Category Archives: Tutorials

Lilac and Pink Galaxy - Nail Art

galaxy2essie copynails3polish copyIs it me, or has nail art seemed to slow down a bit?  With such a busy beginning of the year and the semester, I’ve barely had time to add a coat of polish to my nails; however, this past weekend, I had a few minutes to create some easy, sparkly, girly nail art (no shame in the nail art game when NYC has minus two degrees weather).

One of the easiest (and most time efficient) nail art designs is galaxy - pick two or three colors, dab them on with a sponge, and voila!, galaxy nails.  Galaxy design is a tried and true favorite (as evidenced in this post and this post) - the design can be customized with your own color palette and can be transformed with other applied designs.  As I was still in the Valentine’s Day mind set, I created a pink and lilac galaxy design with a striped heart accent (and a glitter top coat because …stars!).  The polishes I used are Deborah Lippmann Lilac Wine, Essie Lilacism, and Essie French Affair - these polishes are well suited for nail art designs because they are opaque, have a creme finish, and dry easily but not too quick.

Although few us have the time to sit down and create intricate nail art, the galaxy design is a chic way to dress up your nails in just a few easy steps.  Be sure to follow our tutorial if you need an inspiration nudge.

 Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.

XOXO - Valentine’s Day and Best Date Lipsticks


Here’s a few reasons why I love Valentine’s Day: discount chocolate, heart shaped baked goods, restaurant specials, and the excuse to wear pink in the middle of winter (but yes, most of the reasons are chocolate-based!).  No matter popular opinion on Valentine’s Day, I’m always looking forward to celebrating with pink and red during a very non-celebratory (read: frigid) Northeast winter.  With the arrival of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been excitedly debating what lipstick shade to sport for the day and our evening date.  New York always celebrates Valentine’s Day with beautiful bouquets of flowers and gorgeous outfits all around - plus, everyone just seems in a little better mood which means a lot for the City.

My favorite date lipsticks make me feel confident, beautiful, daring, and cute (and happy that I get to play with lipstick!).  My top four picks represent a variety of shades, depending on your mood, and different finishes, depending on your whimsy.

Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Marshmallow Bunny is a creamy lipstick with great pigmentation, slightly alluring gloss, and the most delicious of scents.  Marshmallow  Bunny is a peachy pale, pink nude that would pair perfectly with a sultry, smokey eye makeup look.

Mac Candy Yum Yum, a notorious color in the makeup world, is a bright, cool toned, fluorescent pink.  Candy Yum Yum looks absolutely gorgeous on brunettes (ahem!) and pretty much on anyone with a bit of attitude. This matte Mac lipstick leave a strong stain which, considering all the delicious Valentine’s day treats, could come in handy.

Lime Crime Velvetine in Red Velvet is what put Lime Crime on the beauty map, and let me just say, this shade and formula is amazing (Lime Crime currently sells at Urban Outfitters).  This Velvetine is the longest lasting liquid lipstick and has the most matte finish - the Red Velvet shade is ‘literally’ that Snow White blue-red that will transport you into the fairytale, princess beauty realm.

Mac Diva, the perfect mix of burgundy red and muted plum, is the sultry, sexy color pick of the bunch.  Mac Diva is an elegant shade that will give off just the right amount of mystery in a candle-lit date.

With Valentine’s Day, you can’t go wrong with any red or pink lipstick - just think of all the options!  Let me know your favorite Valentine’s Day lipstick, and go forth and celebrate, relax, and wear happy colors (bonus points if chocolate is involved). xoxo.

Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.

All About Mascaras - How to Pick the Best Mascara for You

mscara5mascara1mascara3If I were to take a poll on the top three beauty products, mascara would always make it as a favorite - fun fact here,  a few years ago during the economic downturn, many beauty companies claimed profits with mascara (and nail polish) being the top sellers.  So, when we say we love our mascara, we seriously love our mascara.

With the proliferation of products in the mascara arena, it’s important to pick the best mascara suited for you and your lashes (not surprisingly, there’s a million and one options out there!).  We’ve put together a few steps and considerations to help you pick and choose the perfect mascara.

Volume, Length, Definition or Curl Lash Wishes: First, the bad news - no mascara can do it all and do it all right.  Now, for the good news - if you are selective as to what you want for your lashes, mascaras are formulated to target certain looks.  For example, if you want volume and curl, the L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara would be your best pick; but, if you want definition and length, you should purcahse the YSL Babydoll Mascara.

Pick Your Formula Type: From dry to wet to waterproof to fiber, the actual formula composition makes a difference in how a mascara will work.  Dryer formulas tend to add volume, while wet formulas create definition and those doll-type looks.  Be mindful if the mascara is waterproof because it’ll be a doozy to remove and deal with (especially if you thought you were buying regular formula).  Consider the color of the mascara as this can also make a difference for your final look.

Consider the Hardware: In a mascara, the formula and the wand are equally important - a great formula is nothing if it can’t easily be applied. Beauty companies have introduced some very unique wands and have re-invented the classic wands for better application (sure, we sometimes have to deal with the insane wand creation like the Sephora Upside Down Mascara but thankfully, those “creative” releases are not the norm).  Be sure to consider the materials of the brush (plastic vs. wire), the design of the wand (curved, big, or small, or butterfly), and the spacing of the bristles (pointed, twisted, or dense).

Make Your Wallet Happy:  Contrary to popular belief that pricier is better, the cost of the mascara has no impact on the quality (there! I said it and I’m sticking to it!). Keep in mind that all mascaras expire and are not recommended for use after a few months - despite what you pay for a mascara, anywhere from $3 to $45, the product may be good or bad. For example,  I have had no success with Dior Show Blackout Mascara, but I adore the Bare Minerals Volume Mascara. At the same time, I’m a devoted Maybelline fan but couldn’t get any of the Physician Formula mascaras to stay on my lashes.  With the high number of mascaras available, you can pick the best product for you without ever breaking the budget.

So, what is your all time favorite mascara? Do you have any other tips when picking the perfect mascara (we’ll be sure to include the info in the post)? And lastly, if you purchased the Sephora Upside Down Mascara…what were you thinking?!

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.

Pretty Basic Series - Eye Concealer Routine

concealerswatch1 copyconceal24 copyIf I have 3 minutes to do my makeup, I will always choose to get to two things without fail: my under eye concealer and my eyebrows.  People value different features when doing makeup, but personally, brightening and framing my eyes takes precedence over the rest of the getting-ready routine.

In our Pretty Basic Series, we will be featuring tutorials and beauty techniques that are essential and make the biggest difference in one’s daily routine.  And because nothing is more basic (and sometimes more complicated!) than concealer, this post describes my eye concealer routine.  In the concealer tutorial below, products may change depending on your skin type and coverage area, but the step by step process remains the same.  Keep in mind you can also vary the product usage based on the occasion (think errands during the day versus going out at night).

For my eye beautifying routine, I start by using a salmon colored concealer to neutralize the blue tones under my eyes.  Orange and blue tones are opposites on the color wheel, and once mixed, these shades create a neutral tone making the eye area look brighter immediately (something that my tired eyes are thankful for!).  The salmon color concealer is imperative in canceling dark circles - if I was to just apply the skin toned concealer alone, the under-eye blue tones would be lightened to create a grey cast (instead of a brightening effect). I use Benefit Erase Paste in medium, and I tap a small amount on, starting at the end of the eye and tapping towards my tear duct to avoid creating wrinkles (Tutorial Steps 1,2).

After neutralizing,  I apply a small amount of the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, making sure to provide coverage to the most inner eye spot by the nose (quick shout out here to the best concealer from Nars). I use a damp Beauty Blender (for dry skin) or soft brush to blend in the Nars Creamy Concelar (Tutorial Steps 3,4).

Because you want to avoid the dreaded concealer crease under the eye, you will need to “set” these liquid and cream products to ensure long lasting coverage. I use ELF’s affordable HD Undereye Powder that has finely milled sparkle particles for a brightening effect. Depending on the desired final look, you may also use a light, matte pigmented powder for further coverage - just make sure it is a finely milled powder (Tutorial Step 5).  I recommend using a fluffy but precise tip brush that applies a generous amount of powder (and of course, you don’t want to poke yourself in the eye, that’s never a good look!). Because the eye area is ultra sensitive, apply products with care using either specifically designed brushes or your ring finger which cannot apply as much pressure.

In just three easy (but thought-out) steps, your eye area will look radiant, awake, and glowing - as a recap, remember to neutralize any undertones, conceal dark circles, and set/brighten with a powder.

Let me know in the comments if your concealer routine is more advanced or simplified and what eye products you can’t do without in the morning (I’m always looking to learn more tips and tricks!).

Stay Pretty, Mackenzie M.