September 30, 2010

Jason Mraz concert highlights

Hello, Beautiful!

I went to the Jason Mraz concert in Delaware on Tuesday September 28, 2010 and it was AMAZING!!! I was 5th row back - center! It could only have been better to have been front row.

It was such a fun concert - I sang, I danced, and I screamed like a fool all night! I ended up losing my voice, which my son thinks is hilarious since it comes out in squeaks and weird tones. My husband went with me to the concert, although he's not a Jason Mraz fan. He insisted he wanted to go with me, but ended up being a huge downer. He just stood there, arms crossed, most of the time. BOO!! But I am not the type of person to that let get me down, oh no! I ended up being the only one in my row dancing for each and every song. I don't understand how anyone can go to a concert and not start moving to the music.

I made a shirt just for the concert - it said "Be Love". Jason has really changed the way I live my life. His music is so happy and uplifting. Very good for my health issues because it keeps me stress-free! I just wish I could have met Jason - it would have been AMAZING. All I really wanted was an autograph - if not for me (and I certainly wanted one for me) but for my 5 year old son. He loves Jason. "I'm Yours" was his "baby song" and was the only song that would calm him down when he was just a baby!

Anyhow, below are some (a lot) of pics from the concert. I wish I wasn't dancing as much because most of my pics came out blurry. I tried to pause to take pics, but my hips wanted to keep moving haha! Good pics or not, I can remember the entire night perfectly and that's all I need for memories!

Here is how close we were to the stage:

I don't care what anyone says, he's looking right at ME!  :)

I picked up two Jason Mraz tee's (one is a tank) at the concert, and then I bought two more tee's and a tote bag online (I had a coupon, plus free shipping). I'm so ready for another Jason Mraz concert! I can't wait till the next (who knows when that will be - hopefully within a year).

Now it's time to go WEN my hair, eat some lunch, pick my son up from school, then get back to work on our October Daily Give-Away (which begins tomorrow). Details will be posted tonight or tomorrow on how to enter and list all the prizes (at least for week one). Winners from our previous contest will be selected and emailed tonight. Keep an eye out in your email if you entered!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 26, 2010

Review: Sula Paint And Peel Nail Polish in Dove

Hello, Beautiful!

I really did try to take the entire weekend off to rest and get better from this stupid cold. But after trying out a new nail polish I had to come on here and write a review. I'm still sick, and will be back in bed after writing this, but I was just so disappointed in this polish that I had to write about it now! This should actually be a WTF Beauty post!

The nail polish: Sula Paint And Peel Nail Polish. The shade: Dove.

As shown below in the photos this polish looks like a pretty gray color - which I've been on the search for. It looks like a great mid-tone gray - not so dark that it looks black or charcoal, and not so light that it looks silver. I thought I had finally found my perfect gray polish!

That is until I actually used it. When I first applied it I thought it looked like a good color, although it went on really streaky. But sometimes when a polish is streaky it will even out by the second coat. Which is sort of did, but a third coat would really be needed to get the even coverage and by the time I was done with one coat on my right hand and two coats on my left hand, I was finished with this.

The color is a lie. It goes on looking like it does in the bottle, but it dries a completely different shade (which I'll show in the photo below). It dries down to this muddy purple/brown shade.

[Sorry for the sloppy polish application - I'm sick and just wanted to try it out, I wasn't going for perfection.]

I don't know if this happens to every color in their polish line, but this color sure doesn't deliver the way it shows in the bottle. And I'm not happy with the end results. I don't like that shade, especially since I wasn't going for that shade. I was going for a mid-tone gray.

It does peel off - so you don't need polish remover. But it peels off pretty easily, which means you can "chip" your nail and start the peeling process. I don't even know what I did to my one finger but it started to peel up within 10 minutes of applying it. It doesn't peel off all that easily. You kind of have to scrape your nail to get it off, and that can hurt if you have sensitive nails. I'll stick to a polish remover!

The only good thing is this polish dries quickly. Within about a minute you're all dry and ready for the next coat. But what use is that if you're getting these awful end results?

Has anyone tried this brand of polish? If so, what were your results? I'd be interested to hear how other shades dried in comparison to what they looked like in the bottle.

Anyways, moving on... just a few reminders:

You still have till midnight EST tonight to get your final entries into our blog contest!

You could win a $5 off $5 coupon to use at! You can enter by blog comment or email entry. Winners will be selected on and emailed by September 30! Click here to read our contest blog post and to enter the contest!

Plus, until Tuesday save 15% or 30% on your order! Click here for the discount codes!

Have a good Sunday night! 

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 18, 2010

September 2010 Favorites & Not-So-Favorites

Hello, Beautiful!

Before I begin my September favorites list, I want to remind you to enter our daily contest for a chance to win $5 to spend at!

Click here to read our contest blog post and to enter the contest!


Now onto my September favorites!

September is more than half way over and I've fallen in like, lust and love with many beauty products this month. I've also come to dis-like a few beauty products.

My September Favorites:

Makeup Sponges

I've fallen in like with using makeup sponges again. I know, there is nothing special or fancy or magic about makeup sponges. It's almost kind of pointless to even list them. But I went months without using them; I was hooked on using my 187 MAC Stippling Brush to stipple on my foundation. And although I still prefer using a brush over a sponge any day, the sponges have been such a time saver in the mornings. For that reason alone they are on my September favorites list!

I've fallen in lust with the WEN hair care line! The reason it's lust and not love is because I'm not sure it's really a system I can keep up with. It requires a lot of time to do it correctly, you need a lot of product, and I can't stand the Fig smell (in fact, I'm sending it back to get a different scent). If you haven't tried WEN yet both you and your hair are really missing out! After just one application, my hair was completely transformed; not only in how it looked, but how it felt too! I did a big blog post about my experience using WEN, including pics, which you can check out here.

L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base
I've absolutely fallen in love with this primer! It is for sure my favorite primer, probably of all time! I even like it more than my Make Up For Ever HD Primer (which is a beautiful primer that works amazingly). It's just the perfect primer for me! I did a blog post about this primer, including swatches, which you can check out here.

Ikea GISLEV Rug!

This rug is just $19.99 at Ikea. I absolutely love it. It goes beautifully in my bedroom (which is themed out in black, white and gray tones). It's also the rug you'll see on Project Runway (in the girls' bedroom). In fact, I'm thinking of going back to Ikea just to pick up a second (for my office). Although I was worried it would feel really awful since it's only $20 and it's 6'x5' in length. It's not a  luxurious rug at all, but it does its job (at least in my house) and it's a really affordable way to change up your room space.

Jason Mraz Concert!!!!!!!!!!
Only a few days left (10) until the Jason Mraz concert! I am super excited and I'm already thinking of what makeup and hair look I'll choose. I have no idea actually, and I'll probably try out several over the next ten days. Any suggestions??

My September Dis-Likes:

My recent purse purchase from Target:
Okay, I'll start by saying I generally love the purses I get from Target (I actually get a lot of compliments on my purse and people are usually surprised when I say I got it at Target). Sure, they're no Kate Spade, but they allow me to change out my purse often without breaking the bank. I recently picked up a pretty deep plum hued purse (with black and white zebra print inside). I loved the way it looked, it was big enough to carry all my crap (like my coupon organizer thingy), and it was under $30. BUT every time I wear this it bugs me. Only one strap will stay on my shoulder. The other falls off right away. I have to keep pulling it back up... over and over again. The only way the straps will stay up is if I hold them up! It's frustrating, but yet for some reason I continue to use this purse everyday (I don't want to waste my money and it's far past the return policy - plus it's used). This is the first purse from Target that has given me these issues.

Bare Escentuals Natural Lip Gloss
I have this in "Sugar Cookie", which is a pretty shade and the gloss actually smells/kind of tastes like a sugar cookie. But it's so freakin' sticky!!! The kind of sticky gloss where you talk and your lips stick together. The kind of sticky gloss where your hair will surely get stuck in it not once, but 100 times. If this gloss wasn't so sticky I would really love it, but it's just too sticky for me (and that's saying a lot, considering I love the Stila Lip Glazes - which are slightly sticky)!

Body Wash - almost all of them!
I don't know what it is this month. I just can't stand the way any of my body washes smell anymore (well, that's not completely true - I still love my Korres Bitter Almond body wash). I get an instant headache from my body washes and I'm forced to use the "back ups" because I'm out of my Korres body wash. Maybe it's the changing of the seasons that's making my nose change the way it picks up smells, or maybe it's not. Whatever the case, I want to throw all my body washes out at this very moment (but I won't, I'm too cheap for that, so instead they will go into the guest bathroom where most of my beauty product cast-off's end up).

My Neighbor's Dog(s)
I doubt my neighbors read this blog, but I secretly hope they do because maybe they aren't aware of this situation (and the fact that all the surrounding houses can't stand your dog(s) barking). EVERY NIGHT their dog(s) bark... and bark... and bark... and bark... and FREAKIN' BARK. I have dogs - I have two right now, but I've had five at one time - I can tolerate dog barking and I understand that dogs are going to bark. If anyone in my neighborhood could tolerate dogs barking, it's me. But their dog(s) bark a lot - especially during normal sleeping hours. I don't really mind the dog going bark-crazy during the day. I can even tolerate it going bark-crazy at 9pm (despite my son hearing your dog(s) barking and not being able to sleep). But I can no longer tolerate the midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am, and even the 4am barking!! It has got to stop! It's making me crazy! You better believe the moment I get pregnant is the moment your 9 month countdown begins to get that dog barking under control. Because once I have a newborn in the house sleep is precious - both to me and the new baby. If your dog even once wakes my baby up, or me up, I will become that mean neighbor. I don't want to become that neighbor - you know, the one that calls the cops because your dog is making too much noise - but I'm not the only neighbor that can't stand your dog(s) barking, and probably by the time I actually get pregnant someone else will have called the cops on you anyway. This was a nice and quiet neighborhood before you moved in. Now you have the most annoying house in the neighborhood. I'm so lucky to be your neighbor.

[Just to clarify: I do like our neighbors, I just hate their dogs. Also, I'm not pregnant now, but my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant again for years. Eventually it will happen... I hope!]

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

Shopping rant, plus - don't forget to enter our contest!

Hello, Beautiful!

First, before I get to my shopping rant, I want to remind everyone to enter our daily contest for a chance to win $5 to spend at!

Click here to read our contest blog post and to enter.

Now onto my shopping rant, although it's more of a shopping vowel I'm making to myself. Recently I tackled the mountains of laundry sitting in my laundry room, which I had been putting off for far too long. It started when my schedule was too crazy jammed packed with everything work related and I couldn't keep up with laundry. The pile slowly grew over time, and the larger the pile got, the less I told myself I had time to get it done. So I'd end up just washing a load of clothes whenever I needed them (or my family needed them. Now that my son is in school full time I have more time to get things done and I've finally caught up with the laundry mountains!

However, I realized I have one major issue: I have too many plain tank tops and t-shirts!

Not just one plain tank or tee in every color (which I can understand for building a wardrobe), but I have multiple plain tanks or tees in the same color! For example, I have eight plain pink tank tops (in various pink shades) - and those only count for the standard tank style and don't include the spaghetti strap styles or racer back styles. I love pink, but seriously, why do I need that many plain pink basic tank tops?!!?! I don't!!

It's a bad habit I've developed when shopping. Just about every store I shop at has basic tanks and tees on sale, some at really good bargains, and I always add at least one onto whatever I may be shopping for. Lately I've realized the majority of my purchases consist of plain tanks, plain v-neck tees, and lounge pants. Then later when I'm trying to wear something different I wonder why I only have plain boring items. Sure, I have plenty of non-plain tanks and tees, but not nearly enough. I don't want my closet to turn into a lounge store full of basics. So I'm making a shopping vowel to myself!

I vowel I will not buy any plain tanks or tees for the remainder of 2010 and from that point on I will only buy plain tanks or tees when they are on sale at 50% off or more, and no more than two per plain tanks OR plain tees per shopping trip.

Believe me, this is going to be tough. But it's something that needs to be done.

Let me just go on further to say that I don't go out on shopping trips just for fun. They're usually for a specific reason (needing an outfit for an event, as an example). I don't have a lot of money to spend on clothes, so I only shop sales. I think that's part of my problem - because I don't have a lot of money to spend I buy the items that are the cheapest and that's usually plain tanks and tees. Ah-ha! That's probably it!

I feel like I've gotten more for my money and therefore I can justify spending money on clothes. But I wasn't always that way. Before I had a child I would spend $40 to $60 on a nice top without thinking twice. Now if the top costs more than $15 (on sale or not) I can't stomach buying it.

So now maybe I won't get as many items when I shop, but at least I'll have cuter options in my closet!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 12, 2010

L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base

Hello, Beautiful!

I have to say, I'm really surprised that I'm in love with a drugstore brand primer. I've been using higher-end brands for primer (Smashbox, Make Up For Ever, Laura Mercier, etc.) and they've worked so well. I've heard bad things about drugstore brand primers (but hadn't tired any personally) so I stayed clear of them. That is, until I received a sample in a magazine of L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base.

I saw the before & after photo and was intrigued.

Here's what that looked like:

[The photo above is from the L'Oreal ad for this product]

As you can see in the photo above, the dark hyperpigmentation and dark under eye circles in the "before" picture disappear in the "after" picture. I know there is a lot of retouching involved in that "after" picture, and it's not all truth, but there has to be some truth behind it for them to show that example... right? I certainly didn't expect this product to erase all my hyperpigmentation from acne scars, but I did hope it would help.

Here's what this primer promises:

[The photo above is from the L'Oreal ad for this product]

My Experience:
It did minimized the look of my pores and fine lines (which most of my other primers do not). My skin did look and feel smoothed and resurfaced. My skin did feel velvety-smooth to the touch. Basically it did everything is said!

Although, I find it funny it doesn't mention anything about the dark hyperpigmentation and under eye circles in their before/after picture that seem to disappear. You'd think if they showed that example, and it truly did such amazing things, it would be mentioned on that list.

Regardless, this primer did blur my hyperpigmentation and dark areas. It doesn't magically make it all disappear, but I it did work some kind of magic. It wasn't like "wow, they're completely gone", it was more like "wow, they seem faded" - which in turn helped my concealer and foundation work better (less darkness to cover).

Here is a swatch of what the product looks like (it looks pink in jar):

You apply this primer in circular motions all over your face (or to the areas you want to focus on; I apply it everywhere). After you apply it, allow it to set for a minute or two. Then you can apply the rest of your makeup as normal.

My makeup lasts all day when I'm wearing this! This may be one of my favorite products of all time!

If you haven't tried this yet I highly suggest you do so! It costs around $12.99 depending on where you go. I picked mine up at Target and used a $2 off coupon I found in a magazine.

Have you tried this product? If so, what do you think? If not, will you be picking it up soon?

Also, don't forget about our Secret Sale Week (coming soon). Read the blog post below for more info!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 10, 2010

Bye Bye Shampoo & Conditioner - hellooooo WEN! WEN Before & After Pics

Hello, Beautiful!

I recently decided to try out the WEN hair care line. I picked up the WEN by Chaz Dean Fig 4-Piece Hair Collection from QVC. It includes a 16 ounce Cleansing Conditioner, a 6 ounce Styling Creme, a 4 ounce Fig Oil and a 4 ounce Texture Balm. I purchased this when it was on special, but you can still pick it up at QVC for $72.

WEN really has changed my view on hair care forever!

I was a huge skeptic going into this. I've seen the infomercials and I've seen multiple demo's on QVC. I watched thinking "yeah, okay... their hair only looks like that because they have a special team of hair stylists". I mean you see shampoo & conditioner commercials on TV and your hair never turns out that silky and shiny after using the product. I really didn't expect this to work.

But seeing as how I'm in a hair rut at the moment (and don't want to get it cut or colored), I thought this may be something new to try that would change my hair for the better. And it did!

First, let me tell you I was really mad. I even almost made a "WTF Beauty" post because of how much product you have to use. For my hair length (down to mid-back) I need to use 48 pumps for ONE use! Yes forty-eight - not 4 to 8 - but 48!! And that's the minimum recommended amount.

I'd say about 3 to 4 pumps of WEN is equal to how much regular shampoo I'd use for one use, and about 2 to 3 pumps is how much regular conditioner I'd use for one use. So that's about 7 pumps for one use of traditional shampoo and conditioner. For WEN you use over 6 times that amount!

Immediately I knew this was going to be expensive if I wanted to keep up with it. The kit was expensive, but now the up-keep and the frequency in which I need to re-purchase would really drain my wallet. The kit I bought included a 16 ounce bottle of the Cleansing Conditioner. If I'm lucky it's going to last 3 weeks using it every day or every other day. But I honestly doubt I'll get to 3 weeks. I'd be happy to get to 2 weeks with the amount of product I need to use for my hair length. A regular sized Cleansing Conditioner (32 ounce) sells for $44.82 on QVC. I would have to expect to pay $44.82 at least every two months. That's A LOT of money!

If you have shorter hair you're going to get more use out of one bottle. My husband's genius idea was to cut my hair so I don't have to buy the Cleansing Conditioner as often. Um.. I don't think so!!!

The other products that were included with this kit (the styling creme, texture balm and oil) will last a whole lot longer, which I'm really happy about. The texture balm will last at least 2 years, the styling creme, maybe 6 months or so (I'm not really sure), and I haven't even used the oil yet - and don't plan to use it except on the weekends, so that will really last awhile.

So are you ready to read how the whole thing works and see some photos?

You're supposed to use the oil at night and wash it out in the morning, but I was too eager to use the Cleansing Conditioner and didn't want to wait till morning. Plus, you need a lot of time in the morning (I'd say at least 15 minutes) just to do the Cleansing Conditioner. That's time I don't have on mornings I take my son to school, unless I want to wake up earlier and right now that's not happening.

For the Cleansing Conditioner (which is the star of this set), you want to rinse your hair with cool water for at least a minute. Then you will apply the Cleansing Conditioner in four sections: top, bottom, left side, right side. For my hair length I apply 12 pumps per section. Massage each section for at least 2 minutes (which will really give your arms a workout).

Once you have it applied to each section you will comb through it with a wide tooth comb (I just used my fingers), and then leave it on for the remainder of your shower. You want to let it sit on your hair for at least 5 minutes. The longer you let it set, the better the results. Your scalp will feel cold and tingly due to the ingredients the product has (I think mint is in each of the Cleansing Conditioners).

Rinsing it out will take some time. There is a lot of product in your hair and you'll need to massage your hair to get it out. I take about 2 to 3 minutes to rinse it out.

After you get out of your shower apply the Styling Creme to soaking wet hair. You apply it all over, except your roots. Then you can style as normal!

All I did was let it air dry mostly, then I blow dried it a little. That's it!

The photo below shows a before picture (the one I took the other day). Then it shows after using WEN for the first time. Then it shows how it looks the next day, after sleeping on it. I only ran a brush through it, that's it, and I was ready to go!

My hair was SOOOOOOO soft and silky. The photos really don't do it a whole lot of justice. If you could feel my hair you would be amazed! It felt so good. I didn't want to stop touching my hair! It also felt really nice and light. If you have long hair you know that sometimes it can feel heavy. After using WEN it feels so light - just like the feeling you get after getting a big hair cut. It just feels so good! Even now as I'm typing out this blog post I keep stopping to run my fingers through my hair! And in the sun light, well get ready to shine, shine, shine! Your hair will look AMAZING!

One other bonus is my hair wasn't full of knots. I usually have a ton of knots in my hair after a shower and I was able to brush my hair without any issues!

The next day it was still super soft and silky. Not as much bounce, but I slept on it! If I actually used a blow dryer to style my hair it would have looked better. But I wanted to give you a real idea of what it looks like when you wake up the next day.

Here are some close-up photos and other pics:

[Sorry for my eyes in the photo above. I was really tired today!]

I am in LOVE with this product! Seriously, after just one use your hair will feel so amazing. I know it's expensive, but once you feel the difference you will want your hair to feel that way always. If I want to keep up with this hair care I'm just going to have to cut back in other areas of spending because we certainly are not rich enough to afford nearly $50 every two months for hair care. Although I guess it's not all that bad. I only go to a salon usually once a year (twice at most). I know some women who go every 4 to 6 weeks. Salon trips are expensive and if you use WEN you could probably drastically reduce how often you need to go to the salon. WEN does help color last longer because it doesn't strip your hair. So if you go to the salon often you may want to think about adding WEN into your life to reduce how often you need to go.

I also used the WEN system on my husband's hair last night. His hair was so soft and shiny too! Plus it was light and airy. He had a lot more volume to his hair too. He even said he felt like he had no hair because it was so light.

The only thing I don't like is the fig smell. My husband likes it, but it's just not my cup of tea. I like almond and I like mint, so I think I'll try the Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner next.

I would highly recommend this to anyone and everyone!

Have you tried WEN before? What was/is your experience?

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 8, 2010

Morning Routine

Hello, Beautiful!

It's back to school season and that means quick & easy morning routines. Whether you're going to school yourself, or you're taking your kids to school, it never seems to go all that smoothly in the mornings (at least not for me). I'm working on a makeup and hair routine that will take around 30 minutes.

Seeing as how I have major flaws to cover, I have to do my makeup in the mornings. I just don't feel comfortable facing the world with a face full of acne and acne scars.

Yesterday morning was the first day of school for my son, and that was a bit rough getting ready in the morning. I had taken a shower the night before in hopes it would save time in the morning. It did save time, but my hair does NOT come back from that. I have a collic in my hair and no amount of blow drying can help. I knew it wouldn't work, but in my head I was hoping it would suddenly change. My makeup also didn't work out as well as I had hoped, so after I got home I re-did the whole thing.

This morning I went back to normal routine of taking a shower in the morning and my hair is collic free! And although you can't tell in the photo below, my hair is pretty long at the moment (down to about mid-back). I'm growing it out again because I love my long hair. I think it's finally back to the length I enjoy most (woo hoo).

Here is my "mommy morning face" photos, product list, and morning routine:

[Don't mind my nose.. it's broken (although healed now) and I plan to get it fixed in the spring.]

Primer: L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base
Foundation: Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Foundation (shade: 123)
Concealer: MAC Studio Sculpt (shade: NC 20), Laura Geller Real Deal Concealer (shade: Medium), Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer (shade: 6)
Setting Powder: Mally Beauty Poreless Perfection Skin Finisher
Brows: Smashbox Brow-Tech To Go (shade: Brunette)
Eye Shadow: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner (shade: r.s.v.p.), Smashbox Waterproof Shadow/Liner (shade: Graphite)
Eye Liner: Smashbox Limitless Eye Liner (shade: Smoke)
Mascara: Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash
Lips: Smashbox Lip Enhancing Gloss (shade: Allure)

Today's Morning Makeup Routine:

After I applied all my skin care (including moisturizer), I applied primer. I've really fallen in love with L'Oreal's Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base. It's an amazing primer and I will do a full review on it very soon. I always allow primer to set for about two to five minutes (I blow dry my hair while it's setting so I'm not wasting time).

Then it's the most important time: concealer time! Today I did a cocktail of concealers. They're all different shades, but together (used alone or mixed) work really well to cover my flaws. I mixed MAC's Studio Sculpt Concealer with Make Up For Ever's Full Cover Concealer - which have different textures (MAC's is thicker and drier). I used the Laura Geller Real Deal Concealer by itself. I let my concealer dry for about a minute or two.

Then it's the second most important time: foundation time! I used a MAC 187 Brush to apply the Make Up For Ever's HD Invisible Foundation, stippling it on so I didn't distrub the concealer. Once my foundation was dry I applied Mally's Poreless Perfection Skin Finisher over top.

Then it was onto brows. I need to fill in my brows because due to my health issues some of my eye brow hair fell out, leaving very sparse areas - especially at the beginning of my brow right in the middle of it. I've been using Smashbox's Brow-Tech for years and years, but when they came out with the "to go" version I had to try it out. And let me tell you, I'm in love with it! I don't think I can go back to the powder version again! (I'll also do a full review on this product).

I didn't use a shadow primer today, although I guess I should have since I don't plan to re-do my makeup before I have to pick my son up. But I'm pretty sure the choices I selected are going to stay on all day anyway. I first used Benefit's Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner all over my lid. Then I applied Smashbox's Shadow/Liner to the outer corners of my eye lids (top lid only). Followed by applying a very thin line of Smashbox's Limitless Eye Liner to the upper lid only, staying very close to the lash line.

Finally, I threw on a coat of Make Up For Ever's Smoky Lash and a coat of Smashbox's Lip Enhancing Gloss in Allure (which is a beautiful nude shade).

From start to finish (shower, cleaning my face, face serums/moisturizer, hair, makeup, and getting dress) took me about 45 minutes. Not too bad (for me anyway). Although I did nothing with my hair, so if I actually took the time to do my hair it would have added on another 5 to 15 minutes.

I will be testing out many morning routines all month long. Hopefully by the end of September I will have one that is quick & easy (30 minutes or less). But I think until my skin clears up I'll be stuck doing the long concealer and foundation routine (which takes about 10 minutes itself).

Do you have a morning routine you want to share? I'd love to hear it!

And because I'm just so proud of my son starting kindergarten, here are some photos from his first day of school (his faux hawk is by his request; he calls it his "rock star hair"):

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 7, 2010

If they put a mermaid into a nail polish bottle...

Hello, Beautiful!

I recently picked up a few Nicole by OPI polishes from their Gossip Girl Collection. I found them on clearance at Target for around $3.50 each. I picked up three of the four shades that are available (I didn't really care for the darkest shade they had available).

I had to do a rush job on painting my nails tonight. I knew I wanted to try out one of my new polishes and without hesitation I selected the "Nicole... Spotted!" shade. Which brings me to the topic of my blog post.

This shade truly looks like they took a mermaid and created her into a nail polish color. It's the perfect aqua-marine green with sparkles - which reminds me of a mermaids tail/fin (whatever you want to call it). And the fact that it has sparkle in it really throws me over board in love with this color. It actually reminds me of "The Little Mermaid" Ariel doll I used to have as a child. It was a bath toy and I remember how her mermaid tail/fin shimmered and shined so beautifully.

In the swatches below I have on three coats - but two coats looked great too. I just couldn't put this color down because I was so in love with it, which is how I ended up with three coats.

The photos don't do this color justice! This shade looks way prettier in person.

What do you think of this color? Do you own it? Did you pick up any of the other Nicole by OPI Gossip Girl polishes?

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 6, 2010

Mally Beauty Ultimate Performance Full Coverage Foundation in Medium

Hello, Beautiful!

I was really excited to receive Mally's Ultimate Performance Full Coverage Foundation (which I picked up in the Medium shade). This is a cream foundation that comes with its own sponge (which is really nice, but has it's set backs - which I'll explain later in this post).

The before & after photos/live demo on QVC really sold me. There was one model with serious sun damage, who after using this foundation looked nearly flawless. I have a lot of flaws to cover and not only want a full coverage foundation, but need a full coverage foundation. I wanted this to be "the one", but I'm still not sure if it is.

As soon as this arrived in the mail I immediately tried it out. Since it had been on the postal truck for hours in the heat it was really warmed up. It practically melted into my skin, which was nice because it looked so natural and flawless. I was instantly impressed!

All was good and I was extremely happy. I went onto QVC and wrote a very positive review on this, saying how it changed my life (because the coverage was amazing and it looked so flawless).

BUT then I tried it out for a second time. By that time the foundation had adjusted back to normal temperature. It certainly didn't melt into my skin like it did at first (which I expected). I swirled the sponge in the compact to warm it up, which helped a lot. It did go on easily and blending wasn't a problem. However, it kind of just sat on my skin instead of melting in. It helped if I pressed the sponge into my skin, stippling it on, but it still didn't look all that natural.

[I should mention that I apply my makeup in front of a window during bright day light. I figure if my makeup looks good in natural sun light it will look good in any other light (which is usually true). Natural sun light shows so much more... you really could look great in indoor lighting but go into natural sun light and look like a train wreck.]

So keeping in mind that I apply my makeup in direct sun light, I found it hard to make this look natural. That was really disappointing. But in regular indoor lighting this foundation looks good... it looks great actually.

Below is a photo of me before using this foundation (no makeup on) and after using this foundation.
This photo is taken in front of the window where I apply my makeup. It gives the most truth to the level of coverage this foundation has, as direct sun light shows the most flaws. I did use flash on the camera (since I had no lights on in my closet). In the "after" picture the color tones are a little warmer than in the "before", but you'll still get a good look at the coverage level (which I'll explain more of after the pics). I'm wearing nothing but the foundation - no concealer at all. Just the foundation.

Keep in mind my flaws are MAJOR... you've been warned...

Ugh, I can't believe I just showed you that before photo! I know, I know.. my face looks like a teenager who is having bad acne. But the truth is I'm going on 27 and that's adult acne caused by my health issues (which include a major hormone imbalance). Now that you've seen my ugly mug of a face and how awful my skin flaws are (that I always talk about but haven't had the guts to show until now), lets get back to the review...

For a full coverage foundation I have to say that it's not really all that full coverage. Mally says that in her description, saying "I wanted a full coverage foundation but not too full coverage - you still need to see the skin" (or something like that - I don't have the description in front of me to directly quote from). But still I expected a little more covearge than this. You can still see a lot of my flaws - especially up close. If you don't have as many flaws as I do then this foundation may cover beautifully for you. Of course when I've paired it with a concealer (Laura Geller's Real Deal Concealer) it worked a whole lot better at covering everything up. Without a concealer I wouldn't feel comfortable just using this.

I'm going to keep working with it, trying different application methods and tools (flat foundation brush, stippling foundation brush, etc.), in an effort to make this work for me.

The sponge that came with this product is actually really nice. It's a large, dense sponge that feels comfortable on your skin and blends the product really nicely. HOWEVER, I am having the hardest time washing this sponge!! I cannot get the makeup to completely come off of it. If there were only small traces left or the lightest tint of foundation I may not care, but this sponge still looks like I just applied my foundation. I normally just use the one-time-use, throw away wedge sponges. So I don't have a lot of experience washing sponges. Regular soap and water didn't work. I also tried shampoo and water (which is what I use to clean my makeup brushes) but that didn't work either. I'm thinking makeup remover will be my next step to try. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know in the comments of this post.

So yeah... that's my review on this foundation. I love it but I hate it. I'm going to keep playing around with it and see how I can make this work for my skin. Maybe I'll do an updated post in a month or so to let you know if this is a "love it" or a "hate it".

Here are some upcoming  blog posts:

- Review & Swatches: Mally's Poreless Perfection Skin Finisher
- Review & Swatches: L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base
- Organizing Your Nail Polish: Creating swatches and an organization system to easily identify colors and try on the colors before you commit to painting your nails.
- Blog Sale: Wow.. where to do I begin with this. I didn't realize how many items I really had (hundreds). It may take longer than intially expected, as I'm still creating swatches for the Valentine Beauty Closet. I'm now aiming to post the blog sale by the end of September (but I can't announce an official date just yet).

Also, on a personal note, today is the last day of my son being a little boy. He's now going to be a big boy starting kindergarten on Tuesday! Below is a recent photo of him at the local skate park rocking a Yo Gabba Gabba shirt and band-aid from a boo-boo:

He looks nothing like me! He's like a clone of my husband. He's got my husband's blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin. But I can be credited for his long eye lashes, at least I passed some kind of physical trait down to him. People often don't believe that I'm his mom... which comes in handy when he's being bad in public. I always tell my husband that I can deny that he's my child, but he never could, lol (you all should know I'm kidding... sort of).

Have a great Labor Day everyone!!!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs

September 1, 2010

WTF Beauty: Neutrogena Lip Boost Intense Moisture Therapy

Hello, Beautiful!

Another edition of WTF Beauty. This time it's a Neutrogena lip product. It's the Neutrogena Lip Boost Intense Moisture Therapy.

I went shopping at Wal-Mart late one night and had a $3 off Neutrogena coupon. I saw this lip product and thought it would be a good one to use. Well I was wrong.

This is awful! I've been using this for a just a few days but let me tell ya, my lips have never felt grosser. It feels moisturizing at first, but it's all a trick. Afterwards your lips start to feel tighter and dry. And the worst part is you feel like you have some waxy weird film on your lips all day.

Besides the gross feeling, this product doesn't even deliver "intense moisture therapy" as it states on the product. And it's certainly not "for lips full of softness" like it also says. My lips have been peeling after using this product!

The only good thing is the smell, which is minty and refreshing. Other than that this lip product is a complete waste of money. If I could return it I would!

Have you tried this out? If so, what was your experience?

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs