Tuesday, December 31, 2013

EOTD: Cargo Vintage Escape Eye Palette

Here is the first of several EOTDs featuring the Cargo Vintage Escape Eye Palette. Even though it's now officially winter, I will never stop loving all things autumn, this palette included. 


  • Withered Leaves on lid
  • Hot Cocoa in the crease
  • Harvest Moon on brow bone
  • Crisp in the inner corner
  • Chestnut on top of the eyeliner
  • Clinique Chocolate Lustre eyeliner on top
  • Stila Moray eyeliner on bottom
  • Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara in Blackest Black

Monday, December 30, 2013

Swatch Wars! Urban Decay Naked 3 vs Lorac Unzipped Part 2

Continuing with Part 2 of the UD Naked 3 vs Lorac Unzipped swatch war... here are close ups of "comparable" colors from both palettes. These are in no particular order because Blogger is being a PITA with re-arranging pictures lately...

UD Blackheart vs Lorac Untamed & Unbridled. Blackheart is a blackened plum with microglitter, vs Untamed is a golden plum (no glitter) and Unbridled is a plummy matte brown.
UD Liar, Factory, & Mugshot vs Lorac Unattainable & Uncensored. To me, the UD shadows are pinky/purpley based compared to the golden browns in the Lorac palette.
UD Limit & Nooner vs Lorac Unconditional & Unspoken. Again, UD are very pink toned. Even though Unconditional is obviously more pink than Unspoken, it's still a teeny bit warmer.
UD Trick vs Lorac Unreal & Unbelievable. Trick is the only true "rose gold" in the UD palette, in my opinion, vs Unreal which is a golden peach/champagne and Unbelievable which is a coppery rose.
UD Burnout vs Lorac Unbelievable. Burnout is more pink-toned and Unbelievable is a coppery rose.
UD Strange vs Lorac Undercover. Strange is definitely more of a "pinky cream" and Undercover is a sheer ivory.

UD Dust & Buzz - These are the two colors I was the most "afraid" of when I got the Naked 3 palette. I've heard nothing but horror stories about Dust's mirco-glitter fallout and Buzz just looked WAY too pink for my liking. However, I was pleasantly surprised by both. Yes, Dust is glittery, but if you know how to work with it, there can be very minimal fallout. And Buzz actually tones itself down when it's on the eye, especially when you pair it with Limit or Nooner. 

 So, there we have it folks. UD Naked 3 vs Lorac Unzipped! I still can't declare a winner, just because I love them for different things. But hopefully this will help others out there who are undecided.

Oh, I also forgot to mention that all of these swatches were done without a primer or base of any kind. I never use a base in swatching. In a way, I think it's kind of cheating. I want to know what the eyeshadow itself looks/acts like without "helping" it along with a primer. If it looks good as is, on bare skin, then it can only improve with a base, yes?

Swatch Wars! Urban Decay Naked 3 vs Lorac Unzipped Part 1

UD Naked 3 on top; Lorac Unzipped on bottom
Urban Decay Naked 3 in indirect light
Urban Decay Naked 3 in direct sunlight
Urban Decay Naked 3 in indirect lighting again. I would like to point out the fact that, yes, I did swatch over my tattoo. That should help give people an idea of how dark Blackheart actually is.

Lorac Unzipped in indirect lighting.

Lorac Unzipped in direct sunlight.

This is mainly for my sister, Brittany. She texted the other day asking which palette she should get and since she didn't like my answer of "Both!" I thought I would try and be a helpful sister by swatching the two. At first glance, they do seem to be very similar, but as I told her, they are actually different. Sometimes it's a subtle difference, but it's a difference nonetheless. Naked 3, despite being touted as a "rose gold" palette, is NOT, in my opinion. I own rose gold jewelry and the metal doesn't look like anything in UD Naked 3, except for one eyeshadow: Trick. That being said, though it is a beautiful, neutral, pinky-brown-taupe palette that definitely leans cool, whereas the Lorac Unzipped is undoubtedly a true rose gold palette with very warm tones. 

I can't say which is "better" or which I would prefer, since I obviously own both of them. I think they're good for different things. Naked 3 is very springy and Victorian romance (because I'm a history nerd), whereas Unzipped has more of a beachy/summery feel with golds and bronzes. 

If price is a factor, consider this: UD Naked 3 has 12 eyeshadows (0.05 oz each) for $52 vs Lorac Unzipped has 10 eyeshadows (0.39 oz each) for $40. I'm not a mathematician, so this breakdown is more for the people that like numbers... I just look at pretty colors and go from there. :) 

Cargo Vintage Escape Eye Palette

The Cargo Vintage Escape Eye Palette (I got mine at Kohl's) in a plastic box with a sticker/sleeve.
The palette without the packaging - it's a faux brown leather, with a magnetic closure.

For $39 (give or take, depending on where you buy this and if there's a sale or you have coupons), you get 12 eyeshadows. I would say there are 4 mattes (Black Crow, Hot Cocoa, Autumn, and Chestnut), 1 satin (Harvest Moon, which is barely visible, but I swear it's in the upper left), and 7 shimmers (Cuddle, Frolic, Cinnamon, Twigs, Crisp, Withered Leaves, and Rustic). You also get a dual-ended brush (flat shader on one side and angled liner on the other), which I could really do without. I prefer my own brushes, but it's a nice effort. My main issue is with the flat-shader side. It's a bit wobbly inside the ferrule, which I find irritating. The liner side was fine, though.

Despite the fact that Harvest Moon is barely visible on my skin, it still makes a pretty non-shimmery highlight, especially compared to Crisp. And in person, Withered Leaves is much more of an olivey-green-gold than is being swatched/captured in photos. It didn't help that it's super cloudy here in Po'Dunk (thanks Winter Storm Gemini!) and I couldn't get very good lighting. All of the other colors are pretty true to their swatches. Some people might be disappointed in how light Black Crow actually is, but I don't mind it, honestly. I rarely use black as an actual eyeshadow color (except for my New Orleans' Saints makeup, which I'll have an EOTD coming later during the playoffs), so I don't mind that it's not the most opaque because I just use it to a) deepen another crease color or b) on top of eye liner. I never use eyeshadow as eyeliner alone because it fades on me, even with a primer. 

Speaking of which, I get a good 8-10 hours of wear without creasing on top of MAC Painterly Paint Pot. By 12 hours, there is creasing, but that tends to happen with almost any eyeshadow on me. And normally I never wear eyeshadow that long. When I wore NYX HD Eye Shadow Base underneath, I got 15+ hours of wear before slight creasing started to appear. 

I've never tried Cargo cosmetics before, but I really, really like this palette. I've worn it three days in a row now, but I'm by no means done playing with it. The colors are very neutral, even the bluish-gray Twigs, and I can't get over how much I love their names!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Inspiration: Stana Katic

Speaking of Eastern European goddesses that make me want to be brunette ::coughNinaDobrevcough::... Stana Katic is the other gorgeous actress whose makeup I study every time she's on Castle. One day I will perfect my gel/cream eyeliner application technique so it looks like hers. But that would require me to stop using pencil eyeliners, which I'm rather reluctant to do at the moment.

Pretty makeup, nonfussy hair, cool wardrobe, and guns? Do you see why she's awesome? Beckett is my hero.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

First Impression: Clarisonic Mia 2

Santa made all of my beauty wishes come true this year! And by "all of," I mean the two that I had: Urban Decay Naked 3 and the Clarisonic Mia 2. I did get some other beauty goodies, too, including a vanilla lip balm, a cinnamon cookie scented hand lotion, emory boards (I always seem to lose mine), three NYX Butter Glosses, and gift cards to Sephora and Ulta! I love that my family knows me so well.

Anyways... on to the Clarisonic.

I have been hemming and hawing over getting a Clarisonic ever since they hit the market. But $200 is A LOT to spend on a cleansing brush. It's a lot to spend on ANY beauty item, in my book. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Then I saw the original Mias were on sale for $99. Whoa! What a steal! But, as I was re-reading Clarisonic reviews for the zillionth time, I saw the Mia 2 was $150. Essentially, the fact that the Mia 2 has two speeds to choose from sealed the deal for me.

Speed forward to twenty minutes ago. I briefly washed my face (mostly just my eye makeup) with my hands, water, and Purpose Gentle Cleanser and rinsed. Then I squirted some Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (I've heard a lot of people use Cetaphil and/or CeraVe with their Mias, so I figured I'd follow suit) on the damp brush head and set to work on the lower of the two settings.

I started on my chin, and moved the brush around a little. Having had the Olay Pro-X brush (review here), it was weird that the bristles didn't move. Obviously, I know how the Mia works (sonic technology vs. actually spinning) but it was an adjustment. Also, I expected it to BEEP beep when it was time to change "zones" on my face. But the vibration skipped for a second and it was more of a deep "tone" noise. If you've ever operated one of these things, hopefully you'll know what I'm talking about and can maybe describe it better. But I was expecting a BEEP like when you're coffee is ready, not just a subtle tonal sound. Once I figured that part out, I was able to change zones accordingly the next time. I also like that the Mia shuts off after a 1 minute cycle, so it's impossible to "over do it" unless you physically push the power button on again. 

When I was done, I didn't notice a whole lot of gunk in the brush. That may be because a) I did a pre-wash/cleanse or b) I don't wear that heavy of makeup (today was just a CC cream). Either way, I don't really mind. My skin still felt clean, which is the important part, but not tight-dry-flakey clean. And speaking of flakes, mine are 98% gone. I noticed some dry patches on my nose, but that was about it. My forehead was flake-free for the first time this winter. And my skin feels smoother overall, except for the spots I'm breaking out or are in the process of healing. My chin is always a problem area for congestion and it feels much, much smoother. I don't really have very large pores or fine lines to begin with, so I didn't notice much of a difference in that department. 

So, is the Mia 2 worth $150 (or $70-$90 on eBay)? It's definitely too soon to tell, but we'll see where it goes from here. I'll keep you guys posted. I'm curious to know if I'll go through the dreaded "purge" cycle as the vibrations dredge all the crud up out of my pores, or if I'll be one of the blessed few who escapes horrific breakouts in the quest for better skin.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone has a great day! I'll be working, unfortunately, but hopefully Santa left me a Naked 3 palette to make it all better. :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm

While I've been a fan of C.O. Bigelow's Rose Salve, as well as the lemon and mint flavored lip balms, I had never tried their "My Favorite Night Balm." Since Bath and Body Works was running a "Buy Two, Get One Free" sale, I figured I'd jump on it while I was buying Christmas presents, and BOY am I glad I kept one for myself. 

I'll admit, I didn't have super high hopes. It's just another lip balm, right? WRONG!

My lips were so dry and crackly and peely and just nasty when I used this. I slathered it on, went to sleep, and woke up to see ... crackly, peely lips. Irked, but still not put off, I just grabbed a Q-tip and buffed the rest of the lip balm and dead skin away (something I saw Lisa Eldridge do and felt compelled to copy) and OMFG! My lips were so smooth and soft underneath all the junk, it was AMAZING! Like a snake shedding skin. Or like that scene in The Craft where the doctor sweeps the skin off of Neve Campbell's back where the burn scars used to be? Super gross analogies, I know... but that's how dramatic of a transformation it was. I'm not even kidding. I'm not normally blown away by skincare stuff, but I want to shout this from the rooftops.

Now, the next few nights did NOT have that big of a result (I think it's kind of a "One and done" thing), but my lips were still super soft and smooth with nary a flake in sight! I'll definitely continue to repurchase this as an overnight balm, especially since it's only $7.50, but usually you can find deals on them at Bath and Body Works. I suppose you could use this during the day, too, but it doesn't have SPF. So, for that I think I'll stick to Jack Black.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Avon Moisture Therapy Intensive Treatment Moisturizing Lip Treatment SPF 15

Want a good lip balm for under a buck? Try Avon's Moisture Therapy Intensive Treatment Moisturizing Lip Treatment with SPF 15. Whew! What a mouthful.

Avon says it's for extremely dry lips. I like that it's unscented and tasteless. It's thicker than, say, Chapstick, but doesn't necessarily feel like pure petrolatum.

I wouldn't say that it will ever replace my Jack Black lip balms, but it's definitely something I would reach for over Blistex or Carmex. And if you need to round out an Avon order for free shipping or something, this little guy couldn't hurt.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nuvail Nail Treatment

For reasons that are still unknown to a slew of doctors, my nails have been freaking out for about two years now. At that time, I also started noticing a lot of hair falling out and my skin getting super dehydrated, including my lips, which made wearing lipstick an impossibility. So... after several rounds of tests, the best they can come up with is a) a slow thyroid b) iron deficiency and c) vitamin B and D deficiency too. Yay me. 

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of what my nails looked like when they were at their worse, but these will still give you an idea...

One day, I noticed the nails on my ring and pinkie fingers were lifting away from the nail bed. They were HOT to the touch, like I'd burned them, BRIGHT pink and it looked like I had a French manicure starting in the MIDDLE of my nails. Then it started spreading to the other nails. It came and went in severity and in cycles. Doctors had no answers. It's not a fungal infection (thank God!); I don't submerse my hands in water for long periods of time; I haven't worn acrylics since my wedding (6 years ago); I type a lot, but I use the pads of my fingers, not the nails themselves... everything question led to a dead end. 

Since starting a super intensive vitamin regimen, things have gotten a little better, but they're still not where they used to be.

As you can see, my ring and pinky fingers are still the worst, i.e., discoloration and lifting.
Those nails are trimmed as close to the quick as possible, but my ring finger looks like it's grown out. It's not. It's just lifted. >:o|

Same thing on the left hand, the ring and pinky fingers are the worse.

So my dermatologist prescribed a new treatment called Nuvail to see what would happen. 
She's hoping that the combination of vitamins, plus this, will strengthen the nail itself and
keep it from lifting so much.

The weird, lipgloss-like wand/applicator that comes with it.

You're supposed to apply this all over your nail once a day, usually at bedtime, every day. Once a week, you're also supposed to take non-acetone nail polish remover and clean off your nails, just so this doesn't get gunky around your cuticles. It's totally clear and leaves a semi-satin "buffed" look to your nail, which is nice. The Nuvail website says you can apply nail polish over it, but the polish has to be removed before the next treatment. So, in theory, you can wear nail polish for one day before you have to take it off again. Which, for me, that's usually all I get out of perfect nails anyway and then they start chipping.

It's too early to tell if it's working yet, because I just started it on December 7th, but I'll do updates along the way since I couldn't find very many reviews on this stuff. Needless to say, I hope it works, but I'm not loving the price tag. Even with insurance, it'll still cost you around $30-$45, depending on which pharmacy you go to. But at this point, it's not about vanity at all. It's about keeping my nails attached to the nail bed, where they should be, and not feeling like someone is shoving burning pieces of metal up there when they start to lift. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

This or That

This is just for fun, a "This or That" tag. If you blog or do videos, feel free to steal this. :) Oh, and Happy Friday the 13th!

blush or bronzer - Blush
lip gloss or lipstick - Lipstick
eye liner or mascara - Mascara
foundation or concealer - Concealer
neutral or color eye shadow - Neutral!!
pressed or loose eye shadows - Pressed
brushes or sponges - Brushes

OPI or china glaze - OPI
Long or short - Short
Acrylic or natural - Natural
Brights or darks - Darks
Flower or no flower - No flower..?

perfume or body splash - Perfume
lotion or body butter - Lotion
body wash or soap - Body Wash
lush or other bath company - Other

jeans or sweat pants - Jeans
long sleeve or short - Long, generally.
dresses or skirts - Depends... but I guess skirts.
stripes or plaid - Plaid
flip flops or sandals - Flip flops
scarves or hats - Scarves
studs or dangly earrings - Studs
necklaces or bracelets - Necklaces
heels or flats - Flats
cowboy boots or riding boots - Both, especially because I ride English *and* Western.
jacket or hoodie - Hoodie
forever 21 or charlotte russe - Umm.. Forever 21, I suppose.
abercombie or Hollister - It's the same company isn't it? And neither.
saks 5th or nordstrom - Nordstrom

curly or straight - Straight
bun or ponytail - Ponytail
bobby pins or butterfly clips - Bobby pins
hair spray or gel - Hair Spray
long or short - Long
light or dark - I wish it was dark.
side sweep bangs or full bangs - Side sweep bangs
up or down - Usually down

Rain or shine - Rain!
Summer or winter - Winter
Fall or spring - Fall
Chocolate or vanilla - Chocolate
East coast or west coast - East coast

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Swatch Wars! MAC Handwritten vs Lancome Lezard

Inspired by a question I received from a reader, I thought I would put two of my favorite reddish-brown eyeshadows against one another: MAC's Handwritten and Lancome's Lezard. Unfortunately, I think Lezard only gets trotted out for special palettes these days, as I couldn't find it as a single on Lancome.com, but it kept showing up in the search results for their quads/quints. 

 MAC Handwritten on the left; Lancome Lezard on the right.

Handwritten; Lezard, in natural light.

Handwritten; Lezard, inside with a flash.

As you can see, they're actually pretty close. In the pan and in the swatch, Lezard has a faint shimmer to it, but it gets less noticeable when it's blended out on the lid, which puts it closer to what Handwritten looks like. MAC describes Handwritten as a "Rich chocolate brown," and it's one of their Matte2 shades. Lezard was/is a Color Design, but unfortunately I couldn't find an official description of it anywhere. To me, it's also a "rich chocolate brown" with a touch more red and a bit of a sheen. Both colors can also be built up more than what I swatched, for those wanting a more intense look. I hope this was helpful for anyone wanting one or the other. :) 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bliss Mistletoe Must-Haves Moisturizing Duo

While wandering around my local Ulta the other day, I found this little guy tucked away in those displays by the cash registers. Being the lip balm fiend that I am and simultaneously dealing with the lovely dry hands that accompany winter, I figured this would be a win-win for a mere $12. It's a full sized, twist-up lip balm (which regularly retails for $16 on its own) and a 1 oz High Intensity Hand Cream (normally $9). 

The highlight? The hand cream. It has a nice lemony-citrus scent that fades relatively quickly. I usually put it on before bed and when I wake up my hands are nice and soft, but there aren't any grease stains all over my sheets, which I appreciate.

The disappointment? Definitely the lip balm. It has a faint vanilla scent, which I don't mind. But it's very oily, if that makes sense, unlike the thickness one would find in a Jack Black lip balm or a tub of Vaseline. It's not even waxy like Chapstick, but more like tube of Nivea, but worse. It's just this weird oil slick that, despite making your lips shiny, doesn't actually sink it. I feel like it just... sits there, being oily and slippery, meanwhile your lips dry out and crack beneath it. I couldn't even get through a whole day at work with just this stuff on my lips before I caved and had to use my Jack Black. It was too late, though. By the time I got home, my lips were flaking and it took two days to recover from this stuff. 

My suggestion? Skip this unless you're already a fan of their lip balm and go for the Bliss Winter Wonder-'Hands' Moisturizing Cream Combo, which is also $12, and features two 1 oz hand creams in High Intensity and Blood Orange+White Pepper. A word of warning though... I couldn't find these on Ulta.com or even Sephora.com and they were out of stock on BlissWorld.com. But I found several in Ulta, so if you're interested, you may have to go to a brick-and-mortar store to find them. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How Ashley got her groove back...

So... yeah... My promise last July to starting blogging more was an epic fail. The combination of working full time and grad school, plus trying to have a "normal" life, was way more than I was prepared to deal with. I also had some health stuff going on that's still not quite figured out, but it's better. (It's nothing life or death... just the joys of getting older and stuff not working as well as it once did). However, that health stuff did have a negative aspect on some beauty stuff.. mainly hair, nail, and skin related, which I'll probably talk about in a later post. 

This certainly isn't a promise like my last "I'm Back" post, because we saw how that worked out. But this is a baby step toward reclaiming my blog and getting back in the groove.