December 31, 2012

12 Beauty Favorites of 2012

There are just a few hours left of 2012 and as I get ready for a night of celebration, I'm thinking of the closing year. I'm eager for a new beginning, but first I'd like to reflect on my beauty favorites of 2012.

1. Clarisonic Mia
I use my Clarisonic Mia every night to cleanse my face no matter what. I admit it's not easy to commit to a nightly cleansing routine, especially when a comfy bed looks so inviting, but my skin thanks me for it in the morning. It works great to remove my makeup  and I've also seen a significant difference in the smoothness of my skin over the past year. I can't imagine going to bed without using it! My review of the Mia.

2. Smashbox Blush Rush - Peony
I acquired this Smashbox blush through a kit I bought from Ulta. Those kits suck me in everytime! You can find my full review of the kit here. I love this pink blush because it brings a natural rosy flush to my cheeks. It's light and applies easily. I haven't even made a dent in it yet.

3. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
I know I'm not the only one with this product on my favorites list. This moisturizer from Clinique is one of the best products I've ever used. I usually buy the full size and it lasts forever.  I'm sure it will be among my favorites for a long time. It's not heavy, nor does it leave any sort of greasy residue on my skin.

4. Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder
This powder is very inexpensive (around $5!) and lasts for a few months at a time. It sets my makeup so that I don't have to reapply throughout the day. It works just as good as the high end powders I've used. I really just stumbled across it one day at the drugstore and have been using it as my daily powder ever since.

5. Ultra Chi Flat Iron
I received this flat iron as a gift about a year ago. It straightens my hair quickly while giving me volume and shine. Many flat irons seem to flatten hair, but with the Chi my hair maintains body and fullness. I always love the designs on them too.

6.  Birchbox subscription
I have now been subsribed to Birchbox for over a year and plan to keep my subscription into the new year. Many of my boxes have been pretty generous with various full-sized products worth more than the full price of the box (only $10/month). If you're interested in reading all of my Birchbox reviews, go here.

7. Naked palettes
I couldn't choose between the two palettes. It was way too difficult, so I counted them as one favorite. I didn't think I needed both palettes at first because they seemed so similar, but it turns out I use them both equally. The shadows are different enough for me to justify owning both. I have a review/comparison of the two here.

8. Nivea Touch of Renewal Lathering Body Scrub
I was lucky enough to be sent this scrub for a review (which can be found here) and it quickly became a favorite. It's not a harsh scrub like many tend to be. It's gentle enough for daily use and my skin feels silky smooth after each use. I highly recommend trying it for yourself!

9. MAC Fluidline - Blacktrack
This amazing gel liner is very easy to work with. You can use it for a smudgey, smokey look or a more crisp, clean defined look. I use an angle brush to apply it. I prefer it to liquid liner because it's more flexible and doesn't look too harsh, yet has major staying power.

10. Urban Decay Primer Potion
If you haven't used an eyeshadow primer, you're really missing out. This one works great. It prevents creasing and keeps eyeshadow in place all day long. I don't apply eyeshadow without applying this primer first. Even when I'm not wearing eyeshadow I use a little of this primer to even out the look of my lids.

11. Essie Mod Squad
This pink polish is one of the few I like to wear year round. Some polishes are ideal for events or holidays or specific seasons. Mod Squad is just right for anytime and whenever I have it on my nails, I can't stop looking at it. It's one of those colors that just makes me feel happy.

12.  Coach Poppy Flower
The bottle alone is one of the reasons I love this fragrance. It's super pretty! The scent is equally as pretty with notes of sweet freesia, juicy grapefruit, jasmine petals, and rose. It's a light floral fragrance with a little bit of fruitiness. Some florals are just too overpowering for me; this one is more than tolerable. I happen to love it.

So now that you know my favorites for 2012, I want to know some of yours! Tell me a couple of your favorite products below. Did you have any in common with me?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are entirely my own. Some affiliate links were used.

December 27, 2012

December Birchbox: Kerastase, Benefit, Aerie, etc.

"All Wrapped Up"

You know it's a busy month when I'm just getting to my Birchbox review right before the end of the month. I usually post my review pretty close to when I receive it. This month's box was great. Here's a look at what I got....

Look at the lid in the background! I wish they all came with such pretty designs!

In addition to the samples, I got a $50 gift card for Rent the Runway, which is a site where you can rent current season fashion.

In my box...

Aerie Shimmer Fragrance
Full size: $14.95-39.95
My sample size: a little vial

A light scent that combines vanilla with peony and bergamot.

My thoughts: It's not a bad fragrance. I definitely catch the floral notes in it.
Will I buy it? On the fence. I have plenty of perfumes (hence the reason I don't want anymore perfume samples!). This one is different than anything I have, but I'm not sure if it really suits me.

ModelCo SHINE Ultra Lip Gloss
Full size: 4 ml - $16.00
My sample size: 4 ml - Full size!

Sheer lipgloss with a built-in mirror. This lipgloss can be worn alone or over a bold lipstick and stays in place for hours. Sample in 'Showgirl Red'.

My thoughts: These are the kind of products I like to see in my box! At a $16 value, this product alone makes my Birchbox amazing and worth the low monthly price. I had a full size mascara in my last box from this company that also featured a built-in mirror and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The lipgloss is very sheer and smells fruity. It's not super thick or sticky in the slightest.
Will I buy it? There's definite potential here. Since I reveived the full sized product, I won't need to buy it for awhile though.

Benefit it's potent! eye cream
Full size: 0.5 oz - $32
My sample size: 0.1 oz

This eye cream is designed to fade under eye circles. It protects your skin from free radicals and preserves the elasticity of the delicate under eye area.

My thoughts: Great sample size. Benefit samples are usually pretty generous and this one is no different. I love the little pot it comes in. I used to use nothing but Benefit products and I think it's a great (and incredibly cute) brand. I don't have problems with under eye circles though, so I'm thinking of passing this sample along to my mom.
Will I buy it? Probably not for myself.

Kerastase Resistance Ciment Thermique - Protect
Full size: 125 ml - $39
My sample size: (two 10 ml packets)

A heat activated leave-in milk treatment for weakened hair.  It protects hair from heat damage and strengthens. To use, you apply a dime-sized amount to towel-dried hair, starting from the bottom and working your way up.

My thoughts: I had a Kerastase sample in a box before and I adored it. I haven't tried this product yet, but I'm eager to see if I like it. I'm glad I got 2 packets so I can use it more than once.
Will I buy it? Unsure until I try it.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocopod
Full size: 7 pack - $7.95
My sample size: One salted chocolate crunch chocopod

Miniature chocolate bars that are only 50-60 calories each! The set includes flavors like Potato Chip, Maple Bacon, Honeycomb, and others.

My thoughts: Remember in my other Birchbox reviews I said that I didn't ever want edible samples? Well this is the exception - I'll take a box filled of these! My chocolate bar contained toasted breadcrumbs with sea salt. Sounds questionable, but I loved it. It was a perfect mixture of sweet and salty.
Will I buy it? Very tempted. I'd like to try the others too.

Join Birchbox for $10/month
Sign up here

Find more Birchbox reviews here.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or compensated review. All opinions are my own. A referral link was used.

December 26, 2012

Christmas & Beauty Gifts

Christmas is over and things are finally winding down for me. It was a busy month and I had a lot to get done. I'm actually really glad that I can slow down a little and get back to a normal pace. I haven't blogged as much as I would've liked to this month, but now I'm back with plenty of topics to talk about.

First of all, my Christmas celebrations were great! I got to spend time with family and received some amazing gifts. I won't be listing out everything I was given because I don't feel that it's necessary. I would just feel like I'm bragging. However, I do want to share a few beauty-related gifts I received.  I also want to mention something I gave Mark that he loved....and shocker, it wasn't from Gamestop or BestBuy; it was from Sephora!

So let's get into it....

LUSH All The Best gift box
-Ro's Argan Body Conditioner
-Dream Cream Body Lotion
-Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter
-2 limited edition soaps

I had this on my wishlist. Surprisingly, I have never tried anything from Lush despite it's popularity and appeal. I've passed by it many times at the mall and I've browsed here and there, but have always skipped out on purchasing anything. I finally decided it was time to give it a shot and this box seemed like a good place to start. I began using the products already and will be giving a full review when I finish them, along with my repurchasing plans. Next time I'll try some bath products. 

MAC Perfectly Plush Brush Kit
-187 Duo Fibre Brush
-130 Short Duo Fibre Brush
-286 Duo Fibre Tapered Brush
-282 Duo Fibre Shader Brush

Beautiful bag, amazing brushes - I simply love the kit. Even the box is extremely cute. I'm a huge MAC fan and am more than happy to add these to my brush collection.

Notes include jasmine, gardenia, fresh cucumber, and candied rose petals.

I have Coach Poppy Flower in a full size bottle, but I also wanted Coach Poppy. I hinted to Mark that I wouldn't mind a rollerball perfume and came across this fragrance in my stocking. It's a gorgeous scent and I think the rollerball is both cute and extremely convenient/functional.

Clarisonic Deep Pore Cleansing Brush Head

I needed a replacement brush head for my Clarisonic Mia, so I requested the deep pore cleansing brush. I'm eager to see how well this one will work compared to the regular brush head I was using. It's recommended to replace the brush heads every 3 months and I've had mine for far longer than that. I used it last night, and woke up to smoother skin already, so I think I'll like it. 

Avon nail polishes

I don't normally buy from Avon, but my mom has been a loyal customer since before I was born. She buys me earrings, nail polish, home decor, etc from Avon all the time. I used Avon makeup all throughout high school, but now I'm not much of a fan. I still like plenty of other things from Avon though and these polishes are very pretty. Can't wait to try them out, especially the glitter polishes.

Sephora Fragrance Sampler for Him

This is what I was referring to when I mentioned that I got a gift for Mark from Sephora.  It's a fragrance sampler that comes with a voucher for a full size fragrance. I knew he would want a new cologne, but I only knew one that he liked (which luckily is one of the fragrances in this sampler!). Instead of buying that specific scent, I wanted to give him the opportunity to try a few and pick the one he likes the most. The funny thing is, I knew about the fragrance sampler for women, but had no idea there was one for men until I was Christmas shopping. I'm so glad I came across it because Mark is thrilled that he gets to pick one out of this bunch. (And hello, it gives me a reason to make a special trip to Sephora!)

Update: Mark chose the one he liked previously - Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio. I knew he would!

December 17, 2012

P&G eStore Deals: CoverGirl

This season, the P&G eStore is offering some great deals! The eStore carries a variety of household and beauty/health products including products from CoverGirl, Gillette, Olay, Braun, Crest and more.

Deals at the P&G eStore:
-Get free shipping with a $25 purchase
-Take 15% off your first purchase with code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA
-Also get free samples with every purchase!

Here are a couple of CoverGirl products from the eStore that are worth checking out:

This new mascara from CoverGirl gives your lashes intense volume that lasts up to 24 hours. There are 5 shades available - my pick would be Very Black for a bold lash look. 

I haven't had the chance to try this mascara yet, but it's at the top of my list. Having tried other LashBlast formulas, I don't doubt that this one will deliver great results. I see people everywhere talking about LashBlast mascaras and for good reason - they work very well and meet the requirements of many who are looking to give their lashes a boost.

This lipcolor is a longwear formula that gives up to 16 hours of brilliant color. It's food, kiss, and workout-proof.  There are 38 shades so there's bound to be a perfect color for everyone! This lipcolor also comes with a moisturizing topcoat that helps lock in shine while keeping your lips feeling smooth. 

My mom uses this product as her everyday lipcolor. She won't use anything else! She applies it early in the morning and it lasts throughout the day. She loves the topcoat so much that she buys extra so she can keep them everywhere. 

Available coupons! Make sure to select them before checking out.
$2 off 1 Outlast All Day Lipcolor (11/25-12/29)
$1 off any CoverGirl product (11/25-12/29)

Special offer:
Get a FREE LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara with a $25 purchase
While supplies last.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post through BlogHer, however all opinions are my own.

December 13, 2012

Ebates: Cash Back for Online Shopping

I've been ordering a lot of gifts online and still am. I'd say the majority of my Christmas shopping is done online. This year I started using Ebates. I've had an account for a couple years, but it never occurred to me that I should be using it! I'm glad I started and I wanted to share this info with you.

When you do your shopping through Ebates, you get cash back on your online purchases. You just log into your Ebates account and then from there choose which site you want to do your shopping on. It will take you to the site and you'll shop and make purchases like normal. Once your purchases are complete, you'll get notification of how much cash back you earned (usually within 48 hours). Each store has a different cash back percentage.
Ebates sends out checks every 3 months. You can also opt to get paid via Paypal or choose an organization/charity to give it to.

This shopping season, I've earned $31.39 and will be paid in February. This amount is likely to be higher by the end of the Christmas season since I have more shopping to do.

There are over 1500+ stores to choose from on Ebates including Sephora, Amazon, Nordstrom, Ulta, Ebay, Best Buy, etc! Sometimes Ebates offers double cash back and they always share coupons and deals.

Interested in signing up? It's 100% free!
Sign up here!

December 7, 2012

ELF, Stila, Sally Hansen Giveaway

December is a month of giving, fa la-la la-laa la-la-la-laaa. Hehe, I couldn't resist! I bet you went back to the beginning to sing it. Anyway, so let's get down to this giveaway business. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so consider it a holiday giveaway or even just a random giveaway if you don't celebrate anything.

One winner will get the following prizes:

E.L.F. Ultimate Eyeshadow  - 144 piece neutral eyeshadow palette 
Stila Lip Glaze Trio - Tiki Set
4 Sally Hansen Hard As Nails polishes (Firm Fig, No Hard Feelings, Tough Love, Gem-stone)
Total value of prize pack: $35

The E.L.F. palette contains all the neutral shadows you will ever need! It's great if you can't get your hands on the Naked palettes or similar products. The lip glazes from Stila provide a nice range of shades with a medium pink, a pretty berry color, and a shimmery mocha. For the nail polishes, I picked 4 fun colors that can be worn for different occasions.

Rules & Important Info
-This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents.
-There are multiple ways to enter and none are mandatory. You may enter however you like with the options given on the Rafflecopter widget. Entries will be counted through Rafflecopter, but make sure you complete the tasks you choose. I will be verifying the entries. 
-One winner will be chosen at random at the end of the giveaway and notified by the email that is provided when you log into the Rafflecopter widget (Facebook email or other email - use the one you check the most!)
-Winner will be chosen within 24 hours of giveaway end.
-Giveaway will run from 12/7 - 12/14
-If Rafflecopter widget doesn't load, try reloading the page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 6, 2012

Ulta & Sephora Haul

Even though it's the season of buying gifts for others, I couldn't pass up getting a few things for myself.  It's a small haul but I still wanted to share the things I got from Ulta and Sephora.

Ulta sent me a $10 gift card for my birthday and I had a $3.50 coupon to use, so I drove there as quick as I could! Ok....I didn't, but I definitely made it a priority to stop by.
I only got 2 things. The first was an Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion.

I've been using the 24/7 Glide-On Pencils for years, but usually use Zero as my everyday black liner. I bought Perversion this time because it looks like it's a deeper black than Zero.
These eyeliners live up to their name. They really do glide on and last all day.

The other thing I got from Ulta was the Essie nail polish, Butler Please

I've glanced at this polish countless times at the store without purchasing it - it catches my eye everytime! This time I couldn't resist taking it home with me. I still have yet to paint my nails with it. It's a gorgeous shade of deep blue that leans a little toward purple.

Believe me, I could've loaded up my arms with stuff at Ulta, but I knew I shouldn't drop a ton of money so I kept my spending low. It's such a dangerous store!


Now for Sephora...
I usually take advantage of Black Friday deals at Sephora and this year was no exception. I ordered online though because I don't always like going out on Black Friday.
My main goal was to find something to add to my upcoming giveaway (starting tomorrow!). I decided on this Stila lip glaze trio.

I know people like these glosses a lot and I like them as well, so it was an easy decision to make.

Then, I ordered the small size of my moisturizer, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. I saved money by getting the smaller size of this and it will last me awhile because I don't need to use a lot at a time.

This was a necessity, so not very exciting, but I really do love this moisturizer (as do many others!).

I needed to spend a few more dollars to get the Black Friday Mystery Bag - my first reaction: "what the heck can I get at Sephora for $3?!" Then I did some browsing and found a Sephora eye pencil sharpener. Mine doesn't work that great so I thought, might as well!

 It turns out this sharpener works 100x better than the other one I have! Totally worth it.

After that, I was able to add the Mystery Bag of samples to my cart. I got one last year too.
Here's what came inside:

Pretty amazing samples right? It was worth it for me because I use samples a lot to discover new products (as you may already know). Never underestimate the power of samples!

November was my birth-month and since I'm a Sephora Beauty Insider I get a little gift every year. Most people who shop Sephora know about the rewards that come with being a Beauty Insider, but I have to mention it for those that may not know!  
This years birthday gift was a Mini Lip Duo from Fresh. 

To say the Beauty Insider birthday gifts are decent is an understatement. They're pretty great! Last year's gift was a little bottle of Philosophy body wash. 

Lastly, I chose 3 free samples to go with my order. 

Check out that Benefit sample! It's the Triple Performing Facial Emulsion lotion, Total Moisture Facial Cream, and It's Potent! Eye Cream. It came as one sample. Awesome!
I also got Ultra Repair Cream from First Aid Beauty and L'Homme Libre by YSL.

So that's my quick haul. Got a few basic things and a couple freebies. I really had to refrain buying other things I wanted since I might be getting them for Christmas. It's still fun to look...especially at the value sets! I sure would love to have some of those.

December 1, 2012

Julep Maven Bombshell Box

A few months ago I did a review on Julep's subscription service, the Julep Maven box. As a Maven, you get a monthly box that contains at least 2 Julep polishes along with other products. After taking the style quiz, I found out my style is Bombshell ( I was hoping so!). The other styles include American Beauty, Boho Glam, Classic with a Twist, and It Girl.  Julep was kind enough to send me a box that fits with my bombshell style.

Bombshell Box

In my box, I got 3 gorgeous colors:
Donna - a peacock blue creme
Boris & Nicole - autumn red-brown frost
Viola - deep purple creme

The colors are beautiful and actually do match my style. If I had been picking my own colors, these are definitely the ones I would've chosen!

Julep polishes come in these unique tall rectangular bottles. They're very sleek and modern.


Viola is a such a deep shade of purple that it almost looks black. It's dark, vampy, and great for fall. 

Boris & Nicole

This is the quintessential fall color. It's a mixture of red, brown, and gold. It's is my favorite by far! It's like painting a fall leaf onto your nail.


I've been looking for a nice jewel-toned teal like this for awhile. I'm so glad I got this one because I don't have anything else like it in my collection.

How do you like the colors I got? I love them and can't wait to wear them with my fall and winter outfits.
So far I've really enjoyed the Julep polishes. They're really pretty inside the bottle and even more impressive on the nails.

Are you ready to become a Julep Maven?
What style are you? Tell me in the comments!

Also, take 20% on purchases of $20 or more at with code: VIP20

Disclaimer: Julep sent me this box for review. This is not a compensated post. All opinions are my own. A referral link was used.
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