Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sephora Skincare Challange

If you haven't figured it out, I am obsessed with great skin and I encourage all of you to be too! If we take care of our skin while we're younger (and we're always younger than someone!!) we will have better skin for longer and save money in the long run on all that expensive Botox and plastic surgery:)

Sephora is now having a Skincare Challenge that looks fun, plus you get some awesome freebies and, most importantly, a great skincare regimen will be custom fit for you! Here's how it works: 1) shop skincare, 2) receive one credit for every facial skincare item you buy, 3) get a featured reward product for every four credits you earn!! Scroll down from the link on the page to see the skincare consultation.

I'm going to do the consultation for myself, just for kicks:) 1) What is your skin type? Normal/Combination and Sensitive; 2) What are your skin concerns? I would like to clear up blemishes and even skin tone on my face. For my eyes I would like to brighten dark circles and reduce puffiness. Hmm, those are all the question they ask, not very thorough but let's see what they recommend for my regime.

Cleansers: Kate Sommerville Gentle Daily Wash (I don't know who that is so no), Kinerase Gentle Daily Cleanser (score, Kinerase is great, Courtney Cox told me so!), DDF Sensitive Skin Cleansing Gel (whatever, DDF is fine). Considering that all my recommendations were gentle formulas, and considering what I know about gentle formulas, that they contain few ingredients so they won't irritate skin, I think I'll stick to my CeraVe Cleanser. moving on...moisturizers: AAHHH!! we skipped daily exfoliation!!! Anyway, here are the recs for me: Kate Sommerville Nourish Daily Moisturizer (KS must be sponsoring this Skincare Challenge!!), and really a bunch of other moisturizers that don't look particularly interesting or helpful. Again, I'll stick with what I use everyday...Lancome Bienfait w/SPF. They do recommend daily sun protection, a must, but I am too lazy to have more steps than necessary so I'll just get that from my moisturizer thank you very much. They offer some skincare sets which would be a great way to go if you don't have a skincare regimen at all but I don't need that. Blemish treatments...check, although, daily exfoliation can usually take care of this if you just have occasional blemishes. My eye cream recs look good except none of them contain SPF which I always want in a day eye cream (I love Shiseido for this!!). A few of my eye recs are the Murad Lighten and Brighten Eye Treatment (I've enjoyed Murad before so would consider this) and the Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue (this s*** is $100 so it better be made of gold flakes and instantly make my entire face look just like Nicole Kidman).

Overall opinion of the skincare consultation...great if you do not have a skincare regime or are not happy with any of your current products. I always like to get ideas on new products that might be better than what I'm using but only asking two questions about my skin makes it very difficult to customize a regime particularly for me.

OK, now to the god stuff, the free reward. By the by, purchasing at least 3 skincare products there is basically no way you won't go over the $50 to get free shipping. Also, don't forget that you get three free tiny (crappy) samples with every online order. Also, remember that as you earn Beauty Insider Rewards Points you get nice, deluxe samples (not crappy). Wow, Sephora is giving me so much free stuff I haven't even gotten to the Skincare Challenge free reward yet!! OK, here it is. I don't know if people get different choices but here are mine: Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash 6.6 oz., Murad Active Radiance Serum, Korres Wild Rose 24 hour moisturizer SPF 6 (why bother with that SPF?), and Philosophy Hope in a Jar. I am liking these choices. I would choose the Philosophy. I have used Hope in a Jar and it's a great moisturizer and provides very gentle continuous exfoliation which is the key to it being awesome, I think. However, no SPF. That means an extra step for me and that means no go. Maybe at night though, I'll consider it.

To continue Sephora throwing free s*** at you (it's not really s***, it's actually tremendously fun and exciting stuff!!) when you order ANYTHING put in code 10FREE at checkout and receive a Skincare Challenge Sample Bag with 10 skincare samples. Another great way to try some different products without commitment!! The only requirement is that you be a Beauty Insider, which I think should be a prerequisite for reading my blog anyway.

Go order from Sephora now!! It's like they are paying you in free stuff to shop from them...LOVE IT!!!!!!! Thanks Sephora for making my Saturday, and my skin, a little brighter!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Best GWP's Going On Now (online only) - Laura Mercier 5 piece gift with any $75 LM purchase

Belk and - Lancome GWP with any $32.50 Lancome purchase. This one is fun because you can choose between two sets of products for your gift, one focusing on skincare and the other on makeup! Which ever gift you choose you are walking away with 6 or 7 pieces...SCORE!

Nordstrom and - interestingly, Lancome is having a gift at two stores at once. I would hypothesize that there are not Nordstrom and Belk in the same geographic region but that just my guess. With this gift too you get to choose between two gifts with any $35 Lancome purchase. IDEA: if you need two Lancome items in the price range, why not order one from Belk and one from Nordstrom....two different free gifts!! Also, if you spend $65 you also get a three piece travel brush set! - with any $40 Pop Beauty purchase you get a precious three drawer make-up cabinet with 12 eye shadows, 6 lip colors, and 4 cheek colors. Plus, the box is pink, I think we will all be getting this one:). In even better news from, spend $100 and get an adorable train case filled with deluxe free samples and free shipping!!! I was going to be pissed when I figured this one out because I just spent a small fortune on Shiseido and the best I could do was order from Sephora for a few freebies. However, I also just figured out that doesn't carry any of the products that I ordered to, whew! - Clinique bonus with any $21.50 Clinique purchase. Pretty standard Clinique gift but it definitely beats going to your local counter and getting no extras:) ENDS MARCH 21. Also in the Clinique world, GWP at This one is kind of cool in that is contains two bronzing items, yum. Again, if you need two Clinique items, order one from each place for twice the fun!! This is the same bonus that Dillard's is having right now...ending the 22nd.

Several of these are ending on the 21st or the 22nd so you better go on it!!

Even if you don't want all of the items in your free gift I have found that these pieces can serve as deal makers on Makeup Alley!

Smart(er) Makeup Shopping

In these difficult economic times (I had to use that phrase!) we all have to be smarter about our money. I've heard it said that cosmetics is one thing that is not hurt too badly during a recession but I beg to differ. Yes, people can go buy an item or two of prestige or what seems like only a few dollars but my hypothesis is that people instead go buy more items for the same amount of money at the drugstore (gasp!). I recently read on Yahoo in an article about saving money that a great way to do so is to use drugstore cosmetics. The article said that most of it is made in the same factories with the same ingredients as prestige brands, implying that it is the same thing. Well, here's a news flash for you, it's not! Let's take the example of Lancome and L'Oreal. Does the L'oreal own Lancome? Yes. Do they share product information? Yes Do they share certain common ingredients? Yes. Are you paying twice as much at the department store for Lancome when you could be getting the same thing at CVS for mere pennies? NO!

Here's why...drugstore brand makeup is much less pigmented meaning you need more of it to get the same-ish look. You're using more, no savings there plus, if you are using say, more eye shadow, it is more likely to crease and look nasty, so just don't do it. Secondly, re: skincare...yes, drugstore brands can claim this or that fancy sounding ingredient all they want but the fact is that it is cheaper because there is less of the active ingredient(s) in it. You really are paying for what you get. Just like with the eye shadow, you will have to use more to get the same-ish effect and, with skincare, it will take MUCH longer to see results and the results will, most likely, be more subtle than if you were paying for a prestige brand. I'm not going in to the $300 moisturizer v. the $70 prestige one, you can decide what you can afford yourself:)

Even though that section of the article was clearly hallucinatory, there was another suggestion that was great. I made it on here (kind of) months ago. Makeup swaps!!! The article I was reading suggested setting up a makeup swap with your friends to trade. But why trade with five or six people when you could trade with thousands of friends (read: complete strangers) on a site like I have been trading on MUA for several months now and it has been a blast. I really should add up the $ of everything I've swapped for but that just probably isn't going to happen:) Here are a few of the things I've gotten though (all for the price of postage - cheap - and while getting rid of crap I don't use or want): Brand new - Diorshow mascara, NARS lip glosses (3), Clinique Lip Pencil, Stila Lipglaze, Stila eyeshadow palette, Frederick Fekkai Smoothing Cream, Redken Overnight Treat, and Clarins Body Scrub; and slightly used (but I cleaned and sanitized the hell out of them): five or six fragrances I wanted to try, MAC lip pencils, Benefit blushes, Chanel lip liner, and Shiseido White Lucent Cream. And those are just the things I'm thinking of off the top of my head!! Try it!!

Another smart makeup shopping tip that I also think is fun is to remember that the best deal on your prestige cosmetics is usually not going to be at your local department store. Prestige brands rotate their GWP's across the country and higher end stores (Saks, Bergdorff Goodman) have nicer GWP's with more items worth more $ than lower end retailers (Belk). Considering this, most of the time, some national retailer is going to be having a GWP on the major prestige brands. If you are in the market for a Estee Lauder moisturizer, spend two minutes online and google "Estee Lauder free gift" or "Estee Lauder bonus." You'll quickly see which stores are having GWP's and what they are. If I used EL, which I don't, and saw that Neiman Marcus was having a GWP and my store wasn't, obviously it is a better deal for me to order my items from NM online. #1 I get the GWP, #2 since there isn't a NM in AL I get no tax, #3 most department store retailers have free shipping offers if you spend a certain amount going on almost all of the time and, if not, if you're getting out of tax you're probably doing better if at least not breaking even.

If you can't find a GWP, which I know is v. disappointing, most of the time, depending on how much you're spending, you will come out better shopping online at,, or All of these sites give free samples with every order and also have GWP-ish items for different brands almost all the time. Free shipping over $50 usually and, if there isn't a store in your state, you get no tax as well. So, if I want to buy the Benefit Laugh With Me LeeLee fragrance and the Smashbox blush in Sugarbomb (which it just so happens I do) and I can't find a GWP online, I am going to come out much better ordering those items from Sephora, where at least I will get three free samples (and add to my frequent spenders account that you can redeem for free products) than going to the local department store and picking them up.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Low (er) Carb Diet

This past week I have embarked on a lower carb diet (thanks Meagan!). I have previously done Atkin's and South Beach hardcore and lost tons of weight and thought they were so much easier than Weight Watcher's (I don't have time for all that counting mess!). FYI...I have been continuously thinking about my weight for the last, um, at least two decades, so this is not some new thought process going on here.

While having lunch with a friend she was mentioning another friend who did low carb 6 days a week then chose one day to eat whatever the crap they wanted. This really clicked with me and reminded me how well low carb eating had done for me in the past so I got right on it. For those of you familiar, I am doing a version (my own) of South Beach Phase 2. I can't do that hard core stuff anymore, it's frankly a giant pain in my a**. I hear that over time the 7th day binge subsides but today it's going strong and the three delicious carb-laden muffins I ate in under 2 minutes were ever so satisfying!!!

I'll update as this process goes on and is a resounding, overwhelming success!!! Hmmm, that's strange, where did the other half of that cake go?