Thursday, 31 December 2015

What I Received for Christmas: Beauty Edition

There are loads of "What I Received for Christmas" posts on the Internet right now -- and rightly so! I love reading about what people received, because it often says so much about the thoughtfulness behind their gifts. I love giving presents that I know people will enjoy, just because nothing can beat the delight on their face as they see something that they will love; this year, too, I know that my family and friends put that same amount of thought into giving their gifts, because I and everyone around me clearly felt that same joy.

That being said, I'm not certain that everyone would be interested in reading about the non-makeup items that I received. Hey, if you want to see me talk about a stick blender, t-shirts and POP! Vinyl figurines, let me know!

For now, however, here's the makeup that I received!

From Andrea

Andrea is a girl I work with during the week -- and honestly, you'd be hard pressed to find a girl with a bigger heart of gold than her. She is always willing to help wherever she can, and she always has a smile on her face. She also drew my name for the Kris Kringle that we put together for the Thursday night workers, and she gave me the loveliest gift on Christmas Eve!

Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate - "107" || We know how much I adore Rimmel lipsticks, and Andrea picked out such a great colour! It's a gorgeous deep berry red shade that lasts really well throughout the day, although it does help to have your lips in tip-top shape.

Bourjois Paris Levres Contour Edition Lip Pencil - "Plum It Up" || I don't own anything by Bourjois, and I certainly don't have many lip pencils, so I love this! I haven't had much of a chance to properly test it out yet, but it does seem to be very creamy when swatched; it matches the lipstick nicely, even though it is more toned towards plum. On first glance, it looks similar-ish to MAC Currant, but I'd have to swatch it side-by-side to be sure.

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Quad - "Rose Memories" || Another colour-coordinated product! This quad has a nice little selection of rose-toned shadows, with one plum-red shade that really pops. I've played with this palette once already, and I adore the plum-red, but I've yet to figure out how to make the rest work to the best of their ability. I don't own any L'Oréal Paris eye shadows, so I think that Andrea picked out a really winning quad.

L to R: Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Lipstick, L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Quad, Bourjois Levres Contour Edition Lip Pencil
Swatches: Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Lipstick; Bourjois Levres Contour Edition Lip Pencil
Swatches: L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Eye Shadow Quad - "Rose Memories"

From my brother

My brother recently returned to Australia after spending a month in the US. I had, of course, given him some money and a nice little shopping list (also known as a 'scavenger hunt', to make it sound more exciting), but alas, with the exception of some CoverGirl Star Wars makeup, he told me that the makeup stands were essentially empty.

Or so I was told and believed, until I unwrapped my gift from him on Christmas Day. He had, after all, very thoughtfully bought me some makeup -- and products that, for the most part, I had not expected! I had to chuckle at the CoverGirl Queen Collection products, for a start. It's the kind of gift from my brother that demonstrates two things: firstly, that he's very thoughtful for buying me pink and red lip products (which I wear all the time); and secondly, that he knows very little about makeup. I think my brother bought them realising that they were something he hadn't seen before -- I'm guilty of leaving lip products all over the bathroom countertop, so all of my brothers are somewhat familiar with my lip collection -- but I don't think he realised that they're for women with much deeper skin tones than I have.

You kinda have to love him for it, though, right?

L'Oréal Paris Collection Exclusive Nudes - "Liya's Nude" || An interesting lipstick, that's for sure! I don't own anything so brown, but I know that lips like this were all the rage during the 90s, so perhaps I can make it work.

CoverGirl Queen Collection Jumbo Gloss Balm - "Jammin' Gem" || This is a really sheer, glossy red. I have Scarlet Twist from the regular collection, and in comparison I would say that this looks somewhat more watermelon-y. You know what I mean -- when watermelon is at its peak and the inside is really red, promising full-on watermelon flavour. I mean, it's not appealing to me, because I hate watermelon, but that's what it reminds me of.

CoverGirl Queen Collection Jumbo Gloss Balm - "Disco Punch" || I feel like this is slightly more true to the traditional watermelon colour. It's kind of more pink-coral, and also very sheer and glossy to swatch.

CoverGirl Queen Collection Jumbo Gloss Balm - "Electric Flamingo" || This reminds me of the hot pink shade that I have from the regular collection, Haute Pink Twist. It's a bright pink shade, and although I haven't compared them side-by-side, I feel like Electric Flamingo might be less stark than Haute Pink Twist.

Swatches: L'Oréal Paris Collection Exclusive Nudes; CoverGirl Queen Collection Jumbo Gloss Balms
L to R: Wet 'n' Wild Eye Shadow Trio, Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector

Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector - "Champagne Pop" || Can I get a "YAAAS!"? I asked my brother for this for Christmas, and the boy delivered! I know that he was daunted by the idea of going into Sephora, but I wrote him a note with the exact product name and the price, and told him to give it to a salesperson if he felt confused or nervous. Whether or not he used it or found it himself, I don't know, but I'm so proud of him for pushing through and getting it! I cannot wait to give it a spin.

Wet 'n' Wild Sweet As Candy Eye Shadow Trio || This particular trio was actually on my list! I love eye shadow, and I've learned to love Wet 'n' Wild after Danielle and I did a beauty swap last year (if you're curious, it's over here). I really love this combination of colours, and I think they'll make for a really nice look. I can see it being a quick and easy everyday product, so I love it!

Swatches: Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector; Wet 'n' Wild Sweet as Candy Eye Shadow Trio

From my mother

If you look in the mirror, you can see my PJs. GOALS, AMIRIGHT?
There's one thing to know that you're receiving a particular item -- it's another to forget that you were going to receive that item, and to experience the fresh joy and excitement of something that you already know you love! I was out in the city with my friend Jo-Anna before Christmas, and I happened to see the Elizabeth Arden Day to Date Color Collection. It's one of those great holiday high end gift ideas where you get a fantastic value for money -- there were so many adorable collections this year, especially from Estee Lauder, but this one took the cake for me!

Look at that luxurious gold packaging!
All of the makeup comes in a bold red makeup case, made of fabric that is sturdy (just enough to hold its own shape) but not hard, allowing for some flexibility in whatever products you decide to pack in it.

The collection itself comes with products that you can purchase individually, so I may well review the components in the future with that in mind. Inside are the following:

Elizabeth Arden Daytime Eye Shadow and Blush Palette
A daytime eye shadow palette (with the red lid), containing the following shades:
  • Blonde
  • Chocolate
  • Misty Teal (intended as a contour)
  • Innocence
  • Classic Khaki #1 (intended as a contour)
  • Classic Khaki #2 (intended as a highlighter)
  • Cobblestone
  • Periwinkle
It also contains the Romantic Rose blush.

Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Daytime Palette - eye shadows
Swatch: Elizabeth Arden Daytime Palette - blush
Elizabeth Arden Evening Eye Shadow and Blush Palette
An evening eye shadow palette (with the black lid), containing the following shades
  • Party Plum
  • Blackout
  • Night Owl
  • Spotlight
  • Bone
  • Pearled Kiss
  • Tempting Teal
  • Gold Rush
It contains the Blushing Pink blush.

Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Evening Palette - eye shadows
Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Evening Palette - blush
A Shimmer Powder -- what I presume is a highlighter.

Elizabeth Arden Shimmer Powder
Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Shimer Powder
Elizabeth Arden Lipsticks
Four lipsticks, presumably from the Beautiful Color Moisturizing and Beautiful Color Moisturizing Matte ranges (although they are not labelled as such):
  • Desert Rose
  • Iced Grape
  • Raspberry
  • Ultra Violet
Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Lipsticks
L to R: Elizabeth Arden Mini Lip Glosses, Lip Pencils, Eye Pencils
Two mini Beautiful Color Luminous Lip Glosses:
  • Precious Petal
  • Passion Fruit
Two lip pencils, presumably from the US Beautiful Color Smooth Line and US Beautiful Color Precision Glide lines respectively (although they are not labelled as such):
  • Orchid
  • Sugared Kiss
Two eye pencils, presumably from the Beautiful Color Smoky Eyes line (although they are not labelled as such):
  • Smokey Black
  • Midnight
Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Mini Beautiful Color Luminous Lip Glosses; Elizabeth Arden Lip Pencils
Swatches: Elizabeth Arden Eye Pencils
The collection also had a tube of Beautiful Color Lash Enhancing Mascara in Black, a small bottle of All Gone Eye & Lip Makeup Remover (neither of which are pictured because, y'know, I forgot), and three brushes (a powder brush, and two eye shadow brushes -- one seems to be a flat shader, and the other an angled shader).

Elizabeth Arden Brushes
One of the reasons why I love this gift set so much is because I just love Elizabeth Arden -- and I'm not entirely sure why. I think I must have grown up with that kind of mentality, because I know that my mum loved wearing the Red Door perfume, and she's really into their foundation and facial oil capsules.

For me, Elizabeth Arden is one of those brands that I'm not going to be able to really afford until I'm make a full-time salary, so it was really thoughtful of my mother to purchase something that really has that wow factor for me. There's no way I can look at that gorgeous red case and not feel a sense of appreciation for her.

That's it for the makeup that I received over Christmas! Once again, if you'd like me to post about the non-beauty items that I received, drop me a line and say so!

Did you receive any particularly amusing or heartwarming gifts from loved ones this year? If you're a blogger, be sure to link me to any gift posts that you write -- I love having a good nosey about!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Am I Being Too Ambitious? | Blogging Goals for 2016

I think everyone has a place that they want their blog to go to over the space of twelve months, and although I never had any goals set over the last year, my little slice of the internet has surpassed what I thought it might achieve!

My blog turned 1 last March, and I made the 100 Bloglovin' followers count that I'd hoped I would. I finally gathered up my courage and created a Facebook page. I created a blogging schedule in July to help plan out my blog posts and keep them in some kind of order.

Considering that I'm a full-time Masters student who hasn't had a break since February (and I mean that literally, we haven't had any study breaks since we began), I feel that I've achieved a small, quiet victory in keeping up with my blog. I haven't bought a whole lot -- I can't remember the last time I wrote a haul post -- and I especially placed a ban on myself, making sure that I would abstain from buying needlessly until I had reviewed everything I planned to review.

This isn't to say that I didn't buy anything, but MAC could've made a lot more money from me than it did.

I started thinking to myself a couple of months ago: what can I do to make my blog stand out a little bit more? I feel that I'm posting the same things over and over again; I need to boost my game.

Goal #1: Vary the content that I churn out.

I think I'd like to start smacking out a few more lifestyle posts. I don't really have much of a lifestyle, but it might be nice to start showcasing the few exciting things that do happen in my life.

Goal #2: Post regularly -- ideally, at least twice a week.

Based on my current blog post plan, I have enough post ideas to last me until next July, no joke. If I can keep up with posting twice a week, possibly three times if I'm lucky, then I'll be really proud of myself.

Goal #3: Participate in regular blog chats on Twitter.

This is really hard from about March/April to about October because the time zones change -- where chats now start for me between 6am and 8am, during the winter months these times change to 3am and 5am. I simply can't be up that early!

Goal #4: Inject more personality into my Facebook page.

At the moment, 99.95% of my posts on my page have just been about my blog posts. It'd be nice to treat it to a few more regular updates, like I do on Instagram!

Goal #5: Increase my viewership.

I think this would be a general no-brainer for any blogger! I feel that it's difficult for Australian bloggers to get exposure, as the blogging community isn't quite as close-knit as in the UK or US. At time of writing, there are no blogger chats exclusively for Australian bloggers, nor are there any at a particularly convenient time -- they're all relatively early in the morning. I'd like to work on getting my blog out there a little bit more, increase my traffic... How I plan to do that is still TBD.

I think this quite an ambitious list of goals to have over the next year, especially when I'm still going to be in the depths of my Masters degree for the first half of it. Will I achieve all of it? Maybe, maybe not.

What are your blogging goals for 2016?

Friday, 25 December 2015

You're It! The Christmas Tag

In November, the beautiful Emma from Peace Love Vintage tagged me to do the Christmas tag! The questions have been sitting in my drafts folder for a little while, and I had meant to answer them about a month ago, but I don't think I could have been in a less Christmassy mood this year!

Seriously, no joke. This year I was just... plain disinterested. I couldn't have cared less, and ultimately I think it was because of the stress with uni; I submitted an assignment two days ago, and I still have more to write! Let me tell you, right now I feel as though doing a Masters degree is not worth it.

Excuse this terrible graphic, please.
Still, once again, I'm feeling a little better about Christmas right now. By the time this post goes live, it'll be the end of Christmas Day in Australia -- I'll have finished a gruelling Christmas Eve shift, will have swapped KK presents with my colleagues (yay!) and, hopefully, will have had a chilled out and relaxed day with my family.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my Christmastime tag answers!

1. Do you prefer a real tree or synthetic?
I'm not really fussed either way. I suppose I prefer a real tree because the scent it leaves in the house is wonderful, but in reality I'd probably purchase a synthetic one.

2. You're in a coffee shop, it's December, what do you pick?
I generally already have a general idea about the kind of drink that I want (i.e. coffee, not coffee, hot, cold) and then let the specials board decide whether or not I go with something new. I'm a Gloria Jeans girl, and last time I was there I had their Chocolate Mint Chiller -- perfect for those really hot days!

3. What's your favourite colour scheme for decorating the house?
We don't decorate the house for Christmas. The tree, yes; the house, no.

4. To mince pie or not to?
Absolutely not. Mince pies are an abomination.

5. What's on your plate when Christmas dinner is served?
We always spend lunch on Christmas Day at my grandmother's, so my plate then is usually the same: a little bit of roast chicken, a little bit of timpana (Maltese pasta) and a whole lot of delicious roast potatoes!

6. What's your Christmas day style?
I don't really have a style! I just wake up and decide what it is to wear -- maybe this year a maxi dress? Who knows!

7. What Christmas movie could you watch again and again?
I guess Nativity! I determined last year (which was when I became the Grinch) that a Christmas movie is a film that is about Christmas, not merely set during Christmas (so, Love Actually and Home Alone don't count). You can read about that here if you're interested.

8. Do you open presents before or after lunch?
We always open presents after dinner on Christmas Eve, usually at about 10pm or so. We often then exchange small gifts within the immediate family on Christmas morning, before breakfast.

9. Name one tradition your family does each Christmas.
For us, the big day is Christmas Eve! The extended family all gets together, rotating at different houses, and we all have dinner before exchanging gifts well after dinner. We go home very late, all stuffed full of food, ready again for a delicious lunch the next day at my grandparents' house!

10. Online gift shopping or Christmas market shopping?
Reading Emma's answer had me a little confused about what a Christmas market is! I don't think we have specific "Christmas" markets in Australia -- but perhaps I'm wrong. I know that I prefer going to a shopping centre instead of shopping online; sure, online is more convenient, but sometimes I actually like to see things in person.

That it's from me for this tag! Once again, thank you so much Emma for nominating me to do it! If you haven't already looked at Emma's blog, go and check it out -- it's one of my favourites.

Want to do the tag for yourself? Go ahead, and let me know when you do! I love reading tag posts!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Life Through A Filter | November 2015

I knew that November was going to be a hellish month -- I didn't realise just how hellish. Being on placement throughout October meant that all of the assignments due then had to be pushed back until November, and it was no easy feat to get them all done. I officially averaged less than twenty-four hours of sleep a week, and I'm still playing catch up with my work.

When does this madness end?!

I know the answer, and it's July: when my course finishes.

Cue gifs of tears rolling down my face.

I still managed to snap a few pictures last month, however, and, as usual, I have collated them all for you here!

1. Went to the shops on a mission, and picked up every available piece of the CoverGirl Star Wars collection! We only get four lipsticks and five of the ten mascaras, but just as well -- this obsession ain't cheap!

I found out the release dates for the Star Wars collection at different stores -- it was meant to be at Coles and Target first, then Big W and Woolworths, then Priceline. So I marched on over to Coles: nothing. Then to Target: also nothing. I was about to leave the shopping centre when I decided to check Big W on a whim, even though it wasn't meant to be released there for another week -- and bingo was his name-o!

2. If you've eyeballed the CoverGirl Star Wars collection that released two days ago, I've swatched the lipsticks for you! They all seem to have some degree of frost to them, but time will tell! Note that Australia is NOT getting the lilac or Stormtrooper shades, nor are we getting the waterproof mascaras.

We didn't get the nail polishes either, but I'd forgotten about those at that point.

3. Today's forecast is curly hair and red lipstick. This is the red CoverGirl Star Wars lipstick (No. 30). The colour is true, even with the filter. Totally wearable, slightly frosty, and actually really nice for Christmas.

If you were going to pick up one shade from the collection, this would be it!

4. Pardon my ugly paws, but I have a brand new post up! Today I've reviewed Jamberry's nail wraps, which launched in Australia in October! Check it out, let me know what you think.

If you're interested in reading my thorough, in-depth review, you can clicklity-click here.

5. Bahahaha, Julia Morris is the best! I miss I'm A Celebrity Australia, it was fantastic. Photo taken from the I'm A Celebrity Australia Twitter page.

If there was ever one show to watch this year, it was definitely Australia's inaugural version of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!". It was hosted by Julia Morris and Dr. Chris Brown, the former of which aggressively hit on the latter -- and it was hilarious. I cannot wait for the next season, it's going to be great!

6. Went to an event today that sold old discounted stock from brands owned by Estee Lauder! Picked up a MAC Cinderella Fluidline in "Little Black Bow", a MAC Alluring Aquatic Varnish in "Neptune", and a MAC Toledo Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner in "Designer Purple". Loving them!

I was so excited to go to this event! It had a $15 entry fee that went to Ronald McDonald House Charity, and everything inside was about 40% off! I had a budget, and amazingly, I stuck to it!

7. So much win in this month's Bellabox!

I cannot wait to try out eveything in the box, especially that coffee scrub: get on mah face!

8. Did my cousin's makeup for her graduation tonight! She is not one for makeup, so this was certainly a rare occasion. This look was inspired by a tutorial created by Teni Panosian (who, btw, is just amazing).

This was so much fun to do, and such an honest-to-goodness honour. My cousin isn't a tomboy, per se, but she is definitely not interested in the girlier things in life. She told me that everyone kept telling her how her liner was "on point", which is honestly the best compliment one can hope to achieve!

9. Side effects of being a postgrad student. #healthissuesalldayerrday

Who has two thumbs and had to get an MRI? This girl! I've been inundated with health problems lately.

10. This cat has been using my backyard as a thoroughfare lately -- and we haven't had that happen since long before I got Claflin. If I see it one more time, I won't care that it has a collar, I will assume honorary ownership, I will give it a name and I will name it Boudica.

We have staring contests frequently, y'know? (And if you're new and want to know who Claflin was, check out here and there).

11. I came back from the bathroom and el neko was staring at me (with a random Coke can?). So that's it. I've warned the world. Meet Boudica.

Boudica was a British queen during the Roman occupation of Britain, and by most accounts she was pretty fearless!

12. Today's visit from Boudica.

She's a sweet little kitty cat!

All in all, November was a packed and very stressful month, and I'm hoping that December is going to be something of the opposite -- one can only hope, right?

What did you get up to last month? Tell me all about your own adventures!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Product Review: Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Hair Curling Wand

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the lovely Adriana from Irresistible Me, who asked me if I would be interested in giving their Sapphire 8-in-1 Hair Curling Wand* for a spin. I had a hair curler already that was pretty wizard, but how on earth could I say no to something with eight different attachments?

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand
Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand

This wand was shipped to me straight from the US -- this is not a brand based in Australia. Irresistible Me does offer international shipping, but it is worth noting that you will need an adaptor for your power outlet. They're usually readily available from supermarkets or department stores, and they're not too expensive. It took me a couple of weeks to source mine, but I was looking for a universal adaptor and my local Woolworths was often sold out.

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: pouch, heatproof stand, instruction booklet
Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand - pouch, heatproof stand, instruction booklet

The Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand handle and barrel attachments come all packed within a soft, buttoned-up case that unrolls to show all of the attachments stowed away in its own little individual pocket. When you take them out, you'll notice that they're not all lined up in the same way -- some of them have the barrel tip facing the top, the others have the barrel tip facing the bottom -- but I would suggest keeping them that way. Don't do what I did, and make them all face the same way; the case won't roll up in the same nice and neat way.

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: rolled-out pouch
Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand - rolled-out pouch

The handle has a neat little digital screen that displays the temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit -- which you can change by holding down one of the two temperature adjustment buttons on either side of the screen. There's also a small heatproof stand that you can rest the wand on while you're not using it, so you don't need to worry about burning your benchtop.

So, from left to right, these are the barrels that came with the handle!

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: Sapphire Handle, 13mm wand, 25mm wand, 25/13mm wand
Left to right: Sapphire Handle, 13mm wand, 25mm wand, 25/13mm wand
13mm || A super slim wand for tight curls.

25mm || A wide barrel that allows for a decent curl.

25/13mm || A barrel that is wide at the base and slim at the top, for close-ended curls.

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: Pearl wand, 19mm wand, 13/25mm wand
Left to right: Pearl wand, 19mm wand, 13/25mm wand

Pearl | With what appears to be a maximum width of 25mm, this wand has those, y'know, knobbly blobs that took the world by storm last year.

19mm | Slimmer than your average barrel (so I hear), this will create tighter, more defined curls.

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: 13/25mm wand, 18/9mm wand, 32mm wand
Left to right: 13/25mm wand, 18/9mm wand, 32mm wand

13/25mm | Clearly the opposite of the 25/13mm, this wand starts out skinny and finishes up wide, for elegant, open-ended curls.

18/9mm | This wand get seriously skinny, making it perfect for some seriously tight curls.

32mm | A nice, fat barrel, this makes those nice wide curls that everybody seems to love.

There's also a nice heat-proof glove, which is great because I never particularly fancy burning myself.

Irresistible Me Sapphire 8-in-1 Curling Wand: plug 
Left: the Sapphire Wand plug; Right: the adaptor I use
The Sapphire 8-in-1 Wand comes with a myriad of claims that almost make it seem too good to be true. There are the usual, practical ones that make sense to even the newest Beauty Padawans: fast heat up (so you're not waiting until the end of the Galactic Empire), maximum temperatures of 230 Celsius/450 Fahrenheit (so, super hot), a digital temperature display (so you know exactly how hot you've got it), a 360 degree cord (so that shiz doesn't get tangled about -- great for left-handers!), and a lightweight tool (so your arm doesn't feel like it's doing the cardio of a lifetime).

There are then the claims are a bit more uncertain -- not vague, not unbelievable -- uncertain, in that you may not exactly know what they're talking about and whether or you actually should be impressed.

First up: the tourmaline-infused barrel. These are said to be infused with what the company calls "negative ions", so that your hair stays smooth and shiny, and frizz-free longer. Secondly: far infrared technology. Put simply, infrared rays are the natural heat that is produced by organic entities -- people, animals, plants, even the sun -- and it is this type of heat that penetrates the skin and helps us keep warm. When we contextualise that in terms of this curling iron, it means that the heat will deeper penetrate the hair, meaning that it will hold shape longer.

As someone with hair that would take the sun's surface heat to curl and still have it flat within an hour, that sounds pretty impressive.

The Sapphire Curling Wand also holds the claim of having dual voltage. Not gonna lie, I don't know why that's important, but it didn't short-circuit the neighbourhood when I plugged it in, so that's good.

So how did it live up to the test?

Before: My standard, clean, brushed Hermione Granger hair
Let me tell you, it took me a while of playing around to find what kind of setting would be right for my thick, heavy Hermione Granger hair. I'm looking for specific things when I curl my hair -- it's something that I would usually do for a special event, but I was on placement while I tested this out; thus I needed it to last all day, no matter the public transport or weather conditions I was travelling in. While I do use a heat protectant, I usually can't stand hairspray, so it also had to be a curl that would hold without it. Perhaps that was a steep order for a hair curler. I'd find out.

I also have mermaid hair; it is almost crazy long. I thought the wands looked a little shorter than normal when I first looked at them, so I was worried that I'd have to curl my hair twice (which would've been a deal-breaker for me). However, I measured it against my other hair curler and the barrels are the same lengths. CRISIS AVERTED, PEOPLE!

I didn't want to burn the crap out of my hair, so I began with the default heat setting (which I think was 180 Celsius -- note, with the 32mm barrel). It curled my hair nicely, but the curls didn't last long. It caused me some doubt about how well this would work, but knowing that I could go hotter, I decided to try that before passing my final judgement. I ended up working out that I needed to actually crank it right up to the highest setting (there are a couple of handy buttons for this) and hold it in my hair for about 15 seconds or so to get a curl that held in the windy weather we'd been having.

And I wound up with hair like so:

This actually lasted about two days! Usually curls that last during the day will go flat on me overnight, but these held their shape really well -- and I loved it.

About a week later, I decided to give the pearl barrel a go (known affectionately by me as "the knobbly blob"), as I was able to remember a time when no respectable beauty vlogger on YouTube was without some similar hair tool. I used the same method as with the 32mm wand -- a whole lot of heat protectant, the highest setting, 15-second hold.

Before: Another day, another fluffy-haired adventure!
In retrospect, I feel like the highest setting may have been a little too high for this particular wand, as it does get quite narrow in places. What I found, however, was that it did add all kinds of texture to my hair! As you can see, it looks a good bit shorter than normal, and I had a great little mix of curls that were large, small, loose, tight -- I really liked it!

After: More curls than you shake a brush at!
I also had in my mind that I'd have to be careful with my hair like this, as I supposed that it would knot like crazy but to my surprise I never really had that problem. It was still insanely curly two or three days later, and when I decided to brush it out, most of them still held a lot of their general shape! I thought that this was absolutely incredible -- remember that I don't use hairspray when I style my hair!

But does it hold up to its claims?

The tourmaline barrel: did it give my hair frizz-free, shiny locks?

Absolutely, it does. I wouldn't have minded if it hadn't, as my hair would've still looked natural, but you can definitely see the difference in shine between the before and after photos. My hair did return to its naturally fluffy state of mind, but it took its time compared to when I've curled my hair previously.

The far infrared technology: does it lock in extra hold?

I would say so. Once I found the right heat setting, the curls usually held most of their structure well into the second day when I used the 32mm barrel, and for several days longer on the pearl barrel. I also used the 13/25mm barrel several times, and the curls held really well for a few days. Even when I brushed my hair (lest it tangled to the point where it became a Pokémon), I didn't immediately go back to my usual Hermione frizz -- I had very, very soft curls, but curls nonetheless.

I'm a fan of putting my hair up, and this is what it's like when I do!
Remember, though, that I do have to really crank up the heat on this piece of magic. My hair is quite thick, and I'm not constantly styling it, so I can take it. You will need to think about how much your own hair can handle, and adjust the heat accordingly so that you don't fry it to a crisp.

You also can't go swapping out different barrels whenever you feel like you're finished with one and want to work with another -- they need to cool down first.

This brings me to the heat glove. It's certainly dead handy given how hot the iron gets, but I'd still exercise caution when wearing it. I think that it's still possible for you to burn your hand if you really crank the heat up -- so I would still avoid using it to switch out the different barrels.

Padawan Product Rating: A

Overall, I think this would be a fantastic hair tool to get, especially if you're in North America. At $199 USD (~$270 AUD), it certainly isn't the cheapest hair curler at first glance -- but when you split that cost, you're paying $24.88 USD ($33.75 AUD) per wand, which is much cheaper than I've ever seen any single curling iron on its own.

It curls hair really well, and while it's certainly no five-minute job (especially if you want a lot of well-defined curls), it lasts for such a long time that I really don't mind taking the effort to do it! It has genuinely made me excited about the prospect of curling my hair, particularly as I have so much choice in how to do it.

Do you like to curl your hair? Which of these would your favourite attachment be?

This product was sent to me free of charge for my honest consideration. It's been reviewed in accordance with my Disclaimer Policy, because life is short and I have better things to do with my time than waste yours.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Product Review: Jamberry Nail Wraps

There's a bit of a funny story that goes with this post. I was contacted by Erin from Jamberry Nails* a few months ago, asking if I'd like to try out their product. I was obviously interested, as my nails are naturally really gross and I'll try anything that will make them look pretty. The aim was to have this post all done by the start of October, just in time for the official release of Jamberry in Australia.

That didn't exactly happen.

There's obviously a problem with my PO box, because Erin's package was sent back to her after about three weeks of being in limbo. I'm not impressed, as renting out a PO box isn't exactly cheap and this issue did not turn out to be a one-off. Several people have tried to mail me things to the PO box address, only to have it returned.

So yeah, really unimpressed.

But, the silver lining is that I did eventually get my little package from Erin, and that's what today's post is all about!

Jamberry is a company that is best known for its nail wraps. They have nail polish and the like, but it's the nail wraps that are seriously worth getting excited about. These wraps come in a variety of styles and finishes -- from glossy to satin, animal prints to chic monochromatic patterns, they've got a huge range. The website is pre-set to show the bestselling products, but you can easily narrow down your preferences to browse whatever suits your tastes best.

I was sent a full sheet of nail wraps, a couple of samples, a wooden cuticle stick, a purple cuticle stick, a nail prep wipe and a nail file. I didn't know which patterns I was getting sent, I didn't pick them at all -- but, as it turns out, Erin has some great taste!

I received a full sheet of nail wraps in the pattern called Carmen Ombre, a super neat pattern of white flowers and leaves over a pink/peach ombre -- perfect for summer or what? The sample nail wraps appear to be randomised, as other posts that I've seen showcase different patterns.

Top to Bottom: Rosy Quatrefoil | Caribbean Snakeskin | Faded Bouquet | Prep School | Island Energy
Top to Bottom: Smitten | (unknown - similar) | White Stripe | (unknown - nothing similar) | Black and White Tiger

Now, I've used nail wraps before -- one or two drugstore brands used to have them, and once they were discontinued and marked down, I bought them and tried them out to see what they were like. They were super easy to apply, but overall, I just didn't like them.

The Jamberry nail wraps are different. They're more cumbersome to apply, especially if you don't have their mini heater, but it's still rather straightforward and the results they promise are much, much better.

The recommended process for best application is to remove any product and then wash your hands in warm, soapy water. After your hands are completely dry, you wipe them with one of their alcohol wipes to remove any residual traces. What I noticed about these wipes is that they don't have a strong alcohol scent -- it's there, but it's faint -- it smells more of something else that I can't quite put my finger on... Vanilla bean, I think.

From there, you buff and file your nails, push your cuticles with the wooden cuticle stick, then lift the nail wrap from the sheet. The instructions say to select a nail wrap that is slightly smaller than your actual nail, as having it touching the skin or cuticle can affect its wear time. I used the point end of the wooden cuticle stick to life the wrap, as Jamberry discourages using your hands, lest the natural oils in our fingers interfere with the adhesive.

Then, using either their own mini heater or your own hairdryer, you need to heat the wrap for 3 to 5 seconds. I barely know how to use a hairdryer, and I hardly know if it's as hot as the heater gets, so I held it for a second or two longer; other online reviews have said that using the heater is much, much quieter. The next step is to apply the wrap to the nail, smooth it down with the purple cuticle, heat it again for another 3 to 5 seconds, then trim it and file the edges off.

So yes, more time-consuming than your average nail wraps to prepare, but it probably took me about the same time as if I'd painted my nails -- maybe less. I found it slightly tricky at times to apply, and I was never quite successful at getting a completely smooth application. It will take something of a learning curve, however, you can't really tell unless you're looking at them up close.

Before: Ugly hands
One of my favourite things about the nail wraps is that they're on a sheet of clear plastic, which makes sizing them really easy. The size range on the sheet is also quite wide, so you should be able to find the right wrap size no matter how big or small your hands are -- or, y'know, you could put them on your toes if you were so inclined!

After: Ugly hands with pretty nails!
Cost Outline:
  • Full sheet of wraps: $22
  • Postage: $9.95 (appears to be a flat rate)
  • Mini heater: $27
  • Application kit (includes wipes, cuticle sticks, etc.): $18, or $29 with a bottle of Cuticle Oil included
One thing that I do find slightly disappointing is that it appears that you can't buy the alcohol wipes on their own, say in a pack of 5 or 10. One sheet of nail wraps will give me two manicures easily -- perhaps a pedicure as well -- so if I were to purchase several sheets as well as an application kit, the two wipes that are included wouldn't cut it. Perhaps you could just use a varnish remover instead, but as I haven't done so myself, I can't vouch that application will be as good.

Wearing Carmen Ombre with Faded Bouquet as an accent.
Other than that, so far I have been quite impressed with these nail wraps from Jamberry! I'm quite rough with my hands, so nail polish always chips or peels on me within 24 hours -- it's a nice change to have such pretty nails that still look pretty day after day! I think I would need to keep using them in order to master application, but that's not something I would mind doing, given the time.

Padawan Product Rating: A

Overall, if you want something that can combine a manicure with a heightened sense of pampering and 'me-time', these will be for you. If you want something a little quicker, if you don't want to fork out for the mini heater, or if you really can't be bothered breaking out a hair dryer, you might want to have a think about whether this product is for you.

And if you're interested in some of my personal picks, have a peek at these:
Boutique | Bumble | Caribbean Snakeskin | Chantilly | Destiny | Double Trouble | Mermaid Tales | Monster Mash | Santa Fe | Sheet Music

Have you tried Jamberry nail wraps before? Do you have a favourite pattern?

This product was sent to me free of charge for my honest consideration. It's been reviewed in accordance with my Disclaimer Policy, because life's short and I have better things to do with my time than make stuff up.