December 16, 2014

Where in the world have I been?!!

Hello, Beautiful!

Super long time, no talk! I can't believe I haven't made a post since October 26 -- that's almost 2 months of no blogging; yikes! I have kept up with my Instagram though, so if you don't already follow me there please do (ValentineKissesBeauty).

Life has taken me down a more depressing road as of recently, but I am slowly making a come back. If you do follow my Instagram, then you know early in October I found out that my pit bull, Potter, had terminal cancer. This news came only 4 days after taking in a great dane puppy, Dexter. All that really put me in a stressed out state of mind and I did my best to be there for my ill, dying dog while paying all the necessary attention to the new puppy - who at the time was only 8 or 9 weeks old. The vet told me he had hours to just a few days to live. If I was extremely lucky I would have 2, maybe 3 weeks with him. That news shattered my heart. I wasn't ready to hear that or face what would eventually happen.

I dedicated my time and attention to the dogs, especially not knowing when Potter would pass or if he would get better. About a week later Potter magically somehow got better. And he only got better and more like himself from there. He had a bad day here or there, but it was still way more good days than bad. He still enjoyed walks, playing outside, car rides, and eating. Work also picked up and I drive a lot for work. I lost a lot of energy and would fall asleep at random times throughout the day and take naps that lasted several hours. I got behind on everyday things - like cleaning, laundry, and my blog. I had to put the blog on hold because it was something I didn't need to do in order for my life to run properly. But I missed blogging because I'm a makeup girl at heart, which is why I kept up with my Instagram - posting swatches, pics, etc. as often as I could -- which is far less effort and time than blogging.

Just over a week ago, Potter passed away. I was devastated. He would of been 12 years old next month and I had him since he was just a tiny puppy. He was like my child. I am still grieving his loss. I knew it was coming - I just didn't know when - and honestly, it didn't make it any easier. He did live WEEKS beyond what the vet said, and I'm beyond grateful for each extra second with him that I was granted. The last 4 days of his life were hard on me; I didn't have work and hardly left his side. He wasn't doing great on a Sunday morning, and by Monday morning he couldn't walk (would fall over; I had to carry him outside). I thought for sure he was going to pass because the same thing happened to another dog of mine. But he made it through Monday and by Tuesday morning he wanted to eat and could all of a sudden walk again -- even run! It was so confusing, because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't put him down when he all of a sudden had so much life back in him. On Wednesday he also was doing well, but Thursday is when things took a turn for the worse. It was around 7pm. He gave me a look, a look I'll never forget - a sad, "this is it" look. I stayed by his side, petting him and telling him how much I loved him. 2 and a half hours later he passed away, in my arms.

It was so hard to say goodbye to my best friend, but I know I gave that dog the best life possible. He was unlike any dog I've ever had and I don't think I'll ever have a dog like him. Our bond was one in a trillion. Anyone that knew me and Potter, knew that dog and I loved each other like no other human/animal bond that they've seen.

Dexter, who is now going on 5 months old, is a beautiful reminder that my heart has room to love another animal again - even when it was so shattered and broken from losing one. Dexter keeps me going - because I don't have a choice. He's just a puppy, and a large puppy at that! He makes me smile, gives me lots of hugs and kisses, and cute puppy snuggles. It's great therapy.

Sorry if this post is a little depressing. I just wanted to give you all an update on what's mainly been going on. There have been other things - more personal issues that I don't wish to discuss on my blog, but just know that I'm working through some issues.

I'm very much looking forward to getting my blog back on track for 2015. I have a notebook full of ideas, tips & tricks, looks to recreate, dupes I've found, reviews on products, "best & worst" for brands and product categories, etc. that I can't wait to put into action here on my blog.

I hope you all haven't left me, or forgotten about me. I know many of my followers here also follow me on Instagram, so maybe you haven't noticed an absence from me here.

My blog sale - which I haven't done anything with since September - will be re-opening. I have purged a LOT more items that I will be adding to the sale. If you have emailed me about my blog sale and never received a reply - I do apologize. I put those emails in a folder with the intentions of replying and never got around to it. But when I do re-open the blog sale I will only re-open it for 2 weeks at a time from now on. That way I can stay on top of all emails and not miss a random one here and there.

Anyhow, that's my update for now. I miss you all and can't wait to get back on here on a regular basis like I used to!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine

October 26, 2014

Lorac Mega Pro Palette - swatches & review

Hello, Beautiful!

The Lorac Mega Pro Palette had such a huge hype surrounding the release date, and with good reasoning, but the way they handled the release was less to be desired. If you already own the first Lorac Pro Palette or the Lorac Pro Palette 2, then you know the quality of shadows and the color selection is really wearable. The Mega Pro Palette just seemed like a dream come true for me, especially at $59 for basically two pro palettes in one, when typically one Lorac Pro Palette is $42.

*** Amazon does list a re-stock date of November 4th ***

In the Lorac Mega Pro Palette you get 32 shadows - 16 are matte and 16 are satin/shimmer shades. Without question, this palette is worth every penny to me. I have seen that this palette is extremely dupeable, but only if you already own a lot of MAC shadows, which I do not. For me, I could probably dupe some of these within my collection - but I love having them all in one palette and all of the same quality (some of my dupes may be lesser quality, and maybe I'll do a dupe post in the future). Check out my full review below after all the pics!

Lorac Mega Pro Palette

Lorac Mega Pro Palette Info & Review:
Cost/Availability: $59.00 (for entire palette). Available exclusively on the Lorac website and on Amazon - although at the time I wrote this blog post it was sold out at both locations. Amazon does have a re-stock date of November 4th, just in case you are trying to get your hands on this. Not sure when or if the Lorac website will re-stock this palette.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Kisses!

My Review...

I don't own the first Lorac Pro palette, but for some reason when the second one came out, the Lorac Pro 2, I had to get it. After having the second palette, I fell in love so much with it that I wanted to get the original Lorac Pro palette. I haven't - yet - but if I ever have some extra money and a coupon, that palette will be mine.

With that being said, I knew the Lorac Mega Pro palette was a must have for me. At first glance it does seem like there are a lot of light shades that all look similar, but after a swatch session I really fell in love with them. I am able to use that palette exclusively for so many looks - it's really endless with what you can come up with! Of course pairing with other palettes/shadows and even adding some glitter can really take this palette to the next level, but on its own it really is all you need to get anything from a simple neutral eye to a sultry smokey eye and even some colorful looks!

Yes, I have seen videos and posts about how dupeable this palette is - particularly with MAC eyeshadows - but if you're like me and don't own a lot of MAC shadows, then this palette is highly usable and like a dream come true to get so many great basics.

The quality of the shadows is exactly the quality to what you find in the Lorac pro palettes - they're buttery soft, and yes there is some fall out due to how soft they are, but they aren't powdery or chalky. The shades are really pigmented and easy to blend. They all work better over a primer or base, but that's true for most any shadow. Although from the swatches you can see there is little difference between the regular swatch and the over-primer swatch. Only a few shades really got that extra pop from a shadow primer underneath. For the most part these are amazing on their own.

I of course have some favorite shades but it would be pointless to name them because the more I use this palette the more favorite shades I find. The shades I use the most - so far - are Smokey Topaz, Cashmere, Sand, Granite, Caviar, Black, Stone, Khaki and Cream. But after naming those I could also name Opal, Vanilla, Gray, Espresso, Brown, Camel, Deep Teal and Indigo. See what I mean about liking pretty much every shade in here?!!

I know a lot of people go are going crazy over the Mulberry and Merlot shades, and while I do think they are pretty, I just can't pull off a cranberry eye look. I normally look sick or like I'm on drugs. But I'm determined to find a way to use it that will be flattering on me. I know those shades can look gorgeous, but honestly for me they'll probably be my least used.

I do think the shades Black and Caviar are pretty much the same shade. Sure, Caviar is supposed to be the shimmer/satin version of Black, but I find there being very little difference between them - especially when on the eye.

Overall, I think this is a holy-grail status palette for me in terms of having so many blending shades, highlight shades, and just good ground shades. It's thin and easy to store, just like the regular Lorac Pro palettes, and it will for sure come with me when I travel!

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this palette? Have you tried this or is this on your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below.

October 21, 2014

Milani Limited Edition Matte Lip Art (matte lipsticks from their fall Bedazzled Collection) - all 3 shades: swatches, review

Hello, Beautiful!

Milani's Bedazzled collection has some gorgeous items - including the Constellation Gel Eye Liners that I posted about back on September 23rd. I have wanted to blog about the three shades of lipsticks that came out with this collection, called their Matte Lip Art, but I had a hard time finding one of the shades - Enchanting Amethyst. After a lot of wasted gas money driving around to countless CVS and Walgreen locations, I purchased it online for way more than retail - but at least I have all three shades now to share with you in this post!

These matte lipsticks are phenomenal! I like the formula so much - they're creamy, smooth, richly pigmented and non-drying. Even though these three are limited edition, I have heard rumors that Milani is coming out with matte lipsticks that will be part of their permanent line of lipsticks. Crossing my fingers they are, because I already love their Color Statement Lipsticks and would love to see more like these Matte Lip Art lipsticks!

Check out all the product info, along with my full review, after the pics!

Milani - Matte Lip Art
Bedazzled Collection Matte Lipsticks
Shades: Enchanted Amethyst, Enchanted Topaz, Enchanted Ruby
Continue scrolling down to see more pics of each individual shade.

Milani - Matte Lip Art
Bedazzled Collection Matte Lipstick
Shade: Enchanted Topaz

Milani - Matte Lip Art
Bedazzled Collection Matte Lipstick
Shade: Enchanted Ruby

Milani - Matte Lip Art
Bedazzled Collection Matte Lipstick
Shade: Enchanted Amethyst

Milani Matte Lip Art Info & Review:
Cost/Availability: $4.19 (0.13 oz full size). Available on the Milani website (currently they only have one shade left - Enchanted Ruby), at CVS and Walgreen locations. Other locations that carry Milani may have some of these, but from what I know the Bedazzled collection is exclusive to CVS and Walgreens.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Kisses!

Product Info...

Bellissimo! You know how some (lesser) matte lipsticks are dry and streak when you apply? Matte Lip Art is completely different. This super-luxe, grown-up girl lipstick delivers true instant color in a single swipe. Pair with Constellation Gel Eye Liner for the perfectly scrumptious fall look. These beauties are limited edition, so be sure to snap them up.

My Review...

With these lipsticks being limited edition, that means these are harder to find. For me, I could not find Enchanting Amethyst anywhere. I must have went to at least 15 to 20 CVS and Walgreen's within 2 hours of me in various directions. For almost 3 weeks straight I searched for Enchanted Amethyst. I finally gave up and turned to eBay. I had missed one for sale for only $6 the day before I purchased mine, and I ended up paying $12 with free shipping. Had it been either of the other two shades and I likely wouldn't have been on such a search, but this purple shade looked way too pretty. Plus, I kept seeing how it was a dupe for MAC's RiRi Boy Lipstick.

I don't own RiRi Boy but I love a good drugstore dupe! From swatches I've seen online, it does look pretty close. Some comparison photos I've seen it looks spot on, a 99.9% match. But some other comparison photos I've seen made Enchanted Amethyst look lighter in tone. For those that have both Milani's Enchanted Amethyst and MAC's RiRi Boy please leave a comment below letting me know how close of a dupe you feel they are... especially on the lips.

The packaging on these lipsticks is different from their Color Statement Lipsticks. These are in a round tube with a clear lid. The shade name is only listed on the sticker that is on the lid, which I'm not a fan of - especially because I can often mix up lids. I'd rather have the name displayed on the bottom of the lipstick just like the Milani Color Statement Lipsticks have (plus, they have the coordinating color bottoms; I just love that lipstick packaging!). I do hope they are coming out with more matte lipsticks in their Color Statement Lipstick line, with this same formula.

These glide on so smooth and have a creamy, non-drying texture. For a matte lipstick, the formula is one of the best I've tried - especially from the drugstore.

In terms of shades, I do really love Enchanted Amethyst. It's a really pretty purple shade that's still wearable for me. Enchanted Topaz pulls a bit brown on me when I swatch, but on my lips goes on lighter. I like it on my lips but think it may be a bit too peachy brown to be an everyday nude shade for me - but it is really pretty. Enchanted Ruby is pretty but I'm not the biggest fan of that sort of lipstick shade. I like that on my lips it pulls more of a pink undertone cranberry rather than a darker, deeper red.

If you can find these, they are worth the buy - both for formula and shade selection. I only wish there were more... or maybe I don't, because if there were more I'd need them all!

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of these limited edition lipsticks? Have you tried them or are they on your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below.