Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Sephora Retractable Lip brush #60


Since I wear lipstick a lot I need a good lip brush. Sometimes I apply out of the tube; but often times especially if it’s a dark or a red lipstick I use a brush to outline my lips in the very least. The one I have been using is a free travel sized one I got in a NYX kit. This only had a small plastic cap that often falls out in my purse so I’ve been looking for a retractable one which is not as easy as you might think.



I eventually settled on this lip brush from Sephora because it looked nice; wasn’t as expensive as Japonesque or MAC which also had retractable brushes and since I was going to Sephora to pick up my birthday gift it wasn’t out of my way. It is pretty small; only about four inches and thin which makes it travel friendly. I touched the bristles in store and they felt soft; but stiff enough for a lip brush. It cost $10 which is more than I wanted to spend, but since I would use it so much it’s a decent price right?
Wrong. I hate this brush. The bristles hardly pick up any product so I can swipe it against my lipstick 15 times and still only get a sheer line on my lips. It also causes many patches on my lips. It is also not very good at evening these patches out. After much struggle the best I can get is a sheer lightly patchy lip look; not what I want! I also tried several different brands and formulas (matte, creme, glossy etc.) and nothing turned out well.
sephora lip brush
my "free" and current lip brush
I tried this out with several colors and formulas and nothing works well with it. I took pictures in an attempt to illustrate this, but trust me it looks 10 times worse in real life! The fact is I cannot see this being worth my $10 especially since all the reviews online mention that is falls apart really quickly, usually within a month! I am returning it as soon as possible; luckily Sephora’s return policy allows for this.

In conclusion, I do not recommend this brush even though it looks good because it gives sheer and patchy coverage at best and is known to fall apart. I’m now going to search for the Real Techniques and Eco Tools lip brushes that come with caps and even if those fall of or break they are half the price of this Sephora brush.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Carmex cherry lip balm


I wear lip balm a lot. I also wear matte lipstick a lot which means I really need to wear lip balm. I like to have multiple formulas floating around so when I saw this Carmex on sale at Rite aid I decided to pick it up since I’ve never tried Carmex before.
Carmex is a gel texture lip balm in a squeeze tube with a little hole at the top for application. I find it to be thicker and less greasy than Aquaphor, Vaseline or Maybelline Baby Lips. It also last a lot longer than baby lips but comparably to the former.  It has a minty cherry scent and a slight menthol tingle on the lips like Burt’s Bees.
I find application involved a learning curve. At first I added way too much to my lips and had trouble spreading it around.  Now I add a small amount to my lips with the tip and then use the sides of the tip to spread it around. I find it moisturized well: better than baby lips but not quite as good as Burt’s Bees.
The tube contains .35 oz/ 10g of product (Vaseline has 20g and burt’s bees has 4.25 g.) but because of how much you need to apply it doesn’t seem like it’s going to last long; I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I can already tell it’s lighter. I’s a bit cheaper than Burt’s though (which is around $3) as it is under $2 (mine was originally $1.67). I go this for even cheaper because the cherry flavor was on sale for 41 cents aka 75% off.
Overall I quite like this lip balm as it is not overly greasy and moisturizes well. I will probably buy it again sometime.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Product Review: First Aid Shot Therapy


In my vox box I received from Influenster, one of the products I got free to review is the First Aid Shot Therapy. This is an NSAID pain reliever drink “shot” that is supposed to give you fast relief of all your aches and pains.
It comes in a silver wrapped plastic bottle much like 5-hour energy shots do. There is also about the same amount of liquid. I waited until I go a headache from the heat and work to try this out.
The liquid is clear and has a faint scent. The taste is not very strong; it’s almost like very lightly flavored water. Mine was the berry flavor, but it wasn’t really that “berry” it just had that sort of medicine taste I relate best to chewable Pepto.  It wasn’t bad and very light but not exactly tasty. I didn’t need to drink water after; the flavor went away from my mouth in a minute.
I noticed my headache had gone in about 20 minutes; when using tablets it usually takes between 30 and 40 minutes to clear. Overall, this product definitely works and would be convenient for anyone who has trouble swallowing pills, but for my life this takes up too much space and costs more than regular ibuprofen for me to use regularly. This would be pretty awesome for travel too, though!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recipe: Raisin Scones (Basic Scone Recipe)



One thing I love to bake regularly is scones. Whether it’s just basic scones, raisin scones, Blueberry, currant, cranberry, just all the scones okay?  This is the recipe I regularly follow because it’s simple and basic and makes some really nice scones. You can find recipes all over the internet and feel free to try those too (like I have) but I always fall back on this recipe since it makes the perfect amount to (around 10). Also, if you feel temped to go to the BBC website and use their scone recipe, don’t. It’s crap so stay away.
The Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 cups of self-rising flour (or if you want to use AP flour use 2 cups of that plus 2 tsps of baking powder and ½ tsp of salt)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ c (4 T) chilled butter
5 tsps sugar
2/3 c. milk
(if you want to add dried fruit like raisins add ½ cup of them)
Firstly preheat your oven to 425 F and slightly dust your sheet pan with flour.
Next in you bowl add your flour baking powder and sugar, stir it well. Then you add in your cold butter. I like to first cut it into 6-8 pieces and then cut it up with a fork in the bowl. I then like to use my fingered until it is well rubbed in and somewhere in the size range of bread crumbs to small peas.
If you are going to add fruit do it now. The dough gets pretty solid so it’s hard to add them after the milk.
Now make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add your milk and then mix with your fork until it forms your dough, it should be pretty solid and not runny or very sticky.
Plop in down onto a clean, floured work space and knead it a couple of times until it’s smooth and then roll or pat out to a ½ layer. Do not do more than ½ inch! When in doubt make it thinner. They will fluff up very well and if you make then too thick they will not cook completely and if you leave then in for too long the bottoms will burn.
uncooked scones

Now cut them out using a 2 inch cookie cutter and place them on your floured tray and dust the tops with flour. The recipe says it makes 12 but I don’t see how that’s possible. The most I can get is 11 and that’s after rolling the dough out like four times and what I have left is just the tinniest scrap (and I add raisins which ass more mass!)  so I say this makes around 10. Pop them in the oven for 10- 12 minutes and Voila! Scones!
(Note on my scones: they may seem a put “under risen” or as if they have a seam and it’s true. I don’t have a round cookie cutter so I use a Mason jar lid which causes them to not rise as much or to rise unevenly; if you have a cookie cutter yours will look nicer.)

So that’s it! I find this recipe very easy and great for beginning bakers. The ingredients are simple and things most people will already have in their homes. It also doesn’t make a huge batch so it’s not wasteful. I hope you enjoyed this recipe, if you have comments or suggestions write them down below!
the original recipe page

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review and Swatch: Sinful Colors Nail color in Ocean Side


In my Surf’s Up Voxbox from Influenster I received this polish complimentary for review purposes. I really do love sinful colors’s polishes; they have a wide range of colors and always apply really well. This polish was no exception.
Ocean Side is a warm, green tinged medium aqua blue. This is literally the color of a summer ocean! I think this is a fantastic color for summer.
Sinful Colors have a standard shaped and sized brush, if anything on the larger side of medium. This always gives me enough polish for each nail. The formula on this and many other polishes of this brand is excellent. It is essentially opaque in one coat! I added a second coat for good measure but really didn’t need it. It doesn’t streak, run, cause patches or anything. It isn’t goopy or thick.

Overall, his nail color reminded me how much I love Sinful Colors. I do own several, but with their constant new collections there are always new colors to try! These only cost $1.99 at most stores.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quick, easy, healthy breakfast or snack: Fruit Parfait


Fruit parfaits are a basic “healthy” snack or breakfast if you know what’s in it. I do not like to buy them pre made because there is often a lot of added sugar in the product or artificial sweeteners. My favorite way to make one is:
A few Tablespoons of low-fat, plain, unsweetened yogurt or Greek yogurt.
A handful of fresh fruit like raspberries, strawberries, etc.
Less than a tablespoon of a low sugar granola with nuts and/or dried fruit
A thin drizzle of honey

Using plain yogurt means less sugar and artificial flavors that add very little to the finished product; greek yogurt means more protein. I also add very little granola; you don’t need much to get the crunch. I add some honey because it’s a natural sweetener and I love the taste. You also don’t need much to add enough sweetness to balance out the tartness of the yogurt!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quick note on Twitter

I just changed by twitter name from AELuminere to artifice_artist so it can better match the blog! Feel free to follow me (there's a button below!) for daily updates!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review and Swatch: Wet n’Wild Idol Eyes crème eyeshadow pencil in 134 Distress


Blue eyeliner has made resurgence off of Chanel’s use of it in their Spring 2014 collection.  I, of course, had to try this out but on a more subtle level.  Since this is very much a fad, I went cheap with Wet n’ Wild.
This product is technically a crème eyeshadow, but the pencil is fine enough for me to apply it under my eyes. This also works well in making a nice cat eye; I just apply it with a small concealer brush.I don’t particularly like the teal color used by chanel, so I went with a more wearable medium blue.  

The pencil also has a slight iridescence/ shimmer. The pencil applies well without tugging, but unfortunately smudges extremely easily. This pencil also isn’t automatic; it is the traditional sharpening kind. It had a slight crayon scent.


For only about $2, this was a good product to try out, but if I was serious about wearing blue eyeliner often I would go for a smudge proof pencil. 

Surprise Vocalpoint Box!


For those who do not know Vocalpoint is a website where people write articles and share their opinions about products in a variety of categories: beauty, fashion, food, entertainment and more! A few weeks ago I made a comment on one of the articles about my love for drugstore mascara especially Maybelline's The Rocket and in response they sent me a box of goodies! I didn't even know this was something they do; I knew they occasionally had freebie opportunities but not this! It can as a great surprise in the mail and with a few products I haven't tried before. Reviews will be coming soon.
The products:
Maybelline The Rocket Mascara: my favorite mascara; I don't appear to have a full review so I will be posting one soon.
Maybelline Baby Lips Electro in Berry bomb (it smells so good!)
Maybelline expert tools eyelash curler

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review and Swatch: Covergirl Curvaceous Bombshell Mascara



I recently received this mascara complimentary form Influenser for reviewing purposes. I am always curious about new mascaras because of my pretty pitiful lashes. This mascara claims to curve, volumize, and define your lashes with their new two part system.

The mascara is a good deal larger than your normal mascara and has two wands attached to the center part and two reservoirs of mascara. The 1 side features a curved wand with short plastic bristles. This side is good at separating the lashes. The 2 side is made of the traditional nylon bristles, but it has a unique tapered cone shape that is able to reach all of the lashes and thicken and darken them.

I find the formula to be very dark and of a good viscosity. I find this mascara is great at darkening and thickening my lashes. Unfortunately this doesn’t do much to curl my lashes. I curled them first with an eyelash curler but they quickly fell back down after I applied my first coat of mascara. I think it is maybe too thick and heavy for my delicate lashes. I also find applying the mascara to be a bit awkward due to the large size if the tube and the shortness of the wands.  This didn’t flake or smudge at all during the day. This stuff really stays on! The only way to remove it is with an eye make up remover.



Overall, this is definitely a decent mascara and I like it better than my CK One mascara, but since it doesn’t curl my lashes that well I still find my Maybelline the Rocket to be the best for me. This is available for $9 at most drugstores. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Basic Lemonade Recipe


Summer is here! To celebrate the warming weather I thought I’d share with you my favorite (and easiest) lemonade recipe. The setup is based on one lemon, but is of course easily doubled, tripled etc.
Ingredients:
1 lemon
2 generous tbsp sugar or sugar substitute
Water and ice
Firstly squeeze your lemon to get its juice. I do not have a specific amount this should give you, but it can vary from tart to pretty sweet depending on the amount.
Strain this juice into a large glass
Next mix your sugar with some boiling water to help it dissolve; this is not necessary if it it an easily dissolvable sugar substitute like Splenda. 
Mix this with the lemon.
Next add about a cup of water to your glass (or more if you find it too strong at this point) and add some ice cubes. If you like it really cold, put in in the fridge for a few minutes.

Drink, and feel refreshed. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Got my First Influenster VoxBox! (and incoming reviews!)


Today I received my first Influenster Vox box in the mail! For those who don't know, Influenster.com is a website where you review products and link up with your blog and, if you do a lot of good quality reviews, you can qualify to get a box of free product to try out and review. The box i got is a summer themed box and is called "surfsupvoxbox".
The products include:
Coupons for Jamba Juice at home smoothie kits (yumm! I love making smoothies!)
Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Lotion (this smells delicious!)
First Aid Shot therapy Pain Reliever (You bet I'm trying this after my next sun induced headache!)
Sinful Colors Polish in Ocean Side (the prettiest beachy blue!)
and last but not least:
Covergirl Bombshell curvaceous Mascara! (I've been curious about this mascara since it came out recently, let's see how good it is!)
Needless to say, be expecting some reviews of these products soon!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Urban Decay Primer Potion Update


I've really liking my Urban Decay Primer Potion. I'm liking it so much that when Ulta gave me 100 points (I don't know why, it just came in an e-mail!) which is a $3 gift card essentially I decided to pick some up. I bought the travel size for $12 (with coupon in was $9) which contains 6 ml of product. I figured I'd get about a year of use with this one because I'm only half way through my first pouch of sampler! Even with the amount of waste involved in  the foil packet I'm only half way through after about a month's worth of use! So, even though the sampler says each packet is good for a week, if you are careful and only use a small amount of product you should get over a month!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Baking Blog?!

Now, while I don't ever plan to stop posting beauty and fashion posts, this summer I would like to add more baking and cooking to this blog. I love baking very nearly as much as I love make-up but when I'm at school I have to access to a kitchen, so I can't do those sorts of posts during the school year. Would you guys be interested in cooking and baking posts? I can't to them multiple times a week or even every week because they are dependent on grocery shopping and what my family wants to eat. Ideally, I'd have one at least every other week.
Thank you for reading!
Alexis

Review and Swatch: Maybelline ColorSensational Lipstick in 065 Hooked on Pink


For some reason the last time I was at my local CVS there was this strange 75% off table that had a few lipbalms, some nail polish and a whole heck a lot of band-aids, shoe polish, shoe lases etc. There was also this lipstick. I was curious because 75% off?! So I looked to see if it was damaged and nope, no damage, also no sign it was swatched or used or anything. I have no idea why this was here, but since it was in perfect condition I bought it! I also had a $1 off Maybelline coupon so it turned out to be $1.19!
 
 

Hooked on Pink is a medium slightly berry toned pink. It is an extremely wearable shade and is almost a “my lips but better shade.” It was a cream finish.
I own one other Maybelline Color sensational lipstick and this matches that one’s high quality. The lipstick goes on like butter with a silky feeling. It does not tug, emphasize dryness, fall into lip lines, or cause a drying feeling. These are great lipsticks!

Overall, I love this line of lipsticks and would love to get more. If I could manage to get all of them for $1.19 that would be even better! ;)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Laduree Coconut Macaroons: Recipe (trial and error)


I love my laduree cookbook. It had a beautiful plush velvet cover and gold gilded pages. It was quite an expensive book (around $35) but if full of so many recipes and beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, including this recipe I have made two.  Why? Because the ingredients or the equipment needed is hard to find and expensive! The most popular recipe is of course the almond macarons (of which I cannot spend $12 on a bag of almond flour) and many of the recipes are ice cream (and I don’t have an ice cream maker).  I found one recipe though that didn’t seem complicated: Coconut macaroons.
Ingredients:
100 ml whole milk
225 grams granulated sugar
275 grams ground coconut (coconut flour)
2.5 Tbsp. cake flour
4 eggs
That doesn’t seem to bad right? Except “Ground coconut” isn’t the stuff you normally buy for macaroons. I tried that and everything ended in a runny mess and a waste. Instead ground coconut is a dried and ground coconut. This is quite fine and coconut flour is an even finer yet ground. I couldn’t find coconut flour but, after much searching, I found dried ground coconut in the Indian food section at Wegman’s grocery store.
fail macaroons
the brand of ground dried coconut I used

What you have to do is heat the milk until hot (not scalded or boiling) and then add it to the sugar and coconut. I first added it to the sugar to melt it a bit and then added it to the coconut. This then has to sit for an hour. After this you add the flour and whole eggs. This then has to sit covered in the fridge for 12 hours. Yes 12 hours. The dried coconut had to soak up all the liquid. It shouldn’t be really wet or runny at this point, just a bit damp and paste like.
After 12 hours you must preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  The recipe said it’s possible to pipe out, but I found it impossible. Maybe if you had the finer ground flour it could, but I just use a spoon. I spooned about an inch to 1.5 inch balls onto the tray. It was a bit crumbly at this point, but paste like enough to be shaped. I then cooked them for 15 minutes or until the bottoms were a light brown and the tops got a bit toasty but were still mostly white.
This recipe said it should make around 50 macaroon, but with my size (which is average for macaroons) I made 25. The macaroon turned out pretty good this time. They weren’t fantastic (I’ve had better from bakeries and some grocery stores) but they also aren’t overly sweet or bad.

Overall, this recipe turned out ok the second time, just do not used grated/chipped/shredded coconut. Only use ground and dried coconut or coconut flour. I do not know if I’ll make this again because the ground coconut was a little pricey (around 3.50 for a bag of 400 grams) and I didn’t feel these are some sort of heavenly magical Laduree macaroon. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How to get L’oreal Color Riche Extraordinaire lip color for $1! (and almay liquid lip balm for 50 cents!)


A few months ago L’oreal came out with a new liquid lipstick/gloss hybrid product. I was actually in the UK at the time I first saw a commercial for it. I was immediately intrigued and loved the sleek YSL inspired packaging. As soon as it came to Boots I went to check it out and it seemed cool… but 10 pounds. Even when I came home I couldn’t see spending $10 on it! I decided to wait for a coupon or a sale or both and I got lucky enough to get it for $1. Here’s how:
Firstly; this entire deal may not be possible unless you keep your Sunday coupon booklets or (like me) cut out all the beauty coupons to create a stash. A few weeks ago (the earliest it could have been would be last week of April, most likely it was mid-May) there was a $3 off L’oreal extraordinaire coupon in the insert. I decided to also wait for a sale at a store which is happening this week. At Rite-aid all L’oreal is 40% off (june 1st- 7th ) in addition there is a coupon on rite-aid’s website for $2 off l’oreal extraordinaire. This is a “video value” and means you must have an account, but can be stacked with manufacturer coupons. So since the lip color is $9.99 at Rite-aid it goes
$9.99 40% off = $5.99, $3 of coupon = $2.99, $2 off coupon= 99cents +tax = $1.05!
Now how to get an Almay Liquid Lip Balm for 50 cents; it’s simple!  In this week’s newspaper (june 1st-7th) there is a $4 off any Almay product coupon. While the lip balm is like $6 at CVS etc. it is only $4.49 at Walmart. With the coupon it’s like 50 cents! I do not know the exact tax because I bought other stuff but it should be 3 cents so it would technically be 52 cents.

I hope you found this helpful! Come back soon for reviews on these products!

Sephora X Chaotic dupe


While the Sephora X line has been out for several months, there still seems to a bit of excitement over it. One polish I’ve seen a good amount of hype about is one of the “Xplosives” top coats called Chaotic. With just one look at it I knew I had the exact same polish already in my collection!
The polish I am talking about is the Maybelline color show Polka Dots collection in 75 clearly spotted. Chaotic is described as “black and white confetti” and is a mixture of black and white hex matte glitters in a clear base with three seizes of glitter plus black bar glitter. Clearly spotted is exactly the same, except there is no bar glitters.




For me, there would be no reason to spend $12.50 on Chaotic when I could spend $2.99 on clearly spotted. With how glitter polishes are especially, who would miss the bar glitters? Depending on how sparse they are through the polish they might not even appear on every nail! I like clearly spotted as a top coat or between jelly polishes, but I wouldn’t spend over $10 for it. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review and Swatch: Wet n’ Wild Megalast lipstick in Purty Persimmon


For a while I have been interested in trying out an orange lipstick since they have been in style for summer for a couple years and recently I’ve seen them being worn all year. Since I’ve never worn this color, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. Since I do love the megalast formula from wet n’ wild I decided to try out their only orange lipstick: Purty Persimmon (970).
This lipstick is a medium reddish true orange. It had the same formula of the other lipstick in this line; it goes on pretty well with minimal tugging, though I found with this color I needed to go over a few patches to block out the pink of my lips. The lipstick has a matte or semi-matte finish and the tube contains 0.11oz of product.
As with other lipsticks of this line the packaging isn’t great. The idea is fine; a simple black tube and a clear cap so you can see the color. The main problem is that the lipstick doesn’t completely fit into the tube so you might nick the top with the cap. Also, the clear cap means you can see this which makes it look really messy.  The lipstick had no scent.

Overall, I am very happy with this purchase. For only $2 this is a great lipstick and I got to find out that I actually might like orange lipstick!