Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(Late) October Favorites

Okay...I know it's almost halfway through November, but I just moved house and my wedding is in less than two weeks! But I wanted to post these anyway, because I have been obsessed with a few really awesome things last month (and I'm still obsessed).

Fresh Soy Cleanser: $15-$38 from Sephora or Fresh Wesbite/Stores. 

Fresh is one of my favorite brands that I have a love/hate relationship with. The first Fresh Store is on Newbury Street here in Boston which is basically the "Rodeo Drive" of Boston.

Photo credit:
I used to love to browse there when I was in college and couldn't afford to actually shop there. They had all of these beautiful smelling body products in beautiful bottles. Everything in the store was just so gorgeous. They had this AMAZING line of products called Milk, which they sadly discontinued. They also had an amazing line of niche fragrances called Index, which they also discontinued (I believe a few original ones remain, but not my favorite which was Ylang Ylang Hibiscus). They also ventured into a cosmetic line, which is now also gone, save from all the Sugar Lip Products. I still have ONE unopened Supernova Mascara. It frustrates me that they have discontinued all of the product lines I loved, but I guess there's nothing I can do. The Sugar Line seems to do really well and their skincare tends seems to be where they have put their main focus. I digress...

I LOVE the Soy Face Cleanser. It doesn't lather much and it will NOT take off your eye makeup very well, but it's great for cleansing your face gently. It leaves my skin feeling clean...not tight, not stripped, just clean. It smells amazing and I love it. It's incredibly expensive, but oh well.

Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster & Restoration Serum: $48 at Palmetto Derma's Website

I got this in my Boxycharm in October and I love this. If I had not received this, I would have never tried this and this has made a HUGE difference for my skin. I have been using it pretty faithfully morning and evening before my moisturizer (just one pump). I feel like my skin is brighter, smoother and I haven't gotten a super bad breakout in a while. It could be that I'm being ore sanitary in my makeup application or this, but I can't stop, won't stop. This product is pretty expensive, but there is a discount code that you can use until the end of 2014 to get 20% off: BCPD2. I say, give it a try! It doesn't have a scent and it just feels like a water on your face and dries pretty quickly. I think this bottle will last me a long time considering I only use one pump per application. 

L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $6-$10 at Drugstores

I've been using L'Oreal brand mascaras for a while, probably since high school. Their mascara formulas...they have that DOWN. Lash Out Mascara was my favorite forever (I think it's discontinued?) but I recently re-discovered this one. This is a GREAT mascara. It's super black, super volumizing and I also got an unexpected lengthening from this as well. It competes with the Better Than Sex Mascara that I love. It's just awesome and it's inexpensive. I actually love some other L'Oreal mascaras too, but right now, I'm reaching for this one every day. 

Too Faced Everything Nice Palette: $56 Sephora Exclusive

*sigh*, I think this is sold out again. I'm not sure if Sephora will re-stock this (I'm guessing so, since it's still on the website), but it's AWESOME! The main reason I love this is that the eyeshadow colors are AMAZING. I love my Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette and I also LOVE this palette. I swatches "Girly" in the store and I knew this color alone had to be mine. All of the shadows are soft and buttery and well pigmented. The colors I didn't expect to love so much (especially Totally Fetch, the pink), I ADORE. The blushes and the highlighter (and the brushes)...meh. Oh...and it also comes with a cute pink glittery makeup bag and a travel-sized Better Than Sex Mascara. Win all over the place. If you can find this at your local Sephora store...GET IT...but mainly for the eyeshadows. The face products are nothing special and the brushes...meh.

Milani Bella Eyes Eyeshadow: $3-4 at Drugstores

These are awesome and they are only about $4. They have an interesting shape and look like they should yield when you touch them, but they don't. They just feel like a normal powder eyeshadow. They are so pretty and so good! You should use your finger to apply them, but I have been wearing a combination of Bella Gold and Bella Bronze and it's been working for me.

*My New glasses $35-$40 from Firmoo Website (Promotional Sample)

I'm pretty obsessed with these frames. I have 9 pairs of glasses but I pretty much always wear these now. I get compliments every time I wear them and they are mother-fricking cool. I'm not being paid to say this, or anything...I just genuinely love these even though they were sent to me by Firmoo. If you want your own pair, I still have a coupon code that goes until 11/25! It's good for $15 off regular frames. STYLISHSOPRANOBLOGS4 

So that's it for my October favorites! 

*All items were purchased with my own money with the exception of items marked with an (*)asterisk and marked "promotional sample". All opinions are my own. 
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ten Beauty Truths I've Learned the Hard Way

In the past 9 months, my makeup collection has gone from rather modest to this:

I'm equal amounts proud and ashamed. I have spent a lot of my hard earned money on face paint, but I have enjoyed every second spent making up at this vanity. There's nothing I love more than getting ready here and playing with all of the treasures and things I have collected. I really do use everything in this space. In my adventures becoming a "Beauty Girl" are some things I have learned about taking care of your face and making yourself up.

1. Your Tools are Everything: The right brushes and applicators can make a heck of a difference in applying your makeup. You don't need expensive brushes (you can buy some really cool ones at the drugstore and at Target. Hello? Some are crap, but a few are really great) and you don't need a Beauty Blender (if you want to buy one, more power to you, but it's a $20 sponge.) Even your finger can be the right tool in a given situation. Your tools can make a difference between a great makeup application and one that looks not your best. And while we're at it...

2. Wash Your Brushes (and your hands...and ALL your tools!): Listen to me and listen good. If you're new to makeup and haven't used it very much...TRUST ME ON THIS ONE: Wash and sanitize all your makeup tools. I keep a spray bottle of alcohol at my vanity to sanitize things like my eyelash comb, etc. Every time you touch your brush to your product and then touch your brush to your face, you're depositing a little bit of oil, dirt and dead skin cells from your face, moisturizer and what else was on your face onto your brush...your innocent clean brush. Don't want to clean your brushes after each use? Fine; You're opening up your poor facial epidermis to clogged pores, acne, blackheads, name it.

TRUST ME. Buy a spray-on brush cleaner and wash them at your vanity or your makeup area daily AND give them a deep clean maybe every two weeks? Every week ideally. Don't listen to me and make your skin breakout. You don't need anything fancy to wash them with...some baby shampoo will do just fine. No, it's not fun to deep clean them. Sorry. But it needs to be done if you want your face to be beautiful.

Don't know how to do it? Read how here:

By the way, this applies to your fingers and any other non-brush tools that touch your face too. Always touch your face only with clean fingers.

3. Wash Your Makeup Off Your Face Every Night...ALWAYS
Need to go to bed? Tired? Wash your face. Drunk? Wash your face. Not doing this has the same consequence as applying your makeup with dirty brushes. This is a way of being...

4. Be Kind To Your Skin
Because I have oily skin, I have been treating it like it needed to be punished. I have been using pretty harsh cleaners to try and strip the oil and completely dry my face out before applying my oil-free moisturizer. I have also been scrubbing the living daylights out of my face. Everyone loves a good exfoliation, but if you treat your skin as if it's "sensitive" will like you much better. Use a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin and make it feel tight and make sure it gets adequately moisturized. I used to think that "tight, squeaky clean feeling" meant that my oily skin was really clean, but I really just didn't hear my little skin cells screaming. Be kind to your face. It's the only face you have...treat it well.

5. Products Expire
Admittedly, powder products last the longest, but all of your products that you use on your face have a shelf-life. Mascaras last the least amount of time. If it smells, throw it in the trash, no matter how much you paid for it. case you didn't know...a lot of beauty products come with a little "Best Used after Opening" symbol on the packaging that looks like this:

The M stands for months. It's a guideline of course...if you take care of your products (especially your eyeshadows and blushes) you can probably safely use them for longer. But be careful with products that you are putting on your eyes...mascara and eyeliner are particularly hairy. Replace these often.

6. Apply All Your Powders With A Brush
You know that little sponge all your pressed powders come with? That little round one or square one that comes in the compact? Go get it right now and throw it in the trash. You heard me: THROW IT IN THE TRASH. Applying your pressed powder or whatever with that thing can make your powder look cakey but more than's gross. It's the same as using an unwashed, the oils on your face contaminate the sponge, you put the sponge back on top of your powder and then your powder gets oil and grossness in it. I've had several pressed powders that have had their lifespans shortened by oily sponges. Let's take a moment to weep over the money I lost buying new pressed powders.

Don't use this sponge!
7. Making Up Takes Practice
Liquid Eyeliner? You need to practice that. Gel Eyeliner? You need to practice that too. Perfect blush? Take your brush and give it a go! Know are not going to be good at everything right away. I am still struggling with eyeshadow and blending and all that, but I'm a hell of a lot better than I was 6 months ago. Put on your eyeliner and looks like crap? Grab some remover, take it off and try again. That's the great part about makeup. You messed up? You ALWAYS get a do over. When to practice? Before bed! You're going to wash it off anyway...right? RIGHT? (Do you need to read number 3 again?!)

8. Serum Is Actually Worth Using
I have been in a box all my life...wash your face, put on moisturizer. Done. All the sudden, these serums started getting popular and I am like, "Why do I need to add another step to my skincare routine? When I'm ready for bed, I can barely get it together to wash my face."

Stop: About a month ago, I started using a Vitamin C serum and my skin has been in a good mood ever since. Coincidence? I think not. My skin looks brighter, smoother and is less prone to breakouts. Can't stop, won't stop. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to put on the serum after I cleanse and before my moisturizer, but it's worth it. It's not a dumb fad, it's not a craze, it's legitimately beneficial for your skin to apply topical Vitamin C and other things like hyaluronic acid in the form of a serum. Consider one.

My current favorite serum! Thank you Boxycharm
9. Good Quality Makeup is Everywhere
If you haven't shopped for cosmetics at the drugstore since the '90s, you will be shocked. Drugstore brands have stepped up their game. You don't have to spend a lot of money to look pretty. Some of my favorite products are from the drugstore. Although the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is pretty much my favorite, I happen to think L'Oreal mascaras are to die for and can compete with high-end brands any day. Wet N' Wild and E.L.F. also make fabulous affordable products that you can buy at the drugstore. Not saying you shouldn't buy Urban Decay or Dior...just saying you don't have to spend a million dollars to look like a million dollars. Product quality varies in EVERY BRAND from color-to-color/product-to-product. Just read some reviews and try things out. You may like a $2 lipstick more than a $30 one...or vice versa. Don't be a snob and don't be closed minded. After is funny. L'Oreal owns the YSL Cosmetics line...hmmm...

10. A Primer is Actually Worthwhile
Just as you may put a primer on a wall before you paint it, a primer is a worthwhile step if you want your makeup to last or to get the biggest color payoff from eyeshadow. The primers you can put under your foundation or wear alone can smooth your skin's texture and place a barrier between your skin and your foundation. Eyeshadow primers (or a base) allow colors to appear more vibrantly and last longer. It's worth it.

So there you have it! Those are the 10 hard lessons I've learned the hard way this year. Do you have any more you can think of? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know!
Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Problems During the Sephora VIB Sale!

Admittedly, I only started really shopping at Sephora this year. I've had a Beauty Insider Account (which, for those who don't know, is a point-based loyalty problem) for a while, but I just hadn't really been shopping there until this year when I threw away a bunch of old makeup and started buying high-quality replacements. There are three levels of membership, based on how much money you spend at the store over the calendar year. The next level is VIB and then VIB Rouge. I went a little crazy and reached VIB Rouge about a month ago. It's exciting when you reach that level because they give you a Bite Lipstick. If you've never tried a Bite Lipstick, then you don't know what you're missing. It's extremely smooth and long wearing...but I digress.

It's my impression that once a year, Sephora extends a 20% off discount to VIB and VIB Rouge customers. I was very thrilled to get the notification in my email about the sale and the event (which, because of a rehearsal, I was unable to attend), which was supposed to begin yesterday the 6th and end the 10th. Being the beauty junkie that I am, I filled my cart up with goodies that I would only really want to buy if I got a discount on it. I think, in total, I had 8 things in my cart. Sadly, the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush Palette sold out the day before the sale. SAD! I deleted it from my cart and decided I would try and find it in a store. All I wanted to do was click the checkout button when the sale started and I was going to be good to go. Even though I live near several Sephora stores, I like to shop online because of the mobile offers and/or Ebates. com. I logged on to the Sephora App on my phone, and then this happened:

High Traffic? Wow...amazing. Everyone else must be excited about the VIB sale too! I waited several hours to log back in and got the same message. So, the website and app were officially CRASHED. The website and app were crashed during the most anticipated sale of the year.

When I first learned of this, I thought I would wait it out because I love to shop online, but then it was down for HOURS. By 10am yesterday, I decided that I would just drop by the Boston Sephora store before a rehearsal and try to remember all the items that were in my cart. I honestly was having a hard time, but I managed to snag nearly everything that was in my virtual cart, save one item. I even snagged a Tarte Pinup Girl Amazonian Clay Blush Palette, which was completely sold out online. You can't even view the product on the website anymore.

The sales associates didn't seem to really notice that the website was down when I talked with them about it, but all of them were nice and helpful. I was very thrilled to receive my first 500 point bonus which was a little Urban Decay eye set with four beautiful little eyeshadows and a 24/7 black eyeliner  and a super lame sample of primer potion. I'm a little pissed they adhered the sample to the stupid box, but I guess it's nothing a pair of scissors can't cure. I haven't tried this yet, but the colors look pretty neutral.

The bottom line, is that it's now (as I'm writing this) November 7th at 10am and the site is still down for most customers. Even worse, there is some bug in the system (I am guessing this because I can't imagine a major company would do this on purpose) that is locking the accounts of some customers who use an email address from some Chinese servers, such as and The accounts are not only being locked, but the system is giving those customers the reason for locking as some sort of "Violation of Policy" such as reselling, etc. From what I am reading on the Sephora Facebook Page, store associates have not been very helpful regarding this error and neither has the "Beauty Concierge" via the phone. Sephora PR has been less than responsive regarding this whole blunder, with one Twitter post 20 hours ago apologizing for their website being down. They have been replying to tweets in response to the craziness, but there has been no mention of the Chinese email blunder or any mention of how they are going to attempt to make disappointed customers happy.

I feel for them, because there is a major dropping of the ball here from their IT Department and their PR department. A major retailer's website being dysfunctional for over 24 hours during its major promotion is pretty unacceptable. It hurts me a little to say that because I do love Sephora, but I am shocked that the way this situation is being handled. What do you think? Have you tried to unsuccessfully place an order? Have you gone to the store instead? What are your experiences with the "Beauty Concierge"?
Saturday, November 1, 2014

Product Review: Firmoo Eyeglasses

Good afternoon, fellow lovers of pretty things! I am back from a bit of a break. Over the past three weeks, I have been moving all of my things into my new apartment that I now share with my husband-to-be. With our wedding fast approaching, it is now nice that we live in the same place! No more schlepping my stuff over to his place and vice versa. We now share one, wonderfully cozy living space...with my cat. That said, I HATE moving. This is the 3rd time I've moved in 15 months, so you can imagine how good I've become at it. I still hate it. I get rid of more and more stuff every time I move so it's been good for purging stuff...except clothes. I have just as many pretty clothes as ever. Thank goodness, right? I also now have a GORGEOUS walk-in closet for the first time ever. Installed it myself...This is the "before my clothes got there" picture.

Yes, I need that much long hanging space. THE DRESSES.

Anyway, now that I'm all settled, I can get back to posting! The wonderful folks at contacted me and inquired if I would be interested in reviewing a pair of glasses for them here. I have ALWAYS loved eyeglasses since I was a teen. Both of my parents wear glasses and I always had crushes on boys who wore glasses. It was just a thing. Nerdy and blind? I'm going to prom with you and laughing at all your bad jokes.

I didn't become nearsighted until I was in college. I had a little trouble seeing street signs and reading the board in class, so I went out, got my first eye exam and my first pair of glasses. They were Ann Klein. They were adorable cat eye frames and they cost over $200. Seriously? I held on to those puppies for years, until one of the ear pieces kind of broke. I still have them, although I should throw them away. 

A friend of mine recommended an online site where you could go and buy glasses...they were super cheap. Maybe a little too cheap. For $75, I got 5 pairs, which is a lot. They were cute, but kind of cheap feeling and a lot of them didn't fit right. I keep them around because I can see when they are on my face and some of them are fun colors. So, when Firmoo contacted me, I was delighted. I had been thinking about a new pair anyway, so I picked out a pair that I thought would be flattering and I went for it.

The website is super cute and the selection of frames is huge. Prices are GREAT. Considering the website I shopped for glasses at before had SUPER CHEAP prices (like between $5 and $40), these prices were in a range where you KNEW you were going to be getting something higher quality at least. Picking out a pair was hard (so many choices!), but the checkout process was easy and fast. They arrived quickly in a padded envelope and look at the SUPER CUTE case!!!!

The underside is a cute map!

This is a GREAT quality plastic case with a GREAT soft interior to protect the frames. It also came with a lens cleansing cloth and a double-sided screwdriver to make repairs to the frames if need be. This was already MILES ahead of the previous online glasses retailer I had shopped from. Then I put them on my face. My fiancĂ© was there with me as I was trying them on (this was moving day!) and the first thing he said is; "Is there glass in the frames?". Little did he know, I had poked the frames to find out the same thing a few seconds before; They were THAT clear. I had a few more people ask me that going forward. Lastly, they are ADORABLE and fit great. They are very comfortable to wear and I was thrilled to have them. 

Check out the sides!

The ultimate test...driving. Reading signs? Check.   
The weeks that followed, I got MANY, MANY compliments from people who had seen my old pairs of glasses. It was official: They were a hit and I was in love with them. They were my go-to pair and my eyelashes didn't hit the lenses, which was a win in my book. These retailed on the site for $36, which in my opinion is a great price. 

The verdict? You wear glasses? GET THEM HERE. I want to spread the love so the wonderful folks at are going to let you guys get a nice little promotional discount on some glasses of your own! Simply visit, shop and enter the voucher code: STYLISHSOPRANOBLOGS4

This is good for $15 savings on regular priced frames (excludes shipping & products already on sale). The code can be used up to 5 times!!! Get them! You can use this discount code until November 25th. After that, you're on your own!

Thanks for reading this review! Do you like these glasses? What do you think of them?

FTC Disclosure: I received the product in exchange for a blog review, although all opinions and thoughts stated in this review are my own, honest opinion.