Easy Abstract Floral Nail Art Tutorial

I love nail art that looks really intricate, yet is effortlessly simply in application. I asked fellow beauty blogger and fellow Pennsylvanian, A Little Polish to create a tutorial just for A Girl's Gotta Spa! readers. If you're looking for some simple abstract floral nail art, here’s a tutorial to Read more

Wrinkle Reducing Products

When we're young, we take our flawless skin for granted, never considering that what we do early on will affect us when we're older. We try to rush things, like wearing makeup (and always forgetting to take it off), skip things like sunscreen and make poor choices like smoking. Read more

Onsen $1000 Gift Card Giveaway

It's my birthday week and I am turning the big 4-0. What better way to welcome in my 40's than with a giveaway for an amazing anti-aging skin care line? Inspired by the countryside baths of Japan, Onsen skin care products are made with the same restorative minerals found at Read more

Best Body Lotions

  The best body lotions are the kind that leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated, not just for hours, but for days at a time. I am incredibly picky when it comes to my beauty products, and when it comes to body lotion, I need something that delivers. Here's a Read more

Favorite Black Eyeliners

There's something that a black eyeliner conveys that brown or even brightly colored or metallic eyeliners can't duplicate. Black says bold, daring, classic, sexy. While there are times that I opt for brown or grey, a good black eyeliner is always my first choice. Some of my favorites include CoverGirl liquiline Read more

Cosmetics

Rain Cosmetics: Blood, Sweat, and Tears Lip Trio

 It’s been said by passionate careerists time and time again – if you love your job, you’ll put your blood, sweat, and tears into it. Now, beauty lovers can apply the same mentality (well, maybe not literally) to their beauty regime thanks to Rain Cosmetics.

The Vegas-based beauty brand has a lot to live up to. The line was inspired by the city’s glamorous nightlife, and they even refer to themselves as “The Sexiest Makeup in the World”….so when I tested out their Blood, Sweat, and Tears lip trio, I was hoping to be nothing less than amazed.

Naturally, each product in the trio serves a different purpose. While you can definitely wear each of the shades alone, I prefer using the three together for the best effect.

Blood: Blood is a red lip stain. Stains can be tricky, but this one is an awesome product for first-time users because it isn’t too dark upon first application. I prefer a darker lip, so I put on about 2 or 3 coats. TIP – Make sure you exfoliate your lips before applying ANY lip stain! If your lips are dry, you’ll wind up with uneven color that is hard to remove.

Sweat: A shimmery champagne sparkle, Sweat adds some needed dimension to Blood. I found that when wearing alone, this product wears off pretty quickly…so for best results pair with Tears to lock the sparkle in.

 Tears: Tears is a standard, slick high gloss. The sheen lasted longer than other clear glosses and added the finishing touch to Blood and Sweat  that will make your lips pop.

 

Here I am testing out Blood, Sweat, and Tears lip trio from Rain Cosmetics.

I was very pleased with the collection and it has officially been added to my daily beauty routine – a girl can never have too many red lip stains! The set retails for $30.00. Check out  www.raincosmetics.com to learn more about other products in the collection.

Have you tried Rain Cosmetics products before? What was your experience?

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in beauty, lip gloss, lip stain, Makeup Leave a comment

29 Cosmetics at Cake Plate Boutique

I have a friend named Felicia who can rock a red lipstick like nobody’s business. Have you secretly always wanted to wear red, but just didn’t think you could pull it off? I sure have. So when someone from Cake Plate Boutique approached me to review a line of cosmetics they carried in their Napa Valley store, I took the chance to ask her to pick a color she felt would best suit me. I was told 29 Cosmetics’ Wine Critic, a red, would look great on me. I took a big gulp and felt worried.

Wine Critic, from 29 Reserves Moisturizing Lipstick Collection (SPF20), utilizes grape seed extract, an anti-oxidant that smoothes, softens and prevents aging, straight from regional grapes. More powerful than Vitamin E and 20 times more efficient than Vitamin C, the extract is said to have the ability to keep lips looking young, vibrant, and stylishly smooth. Although, for me, the lipstick didn’t feel very moisturizing. Additionally, the colors are named in honor of the Napa Valley region–hence Wine Critic.

Wine Critic is rich and vibrant. I personally love it and there is something about wearing this color that just makes you feel sexy. Like most lipsticks, the color doesn’t stay put very long if you are eating/drinking.

Here’s a shot of me wearing it, what do you think?

29 Cosmetics can be found in-store at Cake Plate Boutique at 1000 Main Street in Downtown Napa.

*Disclosure

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, lipstick, Makeup Leave a comment

Get Dazzling Eyes This Season With Tinsel-Colored Liner

Holiday party season is officially here, and if you’re opting to go the subtle route fashion-wise by avoiding ultra-sparkly cocktail dresses and glitter heels at all costs, there’s still plenty of ways to add some celebratory glitz to your seasonal party look! Instead, try focusing the festiveness on your makeup. Metallic silver liner adds just the slightest dash of holiday vixen appeal that makes a surprisingly gorgeous impact. It’s like tinsel for your eyes… which is way less painful than it sounds!

Try not to go too 90s-fabulous with the trend (that whole frosty lid look might make you look dated), and instead stick to just the corners of your eye and the inner rim. Similar to how white pencil makes peepers appear wider and brighter, silver liner will make eyes sparkle with a sexy metallic sheen. Also, make sure you pick an easy-glide, extra-bright chrome silver – darker gunmetal shades just won’t have the same tinselly effect!

Pictured above: Milani Liquif’Eye Metallic Eyeliner Pencil in Silver, L’Oreal HiP Chrome Eyeliner in Silver Lightning, Stila Smudge Stick in Silverdollar, and Bobbi Brown Dual Ended Eyeliner in Jet/Chrome.

Guest post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, eyeliner, holiday, Makeup Leave a comment

Get Ready to Put Urban Decay’s Naked 2 Palette on Your Shopping Radar


NO JOKE. I seriously just got my hands on Urban Decay’s most freaked-about product ever, the Naked Palette (I know, two years late – I’m pathetic), and the makeup geniuses have already released its sequel! However, unlike The Hangover 2, The Godfather Part III, and the endless Land Before Time sequels that refused to die, the Naked 2 Palette seems like one of those rare sequels that won’t disappoint. As excited as I am about this, it admittedly doesn’t look too different from the original Naked Palette, so unless you’re an Urban Decay super-fan like me or are still too exhausted from tracking down the first one, you might be okay sitting this one out. (Ugh, did I really just say that?!) But its new sister palette does incorporate some pretty tawnier shades and russet reddish-browns as opposed to the first one’s sparkly champagnes and shimmery bronzes. And that’s different enough to justify a purchase on my part! Unfortunately, if you weren’t one of the lucky 5,000 to snag one up on Urban Decay’s short-lived presale, you’ll likely be out of luck until who-knows-when… but it doesn’t hurt to keep it on your shopping radar… or letter to Santa!

- Alex Gambardella

Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! We’re on Kindle too!


Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, eye shadow, Makeup 1 Comment

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Holiday Gift Guide

If you survived Black Friday and are still in need of some holiday gift ideas for the family or friend who loves beauty products, then I know you’ll find our Holiday Gift Guide useful. Amanda, Gail and I put together some of our best and most favorite gift ideas (i.e. gifts we’d like to see under the tree) into a 13 page catalog. We opted not to create a multitude of holiday gift posts and thought a handy catalog that you can browse through and link directly to the product would make for a great all-in-one-place guide.

Here’s what we covered: Hair care, skin care, bath & body, holiday kits, cosmetics, gifts that give back and spas and spa treatments that we love. There’s some nail polish mentioned in there too!

Many thanks to Kelli & Co. for creating the cover for our Holiday Gift Guide. When reading it, make sure you view it at 100%; it is a downloadable PDF.

Enjoy the catalog and please feel free to pass onto your friends! Download it by clicking this link: Holiday Gift Guide

Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links and 2 brands mentioned are clients.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, holiday, Makeup, salon, Spa Leave a comment

Vegan Makeup Review: GlamNatural Hydrating Foundation

This past summer, Christine Holmgren and Brittany Norman attended my social media panel at Cosmoprof North America and approached me to tell me about a new cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan makeup brand they were launching. It sounded interesting and soon enough they popped a sample in the mail of their initial product, Hydrating Foundation. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love, which says a lot considering I haven’t worn liquid foundation in forEVER.

Why? Well that’s the interesting part. In the fall/winter, my skin goes a little wack and will peel or have dry patches.  Wearing liquid foundation was like putting a magnifying glass on these problem areas and only made it more noticeable. So what makes GlamNatural’s Hydrating Foundation so different? It is shea butter based, therefore it’s actually moisturizing my face, not to mention its other skin conditioning ingredients like grape seed oil, sunflower oil and jojoba oil. I have combination skin and had been worried that the shea butter would be too much for my skin, but it is not at all.

Glamnatural’s Hydrating Foundation comes in a 30ml glass bottle with an airless pump. That means it contains no water and therefore, no preservatives. It also is only comprised of 6 BodySafe ingredients plus color. So no fillers and unnecessary add-ons. Due to the formulation and consistency of the shea butter in it, you apply this foundation slightly different than you would your typical liquid foundation. I think of it like La Mer where you can only pat the cream on to activate it. For the Hydrating Foundation, you have to either pump a pea sized amount onto the top of your hand and rub your index finger on it to “heat it up” or disperse a pea sized amount onto your index finger and then warm it up between your finger and your thumb. The bottom line is that you need to let your body heat warm it up a bit so that it glides on your skin smoothly. And a little goes a long way, as the saying goes. My face only needs about a pea and a half dollop of the foundation to give me the coverage I like. And what’s great is that I can ditch my daytime moisturizer since this foundation already contains one.

This is full coverage foundation that is buildable. I do use a concealer on the sides of my nose, under my eyes and on my lids still, but I know a concealer is in the pipeline for GlamNatural, so I look forward to using a concealer that will work great with my skin.

I can’t begin to tell you all of the compliments I have gotten on my skin since including it in my makeup regimen (I’m wearing Ivory 2 in the picture above.) Even my cousin ended up buying some and raved about it on GlamNatural’s Facebook fan page (and she has super fair skin, so I was thrilled it worked for her!)

GlamNatural’s Hydrating Foundation is available for $65 at www.glamnaturalmakeup.com. And in full disclosure, I work with this brand for their social media, but I wouldn’t have posted this review if I didn’t think it was absolutely amazing. If you’ve used their foundation or have questions, please leave a comment!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, foundation, Makeup, skin care 1 Comment

Makeup Review: Boots 17 Falsifeye Mascara

I am a mascara addict. If there is one thing I will not leave the house without, it is a quick coat of mascara on my lashes. I’m fine with nothing else on my face. So I am always happy to be given the chance to try out any new mascara that comes onto the market and was therefore excited when I received a tube of Boots 17′s Falsifeye mascara, having heard good things about the product itself and already loving the brand anyway.

Falsifeye claims to “create wow effect eyelashes.”

I gave the mascara its first real outing for brunch with my girlfriends. Wearing nothing else on my face, just a lick of blackest black mascara. The brush is pretty big and looks like a mass of unruly bristles when covered in mascara but I wasn’t deterred and I was pleasantly surprised by the look it created: My lashes were left defined and curled* right to my little lashes at either side.


For a mascara that comes in at under a tenner I’d say I’ll be buying it again! Which is your go-to budget mascara? Or are you only a top dollar girl when it comes to your lashes?

Thank you to Shannon for letting me loose on her blog again!

You can find my beauty blog at http://the-eyeofthebeholder.tumblr.com and my fashion and lifestyle blog here http://sugar-and-spice.com.

*I should add, I do use a curler too as my lashes are flat, flat, flat!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Makeup, mascara 2 Comments

Makeup Review: GloMinerals GloBlush

I find myself in the market for a new blush only every so often. Like most women, I have my staple products that I know and love (hel-lo Nars Torrid blush), but I do like to test out new products once in a while to make sure I’m not missing out on anything.

I was excited to learn about GloMinerals products. A beauty brand comparable to the beloved Bare Escentuals line, GloMinerals promise flawless skin with oil-free, light reflecting pigments, and SPF of 15 in most products.  Personally, I’ve always felt mineral makeup is the way to go.  It’s good for your skin and always leaves a natural, radiant finish…not to mention it’s incredibly easy to apply.

Thanks to my Irish roots, I have very fair skin with naturally pink undertones. For this reason I tend to select peach-toned blushes to play down any redness and add a hint of bronze glow to brighten up my face (especially during those sun-deprived, vacation-less winter months).

I selected GloBlush in Nectar – a peachy powder with a nude shimmer. When applied to my cheekbones and blended out to my temples, it highlighted my face nicely and gave a nice natural glow for daytime. I loved the color as a simple everyday look, and am definitely planning on trying their powder cheek stain (yes, a powder stain!) for a more bold look in the future.

Check out the GloMinerals website to view all products. If you need another reason to go shopping, the site promises a free gift with purchases over $150.00. Have you tried any of GloMinerals makeup?

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in beauty, blush, Makeup, mineral makeup Leave a comment

Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Holiday 2011

 “If your eyes are the windows to your soul, your eyebrows are the curtains.”

I’d like to thank the anonymous beauty babe who came up with that bit of wisdom – and I’m sure eyebrow expert to the stars Anastasia Soare of Anastasia Beverly Hills would, too.  Anastasia has built a legacy creating products that cater to the brow-obsessed, and her 2011 Christmas Holiday Gift Sets do not disappoint.

 I’ve been a longtime fan of Anastasia Beverly Hills, but up until now had only used a select few products. Naturally, I was psyched to see what the Holiday Sets had in store…

BRIGHT EYES, BIG CITY – Nordstrom, $39

This kit is awesome. It’s a great sampling of products that contains everything you need for a perfectly polished brow: clear eyebrow gel, tweezers, brow powder, and a selection of illuminating products that keep your eye area looking dewy. If you’re just jumping into brow shaping, this is the kit for you.

ALL EYE WANT PALLETE – Sephora, $32

This eyeshadow kit comes complete with 9 stunning neutrals, a mini mascara, and the Anastasia signature clear brow gel. The shadow lasted me through a workday, and it was easy for me to transition into a nighttime look by playing around with the colors a bit.

KISSES ON MY LIST – Sephora, $30

This limited edition gift set comes with six lip glosses in a spectrum of pouty pinks and neutral shades. Perfect for the holiday season, you’ll be looking kissable when standing under that mistletoe.

Ultimately, my favorite set was “Bright Eyes, Big City”, but any of the kits are a great way to introduce a friend (or treat yourself!) to the brand. The eye sets have a nice variety of products, with shadow highlighters and colors that suit all skin tones, and the lip gloss collection will leave your lips plump and color-perfect.

Do you use Anastasia’s products? Share your experience in the comments!

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in beauty, brows, brows, lip gloss, Makeup 1 Comment

Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 with Dermaxyl

I have never really seen the point of primers and tended to regard them as a way for a cosmetic company to sell a product that is essentially superfluous. That is until I bought Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 ($17) and discovered that it completely transforms the look and behavior of foundation to create a super smooth and long-lasting look. OK, I get it now. But there’s a lot more going on with this primer.

Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 is an anti-aging version of its cult status foundation primer, Photo Finish. In addition to sunscreen ingredients, it boasts something called Dermaxyl, which makes this version of Photo Finish an anti-ager. Makeup morphing into skincare is a trend that we are going to see more of. In a way, this makes Photo Finish something of a BB cream, these new multitaskers that are all the rage in Asia and are taking off in the US. But do these additional bells and whistles really add up to much?

My guess is that Smashbox’s Dermaxyl is one of the collagen-boosting peptides that is known as Matrixyl 3000, palmitoyl oligopeptide, and antioxidant green tea and grape seed extracts. Plus there’s kola seed (which is a source of caffeine) and moisturizing ceramide-2. These are all worthwhile additions and I like the thought that a humble primer is doing my skin some good.

On the other hand, I would prefer Photo Finish SPF15 if Smashbox hadn’t decided to include a sunscreen at all. I can see why it wouldn’t choose chalky (but relatively safe) zinc oxide, but I wish it hadn’t opted for the toxin and estrogen mimicking, octinoxate (although researchers disagree on the concentrations needed before it becomes harmful). The other sunscreen used here is the relatively safe octisalate. There’s also diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, a UVA absorber, which the EU has pronounced as harmless in concentrations up to 10%. So, all in all, it could be worse. There is, though, retinyl palmitate and this is increasingly being regarded as to be avoided if exposure to sun is expected as research has shown it to be carcinogenic.

There’s a ton of silicone here, but then it is a primer after all and that silky layer has to be achieved somehow. Most of the other ingredients, even the solvent methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, seem to be fairly benign.

Before buying this again, I’d prefer that Smashbox made a few formula alterations such as leaving out the retinyl palmitate and finding alternatives to phenoxyethanol and propylene glycol. But until then, Smashbox has given its cult primer a nudge in the right direction for those of us that want makeup to contribute to their anti-aging regimen.

For more honest reviews and information about beauty and personal care products, visit Truthinaging.com

Active Ingredients: 7.5% octinoxate, 5% octisalate. Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, methyl perfluorobutyl ether, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, safflower seed oil, cola acuminata seed extract, green tea, grape seed extract, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, tribehenin, ceramide-2, PEG-10 rapeseed sterol, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, water, ethyl trisiloxane, caprylyl methicone, methicone, silica, silica silyate, hexylene glycol, propylene glycol, triethoxycaprylysilane, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, (+/- iron oxides, titanium dioxide)

Posted on by Marta Wohrle in anti-aging, Makeup, Primer Leave a comment