Argan Oil + Radha Beauty Review

Hello my lovelies!

I’ve been at it again…DIY that is πŸ™‚ 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).

IMG_2779

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).

IMG_2791

*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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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

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 πŸ˜‰ ). 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

How to Wash Your Makeup Brushes

Good morning lovelies! Well, it’s almost afternoon, but I was fortunate enough to get to sleep in this morning πŸ™‚ I expanded my brush collection a few weeks ago, and only then noticed how dirty my current brushes were! It … Continue reading

Makeover Monday: Girl in Charge (em Cosmetics)

Hello beauties!

Today’s first Makeover/Makeup Monday (I haven’t decided which one sounds less corny πŸ™‚ ) is featuring em Cosmetics by Michelle Phan. I know I’ve been on the Michelle Phan bandwagon lately, but I can’t help it! She’s so talented, nice, and her tips and tutorials really are fabulous. I had a little haul a week or so ago when her entire website was 50% off! In fact, they’re running that special again until 11:59 p.m. on December 31st! No coupon code needed.

IMG_0950Dusty pink blazer: Forever 21 | Cream-colored lace & chiffon top: Forever 21

This look is called “girl in charge” and uses the upper right quad of the Career Life Palette. Keep reading for how I customized this look!

My em Cosmetics haul included:

productscollagelove me for me flawless finish powder compact in porcelain 02: $25 $12.50
love me for me flawless foundation in porcelain 02: free w/ powder compact
the great cover up ultimate concealer in fair neutral/cool: $17 $8.50
chiaroscuro contour & highlight stick in fair tones: $24 $12
the life palette in career life: $59 $29.50
lip gallery creamy color sheer lipstick in im taken all red-y: $15 $7.50 (not pictured)
lip gallery creamy color classic lipstick in misty mauve: $15 $7.50 (not pictured)

facecollageStep 1: Apply foundation using a makeup sponge (I like Real Techniques brand)
Step 2: Apply concealer under eyes and over problem areas
Step 3: Contour and highlight!
Step 4: Apply eye makeup:

girlinchargeAs stated above, I used the upper right quad of the Career palette:

I applied 1 all over the base of the eyelid and 2 as an eyeliner on the upper and lower lash line. Three was applied in the center of the eyelid and blended outward. Four and 5 were applied up and towards the brow bone. Six was brushed on the apple of the cheeks, while 7 was applied all over the lips. I applied 8 right in the middle of the lips to add more depth.

skintonefairHere is a swatch of all the colors in the “girl in charge” quad. This picture, as well as the stock photos of the products are directly the property of em Cosmetics and their website.

Step 5: To finish the look, I revved up my eyebrows using Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Brow Wiz Pencil and Benefit’s Brow Gel. I applied Lorac’s Cobra Mascara and touched up my shiny spots with em Cosmetic’s powder compact.

The finished result?

IMG_0953As you can see, my freckles are still full force after my trip to Cancun πŸ™‚

My favorite of the products by a LONG shot was the lipsticks. From all the lipsticks I have tried, I can confidently say their formula is similar to MAC. They are THAT good. I wouldn’t pay full price for the Life Palettes, as the color payoff isn’t nearly as great as comparably-priced brands like Urban Decay and Lorac. I might have to pick up a few more lippies though…before the New Year kicks off (spoiler alert: I’m going on ANOTHER shopping hiatus…just for 3 months this time).

If you are curious to try any of Michelle’s products, please visit her website as they are 50% off right now!

http://www.emcosmetics.com/

I am not paid to review these products. The opinions are my own.

XO Ali

Michelle Phan Book Review

Are you a beauty blogger? A fashion blogger? A vlogger? Then KEEP reading! πŸ™‚

Right before my vacation to Cancun, I was shopping at Target when I noticed the beautiful face of Michelle Phan staring back amid the vast book section. Curious, I picked it up and read a bit, (it’s not your average chapter book), put it back, and went home. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided it would make a fun read on vacation, not to mention providing some new inspiration and perspective on my blog! I ordered it from Amazon, and with my Prime membership, it arrived in 2 days!

I have to be honest, I knew next to nothing about Michelle when I first got the book, let alone that she is the FOUNDER of Ipsy! (Something almost all of you are familiar with/subscribe to). As a 27 year old, she boasts an incredible resume:

  • 7 million subscribers on YouTube
  • Her videos have been viewed over 1 billion times
  • Founder of Ipsy
  • Started her own cosmetics company “em”

The first 2 “chapters” (I use the word chapters loosely, as it’s such a guide/advice/tutorial-type book) cover her background. You wouldn’t know by looking at her that she grew up with almost nothing. It was really inspiring to hear her journey, and to read about her dedication and perseverance landing her where she is today. I’ll save the rest of her back story for you to discover πŸ™‚

If you get a chance, go check out her YouTube channel. She’s just so darn sweet and likeable!

The videos that really brought her to initial fame were her transformation videos. Some of her looks include Angelina Jolie, Sailor Moon, Lady Gaga, Daenerys (Game of Thrones), and (zombie) Barbie!

Even thought she’s amazing at transforming into different characters, some of my favorite videos are her anybody-can-do makeovers. Her instructions are simple and practical, and she doesn’t go out of her way to suggest you buy or use a particular product, which I found very refreshing. Instead, she encourages you to work with what you have.

This is still one of my FAVORITE looks:

The other sections cover a wide variety of topics including makeup tutorials, resume building, career advice, etiquette, and creativity. There’s even a section dedicated to fashion/style! If you go to Amazon’s page, you can peak “Inside the Book.”

This is a great read. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times: she is SO inspiring! It makes me want to channel all my creativity and efforts into something beautiful I can share with others. If you are interested in getting a copy of her book, please enter my giveaway to win! It’s open until Saturday evening at 11:59 P.M.

Michelle-Phan-Book-CoverDomestic (U.S.) entries only–I will be sending the book straight to your home via Amazon.com

Once the winner is announced, you have 2Β days to respond to my email (you must leave a valid email address for me to contact you), otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

And in the words of Mish: Good luck!

XOXO Ali

Vegan Beauty: Vegan Cuts Beauty Box vs. Petit Vour

Welp, it’s officially November! That means that I am now getting up at 5:00 a.m. every weekday until the month is over. My dog woke me up at 4:40 this morning as if to jump-start the process, so I didn’t have much of a choice πŸ™‚ It was a pretty productive morning at least: I paid bills, cashed in some Birchbox points, and made a purchase for the first time ever from NewLook with some items that have been hanging out in my cart for over a week.

Vegan Cuts and Petit Vour are both subscription boxes that send out monthly beauty goodies, but in this case, they’re both vegan! What did I think of both boxes? Keep reading to find out πŸ™‚

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box
$19.95/month
The box: monthly box with 4-7 100% cruelty-free products “ranging from unique cosmetics to luxurious skincare.” It consists of mostly organic and natural products, ranging from sample-size to full-size products.
Brand sample: Pangea Organics, LVX, John Masters Organics, Sevi, Goddess Garden Organics, Lauren Brooke, Skinagain
Extras: one-time themed boxes available for purchase in their Beauty Shop

IMG_1886 IMG_1898Floss Gloss nail lacquer ($8) in Picnic is a 3-free “weathered cranberry creme” color. When I saw they were including one of three colors in every Vegan Cuts beauty box for October, I was actually hoping for Donatella, a pretty pumpkin-color with a lot of gold shimmer, since I already have so many burgundy/reds in my polish collection. Despite the brightness of the bottle, it actually goes on a gorgeous dark, dark burgundy, much darker than the rest of my reds. I would show you a picture of my feet, but I’m not all about putting that on my blog πŸ˜› I’ve been wearing it over a week with zero chipping!

coffeebeanscrubThis coffee bean-illa scrub by Lovinah is exactly what it sounds like. I haven’t figured out the best use for it yet, though I did apply it to the back of my hands in the shower. It feels exactly like wiping damp coffee grounds on your skin. With a scent as strong as coffee, it may work best as an occasional facial exfoliator. Overall, I’m not quite sure what to do with this product as the sample size is plenty big and I’m not going to use it all that often.

IMG_1891This pure energy serum by Lotus Wei ($10) is another favorite from the box. They’ve got an entire line of serums and elixirs designed to do everything from quiet your mind, to give you energy, to inspire action. My only wish was that the scent was slightly stronger. I have an addiction to lemon and orange-scented products, and this is so light you almost can’t even smell it (which is maybe the point…). I like to do one pump on my wrists and dab some on my cheekbones for a dewy glow!

IMG_1904This deluxe travel set from Hylunia ($35) makes up a whole line of their paraben and phosphate-free skincare. The collection is designed to “fight aging, acne, redness, and dryness without clogging your pores.”

IMG_1900I’m not a big fan of bar soaps (because they make such a mess on the counter to clean up!), so when I received this watermelon hand soap from South Side Soaps as an extra in my box, I wasn’t overly impressed, though the skull was appropriate for Halloween’s timing.

Overall, the box’s contents (over a $60 value) were pretty impressive. I was happy not to receive any foil packets or single-use samples, as you can never really gauge a product’s qualities with just one use. However at $20/month, and with 6 subscription boxes for October (6? 7? I can’t even keep track), this one will not be making the November cut. Were money not a factor, I would continue my subscription because I think the value is absolutely worth it, and come on, cruelty-free? All the time if I could.

Petite Vour
$15/month
The box: monthly box with 4-5 luxurious and vegan beauty products. Goodies range from sample size to full products.
Brand sample: Ellovi, Forager, Harvey Prince, Lotus Wei, Pacifica, LVX, California Naturel, Everyday Minerals
Extras: earn points for reviewing, purchasing, and friend recommendations; redeem points for $ off in their shop
IMG_1981lipstickThis Pacifica Devocean natural lipstick in Firebird ($14) is a vibrant orange-red, that goes on much more like a balm than a lipstick. It’s not heavy at all and lasted for over 4 hours w/o reapplication. The container is also 100% recyclable! πŸ™‚

IMG_1959Body butters are tricky. This wild mint body butter from flo+theo (sample size; full-size is $28) is no exception. My main problem is that I have a really hard time sitting still. I’m constantly touching things, which leaves a greasy residue behind after application. The smell is perfectly paired with the butter without being too strong. I found the best time to apply is right before going to bed.

IMG_1972This natural eau de parfum from Forager Botanicals in Heaven Scent (sample size; full size is $98) has notes of “succulent florals, citrus and honey” (though there is no honey in the formation of the perfume), though to me it just smells kind of woodsy. Not bad, but I think I’ll stick to my Molecule 01. I’m pretty picky in my choice of perfume.

IMG_1970My initial thought was “another day, another argan oil.” However, upon closer inspection, this argan oil from Lavina (sample size; full-size is $20) is actually sourced from a woman’s cooperative in Morocco to help support economic and social welfare! How cool is that?

IMG_1962Unfortunately, this natural deodorant from Schmidt’s in Bergamot + Lime (sample size; full-size is $10) is just not doing it for me. The instructions: “[u]sing the fingertips, apply a pea-size amount to each underarm.” Sounds simple, right? The problem is, its packed into the jar like a balm and you have to dig it out to get it to work, try to rub it around on your underarms, and then use a nail utensil to scrape out the gunk under your nails. It’s just way too much work, and I didn’t find the deo to be particularly effective.

Overall, the box had a decent selection of products to sample, and its on the lower price range of Vegan beauty boxes. That being said, I think I still preferred VeganCuts over Petit Vour. Too bad I was only sampling these boxes in October and have since canceled my subscriptions. I may pick back up the VeganCuts BB subscription at some point, but for now I’ll be sticking with Ipsy (tomorrow’s post!) and Birchbox.

XO Ali

Boxycharm October 2014 Bewitched Box

I love fall, and I’m loving these Halloween-themed beauty boxes even more! Boxycharm $21/month The box: monthly box filled with full-size and luxury-size beauty samples Brand sample: Tarte, Coastal Scents, Tarina Tarantino, Essie, Revlon, Be a Bombshell Extras: earn “charms” … Continue reading