April 30, 2014

How to Get Really White Teeth at Home

How to Get Really White Teeth at Home

I wore braces for what was supposed to be 13 months and turned into almost 3 years. This was also my junior and senior years of high school. You can imagine what this did to my attitude. I eventually got over it and embraced the fact that one day I would have the straight teeth to show for it, but at the time, I vowed to take insanely good care of my teeth when I got the bastards taken off.

Not only do I make sure to visit my dentist every 6 months like clockwork for my regular cleanings and checkups (I'm one of those freaks who actually likes going to the dentist) I also make sure to routinely whiten my chompers whenever they're feeling less than pearl-like. Back in the day, I used to use the at-home whitening kits like this one, and even though I have pretty strong teeth, I would still experience the dreaded tooth sensitivity that comes along with bleaching the ever living shit out of your teeth. No fun. That's the downside to those strips....the upside? They totally work. But you have to decide if it's worth the few days of pain and misery.

Luckily, you can get pretty impressive results using more natural products you probably already have in your kitchens and bathrooms. The process will take a bit longer in terms of seeing results, however, you will get them (results, that is). Here is what I use to keep my pearly whites as white as can be!

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Step 1 | In a small bowl, combine about 3 teaspoons of baking soda and about 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide (3% for oral use) to make a paste similar in consistency to toothpaste.
Step 2 | This step is optional, but it makes the paste taste much better. If you have some peppermint essential oil, add 1 drop to the paste. Again, this is not necessary, but it will make the paste more palatable. 
Step 3 | Use your toothbrush to dip into the paste and start gently brushing your teeth in small circles trying to avoid your gum line as best as you can.
Step 4 | Let the mixture sit on your teeth for about 2 minutes (any longer than that and your mouth will start to cramp, but if you can hang longer than 2 minutes, hell, GO FOR GOLD). I shouldn't have to tell you this, but do not swallow the mixture.
Step 5 | Rinse with water and then brush your teeth to remove any leftover mixture from teeth and mouth. I included a picture of my fave dental floss in the photo above as well, but you can use any dental floss JUST USE IT. Not only is is vital for your gums, but it really makes a difference in how white your teeth look. You need to get all that gunk and tartar out from in between your teeth as well. Don't neglect this step.
I LOVE Colgate's Optic White toothpaste and have started buying it in bulk, but it can be a bit strong for people with sensitive teeth. My husband has extremely sensitive teeth and he swears by Sensodyne's Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste (which we also buy in bulk). Check your Sunday paper for coupons as well as Target coupons and Cartwheel. I can usually always find pretty good manufacturer coupons for the Optic White online and in Target's coupons (the other day I got a 2-pack for under $2 through couponing!)

Aaaanyhoo, that's how I keep my teeth looking like THIS and THIS! (The red lipstick helps as well...that is a fun little factoid).

April 29, 2014

The BB Cream No Woman Should Be Without

You GUYS. It is rare that you will see me dedicate an entire blog post to one item. Usually I will include it into some type of "current favorites" post or something...but I'm throwing up my jazz hands right now because I have stumbled upon a drugstore diamond in the rough. While trolling the aisles of Target yesterday, I saw an end cap with Garnier's BB Cream on sale. Nothing new here, I've known about Garnier's BB Cream for quite some time as it was one of the first drugstore lines to hop on the BB cream craze. I honestly dismissed it along with the cheesy commercials because truth be told, I'm not the biggest Garnier fan. I've never really found any of their products to be earth-shattering. Until now.

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I have a love/hate relationship with BB and CC creams. I really want to love them and believe all the hype, but the only ones I've found that have impressed me enough have had the high price tag to go along with it. My two favorites have always been these two but I have a hard time justifying almost $40 for a glorified tinted moisturizer (however, if you want to try a fancy one, give one of these bad boys a try...you won't regret it)...

Pur Minerals Face Care · Tarte Face Care · Pur Minerals Makeup

Enter Garnier's BB Cream. I chose the color "Light/Medium" and the "Combination/Oily" formula as I can become a bit of an oil slick midday. The box says "Instant perfection, all day shine control" so I was intrigued. The tube contains 2 fluid ounces which is about average BUT I only paid around $11 (as opposed to $38 for my usual BB and CC creams) so instant savings there. The first thing I noticed was the consistency. I'm used to BB and CC creams being thick, almost whipped in consistency, the Garnier BB Cream is very liquidy and almost thin in comparison. When I applied it (just using my clean hands) I was SO impressed with how pigmented it was. It covered my redness, my freckles, my sun spots and my dark circles, yet it wasn't heavy or cakey at all. It kind of reminded me of all the HD foundation formulas out there right now, without the weight. I decided I wanted to see if it could be built upon in areas to gain even more coverage (inner cheeks, chin) and it did beautifully. I imagine this stuff would apply like a DREAM using a Beauty Blender sponge if you wanted a flawless finish that you could stipple more product on where needed.

The picture above here shows the liquid-like consistency and below it is an extreme closeup of my face. All I have on in that photo is the BB cream and a light dusting of NARS Orgasm blush. NO concealer, NO powder.

Now, what begs to be seen is the oil control throughout the day. I can say I've had it on for a couple hours and so far, have not needed to blot any oil or dust any powder anywhere, so I'm hoping that we continue on with this trend. The other thing I might try is using this as a primer underneath my fuller coverage foundation for times I need absolutely flawless coverage. I'm thinking it will be pretty great.

You can find this little gem at Ulta, Target, Walgreens, RiteAid, CVS, Walmart, Amazon...really the list goes on. Or you can click the link below and buy it online! Make sure you pay attention to the "options" to choose your formula and proper shade. Also! If you purchase at Ulta, make sure you use code "206879" at checkout to get $3.50 off the price! If you go in store, click here to print off the coupon and bring it with you.

April 28, 2014

How To Look Great After a Wild Night | Refresh Your Makeup in 5 Easy Steps

I recently asked for ideas and requests for blog post topics on my Let's Talk About Lipstick Facebook page, and my beautiful and hilarious college-student cousin Jessica (hey, Boo!) had a STELLAR idea. She recommended a "morning after a night out" blog post. I believe her exact words were "ways to make yourself look super presentable for work/school, etc. even when you feel like death" which is perfect since WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE...amIrightoramIright?? Now, I'd like to pretend for a moment that my "overtired meets sluggish meets dull-skin meets dark circles meets crusty lips" look that I'm rocking every morning is because of a totally raging and exciting time the night before, but if I've learned anything from watching HBO's Girls, it's to own my truth. My truth is that I have a toddler, I stay up too late watching The Good Wife (or Game of Thrones), I sleep HARD and I drool while doing said sleeping. All of those glamorous things leads to me looking like this...

For the record, even though it goes against EVERYTHING I stand for, I decided to fall asleep with my makeup on so that I would wake up with some serious obstacles to overcome and some "real" advice for this post. The lovely diagram above was what I was working with. Please ignore the ever-so-flattering nude colored bra strap in the photo...it just adds to the overall aesthetic I was going for, right??

Ideally, we'd wake up in the morning after a crazy night with ALL the time in the world to linger in a hot shower, apply a nice mud mask, give ourselves a manicure and apply our makeup to perfection, but the reality is, we have less than 30 minutes to clean up our act and get out the door looking like responsible members of society. And hey, no judgement to those that choose to embrace the crazy and hobble on out with an over-sized pair of sunglasses, a venti Starbucks and a tin of extra strength Altoids (believe me, I have walked that path in my early 20s more than I'd care to admit). But here are a few more tricks you can tuck into your very useful "Female Life Hacks" mental folder for those mornings you need an assist from a sistah who has been there.

OBVIOUSLY it is best to start with a clean makeup free face in the morning, meaning, you cleansed and moisturized the night before. I can't stress enough how important it is to remove all signs of makeup, dirt, debris from our faces before bed to allow our skin to breathe and our cells to properly turn over. If you are so dead tired and don't think you can be bothered to wash your face, keep a package of facial cleansing cloths in your nightstand so you can remove as much as possible before you hit the sack, then slap on a good moisturizer. What'd that take ya? 60 seconds? I rest my case. If you do get time to grab a shower and scrub up, I still have some time-saving tips for you, click HERE for some helpful tricks and be on your way.

*Steps down from soapbox* All that being said, if you fall into the camp of someone who went to bed with all your makeup on, overslept, and woke up with 10 minutes to get out the door, here's what to do. I'll leave all products below these steps so you can see exactly what I used:

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1 | Spritz your face lightly with a refreshing toner. This will do a few things. First it will reactivate your foundation so that you can "work" with it without having to apply another layer over the top which is just...yuck. Secondly, it will perk up your complexion a bit which is no doubt dehydrated from being smothered all night in makeup. After you've spritzed your toner on, either use your CLEAN fingers to press your skin in a patting motion or use the wide end of a dampened Beauty Blender sponge to press into skin. If you have mascara under your eye area, make sure you wipe it off with a cotton pad or the pointy end of the Beauty Blender before you move onto the next step.
2 | Apply a light-diffusing concealer in a brush applicator style (to save time) under eyes and onto eyelids (blend well with finger), around your nose and around your mouth to brighten up a lackluster complexion and hide any redness.
3 | Use a "double duty" cream blush on the apples of your cheeks and your lips for a quick flush of color.
4 | Dust a loose powder on forehead, nose, chin and INNER cheek area only. Leave the area you just applied your cream blush alone so you can keep some radiance.
5 | Applying mascara over the top of already crusty mascara is just going to give you a case of "spider lashes" so just use your eyelash curler to re-open up the eye area.
6 | Apply a dry shampoo (shake it well) to your roots, give it a second to dry then use your fingers to "tousle" your strands and work the product around to sop up the greasies. This is a perfect opportunity for an intentionally messy bun which actually works quite well with not-so-clean hair. Also check out this tutorial for some quick easy ideas including one of my faves where the fringe area is braided to the side.
7 | Lastly, take a quick look at your nails. Nothing looks less polished than chipped, nappy looking fingernails. No need to worry about applying polish and waiting for it to dry, just remove any polish that looks less than stellar with a nail polish remover pad (they're pre-packaged so you don't have to hassle with spills), wash hands and run a lotion wipe over your hands and massage into cuticles.

Shiseido Eyelash Curler · Ulta Face Brushes & Applicators · L'Oreal Face Concealer

After you've gotten your face and hair in check, applied a fresh layer of deodorant (don't you DARE forget that one) and brushed your teeth, you can move onto your outfit. The best rule of thumb here is that you don't have to choose anything immensely trendy, just make damn sure it is clean and there are NO wrinkles or lint. Darker colors are typically more classic and professional looking that light, bright shades. It's always smart to have a few go-to pieces that you can easily layer a boyfriend cardigan, a denim jacket or a tailored blazer over the top of.

Asos Blazers · Gap Petite Sweaters · Old Navy Petite Jackets

Like I said in my "Lazy Girl Beauty" post a while back, putting together a handy "beauty emergency kit" is SO valuable for so many reasons, and this would be a prime example. It can be done for pretty cheap, takes very little time to put together and you will NEVER regret having it. Especially for those times you literally have no time to spruce up before you leave the house. What are some of your time-saving tricks and "beauty hacks" for fixing yourself up for work or school when you have no time to spare? Share in the comments and let us know!
April 25, 2014

Steal Their Look!

Steal Their Look!
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I always love flipping through magazines and seeing if I can recreate looks I love. I've done it ever since junior high and it's still fun for me. It's always fun when the celebrity's makeup artist tells you exactly what they used to achieve the look so you don't have to guess, but these are 5 looks I'm loving right now that I could right off the top of my head think of the tools to replicate it! We've got a natural look, a couple "girl next door" looks, a dramatic look and a sweet look. Pick your favorite!

Steal Christina Hendricks' look: 
(colors: blush #210, lips: "Coquette", liner: "Black")

Steal Kristen Bell's look:
(colors: lips: "Go for Girlie", cheeks: "Narcissistic")

Steal Kate Hudson's look:
(colors: lips: "Nude Lust", liner: "Black")

Steal Kate Upton's look:
(color: lips: "Siren Red")

Steal Ashley Benson's look:
(colors: eyeshadow: "Cyber Copper", blush stick: "South Beach", lips: Apple "Strudel", brows: "Taupe")

April 24, 2014

May Lust List

May Lust List

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I can't believe it's almost May! I found myself pining for Christmas yesterday (I know, commence with eye rolling) but I really DO love May. Not only is it my birth month (and also my 'dirty 30' this year) but it's also Mother's Day and usually when the weather starts cooperating for us Washingtonians. There are a handful of things I have been eyeballin' pretty hard lately and thought I'd show you guys what keeps piquing my interest every time I hop online. If you want to check out any of the lovely items in the above collage, feel free to click below and shop away!

  • YSL Baby Doll Kiss & Blush | I've been wanting this for a while now. You can use it on your lippies AND your cheeks (hence the clever name) plus the bottle is cute enough to display on your vanity!
  • Forever 21 "Cat's Meow" Makeup Train Case | Yeah...I'm a crazy cat lady, and I want the world to know.
  • Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish in "Do the Mermaid" | I am a big fan of Deborah Lippmann nail polish. Yeah, they're pricey, but her colors are unrivaled and they last. Her chunky glitter polishes are to die for (one of my faves is "Candy Shop") and this lilac one is EVERYTHING.
  • Tory Burch Eau de Parfum Rollerball | I'm really digging rollerballs as of late. They're such a great way to stash fragrance in your purse or makeup bag without worrying about the bottle breaking or spilling. If you haven't smelled Tory Burch's new fragrance...DO IT. So light and springy!
  • Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Blush in "Pretty Pink" | This color!! I'm obsessed. Plus, it's limited edition so it makes me want it even more.
  • Tarte Fresh Eyes Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover Wipes | I'm very curious about these. I've used makeup remover wipes to remove regular eye makeup, but none of them are strong enough to remove waterproof mascara. And we all know how I feel about Tarte products (strongly...I feel strongly about them).
  • Kat Von D Monarch Eyeshadow Palette | I'm always on the quest for the best eyeshadow palette and as a "warm toned" gal...HOLY MOTHER this is a perfect array of shades! I mean, just LOOK at the colors. I'm going to faint.
  • Sephora Collection "Shades of Samba" Eyeliners | I am dying to get my hands on these bad boys. They're supposed to be comparable to my favorite Nars Larger than Life liners (which are almost $30 a pop). There are some extremely fun colors in here, but if you try them and hate them, at least there is a black, a brown and a silver in the set.

April 21, 2014

Unconventional Makeup Storage Ideas

Unconventional Makeup Storage Ideas

Does anyone else have kind of a "makeup explosion" decor theme going on in their bathroom? I can't be the only one. My poor husband is forced get ready for work and bed in a space that looks like it should be featured on "Hoarders: Beauty Product Edition". Don't feel too bad for the guy...he gets me back by leaving his freshly shaved whiskers ALL over his sink. Can a sister get a collective "UGH" here??

In my attempt to think outside the box in terms of organization and cleanliness, I came up with all sorts of groovy ideas for keeping things contained while also staying chic and unique (whoa...that rhymed and would be a killer name for a trashy beauty salon *jots down on notepad*). Some of these are pretty self-explanatory as to what you could fill them with, but if you're scratching your noggins as to what the HELL could be put inside, I'll leave some notes below....peep this, y'all!

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1 | This would look so cute filled with cotton balls or q-tips, right? Right. 
2 | Obvi you would use the handy chalk to write things like "lipliners", "eyeliners", "lipgloss", etc. instead of "forks", "knives", etc. You get the picture.
3 | This neat retro-esque divider could either be placed on its side, mounted on the wall OR facing upwards and filled with brushes, lipglosses, liners, etc.
4 | Okay, this one could be really cute. This shelf comes with little silver hooks that you can hang mugs from. If you chose a bunch of mismatched (or matched...whatever gets you goin') mugs from the hooks (make sure they're deep enough so your makeup doesn't fall out) then you could fill the mugs with lipsticks, eyeshadows, glosses, etc. Bonus! You have a fun little shelf you can put cute containers on and fill with even MORE makeup! And a cute little towel to dry your freshly washed face on would be "totes adorbs".
5 | Self explanatory. Fill with whatevs.
6 | How funky is this copper organizer? Again, fill with brushes, liners, anything slim enough to fit.
7 | I love love LOVE this artist's brush stand for makeup brushes! I mean, c'mon!! How cool would it be to have all your brushes displayed in an upright tiered stand?! And it would be super sanitary since your bristles would be facing upwards. Can you dig it?
8 | I just love these colored cups from Ikea. $2 a pop. I thought they'd be really amazing on a tiered lazy susan (such as #13). Fill with liners, cotton balls, eyeliners, mascaras, etc.
9 | This kind of "industrial kitchen" organizer would be great for brushes, liners, single shadows, and cotton products.
10 | Again, just a pretty way to display cosmetics and brushes. These are actually margarita tumblers. If all else fails, just dump out your makeup, fill with tequila and BOOM! You're well on your way to a party!
11 | This one may be one of my faves. I just love the look of this reclaimed wood organizer. It's meant to be a flatware caddy, but how cool would it look with all your makeup brushes sticking out of it? I love this.
12 | This is clearly for a drawer, but a traditional flatware organizer is a great way to keep your makeup sectioned off and tidy. 
13 | Lazy Susan! You can find these in metal, wood (my fave), mesh, porcelain, etc. They are a great way to display little cups and containers and be able to swivel it around to find what you need. Plus, the tiers offer much needed counter space.
14 | This is another really cool artist brush holder that would be perfection for makeup brushes OR lipliners, eyeliners, lipglosses, roll-on perfumes, etc.

Just in time for Spring Cleaning! Now get thee to all of your respective bathrooms and makeup vanities and get yo self or-ga-nized!

April 17, 2014

How I Lost the 60 Pounds I gained During Pregnancy | A "Non"Celebrity's Journey of Postpartum Weightloss

I gained almost 60 pounds during my pregnancy. I'm 5'8 and had an almost 10 pound baby, but still...60 pounds is a lot of extra weight no matter how tall you are. First and second trimesters were pretty textbook and I was able to keep my cravings under control. Once third trimester hit (around the holidays...um...what?!) I allowed myself to eat every single Christmas cookie in sight (amongst other things). I was one of those women who really enjoyed being pregnant. Did I have moments of utter and complete exhaustion and times when I was so uncomfortable I wanted to punch my husband in the throat towards the end? Sure, you betcha. But for the most part, I loved it and I miss it and I'm excited for my next pregnancy (hopefully come Fall). I can only hope and pray I will be as blessed the second time around as I was the first.

 This is me on the day I went into labor. All 209 pounds of me. Almost 42 weeks pregnant. I LOVE and miss that giant belly.

That being said, when my beautiful and healthy baby boy was born in January of 2013, I was left with what I thought was weight that would quickly melt away from breastfeeding and mild exercise. I was petrified that I wasn't going to produce enough milk for my big baby (boy was I wrong...I was like a dairy cow) so I made sure not to make any drastic changes to my diet as to not deplete my calories, therefore, my milk-producing abilities. However, when the day came that my supply had "regulated" and I knew I was never going to have an issue producing milk, I decided to start thinking about a diet plan and exercise regimen.

**Disclaimer: If any of my male family members, male friends, friends of my husband or anyone resembling any of those aforementioned categories are reading this, let me just take a beat to thank you for your support, however...if you don't want to hear about breasts (specifically my breasts) you may want to stop reading right here, or just skip over the next paragraph and pick up reading right below it. I bid you adieu. If you do choose to keep reading, I commend your bravery and promise to keep it PG-13 and in the humor section.

Back to my new diet and exercise plan...how hard could it be, right? I would just start working out again and limit my daily calorie intake, because that always worked for me before, right? W R O N G. First of all, lemme just get really candid for a second and talk about how hard it is to do high-intensity kick boxing (or anything for that matter) with 2 leaky, heavy, achy fun bags bouncing off my chest. What used to be fun-sized, perky "ladies" had turned into huge, inflated garden orbs of monstrous proportions, threatening to heave up and smack me in the double chin at any given moment. I tried layering sports bras, I tried holding them in place when I did plyometrics, I tried everything short of duct taping them down like a GD tranny, but the fact of the matter was...THEY WOULD NOT BE DENIED. I was walking a fine line of being extremely grateful for the miracle of the human body and my ability to feed my very hungry and growing baby, and wanting to rip my tits off and throw them across the gym. It was an incredibly guilty feeling and a feeling no one really talks about. How do you gracefully complain about not being able to exercise because of your miraculous, food-producing mammaries? It seemed so vain and ungrateful, yet, I was feeling it. That guilt coupled with the fact that limiting my calories wasn't doing anything to assist in me losing any of this weight was enough to make me want to give up. I thought to myself  "it's okay, Colleen...you can just be like the mom from What's Eating Gilbert Grape and everyone is just going to have to accept it". Luckily I woke up the next day in a completely different mindset (that kind of irrational mood changing can happen from hour to hour after you've had a baby....in case anyone was wondering).

 Squishy, doughy me on the left at about 4 weeks post postpartum, and me today on the right, not quite to where I want to be, but well on my way (the only thing I miss from the photos on the left here are my long fingernails, huge boobs and lustrous hair *sigh*)
Then I had my "aha" moment. I knew that I was going to have to do something completely different. Something I hadn't tried before. Something out of my comfort zone. I'll get into that in a moment. But first, I decided to let my body tell me when IT was ready to start a rigorous workout routine. I told myself it was okay to just take it one day at a time and be active everyday without feeling like I had to run 10 miles or complete all the DVDs in the P90X box set. I DRASTICALLY changed my way of thinking in terms of what foods I was putting into my body and more importantly what foods I wasn't putting into my body. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to eat. I am food motivated and I am not ashamed to admit it. I got my sweet tooth from my dad and I was no stranger to indulging it whenever I saw fit (which was....often). I knew that if I wanted to see and feel a change in myself, I was going to need to sacrifice and change bad habits that I had spent the better part of my existence fine-tuning. Habits like wolfing down a pint of Ben & Jerry's a night and eating 3 pieces of cake in one sitting. Habits like finishing a double bacon burger before my husband had even gotten halfway through his. Can I still do these things? Yes, I can. I'm just that awesome. The difference is, I do them verrrrry sparingly these days. I look at sweets and burgers and cake and ice cream as occasional treats, not nightly allowances.

As far as my "diet", I decided I wasn't going to diet. I was not going to count calories. I was simply going to cut out all white (refined) flour and all white (refined) sugar. I cut out ALL preservatives and if I ate anything packaged, it was to have 3 ingredients or less and I had to recognize and be able to pronounce all of them. And the water...I drank ALL the water in the world, every minute of every day, everyday, I was drinking water. I had adopted a "clean eating" lifestyle and was voracious for any information I could find online. Sounds simple enough, but truth be told, cutting out refined sugars, flours and preservatives drastically limits what you can eat. I knew this was going to be the case, so I had to get very creative with my meals so I'd stick with my new lifestyle. But I DID stick with it, I never (EVER) cheated. If I ate out at restaurants, I'd look up the menu online and determine my best choice ahead of time so I wouldn't be tempted to throw down a plate of spicy buffalo wings. If I was going to a family gathering or party, I'd eat a healthy meal before I got there and stick to fruits and veggies if I felt "snacky". After a while, it just became second nature and my body started repaying me, and repaying me quickly. I was definitely onto something. In this case, the simplest answer really was the best answer. Weight started flying off at warp speeds and I felt better than I ever had in my life. I was able to start working out again at high intensities as well as start running again and enjoying it (which hasn't happened since high school).
 Sorry for the blurry pic on the right up here, wonky iPhone camera probably had baby spit on the lense.

I gave myself a goal of 1 year to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 155lbs which would have been around this time now. I met my goal about 4 months faster than I planned. I have let up a bit on the "no exceptions" strict guidelines for eating and have allowed myself my fair share of indulgences since meeting my goal weight, but the great thing is, I now know how to control myself. Treats actually feel like treats. For the past two and a half months, I have been incorporating Zumba and MixxedFit classes about 4 times a week and I have surpassed my pre-pregnancy weight by 8 pounds. I am now aiming for my wedding day weight of 140 and know I can blast these last 7 pounds if I continue with my very active lifestyle. Honestly, the number on the scale isn't as important to me as it used to be (something I've struggled with since I was old enough to care) and now it's mostly about how I feel. Whenever I'm feeling "scale obsessed" I make my husband hide it somewhere until my bat-shit-crazy moment has passed and I can be trusted to focus on things that actually matter in life. I'm not exactly where I want to be yet in terms of muscle definition, but I know I will get there if I keep pushing myself.

The main point of this post is...losing baby weight (or any weight for that matter) is hard work. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. There is no quick fix (unless you want all your weight to come flooding back). I commend anyone who is navigating these waters while simultaneously taking care of a new baby which is even harder work. Maybe you're a new mom and this is the first time you've ever had to think about weight loss, maybe you're a mom of 4 who are already grown and out of the house, maybe you're not a mom and you just want to take better care of yourself. The point is, listen to your body. Be HONEST with yourself. There are some times you are going to need very tough love from people who know you are capable of pushing yourself harder, and there are some times you are going to need someone to tell you it is okay to go easy on yourself and cut yourself some slack. Find that support system. Build it up wisely and then USE it. Hopefully my gritty (and at times, unpleasant) weight loss story can help inspire at least one person to get started on a new healthy lifestyle. If anyone has questions, feel free to leave me a comment below (I read them all) or you can reach me via the "contact me" tab in my side bar.

April 15, 2014

Top 10 Self Tanners

Top 10 Self Tanners

We've been blessed with a few really pretty days here in Washington. That's cause for celebration around these parts. We usually get one nice day and then we're punished for it for the next week with rain, wind and chilly temps. All this Springy weather has me thinking about tank tops, sun dresses and shorts which means it is time to get rid of that pasty skin! In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with milky white complexions. In fact, I'm a BIG fan of pale skin. However, I have had PLENTY of experience with my share of self-tanner (or sunless tanner). Here are my top 10 favorite formulas!

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1 | Toma's Tan Self Tanning Airbrush Spray I first learned about this sunless tanner from one of my favorite beauty blogs Maskcara. I decided to give it a whirl as I'm always on the lookout for a good "spray" tanner. So glad I did. Great color, no streaking and fool-proof application.
2 | Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Sunless Tanning Creme Lotion This is an awesome drugstore self-tanner. It's a really creamy lotion that applies like a dream. The color is surprisingly brown, not orange and it's super moisturizing which is fantastic for dry skin!
3 | TanTowel Self-Tan Towelette Classic I discovered these portable little tan towels when I was working at Nordstrom. I was kind of skeptical as I've never applied self-tanner this way, but I LOVED how quickly they dried and the color was so pretty! These are a great option if you want to apply self-tanner and you don't have a ton of time to walk around your house in the buff waiting for your lotion to dry.
4 | Lorac selfTANtalizer Body Bronzing Gradual Self Tanner I love this guy. It's unique in that it is a body makeup that gives an immediate bronze glow that won't rub off, and it's a gradual self-tanner that develops over time PLUS it comes with a handy mit so that you don't get orange palms. Bonus!
5 | Tanwise Dark Bronzing Mousse If you haven't tried a mousse formula, I urge you to give it a shot. For some reason, I was worried a mousse would be extra-streaky, but it was quite the opposite. I was able to get an extremely even application and this mousse, similar to the TanTowels dries VERY quickly. You have to work a bit quicker when applying, but you're able to get dressed faster also. The color on this is a very deep, rich brown. No orange at all. Great for slightly deeper skin tones.
6 | Bain de Soleil Mega Tan Sunscreen Lotion With Self Tanner Ban de Soleil has been around for-ev-er. They were the first self-tanner I ever used (back in junior high) and they have really gotten their color down pat over the years. One of the most believable tans in a bottle you can get. The Mega Tan has a sunscreen in it (only SPF 4 so don't rely on this as your primary sunscreen).
7 | Guerlain Terracotta Spray SPF 10 This spray isn't actually a self-tanner, but rather an instant bronze. It's pricey but it's the Mercedes of instant bronzers. Guerlain is known for their bronzers and this spray is no exception. This formula comes out of the can SO fine it is virtually impossible to make a mistake. This is an awesome little "secret weapon" to have on hand for those times you need a quick bronze but don't have time to apply a self-tanner and wait the 4-6 hours for the color to develop. JLo has even been rumored to be a fan of this particular bronzer! You can spray it directly onto your collarbone, chest, arms, legs, etc.
8 | Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel Here's another one I discovered while working at Nordstrom. Clarins has some of the most beautiful sunless tanners out there. Period. This gel-consistency applies sooooo smoothly and dries very quickly. The result is skin that looks like you just got back from vacationing in St. Thomas! One of my fave products. Also try out their Delicious Self Tanning Cream. It smells like cocoa so not only does your skin look incredible, it smells good enough to eat!
9 | Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad Same concept as the TanTowel, only this one by Dr. Dennis Gross is meant specifically for your face. It's the first anti-aging and exfoliating facial self-tanner with vitamin D. So not only will you have a bronzed face, you will also be transforming dull texture into brighter, glowing skin!
10 | Tarte Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Face & Body Self Tanner Oh Tarte! You've done it again! They can seriously do no wrong in my eyes. Every single product that I've used of Tarte's I'm instantly a fan of. This self-tanner is UH-mazing. It contains their signature Maracuja oil which is one of the most moisturizing oils out there. Lastly? It contains their proprietary PUREshield scent control technology which keeps that pesky "self-tanner smell" to an almost undetectable level.

There you have it! Which self-tanner is your favorite? I'm always looking for new ones to try so if you have one you love that's not listed above, toss it in the comments!

April 11, 2014

How to Wear Pastel Makeup

How to Wear Pastel Makeup

They're baaaaaack! Let me paint you a pretty pastel mental picture (see what I did there?) Imagine if you will, a young, orange-haired girl of 12, sitting in her room, listening to her Alanis Morissette, Oasis, Spice Girls, Jewel, Aaliyah, Puff Daddy, Smashing Pumpkins....(I could go on forever, really), painting each one of her fingernails a different pastel shade, and picturing her wedding where each one of her bridesmaids would be wearing her own unique shade of pastel pink, blue, green, yellow (respectively) and carrying a bouquet of pastel flowers. This young pastel-obsessed pre-teen was none other than yours truly. I was elbow deep in Delia's catalogs and was probably wearing a pair of chunky heeled jelly sandals NOT ironically...they were the coolest back then. Trust.

My point? Well, there are a couple. 1) I really miss those days 2) I'm SO making myself a 1996/1997 playlist and 3) PASTELS ARE BACK! 

I know there are plenty of folks who look at all the jellybean-esque hued makeup products and cringe. I have to admit, some of it is pretty intimidating (hello, mint green lipstick?!) and while some of those bolder choices aren't for everyone, there are ways to incorporate these fun little "tongue in cheek" shades to your Spring beauty routine without looking like the Easter bunny slapped you across the face with a handful of Cadbury Mini Eggs (wait...that actually sounds like something I would really enjoy happening to me).

Here are a few tips to wearing pastel makeup while remaining the chic, independent woman you are *go ahead and high-five the closest female to you*

1 | Add some black liner and/or black mascara and lay down a good lid primer before ANY pastel eyeshadow. The black liner and thick, lush lashes will act as an anchor for your lightly colored lids and the primer will ensure your shadow stays opaque and lasts longer than a few minutes. Sometimes pastel shadows can be a bit sheer and applying a primer first will give you a bit more "pop" without having to layer 57 coats of shadow to get it to show up.

2| Don't be afraid to experiment with different finishes. When most people think of pastels, they think thick, opaque and matte. There are so many more wearable finishes to look out for. Try a sheer lilac blush, a frosty pink gloss or a shimmery blue shadow stick

3 | Incorporate your non-pastel shades! There's no rule saying you can't wear a light pastel shade on the inner-corners of your eyes and a deep cocoa or gunmetal gray on the outer corners or crease. I find that sometimes adding some familiarity to a new trend can really make you feel a bit more comfortable. No need to jump in with both feet! Why not experiment with a new pastel lip color and then wear your "everyday eye" look, or visa versa with a pastel eye and your favorite lipstick or gloss? Play around and find new ways to spice up your everyday routine!

4 | Don't get scared off by crazy hued lipsticks. You know what's cool about robins egg blue lipstick? If you're not comfortable rocking it all by itself (you're not alone here) it can be added over the top of warmer shades to "cool them down" and create your very own shade! Same goes for the mint greens! Lime Crime makes some seriously cool opaque pastel lipsticks and glosses that I personally think look awesome on their own, but why not try playing around and lightly running them over some of your existing lip colors and see what you can come up with?! It's a great way to make old tubes of lipstick new again!

5 | As much as I hate using this "tip" because it is so generic and cheesy, it is true: As with any other makeup trend that comes and goes (and they will ALL come and go...and come and go) wear it with confidence! Whenever I hear someone say to me "I love your neon orange lipstick!" (or whatever crazy thing I have on my face that day) "I wish I could pull it off!" I always reply "You CAN pull it off! If you love it, wear it and don't make any apologies!" As soon as you start second guessing your decisions, others will as well and it's all downhill from there. Just make sure it's something you truly love and don't feel pressured to try just because it's trendy. I promise that just as quickly as a beauty trend comes along, it'll be out the next day and the next will come along. That's why it's fun to play around! You never know, you may stumble on your next "signature look"!

***Note: if you want to check out any of the above products, click HERE for the Polyvore collage with all of the clickable links***

April 7, 2014

False Lashes in a Tube?! Believe it! {Giveaway}

 "Hey, YOU! Wanna win me?? You know you do!" ~L'Oreal False Fiber Lashes

Yesterday I was grabbing a few necessities at Target which inevitably ended up in me grabbing a few non-necessities as well...DAMN YOU, TARGET. The sweet swan song of the beauty aisles get me every time. Surprisingly, I was able to show some great restraint and keep it to a few things I was truly out of or running dangerously low on. One of those things was mascara. I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to branch out a bit and try a new one. I had been curious about this one by L'Oreal Paris for a while now and decided to just go balls to the wall and give it a shot. Anything that touts giving me a "false lash effect" is like a magnet sucking me in. As far as I'm concerned, the fuller and more intense the lashes, the better! The description says "The power of sculpting fibers give you an outrageous, false lash look from any angle with this fiber volumizing mascara by L'Oreal." There are supposed to be little fibers similar to the Younique 3D Fiber mascara, only the little hairy fibers are not a separate step with the L'Oreal variety. They are a part of the mascara formula and are supposed to just attach themselves and bind to your lashes as you apply.

Luckily for y'all, I snapped a few pics to document my experience. I liked this stuff so much I decided I'm going to give a tube away to one of my beautiful readers! Check out my review below and then don't forget to enter via the Rafflecopter box below (make sure you give it time to load, sometimes it can be slow). Good luck!

Here is the packaging...

I think it's important to note: the brush reminded me a lot of my favorite YSL Faux Cils Shocking mascara. It was a bit longer and thinner in shape, but the bristles are almost identical in that they are all pointing in different directions and are very closely spaced. YSL claims this gives you the look of having applied 2 coats of mascara in one sweep, so I'm assuming (since L'Oreal owns YSL) that they were going for the same effect here. Also, I could see tiny little fibers coming off the bristles when I pulled the wand out of the tube which got me all hot and bothered. 

And now I present the before and after....
{before with absolutely nothing on my lashes}
{after with only ONE coat of this stuff and no eyeliner)

Pretty crazy, right? I was worried that I was going to get some of those little hairy fibers in my eyes during the day, but so far I've been wearing it about 5 hours and have had no problems whatsoever! I can't wait to use this stuff with eyeliner and do a couple coats to really pump up the volume!

Okay...so who wants to win a tube?? Enter below via the Rafflecopter box and I will reach out to the winner via email to get shipping info so I can get it out to you! Good luck! Don't forget to share this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter! Whichever (or both) blows your hair back!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
April 4, 2014

How to Tie Scarves {Tutorial Link}

Heyyyyyo! It's Friday! For most people that's cause for celebration. For me, it's an excuse to be lazy and not do my hair. Why? I don't have a reason, but the fact that it's Friday seems as good a reason as any! I've been on an "I'm trying to grow my hair out" kick lately and I've been trying to get creative with my in-between styles (that may be the meat for another post, methinks). In the meantime, I've kind of been loving scarves and head wraps these days. They're super easy, chic and a great way to hide bedhead. I am a big fan of the old fashioned, classic cotton bandanas as pictured above (I have burgundy, red, blue, light pink, green) just make sure you're wearing the reds and blues in neutral gang territory. But in all seriousness, I think they're kind of a funky retro way to play around with accessories and showcase your individuality since there are about a gazillion ways to tie scarves.

I wanted to see if there were any other ways I could tie my scarves that I hadn't already learned over the years and I found the COOLEST website with a booty load of video tutorials. I found about 37 different techniques I want to try, but for the sake of time, I chose one and snapped a couple grainy cell phone pics (sorry) for you to see! My den is ridonkulouosly dark as you can see below so please, focus your peepers on the scarf and try not to notice the crappy photo quality. I chose this style because 1) it's wearable 2) it's unique (LOVE the knots) 3) it's easy to execute 4) it has kind of a cool, ethnic vibe...so...instant street cred. I will say this...it's MUCH easier to work with scarves that aren't really silky. Mine was in the below photo, so I turned it to the "rougher" side and that helped a bit. I will definitely need to grab a few more that are the long rectangular shape as opposed to a giant square shape so I can get a bit more traction and control when twisting and folding and knotting and manipulating...OY VEY. Also! If you're in need of a good arm workout, this one will do it! When I was done with the below style (it took me a couple go-rounds) my arms were squealing like a couple piglets. This is another tutorial for a super cute head scarf that I've seen floating around online for a year or two. And when all else fails and you need some inspiration, good old YouTube never disappoints!

Front view

Side view

Do you have any favorite ways to wear head scarves? Let me know in the comments below! I'd love to see if any of you find a new way using this fave new website I discovered!

April 2, 2014

Why I'll Never Buy Eye Makeup Remover Ever Again

 The "Offender"

Yesterday I made a rookie move. In my defense, I didn't know it was a rookie move until I was {trying} to remove my makeup last night. I'm not sure how many of you have used CoverGirl's new{ish} mascara called "Bombshell" but if you have, you know how insanely, ridiculously difficult it is to remove if you've used side 2 in addition to side 1. Side 1 alone is very easy to remove, but once you "seal" it with side 2, things escalate...quickly. This just baffles me because it is not advertised as a waterproof mascara, so I'm sure there are droves of women out there, unbeknownst to them, shellacking on this second step of mascara, admiring their glossy lashes, unaware of the toil and angst they are going to experience come "wash down time" at night. I say I made a rookie move because I was fully aware of this "sealing" effect that side 2 had, and yesterday, in my attempt to save time, I ONLY used side 2 because I didn't need full lashes, just darkened and slightly natural looking. Well......let me let you in on a little secret: unless you want eyelashes that feel like they've been coated in gloppy, sticky, black tar, DO NOT USE SIDE 2 ALONE. The even stranger thing? Even though my lashes felt like they were permanently coated in glop and were rock hard to the touch, somehow, the mascara still found its way up onto my brow bones! WTH?! It was like some kind of cruel joke.

At this point you might be wondering what the hell my ramblings have to do with this blog title. Hang in there...I'm getting to my point this year.

I washed my face last night using my current routine, and I did something I NEVER do. Like......ever. I was so intimidated by my cement tar eyelashes, I ignored them (I didn't have any other eye makeup on, just the tar mascara). In the words of Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman "Big mistake. Big. Huge." I woke up with what felt like hardened plastic glue across my eyelids. They had stuck together and created this freaky SuperLash (I'm coining that term) that looked like one big, fat, single lash sticking straight out from my eye. I think I audibly gasped. I tried eyemakeup remover, it barely helped. I tried cold cream, it did nothing. Then I remembered reading something online a few weeks ago about using coconut oil to remove makeup. At this point I was desperate. I use coconut oil for all sorts of things so I thought "it couldn't hurt". I scooped out about a teaspoon (I didn't even need that much) and I just used my clean fingers to rub it into my lash area. I kind of "pinched and rolled" my lashes gently between my fingers and then a magical thing happened, I started to see black all around my eyes and my lashes started to feel like lashes again! Then I heard this. I'm not kidding. I kept massaging the coconut oil into my eye area and lashes until I felt it was completely lifted, then I took one of my makeup removing cloths and wiped the entire area completely clean. MY EYES! I could see my eyes again! Free of black tar! It was so simple! The answer was right under my nose the whole time I was just too blind to see! (Get it? Get it?)

So here is my epiphany: I have used just about every single kind of waterproof mascara out there and I have always been able to remove it with an oil based eye makeup remover. Thing is, most of the eye makeup removers I've used (and liked) are pricey and don't last as long as I'd like. If coconut oil could remove THIS crap, which I'm now confident could seal the cement of a new parking lot, it can remove the toughest waterproof mascara out there. Period. This is the kind I use and I adore it. I use it for all kinds of things related to cooking and baking and it is an incredible skin moisturizer and hair conditioning treatment. Now I will be reserving a little jar of it to keep by my bathroom sink for removing eye makeup. No more spending $20 a bottle of eye makeup remover! I'll just go down to my giant tub and replenish my supply!

The Lifesaver(s)

April 1, 2014

MAC Dupes: Get the Look for Less

MAC Dupes: Get the Look for Less

It's been a while since I've done a "Dupes" or "Splurge vs Steal" post...in fact, I believe that was my very first post here on the blog! Although I don't necessarily consider MAC a "splurge" since the price points are pretty affordable, I have found some very convincing products for a fraction of even the MAC price. A lot of these discoveries have been made by me over the past year or so and some even more recent than that! The other exciting thing is, most of the "dupe" items come from retailers that allow you to use coupons OR are on sale for "buy 1, get one 50% off" type deals so you can get even more bang for your buck. Ulta typically always has a $3.50 off a $10 purchase coupon on their website that you can print off or grab the coupon code for (if you're shopping online) and most drugstores have sales or coupons to use on cosmetics. Additionally, if you are going to shop online at Ulta or Sephora, make sure you go through Ebates so that you get some cash back for your shopping efforts! Cha-ching! (Ulta is 4% cash back right now and Sephora is 2.5%, however, last week Sephora was 8% cash back so make sure you check back!)

Okay...now that that's all laid out on the makeup table for ya, here's the fun part!

Pearls - Discover The Best in Health and Fitness, Women's Lifestyle, Dining, Travel, Activities for Kids, Beauty, Fashion, Home Decor, and More

MAC version (Mineralize Eyeshadow Quads {6 pictured}) :: Dupe (Sephora Moonshadow Palettes)
MAC version (MAC eyeshadow) :: Dupe (Hot Singles Eyeshadow)
MAC version (Cremesheen Gloss) :: Dupe (Butter Gloss)
MAC version (Mineralize Blush) :: Dupe (Milani Baked Blush)
It's always nice to have options when we're trying to save money, am I right? There's no reason we can't all stay looking fly when we're crunching pennies! With all the money you save on these items, maybe you can go splurge on a new Spring fragrance! This is the one I've been drooling over in case anyone is wondering...
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