Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Estella Sparkles: A Product to Baby-Buttify Your Face

Not kidding. Want baby's butt face skin? Follow me...

In watching beauty videos on YouTube I saw a couple of people mention the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair moisturizer with retinol and SPF 30. I'm always trying to find the right SPF for my face because we've gotta keep this business from getting damaged. I mean, it's my face. I'm stuck with it forever more. I've also heard good things about retinol, so I had hubs pick it up when he went out grocery shopping.

I kinda forgot that retinol can make peeling skin happen, so the first time I used it, during the daytime hours, I ended up with LOTS of flaky dry patches by day's end. I went home, exfoliated lightly, and then....MY FACE LOOKED AMAZING.

I'm in a constant battle with my dry skin. I don't have blemishes and breakouts very often, so in photos people tend to think I have great skin, but what you can't see on Instagram are the fine lines and craggy dry patches, also, texture. My face wish always seems to be brighter, smoother skin...not less wrinkles necessarily. Hydrated wrinkles. How about that?

Since I figured out that the retinol makes my skin flake a bit, I've been using this product every couple of nights, and I get the same great effects without skin-flake snow-covered boobs. Sad truth right there, kids.

Anyway, once you use retinol a bit, the flaking does go to the wayside. I don't notice many flakes now, so I might actually be able to use this one in the daytime and take advantage of its SPF (which, while we're typing about it, doesn't make me break out). There are also other products in the Rapid Wrinkle Repair line that have a higher concentration of retinol (better for people with oilier skin).

Long story short: love this stuff, and it's only around $16 at the drug store. WAYYYY cheaper than the high-end versions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book of the Month: Not Just a Legend

Growing up, when I heard anything about readers or reading at all, it was often in the context of a nebulous "book of the month" club. I heard it on TV, mostly, since I was something of a couch potato, but somewhere out there was this iconic thing from whence people received the mail! That, too, was a cool idea to my innocent, young self.

Now I'm 30 years older and the book mail is a lot more common for me, but the idea of a Book of the Month is still pretty exciting. Disclaimer: I was able to try out a one-month complimentary subscription of this service in consideration of a review.

Every month, five judges, from a larger pool of judges, choose one recommended book each. Based on a preferences profile, one book is automatically chosen for you, but the service will alert you via email in case you'd like to sneak a peek at your pick, choose something different from the five selections, or add additional titles to your box.

Straight off, I was pretty excited by some of the judges, namely Emily St. John Mandel and Nina Sankovitch; also, one of the most prolific readers I know, Liberty Hardy from Book Riot and the All the Books podcast.

Lo and behold, when it came time to check out which book was chosen for me, it was Liberty's pick...Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz. Of the five available books this one seemed like the one I'd enjoy most, so good job of matching me up, Book of the Month.

Shipping was super fast, and I received my hardcover (less than 400 pages, as promised) in a jiffy, and while I haven't read the book yet, I think the service is cool and follows through on its claims.

Price-wise, the service is really reasonable with three available plans:
1-month plan: $16.99
3-month: $39.99 ($13.33 per month)
12-month: $99.99 ($8.33 per month)

In light of the current price of hardcover books, this rocks. I was browsing when we were on vacation recently, and the book I picked up in hardcover (and quickly dropped like it was hot) was $27. Too rich for my blood!

Book of the Month also hosts a community component: message boards where readers can discuss and compare their picks. It's a nice gateway to the larger book community, methinks!

For you and me, those of us who may already be deeply rooted in the online book community, this service is probably not a must-have. But I know plenty of people who lack the mass recommendations we receive, so I can see this being a great gift for someone who's not entrenched in the book world or who isn't already subscribed to a box.

Thanks for letting me try you out, Book of the Month!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Estella Sparkles: Tips for Long Wearing Summer Makeup

Awww yissss! Summer is winding down, but this is the time in Texas when the heat is most unbearable. When we were on our way back from Gulf Shores a couple of weeks ago, we rolled into our home state to 107-degree weather. Nothing sucks quite as much as 107-degree weather (wait, 114-degree weather sucks more).

I kind of made it my mission to figure out summer makeup this year. Since I've been doing this makeup thing and paying more attention to the state of my skin and whatnot, I have made some strides in being able to get makeup to STAY ON MY FACE. That in itself is a big win.

The Products: 

BB or CC Cream: Ditch the foundation. No matter how much you sheer it out with a sponge or brush, it can get thick and miserable when you sweat. My super fave will always be the Ponds BB+, but it's been discontinued.

In the meantime I'm using a higher-dollar option with It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ with SPF 50. This is a medium coverage (way more coverage than most BBs or CCs) and that SPF is out of this world. While this one is good, it's not "holy grail" since the color is just a tad too light for me, and I have trouble getting all-day wear, but see the next section before you write this one off.

Face Primer: I mentioned up top that I have a hard time getting the BB or CC to stay put. It's not a long-wear foundation...not even close. However, I have found that silicone-based primers do a good job of helping my face makeup stay put in hot weather. Faves include Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes. This one is pricy ($29), but I received it in a BoxyCharm box, and it's SO GOOD that I would totally buy it.  Even my light BBs and CCs don't go anywhere when I use this, and it does reduce the look of pores and fine lines.

If you're looking for a more cost effective option, try Maybelline Baby Skin ($7). It didn't work as well for me, but it's the same basic type of primer.

Cream or Liquid Blush: It's so much easier to wear light, glowing products in the summer to avoid looking caked up, and that's true of blush as well. Blush is one of my favorite things; I'm a bit of a blush ho if you will, but I wasn't a big fan of Benefit's Benetint until summer rolled around. This seems like a staple all over the beauty world, though, and once I tried it with BB and CC and a lighter face, I fell in love.

It looks terrible...a bright red liquid. Greyson's first reaction was, "Is that blood?" No, son. Anyway, a few swipes down the cheek and blend it in with your finger or a small brush for a beautiful, natural flush.

Finally, the proof is in the pudding, right?

Sorry for not smiling. I was tired and tired.
This is my makeup at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. I think it looks pretty good for 14 hours of wear!

What are your favorite tricks for summer makeup? If your answer is "just don't wear any," I can get onboard with that as well!

Images by Freepik