Beauty Review | The easy alternative to false eyelashes or extensions

This week I got the chance to try this awesome new mascara, Physicians Formula Eye Booster Lash Extension Kit. It’s a two-part mascara that lets you layer on mascara and all-natural fibers to create an instant false-eyelashes look, without having to fiddle with glue and buying packs of false eyelashes or spending hundreds of dollars on eyelash extensions. I’ve always wanted to try a product of this type, and I’m so glad I did. Check it out here:

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It’s basically a three-step process. First, apply the mascara and while it’s still wet, apply the fibers to elongate your lashes, and then re-apply the mascara to set the fibers. You can repeat these steps as many times as you want until you have the crazy falsies effect you want. It’s pretty cool.

Here are my eyes without any mascara:

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And here is the right eye with just one three-step application of the product:

File Jun 21, 11 24 20 PMThey were really long! The end result was so impressive! I hate false eyelashes and getting extensions are not worth the trouble for me, so having the option to really extend my lashes in an easy way is definitely a plus for me.

The pros of this product are: it’s much cheaper than falsies or extensions, and it washes off so the look isn’t permanent. It doesn’t clump at all which I thought was impressive considering you’re basically sticking fibers on your eyelashes. They’re just long and fluttery. Plus, the fibers are made with “cellulose, panthenol, botanical extracts, and vitamin E with natural colorants from artichoke and basil.” So, pretty natural. Physicians Formula is known for their all-natural formulas for all their cosmetics, so it’s great for people like me, who have sensitive skin and a tendency to break out on a massive scale. 

The cons of this product are: that the fibers tend to get everywhere on your face so definitely wait to do your face makeup until after your eyelashes are done; the formula is a little heavy, so that your lashes tend to fall a bit after a while; and that my lashes weren’t as full as I’d like: they’re more long than full.

Bottom line? I would definitely recommend this product! I’m really excited to keep using it and I think it’s an excellent alternative to get that striking falsie look. Get it at Walmart in the US or at Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada, the Physicians Formula website, or at any drugstore.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Physicians Formula and Her Campus Media. Written by me, all opinions are also my own.

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San Francisco Style | Here's what my packing list looks like

A new city and a new vacation means some new clothes. I’ve read that San Francisco isn’t hot in the summer; rather, the weather fluctuates and it’s important to wear layers! I love that, especially since dresses and cardigans are my favorite combination. But I also love these pretty pretty rompers and these romantic dresses.

 

1, 2, and 4 from Forever 21, 3, 5, and 6 from NewDress.com. Links on my Polyvore.

Can’t wait!

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JK Rowling wishes us very good lives, + some thoughts on failure

I don’t know why it took me so long to read JK Rowling’s 2008 commencement address at Harvard. Possibly because a printed, bound version of it was only recently published by Little, Brown in April 2015. I’d read snippets of it before, most notably this quote, “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” But having recently been thinking a lot about failure, I stumbled upon the book on Amazon and decided to splurge $12 on it. It’s a life-changing little book.

23731881The speech was titled by the publisher “Very Good Lives,” after JK Rowling’s parting wish for the students. The entire speech is colored by two themes, which is also the tagline: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.” By now, you probably know the “failure” part of Rowling’s personal saga. But her definition of “imagination” may surprise you. Jo (as she’s known to fans) isn’t referring to a person’s capacity to create Hogwartses, Middle-earths or Death Stars, but rather, imagination is the ability to “empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” She cites her time with Amnesty International and leaves the students with the wish that they will use their privileges, brainpower and clout to help others.

I adore Jo’s take on imagination, but it’s the rhetoric about failure that truly stuck with me. It’s a common feeling among twenty-somethings, especially in this current economy, to feel like failures for not having what everyone else has, or what everyone else is expected to have. The feeling like I’d failed at life has been plaguing me since graduation, because I feel like I’m not where my peers are. It was the fear of failure that gives me motivation to work and it was the fear of failure that was instrumental in beginning this blog. That fear of failure is both blessing as a motivator and a definite disadvantage—because I’ve come to realize that failure itself has its advantages. Its “fringe benefits.”

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In the words of Jo, who, at twenty-eight, found herself divorced, a single mother, and “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless,” failure taught her to strip away everything that was nonessential. Failing means you have nothing to be afraid of anymore. Failure means you’ve hit rock bottom, and have nowhere to go but up. Now, Jo truly had nowhere to go but up, but what about smaller failures, everyday roadblocks, and constant, continuously occurring setbacks? What about those?

For me at least, these small roadblocks have taught me that if nothing else, I may take pride in failing, because I have tried. And I’ll keep trying. This is my favorite quote from the speech, save perhaps for the magic one included above:

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you have lived so cautiously that you may as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

Small failures have made me less afraid of life.

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Fashion | From day to day

As you can probably guess, I just can’t get away from my color obsession, despite my current neutral-toned wardrobe. Even though this amazing Boohoo romper is a pretty neutral blush, I had to wear it with this multicolored vintage blazer I scored for cheap. I’m into this whole monochrome effect right now, so the blush Jeffrey Campbells were the perfect choice. Funny thing: this old blazer has some serious shoulder pads.

Also: pretty body chain! Simple and subtle, from Forever 21. I love wearing florals all day EVERY DAY.

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romper from Boohoo.com, shoes from VillainsSF (Jeffrey Campbell),
hat and blazer thrifted, chain from F21

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A review of Kim Kardashian’s ‘Selfish’ & an expression of Kardashian love

I don’t make a secret of my love for the Kardashians. I’ve always thought that these women are geniuses if they managed to make their comparatively tame and boring lives the subjects of such intense interest and focus, Kim’s frequent nudity notwithstanding. I also think they’re all pretty innovative and groundbreaking businesswomen, as they’ve created an entire empire based on their looks and how to get them. Whether or not this is healthy for them or us is sort of irrelevant and dependent on the person. I, for one, have always found their message, if not necessarily inspiring, definitely enlightening.

The ways they approach beauty, insecurity, body image and self-love are undeniably influential. I cite Kylie’s lip plumping, Kendall’s subsequent assertion that “no one has to do anything [surgery-wise]…everyone is beautiful,” Khloe lasering her cellulite, Kim’s countless nude seshes, and Kourtney’s opinion that she feels best when she’s pregnant as examples of the myriad ways women relate to their bodies and perceive their beauty. They’ve had a positive influence on my life, and I’m not ashamed of that (but unfortunately I did feel the need to explain my love in this little intro, which shows that loving the Kardashians is perceived as something foolish). They’re a lot more than their public personas, a lot more than their apparent fame-seeking tendencies. They’re all that and more. Anyway—

I love Kim. She’s often ridiculous, but I feel for the girl. She’s a self-made woman who made her fame on her looks and with that scrutiny comes intense pressure that she obviously puts on herself. But she rises to the occasion time and time again, in big ways. Enter SELFISH, the book of selfies! The announcement of the book both made me laugh and gave me this intense desire to read it. So I did. And here’s what I thought, in a neat little list.

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She takes this stuff seriously—but not too seriously. I expected a lot of photos of just Kim in various outfits, in varying states of dress and with her signature full face of makeup, and while the book is 70% exactly that, it also feels and reads like a personal scrapbook. Her family and friends are featured heavily, and the onslaught of gorgeous selfies is punctuated with thoughtful and lighthearted reminiscences on the memories she has made.

She’s funny and sweet. There are a lot of “lol”s in the commentary and she’s smiling in so many of the pictures! Yes! The woman who has said she doesn’t smile because it gives her wrinkles and who shot a video on “how to take a selfie” praising the duckface is smiling, laughing, pulling faces, rolling her eyes and showing a side of herself that only fans see. This is Real Kim, the Kim you won’t get from red carpet shots and scathing articles about her.

The book transcends narcissism. Look—Kim is a narcissist. You just have to accept that about her and move on. But this book, literally named “Selfish,” is more than an expression of narcissism. Kim is a woman who truly loves to let her fans and everyone in the world into her life. She thrives on it. It makes her happy, and it’s made her into one of the most recognizable and most photographed celebrities in the world. Honestly, Selfish transcends narcissism and becomes this window into her life that she likes letting us look into.

It’s honestly sort of a natural career move for someone like Kim. We should all have seen this book coming, and should not have been surprised. A book of selfies is a natural career move and next step for the woman who pioneered the selfie movement.

She’s constantly in a dialogue with her fans and critics. She refers to one risqué selfie as “infamous” and cites the moment she was taking a photo with the elephant and says the photo was taken “right before it scared her,” showing that she knows what her fans see and say about her, and she’s commenting on her public image.

It ends with her fairy-tale wedding. Also not surprising that Kim, ever the romantic, ends her “story” with a happily ever after.

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There’s an entire nude section, complete with black pages. Kim’s entirely nude selfies are also included, like the ones she sends to Kanye and the ones that were hacked. She said she didn’t intend to include the naked ones, but when her photos were hacked, she decided to put them into her book. That’s controlling the narrative.

She’s self-deprecating. At one point she writes, “Any excuse, right?” referring to her frequent selfie-taking. She knows she takes too many pictures, but she places so much importance on them because she knows how powerful they are for her fame. She’s playful and self-aware.

It’s a gorgeous coffee-table object, but it should lie flat. So many of the photos are cut off right in the middle because of the binding, making this horrendous seam that cuts off her face. No! Not the face! It’s also a nice small trim size, giving off this personal feel and making it very easy to hold and flip through. Very sleek and monochrome, the book is how I imagine Apple would print a book of photographs.

There will probably be a “sequel.” I’m throwing my hat in the ring for “Selfless.”

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'Dark Places,' my third Gillian Flynn

Following Sharp Objects, I immediately began to read Dark Places, which was probably not the best choice for either my sanity or my REM cycle, but hey. YOLO. After such an amazing masterpiece that was Sharp Objects, my expectations were high. Sadly, Dark Places fell short for me, miles short of either Gone Girl or Sharp Objects. Here’s why.

5886881The premise of the book is immediately engaging: Libby Day is a thirty-something woman who survived the slaughter of her mother and two sisters when she was only 7 years old. She famously testified that her brother was the murderer, and never looked back. Obviously, Libby is not a functioning, happy adult, and when her bank account runs dry, she discovers that there are groups of homicide-obsessed people who are willing to pay her for her memories and memorabilia. And the clincher is that they all believe—with good reason—that Libby was wrong, and that her brother, who has been in jail for twenty-odd years, is innocent. To get the money, Libby begins to question her own testimony and re-open the case. It turns into an emotional and terrifying journey for her to discover who actually did murder her entire family.

It sounds great on the back cover, but I think this book fell short because of several reasons. For one, every other chapter is a flashback to supposed-murderer Ben Day’s last 24 hours before the murder, and it’s in third-person limited. The rest of the chapters are present-day and in Libby’s first person. This makes the narrative less engaging because the reader knows so much about the events of that day, and it turns boring fast. The immediacy is removed, and the narrative becomes punctuated. It also confused me when the point of view changed so much. There’s a good way to do all this stuff, but unfortunately, Libby Day’s voice was not strong enough to make it obvious when the point of view changed. It all felt like Flynn’s voice, and that’s a problem.

Second, I guessed the ending and that frustrates me because I’m the absolute worst at guessing endings. I’m a naive and blind reader, and the fact that I guessed the ending just shows me that it was extraordinarily predictable. The murderer[s] aren’t scary, and the villain[s] are supposed to be complex but they end up being either caricatures or completely unbelievable. It didn’t feel real, and it didn’t scare me as the other two definitely did.

That said, I think if I had read this book by Gillian Flynn first, I’d have liked it better. Gone Girl and Sharp Objects just eclipse this one entirely.

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‘Sharp Objects,’ my second Gillian Flynn

My first Gillian Flynn was appropriately Gone Girl, and I’d heard a lot about her first two smashing novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, so I recently took a weekend and read these novels almost in one sitting each, which is fabulous and also I couldn’t sleep for like four days, because holy mother of pearl, this book was a nail-biter. It’s a classic whodunit with no small measure of psychological mind-effing thrown in just to make you second-guess both your sanity and your humanity.

66559Sharp Objects is elegantly plotted and succinct. Camille Preaker is a second-rate journalist at a failing Chicago newspaper sent down to her Missouri hometown to investigate what seems to be a serial killer. Two girls have been murdered within a year’s time. Both girls were feisty, mischievous middle-schoolers, and both were found with all their teeth pulled out.

That detail alone was enough to make me cringe. Gillian Flynn has a knack for making singular gory details vivid and endlessly disturbing. Camille is a troubled thirty-something whose rich mother never loved her. Going home to investigate the murders has made Camille face her own demons, the biggest of which is that she is a cutter. But instead of lines on her wrist, Camille cuts deep words all over her body. Her whole body is therefore covered in gleaming white scars that spell over a decade’s worth of self-harm and self-loathing.

Camille also has to bond with her beautiful and cruel younger sister, the thirteen-year-old Amma. Their family structure includes a neglectful, controlling mother, a wild and ferocious teenage girl, and Camille’s younger sister, who died at ten years old. Camille’s investigation becomes personal very quickly, forcing her to confront her own humanity.

“Camille?” Her voice quiet and girlish and unsure. “You know how people sometimes say they have to hurt because if they don’t, they’re so numb they won’t feel anything?”
“Mmm.”
“What if it’s the opposite?” Amma whispered. “What if you hurt because it feels so good? Like you have a tingling, like someone left a switch on in your body. And nothing can turn that switch off except hurting? What does that mean?”

So much of this book plays on your own sense of humanity. It seems to suggest that there is something bestial, demonic and evil within all of us, and that our basest instincts may always be lurking just below the surface. It’s deeply unhealthy because it almost feels true, this idea that maybe we are all capable of horrible acts of violence, that it’s normal for humans to maim, abuse, control, and kill.

It’s deeply unsettling, but it’s almost a triumphant piece of fiction because it is so powerful and disturbing. As gross and nasty as this book is, it also achieves elegance and beauty, and that truly frightens me.

4.5/5.

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Fashion | Dark Paradise | featuring The Scarf Shop

I got the chance to style this airy, feather-light, beautiful 100% silk scarf from The Scarf Shop, and styled a black-and-white outfit around it with this lace duster I got from White Crow Clothing. It’s still so cold in the Northeast. I took these on a sunny but windy day, and now I’m looking forward to wearing florals, sandals, bright colors, skirts and no tights! Please be spring soon. Please?

Check out The Scarf Shop: their website is going live soon…

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top and boots from Yesstyle, scarf c/o The Scarf Shop, jodhpur leggings from F21, cardigan c/o White Crow Clothing

Smile Brilliant! Professional Teeth Whitening | Review & Coupon Code!

File Mar 27, 12 04 26 PMRecently, I got the opportunity to try out a very useful product: at-home professional teeth whitening by “Smile Brilliant!” This system lets the customer create custom teeth trays for use with their teeth-whitening gel, using the same system that dentists use, but for much, much less money. The purchase of this product gives you all the tools you need to make your own dental impressions, plus three tubes of Teeth Whitening Gel and three tubes of Desensitizing Gel.

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Pros: This system definitely works, and fast. I noticed a difference after only three gel applications. Secondly, the trays don’t move at all, unlike many OTC whitestrips. You can talk normally, the gel doesn’t leak out, and it feels almost like you have just really smooth teeth. I kept running my tongue over my teeth cause it was just so smooth! Since the trays are made specifically for your teeth, they fit flawlessly. You could probably even wear them at work/school without anyone even noticing.

Using this system also means that you have the trays for life and can stop buying whitestrips and just keep buying Smile Brilliant gel (which I’m sure is part of the business model—guaranteed repeat customers because of the custom dental impressions). But really: it’s a great product to use.

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A huge plus for me was the addition of “Desensitizing Gel,” which significantly reduces tooth sensitivity and strengthens your teeth after whitening, which can sometimes soften the tooth. Having this additional way to protect my teeth and ward against sensitivity makes this product unique, and makes me second-guess any system that does not account for tooth damage.

Another plus is how hard the employees care about educating you about the proper process for teeth whitening and what you can expect from the complete process. Many people aren’t aware that there are different natural shades of people’s teeth. Some people’s natural teeth shade is beige, not white. Therefore, a full whitening system won’t turn these people’s teeth white. It’s important to know that, since many assume that their teeth will be blinding white even though that’s not always possible.

They also include a lot information about safe use and what you can expect. For example, there’s this handy chart included that tells you the different kinds of stains and how many applications it’ll take to remove them completely:

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And this side-by-side comparison of teeth whitening system that shows that we’re all just basically wasting our money on Crest Whitestrips, so go figure:

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In summary, Smile Brilliant takes teeth whitening seriously, and I trust this kit more than I trust OTC whitestrips now, after trying this process. They’re not kidding when they say they’re professional teeth whitening. But without the expensive cost. I’m excited to keep using it because I will never quit drinking coffee or red wine.

Cons: The process takes a long time. First you get the Tray Creation Kit and have to find time to make the dental impressions. Then you send them off. Then you wait longer to get the custom trays. THEN you have to read all the literature and instructions because this professional whitening system is a little more fussy than OTC versions. So, for those people who want a quick teeth-whitening for an event or vacation or whatnot, this is not for you. This is for people who want to whiten just to whiten.

You have to brush and floss thoroughly first, and can keep the trays on anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours—it just depends on your schedule and/or the sensitivity of your teeth. But that’s where the Desensitizing Gel comes in. Although the inclusion of the Desensitizing Gel means there’s another step, another half hour/hour when you have to keep the trays in. Many people just don’t have that kind of time.

Before and After:

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Conclusion: I’m going to keep using the product and I would recommend it to others. I can also offer my lovely readers 5% off their own Smile Brilliant Kit (which costs $120-$180 USD) when they use the code “THEMOSTHAPPY” when they purchase. This code expires on April 30, 2015.

Buy this product if you’re willing to commit to a high-quality, professional whitening system. Because otherwise, you may find this process too complicated. Personally, my opinion is that if you’re going to do something, do it right. That’s what Smile Brilliant is good for.

Hey Rocksbox! You're pretty awesome…+ coupon code!

File Mar 04, 9 18 35 PMRocksbox is basically a monthly service that sends you three pieces of handpicked jewelry for you to wear on loan for as long as you like. They approached me to review their service, and I find it very convenient and customizable. I’m always wary of anything that chooses items/products for you (it’s for this reason that I don’t sign up for Birchbox and why I didn’t like StitchFix), but Rocksbox is awesome so far, and it’s because you can choose individual items you’d prefer to have included in the box for you. It’s also jewelry, so it’s much less fussy; for example, StitchFix was terrible with my size, and sample products always run the risk of being incompatible with skin type or allergies, etc., but with Rocksbox, all those variables just don’t apply! I actually love it, and I think you will, too.

Here’s my first box:

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Before ordering the box, I went on the site and browsed their current collections. You have the option of adding certain items to your “wish list” and so your stylist uses those items, plus information taken from a style quiz, to pick which items of jewelry they’ll include. I’m into very dainty gold pieces, especially with some architectural flair, and the pieces I received were ones I would have picked out myself. That says a lot. Here they are from the website:

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I also love that there’s no time limit to when you have to return your jewelry. You also get $10 of “Shine Spend” each month to put toward your purchase if you decide you simply can’t part with the jewelry you’ve received! It does expire, but I think this service is worth the monthly $19 price. Especially since the average combined worth of each box is $200. Two hundred dollars. And you can wear them as much as you want for only $19.

Jewelry style is something that changes constantly for me. The earrings/necklaces I bought a year ago may either be overworn or incompatible with my current style, and selling old jewelry is arduous and often fruitless. Rocksbox is therefore both a luxury and a solution. When I get tired of the jewelry, I can return it, and for the time being, I can have elegant, on-trend, high quality jewelry I can wear as often as I want. I’m truly a big fan of this service.

SO. For my readers, use the code lisaloparoxoxo (that’s me!) to get a free month of Rocksbox! Try out this service for yourself and see if you like it as much as I do. 🙂