, the growing popularity and acceptance of nail art has given me motivation to branch out.  Oh yeah, and it means spending less time and money doing my nails…

This week was Homecoming at my kids’ school.  I started the week with blue nails in honor of their school colors.  By Friday (Homecoming football game night), the nail polish was looking a  little rough around the edges, so my solution was to put some glitter on the tips and write RHS! (school initials!) in silver nail pen.

Products used: “L.A. Colors” polish ($1 – Dollar Tree), “Nail Art” glitter polish ($1 – Big Lots), Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen ($6 – Ulta)

OK, so my handwriting sucks. (My husband had to do my right hand for me!) It’s about school spirit, not neatness..  By the end of the football game, some of the letters had gotten scratched off (I went to help clean up the concession stand, which probably didn’t help…), so the next morning I scraped off most of the rest of it.  Then I applied more of the “Nail Art” el-cheapo glitter polish to the entire nail.  This hid the rest of the silver letters I couldn’t get off.

I’ve gotten a few compliments on this look.  I admit, I wouldn’t normally wear this much glitter, but it’s kind of growing on me.  The best part:  I’ve gotten away without re-doing my nails for the whole week.

Beauty Tip: Mystic Tan Suggestion

So, I had a Groupon for a tanning salon which offered me 1 free “Mystic Tan”  (the machine that sprays you a shade of your choice.)  I’d already been tanning for a week, so I decided to add to my color with the Mystic Tan.  I chose the reasonable color for my not-very-dark skin.

Then the customer service chick said “Do you want to add bronzer for $2 more?”  I asked what the difference was and she told me it would make the color more immediately noticeable.   I thought that sounded like a good idea.  I was wrong.  And I ended up kind of orange.

At first, it looked fine, but as the regular part of the Mystic Tan started to show itself, the color changed from “Maybe-a-Little-Orange” to “Wow-That’s-Orange”.  Even worse, I didn’t do a good job applying the “blending lotion” to my hands and feet, so now they look like I went crazy with cheap at-home-use self tanner.

So, I had to exfoliate my skin until I looked a normal shade.   The lesson learned:  Upgrades aren’t always a good thing.

Side note:  If given the opportunity, pay extra for the fragrance stuff they add to the tanning solution.  (only $1 where I went, both times.)  Self tanner smells kinda weird on its own.

Beauty Tip: Blush Basics

Blush can make your face look totally different.  Here are some ideas for making your blush work…

Better Blush:  Really cheap blush isn’t finely milled, so when you apply it, you get a “cakey” look that can make your skin look not-so-smooth.  If you buy lower quality blushes, use a brush with softer bristles (not the one that comes in the container) for better application.  I like EcoTools brushes – available at Target and Ulta.

Blush without the Brush: There are a lot of blush products out there that aren’t powder.  You can get cream or gel blushes (some of which double as lip gloss)  If you’re not wearing foundation, using these can be a way to brighten your face or make it look sun-kissed.

No Stripes:   Some people use a technique I refer to as “racing stripe” blush.  This effect is created when someone uses a super bright or super dark color and puts one solid line up each side of their face.  Not attractive.  Or flattering.  Think about how people look when they blush naturally.  It’s not in a solid, straight line.

Don’t Be Monochromatic:  Use a darker color for your regular blush.  Follow with a lighter color at a higher point to create a different look.  A shimmery pink blush applied to the highest part of your cheekbone in a (sort of) semi-circle going towards the corner of your eye gives you a more alluring/healthy look.

Change Your Face:  If you have a round face, don’t apply blush to the “sunken” part under your cheekbone.  Apply to the part where the bone starts to stick out.  It will make your face look less round.

Not Just for Cheeks:  A peachy or pinkish colored blush can be applied to any part of your face you want to highlight (think of a triangle on your face, and highlight the forehead, down the nose, and center of your chin).  Just make sure the color is subtle.  You don’t want to look like you’re getting ready for Carnivale.

Beauty Tip(s): Lovely Locks

My hair is one of the last things left on my body that I actually like.  (Fingers crossed for another year without greys!)  Every time I go to get it cut, I get compliments on how healthy it is.  This isn’t luck or genetics.  I have a carefully orchestrated plan when it comes to taking care of my hair.  Here are some miscellaneous tips to helping your hair look its best…

Ditch the “2-in-1” Products:  If you use shampoo & conditioner combo products, you’re not helping your hair very much.  Think about it – you’re putting conditioner in your hair at the same time you’re supposedly washing it.  If you really don’t have an extra 30 seconds in your day for conditioning, you might want to assess your time management skills…

Give It a Rest:  Despite what the shampoo companies want you to think, you don’t have to wash your hair EVERY day.  If you have a day where you’re not going anywhere, do you really need awesome-looking hair?  If you’re horrified at the thought of someone (maybe) seeing you with greasy-ish hair, use a little dry shampoo.  At the very least, skip the hair dryer and/or flat iron and/or curling iron.

Handle with Care:  Only color your hair as often as you need to.  The same goes for any form of chemical treatment.  When you do color/chemically treat, make it up to your hair by using sulfate-free shampoo (and going easy on the heat styling!)

Try Switching Shampoos/Conditioners Regularly:  If you find that your hair is kind of “blah” or has a lot of build-up after using a product for a while, try alternating with other products you know you love.  Your hair probably has different needs at different times of the year, so switch to something with more moisturizers when the air is dry or when you spend a lot of time in the sun.

Leave-In Conditioner:  OK, it’s called that because it stays in your hair – where it belongs.  Regular conditioner gets washed down the drain.  Leave in conditioner continues to do its job, and saves water.  However, these products can be tricky.  If you use too much, your hair could look really bad.  While you’re getting the hang of it, you should keep a bottle of dry shampoo handy, to help de-grease your hair.

Buy the Right Stuff:  If you have color-treated hair, get shampoo/conditioner that’s made for it.  Your color will last longer and look better.  If you have frizzy hair, look for products that de-frizz.  Shampoo and conditioner are not “one size fits all” products.

Banish Build-Up:  Use a solution of half vinegar (I hear apple cider vinegar is great) and half water to rinse out gunky hair build-up.  (It works for the same reason using it on your coffee maker does.)  You can also just add some vinegar to your shampoo for a “clarifying” effect.  However, if you have dryness-prone hair, you might want to go with an oil treatment.

Trim Regularly:  Getting rid of damage and split ends makes your hair look SO much better.  Even if you’re trying to grow your hair out, do you really want long-but-frizzed-out hair?  Find a stylist you trust who knows what “just trim the ends” means.  If budget is an issue, try a discount chain.  I love Sensational Hair salons.  I’ve had 3 different stylists at the same location and they’ve all done exactly what I wanted them to do.  At only $13 a cut, I don’t feel bad about going every few months.  You might have good luck with going to a local beauty school or beauty school chain, like Aveda Institutes (which I love).

Know Your Hair:  The most important thing is to know what your hair needs.  Pay attention to warning signs like breakage or a dry, itchy scalp.  The most expensive hair products in the world won’t work for you if they’re made for a totally different hair type.

Product Recommendations:

In Summary: Your hair is one of the few things in life you can control. (OK, maybe not EVERY day!) You can decide its color, length, and style. It’s one of the main ways you can express yourself. Make sure you take care of it so it can help you look and feel your best.

Beauty Tip: More Mascara!

The first thing to keep in mind about mascara is that you’re eyelashes aren’t going to look like the ones in the ads.  Those are fake.  Or Photoshopped.  Or both.  BUT here are some tips to make your lashes look as pretty as they can (sans Photoshop)…

Double Up:  Apply a “base coat” of mascara (I use my cheapest one for this).  Once it’s nice and dry, apply a second coat – and a third, if you really want to. You’ll get that dramatic eyelash look without buying fake lashes. Not that I have anything against fake lashes – I just don’t think I’m coordinated enough to get them to work right!

 Other Tips:

–  Don’t “pump” your mascara wand.  Just pull it out cleanly, apply mascara to one eye, and put it back in to repeat for the other eye.

– If your mascara is goopy (some of them are, because they’re made to lengthen lashes), gently scrape it against the inside of the tube as you pull it out, and only apply with the “scraped” area.

– Get as close to your eye as you can without getting mascara into it.

– If you end up with “clumps”, gently comb them out with an eyebrow comb.  Make sure you work from the “eyelid” side of your lashes, so you don’t end up smearing mascara onto your lids. (especially if you’ve already done your eye makeup!)

– Apply extra mascara to the outer corner lashes with a horizontal motion.  This will make your eyes look more feminine.

Some of My Favorite Mascaras:

Too Faced Lashlight (on sale for $22.50 at


Revlon Grow Luscious (not the “plumping” one!) –  approx. $8

Maybelline Volum’Express Colossal Waterproof – approx $7

Sephora Collection Advanced Lash Booster – $12

Reality Check

If you’re reading my blog, I’m pretty sure you’re not a rich and famous celebrity type.  So… maybe you shouldn’t try to look like one.  I keep seeing women who are my age (or older) trying to pull off some looks that are borderline hilarious.  Here’s some tough love…

Your Eyes Don’t Need to Smoke.  The “smoky eye” is being sold as universally sexy.  The truth is that it doesn’t work for everyone, and it looks downright ridiculous on some people.  (Same for that “cat eye/Cleopatra” look.)  It’s not good for everyday use and looks really dumb with a polo and denim capris.  Especially if you’re driving a minivan.

Not Every Trend Needs to be Embraced.  Just because you saw it on E! Entertainment Television or in a Sephora ad, doesn’t mean you have to go out and get “that” look.  It’s easy to lose focus on what looks good in the mirror when you spend too much time looking at other people.

If You Can’t Find It, You Don’t Need It.  Haven’t been able to find your favorite lipstick shade? There’s a reason. It’s out of style. Find something new.

Try It Before You Buy It.  Sephora stores have “express services” they do for free where you can choose from some of the “looks” without any committment.  Stop at a beauty counter in a department store to check out different products.  You have to be open-minded and forgiving with the beauty specialists, sometimes.  They have a “formula” they’re using for some of these techniques and they may not be one-size-fits=all.  I went and got the “everyday eye” look one time and it look like someone had spray painted my eyelids.  They were nice eye shadow colors – but it was a LOT of eye shadow.  And I had an allergic reaction to the mascara.  But, hey, at least it was free!

You Don’t Live at the Mall.  The lighting in your house, yard, and everywhere else is different.  Give yourself a reality check by going out to your car and seeing what you look like in the light of day before you buy all those products.  (Besides – using the “I want to see it in natural lighting” excuse allows you to dodge buying it if you can’t afford it or don’t like it.)

Step Away from the Crazy Colors.  So, maybe your favorite color is fuchsia – that doesn’t mean you should put it on your eyelids, cheeks, or lips.  You’re not a model for Sephora’s catalog.  Stick with the earth tones, blues, purples – anything that doesn’t look like a color you’d see in a highlighter.  If you want to wear a vibrant color, save it for your nails.

Save It for Evening Wear.  If you REALLY want to do some over-the-top glamorous look, save it for special occasions.  (Picking up your kids from soccer practice doesn’t qualify!)  Besides, if you’re always going for the uber-glamour, when you’re dressed up you’re just going to look like your everyday self in a nice dress.  It’s the contrast between your everyday look and your “evening” look that will make it more dramatic.  Nobody has ever made a grand entrance at an event by looking the way they look on a Monday morning.  Look your best every day, and look “va-va-voom” when/where people are more likely to appreciate it.

In Summary:  You’re fabulous.  You’re amazing.  Your choice of makeup has nothing to do with that.  You don’t have to prove your relevance by wearing every “must-have”, flavor-of-the-week color/product.