Thursday, January 22, 2015

Petroleum Jelly For Eyelash Growth

Another Week Another Post Dear Sparklers,

Like all my images, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if someone throws a hissy fit.

This week I wanted to give you a quick tip that has really been helping out my puny little lashes.  In a nutshell, using mascara (especially water-proof mascara) can really dry out your lashes.  This can cause them to fall out more easily or not grow as long as they used to.

I have heard various ideas from other beauty bloggers/youtubers which suggest using creams or oils gently on your lash line and lashes.  This always results in me getting crazy horrible eye burning as the product inevitably gets in my eye.  Eek.

There are also really expensive lash treatments that come in mascara tube form.  I find that these don't really seem to make much of a difference and are simply not worth the cash.

What have I found that actually works?!  Petroleum Jelly*.  It's hydrating, thick enough not to get in your eyes, and very very inexpensive.  Just use clean fingers or a cleaned old mascara wand to apply a drop sized amount to your lashes before going to bed.  TaDa!

Hope you liked this quick tip!
Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  But seriously, I said Petroleum Jelly, not that-common-petroleum-jelly-brand-that-shall-not-be-named. These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Little Post-Holiday M.A.C Haul!

Post Holiday Season Bliss Sparklers.

As part of a gift to myself, I decided to update my M.A.C* cosmetics collection by purchasing some essentials that I ran out of and some cool new products as well.  M.A.C is one of my favorite higher end make-up splurges, so I like to have a good idea about what I'm getting before going to a store.  Reviews like this from other bloggers help me, so hopefully my purchases and reviews help you out as well! Lets get started.

Here are my personal pictures of the products. Getting makeup colors right is very difficult, so below, I included MAC's pictures from their website. All of those images on this post belong to M.A.C cosmetics.  They are way better photographers of their products than I am.  Like all my images, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if someone throws a hissy fit.

Mineralize Skin Finish Natural in "Medium Golden"- $32 USD

This just gives the most flawless and gorgeous finish to your skin.  I like it on top of foundation for a full made-up look.  I also like just concealing my flaws with concealer and then dusting this over my whole face for a more natural look.  I previously loved my skinfinish in "Soft and Gentle" (reviewed here), but after I used up every last drop of that, I wanted something that had a bit less glow to it.  Thus, the natural-matte finish of Medium Golden was perfect for my NC25 colored skin.  I love the new packaging which feels a bit heavier, luxurious, and has a mirror.  That being said, it does take up more room than the previous packaging.

Red Red Red Collection, Casual Color in "Red Obsessed"- $22 USD

The Casual Color product line is pretty new to M.A.C and is really cool.  It is harder than a cream, but still wet.  It is highly pigmented and can be used on the lips or cheeks.  It has wonderful color pay off and can be used with a brush or your finger tips.  It can add soft subtle color but can be built up to be quite bold.  Used under a powder blush, it really extends the wear-time of your cheek color.  Red Obsessed is a soft rosy color which I absolutely adore with just about any look for my skin tone.  

M.A.C Lipstick in "Viva Glam III"- $16 USD

M.A.C makes my favorite lipsticks of all time.  Viva Glam III is no exception.  This is a great matte lipstick which can be applied lightly for a flush of color, or applied thickly for a bolder look.  The Viva Glam III was released in the 90's, which mean's it is right on trend in 2014-2015 as the fashion world is bringing back the 90's brown-ish lip trend.  I particularly like this one because the plum tones keep the 90's brown-lip more modern.  It is extremely comfortable to wear, does not dry out my lips, and is long lasting.  Oh, did I mention all money made from Viva Glam lipsticks go to charity?!  They also have cool pink accents to the packaging where the regular MAC lipsticks do not.  

M.A.C Brow Set in "Boy Girl"- $17 USD

If you didn't know that I've been in the process of going blonde (see blonding part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this process so far).  As part of that, I realized that my stark black brows were not right for the new look.  However, the idea of applying bleach right above my eyes was absolutely petrifying.  That is where M.A.C's brow set has become part of my every day routine.  I brush it own after I do my brows with powder for full make-up looks.  Even when I'm not wearing any makeup, I still brush this through my brows (when I'm going out in public) so that they go nicely with my hair.  "Boy Girl" is a nice fawn-brown color which complements a lot of shades of brown-blonde hair.  I love that I never worry about this smudging or coming off.  It perfectly sets and colors my black brows.  IT also does not leave them crunchy.  This is my second tube of this and it is really just a back up.   My first tube has lasted over 8 months and I still have about 1/3 of a tube left!  Mini-Tip:  I use a clean mascara wand/spooli--yes that is what they are called-- to brush through after the brow set to get rid of excess product or clumping.  

Phew, you made it to the end of the mini-M.A.C haul! Congrats! 

Until then,
Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Introduction to Pantone's Color of the Year 2015: Marsala!

Hi my Shiny Sparklers!

Sorry for the delay Sparklers!  I was super busy with post holidays and work.  As we have officially made it to 2015, you might be thinking about staying on-trend with the new Pantone Color Of The Year* (PCOTY a long acronym makes me hip right?) "Marsala".  In case the color of the year is something you have never noticed or cared about, it is a color company specializing in color systems--most notably, paint.  Yes, wall paint.  That being said, they have somehow monopolized the rights to determine "this year's color".  That being said everyone is going gaga for "Marsala" right now.

So how have I chosen to incorporate this color into my make-up looks?  Well to start with, I like to use the PCOTY as a guide, rather than a law.  I also like to use it to step a bit outside my comfort zone.  The main idea I get from "Marsala" is that it is a brown-ish red/pink.  Sort of an earthen tone brick?  How many ways can I try and describe a color?  Anyway,  if the true PCOTY does not suit your skin tone or style, just go a little bit in that direction. In that vein, I have 2 main ways I will be wearing "Marsala" this year:

Lipstick:  I love the Viva Glam III lipstick ($16).  This matte lipstick has Marsala-like brown undertones and has the benefit of also being a bit more rosy.  I look nice in dusty rosy colors, so I leaned towards this guy.

While this lipstick is on-trend, it is also very timeless and universally flattering for all skin tones.  It is also an amazing formula that is comfortable to wear, long-lasting, and generally speaking AMAZING!  Thus, I had no qualms splurging the $16 to take this home.

Blush: I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking for a "Marsala" blush that I liked, that also wasn't hideously expensive.  Yet I wanted quality so I swatched my way through Sephora and have been more than satisfied with my purchase of the "Sephora Collection-Colorful Blush" in "Fuchsia Flash" ($15USD).  It is slightly pinker and "wine" colored than the true PCOTY, but this blush is really pretty and perfect for me.  Also, despite the lighting of my pictures, it is a bit more brown-toned, thus the official Sephora picture.  I love this blush formula because it is highly pigmented and smooth.  It feels very high end, but without the huge price tag of a $30-$50 blush. I personally feel that when something might not be a lasting fad, that I don't want to spend a whole ton of money on it.  I also don't want to sacrifice too much quality.  I feel that the Sephora Collection-Colorful Blush line fill this desire exactly.  There are quite a few "Marsala"-eque options.  I highly suggest checking them out in person, colors tend not to translate as well as we bloggers would like due to lighting and different computer screens.  Fun Fact:  Every computer monitor make and model greatly varies in how it displays colors.  This is pure joy for anyone trying to do anything visual via digital joyous...can you sense my enthusiasm? </end sarcasm>

Want an even more affordable "Marsala" like blush? I suggest looking into Wet n' Wild's Color Icon blush in "Mellow Wine".  I have had this blush for so long that I'm totally embarrassed to post a picture of it because the package is crazy ratchet.  However, the lovely internet has provided this wonderful picture for your enjoyment.  That being said, I feel that in real life, this color is a bit softer and has some picker tones.  This color costs only $3USD (you can sometimes get it on sale even cheaper).  It is also highly pigmented and smooth and soft.  The brush that is included is a dismal excuse for a brush, but for $3, I will accept that the packaging leaves something to be desired.

Whether you think PCOTY is silly or fun, perhaps this post made you consider adding it as an element that makes your beauty routine a little more exciting.  I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you all next week!

As always,
Shine & Sparkle

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions. Also, like all my images, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if someone throws a hissy fit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

High Heel Wearing Comfort Hacks

Happy Holiday Season My Wonderful Sparklers!

How is your holiday season so far?  Mine has been very busy!  This post is inspired by the fact that over this last weekend,  I had to use all of these products (my poor little feet).

During the holidays there are many parties and occasions to wear your favorite shoes.  Yet as much as you might love your sky-high heels, sometimes they just don't love you back.  This is why I have a few tricks up my sleeve for making the fancy-shoe-wearing-season as pain free as possible.  Overall, you will find that I talk a lot about the quality of adhesive, since it really matters when it comes to these types of sticky shoe inserts.  I'll try and save you time and money wasted on the cheaper (or too expensive) versions.

"Save My Feet Blister Elixir" by Peaches and Boo Boo*- $20USD/4 oz

I did an extensive review of this product here.  I do want to somewhat revise my review about this product.  Most importantly to note that it really works well but with shoes that are already broken it.  There are some cases where this will help, but not completely prevent blistering (think brand-new ballet flats--which seem to be worse than heels sometimes for blistering).

Aldo's "Enrorich" Padding- Aprox. $8.99USD/1 pair.

These are by far my favorite gel pads for inside high-heeled shoes.  The extra padding right on the ball of your foot and at the heel really help extend how long I can wear my shoes.  They are also especially thin and fit in just about any heel without adding too much bulk (which is a huge problem with other competing products).  They also are low profile and can be worn without being seen on the strappiest of shoes.  These also really stay put in the shoe despite lots of friction.  They are also not too sticky.  This means that you can easily remove them to re-position them.  I don't know how many times these have saved a pair of shoes from being impossible to walk in to tolerable.  I even have them in heeled boots that went from "only walk from the car to the bar and back" shoes to "walk around the mall for an hour or longer shoes".  

Dr. Scholl's "DreamWalk Sole Expressions-Heel Liners"- Aprox $6.99USD/3 pairs.

This is by far my favorite heel insert brand and type.  Many of the thick gel ones are too tick and do not adhere properly to certain types of materials.  These are the perfect thickness and also seem to flawlessly stick to any shoe material I have tried.  Mini-Tip: Let the liner sit on your shoe for at least 15 minutes before using it.  This will really allow it to form a bond before you start adding friction to the equation.  

Band-Aid "Advanced Healing Blister" Bandages- Aprox $7.99/6 cushions

A little pricey for 6 bandages? Yes.  But when the back of your heel is oozing, bleeding, red, and raw from crazy blisters (yeah, ewwww right?!)  you will find these 100% worth it.  Why are these any better than a good ol' extra large bargain brand adhesive bandage you ask?  Well to start off with, it is really really good at sticking.  Aside from that, it is a weird stretchy material that you pull to exactly fit your blister.  The unique stretch also means that it will stay in place, even with your most ouchy shoes and high friction situations.  It moves and molds to your foot, meaning it doesn't simply get rubbed off.  Lastly (and most importantly), it really soothes and stops the pain of the blister.  Seriously guys, give the bandage about 30 minutes and you will forget that your heels looked like war zone victim and you were about to hack off your own foot to end the suffering just a few minutes ago.  As far as faster healing times, I assume this is mostly because you are not re-injuring your foot.  I was very skeptical of the claim that this bandage was better for blisters at most.  But Band-Aid has proven me wrong.  I have 2 of these in my purse at all times for blister emergencies.

Thank you so much Sparklers for hanging out with me this holiday season.  May your season be bright, full of love & cheer, and may your feet be as comfy as possible! 

And As Always,
Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions. Also, like all my images, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if someone throws a hissy fit. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Charity of The Year: The Food Trust

Seasons Greetings Shine & Sparklers!

It is the holiday season. People are rushing around frantically acquiring gifts for their loved ones. They are primping and preening in front of mirrors for holiday parties, shopping trips, and other festivities. While lots of beauty bloggers are posting about the perfect holiday look and the perfect gift for him/her/mom/dad/puppy/goldfish, I want to take this time to draw some attention to those less fortunate.

I think part of being a beautiful person is appreciating what you have. The holidays in the Western world seem to emphasize consumerism. Thus, I started the December tradition of posting The Shine and Sparkle Report: Charity of The Year. 

Like all my images, I will gladly take them down if asked/someone throws a hissy fit.  That being said, common! It's for charity dude/dudette!

I would now like to introduce to you, to THE FOOD TRUST!

So, why The Food Trust?  While I have highlighted international oriented charities such as Project Peanut Butter and Free Rice!, I wanted to turn this year's focus on issues in my home country of the United States.  I was motivated this year by the idea that there are many people who simply do not have access to healthy foods which are the building blocks of not only beauty, but overall health and well-being.  Many families struggle to put food on the table and often the foods that are affordable/available are not the quality foods needed to fuel bodies.  Children especially need healthy foods to ensure they can concentrate and do well in school.  The following information was taken from The Food Trust Website.

The Food Trust's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, we've developed a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.

Programs and Activities
For more than 20 years, The Food Trust has works with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers in Philadelphia and across the country to change how we all think about healthy food and to increase its availability.The Food Trust's comprehensive approach includes improving food environments and teaching nutrition education in schools, working with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings and helping customers make healthier choices, managing farmers' markets in communities that lack access to affordable produce and encouraging other fresh food retail development in underserved communities.

Nationally, almost one out of every six children between ages 2 and 19 is obese.  The number of people suffering from other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, is also high.  Thousands of communities, both urban and rural, all across the country that lack access to healthy, affordable food. And nearly 30 million Americans, the United States Department of Agriculture reports, live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store.

Research has shown that you are where you eat, that the neighborhood you live in has a profound impact on the food choices you make. In partnership with PolicyLink, The Food Trust published Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research, a new report that provides an up-to-date review of the research. Three years after The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters, the large volume of new research demonstrates that improving healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color continues to be an urgent need.

Research also demonstrates the economy of lower-income communities is positively influenced by improved food access. For example, the development or presence of a grocery store can create jobs, stimulate investment in the neighborhood and anchor complementary retail.

Support The Food Trust

There a lots of ways to GET INVOLVED WITH THE FOOD TRUST.  This can be as simple as a monetary donation to volunteering/interning/working for The Food Trust. 

This holiday season, while you are enjoying family, friends, and partying it up, perhaps take a minutes to consider the less fortunate.  While I love everything that shines and sparkles, the most important place for you to do so is on the inside.  

Happy holidays and as always,

Shine & Sparkle

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SheaMoisture: Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner Review (Asian Hair Perspective)

Howdy Shine and Sparkle Report Readers,

Sorry for the late post Sparklers! I obviously love SheaMoisture's brand even though I don't have "ethnic" hair (but I have an ethnicity so that term deeply bothers me...getting off my soapbox now) but dear lord they have the longest product titles!  I mean seriously, I reviewed SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque and most recently I gave my opinion on the Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque.  If those aren't long enough, then how about the "Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner"?!  Long enough for you!  That's right, I think it is the longest product title in Shine and Sparkle report history. *applause for irrelevant benchmarks*.

Ok, I admit I was a bit scared to try this. There are a lot of potentially heavy oils that might weigh down my hair.  But it was buy 1 SheaMoisture product get one 1/2 off at Ulta, so I went for it with blind faith on one of my favorite brands.  And retailing at $10.99USD for 16oz this is a steal.  16oz is so much leave-in conditioner for me.  Maybe if you have even drier, thicker, more damaged hair than I do you will go through more of it.  But this amount is enough for over a year for me.

SheaMoisture Claims: 
A reparative leave-in conditioner that softens and detangles hair. Nourishes, moisturizes and supports elasticity so hair resists breakage when detangling. Conditioners provide a protective layer that improves the appearance of split ends. Peppermint oil stimulates the scalp for an invigorating experience.

Pretty much free of the big bad stuff.  It has no: No sulfates. No parabens. No phthalates. No paraffin. No gluten. No propylene glycol. No mineral oil. No synthetic fragrance. No PABA. No synthetic color. No DEA. No animal testing.

This Conditioner Features:

  • Organic Shea Butter - Deeply moisturizes while conditioning hair and scalp.
  • Jamaican Black Castor Oil - Loaded with repartive (Note: SheaMoisture made up this word, not me) omegas that promote healthy hair growth.
  • Peppermint -Stimulates the scalp for an invigorating experience

How SheaMoisture Says To Use It:
Apply to clean, towel-dried hair. Work a generous amount of product into hair from root to ends. Com through for even distribution. Do not rinse. Apply more to longer hair at the end of problem areas. Can also be used as a rinse-out conditioner.

How Ms. Sparkles Uses It:
In the third person.  Gawd I'm funny right? Anyway, I haven't used it as a rinse-out conditioner because I'm totally stuck on the Superfruit Complex etc... deep masque.  But if you follow me on twitter, I promise to give you a yay or nay on it's use as a rinse out conditioner.  As far as my usage, I find that "generous amount" should really mean "not very much".  I tap 4 fingers on the surface of pot.  I rub what sticks to my fingers between my two hands and apply it to damp hair.  I concentrate on my ends and then whatever is left I apply to my roots.  I do this before combing out my hair with a wide-toothed comb to take advantage of the detangling effects.  I find that this does not leave my hair greasy, but really nice and moisturized.  If I repeat this process to add a bit more product, it gives me some nice texture and helps to define the layers in my hair cut.  Since I don't wash my hair every day, I find that the ends can feel a bit dry on day 2 and 3.  A 2 finger tap into the pot gives me plenty of product to rehydrate my dry ends between washes (also without being greasy).  Because this is so healthy for your hair, I don't notice any build up--just more good hair days.

  • Deep Frying Hair Warning:  Do not use heat after using products with a lot of pure oils and no silicone!  In my silicone 101 post, I talk more in detail about how silicones help protect your hair from heat.  Without using silicones, you just have a lot of oil in your hair.  You apply a straightener/curing wand/hot blowdryer and you are essentially cooking/frying your hair in oil...eek!  You are being super nice to your hair with great oils, lay off the hotools.  If you must, make sure to apply a silicone based heat protectant before using heat.   

As usual,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Face Cleansing Quick Tip

Happy Fall Devoted Shine and Sparklers!

Today I have a really quick tip about washing your face.  I'm sure you never really thought about it, but here are my top tips for getting the best results from your facial cleanser!

What? Stock image?'s a quick tip!  I was lazy!  So sue me.  Actually, please don't. This image is property of the person who created it.  Like all my images, I will gladly take it down if contacted/someone throws a hissy fit.  

  1. Wash your face at the end of your shower.  As you shower you have body soaps, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, and all sorts of other products that might have ingredients you don't want sitting on your face.  Waiting until the end of your shower to wash your face ensures that you are left with the cleanest skin possible at the end of your shower.
  2. Massage the cleanser into your face for 30 seconds to 1 minute in small circular motions.  This seems like a long time, but to get the full benefits of your cleanser, wash your face for a bit longer than you think.  This gives the cleanser time to break down oils, tighten pores, exfoliating ingredients to sluff away dead skin cells, and all the goodness of your cleanser to work.  
  3. Dry your face with a clean towel. I actually have a number of small towels I reserve just for my face.  If you don't care about the environment, you can also use a paper towel.  The skin on your face tends to be more sensitive to bacteria (which can cause breakouts too!)  Using a clean towel to dry your face helps reduce bacteria and leave you with the best complexion possible.
  4. Wash your face 2 times a day.  Washing more than 2 times will dry it out.  It's good to get all the environmental particles, oil and makeup off of your face at night.  It's good to get all the oil and bacteria from your pillows off your face in the morning.  Hooray.
I know this was a super super quick tip.  But isn't that the point?

As Always,
Shine & Sparkle!