Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Have You Heard About Those Things Called Coupons?

The question posed in the title may seem a silly one, but think about it. For all the people who know that coupons exist, how many of us actually use them? Until recently, I was not one of those people. Every now and then I might have thrown down a $1 off voucher for something; but really, who is going to break their neck going through coupons to save $1 here and there? At least that's how I thought it worked.

Recently, though, I have been exposed to people who have huge command over the art of couponing. There actually seem to be some who never pay full price for anything. Hmmm, I thought, I like getting new things, but I also hate parting with my money. Maybe I should give this a try?

So, after signing up for a Rite Aid rewards card (you don't get the specials if you don't have one) and studying the art of coupon stacking (yes, I'm pretty sure it's an art form), I tried my hand at it. I planned, I monitored my total as I went, I chose products with purpose... Apparently this process takes some skill that I haven't honed yet, so this took awhile.

I went to the counter thinking, There's no way this worked out. I probably only saved a few bucks for my troubles.

I ended up paying $21 for $51 worth of stuff... I went over my receipt at least three times thinking I must have added the total before coupons and sales incorrectly. Nope.

In my mind, being able to do this opens room for two new possibilities:
 1) I will be able to try the same number of new items for a lower total expenditure than I would have without the coupons.
 2) I will be able to try more new items with the same expenditure I would have without the coupons.

Somehow I feel that I am more likely to lean towards option two...

While I know there are coupons for pretty much anything and everything, I think I will be sticking to the realm of drugstore beauty products. I don't think I'm prepared to handle one of the massive filing systems that some people have that cover everything - and I do mean everything.

I think there might be something to this whole coupon thing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hanging Out and Blending In

Earlier today, I was watering some plants on my back deck and noticed a small flash of movement when I got to one of them. I took a closer look to see what had caused it; look what I found...

If you weren't looking for this little guy, you probably wouldn't notice him because he blended in so well. I've never seen one of these anywhere close to my home before, so this was very unexpected.

I went back inside for a few minutes after I'd taken the photos, and he had left by the time I came back out. I looked around for him a bit but couldn't find him anywhere. He'd either moved on or had find a way to blend back in.

I thought this proved to be a nice reminder that it's worth taking a moment to notice the finer details around you because, sometimes, you'll notice something special.

I hope you enjoyed this, too.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Warning About Stila's Travel Palettes

You all know that I am a huge fan of Stila's Convertible Color - specifically the shade 'peony'. So, I was extremely excited when I saw that they were coming out with a line of mini travel palettes that would each have 4 shadows and a limited edition shade of the CCs - and for only $10 apiece. With a full sized convertible color selling for $25, this would be a much less expensive way to add some new shades to my collection (even though the ones in the palettes aren't as large).

I finally got my hands on the two palettes that are currently out (Pretty in Paris and Across the USA) and was truly expecting to end up writing a rave review for these things as a great way to try out the CCs if you didn't want to shell out for the full-sized ones. The shadows are not up to par quality-wise with Stila's single shadows, but honestly, I was sort of expecting that going in. While they are workable, they are not pigmented and not smooth like the singles. I would actually say that most of my drugstore shadows are better quality than these. However, the convertible colors were gorgeous, the quality seemed identical to those in the permanent line and, even with awful shadows, the price still came out to a good deal.

Two weeks later, and my opinion has completely changed. These things are drying out. I have had my other convertible color for upwards of 6 months, and I would say that its consistency today is the same as it was when I first purchased it. While they haven't completely dried out, I can already feel the top layer of the product losing its creaminess and becoming more difficult to blend. If I rub down through the top layer, I can still get to good product below, but I don't think it will take the 'dryness' long to make its way all the way through. I should not be able to feel a consistency change in two weeks! This 'good deal' is undone if the product won't last.

I can't decide if this difference is due to a change in the formulation that is somehow decreasing its ability to hold moisture or if it's the packaging. The palettes have a light magnetic closure while the other snaps shut, and I am unsure how tight the fit is around the edges on these, so some additional airflow may be happening. However, even with a tighter closure, the one from the main line isn't sealed in a vacuum - there is still air getting to it, and it isn't drying out!

Regardless of what's doing it, I can't suggest getting these at all... As much as I love my convertible color and want everyone to have the opportunity to try them, these palettes will work out as a waste of money.

I hope this has helped some of you out.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eau de Gaga

I've mentioned before that I have a love-hate relationship with celebrity perfumes. Sometimes they come out as something quite nice and sometime they go oh-so-wrong. Well, one of the celebrities who will soon be adding their name to the list of those with namesake fragrances is Lady Gaga. That's right, miss raw-meat-dress herself. I'll be the first to admit, this left me scratching my head a bit. Of all the celebs, she is one of the last I would think would come out with a scent.

But there it is; Lady Gaga just signed a long-term deal with Coty Inc, a company that has already released fragrances under big celeb names such as Beyonce, Kate Moss and Jessica Parker. The release of her first fragrance is slated for spring of 2012.

What do you think of this? Do you think it will be sexy, strong, or something else entirely? Do you think she might go way outside the box (as she usually does) and make a 'statement' scent? Any fear that we'll get something with a base note of raw meat? You might say, 'no, nobody would do that', but I would have said no one would wear a dress made of it if you'd asked me a week ago!

Let me know your thoughts. I know this one definitely has me curious.

And yes, the dress really was raw meat...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Make Mine Matte - China Glaze's Matte Magic

To me, matte nail polish seems like a relatively new phenomenon. I did a search to see if I could find out precisely when the product was first introduced, and I found out the first line of matte polishes actually came out in 1992! I was only 5 then!

But according to the *article I found, the trend quickly died and was not brought back until autumn of last year by OPI.

This makes sense because OPI is the first brand I remember seeing with them, and I thought the idea was interesting, but I wasn't about to spend $8.50 on one shade to try the trend out when I knew I might hate it (call me a cheapo).

More recently, though, a few brands have come out with top coats that will make the finish of any polish matte. Did you see that? Any polish. So instead of paying for a single matte shade, you can get one of these top coats and essentially double your polish collection because each one you already own now has the potential to be matte.

Sounds good.

I've played with this in swatches a few time but not on a full manicure until now. I decided to try out China Glaze's Matte Magic over the Zombie Zest that I showed in my last post for this little experiment. I tried to paint the matte coat on only a few nails and then photograph them against nails that hadn't been covered yet, but I couldn't seem to ever get the light to evenly hit both to show the true difference, so here's what I did...

...paint one nail with both.. As you can see, the left bit has the Matte Magic, and the right does not. The source of light creating that white sheen on the right portion is actually hitting the left side equally as much, so you can see how it's responding to the light. The little flecks of yellow in the matte portion aren't actually reflected light, but rather the glitter in the polish shows up as yellow-green spots.

I think it looks extremely interesting. It creates a strange visual texture, almost looking like a rock (a bright green one, that is). I found the process of applying interesting as well. When you first apply the top coat, your polish will still appear shiny, but you can watch it go matte as the top coat dries. And it dries fast! Within a minute of applying it, it was completely dried and set - amazing if you're in a hurry.

A couple of caveats/warnings

If you go looking for this item, you should know that it is not the same size as the China Glaze polishes.

The polishes come with .5 oz whereas the top coat only has .325 oz, so don't be surprised when you find this baby bottle.

Also, I think that nice 'rock' texture that I like so much will only come up if you apply this over a polish that contains large reflects (or glitters). When I first got this home, I tried it over OPI's Sanguine, which contains a lot of micro-glitter, and all of the dimension given by that glitter vanished when the Matte Magic dried - the particles just aren't big enough to show through.  So, it ended up looking like a flat, matte red wine shade - not nearly as interesting as the 'rock' look in my opinion.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the matte look or are you sticking to ones with glossy finishes?

Let me know!

*If you'd like to see the article I referenced, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Zombie Zest - My "Ugly, Green" Nail Polish

Ok, kids. Time for a fun, short little back story on me.

The high school I went to had a relatively strict dress code. As far as tops for girls, we could have no: tank tops, sleeveless tops, V-necks, or t-shirts and nothing with words, photos, or designs on them. Sounds simple enough, right? But it was surprisingly difficult to find shirts that matched all of these criteria that were also affordable at the time - because obviously this doesn't describe the type of top a teen girl would want to wear, so none of us wanted to break the bank for them. This meant that when you found one that fit within the rules and was cheap, you got it in every color.

One of my school-approved 'collections' came from Target, and I did, indeed, purchase every color they had - including one that was a horrible shade of yellowed green. It was a truly horrid color, reminiscent of the juice that will ooze from rotting vegetables (graphic, aren't I?).

I deemed this my "ugly, green shirt", and that became what it was known as among my friends and I. As ugly as the color was, I actually grew to really love that shirt. It was as if that color was so incredibly awful that it actually became interesting. That top has long since worn to nothing and been discarded, but I still remember my ugly, green shirt from high school.

So why this trip down memory lane? Because I now have an ugly, green nail polish.

This is Zombie Zest from China Glaze's Awakening Collection for Halloween 2010. The color of this, in my opinion, is also extremely ugly; but I feel like it's bad enough to actually pass into interesting - just like my shirt.

It took me 3 coats to get this, but if you are very good at getting even coverage on each coat, I think you could get away with two. I couldn't get a picture to show this well, but this polish is basically pure glitter once you get solid coverage. Rather than appearing a dark green polish with yellow-green shimmers, this shows up more like a rotten green disco ball that then appears a dark, murky green when in shadow. In natural sunlight (as in the photo), it looks slightly more yellow than it does in the bottle; but in indirect light, it appears close to the same shade

One thing that really surprised me about this polish was that despite all of the glitter in it, the polish dried smoothly. While some polishes that have strong glitter require a top coat to smooth the surface out; this one doesn't, so you wouldn't have to use one to avoid that gritty feel if you didn't feel like it or have time to.

I think I like it!
So what do you think of this ugly, green polish? Think it's interesting? Something you would wear? Or just ugly? Let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Comments About Commenting...

To preface this: I mean no offense to anyone in this post.

Ok... So I've been thinking about posting something like this for a few days now, and I'm finally giving in and writing it... It's actually making me a bit uncomfortable to write it because blogs are supposed to be a fun community place to share thoughts, and this whole subject just makes me feel unhappy and confrontational, so I apologize for the tone of this post - it's not fun.

This is concerning comments left on blog posts - specifically ones where the commenter includes a link to their own blog. This practice has always bothered me, but until recentlyI thought I was just being finicky about it, so I just left them alone. I wasn't getting many of them anyway. But a few weeks ago, I read that a couple of bigger bloggers* also disliked these sorts of comments and were actually going to begin deleting them from their own sites. It was nice to know that I wasn't alone in my distaste for them, and I found out many of their readers agreed based on the comments left on the matter.

I am bringing this up now, not only because I know I'm not alone in this, but because the number of posted comments I get with these link-backs on this blog have been increasing. I've been silently deleting them for the past couple of weeks; but I realized that I am, in a way, being unfair and doing an disservice to these people by removing their comments when I haven't told them I don't want them to do it to begin with. So, here it is -

It is absolutely inappropriate to leave a comment on my, or anyone else's, blog with a link back to your own blog.

Leaving a link to your site, in my opinion, is like a 'subtle' attempt at self-promotion/advertisement. Something like that on a public site (such as makeupalley) is fine, but when it is done on someone else's personal page, it is wrong. My page is not somewhere to advertise your page.

It starts to appear as if you are leaving a comment solely so that you can add in that link at the end, and that comes across as very disrespectful and inconsiderate to the author.

In fairness, I do not actually believe that most of these commenters are rude people. I think what happens is that they go to someones site, see that other people have added on their own link in comments, so they start doing it in theirs as well - and the cycle continues when someone new sees these comments. New bloggers see this and think that it's commonplace - it's not. 

I'm not at all upset at the people who have been leaving these links. Perhaps they don't realize/have never been told that it's inappropriate to do this. I will never call anyone out on this nor do I want/need any sort of apology or explanation from anyone who was doing it. But, now that I've explicitly shared how I feel, there is no excuse. Know that I absolutely will delete any comment with a link back to the commenter's blog.

Please don't take this to mean that I don't like comments - in fact I love them! You know that I have very few readers and, therefore, very few comments; so each individual one means the world to me. I don't post as often as some bloggers, but I put a lot of time into all of the posts that I do write, and comments are the only real way I know that anyone is looking. They let me know that someone has taken time out of their day to read what I've written, and it makes me feel awful when I have to take that person's comment down because of that link at the end. The main reason I decided to write this was actually the hope that I wouldn't have to delete any more of these nice comments.

So please, continue commenting. If you have something to add to what I've written about in a post, do it! Or even if you just want to say 'hi, I was here", do it! But please don't link back to another blog, because I will delete it - no matter how lovely the comment that goes along with it is.

If you read this, please leave your two cents. Do you agree about link-backs in comment posts or do you not think they're a big deal? I'll take no offense if you disagree with me.

*If you'd like to see someone else's views on this, Nouveau Cheap was the first blogger I saw address it publicly (link here). If you read it, please also take the time to look through the responses she received on the post, and you'll see that this is a widely held view among both bloggers and readers alike.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jordana Pretty Shine - An Exfoliator Posing as a Gloss

If you frequent Walgreens, you've no doubt noticed the section of Jordana cosmetics. I've walked past them many times but never bothered to really give them a look; but a few days ago I thought, 'why not?'. All of their products are inexpensive, so it'd be great if some holy grail product was hiding in its ranks.

I picked up the INCOLOR by Jordana Pretty Shine Luxury Gloss in Lovely. Quite a name, huh?

I chose this one because it seemed to be neither too dark nor too light - a nice place between dark pink and red with some pretty sparkle. After swatching, let's rethink that - make that lots of sparkle.

Granted it is still a very pretty color, but it has a bit too much glitter in it for my taste. If that was where my issue with this stopped, I would say go for it if you are into the uber-sparkle look. However, the glitter in this gloss is chunky (i.e. gritty), and it felt like I was swiping on a mild exfoliator rather than a gloss.

And with reflects as big as these, they will reflect large amounts of light. For a special occasion, this much might be alright, but for everyday it reminds me of those chunky monkey glitter glosses that we played with as little girls.

However, if you do come across a color that you absolutely love - go ahead and try it out! At only $1.99, you're not out much if it turns out to be a bust, and there's always the possibility that this glitter won't be in all of them. But, if it is there - one final caution about it...

That stuff doesn't want to come off even when you wipe away the gloss!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

OPI Go Goth! Mini Nail Polish Set

Even though it's only the beginning of September, I am completely ready for fall and all that comes with it - including Halloween! It's one of my favorite holidays so I was extremely excited when I saw that some companies are already bringing out special items for the season.

Reader, meet OPI's Go Goth! mini set of polishes for Halloween. It comes with four mini polishes and a black lace cuff bracelet (interesting little thing to throw in, eh?)

From left to right: Unripened, Nevermore, Sanguine, and Obscurity.

Unripened is a black base with lots of blue shimmer. From the looks of the bottle, I thought that it also had purple shimmer depending on how the light hit it, but on application only the blue shows up. This is a really pretty polish, but I don't think it's a must have by any means. I think it would be pretty easy to find a comparable color. This is 2 coats.

Nevermore on the other hand is beautiful. It still looks very dark (almost black) when it's in shadow, but in the light it's a gorgeous, rich purple with lots of purple sparkle (and sometimes a little pink if the light hits it right). Also 2 coats.
Sanguine is my favorite of the four. It's a true blood red, which doesn't seem all that special; but what makes it is the glitter. The glitter in this one is much more finely milled than that in the previous two and there's more of it, so as you move your nail around in the light, it truly glimmers. Without light hitting it, it appears as a very dark red, but when the light does catch it, it's like a mass of tiny sparks of red light jumping out from this dark red base and then disappears when the light isn't directly hitting it. I know some of you are saying, 'yea... that's what glitter does!' but this is different. It's difficult to explain without actually being able to show it in action. You can get a good idea of it just by moving the bottle around in the light, so I'd suggest going to check it out in the store if you can. It's gorgeous - very vampy. I think I may end up purchasing the full size of this. This was also 2 coats.

And finally, Obscurity. It's a matte black, plain and simple. This is my first matte polish, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. To me, it sort of looks like I just took a black sharpie to my nail - weird. The crazy thing about this one though is that this is 1 coat, and it dries almost instantly - as in I pull the brush across my nail, and the top is almost dry 2 seconds later. I actually found that I had to wait a moment between brush strokes to let the previous one set so I didn't pull around the partially dry polish with another stroke.

Have any of you tried matte polishes? If so, is this typical of them?

And in case you were curious about the bracelet -

It's alright. It's a nice little thing to throw in and could be fun closer to Halloween.

What do you think of these? Which is your favorite?

Are you ready for Halloween to get here already or are you sane (unlike me) and won't get into it until it's at least October.

Thanks for reading!
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