Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BeautyFix is back

Behold the return of BeautyFix, dropped into my inbox just today:

Given my litany of problems with the original service, website and product selection, I'm glad they decided to reevaluate and, I hope, fix some of what was broken.

Given the proofreading in the big announcement email, though, I'm inclined to be dubious.

If there's one time you want to show people you're serious about quality and attention to detail, it's in the email you send out telling people you "heard" their feedback about your service.

Grammar aside, I'm torn. If this relaunch follows the pattern of some other subscription box launches (and my previous BeautyFix experience), the first couple of boxes will probably be great, followed by a steep drop-off in ROI. On the other hand, I don't think my FOMO will trump a series of unsatisfactory experiences with the original service.

Anyone planning on giving it a try (or a second chance, as the case may be)?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Your scrub might be frozen in Arctic sea ice

One of my co-workers wrote an article this week about a Dartmouth study looking at the alarming presence of "microplastics," or very tiny pieces of plastic garbage, frozen into Arctic sea ice. As the ice melts, those tiny pieces of plastic could be ingested by birds, mammals and sea life.

What's that got to do with beauty products? Well, as it turns out, "some of the pieces may be polymer beads, or remnants of those beads, that are contained in some cosmetic products."

That's right: Microbeads are making their way out of your shower and into the Arctic ice pack. And they could be making their way back into your home, according to this Australian newspaper:

Tiny and buoyant, and not filtered by sewerage systems, they are swiftly ingestible by marine life, making them more immediately dangerous than a discarded drink bottle. They are likely to have entered the food chain -- so while you wouldn't eat your facial scrub from the jar, you might be consuming it if you eat fish.

Mmmm. Tasty.

So, what's the answer? Avoid microbeads, clearly -- although they're sneaking around in places you might not suspect (like your toothpaste, possibly), so it may require some deep label reading and research. According to The Guardian, Johnson & Johnson, Unilver and Proctor & Gamble have all pledged to phase out microbeads, but they say it's going to take several years. Lush says it does not use microplastics in any of its products. Beat the Microbead posts updates about companies that have responded to their requests to stop using microplastics and a mobile app you can use to scan products to check for known microplastics.

And there are, of course, natural alternatives if you need a scrubbing product; I've written about some here and here.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Watercolor nails: Sally Hansen Palm Beach Tropical Jellies

A long time ago (seriously, like 15 years, maybe?) sheer nail tints had A Moment. I don't remember the brand, but I remember stopping by one particular endcap in Fred Meyer every time I was in the store and thinking long and hard about a collection of sheer polishes from one of the drugstore brands (for real, it was so long ago I don't even remember which one, but my gut is saying maybe L'Oréal?). But I was either a broke college student or a broke high school student (one or the other; I'm really kind of fuzzy on the exact year), so I never actually made the purchase. The display had suggestions for all these ways to layer the different colors, and I never had enough cash (back then we used cash) to get more than one or two colors, and I didn't feel like it would be worth it.

Not buying those sheer tints is a regret that has haunted me to this day. When, finally, tints are having another moment.

I was going to try to track down the OPI Sheer Tints collection even though I sort of choke on the price point with OPI, especially when there's a collection I want in its entirety. But then the Sally Hansen Triple Shine Palm Beach Tropical Jellies came out, and when I saw them in my local Fred Meyer ($4.99 each), I snapped them up and ran straight home to try them out.

First reaction: This collection has just one flaw, and that's the lack of a yellow tint. I'm not convinced it was necessary to do a red and a pink but no yellow.

That aside: I can finally let go of my sheer tints regret.

I just started playing around with these last night, so my first layered sheer manicure is a little all over the place — I was just messing around to see how the polishes worked together. Next time I'll probably start with a nude base coat to eliminate visible nail line or maybe try a white base coat to make the colors pop (like All Lacquered Up did). But I like the watercolor-esque effects from my first effort. (I added a layer of a holo topcoat to a few just to see if they played well together.)

These polishes are very sheer — each of those color washes on my nails took several passes. Still, I'm happy with the sort of Easter egg-y look. They use the wide, flat brush, and I found some success turning the brush on its side to get a narrower edge. And I'm looking forward to trying them with some different base coats and effects (some good ideas in the video below).

Looking at the OPI video really makes me feel the lack of a yellow in the Sally Hansen collection, so odds are good I'll try to pick up the OPI yellow. Other than that, though, I'm pleased with the Tropical Jellies, looking forward to doing some more experimenting with them — and finally letting go of my jelly regret.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spin Pins hairstyle ideas galore

Oh, BuzzFeed. When you deliver, you really deliver. And today you have delivered beautifully, with a roundup of "21 ridiculously easy hairstyles you can do with Spin Pins." I'll be coming back to this well again and again.

Also, if you have long hair and you don't have a set (or four) of Spin Pins, get yourself to the drugstore, stat. These are life-changing, especially for those of us who have very thick hair. They're not kidding when they say they do the work of 20 bobby pins.

Goody's Simple Styles Spin Pin

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review: Chrome and satin polishes from Gwen Stefani for OPI

I wasn't all that excited when the Gwen Stefani for OPI collection rolled out, frankly; I didn't really see anything that exciting. But after reading a few reviews, my curiosity about a couple of the special finishes was piqued, so when I passed the display at my local Fred Meyer last week, I grabbed a couple after all.

In the Morning (satin)

I am generally not a fan of textured polishes. I didn't love the Milani Texture collection, I don't really like the Nails Inc. Leather polishes, Sally Hansen Sugar Coat does nothing for me, and I just don't get the appeal of Zoya Pixie Dust. But I do like a flocked or matte nail, and from what I'd read, the OPI satin finish was somewhere in between.

And it is. And I love it.

In the Morning is a black satin polish that has a hint of shimmer when wet but dries to a finish that's matte and sort of — well, it's hard to describe, but I guess I would call it "soft." It's a little bit velvety without going all the way to a flocked nail; it's matte without being too flat; it's just barely a hint of texture. I now wish I had also bought Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which is a gold polish in the satin finish. And by "wish I had also bought," I guess I effectively mean "probably will also buy."

Push and Shove (chrome)

Instead of Love. Angel. Music. Baby., though, I bought Push and Shove, a silver chrome that comes with a tiny little bottle of a base coat called Lay Down That Base.

Based on the reviews I'd read, I didn't expect Push and Shove to have much staying power, and it doesn't — I put it on my nails yesterday morning and it's already wearing away. But I'd also read some reviews about how it is the perfect chrome polish we've all been waiting for. And in that respect, I have to disagree. Yes, Push and Shove is a great silver chrome, and until it starts to wear away, it looks fabulous.


In my opinion, there is nothing about Push and Shove that makes it superior to the Essie Mirror Metallics collection. In fact, when I put Push and Shove on my nails yesterday morning, I only put it on nine nails, and on the tenth I instead used No Place Like Chrome, the silver chrome from Mirror Metallics, just for comparison. And visually, there is literally absolutely no difference between the two, except that I noticed this morning that the Essie polish appeared to be wearing just a little bit better. In fact, as far as I can tell, the only differences between Push and Shove and the Mirror Metallics collection are:
  • Push and Shove claims to require a special basecoat, which comes in a teeny weeny little bottle (and which, as far as I can tell, isn't sold on its own);
  • Where I shop, Push and Shove costs about a dollar more (although you can find better deals online); and
  • Push and Shove only comes in one color, whereas I've got three or four different shades from the Mirror Metallics collection and they've all got that same lovely chrome finish.

Gwen Stefani for OPI chrome and satin polishes

Bottom Line: Satin is unique and worth checking out; chrome has dupes on the market.
Price: $
Tip: Pass on Push and Shove and check out the Essie Mirror Metallics instead.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Confirmed: LUSH coming to Anchorage

It's really happening, Alaska: LUSH is coming to the Anchorage Fifth Avenue Mall.

After hearing some rumors flying around, I reached out to LUSH public relations. I heard back from PR rep Erin Brady this afternoon; she says "dates will likely change but right now it should be late July." Oh, and they're hiring.

Finally, no more trying to remember to take my empty LUSH pots with me on vacation (and then figuring out how to get a fresh face mask home)! And maybe even the chance to shop one of those secret-not-so-secret post-Christmas sales in person...

I'll keep you posted with any updates.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Visibly Organized: Depotting to Z Palettes

Last summer, my husband and I bought a new house. I now have more room to spread out than I've ever had before — and with the arrival of a new baby shortly after we took up residence, the spreading happened quickly and haphazardly. Now I'm slowly trying to take advantage of the extra room by getting things organized in smarter ways, with an emphasis on being able to see as much as possible as easily as possible. Look for more posts in the coming months about how I'm getting Visibly Organized.

Much as I love prestige cosmetics, I have to admit it: I'm a sucker for an affordable drugstore eye shadow. And Wet 'N' Wild — despite the corny/pornish name and the fact that it was definitely my favorite stop on a Fred Meyer trip when I was oh, say, 10 years old — keeps sucking me back in. It's hard to say no to a well-laid-out palette for just five bucks, especially when, as it turns out, the quality is pretty decent. So I've managed to accumulate a fair number of these little impulse buys over the past couple of years.

Here's the problem, though: I put them all away neatly in one place, and then I forget I have them, and they never get used. A few weeks ago I was organizing the closet in my bathroom and found this little drawer unit just jammed full of products I'd forgotten I had:

Clearly, the drawer system, while good at keeping things contained, was not working in terms of maximizing use.

I immediately thought of the rash of YouTube videos that came out promoting Z Palettes a few years back. At the time, I didn't think I had any use for the magnetic palettes, but looking at my stash of drugstore eye shadows, I decided the time had come. I took a break from my closet project to do some quick online comparison shopping, settled on (5% rebate through Mr. Rebates or 4% rebate through Ebates), and placed my order for two large Z Palettes.

Z Palettes have a magnetized base so shadow (blush/bronzer/powder/etc.) pans stick to the palette and can be removed and/or moved around. Since not all cosmetics come in pans that will stick to the magnetized surface, the palettes also come with a set of adhesive-backed magnets to stick to your pans. Which is a good thing, since it turns out none of my Wet 'N' Wild pans would stick on their own.

The tricky part is depotting your shadows from their plastic cases. They don't just pop out; you have to apply some heat. The palettes come with instructions for a couple of methods, and I know other bloggers have used candles to heat the backs of their palettes. Because I have an old flatiron that I don't use anymore, I decided to go with that method. (I wouldn't recommend the straightening iron method if you want to keep using your iron on your hair. Mine has residue all over it now.)

Working with one palette at a time, I'd pop the lid off, then let the palette rest on one surface of the iron. When the plastic and glue started to soften, I used an eyeliner pencil to gently poke the pan out of the case.

I definitely recommend doing this in a ventilated area. I worked with the bathroom window open. In winter. It was still stinky.

I found I had to be really careful when popping the shadows out, especially with the matte shades, so I didn't crack them. I did crack a couple, and then I had to go back and fix them with rubbing alcohol. Not the end of the world, but not ideal, either.

In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd ordered the pro size rather than the large size, but I'm not sure the $5 price difference would have been worth the extra space. doesn't do a very good job of explaining the size difference.

I'm actually really thrilled with how these turned out, though. As you can see from the background, I've got a couple more to do, but now I've got most of them into two Z Palettes, and already I find I've been using them more just because I can see them.