Monday, June 30, 2014

Field Trip: Ulta

And so I found myself roaming the aisles of Ulta this weekend to see if anything new would catch my fancy.  It was my third trip there in as many weeks as I was trying to resolve an issue I was having with a prior purchase.  And three definitely ended up being the magic number.  So, after finally garnering a win in the resolution department, I took a leisurely victory lap around the store to gather intel for possible future purchases.

One of the first things that caught my eye was this pretty palette from Tarte called Golden Days & Sultry Nights.  Infused with their signature Amazonian clay, it contains five eyeshadows that range from a matte ivory to a dark bronze... with a strip of tantalizing turquoise to help round out the set.

Ignoring the first two colors, I focused in on the last three - all of which swatched pretty well, but the gold (the first color swatch) was quite "crumbly".

Next up was the eponymous makeup line from celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal.  I can honestly sit and watch this woman hawk her colorful wares all day long on QVC, her personality is so big and her smile infectious!  I had no idea that her cosmetics were being sold at Ulta, but so glad that they are so I can see and feel them out firsthand.

With so much to see and visually take in, including the Poreless Face Defender "mattifyer" she's well known for, it was hard to decide what to sample first.  But it was the blush/highlight combo and waterproof eyeliners that I ended up settling on, specifically Dark Chocolate, Caribbean Sea and Sailor, and I must say that I was seriously impressed by all.

(L to R: Dark Chocolate, Sailor, Caribbean Sea; Blush combo in Pretty In Pink)

I'm always wary of fashion brands dipping their toes into the already crowded pool of cosmetics.  I mean, what's their real motivation?  Will it be any good?  And will it include a large range of shades that's equal to their supposed fan base?  Well, after seeing the large cK (Calvin Klein) display, I knew that the answer to the latter was "kinda" as it did have some browner hues listed in their range of foundations.  There wasn't a vast scale of browns, but at least there were a few.

(Top, Bottom: 410 Wanted, 610 Bite Me)

And being the lipstick fiend that I am, I just had try a couple of cK's lippies, specifically a hot pink called Wanted and a red-orange called Bite Me.  Both felt smooth as I swatched them on the back of my hand and both were pumped full of pigment.  I may have to cop one of these in the near future to see how they fare in action.

I wandered over to the skin care section and stopped in front of the Peter Thomas Roth display.  Encouraged by my fondness for their Cucumber Gel Mask, I was curious to see what else they had to offer and homed in on their jar of Rose Stem Cell Gel Mask.

The gel has a light consistency and boasts anti-aging/skin repair agents for softer, more youthful looking skin.  Hmm... sounds good enough.  Besides, it's PINK!  And we all know how much Dolce loves the color pink, don't we?

If you guys have read some of my previous posts then you know that I've been getting a little more involved in the grooming of my brows.  So, when I laid eyes on the end-cap featuring Anastasia products, you know I had to stop and peruse some of her gems, including the Dipbrow Pomades.

(Top, Bottom: Chocolate, Dark Brown)

These waterproof brow pomades are so lusciously creamy; they're amazing!  I mean, the brush seemingly "melted" into the product and the pomade itself had no problems gliding on my skin.  I sampled Dark Brown and Chocolate, and - between the two - I prefer the warmer Chocolate to the more ashen Dark Brown for my complexion.

I had to swing through the nail polish department where there's a nice sale going on for China Glaze lacquers.

And I thought this was pretty neato: an elastic, fishtail braided headband.  Now you know that I'm every bit of a dark, black-brown/brunette, but please trust and believe that I would totally buy this blonde one I have my hands on and rock it like no other.  Trust and believe...

So, I had fun perusing the aisles at Ulta and was so glad that I was able to take care of business while partaking in a fair share of pleasure, too.  I didn't end up doing much damage.  In fact, I just re-upped on my shampoo (I know, BOOORING!).  But I did take copious notes on a lot of what I saw and will be using this newly gained info to help guide my picks of possible baubles and bobs to share with you in the very near future.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Strip Tease

Well, I had a good run with my first set of nail lacquer strips, so I decided to keep the train moving along by having a go at the second batch that I had squirreled away in my stash.  This particular offering from Sephora/OPI proved to be quite the handful as things seemed to go awry early on.  But after an intervention of sorts, the end result turned out better than expected!  So, let me cut right to the chase and give you all the deets on my latest romp with polish strips...

With the lessons learned from my first lacquer strip encounter still fresh in my mind, I painted ALL of my digits in my polish of choice: China Glaze's Ingrid.  Then I grabbed the strips.

Lacquer strips are peel off strips of nail polish that adhere to your nails.  They come in many colors, finishes and designs, have exceptional wear time, and can be removed with nail polish remover.  Convenience is the key with these bad boys as you just peel them off, stick 'em on and go.  Laced in a graphic, black and cream art deco design, my Sephora/OPI strips came in a pack of sixteen (two strips for each of the eight nail sizes provided).

Now when I opened the pack, I immediately noticed that the cream portion of the design had transferred/melted onto the top part of the package.  Not sure whether this was due to the summer weather or perhaps the age of the product, but it had me concerned.  Hoping that the integrity of the lacquer would remain unaffected, I pushed on.

Once again, I designated my ring finger as the bearer of the ornate nail decal and - after removing it from its paper backing and clear overlay - placed the strip on my nail and tried to finagle it into place.  However, tackier than usual due to its breakdown in the packaging (I believe), it ripped apart as soon as I touched it!  There was no salvaging it now (or so I thought), so I took a cotton ball full of polish remover and vigorously rubbed...

... only to have the cream portion of the design be erased while the stubborn black portion remained.  And that's when the hamster in my noggin started to work overtime.  Perhaps my initial efforts wouldn't be for naught and my nail design could be saved.  I mean, the residual black pattern looked pretty dope to me, but could use some slight editing.

And that's when I decided to recruit LA Colors' Art Deco nail polish in Ice Breaker to fill-in and save my design from disaster.  I splashed a little of it here and there just to polish it up and cover some of the flaws left behind and voilà!  Art Deco saved my art deco and I must say that I L.O.V.E. the way it turned out.

Needless to say, I did my other hand the very same way and plan on wearing this design sans the cream portion every time I rock this decal.  In fact, I prefer it this way; I think it looks better!

Don't you just love happy mistakes?  And right when things seem to fall apart, ain't it cool when everything ends up falling into place?  I'm stoked that my latest nail-scapade ended the way that it did.  A potential #FAIL turned into a huge #WIN; I got a whole new nail design out of the process, leaving me excited to see what other nail-oriented shenanigans I can get my fingers into.

Nail lacquer strips are available at various drugstores and outlets, including Sephora and Target, and range in retail from $7 - $30.

Monday, June 23, 2014

On Time For the PRO Palette Party

If you read my post about LORAC's first PRO palette then you know that I had hemmed and hawed for, like, forever before finally joining in on the PRO palette "party".  To put it squarely, I was late.  I wasn't even fashionably late... just LATE!  But once I joined, I celebrated its assembly of beautiful shadows just like everyone else who had gotten their hands on it.  Well, now LORAC has released a follow-up to their mega-hit and guess who not only RSVP'd, but got to the party on time... and with bells on?  This girl did, that's who!  And it is every bit of awesome as its potently pigmented predecessor!  So, let's get right to it, shall we?  Let's dive right in and review the shadowy splendor that is the LORAC PRO Palette 2.

Like the first PRO Palette, PRO 2 comes complete with a travel-size LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer and houses its sixteen shadows in a narrow, rubberized case with a magnetic closure.  However, unlike the first one's jet black case, PRO 2's case is a cement gray.

Although the gathering of grays and silvers give the palette an overall cooler tone than PRO numero uno, I would venture to say that PRO 2 plays the more neutral route than anything.  The shades are a perfect balance of warm and cool, not leaning too far to either pole, and should fit a wide range of skin tones and complexions. 

LORAC PRO (top), LORAC PRO 2 (bottom)

(L to R: Buff, Lt. Brown, Cool Gray, Nectar)

(L to R: Nectar, Cool Gray, Lt. Brown, Buff)

(L to R: Snow, Beige, Rosé, Mocha)

(L to R: Snow, Beige, Rosé, Mocha)

(L to R: Plum, Navy, Charcoal, Black)

(L to R: Plum, Navy, Charcoal, Black)

(L to R: Chrome, Silver, Jade, Cocoa)

(L to R: Chrome, Silver, Jade, Cocoa)

OK, when I tell y'all that this palette is ab fab, please believe it!  And when I tell y'all that the more I stared at it and played in it, the more enamored I became with it, PLEASE BELIEVE IT!  From the mattey mattes to the pearly pearls, each handsomely pigmented shadow is buttery soft with not one dud in the entire bunch to speak of!  Now, I will note for those that are picky about such things - Black is not an inky, pitch-black, but more of an ash-black color.  Each and every eyeshadow in the palette, though, is deeply hued and ab fab, I tell ya!  AB FAB!

So, now that I've arrived at the second go 'round of the PRO palette party on time, I am kicking up my heels and doing the Watusi, the Cabbage Patch AND the two-step all in celebration of this awesome collection of eyeshadows.  PRO 2 does not disappoint as it is just as impressive as PRO numero uno, leaving me to wonder aloud what LORAC has in store for us next.

LORAC PRO Palette 2 is available exclusively at (at Ulta stores on June 29th) and retails for $42.