Color Me Impressed: NCLA Nail Lacquer

In theory, I’d love to be a person who always has her nails done. Nothing makes me feel more, well, polished. But in reality, getting regular salon manicures can be expensive and finding the time to do it at home can be nearly impossible, especially when you take into consideration all the touch ups you’ll likely have to do to keep your nails looking halfway decent.

This is why, on those rare occasions when I find that I won’t need to use my hands for anything for a while and decide to paint my nails, I prefer a nail color that delivers a lot of pigment and shine in one coat. Enter NCLA Nail Lacquer. I received a GORGEOUS bottle of Call My Agent in my January Allure Beauty Box and I couldn’t wait to put it on. I hastily painted on one coat – no base or top coat – and let it dry. I cleaned up my cuticles with a remover-soaked cotton swab (the lacquer brush is just a little bigger than I’d prefer, so clean up was definitely necessary) and went on my way.

The results? I love the color. It goes on true to what you see in the bottle and stays shiny until you take it off. And I cannot say enough how impressed I am with this product’s staying power. I painted my nails Monday evening and the polish didn’t chip at all until Friday morning. I received compliments all week on both the color and quality of my manicure. With a single coat lasting this long, NCLA lacquer makes regular manicures seem possible and worth the effort. Even for a lazy nail painter like me.

The best part? NCLA products are 7-free (meaning they don’t contain formaldehyde and all the other toxins commonly found in nail polishes), vegan and cruelty-free. NCLA also has gels and wraps for nails, and beautiful lipsticks, all in fun and lovely packaging. And as of right now, they are doing a buy one get one free sale on all lipsticks. I just took advantage of the deal. Click here to check it out for yourself. You’ll want to grab yourself a nail lacquer too.

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Sheet Mask Sunday

I’m very drawn to sheet masks. They usually come in fun packaging and I like the idea of perfectly portioned beauty treatments that take very little effort. Most sheet masks consist of a concentrated treatment that sits on top of your skin. When your mask time is up, you simply remove the sheet and massage the remaining treatment into your skin. Easy peasy.

Because I’m so drawn to these treatments, and because they typically have an easy-to-justify price tag, I’ve amassed quite a collection of sheet masks. So in an effort to work my way through them, I have declared this my inaugural sheet mask Sunday.

Since it’s January and the combination of freezing cold winds and dry indoor heat has pretty much turned me into a scaly lizard, I decided to go for hydration. Today I tried not one but three masks. For my flaky face I used a Sephora Aloe Vera Face Mask that claims to hydrate, refresh, and plump the skin while leaving it supple and full of moisture. It was definitely refreshing and did plump up my skin a bit. My face still feels drier than it should but it no longer looks flaky, so that’s a win. With it’s aloe content, I could see this being a lovely post-beach day mask in the summer. If your skin is only moderately dry this would probably do the trick.

The other masks I used today were these fun Aveeno Repairing Cica hand and foot masks. With these, you slip your clean, dry hands and feet into disposable booties and gloves, chill out for 10 minutes, then remove and massage the leftover product into your skin. These masks contain shea butter and prebiotic oat, which is meant to soothe and nourish the skin. I really enjoyed these masks and can feel a definite increase in hydration in my hands and feet. If you have tough calluses this won’t eliminate them, but it will leave your skin feeling really comfortable and soft. As a bonus, these masks are fragrance-free and formulated for sensitive skin. I would recommend them for anyone looking for a quick and easy winter pampering session!

Pacifica Super Kale: Finally, a Kale I Enjoy

As much as I’m into health and wellness, I just never got on the kale bandwagon. I’m not wild about the flavor or texture. The only way I’ve had it that I liked it was in a kale chip, but they’re just not worth the effort. And as my best friend pointed out recently, any food you have to massage before you eat it is just too high maintenance. I’ll stick to spinach, thanks.

But while I’m not a fan of putting kale in my body, it turns out I have no problem putting it on my body, at least not when it’s in the form of Pacifica Super Kale Juiced-Up Shampoo and Conditioner. I ran out of conditioner a few weeks ago and stumbled upon these small green tubes while browsing the beauty section at T J Maxx. Their bright, pretty packaging called to me and since I’ve never met a Pacifica product that didn’t smell great, I picked them up.

Both claim to provide stress and pollution protection and contain detoxifying extracts. They are supposed to support volume and are especially good for fine or oily hair. Plus they’re vegan and cruelty free. I brought them home and gave them a try.

The shampoo is a nice purifying cleanser that completely eliminates product build up. Unlike many volumizing shampoos, it hasn’t left my scalp dry or itchy, just clean. The conditioner, while a terrible detangler (you’ve been warned), leaves my hair feeling soft, looking shiny and completely free from frizz or flyaways. Both products share a clean and extremely mild scent. Overall, my hair looks clean and healthy instead of dull and lifeless, which is how it tends to look this time of year.

I’m not sure if Pacifica is discontinuing this duo so I went back to T J Maxx and scooped up a couple more bottles. If you see these little beauties anywhere, do your hair a favor and buy them. And rest easy knowing they’ve finally found something useful to do with kale.

Pass it on: Rimmel Stay Glossy 3D Lip Gloss

At a business event a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but admire a coworker’s lip color. Known for her bright smile and attention to detail, she looked perfectly polished and was sporting a pretty, slightly shimmery gloss.

When I told her how much I liked it, she happily confessed that she’s the queen of the bargain beauty find and that the gloss she was wearing could be found for a few dollars at any local drugstore.

The gloss was Rimmel London Stay Glossy 3D Lip Gloss. She raved about its smooth (not sticky) texture and staying power. I made a mental note to pick up a tube the next time I stumbled upon one. However, I was delighted and surprised when, a week or so later, she gifted me with one!

Rimmel Stay Glossy 3D Back Row SmoochIt was a tube of Back Row Smooch, a pretty and fairly neutral medium pink. It features a simple sponge-tip applicator that delivers just the right amount of gloss. As soon as I slicked it on I knew why she loved the texture; the gloss feels hydrating and silky smooth, not tacky or goopy. And while a 3D lipgloss might sound a little intense, it translates to a subtle iridescent effect that plays up your pout and is really quite flattering. I find that the initial shimmer wears off after about an hour, but the color lasts and my lips feel moisturized long after that. As an added bonus, my hair doesn’t instantly stick itself to my mouth when I’m wearing this stuff. It’s basically the holy grail of glosses.

Finding out about this little beauty gem definitely made my day and I just had to pass it on. If you’re in the market for a good gloss I highly recommend picking one up. Better yet, get two and share one with a friend.

Brand Crush: Bliss

Brand Crush: Bliss

You may have heard that Bliss – the iconic NYC spa known for its effective products, sassy product names and hefty price tags – recently gave itself a makeover. They kept the quality products, fun names and cute packaging, but ditched the high prices and a whole lot of other stuff; the brand is now paraben, phthalate, SLS, SLES and cruelty-free.

Since it doesn’t get much better than clean, cruelty-free, inexpensive beauty products, I decided I just had to try a few things to see if Bliss was still a beauty contender. I was absolutely delighted by my experience from the start; a buy two, get one free promotion plus a 20% off code (and free shipping!) meant that I got a cleanser, moisturizer and a body butter for $25. And, since Bliss products are now available at Target, I was able to pick up a pack of makeup remover wipes the last time I was there to add to my quickly expanding Bliss collection.

When my package arrived it was adorable. Seriously, receiving a package filled with pink packing hearts is so fun it makes you eager to place another order – we’ll played, Bliss. I’ve been using all of the products regularly and I have to say, I love every single one. Here’s the lowdown on my product picks:

Bliss Fab Foaming 2-in-1 Cleanser. This gentle exfoliating cleanser smells clean, lathers beautifully and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight. It does improve the tone of my skin and reduce blemishes literally overnight, especially when paired with…

Bliss Ex-glow-sion Super Rich Moisturizer. This product claims to give you dewy, radiant skin. Consider that confirmed. It feels so good when you slather it on. It’s rich enough for those cool, dry months without being greasy or too heavy for summer. I’m in love.

Bliss Makeup Melt Oil-free Makeup Remover Wipes. Since I’m a sucker for polka dots and anything that allows me to skip a full face wash when I’m feeling lazy, it was only a matter of time before I picked these up. These simple wipes easily dissolve makeup without drying or irritating my skin. And at $7 for a 30-pack, I don’t imagine my nightstand will ever be without them again.

Bliss Body Butter. I’ve tried the Lemon & Sage (classic) and the Blood Orange & White Pepper varieties. Both have very light, lovely scents and a rich texture that easily melts into skin. I usually save body butters for the winter months but could not resist the blood orange scent and have continued to use it for months. Luckily it absorbs quickly and has proven itself to be a fine summer staple as well.

If you haven’t already placed a Bliss order, I say do it right now (be sure to sign up for their newsletter to get 20% off your first order). Just be prepared to fall in love with every product you try.

Summer Must-have: Fresh #SportYourSugar Lip Kit

I have always been a sucker for cute packaging. Three summer-ready lip balms? Neat. Three summer-ready lip balms in a sporty little zipper pouch? Where do I get mine??

The answer is Sephora, and I have to say the Fresh #SportYourSugar Lip Kit is the best beauty purchase I’ve made in a long time. It comes with minis of the brand’s popular Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments in Rose and Honey. I’ve loved the Rose variety for a long time but this is my first experience with Honey and I’m hooked. The flattering warm nude is my new go-to summer lip color. Both of these tinted balms feature SPF 15 as well as the smooth texture and long lasting moisture Fresh is known for.

The real stand out in this kit, however, is the Sugar Sport Treatment. This SPF 30 sunscreen stick provides protection for your eyes, lips and face. My sister and I put this sporty orange tube to the test last week while we vacationed in Disney World. With temperatures in the 90s and hours spent out in the sun, we really got to see what this stick could do. And we’re impressed. We applied it regularly to our lips and were thrilled that it didn’t rub off on our teeth like so many sport balms do. We also swiped the stick around our eyes (no stinging or burning!) and pressed the waxy sunscreen along our parts to avoid the dreaded sunburned scalp. I could not believe how well this stuff held up! After a full day of sweating, Splash Mountain and swimming, the Sugar Sport Treatment was still in place. The best part? Smudging the product into my hair didn’t leave it looking greasy or flat, but it did protect my skin all day. No sun burns for either of us!

My summer beauty routine tends to be fairly minimal but this kit has definitely earned a spot in my beauty bag this season. If you plan on spending any time in the sun this summer, do yourself a favor and buy this!

Pantene Micellar: A Gentle Clean

I was recently very pleasantly surprised to receive an unexpected delivery from Influenster – they sent me full-sized bottles of Pantene Pro-V Blends Micellar Shampoo and Conditioner free for testing purposes. I’ve been having some serious shampoo commitment issues lately, so I was more than happy to give these a try.

The combination of this gentle cleansing wash and moisturizing rinse is meant to transform fragile hair into strands of strength. After about a month of use, I can confirm that my hair appears to be stronger. I seem to be losing fewer strands throughout the day and my hair feels generally healthy. I’m also really digging the light floral scent of these products – it reminds me of lilacs and is perfect for spring.

The shampoo leaves my scalp clean – not dry – and my hair light and bouncy. The conditioner is lightweight and a decent detangler. They make a great daily haircare duo, but I must caution you if you (like me) like to skip a day between shampoos; about halfway through the second day my hair was embarrassingly limp and greasy. Definitely do not skip a day if you’re using these products!

Overall I like the way the micellar line makes my hair look, feel and smell. Have you tried it yet?