Mascara Lash-off

Last month I went to Sephora to restock a skincare product, and was pleasantly surprised to get an additional December birthday gift at the register – Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara, which I’ve been meaning to try out for a while! This called for a Mascara Lash-off, so I decided to face this mascara off with Covergirl’s new Bombshell Volume Mascara.

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First, the benchmark: without mascara

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Benefit They’re Real Mascara

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What It Claims to Do:  lengthens, curls, volumizes, lifts & separates. Our jet black, long-wearing formula won’t smudge or dry out. A specially designed brush reveals lashes you never knew you had!
94%
 saw dramatic length & volume
90% saw base-to-tip curl
94% saw visible lift
100% saw long-wearing results

Actual Results: I think this mascara delivered for all that it claims! I saw an increase in length and volume and curl. I especially like the domed-tip, which helped get to fan out the usually hard-to-reach corner lashes to create an even more voluminous effect!

Length/Volume: Excellent. I saw an increase in both length and volume.

Clumpiness: I applied 2 coats, which seamed to do just the trick. However, a minute later I applied a third layer just to see the effect, and found that it created a spikey, clumpy effect on the lashes. So just stick to 2 coats of mascara!

Excess Product on Eyelid: Usually mascaras that create a lot of volume leave a bit of excess product behind, but surprisingly, this mascara didn’t! You can use this mascara without any eyeliner, if so desired.

Overall rating: 4/5. I love this mascara and the effect it produces, and would definitely buy again. The only thing that would hold me back is the price tag – $23 for the high-end mascara. Nonetheless, a great mascara!

Covergirl Bombshell Volume Mascara

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What It Claims to Do: The two-step Bombshell Boost System combines extreme volume with an intensifying top coat for big, sexy bombshell lashes. Step One: Apply the extreme volume basecoat. Step Two: Finish with the intensifying top coat.

Actual Results: Wow, I was pleasantly surprised how much I loved this mascara! The first coat separates the lashes nicely and adds volume without any clumpiness, while the second coat intensifies the look. I applied 2 coats each of Step 1 and Step 2.

Length/Volume: Both were excellent!

Clumpiness: None to speak of.

Excess Product on Eyelid: A little amount, I would suggest to use this with eyeliner. With the big, bold lashes created, the eyeliner will go along nicely.

Other Notes: I really liked the softness of the formulas when applied with the two brushes. It didn’t produce spikiness like the They’re Real did when applying additional coats of mascara.

Overall rating: 4.5/5. I love this mascara! It has everything that I look for in mascaras, with length, volume, intensity, no clumpiness, and soft application. Definitely a winner! However, this one is also a little more expensive than your typical drugstore mascara at $14.99.

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The Verdict: I have to say that I love both of these mascaras and would definitely buy either of them again! The higher price tags on both of them are definitely worth the splurge every once in a while! However, today I’ll have to choose the Covergirl Bombshell Volume Mascara for the winning big, luscious bombshell lashes that it creates.

Mascara Lash-Off

Let’s be honest, don’t we all crave long, luxurious lashes? They have never gone out of style, and I’m pretty confident stating that they never will. Countless mascaras claim to lengthen, but which ones really work? Today’s lash-off will look at two lengthening mascaras, Covergirl’s Lashblast Length and L’Oreal’s Double Extend.

Benchmark: Without mascara

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COVERGIRL lashblastlength Mascara

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What It Claims to Do: Tapered brush and mylon lengthening formula combination work together to lengthen lashes and is flake and smudge resistant.

Actual Results: Was I even wearing mascara is this photo?

Length/Volume: I don’t know if it added any length, because I could hardly see my lashes! Definitely no volume.

Clumpiness: None.

Excess Product on Eyelid: Hardly any product above the lashline, so could be applied without any eyeliner.

Other Notes: If I wanted to go for a no-makeup look, I might use this type of mascara. But then again, why even bother if I wanted to go sans makeup?

Overall rating: 1/5. I was pretty disappointed with how this turned out.

L’Oreal Paris Double Extend

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Step 1: Fortifying Extender

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Step 2: Color Magnifier

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What It Claims to Do: Creates long, lush lashes up to 60% longer. The Fortifying Extender is a conditioning, micro-fiber base coat, formulated with Ceramide-R, that visibly lengthens and fortifies lashes. The Color Magnifier takes lash length further as it coats with rich color that won’t clump or smudge.

Actual Results: The two-step conditioner and color are a nice combination! Both go on so smoothly on the lashes, and there is little to no clumpiness!

Length/Volume: I’m not sure I buy into a product “lengthening” your lashes upon application, but the mascara went on nicely and I liked the lash separation. After these photos, I actually added a coat of volumizing mascara just because I prefer a little extra volume, but I think for an initial coat or if you don’t like to wear a lot of mascara, this is a great choice.

Clumpiness: None to speak of. I think the “fortifying extender” is a nice prep and the “color magnifier” brushes on very smoothly, like silk on your eyelashes!

Excess Product on Eyelid: Hardly any product above the lashline, so could be applied without any eyeliner.

Other Notes: I really liked this mascara, especially the primer/color combo. As I stated before, I like the va-va-voom that volume brings, but I found that pairing this mascara (first/second coat) with Maybelline’s The Colossal mascara (last coat) is a home run combination!

Overall rating: 3/5. I definitely use this on a day to day basis. Marks off only for the lack of intense volume that I prefer.

Side-by-side:

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The Verdict: As you might guess, the winner for lengthening mascara this round of the Lash-Off is L’Oreal’s Double Extend. Sorry, it’s hard to tell in the above photo, but trust me, in person, the Double Extend is significantly better. I’ve been wearing it a lot this past week, and it’s a nice mascara that I’d definitely recommend to anyone looking for a nice lengthening mascara. Enjoy!

6 Winter Hair Care Tips

Just like your skin, your hair is faced with a new set of trauma in the winter months – with blustery winds that can tangle, and cold temperatures that can make the hair brittle and dry, not to mention damaging indoor heating that can lead to dry frizz and split ends. To make sure your hair does not suffer intense damage, follow these tips:

ImagePhoto courtesy of Yahoo Lifestyle

1. Wash your hair less often, and make sure you condition each time you do. This way, you’ll avoid that static frizz you get from over-washing and from drying your hair out. If you have hair that tends to get greasy when you don’t wash it often, use dry shampoo like Dove’s Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo on days when you don’t wash – it will leave your hair clean and give it some extra volume that is great for styling.

2. Use deep conditioner treatments on your hair once a week to hydrate your locks. I use Organix Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Intensive Moisturizing Treatment, which I apply to damp hair by applying a small amount into my hands and running my fingers through my hair. I then leave it in for about 3-5 minutes before rinsing it out with mild to cool water. Deep conditioning treatments will leave your hair moisturized, strengthened and soft during the winter when your hair can tend to get dry and brittle.

3. Don’t leave the house with wet hair. When the temperatures drop, wet hair can freeze and break off. To avoid this, you should preferably let your hair air dry to prevent heat damage. However, depending on your hair type, you may not be able to do this in the morning. If you must use a blow dryer, spray heat protectant like Chi 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray through your hair or use leave-in conditioner first and turn your heat setting to cool to avoid less damage.

4. Regular hair trims every 8-10 weeks will keep your hair feeling fresh while getting rid of split ends and parched ends, in addition to giving your hair it’s bounce back. If you are trying to grow your hair out, trim it about a half inch every other month during the cold months to prevent breakage from moving up the hair shaft and causing you trouble later.

5. Avoid using excessively hot water when you wash your hair, which is drying to the hair as well as the skin. Rinse in warm or (even better!) cool water for smooth, shiny, hair all year ’round!

6. Try different updo’s and braids in your hair during the winter months. Not only is it pretty and festive, it will limit your hair’s exposure to the elements and and dry air. Additionally, wearing scarves or hats will protect your hair from the cold and wind.

How to Eat For Clear Skin

Any artist begins with a clean canvas. In a similar way, we want to start with a clean, healthy canvas – our skin! – before we start creating a masterpiece. But “pretty” is more than just skin-deep; rather, it starts with what we put into our bodies. Nutrition plays a key role in the health of our skin. Most experts say eating a balanced diet is the best way to get your share of good food for healthy skin. Here are a few specific foods that are more likely than others to add a dose of glowing good health to your complexion:

1. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and plums. What is in common with these four fruits? They all have a high antioxidant content, which have plenty of benefits for your skin. According to Dr. Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center, “free radicals — like the kind formed from sun exposure — damage the membrane of skin cells, potentially allowing damage to the DNA of that cell. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect the cell, so there is less chance for damage.”

“When you help protect the cells from damage and disintegration, you also guard against premature aging. In this respect, these fruits may very well help keep your skin younger looking longer,” says Heller. Eat blueberries to prevent premature aging? Yes please!

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Photo courtesy of Wishful Thinking

2. Salmon, Walnuts, Canola Oil, and Flax Seed. Fatty acids are essential to keep cells healthy and the membrane functioning. Healthy skin cells have healthy membranes, which keep good things in (i.e. water and nutrients) and allows waste products to pass out. It is a fatty acid’s job to keep those cells healthy. Not getting enough essential amino acids results in unstable membranes that can’t keep their buoyant shape, which results in saggy, aged skin. The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which can be found in the foods listed above.

3. Whole Grains carry a lot of antioxidants, which as we touched before, is great for the skin. They also stabilize blood sugar, prevent insulin spikes and help fight acne. Check to make sure a product is high in fiber and low in sugar when you’re perusing the grocery store aisles for whole grain products, like cereals and breads. Also, opting for ancient grains like quinoa is a healthy option that will keep your body healthy and your skin glowing.

4. Green Tea has tons of great benefits for the skin! Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that helps pimples from popping out, along with overall skin health. Green tea can also reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (like the burning rays of the sun), which thus reduces the risk of skin cancer. So drink up!

5. Red and Green Vegetables. It would make sense that what is good for your overall body and health is good for your skin too. Red-hued veggies are full of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, which prevents cell damage and premature aging. It also helps fight acne. Green, leafy foods like spinach provide tons of vitamin A as well, and helps your skin produce more new cells and remove old ones, which reduces dryness and keeps your face glowing and youthful.

3 Easy Steps to Nicely Groomed Eyebrows

 This may sound a little bizarre, but I love the feeling of freshly waxed eyebrows – nothing beats it! I usually avoid touch-up tweezing leading up to my self-appointed quarterly appointment so I can get the biggest bang for my buck when I walk into the salon (side note: I apologize for the untamed looks of mine in recent posts).

Many makeup artists swear on the transformations that properly-groomed brows can make on a person. Truthfully, brows can make a big difference in framing your face and (sometimes) make a statement. Take “famous” brows like my list of the top 5 celebrity brows:

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1. Camilla Belle – thick arches that are styled and well-groomed

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2. Audrey Hepburn – thick and tamed for an awesomely defined arch

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3. Charlize Theron – thinner than the other two, with a nice arch and face frame

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4. Rihanna – beautiful shape and arch

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5. Emma Watson – slightly untamed, but still chic and beautiful

3 Steps to Nicely Groomed Brows:

1. Go to an eyebrow specialist to initially shape your brows. An aesthetician at your salon may be a good choice – just make sure that you look at the person’s brows who is shaping yours, as it may be a good indicator of her work. A professional with experience in brow design will help you find the best look for your own brow shape and natural arch, and you don’t have to break the bank either – I’ve found you can find someone to wax your brows nicely for as little as $15! Schedule an appointment for brow waxing every 3-4 months to cleanup and maintain your eyebrow shape.

2. Tweeze stray hairs below your brows to maintain their shape and keep it “clean” whenever you feel it’s necessary. Never tweeze above the eyebrows, because you can easily over-do it and create holes and uneven spots – leave that to the professionals when you schedule a clean-up every fews months.

3. Use a brow pencil, eyeshadow, or a wax/powder combo (like Benefit’s Brow Zings brow shaping kit) with a slanted brow brush (like Sephora’s Pro Brow Brush #20) to fill in the gaps and define and frame your brows. Choose a powder or pencil one shade lighter than your brow color, unless your hair is light blonde – in which case, try one shade darker.

Here’s to show what a big difference nicely groomed brows make:

Me pre-brow wax “cleanup” (Yikes!):

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Me post-brow wax:

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Me post-wax using Benefit “Brow-zings” brow shaping kit (wax and powder) to define and frame:

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As you can see, brows make a big difference! Below is another before and after view to illustrate what a nice, sharp effect a clean brow can have.

PicMonkey Collage

Mascara Lash-Off

Shopping for mascara can be overwhelming, with so many different brands and formulas to choose from. Who’s to say what actually works? I confess, I’ve been buying the same mascara for the last few years, mainly because it’s a great mascara, and it really seems to do the job for me!  However, instead of just going with what I know and like, I think it’s important that I do a thorough study of mascara and what options are available to me and my readers, so I’ve decided to compile a series of “duals” by comparing 2 mascaras side by side under the same categories and discovering which formula/brush combo emerges victorious.

Mascara is a very short-lived product – most formulas start to dry up and clump after only 3 months of use. For this reason, it’s ideal to stick with drugstore brands, since it’s easier to justify spending under $10 every few months than some of the higher price points found at the makeup counters, and I’ve found the quality of drugstore brands is just as effective.

For today’s “Lash-Off,” I’ve decided to compare two Maybelline varieties in the Volume category. Maybelline has a ton of great mascaras, but what really is the difference beyond the pretty packaging? Let’s take a closer look at two of their mascaras, “The Falsies,” and “The Colassol.”

First, here’s a no-mascara benchmark:

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Maybelline Volum’Express “The Falsies”:

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What It Claims to Do: Unique flexible wand helps to lift and separate lashes to provide the look of more lashes. The Patented Spoon Curler brush loads every lash with flexible hold formula to instantly build volume that goes up and out at the corners.

Actual Results: 

Volume: Not bad! I felt like it was successful in adding some “umph” and creating long, thick lashes.

Clumpiness: Slight clumpiness factor, but easily combed out with the brush. However, after more than a week of being opened, this clumpiness is harder to comb through and doesn’t go away like I’d like.

Excess Product on Eyelid: Requires careful application, because excess product is prone to get on the area above your lashline. Definitely wear eyeliner with this mascara to cover the tracks easily.

Other Notes: I love the “false lash” effect of this mascara! Only bad thing about it is the smell! Kind of like play-dough…

Maybelline Volum’Express “The Colossal”:

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What It Claims to Do: Mega Brush instantly zooms on 9X the volume, without clumps. Volume-pumping formula contains collagen.

Actual Results: 

Volume: I love the way that this mascara effectively separates and elongates the lashes to create volume. The formula isn’t quite as thick as “The Falsies.”

Clumpiness: I didn’t notice it on the first coat, but the second coat produced some slight clumping that was easily brushed away. Once again, this product shows more clumpiness after the first week of being opened.

Excess Product on Eyelid: There was also a slight amount of unwanted mascara on the upper lid upon application; once again, I would be careful applying and wear eyeliner to cover it up.

Other Notes: Like I mentioned, I like the detailed separation of lashes with this mascara. Like “The Falsies,” however, it also has a bad smell!

And here’s a view of the two mascaras side-by-side:

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The Verdict: Both mascaras score a 3.5/5 overall for their performance. This is a tough decision to make, and I’ve waivered back and forth all day! I think it ultimately comes down to preference and the look you are looking for, because these are two excellent mascaras. “The Falsies” created a thicker lash, with a softer effect, while the “The Colossal” defines the lashes by separating them effectively to produce a more intense look, with less thickness than the first. However, someone has to win this dual, so for today, I’ll choose my preference. The winner is “The Falsies” for a soft, full lash look!

What do you think? Which of the two mascaras do you prefer?

Note: I’ve found that after about 3 weeks of using both of these mascaras, I like them less than I though – my origin 4/5 score for both I downgraded to a 3.5 score. After about the first week of “freshness,” The Falsies gets noticeably clumpier upon application, and The Colossal has less of a volumizing factor than I’d like, with additional clumpiness.