Monthly Archives: September 2014

Street Style September Ipsy Review (and My Last Ipsy)

ipsy_bag3DSC_00283DSC_0038Ipsy’s September Glam Bag, Street Style, arrived earlier than usual this month in a pretty silver makeup bag lined with studs.  The information card featured Ipsy-affiliated You Tubers who provided street styling tips.  Things were off to a great start, but I’m afraid to say that Ipsy didn’t finish strong.  This will be my last month with Ipsy because I think after more than a year with them, I should try a different subscription box. I’m considering Beauty Box 5, Olia Jewelry box, or Glossybox.  Ipsy continues to be a good value subscription, but I want a subscription service with higher-end products and fashion pieces.  I enjoyed the Ipsy Glam bags where Ipsy included the newly released Urban Decay products or Zoya polishes, but those months have been few and far between to justify me spending the monthly $10.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite subscription box is and why you like it, or what box you would want to see me review.  As a grad student, I am looking to spend approximately $20 a month (and because I really love receiving goodies in the mail, I hope  to replace Ipsy with another service soon). Now, onto the (last!) Ipsy Glam Bag review!

Crown Brush Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush is a double sided synthetic brush that retails for $7.  I’m not a fan of double ended brushes since they are difficult to store, but other than that, this Crown Brush seems to be of nice quality.  I do appreciate the pointed pencil-end pairing with the blending-end as this is a unique combination that could come in handy.

Nourish Organic Moisturizing Cream Face Cleanser is a mild cleanser, and aside from the scent, I have been quite enjoying.  The Nourish Organic Cleanser retails for $10 full size and is available online or at Target. This product cleanses my skin well and provides nice hydration as my skin doesn’t feel tight or dry after cleansing.  I enjoy the Nourish Organic line of products, but the scents are the only thing keeping me from purchasing the full size - this particular cleanser scent reminds me of mushrooms (and I’m not sure ’bout that!).

Pacifica Natural Water Proof Eye Pencil in Gun Metal is a deluxe eyeliner pencil in what seems to be a (you guessed it) gun metal shade.  I have so many eyeliner pencils floating about my apartment right now, that I wasn’t prepared to open and swatch this product. Ipsy has included an eyeliner in almost every bag these past few months (to my frustration, as I’m quite picky about my eyeliners).

Cailyn Art Touch Tinted Gloss is a deep maroon red gloss, and it retails $18 for a full size. The color is on the sheer side, so this gloss may look great topping off a lipstick, but on my bare lips, it appeared a bit off due to the lack of pigmentation. While the formula is comfortable and the color is perfect for fall, this product was more than half empty. I contacted Ipsy Care and Ipsy offered to send me a replacement (still disappointed with the situation because I’ve had these kind of issues with Ipsy previously).

Mitchell and Peach Luxury Hand Cream retails for a whopping $34 for a full size, and well, let’s just say I’m confused and don’t really understand why.  Although this company originates in Kent, England and the fragrances and ingredients are sourced directly from the estate, free of damaging chemicals and parabens, the hand cream did not wow me, formula or scent wise.

So, end of an era for Ipsy (dramatic, I know, but feels like I’ve subscribed to Ipsy forever and it was the first subscription I ever tried). Ipsy, we’ve had our relationship ups and downs, but tomorrow is another day (thought this quote went with the dramatized subscription finale)!

Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.


Rediscovering Classics with the Selfie Challenge

selfie_favoritesselfie_favorites2When I was in Times Square a few days ago, I saw a bright billboard for the new ABC show Selfie. The tagline “enjoy living in the moment” was splashed across the front of the sign and encouraged all viewers below to a social cleanse challenge.  Surrounded by a myriad of colorful screens, I considered the irony of the situation, but as I’m not one to turn down a challenge, I was ready to put away all my beloved tech devices for a full 48 hours (because realistically, 48 hours is a lifetime in terms of no-internet time).

The rules for my “Selfie”cleanse were simple: no Instagram or Twitter, no random game playing, and no shopping apps (basically, none of the guilty pleasures).  As soon as the day got started, I was surprised that the first thing I reached for was my phone to check Instagram.  Throughout my commute, I wanted to scroll through Twitter, and by the end of the first day, I was itching to just indulge in a few moments of social media.

I’m happy to report that I completed the challenge successfully and not only survived, but thrived in the “Selfie” cleanse. I used my new-found free time to rediscover the classics and savor the experience of reading and carrying a physical book (because an e-book just doesn’t cut it).  From Nabokov’s “Lolita” to Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist,” I immersed myself in fantastical stories, witty insights, and positive learning. So, as simple as it may sound, I chose to forgo the constant iPhone updates for a relaxing day of reading popular classics.

If you had thirty minutes extra each day, what would you spend it on? I challenge you to undergo a social media cleanse and focus (even for a little bit) on hobbies that don’t involve hashtags.

Selfie premiers on ABC network on Tuesday, September 30th at 8/7 pm Central Time.

Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by ABC through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about ABC Selfie, all opinions are my own.


Ultra Modern Apothecary - Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream Review

aesop_finalaesop_product1aesop_samples copy2One of the perks of living in DC is that I can easily visit my sister in NYC (and a perk of my sister living in NYC is that we can always spend hours on end just beauty shopping on the busy streets of New York).  On my most recent visit, my sister and I visited the Union Square location of Aesop.  An Australian brand with several stores in the US, Aesop features skincare and haircare products that use both plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients.  This interview with Aesop brand manager says it all - Aesop balances its ingredients for maximum effectiveness, the brand does no advertising but relies on its’ stores designs, and a certain type of lifestyle is encouraged alongside the basics of skincare.

The physical space of each of the New York stores is a work of art where you can comfortably discover and experiment with products.  When I was brainstorming the best way I would describe my shopping experience with Aesop, I immediately thought of an ultra modern apothecary.  With rows of minimalist, almost medicine-like products lining the sculpted walls, Aesop delivers the ability to shop comfortably in a simply beautiful space.

The customer service was also outstanding - my sister and I had the ability to try on products, and ask plenty of questions.  And when we could not decide on what we wanted to purchase, the representatives was more than generous with the Aesop samples. Some of the best Aesop sellers include their delicate but highly effective hand creams and natural derived Fabulous Face Cleanser.

I did however end up picking out one tiny product that has been somehow missing from my skincare collection.  The Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream is a Vitamin E-rich, lightweight cream that is formulated to soothe and hydrate lips. Formulated without silicone or parafin, the Aesop Rosehip Seed Lip Cream is meant to soften and act as a lip treatment.  Keep in mind that this Lip Cream is not meant to be a gloss or balm - I think of it more as a healing treatment because the actual product absorbs into the lips within minutes of application and creates a protective barrier that can be slightly felt as a balm. I’ve been applying the Rosehip Seed Cream in the morning and evening and have noticed my lips being less dry and much softer.  The Lip Cream tube tends to dispense more product than needed, but I appreciate the hygienic and discrete packaging.

The one downside of Aesop products (which can also be its virtue depending on who you ask) are the fragrant ingredients.  While Aesop does not use synthetic fragrance, the products contain various natural oils, such as lavender and citrus, that may be irritating to those with sensitive skin.  Since using the Rosehip Seed Cream, I’ve had no reactions or issues, but I recommend going in store and sampling the Aesop products first.

The whole Aesop aesthetic is refreshing, just as Aesop products are.

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.

OCC Lip Tar Fall Picks - Sebastian, Lydia, Nomad

Before my love and appreciation of OCC lip tars, I used to think of OCC as the company with the green and  black lipsticks.  Based on the colorful ad campaigns and my random searches for Halloween makeup, I was stuck with the idea that OCC only created daring shades and edgy hues.  After some much needed research (read: shopping) and after having the opportunity to chat with OCC at both IMATS and The Makeup Show, I’ve come to embrace the more natural side of OCC.

OCC, short for Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, features all vegan and cruelty free products that include lipsticks, lip pencils, foundations, and eye shadows (founded  by a theatrical makeup artist, OCC boasts over 200 different shades among its products). Most popular among those items are the OCC lip tars which are packaged in the signature OCC tube.  Lip tars (awesome name, right?) are basically liquid lipsticks with various finishes such as matte, glossy, sparkly, or metallic.  And while OCC tars do come in metallic blue hues, my favorite OCC tars are natural, flattering, and just a bit unique.

OCC Sebastian lip tar may look like a “hmm-not-sure-about-this” gray but the shade is perfect for layering with other colors and creating a muted, matte effect.  Even worn by itself, OCC Sebastian is a beautiful plum-toned taupe that can translate to a nude lip look.

OCC Lydia lip tar is a medium pink that will likely be flattering on anyone wearing it - with a matte finish, OCC Lydia has long lasting power and strong pigmentation.  This lip tar is perfectly suited for any occasion, and the shade can be intensified based on application - Lydia is the your-lips-but-better choice.

OCC Nomad lip tar is a gold-maroon stained gloss.  OCC Nomad sparkles just right, without being distracting, and is the perfect shade to transition from summer to fall.  This particular shade tends to translate as a burgundy and leaves a berry-red stain.  From the translucent finish to the lovely pigmentation, I find myself reaching for OCC Nomad more often these days.

If you’ve never experimented with OCC, I recommend starting with the lip tars and lip pencils (OCC tars are available at Sephora and retail for $18.00).  For a company known for its whimsically bold shades, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the variety and wear-ability of OCC lip tars.

 Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.