Thursday, November 22, 2012

MAC Viva Glam Nicki Minaj - Review & Swatches

I'm not even gonna try and build up the suspense here guys - I am IN LOVE with this lipstick! If I were designing a shade of lipstick it would be exactly this color, and as soon as I saw pictures online I knew I had to have it. And there's also the fact that I love Nicki Minaj...

This lipstick is $14.50 from MAC, and 100% of the proceeds go to the company's AIDS fund - so you can buy makeup and feel good about raising HIV/AIDS awareness, too! Plus, how awesome is it that MAC actually donates 100% of the sales to charity - so often you see brands donating 5% or 10% from the sale of a certain item to charity, and while a donation is always good, no matter the amount, it's nice to see brands donating more...I mean, they definitely can afford it!

Viva Glam Nicki

Viva Glam Nicki
Anyway, Nicki's lipstick shade is a bright pink with a slight yellow undertone - it's definitely a warmer-toned pink, which is part of the reason I love it. It's a satin finish and feels really smooth and creamy on the lips; the only issue I can think of with this lipstick is that you made need several layers if you have very pigmented lips, but that's probably the case with most lipsticks (I have pretty pigmented natural lips, so I always have to be careful with my lipstick application)!

Viva Glam Nicki

This shade is definitely a hit for me, and the fact that I'm contributing to a good cause by buying it basically makes it irresistible!

Rating: 10/10 - yup, I adore this lipstick!

XOXO, Ally

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review & Swatches - New CoverGirl Eye Enhancers 4 Kit Shadows

Hello hello again! Have you guys seen these new quads from CoverGirl? The packaging has been totally revamped, and I think the new gray packaging looks so much sleeker than the old blue packaging. I only have one CoverGirl quad in the old packaging, and I've had it for ages - I bought it back in high school when I first started wearing makeup and as obsessed with bright shadows. I like it, but I never felt like the pigmentation or texture was anything impressive.

Super old and super dirty!
 CoverGirl Eye Enhancers 4 Kit Shadows in Tropical Fusion - old packaging

Shiny and new!
CoverGirl Eye Enhancers 4 Kit Shadows in Sugar Coated - cool new packaging!

I saw this quad in Sugar Coated and the deep, peacocky colors just called to me! I like the combination of neutral and more colorful shades, and I like that you get a quad that consists of mostly darker shades - it seems that palettes these days seem to lean towards the "full eye look," where you get a lid, crease, and brow shade, but I actually like palettes with shades that don't always work together. I feel like it forces me to be more creative with my makeup. Anyway...

Shiny and new!

CoverGirl Eye Enhancers 4 Kit Shadows in Prima Donna

This quad has some gorgeous neutral colors in it, and I think you could definitely use all four shades to do a complete look. Prima Donna is probably a little more "wearable," if you will, than Sugar Coated, although personally I'd use both these quads in an everyday look.

Sugar Coated

Prima Donna

I swatched these shadows on bare skin without primer, and I wasn't necessarily blown away. I never actually wear shadows without primer but in order for me to consider an eye shadow outstanding, I think it does need to be able to perform spectacularly on its own, and these just don't. They're not bad shadows by any means, especially in terms of pigmentation, and considering the fact that they're at a drugstore price, there's no reason not to pick up one or two if you happen to fall in love with certain shades. But I wouldn't say that the gold is the best gold I've ever used, or that the blue is the best blue I've ever used.

I think these shadows would work best as a wash of color over the whole lid - some of the shades are actually pretty shimmery and mulch-dimensional, so they give you a nice look without needing to use a ton of different colors. When I blended these shadows out with other shades they lost a little bit of their pigmentation and became a little too blended, to the point where it was hard to distinguish individual shades. So keep in mind that you'll need to pack on a lot of color with these, or you'll risk blending them away completely.

My consensus on these is that they're nice, but nothing spectacular. The new packaging is probably the most exciting part of these new CoverGirl quads, the rest of the quality is just average.

Rating: 7/10 - pretty average all around.

Until next time!

XOXO, Ally

Friday, July 6, 2012

Influenster - Summer Beauty VoxBox

Hey girls and guys! Sorry I've been MIA for a while, I've been busy with finals, moving home from college, and moving into a new house with my family! But I got a really exciting package in the mail today, so I thought I'd share it with you guys and hopefully kick-start this blog again!

My Summer Beauty VoxBox from Influenster finally arrived! For those of you who don't know, Influenster is a free service that sends "VoxBoxes" filled with samples to people who have the most "influence" - from what I've experienced it's pretty easy to earn VoxBoxes if you're active on the site, and you get a lot of cool samples in each box. I'd definitely suggest signing up just to check it out, since it's totally free and you have nothing to lose - give it a try here!

I've received one VoxBox before, the February Love VoxBox, which I really liked (and my birthday is in February, so it felt like an Influenster birthday gift!), but I was really pumped to finally get one that featured beauty products. I was actually really impressed with the products in this box, and a few of them I've actually tried already! I also like how generous the sample sizes are - no little packets here!

The card with all the information on the products - let's get started!

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30 ($8.99 for 6 oz, available in SPF 12, 30, and 50. Sample size is 2 oz.)

I was really excited when I saw this lotion in my box - I've been seeing it all over drugstores and it looks amazing. The lotion has this really cool swirl effect in the bottle, and it probably has no extra benefit but it looks really neat. It's a combination of a sunscreen and a lotion, so it's supposed to protect you from the sun while ago being moisturizing and non-greasy. I tried applying this when I first saw it and it definitely felt moisturizing, although I'm still going to reach for an actual body lotion if my skin needs hydration. It smells nice - a combination of a fruity, tropical scent and the normal sunscreen scent. I kinda like the sunscreen smell, it reminds me of the beach, but if you don't then this may not be the product for you.

 Sally Hansen Nails and Cuticles Hand Creme ($5.99 for a full size bottle, sample size is 1 oz.)
I'm really awful at taking care of my nails and cuticles, so a cuticle cream doesn't really appeal to me, but this does make a really nice hand cream. The product is made with shea butter claims to give "24 hour moisture," which I do kinda doubt, but I applied it on my hands when I first opened the box and they do still feel relatively smooth. The cream has an interesting scent - kinda lemon/citrus-y, which I like. All in all, although I may not use this product on my cuticles a lot, I do like it as a hand cream.

Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color in Red-y Response ($9.99, full size.)
I haven't used this yet so I can't say too much about it but I've been wanting to try these polishes for a while, so I love that we got one in the VoxBoxes! I have one of the nails inc. magnetic polishes, and I really like it, so I can't wait to see how this one works in comparison. The magnetic polish trend is so's like nail art with minimal effort!

(If you haven't used this type of nail polish before, basically it's a polish with metal particles in it, and you apply a thick coat and then hover the included magnet over your nail to create a neat 3-D pattern effect.)
Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner ($4.99 - $5.99 for 12.7 oz and 12.9 oz bottles, sample size is 3 oz.)
Again, I haven't tested these yet but I've been hearing a lot about the new Clear brand so I'm excited to see how these work in my hair! The sample size is very generous, although the information says "stronger hair is just 7 days" and I don't think I have enough for 7 days - but if it works well, I guess I'll have to spring for the full-size product!
Tampax and Always - Radiant Collection
This sample is another one that really impressed me - it came with a really cute little pouch, two tampons, a pad, and three panty liners. Obviously I haven't been able to test these out yet (it's not exactly something I can use any time I feel like it!), but so far I really like what I've seen. The actual packaging of the products is colorful and fun, although I don't really buy pads of tampons based off of what the packaging looks like. It may attract some people, but it honestly seems a little useless to me. Cute, though. The tampons have plastic applicators, which I know aren't good for the environment but I still prefer them to the cardboard ones - ladies, do you agree? ;] The tampons also have a little resealable flap on them; at first I thought it was to reseal the package if you open but don't use the tampon, which seemed a little unsanitary, but I realized it was actually used to hold waste if you don't have a place to dispose of your waste right away. I love this idea - I've been in countless bathrooms without places to throw out pads or tampons, and no one wants to walk out of the stall carrying an old tampon! Gross! This way you can discretely carry out your waste and throw it out in the garbage can without having to dangle it around. Brilliant!

I was just super impressed with the presentation of the Tampax/Always sample...they included enough samples that you can feel like you really tested everything thoroughly, and the pouch was so cute (I may just use it as a tampon case in my bag!). They also included two $.50 off coupons, and had tons of information and instructions, which I think is really great for any younger girls who may receive this box and not have any experience with using tampons.

The box also came with a snack - the Quaker Soft Baked Bar in Banana Nut Bread ($3.29 for a package of bars). I absolutely hate anything that has to do with bananas...I think their smell, taste, and texture is disgusting. Sooo I didn't eat the bar, but I gave it to my little sister who likes banana, and she was super excited to help me test out products from my VoxBox! The bars have 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, so they're definitely a great option for a quick breakfast or a filling snack.

That's all for my Summer Beauty VoxBox - I love that I got the chance to try all of these products, and I think it's really amazing that Influenster sent out so many new products - maybe that's the point, but I still appreciate the thought. Definitely check out Influenster and sign up if you haven't already, and hopefully their future boxes will be just as great!

XOXO, Ally
(Disclaimer - in case it isn't obvious already, Influenster sent me these products to test. I am not getting paid or compensated whatsoever to post about these products and all opinions expressed are 100% my own.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beautylish's new way to shop for beauty products!

Beautylish is basically Facebook for the beauty community - you customize your profile, follow other beauty lovers that inspire you, and talk about articles, videos, and of course ... beauty products! You can read and post reviews (which I think is really helpful for when you don't really feel like trying to find a review of a product on Google - Beautylish gives you several different reviews all in one place!), watch videos, read articles, and post on the message boards. And it's a great way to get word out about your blog or Youtube channel if you're just starting out!

But Beautylish is launching something new - a beauty product store with exclusive offers, limited edition products, and "exciting new ways to shop for beauty products!" I have no idea what to expect and whether or not this shop will be quite as exciting as Beautylish claims, but I decided to check it out anyway. Right now, Beautylish is offering priority access to members who share their invite link with others who might be interested: aka you guys!

So if you want to join Beautylish and check out their new store, sign up here! And if you have a Beautylish account and want to follow me, check out my profile here!

XOXO, Ally

(And before anyone asks me about this - no, I'm not being paid to promote Beautylish or anything like that. It's just a website that I personally use and enjoy, and I wanted to share some interesting news with you guys and get my invite link out there!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

wet N wild Juicy Lip Balm in Raspberry - Review and Swatches

2011 seemed to be all about tinted lip balms. There were sheerer ones, like the Maybelline Baby Lips, and super-pigmented ones, like the Revlon Lip Butters. I adore tinted lip balms, because they combine the two most important things that a lip product can have - color and hydration. So of course, these wet N wild Juicy Lip Balms seemed like they'd be perfect for me.

To start, the packaging on these is cute, although it is a little frustrating that the product doesn't screw all the way down (which can cause the cap to scratch the edge of the balm when you're putting it away). The actual tube is really big and chunky, so it's not really a balm that you can just toss in your pocket, but I do like the fact that it doesn't get lost in your purse if you just toss it in there.

In terms of the actual product, this balm definitely feels hydrating, although I wouldn't say it has any special hydrating properties (not that it claims to or anything). You do get a decent tint with this--I'd say it's pretty comparable to some sheer lip glosses out there, but more hydrating. It's a bright pink-raspberry shade, and on the lips it looks pretty much like how you'd expect it to look in the tube--no surprises here. The one major problem that I have with this is the fact that is has a strange, bitter taste. You would think that it would have a raspberry flavor considering it's a juicy balm and the name is raspberry, but instead it just tastes bad. I still wear this on the days that I want a lot of hydration as well as some color, and just suffer through the taste because I actually like the tint that it gives my lips. But if you are at all sensitive to flavors in your lip products, especially bitter ones, do not buy this.

Rating: 2/5
Recommendation: I can't really recommend this to anyone unless you know that bad tastes in your lip products won't bother you. I personally like the color and hydration that I get from this balm, but there are so many better-tasting products out there that I find myself reaching for this very rarely. If you want a similar balm, try one of the tinted Maybelline Baby Lips balms instead.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

theBalm at Marshall's?!

This may not be news to any of you, but I'm not a frequent Marshall's shopper so when I saw this display it blew my mind! The new Marshall's down the street from me had tons of theBalm gift sets, most of them priced either $9.99 or $12.99! There were a few that were in the $24.99 range but they were the sets that included full-sized tinted moisturizers or face primers, so the more expensive price is justified in my opinion. I grabbed two sets for $9.99 and I can't believe what a great deal they were! I'll go through all my purchases in a later post, but I just had to share my excitement with you guys!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Censorship, SOPA, & Why You Should Care

It happens all the time in the beauty community - companies see a bad review of their product, contact the blog owner, and ask to have the review removed. Or you check out a product on that you know doesn't work, and you see that it only has glowing, 5-star reviews. That's censorship, and it means that someone else is controlling what you can and can't see or do on the internet - and it's exactly what will happen if the United States passes the internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA.

The internet is an amazing invention and truly defines my generation. Sure, I still use books for research and call my friends on the phone, but having an entire encyclopedia at my fingertips at any moment (thank you, Wikipedia!) or being able to send a friend a quick IM have become indispensable parts of my life. Let me put it this way: I've been awake for less then two hours, and I've already tried to get on Wikipedia four or five times, simply because using that website has become a habit for me.

Imagine not being able to read a Wikipedia article because someone in the government said you couldn't. Imagine certain searches not being allowed on Google. Imagine Facebook monitoring what you can and can't post to your friends' walls (or timelines, if you've switched over to that). Imagine bloggers who can only post reviews that are approved by the company that they're reviewing.

Basically, imagine an internet that's totally different from the internet we use today. The total freedom that I take for granted every single day will be gone, and instead we'll have information that's been filtered through the government. No, SOPA and PIPA won't hand over control of all of the internet to the government as soon as they're passed. These bills have more to do with pirating and copyright issues than with total control of information, and if passed, they might not even effect you at all.

The problem is this: if we pass SOPA and PIPA, then we open the doors for a harsher censorship bill next time. If we cross the line from "totally uncensored" to "just a tiny little bit censored," we've still crossed the line. And maybe, after these bills are passed, all of the things that you love on the internet will remain untouched.

But maybe not.

Today, January 18th, 2012, websites all across the internet are protesting these bills. If you want to join in or just learn more about SOPA and PIPA, please visit and consider joining the strike, posting on Facebook or your blog, or tweeting about SOPA.

"Books won't stay banned.  They won't burn.  Ideas won't go to jail.  In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost.  The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas."
-Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959

XOXO, ████████

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lots of Extrabucks = CVS Haul!

Yesterday my hair was feeling pretty greasy and I had no time to shower before my sister's band concert - so I figured it would be the perfect time to invest in a dry shampoo. I ran into CVS and grabbed the Tresemme Freshstart Dry Shampoo, which ended up being on sale (I got it for $3.49 ish and saved $2.99). I also got a ton of coupons at the end of my receipt, so today I stopped into CVS again to spend my $16.50 in extrabucks, along with a few other coupons that I had been saving for a rainy day.

CVS brand skincare was buy one, get one 50% off, and when I scanned my card in the store I got a $1 off two CVS brand skincare products - it was definitely an offer I couldn't pass up. I decided to get the CVS Apricot Scrub, since I'm running out of my other apricot scrub, and the CVS Deep Cleaning Pore Strips. I've used the Biore Pore Strips before but I wanted to see if the CVS brand would work the same, since they were several dollars cheaper. And I picked up the Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub - in case you couldn't tell by my other skincare purchases thus far, I have major issues with blackheads and clogged pores, so I like to try anything that promises to help with blackheads. I mean, you never know what might work, right?

Finally, I got two products that I can't wait to try - the L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in 888 Iced Latte, and Bio-Oil! I've heard amazing things about these L'Oreal eyeshadows, and I love iced lattes so it was pretty obvious which shade to get. And I've been hearing a lot of good things about Bio-Oil, but it's a little pricey (around $12 for the little 2 oz. bottle), so I wanted to wait until I had Extrabucks to use on it. Fingers crossed that it'll work for me!

XOXO, Ally

Friday, January 13, 2012

Walgreens Haul!

I snagged a few cool things from Walgreens today and I wanted to share them with you guys before I actually reviewed them!

First is the new Wet n Wild Color Icon Bronzer in 743A Reserve Your Cabana. I had heard that this was the same shade as the discontinued Acapulco Glow over at Nouveau Cheap (which is one of my favorite blogs, by the way!) and though I've never used Acapulco Glow, I figured that if it was so beloved, I might as well give it a try! You get .46 oz of product for $3.99 (in comparison, a MAC beauty powder is .35 oz and a NARS blush is .16 oz), so the value is pretty great, and the shade looks absolutely gorgeous!

I picked up another shade (40 Purple Pizzazz) of the Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear polish, since some of these polishes were on clearance for about 80 cents. I've really been loving this galaxy nail tutorial, and I thought this dark, glittery purple would be a perfect shade to use for that!

Also from Wet n Wild, I got a Megalast lipstick in 901B Think Pink (you'll see why later!) and one of the Juicy Lip Balms in Raspberry. I've been loving the Maybelline Baby Lips tinted balm, so I wanted to see if this Wet n Wild one would give similar pigmentation. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I got one of the new Kate Moss Lasting Finish lipsticks in 08 from Rimmel. I'm absolutely in love with the packaging on these, and the little signature reminds me a lot of the signatures on the celebrity Viva Glam lipsticks from MAC. I really wanted to try the nude shade but Walgreens only had one left, and it had been used, so I went for a different color instead (08 is more pink than nude, almost in the mauve family). And the last thing that I picked up was the Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in 063 Eastend Snob. I got the Wet n Wild lipstick in Think Pink because it looked like it would pair well with this lip liner, and I really wanted to try out a light pinky-nude lip.

So that's all I got during this haul, but I'm really excited about everything. Hopefully all these products live up to my expectations...I guess we'll have to wait and see!

XOXO, Ally

Revlon Lip Butters - Review and Swatches!

Hey everyone! So for the past week or so I've been slowly but surely collecting an array of different shades of Revlon's new Lip Butters. It seems like every store I went to was almost totally cleaned out, so I had to drive all over my town just to find the shades I wanted, and there are still a few more that I'd love to own (like Gumball - lilac? Yes please!) Anyway, I wanted to review and swatch the shades that I do have at the moment, especially because a couple of these belong to my mom and my sister, and I didn't think they'd appreciate them being exiled to my "waiting to be reviewed" pile.

Click on the pictures to see them bigger!
So the shades that I have are (from left to right):
  • 025 Peach Parfait - a shimmery peachy shade
  • 001 Pink Truffle - a light brown-ish pink
  • 050 Berry Smoothie - a lighter raspberry color
  • 075 Lollipop - a really bright fuchsia shade
  • 035 Candy Apple - a bright red
  • 040 Red Velvet - a dark red

As you can see, the shades are really pigmented, like a cross between a tinted lip balm and an actual lipstick. These have a lot of shine to them, and feel nice and moisturizing on the lips. On me, they don't wear as long as a regular lipstick, but I still get a few solid hours and they definitely wear longer than a lip balm would. I like that you can get sheer color as well as really opaque color when using these, depending on how much you apply.

The packaging on these is really nice, and I like how you can easily tell the shades apart, in case you have a big collection of them and are trying to grab the right one. And something about the metal packaging on the inside feels really sleek and high-end.

(I know these lip swatches are a little sloppy - I was a bit under the weather when I swatched them, and you can definitely see that I wasn't really feeling it. But seeing the shades is the most important part, right?)

You can really see the shine in these lip swatches - it's not as much as you would get with a gloss, but these are definitely nowhere near matte!

Rating: 5/5
These are just as good as a regular lipstick, but are super moisturizing and creamy. I really don't have any complaints!

XOXO, Ally

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Almay Intense i-Color Trio For Browns - Review & Swatches

Normally I don't pay much attention to makeup that's designated for certain eye colors. After all, if everyone only wore shades that were pre-approved for their eye color, the world of makeup would be a very boring one indeed.

That being said, when I spot an eye trio for 75% off that promises to enhance brown eyes, what do I really have to lose?

The Almay Intense i-Color Trio For Browns contains three absolutely beautiful shades that promise to enhance the appearance of brown eyes. It also explains how to apply the shades on the back (top shade on lid, middle shade in crease, bottom shade to highlight - pretty basic, but definitely useful if you're a beginner). I don't really understand why the highlight shade is twice as large as the other two; I don't think I used more of the highlighter than the other two when I applied this shadow, but maybe most people do?

The three shadows included in this trio are a pinky-brown with gold shimmer, a dark brown that looks almost plum-y, and a shimmery cream with a bit of light lilac shimmer. They have decent pigmentation, nothing spectacular, and I definitely would recommend a primer to get the most out of these shadows. The colors all look amazing when applied, and while I honestly can't tell if they make my brown eyes pop any more than normal, I do think the colors look really nice on me.

The problem is that after wearing these all day, the colors tend to fade and blend together and just look muddy. So while they look beautiful right after application, they don't stay beautiful. It's a shame, because I really liked the shadows in this trio and they look fantastic together. Maybe this will work better for you, but for me it was just average. This trio isn't a complete waste, and I've found that using shadows from other brands along with using shadows from this trio together helps the Almay shadows to wear a little longer. But it's no holy grail product for us brown-eyed ladies, that's for sure.

Rating: 2.5/5
This palette has beautiful colors, but the formula is lacking and the shadows don't wear as well as they should.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Victoria's Secret Fragrance Sale!

If you're a fan of Victoria's Secret fragrances (I know I am!), it might be time to take a trip down to your favorite Victoria's Secret store and check out their super fragrance sale going on right now! Tons of body sprays and perfumes are 50-75% off, as well as certain lotions and fragrances being 3/$15 or 5/$25. I just happened to stop in the other day while I was perusing the mall (getting my new calendar!), and I snatched up a couple really nice deals.

The Victoria's Secret Pink holiday fragrances and body care were all 50% off, so I got this little guy for $4 instead of $8. (Not gonna lie, I love getting deals on holiday items after the holidays are over, especially things like this that you can honestly use year-round.) If you haven't seen any of these holiday fragrances yet, the names are all really cute - other than "Give a Little Pink," which is the one I got, they have "Oh What Fun is Pink" and "Merry Merry Pink." Give a Little Pink smells fruity and bright but also has some warmth to it, if that makes any sense, and these little mini fragrances would make great birthday gifts for someone with a winter birthday, since they're not overly holiday-themed.

I also got this fragrance mist in "Wild One," which was 75% off of it's normal price of $20. Definitely a great value for just $5 on clearance! You can definitely smell the raspberry in this, but it's not overly fruity. And the packaging is really gorgeous - love the lace and leopard print!

You can find a lot of these deals online, but the sales seem to be better in stores - for example, the Wild One body spray that I got for 75% off is only 50% off on the Victoria's Secret website. At the same time, a deal is still a deal, and if you don't have a Victoria's Secret store near you, it's still worth checking out their online deals!

XOXO, Ally

New Calendar!

Ok, so this isn't really beauty related but I wanted to show you guys the calendar I got after I picked up some sale items at Victoria's Secret. It's Adventure Time! I seriously love that show, it's hilarious! I cannot wait to hang this in my dorm room, it's so much better than my calendar last year that had cheesy inspirational quotes.
XOXO, Ally

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

Well, at least for those of you on the east coast, like me. =]

I hope you all had a wonderful 2011 and I wish you guys a fabulous 2012! Lots of love, and here's to another amazing year of blogging and beauty obsessions to us all!

XOXO, Ally