Friday, October 1, 2010

Five of my favorite drugstore cosmetics

Hi, my name is Rachael Ariella, & I am a total makeup addict.  I have a problem.  I stay up late reading beauty blogs & fantasizing about Urban Decay eyeshadows.  I spend hours loitering in Sephora, much to the annoyance of the salespeople.  I watch hour after hour of makeup tutorials on youtube.  I practice my smokey eyes all evening long until my eyes are red.  I organize & re-organize my makeup boxes.  I go to craft stores just looking for artists' brushes that could be used for makeup.  Like I said, it's a problem...a problem because I can't afford all the makeup I wish I had!

When it comes to cosmetics, I think the saying "You get what you pay for" tends to be true.  I've usually found it to be the case that higher priced makeup is of better quality.  But I'm not rich, which is why I'm always so thrilled when I find some cheap (relatively) but good stuff at a drugstore.  So what follows is a list of some of my favorite cheap buys in makeup.

1.  Covergirl Eye Enhancers eyeshadow
I have a ton of these eyeshadows in my makeup box, & I love them.  They come in a really good range of neutral and wilder colors, & the pigmentation is really pretty good.  They have decent staying power & actually blend nicely, something I haven't always found to be the case with cheaper eyeshadows.  They really come alive though when you get them wet.  I use them all the time instead of colored liner, & they work really well that way.  The color gets really rich & vibrant when you apply it wet, & they are pretty long-lasting too.  It's also really nice that they come in a one-color package.  There's also three & four color sets, but I hate having to buy three colors I hate for just one that I want.  The singles are a good size, & I feel like I'm getting a lot of product for my money. 

2.  Rimmel Soft Kohl liner
I really like this liner for a basic black kohl.  I had gotten some of Rimmel's Exaggerate liner (in Noir) before & it was okay.  It seemed decent when I first put it on but the more I used it the less satisfied I was.  It didn't go on that smoothly & it didn't stay on my waterline for very long at all, but I kept using it because it was the only black liner I had.  Eventually I ran out, & when I went to buy some more I picked up the Soft Kohl by accident.  I was a little mad when I got home & saw that it was a normal pencil that had to be sharpened (I'm lazy), but it is SO much better than the other liner.  It goes on much more easily, it stays on longer, and the colors are richer.  The one thing I do miss from the Exaggerate liner are these little nubby things on the end that are meant for smudging, but I still have a few of them laying around so I just use them with the Soft Kohl (they always fall off the end of the pencil anyway!)  It doesn't come in particularly exciting colors but they have the basics covered. 

3.  Maybelline The Falsies mascara
I'm going to complain about something that I have no business complaining about now:  I have great eyelashes.  They're long, thick, dark, & curl just right.  I often forget mascara because it looks like I'm always wearing it (actually I can't wear it at all on my lower lashes or I look crazy).  What this means, however, is that a lot of mascara does absolutely nothing for me.  When my friends put on mascara they suddenly look totally different, when I put it on there's hardly any change.  & I get tired of looking at my own natural eyelashes!  I want something for the times that I want to look really put-together.  This mascara does that for me.  I had been using Covergirl Lashblast which I still think is a pretty good mascara, but The Falsies does that little bit more.  It really does make my lashes seem extra long and thick, & really, truly black.  The waterproof version doesn't smudge through the day (although it is a little hard to get off at night).  It has this weird curved brush, which I don't really know how to use (I put it on with the outside of the curve pointing up, is that right?) but it works.

4.  Ecotools brushes
Good brushes are super-important for putting on makeup, & these are really good, really inexpensive brushes!  Although it's true that you can just use artists' brushes that come in every shape and size, generally at much lower cost that makeup brushes, Ecotools just feel so nice and soft.  They also seem to be really durable.  I have a set like the one above that has gone through a few cross-country and trans-atlantic journeys with me & is still in almost perfect condition.  I can't think of anything bad about these brushes at all, I love them!  The only problem I've had is finding anything but the set in the picture...although I'm drooling over the kabuki brush that they make (mine is Smashbox and is really rough and scratchy).

5.  Covergirl Outlast, Maybelline Colorsensational, and Revlon Just Bitten lip stains

I was a little hesitant to include these because I've seen them look really terrible on some people.  I'll start out with how well they can work.  My lips are naturally pretty red so a lot of lipstick looks weird on me, & I hate the feeling of wearing lipstick anyway.  I can barely handle lip balm.  So I really like these lipstains.  They add just a little extra color to my lips without being too dramatic, & it feels like I have nothing on at all.  The one downside is that they are a bit drying.  The Revlon version comes with a little pitiful bit of lip balm, but I just put my favorite balm on over the stain.  The color doesn't last for ages, but nor does it leave waxy red marks on every glass & napkin you use.  Overall I like these, & I think all three are of about equal quality.  They all have a similar sweet smell & taste, which I like but might be off-putting to some. 

Here's how bad they can be.  My mother bought one of the Maybelline ones on my recommendation, and it was awful.  For reasons neither of us can understand, parts of her lips would just not take color, and other parts were garishly bright.  The color also ran a bit into the lines around her lips (although not as much as we thought it might).  But she looked crazy, like she got really drunk and smeared lipstick all over herself.  The product is completely unwearable for her.  I've heard similar stories from other people, or that it wears off unevenly so that they end up looking like a clown.  I suspect that it might have something to do with how smooth or dry your lips are.  In the end, if this stuff works on your lips it can be really great, if not it can be a disaster.  I have a few colors of all three brands and I like them, but try them at your own risk!

Honorable mention: eye drops
While not strictly a cosmetic product, I could not live without eyedrops.  I don't often put them in my eyes, though.  Instead I use them to make longer-lasting eyeshadows and eyeliners.  Yes, water works fine too, but I carry a bottle of eyedrops for any time that I can't just use the sink (I also have this fantasy that the eyedrops make the makeup stay on even longer but I don't know if that is really true).  I assume most people know how this works, but you get your brush wet with a drop or two and dip it into your eyeshadow and line away, or apply it for brighter color with more staying power.  You can get (expensive) purpose-made "eyeshadow extenders" but eyedrops are a few dollars for a bottle and you can also use them when your allergies act up.  I consider this an essential.

What about you?  Have you found any awesome products for cheap?

Friday, September 24, 2010


This article at Single Dad Laughing is really, really amazing.  The desire to appear perfect all the time is something that I struggle with all of the time.  I've come to understand that all it does is make life harder for you & alienates you from other people, because you can't be your wonderful, imperfect self with them.  I've been so worried about appearing perfect at times that it paralyzes me, & I can't tell even the people I love the most what's wrong or ask for help, because I'm afraid of looking weak & exposing my flaws.  It's no way to live!

It's so much easier to own up to your weaknesses & address them, which allows you to begin to let them go.  & it really is easier...keeping your worries & fears pent up all the time is exhausting!  The stress of it all takes a toll on you emotionally & physically.  & really, no one expects you to be perfect, & you're not fooling anyone when you try to seem that way!  Just let go & you will learn how much happier you can be when you are true to yourself.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the importance of being well-heeled


I love shoes of all kinds, but heels have a very special place in my heart. For most of my teenage years I eschewed them entirely, preferring the comfort of flip-flops and sneakers. Even then, however, they held a certain fascination for me. A pair of stiletto-heeled hiking boots lurked at the back of my closet (& they were fabulous, even though I hardly wore them!). Part of my reluctance to wear high heels came from insecurity about my considerable height (5'11") and size 11 feet (those fab shoes were too small & uncomfortable!). Once I grew up a bit & developed an unembarrassed interest in fashion, I went heel-crazy. I started buying up all the size 10's that I could squeeze my feet into. I still didn't wear them that often (they didn't really fit) but I was accumulating more and more of them. Then, all of a sudden, one slushy day I realized that I'd made it through most of the winter without once putting on my winter boots.

At first, I felt a little silly while I changed out of my four-inch patent black pumps & into my absolutely hideous boots and shoveled my front porch. But then, I stopped feeling silly, & started feeling proud. While everyone else had given up & retreated into knee-high, flat, rubber-soled boots, I had continued to strut down the icy streets like they were a catwalk, turning heads while my own was held high.

& that's what high heels are to me. They make me stand up straight & feel proud & confident even when I'm doing something foolish. They make me want to strut up & down the hall in front of a mirror, admiring my own legs. When I wear heels I feel like I am the center of attention, like I am powerful.

This is why every girl should have a pair of absolutely fabulous sky-high heels! For a girl who forgets how wonderful & beautiful she really is, a pair of heels reminds her how it feels to be confident. The next step (sorry about the pun) is to feel that way every hour of every day, even when you are shoveling snow in your heinous rubber boots!

So what do you do if you don't own a single pair of heels, or a few pairs that you just never wear? You don't have to suddenly start wearing four-inch heels all day, every day. In fact, you shouldn't, because you can end up doing damage to your feet, particularly your toes & Achilles' tendon. For every hour you spend in heels, you should spend at least another hour flat-footed.  Usually I just go barefoot when I'm at home!

The thing to do is to go hunting for your perfect pair of shoes! There are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you've never bought heels before.

by Peep Toe Shoes

The first thing you should be concerned with is fit. No matter how gorgeous a pair of shoes is, no matter how great they make you feel when you first put them on, if you end up with sore feet all you will feel at the end of the night is regret! & we all want to live with no regrets, right? I had a pair of gorgeous shoes that made me feel awesome & got tons of attention, but once after wearing them for a whole day I ended up with nerve damage that kept me from feeling my toes for two months! The compliments were not worth the pain! Uncomfortable is one thing, painful is another, & don't forget to be kind to your feet, because they carry you all day long while you run around living your fabulous life!

Here are some really good tips for when and how to shop for heels!  And in case you are afraid that you won't be able to walk in your heels, take a look at this! (And listen to her advice about not driving in heels!  It is a terrible idea!)

The next thing to consider is how much you really, truly love those shoes! Don't buy a pair of black pumps just because you know they'll go with everything and boys like them (even though it is important to have a good pair in your wardrobe eventually!). Don't buy a pair of military style boots just because they're in Cosmo! Find shoes that you, YOU, not your boyfriend or your mom, are completely & madly it-must-be-fate in love with! It doesn't matter if they're navy blue with bows or hot pink with straps and studs! The practical, wear-them-every-day shoes can wait, what you need right now is a pair that makes you feel like a million bucks.

Marie Antoinette-inspired shoes by Christian Louboutin

& that's the third point. Even if when you look at them they are the cutest, most to-die-for things you have ever seen, if you put them on & suddenly feel like you could never, ever face the world in these shoes, then put them right back on the shelf! (Or you could buy them & make them into an awesome art piece) The point of this whole exercise is to find a pair of shoes that make you feel like you can take on the world, not ones that make you feel like you have to hide from it.  If that means you buy the itty bitty kitten heels instead of the crazy platforms, that's perfectly okay!

The aim here is really to find a pair of shoes that is completely & totally you. They should reflect your personal quirks & more importantly, when you wear them you should feel the way you want to feel all the time! So go find your perfect pair, and then wear them in, wear them out, wear them while you dance in front of your mirror & wear them for first dates! Revel in the feeling they give you and try to capture that feeling all of the time!

So tell me, what do your favorite pair of heels look like? What about your first ever pair?

Love <3