Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Favorite Skincare Products and Routine of January 2016

Starting with a disclosure of my skin, age, and research into skincare, I am 22, fair, with oily skin, and am acne-prone.  I have been interested in skincare for at least ten years, frequenting blogs and other review sites to gather more information on products.  I don’t try to spend my money foolishly, but am driven toward always bettering my skin and makeup, and most recently, this means improving my skin and wearing the least amount of makeup on a regular basis as I can.  Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup, but at this point, my daily life does not require me to carefully fill my brows or do the full face routine.  Skincare, in my opinion is more important than makeup in my life, as it creates an ideal base, so that means less foundation!


I said I have oily skin, but when I sometimes wash it, it feels tight and dry.  I have realized that this means I am using the wrong cleansers, and maybe even oily-skinned people need extra moisture in that step.  I am currently using Garnier’s version of Micellar Cleansing Water (the regular one) to remove my makeup, but most days, when I go makeup free, I just use one of the two cleansers I have on my counter.  These are Neutrogena Deep Clean Long-Last Shine Control Cleanser/Mask or Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (I currently have the CVS version).  I use the Cetaphil on most days, and the Neutrogena if I feel I need a deeper clean.  Every other day (at night), if I’m good, I will use the Clarisonic Mia 2, in amethyst, which I got myself as a graduation present last May.  I use dime-sized amount of cleanser on the wet brush, and let the Clarisonic do the rest.  I then use Dickinson’s witch hazel as a toner.  I often do this step throughout the day if I need a refresher and am not wearing makeup.  Rosewater is also a fabulous toner and can be used the same as witch hazel.

Moisturizers, Serums and Eye Care:

Before moisturizer, I either use a vitamin C serum (the one I use also has vitamin E and hyaluronic acid for cell turnover), or the sample I have of Origin’s Original Skin Renewal Serum with Willowherb.  I have been using the vitamin C serum longer (I got it from Amazon), and I really like how it calms my skin and allows my moisturizer to sink in better than on its own.

I use different moisturizers in the morning and at night.  I love Aveeno (with SPF 15 or 30 in the morning) because it is completely unscented and does not interfere with my natural skin oil production, and adds moisture back into my skin after washing.  I then move onto makeup, as my skin is now well-prepped for foundation, if I decide I need any that day.  Rosebud salve and Vaseline are my favorite moisturizers for chapped lips and really anything else, and I use them day and night.

At night, I indulge in either 100% argon oil, or Olay’s Original Beauty Fluid Lotion.  My mom’s grandmother used Olay, and she looked beautiful well into old age, and lived to be 100.  (She did have an amazing bone structure, but I still like to use Olay because of her.)  I also use argon oil on my pale reddish-blonde eyebrows and light, but relatively long lashes.  It has helped my brows and lashes look somewhat darker because of increased growth.  (I will do a follow-up review as I continue to use argon oil.)  I use an Olay eye gel most nights and occasional mornings, and I feel it is enough moisture for me and helps with de-puffing.  I will definitely try other eye creams in the future.


Once a week, not always the same day, I use an intensive face mask, making sure my pores are opened by warm water, usually from a bath.  I love Queen Helene Mint Julep clay mask, and usually reach for it on my indulging days.  Other days I use a plain and simple, homemade honey mask, which is great for all skin types, as it helps clears acne, smooths skin, and adds a boost of moisture.  I also love the charcoal sugar scrub by Freeman.  It is pretty much the only exfoliation I do, and it is super gentle and moisturizing.  I feel my skin always looks best at night than during the day, but I can never be sure if it’s because of the mask I’ve done or because of the dimmer light….

I am always willing to try new products, but I think witch hazel, Aveeno, Vaseline, and rose water will always be in my skincare.  Let me know if I helped in any product decisions, and if you love anything else I haven’t mentioned, for any skin type!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Product Review: Revlon Dramatic Definition Mascara

I have really only tried a few brands and types of mascara over the ten years or so that I’ve been wearing makeup.  I prefer Revlon and Maybelline, although many reviews I’ve looked at don’t tend to show much love for Revlon mascaras.  I thought as there haven’t been much out there for the Dramatic Definition version of all-new line of Revlon mascaras, I'd get to it myself!

I have pale brows and lashes, being a redhead, but my lashes are fortunately rather long and have natural curl.  I also don’t go for ultra-dark, showy lashes that tend to get spidery (yuck).  I love the look of light false lashes, and prefer my mascara to do a good job of lengthening, volumizing, separation and definition to get the best out of my natural lashes.  My go-to mascaras before this buy were the Maybelline Lash Sensational and Revlon Grow Luscious (both non-waterproof, and brownish-black, if possible).  Now that the old Revlon mascara lines are extinct, I felt like it was time to try to the new line.

My local CVS had the rack full of the new products out in front, with every variation available.  I noticed the blue (length and volume) version had the most missing, but stuck with my purple definition one, as I liked the few reviews out there on it.  It only came in black or darker, and the waterproof is not out yet (not that I would get waterproof, but for those who do, it should be out this summer), so I grabbed the good old regular black for $8.99 without tax.

First off: packaging.  I like it, with the simple design and fun matte finish on one half and bright color on the other (I love purple anyway).  I preferred the holographic colors of the older Revlon packaging, but I just love color.  The case is a flattened oval shape, which makes it stand out in my makeup container, and makes it easier to hold.

The wand is average-sized, with the bristles coming off a squared brush.  The bristles are both long and short (interchanging), to help get into the lashes.  The bristle head is slightly flexible, which is different for me, I suppose to help bend the wand to reach all the lashes.  Dramatic Definition is also a straight wand, unlike Maybelline Lash Sensational, which also makes me like it more.

The first impression is:  I like it!  It did not make my lashes clump much (only in the second coat a little bit, fixed with an eyelash comb), and showed all of the length that is hidden because of my blonde lashes.  There is definitely some volume as well, but the main thing is the definition, as it is supposed to do.  I think I would reach for this over the Maybelline I have, mostly because it is quick and easy to apply a slightly dramatic, yet still pretty natural set of lashes for everyday!

Here are my before and after, then two coats, from top to bottom.  Last is two coats in natural light.


Do you like mostly natural-looking “best of my natural lashes” too?  Have you tried this or any of the other new Revlon line?  Let me know what your favorites are!

(Note:  I went out and bought this product myself and am not being paid to review.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book Rant: Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is one of my top favorite books of all time.  I originally read it in fifth grade, and still have the same copy (with my handwriting in orange gel pen in the front cover from that time).  This installment in my book rant series will be not consist of the movie “based on Ella Enchanted”, which I may decide to cover in the future.  It doesn’t really fit in this sort of rant.

My two favorite genres are historical fiction and fantasy.  I took fantasy literature in high school and, although it wasn’t particularly challenging, still loved it.  Most fantasy stories I own are meant for children, and can be read by adults, obviously, but I plan on challenging myself in discovering higher reading level-geared material soon.  Ella Enchanted is certainly a children’s book, but I think the comfort of a beloved story and set of characters is nothing to be ashamed of.  I think Ms. Levine would agree.

The book is written in first person, which I have not personally exercised in my collection of in-progress works so far.  This method is perfect in this story because it helps the reader understand the protagonist on the deepest level.  Ella’s character is probably the best I have seen in Gail Carson Levine’s works as a protagonist.  Her personality is well-developed as a courageous, intelligent, and loving person.  Being based on the well-known character of fairy-tales, Cinderella, how did Ms. Levine make the rather weak-willed person into a heroine who is more easily relatable?  The spin of a fairy birth blessing actually being an unintended curse is such a clever idea.  Being obedient to an odious stepmother and stepsisters just wouldn’t fly in the ideal of modern heroines, so Ella is tweaked to become an even more admirable Cinderella character.  I mean, well-behaved women rarely make history, right?

The supporting characters behind Ella are her mother, fairy-godmother (who actually wasn’t responsible for her “fairy gift”), her best friend Areida, and the steadfast and kind-hearted Prince Char.  The antagonists include her step-family, a couple of ogres, and basically anyone who could use Ella’s obedience against her and those she loves.  In my opinion, those on the border are Ella’s greedy father and the fairy who gave her the curse.  They are not “bad” characters, out to hurt others on purpose, but are products of their selfish lives.  This spectrum of character personalities is a good presentation of natural human faults and foibles.  Not everyone can naturally be a good as Prince Char, or as clever as Ella, but it can be a good thing to aspire to.

Ella Enchanted is, in short, a perfect original retelling of the original story.  It contains a lovely, inventive heroine and supporting cast of characters, with a fully orchestrated plot that while remains consistent to the classic tale of Cinderella, truly is its own unique and memorable tale.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Product Review: Si by Giorgio Armani

I have heard multiple times that there are two people in the world: those who have only one signature scent, and wear it throughout their lives, and those who collect and try many scents.  (To be honest, there are plenty who don’t fall into either category, but as you’re reading post dedicated to perfume, you probably count yourself within one of these.)  I have always been a perfume “trier”.  I think I have been ever since I read Once Upon a Marigold, in which one the protagonists is a perfumer.  (But I digress….)  I have been collecting scents for at least a quarter of my twenty-two years (starting my grandparents’ classically unisex 4711).

I would describe Si as warm, sensual, musky, soft, undeniably feminine, and perfectly understated.  Some fragrances make me feel like I’m wearing too much scent, and that in turn makes me feel self-conscious in the negative sense.  That has never been the case with Si.

The description from the Giorgio Armani website says, “Sì is a tribute to modern femininity, an irresistible combination of grace, strength, and independent spirit. A modern chypre reinvented, Sì opens with deep blackcurrant nectar that softly recedes to airy florals. A base of musky blond wood adds lightness while grounding the fragrance for a lingering, distinctive trail.

Chypre, Blackcurrant Nectar, Airy Florals, Musky Blond Wood.
Graceful. Modern. Unconventional.”

Funnily enough, I have heard of blackcurrant nectar, as it is part of the preferred dessert wine of the famous Belgian detective of Agatha Christie’s art deco-era mystery novels.  I admit my favorite fruits are the darker berries, like blackberry, and I can also feel a sense of the florals, which are usually more predominant in my other perfumes.  For me, I smell vanilla and musk, but the sweetness might actually be the dessert wine of crème de cassis (blackcurrant nectar).  A scent with a warm dessert note appeals to me far more than a sickly sweet candyish scent does.  It’s all down to preference:  a note of dessert wine blended with light florals and musk works perfectly for me, and defines a quintessential woman’s fragrance in Si.

Currently, Si comes in rollerball, 1 ounce, 1.7 ounce, 3.4 ounce, and 5.1 ounce spray form, although my introduction was in a limited supply of a larger sample in dab-form from Sephora.  This is relatively expensive fragrance in the perfume form, and I do prefer the perfume to the toilette (yes, there is a difference besides alcohol content).  The toilette is less warm, and fruitier.

Although previously I’ve always reached for floral oriental scents, I’ve had a fondness for the warmer fragrances intermittently.  Now I have been converted to calling not Shalimar, but Si, my favorite, most-reached for perfume.  Now I just have to pluck up the funds for the larger spray sizes (I still only have the Sephora premium sample in dab-form, and the roller ball!)  Si has found its way into my heart with its tender, warm notes, and I believe I will always keep a place for it on my bedside table.

(Note:  I am not being paid for this review, I love this perfume from samples I have gotten at Macy's and Sephora, and bought the rollerball myself.)