Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Budget Beauty Wins

To my surprise, I just realized I've never done a "beauty on the cheap" post. This must be remedied! I love beauty products, but I'm very selective on what I spend a lot of money on. It stinks to take a chance on something new to find out it's nothing special, or worse, that you hate it. I can justify the occasional splurge if the rest of my arsenal is inexpensive. Plus I'm an instant gratification kind of gal, and I think it's awesome to just be able to pick up something I like at a drugstore or grocery. I hate those cheap beauty posts that are like "this awesome lipstick is only $10!" A $10 lipstick is not cheap. These are some products I adore, several of them recent discoveries, that I promise are actually inexpensive: $5 or less.

Dollar General Brand Face Wash: about $2-3
When I initially bought this, it was for my kids. I was trying to teach them about skincare, and didn't want them practicing with my $28 cleansing oil (ok, I didn't pay $28 for it, but it still was not cheap). However, recently I started to get low on my fantastic oil, so I took the plunge and tried the DG Beauty brand face wash to stretch out my bottle of the good stuff for a little longer. 

When I first squirted it onto my hands, I was not impressed. Ew. It felt gross. It smelled like soap. For a foaming face wash, it was not getting very foamy. But then I shut up and put it on my face...and wow. I'd been looking for something that made my face feel really, really clean for a while, and this was what did it. A swipe of astringent verified that my face was completely makeup free in no time flat, and it felt soft and clean. This wash converted me from a cleanser snob. My one complaint: it did make my skin feel dry. A little of my regular moisturizer and I was fine, but if you have very dry skin, YMMV. I can't find this on the Dollar General website now, and I have to admit, I'm kinda panicked. I'm going to need more soon!

This buy came from necessity. I've tried several concealers to deal with my undereye circles, and all have disappointed. When I ran out of my good-enough liquid concealer, I was broke, so I picked up the cheapest one that looked like it might work in Medium. This is not the chalky stick concealer I tried in the 90s. It was creamy, easy to apply, and did a better job of minimizing my dark circles than the past three concealers I'd tried combined. I'm hooked. It also played into my weakness for easy beauty: as much as I like products, I'm not a morning person, so makeup I can put on in a hurry without looking like I did it half asleep in the dark (even if I did) is my friend. This stick? We're friends. Downside: no option for dark skinned beauties. Even though the medium shade was fine on me, it's always a bit of a downer when a company doesn't even attempt shades for darker skinned women. I'm not as familiar with the variation in light skin tones, but I'm guessing that very pale lovelies would be out of luck, too. 

The priciest everyday makeup is generally foundation, and it's also the item most likely to make you look ridiculous if you buy the wrong shade. So much pressure! Luckily, I found Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse. I love this stuff. I'm currently on my third bottle. The bottle looks tiny, but it lasts a while because you don't need a lot for good coverage. It spreads evenly, never drips, and gives noticeably smooth coverage with a little buildability for blotchy days. I love it. My main complaint, once again, is a low range of shades. It does have a good balance of cool and warm tones, and the very light faired a little better this time, but I wear Sand, the darkest shade, and I am far from the darkest skinned person I know. On the up-side, if you're somewhere between porcelain and sand, I'd highly recommend it. 

Ok, I cheated a little on this one. I usually get the two pack of Equate sterile multipurpose solution, which is $5.98. The single 12 oz bottle and the two pack linked in the headline for this section are both under $5 though. I spend a touch more because I actually wear contacts, so it does double duty for me. What I recommend that you use it for is removing eye makeup. I discovered quite by accident that a cotton ball with a little bit of regular old saline solution removes eye makeup beautifully and leaves your eyes feeling refreshed. I also like to dip a cotton swab in it to correct eyeliner mishaps. Since I do wear contacts, I'm hesitant to use the pink, cosmetic-y fare typically marketed for eye makeup removal, and this is something I'm already safely using on my eyes. It's designed to keep your eyes clean, so why wouldn't we use it for that? And if you're not fussy about the brand, it's crazy cheap. For your actual contacts, that's between you and your doctor, but for taking off day old mascara, cheapo contact solution works just fine for me.

I love a good beauty bargain so much! I'll be on the lookout for more beauty finds at pocket change prices to share with you. What are your favorite inexpensive beauty steals?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Second Chance Mani Do Overs

Have you ever tried a polish and said "meh," dropping it in your stash as unimpressive, only to decide later that it very well may be your Favorite Polish of All Time? I know I have. I hate the idea of having great polish going unused, so I decided to dust off a few of those "meh" shades for polish Do Overs! The rules were that it couldn't be a polish I use regularly for manis or nail art, has to be a polish that I disliked because of the color itself, not formula or some other reason unrelated to the particular shade, and I wore them all for at least a full day. Here's what happened.

I started out with Julep Rochelle. When I first picked it up, I tried it on and thought it was...fine, I guess. It was purple. I have a love/hate relationship with purples-I have dozens, and some of my best loved shades are purple, but I tend to find purple polishes uninspiring in general. Then I kept picking up Sinful Shine Haute Shine and thinking "I already have Rochelle, it's nothing special, and this one looks just like it," so I decided I needed to crack out Rochelle again before buying a dupe. Turns out, I love Rochelle! It's a gorgeous, glowy shimmer that applied beautifully and looks rich and elegant. It's almost chromy, and the shine is fantastic. I have a coat of Sinful Shine topcoat over it here, but it shines on its own as well. This is two easy coats. I did have some tip wear pretty quickly, but this one is still officially back in the rotation.

My next Do Over was Sinful Shine Prosecco. I was so disappointed when I bought this one a few months ago. I had oohed and ahhed over it in a display but didn't buy, and when I went back for it, it wasn't there. It suddenly became a unicorn. I needed it. I obsessed over other bloggers' swatches. I scanned the displays in multiple stores looking for it, only to leave dejected. So when I finally found it on eBay for $7.99, I snatched it up.

You have to understand, I'd just paid eight dollars for a polish that retails less than $2, waited a week to get it, then put it on my nails and hated it. Not just didn't love it, straight up hated everything about it. Super thin formula. Terrible with my skin tone, even though on paper it should have looked great. Between the formula and the finish, couldn't even use it for nail art. Three strikes. I pushed it to the back of my Sinful Colors stash and growled a little every time I looked at it.

My relationship with this polish is now better, but still strained. This was 4 coats, and it took a very long time to dry. I still think it's completely wrong for me, but when I was wearing it, I had to appreciate that gold shimmer. I probably won't wear it alone again, but maybe there's some hope with layering?

The last polish granted a do-over this round was Essie A Cut Above, from their LuxEffects lineup. I've used this polish here and there for nail art, but it never really struck me as a headliner. A Cut Above is kind of basic: shimmery pink hex glitter in different sizes in a clear base. It's my only Essie polish, gifted to me by someone who didn't think it was her style. Since it is a topper (and I don't think it was ever intended to be a standalone), I paired it with Julep Linda, a cool pale grey. I love pink and grey together, especially in the winter for some reason, so I hoped it would bring out the best in it. For the most part, I was right. Linda and A Cut Above seem to play well together. Linda is warmer and more lavender toned when they're teamed up, which looked nice with my skin tone, and A Cut Above's sparkle was more sophisticated on a neutral base. I really like this mani.

That being said, I don't particularly like this polish any more than I did before. Because all of the glitter is the same shade, it falls a touch flat. What really tipped the odds against it was the application. Because I was going for gradiation, I had to do quite a bit of manipulating to get the glitter where I wanted it. I like the finished effect, but it wasn't very cooperative when I was trying to get it. All in all, the re-try didn't improve my opinion of this polish. It's just not exciting enough to be worth the price tag.

Even though two of my three do-overs still struck out, I enjoy retrying polishes I wasn't initially in love with every now and then. My tastes change sometimes, or I notice a new way that this polish could fit into my style. And you never know when a polish will be exactly right for the look you're going for, so pulling out colors I don't wear often reminds me what I have available. What's a polish that didn't win you over right away, but now you love it?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Broadway Nails Gel Strong: Neons and Shimmers and Glitters-Oh My!

I knnnnooowww my last few reviews have been Broadway Nails Gel Strong, but my mother-in-law got me a few new really cool ones that were a little outside my usual picks (she gets me, by the way), so I decided that you'd surely forgive me for one more Gel Strong review post.

I'm not typically a fan of neons, so I wasn't so sure about Powder Green at first. What won me over was, surprisingly, the application. Application has been very hit and miss with this line, and neons are notoriously poorly behaved overall, so I was very pleased with how smoothly and evenly this one applied without a white base. I still needed three coats to get to the opacity I like, but two would be sufficient if you don't mind a looser finish. It mattefies a touch as it dries (another common feature of neons), and is just enough "bright." As far as neons go, I don't have much to complain about on this one.

My second gifted polish was a mixed hex and round purple, pink, and orange glitter topper called Playground (shown here over Powder Green). It looks pink in the bottle, but as you can see, the color in the bottle is an odd representation of what it looks like on the nail. The purple kind of steals the show once you get it over another color. The clear base doesn't obscure the color underneath, making it good for a fun accent like the ones here. On the middle finger, I applied the polish to a sponge and dabbed it on, while on the ring finger I applied directly from the bottle. From the bottle gave a lighter touch, using the sponge really packed it in. This is a fun polish that will be great for experimenting. I want to try it over different color palettes, matte, shiny, dense, many possibilities!

The third polish was Chalice, a blue shimmer. I had passed over this one a few times because I'm pretty happy with my midnight blue selection. I already have Julep Lacey and Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro Midnight Blue, both gorgeous, and I recently added Julep Austen to my midnight posse. Truth be known, though, Austen hadn't turned out to be exactly what I'd wanted. I'd expected a royal blue; what I got was lovely, but much darker than the website swatch. (Caveat: I got Austen from a batch that Julep proactively identified as flawed and replaced with a free polish for people who'd already ordered it, so my opinion of it may not be representative of the "good" Austens.) When I tried on Chalice, I was so excited-it was a dead ringer for the Austen swatch! Chalice is a royal blue/rich cobalt shimmer that applies beautifully in 2-3 coats, and cleans up really easily for a bright blue polish. And it is so pretty, y'all.

Can we just take one more look at this polish? This time it's paired up with Julep Angie, a silver linear holo, with Sinful Shine topcoat over the whole thing. I thought about doing a design on the accent nail, but these two are so perfectly paired that I didn't have the heart to mess with it. I'm in love with this mani right now.

I think my MIL is a visionary. These are all three polishes I'd consciously passed over, and now I'm glad they're in my collection, especially Chalice. Have you ever been wowed by a polish you'd initially written off as 'meh'?