Beauty Quickie: Great Nails to Go

Who: KISS

What: imPRESS Press-on Manicure One-Step Gel

When: For a special event or anytime you want to feel like you have your act together.

Where: I picked up a package that included 36 nails (six were accent nails) at Walgreens.

Why: I really like the look of gel manicures but I don’t like to spend a lot of time or money on my nails. For less than $10 and about as many minutes, I was able to give myself a fun, glossy manicure that didn’t require any drying time and that stayed put for five full days (my friend’s lasted seven, but I was particularly hard on my hands when I had them on). Pro tip: I find most press on nails to be too long and square for my taste – I prefer a shorter and more rounded tip for a more natural look. After I applied the nails I used a regular nail trimmer to cut and shape the nails – the file that came with the kit didn’t work for me. I received tons of compliments on my manicure and people were surprised to learn they were fake. I’ll definitely buy these again.

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Eye Love Summer

Eye Love Summer

I have a confession to make: I’ve become a little obsessed with eye treatments. I can’t stop using eye masks and I’m hooked on my new eye cream (more on that below). But here’s the thing: all this eye love seems to be working. When I look in the mirror I’m not seeing crazy dark circles and I’m no longer focusing on those little crinkles near my eyes. And these treatments aren’t just effective, they’re also quick and easy. Eye masks, for example, are generally very easy to apply and take about 10 minutes to work their magic. And since you can wear them while doing almost anything else, they’re a great way to take care of yourself when you’re feeling too busy to squeeze in anything extra.

Here’s a look at my new favorite eye treatments:

Context Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream: This product is actually a lightweight eye gel that glides right on to instantly brighten and smooth the under-eye area. I swear it makes fine lines disappear, and the second day I wore it my coworker mentioned that I looked especially bright eyed that day. I no longer leave home without applying a tiny dab under each eye.

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Rose Gold Eye Masks: I kept seeing ads for these rose gold foiled eye masks and they looked so fun I had to try them. I ordered a box of them from Sephora (a box contains six pairs) and thoroughly enjoyed lounging on my couch watching the new season of Queer Eye with them on. They didn’t do a whole lot to reduce puffiness but they did brighten my eyes and I felt super glam with them on.

Sephora Cucumber Eye Masks: These claim to be soothing and they definitely are. I used them after work on a long, hot day and loved the cooling sensation of the serum. These masks were a little messy fresh out of the package but they stayed put and left me feeling refreshed.

Bath & Body Works Gold Hydrogel Under Eye Mask with Caffeine: By far my favorite of the eye masks, this pair of rubbery gold masks was easy to apply, fun to wear, and drastically reduced my eye puffiness – caffeine is the key. Next time I’m near a Bath & Body Works I intend to stock up on these little gems!

What are your favorite eye products this summer?

Long, Pretty Lashes in Three Steps

Beauty trends come and go, but long, pretty lashes are pretty much always in. Here are my three best tips for making the most of your lashes:

1. Take your vitamins. I’ve been taking hair, skin and nail supplements for ages to help strengthen my nails and keep my hair looking healthy. A couple of months ago I switched to Nature Made Hair Skin Nails Adult Gummies (I can’t resist a BOGO sale) and didn’t think much about it until, a few weeks later, I noticed that my eyelashes looked significantly longer. Soon after that my sister asked me why my lashes were so long. Naturally, these fruity little vitamins are now officially on my must-have list.

2. Curl with a classic. You may not be comfortable with eyelash curlers – a good friend has confessed that she’s terrified of sneezing mid-curl and tearing all her lashes out – but you’d be surprised at how much of a difference a good curler makes. And by “a good curler,” I mean the curler: the iconic Shu Uemera Eyelash Curler. It is hands down the best one on the market. It gives lashes a gentle curve (not a harsh crimp) that will last all day, making your lashes appear longer and your eyes brighter. You’ve got to love a gadget that can make you look polished and well rested in under a minute.

3. Join the mile high club. No, not that mile high club. I’m talking about Wander Beauty Mile High Club Volume and Length Mascara, AKA the best new mascara I’ve tried in years. I love its sleek gold packaging, but that’s nothing compared to how much I adore the formula – a lengthening, lash-lifting black mascara that isn’t clumpy, even if you apply several coats. It stays put throughout the day without flaking or smearing and really does give lashes a noticeable lift. The best part? After months of daily use, this mascara hasn’t bothered my extra sensitive eyeballs, not even when I’ve forgotten to wash it off before bed. It’s the lash-lengthening mascara of my dreams!

Out of This World: NCLA Mercury Retrograde Jelly Balm

Out of This World: NCLA Mercury Retrograde Jelly Balm

I’m a sucker for a clever marketing campaign, so when I opened up an NCLA order last month and found a postcard reading “PSA: Mercury Retrograde starts March 4,” featuring a picture of the brand’s newest Jelly Balm lipstick, I knew I’d be purchasing it.

NCLA Jelly Balms come in all kinds of brightly colored shades. They all go on clear and then react with your skin’s PH levels to create a custom shade for you. I’ve always loved products like this and I was drawn in by the sheer neon tomato look of the Mercury Retrograde Jelly Balm. The balm has a silky smooth texture and upon application turns a beautiful shade of pink that I would describe as bubblegum raspberry. I’m completely obsessed.

I find the balm doesn’t last all that long (probably due to the excessive amount of coffee I drink on the average day) so you may want to take it with you for on-the-go touch ups. Or better yet, buy an extra one for your purse. If you’re like me, you’ll be wearing this long after Mercury retrograde is over.

Secret Weapon: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Over the course of the last six months or so, I’ve noticed that my under eye area seems angrier than usual. Darker. Crinklier. Certainly more tired.

I’ve tried various serums and eye creams in hopes of improving the situation, but so far the only measurable results have been irritated eye balls. I haven’t given up hope, and I have a few new contenders to try out, but I know I need a little help while I wait for conditions to improve.

Enter NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I picked up a mini tube in Vanilla Light 2 during a recent Sephora trip. It turns out this shade is perfect for masking dark circles and works with my fair complexion. This creamy concealer blends easily and provides a surprising amount of coverage with just a tiny dab of product. It’s long lasting and doesn’t crease or draw attention to those extra crinkles I mentioned. And the mini size I purchased for $13 six weeks ago still has plenty of product left in the tube. Which means I can afford to keep using this secret weapon until I find a more permanent under eye solution.

What’s your secret weapon product?

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.

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!