Essie Gel Couture Review

Essie Gel Couture Review

If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you know I love salon gel nails and nail art.  I wore them for about a year straight and there are a ton of great things about them.  The one thing I hate about them though, is the difficulty in getting the gel polish off without a trip to the salon.

For the last couple weeks, I’ve needed to be able to take my polish off with very little notice.  Since it is difficult to do a last minute appointment via the salon I prefer, and taking gel polish off a home is a giant PITA, I’ve opted to not have my nails done lately.

I looked for an alternative and thought you might be interested in my experiences.  My first try was the Essie Gel Couture system.  It’s a two step process, one being the color gel polish and the second being a clear gel top coat type polish.  The big selling point for me was that you are able to take the polish off with regular nail polish remover.

Since my nails were pretty beat up after stopping my salon gel, I opted for a pale pink color.  The consistency of the polish was pretty streaky for the first coat.  I actually had to do 3 coats to get a solid color and it showed every bump in my nails.  The brush is a bit larger than I was used to and is rounded, which some feel makes it easier to apply with. I personally found I needed a couple minutes to get used to the brush.

I thought the 2nd step might smooth out the polish a bit and it did to a certain extent.  I applied one coat of the clear gel like topcoat. No light is needed to cure the gel.

It dried fairly quickly considering I had to put on 3 coats of color, plus a top coat. I couldn’t wait to see how long it lasted.

I painted my nails on Sunday and this is what they looked like on Wednesday with very little abuse.  I am pretty easy on my nails in general and these absolutely did not hold up.  By Tuesday, I was noticing wear on my first two fingers on my left (non dominant) hand and as you can see, but Wednesday they were chipping.  You could also see every bump or knick in my nail bed through the polish.

Essie Gel Couture Review

I left the polish on til Friday just to see if they got worse.  It stayed about the same, but of course, my nails started shredding where the polish had worn off.

The polish did come off really easily with regular non-acetone nail polish remover.

Overall, I wouldn’t spend the almost $25 to buy both steps (each bottle is about $11.50 on average).  I had much better results with my Shellac Hack method I explained previously here.

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried Essie Gel Couture and how it worked for you in the comments!

 

Best Dry Shampoos

I know a ton of you are dry shampoo addicts like I am, but there are still some of you who don’t get it.  Why do I use it?  For one thing, I spend a decent amount of money on my hair color and the less I wash it, the better my color holds.  It saves my hair from blow drying too. My hair is overall healthier since I stopped washing it every day.  Secondly, I like to sleep.  To be honest, sleeping in longer is probably my biggest motivator in using dry shampoo.  I still shower daily, I just don’t wash my hair.  I’m lazy, not disgusting!

Thirdly, sometimes, it’s just too much to do my hair from start to finish.  I am sure that sounds ridiculous to some of you, but sometimes I am just not in the mood to start the process of styling my hair from wet head to finished product. I just don’t always have that much time, especially in the morning.  I wasn’t blessed with the kind of hair that can air dry or even just get blown dry and be presentable, so it’s the whole she bang every time.   And lastly, I like my hair better with some texture to it.  There’s no frizz, it holds curl better, its smoother if I want to straighten it, just overall easier to style on day two or three, than day one.

I don’t know about you, but I love using dry shampoo!  Prior to it becoming available everywhere, I used baby powder and I have to say, I didn’t love the smell.  It’s great on a baby, but not so much in your hair.  Plus it was super messy and ended up everywhere.

Fast forward to the era of dry shampoo, I’ve used a ton of different brands and now feel I’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best.  Without further ado, here are the best dry shampoos!

Best Dry Shampoos

Buy Batiste Dry Shampoo Here

I mentioned this one as a fave product before, Batiste Dry Shampoo.  It’s easily applied, available everywhere (Amazon, Ulta).  Comes in many different scents and has special versions for brunettes and blondes.  I like the tropical and the original clean and classic scents, but over Christmas, I bought a trio of travel mini’s that are all different scents, so I might end up with a new fave.

How do I use it? I shake the bottle, spray a couple squirts into my part and underneath my layers  and let sit while I do my makeup.  I usually come back to it after I apply my foundation and brush it through a bit (depending on how I am styling my hair that day) and hit it with the blow dryer and a round brush.  It honestly looks like I had a blow out after.  Then, I style as usual.  If I am in a huge hurry to run out the door, I spritz my part and sides and underneath, fluff a bit and head out.  Super easy to use, smells good.  Can’t go wrong with this one.

 

Best Dry ShampoosBuy Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Here

I went from using baby powder to Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo originally.  I still love it and use it off and on.  It’s a powder formula with a narrow tip on the bottle, which allows you to flip through your layers and squirt the powder on your roots.  You then need to massage it lightly into your scalp.  It immediately makes your hair get a ton of texture and I think it is best used on pretty dirty hair.  I usually recommend this stuff to people who work out and don’t want to wash their hair in between.  It’s more absorbing than Batiste due to its consistency.  You can buy Oscar Blandi at Sephora or Amazon.

It has an okay smell, not offensive, not my fave, but definitely better than baby shampoo.  It’s super easy to transport in your travel bag or purse.  I would think it might be hard to use if you had dark hair, but since I don’t have dark hair, I can’t confirm.  It does help with dark roots though by lightening them a bit, which is a plus over Batiste. One huge pro is that while small, the bottle lasts forever!  A solid choice if you prefer a powder consistency in your dry shampoo.

Best Dry Shampoos

Buy Dry Bar’s Extend Your Blowout Kit Here

Tons of people love the scent of Dry Bar’s dry shampoo.  I personally do not and found it a bit overwhelming to use in the morning.  It was super strong to me at least.  If the scent doesn’t bother you, it works pretty much the same as Batiste, it’s just more expensive.  I used it the same way I did Batiste as described above.  I don’t usually recommend this one, but I know many people who swear by it.

When I bought my Dry Bar shampoo, it came with a sample of their Detox Dry Conditioner (see kit above).  I honestly thought dry conditioner seemed like a gimmick and wasn’t even going to try it, but I did and loved it!

If you are a regular dry shampoo user, you will know what I am saying, when I say sometimes, if you dry shampoo several days in a row, your hair tends to feel a bit tangled and weirdly textured.  Spray some of this Detox Dry Conditioner on your ends and it is gone.  It is amazing how it completely changes your texture.  It helped me detangle and smoothed out my ends and overall I loved how my hair felt.  I’m still using my sample and am debating whether I would buy it again.  I don’t use it often for one.  If I had longer hair, it would be a resounding YES, but since mine is mid-length, I can’t really make a strong case for needing it.   Would definitely recommend for those with long hair!   also recommend buying a Dry Bar Kit, like I have shown above, to try out a couple of their products since they are more expensive.  You can find Dry Bar products at Sephora or Amazon.

Do you agree with my picks for Best Dry Shampoo? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Best Christmas Nail Art

I love to go crazy with my nails for Christmas and thought you might want to see some nail art I’ve sported last and this year!  All nail art on my nails was done at Dallas Beauty Lounge in Pittsburgh, PA.  My very favorite place to get nail art!  I’ve never brought in an idea that they couldn’t create and make even better!

 

Christmas Nail Art

I went in to last my nail appointment all set to get these and ended up getting something different at the last minute.  These are still in the running for my final appointment before Christmas.  Originally found here.

 

Salty Blonde Blog

 

These snowflake nails are what I ended up with at my last appointment.  I love them!  Super subtle ode to the season that’s easy to wear everyday!  Nail art by Kalynn at Dallas Beauty Lounge in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Salty Blonde Blog

These whimsical ornament/snow globe nails were some of my faves from last year.  I came in with a couple of different ideas and Kate from Dallas Beauty Lounge combined them into these!

Salty Blonde Blog

These chalkboard nails were so adorable in person!  Kate from Dallas Beauty Lounge did a fantastic job in creating these for me!

I need your help in deciding what to get for my last appointment before Christmas!  The first idea is at the top of this post and here’s a couple more.  As usual, I pulled these ideas from Instagram.  Give me a follow here.  Let me know in the comments which you think I should get!

Salty Blonde Blog

These are a strong contender!  I love the Christmas tree on top of the car image in general, so to see it recreated on nails made me squee!  Nail art by Sierrasnails via Instagram.

Salty Blonde Blog

This gorgeous Christmas tree caught my eye on Instagram.  I love the impact of it on one nail versus having a bunch of images on various nails.  Would be lovely with hunter green nails too.  Nail art by Sierrasnails via Instagram.

Salty Blonde Blog

This Starbucks cup inspired art by Nailstorming is reminiscent of my own ornament nail art, but I like the simplicity of this being just red and white.  Nail art by Nailstorming via Instagram.

Salty Blonde Blog

I love these teeny tiny Christmas trees and I think paired with tiny candy canes would be really cute!  I am super into the teeny tiny designs, so this could be a winner.  Nail art by Minipolishh via Instagram.

Which one do you think I should pick?  Let me know in the comments !

 

 

 

Gift Guide for the Makeup Addict

Do you have any makeup addicts on your list this year, but you don’t want to add to their stash?  It can be hard to know what they already have! If this is your situation, then this is the list for you!

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

This mug made me actually laugh out loud.  The perfect gift for your eyebrow chick! Find it here.

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

The perfect addition to your makeup loving friend’s apartment.  This lipstick throw pillow is adorable!  Buy it here.

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

This little thing is highly coveted in the makeup world.  It’s a silicon makeup applicator from Molly Cosmetics called the SiliSponge.  If you score one of these, you are definitely going to be the hero of Christmas (FYI-they are majorly back ordered).  It’s the newest foundation applicator out there and is reported to be better than the beauty blender.  It doesn’t waste makeup, allows you to see your face while you use it and can be cleaned with soap and water.  Find info on  how to order it here.

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

I don’t know what rock I was living under, but I missed when this makeup brush cleaning machine launched.  It’s basically a dishwasher for your brushes.  It’s not like cleaning your brushes is that difficult, it’s just something you tend to forget to do.  Find it on Amazon here.

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

Oval makeup brushes are all the rage on the makeup blogs, so get your makeup addict in on the action!  These are mid-priced brushes, but you can find prices all over the board, so check out the choices.  I do not own these particular brushes, but they have pretty decent reviews.  Find them here.

 

Makeup Addict Gift GuideYou can never have too many makeup bags with cute sayings and the internet is full of them!  Find this one here.

 

Makeup Addict Gift GuideThey may not sleep with their makeup on, but they will sleep on their makeup with these adorable lash pillowcases! Buy them here.

Makeup Addict Gift GuideHow perfect is this lipstick ornament?   Someone more talented than I could DIY this, but if like me, you aren’t artistic, you can buy one from the Glam Studio Shop on Etsy here.

Makeup Addict Gift Guide

 

There are tons of funny makeup oriented tshirts out there at all price points.  This one definitely applies to me and nude lipsticks!  Get it here.

I wouldn’t be sad to find any of these under my own tree!  Which one is your fave? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Sephora VIB Sale Wish List

I am not sure what rock I was hiding under last year, but I didn’t find out about the special Sephora VIB member sale until after it was happening.  It’s a 20% off sale on everything at Sephora for two weekends in November and then again in the Spring.  Access (and which weekend you can shop on) depends on how much you spend at Sephora and which level you have reached. Unfortunately, Beauty Insiders are not eligible for the sale.

Monday is the last day for the Sephora VIB 20% off sale. If you haven’t already made your purchases, you still have time to get to the store or buy online.  I tried to be reasonable in my wish list because I already have quite the makeup stash (aka hoard), but that 20% off gets me every time!

First on my list is the Drunk Elephant AHA set

Drunk Elephant SetDrunk Elephant AHA Set

I’ve been looking to up my skin care game and I was debating between this brand and Sunday Riley.  I haven’t tried any Drunk Elephant products, but I have read rave reviews and I thought the gift set might be a good way to try a variety. I ultimately went with this brand over the other based on this mix of products being more what I was looking for.  You won’t go wrong with Sunday Riley either.  Neither is cheap, so the 20% off helps.

 

tarte paletteTartelette Palette

I actually own this Tarte Palette already.  It’s the original Tartelette Palette and has the matte shadows.  I use it pretty much every day.  I’m not ready for a new one yet, but I would highly recommend picking it up during the sale if you don’t already own.

Urban Decay All Nighter

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

I have lots of make up junkie friends who swear by this Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray and by the fact that my local Sephora only had two left, I think they are right!  Made to set your makeup, I think it’s something I wouldn’t normally buy, but on sale, I am intrigued.

 

naked-palette

Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics

I don’t own this palette (yet) and to be honest I don’t usually love Naked palettes.  I know, kick me out of the makeup gang, but they usually are way too glittery for me.  This one is different though, it has soft matte colors.  It’s basically every color I would pick if I made my own palette.

tory-burch

Tory Burch Fragrance

I really like this Tory Burch fragrance, but it is very expensive.  It does come in a roller ball version for less than $30 if you are cheap like me!

Did you shop the VIB sale?  What did you buy? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

 

 

Fave Nude Lipsticks

I am always on the look out for great new lipstick shades that are your lips, but better.  My natural lip color is death warmed over, so it is more a normal person’s lip shade, but better!

Best Nude Lipsticks

In my searches, I’ve found three that are my faves!

Fave nude lipsticks

From left to right: MAC’s Half n Half, Bobbi Brown’s Blondie Pink and MAC’s Modesty.

MAC’s Half n Half is a old fave, that I newly rediscovered.   It looks great alone or over MAC’s Spice lip liner.  It has my favorite consistency of the three, very smooth and smells vanilla-ey!

Bobbi Brown’s Blondie Pink is the one I get the most compliments on.  It is sheer and I love to wear it on the weekends!

MAC’s Modesty is slightly darker than Half n Half and I usually wear it without a lip liner, but that is due to laziness!

Fave nude lipstick swatches

From top to bottom: Blondie Pink, Modesty, Half n Half

I am always on the look out for new nude shades, I’d love it if you would share your faves with me in the comments!

 

What is Microblading?

Have you been hearing the term microblading?  It’s the latest beauty craze and all over Instagram (#browsonfleek) and beauty blogs.  I thought you might want to get the 411 on what it is, how it works and does it hurt?

Microblading is a semi permanent form similar to tattooing.  It is mainly used on eyebrows and the technique is able to recreate the look of feathery hair strokes.  It is manually done using a very fine blade to deposit pigment into the upper levels of the epidermis.

Because the color is deposited closer to the surface of your skin, it appears crisper and finer than a traditional tattoo.  Your initial appointment takes about two hours and requires a touch up appointment about 4-6 weeks later.

It won’t last as long as a traditional tattoo and I think that’s a good thing!  Faces change and so do eyebrow trends.  You don’t want to be stuck with the same brows forever!  For most people, it lasts from 1-2 years, with yearly touchups.  It fades out naturally over time.

It truly is an art and involves your practitioner measuring and drawing your brows on prior to beginning the procedure.  You want to make sure your brows look good from every angle, not just straight on and that takes time.  I would recommend taking selfies from different angles after they are drawn on to make sure you love them.

Picking a practitioner is the most important part! You want to look at their work and check how it has healed.  I would advise reaching out to some of their clients to ask them about their experience.  It is your face after all!  Check out their procedure room and hygienic practices.  Ask them questions! Do your research first!  You have to find the most experienced person who delivers the results you want.

My first question was, how bad does it hurt?  I’ve heard differing opinions.  Numbing cream is used and I am sure it just depends on your pain threshold.  Comments ranged from it’s like waxing to I thought I was dying, so I would say it’s probably tolerable to most people.  There is some scabbing, similar to tattooing.

I have to give a caveat here and say I have not personally had this procedure done.  I have been checking out people’s results and they are spectacular, but I don’t think it’s for me just based on my personal healing/scarring record.  My skin tends not to heal well and I wouldn’t want to risk my face.  (that’s just me, don’t let me scare you, make your own conclusions please! I am not a medical professional.)

It is a lifesaver for people who struggle without brows.  They really do change your entire face.  I think it’s an amazing alternative to permanent tattooing since you can change and tweak it as your face and styles change.  It’s also a great option for those with scars or missing parts of their brows.  Many people have bald spots from old brow rings or overplucking in their youth (or the 80’s).  Everyone I’ve talked to who has had it done, said “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”

So how about you? Have your tried it or will you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!