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!

 

 

 

 

Fall Purchases 2016

I need new clothes like I need a hole in  my head, so I tried to be reasonable when adding some new fall additions to my closet.  I thought you might like to see some of my purchases and hear about something I am still on the hunt for.

My Fall Purchases

 

Plaid Camp Shirt

I bought this maroon and black plaid camp shirt at Torrid.  It’s extra long which I love.  I also love that it’s not your standard red and black plaid.  I’ve worn it a couple times and it’s really comfy.

My Fall Purchases

I also bought this AMAZING olive green military inspired jacket at Torrid.  I had to go to two different stores to find it, but it was well worth it.  I will admit, I did feel a bit Janet Jackson circa Rhythm Nation, the first time I wore it, but I got over that!  I seriously want to wear it everyday!  Apparently, I am not the only one, because it is currently sold out online.  You may luck out and find one in store.  Definitely worth checking out.

My Fall Purchases

Bow Blouse

I fell in love with this Ruffle Bow Blouse from Eloquii.  It comes in a deep red and a yellow also.  It’s hard to read it in the photo, but the detail on the blouse is awesome.  It’s super girly, yet in black it’s a real statement piece.  You can wear it with jeans or a suit.  Highly recommend this item!

P.S. For those of you who haven’t ordered from Eloquii yet, I always order a size up.  They charge a restocking fee, so I would always rather err on the side of too big rather than too small.

My Fall Purchases

Metallic Patch Jeans

Again, the photo doesn’t do these jeans justice.  They are boyfriend jeans with distressed patches and the patches are lined with metallic gold fabric!  Can you tell I am excited about these?!?!  I bought them on the loose side because they are boyfriend style.  I cannot wait to wear these!

My Fall Purchases

Those of you who follow me on Instagram, have already seen this beauty.  I bought this Plaid Bag at the Kate Spade Outlet in Florida.  I can’t find it online, but you can call an outlet and if they have it in stock they will ship it to you.  I may or may not have bought the matching scarf too!

I’m still on the hunt for the perfect booties, but haven’t found the right price point, style and fit yet.  I know Nordstrom will have what I want, but at a price I probably don’t want to spend!

What did you add to your closet this Fall?  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!

 

MAC Spring Pink Lipsticks

 

This weekend I stopped by Nordstrom to check out a pair of shoes in person.

Halogen Olsen

Halogen Olsen

I was super excited to check them out, because I had been looking at these shoes forever! I debating about buying them for about two months, but knew I needed to try them on before ordering. Sadly, they ended up not being great when I tried them on.

Vince Camuto Campina

Vince Camuto Campina

I did, however,end up falling in love with a pair of booties while there.  After an exhaustive search by Desmond, my shoe sales person, it was not to be.  They were completely sold out of my size in all stores and online.  I was super bummed. (Aren’t the sales people at Nordstrom so nice?  They are always so willing to help).

MAC Spring Lipsticks

Buuuuutttt, the Nordstrom shoe department is across from the makeup department and I had been meaning to check out MAC’s Flamingo Park Collection.  I swatched all the lipsticks in the collection, but most were a bit too bubblegum pink for me and my complexion.  I did, however, like Flocking Fabulous, which I ended up buying.

MAC Flocking Fabulous Lipstick

It’s a bright coral-ly pink (MAC describes as a coral red, but it seems more pink to me). It’s a Cremesheen-Pearl, which I like as a formula.  It’s pretty bright, but not scary bright and it only takes about two swipes to get full color. I’m looking forward to wearing it this week and into Spring.

MAC Flocking Fabulous Lipstick

Somehow, another MAC pink ended up in the Flamingo Park Collection display even though it wasn’t part of the collection.  I ended up loving it and buying it too.  It’s MAC Pink Pearl Pop. I would describe it as a girly, somewhat subtle bright pink.  It’s a pink you want to use on a day you don’t want your lipstick to be “in your face” bright.  I think it’s a pretty wearable color at least for me and my coloring.  It is very sheer on first swipe, takes several swipes to achieve the color shown in my swatch photo.  It is also a Cremesheen-Pearl formula.

Have you tried either of these colors?  Have another fave pink color? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

PS

Don’t want to spend $ on a MAC lipstick? Trust me, I get it! I did a review of NYX Pink lipsticks last year.  Find it here!

 

 

Becca Afterglow Palette

 

I was super excited to get my hands on this Becca Afterglow Palette!  It is my first Becca purchase and I chose it because it is a palette with their best selling shades. The palette includes three shimmering highlights and two mineral blush shades.  It made way more sense to buy this palette than the individual colors.  Plus I was looking for a Rose Gold highlight to try and one is included in this palette.

Becca Afterglow Review

Shades from left to right: Moonstone, Rose Gold, Topaz, Wild Honey, and Flower Child.  Brushes from Sephora.

Pros

I’ve been using this palette in the last few weeks to combat my winter paleness. First off, I love the packaging.  It is compact and has a mirror and fits easily in your hand.  Super easy to pack when traveling too.

I wasn’t sure I was going to love all the colors, but they go on very sheer and are buildable.  I have stuck with the lighter shades so far, but that’s just my personal preference.  I could definitely wear the slightly darker shades too.  The formula is very light and smooth. The only one that is a bit hard to blend is the lightest shade, Moonstone.  I have to add as always, that I have dry skin, so that may be why I found it a bit stubborn.  It wasn’t an issue though, because it is so sheer.

Also, the Wild Honey shade makes a great contour for your jawline.  Love it!

Cons

The palette pans are a bit small.  If you are looking for a ton of product, you may not be happy with these.  They are also close together, so depending on the brush you use, you may end up with a bit of color mixture.

While I consider the sheerness of the shades a plus, if you are looking for a lot of color, I don’t think you will like these. I tend to apply any blush/highlight product with a very light hand whenever possible, so for me not an issue.

Overall, I like this palette and am glad I bought it.  I believe it is only available at Ulta.

Have you tried any Becca products? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

 

 

Micellar Water

What the heck is Micellar Water?  Micellar water is made up of micelles (tiny molecules of cleansing oil) suspended in water.  The micelles are attracted to dirt and draw out impurities without drying out skin.  It looks like water or toner maybe, but when you feel it, it has a different texture than water.  It is used for removing makeup including eye makeup.    There are tons of brands out there right now.  Simple, Garnier, Bioderma, LaRoche-Posay, Perricone all make a version.  My skin type is dry and very sensitive.  I did my research on micellar water solely on my skin type, so if you have a different situation, research first.

I read about it and decided I wanted to try it.  The problem was I decided to try it the night the big snowstorm started, so I had to pick one sold at the drugstore a few blocks from my house!  I went with Garnier.  It was a bigger bottle for around the same price as Simple, so it was the winner.  I linked below to the one I bought.

Micellar Water Review

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water

I’ve been using the micellar water to remove my makeup before I go to bed ever since I bought it. I haven’t been using anything else to clean my skin.  It really could not be easier to use.  I shake the bottle up, because it’s a cleansing oil/water mix, it needs shaken.  And then take either a cotton ball or a cotton puff, soak up some water and wipe my face.  I use 2-3 cotton puffs, one for forehead/eyes, one for left/right side of face, and then chin/neck.

I love how my skin feels after using this product!  It feels soft, but not oily or greasy at all.  Just soft.  It doesn’t have any smell, which I like.  My skin feels really clean and I can physically see my makeup being removed from my face as I use it.  I think if you had heavy eye makeup on, you would probably need to use an eye makeup remover too, but I rarely wear super heavy makeup during the work week.

It’s a really simple way to take your makeup off at night.  Due to my skin sensitivity issues, I am not a big user of harsh scrubbing techniques to clean my skin.  If you are, you may not feel like this is enough “cleaning” for you, but I love it.

I was a little worried about what an oil cleanser was going to do to my skin.  I shouldn’t have been.  I think my winter skin has never looked better.   I have a ton of roughness and redness in the winter and using this product has resulted in a big lessening of that issue.  I am seriously thrilled by how my skin is looking and feeling this winter.

Have you tried micellar water? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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