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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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Halloween 2015

Halloween has always been a mixed bag of treats for me.  I love seeing kiddos all dressed up in their costumes, watching scary movies and making spooky inspired snacks but dressing up as an adult has never been something I got into.  When conversations about Halloween start coming up, I enthusiastically nod my head and pretend to get excited, knowing there is no way I will participate.  Not only is my creativity extremely stunted, Halloween is one of the few times my typically sky high self esteem leaves me.  For some unknown reason, I changed my attitude this year and decided to embrace the holiday!

Friday was crazy busy, but I still wanted to look my Halloween best!  I started the day in a subtle ensemble because the school I work at doesn’t celebrate Halloween.  I wore a simple “This is my Costume” graphic tee that I picked up at Target with some black jeggings and my sugar skull Converse sneakers.  I love these shoes and was excited that it was finally a seasonally appropriate time to wear them.

Friday Outfit #1
Friday Outfit #1

In the middle of the day, I broke away for a little while to visit my favorite 5 year old for her school’s Pumpkin Day Picnic.  Unfortunately it was raining, but I was prepared.  I changed into an off the shoulder sweatshirt that had a witch on a broom stick and said “Frequent Flyer” and my red Hunter rain boots.  I was excited to see how happy she was to show off the Hello Kitty inspired pumpkin we had decorated together!

Friday Outfit #2/Hello Kitty Pumpkin
Friday Outfit #2/Hello Kitty Pumpkin

Finally it was time the night’s big festivity, a Ludacris concert with my bestie!  I changed into a sweater I bought on tipsyelves.com with a break dancing skeleton on it, black leggings and (because it was still raining) I stuck with my Hunter rainboots!  Jaime and I both love taking pictures with props so we brought fun spider light up glasses and masks with us.

Friday Outfit #3 with Jaime
Friday Outfit #3 with Jaime

On Saturday, I started getting ready with a blow out from Dry Bar.  This wasn’t my very favorite blow out (I usually like my curls a little tighter for the staying power), but it still looked nice.  Afterwards I came home and made some little ghost cookies to bring to a pre-party I was attending that evening before going to The W with my friends!

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things is not like the others

I was so excited to bring my Dia de Los Muertos concept to life with the help of my friend Nicole.  She was so nervous to mess up my face (and we did have a few snafus in the middle) but it turned out great!  With my makeup done it was finally time to throw on my dress and flower crown before heading out (and what a fun night it was)!Dia de Los Muertos

As much fun as I had, taking all that makeup off was a bit of a chore, but not nearly as terrible as I had feared.  I started with Julep Bareface Cleansing Oil to break down the makeup.  Next, I washed my face with my Clarisonic.  I finished up with a Neutrogena makeup remover wipe.  While my face was erased of all signs of makeup, my Clarisonic Deep Pore head is unsalvageable! Totally worth it!

Facewash

There is no coming back for this one!
There is no coming back for this one!

Bonus Content:

My dog Ollie getting in on the Halloween action!
My dog Ollie getting in on the Halloween action!

For extra beauty ramblings follow my Instagram @jessicasgoneviral

*I have linked each product for purchase.  Each product mentioned I purchased for myself based solely on word of mouth and intuition.  I have linked each product to an online retailer but do not receive any compensation if you choose to purchase from them.

Weekly Blowout Routine

It has been a loooong time since I have blogged but between work, school, family and friends something had to give!  Luckily I am almost back on a routine (plus I have a detailed outline for a manuscript I’m writing due on Thursday and I am procrastinating) so I am back.  To kick off this homecoming I am going to fulfill a request I received this summer from my friend Amanda…my hair care routine.

When I was young I hated my hair with a passion.  It was big and frizzy and I never knew what to do with it so it went in a ponytail until my mom would bribe me to cut it.  Then I was really stuck with some helmet hair!  I will always remember coming home from school during my sophomore year in high school and sitting down with my mom to watch an episode of Oprah.  She was giving hair makeovers and one guest was sharing her horror story which involved someone using thinning shears on her hair.  She warned people to run away if a hairdresser ever pulled them out around you.  Her warning had the opposite effect on me; I ran towards them and never looked back.  My current (and phenomenal) hair dresser always jokes that I lose more hair in a thinning than most do in a cut.

Now that I am older and have a better idea about how to handle my hair I love it!  I am blessed with the fact that I only need to wash it once a week, which is great because I hate blow drying it.  Like most things in my life, my hair routine* is fairly consistent.  Luckily most people don’t even realize that I style my hair in specific ways on specific days (until now).

Day 1 — Sunday

Sunday’s are reserved for hair washing.  Sometimes this switches to Saturday’s and once or twice a month I go to Dry Bar, but typically Sunday is the day.  Because I have purple hair right now, some products and procedures are specific to maintaining my color.

  1. Thorough clean.  This week I used Redken’s hair cleansing cream shampoo to really cleanse my hair of product build up.
  2. Vivid cleanse.  I use Pravana Choromosilk color protecting shampoo and conditioner to maintain my purple.
  3. Violet cleanse.  Violet shampoos are great to use if you are blonde and want to keep brassy tones out of your color.  I have tried a few but always go back to Joico Color Endure Violet.
  4. Hair mask.  To keep my hair soft I use Kerastase Nutritive Masque.  I was wanting to add a masque to my routine and chose this particular mask because it is made for thick/coarse hair.  It’s fantastic and leaves my unruly hair soft and shiny.
  5. I thought the purple in my hair hair needed a little boost this week so I decided to apply Overtone’s Go Deep Vibrant Purple Weekly treatment.  I’ll be doing a full review of the product at a later date.

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With freshly cleansed and colored hair, the drying process begins.  I begin my pulling out the three products I use:

  1. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Treatment
  2. Kenra Blow Dry Spray 
  3. Tressemme Curl Activator

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I begin by spraying my hair evenly with Its a 10.  I brush through it with my Wet Brush.  I then spray the Kenra and Tressemme and brush through again.  I part my hair into three sections (right, left and bottom) with simple clips.  Beginning with the bottom portion of my hair I rough dry using my T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i (I opted for this version specifically because my hair hair is so thick).  Next I bring down the right side to rough dry, the left side and then use my Olivia Garden finger brush to bring my hair to a complete dry.  That’s all I do on Sunday’s.  I like to get a good sleep on a silk pillowcase before styling the next morning.

Day 2 — Monday

I am my most energetic on Monday mornings which works out well because when I wake up Monday, my hair needs some work!  I typically wear my hair straight at the beginning of the week so before I start my eye makeup, I plug in my Instyler and spray my hair with Tresseme Heat Tamer Spray.  Once my makeup is done and my tool is warmed up I part my hair into three sections, just like when I blow dry.  Taking 1-1.5 inch sections, I slowly glide my hair through the Instyler.  The Instlyer can be used in various ways, but I like to use it to straighten my hair and gently curl under the ends.  After my hair is complete, I run a single squirt of BedHead After Party through my hair.

Monday1 Monday Hair

To prepare my hair for bed I use a Spornette’s boars’ hair brush and brush for about two minutes (roughly 65 strokes).  I then throw my hair into a high ponytail on the very top of my head (think Pebbles Flinstone) with a 1990s throwback scrunchie.

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Day 3 — Tuesday

Tuesday morning looks a lot like Monday.  I pull my hair down, brush through it and go over kinky pieces with my Instyler.  Once I do that, I am out the door!

Tuesday Hair

Typically my hair is still in good shape Tuesday night, so I brush with my boars’ hair brush and just throw it back up for bed with my trusty scrunchie.

Day 4 — Wednesday

Wednesday mornings are rough!  I am groggy and my straight hair is boring me.  Often this leads to an undo of sorts.  Today I decided to include a small fishtail braid into my look.  Using my rat tail comb, I section of a large chunk of hair near my face and rub some Redken Braid Aid into the piece.  (While this product isn’t essential, it really helps me keep fly aways in place).  I pinned it back with my mega bobby pins and put my hair back with a clear elastic (Blax are fantastic if you have thick hair).

IMG_3871 Wednesday Hair

Usually by Wednesday night, my hair is starting to show signs of age.  I applied Living Proof Night Cap Overnight Perfecter to bring the shine back and Redken’s Pillow Proof dry shampoo to add some volume and eliminate any traces of oil.  After letting everything absorb I throw my hair up with my scrunchie and go to bed.

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Day 5 — Thursday

I have class on Thursday nights so I tend to wake up a little bit early and refresh my look so I look nice in class (it’s a mental game I play with myself so that I don’t dread going quite as much).  I love my hair curled, and have a ton of curling irons, but my favorite remains the T3 SinglePass Whirl Conical Curling Wand.  Before I start my eye makeup, I spray my hair with Chi’s texture spray, plug in the wand and by the time I am ready, it is all warmed up.  Because of the density of my hair, I usually warm it to about 430 degrees.  I start by dividing my hair into three sections (right, left and bottom).  Starting with the bottom section I curl 1-1 ½ inch sections in alternating directions, starting away from my face.  Once each section is finished I apply Chi’s firm hold hairspray.  I leave the curls to cool and then release them when I’m ready to leave for work.

Thursday1 Thursday Hair

By Thursday night, my scalp begins to show signs dryness so I apply tea tree oil to my finger tips and massage into my hair.  Once complete, I put my hair up and go to sleep.

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Day 6 — Friday

My hair holds a curl pretty well so on Friday’s I simply spray my hair with TIGI Spoil Me Restyler and re-curl a few pieces of hair.  I add some hair spray and I am good to go.  Because of some rainstorms in Dallas I planned to spray my hair with Big Sexy Weatherproof Spray but I couldn’t find it and I was in a hurry!

Friday1 Friday Hair

Friday night was pretty boring.  I knew I was going to have a low key Saturday so I didn’t bother trying to preserve my hair, I simply put it up and went to bed.

Day 7 — Saturday

It was raining Saturday and I didn’t have much going on.  For a quick and simple style I did a side fishtail braid and called it a day!

This is a typical week for my hair.  Of course, it isn’t always exactly like this, but it’s usually pretty close.  One final tip: I always sleep on satin pillowcases; not only do they make me feel like I’m sleeping at a fancy hotel, they also prevent frizzy hair (and wrinkles)!

For extra beauty ramblings follow my Instagram @jessicasgoneviral

*I have linked each product for purchase.  Each product mentioned I purchased for myself based solely on word of mouth and intuition.  I have linked each product to an online retailer but do not receive any compensation if you choose to purchase from them.

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.