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Summer Beauty Discoveries July 13, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Pretty.
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Ah, summer…the season when blowdrying your hair is about as pleasant as the ninth circle of hell, when fighting frizz becomes a full-time job, and when you really start to relate to Ronald McDonald because your pristine-for-five-minutes makeup is running down your face.  I love the warm weather as much as the next person, but sometimes a girl has to look for extra help when it is extra hot.  Here are a few products (some new, some new-to-me) that have helped me so far this season.

BB don't blow it

I loved Bumble & Bumble already, but when they came out with this “(h)air styler,” I looked into buying stock in the company.  Normally, air drying results in flyaways that go in every direction and an overall dried-out “meh” look.  However, with a bit of this balm worked into my tresses, I get a much less frizzy look, complete with subtle waves and nice moisturized bounciness.  Win!

Lipstick

I love me some big, matte lipstick, but summer seems like it should be a glossier time.  So how do you get the color to really pop and stick around?  Enter this Clinique lipcolor with primer.  It improves the texture of your lips with every application, and it stays put, even in the heat.  I got it in the Poppy color, and it is super fun for summer nights out.

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Okay, this was a bit of a splurge purchase, but it is so hard to find skin products with serious SPF, so I had to give it a go.  I was not disappointed!  This BB brightens and evens tone, and it even comes with a highlighter in the cap for a bit of extra glow and glam.  The feel is lightweight, but it offers substantial coverage and protection.  Definitely worth the bucks.

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Here’s the deal: I had been loyal to the stila smudge stick for years, and I had started to be bummed by its staying power (or lack thereof).  My sister told me to try this Smashbox kohl liner, so I gave it a shot.  I think I found my new favorite liner!  It is seriously pigmented and it really lasts, and it comes in a pretty neat self-sharpening case (full disclosure: I couldn’t figure it out at first).  The only downside is that it doesn’t come in as many colors as the smudge sticks.  Maybe soon?

Any other summer stunners you would recommend?

Gotta Love the Globes January 12, 2015

Posted by bettyjoan in Pretty.
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Much to my husband’s dismay, award season has officially kicked off with last night’s Golden Globe Awards.  I found the show itself to be pretty flat (minus George Clooney’s speech – could he be any more gosh darned adorable?), but there were some noteworthy fashion moments on the carpet.

Couples were really knocking it out of the part last night – here are some of my favorites –

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I mean, how cute are these lovebirds?  And Pacey Witter all grown up?  Rawr.  Diane, you are a lucky lady.

George and Amal also looked great – NO ONE rocks a tuxedo like Mr. Clooney.

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My overall favorite look of the night had to go to Naomi Watts – Ah. May. Zing.  That necklace!  The color of the dress!  So gorgeous.

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Seriously, the necklace…WANT.

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Lorde and Emma Stone both wowed me with their twists on pantsuits.

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And Emily Blunt was absolute perfection in her white criss-cross dress, braided up-do, and gorgeous turquoise-colored earrings.

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Agree?  Disagree?  Did you miss Joan Rivers as much as I did (I think I’ll miss her even more during the post-show Fashion Police episode – sniff)?  Sound off!

 

RTR Unlimited review September 22, 2014

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My love for Rent the Runway is well-known.  So, when they announced their “Unlimited” service, I was one of the first people in line.  Basically, you fill your queue with as many items as you like from their VERY impressive selection of accessories (handbags, scarves, jewelry, sunglasses, jackets, FUN!!!), and they send you three at a time.  Shipping – both ways – is free, just like with their dresses.  You can keep the pieces as long as you want.  Whenever you want to return 1, 2, or all 3 items, they will send you others from your queue to replace them (so you always have 3 items).  The monthly fee is $75, and you can cancel anytime, as long as you return all of the items you have first.  Simple!

Here’s what I got in my first shipment:

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These Dannijo earrings were super fun, but VERY heavy, and not particularly practical for everyday wear.

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These OScar de la Renta earrings were awesome – the only downside was that they were clip-ons.  Then again, they’re a lot lighter than they look, so it wasn’t a big deal.

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I think the Gigi New York satchel was the best part of the delivery.  It fit all of my stuff (and I have a LOT that I carry in my everyday bag), and the leather looked and smelled so amazing.  It was obviously a very high-quality item – in fact, it was brand new with the tags when I got it, so I’m pretty sure I was the first renter to get it!  I didn’t want to give it back.  🙂

I kept the bag for longer than the earrings, even taking it on my West Coast adventure this summer.  Then I got my next bundle:

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This grouping wasn’t my favorite.  The bracelet is awesome (I still have it, actually), but the earrings were kind of blah and the necklace arrived damaged.  But, in true RTR fashion, I got replacements very quickly and without any extra hassle on my part.

I hope I continue to get handbags (I haven’t gotten any since the first one), since it’s nice to spruce up that part of my wardrobe without having to commit to a large purchase.  I like the jewelry as well, but I have plenty of accessories already in my closet.  Hopefully, I’ll get to try out some of the jackets during the fall – if I keep getting a good variety, and if RTR keeps adding more goodies to their vaults, I imagine I will continue to be an Unlimited member.

Has anyone else tried the service?  What did you think?

Summer Loves September 1, 2014

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I haven’t done monthly Birchbox reviews in a while, partially because BUSY, but also partially because there were a couple of “meh” boxes where I didn’t feel strongly about any of the products.  Thankfully, the last couple have been pretty darn good (especially August), so I figured I’d give a shout out to some of my favorites.

LAQA & Co. Lip Lube

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I got this in the purple shade, and I was immediately skeptical – but, it’s actually pretty fun!  I wore it to perk up some neutral-heavy work outfits, and I loved how moisturizing it was.  It also has a subtle minty flavor, which is always appreciated.

Noir Eyeliner

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So, I am still figuring out whether I like the Benefit They’re Real Push-Up Liner, so I wasn’t initially thrilled to get an eyeliner pencil in my Birchbox.  However, I quickly changed my mind – this liner is AWESOME.  It goes on super smooth, and it is VERY long-wearing and VERY black.  It’s not as precise as a gel or liquid, of course, so it would be hard to do sharp wings or cat-eyes with this.  But, for an everyday liner, it is a high-performer.

Vasanti Detox Cleanser

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I love everything Vasanti does, seriously.  This cleanser is no exception – fresh-smelling and effective, this is a great everyday face wash.  I am currently having a nice little bout of adult acne, so I won’t be buying this immediately, but I would be happy to work it into my skincare routine once I no longer look like I am going through puberty.

Anyone else discover great new products this summer?

Pucker Up, Buttercup July 29, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Pretty, Uncategorized.
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Who knew?  Today, July 29, is National Lipstick Day.  In the past, I was very leery about lipstick, especially in the summer – but with today’s super-moisturizing, super-long-lasting shades, why not put a pop of color on your lips in July?

My favorite shade these days is from NARS, and it is called Heat Wave:

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Fun, no?  It’s a really punchy orangey-red, and you should not let the strong color out of the tube scare you away!  It wears beautifully, and you can even run some clear gloss over it to lock it in and give it some shine.

Of course, anytime I think about lipstick and icons, I think of Miss Marilyn.  Girl could rock some red lips!

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And, no mention of lipstick in the modern era would be complete without an homage to Claire from The Breakfast Club.  Happy National Lipstick Day, everyone!  🙂

56734 Molly Ringwalk lipstick

Summer Sun Safety June 29, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Pretty, Running, Swimming.
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For those who don’t know, I am a melanoma survivor – I was initially diagnosed and treated back in 1999, so ever since then I have been extra super diligent about protecting myself from UV rays.  Back in the day, that meant sucking it up and dealing with greasy, weird-smelling sunscreens that often clogged my pores.  Thankfully, in the years since my diagnosis, there has been tons of progress, even in the drugstore sun protection arena – but my favorite brand has to be Supergoop!

I first tried Supergoop! in a Birchbox – and as soon as I used the sample of the City Sunscreen Serum, I was hooked (and I have been using it ever since).  It is light and non-greasy, and it works amazing as a primer under makeup.  I feel good walking out the door every day, knowing that I have done something good for my skin.  But as much as I love the serum, Supergoop! has so much more to offer…

Through the Birchblogger network, I was chosen to take part in a Google Hangout with the founder of Supergoop!, Holly Thaggard.  In advance of the live chat, Birchbox sent four Supergoop! products for me to try.  DISCLOSURE: I received these products for free, but all of the opinions in this post are my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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The Everyday SPF 30 is, like its name suggests, a really great everyday sunscreen.  Yes, you should wear sunscreen every day!  It absorbs really quickly and doesn’t feel sticky or greasy.  Because it goes into skin rather than sitting on top of it, I felt like it really resisted a lot of sweat when I went walking with the doggie on hot, sunny mornings.  Of course, you need to give it time to sink in and then reapply if you do serious sweating/swimming, but since the scent is light and pleasant and the texture is nice and light, I think I’ll be much less hesitant to lather up repeatedly!

The Forever Young Hand Cream is the product I thought I’d like and need the least.  I am pretty good about moisturizing my hands (I truly believe your hands will tell your true age more than your face, if you don’t take care of them properly), and I honestly hadn’t thought about treating them any differently than the rest of my body when it came to sun protection.  But, this cream may have changed my mind!  Like all the Supergoop! products, the texture is divine – not greasy at all.  The scent is subtle, and for those of you who drive to work, the bottle fits in the cup holder so you can protect your hands while they are on the wheel!  A little of this cream goes a long way, so I think the 10-ounce bottle will last a long time.

The Anti-Aging Eye Cream is a freaking game changer for me.  Amazing.  It didn’t irritate my under-eye skin at all (and mine is VERY sensitive), and it was lightweight and soothing (the cooling tip applicator helps with the de-puffing).  Plus, it gives some extra SPF protection to an area that can really help keep you looking and feeling younger.  I am very excited to add this product to my daily routine.

The Mint Fusion Lip Balm may allow me to get rid of a few underperforming lip glosses.  It has a VERY subtle pinkish color, so it looks good on its own (I wore it to a party with a heavier eye, and it complimented the look beautifully).  But, you can also apply it over lipstick for shine AND sun protection.  Win win!  The mint flavor/scent was very mild – I would almost like a bit more.

I had such a good time testing all of the Supergoop! products, and I learned a lot from the Google Hangout.  Despite many years of being a serious sunscreen advocate, I picked up a lot of new tips (for example, I now know to put my sunscreen in the fridge for a cooling effect on hot summer days, and that drinking red wine the night before sun exposure can increase the risk of sunburn) and really enjoyed hearing all of the questions.  Supergoop! is definitely not an inexpensive line, but in my experience, the products are effective and long-lasting.  Much like Maria Sharapova (a devotee of the brand who recently became a co-owner!), I believe in the power of Supergoop! and will be using their products for a long time to come.  It’s so great for an active gal like myself to have reliable and skin-friendly sun protection!

Who else loves Supergoop! – and has anyone tried their new sunscreen oil?

Stitch Fix review April 12, 2014

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I can’t remember where I first heard about Stitch Fix, but I knew I had to try it.  As much as I like shopping, I tend to gravitate toward the same types of items over and over again.  I suppose I could bring along a gal pal to help expand my horizons, but I am a very particular kind of shopper (the term “power shopper” has been used to describe me – I definitely don’t love to dally), and I’m not sure that would be productive for any of my friendships.  So, a “mail order” stylist seemed very much my speed.

Here’s the rundown: When you join Stitch Fix, you fill out a very detailed style profile, which includes, among other things, looking at various pieces and outfits and indicating how much (or how little) you like them.  You can schedule either monthly or ad hoc fixes.  From what I can tell, ad hoc fixes are taking about 2 months to schedule these days – the company has really gotten popular!  When the stylist starts pulling items for your fix, you’ll be charged a $20 styling fee – but, if you keep any items from the shipment, the $20 is a credit towards the merchandise (so the only way you “lose” your styling fee is if you decide not to buy any of the items selected for you).  Each fix contains 5 items, and they are tailored to the preferences you set when you join.  You have three days to try on the items, and you get the benefit of being able to try them on with pieces you already have in your wardrobe (which you can’t do in a store).  Then you just put everything you are not keeping in a pre-paid envelope and drop it in the mail.  If you decide to keep all 5 items, you get 25% off the order.

I was super excited to come home from a business trip to get my first fix!  When I opened the box, not only were the clothes packed beautifully in tissue, but there was also a note from my stylist explaining why she chose certain items for me AND some color cards with styling ideas for all of the pieces.

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Here is what I received:

41Hawthorn, Farah Fit and Flare Striped Dress ($68) – I wanted to love this so very badly, and it looked like it was going to be just my style when I saw it on the hanger.  However, it was way too tight on my upper half, which is weird because that isn’t usually my problem area in terms of fit.  Bummer!  Returned.

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Just Black, Kristy Skinny Jean ($78) – I loved that my stylist sent non-blue denim in my fix, but I was pretty darn skeptical about these pants fitting.  Much to my pleasant surprise, they were absolutely perfect – comfortable, stretchy, and super flattering.  Yay!  Kept.

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Pomelo, Ivy Tulip Print Tab Sleeve Blouse ($68) – I knew this was going to be a winner without even trying it on, but I tried it on with the black jeans anyway.  Score!  The pattern/color is something I wouldn’t have chosen myself, but I really loved it.  The fit is just my style – loose and comfy, but still flattering.  It is a great transition piece from winter to spring.  Kept.

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Uttam, Angela Eyelet Asymmetrical Jacket ($124) – I was hoping this piece would work out, but no such luck.  I liked the shape of it, but it wasn’t a perfect fit (again, too tight on my torso – what is going on???) and the white eyelet thing was a bit too girly for my liking.  Plus, I always worry about stark white clothing, as I am notorious for spills.  For the price, I wasn’t going to keep this if I had even one doubt about its wearability.  Returned.

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41Hawthorn, Rowson Colorblock Striped Sweater ($58) – I was really surprised to like this piece, since I don’t think I would have grabbed it off the shelf myself.  I was also a bit annoyed at getting a sweater in my March fix, but it was really lightweight and soft, so I think it will be great for spring (plus, I had recently gotten rid of a few sweaters that had seen better days, so a refresh wasn’t the worst idea).  I wore it to work the next day and got a ton of compliments.  Kept.

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So, for my first fix, I kept 3 out of 5 items (not bad!) and spent $184.  For what I got and how long it took (when compared to in-store shopping), I feel like the price was very reasonable.  It was super simple to put the two “no” items in the bag and ship them back, and the online checkout was a breeze.  I made sure to let my stylist know what I thought about all the items and what sorts of things I might like in my next fix.

Yes, there will be a next fix – of course!  I don’t think I will ever commit to monthly shipments (that is just too much money to spend, and I don’t need that many clothes – plus, I’m not giving up on in-store shopping forever), but I went ahead and scheduled my next fix for the end of May, since I will want to incorporate a few more summery pieces into my wardrobe at that point.  I am really excited to see what my stylist will choose for me next!

Are you interested in trying Stitch Fix?  If so, here is a referral code/link for you: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3498264

Birchblogger review – Smashbox Full Exposure Palette March 28, 2014

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One of the MANY things I love about Birchbox is that they do a lot of outreach to their customers – you know, contests and giveaways and interactive chats and whatnot.  I have learned a lot by being a part of the Birchblogger community!  Recently, I was selected via one of their Twitter promotions to receive a complimentary Smashbox Full Exposure Palette.  Again, just to make sure we have full disclosure – I received the palette for free, but the opinions here are my own (based on using the product for a few weeks).  I am already very familiar with the Smashbox brand – I love their Photo Finish primers and their CC cream has been a staple in my makeup case for months now.

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First and foremost, lest you balk at the somewhat hefty pricetag on this item ($49), let me assure you – it is a LOT of makeup!  There are 14 neutral shades in total (7 matte and 7 shimmer), and they range from very light to very dark.  There is also a double-sided brush (which is helpful when you don’t want to get shimmer everywhere) and a travel-sized mascara.  For those who may be intimidated by all of the options, have no fear!  The palette also comes with an insert that guides you to three different looks per eye shape.  I really enjoyed learning about all the different ways to accentuate various types of eyes.

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I mostly played around with daytime looks, and they all came out great.  The silky texture of the shadows are nice on the eye, and the shades blend very well.  I did a number of combos, all of which were subtle and work-appropriate, but they still flattered my individual eye shape.  The mascara was good for everyday looks, but I didn’t prefer it for more dramatic “going out” eyes (I’ll stick with Cover Girl Lash Blast for that).

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When I amped things up for an evening look, I was very pleasantly surprised by how natural my eyes still looked – just with a little more “oomph.”  This is a palette I just want to play around with all the time, since there are so many fun options!

The shadows had pretty good staying power, though clearly a primer would help (and I couldn’t find mine anywhere – d’oh).

I really liked that I could blend and layer these shades without all of a sudden getting clown eyes.  🙂  What I liked to do best was to use a colored liner for a bit of pop and then have these shadows as a more natural, smoky element.  I wish I could share some great pictures of me wearing the shadows, but all I have is my crappy camera phone, and let’s just say the shots came out…not so pretty.  One of these days I’ll invest in a good REAL camera!

Bottom line, I would definitely buy this product – for someone like me who mostly gears wardrobe and makeup to an office environment, the Full Exposure Palette is a great fit.  Unfortunately (well, fortunately for Smashbox and Birchbox), the palette is so popular that it is out of stock at Birchbox until May – so I am super grateful that I get to keep using mine now and into the coming months!

March Birchbox review March 23, 2014

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Another month, another Birchbox – and I liked the March box much more than February.

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Probably my favorite product of the bunch was the Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum.  As a malignant melanoma survivor (15 years this fall – time really does fly), sun protection is supremely important to me.  I love that this serum is a moisturizer AND a powerful sunscreen, and that it is light and non-greasy.  I wore it under makeup and it worked beautifully.  I will definitely be buying this in the future!

As a perfume jumkie, I am always excited to see fragrance samples.  Upon first sniff, I wasn’t sure what to think of Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume.  I usually prefer clean, crisp scents, and this one was more spicy and amber-y.  I actually grew to like the way it smelled on my skin, but I’m not sure I would commit to a full bottle.  It’s a nice fragrance, just not for me.

I was excited to see the INIKA Certified Organic Eyeliner (in Green Lagoon).  Not only was it a full-size product, but the color glided on easily and worked great with a number of shadow looks.  I probably won’t buy this, because I prefer liquid liner, but I still think it is a quality pencil.

The Jergens BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream was a mixed bag.  I wasn’t able to wear it long enough to see results, so I’m not sure I’d choose it over a self-tanning moisturizer.  However, it had a very nice fragrance, and the texture was great (it went on smoothly and absorbed quickly).  Maybe I just need to invest in a larger bottle to see if extended use brings results?  Jergens is an affordable brand, so I’m less afraid of jumping in sight unseen.

I haven’t even used the Curly Hair Solutions – Curl Keeper.  I don’t have particularly curly or wavy hair, and it has been so dry here lately that frizz isn’t really an issue (now, static is a totally different story).  Considering that the rest of the box was so good, I didn’t get too bent out of shape that this product wasn’t really applicable to my profile and beauty routine.

What did everyone else get in March?

Another RTR win March 17, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Fundraising, Pretty.
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After my last experience with Rent the Runway, I couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to get dressed up and go out on the town.  Luckily, husband decided that we should go to the DC Brewer’s Ball (to benefit cystic fibrosis research/awareness) – yay, I needed some cocktail attire!

I ordered two dresses again, which turned out to be a great idea because the primary frock (the one I had in two sizes) just wasn’t what I was hoping for – it was very “fussy.”  My second dress was absolutely perfect for me AND the event.

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The shape of the dress allowed me to feel comfortable while still flattering my best assets – my legs!  The dress is short (more like a mini, depending on your height), but it looked FAB with heels.  The tiered look created some visual interest, and the neutral shades allowed me to add some fun bling (which I also rented) and not look overdone.

It is so incredible to know that I will never have to buy evening wear ever again.  🙂