Skincare Basics

Splash Rinsing. No one actually does this.

I wish there was a study or survey with data regarding average budgets or amounts allocated to beauty expenses. Unfortunately, it would never be accurate because we, as people, do not want to admit our own vanity. Or perhaps you’re willing to admit to it, but not to its extent.

Many people dole out for cosmetics to cover up and hide what they perceive to be imperfections. I would be willing to bet, however, that most spend more money on things to hide what they feel they need to rather than improve it. Skincare is neglected because, unlike slapping concealer on your face when you feel you need it, taking care of your skin is a daily effort. No amount of makeup is going to, “fix,” poorly cared-for skin – not even high end ones, don’t let the girl at the counter suggest that (be a skeptic!). Clean, well-cared for skin looks and feels better, ages better (who can argue with that?) and takes less effort to, “dress up,” if you will. I have also found that there is this thought that taking care of your skin = huge expense – not so. You don’t need to go drop cash at the Clinique counter or on Murad. My entire routine is readily available online, in various drugstores, and in mass merchants.

After the jump is a peek into my skincare basics and current routine. It isn’t costly, it isn’t very time consuming once you establish a routine. For reference, my skin is normal/combination T-Zone/non-sensitive.

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Influenster Invite Giveaway


I participate in Influenster, which is a free-to-join social marketing community. Basically, you request an invite from them which puts you on a wait list (or get one right away from someone who is already signed up). Once you’re in, you build your score by participating in community activities on the site as well as taking surveys to clarify your demographic, interests, and lifestyle, writing reviews for products listed, and linking your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc).

Eventually, provided you remain active and maintain a good score, you will be selected to participate in a campaign in which they send you a box (called a, “Voxbox,”) full of various products that you are expected to test out and review. Each campaign has activities associated with it, and there are other places on their site you can go write reviews. You’re also encouraged to share on your social media (it is a social marketing program, after all), YouTube (if that’s your thing), or your blog (if you have one). At the bottom of the post, I have information on how you can become a participant – I am hosting an Influenster Invite Giveaway!

Participants are not paid for their participation and you are never encouraged to leave dishonest reviews or hide the fact that you are an Influenster. They are not, “buying,” favorable reviews with free product. If you receive something, try it, and don’t like it – be honest about it! There are no penalties for not liking something and leaving a negative review on it. I just recommend being clear and coherent – list specific reasons why it didn’t wow you and/or why you wouldn’t recommend it to family and friends, not just, “I didn’t like that thing because it was stupid!

I wind up with a lot of beauty-related boxes, so look forward to that sort of thing. I should actually be receiving a new VoxBox soon – the Violet Voxbox – whose contents have only been hinted at, but not confirmed. I’m excited!

If you’re interested in joining the Influenster Nation, (edit: update) I have three (3) invites to give away! All you need to do is leave a comment – be sure to use a real e-mail address, as that is where the invite will be sent. Your email address will never be published or otherwise used for shady purposes.

Beauty Arsenal

The Basics

Everyone – whether they know it or not – has a group of favorite, staple, or go-to products. These things don’t necessarily apply to beauty, it could be anything – technology, of which I am also a fan, cleaning, etc. These don’t necessarily have to be products you use every day, but they will be ones you find yourself reaching for over and over again…and repurchasing when they’re out – these items comprise my Beauty Arsenal.

Here’s what I’m currently using that I have re-purchased or plan to – after the jump.

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PSA: Real Techniques Sam’s Picks Set

Highly-touted brush peddler Real Techniques released a new, limited edition set today. The six-piece set contains one brand-new brush, two that are available a la carte, and three that are available as part of other collections.

Photo credit to BeautyGeekUK.

The Real Techniques Sam’s Picks Set includes the following:

  • multi-task brush: use with powder, blush and bronzer (also in the Travel Essentials kit)
  • buffing brush: full coverage application of powder foundations (also in the Core Collection)
  • essential crease brush: soft, tapered design for effortless contouring (new to the set/collection)
  • setting brush: controlled, light application of highlight or powder (available by itself)
  • pointed foundation brush: build custom coverage with liquid products (also in the Core Collection)
  • fine liner brush: precision application of liquid or cream eyeliner (available by itself, never in a kit – this is finer than the one in the Starter Set)

I currently own only one Real Techniques product – their blush brush. So far, I am enamored of it. It feels – and my friends have agreed – that using it feels like rubbing kittens on your face. Ridiculous description? Maybe, but definitely true, as this sucker transcends the boundaries of softness. It is really user-friendly and way more accessible than, say, MAC brushes. Otherwise, my collection of brushes is embarassingly small and so-so in overall quality. I haven’t purchased the Travel Kit, Core collection, or Starter Set because there are so many brushes in them I won’t use. For example, I do not want a, “multi-task,” brush – jack of all trades perhaps, but master of none. I’m not interested in their buffing brush, I’d rather have their Expert Face Brush (which reminds me of Urban Decay’s Optical Blurring Brush, another round-topped kabuki) but I don’t really have much use for it. I already have an angled liner brush I am happy with (Bdellium Tools Studio Line – Precision Eye and Brow 760). I don’t like flat foundation brushes, I have shaders that are good enough until I can buy something awesome, etc.

Retailing at $30 and available direct from RealTechniques, also allegedly in Ulta stores, and apparently at Target at some point, this would be a good set for someone who has no brushes at all. I will pass for now, but I really hope they make that crease brush available on its own!

Remington Pearl Curling Wand

Pearls?! In MY Curling Wand?

If you’re shopping Remington products, it is more likely than you think!

I have a cheap, low-end tapered curling wand (unlike a traditional curling iron, no clip) that is on the way out. It was only OK at best, and I did not have plans to repurchase. Thanks to YouTube Beauty Vlogger Jaclyn Hill, I am very much so intrigued by the siren song that is the NuMe Titan 3; however, even with a good promo code it is still more than I’m looking to spend at the moment.

I realized that I really have no idea what the latest and greatest things are when it comes to styling tools, so I decided to do some homework and some e-window-shopping when I came across this Remington Pearl Curling Wand on Amazon. It is also a tapered wand and comes in two sizes – 0.5″-1″ and 1″-1.5″. Its full name is a bit of a mouthful, take a deep breath:

Remington T-Studio Salon Collection Pearl Digital Ceramic Curling Wand.

Pearl is my birthstone. I’m quite enamored of them, in fact, so long as they’re tasteful. I cannot imagine any way that combining pearls with a 410 degree (Fahrenheit) hairstyling appliance would be practical or tasteful. “Maybe they mean the color of the wand,” I thought. It is a pearlescent pink, after all–but usually when things have silly names, they have silly claims. Remington says this product:

Combines advanced technology and high-performance ceramic coatings with real crushed pearl to create a curling wand that delivers professional, salon-quality results. It quickly reaches a temperature of 410 degrees and has a high-tech, 1.5-inch barrel with ceramic coating to help you effortlessly achieve super sleek, high definition curls–without snagging or catching. Remington’s luxurious Pearl collection harnesses the precious power of pearl and Advanced Ceramic technology to create hair you can’t help but touch.

It also says:

Gorgeous salon-created curls are a breeze with the new T Studio Pearl Ceramic Professional Styling Wand. Featuring a high-tech ceramic wand infused with real pearl, this patent-pending technology provides the most advanced ceramic surface for the smoothest glide on the market. Your hair is left smooth and silky with a luminous luster.

What advanced technology? Tell us more! Nanomachines that manually hold your tresses in luscious curls? Until I have a hair appliance with Android OS or some science fiction in my hair, I don’t want to hear about your non-existent advanced technology.

A few times, it mentions high-performance ceramic coatings. This is not a solid ceramic iron. Many irons are manufactured this way including some high-end models. It is most likely a cheap metal alloy with a few very thin layers of ceramic plating. Ceramic more evenly distributes heat – a thinner, lower quality coating is not going to allow you to reap the benefits as thoroughly. The metal center makes them more (physically) durable, but the ceramic coating has a tendency to wear, chip, or peel over time. None of this makes this a bad product – but it certainly isn’t high-tech or high-performance.

My favorite part – it is infused with real pearl. You infuse teas, tinctures, and meats. Not hair appliances. A coworker of mine recently pointed out that when companies feel the need to stress that a product contains real something – cheese, chocolate, or in this case pearl – they’re being ridiculous. It is pearl or it isn’t. It is one thing to specify that a product has an imitation or artificial component, but they could definitely just say that it is, “infused with pearl.” This is marketing claptrap. “Infused,” sounds fancy and sophisticated. It is not. If the coating does have any pearl content, they took some reject cultured pearls, crushed them, and blended them with the ceramic. This isn’t magic. This is marketing.

I have not purchased or tried this iron for science to determine whether or not the pearl stuff makes any difference in how shiny your hair is or how easy the appliance is to use (regarding glide), but my money is on the fact that it doesn’t. That said, both sizes have overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon (4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,200 reviews!) and has a very wallet-friendly price-tag of only $25. Skimming the reviews, only 4.8% of them were negative and most of them were to the tune of, “It doesn’t even have a clamp!” (aka people who had no idea what they were purchasing), “It is hard to use (because it does not have a clamp)” (Fair enough, there IS a learning curve), and the odd infrequent electrical short. Based on the abundance of good reviews, I would say it is worth trying – buy if you’re on a budget or if you are new to the world of wands.

Have you tried this wand? Leave a comment!

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a tiny percentage should you choose to make a purchase. See the About page for more info.