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Comparing cosmetic primers.

What’s the best primer for you?

Over the last few months, I have been testing several different primers under my daily makeup to see which one I like best.

Primers seem to be all the rage, given that basically every cosmetic brand has one – but how are we supposed to know what’s going to work for us? Because I have a Birchbox subscription, I have been able to sample three great options that I’m going to share with you here, today!

But first, what the heck IS a primer? The Huffington Post offered a great, simple explanation: Makeup primer is a base for foundation or face makeup that allows it to go on smoother and last longer.

Primer can come in the form of sprays, gels, creams, and even powder. While most users apply primer prior to applying tinted moisturizer, concealer, and/or foundation, it can also be worn alone.

I have been applying my primer after my moisturizer, but before my concealer and foundation, which seems to work. The three primers I want to share with you today are all creams and gels. Personally, I’m not sure I’d trust a spray or powder primer.

Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer – Sephora Collection

Smoothing primer.

According to Sephora.com, this is a makeup primer that perfects the appearance of skin and prolongs the wear of foundation. This primer softens the appearance of imperfections, prolongs the wear of your foundation, and keeps you looking flawless longer.

Infused with hydrating ceramides, this formula moisturizes and smooths, while protecting with antioxidant-rich vitamins E and A.

This product is not tested on animals, and does not contain parabens. This primer can be used on the eyes to smooth and enhance wear of eyeshadow.

This product is dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, and comes in an airless pump bottle for freshness.

This is the primer I’m currently using, and I really like it. It goes on very smooth, and leaves a matte look that feels very soft and light on my skin. It’s clear, so you don’t have to worry about which shade to choose.

$29.99 for .5 ounces 

Prime Time – Bare Minerals 

Prime Time!

According to Ulta.com, this primer helps to combat enlarged pores. Uneven texture. Flaky dryness. We’ve all had complexion problems. That’s why we created Prime Time, which prepares your skin for seamless coverage with bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation. Apply it first for the smooth, evenly textured complexion you’ve been waiting for.

Benefits:

Combats rough patches, flaky dryness, fine lines, excess oil, uneven texture and enlarged pores so that your foundation goes on flawlessly.

Extends the wear of your foundation, keeping you looking fresh for longer.

Soothes and nourishes with plant extracts, antioxidants and vitamins C and E.

Free of preservatives and irritants so that your skin feels great.

Silky formula glides on without any stickiness.

For Christmas, I got a sample pack of Bare Minerals makeup – I’d never tried it before and the kit contained this primer, the mineral veil foundation, an eyeshadow duo, and a lip gloss. I have quickly come to love all of it!

This primer is very, very similar to the Sephora mentioned above: it’s clear, has a gel-like consistency, and offers a smooth, matte finish. While in some stores, it is a little more pricy than the Sephora brand, it takes about a pea-size drop to cover the entire face, and has a very light feeling.

$19.30 for 1 ounce

Radiant Primer – IPKN New York

Radiant primer.

According to Birchbox.com, great foundation requires, well, a great foundation. This creamy SPF 15 primer creates a smooth, radiant canvas for makeup, refining pores and enhancing skin tone. And thanks to the blend of nourishing fruit extracts and shimmer pearl powder, your skin will glow whether you’re wearing this under foundation or under nothing at all.

This was the first primer that I tried and I loved that it was lightly tinted. I have red areas on my skin and blemishes that I’m always trying to cover up, so why not start building the mask with a primer?

I also appreciate that it has an SPF! The only reason I didn’t make this my favorite was because it has more of a glossy finish – and I prefer the matte. However, if matte isn’t your thing, this is a great starter.

It’s light, great for the skin, and could be worn alone. And it’s got a great price!

$22 for 1.3 ounces. 

I am still trying additional primers, so perhaps I’ll report back with something even better! If there’s one you’re using that you love, tell me about it in the comments.

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Beach beauty.

Capture the glow.

Capture the glow.

I’m heading to the beach TOMORROW, and yes, this makeup junkie is not leaving home without her stash of cosmetics. I know what you’re thinking – ugh, don’t be THAT girl at the beach.

In all truth,  I don’t think I’ve ever been to the beach wearing makeup, but I think I’ve just reached a point wear I don’t really feel comfortable going without it. And, if it helps my case at all, I’m going to a music festival, where there will be thousands of people, shirtless dudes, and selfies. That’s more the reason why I’m choosing to wear makeup.

But, I will also say that, after digging through my stash, I found lots of products that will be appropriate for the sun and sand – I am not going to wear my full face; I just want to even out my skin and appear very glow-y. So, here’s what I’ve packed, my beach-friendly makeup:

Silky Sheer BB Cream (tinted) with SPF 30 by L’Oreal – I’m using this instead of concealer and foundation. L’Oreal Paris Advanced Suncare introduces its first-ever BB facial broad spectrum sunscreen. It protects skin with a patented UVA/UVB filter and evens skin for a healthy tinted complexion. This multi-acting formula is infused with powerful antioxidants vitamin E and white grape seed to help keep skin healthy and youthful-looking.

Mineral Sunscreen with SPF 30 by COOLA – This unscented and lightly tinted formula is made with natural rose hip oil which is rich in free radical fighting vitamin c. Naturally calming evening primrose and flax seed oils deliver abundant omega-3 and gamma-linoleic acid to improve elasticity and help skin retain moisture. Natural shea butter smoothes and hydrates while the phyto-protector plankton extract rejuvenates skin. Formulated for all skin types and tones, including those that are especially sensitive or oily.

Brightening Illuminator by Cynthia Rowley – This velvety highlighter works for all skin tones, delivering a subtle sheen that lights up your features. It’s an ace at strobing, or just adding a little extra brightness to cheekbones, brows, and the inner corners of your eyes.

Water Resistant Blush in Los Cabos by Cargo – This sweatproof, weatherproof blush has been tested by the make-up artists for Dancing with the Stars on the latest live tour. Water resistant blush stood up to hours of dancing. This long-wearing formula withstands moisture so you don’t have to fuss with re-application. Specially formulated with a unique silicone-coated powder that provides better adhesion to the skin and withstands water.

Eye shadow duo in Beach & Bridge by Cargo This duo of two highly pigmented eye shadows takes inspiration from the sand, water, and foliage found on the coast. Use Beach on the lid and Bridge in the crease.

Shimmer eyeliner pencil in black by E.L.F. – The smooth formulation glides on effortlessly without tugging at the delicate eye area. These pencils are designed to add depth, definition and a special sparkle to create a very glamorous look. Each pencil includes a convenient sharpener cap for easy use.

Illuminating Palette in Catwalk Pink by Wet n Wild – Illuminating powder in four harmonious shades can be used individually or together on face, cheeks and body for a luminescent radiance.

Lip Balmer in Mint with SPF 15 by Mission Skincare – With powerful sun protection and a long-lasting, vitamin-enriched formula, MISSION Mint Lip Balmer SPF 15 is clinically proven to lock in moisture for up to 8 hours. It can withstand some of the harshest environments, so you know it can handle your busy lifestyle. Our Mint Lip Balmer contains natural moisturizing ingredients that keep lips feeling smooth and soft, whether you’re in the heat of competition or out on the town.

See? Nothing too heavy; I still want to look natural, and most of these products have an SPF. I am most excited to try the products by Cargo – I’m really curious about the water-resistant blush, and the Beach & Bridge eye shadows are so pretty!

I will also say that 75% of these products came in Birchboxes I’ve gotten over the last few months. Not familiar with Birchbox? It’s a monthly subscription, and for $10/month, you get a box of high-end samples (usually 5-6 samples) that are picked just for you, based on a profile you create.

I look forward to getting the box each month, and as you can tell, I love being able to try products I wouldn’t otherwise be able to try. And, if you buy the full-size product, you earn points and can use the points for cash toward more products (I used points to get $20 off my Clarisonic brush). Check out Birchbox here.

Alright, I should probably go finish packing. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging! See y’all right here, tomorrow!

My (material) love life.

Things I love, aside from everything John Mayer.

Things I love, aside from everything John Mayer.

Valentine’s Day is two days away, and I’m single, very single. I don’t even have a crush and I ALWAYS have a crush. I mean, I’ve still got John Mayer, so no worries there. So, what does a single girl LOVE on Valentine’s Day? Let me tell you what:

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser – I treated myself to the “starter kit” when I got a coupon for the Birchbox store. The face wash itself is kind of like Noxema (hello, 90’s!) in texture, but it gets off ALL my makeup. I still can’t get over how awesome this stuff is. So, the other part of this system is the muslin cloth you use to remove the cleanser: it’s gentle, but exfoliating so it really gets things clean. Try Birchbox to get exclusive Liz Earle products!

Origins Active Charcoal mask – I use a mask at every night. I am really trying to up my skincare regimen, and I love trying different things to see what works. My latest purchase is the Active Charcoal Mask from Origins. I get blackheads on my nose, chin, and between my eyebrows, and I use this at least once a week to (hopefully) dry up the suckers.

Green Chef meals – It’s been about two months since I signed up to have organic ingredients delivered right to my doorstep each week. I really love this service more than I expected! The ingredients are always fresh, the recipes are things I’ve never made before, and they are easy to make, but it still feels like I’m cooking. I rarely have to go to the grocery store, so it saves me time, and it even cuts back on my food costs since I’m not loading up my cart with unnecessary purchases. Want to try it? You can get 4 FREE meals using my code! I’d love you know what you think.

Ban.do Drink Sleeve – “Fries Before Guys” is my life motto. I love fries, and fuck it, I’m putting them first in my life, forever. Calories be dammed. The cool thing about Ban.do, is that aside from having all sorts of bad ass goodies, they also have free downloads on their website. So, I promptly downloaded a “Fries Before Guys” phone wallpaper, so I won’t get it twisted. Ever.

Amazon Prime – Who doesn’t love free two-day shipping? It makes me want to buy EVERYTHING on Amazon (and I probably have). But, I also enjoy watching free videos (such as seasons of The Newsroom), streaming music, and getting free Kindle books. It’s a pretty great deal, and another excuse for me to avoid public shopping situations. Are you sensing a trend here? Try Amazon Prime for 30 days, for FREE, and see how awesome it is!

ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm – This crazy, cool lip balm adjusts to your unique pH, enhancing each wearer’s natural lip color to create the perfect, just-for-you hue. It also contains mango seed butter to hydrate and protect lips. Another perk? It boasts a lovely minty scent. I like to keep this in my desk drawer at work, because I know I can slather it on before a meeting, and without a mirror, it looks perfect!

DW Home hand-poured candle in Sun Bleached Denim – “Fresh hints of brushed cotton with bright bergamot, zesty lemon, and herbaceous greens over silver sage leaf, earthy patchouli, and cool woody musk.” Holy hell. I don’t know why this is called “Sun Bleached Denim” because it smells like a fine ass man stepping out of a hot shower, and he can’t find his towel ANYWHERE, and I about fainted when I got a whiff of this thing in T.J. Maxx. Get this candle, like, now. It is everything fantasies are made of.

Dexter reruns – A few weeks ago, I discovered FM is airing old episodes of Dexter, in chronological order. Record series. Get popcorn. Binge. Drool. No second thoughts. Who doesn’t love a sexy Mr. Morgan battling crime in his unique code so we all can sleep at night? Count me in.

Not Soap, Radio Body Wash – Funny name, but seriously awesome! Each scent uses the power of smell to hack away at your problems: from relationships to struggles at the office, just hit the shower with this stuff. I’m currently using “Liquid Freud“, which smells of mango and coconut, and aims at calming. Next? I’m getting “Bathing with Sharks” to boost confidence in the boardroom. The bonus? It’s free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and is never tested on animals.

SkinnyGirl Popcorn – I have a love/hate relationship with popcorn, but when I saw SkinnyGirl popcorn at the grocery, I wanted to try it. I got the “Sea Salt and Lime” flavor, and it is unique and delish! The box is filled with mini bags, which are good for a low-calorie, delicious snack. I’ve seen ads for the “Rosemary and Olive Oil” flavor, but haven’t seen it in-store yet. I cannot wait to try that one!

…And there you have it; all of my lovely favorites right now, just in time for Heart’s Day. If you’re coupled and have something fantastic planned, hey, I’m happy for you. If you’re single, head up, and pop some bottles (See: my complete guide to bubbly). Me? I’ll be at dance rehearsal for a good chunk of the day. This year, Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating strength, and being okay with my #CatLady life! See y’all right here on Monday! xoxo

Fresh Friday: Not A Perfume.

Pretty bottle!

Pretty bottle!

Y’all… it’s FRIDAY!! The exciting thing about THIS Friday is that for most of us, next week is a short week, then we get a looooong weekend. I cannot really explain how happy this makes me.

I’ve felt so stressed this week; stressed over things that are out of my control (isn’t that the worst), and I finally just gave up, pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind as best I could… and bought a pumpkin pie and ate half of it for dinner. No, seriously. Because why not?

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving SO much, but I’ve got lots to accomplish before Turkey Day arrives — I know many of you are in the same boat.

Today, I’ve got another new perfume for you, but it’s called “Not A Perfume” and it’s made by Juliet Has A Gun. Unique name, huh? It came in my November Birchbox, and at first, I was a little confused by the name.

But, I’ve been wearing it these last few days. According it its description, it’s made out of a single element called Cetalox, which is usually a scent that’s featured in the background of perfumes. It’s completely allergen free and has no other ingredients.

So, what’s Cetalox? To be honest, I couldn’t find a lot of information on WHAT cetalox is, but it’s said to have an amber scent, kind of woody. Which… I love!

I’ll be traveling to see my CASA boys this weekend (and sneaking in a hair appointment from my favorite stylist), so I’ll find some fun things to post on SnapChat (@OrangeJulius7).

Next week, I’ll be posting a few things about Thanksgiving and the holiday season, but I’m taking Thursday and Friday off from blogging. I’ll be entertaining my guest, and I doubt many of you will be on the computer.

Meanwhile, I am still working hard on creating my blog class! It’s taking a little longer than I expected, but only because I’m packing so many learning materials in one class. So far, there are 10 lectures, presentations, video lectures, and quizzes. I promise I’ll keep you posted (and keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive coupon)!

Alright y’all, I’m off to work — have a great weekend!

What’s in my Beach Bag?

All of my beach essentials!

All of my beach essentials!

I had the weekend off, and I don’t have to go into work until 4pm today… I’d be lying if I said my mind wasn’t wondering if I should take an impromptu beach trip, all on my own (it’s just a short, 4-hour drive to Pensacola).

But, I wussed out, stayed in-town, and attempted to be productive yesterday. However, that’s not to say that I won’t be packing the Jeep and partaking in a beach adventure before the summer is over! And when I do, I’ll be totally ready with all my essentials:

  1. Cute beach bag from Mud Pie — As a bag lady, it’s a no brainer that I’ve got some cute beach bags. This one was a gift from one of my best friends and I absolutely love it! It’s big enough for all of my goodies, and even has room for a big beach towel.
  2. #CatLady hat — While on the beach, it’s important to shade yourself from the sun (at least a little), and why not do it while representing your favorite blog?! I’ve worn this hat on Orange Beach, which got lots of photos, and I also wore it to Pensacola Beach, where it was mistaken for a Miranda Lambert “thing.”
  3. Adorable coin purse by Coach — I bought this lemon-poppy coin purse from Coach years ago, as I was packing for a trip to the Virgin Islands, and even before I created this blog. I love tossing it in my beach bag, as it has a keyring for a condo, and enough room for my ID, and cash for pina coladas!
  4. Easy breezy flip-flops — When I’m packing for the beach, I want a pair of shoes that are going to slip on and off very quickly; you know, for that switch from the boardwalk to the sand.
  5. Invisible Protect Sheer Spray by L’Oreal — What did we DO before spray on sunscreen? I love this stuff! I use SPF 50 on my body, and reapply as needed.
  6. Skinsations Insect Repellent by Cutter — If I get bitten by a mosquito, it swells up into a huge welt, and is often painful. Because of this, I’m ALWAYS equipped with proper insect repellent. This Ultra Light spray by Cutter has a pleasant scent and keeps the bugs away.
  7. Oribe Apres Beach Waves and Shine Spray — Is there such a thing as too much beach wave? I think not. This is why I bring my Oribe Spray to the beach to capture the natural, salty texture of my hair, while adding shine and… an amazing scent!
  8. Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil — You may not know this about me, but I color my hair. The last thing I need is for my professionally colored locks to fade in the sun, weeks before my next appointment! This spray protects hair from the sun, including its color.
  9. Replenishing After Sun Hair & Body Wash — Davines has created a body and hair wash that adds moisture back into your skin and hair post-sun exposure. It also works to prolong your tan! I’ve already used it several times this summer, and the scent is addictive.
  10. Hawaiian Tropic Aloha Kiss lip gloss with SPF — You don’t want burned lips at the beach! I’ve never seen an actual gloss with SPF, so I was thrilled when a beach-going friend gave this to me as a gift. Absolutely perfect!
  11. Sun Bum lip balm, in Key Lime — Tastes like key lime pie, all while keeping your lips moisturized and protecting them from the sun with an SPF of 30.
  12. Supergoop! Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum — I don’t like using the spray sunscreen on my face, so this Supergoop! fights any signs of aging, while protecting my skin from the sun, any day of the week.

Fresh Friday: Yogini.

Harvey Prince makes alotta perfumes!

Harvey Prince makes alotta perfumes!

I know so many of you are AMPED that a 3-day weekend is upon us (not for me, but story of my life) — however, I hope y’all have a happy, safe Memorial Day weekend! And please, eat lots of burgers, because I can’t think of anything better than to kick off summer with a burger from a charcoal grill.

Anyway, I got a sample bottle of Yogini by Harvey Prince in my latest Birchbox and I’ve been wearing it all week.

On the little package it came in was a nice description: Get whisked away by Yogini, the fragrance that calms the mind, soothes the soul, and frees the spirit. Experience the purifying powers of Sandalwood, the age-defying glow of Grapefruit, and the sensual warmth of Egyptian myrrh. Crafted with the highest quality natural essences and oils, Yogini will make you feel as good as you smell.”

It’s pretty apparent that anything offering to soothe the soul and free my spirit… SOLD! I definitely like the mix of the citrus with the warmth — it makes it a bolder scent, but not so strong that it would offend anyone.

Other than Yogini, I was thinking the other day about layering scents. Not necessarily perfumes (though I’ll definitely look into it and get back to you), but what about all of the scents we put on? The other morning, I realized I use bamboo body wash, blueberry shaving cream, coconut body lotion, and then whatever perfume. Do I smell like a disgusting mix of scents?

TODAY had a decent article on it (7 Smart Layering Tricks to Help Your Fragrance Last Longer), suggesting o choose a body wash and lotion that will either add to your regular perfume or choose a scent that will help it last longer.

The article also tells you how to learn your “fragrance family,” so you know what scents you can layer, with body wash being the foundation. Pretty cool — though I don’t think I’ll be able to give up my blueberry shave cream.

And, there’s that. Have a great weekend everyone! See you back here on Monday — even if you’re outside grillin’ and drankin’.

Fresh Friday: Style de Paris.

Fresh, new perfume by Catherine Malandrino!

Fresh, new perfume by Catherine Malandrino!

A few weeks ago, I got my first Birchbox — a box full of designer samples each month for $10 — and in it, was a sample of Catherine Malandrino’s BRAND new perfume for women, Style de Paris! There was also a pretty awesome leave-in conditioner & detangler that I’m loving…

As described by the Catherine Malandrino website, “Nothing says haute-chic like Style de Paris. Crafted with notes of Ruby Red Grapefruit and NashiPear blending with Orange Blossom and Gardenia, it’s the essence of those summers on the beach or evening strolls through the park. Enjoy mid notes of Violet and Ocean Breeze with a base layer of Patchouli dry down that will leave you embraced in elegance and grace. Wear a light spritz with a spring sundress or dress it up with your finest cocktail wear to turn heads at any event.”

Style de Paris is the perfect scent for spring and summer, with its refreshing notes of citrus. I love that it’s something different, and it’s something you could wear around anyone (I’m always very wary when I’m meeting new clients… I never want to wear anything too strong).

Are you changing up your scent for spring?