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.

i need hair help!

I’ve had sweepy side bangs for a year. And now, ladies and gents, I’m ready to go all in (and finally forget the thick, cowlicky mess I rocked in 1997). The last time I had bangs, I heavily relied on butterfly clips, so I’m going to need some help in the hair department. Justine utilizes the blogosphere to combat hair woes + has inpsired me to do the same, especially when it comes to achieving the thick, straight-across fringe I’m stressing about dreaming of. But before I post on stresses about my future tresses (see what I did there?), here’s a glimpse into my year of half-bangs. What do you think? Does any of this give any clues as to how to procure the perfect cut for summer 2012? Help?!

  1. When: February 2011. Where: Spoken fundraiser show. Color: Dark Auburn. Bangs: Short, thin fringe. They always got piecey in a weird spot — see photo.
  2. When: April 2011. Where: My baby shower. Color: Dark Auburn — lightened from the sun. Bangs: Thicker and fuller, fairly styled.
  3. When: June 2011. Where: Ashley’s wedding. Color: Lighter Auburn. Bangs: Very thick, blown out + styled.
  4. When: August 2011. Where: Lagos, Nigeria. Color: Light brown with thin ombre highlights (Hard to tell in the pic.) I loved them. Go to Amber and have them done. Now. Bangs: Growing out, parted to include layers for a look of thicker bangs.
  5. When: September 2011. Where: Family pics. Color: Light brown with thin ombre highlights. Bangs: Side-sweep, trimmed + styled.
  6. When: October 2011. Color: Ombre highlights growing out, looking more golden. Hair lighter from sun.
  7. When: November 2011. Color: Looking even more golden, longer, roots darker. 
  8. When: December 2011. Where: Natalie’s wedding. Color: Highlights getting to the point that bangs are barely colored. Parted far to the side for a sweeping look to accompany a twisted up-do.
  9. When: Today! Color: I recently did an at-home cool, medium brown color to get rid of the brass. Bangs are growing out.