Monday, December 31, 2012

Old Year, New Blog (December Favorites!)

With 2013 less than two hours away, I thought it was appropriate for the blog I've been meaning to start since November to go live tonight.  Like most people, I have opinions about anything and everything under the sun. My opinions are no more valid than anyone else's, but maybe, just maybe, they'll be helpful to someone.

I have generous friends and family who supply me with amazing beauty, skincare, and fashion items. I'm also fortunate enough to receive products for review, and each review I post will contain my honest opinion. I'm a fan of full disclosure; if I've received something as a gift or to test, I'll mark it with an asterisk. (And since this is the holiday season, there will be quite a few of those coming up.)

I'd like to kick off my blog/end 2012 on a positive note by talking about a few things I've really enjoyed in December. There are a few random things, but they're primarily skincare/makeup/fashion. In no particular order:

1.) Yankee Candle in Red Velvet. This smells divine. It doesn't smell exactly like red velvet cake (which is probably a good thing since red velvet is my favorite, and it never fails to make me hungry), but it has a rich, vanilla-y scent that fills the room with warmth without being overpowering.

2.)  Nars Sheer Matte in Siberia 01.* Finally! A foundation that's not too dark for my skin! As one might imagine given the name, Siberia is one of the palest foundation shades known to man. It's the first foundation I've tried that blended into my skin without looking too yellow, too pink, or too dark. My skin is sensitive (I have rosacea) and incredibly oily in places, and this didn't break me out, plus it kept the shine at bay. My only complaint: there's no pump. You can buy one separately, but that's a pain. Hey, Nars, why not include the pump?

3.)  Redken Color Extend Shampoo & Conditioner.* We've all heard of peaches and cream. My natural hair color is "strawberries and gray," so I dye it a deeper shade of red. To keep my hair Julianne Moore-bright, I normally use the Organix Brazilian Keratin range, which is sulfate-free. I wasn't impressed when I first received the Redken shampoo and conditioner; there were no claims of being sulfate and paraben free. And that's because, despite being sulfate free, it isn't paraben free. It also contains salicylic acid, benzyl alcohol, and a host of other ingredients I wouldn't think would benefit my hair. (For a full ingredient list, click here.) And yet... my color lasts longer. My hair feels softer. I would prefer to use a more natural shampoo, but I can't dispute the results.

4.)  Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Cleanser. The name is a mouthful; the effects are worth trying to say it five times fast. My skin reacts to most cleansers the way Gollum reacts to Bilbo ("We hates it forever!" Sorry, my not-so-inner nerd escaped for a minute.) As the weather gets colder and even my oily skin gets drier, I have to be even more careful than usual with what I put on my face. This cleanser washes off without a residue, doesn't leave the skin feeling dry, has never caused a breakout, and is gentle enough to remove eye makeup. The only downside is that you will need to pre-cleanse or double cleanse if you're wearing a full face of makeup.

5.) Nick and Nora Penguin Slippers.* These were a Christmas gift from my parents, and I love them! They're so adorable, comfortable, and they keep my toes toasty warm in spite of the dropping temperatures. I've even raced outside to take out the trash in these, though I wouldn't recommend wearing them on rough, gravelly driveways. The link is just for the sake of providing an image; they're no longer available at Target. Sorry!

6.) DV by Dolce Vita "Java" Boot in Black.* Another Christmas present, but these are not only still available, they're now on sale! I love boots. Cowboy boots. UGG boots. Dr. Martens. I just love boots. These were supposed to be a pair of plum UGGs. Close to one month after my order, a box arrived with these boots. I was so frustrated that I wanted to pull my hair out. On a whim, I tried them on and fell in love. They give me a much-needed height boost, and they're insanely warm and comfortable.

7.) Blue Fedora. Another item that's no longer available where I initially purchased it. Sorry, guys! I found mine at Forever 21. It's not online anymore, but maybe check the sales in-store. It's not as basic as black, and I love hats. They're a great way to add color and really define the style of an outfit.

8.) Starbucks Caramel Brûlée Latte. I don't even know how to express my love for this drink. I order mine with skim milk and no whipped cream (because I loathe whole milk and whipped cream; I wish I could claim it's for health reasons!), and it's one of the most delicious, Christmassy drinks I've ever had. It's reminiscent of eggnog in richness and texture. If they added this to their year-round menu, I would jump for joy.

9.) Essie Tea & Crumpets.* As a journalism student and freelance writer, I live on my computer. I also do a lot of laundry, the dishes, and I'm a frequent hand-washer. This shimmery, golden beige lasted on my nails (with a topcoat but no touchups) for a full week without chipping. It is worth mentioning that my nails are very short, but it's one of the longest lasting nail polishes I have ever used. I'm very impressed.

10.) Excedrin Migraine. Yes, you read that correctly. I suffer from migraines, and during the Great Excedrin Recall of 2012 (it was pulled off the market because a batch was contaminated with codeine), nothing I tried, not even prescription painkillers, was able to treat them the way this does. When I saw it in my local Publix, I literally wept with joy and snatched a 100 count bottle off the shelf chanting, "the precious!" (I seem to have a lot of Gollum moments, don't I?)

Well, that's it for now. I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!