Sigma Brushes

Quality brushes are essential to the application of makeup (unless of course you prefer your fingers, which is perfectly acceptable). I am sure we have all experienced the horrors of cheap brushes: stray bristles on your face, “scratchy” bristles, sparse bristles, etc. The range of brushes available is astonishing, ranging from incredibly inexpensive to ridiculously pricey. I have found that price is not a great indicator for quality when it comes to purchasing brushes. For example, E.L.F. makeup brushes sell for $1 and their eyeshadow brushes are awesome! Another example of cheap (in terms of price) brushes are EcoTools – these brushes are made of sustainable bamboo and have the softest bristles that I have ever encountered. BareMinerals brushes are a bit more expensive but also excellent. Sigma brushes are awesome too, a full set of brushes can be purchased for less than $80. Sigma brushes are a great starting point in building a brush collection – they offer a great range of products at a modest price.

Although I have a decent collection of brushes, I found the Sigma Complete Kit to be a necessary purchase for me because it contains every type of brush for the application of eye and face makeup. (I purchased this kit with a coupon. I always check http://www.retailmenot.com/ when purchasing online – the second it takes to look up a promotion code is worth it because it can yield great savings). So I received a total of 12 brushes:  Small Angle E65, Medium Angled Shading  E70, Large Shader  E60, Pencil E30, Large Angled Contour  F40,  Large Powder F30,  Duo Fibre  F50, Foundation F60,  Concealer F70, Tapered Blending E40,  Eye Shading  E55,   and Eyeliner  E05. The brushes came in a classy black mesh drawstring  pouch. I also received a free gift (every purchase over $30 gets one!), which is an E25 travel size brush. There was an insert with the brushes too which contains information on brush cleansing (it is absolutely essential to clean your brushes).

I am impressed with the quality of these brushes and am already enjoying them! This set can also be purchased with a brush roll (for an extra $20). This was not necessary for me because I prefer to store my brushes in decorative mugs. This is a matter of preference, if you would prefer a roll, go for it, at the very least it will allow you to travel with your brush set.

I think that investing in good brushes is a necessity! If you are willing to purchase quality makeup, splurging on great tools and brushes to use in conjunction with your products is definitely essential.

If you are interested in Sigma products, check out their website: http://www.sigmabeauty.com/Default.asp

Let me know what you think!

xx,

Katie

Zoya Nail Polish

Nail polish is one of my favorite things. I love wearing it, putting it on, and looking at it (both on me and on others!). I love it on my fingers but also on my toes and I think it looks so pretty in the bottle. It is easy to travel with, can make an outfit pop, and is a reflection of personality.

I was really disappointed when I discovered how harmful conventional nail polish brands are (on the cosmetic database – http://organicmakeupgirl.com/cosmetic-consumers-read-me/). Some of my favorite brands that I have been wearing for years (like Essie) suddenly seemed off-limits and dangerous. Nail polish lost its appeal to me because I felt so guilty wearing it.

A little bit of research led me to Zoya. This brand really enables me to enjoy nail polish again! Zoya nail polish is free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl pthalate and camphor. The polish is also vegan-friendly. I like the fact that my nails can look pretty without compromising my health. :)

Zoya has an incredible range of colors to select from – each shade has an intensity rating (of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most opaque). In addition, each color has a color description, and information on the color family it belongs to, the finish (cream, frost or metallic), and tone (warm or cool). Zoya makes it really easy to find colors that work well with your skin (check out this youtube video on how to find the right color for your skin tone:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHPecpNYehc).

Right now, I am loving Zoya Elodie and Zoya Erin. I recently purchased Zoya Audrina, Zoya Sabrina and Zoya Kali (I am waiting for them to come in the mail!).

I get my Zoya nail polish at zoya.com, where each bottle is $7 (+shipping and handling). This is an awesome brand and I highly recommend purchasing their nail polish! :)

x0 Katie

Renpure Organics

Renpure again?!? Okay so this is not my first post about Renpure Organics. I have been a huge fan of this company & their products for a while, if you are interested in what I have said in the past check out these: http://organicmakeupgirl.com/review-renpure-organics/http://organicmakeupgirl.com/review-renpure-organics-volumizing-conditioner/.

Today I am going to talk about Renpure Organics Amazing Miracle Deep Penetrating Reconstructor. This product is a great deep conditioner! To use it: apply it after shampooing, wait (3-5 minutes) & rinse. The best part about Miracle Deep: it can be used daily! Many deep conditioners are too heavy to use daily but not this one. It is a great pick for co-washing because it is free of sulfates, parabens, colors & dyes, which is awesome. Additionally, the product is made with organic extracts. It is safe on color-treated hair as well.

In terms of consistency, the product is pretty thick. It smells awesome. Also, the conditioner was not tested on animals (it was actually tested on the family that produces it!) and it is made in the USA, which is awesome.

I bought my Renpure Miracle deep at Harmon’s (and there is actually a try it free rebate attached!) — give it a try if you are looking for a healthy deep conditioning option.

Katie x0

Philosophy Makeup Optional

I have decided to start 2011 off with a new skincare routine/regimen. This was a pretty big decision for me! I am trying to finish up all the products I currently own in the next 2.5 weeks. It will feel good to start fresh & I would encourage others to try my strategy out too if it sounds like something you might be interested in.

As a side note, I just wanted to say that I have been most faithful to Burt’s Bees and Neutrogena over the years but have tried so many (including: Cetaphil, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Noxzema, Biore, Korres, Murad, Kiss My Face, Burt’s,  Alba, The Body Shop, Etc.) The brand that I am turning to for my 2011 skincare is Philosophy. There is so much buzz about this brand — I want to experience what it is all about! Oprah named Hope in a Jar one of her 25 favorite things of 2010. I purchased the kit pictured below at Sephora, it is called the Philosophy Makeup Optional Skin kit.

My expectations for the products within are really high! The kit comes with Purity face cleanser, Hope in a Jar moisturizer, 3 face peels, a serum and a cream for the eyes/lips. I am so excited to try out these products! The skin regimen will commence with the new year & I will review the products shortly thereafter.

My hopes for the new skincare regimen: less breakouts, diminish acne scars, some overall firming, and pretty skin that is makeup optional. I will let you know how it goes – join me if you like! :)

x0 Katie

Review: Tree Hut Sugar Body Scrub

(4/5)

Exfoliation is too often associated with summer, spray tans and sand. Exfoliating can make your skin feel luxurious, even when it is cool outside! Tree Hut sugar body scrub is an amazing, accessible scrub that is used to exfoliate the skin. The main ingredient in this product is sugar and the scratchy substance is a fabulous exfoliator. The prodcut smells sweet and has an incredibly thick consistency which makes it easy to work with. To use Tree Hut sugar body scrub: scoop some into your palm, rub in circular motions on your body, and rinse. Follow up with a moisturizer to complete the  treat for your skin! :)

Exfoliating the skin will improve the overall appearance of it. Keep in mind, it is unnecessary to exfoliate every single day but it is beneficial to do it 1-2 times per week. Avoid exfoliating by the skin surrounding your eyes – it is too sensitive and will not respond favorably.

I have purchased Tree Hut Sugar Scrub repeatedly throughout the summer and now into the fall…it is a shower staple that everyone should try! There are no parabens in this product, and it is formulated with organic shea butter and brazilian nut oil.I use about 1 tub/month but at less than $6, it is a luxury that anyone can afford. And of course, I got it at Harmon’s.

Tree Hut Sugar Scrub

x0

Katie

Lush Haul

Lush PackageI am SO excited about this package! All of these things items arrived yesterday: 2 bath bombs (butterball and bon bomb), 1 stepping stone, 1 bath melt (you’ve been mangoed), 1 deodorant powder (coconut), 2 facial “tokens”, and 2 tiny soap samples. Although I have made countless trips to LUSH and have tried many of their products, all of these particular products were first time purchases. I will be sure to review each & give some tips on how to use them.

Lush products can be a bit pricey, for example, the bath bombs range from approximately $4 – $6, which is a lot considering they really do not last very long (1-2 baths). Since LUSH products are handmade and formulated with many natural ingredients, I think they are worth indulging in, at least every once in a while! :)

x0 Katie

Review: Korres Face Primer

IT’S TIME TO PRIME!

This will be the start of a short series of primer reviews, that will, at least for the purposes of this blog be referred to as, time to prime! [:

About 4 months ago I made my first primer purchase. It was a sample size and came as part of a Korres kit. I had never really cared about priming my face and would often use a moisturizer, Burt’s Bees Radiance Day Lotion with SPF (not my favorite day moisturizer but I have yet to find something better) or I would skip moisturizing altogether and jump to foundation.

My experience with primer has led me to believe, firmly, that primer is the most influential step in makeup application. Consequently, I have purchased 5+ primers in the past few months and I am ready to give a comprehensive review on each one. There is no reason for skipping this step! There are primers out there that will work for you and on your skin and it is just a matter of being patient, educated about them, and finding the right one. And not to worry, I can help you do just that!

So, this review will focus on the primer that kicked off my primer-loving persona, Korres Face Primer, and also the most beneficial techniques of application for this type of product.

(4.5/5)

I use this product by placing a dab on my forehead, each cheek, chin & temples. Then, I press it into my skin quickly and wait for it to be absorbed. It contains vitamin E and honestly feels quite luxurious to apply! The moisture in this product makes it a multitasker – there is no need to moisturize ahead of time or prior to your (primer) application with this particular primer.Thankfully, you will not experience an unpleasant oily sheen a couple hours after you apply it either!

After the product is absorbed into the skin, move onto foundation or a tinted moisturizer if you would like, to set up a base for the rest of your products. I enjoy everything – foundation, powder, blush, & bronzer – but in incredibly modest amounts. The natural look is a favorite of mine, especially for day to day makeup application.

Korres is natural product, silicone free and made in Switzerland. It smells great, and is clear. I enjoy using it alone or with the Korres tinted moisturizer. I have used this primer in conjunction with several other types of foundations & products – from drugstore to department store and have found that it consistently performs well and impresses me!

The benefits of primer:

-great complexion (even if you select to skip other products altogether)

-longer lasting makeup

-less creasing

-less traveling (of liquid foundations, cream blushers & bronzers, etc.)

-save money in the long run (you will inevitably use less makeup because you will require less touching up and less makeup altogether to achieve a flawless finish)

-formulas with SPF offer added protection from the sun (which hopefully provides for less wrinkles and a reduced cancer risk)

Get a primer. And check back for a review of the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer soon!

x0,

Katie

Co-washing: a Convenient Clean

Co-washing. What an unattractive name for a pleasant process! To put it simply, co-washing is washing your hair with conditioner. Typical shampoos contain chemicals that are harmful to your scalp and overall health. Approximately 60% of what you put on your skin (scalp, etc.) is absorbed by your body. When you shampoo, you are exposing yourself to chemicals. Most shampoos contain elements like petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, artificial colors and fragrances.

Why do you put yourself at risk for health issues and other unfavorable outcomes by using shampoo? Well, I like to think that it is because you have been conditioned (hah, no pun intended) to think that you NEED shampoo to make your hair clean. False! The lather that your shampoo creates is not solely responsible for cleaning your hair. You actually help the cleansing process along by massaging your scalp and rubbing your hair between your fingers. So when you replace your shampoo with a conditioner, preferably an organic one, you will be making a great choice.

So the concept is simple and it is likely something that you will be able to experience for free. Start off co-washing by swearing off shampoo, at least give it a week or so. Use your current conditioner in the shower to wash your hair. Make sure you use the conditioner in the same way that you would a shampoo – massage it around your scalp and rinse it well. Follow up with more of the same conditioner. Let the product sit for a few minutes while you do whatever else you must while you are in the shower. Rinse with cool water and enjoy!

I love co-washing. I think you will too!

xo Katie

p.s. Renpure conditioners work really well with co-washing. : )

Review: Renpure Organics

(5/5)

Renpure organics shampoo and conditioner was an impromptu purchase at Harmon’s recently. I am trying to reduce my dependence on shampoos and conditioners that are laden with parabens, sulfates and harmful chemicals. A series of bright bottles caught my eye and I was delighted to see organic in the title of the brand! I popped open the top – sometimes these products can smell too earthy for me – but I was pleasantly surprised & impressed with the summery, fruity scent. I purchased three bottles (they were thankfully on sale!). I use A LOT of conditioner, about 2x as much shampoo I use – so I purchased two conditioners and one shampoo.

The moisturizing shampoo had a catchy tagline – “my pretty hair is parched.” So I bought this & the matching conditioner. Both products are fabulous. The shampoo is moisturizing but does not leave any type of unwanted sheen/oil on the hair. I use it every other day. Additionally, it smells awesome! It is definitely a great pick for the summer. I have incredibly tangly hair and this conditioner does a good (not great) job of detangling but in the defense of Renpure Organics, I have yet to find a great, organic, detangling conditioner.

I also purchased body & shine “i love my hair” conditioner which seems to be VERY similar to the moisturizing conditioner. I truly notice little difference – both work well, smell great and leave the hair soft & .:sigh:. nourished.  : )

Check out this brand if you happen to come across it! Otherwise, check out their website: http://www.renpure.com/. Their section on chemical exposure is of particular interest to me & it might be informative and useful for you as well!

xo Katie

Review: David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray

(4.5/5)

Amazinggg hair product!

Let me prelude this review with this: I have been on the lookout for a great beach spray since John Frieda discontinued Beach Blonde Ocean Waves Sea Spray. I have no idea why this product was discontinued but it was really upsetting! Many of my friends felt the same way!

I came across David Babaii’s Bohemian Beach Spray when I was purchasing some conditioner. A sticker on the product initially caught my eye, it read: “2009 InStyle Best Beauty Buys.” So I thought hmm, maybe this product could be promising? When I realized it was a beach spray I immediately picked it up and unscrewed the cap…it smelled like coconuts and mango, so tropical and summery! So I bought it and used it as soon as I got in the car… amazing!

Some other product highlights include: cruelty free. sulfate free. paraben free.&  petrochemical free.

The cost is about $9.99 and ten percent of profits are donated to WildAid, a wildlife conservation, which is awesome!

Get this stuff, if not now, definitely in the summer. I prefer to wear it and pretend its summer but that’s just me. Oh & one more thing – this product gives your hair a great tropical scent (so skipping perfume is an option if you are in a rush or if you are trying to reduce your exposure to chemicals!)

-Katie x0