Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

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Mascara is one of those beauty products that finishes a look for me. Even if I don’t wear anything else, I can swipe on some lipstick and mascara and feel like I have a complete look. I love the look of big lashes and since I have hooded eyes, mine can disappear without mascara. I have a couple of favorites (namely Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes) and I have an abundance of minis from promos. Seriously, I probably have several years’ worth of mini mascaras. Unfortunately, most of the samples I receive aren’t waterproof. While I don’t tend to hang out in the rain or go swimming very often, I prefer waterproof mascaras because they don’t budge. Luckily, I discovered an easy way to make all mascaras waterproof. Now my dozens of mascara samples won’t go to waste.

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Anastasia’s Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat is a wonderful little product, and just what I needed. It’s a clear “topcoat” that you layer on over any mascara to instantly make it waterproof. And that’s not all it does. In addition to waterproofing, it also keeps your lashes soft and touchable and gives them a lacquer finish that protects your mascara and helps it to last all day without clumping or smudging. I absolutely love this product. I apply my mascara like usual and wait for it to barely set. Then I add a couple of swipes of this and I’m good to go! It really does “seal in” any mascara and keeps my lashes so soft (I love big lashes but I hate dry, crunchy ones). This topcoat is lightweight so it doesn’t make my lashes feel heavy. It makes any mascara I use waterproof so it doesn’t smudge or flake, but it’s easy to take off with any makeup remover. Since it’s clear, it can be used over any color mascara.

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I really like the brush on this topcoat. I was expecting it to be a plain straight brush, but it’s actually a nice, curved brush with lots of plastic bristles. It isn’t too “pokey,” so I don’t have to worry about stabbing myself in the eye with this brush (Benefit’s They’re Real, I’m looking at you). Having a bunch of bristles makes it easy to layer this over any mascara- it actually helps separate lashes instead of causing them to stick together like a lot of layering can do.

I’m really happy with this product. I love that I can use it with any non-waterproof mascara and it really does make a big difference. Since I only use it to coat my existing mascara, a little goes a long way and it will last longer than usual. Instead of having to buy waterproof mascaras every couple of months, I can buy one or two of these a year and use up my free samples. Anastasia’s Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat is $21 here.

Do you prefer waterproof or non-waterproof mascara?

-Molly

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Lipstick Discovery

Over the past year or so, wearing lipstick has become more appealing to me (this might partly be due to Molly and some of my friends looking cute in lipstick). In the past, I’ve always stuck with a good chapstick that adds a little color to my already pink lips or have gone with lipgloss for special occasions. I had tried wearing lipstick and it just never looked that fabulous on me. For awhile I was convinced I just needed to work on my application skills, so of course, I have a mini collection of light pink lipsticks that look so cute in the package but then don’t offer enough coverage when I wear them. Determined to be able to wear cute lipstick, I did a little research on best tips for wearing lipstick; some of the most helpful tips I found included finding your perfect shade (one to two shades darker than your natural lip color – Bobbi Brown swears by this), moisturizing your lips before application, and using lip liner. I had heard about making sure your lips were well moisturized and using lip liner before (I usually use a little EOS before application but have yet to try out a good lip liner) but I had never put much thought into picking the best shade for my lips beyond a warm or cool toned red lipstick. I didn’t realize my love for light pink lipstick was one of the key problems I was having with wearing lipstick – light pink is just too light for my lip color! After I discovered the color of lipstick was the core problem I decided to try wearing darker lipstick. I actually wore red on Halloween (with my hipster Minnie Mouse costume) and it seemed to work well – it offered full coverage of my lips with no clumps and without having to apply several layers. I also decided I was going to try to wear lipstick to my company’s Holiday Party – I was considering wearing red again but stopped at CVS the morning of the party and found a bright pink color that I really liked, Maybelline Vivid Rose. It seemed darker than my lips when I was in the store and it actually worked out really well. The color is a bright, rich pink. In the package it comes off a little intense but once on it’s a really pretty bright pink color that I would definitely consider wearing to work, not just for special occasions. I was super excited to find a pink that works well with my lip color and I’m looking forward to building a larger lipstick collection and becoming more comfortable wearing lipstick.

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^^ Red on Halloween

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^^ Trying out the new pink for the holiday party (sorry for the awkward selfie).

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^^ Pink for the Holiday Party (it’s definitely a brighter pink in person than in this picture)

What are your best lipstick tips?

- Stacie

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Prada Candy, Candy L’Eau, and Candy Florale

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I love perfume, but I’m very picky when it comes to what my perfume smells like. Not only does it have to smell good, but it also has to smell like me. I’m a big fan of sweet scents (specifically vanilla and sugar scents- anything that smells like I’ve been baking) but they have to be balanced by something heavier and musky or else they get sickeningly sweet. Most florals are a “no” for me- they smell too perfume-y and old-lady like, and they tend to give me headaches. I like fruity fragrances (as long as they don’t smell like cleaning products) and I love the idea of more masculine fragrances, but they don’t quite fit for me. I want something that I can smell all day long, but I don’t want something that smells too strong. Because I’m so picky, I like to try smaller sizes of perfumes first to see if I really love them. Mini perfumes are a great way to try a scent, and they are usually available with promo codes or as gifts with purchases. Over the last year or so, I’ve managed to acquire minis of the whole Prada Candy line- Candy, Candy L’Eau, and Candy Florale.

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Prada Candy is the original scent, and the first perfume from the Candy line that I tried. Candy was released in 2011 but I never really tried it until the middle of last year. It’s main notes are caramel, musk, vanilla, and benzoin. I love sweet gourmand scents (Britney’s Fantasy was the first perfume I fell in love with) but I had avoided Candy because I heard complaints that it smelled cloyingly sweet. While on the hunt for a new fragrance, I broke down and tried a sample of Candy for a few days and I’m so glad I did. To me, this is a grown-up sweet scent. The caramel is a richer, darker version of a vanilla scent and the addition of musk balances it out nicely and stops it from being too saccharine. This sounds like a heavy fragrance but it’s actually pretty light and great for both colder and warmer months. I wore it once when I visited Stacie and she loved it so much that she ordered it that weekend (and she usually doesn’t even wear perfume). Candy is a nice, complex mix of sweet and musky scents and it lasts all day on me.

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After the success of Candy, Prada created a spinoff in 2013 called Candy L’Eau. The main notes in Candy L’Eau are white musks, benzoin, caramel, citrus, and oriental florals. I like Candy L’Eau because the notes are pretty similar to Candy (musk, benzoin, caramel) but the subtraction of vanilla and the addition of citrus and oriental florals makes it different enough to warrant having a new perfume. Candy L’Eau is a lighter, less sweet version of Candy. Although it is also a nice fragrance, it’s not quite as versatile as the original. This is a scent best worn during spring and maybe summer. I don’t like it as much as Candy but it’s still wearable. It’s not quite sweet enough for me and although I’m not bothered by the floral notes, I don’t completely love them either. Candy L’Eau would be great for someone who likes lighter fragrances and sweet, floral scents. This isn’t quite as strong as Candy, but it still lasts most of the day on me.

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Candy Florale is the latest addition to the Candy line. Released earlier this year, Candy Florale contains notes of sparkling cedrat, bouquet of cosmos, benzoin, caramel, and white musk. Once again, several of the base notes are the same as the original, which I really like. I hate when companies release spinoff fragrances that smell nothing like the originals. Candy Florale is even more of a floral scent than Candy L’Eau. The musk and caramel notes aren’t very noticeable to me, although this still smells pretty sweet. Candy Florale is a nice scent, but all I can smell are the floral notes. This is not a fragrance for me, but it would be great for someone who loves floral perfumes.

What’s your favorite perfume? Do you collect minis like I do?

-Molly

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Formula X: X ♥ Rouge

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Last year, Sephora introduced a new tier to their Beauty Insider reward program. In addition to “Beauty Insider” and “VIB” (Very Important Beauty), there would now be a title called “VIB Rouge.” Unlike the other two tiers, VIB Rouge includes a welcome gift when you meet the Rouge criteria (basically spending way too much money at Sephora in one year). The first year you qualify for VIB Rouge, you receive a mini Bite lipstick in an exclusive shade, VIB Rouge (a bright red). The second year you qualify, you receive a full-size Formula X nail polish in another exclusive shade, X ♥ Rouge (a classic candle apple red- notice a pattern here?). The gifts are small so it’s definitely not worth trying to make Rouge just to receive them, but if you qualify anyway, why not get a free gift? The exclusive colors are also available on Sephora’s website, but only VIB Rouges have access to them.

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I don’t really wear red nail polish, so I wasn’t too excited about this year’s gift. Plus, a Formula X polish? Couldn’t Sephora partner with someone a little more exciting, like Deborah Lippmann? At least it is a full-size polish. X ♥ Rouge is exactly what it is described as: a bright, candy apple red.

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I’m not big on red polishes, but I do like X ♥ Rouge. Most reds are too dark or boring for me, but X ♥ Rouge is a great, bright, summery red. It really pops on the nails but doesn’t look too vampy or old-fashioned. It is a very easy red to wear and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

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Formula X might not be a designer name, but it is a good quality polish. X ♥ Rouge went on smoothly and evenly, although it was a little sheer. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t have a bruise at the top of my pinky nail. Even with two coats it was still visible, but on the rest of my nails the color looked pretty opaque. I really liked the formula of this polish and I will probably pick up more Formula X shades in colors I like better (specifically pink).

-Molly

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Salt & Straw

I was super stoked when I found out Portland based Salt & Straw had opened a location in Los Angeles. I no longer needed to plan a trip to Portland just for the ice cream (don’t worry, Portland is still on top of my list of cities to explore next)!  When Molly and I started planning her visit to Los Angeles, I knew we would have to check out Salt & Straw, so on Saturday that’s exactly what we did.

We started Saturday by checking out the James Perse sample sale. Molly had never been to a sample sale before so we thought it would be fun to check out. There was quite a line when we got there but luckily we only waited about 45 minutes. The warehouse was on the small side but still had quite a few selections. I picked up a simple white t shirt (I can always use another white t) and a loose fitting white tank while Molly found a cute black long sleeve dress and the same white tank I got. They even had wine and appetizers at the sale and a couple ping pong tables on the way out.

After the sample sale we headed over to Larchmont Village for lunch and ice cream. We went to the Larchmont Village Spirits, Wine, and Cheese shop and bought baguette sandwiches for lunch. I had a prosciutto and mozzeralla half sandwich which was the perfect size since we were planning on having ice cream. The sandwich was pretty good. It was a cute little shop with a variety of unique food items for purchase including gourmet flavors of honey and fancy proscuitto.

Finally after lunch, it was time for Salt & Straw. The ice cream parlor was a little smaller than I expected and quite crowed with people sitting inside as well as ordering. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long and the employee who helped us, offered us samples right away to help decide what to get! I sampled the Salted, Malted, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Toasted Coconut with Candied Macadamia Nuts. Both of which were really good but the Toasted Coconut was amazing! It’s even made with coconut milk and totally vegan friendly. I went with a double scoop of the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons and the Toasted Coconut. After the girl helping us put the first scoop of the Sea Salt in, I realized how massive a double scoop was and asked if my second scoop could be smaller! Next time I will definitely go with a split scoop; which it turns out is just two smaller scoops of different flavors. Molly went with the split scoop and it was like the perfect size. She went with the Chocolate Gooey Brownie and the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. All of the ice cream flavors were amazing! Their ice cream is thick and creamy and they have amazing unique flavors. I really liked that the flavors were different than what you get at a standard ice cream shop. I can see myself quickly becoming a regular at Salt & Straw!

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- Stacie

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Book Review: When the World Was Young

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When The World Was Young: A Novel by Elizabeth Gaffney is the story of Wally, a young girl growing up during World War II and it’s aftermath. Wally is a feisty girl who loves reading Wonder Woman comic books and studying bugs and whose best friend is the son of the family maid. The book follows the unconventional Wally as she grows up and experiences what the world has to offer her.

Wally is an intriguing character, only seven when the book starts, and it was interesting to read about her as she grew up. Family is a big theme in the book, and most of the experiences that shape who Wally is revolve around her family. Her mother, Stella, is often distracted and seems unhappy with her life. Her father is a naval officer and often away from home. Wally’s grandparents are barely minor characters in the book, but their maid, Loretta, is like a second mother to Wally, and Loretta’s son, Ham, is Wally’s best friend. Mr. Niederman, a boarder, acts as a father figure to Wally before he mysteriously disappears from her life. All of the characters were flawed, but I enjoyed reading about them, although some of the adult characters (like Wally’s grandparents) could have been fleshed out more. I thought Stella’s history was very sad and I loved Mr. Niederman’s storyline and how it affected Wally, although I wish it ended differently.

I really liked seeing the world through Wally’s eyes- she is very young when certain events happen and it was interesting to read her perspective on them and to see how it changed as she grew up. This story was layered and easy to get into. Even though it hints at a major event in Wally’s life in the beginning, it is still heartbreaking when it happens. Wally keeps the story from being too predictable and the ending is not quite what I expected, but it was still satisfying. This is a lovely book.

4 out of 5.

-Molly

I received a digital copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my review.

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Benefit: World Famous Neutrals

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Benefit is a brand that is very hit-or-miss for me, in an extreme way. Either I absolutely love the products (The POREfessional, They’re Real Remover) or I hate them (Benetint, Erase Paste)- there’s really no in-between. Their packaging is super cute, but it is also very bulky, so if you prefer streamlined products, look elsewhere. My biggest complaint is that their products seem a little pricey for what you get, but I still keep buying them. And they make really cute sets that allow you to try out different products and colors. One of my recent purchases was their World Famous Neutrals kit. Benefit makes three different World Famous Neutrals palettes: Sexiest Nudes Ever, Easiest Nudes Ever, and Most Glamorous Nudes Ever. Each set includes four shades of their Longwear Powder Shadows and two Creaseless Cream Shadows, all in deluxe sizes. They come in cute cardboard boxes that look like books. They have a strong magnetic closure and include a mirror and a “Tips and Tricks” instruction booklet. These are sets that would be good for travel and you can even remove the shadows and use the box for keepsakes.

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I purchased Sexiest Nudes Ever, a combination of soft, feminine shades. This set included four Longwear Powder Shadows in Milk It!, Raincheck?, Pause for Applause, and Blingo!, as well as two Creaseless Cream Shadows in Bikini-tini and Holy Smokes! I was initially just looking for a single silver shadow, but after falling in love with Blingo! and realizing I could get five more colors for only a few dollars more, I decided to upgrade and get this set. Usually palettes contain a couple of individual colors that don’t quite work, but Sexiest Nudes Ever is a great combination of colors that all look nice together. It’s easy to create a variety of looks for day or night with this set.

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Milk It!, Raincheck?, Pause for Applause, Blingo!, Bikini-tini, Holy Smokes!

 

Milk It! is a pearly white that’s not too opaque. Usually I find white shadows to be too extreme, but Milk It! is a pretty shade that works well as a base or a highlight color. Raincheck? is a shimmery, smoky amethyst. I like to use it in my crease and outer corner for a soft, romantic look. Pause for Applause is a pretty mauve-pink with just a hint of shimmer, but it isn’t very pigmented. I really like the color but it’s hard to get it to show up on my skin. Blingo! is a fantastic silver shimmer. It’s a versatile shade that can be used sparingly to add some shine to a look, or it can be built up easily to create a metallic eye. Bikini-tini is a very pretty oyster pink cream shadow. It’s a shimmery pinky-nude color that’s perfect for a base or highlight shade, and I like putting a dab of it in the middle of my lid for some added shine. Holy Smokes! is a smoldering charcoal that balances the lightness of the other colors well. It can be used as a liner for everyday looks or to create a smoky eye for going out. The colors in this set really do work well together and are so easy to use.

I was a little disappointed with the Longwear Powder Shadows in the set. They aren’t as pigmented as I would like (with the exception of Blingo!, which is wonderful). I can work with Milk It! and Raincheck?, but Pause for Applause is pretty difficult to use. The Creaseless Cream Shadows have a much better formula that glides on smoothly and doesn’t crease once dried. My Holy Smokes! came a little dried out and I had to add some oil to make it easy to use, but Bikini-tini was perfect. I’m really happy with the colors in this set but I wish it was a little cheaper. If all of the Longwear Powder Shadows were as pigmented and easy to work with as Blingo! and if my Holy Smokes! wasn’t dried out it would be worth the price. Benefit’s World Famous Neutrals: Sexiest Nudes Ever is $30 here.

-Molly

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