Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Make-Up 101: Smokey Eye Make-Up Tutorial

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

I recently did this blue smokey eye make-up look below and posted it on my instagram (which forwards to my facebook and twitter feeds--shameless hint to follow me on social media).

I actually got a few comments on this and thought that for this weeks post, I'd let you know what products I used to get this look (with little mini reviews of the products).  It's also a general report on how to get a smokey eye look.  Lots of people are trying out the blue smokey eye since the overrated Kim Kardashian wore it in a recent post.  However, feel free to be creative with your colors!

Here is a great eyeshadow diagram from* (so you know what I'm talking about in the instructions I give.  I also like that she has monolids (like me!) so it is easy to compare to my make up look.  Check out her post for all the basics to apply eyeshadow like a pro! is the source for this picture. If this credit isn't good enough, I'll gladly take it down! But it's just so useful to not reinvent the wheel on my blog when great blogger have done it before me...#amitoolazy?

Step-By-Step Blue Smokey Eye:

  1. Base of eyeshadow primer all over my eye area (up to the brow and even below my eye.  I like  Urban Decay Anti-Aging Primer Potion.  I love this stuff.  It's a bit pricey at $24 but it works great and I can't deny that I'm sucked in by the idea of not needing an eye cream on heavy eyeshadow days because of this product.  Killing two birds with one stone.  Hurzah.
  2. Covered my whole upper eye area with a wash of white eyeshadow (up to the brow) to make sure everything applies smoothly for the following steps.  I used Make Up Geek shadow in "White Lies" but any matte white shadow you like is fine.  
  3. Water proof dark blue eyeliner on the lid.  I used this as an additional base to make sure my shadow stayed exactly where I wanted it and to maximize the pigmentation on the lid.  I used the Marcelle Mini Waterproof Liner in "Blue Lagoon" because I got it in my BirchBox.  But again, any navy blue, waterproof liner will work great.
  4. Set with navy blue matte eye shadow.  More insurance that this bold eye look doesn't turn into a blue raccoon eyes/looking like you got punched in the face.  I use a blue powder eye shadow to set this.  I didn't want to spend a whole ton of money on blue matte shadow so I used a cheap one I had that I don't think is made anymore because I can't find it on google.  But you get the idea.
  5. Blend black matte eye shadow into the outer-v and crease.  This is a bit tricky.  It takes some practice to learn your eye shape and how to best blend the outer-v and crease to look right.  Start with less product and build up.  I used Make Up Geek shadow in "Corrupt".
  6. Used Highlight to highlight inner corner, tear duct, brow bone, and further blend the black.  To do this I used Make Up Geek shadow in "Shimma Shimma".
  7. Slightly Winged Liner on Upper and Lower Lash Line.  I used my all time favorite long wearing liquid liner for monolids by Clio (post here!).
  8. Blue eyeliner in the waterline.  I used the same liner as in Step 3 to line my water line.
  9. Curl Lashes. I might do a post on this in the future.  For right now, this is already a long post!
  10. Mascara.  I have a post on this! Phew!
  11. Done. 
The great thing about this Make-Up 101 post is that you can be as creative as you'd like with colors!  Have fun and experiment with this way of getting a smokey eye.  Hope you found this post interesting 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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How To Keep Natural Nails Healthy Under Acrylic Nails


I just wanted to shoot you a quick tip about keeping your natural nails healthy even when you have acrylic nails over them.

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen this picture and all of my past pictures since I got addicted to getting my nails done at the salon again.  

I recently got asked this question:  "Acrylic nails look great and are great if it is hard for you to naturally grow out your nails, but is getting acrylic nails bad for your real nails?"

In a nutshell, the answer is: Yes, some of your natural nail gets filed away to keep the acrylic nail looking natural on your fingers and covering your natural nail so that it doesn't breathe or get moisture as well as is normal are not great for your natural nail. can minimize the damage by taking the following steps!

#1-Don't Use Them As Tools:
Acrylic nails are much stronger than your real nails.  It is very tempting to start using them to open soda cans, try to retighten bolts on furniture, and all kinds of other things that put way more stress on your natural nail than what they were built for.  This can result in severely damaging your real nails, or even ripping off your real nail all together! EEEEK!  Long story short, baby them, even if they feel super strong.

#2- Have Them Professionally Removed (by the same salon that did them):
It is tempting to not spend the money to remove acrylic nails at the salon when you are ready to be done with them.  I highly caution against this.  While there are many tutorials on YouTube, there is no replacement for a professional who will know the best method for the products that they used.  Also, I know I have damaged my nails horribly even when I do it the "right way" in tutorials.  It is worth it to go into the pros.

#3- Oil Your Cuticles & Under Your Nails:
While water still is the enemy with acrylic nails lifting (just like polish), you can safely and effectively keep your nails hydrated by applying oil to the cuticle/nail bed and under your nails as often as possible. The only place your real nails can access moisture is at the cuticle/nail bed and underside of your nails when the tops are covered in acrylic.  It is important to keep these as moisturized as possible.  I like to soak/cover them in oil after I get out of the shower.  My favorite is using the dropper than comes with my 100% pure argan oil to apply just the right amount.  But coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba and vitamin e oil work well too.  I massage the oil all over concentrating on the underside and cuticle areas.  I like to do this before bed so it can sit on my hands over night, or I let it sit for as long as possible before I have to wash my hands.  I like to follow up oiling with lotion for extra moisture.

I know, it seems a little high maintenance, but signed up with high maintenance with acrylic nails with the bi-weekly fills anyway *wink*  Hope this helped and...

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

3 Healthy Chicken Marinades

Hi Sparklers!

Again, I'm so sorry about the infrequent updates but life throws you curve balls and sometimes you just have to roll with it.  That being said, we a full force into summer.  This means BBQ time!  I recently had a request for my chicken marinade recipes so I thought I would share these 3 marinade recipes to keep your healthy eating interesting (those boneless/skinless chicken breasts get awful boring without fun bold flavors!).  I also really wanted to do this post because I have noticed that a lot of marinade recipes online are not strong enough to impart a lot of flavor into the meat.  I really like my marinades to be strong and bold so that once the meat gets cooked, it really has a lot of flavor, rather than just a hint of taste.

Each of these marinades are for 4 chicken breasts, but other pieces of chicken or other proteins can be substituted.  Squiggles would prefer if you did not eat guinea pigs.  I typically put my meat in a ziplock bag with the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.  Then cook with your favorite meat-cooking method.  Mine is the BBQ! Mini-Tip:  Mix marinade before adding meat.  This way you can taste it to make sure it's delicious! 

Chinese Five-Spice Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shao hsing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tbs Chinese 5 spice powder
2 tbs raw sugar or honey or the sweetener equivalent
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
1 tsp white pepper

Chili-Lime Marinade:
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 jalapeno finely diced (taste a small piece of the pepper before adding to the marinade to make sure it is not too spicy!  Add less if it is very hot, add more if you love the heat!)
2 tsp onion powder
1 tbs chili powder
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

Lemon-Turmeric Marinade:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbs turmeric
2 tsp onion powder
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

I hope you try out these recipes and I also hope that you do not take Squiggle's advice on healthy eating...unless you are a guinea pig.

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Make-Up 101: How to Apply Mascara to Get Different Effects

Greetings Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

It's been too long since I did a "Make Up 101" report.  I really wanted to get into talking about how to apply mascara to achieve the effect you want. I did do a Basic Report of Mascara waaay back in the day.  Like the little paint drawing? Yeah it's cute.  Even though this is more of a technique post than one about what brands work best, I will be telling what brands I used in the pictures in case you are curious.  Anyway, there are lots of tricks to share about using mascara, so lets get straight into it.

Natural Look:
For a natural look you want to have you lashes look like natural lashes but a bit longer and a bit more full.  Depending on your natural lashes, you might not even need mascara for this!  You might just need a good eyelash curler.  My favorite is the Shiseido Eyelash Curler*.  If your lashes are already long and the hairs not to coarse, just curling them might give you just the extra natural boost you are looking for.  For a little more impact or to hold the curl in coarse lashes, top it off with a water proof mascara.  Brushing from the base of underside of the top lashes up.  Wiggle the brush into the base a little before brushing up to really help distribute product evenly.  Same with brushing the top side of your lower lashes.  If you have very very sparse lower lashes or want less drama, you might consider not applying mascara to the bottom lashes.

Medium Drama Look:
For this look I would highly recommend curling the lashes.  I then would set the curl in place by applying a water proof mascara to the top lashes.  Then I would apply a second coat of mascara that does not smudge (waterproof or non-waterproof, depending on the weather and your preference).  For this look I also tend to take my "Maybelline Lash Discovery Mini-Brush Mascara" (because my lashes are too small to do this with a regular mascara wand) and also apply mascara to the top side of my upper lashes and bottom side of my lower lashes.  This is to ensure that all possible lash surfaces are coated in mascara. Also, applying mascara with the wand position vertical (rather than the typical horizontal) can result in more product delivery to your lashes if you feel like it needs more oomph.

Seen here: Curled lashes with with one layer of Maybelline Rocket Volume Waterproof mascara on top lashes.  Layer of Maybelline Lash Discovery Mini-Brush Mascara on both sides of upper and lower lashes afterwards.  I also like using Benefit's "Yes They're Real" mascara when I'm doing the vertical trick because the mascara brush has points all over the tip of the brush. It's pretty cool.

Max Drama Look:
Follow Medium Drama Steps above.  Then apply fake lashes.  Fake lasshes are a whole world of fun!  There are tons of styles and brands.  You can be as subtle or dramatic as you desire.  I tend to prefer thin/invisible bands on the base of my lashes for maximum comfort.  Make sure to blend real and fake lashes with a quick swipe of any non-waterproof mascara.

Mini Tip: My current favorite lashes Ardell Glamour in "Wispies-Black".  I find Ardell to have great and comfortable lashes quite affordability for under $4 a pair.  M.A.C and Benefit also have excellent lashes but they are $15 a pair.  If you are tempted to order 10+ Pairs for less than $2 off of ebay from China, I would caution against it.  They aren't dangerous but they are really uncomfortable.  They also do not stand up to re-use (see my post on "Fake Lash Quick Tips".)

Ah another successful full length, report style Make-Up 101 post.  I'm so happy that I have had time to put another one of these together for you all!  Hopefully you found it helpful! Please feel free to comment or ask any questions!  I love hearing from you.

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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hacks To Make Instant Ramen Noodles Healthy/Healthier

It's a great day for some noodles my lovely Sparklers!

As many of my friends and family know, I LOVE noodles.  While I love all types of noodles, one of my #1 comfort foods is instant ramen.  The type when you boil a block of dried noodles and add in a foil packet of powder.  These noodles are very familiar to those on a budget or who generally are not great at cooking.  Cooking wise, my blog tends to focus on healthy recipes.  So I thought I would share with you my favorite healthier instant noodle hacks.  They add a lot more nutrition and fiber.  Admittedly, these take a little longer than just whipping up the noodles per the directions, however they take under 15 minutes I promise!

I'm eating this healthier bowl of chicken flavored styrofoam-cup noodles as I type this post...for breakfast.  It has fish-cake, sprouted tofu, frozen peas, and frozen chopped spinach added.  Mmmm...    

Lets start with the basics.  There are 2 primary formats for instant noodles, the traditional kind where you cook it in boiling water on the stove and the type where you just add water to the styrofoam cup.  I have listed my favorite health hacks for each one:

1) Traditional Boil-In-Pot:

  • Boil 2 pots of water or 1 pot for cooking and a kettle of extra hot water.
  • In 1st pot, cook the block of noodles 1 minute LESS than the instructions.  Drain out the unhealthy the starchy and oily water (did you know instant noodles are deep fried to make them dry?).
  • Rinse the noodles in cold water to remove excess oil and to stop the cooking process.
  • In the 2nd pot (or rinse and reuse the first pot), add the seasoning packet(s) and however much boiling water you like to achieve the saltyness of broth you like.  This is usually about 1-1.5 cups of water.  
  • Heat up healthy add-ins in the broth (or sautee in the pot before adding hot water/broth). My favorite add ins to heat up include:

    • Proteins- (Chicken, Beef, Fish Cake, Shrimp, Tofu...)  Any leftover proteins from another meal can be added.  If the flavor on the leftovers doesn't work with the noodles you want to make, you can rinse or boil the protein back to being more neutral in flavor.  It's a great way not to waste food!
    • Eggs- I love eggs in my ramen.  You can either scramble or fry them then add on top, add to beaten egg slowly while stirring to boiling pot to get egg-drop soup, or carefully drop a whole egg into the boiling broth without stirring to get a poached egg.  
    • Veggies- I tend to go for frozen veggies because they are quick and easy (and that is what we are going for with ramen right?  My favorites include--Spinach, peas, corn, carrots, and broccoli.  If you feel like adding fresh veggies, be my guest!
    • Fiber Powder- While adding protein and veggies is great, a little extra fiber never hurt to add to the very refined carbohydrates of the noodles.  It also blends seamlessly with this dish.  You wont even notice that it is there if you get the flavorless dissolving kind.   
  • Add back in your noodles to the hot broth and add-in and cook for the remaining minute of cook time.
  • Put in a bowl and enjoy your (less) guilty pleasure meal!

2) Just Add Water To Styrofoam Cup:

  • Start by boiling water to hydrate the noodles.
  • Heat up healthy add-ins in a separate pot.  Saute them in a little coconut or olive oil.   
    • Egg-Tip: because you do not have a boiling pot of broth, if you will have to poach eggs separately if you really want a poached egg.  I suggest dropping a whole egg into a mug of water and microwaving it between 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes for different stages of runny yolk.  2 minutes gets you a perfectly hard yolk.
  • Add the boiling water to the cup of noodles, after your add-ins are sufficiently heated through.  Let it sit for 1 minute LESS than the instructions, then pour it into your hot pot of add-ins.  Let it heat for the remaining minute with your add-ins. 
  • Put in a bowl.  Eat instant ramen noodles because they are so tasty now!
3) Extra Health-ifying Ramen Hacks:
  • Don't Drink The Soup- Since you cannot control the amount of seasoning in this format of instant noodles, I suggest limiting the amount of soup you drink.  I find that I'm perfectly satisfied just eating the contents of my noodle soup without drinking too much or the actual broth.  The extra consumption of salt and preservatives isn't worth it to me and I still get the flavor when I eat the best part...the noodles!  I understand if this isn't acceptable to you, in which case I suggest drinking a lot of water before and after to try and flush out some of the salt. 
  • Don't Be Afraid- Creativity with instant noodles is a must, and since the base of the dish is so inexpensive, why not try something new?  Some other fun things I have seen done include topping it with cheese, stir-frying the cooked noodles with the seasoning or extra sauces, even turning the noodles into burger buns!  Whatever you decide, be mindful of the salt content of the seasoning packets and try to add some healthy proteins and veggies.

I hope you enjoyed this post on one of my favorite foods.  Be healthy and as always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

4 Quick Tips on Wearing False/Fake Lashes

Hi Sparklers!

This week I have a very quick post with some of my quick tips about wearing falselashes.  If you want to know how to apply false/fake lashes, video is a much better platform that a blog post and I encourage you to look it up on YouTube *wink*.

P.S. Does Fake or False sound better when talking about lashes that are not your own? Humm...

Without wasting a lot of time, below are my top 4 Tips on Wearing False Lashes!

*see below

1. Trim the lashes. Don't be afraid to trim them to fit your eye size.  I have little eyes and have to take off at least 1/4 an inch from any false lashes.  If you do this, cut from the outer end of the lash.  You want to make sure the shortest lashes are at the inner corner of your eye.

2. Use a good lash glue. My favorite lash glue is Kiss Ever EZ Lashes Strip Lash Adhesive*.  Many people like the Duo Eyelash Glues, but I find they hold almost too well and can rip out what little lash I have naturally, even when removed properly. The trick with the Kiss glue is to let it set for a a full 30 seconds to 1 minute before applying to make sure the glue is tacky.  Apply the lash, then use some powder eyeshadow or transparent powder to set the glue after waiting for it dry.  Don't open your eye before you set the glue with powder or it wont stick.

3. Remove lashes carefully. Always remove false eyelashes gently by applying an oil based make-up remover (or coconut or oilve oil) to a cottton pad.  Leave it on the eye for 30 seconds then gently remove.  Ripping them off can be painful, or pull out real lashes.

4. Reuse your lashes. Use false lashes more than once!  Place them on a tissue, pour some isopropyl alcohol over the lashes, gently pat the lashes with alcohol soaked tissue to sterilize and gently remove extra mascara or eyelash glue.  Wait until it is completely dry to reuse! Alcohol in the eye=bad news.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip,

Shine & Sparkle!

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reducing Dangers of Gel Manicures

It's another sparkly and shiny day my lovely Sparklers!  Feels good to be posting regularly again!

As you may have gleaned from my SSR Instagram (image above) or SSR Facebook or SSR Twitter, I have been going to get my nails done professionally lately.  I have been getting acrylic false nails with gel nail polish on top.  I love gel because it lasts so much longer and is very durable on my nails.  They really look perfect up until the 2 week mark when I get them redone.  I'm loving my fancy nails right now for sure!  However, I have been doing some research and have learned that there is some health reasons to take precautions when getting gel nail polish done frequently.  I wanted to share what I have learned with you and tell you how you can stay safe and healthy while still getting fun gel manicures!

"The downside with gel manicures stems from the crucial UV-curing step. A recent study found that the cumulative damage from the light frequencies the nail lamps emit can cause DNA damage to the skin that can result in premature aging and possibly cancer" (according to WebMD).

If you think about it, you are putting your hands in essentially a UV tanning bed for a few minutes every 2 weeks.  Most people know by now that tanning in general greatly increases your risk of skin cancer.  This is just another way that you can be exposed to dangerous UV waves.  If you want more information on the risks of tanning in general, here is the link to the FDA "Risks of Tanning" page.  Even if you do not care about your health, exposure to UV rays leads to premature aging and winkles, and who wants their hands to look old faster than they need to?

So, we love our gel manicures and don't want to give them up.  So what can you do to minimize the risks associated with those UV curing lights?


1. Apply Sunscreen.

Apply sunscreen to your hands before they go under the light!  I recommend the highest SPF sunscreen you can find.  If you are getting a full manicure, let your manicurist know you want to put on sunscreen before the nails go under the light, and they can let you know the best time to apply it without ruining your manicure.  If you are just getting an acrylic fill, you should be able to apply the sunscreen before you get to the salon as long as you are not washing your hands before they go under the UV light.

2. Buy Gloves.  
People a becoming more and more aware of the UV risks associated with gel manicures and there are gloves available on the market that cover almost your whole hand except your nail.  These gloves are inexpensive and are probably worth it if you are considering getting gel manicures often.  I would still use sunscreen on your whole hands just for added protection and to protect your finger tips that stick out of the gloves.  Also, the gloves only protect from 98% of UV rays, I feel like maybe the sunscreen will help with the last 2%.  The gloves I bought are on Amazon are called "USpicy® Highly UV Protective Gloves"* and only cost $6.99.  I like these because the fabric on the fingers reaches all the way up your finger to the nail and leaves as little exposed as possible.  If the fingers are too long, you can fold or bunch up the fabric to make them the perfect length.  These also extend up your arm just in case some light reaches your arm/wrist.  I think they are well worth the money.

3. Minimize Exposure.
What do I mean by this?  Simply, only your nail needs to be exposed to the light, so there is no need to jam your whole hand under the light.  This is just adds to the exposure with no actual benefit.

I hope this post was helpful and made you aware of potential dangers of the curing lights used for gel manicures.  Stay safe 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, the image of  USpicy® Gloves is owned by them I assume. I'll gladly take it down if someone contacts me about it.