Best e.l.f. Products

e.l.f. is constantly running ridiculous sales on their website; to the point where they might as well drive up to your house and hand you the stuff for free.

Because of these amazing deals, I would often find myself feeling like I should buy something, but not knowing what.

e.l.f., like any other brand, has some really great products, and some really awful ones. This is a list of what I’ve found to be their absolute best stuff. Hopefully, this will help narrow your purchases down.

best of elf

1. Studio HD Blush-  I can’t rave enough about this blush; it’s pigmented, long lasting, and vibrant. All the colors are amazing, and the price is unbelievable considering the quality. I did a review of two of the shades, which you can find here.

2. Essential Custom Eyes Refill Pan (Moondust)- This is a loose pan meant to be placed into their custom compact. I have the compact, and I filled it with various shades, but Moondust is definitely the standout color. I always use a primer, so I can’t speak to its longevity on its own, but the shadow itself is very pigmented. Did I mention it’s a DOLLAR?! and it’s not like this is good, for the price, this shadow is good, period.

3. Studio Blush- Probably one of e.l.f.’s most popular products due to the many dupes to be found among them. Apart from the fact that a few are dupes for NARS and The Balm blushes, the formula for these is great. All of them are long lasting and pigmented, and they feel so much more expensive than they actually are. My review for a few of the shades can be found here.

4. Essential Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15- Disclaimer: I don’t wear foundations of any kind, so my love for this product is specifically based on that fact. This moisturizer is very light coverage and not at all meant to work as a foundation. I like to use it on blemishes or as an all over color to balance out my face. The only thing I really dislike about it is that if it gets too close to the eye area, it makes your eyes sting HORRIBLY (I’m pretty sure that means the ingredients are poisonous…oh well)

5. Essential Eyelid Primer- This was the first drugstore primer I tried (after being very underwhelmed by Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance.) Although I think there are better products at the drugstore level, this is a solid primer, and great for someone who has never used one before. The formula is a little watery, and I think the tube empties out very quickly, but it’s also very inexpensive, and it does actually work.

6. Studio Brushes- I think e.l.f. really excels when it comes to brushes, even their Essential line has amazing ones, but some of my favorite brushes are from their Studio line.  The Blush Brush in particular, is the exact size that a blush brush should be, and their Fan Brush is sturdy enough to get rid of fallout shadow without rubbing the color onto the skin. The rest of the brushes are equally great, but those two are my absolute favorites.

7. Essential Shimmering Facial Whip (Pink Lemonade)- This is an obvious choice, this particular shade is a known dupe for Benefit’s High Beam. I haven’t tried any of the other colors, but if the formula is similar to that of Pink Lemonade, they’re worth a try, too.

e.l.f. has many other quality products, and given their incredibly low price points, it’s not a big deal to try a bunch until you find one that works.

What are your favorite products? did I miss any of e.l.f.’s best?

 

The Best Pinterest Workouts

I talk about Pinterest a lot here, and that’s because I spend an obscene amount of time on it. I don’t even understand people who aren’t on Pinterest, what do they do all day? how else are they going to decorate their nonexistent homes? I can’t even imagine all the DIY projects they’re missing out on!

*I should say, missing out on NOT doing, or missing out on attempting and failing to create, but that’s besides the point*

One of my top Pinterest categories is the Fitness one, because I like to try out the workouts and see if they’re actually good. I realize I’m at a sort of intermediate to advanced fitness level, so my experience will differ from someone who’s just beginning, but I thought it would be useful to review some of the most popular workouts. If anything, it’ll give you an idea of what you’re in for, and what you can expect.

I’ve chosen these based on the ones that show up most often on the Fitness category, and the ones that have been around the longest, as well as the ones I’ve had the most trouble with. I figure the harder they are for me to complete, the better they are for my body.

UntitledNOTE: I’ve linked to the corresponding blogs for all of these workouts. NONE of these are mine. If you own any of these images and would like me to remove them, please email me and I will do so.

ZWOW 16

This is my favorite of Zuzka Light’s workouts; it’s always really hard, but completely doable. I like HIIT workouts that include weights, so this is one I go back to over and over. I use 10lb weights for the Renegade Rows, a 25lb dumbbell for the Overhead Lunges, and a 15lb kettlebell for the High Pulls. This is supposed to be an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 15, I usually do three rounds, and a little bit of a fourth.

PB Fingers Workout

The first time I did this workout, I couldn’t get past the first circuit; I think it was the Burpees that really killed me. I’ve done it a few more times since, and I’ve been able to complete it, but it’s ALWAYS a challenge. Sometimes I substitute the Crunches with Toe Touches because I feel like they do more for me, and I always do Burpees with a Pushup, because that’s how Zuzka Light taught me to do them (yes, I’m obsessed with her, shut up.) I find that the second circuit is way easier than the first, so if you get to the end of the first, and you feel like giving up, try at least one round of the second, you might find that it’s not so bad.

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I’ve only tried this one twice, and I cannot finish! By the time I’m on the second circuit (the one that starts with the High Knees) of the third round, I’m completely wiped out. I usually get to the 50 Mountain Climbers and collapse. I don’t understand why this is so hard, it doesn’t even have Burpees! I will continue to try it until I conquer it.

Best Tabata Workout

I love Tabata workouts because they’re quick, but also killer. The majority of Tabata workouts on Pinterest are actually really good, but this is by far my favorite one. I like that the exercises in each round complement each other, so you’re really burning out the muscles. Round four is obviously the worst one (and by worst, I mean hardest.)

WOD Daily

Another Tabata, this one has an ab bonus at the end. First of all, 8 rounds of Jump Squats are ridiculous, I don’t even know how I did it. Second of all, 8 rounds of Pushups are also ridiculous.  For the bonus at the end, I used a 15lb kettlebell for the Russian Twists. It doesn’t seem like the core part is going to be difficult, but after the third round I started to realize I was wrong. BTW, 8 rounds of V-ups are ALSO RIDICULOUS.

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I have this running suspicion that a lot of these Pinterest workouts are made by people who either don’t actually work out, or are Olympians posing as normal humans, because they are SO weirdly hard and impossible. This is one of those workouts. There is no way that I can do three rounds of each circuit, much less FOUR. The most I’ve been able to do is two rounds, after which I’m totally dead. Nevertheless, this is a really great workout.

PB Fingers

Another one by PB Fingers. She has some really great workouts on her blog, and they’re all easily adaptable to your fitness level. I like the mini circuits because it comforts me to know that once the circuit is over, I won’t have to do that move again (this is especially nice after the Jumping Lunges/ Squat Jumps one.) I used two 10lb dumbbells for the Squat to Overhead Press and for the Bicep Curls.

Crossfit Circuit

The beginning of this is BRUTAL. Jump Lunges followed by Burpees followed by Jump Squats, is the worst combination of moves I can imagine. I’m pretty sure this was done purposely to destroy you right away. This can be done entirely without weights, which is great for when I’m not home. If I am home, I use a 15lb kettlebell for the Russian Twists, and I hold two 10lb dumbbells during the Calf Raises.

There are a zillion more workouts on Pinterest, and they’re all good, if only because any exercise is good for you. Some of them seem a little simple, but you can always make them harder by adding some weights, or combining a few into one longer session.

If you try any of these, I’d love to hear how you did. If you were able to finish #3, please tell me so that I can build you a statue of solid gold.

The Dark Road

“When choices are limited, happiness can only be achieved by striking out on new paths”

Ma Jian- The Dark Road

I am not a squeamish person, I’m also not someone who is offended or disturbed by violence in books and movies, as I’m able to understand that it’s not real and separate myself from it; I’m also not one to give up on books quickly, unless they are truly abysmal.

This book undid all those facts in 78 pages.

78 pages is exactly how long it took me to realize this was going to be gut-wrenching, devastatingly sad, and maybe not something I wanted to read.

From the Goodreads page:30book "The Dark Road" by Ma Jian.

Meili, a young peasant woman born in the remote heart of China, is married to Kongzi, a village school teacher, and a distant descendant of Confucius. They have a daughter, but desperate for a son to carry on his illustrious family line, Kongzi gets Meili pregnant again without waiting for official permission. When family planning officers storm the village to arrest violators of the population control policy, mother, father and daughter escape to the Yangtze River and begin a fugitive life.

This novel is shocking because of how real it is; the fact that many of the events in this book are taking place right now, as I type this, is beyond sickening.

Before I read this book, I was aware of China’s one child policy, I knew about the millions of forced abortions, I knew it was a country overwhelmed by its population, and heavily policed by a corrupt government. But I don’t think I ever actually thought about what any of that meant.

It’s a difficult story to read, especially as a woman, because there’s a heavy and pervasive sense of helplessness, that the horrors inflicted on these women are par for the course and cannot be stopped.

And yet, there are times when there seems to be a sliver of hope, or a few moments of respite from everything that surrounds them. And that’s when the book goes beyond just a sad retelling of true facts, and turns into a novel about the human condition under the worst of circumstances, and the hope that keeps people living, even when there seems to be no better option than to give up.

This book should be read by anyone who cares about the world that surrounds them.

As my dad put it when I told him I didn’t want to read this anymore “you’re at an age now where it’s necessary that you learn about the truths of the world.”

Drugstore Dupes Part 2

Click here for the nail polishes

I love dupes with all my heart, mostly because I’m broke and because there’s no valid reason for a blush to cost $30; seriously, there is NOT.

Some of these dupes are completely identical, while others have little differences. I’m not a huge dupe Nazi where everything has to match perfectly, I figure if I can’t tell the difference without zooming in or staring for a while, it’s good enough.

Regardless, I tried to choose the best and closest dupes possible, at the cheapest prices. I also tried not to include any limited edition or discontinued products, as that doesn’t help anyone.

Drusgtore Makeup Dupes

A note about the dupes:

1, I realize that NYX’s Pinched doesn’t look like a dupe for Orgasm in the picture, but if you look up swatches for them, they’re almost identical. There used to be a much better dupe by Milani, but they discontinued it because they’re total idiots (there can’t be any other reason.)

2. I don’t know if there are exact color dupes between Urban Decay’s and NYX’s pencils, but the formula and concept is exactly the same. The NYX pencils have amazing staying power and the colors are great. Click here for my review of the NYX Slide On pencils.

Drugstore Dupes (Nail Polish)

Finding drugstore dupes of high end products is my favorite thing about the makeup blog community. I love dupes with all my heart because:

1. I’m poor

2. I don’t believe in spending $20 on nail polish, or blush, or anything, really.

3. I love how shameless it is to blatantly copy a MAC shade and sell it for a third of the price.

Some of these dupes are completely identical, while others have little differences. I’m not a huge dupe Nazi where everything has to match perfectly, I figure if I can’t tell the difference without zooming in or staring for a while, it’s good enough.

Regardless, I tried to choose the best and closest dupes possible, at the cheapest prices. I also tried not to include any limited edition or discontinued products, as that doesn’t help anyone.

I’ll be starting with my favorite, the nail polishes!

See what I mean? Claire’s didn’t even try to pretend that they weren’t copying DL’s polish, and I love them so much for that.

If you know of any better dupes than the ones listed, definitely let me know in the comments!

An Ode to TV

In Charlie and the Cholocate Factory (or Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, depending on whether you watched or read it,), when Mike Teavee shrinks into the TV and is carted away to be stretched out like taffy, we’re told he’s being punished for watching too much TV and letting his brain rot.

But what if instead of his dumb westerns, Mike had discovered Breaking Bad on Netflix and feverishly made his way through the seasons to find out where Walt and Jesse end up? or if he sat in silence as Don Draper’s profound sadness unfolded in front of him every Sunday as he barely touched those gross TV dinners his mom brought him? I think Mr. Wonka would have been much more understanding of Mike’s situation. Mike Teavee wasn’t punished for loving TV! he was punished for watching bad shows.

mike-teavee

This is all a huge preamble to what I really want to say, which is that I LOVE TV.

I love TV the way other people love food and chocolates.

The only thing I love more than TV is books. And honestly, some days they’re sort of tied. (“BLASPHEMY!” cried my diploma, “shut up, you can’t even get me a job,” I replied.)

Before I go on, let me point out that I do NOT watch bad TV. I don’t watch reality shows of any kind, I don’t care about these housewife losers and their frozen faces, I don’t care about singing or dancing people, and I certainly don’t care to watch Coral and JT battle it out on the Real World 89th Challenge Cup of Glory Competition.

Good Lord! does anyone even realize that JT has been drunkenly shouting at us for like a decade now? Seriously, is that his actual job?

With that being said, I will give any scripted show a chance, so long as it’s not a police or medical procedural, or a sitcom (those are just as worthless as reality TV.)

This is how deep my TV obsession runs:

  • I made a list on Evernote of all the TV shows I have to set up to record on my DVR.
  • It’s in date order of when they will air.
  • I’ve checked them off as I record the pilots.
  • I do this every fall and every spring when the new shows start.
  • I’m not even ashamed.

Other people marvel at the fact that I seem totally normal and like I have an actual life, and yet I manage to watch more TV than a 7 year old during summer break. If I could find a way to get paid for watching a TV show and stalking its IMDB board immediately after, I’d be set for life. Is that a thing? Can I be a professional IMDB non-participating forum reader?

Lucky for me, TV is heading in a really amazing direction. Thanks to the horrible economy, movie studios aren’t willing to produce anything that isn’t a remake or a comic book franchise, which means all the great ideas end up in TV. And now that actors are finally starting to realize they can have a stable and enormous career in TV, they’re slowly making their way over to cable.

If you’re tired of everyone talking about “The Red Wedding” episode, or saying “I am the one who knocks,” while you look on in confusion, do yourself a favor and turn on your TV.

Nobody is going to send you to the taffy room, they’re all too busy reading the captions on Sherlock, hoping to catch every witty thing Benedict Cumberbatch says.

Sad Sack Robots: Is It Ok To Be Sad?

I think everybody needs to take a few minutes and cry. Seriously, just go in your room and cry for a while.

no?

Why can’t people be sad anymore? Why is being sad looked at as a horrible disease we must all avoid?

I’m not talking about clinical depression, which actually is an illness, or about suicidal thoughts; these are serious instances that require professional help and are not to be taken lightly.

I’m talking about just plain old moments of temporary sadness; sad that you got dumped, disappointed because you can’t find a job, defeated because things just aren’t what you thought they would be.

Every day, I’m accosted by inspirational pictures on Instagram and cheery statuses on Facebook, and my inner Daria just cannot bear it.

daria-room

Why do I have to believe in myself all the time?! Sometimes I suck and make bad decisions. Why can’t I be sad about my hundreds of unanswered job applications? Sure, there might be something better out there for me, but in the meantime, THIS BLOWS, and I want to be able to be sad about it.

And yes, it’s important to know when to stop wallowing and just move along, but how is anyone supposed to learn how to do that if they’re never allowed to explore their grief? More importantly, why is everyone so afraid to fall into their sadness and let it engulf them for a while? Sometimes you have to do that, you have to feel your feelings, all of them, no matter how ugly they are.

That’s why perpetually happy people often seem so phony; because instinctively, we all know there’s a huge spectrum of feelings they must be ignoring in order to be that way. And I understand not wanting to walk around whining and crying to everyone about their difficulties, that’s just common courtesy, but why fake the happiness they don’t feel? Why not just NOT say anything at all until it’s genuinely felt?First British Edition

I get called a robot because I see things for what they are and have no problem acknowledging  it, but that’s not being a robot. Being a robot is pretending to have feelings when they’re not really there.

*Nerd alert! Just ask Philip K. Dick, he’ll tell you all about the Nexus-6 androids and how they feign emotion to pass as human.*

I feel my feelings; I feel the good ones, and the bad ones. I have days of despair and disappointment, and I have days of success and joy. I don’t ignore my bad feelings, even when they seem to be more prevalent and frequent. I confront the sadness, I explore it and try to understand it, and then I decide whether or not I can get rid of it. And if I find that I can’t, if it’s out of my control because I can’t hire myself or make the people around me stop being awful, I move on. If and when the sadness returns, I repeat the process. I repeat it as many times as necessary, and I don’t need to hide it or lie and pretend otherwise.

So, put down the self-help and the sunshine, and stop going on the Quote boards on Pinterest for a while, and just be. Be whatever it is you are, be it for a while.

The darkness is necessary if you want to be a whole person.

e.l.f. Studio HD Blush Swatches & Review

These blushes haunted me for years before I was finally able to buy them. The colors look so beautiful and bright, and the quality is said to be ridiculously great. Also, they’re THREE DOLLARS.

I finally bought two of them during one of e.l.f.’s many sales, and I was not disappointed in the least

e.l.f. HD Blush

Encore and Showstopper

The packaging looks very nice, but I don’t love the pump design. Sometimes the pump gets stuck and I have to press down on it hard, and I end up with way too much product. I hate pumps in general, but I think it’s extra inconvenient for this product.

The stupid pump

The two colors I own are super pigmented. They may actually be a bit too pigmented, especially for anyone who isn’t too familiar with blending. If not used correctly, you run the risk of looking like a creepy marionette (like the Saw puppet.)

A tip for blending: I find that mixing in a little moisturizer makes the process much smoother.

Because they’re so pigmented, they’re also extremely long lasting; I’m talking about all day, all night, and next day. They’re probably the best blushes I own in terms of longevity.

Without Flash

Encore: Hot pink, and not nearly as scary as it looks in the bottle. With enough blending you can work this into a really pretty bright pink.

Showstopper: Dark Plum. If you have dark skin, you need this color NOW. Sometimes blush disappears into darker skin tones, but this one definitely won’t!

With Flash

I actually think both of these shades are great for darker skin because they’re bright enough to show up. If you’ve had trouble with blush before, give these a try.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils Swatches & Review

I feel about NYX Products the way I feel about Stephen King books; some are amazing classics (Carrie!) and they belong on every top ten list in the world, but sometimes they can be so underwhelming that I weep for the wasted potential. Seriously, has anyone read Blaze? That book was just…ugh.

Anyway, these Jumbo Eye Pencils fall somewhere in between Carrie and Blaze. They’re a cross between an eye liner and a cream shadow, and I think they would be really amazing if the formula was just a tiny bit better.

They’re surprisingly versatile, and I can see how they would be useful to own, but I don’t think any are super essential. If you’re not someone who likes to play around with makeup, and you’re just looking for the basics, don’t even bother.

L TO R: Purple Velvet, Sparkle Nude, Sparkle Leopard,Pure Gold, French Fries, Iced Mocha, Yogurt, Milk

Cons:

  • They tend to crease A LOT. I don’t even have oily skin, and they crease within the hour.
  • Using them with primer helps, but it doesn’t make a huge difference.
  • They seem like they’d be awkward to sharpen, but I’ve yet to try, so don’t take my word for it.

Pros:

  • They’re great for lazy days when you just want one lid color.
  • They look good under (and over!) shadows.
  • The colors themselves are really vibrant and beautiful.

 Purple Velvet, Sparkle Nude, Sparkle Leopard

L to R: Purple Velvet, Sparkle Nude, Sparkle Leopard

Purple Velvet- Good pigmentation, makes lighter purple shadows pop.

Sparkle Nude- You can’t see it in the picture, but there are bits of silver glitter in this. I use this as an all over color when I just can’t muster the energy for a whole look.

Sparkle Leopard- A sort of glittery copper. The glitter isn’t too bad, and the color is really nice.

Pure Gold, French Fries, Iced Mocha

Lto R: Pure Gold, French Fries, Iced Mocha

Pure Gold- A standard Gold.

French  Fries- Dark brown. Basically everyone’s favorite, including my own.

Iced Mocha- A nice taupe. This looks great with WnW’s Single Shadow in “Nutty.”

Yogurt, Milk

Yogurt- This is pretty much Sparkle Nude without the glitter. It’s great as a highlighter for your brow bone and the inner corner of your eye.

Milk- A lot of people like to use this as a primer, but I think there are better options out there, even at the drugstore level. This made my eyeshadow crease too much to be a good primer.

The standout colors for me are Sparkle Leopard, French Fries and Yogurt. If you want to try a few just to see what they’re like, any of those three would be a good option.

I bought all of these on sale at CherryCulture.com, and when the Sears near me got rid of their makeup department and had like 80% off on everything. I don’t think I would pay full price for them, but many people swear by these, so they’re worth a try.

Grateful #2

I have a tedious job that is eating my soul one “project” at a time, a college degree in a defunct industry, I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes and literally had 4 responses (all of which were hilariously bad,) my car shakes uncontrollably if I go over 50mph, and I will probably live with my parents for the next decade. However, I’ve decided that in the spirit of not killing myself with cynicism, I should acknowledge the things in my life that are pretty great (which I suspect are actually many.)

Today’s thing I’m thankful for:

Zuzka Light

If you have a Pinterest account, chances are you’ve already met Zuzka Light. She’s the one behind those 12 minute workout videos that everyone pins and re-pins with no intentions of ever actually doing. The ones that claim to get you ripped even though you’re never doing more than a half hour’s worth of work.

No idea? Let me make it easier for you, she’s the one in the tiny little sports bras posing very provocatively next to a balance ball or some weird contraption that looks like a walker.

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This isn’t Photoshopped, she looks like this in real life

Now that half of you know who I’m talking about, it’s time to introduce the other half to the best thing that ever happened to my abs.

Zuzka Light is one of the most popular YouTube fitness trainers. She started out as Zuzana, with Bodyrock.tv, developing high intensity workouts designed to destroy your muscles and burpee you to death in no more than 20 minutes at a time.

But then, some pretty intense workout drama went on, and she left Bodyrock to make her own YouTube channel: Zuzka Light.

The infomercial-like claims about getting you an amazing body from exercising just a few minutes a day is 100% true, by the way. But only because in the 12-30 minutes you spend working out, you’re expected to kill yourself and do things you’d never though a human could actually do.

For example: Dive bomber push-ups, one legged burpees, and man makers.  You’ll either run scared back to your Zumba class (I’m not apologizing for that, Zumba is so irrelevant,) or your interest will be peaked.

I’ve been doing her workouts for almost a year, and my body has completely transformed. Sometimes, when I’m talking to someone, I’ll catch my reflection and see my arms, and I can’t even believe they’re mine. Not to mention my abs, which you can use to grate cheese. I’m not even being vain…

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Ok, I’m being vain, but I look great!

The best part, though, isn’t how I look but how I FEEL. Not like, emotionally, calm down, this isn’t Oprah.

What I mean is, I can actually feel myself getting stronger. When I first started, I could barely do one round of her workouts, and it would take me an hour because I had to stop for breathing breaks. Now, I can do most workouts in full, in less than a half hour! I still have a long way to go, and there are some that even now, I just cannot finish (#57 HAUNTS ME,) but I’m getting there.

You can access her videos from her YouTube channel, her website, or from this amazingly convenient list one of her followers made. I like the list better because it lists the workouts that require equipment and it also has her old Bodyrock videos (some of which are really great.)

Speaking of equipment, that walker thing is called an equalizer, and it’s pretty expensive. Since I’m poor, I use an actual walker I found at Goodwill.

Speaking of being poor, my new muscles cost me a $12 mat and a set of $20 dumbbells.

The gym can  kiss my triceps.