Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

As the clock strikes 12 midnight wherever you are, may you ring in the new year ahead with joy, love, health and prosperity. Wishing all of my amazing friends, fans, and family from around the globe a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Tip Tuesday: Complimentary Colors to Make Your Eyes Pop

Remember that opposite colors on the color wheel tend to cancel each other out. But ...if you place them side by side, they do something extraordinary. They make each other stand out. 

It's a simple concept, but a crucial one when you're choosing the most flattering eyeshadow colors for your look. 

Some inspiration:

For blue eyes: Since orange is the opposite color of blue, anything with orange in it will make blue eyes stand out more. It doesn't have to be a bright pumpkin color — it just has to have orange-hued undertones like gold, apricot, or peach.

For green eyes: Red is the opposite color of green. I wouldn't recommend you slap on any cherry red-colored eyeshadow to your lids. But your green eyes pop if you use colors that have red undertones, like deep plums and wine.

For brown eyes: Brown is a neutral color, so any color will work well. The most standout colors are blue and purple.

I hope you learned something useful. Thank you for your time, and stay beYOUtiful!

- Becky xoxox

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mani Monday: Black & Gold 12-30-13

I did two variations of this nail, you'll see them in the pictures below. The base is a beautiful sparkly black by OPI called "Razzle Dazzler" and the golden spots were done with OPI's "The Next CEO", a beautiful sparkly gold. The look is classy and understated, and the sparkles are great for this time of year. The variations in the looks are with the double dots on the pointer through pinky fingers. In the first picture I did two dots a little larger and more centered on the nail. The last shots are of two smaller dots that are closer to the cuticle. It's just a matter of which look you prefer for yourself. Both thumbs have three small dots close to the cuticles. And, of course, the golden accent nail wraps up the look nicely. I tried using a dotting tool for this look but found it more difficult than just using the brush that came with the polish. Take your time and make beautiful things happen! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Five Things Friday 12-27-13

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm so sorry this post is going up late. We're far from home and the holidays are crazy with three kiddos, so I'm a little slow. Having said that, I've got my five favorite things about Christmas and also my five favorite beauty things from this week. Let's begin...

Five Favorite Things About Christmas:
1. Family Time

It is a rare occasion in our family where we all still get together. Funerals, weddings, and ...Christmas. Not only do we get to see old faces and catch up on what's new, those of us with kids finally get a temporary reprieve from constant kid-watching because of the extra sets of eyes around. It tickles me heart knowing we're laying down new memories for the kiddos and starting new traditions in the process.

2. Christmas Cookies

I have a wicked sweet tooth. Baked sweet goods are especially delicious. Christmas is the perfect excuse to bake every cookie recipe known to man, and the best part? Then we get to eat them.

3. Amazing Food

The same idea as the cookies... Christmas gives us the best excuse to buy and serve the best cuts of meat and to prepare the family recipes passed down for generations that our new culturally-dictated low-carb, low-sugar, low-fat, blah blah blah ad nauseum diets dictate we avoid.

4. White Christmas

Some people associate Christmas with football games, old war movies or Lawrence Welk. Me? Christmas isn't finished until I've watched Irving Berlin's "White Christmas". Bing Crosby has got to have the best voice in the history of men.

5. Ugly Christmas Sweaters

One person's ugly sweater is another's festive cheer. I love those knitted vests and sweaters ariot with color and depicting Christmas scenes. Try wearing one any other day than Christmas and they'd have me committed. But Christmas? Break out the poppers and cliche wardrobe.

Five Favorite Beauty Things:
1. Boots No7 Hot Cloth Cleanser

This isn't like Eve Lom or Liz Earle. There's no essential oil scent and the cleanser is more foamy than the others. But there is something deliciously creamy and soothing about this hot cloth cleanser. It's advertised as a facial every night. And they aren't wrong. I feel my pores being cleansed. And even though the cleanser is foamy, it doesn't dry out my skin. I can only describe the experience as luxurious. The muslin cloth that comes with the cleanser is larger than the others that I've used and does a good job. I call it a muslin cloth, but it's more like cheese cloth. I'm not sure how else to describe it. 

2. Boots No7 Hydrating Mask

Tis the season for dry skin and flaky lips. Ugh. I've been looking for a hydrating mask, something other than a DIY honey mask. My local Target has started carrying the No7 product line and this mask looked amazing. Merry Christmas, me! I put it on and left it on for the full 10 minutes, although they say only 3 will do. The first day of our trip, my skin was feeling crispy. A slathering of this stuff and it's been hydrated heaven ever since.

3. Nyx Mega Shine Lip Gloss - Sugar Pie

EmilyNoel on Youtube mentioned these mega shine lip glosses in her 'Favorite Products from NYX' recently. I've loved (alright, obsessed over!) my lip butters this winter. So why not try the mega shine? I'll admit, at first I was hesitant. This stuff looks like a frost-fest. And I'm too old, and too over the 90s to want to sport frosty lips these days. I was pleased to see that on the lips this mega shine gloss isn't frosty, but instead gives my lips a healthy, nourished look. I love the Sugar Pie color in particular, it's a gorgeous shiny nude color.

4. Banjees Wrist Wallet

What is it? It's a spandex wristband you wear on your wrist. It's big enough to hold a cell phone, money, my mega shine lip gloss and even my Canon Elph 330 camera. Why do I love it so much? It's spandex, so it breathes and doesn't make my arm sweaty. I'm wearing a lot of leggings and doing a lot of walking lately = no pockets. I can wear this on my wrist and carry with me a house key, an ipod, a phone and always a lip gloss. It's my newest favorite thing.

5. Maybelline's Rocket Mascara

Melissa Raymond on Youtube has declared this her favorite mascara repeatedly. I was in the market for a new mascara and thought I'd give it a try. This stuff lengthens, it volumizes, it's opaque and pigmented and I truly love it. Thanks Melissa!

That's it for this week. I hope you've been blessed with peace, joy and many smiles this Christmas.

Thank you for your time, and stay beYOUtiful!

- Becky xoxox

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Birchbox: December 2013

This month's Birchbox was disappointing at best. If you're considering subscribing to this service, take a look at the contents of my box and decide for yourself if it's worth the $10 or not. So much for the sparkle, the shine, and the season of giving. In my book - a hair tie and two travel-sized wipes (I've already been given in another Birchbox) is strike one. Two more boxes like this and I'm out of here.

No new favorite things for me this month. Read on for my thoughts on the products I received in December's box.

Beauty Protector: Protect & Detangle
My favorite thing about this detangler is the smell. It's clean and familiar, I really like it. As for performance, this product works just fine. But so do other less expensive detanglers. It leaves a coating on the hair that makes my hair look stringy by day two. Not something I'd repurchase.

The Honest Company Winter Wellness Exclusive Kit: Healing Balm
The ingredients list for this healing balm is awesome. It's chock full of essential oils that I know have amazing healing properties. The consistency, however, is exactly like lanolin. That stuff they get from sheeps' wool and women put on their nipples after breastfeeding to prevent cracking? I had to put it on my cuticles and rub it in for half an hour and then put on lotion and rub some more to get it to soak in. Who's got that kind of time? Not practical, not something I would repurchase.

LA FRESH: Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes
This is the second time I've received these wipes as a sample in my Birchbox. I wasn't impressed then, I'm not impressed now. They take off makeup. So do a dozen other makeup removing wipes, at a fraction of the cost. Don't insult me with this fluff, Birchbox.

twistband: Hairband
And to top it off they throw in a hair tie and call it a day. Seriously? You can buy these things for $2 from Sephora. They don't even stay in well. I can't wear them when I hike, workout or run. You wasted an entire sample slot on one hair tie?

LAQA & CO Fat Lip Pencil: Ring of Fire
I just didn't like this product. It wasn't opaque, the formula was greasy and bled, and the color was a bright red. Which doesn't look good coming from a lip balm-esque product in stick form. Not something I would repurchase.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Loving The Ole Time Christmas Traditions

We're all filled up with eggnog and prime rib. Now it's time to watch...

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope your day is full of smiles, love and Grace. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a Wonderful New Years my friends.

-Becky xoxox

Ipsy: December 2013

December was another great month for Ipsy. There were brands I knew, and brands I didn't. There was only one product that didn't knock my socks off, and even that I think I can make work. Versus the other subscription service that I have, Ipsy is winning the competition by a mile.

The December Bag

A beautiful glossy black textured bag with a bright red liner. This makeup bag is the perfect size for any purse and conveys class and refinement. Love the sassy splash of color inside. 

Pop Beauty: Bright Up Your Life Eye Shadow Trio - Naturally Bare
I wasn't sure about this little trio the first time I saw it. All of the shades are shimmer, and I always use a matte in the crease. I gave these shadows a whirl and have put together a few really classic, really beautiful looks. In fact, I almost brought this trio with me for Christmas vacation as my sole eyeshadow pallet. In the end, the lack of a matte shade deterred my doing so. But the shadows are creamy, they blend well and the colors are timeless.

Be A Bombshell: The One Stick - Flustered
This product is a fantastic, multipurpose idea. One product to do both your lips and cheeks. My only problem was the color. A little product goes a long way, the color is insanely pigmented and bright, and I'm still working to not look like I've just had a wild romp in the sack after I use it. 

Mirabella: Eye Blender Brush
I've never heard of Mirabella brushes before. But I was elated that Ipsy put a brush in my bag. Like most makeup junkies, I can never have enough brushes. This is a very soft, very effective blending brush. The handle is metal and long, and looks sleek. I'll be checking into other Mirabella brushes in the near future.

Nicka K. New York: Nail Color - Classic Taupe
Another brand I know nothing about. I was so excited to see the classic taupe shade in my bag. I've been on the market for the perfect taupe nail for this season, and getting this in my Ipsy bag just made the decision for me. I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of the polish. It goes on smooth, it's very opaque and one coat was enough for me. I've had it on my nails since Saturday with one coat of top coat in the interim and only minimal chipping. Very impressive.

NYX: Extra Creamy Round Lipstick - Iced Honey
This is the product I struggled with, not because of the lipstick itself but because of the color they sent me. Holy frosty lipstick, Batman! The shade I received is sheer in application, thankfully, so I can lay it over another color for a frosted effect that isn't late-90s looking. Tis the season, and all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tip Tuesday: Changing Your Eye Shape Using Makeup

Just like we use highlights and shadows to contour the face, we can also use the same principle to alter our eye shape. Whether you have hooded lids, or narrow-set eyes, you can use your knowledge of light and shadow to enhance their beauty.

If you want definition: Sweep a light bronzer or transition shade through the crease. Your crease is just beneath your brow bone but above your lid. This technique is great for mature skin, to give the eye more definition. 

If you have narrow-set eyes: To elongate your eye width, apply a black liner to the outer half of both your upper and lower lash lines, connecting at the outer corner. Focus your darker colored shadows on the outer third of your lids to draw the eye outward from the nose.

If you have hooded eyes: Use what you know about highlights and shadows to lift your eye. Apply highlighter below your crease, from the inner to outer lid. Then blend a transition shadow on the area that you want to push back. You'll need to manually blend in a faux-crease on the upper area of your eye, above the lid but beneath the brow. Make sure to blend the edges starting from the highlight on the lid to the shadow in your faux-crease and back up to the highlight beneath the brow. This same technique works for women of Asian decent who often don't have a pronounced crease.

If you have small eyes: Apply a nude-colored eyeliner to your lower water line, which will help make eyes look more open. Then use a black pencil liner along your entire upper and lower lash lines, connecting the lines at the outer corner. The key is to blend the liner with shadow, sweeping outward away from the nose. Wherever you place the darkness is where the eye will go. By smudging the eyeliner, you give the allusion that your eyes are larger in scale.

For fuller looking lashes: Apply a black pencil to your upper water line. This lengthens the eye and it also sharpens the appearance of the eye, giving more fullness to the natural lash line without seeing the hard edge of a liner.

I hope you learned something useful. Thank you for your time, and stay beYOUtiful!

- Becky xoxox

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mani Monday: Classy Christmas Tree in Gold & White 12-23-13

It's finally here, just two days away - Christmas! As much as I love the fun colors of Santa's red outfit or the bright greens of the trees...sometimes I want to do the holidays a little classier. So I used a bright metallic gold from OPI called 'The Next CEO' as the base for all nails. Then using the tape technique I made a crisp white tree on my accent nail in a white called 'Eileen' from Julep. For the tinsel and star on top I used a sparkly silver metallic striper from Kiss Nails. Quick and easy to do, with just enough whimsy and cheer for any woman to pull off this season. Enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five Things Friday 12-20-13

There are five days until Christmas and between now and then I have hours and hours of wrapping, cleaning, packing and driving to go. So much for a holiday vacation, right? Having three kids is inspiring on the one hand and down right exhausting on the other. I'm not complaining, but even when we get to my in-laws for the holiday, I'm still on duty washing dishes and keeping the kids from climbing the walls. Can't catch a break. I had a crazy busy week this week, just like most of us did. So I'll cut to the short and get on with the goodies so we can all get back to prepping for Santa.

1. Sigma E35 Tapered Blending Brush
Sigma has deftly proven it's a powerhouse in the consumer-level realm of beauty brushes. Their brushes are soft, well-made and do a phenomenal job. This is my latest and greatest, and has lifted my eye makeup looks to another, better level. If you have the right tools, it shows.

2. Nicka K New Your Nail Color in Classic Taupe
This came in this month's IPSY bag (overview and review coming shortly), and I was immediately in love with the color. I have no browns or taupes in my collection. I'm not sure why, I've been meaning to buy some for a while. The color is perfect for this time of year. I tried on this polish with no top coat, and it took three days for it to chip. For me - the mother, the dishwasher, the laundress, the floor scrubber and consumate daily hiker - that's impressive. I'll look into the rest of their line before my IPSY discount code expires and probably purchase a few more colors.

3. POP Beauty Bright Up Your Life Eye Shadow Trio: Naturally Bare
This was another score from this month's IPSY bag, and I'll be honest, I didn't hold out much hope for quality shadows. The packaging, to me, looks juvenile and cheap. That, and all three shadows are shimmery. I'm not a big fan of shimmery shades in my crease or under my brow. I did a look with these shadows and used Latte from Makeup Geek in the crease and it pulled together nicely. The shadows were creamy, pigmented, blended well and they lasted the entire day. I've used then since with a few of my other pallets with no problems blending and am thinking about bringing just this trio to my in-law's house for Christmas vacation.

4. Scotch Tape for Manicures
I would like to thank DailyBeautyReviews.com for the use of their image.

I have tried tape manis before with horrible results. So I did some research into the best tapes and techniques to  make it work, and am elated with the results. Some folks might be over the whole designer nail trend. I am not one of them. My greatest joy is putting together a unique and classy artistic look on my nails. And the best way to do anything from a french mani to something more complicated and colorful is - scotch tape. The best advice for anyone interested in trying? You HAVE to let the bottom coat of polish dry completely before taping. Run the tape across the back of your hand twice before putting it on the nail. And pull it off quickly while your upper coat of polish is still wet. Nail polish designer, eye shadow and winged liner guide - what can't scotch tape do?

5. Pedometer
I'm in a nutrition and fitness program right now. It's an intensive 16-week course, and we're on week five. So far I've already lost 12 pounds and am so excited about everything I've learned. If you're curious I've been posting notes from my weekly lessons here on the blog. You can find them under the Health and Wellness label on the right hand side. This week we started easing into the fitness portion of the program, and as a result I have had my pedometer on me all day every day. I should name it. How about Buster? Buster goes where I go. My goal this week is to take more than 5,000 steps a day. And I'm doing it! I've been taking the kids hiking in the woods every day (which we all love) and it's made a huge difference not only on my step count but also on my energy level and physical endurance. A pedometer is inexpensive, and puts a whole day into perspective. Finally I'm feeling beautiful on the inside, and out.

So that's it for this week, friends. I hope you're all healthy and happy and claiming your right to be who you want to be. Nobody has the right to tell you that you have to be anything less than joyful and beautiful.

If we don't chat next week - please have the merriest of Christmas'. Stay safe, smile lots and stay beYOUtiful!

- Becky xoxox

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Someday Character

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I'm a novelist by profession. Every now and then I come across a man so beautiful I have to save his picture and add him to my "Someday Character" file. This is one of those men. I have no idea who he is, but I'm going to thoroughly enjoy writing about him.

Tip Tuesday: Tips for Contouring

Applying your makeup is no different than applying paints to a canvas. Contouring is the art of highlighting and shading, whether it's on a cheek or on muslin. 

Anything that is lighter than the skin tone will make an area more prominent, anything darker will make that area recede.

Use contouring to add dimension to your face and to accentuate your positives. 

If you have a round face and want to make it look more oval: Apply a bronzer a shade or two darker than your skin tone in a "3" shape alongside your face: on your temples, the hollow of your cheeks, and under your jaw line.  

If you have a prominent forehead: Shade around the outer edge of your forehead along your hairline to minimize the area with bronzer.  

If you have a flat or wide nose: Shade alongside the bridge of your nose on either side, starting from your inner brows. Then highlight right on the center of your nose. Be sure to blend well to avoid a painted-on look.

If your cheeks are sagging: Apply a highlighter just above your cheekbone all the way to your temple. Use a blush directly on the cheekbone, then use a bronzer in the hollow of the cheek, underneath your bone.

And if you really want to make your contouring stand out: Use a sparkly highlighter, which will reflect the most light. 

And remember: When applying a bronzer, always use one with a matte finish, which will absorb light and create a stark contrast. See my post on contouring powders vs. bronzing powders for more suggestions.

I hope you learned something useful. Thank you for your time, and stay beYOUtiful!

- Becky xoxox

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mani Monday: Santa's Buckles 12-16-13

 I love this twist on the french manicure. You could use any bright red polish for this look. I used OPI's Red My Fortune Cookie from their 2010 Hong Kong Collection as my base. Then I used a black striper from Kiss Nails to make the belt to get the red french tip. And a silver striper from Kiss Nails to draw the belt buckle. It's a simple silver rectangle with a little mark for the metal prong. Such a cute and easy mani for the holidays.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Looking to Sign Up for Birchbox?

Here's my personal referral code. Please feel free to follow the link and sign up for a $10 monthly subscription for beauty and lifestyle samples. Birchbox is the best way to discover new beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. Join to receive monthly deliveries of top product samples from high-end brands.

Linkee Poo Here

*Full disclosure. I do receive birchbox points for every person that signs up for the service using that link.

Five Things Friday 12-13-13

Welcome back, darlin, to another weekly installment of Five Things Friday. It's the most magical time of the year! I was just telling my kiddos that I wish there was a Christmas every month. Not because of the presents, but because everyone is so bright and loving and we get to spend extra time together as a family. Not much going on here besides the usual hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping and packing for trips. Onto the fun stuff...

1. Revlon 'Cherries in the Snow' Nail Polish

I've taken a break from artistic manicures for a few days this week, and instead I've been rocking this cool-toned red nail. I've had the polish for at least a year and was worried the formula would be goopy or dried out. Not at all, it went on as smooth as the day I bought it and has lasted for four days without chipping. Amazing, and the perfect color for the holidays. I'm going to do a gold metallic tip on it tomorrow and see how it looks. If I like it, I'll add it to our Mani Monday lineup.

2. Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette

I hate feeling like I'm being cliche when I include this in my list. It's brand new and everyone is going nuts about it. I ordered mine from Sephora and have been playing with it ever since. It's on the list because I'm loving the rose-toned color palette on my face. It's just the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship.

3. Dr. Jarts Premium BB Cream

I haven't met a Dr. Jart's product that I haven't loved. Birchbox was selling a sampler set of all four of the Dr. Jart BB creams for the same price I'd pay for one of them. So I've tried them all out and the premium variety is definitely my favorite. It goes on smooth, evens my skin tone, hydrates my skin and gives me a healthy inner-lit glow. What else could I ask for? I will say that the coverage is pretty sheer. There's enough pigmentation to balance the look of my skin, but that's it. And there are plenty of days when I'll choose health and vita-goodies for my skin over full coverage.

4. Rimmel's Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner

I have a drawer full of eyeliners, but when it comes time for me to line my water line, I reach for Rimmel's Scandaleyes every time. They're hugely pigmented, the formula is creamy and they last a long time. Slowly but surely I'm acquiring every color in the line.

5. Home Roasted Coffee

For a long time I was exclusively drinking tea. We have roasted our own coffee beans for a long time, and I knew they were good, but I just had a hankering for tea. And then I started craving the deep carmely richness of a good cup of coffee. I drink upward of 2 cups a day. Our favorite beans are the Yergacheffe and the Columbian. If you have never roasted your own beans, do yourself a favor and try it. It makes Starbucks laughable. I never knew coffee tasted like fruit and flowers, chocolate and caramel until I roasted and brewed a fresh cup on my own.

Bonus: Customized and Free Santa Video for Your Kids

http://www.portablenorthpole.com/home  I found this site last year and made a video for my twin boys. This year a friend reminded me of it and I made videos for all three kids. We've watched them all twice. It's magical, and the kids wave and answer Santa. If you have children, do them a favor and check out this site. The videos are worth the five minutes it takes to set up, and then some.

That's it for me this week. I hope you found a few new favorite things of your own. I'd love to hear what some of your are loving. Feel free to share your wares in the comments below.
We're coming up on Christmas, and my family will be travelling for most of the holidays. If my posts are irregular, please accept my apology and understand that internet access isn't always going to be possible. I hope each and every one of you has a bright, blessed and safe Christmas. We'll chat again before the new year.

Thank you for your time, and stay beYOUtiful! 

- Becky xoxox