Product Review: LUSH BIG Shampoo

lush, shampoo, hair, hair care, volumizing, review, fine hair

This has got to be the weirdest shampoo I have ever tried. It has a gel-like consistency and is PACKED with sea salt. Not secretly packed either, there’s so many chunks of sea salt in this baby it looks more like a snow cone than a shampoo – sea salt apparently makes up more than half the formula! Given the lack of actual shampoo in comparison to salt, I was skeptical about how this product would lather up but it is hands down the best lather I’ve ever gotten out of a shampoo. I’m talking a super rich, decadent foam from half a tablespoon of product. For anyone worried about finding sneaky salt flakes lingering in their hair, rest assured, the salt totally dissolves as you work it into your scalp and rinses out cleanly.

When the sales lady at LUSH initially pitched BIG to me, I was worried that the salt would be overly harsh and drying but was assured that the salt is balanced by coconut oil and avocado butter, keeping it from stripping your hair. While the shampoo didn’t leave my scalp parched, it was super clarifying and gave a whole new meaning to the term “squeaky clean.” My hair was literally squeaking under my fingers as I rinsed it, conditioner is not optional after using this baby. Due to the intense clarifying nature of this shampoo, I definitely wouldn’t use it everyday, perhaps alternating it with a gentler shampoo or just a couple times a week.

So, did BIG deliver on its eponymous promise? Absolutely. I was shocked how voluminous, bouncy, and soft my hair was after only one use. I have a feeling this is going to become my special occasion shampoo or what I reach for when I need a pick me up. If, like I was, you’re a little leery of a salt-based formula or simply balk at a shampoo priced over $20, then ask your local LUSH store for a sample. For me, the sample pot was good for two showers, though I was converted after only one.

$26.95/11.4oz 

Image credit: lush.co.uk

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Product Review: Soap & Glory Super-Colour Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Plumping Gloss

makeup, cosmetics, soap & Glory, lipgloss, sephora, review,

Aside from having the world’s longest name for a lip gloss, this little number from Soap & Glory is pretty impressive. I picked this up after hearing a ton of good things about it, though somehow I completely managed to miss the fact it was a lip plumping gloss until I got it home. Reading – I should try it.

While I generally like my makeup pain free, I’ll make an exception this time. The gloss comes in six super wearable shades with a different sweet scent paired with each color. I picked up the shade Baby Doll, which is a pinky nude with a chocolate raspberry scent. The color is fairly sheer and delivers the most beautiful, wearable nude. The gloss itself is very thick, very shiny, and rather sticky, and while the texture was initially a bummer, the trade off was that the gloss lasted for ages on my lips. It doesn’t stay as thick or glossy as right after application but fades gradually, becoming less sticky and more subtle, which I preferred.

Now let’s get serious and talk plumping. Here’s Sephora’s rundown on how this gloss works to give you that coveted bee-stung look:

A single slick of Sexy Mother Pucker™ can fool your lips into looking and feeling fuller. It features SUPERFILL™ microspheres that explode in volume up to 10X when they absorb moisture, and circulation-enhancing LIPSWELL™ natural plant oil infusion to increase blood flow and make lips look almost instantly lusher.

If say, you bought this product without realizing it was a plumping lip gloss, you’d be pretty darn alarmed when you first swipe this across your lips. Again, reading, Erin – try it. This gloss is tingle city, people. It feels like you pissed off hundreds of microscopic bees and they’re focusing their vengeful wrath on your mouth. The most intense sensation fades after a few minutes, however, and you’re left with slightly tingly lips that do indeed look somewhat fuller. Whether this effect is due to the plant oils or the shine power of the gloss is up for debate but the end result is a pretty and plumped pout.

If you’re someone who can’t stand sticky or volumizing glosses, then I’d give this a miss. If, however, you’re willing to trade tingles and stickiness for lasting power and fullness then give this a go. I’d especially recommend the shade Baby Doll – it’s a gorgeous nude that would suit most complexions.

$16/.23 fl oz at Sephora

Image Credit: Sephora.com

Product Review: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

makeup, cosmetics, concealer, sephora, review, under eye concealer, dark circles, highlighting

Everywhere I turn these days, someone is talking about this concealer. It’s achieving the kind of cult status not seen since the launch of the Collection concealer over in the UK. Fortunately for those of us not based in the UK, NARS is readily available from Sephora or any NARS counter.

I decided to try out the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer as a new weapon against my under eye circles. I’d been using the equally cult-status Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit which, while getting the job done, is slightly heavier and more prone to creasing. Deciding it was time for a change, I took myself off to Sephora, picked up the shade “Vanilla,” and set about giving it a thorough test. Having been using this concealer for three months or so, I can attest that it totally lives up to the hype.

The concealer itself comes in ten of the standard NARS shades that run the gamut from super pale (Chantilly) to fairly dark (Cacao). NARS, as always, nailed the packaging with their usual sleek, minimalist design that looks so darn good sitting on the dresser. First thing I noticed while trying this product was how much creamier and smoother this formula is as opposed to the original NARS concealer. The original concealer is slightly drying and can become cakey as you build up coverage. The radiant creamy concealer, however, is super smooth and blends easily into the skin.

As you might have guessed from the word “radiant,” this product is slightly luminizing, which makes it ideal for brightening the under eye area or for highlighting certain areas of the face (i.e. down the center of the nose, the cupid’s bow). I personally use this under my eyes, bringing it up slightly around the inner corners of my eye for a subtle highlight, and around my nose. When used without a setting powder, I’ve found it does crease ever so slightly. With a sweep of powder, however, you’re good to go and crease-free for the rest of the day.

When it comes to concealing acne, this is not the best option, in my opinion. Because it has a subtle radiance, it draws attention to the areas where it’s used, which, especially for large, raised blemishes, is exactly what you want to avoid. If the concealer closely matches your foundation, however, it works well covering minor, non-raised imperfections.

Overall, this is an excellent product. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a lightweight under eye concealer or a product to subtly highlight the face.

$28/.22oz at Sephora

Image credit: Sephora.com

Product Empties #1

It occurred to me today that I’ve managed to use up a lot of beauty products recently. Aside from giving me a weird sense of accomplishment, this also affords me the opportunity to put together my first ever empties post! I always enjoy these posts, I feel the reviews are slightly more reliable given that the products were used up completely and given a thorough test run. On a side note, it’s the first official snowfall here in NYC! I can barely contain my holiday spirit, though I’ve forced myself to stop playing Christmas carols lest I find myself evicted. Anyways, on to the empties!

Neutrogena, makeup, beauty, makeup wipes, cleanser, review, skin care

Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleansing Wipes – Pink Grapefruit

I’m a long time fan of Neutrogena’s pink grapefruit face scrub and its eye opening fragrance so when I saw that Neutrogena had come out with a pink grapefruit version of their classic makeup wipes I immediately whisked home a pack to try. I have to say I was disappointed by these. The wipes stung slightly if I ventured too near my eye area and my face felt vaguely sticky and unclean after using them. I ended up using the whole pack as I follow up with a cleanser anyway but I definitely won’t be repurchasing. When compared to my all-time favorite wipes, the Say Yes to Cucumber facial towelettes, there’s no contest.

$7.49/25 wipes

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

This pricey little number is probably the most luxurious skin care item I own. This silky balm melts smoothly into the skin to beautifully remove all traces of dirt and makeup, even eye makeup. The strongly floral, spa-like scent and dreamy texture makes what usually seems a chore into an indulgence. This was the first cleansing balm I had ever tried and I was apprehensive about how it would with my extremely oily, acne-prone skin. Suffice it to say it’s currently reigning supreme as my cleanser of choice and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who prioritizes skin care. While it’s a little steep, price wise, it also lasted me around four months used an average of four times per week.

$54/100ml (depending on the conversion rate, plus shipping)

Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Shampoo

This has got to be one of the greatest shampoo fragrances of all time. The red raspberry based scent is so delicious, in fact, it managed to lure me away from all things volumizing and body-boosting. While I don’t claim that this shampoo does anything particularly mind-blowing for my hair, I can say the smell makes me happy every time I lather up in the morning. It’s affordable and delicious and I repurchase it every couple years or so.

$6.49/23.7fl oz

lip balm, beauty, drugstore, chapstick, nivea

Nivea A Kiss of  Milk & Honey lip balm

I’m slightly obsessed with this lip balm. Maybe it’s because it smells like the Flintstones vitamins I would take as a kid, or maybe because of the way it melts into my lips, or maybe because of the satisfying click the packaging makes when I close it. Either way, I couldn’t stop applying this number over the past couple months. I’ll be honest and admit it’s not the most hydrating lip balm but there’s a high likelihood a new one of these babies will find its way home with me soon.

$2.39/.17oz at CVS

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle

I’ve already done a full review of this product here so I won’t bore you with too many details. I will say that this is an incredible, multi-functional detangler/heat protectant that lasted me four months of daily use and smells like vacation. The spray did become slightly less even towards the end of the bottle, but it’s still a five start product in my book.

$21.95/8oz

Lush Tea Tree Water toner

This product currently holds the top spot for me when it comes to toners. The main ingredient, tea tree, is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and is perfect for oily, acne-prone skin. It’s cool and refreshing on the skin and is completely alcohol free (a rarity among toners formulated for oil control). This was my fourth or fifth bottle and will most likely remain a staple in my skin care routine.

$21.95/8.4 floz

toner, skin care, beauty, organic, review

Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner

Despite having come to the end of this product, the jury is still out. I caved and purchased a bottle after hearing glowing review after glowing review from bloggers with a variety of skin types. When I put it to the test, however, I was disappointed. The toner stung my face despite being organic and alcohol free, a problem no one else seems to have had. I stuck with it for a few weeks but eventually switched back to my sting-free Tea Tree Water and gave it up as a bad job. Fast forward a few months and, out of desperation during ongoing and inexplicable skin issues, and I decide to give Michael Todd another shot. While the product still stings slightly, it did seem to calm my breakout. What’s a girl to think? While I generally prefer my skin care products painless, I also prefer my skin clear. I’ve decided to order another bottle and give it one more try – maybe I had an off bottle? Has anyone else had this issue, or is it just me?

$18.50/8.4fl oz

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

This is probably the ultimate teenage cleanser. I can picture this bottle perched on the sinks and shower rims of so many friends throughout the years, especially those with any kind of acne. Despite its popularity, I was never tempted, purely for superficial reasons. The dull orange color of the cleanser and the medicinal smell were enough of a turn off to keep me walking down the aisle for years. So what changed? I learned two things: that foaming cleansers are actually drying to the skin and should be avoided, and that gel formulas are traditionally the most effective at cutting through oil. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a non-foaming gel cleanser in the drugstore, this was pretty much the only option when I went looking. I used this cleanser as part of my routine in the mornings and liked it. I wasn’t impressed enough to swear loyalty but I wouldn’t be surprised if I repurchase it again in the future. This cleanser is super affordable and easy to find and I would recommend it for anyone still in the merciless grasp of puberty.

p.s. I’ve found a couple other great options for non-foaming gel cleansers since writing this: Yes To Tomatoes Facial Cleanser and Trader Joe’s Nourish All-in-one facial cleanser.

$5.49/6 floz

Nail Tek Foundation II – Ridge Filler

After many months of faithful use, I’ve finally come to the end of this base coat. It’s an excellent, smoothing base coat that dries quickly and helps extend the wear of your polish. It’s also formulated to help you grow healthier, stronger nails which is most excellent. A solid base coat and one I’d easily recommend to anyone looking.

$10.95/.5 fl oz

That’s it for my empties. I hope some of these mini reviews were helpful, or at least interesting. Let me know what you’ve been running out of lately or if you have any product recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Sweater Weather Tag

It is officially fall in my apartment.  Butternut squash soup is simmering on the stove, the AC units have been pulled from the windows, and an embarrassingly large amount of holiday-themed Yankee candles has invaded the living room. There may even be a few Christmas carols piping their way around my room – too soon? Nonsense.

I’ve seen this ultimate fall tag floating around YouTube for a little while now and when I saw one of my favorite beauty gurus, Miss Glamorazzi do it, she inspired me to do the same.

1. Favorite candle scent?

candles, scent, fall, bath and body works, home

No contest for this one. It’s Cider Donut from Bath & Bodyworks. I already extolled its many virtues here in my August/September monthly favorites. I’m well on my way to burning through my second one in as many months. I’m not 100% sure you can still buy it, they may have already switched to their winter scents but if that’s the case, try Fresh Balsam, it’s like a Christmas tree in a jar!

2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

Tea alllll the way. This is either the result of my English childhood or the fact my new roommate collects tea with the determination of one stockpiling for the end of the world. My favorites are English Breakfast, Chai, and Vanilla Chamomile.

3. What’s the best fall memory you have?

Nothing springs to mind for this question, I guess I don’t have a special memory that I associate with fall. The only thing I could think of were Guy Fawkes nights back in England. For those of you in the US, it’s a holiday, also known as Bonfire Night, celebrated in the UK on November 5th to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, an assassination attempt on King James back in 1605 that involved sticking a ton of Gunpowder under Parliament. Guy Fawkes was the fellow caught guarding the explosives and has become the unfortunate figurehead of the whole holiday. If I remember correctly, it’s traditional to build a straw man in his image that burns on top of a massive bonfire – hmm this seems a little macabre now that I’m actually writing it down ha. For me, Guy Fawkes night meant a gathering of family and neighbors, a huge bonfire, and fireworks. A pretty excellent way to spend a fall night, if you ask me.

4. Which makeup trend do you prefer: dark lips or winged eyeliner?

Winged eyeliner. I’m not really one for dark lips, the darkest I usually go is something along the lines of the “Pink Truffle” Lip Butter from Revlon. Winged eyeliner, however, is my jam. I tend to create my look using a espresso colored eyeshadow and a fine liner brush, partly because it’s by far the easiest method, and partly because it creates a much softer effect than the classic liquid liner look.

5. Best fragrance for fall?

I’m cheating a little for this one and giving you two, a new favorite and a rediscovered one. The new favorite being the Chloe Eau du Parfum I picked up from Sephora a month ago and have been obsessing over ever since. Since describing fragrances is notoriously difficult, I’ll give you the summary from Sephora:

Top notes of pink peony, freesia, and lychee embody subtle freshness. At the heart, midnotes of magnolia flower, lily of the valley, and rose rise to sublimated femininity. A base of velvety elegance comes to fruition through cedarwood, amber, and honey.

It’s a chic blend of fresh and slightly floral that makes me feel simultaneously feminine and sophisticated. The staying power is also out of this world, it’s the only perfume I own that I can still smell on myself at the end of the day – major points.

fragrance, perfume, review, scent, fall, floral, sweet, spicy, sexy, sensual, diesel

The fragrance rediscovery is Diesel Plus Plus Feminine. I received this as a gift years ago in high school and, while I loved it, felt the slightly spicy, floral scent was too mature and sexy for me at the time. Fast forward several years to when I’m super mature and sexy…just kidding, but I am technically a grownup, so I feel more comfortable wearing stronger scents. I can’t find a decent summary online, so I’ll take a stab at describing it for you. The fragrance is smooth, sweet, and slightly floral, with a vaguely spicy undertone that lends the perfume an almost masculine feel. Does that make any sense? Either way, it feels like the perfect fall fragrance and, after so many years on the sidelines, it’s finally getting some use! It looks like the fragrance has been discontinued but you can still find it online pretty easily.

6. Favorite Thanksgiving food?

Am I allowed to say all of it? No? Ok, then I’m gonna have to go with pumpkin pie. But not your standard pumpkin pie, oh no. I’m referring to the secret family recipe pumpkin chiffon pie that’s been served at my thanksgiving table for as long as I can remember. Since it’s a chiffon, it’s much lighter than your average pumpkin pie (think a firm chocolate mousse texture) and more strongly spiced. It’s so amazing we have to make at least two every year lest a riot start. We also have to make it on Christmas for the same reason.

7. What is autumn weather like where you live?

I’m still figuring it out! It’s my first official fall in NYC but so far it’s been lovely, fluctuating between the low fifties to mid sixties. My mom, stuck back in FL, is terribly jealous, it’s approaching the nineties again in Orlando! Honestly Florida, has no one told you Christmas is coming??

8. Most worn sweater?

fall, fashion, sweaters, winter, H&M

I am absolutely living in my new knit sweaters from H&M at the moment. I have two, one in a blue/grey and one in a lovely plummy wine color. They’re a thick, soft, loose knit and have a half zip down the back which adds just enough detail to make it look chic. I bought them in a medium so they have a slightly slouchy, comfy look instead of a fitted one and I can’t tell you how many people have complimented me on them or asked where I bought them. The only downside is that, due to the loose knit of the sweater, it’s super easy to catch on things and pull out of shape. They can be a bit hard to find in stores but I’ve managed to find them online here. Anyone looking for a great fall sweater that’s super easy to style – I highly recommend these, or H&M in general!

9. Must-have nail polish this fall?

I know fall is supposed to be all about the sophisticated reds, purples, and navies but I’m going with a neutral for this one. I love me some bright nail polish, I’m particularly partial to yellows, blues, and greens, so fall, for me, is more about muted colors than vampy darks. One of the first polishes I reached for when the weather turned cool this year was Essie’s Chinchilly, a medium grey with warm undertones. It’s neutral and classy without boring. I especially love this on my toes, it’s one of the few beige/gray polishes that suits my uber pale complexion.

10. Football games or jumping in leaf piles? 

Is it just me or is this a bit of an odd question? While I wanna say leaf piles since it seems the most fun and fall-themed, I’ve always found the actual act to be a bit underwhelming. Maybe my leaf piles were never big enough but I usually just ended up with a bruised butt and a yard that needed a second raking. Also, for some reason, the first thing I thought of when reading this question was the warning I would hear back in England when I was a kid about how leaf piles were full of leeches?? Is this a UK thing? Either way, I just googled it and apparently leeches in leaf piles is a total myth. Something tells me the weary dads of the world started it to keep their painstakingly raked leaf piles free of airborne children.

11. Skinny jeans or leggings?

Team skinny jeans! I think if I ever wore leggings out in public I’d spend the whole day feeling like I forgot to put on pants. I know they’re super comfy and all but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Also, as my public service announcement of the day, can I just say that nude leggings are NEVER a good idea. Never. Ever. And yes, I have seen the nude legging look worn in real life – twice.

12. Combat boots or Uggs?

shoes, fall, fashion, trends, combat boots, steve madden

Gotta go with combat boots. This has to be one of the most practical trends ever: a sturdy, durable, and comfy shoe. Here’s to hoping they never go out of style. I live in my black Steve Madden pair, they’re super comfy, easy to style and are still going strong after over a year of use (I personally thing they look even better a little scuffed). Pretty sure they’re the Troopa style if anyone’s interested!

13. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?

I think this is mostly in reference to coffee which I don’t drink but I’d still have to say yes. It just instantly makes you feel in the holiday spirit. Pies, breads, teas, coffees, eggnog – however you have it, it’s always a crowd pleaser.

14. Favorite fall TV show?

scandal, TV, fall, tag, entertainment

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a TV watcher. Periodically I’ll get into a groove and follow a bunch of shows for a while online (Modern Family, The Good Wife, New Girl, How I Met Your Mother…etc.) but I always seem to lose my way after a while and fall super behind. One show I have been managing to watch recently, however, is Scandal. I’m a sucker for smart, fast-paced dialogue (Gilmore Girls anyone?) and strong female leads and this show has both. It’s brilliantly written, superbly acted, and full of devious and complex plot lines that will keep you clicking “next episode” on Netflix until the wee hours.

15. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?

I’m not really sure what to put for this. As I mentioned above, I’m already busting out some Christmas music but that’s more winter spirit than fall. I guess I’ll just choose what I’ve been listening to recently which is a lot of mellow, sweet music like Passenger, The WeepiesJose Gonzalez, and Ray LaMontagne. As a bonus for y’all for making it to the end of this mammoth post I’m gonna include an gorgeous illustrated video, “Thought of You,” that’s set to a Weepies song. Seriously watch it, it’s incredible!

What about you guys? If anyone else is tempted to do the Sweater Weather tag, let me know – I’d love to read them!

Image Credits: Ebay.com, Wilko.com, H&M.com, Stevemadden.com, HuffingtonPost.com