Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beauty V/Blogger/Guru Spotlight: Post 2

Alright, here is numero dos in my series of spotlight posts on the beauty v/blogger/gurus I am just loving these days! For a small intro and to read up on my first spotlight pick, head on over to the first post!

Spotlight 2: Allison Anderson (Amarixe)

Allison is a beauty video creator, blogger, and photographer. She puts clear love and care into the photos on her blog and her undergrad studies in communications shine in all her work. She always includes a really nice mix of drugstore and high end products (though she's been leaning more high end lately), and her makeup style tends to be more neutral/natural than anything else. Additionally, she includes content on items beyond just makeup, including beauty things (like skincare and hair products), as well as fashion (just here and there), household wares (like candles), and various other "lifestyle favorites." As I've already pointed out in my first post, I'm not too adventurous when it comes to makeup, so it's nice to have someone discussing products that I am naturally drawn to anyway. Plus, everything else she includes almost always seem to be things I really enjoy or think I might like. We are just very similar, which makes watching her highly enjoyable (at least for me).

Out of all the beauty peeps I follow, I think Allison is closest to me "looks wise," (and in lots of other ways) though her coloring is warmer than mine (except for the eye department, where she leans cool, and I lean warm. D'oh!). She also used to comment that her skin was pretty dry, but I haven't heard her mention that lately (maybe because it's summer), and my skin definitely leans toward the parched end of the spectrum. Her hair is naturally closer to my color, and texture wise, it is also similar in that it is quite fine (though hers holds styling way better than mine does). I find it really helpful to follow people who are similar to myself in whatever ways I can find so I can get a better sense of how products might look on me, or how my skin may react to them given what I know about the person I am watching. It's like having someone try products out for me without me having to spend money on them. Winning!

Because of the clear work and effort Allison puts into her videos and posts, she doesn't crank content out like some other people. While I wish she made more videos (yeah...I have a problem), I would rather have fewer posts and videos that include amazing lighting, wonderful editing, gorgeous photos, and professional content than the other way around. I also can't think of a specific time when I remember a video clearly being sponsored, which I really really appreciate, as I lose confidence in opinions quickly when that starts to happen regularly. (Note: it's not that I don't want these ladies to be successful; it's great when this becomes more than a hobby for these guys! It just makes it difficult to know their true opinions on products because, while they always "give their real opinion," it's magical how sponsored products just always seem to be 100% perfectly awesome without a flaw in the world. Just my opinion.)

Allison is probably my favorite guru and blogger; she is always professional, but relatable, and she comes across as a genuinely caring, kind, and well-educated chick who you'd be friends with in real life. I was devastated to read her most recent blog post where she announced her heart breaking personal family situation. My stomach really felt like it dropped to my feet when I read the post. My heart goes out to her, her mother, and her whole family; I just can't imagine what they are going through right now. Please send some good vibes their way.

Like all my spotlight peeps, I totally recommend you check her out!

What about you? Who are you crushing on these days beauty v/blogger/guru wise?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting to Know my DSLR

Well, technically it's not mine...it's my boyfriend's. But anywho.

One of my goals for this year is to improve my photo skillz. Technology has made taking amazing photos more and more possible for the everyday public than ever before. And especially since we're in the digital world, there's no worry of wasting film, so you can screw up as many times as you want with no impact on your film stash or wallet. Score!

However, despite having potential to do awesome things, DSLR cameras are a bit...overwhelming. And while I usually am a manual girl, flipping through pages upon pages with no glossy photos to help me has proven to be ineffective for this particular venture. So I have been doing some online learnin'. And I thought I would share the most helpful resource I've found...and it may be as surprising for you as it was for me, because it's Ree Drummond. Yeah, like the woman on Food Network.

Ironically, she did not take that photo because she is in it. Moving on to her photos and helpful stuff...

It took me a while to find Ree's photography section on her website because it isn't prominent, which I still don't understand because it's AWESOMESAUCE (unintentional food pun). I'm guessing it's because she doesn't really write about photography too much anymore because she is super busy with her foodie life. However, it's still there, just not easy to find. On her website, if you scroll all the way to the bottom until you get to the tannish/yellow box, there is a column that says "PW Links." Click on "Pioneer Woman Photography," and you're there! Alternatively, you can use the Googlez, which is how I returned to this section repeatedly after finding it on Pinterest or some other blog...can't remember.

Ree's posts are awesome because they aren't too wordy or overly long, and they include pictures to break it up and demonstrate what she is talking about. Her writing style is easy and silly. The most helpful series I have found is her "What the Heck is an Aperture" series, which is a group of 4 blog posts that helped whip my brain back into shape after my high school photography class info turned to mush. I've also really enjoyed her post on Exposure Compensation, which I had never ever even heard of until I saw this post. Just these 5 blog posts have helped my photography skills take a ginormous leap forward in only a few days (but I mean...I'm no pro. Let's not get too serious here.) I totally recommend you check them out! Ree is the bomb dot com.


I'm hungry. Time for breakfast!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beauty V/Blogger/Guru Spotlight: Post 1

I have a problem. I'm addicted to beauty v/blogger/gurus.

Guys, it's bad. I know their posting schedules and get annoyed when I have no new vids to watch. I go through withdrawal when any of them go on a rare vacation. My boyfriend knows half of their names because I talk about them in real life. Also, they make me buy stuff.

When I discovered the beauty YouTube community, it was like eating cream cheese frosting by the bucket and never feeling sick or getting fat. Or like angels were all floating above my head singing Adam Lavigne songs and delivering puppies into my lap. I had no idea it was there, but once I found it, I couldn't stop watching.

In reality, it was this weird accident where I googled "smokey eye tutorial" and I randomly clicked on a video that led to another video...and another million more and I have been hooked ever since. Growing up in a family of sciency nerdos, my affection for makeup was not exactly...understood (read: my family thinks beauty products are for suckers). So I suddenly found a whole world of people who were into makeup, but were also normal everyday people like me. Like so many people in the YouTube community say, I just felt like I had a connection with these people, like I had found other "mes" out there. It was awesome.

Since then, I've refined my subscriptions and reading to people I like best. I mostly gravitate toward people who:

  • aren't (obviously) over sponsored
  • post regularly (and often, at least once a week)
  • often do reviews
  • provide a mix of everyday makeup with special occasion stuff sprinkled in
  • focus mostly on drugstore products
  • put real work and effort into their work

I'm not adventurous in my personal makeup (neutrals all the way, baby), but I am learning to appreciate more and more looks that are pushing out of my own comfort zone (I tried the orange lip and wore it out of the house for about 30 minutes the other day before wimping out and wiping it off--progress!). I lean more toward those who focus on drugstore products, as I am just not ready to make the plunge into regular high end purchases; however, I don't mind some references to pricy products, especially when compared to similar drugstore items. I also tend to be drawn to people who aren't super young (high schoolers tend to be too immature for my taste, which isn't meant to be insulting...but I mean, they're 10 years younger than I am and just into different things). I have also noticed that I've mostly become pickier with video quality, and I pretty clearly prefer those who film with high quality sound and cameras (from what I can tell, DSLRs), and who carefully edit their footage. Lighting quality is really important to me when I watch videos. In other words, I appreciate those who work hard and take their beauty venture seriously.

Personality-wise, I notice I'm more drawn to those with calmer, more easy-going, but happy personalities. I find it difficult to watch a lot of people long term who are overly bubbly, too energetic, or create crazy choppy videos, as it tends to be mentally tiring for me...it also usually reads as fake, in my opinion. It's just not my taste. But that's not to say it can't be yours! You should always watch/read/follow who YOU like! :)

So, without further ado, here is the first in a series of posts about beauty v/bloggers/gurus that I am just hearting so much right now!

Spotlight 1: Emily Eddington (emilynoel83/Beauty Broadcast)

Emily's smokey eye tutorial was the original video I found that fateful day back in 2008 when I was googling around for some help. I just love her. She recently(ish) left her news anchor position to be a full time YouTuber and blogger, and she makes. so. many. videos. Seriously guys. She posts a review of a new product every weekday on her Beauty Broadcast Express channel, in addition to tutorials on her original channel multiple times a week, PLUS blog posts pretty much every weekday. It's insane!

My favorite event on Emily's channel/blog is "The Emily Awards" that she does each January where she picks her favorite high end and drug store product in every makeup category you could possible want. I reference this list religiously. She breaks it down into multiple sectors (face, eyes, lips, etc.), and puts so much care and consideration into her picks. She even tracks how often a product has won over time (yeah, she's been doing it that long!). Her dupes are also THE BOMB DOT COM. Unlike most gurus who discuss what I consider to be "dupes" (in quotations because they are somewhat similar, but really not true duplicate products), Emily's choices are spot on. Everything needs to line up in her book: color, texture, wear time--they are true dupes.

I also really appreciate (and I hope that on the off chance that she ever sees this post that does not take offense to this) that Emily is older than a lot of the hip beautiful gurus in college who often seem to be successful purely based on their painfully good-looks only. Emily is the real deal, and from what I can tell has never accepted a sponsorship (though she often reviews products sent to her for free), so I really trust her opinions. I just love her to pieces! Also, we have the same name, soooo...bonus.

Like all my spotlight peep posts, I totally recommend you check her out!

What about you? Who are you crushing on these days beauty v/blogger/guru wise?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: Befine Exfoliating Cleanser

If you be looking for a serious physical exfoliator, have I found a scrub for you.

I've been using the Befine Exfoliating Cleanser for about a year on and off now. I ordered it online after doing some research for a new exfoliator that was well suited for dry and sensitive skin.

First off, let's take a moment to appreciate its simple packaging. The minimalist in me hearts this mucho. I no longer have the box it came in, but you can take my word on that being pretty and minimalist too (and cardboard for easy recycling). Why am I such a sucker for packaging? Marketing peeps must love consumers like me. But I digress.

Let's talk about this scrub. It comes in a 4 oz tube, which was enough for me to use once or twice a week for roughly a year, as I only used a little bit at a time (more on that in a minute). The smell isn't what I was expecting; I thought it would be sweet and sugary smelling, sort of like the vanilla scented sugar scrubs a la Bath and Body Works. It really doesn't have a sweet smell at all. It's more...earthy. It actually kind of reminds me of mushrooms with some herbs and a hint of lavender. That probably sounds horrendous, but it's really not that bad. Just don't expect sweet, because sweet it is not.

Now let's talk about texture. This is the. grittiest. scrub. ever. Like ever in the history of ever. When I read some reviews ahead of time and people commented on its scratchiness, I just thought, "Man, none of these people have ever used an exfoliator before. What a bunch of sissy-weenies!" But then I got it and when I smeared the first round on my face and went to work, I actually had to stop mid-wash to figure out what the heck was going on. This feels like sharp sandy bits scraping over your skin if you don't give the water a few seconds to chill everything out. That sounds terrible, I know. The key is getting your face nice and wet ahead of time, putting only a small amount on your face (hence, lasting me a year), and then gently spreading it out slightly. Then wait about 30 seconds. I'm guessing this allows the water to start to break down some of the sugar granules to soften those harsh edges, because it's so much better after a short wait. Depending on how scrubby you want your scrub to be, you can wait more or less time. Thirty seconds seemed just right to to me to still get that "dude I am so cleaning my face right now" feel without worrying I was scraping off a million layers of precious skin cells. Once it starts to get dissolvy (word?), it becomes more of a creamy texture that feels really nice; after about 15 seconds of massaging, the granules disappear altogether and you're left with a milky wash. Because of this wait time, and for the fact that I like to bring it on my neck and chest (scrub all the places!), I only use this bad boy in the shower. 'Cause...mess.

Overall, I like the way this makes my skin feel...at first. This scrub leaves my face nice and smooth. But despite my search for something really gentle on my dry skin, I still find this to leave my face feeling tight and parched, especially in the winter time. Its harsh texture means I only use it roughly (har har) once a week, though summer time may be closer to two times a week. It definitely doesn't do anything for acne (maybe scrape it off your face?), though keep in mind that it doesn't claim to. I give it props for mentally making me feel like I'm doing some serious cleaning duty.

All in all, as much as I love the packaging and its mostly natural ingredients, I won't be repurchasing this scrub. There are too many other things to try, and the $13 price tag (at least when I bought it) seems a little too high to me for something that is just average. If you like really scrubby scrubs though, I would give this a go--I've never found anything that comes even close to being so gritty!

What scrubs are you loving lately? Any recommendations on exfoliators to try next?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blog Upgrades

Welp, it's two years since my last post and I am back to blogging. I may or may not currently be unemployed, which may or may not be the reason I have time to do this again. Just sayin'.

Anywho, I wanted to share a video I came across that I found to be uber helpful in terms of understanding and learning how to do some social media icon tinkering on your blog. This video was particularly nice since she has a sweet trick that allows you to not need an outsourced photo host for your little logos. I feel so tricksy.

I scored my free icons from Carrie Loves. They are simple, but that is all I wanted for now. She has lots of color options and three size ranges, which is perfect for someone who just wants the basics, like moi. You download them in a zip package all at once and she has every icon under the sun, including things I didn't even know existed (clearly I have some social media catching up to do). I think I will eventually try and make my own icons down the road, but I am feeling so accomplished for even figuring out these icons' placement and linking that I feel I deserve a break. And maybe some chocolate. There was much fist pumping and cabbage patching when this all worked out.

Here's the vid if you need some help like I did! The girl's name is Emily, so obviously, it's an awesome tutorial.

Good luck!