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When is a deal no longer a deal?

I’ll admit it–I’ve spent my fair share on both high-end and low-end beauty products.  Usually, I’ve found that low-end products work nearly as well as their higher-end counterparts (and especially well given the massive difference in price).  When my face was erupting in cystic acne, I spent quite the pretty penny trying to find some solution for my skin woes.  Here’s a few things that I learned about beauty “deals”:

  1. Cheap does not necessarily mean ineffective.  The $20 concealer from Sephora that I used to hide blemishes wasn’t any better than the $3 concealer I bought a Target.
  2. It takes money to figure out where to save money.  This is unfortunately true.  You have to be willing to spend some money on lower-end products to figure out what works for you.  If you buy at a retailer that has a generous return policy, you may be able to reduce your total out-of-pocket expense.  User reviews are a Godsend in many cases for helping you figure out what may work as a substitute for a higher-end product.
  3. Some high-end products are worth it.  For instance, I use Urban Decay eyeshadow only.  Why?  For one, it works the best our of any eyeshadow I ever tried.  It also lasts FOREVER (still using my palette from more than 5 years ago).  And, I have every color I could ever want so trying a new look is easy and doesn’t require any new purchases. Some application tools are also worth forking out a bit more cash since they will likely perform better and last longer than cheapies.
  4. Used products are never worth it.  Believe me–people use leftover cosmetics and beauty products from complete strangers.  Just browse eBay postings to get an idea of what I mean.  Sick…disgusting…dangerous!  You have no idea what weird eye infection or cold sore outbreak or rosacea issue somebody is dealing with.  Don’t ever buy used products…please!
  5. A good price is not necessarily a good buy.  Similar to #4, if you see a great price, consider the source.  A Chinese knock-off brand or estate sell or even eBay with rare exception usually are not worth the potential health hazard of getting a good “deal.”  Walmart/Target, dollar stores, and clearance aisles should also be approached with caution because of crappy people sampling the goods without purchasing.

What about you?  Ever find a deal that really wasn’t a deal in the long run?


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Three Quick and Easy DIY Holiday Gift Ideas for Anyone

I’m a huge fan of DIY holiday gifts since they’re both budget-friendly and add a nice personal touch.  The following gifts are a cheap and easy way to make the loved ones in your life feel … well, loved!

1) Vanilla Extract

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Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe from norecipes.com

Cheat: Instead of waiting the requisite time for the vanilla and alcohol to meld, add half a bottle of authentic (i.e. not the artificial crap that’s passed off as vanilla extract) store-bought vanilla to your container, a few vanilla sticks, and top off with vodka or bourbon.  The gift will have plenty of homey appeal but is much faster to create!

2) Hot Chocolate in a Jar

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With this gift, you can go all out and use high-end ingredients, or dump store-bought powdered hot chocolate and toss a few marshmallows on top.  If you really want to play for keeps, consider tying a mini bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream or another complementary liquor to your jar for Adult Hot Chocolate. 🙂

Check this recipe out for a nice twist on an old classic.

3. Gourmet Cookies (or other Yummies)

Okay, so baking cookies for someone isn’t exactly original.  But, if you decide to make high-end, to-die-for, delicious goodies, that’s a whole ‘nother story!  Like this.

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Three (Nearly) Free Holiday Gifts

Stretched a bit thin this holiday season?  Try spreading some cheer by making gifts for your loved ones.

1) Sugar Scrub

Use whatever oil you have on hand (olive, coconut, etc) to make a deliciously exfoliating scrub.  Make a large batch and divide into mason jars for a nice finishing touch.

Recipe Link

2) Lipstick

Use an empty mini altoid tin or a sanitized lip balm tube to house a wonderful lipstick made from crayons(!) and coconut (or other) oil.  Perfect for those on your list with aversions to chemicals and other irritants.

Recipe Link

3. Fancy Shampoo, Conditioner, Lotion, etc

Buy a large bottle of your favorite generic, unscented beauty product, add essential oils and/or other ingredients to spice it up (like moisturizing oils, fragrances, etc) and pour into a cute container (like a mason jar or a dollar store tin) and voila! A perfect, customized gift without all the mixing and matching hassle.  

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~Modern Day Egyptian Makeup Tutorial~

 

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 I really like the cat eyeliner look and use it almost every time I put on makeup. It reminds me a lot of how the Egyptians thousands of years ago would wear their eyeliner. Here’s a tutorial I made using some (not all) budget friendly beauty products. I hope you enjoy.

 

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Products I Used:

Urban Decay Primer Potion

NYX Loose Pearl Eyeshadow in Yellow Gold

NYX Loose Pearl Eyeshadow in Walnut

NYX Loose Pearl Eyeshadow Black Pearl

Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Zero

Elf Liquid Eyeliner in Black

The Color Workshop (cheap makeup brand at Walmart) Eyeliner in Gold

Wet n’ Wild Mega Liner in Indigo Blue 

Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof Mascara in Very Black

Elf Eyelash Curler 

 

First step is to prime your eyes. This helps your eyeshadow to stay on longer, prevents your eyelid oils from smudging your eyeshadow, and helps your makeup look more vibrant.

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Next I put the gold eyeshadow onto just the middle of my lid. I did this so I can have a multi-dimensional look, almost like 3D.

 

After that I put a small amount of the gold liner on top of the yellow old eyeshadow to add a little glitz.

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Then what I did was I took the brownish eyeshadow and applied it on the right side and left side of my eyelid without putting it directly on top of the yellow eyeshadow. I blended the two colors slightly so there wasn’t any harsh contrast. Remember you want to make this look multi-dimensional.

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I blended the brown more and a little towards my brow bone. 

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I added the black eyeshadow to my crease building up the color slightly.

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Next I took the black eyeshadow and with a brush I lined my lower lash line.

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Then you’ll want to bring that eyeshadow up past your lid for that classic cat eye. It can be tricky to do but follow your lash line out and you should get it just right.

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Next you take your eyeliner pencil and line the inside of your eyes both top and bottom. 

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I used just a little bit of black liquid eyeliner to the top lash line.

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 Next (and this was just for fun) I wanted some more color so I used the blue liquid liner on my bottom lash line. 

 

 

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Add mascara and you’re done! 

 

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Make Your Lipsticks More Portable (DIY)

I don’t own many lipsticks because I don’t like to wear them but I know lots of people who have tons of them laying around in a drawer, their purse, or car. Lipsticks are already portable but imagine having five or more shades in one easy place without having to fumble through them. I’ll show you how easy it can be!

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What you’ll need:

Candle

Small knife 

Metal spoon

Lipsticks or chapsticks

Rubbing alcohol (to sanitize)

Small eyeshadow tins (to place metled product in)

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First it’s a good idea to sanitize your metal tin, spoon and knife to cut down on bacteria.

 

Next you’ll need to light your candle.

 

Lay your lipstick down on the counter and cut off the amount you’d like. It’s better to start off by cutting a little because you can always melt more later. 

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Place the cut piece of lipstick on the spoon.

 

Put the spoon over the candle flame. Sway the spoon back and forth above the flame so the product won’t burn. You only need to slowly melt the lipstick.

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Make sure the product is entirely melted and slowly pour it into the metal tin. Melt more if you need to so you have a sufficient amount of product. 

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Wipe off the spoon carefully with a paper towel. The spoon is VERY hot. I repeat it’s HOT!

 

And you’re done! I did a lipstick and a chapstick. 

 

 

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Here are some videos if you need extra help!

 

 

 

 


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~New Years Makeup Look~

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New Years is around the corner which means a fun makeup look to start the new year right. I used high end makeup brands and drugstore brands. For the high end brands I will try my best to give you an example of a cheaper duplicate you can buy to recreate this look. Enjoy!

 

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Products Used:

Urban Decay Primer Potion in color Original

tokidoki Collectible Robbery Makeup Palette

-Bullets, Ninja Dog, Candy Cane

Wet n’ Wild Mega Liner Liquid Eyeliner in color Indigo Blue

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencils in color Zero

Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Waterproof in color Very Black

Wet n’ Wild Lipstick in color Cherry Frost

 

High End Duplicates:

Elf Eyelid Primer – $1 at Target

Bullets – Maybelline Eye Studio Color Explosion in palette  Blue Blowout 20 – $7.50 Walmart

Ninja Dog – Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 4-Kit Shadows in Tropical Fusion – $5 at Target

Candy Cane  – Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 1-Kit Shadows in Snow Blossom – $4 Walgreens

Milani Liquif’eye Metallic Eyeliner Pencil – $6 at Walmart

 

Let’s get started!

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Cut a piece of tape and place it slanted near your eye and figure out where you want your eyeshadow to go. This technique helps create a sharp line for eyeshadow or eyeliner.

 

 

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I took Bullets by tokidoki and placed it across my lid.

 

 

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I then took that eyeshadow up and over to my outer corner.

 

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Next I took Ninja Dog by tokidoki and placed it in my crease lightly and helped shadow a winged effect on the outer corner.

 

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With tape still on.

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With the tape off. A sharp line!

 

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I took Ninja Dog again and placed it on my lower lash line.

 

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I used Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Liner to line my waterline and tight lined. (I put the eye liner on my upper water line.)

 

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Next I applied Wet n’ Wilds liquid eyeliner to my top lid and flicked it out to match my previous eyeshadow wing.

 

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I applied Maybelline The Falsies mascara to my upper and lower lashes. To finish the look I popped on Wet n’ Wilds lipstick.

 

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Happy New Years!

 


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The Aftermath of Christmas: What to do with Unwanted Gifts

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We’ve all been there–Aunt Bessie’s fruitcake, Grandpa Fred’s book on medieval toe-nail cutting customs, Mom’s “absolutely beautiful” sweater that’s just “perfect” for you, etc.  Gifts given in the right spirit are a blessing in and of themselves, and it is important to keep the giver’s intentions at heart, but, there is no sense in cluttering up your home with unusable items.  The question is, what to do with unwanted gifts?  Here are a few ideas:

1. Regift: Save an unwanted gift until an opportunity rolls around for you to give it to someone who would appreciate and enjoy it.  I am a hearty believer of regifting (though, to appease any relatives who may read this blog, I haven’t had to in a few years!).  🙂

2. Repurpose:  Many of the gifts you receive can be used in creative ways (perhaps not intended by the items’ progenitors).  Turn an ugly sweater into a Christmas Tree skirt, or a bed for your pet, or a foot warmer.  An unwanted book can be transformed into a hiding place for money, or spray-painted on the outside and used decoratively.  Repurposing gifts honors the spirit in which they were given (and allows you to whip out the item should the giver ever wonder what became of it!).

3. Donate:  If you can’t regift or repurpose an unwanted gift, the third-best option is to donate it.  This benefits both the charity and you (soul and tax-wise).  This is an especially appealing option for food or other perishable gifts you receive.  Local homeless shelters and other organizations will happily accept your donation, and your unwanted gift may become someone else’s welcome one.  (I do not endorse giving crap to homeless shelters and other charities — just items that you personally have no use for.)

4. Exchange: This is an especially good idea if you received unwanted beauty items.  I’m pretty particular about the beauty products I use, and receiving neon pink lipstick would force me to do something aside from wearing it.  Cosmetics and beauty products in general are great for regifting if you can do so within a reasonable amount of time (before they expire), but if you receive something truly outrageous, try to exchange it before resorting to other more drastic measures.

5. Barter:  Got your third mp3 player of the season?  Consider bartering it for something else.  Craigslist and other such sites are great resources for trading what you’ve got for what you want.  This is especially true if you are offering a valuable item in exchange for professional services.

6. Sell:  I admit, this can be a tacky option to consider; but, if you are forced to choose between letting something collect dust or selling it, the latter is definitely better.  Of course, don’t rule out donating something, but if you need cash more than the gift, selling isn’t the worst thing you can do.

The bottom line is that even if you received a gift you will not use, there are options you have.  Just don’t forget to be grateful, even for something bizzare!


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Affordable Christmas Makeup Look

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What I used for this look:

Urban Decay Primer Potion (Elf eye primer will work for the inexpensive primers [$1] but I don’t own any other primer at the moment.)

NYX Ultra Pearl Mania Loose Eyeshadow in color Charcoal ($3)

NYX  Ultra Pearl Mania Loose Eyeshadow in color Light Purple ($3)

NYX Ultra Pearl Mania Loose Eyeshadow in color Yellow Gold ($3)

NYX Ultra Pearl Mania Loose Eyeshadow in color Pale Gold ($3)

Elf Shimmering Facial Whip in color Spotlight ($1)

Elf Liquid Eyeliner in color Black ($1)

Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof Mascara in color Black ($6)

-Side note: Maybelline The Falsies is an awesome mascara. If you’re into youtube makeup tutorials you’ll see a lot of makeup artists raving about it!

Elf Eyelash Curler ($1)

Mary Kay Signiture Lip Liner in color Dark Red ($12)

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Prime your eyes all the way to your brow bone. Next, Apply the NYX Yellow Gold all over your lids.

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What’s great about the NYX Loose Eyeshadows is that when you wet them, it’s like they turn into a different color. Take a tiny bit of pigment and a damp brush, mix together, and put the NYX Yellow Gold onto the center of your eyelid. This will add shine and bring more light to your eyes.

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Take the NYX Light Purple and apply it on your crease and a little above your crease. I put the purple in my inner corners too, but you can skip that if you’d like.

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Blend it out and make the colors smooth.

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Next I put NYX Charcoal on my botton lash line and blended it into the purple that was in my inner corner.

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I used Elf Liquid Liner to line my eyes and flick it out.

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(Before mascara.)

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Have fun and have a happy holiday!

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I like using lip liner as my “lipstick” because I feel it stays on longer and isn’t quite so messy. Dark Red by Mary Kay Signature Collection.


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Herbal Bath Tea ~ Beautiful, Frugal Homemade Christmas Gift in about Five Minutes

I’ve been testing out recipes like mad to find great homemade gifts for friends and family that won’t break the bank or spend hours to create.  I was delighted to tweak the bath tea recipe I found here (and to try it out!).  This bath treatment requires ingredients that are very easy to find, inexpensive, and highly customizable, and, it takes about 5 minutes or so to compile everything.

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The Recipe

Basic Ingredients:

1. Epsom Salt

2. Dry Herbs (in the form of tea, spices, etc).

3. Organza bag, washcloth, or other sheer material

Additional Options

4. Olive, Coconut, or Castor Oil

5. Your Choice of Essential Oil

6. Vanilla Extract

7. Food Coloring

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Directions:

1. Pour epsom salt into a mixing bowl (the amount you use depends on how much final product you want to create and what other ingredients you include).  If you want to color it, mix in your food coloring.  I used about 2 cups of epsom salt.

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2. Add tea/herbs and blend well with salt.  I used a 1/3 of a cup of loose tea and about 3 tablespoons of rosemary.

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3. Slowly add oil, blending well.  I used coconut oil because of its fantastic softening properties (and divine scent).  I added about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and blended it extremely well (you have to mash and pound the oil with your spatula/spoon).

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4. Add essential oils and blend well.  A little goes a long way!  If you have any other scents you would like to add (like vanilla extract), now’s the time.  I used about 15 drops of spearmint.

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5. Blend everything well–its consistency should look something like this:

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6. Spoon into air-tight container (to keep it fresh longer).  Include an organza bag (or other item in which to stash the concoction) and attach a note with ingredients and directions for use.

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My Experience

I had my first herbal tea bath right before writing this post.  My legs were sore from running around like crazy yesterday, and I wanted something soothing to help ease the aches.  I drew my bath (tying the organza bag around the faucet so the ingredients would begin to disperse immediately), then sank into deliciously-scented water.

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The coconut oil made the bath water moisturizing but not greasy, the tea added a little color and a wonderful scent, and the peppermint essential oil was invigorating.  I used the organza bag as a loofah on my arms and legs once all the salt had dissolved.  Finally, I finished up bathing, rinsed out my organza bag, and let it air dry in anticipation of my next heavenly bath.

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Last-Minute Christmas Gifts from Amazon.com (for Prime Members) under $25

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This post might have better been titled last-second gift ideas, because time is certainly fast approaching Christmas!  But, for those who are amazon.com prime members, you need not despair.  Amazon has a treasure chest of low-cost gift options still available for free 2-day shipping, and approaching availability for $4 overnight shipping that will make in the nick of time (no pun intended!).  The ideas below should cover everyone left on your list.  (Note, these ideas are not restricted to beauty items only–check out our complied post of last-minute, frugal homemade gifts here.)

For Her

1. Comfy Cable-Knit Sweater, $22

2.  Shea Butter Foot Treatment, $13

3. 78-Color Makeup Kit, $17

4. Professional Brush Kit, $13

5. Philosophy Pure Grace 3-in-1 Body Wash, $22

6. Fountain Pen & Stationary, $22

For Him

1. Crank Flashlight, $12

2. The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil. $21

3. Portable Speaker, $19

4. Roadside Emergency Kit, $20

5. Wool Gloves, $20

6. Snow-Prevention Windshield Cover, $7

For Kids

1. Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set Vol 1, $13

2. Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set Vol 2, $13

3. Snuggly Blanket, $15

4. Rory’s Story-Telling Cubes, $7

5. Angry Birds Hot Wheels, $13

6. Coin-Counting Piggy Bank, $13

7. Walkie Talkie, $25

8. The Biggest Baddest Boy Book Ever, $10