Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Food Review: Tazo Chai Tea concentrate

I really like iced chai lattes, but recently found my chai tea bags to have expired! I then decided to buy some new ones at the store and found this concentrate instead! It is a bit more expensive than just tea bags (it was $3.45 when most brands of chai tea bags were around $2.50) and probably will end up making less than 20 cups of tea where 20 tea bags would make that much.
This concentrate is more convenient though than bags because it is pre-brewed to a concentrated strength and there is no need to wait for it to cool. To make a chai latte just add milk or milk substitute to this over ice and you have a perfect latte!

I really enjoy this concentrate. Even though it’s a bit expensive to me it’s definitely cheaper than buying k-cups or buying from starbucks. It tastes like a chai latte should taste (yummy warm cinnamon and cloves oh my!) with the convenience of adding your milk of choice to your level of strength.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes iced chai lattes! (You can even warm it up for hot chai drinks!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review and Swatch: MAC Viva Glam Nicki

I picked this lipstick up at a Cosmetic Company Outlet for $10.50; this lipstick is normally $15 at MAC shops or online. This is my first ever MAC lipstick so I am going to first review the formula.
The finish on Viva Glam Nicki is satin which leaves it not matte; but also not glossy. I’d say it is a pretty lip-like finish. The lipstick itself has a light vanilla scent which they apparently all have. For such a pale color it applied very even, opaque and creamy. It wasn’t a miracle lip formula though; I had some try patches which the lipstick caught on and while they were not noticeable the first layer, after a touch up my lips looked pretty flaky and the color started to go into my lip lines and get a bit thick. For this color I’ll want to make sure my lips are not flaky and to be careful with touch ups but I didn’t find the formula to be drying.  I do like the opacity and creaminess; this is a great (but not indescribably wonderful or “miracle” formula.)
after much wear

freshly applied

Viva Glam Nicki is a bright, almost neon, pink with a very warm undertone almost making it seem coral or a bit peachy.  It is so bright; not for the faint of heart.
The packaging is very cute; it had the classic bullet shape as the normal MAC lipsticks; but the writing is pink and so is the metal with Nicki’s signature.

I really like this lipstick and will be buying more MAC in the future; mostly from the CCO I expect as opposed to online or in a boutique. This color is really unique and bright so while it’s not an everyday lipstick, since I wear a lot of bold colors it will definitely get a good amount of wear. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review and Swatch: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar and Nail Lacquer Set in Grandma

The last time I went to my Sephora in JCPenny, which I don’t normally do, I found this set on clearance. This set normally runs for $22.50, but was on clearance for $10.99. I do not know why it was on sale; it is not on the website. All I can think of is that since the JCP Sephora is so small they didn’t have room for the entire display once they got down to only a few items (there were only three others: two NSFW and one other Grandma) they had to put them on sale to get rid of quickly.
This kit came with the Grandma Lip tar full sized ($18 normally) and Grandma nail lacquer ($10 normally) in addition to a small lip brush for application.
Grandma Lip tar is a pinky orange coral liquid lipstick. This has the regular OCC formula: opaque with only a tiny amount and a semi-matte finish.  I find this color to be very flattering on me and bright without being neon. It is great for spring. This lip color contains .33 oz which is a lot considering MAC contains .1 oz, wet n wild .11, and Chanel has .12, so three times as much as your average lipstick and you truly use a tiny amount!

Grandma nail lacquer is a medium red-orange coral. This is several shades darker than the lip tar which I like so it goes together without being “matchy-matchy”.  The formula is downright fantastic. If you want to spend $10 on a nail polish check out the OCC line. The brush is of medium size but long so it gives enough polish for each nail. The formula is very opaque; I could have only used one coat is I wanted, but I added two for a full depth of color. It is also creamy and easy to apply. It also doesn’t take any longer to dry than a normal polish. This might just be my favorite nail polish formula.  It contains .5 oz of products for comparison OPI has .5, wet n wild megalast has .45, and Butter London has .4 oz.

Together these products go well together and both have super pigmented, creamy, and opaque formulas. I love this brand and I love these products and colors. I highly recommend all of the OCC line and this set is a good deal if you want both items even if it’s not on sale. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Cosmetic Company Outlet Store Explanation and mini haul

Just a few months ago I learned about a store called The Cosmetic Company Outlet of CCO which is a discounted store for make-up brands owned by Estee Lauder like Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Clinique, and MAC. I was very excited to hear you can get these brands discounted even if it’s only 20-30% because these brands never have sales! Even more exciting is that this is the closest place I can buy MAC (this is 1hr away the closest actual stand/kiosk is 2.5 hrs away) which is the main reason I haven’t bought any. I need to look and try it on first!
The CCO I went to is part of the Tanger Outlets of Lancaster, PA. It is not a large store nor is it packed to the brim but I did see more MAC lipsticks than I was expecting. I forgot to take pictures so all the products I mention are few and most do not have prices. There really was a surprising amount of stuff, both discontinued and from permanent ranges.  A brief overview of what they had is:
Smashbox: Primer, lipglosses and some sets
Estee Lauder: The ombre blushes (peach nuance, rose nuance etc), lipstick
Bobbi Brown:  brushes, a lot of foundations and concealers,
MAC: some foundations, three studio sculpt concealers, a few fluid lines, some paint pots, several blushes, a lot of eyeshadow and palettes (including some fairly recent ones like the “rainy season” palette; the regular single shadows were $12, quite a lot of lip glasses, maybe 30 different ones?, and about 20 lipsticks including Twig, Flamingo, Vegas Volt, St. Germain, Viva Glam Nikkie for $10.50 plus a few  6? Mineralize ones for around $12, some brushes, pigments including vanilla, and what appears to be much if not all of the Archie collection, some make-up bags and sets, nail polishes, primer and some more
Clinique: Lipstick, some brushes
As you can tell I focused mainly on the MAC products because that is what I was there for. For Most on my visit ie except for the last minute after check-out I was alone with my mother and the shop keeper. This lady was extremely nice and helpful; she let me browse as long as I wanted and sprayed four different lipsticks with alcohol so I could try them on and then gave me a mirror so I could look in natural sunlight. She didn’t pressure me to buy or to go quickly and offered to price check anything in the store.
The product I ended up walking away with was MAC lipstick in Viva Glam Nicki which is a bright pink with a warm undertone which gives it a slight hint of coral. After I walked out, of course, I also wished I had bought Vegas Volt which is a beautiful orange coral, but I had convinced myself that I had just bought three other coral lipsticks and that was enough.  The lipstick was 10.50/$11.12 with tax. A full review will be coming soon on the lipstick and the mac quality in comparison to other brands.

Overall, I loved my experience at the CCO and can’t wait to go back! I wish it was closer than an hour, but it is easy to get to and not 10 minutes away from my favorite mall so though I don’t see myself going once a month or anything; I’m going to go before I go back to university at the end of August! (Also I need to check out if Pittsburgh as an easy to get to CCO!)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review and Swatch: Epielle aqua tinted BB cream in light beige

I finally have my first BB cream, yay! I have been interested in BB creams since the fad started a few years ago and have been reading up on reviews of drugstore formulas with the intent of buying one eventually, but the fact is I was afraid! One thing I was afraid of is color; most have just a few shades and since most come in an opaque bottle it’s hard to tell which one to get! The second thing I was hesitant about is coverage. I like my foundations to have a medium to full coverage and though I have been wanting a sheerer formula I don’t want it to not cover anything.  What made me buy this in the end was the price. I picked this up at my local Amelia’s grocery outlet for $1.99; you can’t beat that! And let’s just say I have been pleasantly surprised…
This product appears to come in to shades: light beige and normal beige. I picked up light beige and found it to be a good match. I have light, yellow toned skin. While I have never been MAC matched I’d probably say NC20? The squeeze bottle contains 1 fl oz.
This product is about the consistency of a liquid foundation. It’s not overly runny (I don’t have trouble trying to keep in on my hand) but not as thick as my cream foundation. I applied this to my face and found I needed a little more than normal to cover my face. When applied it smooths out and dries or sets quickly onto the face.  I used my fingers as it seems to be the standard for BB cream and applied it over my entire face and then used a bit extra on my problem spots. I am quite impressed! This covered most if not all of my redness from blemishes and evened out my skin tone! This was improved more when I set it with my l’oreal true match powder.
bare face
with BB cream
BB cream and powder

I find this application to give me medium coverage (sheer if using one layer) and it feels nice and light on the skin. It lets more of my natural skin show through and gives a natural looking texture. One thing my mother seemed to notice is with this she can see all the little hairs on my face! (This could be a negative, a positive, or a neutral for some people. For me this just means my foundation isn’t as thick as before.) I can definitely see myself wearing this as an alternative to my regular foundation, though it doesn’t feel much lighter than my normal foundation and it really isn’t much quicker.  The only real problem is though, when applying with fingers it can get uneven and patchy; so I will still use my Real Techniques expert face brush for daily use.

Overall, I really like this product as an alternative to my normal foundation. This BB cream provides the coverage and color that I like with a natural looking finish. For only $1.99, if you have fair to medium skin I’d advise picking this up if you see it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

I absolutely love cupcakes (and cake in general) but whenever I make a whole cake or a large batch of cupcakes they never all get eaten and go to waste! I hate wasting food, so a small batch is perfect! This recipe is found on but I adjusted the recipe slightly which I will annotate.
Vanilla Cupcakes (yields 4 cupcakes) *I find this actually makes 5 for me, but my muffin tin is also small)
2 egg whites
4 Tbs. sugar
4 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup  cake flour (can sub AP flour if needed)
1/2 heaping tsp. of baking powder
2 pinches of salt
3 Tbs. milk
1.  Line a cupcake pan with 4 cupcake liners.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.   Stir in the melted butter and vanilla.

3.  All at once, stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Keep stirring until everything is smooth and well-combined.  Add milk and stir until incorporated into the batter. *this is also where you add any food coloring*

3.   Fill each cupcake liner with batter.  I love my large cookie scoop for this. If you don’t have one, simply divide the batter evenly between the 4 cupcakes. *I find 3 T of batter per cake is good and be aware this is a thin batter*
4.  Bake  12-14 minutes.  * I find it takes more like 18-20 minutes for my cakes* The cupcake should pass the toothpick test.  Cool Completely.

Vanilla Buttercream (frosting for 4 Cupcakes)
4 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 tsp. heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1.  Beat or stir briskly the butter, milk and vanilla. *this never incorporates fully for me; it does later when you add the powdered sugar*
2.  On low, or slowly, add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.  Incorporate your powdered sugar before adding the next installment.  Add more milk if needed.
3.  Pipe onto cupcakes and eat! *I topped mine with toffee pieces*

*If you want to makes the icing chocolate simple add ¼ c. of cocoa powder; you do not need to lessen the powdered sugar*

*This also makes a light icing; lighter than most buttercreams*

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Review and Swatch: L’oreal Color Riche Extraordinaire Lip Color in 202 Coral Encore

As you might have read a few posts ago I was able to get this L’oreal Extraordinaire Lip Color for only $1! Today I’m going to have a review with some swatches for you about this product. This product came out a few months ago and is supposed to be a liquid lipstick/balm/gloss hybrid. The description is “Color is richer, lip surface is smoother and shine is magnified.  Formulated with precious micro-oils and rich color pigments, Extraordinaire provides the ideal balance of color and care for perfect lips.  The unique soft-touch applicator allows for a silky-smooth, gliding application.  The new vision of liquid lipcolor.  Perfection in 3 dimensions:  Rich Color, Smoother Lip Surface, Magnified Shine.”

The formula is thick yet smooth and glides on well to the lips with the flat velvety applicator. At first I thought it would be sticky, but it really isn’t! The finish is extraordinarily glossy but provides a solid amount of color. It does tend to go into the lip lines, but this color wasn’t patchy. I do not find this product drying. It’s not a type of formula I wear a lot, I do not like glosses, but I think I will get a good amount of wear out of this!
The packaging is a really classy looking light gold color. There is definite YSL inspiration and was the first thing that drew me to the product. The gloss has a slight peachy-apricoty sent.

202 Coral Encore is a coral pink. This color has a lot of micro-glitter/ shimmer. I do not know if all colors have this. It doesn’t make it gritty, but it is most noticeable when the product settles and dries a bit on the lips. This glitter isn’t a problem if you are wearing the product for a short period of time, but when I wear this all day (and reapply like four times) the amount of glitter than ends up on my lips and the progressively sparkly the color becomes is annoying to me. I think this is wearable and a great color for summer.

Overall, I really like the color and the packaging on the product. I hope I will get a lot of wear, but I don’t tend to wear glossy lip looks, so I will see.  While I will not run out and get another full price, I would recommend this product to those who like high pigment glosses and, of course, if I had another set of coupons I would buy another for $1!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review and Swatch: Baby Lips Doctor Rescue in 50 Soothing Sorbet

On a recent trip to target the Baby Lips were discounted to $2 from $3.50 and I had a 75 cent off coupon so I picked up one from a line I hadn’t tried get: Dr. Rescue. These baby lips are marketed as medicated and contain Menthol.
Soothing Sorbet is a berry tones medium pink that comes off as a medium pink when swatched. Applied to the lips it only evens out the lip tones and doesn’t provide high pigmentation as is so with all the Baby Lips. The scent is a sweet mint.

The reason why I picked this one is because I love menthol in lip balms. The whole tingle sensation is one of the reasons I love Burt’s Bees, and now I have it in a baby lips! The tingle only lasts a minute or two but that’s how it is with most lip balm containing this. I do not know if this is any more moisturizing or “healing” than the other Baby lips, but I do find it to feel “thicker” and less thin and greasy than the original.
bare lips

with sorbet

Overall, I am fond of this baby lips collection for the minty tingle when applied. I like this better than the original line, but since the colors are so sheer I feel no need to pick up any other colors. This normally retails for around $3.50. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review and Swatch: Nyx Macaron Lippies Part 2

If you want to know about the drama of how I got these lippies see part 1. Basically I finally got these much anticipated lipstick off so here is my review.
The three colors I got are Lavender, Violet, and Chambord.

Lavender is a cool toned greyish light lavender purple. This one is creamy, but a bit sheer upon first application, but can easily be worked to opacity with a few swipes. It has some trouble staying on the center of my bottom lips. It feels creamy and not drying. It looks strangely flat on the lips, maybe because of the very light nature of the color.

Violet is a mid-purple that is a bit warm toned but with some bluish hints. It is the most wearable color here and is something I see myself wearing quite a lot. It applies well and opaque and only has a little trouble in the center bottom lip. It doesn’t tug and is creamy and not drying.

Chambord is an opaque black. This is the best applying of all colors. It is creamy and opaque covering the lips perfectly. While I might not bring this out often it is a joy to apply.

These have a slight vanilla scent. The packing is a bit of a week point. It had a black top and bottom with about 1/3 and inch of clear plastic revealing the actual product so you can see realistic colors. The cap closes very sturdily but can be a pain to take off. Each contains .16 oz/4.5 g which is more than MAC (3g) and Wet n wild (3.3 g) even though it doesn’t appear to have much. It has a short but thick stick of lipstick. These fade unfortunately quickly; after three hours there was no sheen left and the purple I was wearing had faded to a dull plum hint on top of my lips.
ombre lip using all three

Overall, I am very fond of these lipsticks. While I might not wear Lavender or Chambord that often, I am glad to have them.  They are creamy and feel nice on the lips; they are not drying. You may have to work a bit with the lighter colors, but they are not hard to use. If you can get your hands on them I recommend Violet the most. You can get these at NYX or Ulta’s websites or at Ulta stores for $5.99.
wearing violet

Note: Since I ordered this from the Ulta website I received some samples that I am happy about:  Agave hair oil treatment, Life Jump Start Body Wash and body Lotion, and (most exciting) Stila triple sample of all over shimmer liquid illuminizer in pink shimmer, rose gold shimmer, and bronze shimmer. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nyx Macaron Lippies Part 1: The DRAMA

This is the first part of my Nyx Macaron Lippies Review, the second (and last) will be the actual review and swatch part so feel free to skip this and just wait for that post which will come soon. I have to talk about this part though so humor me…
Like many other people out there (but not enough for most cheap brands to care) I like “unusual” colors of lipstick; the sort of thing OCC and Melt cosmetics sell so when I heard about the Nyx Macaron lippies I was very excited and vowed to get several colors. At this point though, I didn’t know when they were coming out they had just appeared in this sneak peak post on Instagram. Which was 7 months ago so around November 2013.  I waited patiently (and not so patiently for them until they appeared online in the end of April. I do not like buying online though because it is more expensive (no coupons or sales plus shipping price) and I wanted to see both swatches and them in person before purchase.
I waited a few weeks until the middle of May without hearing when these would come to stores so I e-mail NYX and never got any response. A few days later I learned that now Ulta was saying they’d get then June 7th. About two weeks before that though, I read reviews of people having found them instore so both the weekend before and the weekend of June 7th I went to two different Ultas to see if I could get them. Both said they didn’t get them. The next Friday I called them; the one says they put them out Monday and sold out in hours, another says they just put out the display and it was full. I go to this one at around noon the next day; almost all colors are sold out.  The display was tiny and cardboard with only about 6 slots for each color (and I think some colors had only 3). I explain to the Ulta people about my problem and the gernal consensus is they don’t know when or if they will get more in store and to e-mail NYX corporate. I do e-mail NYX again; they never respond.  This same Saturday I Instragamed and Tweeted about this; Nyx never responds but Ulta asks me to send an e-mail with my problem to a help line of theirs. The e-mail me the next Monday and basically say “Sorry, we couldn’t provide these instore please use this gift card to take off the shipping price online.” This was very kind of them and much appreciated. Since I was working that night until 10:30 I decided to order them the next morning. Unfortunately though, they were sold out of Lavender so I decided to wait until they restocked. They didn’t restock until June 20th which is when I ordered them. In this time NYX also sold out online and the stores said they had the items on backorder

The moral of this story: When items are hyped up 6 months in advance, especially a unique product, they are going to sell out quickly. Provide more than 6 of each color to stores at make sure both you and the one store you are selling it with have enough product in the warehouse. Also, Ulta staff in store and online are extremely helpful and kind but NYX corporate will not respond to your tweets or e-mail.  Seriously though, I send two e-mails, both of which are ignored the first of which was sent over a month ago! That’s not a helpful company. I also thought it annoying that they continued to push and advertise this line on social media when no one could get it. This made me very frustrated. I almost didn’t buy them because of this anger, but purple lipstick! I am weak for this marketing ploy.