Argan Oil + Radha Beauty Review

Hello my lovelies!

I’ve been at it again…DIY that is 🙂 This time, I wanted to share with you some of the benefits of a product you have undoubtedly heard of from time to time: argan oil! What exactly is argan oil?

argan2

Argan oil is a plant-based oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L). It is often used in many high-end, heart-healthy food and beauty recipes. I first learned of the benefits of argan oil when I received a sample of Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Oil, and have been in love with the product ever since! I’m sure it is a key ingredient in many products I already own, but it touts its own benefits in its purest form: pure oil!

I will be focusing on the cosmetic uses since that is my primary experience with this oil.

Radha Beauty 100% Pure Argan Oil

“Naturally freshens, hydrates and softens dry skin, it also repairs and beautifies hair, from roots to split-ends and improves scalp health”

I know I’m repeating myself to some of my followers, but to anyone who is new here: I have recently decided to make the switch to cruelty-free products. What first drew me to Radha’s Argan Oil is the fact that it is 100% pure, organic, and cruelty-free. There are no added fillers and the product is not tested on animals.

I decided to try this argan oil in some DIY recipes I found in a natural beauty “cook” book:

Argan Oil & Oatmeal Facial Cleanser: “Argan Oil is rich in vitamin E, phenols, carotenes, and essential fatty acids making it the perfect oil for all skin types…” (excerpt from 200 Tips, Techniques, & Recipes for Natural Beauty).

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Rejuvenating Argan Oil & Rose Balm: “Great for all skin types. This hydrating facial balm quickly absorbs into the skin and leaves it smooth, silky, and hydrated” (excerpt from 200 Tips, Techniques, & Recipes for Natural Beauty).

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*The finished product hardens to a balm at room temp.

I also mixed some of the pure oil in with my normal conditioner in the shower and my hair dried so soft and smooth, that I didn’t even need to blow dry/straighten it!

Radha Beauty Fractionated Coconut Oil

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“Odorless…colorless…non-greasy…non-staining”

In addition to the argan oil, I was sent Radha Beauty’s Fractionated Coconut Oil to review as well. This coconut oil is great. I have used two other types of coconut oil and unlike the others, this one has no scent because it is fractionated. Coconut oil comes directly from the meat of the coconut. Unrefined coconut oil in it’s purest form is solid at room temperature, and is a milky-white color. When fractionated or refined, it goes through a process to remove the impurities and maximize the shelf-life of the product. It becomes clear and liquid at room temperature.

I have found coconut oil very easy to work with in DIY beauty/makeup recipes. I used this coconut oil in place of dimethicone as a more natural alternative for my lipstick molds. It helps the lipsticks to slide right out of the mold without sticking, breaking, or losing product. Overall, I highly recommend this product to someone looking for coconut oil who may want to skip on the “smelly” factor.

PS: If you head on over to Radha Beauty’s twitter page, you can find a coupon that will allow you to get the coconut oil for just $5!

What do you think? Have you ever used argan oil/coconut oil before? What did you think?!

XO Ali

This sponsored post was powered by Brandbacker.

InstaNatural Essential Oils + I’m a DIY-er!

Hello lovelies!

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the warmth of spring! Or maybe just not all this snow and ice 🙂 At least it has been impacted and frozen over enough in our backyard that I can take Yoshi out in my slippers without actually getting them snowy/wet, haha! Win.

I recently partnered up with InstaNatural to try out a few of their essential oils! I was really excited when it was decided that the scents would be peppermint and lemon, because those are some of my favorite scents in beauty products that I use.

IMG_2562bInstaNatural

“At present, InstaNatural is a leading online distributor of a collection of nature-inspired beauty and cosmetic products. All of InstaNatural’s products are produced in small batches and packaged in FDA-certified facilities in the USA to ensure freshness and safety for customers. With results-driven products backed by a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, InstaNatural is focused on providing the best collection of beauty products to address a wide variety of skincare needs” (InstaNatural website).

InstaNatural sells its products exclusively online, using their website and Amazon as their sales platforms. In addition, their products are cruelty-free, which is a big yes-yes for me! All of their products are either vegetarian or vegan as well, with the exception of their 100% emu oil. They sell a huge variety of products including retinols, oils, moisturizers, masks, hair treatments, serums, the list goes on.

For the review, we were supposed to get a lavender “sample” (and I use the word sample lightly, as we were sent the full-size products to review which has really helped me to try it in a variety of settings) as well, but there has been a temporary shortage. However, I will say that I loved the lemon and peppermint so much, that I ordered the lavender oil on my own dime when it was back in stock!

My Experience + DIY

I was really excited to try out these essential oils, as ever since I have made the pledge to go cruelty-free, I have been researching DIY beauty products like crazy! I love the idea of researching, obtaining the raw materials, and developing something on your own that you wholeheartedly love and know how it was made 🙂 Essential oils are one of those ingredients that can be used in almost anything you make: soaps, bath bombs, scrubs, candles, etc.

These oils from InstaNatural are cold-pressed which helps increase the longevity of the scent and its elements. There are no added ingredients or fillers, and the bottle comes with a dropper which is perfect for when recipes call for just a small amount of the oil. Although essential oils are safe to apply directly to the skin and for use in room diffusers, I have used mine exclusively for DIY:

IMG_2622Bath bombs using the lavender essential oil & some blue food coloring (I didn’t have red to make purpe). Recipe here.

IMG_2625Peppermint-cocoa lip balm using a recipe from this book.

IMG_2628Terrific tinted lip gloss (w/ added lemon essential oil) using a recipe from this book.

The scent came through quite nicely into the finished product, and I can’t wait to experiment with these oils in the production of hand scrubs, face scrubs, lotions, soaps, masks, conditioners, the list goes on and on and on!

IMG_2561The only somewhat “problem” I can think of is that the bottle has a difficult time containing the smell. Even with Amazon’s excellent packaging of the sealed bottles taped in bubble wrap, separated by air packs, the smell was pervasive in opening the box. I had them stored in a cabinet in the kitchen, but I could smell them every time I was in the kitchen. Nothing had leaked, it’s just 100% pure extracted oil, and with a little going a long way, it’s easy to see how strong the scent is in the entire bottle. I will trying putting them in ziploc bags to see if that helps, as I don’t know if the objects/ingredients around them will absorb the smell.

Overall, I am confident putting my reputation on the line to support these oils. The bottles go a long way, and at a little under $20/piece, the value is extraordinary! If you consider trying some essential oils, give this brand a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Although this is a sponsored post, powered by Brandbacker, I am excited to try more of their products and share what I learn about them with you!

XO Ali

Anavita Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream Review & Giveaway

Happy Thursday people!!

Shew, it’s been a while since my last post, right? Well, I’m here today to tell you about a new moisturizing cream I was sent to review! As the title indicates, it is a super moisturizing anti-wrinkle cream by the brand Anavita.

IMG_2557I received my full-size sample last week and have been using it daily after washing my face ever since. What first drew me to the company was the fact that they are a cruelty-free company, something I’ve been researching quite a bit lately. In addition, the formula contains absolutely no parabens, sulfates or drying alcohol.

Other claims include:

  • Super absorbent
  • Stimulates collage
  • Reduces fine lines and deep wrinkles
  • Can be used as an anti-wrinkle cream, moisturizer, day cream, night cream, peptide cream, and makeup base
  • Non-irritating and safe for all skin types (I have very sensitive skin!)
  • Visible results within 2-4 weeks and continuing improvement for 12 weeks or sooner
  • Leaves skin firmer, tighter, more toned, moisturized and youthful–looking

*I have bolded the claims I have been able to confirm so far

I’ve seen a lot of creams out there that claim to have similar qualities, so I was a bit skeptical, especially with how dry and sensitive my skin is, plus the formation of fine lines around my eyes as I get older. However, I am sincerely blown away by the results I have seen after just one week. With the dry winter weather and sub-zero temps, I have been applying this cream every evening after I cleanse my face, and occasionally in the mornings prior to makeup application. I think if I switch to the recommended twice daily application, it will help with my dry skin even more, as my makeup and cleansers still leave my skin a tiny bit dry.

IMG_2558I can already feel the firmness of my skin changing. I swear it feels bouncier than it has in a long time, and I have noticed the skin where my crows feet lay getting fuller and filling in the wrinkles. The texture of Anavita’s anti-wrinkle cream is very thick, non-greasy, and reminds me of a leave-in conditioner cream. When I applied it, it sat on top my skin for a few minutes, which worried me that I applied too much. However, it was completely absorbed within 5-10 minutes of application and served as a smooth makeup base.

Anavita is offering a $5 off coupon right now that you can use to get your very own jar! The price is approximately $30 on Amazon, with the coupon bringing it down to about $25. The coupon code is FEBBAC28. The code is good until March 22, 2015 and must be used during the checkout process on Amazon.com.

IMG_2554If you are interested, Anavita is offering my readers a chance to win a jar of this lovely cream. Click the link below to enter 🙂 Giveaway opens today and ends next Friday (March 6th) at 11:59 p.m. Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories, and you must register your entries on Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!!

To learn more about Anavita, check out their social media pages:

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This sponsored post was powered by Brandbacker!

XO Ali

How To: Defuzz and Remove Pills From Clothes

Don’t you hate when you get a new sweater and the first time you wash it, it pills and fuzzes all over itself (and sometimes other garments too if you’re really unlucky)? I certainly do! I recently washed a new, dark-green wool sweater from H&M for the first time, and it pilled everywhere! I was so mad–I thought it was ruined. I folded it on top of the washing machine, and there it sat for (sadly) the last TWO months while I tried to find a solution that didn’t involve picking the pills off one-by-one.

I also noticed that a pair of gloves I received for Christmas started fuzzing pretty terribly after frequent use, and just chalked it up to the low-cost/high-maintenance turn off of H&M’s winter wear. I’ve tried a lot of things: lint brushes, sweater combs, even packing tape repeatedly sticking and unsticking to my clothes, to repel pills…which usually just makes it even fuzzier.

Surprisingly, I had not heard of fabric “shavers” until recently. We decided to buy this Conair Battery Operated Fabric Defuzzer/Shaver from Amazon and test it out. I think the result speaks for itself…

Isn’t that amazing?? Here is a close-up of the defuzzed glove vs. the untouched glove:

IMG_1337Encouraged by my results with my gloves, I grabbed my dark-green H&M sweater off the washing machine, and voila!

Then, I tried to think of the most-used/pilled garment in our house, and I remembered how Ryan just bought a new jacket because of the wear on his old one…

Yes, this is my terrible video-taking ability haha. But talk about results! It is so simple to do, and you can see each of these garment’s results with just one pass of the shaver. It’s very gratifying taking years off a fabric and making it like new again 🙂

The shaver is less than $20, and it’s got 3 distance-control settings to handle different garment types. It also takes 2 AA batteries, and so long as you empty the pills between garments, you shouldn’t have any issues with longevity or motor-issues 🙂

Happy sweater s(h)aving!

XO Ali

Don’t forget to enter my drugstore beauty giveaway HERE 🙂

My Latest Obsession: Nail Art

“I want ALL the nail stuffs!”

At least that has been my train-of-thought lately.

Back in December, I ordered a bunch of nail supplies from Amazon, and they’ve been trickling in all month long, some arriving all the way from Hong Kong! They are all still similarly priced if you see anything that you would also like to buy. For about $30–including shipping which was mostly free–I got ALL of the following (click on the picture for the link to Amazon):

brushes15 piece nail paint drawing brush and 5 two-way dotting tools: $3.87

rhinestonewheels10 pack manicure wheels (rhinestones, studs, etc.): $9.56

tipguidesPack of 10 tip guides (chevron, teardrop, french): $1.50

studwheelSingle pack (600 pieces) of gold and silver studs: $2.00

nailtapes30 rolls of metallic striping tape: $2.19

nailtoolsSHANY Cosmetics 6 piece manicure tool set (heavy duty!): $9.95

paintpaletteDish paint palette and 3 nail brushes: $2.41 (I could have gone without this item and used any other kind of dish to mix polishes, but I wanted something I could reuse).

I just ordered (despite my shopping ban…more on that later) a 13″ caboodle organizer from Amazon as well, and I can’t wait to organize all my new supplies (not to mention, get that drawer space back from my dresser where I currently house my nail polishes and supplies). The size is 13x8x9 and runs about $34.99, but is the #1 seller in cosmetic train cases on Amazon.com:

51QAd310WQLDespite train cases being around for, well, a long time, my 8-year old self is squealing at the idea of a grown-up Caboodle-brand box, haha. I had a plastic purple and pink one where I stored crayons, yarn, and other art supplies when I was a kid. I thought I was queen of the town lugging that thing around. You know what I’m talking about…

I want to start doing my nails on a regular basis. I have to now that I have all these supplies, right? 😉 It’s going to require improving a lot on my technique, but I’m confident that if I put my mind to do, I can learn a lot and hopefully have some fun designs to show you all!

If you know anything about my blog, know I’m also a self-proclaimed dork. It keeps me young at heart 🙂 These themed nails are all designs I would totally do (though mine would not come out as nicely, haha):

sailormoonnailsSailor Moon nails: because Sailor Moon, DUH. My favorite anime of all time!

pikachunailsPokemon nails: especially Pikachu. Give me all the Pikachu things.

sleepingbeautynailsSleeping Beauty: my fave Disney movie.

mlpnailsMy Little Pony nails (the new version): because they’re bright, cheery, full of color, and epitomize anime-eyes.

I’ve also always been really into Japanese nail art. I kind of love how gaudy some of the designs are–it’s like a whole new part of your body to accessorize! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out some of these superbly-amazeballs designs:

Would I do my nails these ways? Not necessarily all of them, but some of them, heck yes! You can probably tell which ones pretty easily. A. My nails aren’t long enough to do half of these designs (though I’m pretty sure many of these are on acrylics!). B. I would rip my hair out trying to wash it, style it, think about it. C. I would accidentally knock the charms off in just a few hours. D. I’m not that talented, haha.

Which brings me to another topic: have you ever heard of fimo canes? I hadn’t!

fimocanesThey are these longish tubes in one particular design that are made for you to cut teeny-tiny slivers off to adorn your nails, phone cases, etc. Typically, a boxcuter or razor is used on these….

fimocanes2…to make nail designs like this:

fimocanesnailsI’m sure it would take a lot of practice and precision to get them thin enough to stay on your nails with a glue or top coat.

What do you think of these nail trends? I can’t wait to try some out! Do you have any tips on how best to adhere charms to your nails? I’ve heard of using nail glue, but I wonder if a dot of acryllic over your polish would work best?

XO Ali

Favorite 2014 K-pop Songs: #8-1

8. 4MINUTE – Whatcha Doin’ Today

whatchadointodayThis upbeat jam always puts me in the mood to dance, which can be a problem depending on where I am at at the moment (the car is usually a frequent location…). I love 4MINUTE! They always have great singles that are fun to dance to, and this is no exception 🙂

7. Hyuna – Red

hyunaredHyuna is also a member of 4minute, the group who’s “Whatcha Doin’ Today” came in 8th place. Hyuna is probably one of the more globally-recognizable faces of k-pop after she guest starred in Psy’s Gangnam Style back in 2012 (2:11 on) and eventually in her own version, “Oppa is Just My Style.” However, these are not the songs she is known for in Korea. She’s arguably one of the best female solo artists in the market, being able to rap, dance, and sing very well. Her singles always do very well, and Red is no exception. This is by far my favorite single of hers to date, because she’s got to that point in her career where she is allowed to express more freedom in her songs.

6. KARA – Mamma Mia

mammamiaI’m a little surprised about how much I fell in love with this song, seeing as how KARA was a group that I only recently started to gauge interest in. It might be do in part to them losing two of their five original members in early 2014 due to career changes, and how they held a reality competition to find a new member to fill in their group. This is practically unheard of in South Korea. If new members are picked, it is a very private process, and once the decision is final, not much information is given until the new member’s debut. There were seven girls vying for public sway to get into the already internationally-successful group, but ultimately, Young Ji stole most everyone’s hearts:

youngjiThe six-part series culminated in Young Ji “winning” a spot on KARA. I watched about four of the episodes, which is why I felt so invested in her debut for this song. In a short amount of time, she had to learn all of KARA’s previous dances, redistribute previous members lines, and was literally thrown into the spotlight. The song itself is very good, reminding me a little of an 80’s/90’s workout song, and I really enjoy the accompanying dance. Party, party, party, mamma mia!

5. 2NE1 – Come Back Home

comebackhomeOne of the most popular girl groups in the world, 2NE1 (pronounced “twenty-one” or “to anyone”) killed it this year with their album, Crush. You may have unintentionally heard a clip of their song I am the Best in a recent Microsoft television ad. Long before the ad, IATB has been one of the 10 most watched K-pop videos in history. In addition, CL is working with producers in the U.S. to launch her U.S. debut. CL has already released a song with G Dragon, Diplo, and Skrillex, but no matter how much I like her, the song is really awful. Wait till her debut comes out. She’s got an incredible voice and is one of the best Asian rappers out there. Between all of the members, they speak a variety of languages, which has really helped to fuel their growth and to make tour stops more personal.

Anyways. Come Back Home is probably my favorite music video of the year, with a futuristic dystopia-type setting. If you don’t watch any other videos, watch this one. It’s really good and the lines are all pretty spread out so you can hear each member’s voice.

4. T-ara – Sugar Free

sugarfreeT-ara does it again with their club-pumping hit, Sugar Free. Despite sounding like a song about diet soda, it’s actually about a relationship that has turned sour, with the guy lacking sweetness. I know I’ve said this about a lot of groups already, but every. single. single. they put out is so good. They’ve got that EDM vibe that is very popular in the U.S. and Europe…the kind of music that it doesn’t matter if you understand what they’re saying or not, but you have to get up and dance when you hear it. The music video is really hard on the eyes, however, with its incessant strobe lights. It’s a shame, because they really should have highlighted the dancing more. This is one where I’ll say you can skip the video, or watch a live performance, because you may just get a headache from watching the flashing lights.

3. AOA – Like a Cat

likeacatIt really pains me to number these top 4 in any specific order, because they are so, so close in my book. I really should just give them a four-way tie for first place, but I gave the final rankings based on listen counts, how many dance moves I can mimic without really intentionally learning (haha), and how powerful the feels are. AOA is probably the group that grew on me the most this year, as I never really cared for their songs until I heard their first single of 2014 called “Miniskirt.” I realized how talented these girls all are! When “Like a Cat” came out, I was blown away with how catchy it was! The dance moves aren’t overly provocative either, which is a nice change from some of their company’s usual choreography. I can’t stop listening to it and you shouldn’t either!

2. f(x) – Red Light

redlightNever has one eye of makeup looked so good. You all probably already know my affinity for this group from my post back in October, but here they are again, for good measure 🙂 I almost forgot about this song since it came out over the summer. I listened to it for so long, I took a break from it to hear all the other singles that have been out. After another listen though, it’s definitely at the top. The second girl from the left, Sulli, ended up taking a hiatus from the public within a month of their “Red Light” promotions, which caused the company to end the entire group’s promotions, despite successfully performing as a quartet multiple times. This made me so angry, because they are my second-favorite group in all of k-pop and were finally getting the recognition they deserve. I hope their next comeback is just as successful, if not more. F(x) fighting!

Side note: Krystal of F(x) (right) is the younger sister of [former] Girl’s Generation member Jessica (left)

1whisper1. TaeTiSeo (TTS) – Whisper

TTS made their first comeback in 2014 after a 2.5 year hiatus. They are a sub-unit of Girls’ Generation, and comprise 3 of the best singers of the group. Whisper is a pretty song where the focus is not on the dance, nor is there an accompanying music video. It plays on the strengths of each of the member’s voices and is not even their single they released (which is Holler, in case you are interested. It’s really good too!). Instead, it’s a soulful song that even Billboard Music describes as a “sensual, synthy R&B jam.” They even had their own 7 episode series called “The TaeTiSeo” that aired with OnStyle Korea! Both Girls’ Generation and their sub-unit are my favorite group in all of k-pop. Win!

Others worth mentioning:

SISTAR – Touch My Body – The perfect summer-ending song.

Bestie – Thank U Very Much – A fun song to dance with your “besties” to.

Dalshabet – BBB (Big Baby Baby) – An 80’s electro-pop sound with understated tones and a strong choral beat.

AOA – Miniskirt – While I don’t care for the music video, the song is great!

CL – MTBD – The K-pop female rap song I have been waiting for…

EXID – Up and Down – Finally, some recognition for the amazing group! The only song to ever go through promotions twice in the k-pop industry.

Rainbow Blaxx – Cha Cha – The first song of Rainbow’s sub-unit, Rainbow Blaxx.

Girl’s Day – Darling – Another fun summer song.

Ladies Code – Kiss Kiss – the last song that Ladies Code put out, less than a month before a horribly tragic car accident took the lives of best friends and members, Eun B and RiSe (2nd and 3rd from the left below), in September. May they rest in peace. They were taken too soon 😦

ladiescodeWhat were your favorite songs of 2014 (k-pop or not)?!

XO Ali

Drugstore Beauty Giveaway ($75 value!)

Hello lovelies! I’ve been promising a giveaway for over a month now, and here it is! (or at least one of them 😉 ). This giveaway includes mostly full-size products that you can pickup at your local drugstore: Covergirl, Maybelline, … Continue reading

January Birchbox: Tone it Up

In the last couple months, I have discovered that being on Birchbox’s email list also means you have a certain say about your upcoming Birchbox! How, you may ask? There’s one of two ways!

  1. Sample choice – Birchbox picks several different samples for you to choose from, and you can select one of these samples to guarantee it in your upcoming box.
  2. Special boxes – Birchbox will arrange a one-time themed box with specific samples that you can pick to replace your randomly-curated box.

In January, they actually offered two different special boxes: the Relax & Recharge box, or the Tone it Up box. While I typically enjoy the surprise of not knowing what I’m getting each month, I found the listed samples in the Tone it Up box were exactly right for me!

January Birchbox: Tone it Up – Gym Bag Essentials

IMG_1204 IMG_1205 IMG_1206Whish Body Butter in Lavender

This sample almost single-handedly sold me on the entire box. I received Whish’s body butter in pomegranate in one of my very first Birchboxes after subscribing last year, and it is one of my favorite samples to date. I purchased the full-size of pomegranate not long after. It smells amazing, without being overly sweet. It’s also not greasy, which is one of my most disliked qualities in a lotion/body-butter. The lilac has been just as promising, with its silky-smooth formula and universally-flattering scent.

IMG_1207Coola Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion

This was another winning product. I first got this sample in one of my CEW insider boxes, and I swear by it. I used it after two separate severe burns–one after my half-marathon and one in Cancun. I immediately noticed a cooling feeling, and an immediate relief from the pain, even better than aloe vera. The formula has a slight bit of tackiness to it, and the smell is similar to citronella in my opinion, but if you can overlook these qualities (or if you like citronella like me haha), it is definitely worth the hype. The price tag is a bit hefty at $32, so I guess it just depends on how quickly you need relief from sun-exposure!

IMG_1208Aqua Reveal Satin Bright Soft Water Peel

Unfortunately, I have not tried this product yet. But I am always curious to try new face treatments!

IMG_1210Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Make this number 1,345,864 of dry shampoo samples I have to go through. I haven’t found one I don’t like yet, and am currently finishing up my Amika sample! This particular dry shampoo took Allure’s best of beauty award, so it’ll probably hit the fast lane and be the next one I try 🙂

IMG_1213Coastal Scents Revealed Palette Sampler

As the proud owner of the Revealed I and Revealed II palettes, this is a sample I don’t need. Helloooo giveaway 🙂

If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, please click HERE. If you are already signed up, what was your favorite sample from January?!

XO Ali

Glossybox Roundup

Well, this will be my first and last post about Glossybox. Not because they are bad (oh VERY much so the opposite), but because I’m going on a spending freeze for the first quarter of 2015. I have canceled all … Continue reading

Makeup Monday: Winter Butterfly (Vice 3 Palette)

Hello lovelies 🙂 It’s the first Monday after the New Year, which for many of us, means it’s the first full-week back to work since mid-December. Never fear though, Makeup Monday is here to get us kicked off with an … Continue reading