Today, I have for you a topic many shoppers tend to ignore: email subscriptions and loyalty accounts. Yes, almost every store ever has them, and yes, they seem very spammy and annoying (and they absolutely can be), but they can also be invaluable.
Case in point: I just saved 15%, received three free samples, a birthday gift, and an award gift all at the same time on my Sephora stop just yesterday. That means four full-sized products and three samples for the measly price of my one hair purchase. And I had to do nothing but give them a phone number.
Now, like I said, handing out phone numbers and emails can be bothersome. No one wants to be spammed with daily emails (sometimes even hourly) declaring sale after sale after sale. Yet these can also be useful when you are in the market for a certain product. My solution? Make a completely separate shopping email. Use a straightforward ID that you can comfortably spell to cashiers and is preferably not your full name. In about five minutes, you will have an organized and easy place to accumulate all of your accounts and emails without tainting your work or personal addresses.
Especially for beauty and fashion lovers, I absolutely urge you to make this tiny, free effort for your favorite brands and suppliers. I will shamelessly admit that I have dozens including Sephora, Ulta, MAC, Urban Decay, Too Faced, MUFE, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales…The least you will get out if is a nice sign-up bonus and/or sample, and the best is a lifetime of savings.
A few months ago, I came across the Christian Louboutin Susanna Pumps and fell in instant love with their criss-cross ankle strap and sexy pointed toe. This, I thought, is the kind of genius shape that made Mr. Louboutin a staple. However, my two reasons for not jumping on them then and there were (1) I did not want to settle for black leather–God knows I have enough black heels–and (2) they were, of course, out of stock everywhere in my size.
Then, just a week ago, I discovered the Nine West NanuraPumps, which had a suspiciously familiar gorgeous shape as well as two additional color options. Well, needless to say, I ordered them immediatelyandI have since been waiting patiently to share this review with you.
Now, I am going to do a point-by-point comparison of the differences between the two, amended by action shots. Hopefully this helps give you an idea.
Price: CL $845 vs. NW $99.99 (but on sale now!)
Heel:CL 4 in. (but feels taller) vs. NW 3.75 in. (but feels shorter)
Sizing: my size was CL 37 vs. NW 6
Leather: Unfortunately, NW in this case skimped on leather quality. NW: thin and stretchy vs. CL: thicker and sturdy
Toebox: Now this was the dealbreaker for me. CLs have mastered the art of the curved pointed toe, but the NW felt too long in the front and too flat in terms of leather (my toes would definitely leave unseemly stretch marks there). If you have large feet, I would highly recommend against the NW. Winner: CL.
Colors:CL has 6 (black leather, nude leather, multicolor suede, animal patent, green patent, spiked) and NW has 3 (black leather, nude suede, blue suede). I personally like the NW suede best.
VERDICT: NW made an admirable dupe which may work for those who prefer lower heels, but for me, the curves of the arch and toebox are dealbreakers.
As a shoe addict matured far too late, there is a frustrating amount of past Christian Louboutin styles on my “if I get ridiculously lucky” wishlist (which, unfortunately, grows much faster than I can fulfill it). You know that feeling when randomly spot a shoe that is just perfect and you frantically search for it for hours online and you finally find it on season-end sale at Barney’s Warehouse only to discover that it has been sold out? Well, that is the story of my love affair with Louboutin…and the exact narrative of how my wishlist gained its longtime number one. I introduce to you: Christian Louboutin La Favorita 140 Pumps.
See, there are two things about this designer that are as disheartening as they are defining: sizing and scarcity (well, at least for seasonal styles). Sizing is an all-time concern that requires several levels of mastery: (1) of the brand in general and its toe-crunching cuts, (2) of the time of production, eg. old vs. new Pigalle, and (3) of course, of every individual style, which inexplicably vary up to three whole sizes (I am serious–I own a 35 as well as a 37.5). As if all this does not make it difficult enough to find the right fit, Louboutins are also inexplicably scarce, limiting themselves to only a handful retailers with very limited stock online. I mean, we live in a time where you can buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of the finest jewelry with a click. Are you really telling me that your $700 shoe warrants an exception?
Anyway, this whole rant is merely background for my four-year search for these strappy babies that began, as usual, with a picture. A picture of a model/socialite/whatever whose long legs ended with the nude version of the La Favorita and had me obsessed under three seconds. I had to play quite a bit of the creative keyword game on Google before discovering this style’s name, then quickly finding that I had just missed the end of its 2012 sale term. I then looked on Far Fetch, eBay, Yoogi’s–anywhere I might possibly find it in boxed and new, but no such luck. I repeated this process regularly over almost four years until I magically came upon my size (or so I guesstimated) just last month. Note: in case it helps you, I bought size 37, which fit fine though my TTS of 36.5 may have been better.
Needless to say, many outfits have ensued. I am the type of girl who proudly wears impeccable outfits no matter the situation because, hey–it feels good to look good, and even better to look better than everyone else. So if you are wondering how a medical student gets to wear so much Vero Cuoio, there is your answer. And yes, I can walk in these heels…easily. Give me platforms and I will sprint in six-inch stilettos if you want.
Now, as you may guess, my tastes have changed over four years. I actually have more boxes of Jimmy Choo than of Louboutin, and my favorite heel of all time is currently a drop-dead gorgeous pair of suede Aquazzura stilettos–a designer which mostly has me infatuated. You will hopefully be seeing more of my shoe closet as I figure out how to more smoothly integrate OOTD posts in the future.
Morning, beauty lovers! It is such a gorgeous summer day here by the marina that I feel it appropriate to rave about yet another favorite in my beauty bag: NYX Butter Gloss.
Now, anyone who puts anything on their face on a daily basis probably knows about this gem of a brand and its many wonderful products. NYX thrives on the art of duping existing formulas and selling them on a much more reasonable price point, and we love them for it. This particular product, the ever-popular Butter Gloss, could be a dupe for many brands, but I like to use it as a backup for my favorite lip gloss of all time: Buxom Full-On Lip Cream.
Let me detour here for a second and give a quick overview of this incredible product. Buxom Lip Cream comes in a sleek, durable tube in two sizes (+1, I personally only buy the smallest size of any lip product for easy transport). As the name suggests, it goes on thick and creamy (+1) and begins to tingle almost immediately. This is supposedly an indication of “plumping action,” but as a rising surgeon, let me please disclose my professional cynicism toward any claims of this sort. Nonetheless, I enjoy the tingling. The color payout is very good (+1, see image above for my personal favorite, White Russian), and stays on longer than you want even through continuous sipping of hot caffeinated beverages (+1). Thus, with an inevitable -1 for the $20 price tag, Buxom gets a cushy +3total from me.
Okay, back to NYX. Unlike its wallet-draining competition, this brand always gets the pricing right. At $5 a piece, I am able to buy four for the price of one Buxom and distribute them across my bags, pockets, and vehicles to my heart’s content (+1). In addition, NYX has produced an impressive arsenal of colors since its induction (+1, see image for the original 12). My personal favorite here is Creme Brûlée, of which I own about 5, with Madeleine being a distant second. You can see in the picture below that they offer very different looks, with Creme Brûlée being a more pink neutral that matches my natural lips very well versus Madeleine staining slightly darker and browner for a more apparent look.
Now, I find that while NYX still goes on thick and glossy (+1), it does produce a slight stickiness under certain conditions (-1), though this is not often. And the initial pigment distribution, while delightful (+1), does wear off much faster than Buxom (-1). So if you plan on trekking through wind with your hair down and ready to stick to your face, or continuously sipping hot beverages while praying that your lips stay presentable, perhaps skip the NYX (or really lip gloss altogether for the first scenario). Oh, and for the “plumping” addicts: don’t forget there is no tingling with this one.
And thus, the final sum for NYX Butter Gloss is +1 for price, +1 for color choice, +1 for application, -1 for stickiness, +1 for pigment, and -1 for durability = +3 total.
That means a tie for NYX vs. Buxom, which probably explains why I keep purchasing them both.
…and armed with over a year of other new products!
I apologize for the brief hiatus that involved some of the most stressful months of my life, but c’est la vie on the lower steps of the long ladder of medicine. Thankfully, increasing limits on time mean increasing pressure to cut down my routine to the best products possible. Thus, in the spirit of the time constraints on the modern worker, I present to you a modern remedy: dry shampoo.
I previously had a passing tryst with Dove Dry Shampoo that I stole from my sister in high school, during the dry winter months when my hair got overly shiny in a day. See, at the time, I found the idea of this convenient, root-only and wash-free method of hair care life-changing. However, looking back, I simply liked this product for being yet the only representative of its kind in my life and not because it stands out in any way from its competition. I felt that, at a low price point (+1), Dove did a decent job temporarily clearing shine from my roots (+1); however, one bottle barely made it two weeks (-1) and it left some residue in my hair (-2 for being the most abhorrent quality of dry shampoos). Thus, I would give it a sad total of -1.
Now, my newest go-to product all these years later is completely random find that has since gained popularity: Batiste Instant Hair Refresh.
I met Batiste in the unrelated aisles of some wholesale beauty shop, and I will shamelessly admit that the only reason I picked it up was the promise of a coconut scent (I sternly believe that this aroma of the heavens is dismally underrepresented in the beauty world). Plus, at less than $4, it wasn’t a huge gamble. Well, my darlings, that little gamble paid off large. Once you have the handle of the shake-and-spray technique from a proper distance, Batiste does a great job covering the whole scalp (+1) and gives you piece of mind for the whole day (+1). The one thing I dislike is still the awful dandruff-like residue I sometimes get if I spray or brush just slightly wrong, which seems to be the bane of all dry shampoo existence (-1). Still, given the low price (+1) and of course the amazing scent (+1), that nevertheless gives a satisfactory total of +3.
Well, I’m off to spray my roots and head into a lovely 16-hour shift at the ICU. Watch for the many more beauty posts to come this week!
Hello all, and happy almost spring! I apologize in advance to you cold weather folks, but here in Cali spring is more or less here, and in my city, that means cool mornings and sunny afternoons. This was infuriating at first (who wants to choose between shivering on the way to work and boiling the walk home?), but after two years here, I have learned to navigate the bipolar spring skies.
Here I am clad in my biggest, most versatile secret: tencel. I discovered the magic of this fabric only recently, and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. You know that soft, lived-in feel your favorite jeans get? Take that and multiply by 10x quality and comfort. If you own anything that is 100% tencel (which is not very common in modern brands, so no judgment), you know exactly what I am talking about.
Anyway, the other upside of tencel is that it stabilizes temperature thanks to the consistency and breathability of the fabric. Read: you can wear it in the heat or the cold…which is precisely why it makes for the perfect all-weather utility jacket. And shorts. Also slacks.
– Max Jeans Tencel Jacket: an uber-comfy, roomy fit and feel even at XS. Earthy olive color with antique gold hardware. 6 pockets. It is my go-to for toning down any everyday outfit.
– Equipment Lace Top: this is from seasons ago hence probably out of stock forever, but all it is is a nice all-lace blouse that goes under everything.
– Tencel Floral Shorts: no brand vintage tencel shorts from lord knows where.
– Sbicca Sound Fringe Booties: these are my recent favorites! It took me forever to find these in stock in a size 7 and the taupe color. They are extremely fun, statement makers, and go well with my vertically limited legs.
Hello again, everyone! I will be starting the year off with a review of one of the biggest trends right now: brow liner.
To be honest, I have never been very into bold or thick eyebrows; they usually look too harsh to me. I also do not love overly defined brows and prefer a natural look. However, I find that shaping your brows gently just to convey that subtle “put-together” feel can make a significant difference in your overall look.
Now, if you are blonde like me, or have light brows, you already know the pain of trying to find a liner that is neither dark nor brassy. My hair is currently a cool, ashy dark blonde, and every single “blonde” or “taupe” pencil I have tried comes off–if not brown, which is 90% of time–borderline orange. Some brands that I can list off the top of my head for you to not even bother considering are: MAC, Urban Decay, Stila, Sephora, Make Up For Ever, andany drugstore brand.Please feel free to prove me wrong.
Though I got seriously discouraged after facing strike after strike in the higher quality brands, I decided to try to pursue the elusive Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil. The reason I could not try this right away was that they are always out of stock at my local Sephora, but I managed to finally snag it at Macy’s. And my verdict? Maybe a 3/5. The consistency is decent (unlike many) and the color is the best out of the aforementioned brands, but to me, it is still brassy and a bit dry. I also tried their blonde Brow Gel, which is simply a sparkly golden mess.
The one higher-end brand that I had left to test before going to the next step was Too Faced, whose liner a trusted friend swears by, but I could not find their brow liner anywhere. I am not sure if they are discontinued.
Anyway, I then proceeded to dive into obscure cheap brands that I could afford to blow money on, because I figured I had nothing left to lose if my only other option was to settle for Anastasia. This turned out to be my smartest decision thus far. I found two high-rated brands, Prestige and Essence, on Ulta’s website (not in store though), and as they were around $4 and $2 respectively, I ordered them both in their lightest Blonde shade.
Right off the bat, the liners are extremely similar in packaging, size, and presentation. I like that they both come with a little brow brush, which never hurts to use. I also received a Prestige Brow Gel as a nice bonus.
Here are what the colors look like. This is exactly how they came since I have not sharpened either of them yet, though clearly Essence needs some of that sharpener (can you already tell which one I like more?). The main thing to note here is that, although their colors are similar, Prestige has sparkles in it!! This is essentially a dealbreaker for me–I hated it in MAC’s liners and so many of the gels, too. Why would anyone want glittery brows on a daily basis? If not for the sparkles, I actually thought Prestige’s color looked more taupe and promising than the slightly warmer Essence.
Well, my dears, I should have learned after all those trials: no matter how neutral a brow pencil looks, it will always look warmer on you. When I put both brands on, the winner became glaringly clear.
As you can see, Prestige is so brassy, it hurts. It is more like a bad shimmery bronze eyeliner than a brow liner. I have tried using it a few times to give it a second chance, but it only gets oranger as the day wears on. And it is longer lasting and buildable (see above pic), so it looks darker as well. 2/5
On the other hand, Essence looks more like a stain than a liner, and appears more natural on blonde brows than any other pencil, cream, or gel that I have tried. The color first seems too brown when you overapply it, but it spreads out and ends up looking the best on. The one con is that it is not long wearing in terms of staying put in a sharp outline, but I am fine with this since, as I’ve stated, I prefer a more natural look anyway. Plus, I strongly suspect that this could be improved with primer. And at less than $2, I don’t know how you can beat the performance. 4/5
Bottom Line: Essence > Anastasia in my opinion, and I would not recommend Prestige at all.
Hope everyone is off to a good start on their new year!