Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parabens- what are they, and why should we avoid them?

Maybe you've heard the "P" word lately, maybe you haven't. Parabens seem to be coming into the spotlight of the cosmetics world more and more lately, so I wanted to bring everyone up to speed who might not know what all the buzz is about.

Parabens are a type of chemical used in cosmetics, haircare, and skincare products... and you can even find them in food additives or dental hygiene products. These chemicals act as a preservative to keep your products lasting longer than they normally would.

Sounds great, right? The problem with parabens is that studies are showing these chemicals can act like estrogen, and the chemical has even been found in cancer tumors. Granted, there are no direct links between parabens and cancer, but it might be something worth avoiding "just in case".

Luckily, there are some absolutely fabulous makeup brands out there that make sure they products they product do not contain parabens! Some of my favorite are Tarte, Smashbox, Urban Decay, Bare Minerals, and Sephora Brand cosmetics just to name a few. Even some of the drug store brands are hopping on the anti-paraben bandwagon now; Revlon is one that comes to mind that I recently discovered!

So how do you know if your makeup has parabens or not? Check the ingredients! Many stores are making it easier by advertising "paraben-free" products. Sephora makes it even easier by listing the ingredients on each items product page, and include a section called "What It Is Formulated Without" to show any chemicals that were intentionally excluded from the product. However, checking the ingredients list yourself is always the best bet.

So how do you read all those long words in ingredients to look for parabens? Do a quick scan of the list, anything "-paraben" is a common culprit. Examples include methylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben.

So now that you know, I'm not telling you to tear open your makeup bag and toss everything with a paraben in it. BUT, slowly replacing your makeup with more paraben-free cosmetics might be beneficial in the long run.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

10 Beauty Tips!

Hopefully at least one of these beauty tips can help make your beauty life a little easier!

  1. Changing Your Mascara
    Mascara should never be used for more than 3 months- after that mark, it's time to toss. Ever wonder why this is around the same time it starts to get clumpy and change in consistency? That's because your mascara eventually becomes a breeding ground for bacteria... and you don't want that stuff near your eyes when it does! An eye infection is never worth getting an extra month out of your mascara. BUT, it can be really hard to remember when you last opened your favorite tube, and we all aren't organized enough to label them. The easiest solution I've found? Open a new tube with every season change! First day of Summer, Spring, Winter, or Fall- toss and open!

  2. Tape Those Eyes!?
    I mean literally, put tape on your eyes. Mastering the perfect eyeshadow line or winged eyeliner can be really tough, but this little trick can give you the perfect look every time. Place a small piece of tape on the outside of your eye, lining the edge from the corner of your eyelash line to the outer corner of your eyebrow. You can adjust the angle of the tape for more dramatic looks. A great plus- easy cleanup for any eyeshadow fall out that might land on your cheeks!
  3. Always Wash!
    This seems like a really easy one... don't go to bed without washing your face. Yes, it really stinks at 2:00am when all you can think about is your head meeting your pillow, but your skin will thank you for it. If nothing else, take 10 seconds to use a makeup remove wipe to remove anything on top of your skin. Nighttime is when your skin rejuvenates and heals, so make those hours count!

  4. Clean Pillow Cases
    We all change our sheets regularly, but changing your pillow cases even more often can be a huge benefit for your skin, and only takes about 10 seconds of your time. Oils from your hair, dead skin, dust- all these can be found on your pillow. Change at least weekly, but twice a week is even better.
  5. 2nd Life for Dry Mascara
    Sometimes our mascara can dry up on us early, before that 3 month mark. If you still have the timer going on your current tube, but its starting to turn dry and flakey, have no fear! Add a few drops of contact solution to the tube and twirl your brush around inside. You'll be able to get another week of use, sometimes more!
  6. One Every Two Rule
    I hear this all the time... "I tried that new foundation, new moisturizer, and new serum I heard about, but my skin went crazy!" Don't introduce too many new things to your face at once. My rule is you can bring in ONE new product every TWO weeks. After two weeks, usually my skin has had time to adjust or react to the newcomer. I can notice any negative reactions and discontinue use right away if that's the case. Take it slow!

  7. WATER!
    Another simple one... more water = happy skin! If you don't believe me, test it out for 3 days. Drink water like crazy, and see how great your skin looks and feels that week. You'll be a believer! A great rule of thumb is half your body weight, in ounces. So if you weigh 120lb, consume at LEAST 60 oz. of water.
  8. Samples Everywhere!
    We all love getting free samples from the beauty counter, but let's face it- they can get overwhelming sometimes. Before I know it, I'll have a pile of them on my vanity and I don't even know where to start! The best use for those moisturizers, hand creams, lip glosses, etc? Stash them away in your desk, in your car, in your purse... anywhere on the go! You never know when they'll get you out of a pinch!
  9. Too Hot!
    We all know water is hydrating, but if your water is too hot, it might not be doing you any good at all. When your wash your face or take a shower in hot water, you're stripping away the GOOD oils on your skin. These oils help keep you hydrated and healthy. Ever step out from a hot shower and notice your skin is red, and might even itch? A sure sign of dry skin!
  10. DON'T Pump It!
    Its getting near that 3 month mark, and your mascara just isn't clinging to the brush as thick as it once was. Pumping is NOT the solution! Pumping the brush wand into the tube pushes air down, which will actually dry out your mascara even faster! If you need more product, stick the wand back in the tube and gently swirl, you'll have better results and a longer lasting tube!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Smashbox Cosmtics has really been pushing this whole "Shape Matters" concept with eyeshadow, and I have to say- I LIKE. I hear it all the time... "I want my eye makeup to look like hers" or "Why doesn't it look the same on me?" Its all about eye shape. Watch this great video where you can figure out exactly what shaped eyes you have, and then Smashbox has some great makeup tips geared towards your specific shape!

My Beauty Roots

I want to dedicate today's beauty post to a beautiful, selfless, amazing woman who got me started on the path to beauty when I was just a little girl. I remember spending so many days with her- sitting on the couch to style her hair, going through her makeup drawer in the bathroom, playing with her jewelry and perfumes when she wasn't peaking... It was all for fun then, but I'm reminded of those precious memories all the time. She opened me to a world a beauty, that then, I had no idea I would find so fascinating even in adulthood.

I don't think its a coincidence that something inside me clicked this week, and I finally pulled the trigger on starting a blog. Today marks two years since she's left my world for His, and I await the day when I can style her hair one again. <3 Love you, Grams

Last Day of Tarte's Sweet & Tarte Giveaway!

RUN, don't walk, over to Tarte to enter in their Sweet & Tarte Sweepstakes- Today is the LAST day! 10 lucky winners will receive a Sugarfina Sweetheart Bento Box, as we as cheek stain, power pigment, maracuja oil, and lip exfoliate by Tarte!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Surviving the Dry, Cold, Winter Months!!

Today when I woke up, it was -15° out this morning. That's without a windchill. If you live in an area like me, the cold winters result in chapped lips, dry skin, and cracked hands... none of which look or feel pretty. Luckily, I have some fight in me, and the help of some great products! The most important thing you can do is MOISTURIZE, but you can take that to the next level with the help of exfoliating!

For Your Hands...
Your hands are probably the first thing to react to the cold. They become dry, red, and can even crack and bleed. To exfoliate those beauties, use a hand scrub (usually sugar based) to remove all those old, dead skin cells. I highly recommend Burt's Bees Sugar Scrub ($13), but you can even make your own at home for just pennies! Find a spare mason jar (we all have at least a dozen of those laying around somewhere, right?), and make a mixture of sugar (the larger rock sugar works even better) and olive oil. You can add some honey or coconut oil if you have it handy as well, just mix until you get a gel-like consistency. Grab a nickel-sized amount and rub through your hands for about a minute and rinse with luke-warm water. (On a side note, avoid hot water as much as possible, as it is super drying!) I promise you your hands will feel baby soft when you're done!

After exfoliating, its time to moisturize! There are plenty of great hand moisturizers out there, but people are so quick to jump to the best smelling one. The problem with these heavily fragrance moisturizers is all the fragrance and chemicals used to keep it smelling great- they are drying! You'll find yourself using even more moisturizer. I recommend something with natural fragrances, such as Josie Maran's Whipped Argan Oil Hand Cream ($22), L'Occitane Ulta Rich Body Cream ($44) for use all over, or the more pocket friendly Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream ($6.99).

For Your Lips...
Chapped lips are the worst. They hurt, they peel and can bleed, and nothing ruins a pretty shade of lipstick more. But the solution is once again- exfoliate and moisturize! You can use the exact same sugar scrub you made for your hands, on your lips! Massage the mixture into your lips with a clean finger and rinse! Another great low-cost solution is to make a paste of baking soda and water, and use your tooth brush to gently scrub your lips! The results are great! For on the go, Tarte makes a great  Maracuja Lip Exfoliate ($16) that works great! 

Time to moisturize! Hands down, the best lip balm to ever touch my lips is Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment ($22.50). It leaves your lips feeling like silk, has all natural ingredients, and one stick lasts forever! However, the price can be a tough pill to swallow. A great drugstore alternative is Softlips Lip Protectant ($2.99)! A lip balm with sunscreen is your best bet!

For Your Face...
Your face might not look as bad as your lips or hands, but dry skin can definitely cause more frustrating problems like breakouts, dry patches, or redness. To exfoliate, my holy grail product is my Mia 2 Skin Cleansing System ($125), but the price hurts just looking at it. Definitely put it on your wish list, I promise you it will change your skin forever! And exfoliating is just the beginning for the Mia- it also minimizes pores, cleans your skin like no other product you've ever tried (I promise), and evens out your skin tone. But, for a more cost friendly alternative to exfoliate, try St Ives Fresh Skin Invigorating Scrub ($5.99). Be careful- too much exfoliation can hurt you more than it helps! I would start with once or twice a week and slowly work up to a higher frequency of use.

For moisturizing your face, again, look for something without fragrance and that is safe for you skin. I swear by First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream ($12), but a great drugstore alternative that I use just as often is Cetaphil's Daily Facial Moisturizer ($12.99). Again, any SPF protection is a great bonus!

Also in the winter months, I add an extra step in my moisturizing routine- face oil! I know you're thinking "there's no way I'm putting oil on my face", but your skin will love you for it! A great nighttime oil is Tarte's Pure Maracuja Oil ($17). I'm planning a great skincare routine post, and I will go into more detail on the benefits of oils!

Keep fighting the good fight out there against Old Man Winter, and I promise spring will be right around the corner!

Too Faced 20% Valentine's Promo!

Another great promo this week! Too Faced Cosmetics is offering 20% everything on their site, with promo code WEHEARTU. More shopping!

My wishlist: Their adorable Sweethearts Blush, and I've been wanting to try their Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer as well!

If you're on the hunt for a good eye shadow palette that's a little gentler on your wallet compared to others out there, I highly recommend their Boudoir Eyes or their Natural Eyes palettes. Both are favorites of mine!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My First Blog Haul! Sephora + Ulta

Very excited to blog my first haul with you guys!

 These tiny boxes contained some exciting stuff! A lot of new-to-me beauty products! Let's start!

  1. Tarte Golden Opportunity Tarte-To-Go Kit, Sephora, $10
    I bought this adorable set mainly for the bronzer, that mini self tanner is just a great bonus! I received my original deluxe sample of Tarte's Park Avenue Princess bronzer as Sephora perk, and I fell in love. In all honestly, its not huge, but I haven't even made dent in it yet. Now that I have two, I know this will last me MONTHS. I haven't tried the self tanner, but stay tuned! Also- any good recommendations on a good contour brush for my bronzer?
  2. Tarte EmphaEYES Waterproof Clay Eyeliner, Ulta, $24
    Gel/cream eyeliner is a new territory for me. I've been using liquid pen liners for years, but I'm ready to try something different! This had great reviews, so we'll see how it works! Bonus, came with a double ended brush, so kudos for not having to spend more!

  3. Wet Brush Detangling Hair Brush, Ulta, $8.99
    I've been in need for a brush replacement for a while, but I wasn't ready to take the DryBar plunge just yet. This beauty was 1/2 the price, so I've really excited to see how it works out!
  4. Anatasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, Ulta, $18
    Another new territory. I just started filling in my brows (definitely not a daily thing) in the last few months. I've been using pencil sticks, but I think I'm ready for the next level. ABH makes the BEST products out there for brows, so even though this was just released for 2014, I'm confident its going to be a winner!
  5. Revlon Color Burst Lip Butter, Ulta, $7.99
    I orginally was hoping to snag one of NYX's new butter lipsticks, but they were flying out of stock too quick for my patience. I snagged one of these instead, so we'll see how they stack up. Bonus: They are paraben free! Who knew, but great job, Revlon!
  6. Sephora Universal Lip Liner, Sephora, $10
    I've had my eyes out for a clear lip liner, but I wasn't really ready to dish out the big bucks for one just yet. I've had my eyes on this one, but its been out of stock FOREVER, I'm talking MONTHS. It finally popped up in stock the other night and I jumped on it- thankfully it inspired the order to create this haul!
  7. Sephora Super Nourishing Lip Balm, Sephora, $5
    I will admit, my only reason for this purchase was to hit a $25 order to collect on a sweet promo code. I have super high hopes that this will be comparable to the lip balms by Fresh, but those are high standards!
  8. Riviera Hair Clips, Ulta, $10
    I'll be honest, I bought these because my two favorite hair clips have been missing for weeks. The day before these two arrived, my hubby pulled both out of the couch. How does this happen?
  9. This is a from a Promo Sephora was running- I've been waiting to try St. Tropez self tanner, so I added on this promo. This stuff can be pricey, so I'll try it for free anyday! ;)
  10. This itty bitty little thing is a self tanning mitt that was included with the St. Tropez self tanner. What's so great about this was I expected a full size mitt, silly me...
  11. A Sephora 100 Point Perk I excitedly cashed in! Ole Henriksen Truth Serum is part of my skin care routine that I started in December, and I am so in love. Thanks to my mama for introducing me to this brand! I plan on giving this product its very own post soon!
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for reviews and swatches!

Urban Decay Friends & Fanatics Event!

Hurry over to Urban Decay, they're holding their Friends & Fanatics Event this week. This is a great way to score 20% off some of the best makeup products out there... Don't get me started on the eyeshadows! Note: It excludes the new Naked3 palette (but Naked and Naked2 have the green light!)

Happy shopping!