how to get the perfect bun + apply eyeshadow without looking like a clown

There are two things that make a cold, dreary day a little happier: frivolous pretty things, and free things. I hit the jackpot with free frivolous pretty things! (Thanks, Influenster.)

Today, for your reading pleasure, I review two of the fun items in my Beauty Vox Box.

1. Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins

What it is: Two metal springs that keep your hair in a bun, sans hair ties or bobby pins.

First thoughts: Cute idea, but totally not going to work in my layered, fairly thick hair.

How it works: Twirl your hair into a bun, then twist the pins into your hair. Done.

Tips: In the photo, I’m rocking a side bun. (For some reason I dubious about wearing a bun that I can’t see from the front. It feels like I have no hair. Is anyone else this neurotic?) The side bun didn’t hold up throughout the day, but I think that’s due to layers and running errands in the wind. To get my hair out of my face, I pulled my hair into a higher top knot, which stayed in place post-nap and into the evening.

The verdict: It took a couple tries, but it was a success! Perfect for achieving a pulled-together look in about a minute. I look forward to playing with the pins in the future for different looks. I’d rate the pins a B+. They’re $7.29 at your local store.

2. NYC New York Color IndividualEyes Custom Compact

What it is: Eyeshadow compact with four eyeshadows, one illuminator and one primer.

First thoughts: This stuff is cheap and isn’t going to stick!

Tips: I received the compact with a black/gray color palette. While I normally wear black eyeliner and mascara, I stick with easily blended neutral shadows. The first time I attempted a smokey eye with this compact, it was disastrous. I seriously looked like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Yikes. It came off easily, thankfully. Don’t put these on heavy handed! The next time I applied, I stuck witha light gray and a tiny dab of black smudged in the corner of my eye. Much better. I wore with Lancome eyeliner and Clinique mascara.

The verdict: For $5, it would be a fun way to add a little drama to your makeup bag. I really like the primer (it helps the shadow stay), and the gray is good for blending. The silver highlighter is a little too middle school for me, and it’s easy to go overboard and end up looking like a Kardashian after a long night out. I’d try it again in a more neutral color palette — the shadow is pretty pigmented, which isn’t always the case when it comes to drugstore makeup. Still, I think quality over quantity applies, which means I’ll probably spend a little more for one shadow and less chemicals rather than less for more shadows and more chemicals. I’d rate it a B-. It goes for $4.99 at most chain retailers.

My 7 Summer Essentials:
My Mother’s Day gift from the boys was something I’ve been pining over ever since I saw the infomercial: Bare Minerals foundation starter kit! Before this, I wore the cheapest-of-cheap drugstore makeup that I think most women stop subjecting their skin to when they turn 12. I love that the light, airy powder foundation lets my skin breathe. It’s perfect for summer, and the no parabens or phtalates is a huge plus. PS: The primer is awesome for helping the powder stay. I think I’m hooked!
Sunglasses from the Jersey Shore. I am not kidding. They were $6 on the Atlantic City boardwalk. I usually go with the big Jackie-O shades, but these are fun and quirky and plastic and perfect for going to the wading pool with Joseph.
In my attempt to start buying less-chemical-laden cosmetics, my latest Target trip landed me with Burt’s Bees Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash. The lather is so-so and the exfoliation is kind of weak, but it smells pretty and has lasted me a long time, and of course, it’s free of parabens, phthalates and petrochemicals.
OK, clearly this nail color isn’t derived from natural ingredients. But the pretty magenta is so perfect for a warm-weather pedi, and Essie means it’ll last a full week on my hands without chipping, which is pretty miraculous. The color is “Big Spender” but you can nab it at Target or Wal-Mart for around $7.
I’ve heard rave reviews of Born shoes, but I thought comfortable = ugly, until I happened upon these sandals at Marshall’s. Since I’m outside or on-the-go all day with an almost-two-year-old, my feet were starting to hurt in my $2 Old Navy flip-flops. These provide pillowy-goodness for my high arches and the aqua color is super perfect, especially against a summer glow.
Everyone knows that makeup is fun, but it’s important to wash your face at the end of the day. And then you moisturize. Except for me, because I’m historically lazy and cheap low maintenance when it comes to a beauty regiment. These Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes are a good cure-all for lazy ladies like me — they remove makeup and moisturize with one a few quick swipes, and a month’s supply is less than $10. Plus, the wipes are derived from 99 percent natural ingredients.
I’ve been curious to see if Gud, the Burt’s Bees scented offshoot, is actually, well, good. When a coupon came my way, I opted for the Vanilla Flame scented body lotion. You guys, it just smells like summer. It brings me back to my life-guarding days. And it works well enough to moisturize my dark-skinned son, which earns it some major kudos. 
So, tell me: What are YOUR girlie, kind-of-unnecessary essentials for this summer? And where I can score a good deal on them? ;) High-res

My 7 Summer Essentials:

  1. My Mother’s Day gift from the boys was something I’ve been pining over ever since I saw the infomercial: Bare Minerals foundation starter kit! Before this, I wore the cheapest-of-cheap drugstore makeup that I think most women stop subjecting their skin to when they turn 12. I love that the light, airy powder foundation lets my skin breathe. It’s perfect for summer, and the no parabens or phtalates is a huge plus. PS: The primer is awesome for helping the powder stay. I think I’m hooked!
  2. Sunglasses from the Jersey Shore. I am not kidding. They were $6 on the Atlantic City boardwalk. I usually go with the big Jackie-O shades, but these are fun and quirky and plastic and perfect for going to the wading pool with Joseph.
  3. In my attempt to start buying less-chemical-laden cosmetics, my latest Target trip landed me with Burt’s Bees Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash. The lather is so-so and the exfoliation is kind of weak, but it smells pretty and has lasted me a long time, and of course, it’s free of parabens, phthalates and petrochemicals.
  4. OK, clearly this nail color isn’t derived from natural ingredients. But the pretty magenta is so perfect for a warm-weather pedi, and Essie means it’ll last a full week on my hands without chipping, which is pretty miraculous. The color is “Big Spender” but you can nab it at Target or Wal-Mart for around $7.
  5. I’ve heard rave reviews of Born shoes, but I thought comfortable = ugly, until I happened upon these sandals at Marshall’s. Since I’m outside or on-the-go all day with an almost-two-year-old, my feet were starting to hurt in my $2 Old Navy flip-flops. These provide pillowy-goodness for my high arches and the aqua color is super perfect, especially against a summer glow.
  6. Everyone knows that makeup is fun, but it’s important to wash your face at the end of the day. And then you moisturize. Except for me, because I’m historically lazy and cheap low maintenance when it comes to a beauty regiment. These Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes are a good cure-all for lazy ladies like me — they remove makeup and moisturize with one a few quick swipes, and a month’s supply is less than $10. Plus, the wipes are derived from 99 percent natural ingredients.
  7. I’ve been curious to see if Gud, the Burt’s Bees scented offshoot, is actually, well, good. When a coupon came my way, I opted for the Vanilla Flame scented body lotion. You guys, it just smells like summer. It brings me back to my life-guarding days. And it works well enough to moisturize my dark-skinned son, which earns it some major kudos. 

So, tell me: What are YOUR girlie, kind-of-unnecessary essentials for this summer? And where I can score a good deal on them? ;)

"I do not mind telling you that within me I find the Easter message and the reality of the Resurrection more beautiful and glorious than the Christmas scene. Christmas tells us that Jesus was born; that He was born for the humiliation of suffering and death and atonement. But Easter is the radiant and glory-filled celebration of Christ’s mighty triumph over the grave and death and hell!

When Easter comes, our voices are raised in the triumphant chorus: The three sad days had quickly sped; He rises glorious from the dead! There is the real beauty! This is more than the beauty of color; more than the beauty of outline or form; more than the beauty of physical proportion. In the living Christ is the perfection of all beauty; and because He lives, we too shall live in the presence of His beauty and the beauties of heaven, forever!”

A.W. Tozer, via oh, hello friend.

thoughts on princess hair.

A friend recently recounted her experience at a salon. The story, which is copied from an e-mail, is too sweet not to share. :)

The mom was a Nordic redhead, and the daughter was totally adorable, clearly “biracial,” and about 8 years old. Mom is getting married tomorrow, and the hair stylist was working to make young Emma look like the princess she is. I listened while they all came to an agreement about where to part her hair, how to style it, and which barrettes to use.
The result? Oh, I wish I had a picture, because she looked so darling! I asked for mom’s and daughter’s permission and peeked at last to see sweet braids framing her face like a tiara, and a fluffy, bouncy gathered ‘fro in the back.
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, and turned totally bubbly. She has great hair and looks like a princess, and I told her so. Then, I grinned at her mom, and was reminded of how important these things are to little girls, and the image issues we all have, because mom looked almost tearful and mouthed a warm “thank you."
Soooooooooo pretty! Little Emma practically floated out the door on a magic carpet of confidence & beauty that echoed her spirit. God forbid she should find her full identity in things like this, but all the same, she’s precious in God’s sight, body and soul.

[Note: The photo is just from a quick search via Google images. Taken from this blog.]