Monday, May 23, 2016

Play! By Sephora: First Unboxing

May 2016 - The Forces of Nature

So after being on the waitlist literally since this program was announced, I finally got in and just received my first box! Check out the whole program here.

I'm pretty stoked on it, not gonna lie. I LOVE Sephora and their products, so unlike something like Ipsy where I probably only use one product in 3 boxes, I get to try out things that I might actually really love from brands I either already use or want to try! And on top of this, it's actually really adorable. The package, bag, and informative poster are all super cute. I need to find out how to work for whoever does their design cuz it's flippin great. 

I figured I'd go through the products in order and kind of just go over how they all work, as I really want to get the most out of this happy little box. So let's get started!

I generally don't like perfume samples cuz I'm Super picky about scents- the littlest smell can give me a raging migraine, so a perfume I like is few and far between. Also, I don't typically enjoy those fairly 'feminine' scents of florals, musk, or sweet, so usually wind up going for something light and crisp. This Atelier Cologne in Orange Sanguine is so so so wonderful. I absolutely love it. The tiniest dab of the sample put out a ton of citrusy goodness that I can really smell without it being too overpowering. It's crisp and citrusy without being too 'Orange' and all the sweetness that usually comes with that. I'm really really digging it. It almost reminds me of a cross between method soap and like a nice herb garden. I don't even know why, but it calls to mind a gorgeous spring day right before summer when you get a whiff of fresh laundry on the air that's been hung to dry. 
Definitely take a sec to read the description on the postcard, I feel like it captured the essence of this fragrance quite lovely. So far, this is a 1/1 win. Love. 

Next we have the Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Kimchi, from their new lipstick line. I've used Bite in the past, and Love their agave lip mask, so getting to try out one of the new shades is great. Their whole natural philosophy is wonderful, and the packaging and branding is so clean and easy on the eyes. I really like the simple deviation from the usual lipstick tube look with the little scoop out of the top- reminiscent of how well-loved lipstick tends to wind up looking. So far, I love this! It smells and kind of tastes like berries, the pigmentation is Huge, it glides on crisp and smooth hugging all of my dents and creases, and isn't too shiny. Kimchi is a super bright pink, but wearable for sure. I definitely can skip a balm underneath this lipstick with how nourishing it is. The only problem I've had with Bite in the past is since it is so natural, it tends to go bad before I have a chance to use the whole tube, but I really am down to invest in these, they feel so good!

Yaasssss bright bold lipsss. 2/2 wins. 

Ok next up, Tarte's Tarteist Lip Crayon in Latergram. I've only used a Tarte mascara in the past so I'm not too familiar with the brand overall, but I am intrigued by this teeny tiny little sample. It's so cute and little! I had to use my hand as a size reference cuz it's too adorable. It definitely doesn't match the bright pink Kimchi sample, that's for sure, but it's a decently nice dark mauvey-nude shade. 

I do like this color, but the texture is not agreeing with me. I had such a hard time trying to apply it to my lips I decided to just do a little search on my hand. It's kind of waxy and hard, an I personally prefer a softer lipliner formula so I don't have to fight going over and over on my lips just to get some coverage. So we're 2/3 now, but that's ok. More fun coming. 

Ok, now on to Origins Maskimizer + Drink Up & Clear Improvement Masks. What the heck. I've never even heard of. Maskimizer. What is this?! Well, apparently it's a primer for your goddamn mask. What. Even. This I'm totally interested in finding out what it's all about, but it's supposed to increase the efficacy of your mask. I have definitely used this Clear Improvemens charcoal mask before, and totally owned a full size one for quite some time, so I am familiar with how it works. Which means it'll totally help me find out if the Maskimizer really makes a difference. 

Woo such charcoal. Many brushstrokes. So using the Clear Improvements mask, I tested the Maskimizer and took the tips to heart to apply this with a flat brush. Two things definitely occurred to me-- a brush totally makes a difference in the speed and ease of mask applying. Dayam. Two, the Maskimizer also made the goop slide right on. I didn't have to pull from one spot to evenly distribute, a little went a long way, and it felt a lot more wet as a whole. And cool too, the Maskimizer immediately felt chilly on my skin, but not in such a bad way, more like a tingling sensation. So long story short, I truly can't tell if the Maskimizer made a big difference, but the mask itself did go on a lot easier and was easier to remove, plus my skin feels nice, soft, brighter and more even, without being oily or dry. I always put moisturizer on after masks, so that might play a factor of course, but I will definitely use this Maskimizer with any other masks I do, if nothing else for the ease of the whole mask process. So we'll call this a win at 3/4. 

Moving on to the Briogeo Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, I gotta say I'm not a big fan. I've got all the colors in my hair, so I take hair care pretty seriously, and have used the whole gamut of what's available from Olaplex to R&Co and Matrix and beyond, I am firmly sticking to ColorPhlex. I'm even finding it unfortunate that I chose to use this treatment for my weekly hair washing instead of the magic that is ColorPhlex. But anyhow, we're talking about Briogeo right now. My hair was snarly instead of detangled, it was rough instead of soft, and it even took longer to dry. I'm out. 3/5 now. 

Finally, there's the Korres Wild Rose Sleeping Facial, which is supposed to brighten and moisturize. I've had good experiences with Korres in the past, but this particular product is not a good fit for me. I'll start off by saying I loved how it smelled like roses- it's one of my favorite scents in skin products- but I expected it to be more like a gel or serum texture, but it was actually more of a cream, which kind of acted more as a heavy duty moisturizer than anything else. This isn't really something I need, and woke up with a slew of brand new breakouts all over my whole damn face. Well, any product that makes my insanely sensitive skin break out is not a friend to me, so I'm definitely skipping this in the future as well. 3/6 is the final wins tally for this box, but that's really not bad! Considering I had no expectations really, and typically am annoyed by fragrance samples, I wound up liking 3 things I both wasn't anxious to try or hadn't heard of. 

Overall, I am sticking to the idea that this monthly subscription is FAR SUPERIOR to the other options out there. Like, no contest. In all fairness, I am a diehard VIB, build up those points like nobody's business, am always down to take one of the Sephora classes, and will Definitely be taking my Play! pass to my nearest Sephora to learn more about the awesome shit that came in my box, but all the same, I really feel like this box has some quality products that mostly fit what I would be looking for in new things, so the fact that half worked out is significantly higher than any monthly box I've tried in the past. Can't wait for next month!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016





But seriously, I was lusting after this thing so hard while doing collateral, and now that it's mine I almost don't even know what to do with it! But that's ok, I'm figuring it out as I go. 

What's really neat is each column represents a character with a corresponding lip color, so naturally I started off with the middle! 

This color group goes with the White Queen, Mirana and the nice metallized burgundy Lipstick of the same name
This is a super subtle color scheme, with really nice pinky-brown neutrals that complement the bold lip. This feels like a really nice everyday office sort of look for me. The lipstick is a gorgeous color, but the payout isn't as solid as a matte finish as its more like a slightly chunky cream. Not to say I don't like it, I love the metallic sheen to it, but I think I might use it more to ombré with something darker like Blackmail. 

The next look I tried out was the Mad Hatter, using the mad hatter color scheme column and matching lipstick- this is also a metallized lipstick, so it basically had the exact same consistency as the Mirana color. This one would go really well over another matte color as well, I think layering these metallic colors over something more solid is really the way to go. 

These eyeshadow colors are surprisingly wearable and coordinating, definitely not what I expected. When I see them in the palette I thought it would be a challenge, but I'm actually stoked with how this looks! A nice bold color look, but I don't feel like I look crazy or drag-queen-tastic. 

I was really looking forward to getting on that Alice lipstick, as it's sheer, but it has such a pretty iridescence to it I can't resist. It's definitely light, but it's nice and even and the shimmer is understated yet noticeable, especially in light. The only problems I'm finding with this palette so far is the color payout isn't as vibrant as I would like. I felt like I had to go over this blue color 16 times to get it to look semi-opaque, and even then it's really light. The pro is definitely blendability, but I almost feel like I'm blending some of these colors right off, or that the brush is taking more off than depositing on. Either way, I was a lot happier with this look than I thought I would be, so I'll def experiment more with some of these neutrals. 

Ok, I did this Red Queen look like four times cuz it just was Not working- I used all four of her shades first, but the blues made me look way too cracked-out kind of crazy. Then I did just the red with a highlight, but the red wore off before I could get a pic, then I tried it again and brought some of the other neutrals from the palette into the look, and then I tried just the red, highlight color, Duchess from the White Queen colors, and used Sugarpill's Grand Tiara and was finally content. 

The red really isn't as bright as I would like it, and it was the color I was most excited about trying. Buuuut OMG, this Iracebeth lipstick is my new favorite red, I love it so much! You can get a fairly crisp line without liner, it lasts for ages, and it's a super nice matte that just looks flawless. The reapplication was hardly an issue, it's so damn even, and the color is so gorgeous- it's somewhat pinky compared to my other reds, and I definitely cannot get enough of it! If nothing else, the Red Queen's look may have been a disappointment, but this lipstick is everything. It's funny cuz this is the one I was lest impressed with initially, cuz really, how many red lipsticks do I seriously need? Well one more apparently. 

Finally there's the Time color scheme and lipstick--- this was definitely the look that called my name. This lipstick-slate gray blue metallic- held all the excitement for me by a mile and I couldn't wait to get it on, so it's actually the look I test-drove first. Unfortunately I really didn't like the result, so there's no photographic evidence of that trial. Like I mentioned with the other metallics, this definitely is not as opaque as I was hoping and I decided to try it out over a similar colored matte lipstick to give it some really solid depth. These eyeshadow colors also start out decently dark and intense, but they wear off so easily I was really surprised by how everything looked by the end of the day. 

I used all four of the 'Time' themed eyeshadows, but also grabbed Bandersnatch for under the eye as a little color pop... that didn't really pop as much as I expected. I am pleased with how the metallized lipstick worked over the matte, and I used a BLACK LIPLINER with it. BLACK. Omg I'm so happy it exists. Such a nice defined line 😻 

Overall, this isn't my most favorite line ever and I'm pretty sad I'm not more obsessed, but that's ok! Sometimes you get surprised and wind up loving something you weren't initially impressed with, and if nothing else I have some fun colors to play with blending, and blending lipsticks is the ultimate fun! So go over to UD and hook yourself up with some gorgeous lip colors :D

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Whoop whoop! Vegas time!

Ok, we now take a break from our regularly scheduled (or not scheduled at all) programming to talk about food! Specifically, the magical meal journey I just had the pleasure to embark on while in fabulous Las Vegas.

I seriously love going here, just for a weekend, just to eat all the ridiculously amazing cuisine. No joke, I've had some of the best dishes of my life here (and I've eaten at Animal and Ink for comparison) and food is probably what boyfriend and I spend the most money on. 

So allow me to guide you through this Vegas trip, mostly highlighting food excitement. 
We were staying at the Signature at the MGM Grand, a really nice non-casino hotel we've enjoyed before, complete with balconies and one bedroom suites as large as my whole apartment. It's connected to MGM which is super convenient, and I love the food options here! 

bathroom selfie/balcony selfie from our nifty hotel room
Definitely better than the options at Mandalay, SLS, Palazzo, Luxor, Excaliber, and NYNY. When we go, we try to eat somewhere different each time, but we've explored the places named above, Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, Caesar's Palace, and now Aria. And that being said, we've found some top notch places, specifically Shibuya, the sushi place at MGM, Gordon Ramsay's Burgr, and now, Sage at the Aria. And Sage wins. 

picture before the meal at Craftsteak

But let me back up, we started this particular trip with dinner at Tom Collicchio's Craftsteak in MGM, and were Extremely disappointed. Like disappointed doesn't even cut it. We ordered the Rib Eye and Short Ribs, with puréed potatoes and roasted cauliflower as sides. And it's a sad day when the side dishes are more of a standout than the main course, but the sides were fucking amazing. Like, really nice potato dish and great cauliflower dish, but let's be clear- they're by no means revelatory or any great work of cuisine. They're just really good potatoes and veggies. And there were some delish dinner rolls, but I'm not going to a goddamn super highly rated restaurant for some MF dinner rolls. But let's get to the meat, I had a nice short ribs dish. I'll also mention that I've eaten at the restaurant Crush, also in MGM, and had some actually amazing phenomenal short ribs with gnocchi. So, just saying, their competition in the same damn casino is killin it. And the Rib Eye admittedly looked beautiful, but it didn't taste like a damn nice steak, it tasted like Outback. And was about just as chewy. The best part of the whole thing was the wine (totally fucking rad recommendation from the Sommelier) and the sides. A $250 meal and the claim to fame was side dishes and wine. Fuck that. Also, boyfriend had one of the saddest old fashioned's and I would never expect that kind of place to deliver such an uninspired cocktail. I'd much rather go to Vesper at the Cosmo, and order a much better craft cocktail for half the price. 

So, in conclusion, one really disappointing meal from Craftsteak. I really expected better. 

But omg our next dinner TOTALLY FIXED IT. Omg. Omg. Sage at Aria. Uggghhhh it was perfect. Literally one of the best meals of my life. OF MY LIFE. 

But before we made it there, we stopped at the Mirage to look at kitties 😻

Such big paws! Ugh. Big kitties are cute kitties too. 

But ok, food time. 

This is the menu. It's motherfucking shiny. Fucking iridescent. And it's a pretty rad system they've got for ordering, you can choose 2 dishes -an appetizer and an entree- 3 dishes -2 appetizers and an entree- or 4 dishes -2 of each so one item from each of the four sections. We chose to do a 2 dish meal and a 4 dish meal so we could split 3 appetizers and 3 entrees. And trust me, every dish was a damn masterpiece. 
We started with a couple of cocktails, which were delicious. And they brought some bread to our table, a French type and a fricken bacon bread. I don't even like bacon and it was delicious.

This is the little butter stack and sea salt that came with the bread. Goddamn delicious. Next, they brought us these adorable Amuse Bouches

It's a strawberry mint cilantro gazpacho. I don't even know how those things go together, but they fucking do. 

Next we had our appetizers, starting with the salted beets. 

Read all the dish descriptions in the menu, cuz they're something wonderful. This was a work of art visually in and of itself, let alone how light and tasty it was. I never would have guessed chocolate and beets went well with yogurt. 

This masterpiece. This was heaven. This is the Wagyu Tartare. It is pure magic and spread on the toast that came with it like goddamn butter. It was so smooth and creamy I don't even understand how raw beef can be creamy, but it was. Also another thing I didn't know would go well with a slow poached egg and chocolate. 

This is the Fois Gras Brûlée. It was one of the richest dishes I've ever experienced, but also stupid delicious. It cracked like a Creme brûlée and had strawberries, which weren't sweet, just added this amazing acidity that really balanced out the intensity of the custard consistency. 

Ok, entrees. 

Welp, this is one damn good lamb dish. I isn't know lamb could be even more delicious than I already knew. It was so tender, and the neck so tasty, and those snap peas! Sweet and crisp and spicy all at once, with pickled eggplant, this dish was amazing. 

Scallops. What is better than scallops. These were served with oxtail, mushrooms, broccolini and a salted caramel reduction. Again, something we expected to be super strange, but the sauce really added something special and heavenly. These are what inspired dishes are made of. 

Finally, the Wagyu Filet. 
So good. But definitely heavy and we were getting damn full by he time this beauty came around. So so so tender. Phenomenal. And the fennel and dill salad was great. Really something to make the trip for. 

Finally, dessert. 
Meyer Lemon Cake. With lemon curds and elderflower pearls. Too damn good. So worth the food baby. 

There's also an absinthe tasting menu.  
Oh, and they also served a little something for after the meal. 

This little biscotti delight with a delicious little drink that almost tasted like an after dinner mint mixed with cereal milk. It was a very refreshing end to a fantastic meal.

and my feet were killing me so hard from walking in heels, a truly ridiculous bath was necessary

all of this fanciness from Nectar Bath Treats