Tan Talk: Million Dollar Tan Review

Million Dollar Tan Cabana Tan and Cabana Tan Extreme LotionsMillion Dollar Tan Cabana Tan & Cabana Tan Extreme

So I mentioned in last week’s favorites post that I have been using Million Dollar Tan sunless self-tanning products recently. I avoid tanning in the sun and do not tan in a bed any longer – I actually had no intention of getting any color this year, but by April I already didn’t match my fall/winter foundation quite right. My wedding was come up so I figured, “Oh hell, I’ll just self-tan since I already need different foundation anyway.”

I previously wrote about Jergens Natural Glow Self Tanners, but I wanted something that packed a little more punch that I didn’t have to apply every single day. The last couple months leading up to most weddings are pretty hectic (mine was no exception), and ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ve tried sample packets of the towelettes – I had one from Kate Somerville 360, but towelettes aren’t for me. Years ago I had tried a spray-on variety and wasn’t a fan either. I compiled a list of requirements and ventured forth to see what Google could share.

My requirements for a sunless tanner:

1. Please for the love of cats do not be perfumed/scented*
2. Wash off my hands easily, please.
3. Not a towelette.
4. Not a spray.
5. Not super thick or goopy.
6. Fast-drying.


No green tint
No color guide
No shimmer/glitter/nonsense

Call me picky. It’s okay – I know I am when it comes to this. To touch on these – I’m not a fan of fragranced lotions to begin with; I definitely do not want a perfumed sunless tanner, as the fragrance will almost surely not be cute once the DHA starts reacting and the, “tanning smell,” starts*. I just plain don’t like the towelettes – they may be a good option for you if you are traveling a lot, but I’d still rather have lotion. Sprays can be messy – that isn’t to say they’re bad, just not for me. 5 & 6 coincide – I don’t want to sit there for a half hour waiting for my self-tanner to dry before I can get dressed or go to bed. As far as the optional stuff – some tanning products have a green tint or dye which helps counteract the orange that sometimes occurs. This isn’t a bad thing, but it coincides with the second optional point – I do not need instant gratifications. I do not want dyes or bronzers in my lotion; I can wait the 4-8 hours for the color to develop. Also, as I am not Ke$ha, please skip the shimmer/glitter. If I want something like that, I’ll get a Soap & Glory Body Butter.

* Now, really quick, let’s talk about that asterisk next to the scent remark. I want a lotion that does not have ADDED FRAGRANCE or perfume because I am very picky about scents. I am not asking for a miracle-lotion that does not produce a, “tanning smell. Let’s chat about the science of the sunless-tanner odor before you lose your mind.

The smell that so many people get mad about and say, “boo,” to tanning lotions over is going to happen to some degree with any lotion that contains DHA..which is most of them. DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, is a compound derived from beets and from sugar cane (not scary), and when applied to the skin it reacts with the amino acid in your skin – this is what produces the color you seek, but a side effect is that this reaction also produces a smell. The strength of the odor will depend on your own body chemistry and the concentration of DHA in the particular product you choose – but it isn’t that the lotion smells that way, it is actually your body producing this smell.

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May 2014 Favorites

I did a Favorites post last month, but it seems like it has been a while! May 2014 Favorites:

May 2014 FavoritesMay 2014 Favorites
1. China Glaze – I’m With the Lifeguard, $5 / 2. Lip Smacker – Dr Pepper, $2
3. Etude House Drawing Eye Brow, $2-7 / 4. Marc Jacobs Dot Rollerball, $22

China Glaze I’m With the Lifeguard – When the weather gets warm, I like to resort to unreasonably bright and ridiculous nail polish colors. Don’t worry, I use them when it isn’t warm, too – but I use them more often when it is toasty. This awesome, bright, shimmery neon green is what I’m wearing on my toes (with peep-toe shoes…at the office). If your polish collection is bereft of ridiculosity, please consider investing for your own amusement. I bought mine from Sally Beauty, but you can also get it on Amazon.

Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers lip gloss – Not just for kids, dangit. I maintain that this is the best product Lip Smackers has ever released. I just bought a new one, judgment be damned.  Realistically, it doesn’t do much for chapped lips – but that’s fine. It was never really meant to, despite having a chap-stick-esque format. You can buy this directly from Lip Smackers, on drugstore.com, or in stores at Wal-Mart.

Etude House Drawing Eye Brow – Korean cosmetics companies have done some pretty cool stuff. BB creams, cute lotions, lip gloss with adorable bunny-shaped caps…and these brow pencils. Capped at both ends, this guy has a spoolie (with soft, friendly bristles, not the ridiculous Brillo that some included spoolies are) and an angled, chisel-tip twist-up pencil. Some western brands have products that I can only assume were inspired by this design (Hourglass brow products, Bite lip products) because it is awesome. I’m sure this can be found elsewhere online, but I always buy from Amazon.

Marc Jacobs Dot Rollerball – Lately, I’m of the opinion that buying a whole bottle of perfume is pointless. I got this as part of a coffret I purchased around the holidays and have been wearing it more often lately; I’ve barely made a dent. Very season-appropriate. It is currently available at Sephora, but there’s a spray pen variety at Nordstrom, Ulta, and Macys.


By the way, have you entered my L’Oreal Infalliable Never Fail Lacquer Liner 24H giveaway, yet? If not, go for it – there are only two days left! All you have to do is comment on that post and you’re entered. Who doesn’t want free liner?


Disclosure: Hey! Some of the links in this May 2014 Favorites post are affiliate links (not all of them, of course) – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I only recommend products I’ve tried and verified as awesome, which is kind of the point of a favorites post. Ethical blogging FTW.

Surprised: Maybelline Gel Liner

For you, I have sinned.

Okay, not really. I just wound up doing something you aren’t supposed to, beauty-wise.
And maybe it wasn’t for you, but it does end up benefiting you!

My fiance and I host a game night in our home for a small group of friends. This used to be on Saturdays, but we tried it out last Friday night. These nights routinely run until 2-3pm. My weekdays begin at 5am. I did my eye makeup (a neutral shimmery eye with Maybelline Gel Liner) at 5:45am on Friday morning, worked a full day of work, had a handful of errands to run, and then a house to hastily clean (moving it to Friday was a last-minute decision) before our company arrived. Woo, my makeup wasn’t a mess by the time we were starting, around 8:00pm.

When we wrapped things up around 2am, I promptly shambled to my bed and fell asleep. I am sad to admit that I can’t stay up like I used to, and I am amused to admit that though I am almost militant about makeup-removal-before-bed – I didn’t. In the future, I will nap before our entertaining so I am not a zombie by the time it concludes who does not neglect her routine.

Now, this is the Maybelline Gel Liner I discussed back in my Drugstore Gel Liner Comparison post last month, fully named Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner 24H. I used the shade Blackest Black.

I woke up at 10:16 after having slept a miraculous eight hours. I am normally a side/stomach sleeper, so the fact that I was not remotely raccoon-esque was a feat in itself. Somehow, not only was I not raccoon-esque, my liner was more or less intact. Yes, read that again. Twenty-eight-and-a-half hours. My reaction? Awesome. Take a picture, then remove this stuff!

My groggy self thought it would use my phone’s front-facing camera for this (which isn’t as good as the rear-facing or the other two cameras I have access to), but I think it is sufficient:

Maybelline Gel Liner - 28.5 Hours Post-ApplicationMaybelline Gel Liner 28.5 hours after application

There. Not budged, watery-pollen-allergy-eyes and all. I didn’t even use primer yesterday when I slapped this stuff on.


Basically, I’m telling you that you need this in your life. I have not used any prestige gel liners like MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown’s gel liners, but unless you’re looking for a specific, crazy color that they carry, why bother? The Maybelline Gel Liner is opaque, applies easily, isn’t awkwardly shiny, and stays put. At only $6-8 per pot plus the fact that it is a brand that is frequently on sale at drugstores, mass merchants, grocers, and online, PLUS the fact that there’s almost always a $1 off coupon available, why would you bother with the more expensive brands? This item is available almost freaking everywhere, including Amazon. Run, don’t walk.

Disclosure: Seriously, I love this liner. This post wasn’t sponsored, and I was willing to share my beauty misdeed just to prove how awesome this product is. That said, some of the links in this post are affiliate links – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I only recommend products I’ve tried and verified as awesome. And this one really is awesome.

BeautyBlender vs Bundle Monster Sponge

The Beautyblender is a holy grail tool for many makeup fanciers and artists, thanks to its versatility, ease of use, and ease of care. That said, at a regular retail price of $20 (but less online), it is no wonder why people are looking into more cost-effective alternatives. Some might spend $20 on a brush and not think anything of it, but a sponge does have a limited lifespan and would need to be replaced far more frequently, even when well-cared-for, than a brush.

Several companies have similar products – there’s a Sephora branded one, a Real Techniques introduced one, and there are several others from various companies, including some, generic ones. Bundle Monster actually has a set of four sponges for around $10-15 online. I’ve seen participants in various communities say that there is no difference when it comes to the Beautyblender vs Bundle Monster sponges and that you should save your money. I also have a friend who exclusively buys the less costly variants, swearing  up and down that they are identical.

I endeavored to do a Beautyblender vs Bundle Monster Sponge comparison for a while. Then, a friend bought the 4pc Bundle Monster pack and decided she wouldn’t need all four, and was sweet enough to give me two on Friday, so I was equipped…for science!

I unboxed my two sponges and immediately noticed that they were a denser foam, former to the touch. The base of the teardrop Bundle Monster sponge (mine is purple), which is what I will be comparing to the Beautyblender, was wider and slightly flatter so that it sits up on its own if you set it down that way. It is also ever-so-slightly larger, as you can see here:

BeautyBlender vs Bundle Monster Spongebeautyblender vs bundle monster sponges

Please pardon my slightly less-than-pristine Beautyblender, as she is well-loved. I then wet them simultaneously. It did take a little bit more effort to dampen the sponge, and required more squeezing. When I squeezed it after its initial saturation, some suds oozed out – err, what? I continued to saturate and ring it out until that stopped, about five times. At its largest, it is also larger than the original Beautyblender. This is not always a good thing, though, as it can be more difficult to blend in narrower areas like around your nose, eyes, etc. Here they are dampened (enlarged) and wrung out – I realized after the fact that I am a damn fool and should have included something for scale so you could get an idea of size before and after, but gimme a break. (If you’d like to see the wet vs dry Beautyblender vs Bundle Monster Sponge comparison I’m happy to oblige – just let me know in the comments!)

BeautyBlender vs Bundle Monster Sponge

BeautyBlender vs Bundle Monster Sponge

I was considering doing a Beautyblender vs Bundle Monster Sponge side by side application comparison, but decided against it for now – let me know in the comments if that is relevant to your interests. Instead, I slapped on my foundation with the Bundle Monster Sponge. As I always do when using a sponge like this, I pumped one pump of foundation to the back of my hand, picked up some of the product with the sponge, and began to stipple it onto my face. Two things I noticed immediately: 1) it feels very rubbery and bouncy on your face – it actually bounces and 2) it absorbed more product than the Beautyblender, and did not allow me to deposit all of the absorbed foundation onto my face.

With the Beautyblender, I use about 1.5 pumps of my foundation (which is currently MUFE HD Invisible Cover). The Bundle Monster Sponge had me use about 2.25 pumps to achieve similar coverage. I definitely did not expect this, since the BM sponge is a denser foam – if anything, I’d have thought it would absorb less. After a couple minutes, I was able to blend out my foundation to my desired coverage (medium-ish, I wasn’t doing anything special except guinea pigging). It did the job, but it took a little longer.

It is also important to note how they wash and how easy they are to care for. The BM sponge took more elbow grease to thoroughly clean both with baby shampoo and a Blendercleanser Solid, but did eventually come completely clean without staining. It took slightly longer to fully dry, but that can also be attributed to the density of the sponge.

In all, the Bundle Monster Sponges are an acceptable alternative to Beautyblenders, but it is important they are not identical in form or performance. It takes longer to achieve the same result with the Bundle Monster Sponges, they do not clean quite as quickly. At this point, it is difficult to tell how long they will last, longevity-wise –  but even if they last only 1/4 as long each, the savings are still there at only $10-15 for a pack of four. That said, it is also possible to find Beautyblenders for less than regular retail (Amazon.com, etc).

Disclosure: Neither Beautyblender or Bundle Monster know who I am, as far as I know. I just tried this on my own and wanted to share – I recommend both products, but only you can know your needs. That said, some of the links here are affiliate links – this means I may get a very small percentage of the sale if you decide to buy something. I’ll only tell you that something is awesome if I have verified it myself!

Worth it? GlamGlow ThirstyMud

GlamGlow was conceived by a couple in Hollywood who were looking to help out some friends’ skin concerns. What started as a favor, friend-to-friend, ultimately developed into a wildly successful and popular skincare brand. Only available for retail for three years, they have received scads of awards for being awesome and are used personally, in salons/spas, and by the professionals the product was originally intended for.

GlamGlow ThirstyMud

GlamGlow ThirstyMud treatment

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I do not believe in miracle products. The purveyors of the YouthMud Tinglexfoliate and the SuperMud Clearing treatments released GlamGlow ThirstyMud around (I think) holiday season 2013.

Resources I generally trust thought highly of the brand, so when some of these people came forth raving about the GlamGlow ThirstyMud mask, I was intrigued. Though the mask can be applied and removed, the consensus was the same: slap it on before bed. Go to sleep. Wake up and be stunned by how awesome your skin looks (and feels!). Women reported that their husbands and boyfriends (who, per them, do not usually notice) were also noticing and commenting on the difference.

Kicker? The $69 price tag for 1.7 ounces of product. OUCH. I like masks, but that’s over $40 per ounce. Does it have gold in it? I promptly forgot about the product because it is simply too much to ask (for my needs and skin).

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Chatter: Adventures in Hair Drying

Adventures in Hair drying

I’d just like to share with you a brief anecdote from Tuesday night.
All products mentioned are in the picture above!

1. Wash hair. It’s time, you know? Plus, you need to get that dry shampoo buildup out (it is awesome, but is not meant to stay forever). Condition liberally, leave it in for a few while you wash your face and body.

2. Procrastinate about leaving the warm shower. It’s cold on the other side of the curtain. Pout like a child, grudgingly dry off and step out.

3. Hastily towel dry hair so it isn’t sopping or considering becoming icicles. Start a blowout with drenched hair? You’re gonna have a bad time.

4. Comb through your mane with a wide-toothed comb to detangle. We’re civilized folk, after all.

5. Rummage through the drawer o’ hair goop. Grab your Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum and Ion knockoff (from Sally Beauty, left) of Aquage Uplifting Foam (real, right) .

6. Toss most of your hair to one side and section about an inch above the ear. Try to spray it on like Kate from the Small Things Blog shows us.

7. Instead, do a horrible job at it and somehow wind up with it on the door of the bathroom (I don’t even…). Wipe off the door before your fiance thinks you were doing grade-school science experiments in the bathroom with hair products as reagents. Don’t be like me.
Also, don’t use hair products as reagents – a lot of them are pressurized and/or flammable. The more you know.

8. Deal with the now-intrigued cats on the other side of the door who were curious about what was getting the inside of the door (aka you wiping the root-lifting mousse off the door).

9.  Apply one pump of Super Skinny to the mid-lengths and ends. This step was pretty anticlimactic. Wipe your hands off because it feels weird.

10. Rough dry upside down with an easily-obtained dryer (though I guess a difficult to obtain one would work just as well), trying to get the scalp area (where you applied too much foam goop) driest. Flip back over, make sure the roots are dry.

11. Move onto the ends with an awesome gigantic round brush (4″!) that you require (because your hair is almost waist length when it isn’t being wild and crazy and using a 2.5″ barrel would be awful).

12. Get bored 7/8 of the way through your adventures in hair drying (with nearly-dry hair!) and decide to go finish making dinner.

This is a pretty normal DIY blowout for me. Occasionally, I’ll really take the time to go through the process properly. But really, it is important that your routine feels like something you want to do, and not like a chore. You do not have to take it so seriously – the world won’t end if you get root-lifting mousse on the door, after all.