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Products I want to try!

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Here are some products from Sephora.com and MAC that I will hopefully be testing out next time I'm there. I've been reading reviews from around the web as well as MakeupAlley to gauge what might actually be worth the money or not. Here's what I've found:

NVEY Eco Organic Erase: Concealer
This product's reviews seem to be pretty good, the only real complaint being the fact that it originally only came in one shade "neutral", but now it appears to come in "medium" also on the Sephora website. Apparently it is a very smooth-wearing, organic concealer that is anything but cakey. It also contains Vitamin E and a combination of safflower, jojoba, natural antioxidants and organic castor oils. It's exciting because it's organic too! Sephora suggests using this product sparingly as "a little goes a long way". I'm used to this motto as well as this price range (it runs about $30), because my current HG concealer is Amazing Concealer by Amazing Cosmetics.

On10 Lip Balms
Aside from the Sephora website, I can find little/no information on this brand or their products... which makes me all the more curious! Since I have recently realized the practicality of balms vs. gloss, these are really appealing to me because of their cute (I know, I'm a sucker) packaging! It's not all judging a book by it's cover though, because apparently these "rich and efficacious" novelty lip balms will leave your lips moisturized, as well as great smelling and tasting. The balms run about $9-10 for a single, and there are also trios for $16 with three different flavors. Each come in adorably packaged vintage-inspired tins (although there is one in tube format for those who don't like using the pots) in flavors like Dr. Pepper, Schweppes, and Hershey's.

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish
Ok, I am going to admit something pretty big here: I have yet to try out one of MAC's Mineralize Skinfinishes. I know, I know. Obviously, while they were not in stores, I was aching for the day that they would re-release these mineral powders. That day arrived maybe a month ago when the N Collection came out. I have been meaning to go in there just to try out their MSF in Warmed, a bronzer/highlight shade with golden undertones... but I've been holding back from the temptation to dish out the measly $24.50, because I have MAC Vanilla Pigment (golden undertones) and I have my HG Bronzer (Revlon New Complexion - Sun). In my mind, owning these two products relinquishes the need for the MSF in Warmed. So then, the other MSF they released was Light Flush, a shade of highlighting pink. I have a small container of Tony & Tina's Cosmetic (discontinued) in a shade that I would assume is similar. So that is what keeps me from looking at the MSFs. I don't want to go there and buy a color I might already have... I'm being practical, for once. They still draw me in though. Maybe one day.

Have you tried any of these products? Feel free to leave a comment!

Sweaters that are stylish AND affordable!

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Forever 21, normally catering to a younger crowd, has stepped up their winter-into-spring sweater line a bit to reveal higher quality designs and more wearable styles. I've selected four sweaters to showcase today because I feel that they show off the new designs and trends without being overly teenybopper-ish or "cheap" looking.

I recently purchased a sweater similar to these at my local store, and although the material is a blend of acrylic, polyester, and wool... it does not look or feel like something that only cost about $25. Why splurge on something super-trendy? The whole premise behind Forever 21 is to deliver the latest fashion at (almost) dirt cheap prices. These sweater finds happen to not sacrifice quality for price as well. If you are on a tight budget but still want to keep up with the latest trends, these finds should be right up your alley!

The best part about these finds? The prices, of course! The ivory pintucked cardigan and yellow crochet cardigan each retail for only $24.80, the green gathered-sleeve turtleneck is just $19.80, and the fashionable cable knit sweater cardigan (first picture) is $32.80. Unbeatable, right?

"Crisp Spring"

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Another Polyvore.com creation, this time in the form of a crisp white and spring green outfit. I love gold accents so these accessories were really fun to put together too. The white sailor pants look like they would lengthen anyone's legs, and the cute bird ring is to die for! What do you think?

Here's what this Anthropologie-inspired outfit is made of:

SWAV Loves: C.O. Bigelow Lemon Hand Treatment

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It's winter. This statement alone can make most normal/combo skin turn "dry" or "very very dry" in a short amount of time. Forced hot air indoor heating and unpleasantly cold cracking temperatures outside can wreak havoc on skin, we know this. So what do you do when your hands and nails get dry from the cold? Reach for some soothing hand cream, of course!

Wait... stop! Ladies, put down the L'Occitane! Let's be truthful for a second please... the metal container is wasteful... it's hard to get the product out. It doesn't smell that great, at least, not to me it doesn't... and it doesn't soak in that fast; bottom line: this stuff is expensive, thick, and greasy. If you are satisfied with your hand cream, you can stop reading now. If you are looking for something more, please, hear me out.

C.O. Bigelow's Lemon Body Cream is a cult favorite... and with good reason. It smells wonderful, lemony-fresh with a hint of cream: like a fresh lemony dessert. Their Lemon Sugar Body Scrub has won awards from several magazines. C.O. Bigelow must be on to something here! That's why when I tried their Lemon Hand Treatment ($16 for 3oz), I almost instantly fell in love.

The tube claims that it is an "Ultra moisturizing and skin-brightening formula"... now, I don't know how much of that is true, but let me say this -- This stuff is an excellent hand cream. It absorbs very quickly and doesn't feel greasy at all, it is almost like a light lotion. If you suffer from dry cuticles, a dab of this lotion will moisturize them fast. It smells light and pleasant and contains lemon oil/extracts, grape seed oil, and licorice extract. The scent is not overly foodie or strong, so you won't feel weird about applying in public (unlike Burt's Bees Almond Milk Hand Creme or Jaqua's Pink Buttercream Frosting Hand Cream). Try it out!

"Sophisticated & Trendy"

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I created this inspirational set on Polyvore.com, using a theme of black and peach. The high-end/mid-range products blend seamlessly to form a stylish, ladylike, and unique look.

The items featured in this outfit are:
  • Abercrombie & Fitch - Isabel Skinny Jeans
  • Christian Louboutin Pumps
  • Camisole Top featured in Elle Magazine
  • Dior - Gourmette de Dior Yellow Gold Ring
  • Dior - Heart Earrings ($190.)
  • Bag Borrow or Steal - Isabella Fiore "Baroque a Go Go Tula" Tote
  • Jessica Kagen Cushman - Resin Reproduction Scrimshaw "Truly fabulous people never get dressed before lunchtime" Bracelet ($130.)
  • Monsoon Accessorize - Suzy Shrug

"Primary Fascination"

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Thanks to Polyvore.com, the fashion-friendly collage creator, I was able to create this cute inspiration outfit featuring primary colors: yellow, blue, and red.

The outfit consists of:
  • Bebe - Microfiber Puff Cap Sleeve Turtleneck ($49.)
  • Rory Beca - High Waisted Pant with Belt ($299.)
  • Ray Ban - Ray-Ban 2140 NEW Original Wayfarer Sunglasses
  • Jimmy Choo Red Handbag
  • Dior - Dior Addict Plastic Lip Gloss in Electrifying Red 854 ($24.50)
  • Dior - Animal Print and Lambskin Mule ($330.)
  • Dior - Diorette Yellow Gold Ring

Get The Look: Elisha Cuthbert

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Get The Look

Elisha Cuthbert is a Canadian actress most famous for her starring role in the film "The Girl Next Door". She has also appeared on both FHM and Maxim's Top 100 Hottest Women lists, and most recently was ranked #10 by AskMen.com readers for the Top 99 Women of 2007.

How to recreate her look:

  • Always start with a clean slate! Even out your skin tone with a smoothing foundation or some concealer. As you can see, Elisha's skin is radiant and dewy, not cakey or heavy, so use a light hand in applying foundation.
  • Sweep on a shimmery beige or gold shadow over your eyelids, such as Stila shadow in Oasis. Apply a smudged line of matching shadow or liner to your lower lid.
  • Define your brows lightly and apply your highlight (a white shadow, or MAC Vanilla Pigment, which has a nice golden glow) to the center of your eyelid. This will create that bright eyed look that Elisha has in the photo.
  • Finish the eyes with one coat of brown or black mascara to top and bottom lashes. Don't go overboard, as this look shows a very fresh and clean, not heavy, makeup application.
  • If you want to use blush, very lightly apply a peach shade, such as Benefit's Georgia, or Physician's Formula Powder Palette Multi-Colored Blush in Blushing Peach.
  • Use a shimmery highlighter to add a nice glow to your cheek bones, MAC Vanilla Pigment would also be great for this.
  • Lastly, finish off the look with a warm coral or peachy gloss, such as MAC Lipglass in Lychee Luxe or MAC Lip Gelee in Lust is Lush.
Feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions!

Get The Look: Rihanna

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Get The Look

Rihanna is a 19-year-old singer from Barbados. She has sold over 15 million records worldwide, and is well known for her voice as well as her smoldering looks.

How to recreate her look:

  • Always start with a clean slate! Even out your skin tone with a smoothing foundation or some concealer, and top with a little matte powder (MAC Blot is an excellent choice, or NYC's Translucent Powder would work well also).
  • Rihanna's skin tone is naturally bronze and deep, if yours is not, apply bronzer lightly with a Kabuki or face brush to areas where the sun would naturally hit it (the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose). Make sure you blend, as you don't want unnatural streaks or patches of bronzer on your face.
  • Sweep a nice taupe or nude eyeshadow across your eyelids. A lighter nude or white shade should go along your lashline to make your eyes appear larger. You can also use the lighter shade to highlight your brow bone. NYX makes a nice color trio (#3 Nude/Taupe/Dark Brown) that could work for this look. Keep in mind that Rihanna's clean eyebrows frame this look and make sure yours are also well groomed.
  • Next, use a fine liquid black eyeliner to line along your top lashes. If you do not like liquid, you can also use a black gel eyeliner such as MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack. Curl your lashes and apply several coats of black mascara (L'Oreal HIP is a great choice), or you use apply false lashes if you're feeling daring. Line your lower eyelid with a black kohl liner.
  • Lightly(!) apply a deep reddish toned blush to your cheeks. You do not want this color to show up too boldly, but just enough to set off the red in the lipstick you will be wearing. NARS Blush in Mounia is an excellent shade for this. If you are pale, you may want to skip this step all together.
  • Lastly, finish off the look with a nice sweep of brick red lipstick. Clinique's Different Lipstick in Double Fudge would look nice on a darker skin tone, or you could opt for a more subtle red if you are fairer, such as Ripe Raisin.
  • Rihanna's lips in this photo are not too glossy, so there's no need to go overboard with gloss. If your lips feel dry, exfoliate them first and then apply a nice lip balm to smooth them out before putting on the lipstick. If you like to wear lipliner, wear a shade that is identical to your lipstick for this look.
Feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions!

SWAV Loves: Ulta Professional Retractable Kabuki

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Recently, Ulta has come out with a line of "Professional" quality brushes and tools. I suppose this means that their previous line of brushes was not up to a high enough quality standard to compete with professional brushes, such as those by MAC (which are tough to beat, considering their makeup tool line is huge). Anyway, Ulta has decided to give the professional front a go, and so far it seems to be a promising prospect.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the use of a Kabuki brush, they are generally great for applying mineral makeup, powder foundation, and bronzer. They are generally a short, dense but fluffy powder brush that can apply and blend wonderfully. So, when my Sonia Kashuk - Kashuk Tools Travel Kabuki Brush broke on me... (I tried to open it one day like usual and the inner metal came out very loosely... I suppose some Krazy Glue could've fixed it but the hairs started coming out and I just gave up) -- I decided it was time to buy a new brush.

Up until the self-destruction of my Sonia Kashuk... I thought her travel brush was a god-send... and it would be hard to live up to that standard. Regardless, off to Ulta I went, where I stumbled upon their Professional Retractable Kabuki ($30). They had some other professional brand Kabuki options as well, all of which seemed too small, too hard, or too fluffy for my liking. I wanted a really dense semi-big brush.

The Ulta Professional Retractable Kabuki truly fit the bill at first touch. It was larger than my Sonia Kashuk, yet had the same basic principle of a retractable brush in a black tube. The brush was made of hand-tied synthetic and natural bristles which are treated with an anti-microbial formula to resist bacteria build-up. It featured a nice, dense dome of Kabuki goodness and I couldn't wait to get it home to try it out, despite the somewhat-steep $30 price tag. I rationalized this with the fact that smaller, less full brushes like Bare Escentuals Full Coverage Kabuki were selling for $28, and also the fact that I will be using the brush almost every day, so it will pay for itself in a month or two.

So what was the verdict? I LOVE THIS BRUSH. It is fantastic. The fluffy, yet dense bristles are perfect for applying my mineral makeup and bronzer, easily buffing and blending foundation into perfection. It is bigger than my much loved Sonia Kashuk (R.I.P.), and dare I say... BETTER. The only downside, if you want to think of it as one, is that the large size is a bit harder to tote around than a smaller Kabuki. However, since this brush is retractable, your bristles will stay intact and sanitary (well, depending on care of course) in your purse or makeup bag.

If your Kabuki is not performing as well as you'd like it to, or if you are in the market for some new makeup brushes... definitely check out Ulta's selection. Chances are you'll be pleasantly surprised at their quality.

Links Of Interest:

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Nothing to do? Check out these links around the web!

Jewelry Gifts - Angara offers jewelry gifts for all occasions and budgets. Choose from dazzling diamond jewelry to vibrant color gemstone jewelry or design a special jewelry gift.

Like.com - Search visually for shoes, handbags and more.

Contact/PR Information

For product submissions, promotional giveaway ideas, and more, please contact me! I love working with companies to get the word out about a good product.

If you just want to talk beauty, fashion, or celebrities, feel free to email me as well. Chatting with readers is a great way for me to find out reader feedback questions to post.

You can contact me via email at: swavdarling@yahoo.com