Sunday, April 1, 2018

Ella + Mia Soy Polish Remover: Review

My nails have been a struggle since as far back as middle school. I can remember walking home and noticing that my nails were peeling in layers, and flash forward to 10+ years later, not much has changed. However, back then I also had constant peeling skin around my nails as well, whereas now I experience very little of that problem.

One of my biggest loves and appreciations in life is a beautiful manicure, and when I do my nails my dream is for them to last for about a week before they go to hell. In reality it's about 3 days before small chips start showing up, but that has been a major improvement from even a year ago. The difference? The steps I take to ensure proper care of my hands and nails. 

Rome wasn't built in a day, so I don't expect my hands and nails to be magically cured after my entire life of not taking better care, but now that I have figured out a few things the least I can do would be to talk about what has helped my hand and nail health:

1.) I wear rubber gloves when I hand wash any dishes. I feel like a house wife from the 50's, but it makes a HUGE difference.

2.) I've begun using a vitamin-enriched base coat under my nail polish color and I now use 2 layers of my top coat to ensure a harder, long-lasting manicure.

3.) Instead of regular nail-polish remover, I use a soy polish remover from Ella + Mia. This is quite honestly one of the biggest improvements in my nail life, ever.

First and foremost, the whole aesthetic and packaging of Ella + Mia is absolutely adorable and was what drew me in to explore the brand. Elephants are my favorite animal, I've been obsessed with them since high school. The bottle itself of the nail polish remover has a soft velvet-y feeling, like a high-end product.
However, no matter how cute the packaging is, the most important question to ask with any product is: does this product work? The answer is: yes, this nail polish remover takes off my nail polish and nourishes my skin and nails in the process. With normal acetone nail polish my nails and skin feel very dry after removing my nail polish, and I've often wondered if me using an acetone nail polish was causing my top layer of my nail bed to dry out, thus causing it to peel. 

One of the biggest perks about this product? It doesn't smell bad! With acetone remover I have to close the lid immediately after wetting my cotton ball because the smell is vile to me. With the Soy Remover, I can leave the lid off and not a single smell emits from the bottle. It's lovely to remove my nail polish and not feel like I'm getting high.

Despite the wonderful way this product makes my skin and nails feel, there are some draw backs. With acetone nail polish remover, I only need to use one, maybe two cotton balls and in a few minutes I've removed the nail polish from all of my fingernails and some of my toe nails. With this Soy Polish Remover, there's no acetone, so it takes way more cotton balls and waaaaay more time to remove my nail polish. It takes me on average of 15+ minutes and 6-10 cotton balls for my fingernails and toenails with this remover. Glitter/shimmer nail polish takes even longer, and I usually have to go in with an acetone remover to clean up the leftover glitter residue. 

While it's not a 100% perfect product, I love this product due to how much stronger my nails feel after each time I use it. While I won't be ditching my glitter nail polish any time soon and for that I will keep my acetone remover around, this is best for every other nail polish I use. 

Score: 9/10 elephants approve. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 24 Hour wear 2-In-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner: Review

Black eyeliner - almost everyone you know uses it. It's everywhere, no matter what the trends are, most people love their black eyeliner. No matter how pale or tan they are, most people feel more confidence with that little black line that is the bane of our existence most mornings, but always makes us feel great when we get it right. 

I confess, I own a black eyeliner. However, I almost never use it. The last time I reached for it was....2 months ago? I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out - I prefer brown over black. I am very pale, so much so that black eyeliner honestly looks a bit harsh against my skin tone. Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes I want to be fierce and do a graphic black eyeliner like I see the models wear (It always looks better on them) so I try it, but like a favorite song, I always go back to brown eyeliner when I want to feel my best.

Enter 2 months ago when my brown liquid eyeliner had run out, and I found out that the drugstore offers many more vegan and cruelty-free makeup options than I ever thought possible. I found a list of vegan products from Physicians Formula ( a cruelty-free brand), the first makeup I ever used, and I knew I had to try something from them. It had been years and years since I had used them, but I had very fond memories of walking into a CVS and asking a sweet girl if they had any organic makeup. She showed me Physicians Formula, and I asked what I should buy, picking up every single product she pointed at saying that that was what she used. 

This time around I took a different route, researching each product on the vegan list before deciding to try their new liner. The promises of it helping my lashes grow and looking great was too much to resist, plus at the price point of only $10, I knew I had to try it.

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 24 Hour Wear 2-In-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner


Simply put, it worked great for the first 2 days but after that it stopped going on evenly and opaque. I would do one eye and have to go back over it 6 times to get it to be a solid brown line. Then the second eye I would only have to go over it 3 times to get the same opacity. The next day the first eye might be 3 times and the 2nd eye 5 times. There was no consistency with this product. When I only have a certain amount of time to do my makeup, I don't have time to go over a line 6 times. It's just unrealistic.

The felt tip was slim and made it easy to draw on the line, except the liquid product itself just wasn't reliable at any point.

Furthermore the claims that it would help my eyelashes grow were false. I used this eyeliner every day for a month and a half, and nothing grew except my frustration. There was absolutely no improvement in the length or strength of my eyelashes.

When swatched next to Kat Von D liquid eyeliner, while they look similar, the Physicians Formula I had to go over 4 times to get that line, whereas the Kat Von D I only had to draw once.
As much as I wanted to love this product, it was so bad it made me go out and buy an eyeliner twice it's price because I knew the quality would be better and consistent with each use. Maybe the next product I try from them will be a hit.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Karuna Face Mask Review - Clarifying Face Mask

I am a sucker for giveaways. Every time I go somewhere and get a receipt? You better believe I fill out that survey at the bottom. Every time I get an email that I could win a vacation worth $4,000? I click on that link so fast I'm sure I leave flames in my wake. I enter A LOT of giveaways on Instagram, through emails, on Facebook, on Twitter, Youtube, etc. I've won a few different prizes in the last year, and recently I won a prize unlike any I  had won before: a free face mask from the skincare brand Karuna.

This brand might sound familiar to you because you can't walk into a Sephora without seeing the plethora of sheet masks they offer. They're a 99% vegan skincare line that offers: hand masks, eye masks, face masks, serums and more. When I was informed that I had won and I could chose a complimentary face mask, I saw on their FAQ page that they're vegan and quickly picked a mask.
Apparently I was so excited to choose my mask that I missed the little exert about the ONE product in the entire line that isn't vegan because it contains honey. Which mask was that you ask? Well, it happened to be the mask I was wearing, the Clarifying Face Mask. Of course, I discovered this when I was already 10 minutes in the 20 minute treatment letting it sink into my skin.

Now, honey is a grey area for many vegans. Some eat honey, some don't. I chose a little over a year ago to cut out honey from my life. However, already in the process of my magical mask makeover I decided that I was going to review this mask and keep going because gosh darnit, it was too late to turn back. 

Clarifying Face Mask Review 

The packaging it came in was very cute and it all tied together beautifully, from the sticker on the outside that matched the packaging of the mask on the inside.
This mask is meant for Problem/Acne Skin, which is my face right now unfortunately. It is supposed to:
* Clarify clogged pores by deep-cleaning
* Remove excess oil
* Provide oil-free hydration 

Some of the ingredients are:
* Chamomilla Flower Extract - This skincare powerhouse is known to "
helps fade spots, eliminate acne scars and fight breakouts"
* Arctium Lappa Root Extract - Since this was my first time seeing or hearing about this ingredient, I was pleased to find out that it helps with irritated or inflamed skin and also helps to stimulate collagen synthesis.
* Aloe Leaf Juice - While I knew this leaf helped with burns, I had no idea about the beneficial properties for the face since it "contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation."

The directions were very clear and I really liked that they had pictures of an actual person showing you what to do. I've used products before that have come with a one-sentence instruction and you're on your own after that. I've seen videos of sheet masks sometimes being very wet and messy, so I opened mine over the sink and carefully pulled it out. Thank goodness I took precaution because yes, it was very wet and drippy.  It had a very light, nice smell that was slightly botanical.

 (Please excuse my hair. It's been having a moment....every day since I was born.)

Putting the cloth part on my face was not the easiest because of the fact it was so wet parts kept sticking together before I could lay it on my face. When I finally got the mask positioned on my face, pulling off the white backing took a minute because it kept ripping. Instead of it coming off in one swift motion I would pull off a corner, a piece would tear off, then I'd have to start from where it tore, begin pulling, another piece would rip off, etc.

Once I finished pulling off the backing I sat back and set the timer for 20 minutes. It had a wonderful cooling sensation, and after about 10 minutes I noticed a very slight almost itchy sensation in one area of my face, but that went away after only a minute.

Immediately after taking it off I noticed how hydrated and plump my skin looked. Much of the redness in my t-zone area was reduced significantly, especially around my nose and mouth. My skin felt so incredibly soft and healthy and had a subtle glow. The directions didn't say to rinse off any excess product after removing the mask, but there was still a lot left, so I gently massaged it in and wiped off the rest with a clean wash cloth.

 I treated the leftover product that I massaged in like a serum and followed with my usual nightly skincare routine of my eye cream, my night cream and my lip treatment. 

Overall Thoughts

This mask retails for $8. That's not the most expensive mask I've seen on the internet by FAR, but for a single use product it isn't the least expensive either. I had a very positive experience and saw results immediately after taking the mask off. The next morning I woke up and my skin looked AMAZING.

However, while gathering facts for this post, I dawned on me that on their FAQ page there was no statement about being cruelty-free. I gulped and got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach as I emailed them asking the one question to rule them all. I went to bed mentally crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Unfortunately the next morning I received a statement from them saying that while they don't test their products or any of the ingredients on animals, they sell to China which requires animal testing.

((For anyone who is new to the cruelty-free dilemma - while many companies do not test on animals to sell in the United States, they sell in countries that require them to pay an independent lab to test their products on animals. ))

Some people still consider this cruelty-free because we're purchasing here in the states and not in the country where it is required to test on animals. The belief with this argument is that we are not contributing to the problem. However, my personal belief is that when a company is willing to test on animals when it will help line their pockets, then all they truly care about is money, and that's not a company I wish to give my money to.

Therefore, despite my amazing experience, I will not be purchasing from this company. If they ever change their minds and decide to stop selling in China I will 100% support them, but until then I will look elsewhere for my face masks.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rocksbox Subscription Service Review

One day while on the treadmill at the beginning of December I was working off my previous night's  cookie binge and watching Tati's video for the day. Tati, AKA GlamLifeGuru, is a major Youtuber/Beauty Guru that I have been a fan of for many years now. While watching her do a PR unboxing (showing all the free goodies she gets as a major Youtuber) she opened a box from a company that contained jewelry. In it there was a code from the company named Rocksbox and it had a code for a free 3-month trial subscription. 

I instantly paused the video and somehow while still maintaining my speed on the treadmill I looked up the company and signed up for the free 3-month trial subscription. I may not be skilled at everything, but I am the Michael Phelps of multi-tasking.

Rocksbox is a monthly subscription service that costs $21 and you get to try out 3 jewelry pieces that are sent to your door. When you first sign up you fill out a style quiz and get assigned to a stylist that will pick each piece based on your quiz results. Once done with the quiz you can then go through their MASSIVE data base of all the pieces that are available for the service on their site and you "like" whichever ones catch your eye. When you "like" an item it lets your stylist know to pick pieces like that or you might get that exact piece in your month's set.

Once you receive the items they come in their own individual pouches in a beautifully presented box. Inside the box there is a pre-paid return label and the white bubble envelope the box came in you save and reuse to send the pieces back at the end of the month.

If you wish to own an item from the box then you just package up the other two or one, send them back, and once they're received Rocksbox will charge your card for the piece or pieces that you kept and the $21 you paid for the month gets applied to your purchase. If you decide to own the whole set you get a nice discount.

There are numerous designers to chose from, and the nice thing is is that you can exchange your sets as many times as you'd like each month. There is no limit to how many times you change a set each month.


My experience with the service has been amazing because it has pushed me to try new jewelry and style my outfits in different ways. It's sparked some new creativity in my wardrobe that has been much appreciated. 

It makes it really easy to buy jewelry. Once you send the items back that you don't want to purchase, you don't even have to think about it. They do everything on their end and then next comes another set for you to play with.

Receiving any subscription each month, whether it's makeup, clothing, or jewelry, is an exciting thing to look forward to and feels a bit like a surprise gift to yourself.


There is a sale section on the website of items that have slight signs of wear from previous users. If you don't want to use your $21 towards anything from your month's set, you CAN'T use it towards the sale section. Any purchase from their sale section has to be a separate purchase.


If you like to play with new jewelry trends or if you feel like your wardrobe could use some fun accessorizing, try this service out! It will push you out of your comfort zone and you won't regret it!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Juice Beauty Blemish Stick

Some of us are lucky enough to go through puberty with a small outbreak of acne, maybe a few dots here and there throughout high school, and then it's done. Off to adulthood with clear, smooth skin the majority march.

Lucky people.

I am not one of those people. While I had an outbreak every now and again in high school, my worst outbreaks have been by far in my later years in life. Adult acne is that stubborn racoon that won't leave my garbage cans alone. In an effort to curb the strange and continuous mountains forming on my face, I've been testing a variety of blemish sticks/treatments to see what actually works and what's just brand hype. What I've found is that while there are many different ways to administer  treatment, I absolutely love the convenience of blemish sticks. They're fast, you can take them with you anywhere easily, and you can spot treat very quickly and efficiently. The problem? Not all blemish sticks are created equal.

My beloved Burt's Bees blemish stick is readily available at almost every drugstore and grocery store with a beauty section and is found somewhere in the range of $7-$9. However, a few months ago while browsing around Whole Foods I encountered a stand with a few Juice Beauty blemish sticks half off. Instead of $15 they were $7.50. In my usual spirit of "Why not" I decided to pick one up.

Juice Beauty Blemish Stick Review

Juice Beauty "Blemish Be Gone": $15.00

Let me just start off by saying I love Juice Beauty. I've tried several of their skincare products in trial-size and they all worked beautifully for my skin type. Their makeup on the other hand hasn't always worked for me but I love what this brand does, which is why I was so excited to try this.

First thing I noticed? The roller ball was hit or miss. It either didn't distribute product no matter how many times I rolled it around, or on other days it wouldn't stop dispersing streams of product down my face from one momentary roll. Unpredictable is an understatement.

Second, and most importantly - the formula. My skin is combination, but it definitely gets drier in the winter. I started using this at the end of September and stopped using it at the beginning of December. Within those two months the redness in my faced tripled. My breakouts seemed far more sensitive to the touch and the redness became constant. I assumed it was due to moving and the related stresses, but when the minute I stopped using it and went back to Burt's Bees, the redness decreased more than 50% within the first day.

The ingredients sound wonderful and promising:
Organic Juices of Vitis Vinifera (Organic White Grape Juice) - Grapes contain tons of anti-oxidants which are supposed to help clear up skin and help it glow.

Pyrus Malus (Organic Apple Juice) - Apple juice's alkaline nature helps with inflammation
Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Juice) - Full of vitamins and anti-oxidants which are supposed to help with acne, psoriasis and redness.

 Salix Alba & Salix Nigra (Willow Bark Extract) - Contains salicylic acid which is used as a natural exfoliant and a common acne treatment because it helps shed dead skin cells and cleanse pores.

Citrus Medica Limonum (Organic Lemon Juice)​ - Naturally bacterial which is great for cleansing pores and treating acne

And the list goes on. With ingredients like these I had a lot of high hopes for this blemish stick, but if anyone has sensitive skin, you might want to set your sights elsewhere for blemish treatment.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Very New Resolutions Year

Now that Santa has come and gone, we've returned the gifts that didn't fit, and we partied our way into the new year with friends and loved ones, we find ourselves at a famililar and exciting time of year.


The Beginning

We can brace ourselves for the "New Year, New Me" mantras slathered all over social media, and people's sudden temporary gusto for doing things better than they were a week prior. It's hard to ignore the sudden onslaught of "Eat This/Do This/Say This/Wear this to be better in 2018" articles popping up like persistent weeds everywhere you click. It's tempting to give in, to say that this Monday, this morning, this January 1st that everything is going to be different. It's a new day, you're a little different than you were yesterday. We're all a little different (and more than likely hungover) than we were yesterday.

But change, true change, takes acknowledgement and time. It is not something done overnight. It's not something that we blink and I Dream of Jeanie into existence. True change is altering habits by every day making that conscious decision to do it a little differently. To put down the phone more often. To dish yourself a smaller portion size. To stop letting someone walk all over you. To get up earlier. To work out more frequently. To meditate more.

All these things, these beautiful, healthy habits are formed with action, not procrastination and not because of the time of year. If we allow ourselves to fall down the rabbit hole of New Years resolutions we'll keep falling and end up at a table with Alice and the Rabbit as many of us do every year.

The best resolutions that are seen through and kept are the resolutions born from the need to act from one's own personal experiences. If it's New Year's Day, then it's today, if it's 2 months from now then it's then. Though it may seem daunting to see everyone head off to the gym today for the beginning of their annual 3-month membership, remember to love yourself, take a deep breath and stay focused on you - your gym, yoga or spin class will get back to the way it was within a few months.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tarte Lipsaver Treatment Primer

I have a confession to make - I'm a sucker for free deluxe-sized samples when I order something. Sometimes my motivation for buying an item that I haven't purchased yet is to get the bag of deluxe-sized goodies that whichever website is offering if I buy right then and there. Yes, I am THAT sucker customer. The only upside to this is that I get to try products for free without having to commit to buying a full-size version. Booya.

One such item I received a few months ago was a product from a Tarte purchase. I was offered a deluxe-size lip primer and I caved because, to be honest, I've never tried one before. I prime my eyes, I prime my face, so why not prime my lips? My lip products always wear off after a few hours, no matter how long-wearing they promise to be, so this product intrigued me. Also. I trust Tarte - it's the slightly more expensive cruelty-free best friend that has never let me down before.

 This product has a very thick, silky consistency, very similar to pore-blurring primers for the face. It's an off-white, almost clear color and it comes with a very handy-dandy applicator that allows for a fast and easy application. There's no weird smell, and the packaging is oh-so-damn adorable.Once on the lips it dries down in about 5-10 seconds so you don't have to wait too long to apply your desired lippie for the day.
Now on to the good stuff: let me first start off by stating the positives about this item:

1.) Not very expensive and a little goes a LONG way - this will last you many, many, MANY moons.

2.) This product actually works. Whatever lip product you put on top of this primer will last ALL. DAY. LONG. It will stay until you use a makeup remover at the end of the night. 

3.) It looks fabulous all day long.

With all the positives though, there comes one MAJOR problem that I did not expect. In every other review on the Tarte website, everyone stated that it was hydrating and very comfortable. For me, that was not the case. This lip primer made my lips feel like the Sahara desert. It did not matter how much lip balm, oil, or hydrating lip product I put on my pucker before using this, my lips would feel like the mummy when it's first awoken by Brendan Fraiser. 

I would pat on a hydrating lip balm on top of whatever lip product I was using that day after it had dried down, and within 30 minutes I was right back to square one. It was so bad one day when I decided to wear a matte liquid lipstick that I had to use my emergency stash of makeup remover wipes to take it off and apply lip balm obsessively for about 20 minutes before my lips felt somewhat alive again.

I can honestly say this product works. Whatever you put on top of it is locked in and loaded for all day wear. You WILL look fabulous, but I had to remove this lip primer from my routine for the shear fact that I don't want to be uncomfortable all day every day just to have a fabulous pout. 

Update: Tarte and I quickly got over this little spat and still hang out every day.