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I think I’ve got a new obsession – my nails. Ever since my nails have been in such great condition now that I’m taking Biotin daily, I’ve become more interested in trying to become more of a nail expert.

In the past I’ve had gel nails, and was happy to have my hands look good and leave the “heavy lifting” to the professional. I’ve never been very good at filing, polishing, and caring for my own nails. But things are changing.

First I eased in with the Incoco nails, which I still love and plan to use throughout the fall and winter. But when I saw how well the accent nail that I’d polished looked, I figured I should try my hand (pun intended) at old fashioned polish.

I like the idea of changing my polish as often as the mood strikes. Plus, keeping my hands busy at night, when I tend to get the craving to snack, is an added bonus. And we all know that practice makes perfect. So, I plan on making NOTD a regular feature on the blog whenever I have new polishes that I’m trying out. If you have suggestions for colors I should try, please leave them in the comments.

I’d actually gone to Target to pick up a different polish (which will be featured later) and to pick up Seche Vite, a top coat that most of the beauty bloggers I read say is their holy grail product. And I have to concur – you apply it as soon as you’re finished with the last coat of color; the instructions say not to let them dry at all. Literally as soon as I was finished putting the final top coat on the pinkie nail of my right hand, my left thumb was completely dry. I was worried that doing my nails only a couple of hours before bedtime might risk getting pillow marks on my nail, but I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to shiny, gorgeous nails. I can’t recommend this top coat more highly, but more “evidence” of why later.

Now on to the topic at hand – Purple Yourself Together by Nicole by OPI (Target). I loved the color as soon as I saw it in the bottle. It’s a perfect, subtle purple (if purples can be subtle), with tinges of gold.

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I love the way the color turned out, and that it takes on different shades in differing lights, as you can see.

20120812-223704.jpg The yellow light of my dining room.

The bright light of my bathroom: (these shots show the shimmering properties of the polish)

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Natural daylight through my bedroom window:

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I love this color!  It goes so well with every color in my wardrobe, and I think it looks great with my skin tone.   It will take me from late summer through the fall and winter.

20120812-223512.jpg And to prove the staying power of not only this nail color, but especially of the Seche Vite top coat, these are my nails three days later.  I spent over 3 1/2 hours cleaning my house from top to bottom, in and out of water, with all sorts of cleaners, etc.  I’m not one to wear gloves, so I was amazed that they still look this good.  Sorry for the dark lighting, but I think you get the idea.

So my first foray into the world of polished nails was a success.  Inner health like taking my vitamins regularly have led to outer beauty.  I like taking care of myself this way, and I love that my hands can look so good with me as the manicurist.

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Remember last week when I wrote about the side benefit of Biotin being that my nails are actually growing? I’d used Sally Hansen Nail Effects for the first time and really liked the way they turned out. They ended up lasting well over a week, and could’ve gone longer, but I wanted to change up the color thanks to my newest find.

I really loved the ease of use of Sally Hansen strips, but I do find their selection sorely lacking for someone of my age group. To me, their patterns and colors are geared for a younger crowd.

So, I did a search and found out about InCoco Nail Strips. They got great reviews on YouTube as well as MakeupAlley, and their prices were competitive. Their sets are about $7.99 for 16 strips. Luckily, I can use 1 strip on 2 nails, which means I can get two manicures per set. Not a bad deal! I really love their selection of colors and styles, and find them much more sophisticated than the Sally Hansen strips.

I ended up ordering quite a few sets to save on shipping, and couldn’t wait for them to arrive. They got here much quicker than I expected, and I was excited to spend some time on Friday playing with them. Before I show you how they turned out, let me show you what I got.

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My nails will be looking great for the foreseeable future.

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“Mochachino.” A pink, mauve, brown color that will be perfect for fall/winter.

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The set on the left is a navy blue, the one on the right is more of a lemon yellow. I bought them to wear during Homecoming Week, when we get spirited and wear the school colors (blue & gold).

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“Strike a Pose.” This color is a dark purpley/ gray color that will be awesome in fall/winter.

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“Runway.” This one is a light gray, even though it looks similar to the previous color, it’s quite different in person. Another good new neutral for fall/winter.

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“Twilight.” I’m not sure if you can tell that it has a dual chrome iridescence of blue, green, and gray. This one was suggested as a good compliment to “Strike a Pose” and “Runway.” I could wear it alone, or as an accent color with the other two.

Now let’s get to the set and the mani I chose.

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All sets come with a sample (this one had two french manicure sample strips), a file, polish remover, and the actual strips. Not pictured: the nail stick used to push back the cuticles.

One thing I found out (the hard way) about nail strips is that once you open the package, they dry out, making reusing them impossible. But the genius packaging of the Incoco strips takes into account that you may want to use the leftovers for another mani. These strips come with a piece of adhesive foil to seal up any unused strips.

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And now onto the finished product. Since most of my choices were geared more for fall and winter, I was glad that I’d made one choice that worked for late summer. Who doesn’t love polka dots?
20120806-231254.jpg The accent nail on my ring finger is polish, and unlike last week’s terrible mani, the polish hasn’t chipped. A good base and top coat make a difference! (I may give polish more of chance now that I can see that the color can last longer than a day). These Incoco strips really have staying power. My nails look as good today (3 days later!) as they did the day I did them.

Three of my friends have seen my nails and asked me where I got them done. They were shocked when I told the I’d used the strips. It’s fun getting compliments on my natural nails.

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I love the way they turned out!

I’d highly recommend giving the Incoco nails a try. They’re easy to apply and make you look like a nail expert. I “liked” their FB page to hear about specials and limited edition strips. Fans also post their own photos of manicures, which can give you a great idea of the results.

Update: I took the following picture one week after I’d put the Incoco strips on, and I’m impressed with how well they lasted.  I wasn’t easy on my nails in the least, and they still look great, 7 days later.  My cuticles could use some help, but that’s another story.  I could have easily gone a few more days, maybe even another week, but I was in the mood for a change.

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You guys know how much I love makeup, and I’ve been dying to find the time to write this post so I could tell you about a great new lipstick find.

Background: I’ve been watching Makeup Geek’s tutorial videos on YouTube for several years now. I’ve watched Marlena (Makeup Geek) completely transform her life in so many ways. When she began the videos she was living in Michigan and working as a music teacher and part-time makeup artist. Over the course of the last couple of years, she moved back to California (where she’s from) and made her passion her profession. Not only is she a full time makeup maven, but she’s developed her own makeup line! Talk about determination! She inspires me to strive for everything I want to do professionally and personally, because she was able to make her dreams her reality. Not only that, but she also lost over 100 lbs while accomplishing everything else. I love her personal blog, Simply Marlena, where she gives lots of weight loss tips and shares more of her personal life beyond the makeup. Marlena and I have so much in common, not the least of which is an Italian heritage. But since this post is about her fabulous new lipsticks, let’s get to that!

When I saw that she had developed lipsticks as part of her makeup collection, I jumped at the chance to buy them. Her lipsticks are highly pigmented, but really smooth and creamy. Not at all chalky or drying. She started with 16 shades, but plans to add more as time goes on. Beyond the formulation and the selection, I love the price! At $7.99 a tube, I knew it was worth trying a few different shades. I ordered the lipsticks from her site on a Sunday, and they arrived by Wednesday of the same week! Granted, I think we only live a few hours apart, but that was a fantastic turnaround time!

I want to apologize for the blurry photos that follow – I was just so excited to try all the lipsticks on that I wasn’t paying as much attention to the quality of the photos I took. But you’ll get the idea.
20120611-224726.jpg Let’s start with the packaging – I really like the bold red color and the typography she’s chosen. This is impressive, don’t you think? Especially given the pricing.

20120611-224544.jpg I like the look of the tubes, and especially appreciate the “peekaboo” lid so that I can see which color I’m choosing from the makeup bag.

I tried the lipsticks on as soon as I got them, because I was dying to see how they looked on me. With my coloring, it’s sometimes difficult for me to order lipstick online. My lips are fairly dark, so the color has to be rich to show up well on me. I can’t tell you how many lipsticks I’ve wasted because they washed me out or didn’t look any different than my natural lipcolor.

20120606-134400.jpg This color is called Lovely, and is a nice pinkish-neutral on me. I think this one would be great to wear everyday, especially in the fall and winter. With some lipgloss I can make it pop a bit more and liven it up for summer days, too.

20120606-134404.jpg This one is Foxy. It looks sort of red in the photo, but is more of a hot pink/coral. I love it! The color is so current and it’s absolutely perfect for summer. If I put it on with a lighter touch and add a dab of gloss it can be a fun, bright daytime-into-night color. I could also see myself wearing this in the evenings all year long.

20120606-134451.jpg This last one is called Delightful, and it absolutely is. It’s sort of a muted, dusty pink on me. I really like it and think it would be a great all-season daytime color.

These lipsticks glide on the lips and have staying power! I wore this lipstick on Sunday, and my mom and sister liked the color so much (I think I had Delightful on) that they borrowed it too. We wore it as we shopped ’till we dropped in temps that were well above 85 degrees, and we didn’t have to reapply all afternoon. The lipstick didn’t fade after 4 hours, which is really saying something for a formula that is this moisture-rich.

I can say without any exaggeration that these lipsticks are by far the best I’ve used. They’re moist, yet they last. They’re highly pigmented, yet they aren’t dry or chalky. They don’t feather! Mac, Bare Escentuals, Revlon, Clinique, Lancome,etc. – you name the brand and I would put these lipsticks up against them any day of the week. And you can’t beat the price.

The one critique I have is something that can be easily corrected and isn’t about the lipsticks at all. On the Makeup Geek site, the photos of the lipsticks are a bit deceiving – the swatches are truer to the shade than the photos of the lipstick on the lips. I’d also love it if Marlena could give some direction as to which skin tones would look best with each shade, whether the color is universally flattering or meant for someone with a certain coloring.

I highly recommend that you try out at least one of these lipsticks because I know that you’ll be as impressed as I am. Plus, I love the idea of helping a small businesswoman make her dream a success – she’s well on her way! I’d much rather spend my money on these Makeup Geek lipsticks than on some huge company, wouldn’t you?

Which shade is your favorite? If you buy a lipstick (or three!), I’d love to hear how you liked them in the comments.

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Happy Monday! I’m looking forward to this new week – a fresh start.  I’ve got a new perspective and attitude, and I’ve taken the steps to set myself up for success.  I can’t wait to see how it all pays off.

Now it’s time for Friend Makin’ Monday (FMM).

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

I’m especially interested in this week’s theme because it was my idea.  Kenlie was so sweet and used many of the questions that I suggested.  So, thank you, Kenlie!  It’s all about makeup – one of my favorite topics.  Sometimes I think that I could have been a makeup artist in a former life.  And I KNOW makeup is in my blood because my grandmother worked for over 30 years at the makeup counters at Emporium (when that store was still around).  My mom is a master with makeup, and taught me much of what I know, although she is amazing at eyeshadow and that never rubbed off on me.

FMM: Makeup Faves

  1. Do you wear makeup everyday? Yes, almost without fail.  On the weekends I do a lighter version of my daily routine, but I like the coverage it gives me.
  2. Does your routine change if you’re going out with friends/on a date/to a party? If so, how? The only real changes would be that I take a bit more time in the application and I use a bolder lip or a more dramatic cat’s eye.
  3. Are you loyal to one brand, or do you use different brands for different things? I’m really loyal to Bare Escentuals, now that I’ve found it again.  It offers me excellent coverage that looks light and natural.  And it’s good for my skin.
  4. Do you wear primer/concealer? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  I use a BE primer and sometimes I put on a their Well Rested concealer under my eyes.  If I have a blemish, I use Summer Bisque to mask it.
  5. What’s your favorite brand of foundation? Bare Escentuals – there’s just no comparison for my skin.
  6. Do you use blush and/or bronzer?  I use both.  For the bronzer, I use BE’s Faux Tan, and I really do think it helps me contour my cheekbones and make my face appear slightly slimmer.  I use lots of different BE blushes on the apples of my cheeks, but most often I use Golden Gate or Hint.
  7. Do you wear eye shadow/eye liner?  If so, what’s your favorite kind? (Are you liking the theme here? :) ) I use Loreal liquid eyeliner because it has a brush applicator.  Most people find brushes more difficult to work with, but for me, it’s so much easier than the felt tip pens.  I’ve tried every liquid eyeliner under the sun (just as the girl at Sephora), but Loreal is really the best.    I’m not really into eyeshadows as much because I really don’t know how to apply it well.  I watch the YouTube beauty guru videos, but I still can’t seem to like it better than the liquid eyeliner on me.
  8. What’s your favorite kind of mascara? Again, I’ve tried so many different kinds, and I really like most of them.  The main thing is that the mascara can’t flake or leave me with raccoon eyes.  Right now I am using a combo of Loreal Voluminous, BE Curl & Lengthen, and DiorShow.  They’re all similar, with a huge brush that helps me get thicker lashes.  The DiorShow is the best, but it’s also the most expensive, so I mix it up during the week.
  9. Lipstick? Lip gloss? Both? Favorite? I wear both.  This winter I’ve gotten back into my love affair with lipstick and use lots of BE, but I also like Mac and Revlon.  In the summer I wear more glosses, and nothing beats Buxom for me.
  10. Do you wear nail polish regularly?  If so, share a few of your favorite brands/colors.  Not at all.  I wish I was as good at doing my nails as Kenlie, because I’d do them all the time.  I want to start getting the gel manicures, but I think I’m going to save that as a treat for myself once I get to my mini goal.
  11. How do you remove your makeup at the end of the day?  First I sweep a Neutrogena cleansing cloth over my face, concentrating on the eye makeup.  Then I wash my face with BE’s purifying facial cleanser.  Followed by the BE moisturizer.
  12. Do you feel prettier when you’re wearing makeup?  I feel more like me.  The makeup helps me show myself at my best.  I feel pretty, confident, and ready to take on the day.
  13. Do you have any beauty tips that you could pass along?  My biggest tip is to pay as much attention to skin care as you do to makeup (maybe even more).  No one ever guesses my age and I think that’s in part because I’ve been taking great care of my skin since I was a teen.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Kenlie’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM, including Kim, among many other wonderful people.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

A huge thank you to Kenlie for featuring many of my questions in this post today.  It was so much fun!! I can’t wait to read your answers.

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I thought I’d do a quick post about makeup. You guys may remember a post I did last spring where I talked about how much I love (and $pend on) makeup. I don’t mention it very often on this blog, but I could spend hours talking about makeup. It must be an inherited thing – my grandmother worked in the cosmetics counter of a major department store for 30 years, my mom is great with makeup, and I seem to have been bitten by the same beauty bug.

For a couple of years I’ve been on the quest to find the perfect makeup (foundation). I tried this and that and it was ok for a while, but nothing ever looked as natural as I’d hoped or matched my skin as well as it should have or covered some facial scars as well as it should. And then I made an ill-fated attempt at following HCG, which was a mistake, but it did lead me to rediscover a makeup that I used to love.

Bare Escentuals. I used to wear it all the time, and I loved it, but stopped because I thought it was causing me to break out in cystic acne. As it turns out, it was the shampoo I was using to wash the brushes that was irritating my skin, not the mineral makeup. (Why did I think it was a good idea to wash brushes that would be touching my face in some random cheapo shampoo?). I gave BE another try and I am in love again!

I don’t want this to sound like a huge advertisement for Bare Escentuals, but I guess it is. The makeup makes me look great (if I do say so myself) because it lets my natural beauty show through. It looks like me, just in the best light. The minerals work with my skin and diffuse any imperfections and let an inner glow emerge. It also helps that I found my perfect shade this time, so I don’t end up looking too fair in photos. These were both taken last week:

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A weekday/natural look.

(For those of you who noticed the quadrofolio, good eyes. More on that next week).

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A more made-up/going out look.

I’ve been watching lots of YouTube video tutorials about how to best apply the makeup, and I’m really liking the results. Plus, now that it’s summer, it’s nice to have a light, weightless foundation rather than something that’s liquid and heavy. And I really like that it’s not powdery looking. Not only that, but since I’ve been using this makeup my acne scars are dissipating. 🙂

My next step is to change over from Philosophy to BE for skincare, too. I’ve been a Philosophy Girl for years now, but lately my skin hasn’t been reacting as well to the cleansers and moisturizers as it used to. “They” say that it’s good to change up your skincare routine every so often, and I think that time may be upon me. I’ve been reading rave reviews about BE skincare, and since I’ll be finishing up the last of my Purity Made Simple and Hope in a Jar by mid July, it may just be the perfect time to give something new a try. After all, change is good, and I can always go back to Philosophy.

I’m back to being a BEliever! Swirl, Tap, Buff all the way, baby!!

So, how about you? What’s your favorite makeup/skincare? Are you brand loyal, using everything in the line, or do you mix and match?

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