December 30, 2014

BEAUTY: 10 Best Shimmer Drugstore Products

Just in time for New Year's Eve, I present to you my favorite shimmer products from drugstore brands. I don't generally do the whole disco ball makeup thing, but a well placed glow here and there can really add a certain pop to your face. Maybe just don't wear all of these at once, okay?
1. Milani Baked Blush in Rose D'Oro: This blush is the absolute best. Great peachy pink shade with built-in shimmer that lasts all day. Holy grail status.
2. Revlon Balm Stain in Crush: A great shiny berry shade that seriously lasts all day. It moisturizes, smells of peppermint, and gets better the longer you wear it.
3. NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Cottage Cheese: Perfect for an inner eye or brow bone highlight. The pencil shape makes for easy application with a nearly blinding shine.
4. Sonia Kashuk Highlighter Stick in Sparkling Sands: A close dupe for Benefit's Watt's Up! Great shine and formula. Apply with fingers or a stippling brush.
5. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze: I cannot adequately express my love for Color Tattoos. TRY THEM, OK? A great neutral shimmery shade that would look good on anyone.
6. Wet n Wild Fergie Shimmer Palette in Rose Champagne Glow: Swirl these shades together for a wonderful sparkle on your cheekbones. Smooth, shiny formula.
7. ELF Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal: For that serious summer glow, dot this in a "C" shape on your temple and blend. It looks like liquid metal and cost $1.00!
8. NYX Roll On Eye Shimmer in Walnut and Chestnut: Beautiful shimmers to wear alone or together. Great for highlighting the middle of your eyelid. Rolls out smoothly every time.
9. Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eye Shadow in Bella Emerald: Love these shimmery shadows! They're like butter and blend just as well. Emerald is rich and nice for dark eyes.
10. Wet n Wild Eye Shadow Trio in Silent Treatment: Great for a soft look or a more dramatic glistening eye (the light shade is a nice highlight). Soft, blend-able formula.
Swatches L to R: Wet n Wild Silent Treatment, Milani Bella Emerald, Milani Rose D'Oro, Wet n Wild Rose Champagne Glow, ELF Lilac Petal, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, NYX Cottage Cheese, Sonia Kashuk Shimmering Sands, NYX Walnut and Chestnut, Revlon Crush
Milani Bella Eyes Shadow in Bella Emerald
Wet n Wild Eye Shadow in Silent Treatment
ELF Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal

What are your favorite shimmery products? What does your ideal New Year's Eve makeup look like?


December 5, 2014

DIY: Christmas Wreath Tutorial

I'm back on the decorating train (just took my Halloween wreath down, oops!) and I've learned that I simply cannot resist a little glitter and sparkle in my home decor. This wreath is perhaps a little too glittery for most - I mean, there are glitter balls, glitter leaves, glitter birds, glitter pinecones and a dangerously shiny garland involved. The only parts that aren't glittery are the tree garland and ribbon, and I would've opted for those too if I'd been able. I cannot be stopped! Here's how you can make a blindingly shiny door decoration for yourself:

Tree Garland or Wreath Base
Metallic Garland
Baubles and Decorations
Hot Glue Gun
Optional: Green Thread & Wire Cutters

If you have a ready-made wreath base, you can skin this step. Since I'm working with tree garland, I first made a circle from it by wrapping the garland around several times. To keep the layers together, I tied a few green threads around the edges. If you have too much, trim the garland with wire cutters.

I decorated the base with some silver metallic garland. Any kind will do, but I used this narrow rope garland just to spice things up (I guess this is how I get my kicks now?).

Then I proceeded to hot glue to my heart's content, slapping glittery balls, leaves and birds in a pleasing-to-my-eye-but-probably-too-gaudy-for-the-masses style.

Then I went all crazy and glued some glitter-edged pinecones in the center. Can I just emphasize how happy I was to finally have a reason to purchase these ridiculously long tailed glitter birds?

I made a pink satin bow to glue on the top of the wreath for a little balance. Next, I made a ribbon loop from which to hang the wreath.

All hung up and nowhere to go! Although, I guess I'm only assuming the wreath isn't going out when I'm sleeping...perhaps I should set up some secret surveillance.

Glitter for daaaaaaaays.

Do you also enjoy being nearly blinded by the shine of your home decor? Do you mind woodsy decorations that in no way accurately represent nature? What else could I use these glitter birds for?


November 17, 2014

BEAUTY: (Mostly) Drugstore Bridesmaid & Wedding Makeup

Recently, I had the pleasure of being a maid of honor in my friend's wedding, and while there's a lot of lovely stuff to say about that (the dress! the love! the venue! the free drinks!), what I really want to talk about is makeup. I could've gone with a professional, but true to my DIY mindset, I challenged myself to put together a look that would be strong enough for wedding photos, long lasting and budget-friendly. My friend was super relaxed about our individual looks, but you should check with your bride if you're thinking of going in a different direction, beauty-wise. 

Relying on products I knew and trusted, and doing a lot of beauty research, here's what I put together for a (mostly) drugstore wedding look that stayed in place through the last dance:

+ Face +
1: CeraVe PM Moisturizing Facial Lotion
Start with a clean, moisturized base - this lotion is light and sinks in quickly, plus there's no SPF, which can flashback oddly in professional photos.

2: Revlon ColorStay Foundation
This is full coverage without a mask-like feel. Work in small sections because it tends to dry quickly. My foundation was still at least 85% perfect about 15 hours after application.

3: Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer
Great for under eye area. Gives a light, bright look which would work for contouring, as well. Brush tip is handy for application.

4: Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in Translucent
Top your foundation with this matte powder which seals everything in, but still lets your skin look alive. I had this in my clutch for touchups and never needed it.

5: NYC Bronzer in Sunny
This matte bronzer is perfect for warming up your face and contouring.

6: Maybelline Color Tattoo in Matte Brown
This is technically eyeshadow, but I used it for light cheekbone and jawline contouring, which is a good idea for professional photos. The cream formula blended into skin and stayed put.

7: Milani Baked Blush in Rose D'Oro
Best drugstore blush! These blushes are nicely pigmented, and also have a glowy highlight in them. I love peachy shades for my skin, but there are several warm and cool toned options.

8: NYX Full Coverage Concealer
Use with a brush for any redness or blemishes. Thick but blend-able.

9: Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter
Best highlighter ever. I still have my free sample from Sephora, but a good drugstore alternative is Sonia Kashuk's Highlighter Stick in Sparkling Sand. Perfect for cheekbones, eyebrow arches, inner corner of eyes and cupid's bow.

10: NYX Setting Spray in Matte Finish
Set your face with a few spritzes of this. I spray in the air above my face and then look up to the ceiling and let it fall down on me.

11: Makeup Sponge (Beauty Blender knockoff)
Cheap from Marshall's/T.J. Maxx. Works beautifully to give a soft finish to foundation and cream products. Blends contour cream perfectly!

12: Real Techniques Contour Brush
Good for bronzer or blush.

13: ELF Small Stipple Brush
Use to dab highlighter over cheekbones.

14: Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Great for giving a finishing blend to foundation.

15: Real Techniques Buffing Brush
Use this for setting power, for face and lips (mentioned below).

16: ELF Blush Brush
Good size for applying blush on apples of the cheeks.

+ Eyes +
1: Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Sellout, Twice Baked and Perversion
Obviously, this isn't drugstore, but one area to splurge in if you're able is eyeshadow. I already had this (very old) Urban Decay palette, but some good long wear drugstore shadows are L'Oreal Infallible Shadow and Maybelline Color Tattoos (if you like cream formulas). I created a brown smokey eye with Sellout all over my lid, Twice Baked in the crease and a touch of Perversion in the outer corner to add a little drama. I also lined my bottom lash line with a little Twice Baked on the outer half and Sellout on the inner half. I'm pretty sure Sellout is the world's best eyeshadow.

2: Milani Eyeshadow Primer
I find this just as effective as Urban Decay's Primer Potion for so much cheaper.

3: Maybelline Gel Eyeliner in Black
I used this to line my bottom waterline because even my best pencil liners wear off there eventually. I topped it with Urban Decay shadow in Perversion to make it last even longer.

4: Small Eye Brush (came with gel liner)
I used this little brush to pat Perversion on top of my gel liner.

5: Sephora All Over Shadow Brush
Perfect for packing shadow all over the lid. For cheap alternatives, I like Target makeup brushes, and the ELF shadow brush is fine too.

6: Maybelline Ultra Liner Waterproof in Black
Drugstore waterproof liquid liner is RARE. I went with this one, and while not perfect, it lasted all night and survived tears. Get experience using this for a week or more before the big day because the brush and formula feel a little different.

7: Maybelline The Colossal Waterproof Mascara in Glam Black
Awesome drugstore mascara. You see an instant difference when it goes on, and it is seriously waterproof (wore it swimming before). Comes off easily with Pond's or oil-based removers.

8: NYX Eyebrow Gel in Blonde
I switch between pencils, powders and gel for my brows, but for all day wear I need this stuff. Use a tiny speck to brush on perfect color that also keeps hairs in place. I like to brush my brows down, draw on a line of gel with a brush where I'd like my top perimeter to be, and brush the brows back up into place to hide the harsh line. Fill in the bottom and tail as needed.

9: Real Techniques Detailer Brush
I use this for shadow along my lower lash line.

10: Target Crease Shadow Brush
Perfect for adding dimension in the crease and blending crease shades into highlights.

11: Slanted Brow Brush (from paint section at Michael's)
This is a paintbrush that I use to fill in my brows with the NYX gel.

12: ELF Angled Eyeliner Brush
Perfect to add gel eyeliner to the bottom waterline.

13: Spoolie
Needed to brush brows into place. Can also use an old (clean) mascara wand.

14: Japonesque Eyelash Curler
Awesome curler that comes with free replacement pads. To me, this is another worthy splurge. I've had this for years and it works better than cheaper ones I've used. I like it as much as the Shu Uemura curler.

15: Ardell Demi Wispies False Lashes
My go-to false lash for when I (rarely) need them. Dramatic, but not costume-y. Fits my eye perfectly.

16: Duo Eyelash Glue in Clear
Best, most reliable eyelash glue. Dries clear. Dab a bit on the back of your hand, drag lash band through it and give it 45-60 seconds (longer than it says) to get tacky before applying.

+ Lips +
1: ELF Lip Exfoliator
Before any color, you need a smooth base. This is cheap and works so well. Apply like a lipstick, scrubbing extra where needed. The sugar crystals smooth while the oils moisturize. Give yourself some time for this to work before you apply your color.

2: NYX Lip Liner in Red
Start with a lip liner around your lip line. I stick to my natural shape, but this is the step to over draw if that's what you're going for. Fill in your lips with the liner.

3: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato {reviewed here}
Cover lips in a thin, even layer and let it dry. Once set, tear a tissue in half so that it's one-ply and place it over your lips. Brush some translucent powder over the lips to seal in color.

4: ELF Retractable Lip Brush
You can use a lip brush to spread the color if you'd lip.

+ Hair +
1: Bed Head Rockaholic Flexible Hair Spray
Another area to splurge if you can is hairspray. I've always used cheap ones and I just learned that good ones make a huge difference! They stay better, and they don't make my hair feel so weighed down and crunchy. This one was on clearance at Marshall's for $8.00! I had this by my side at the hotel and the bridal suite and we all used it many, many times. My curls stayed in for days after the wedding (I wore them as long as I could before washing!).

2: Suave Dry Shampoo
Even on clean hair, this gives a little lift and thickness to the root.

3: Tangle Teezer
Awesome for brushing out long hair!

4: Rattail Comb (neon rattail, to be exact!)
My favorite tool (and blog namesake) for combing bangs, smoothing small hairs and combing out sections of hair right before curling them. Essential!

5: Hair Clips
For sectioning hair before curling. I like to start curling in the back and work my way up to the front.

6: Goody Wave Creator
My one true hair love. This thing is so easy to use and always gives me perfect waves-bordering-on-curls, which is my favorite. It gets super hot super fast and all I have to do is lightly spritz a section with hair spray (I used small sections for this look), wrap it around the bubbled iron and unravel to get perfect little spirals. I let them cool while doing my makeup and them carefully comb them out with my fingers. Spray and tousle until it's to your liking. I don't think this model is made by Goody anymore (why?!), but Bed Head makes one too.

+ Nails +
1: Tropical Shine Nail File
Any will do, but I love this one from Sally's Beauty Supply and it's less than a buck.

2: Beauty Secrets Moisturizing Base Coat
This is also from Sally's and it's made a huge difference in my nail strength.

3: Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Coral Reef
This shade is a perfect coral - not too pink and not too orange. I wanted something in the realm of "normal" that would compliment our teal dresses. Such a gorgeous shade in person!

4: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat
A great long wearing top coat that dries pretty fast. For ultimate speed, I'd recommend Seche Vite.

Here's my final drugstore wedding makeup look:
I applied my makeup around 10:00 AM.
And here's my makeup around 9:00 PM, at which point I had stolen my boyfriend's bow tie.
I don't have many great photos of my handiwork because I was busy maid-of-honoring, and, you know, enjoying myself, but hopefully you can see that you DO NOT have to spend a ton on makeup to have it apply well and last all day. There are weak products at the drugstore, just like there are weak products at the department store counters. Knowing what works for you is what's important.

Have you ever done your own makeup for a wedding? What are your favorite high performance drugstore finds? Do you also have a lot of feelings and thoughts about makeup?


November 5, 2014

ETC: Halloween Instagram Recap

This was my first Halloween in forever without an official costume. Boooooo! Not the good kind of scary Halloween 'boo!' either - the bad 'this sucks!' kind. Because we didn't have party plans and I've been busy with all kinds of Maid of Honor projects lately, this just wasn't a year for painstakingly handmade costumes. Instead, I focused my creative Halloween energy into themed food because we all gotta eat, right? We had a small gathering which included the treats seen below, as well as everyone accidentally eating fake cobwebs all night (don't put them near food!).
Mummy Calzones  //  Eyeball Pizzas
Graveyard Taco Dip  //  Witch Finger Cookies
My Witchy Pumpkin  //  My Boyfriend's "Pumpkin" (his rotted before he got to paint it)
My Grandfather's Poodle in a Pumpkin Costume  //  My Halloween Wreath

{You can follow me on Instagram: @neonrattail}

What were your Halloween plans? Any costume contest winners out there? Did you make or eat anything that looked like an eyeball?


October 29, 2014

COOKING: Pumpkin & Maple Oatmeal

You know when you're hungry in the morning, but also feeling lazy and you don't want to eat something that could also be categorized as a dessert, but you do want something kind of sweet? This pumpkin, almond and maple oatmeal nestles nicely in the center of that Venn diagram. So easy that this is barely a recipe, but also super warm and filling and with some redeeming nutritional qualities. What else can you really hope for before the sun comes up, anyway?

Oatmeal  //  Pumpkin  //  Maple Syrup  //  Almonds

Cook your oatmeal in whatever way you want. Mine has instructions for boiling and whatnot, but when I'm in a rush (okay, I always do this) I just pour some steel cut oats in the bowl, add some water and microwave it for about a minute. I don't measure, I don't time - it's all very cavalier. You can just follow the instructions, though, if you can't handle this amount of rebellion.
Oatmeal doesn't photograph well.
Continuing on my renegade path, I drop an unmeasured amount of pumpkin on top of the oatmeal.
I guess canned pumpkin doesn't photograph well, either.
Swirl all that together.

Top with almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup and eat up, breakfast fans!
I love this because it's delicious, which is most important, but I also don't have to put much thought or effort into my meal and still get to eat something that seems vaguely gourmet. Plus, in the 66 seconds of microwave time (I can't be bothered to press two different number buttons), I blend a green smoothie and everything is mouth-ready in, like, three minutes. Seriously.

Unrelated: I bought this Halloween placemat at Target and have since become obsessed with him. I mean it. His name is Ghosty and I can't promise I'll be putting him away after the 31st. So dapper!

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes? What are you eating for breakfast these days? Do you disregard the conventional method instructions too?


October 22, 2014

DIY: Halloween Wreath Tutorial

I don't think I've ever made a DIY wreath before in my life, but I do have an almost fetish-level interest in holiday decorations. I admire them mostly from afar, at stores and in other people's homes, and stick to minimal seasonal cheer around my own place. The main reason for this is that I tend to focus primarily on how I'll need to store the rarely used decor and visualize myself one day packing it and moving it to a new place. It just seems like so much extra work! 

I did this for SIX YEARS at our last apartment, more regretful with every passing holiday, and when we moved into a new place last winter I promised myself I'd dive into holiday decorating, regardless of how many Christmas ornaments I may or may not have to store in a kitchen cabinet. This is my first holiday decorating at the new place so I jumped right in with a cheerful Halloween wreath. 
Want to make one too? Read on!

Round Wreath Form
Black Yarn & White Yarn
Halloween Trinkets {I got these from Michael's}
Not Pictured:
Hot Glue Gun, Glue Stick, Scrapbook Paper, Pencil, String, White Paper, Ribbon

I wanted a black and white striped background, so I opted to wrap yarn around my wreath form. Alternately, you could use felt, fabric or maybe even the leg of some striped tights.
To use both colors, I simply tied the two yarn strings together on the back of the wreath when I was done wrapping each section and continued on with the new color. I just eyeballed the sections. You could also glue them periodically, but I didn't. When you're done wrapping, just tie the end of your yarn to another piece of wrapped yarn in the back {bottom picture}. Make sure to knot it well.
To make the bunting, cut diamond shaped pieces from burlap-print scrapbook paper {A}. Then use a glue stick to glue the shapes to brown scrapbook paper {B} and cut out the shape, leaving a brown paper border all around {C}. Next, just fold the diamond into a triangle and crease the edge {D}.
Next comes the letters! You can obviously write whatever (a simple "BOO" makes for a much easier project, I can say with hindsight). Draw your letters to fit on your bunting {A} and cut them out {B}. Glue to the bunting and finish your other letters {C}.
To make the bunting, open your triangle and place the string against the crease {A} before gluing the triangle and pressing it closed {B}. Continue to string all the letters {C}. I made mine in two rows.
Next, start hot gluing your Halloween trinkets and bobbles (glitter heavily recommended) around your wreath. Keeping your glue gun on a paper plate makes things slightly less messy, but I still managed to hot glue my pajama pants to myself, so maybe don't listen to me.
Glue the bunting around the wreath on each side so it hangs across the middle. I also added some glitter ribbon that I had on hand between the stripes.
Then just tie a ribbon loop around the top of the wreath so you can hang it.
Done! Wreath accomplished.

Have you made any DIY Halloween decorations this year? Found any awesome Halloween trinkets at the dollar store? Why is 'bunting' such a funny word?


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