Holiday Gift Guide 2015 — Part 1

I am a total sucker for holiday lists. As soon as they start popping up all over my social media accounts, I excitedly click through them discovering items that I never knew I couldn’t live without. This year I am creating my own list for all of the beauty loving, techie, fashionistas in your life! These are my very favorite products that make me happy and make me, “me!” I am starting off with my favorite beauty and skincare products, stay tuned for part two!

For the makeup enthusiast in your life

I haven’t been wearing makeup that long (roughly a year and a half), but in that time I have researched, tested and reviewed countless brushes, palettes and products. Below are a list of my very favorite products that any makeup lover would love to add to their collection.

  • Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush. I am absolutely obsessed with this brush. If I could take only one face brush to a deserted island I would quickly pack this one away. It smooths out my cc creams and foundations with such ease and smoothness. I haven’t found another brush that remotely rivals this one!

blurring brush

  • French Kisses Melted — $25 Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Too Faced Melted Lipsticks. The colors! The shine! The length of wear! I love them. Too Faced has released this set 4 of minis which is the perfect way to try them out.

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  • Butter London RSVP Set — $29. Nail polish is my first love, and Butter London has always been one of my favorite brands. This spring they released a new 10x Shine formula and it is fantastic. Polish stays shockingly shiny (and stays put) for days and days. This set includes minis of 4 classic shades.

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  • Urban Decay Naked Palettes — $29 – $54. I love the UD Naked collection. I have every full size palette, basic palette, even Naked on The Run. My personal favorite is Naked 2, but everyone has a strong affinity to a specific palette based on their skin tones and preferences. If you aren’t sure which one to grab, go for the original. It’s a classic!

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  • Sigma Basic Eyes Kit — $77. I know many people rave about Mac brushes, but personally, I prefer Sigma. I have slowly acquired most of their eye brushes, and this set includes all of my faves. This set includes 7 brushes that will help you achieve all of your favorite eye looks!

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  • Benjabelle Daisy Brush Tree — $19.99. This is one of those items that you don’t know you need until you have one, and can’t believe you lived so long without it! Cleaning your brushes is one of the downfalls of loving makeup so much and it is important to dry your brushes upside down so that you can make them last. This stand fits brushes of various shapes and sizes and removes wasting time trying to find ways to keep your brushes upside down!

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For the hair/skincare enthusiast

  • Clarisonic — $99+. When people ask me about improving the skin, the first thing I ask is if they have a Clarisonic brush. For me, it was the most essential part of my skincare routine. Not only does it get my face incredibly clean, it also exfoliates! There are always promotions for these brushes during the holidays, so snatch one up!

Clarisonic

  • Aztec Clay Mask — $9. This is a little set that I have started putting together for gifts. It is no secret that I love face masks, but my absolute favorite is the Aztec clay mask. I mix a little with some Braggs apple cider vinegar and wait for the pulsating to begin. When I take it off, my skin is the softer than it has ever been. For the holidays I would purchase the duo and put a pretty bow on it!

Aztec

  • The Face Shop Living Nature Face Masks (Set of 15) — $16. With the increased awareness of Korean Skincare routines, paper face masks have become extremely popular. I have tried multiple brands and my favorite remains The Face Shop. Each mask is soaked in natural essences, smell incredible and soak nicely into my skin. One of my complaints with face masks is how they slip around, so I use a mask cover ($3.50)to keep it in place!

FaceShop

  • Boar Bristle Brush — $12. Boar bristle brushes are an essential component of my weekly hair routine. They help diminish my natural frizz while also massaging my scalp (to reduce dryness). Everyone should have one!

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  • Silk Pilowcases — $10 each. For years I heard about the benefits of sleeping on silk pillowcases. They reduce wrinkles and keep your blowouts from getting out of control while you sleep! This summer I finally purchased some and my hair has never looked better!

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This completes my beauty and skin care gift giving guide! Stay tuned for my favorite gifts for all the fashionistas in your life.

Helluva Heel

I have always had a soft spot for super high heels. Unfortunately, bad feet and terrible balance make wearing heels a bad idea but that doesn’t stop me from wearing unsensible shoes most weekends. In order to survive a big night out, I have developed a routine (shocking I know) to prepare both my shoes and my feet!

Prepare your shoes

 I have been cursed with a wide foot, which makes most heels feel incredibly tight and uncomfortable. When I know I am going to have a long night on my feet ahead of me I prep my shoes by stretching them out a bit. To do so, I put on some thick socks and wear the shoes for about thirty minutes. Typically I do this before I’m really getting ready because I like to see if there are any red spots on my feet so I can prep my feet for the tightest spots. You can walk around in your socks and heels or just kick back and watch a show (which is what I like to do do)!

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Prepare your feet

 About a year ago I was reading somewhere that applying liquid bandage to your feet will prevent blisters when you wear new shoes. I kind of laughed it off but decided to try it out, and it really does work. 30 minutes before I leave, I spread the concoction on the back bone of my foot, the bones along the front sides of each foot, across the back of my toes and then at the knuckle of my toes. If I notice a red spot after stretching my shoes, I apply an extra coat to that spot. I apply a final coat right before I put my shoes on for the night.

liquid bandage

These simple tricks have helped me go one year blister free!  Follow my Instagram @Jessicasgoneviral for additional tips and tricks!

Monday Mask: Dermal Cucumber Collagen Essence Mask

About a month ago I became obsessed with Korean skin care.  I constantly read about different products, their functions and how frequently to use them.  My poor friends were inundated with text messages about various essences and face masks all the time.  

I LOVE face masks and fortunately for me, face masks are an integral part of Korean skin care.  Numerous online sources suggest using a sheet mask once a week.  I had never tried a sheet mask before but found a set of 16 Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Facial Mask Sheets on Amazon.  Each mask has a different function, aiming to improve your skin in various ways.

Thursdays have always been a “mask day for me” so after a particularly stressful Thursday I decided to try out the Dermal Cucumber Collagen Essence Mask.  This mask aims to provide your skin convergence, nourishment and soothing. 

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Review

Each time I do a mask, I begin by exfoliating my face.  On this night I used Philosophy’s Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash. I let my face air dry and attempted to figure out how to use this mask.  Once dry I opened the package and found a white material, folded and soaking wet.  I was shocked at how wet the mask was (in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised, it was soaking up the assorted liquids).  After I removed it from it’s packaging, I attempted to unfold it.  For some reason I struggled to get it completely unwrapped and was confused as to why there were so many extra flaps and tabs (around eyes, nose and mouth).  

Finally I got it apart and placed it on my face.  The mask was really cold and repeatedly slipped out of place.  I decided that the best way to keep it in place was to take the time to lay down and relax for 20  minutes.  This helped!  

I have learned that there is no way to not look creepy when wearing a sheet mask
I have learned that there is no way to not look creepy when wearing a sheet mask

I expected to know when to remove the mask.  While it did dry a bit, it never fully dried.  After 20 minutes was up the mask came off and my face was still covered in the magical concoction.  I decided to massage the excess product into my face to receive the complete benefits of the mask.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

Once the mask was off, I realized that I should have completed the rest of my skin care routine before applying the mask.  Next time, I will use my serums, toners and moisturizers prior to applying a sheet mask.  I really enjoyed this mask.  Not only was it nourishing it forced me to lay back and relax (two things I rarely do).

For extra beauty ramblings follow my Instagram @jessicasgoneviral

June Beauty Challenge Week 3

Due to traveling with limited internet access over the past few weeks, I was unable to participate in @bellereneebeauty’s #JuneBeautyChallenge (weeks 1 and 2 are linked in case you missed them).  As the challenge continued, I tried hard to highlight new and different products I use, but it was a real challenge!  I was able to discover my true “holy grail” products!

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@ bellereneebeauty #JuneBeautyChallenge
@ bellereneebeauty #JuneBeautyChallenge

Day 15: Hair Essentials

Confession time: I only wash my hair once a week.  I have crazy thick hair which takes forever to fully dry and I don’t have the time, or patience, to worry about it too often.  In order to keep this mane of mine under control all of these products are extremely necessary!  As with most things in my life, I have a fairly consistent hair care routine which allows me to wear various styles through out the week but still refrain from washing it. 

Day 15

Day 16: Pink

Today I realized that I had not shared anything from my first true love: nail polish.  Long before I cared at all about makeup or skin care I had a true infatuation with all things nail polish related.  I wanted to show love for many of my favorite brands by showing off (some of) my pink collection!

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Day 17: Best Sale Purchase

One of my favorite times of year occurs around this time each summer: the Beauty Brands Liter sale!  I tend to go way over board, thinking that I need a shampoo and conditioner for every single hair type, just in case my hair changes during the year.  It is more than a tad insane, considering I only wash my hair once a week.  Confession: these are just the products out of the shower, there are tons in there as well!

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Day 18: Neutral Nail Polish

I have a love hate relationship with neutral polishes.  I adore them when I see them.  I think they are so pretty and clean looking, but I have never found a shade that didn’t make my nails look grimy.  Instead I opt for super dark colors in the fall/winter and bright colors in the spring/summer.  This is as neutral as I get!

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Day 19: Friday Favorites

As a self proclaimed product hoarder, I have an endless supply of “favorites.”  When looking back at previous challenge entries, I realized I hadn’t shared my love of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes!  I have all three of the UD Naked palettes (and both Basic palettes) but Naked 2 and Naked 3 are the eye colors I am constantly reaching for!

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Day 20: Green

I really don’t use many products with bright colors, so I didn’t know how I was going to complete this challenge.  Then I realized that I have tons of pictures wearing various masks and thought that would be fun!  Earlier this year, my favorite little four year old, H, was begging to do a mask with me.  I was really hesitant to let her wear one, because I wasn’t sure any would be safe on her skin, so we decided to make our own mixing together avocado, honey and greek yogurt.  This picture remains one of her very favorites because she thinks we look like Shrek.

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Day 21: Skin Essentials

I am currently completely obsessed with all things related to skin care.  Narrowing down all of the products I use to essentials was a nearly impossible task.  I was traveling at the time of this prompt so I figured that if I had bothered to pack a product up and bring it with me, it must be essential!

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That completes the third week of the #JuneBeautyChallenge!  Stay tuned for week 4: most recent buy, best subscription, products I regret, travel essentials, hard to find products, blue and best exfoliator.

You can keep up with my challenge by following my Instagram: @JessicasGoneViral

*I have linked to the website of each product whenever possible.  In cases where the product is not sold directly from the brand’s website, I linked to Amazon.

Sample Size Show and Tell – Murad Invisiblur

Life has been a little crazy the last two weeks so I haven’t been quite as “viral” as I usually am!  Today I am starting a new feature called Sample Size Show and Tell.  I have been doing a ton of online shopping recently and received an abundance of samples.  Confession time: I am terrible about using samples.  I am so attached to the items that I use, that I have a hard time branching out and trying samples. I thought that featuring them on here would help me kill two birds with one stone.  My first show and tell is for Murad’s Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30.

The Product

0.17 FL. OZ. / 5 ML
0.17 FL. OZ. / 5 ML

Murad’s Invisiblur is targeted as a single step makeup/skincare treatment that will blur facial imperfections while also leaving your skin with a matte, velvety texture.  They also recommend using this product as a mattifying facial primer.

The Invisiblur container has a pump which allows you to distribute small amounts of the product directly onto your hand.  The clear gel-like consistency applies easily and evenly over your face, and a little bit goes a long way!

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Final Thoughts

I used this product solely as a primer.  I am always on the lookout for a good mattifying primer during my shiny summer months and this product was a good option.  It does not have a strong scent, which I like, and I loved how smooth my face felt.  It really did a great job minimizing my shine throughout the day.  While I liked the product, I don’t think I would purchase the full size which retails for $65.00.  I did not feel that it did anything over and above the other mattifying primers I use, Julep Blank Canvas and Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12 Hour Perfecting.

Try It Out Tuesday: Rodan + Fields AMP Roller

Some people might say that I am more than slightly obsessed with skincare.  I have spent countless hours reading about various moisturizers, face washes, exfoliants, serums, oils and devices.  During one of these skin care research binges I came across a micro needling roller.  It had fantastic reviews but I couldn’t tell what you did with it.  I quickly went to YouTube (the answer to most of my questions) and found numerous videos of women rolling needles over their faces.  I was quickly scared away and blocked these images from my mind.

As weeks went by, micro needling kept coming up in my reading.  Reviewers swore that their skin had never looked better.  Wrinkles were diminishing.  Their skin was soft.  Pores were disappearing.  I decided to put my fears aside and try one out!

Around this time a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page  about the effects she saw after using the Rodan+Fields* AMP Micro-Exfoliating Roller. It instantly caught my attention so I asked her about it.  Of course I asked the usual “How long have you used it? What effects have you seen?  What does it feel like to rub needles on your face?”  She quickly answered all of my questions, brought it for me to explore in person and assured me that it doesn’t hurt that badly.  Then the sticker shock came, $180!As a preschool teacher, I am on a fairly limited income and don’t typically have that kind of money laying around so I wasn’t jumping at the chance to spend $180 to injure myself.  Of course, it came with a night serum, cleaning tablets, and the assurance that it is dishwasher safe.  Ultimately, I chose to purchase from her for one reason: it is FDA approved.  I decided that if I was going to roll needles all over my face, I wanted to make sure they were the safest needles out there. 

The Product

Rodan+Fields is a skin care line developed by the makers of Proactive.  They have multiple regimens that focus on different skin needs.  You can adopt entire regimens or pick and choose products that fit what you are looking for (this is what I did).  This is the extent of what I know about R+F.  I am not a consultant of theirs but will include the website of the friend I purchased from at the bottom if you have more specific questions.

Rather than buying a complete regiment, I purchased the AMP MD System – 60 day supply.  This system is part of their REDEFINE line which focuses on diminishing the appearance of wrinkles, pores and the loss of firmness.  The AMP system comes with the AMP Micro-Exfoliating Roller, Redefine Night Renewing Serum, and purification tablets (used for cleaning the roller).  They recommend dividing your face into four sections (forehead, right side, left side and chin/neck) and rolling each section 3-10 times, varying directions.

60 Day supply

AMP Roller

Common Reactions

Oh my goodness, that thing looks likes a medieval torture device!

I can’t disagree, it totally does.  The idea alone of rolling needles all over your face seems like something that should be outlawed by the government. 

That’s got to hurt.

I’m not going to lie, the first time you roll it is shocking.  Not so much because it hurts, but because you don’t know what to expect.  When applying moderate pressure it actually doesn’t hurt too badly.  It stings, especially in sensitive areas, but I would never say it hurt. 

Doesn’t it make your face bleed?

I never had this reaction.  I have read that minimal bleeding can occur when you first begin but this (thankfully) was not the case. The only “adverse” reaction was redness and minor itching at first. I turn red if I sneeze, so I certainly expected redness after rolling.

Does it work?

Review

As with many other items I try out, I took pictures before, during and after my trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the product.  These pictures demonstrate the progress made over a 6 week trial using the AMP roller and night serum 4 nights per week.  It’s of note that my skin tends to break out during my cycle, which is evidenced during Week 4.

This was my face on my first day of rolling.
This was my face on my first day of rolling.

Following one week of usage (rolling 4 times), I already noticed a change.  My skin was already starting to even out. The large inset wrinkle on the left side of my forehead (the whole cause of my rolling) was already slowly subsiding.

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Wk1-L Wk1- R

Week 4 found me with some stress and hormone related acne.  Although I was experiencing a flare up, the overall texture of my skin has continued  transforming.  This week I began using the entire serum caplet, rather than half. My skin has never felt this soft on a daily basis.

Wk4 - Face

Wk4 - R Wk 4 - L

By Week 6 my acne had mostly cleared up and I was able to see the effectiveness more clearly.  It is no longer looking as dull as it did a few weeks ago.  The soft, smooth texture of my face has become a permanent fixture. 

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Wk6 - L

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Final Thoughts

Overall I love this product.  Possibly even more than the roller itself, I love the serum that it came with.  I wasn’t planning on maintaining my subscription but I can’t imagine finding another serum I love more (sorry Philosophy). Although I don’t have many wrinkles, I will definitely continue using this product.  The exercise of injuring your face with the needles promotes new collagen growth, preventing the formation of wrinkles.  Who doesn’t want that?

 Unfortunately what is not evident in pictures is the feel of my skin.  It has really softened my face.  Additionally, a lot of the below the surface bumps that have plagued me since my teens are starting to vanish.

Through this process I began noticing sun spots on the sides of my face.  A childhood spent in the California sun has definitely taken a toll on my skin.  Because of this,I have decided to try another R+F product, the Dual Active Brightening Complex from the REVERSE line.  Results to be continued…

*I am not now, ever been, or plan to be affiliated with Rodan + Fields.  I tried their product, and am sharing the results, out of my own personal interest and love of talking about my experiences.

**If you have any questions about any of the other R+F products, I am not the person to talk to; instead, talk to Clea: https://cmattingly.myrandf.com/Shop

Monday Masks: Skin Food Rice Wash Off Mask

This week I am starting a new feature: Monday Masks. Facial masks are my favorite part of skin care and I use various masks, 3 times per week.  This week I tried a new mask: Skin Food’s Rice Wash Off Mask

Recently, I have been exploring the world of Korean skin care.  Through this research I was introduced to the brand Skin Food.  This Korean brand prides itself on optimizing high quality ingredients in food and incorporating them into their beauty and skin care products.

On a whim I chose to purchase their wash-off Rice Mask.  This mask aims to brighten your skin tone while also moisturizing the skin. 

Review

After cleansing my face with my favorite micro-exfoliator, I let my face air while I read how to apply this mask.  The directions were pretty straight forward: apply a thorough amount to a clean face, focus on your nose, avoid your mouth and eyes, let sit for 20 minutes and wash off.

When opening the packaging I discovered that the mask was a white, whipped, cream like consistency.  I rubbed a small amount between my fingers and was surprised to find a grainy texture (I don’t know why I was surprised, of course a mask made from rice would be grainy).  After my face dried, I applied the mask to my entire face. 

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Because the mask had a grainy texture, I decided to massage the mask into my face.   The first thought I had while wearing the mask was that I loved the smell.  It is very light and refreshing. I kept thinking to myself that this is a perfect summer treat.  When I glanced in the mirror, I noticed that my face looked like it had a ton of lotion on it, rather than a mask. 

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You can barely tell I have anything on my face. It looks like I have some thick lotion on, rather than a mask.

The mask didn’t harden, unlike most masks I wear.  Instead, it seeps into your skin.  After 20 minutes, it was time to remove.  Using warm water and my hands I rinsed my face and the mask came right off.  Instantly I noticed my skin was super soft!

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a nice mask to add into my rotation.  Unlike other masks I use, I don’t feel it working when it is applied, so it was difficult to determine when the mask was “done”.  It doesn’t target any of my specific needs, so I doubt this will climb to holy grail status for me, but I will certainly use it again!