Friday, January 25, 2013

Make-Up 101: Mascara (including Healthier Options!)

Hey There S+SR Readers!

I know it has been a while since I've done a more "traditional" S+SR post.  The S+SR Think Tank (consisting of on Ms. Sparkles, a guinea pig named Squiggles and a hamster named Atherton) has been hard at work coming up with great post ideas.  Well not only did my furry friends help me think of this post, they encouraged me to be artistic for this post image.  Do you like it? 

Hey, check it out, this image is property of Shine and Sparkle Report: Beauty Blog! If you want to use it, just let me, the hamster, and the guinea pig know =)

Now I'm sure that most of you have never put a whole lot of thought into mascaras (or maybe you have).  Perhaps you thought "Brown or Black?" or "Water-proof or Not?"  Having relatively pathetic and puny lashes means that I'm always trying to balance what makes them look good with ones that wont over dry or make my lashes fall out.  I have explored the gamut of "healthy" mascaras and have some great recommendations for all price ranges.  That being said, this is S+SR folks, lets start with the basics.

The Basics: 
Mascara is a mix of chemicals that coats your lashes to make them look longer and fuller.  There are two main attributes to any mascara--The formula and the brush/wand applicator.  Below I detail the most common ones to help you navigate those beauty isles.

1) The Formula-
  • Lengthening vs. Volumizing:  Most mascaras are aimed at either adding length (typically a more stiff feel, these make each lash appear longer-often with added fibers) or volumizing (typically softer to the touch and make each lash appear thicker.)
  • Water-Proof vs. Not Water-Proof:  In a nut shell, I don't recommend water-proof mascaras unless you are going to be swimming, sweating profusely, or participating in a slip-n'-slide competition (yeah that exists, Google it).  This is because good non-waterproof mascaras have come a long way over the years in the "not smudging" category.  If your mascara smudges from daily wear to the office, you need to find a better mascara.  Also, waterpoof mascaras seal around your lashes and tend to dry them out.  Lastly, the extra effort it takes to remove waterproof mascaras can irritate the delicate eye skin and cause more lash fall-out.  Boo!
  • Color: Get whatever color floats your boat.  Black and brown are the most common, but if you feel like purple eyelashes, go for it! 
2) The Brush/Applicator-
  •  Classic Bristle vs. Molded Plastic:  This is purely a preference thing.  I personally think that the classic bristle is better at applying more product for a voluminous effect.  I think that the molded plastic applicators are better at separating each lash to lengthen.
  • Brush Shape/Size:  Like above, it is a personal preference thing. I typically find that rather than any one being "the best" some just really suck.  For instance, "U" shaped applicator tend to just get mascara all over my face.  Maybe they work great for you, but I typically look like a dalmatian if I try and use a "U" shaped applicator.  I tend to prefer classic or tapered ones instead.   In general, smaller applicators allow you to more easily get those tiny lashes in the corners, while bigger ones can be much faster as you stumble around trying to get ready in the morning. Mini Tip: Apply mascara with the brush turned vertically to get more product on your lashes, then go back to the classic horizontal motion to distribute evenly!
How Much Should I Spend on Mascara?
Ah dear reader, call me sacrilegious but I think you shouldn't spend more than $10 on a mascara.  Why? Because, I have never had a expensive mascara that does any better a job than a good cheap one.  Want another reason?  You should be replacing your mascara every 3-5 months.  For other make-up products I don't think expiration is a large concern (other than for super sensitive skin or acne sufferers.)  But mascara is on your eyelashes which are constantly blinking over your warm moist eyes.  Basically, mascaras are the most likely to result in eye infection/irritation.  I'm not a doctor but I think it is a bit of good ol' common sense. 

I Have Super Puny Lashes Too.  How Can I Make Them Shine and Sparkle?
If you have super full lashes already, your choice in mascara is much easier.  Find a formula and brush/applicator that you love! Done!  If your lashes could use a helping hand, here are some healthier mascara factors to consider (all are much cheaper and less scary than Latisee!). 
  •  Paraben-Free: I have talked a lot on this blog about parabens being used in cosmetics to help preserve them.  That being said, major irritants/harsh chemicals on my puny lashes?  As little as possible please.
  • Nutrient Enriched: Many mascaras are now adding proteins, vitamins and other conditioners to give lashes some help.  A good one will leave your lashes feeling super soft after you remove them.  Want to make them feel even softer after make-up removal? Check out my make-up removal method in my Coconut Oil Post!
  • Natural Hair Growth Stimulators: While not medically proven, I still don't think these natural stimulants can hurt.  For example, one of the products I mention next has wheat grass extract.  This is a natural alternative to caffeine and could possibly help encourage your lashes to grow.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't use waterproof, fiber, chemically mascara (over giant fake lashes) that makes you look like Eva Longoria for those special occasions, but for everyday, I like a more healthy approach. 

Healthy Mascara Product Recommendations:

Cheap Option: Almay "Get Up and Grow" Mascara ($9):
This is my favorite mascara ever.  It is more of a volumizing mascara.  It is very build-able (meaning apply one coat, wait a few seconds, add another coat for for extra volume, clump free!).  This brush is kind of hour glass shaped which is perfect for my small almond shaped eyes as well.

More Expensive Option: Lush "Eyes Right" Mascara ($19):
This brush isn't my favorite, definitely use my mini tip above!  You do get quite a bit of product for your money (5 grams as opposed to they typical 1-2 grams).  This mascara is better for lengthening than it is for volume.  You really need at least 2 coats, maybe more.  I actually really like layering it under my Almay "Get Up and Grow" for maximum healthy impact.

Less Healthy Mascara Product Recommendations:

Cheap Option: L'Oreal "Voluminous False Fiber Lashes" Mascara ($9):
BOOM! Kim Kardashian?  Where did you come from?

More Expensive Option: Clinique "High Impact" Mascara ($16):
Marketed as a volumizing mascara, I think it does both volume and length very well.  The formula on this is fantastic.  I got this as a trial size in a set of 20 samples from Sephora.  It was my favorite thing in the whole lot.  I used up every last drop of the sample.  I plan to buy the full size when I need a new mascara.  For now, I will simply encourage you to check it out!

Shine & Sparkle!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy 2013 New Years Resolution Time!

Happy New Year S+SR Readers!

According to my news source, the #1 New Years Resolution people make is to"Lose Weight."  As someone who has always been hyper aware of body image, not only for myself but people in general, I wanted to touch on this topic for my lovely readers.

For real right? As usual, like my last stock image, I'll gladly give someone credit for their image or take it down if whoever owns it throws a hissy fit.

First, I wanted to say that despite how cliche it sounds, you really have to love yourself first.  No resolution is going to make you change if you do not feel like you want to do it out of love for yourself.  Losing weight because of what others think, or wanting to be like someone else (celebrity, model, etc) is simply not going to work.  You to need to want to do it because you want it for you.

Next, I'm going to make a huge disclaimer that I'm not a physician (hell, I had to just spell check that word), nutritionist (other than one class in college), or qualified in any official way to give advice on weightloss/heath.  Really, this is all from my personal experience, research and passion for learning about what it takes to be the best (and healthiest) me possible.

If you simply Google "weight loss tips," "how to lose weight fast," "how to get fit," "how to eat healthy" or "how to transform with a magic pill into your favorite celebrity body," I'm sure you will be flooded with information.  In a nutshell, it will contain lots of eating or exercise information (or scams).  I'm sure you can get quite a few more select bits of information from books or flyers.  Rather than a report style post I want to give you 5 realistic things that I do that have the biggest impact. So, without further rambling, here are  5 Things that will help you achieve you weight loss/health New Years Resolutions:

1) Drink Water Based Drinks That Are Not Sweet.
This does include water.  But overall, drinking all those extra calories is just not helpful.  Drink water, tea, ice tea, coffee, lemon/lime/orange/cucumber infused water, pretty much anything that is primarily water and unsweetened.  If you simply have to have sugary taste, add some no calorie natural sweetener (stevia, truvia, etc).  I like this tip because you still get your caffeine and flavored drinks so it doesn't feel like dieting (there are A MILLION tea flavors from fruit to chocolate, so go crazy).  Upset you can't drink sodae? Have you seen that video about what soda did to an egg?!  In addition, sneaky bad drinks include sports drinks, juice, and vitamin water.  All of those have tons of sugar.  Why no "diet" drinks?  Because the debate about fake sugars is so confusing that I figure it's better to avoid them when possible.  Can you drink the "bad" drinks in moderation? Sure.  I try limit drinking these beverages to social situations and weekends.  This works for me, but find what works for you.

2) Move More...Forever.
I'm not telling you to slave away at the gym like everyone else in January.  You probably wont do that forever.  How do I know?  I happen to enjoy the gym, and see the rush of people who come in January....then a month later, the gym is back to normal levels of people who actually enjoy the gym.  If you like the gym, by all means, go; but my tip is--just mean move more. Litterally.  Take the stairs (or walk up the escalator). Park farther away from where you are going so you walk a bit farther.  Vacuum your house more often.  Take the dog for a walk. Chase your kids around or go outside to parks, museums, or other cool stuff in your area that means moving aroundGet up from your desk and walk to the copy room or the bathroom more in between breaks.  Hell, bring your lunch and walk around during your lunch break (you can pack healthier lunches and work on that #2 "save money" resolution at the same time!)  If you are a video game nerd, try Fitness or Dance games.  Start small.  Make the goal "moving more" rather than "I have to start living at the gym, worshiping the gym gods and ignore life until I look like The Hulk."  It's about becoming a more active person in general.  You can do it! 

3) Eat More Real Food.
Remember when your mom said "eat more fruits and vegetables"?  Yeah that.  I don't mean eat only salads like a rabbit (even if you did, a lot of dressings and toppings have lots of calories).  When it comes down to it, how long are you really going to eat nothing but raw veggies?  I really just try and think about there being something healthy, highly nutritious, and non-processed in every meal (no tomato sauce and ketchup don't count).  How do you know what counts? Anything fresh are colorful-red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.  (carrots, bell peppers, apples, broccoli, spinach, egg plant, fresh tomato, blueberries, strawberries.)  Things that dont count tend to be brown, or white (bread, potatoes, pasta, noodles etc.)  As for meat (my man says he won't eat a meal that does not contain something that had a mother) the best way to go is lean proteins like chicken, fish, and buffalo.  No really, buffalo is pretty darn healthyAnd sadly, even though Cheetos are orange, they are not fresh or healthy =(

4) Smaller Portions and Fresher/high fiber Ingredients.
So if you are adding at least one fresh colorful thing to each meal, but not cutting out all other things, how are we still going to maintain a healthy weight?  Smaller portions of what you love and fresher ingredients.  So rather than a frozen pizza or delivery pizza (which is mostly frozen stuff anyway)--try making one from fresh premade dough, with real cheese, some veggies, and grilled chicken.  Rather than eating the whole thing, eat 1/2 -2/3 what you would normally eat.  If you are going to eat pasta, bread, rice, go for high fiber versions like whole wheat pasta and bread or brown rice. Same with eating out.  Instead of fast food, try a mom and pop that makes fresh burgers.  Even when eating fast food, think about going for items that involve the least processing (this might be salad, instant oatmeal, yogurt, etc.)  If you normally order a large fries, order a small or medium. Slowly your stomach will not get as hungry because of the extra fiber and nutrition in real foods and less food will seem normal. Slowly you can add more and more fresh/real foods, but you can still have the foods you love in moderation.  Hooray for that sliver of chocolate cake!  Great tips for portion control include sharing food with dining partners, taking food home, or saving some homemade food for lunch the next day!

5Find Your Motivation.
I want to lose weight...because I should.   This reason, while valid, is not going to motivate you to have will power.  Will power is what is needed to only eat a handful of M&Ms.  Will power is what is needed to switch from playing Halo to Just Dance.  Will power is what is needed to bother chopping up some spinach to put into your frozen meal or pack your lunch.  You need to find what gives you that will power.  Is it being around to see you kids, grand children, or tortoise grow up?  Is it wanting to set a good example for your students, friends, or family?  Is it that you are being chased by a T-rex?  Whatever it is, take a moment to try and find what it is that will give you the will power to actually make changes, however small those changes are.  Trust me, it's worth it.  

Bonus Tip: I like giving myself small challenges like "No Fried Food Fridays" for a monthI always set a reasonable end point for these sorts of challenges so I stick with it and feel accomplished. I can always extend the challenges if it works out well, or A.D.D to another challenge (like exercising really hard at least once a week)This might just be a personality thing, but I like doing it.  For example, I also made up "No Make-up Wednesdays" to let my skin breathe and remind myself that beauty is from the inside, not a tube of eyeliner. Despite what the media might tell you about the necessity of beauty products, my "No Make up Wednesday" is just like every other day....honestly, I tend to be lazy and have more than just Wednesdays without make up ;D Ok Ms. Sparkles, time to end this tangent. 

Overall, changing will seem hard at first but soon you will start feeling better.  You will start seeing results.  It's ok to not be perfect, just keep at it!  Who knows you might become a granola eating health freak that can bench an elephant.  But before that, try small steps and see how it makes you....

Shine & Sparkle!