Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Most Loved in 2011 - Brushes!

I certainly cannot go without mentioning brushes. I quickly grabbed a handful of faves and put them in a cup for my shabby video. In the end, I didn't end up mentioning them all. I do have quite a few I'm looking forward to trying in 2012, thanks mostly to some lovely YouTubers... You know who you are. Daisy :) Haha.

For now, I want to share some of my favourite and most affordable picks. Newly discovered in 2011 - Sigma and Real Techniques...both excellent, both amazing values.
 RT brushes come in sets. They come in tiny portfolios, which are ideal for travel and storing other brushes as well. They can be connected to others and folded over to hold your brushes upright while you work. The base of the brushes are also weighted and designed so that they can easily stand. These are synthetic brushes and I cannot say enough about the value and performance. My faves are the stippling, powder, and deluxe crease brushes.

I cannot go without mentioning Sigma brushes. While I am not as impressed with all of their brushes as I am with my faves, I find the quality overall to be mentionable and well worth the cost. I adore their blending brushes as well as my MAC and Sonia Kashuk ones. The truly outstanding brushes, however, at least for me, have been the SIGMAX and precision eye brushes. The high definition Sigmax face brushes are so densely packed and lush. To me, they give the most flawless foundation coverage I have found thus far and buff liquids and creams beautifully into the skin. Honestly, I use them for mineral foundations as well. To boot, these synthetic brushes are only 16USD! You can also buy them in face sets, eye sets, or a total set of both. The eye brushes are also phenomenal. In terms of applying a primer or cream shadow, I have come to find them holy grail! The shapes mimic the finger. Need I say more? They blend beautifully, and again, 14 dollars!! AMAZEBALLS!

MAC's 217 (22.50 USD) is still holy grail for me for blending! My favourite angled brush is Sonia Kashuk, available at Target in the US.

If you're interested in the Sigma brushes mentioned, I have a current coupon code (good until 29 Feb 2012) for 10% off: LOVE2012
I highly, highly recommend grabbing maybe one Sigmax face and one eye brush (ideal for applying cream shadows and primers). I also really like their eye blending brushes. 

What are your most reached for brushes?

Most Used Products of 2011 - Hair

Looks gross, right? This is actually a peek inside a jar of Lush Cosmetics' BIG shampoo (24.95 USD, 11.4oz)! I will admit that it took me a while to try this one, but I am so happy that I did. Lush touts this shampoo as one to use for "mermaid inspired locks." I will concur. It is infused with salt, which is actually full of moisturizing minerals and also helps clarify the hair. Think about exfoliating your hair, but try not to get freaked out! It's not at all stripping, lathers well (LUSH shampoos are not free of sulfates), and leaves hair feeling splendidly fresh and clean. BIG is also packed with lime juice for shine and volume (and yummy sniffable goodness) as well as seaweed to soften locks. This jar is really packed with volumizing deliciousness!
Antiphilitron is a retro LUSH shampoo. I get it when I can, and I adore it. I really enjoy combining a bit of BIG and antiphilitron in my palm before shampooing. Veganese conditioner is an ideal treat for limp locks. It is lightweight and completely lanolin free. Some ingredients are: lemon juice, lavender, and rosemary. The smell is a bit musky to me, so I would have a sniff before springing for the largest bottle. LUSH liquid shampoos and conditioners range from 9.95 to 29.95 on average depending on size. Also, I cannot neglect to mention LUSH's brilliant solid shampoo bars. I have liked each I've tried. They are a must have for me on short trips, as I never have to consider what fluids I'm packing if I've got a solid shampoo and conditioner bar. Pictured is the NEW! solid shampoo bar (10.95US). It smells wonderfully of cinnamon, and I adore it. Another fave for me is ultimate shine. These bars last longer than you would expect, but again, they are not sulfate free, and I am not sure I would recommend them to anyone with colour treated hair.

Here are some other items I continually reach for through all of my other hair care purchases! An affordable solution for a cleansing shampoo ( everyone needs one to keep a handle on product buildup!) is Redken's cleansing cream. In my experience, it is less stripping than other versions like Neutrogena. That said, for a person without colour treated hair, Neutrogrena also offers wonderful clarifying shampoos.
For years, I have also continually used L'Oreal Professionnel's Serie Expert lines. I regret to tell you lovelies that they have discontinued their soleil line (I loved the UV protectant), but their sister company, Kérastase, still offers a soleil line for both sun protection as well as sun damage. L'Oreal's serie expert line still includes my two top picks: liss ultime and volume expand.
 The volume (green) shampoo is great and lightweight, but in my opinion, the purple bottle is more dynamic, for me. I love both the shampoo and the conditioning masque in the liss ultime line. This line is targeted toward smoothing unruly/curly hair. I have always found that the products, especially the serum, have helped my hair curl. For a person with unruly hair, it may also aid you in smoothing/straightening your hair through blow drying or pressing with a flat iron. This line uses argan oil, olive oil, patented INCELL technology, polytensium (ultra smoothing properties), as well as highly effective anti humectants to help beat frizz in the face of hellish humidity! Liss is definitely FranklyScarlett approved and highly recommended!

 I have to admit that I try to be pretty low maintenance with my hair. I do not stick to any one range of products for styling (or anything else for that matter!), but I do have a few constant faves and raves. Again returning to L'Oreal Professionnel, the Texture Expert styling line has been a wonderful innovation for their company in the last few years. They have products designed specifically for fine/limp, medium/thick, and course/rebellious hair types. Hey, there are some days when I just use the Aussie spray scrunch. It smells delicious, and despite the heavy amount of alcohol present, I love it on occasion. Still, despite the higher price point, L'Oreal's Texture Expert is outstanding. As a person with fine hair, I have to say that it is very difficult to both smooth and volumize hair. This line can really help you achieve both! Standout products for me are: Smooth Essence Weightless Smoother, Densite Thickening Primer, and the Volume Expansion Mousse. A+

I'm still in search of my holy grail heat protectant. I am so happy to have learned from one of you all that Pureology does in fact still have a product out. In the interim, I have enjoyed using CHI's heat protectant and GOT2B Guardian Angel.
That's a (somewhat) brief recap of my most reached for hair products from 2011. What were yours?!


2011 Standouts! Nails!

From left to right: Butter London Toff (a darker, dustier, browner version of rose pink), All Hail the Queen (opaque, holographic beige), and Tea with the Queen (on the pink side of tan, very neutral, but never boring, perfect work, or obviously, tea with the Queen), $14 each

OPI Off with her Red! from the Alice in Wonderland collection, unfortunately limited edition and no longer available, but this tomato-ey red will not be left off my list!

NARS Chinatown (opaque blood red), $17

Illamasqua throb (bright blood red), £13.50
 OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight (aubergine with a frosty twist)

What were your top varnishes of 2011? Any repurchases? I'm itching for some new hues to try on, lovelies! X

My Early Thoughts on Julep Nail Varnishes

Hi again, lovelies! I'm still blogging :) My top products of 2011 are to follow later today,as well as the first giveaway winner from the YouTube series - woohoo ( It's not too late to enter Day 1's Giveaway, which closes at 11:59pm GMT tonight!). More on that later!

For now, I want to provide my promised thoughts on Julep. If you haven't had a look, see my disorganized, impromptu reactions to my Julep Maven un-boxing in my video! I have since received one more Julep box and am so far very pleased and not interested in cancelling my subscription. I do admit, however, that one of my favourite aspects of their service is the option to painlessly cancel or postpone your subscription.

Am I getting ahead of myself as usual? Yes. Julep is a nail boutique/salon in Seattle, WA in the United States. I learned about the program through the super fab Amber of GlamTrotter and decided to give it a go. Firstly, I love the fact that their polishes are free of carcinogens, something that I love about another fave polish - Butter London. Next, their colour selection is vast and boasts several hues not often seen in every other line. C'mon. Admit it. If you're like me, you have eight different shades of red, pink, and nude... It was time for variety for me. The program offered me a chance to try new products at a low cost. The varnishes alone run $14USD, but for a Julep Maven who joins the service, a guaranteed minimum of $40USD value in products is delivered monthly. Additionally, Julep has a handy dandy quiz that helps narrow down your style. In other words, it helps their team decide which colours and products would work best for you. Don't like the idea of getting a mystery box? Neither did I. Julep also send you an e-mail monthly. You get to preview your selection! Don't like it? No problem! They even allow you to request a "shelf pull" before the 15th of each month. It's as easy as that. If that garish yellow-green tone doesn't blow your skirt up, you get to login and select another box! I LOVE IT!

So all of this posh sounds expensive, right? Becoming a Julep Maven is actually 19.95 a month, and that is shipping/handling inclusive. You're guaranteed more value in product, so it's a win/win. It doesn't stop there! You can try Julep for only 5 DOLLARS! I received my first month for only 5 bucks, and that included shipping!

Give them a look: Julep Maven
Just try these coupon codes:

I will definitely keep you all up to date on any Julep deals I find and my opinions on colours. So far, I've warn Alfre, a duochrome greyish violet with a metallic/pearl finish. I have to say it's what really sold me. I would never have bought that polish, but I received endless compliments and wore my manicure for five days before I experienced chipping - amazing! I find the very thin consistency of the lacquer to be ideal for two thin coats of polish. Think thin a'la Chanel...but less chipping! I KNOW! I love it.

So, it was Helena for me last night, the polish I wanted from the start. I just noticed the colour itself reminds me of the Maybelline Falsies mascara bottle. Neat, huh? It's a daring fuschia and lends itself to different tonalities in different lights. Even with my shabby self-manicure, I'm loving my nails today! Helena is at the top of my Julep list so far.

  If you are loving Julep already, please share your favourite picks! Also, if you signup, please share your stories!! I can't wait to see who else is as pleased as I am!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quite frankly blogging!

Thank you to every one of you lovelies for welcoming me to YouTube and the tiny blip of the web I've reached. There are so many overwhelmingly lovely, kind people in this world, and I already feel so blessed to have interacted with a great few! I feel so blessed and overjoyed about continuing to fill my tiny spot on the web with my new friends!

You may have found my via YouTube, maybe even through my first series of giveaways, which I planned long before I learned I was quite challenged with lighting. My aim still remains on tutorials, etc., but I am happy to broaden myself to anything within my capabilities that is of interest to you. In regard to lighting, it seems I am researching different watts on soft box lights. When a person is as pale as I am, being washed out is not a possibility! If you or anyone you knows has any advice before I may my final order next month, please, please feel free to get in touch! It seems choosing the right camera and the right light boxes will be a delicate balance and an important choice for me.

Thank you again, everyone. I look forward to selecting the giveaway winners over the next few weeks and interacting more with all of you. You are all frankly amazing!