All posts by Anne Houseman

Enter to Win the Stila Beauty in the Buff Palette from ULTA Beauty

Post and giveaway sponsored by ULTA Beauty

This Giveaway is Now Closed

 

Don’t you just hate missing out on a good deal? Well if you missed out on buying the Stila Beauty in the Buff makeup set during ULTA’s 21 Days of Beauty event, you’re in luck, because now you have a shot to win the palette for free!

Five lucky winners will walk away with this gorgeous neutral makeup set, found exclusively at ULTA for $34 (a $62 value).

The set includes six stunning, neutral eyeshadows (in Pure, Linen, Innocent, Element, Demure and Silk), an All Over Shimmer Powder and Bronzer, a Smudge Stick eyeliner in Espresso and a Color Balm Lipstick in Sonya.

Simply click below to learn more and get your entries in, and we’ll pick five winners on Friday, October 3 at 9pm ET!
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Mark Your Calendars: It’s 21 Days of Beauty at ULTA

Post sponsored by ULTA, but undying admiration for the beauty store and other opinions are all Anne’s own.

Everyone knows how much I love ULTA. But this is the time of year when I love them even more (as if that were possible!), because it’s time for 21 Days of Beauty at Ulta!

21 days

For those of you aren’t familiar with 21 Days of Beauty, it’s a glorious celebration that happens twice year, when ULTA gives special offers, expert beauty tips and brand focus days. And when I say the deals are special, I mean special — as in you might get a high-end makeup item for half off (or more)!

Through September 27, ULTA will feature one “Beauty Steal” and “Beauty Focus” per day.  Beauty Steals are special offers on top beauty products from brands like Urban Decay, Tarte, IT Cosmetics, Bare Minerals, Butter LONDON, Philosophy and more, and Beauty Focus Days are events with demonstrations like customized makeup lessons, expert beauty tips, and one-on-one appointments with beauty experts.

Here’s a preview of what’s happening the rest of this week!

Weds., Sept. 10

Steal:

bs7

Too Faced Bulletproof Brows:  $15 (reg. $30)

Events: Too Faced, Exuviance

Thurs., Sept. 11

Steals:

stila

STILA In the Moment, In the Light & In the Know Garden Palettes:  $20 each (reg. $39 each)

murad

 

ONLINE ONLY — Murad Select Cleansers:  $20 (reg. $36)

Events:  Stila, Murad

Friday, Sept. 12

Steals:

smash

Smashbox 24 Hour Shadow Primer: $10 (reg. $20)

per-fekt

ONLINE ONLY — Per-fekt Lash Perfection Gel: $14 (reg. $28.50)

Events:  Smashbox, Tarte, Lancome, Clinique, Dermalogica

Sat., Sept. 13

Steals:

butter

Butter London Nail Lacquer: 2 for $15 (reg $15 each)

philosophy

Philosophy Purity Wipes: $10 (reg. $15)

Events:  bareMinerals, Philosophy, Benefit

And if that’s not enough for you, stay tuned — we’re partnering with Ulta for our own celebration of the 21 Days of Beauty, where we’ll be giving you the latest scoop on deals and steals for the next two weeks. And there might just be a fun reader giveaway you can enter to win!

Photos: Brands via Ulta

National Lipstick Day 2014: Lipstick Facts and Stats

Do you live in one of the top cities for lipstick sales?
Do you live in one of the top cities for lipstick sales?

July 29 is National Lipstick Day (who knew?), and Amazon is helping us celebrate with some fun facts about the beauty product that makes our smackers smile. So read on to get your lipstick groove on.

 

Did You Know…

  • Amazon has seen a 50% increase in “nude lipstick” this month (guess that’s definitive proof that nude lips are in!)
  • The term “lipstick” is searched more than twice as often as the term “lip gloss” (don’t tell Lil Mama)
  • The top cities for lipstick sales are Miami, Portland and Atlanta

 

The Hottest Lipsticks Right Now Are:

 

Lip, lip, hooray!

 

Photo:  Flickr User Christine Roth

How to Get Wavy Hair Like Mila Kunis

It’s no secret that I have a serious girl crush on Mila Kunis. She’s one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, and I can’t help but admire all the different ways she wears her hair, because her styles always look chic and glamorous.

Take these beachy-tousled waves, for example. To the untrained eye, it seems like Mila just rolled out of bed looking like this, and it’s a great carefree look for summer. In reality, I’m sure it took at least a little work to look this effortless.

mila keratinEven if we haven’t been blessed with a flowing, perfectly-disheveled mane like Mila’s, we can fake it like the best of them. Keratin Complex International Educator Niki Galanomatis shares a few tricks to create tousled tresses at home using Keratin Complex products.

 

  • To get a tight wave, start by applying Vita Volume Boosting Foam ($25) throughout clean hair.
  • Blow dry using your fingers to comb through hair instead of a brush.
  • Using the 5 in Curling + Refining System ($199) with a smaller sized barrel, curl small horizontal sections, bringing the hair close to the scalp for added volume.
  • Finish with Bold Hold Maximum Finishing Hairspray ($25) for intense hold.

Happy styling!

 

Photo courtesy of Keratin Complex
clip in hair extensions irresistible me

Clip-in Locks: Irresistible Me Hair Extensions Review

Complimentary products were provided for this Irresistible Me Hair Extensions Review, but opinions are all Anne’s own.

When it comes to my hair, I have a really short attention span (remember my blonde ambition incident last year?). If a genie granted me three wishes, I’d even consider using up one of them on magic hair that would change color and length at any moment to match my mood.

While that’s not possible, Irresistible Me hair extensions offer a great option for getting long locks whenever you’d like.

clip in hair extensions irresistible me
Irresistible Me extensions let you change your hair length in a snap!

For hair extensions, quality is really #1 in my book (I’ve seen extensions made out of yak hair before, and trust me when I say it isn’t pretty).  Irresistible Me agrees that high quality human hair is the best, offering 100% natural Remy clip-in hair extensions at wallet-friendly prices.

irresistible me chocolate brown hair extensions
Beautiful, silky extensions made out of real Remy hair.

There are two lines:  Silky Touch (starting at $69) and Royal Remy (starting at $129). The Royal Remy line is higher quality, as it comes from one donor with virgin unprocessed hair, which is then dyed to match one of the 14 colors offered by Irresistible Me.

The deluxe line of Royal Remy extensions from Irresistible Me are premium quality
The deluxe line of Royal Remy extensions from Irresistible Me are premium quality

Getting the right color match to your hair is critical to ensure no one knows you’re wearing extensions. Normally, I’d be hesitant to order extensions online without seeing them in person, but Irresistible Me has a very informative video that makes it as easy as possible to get the right match. Plus, they offer free exchanges and returns for customers in the U.S. and Canada.

After watching the video, it was pretty clear that I needed to get the Chocolate Brown color, since my hair is very dark, but also has warm highlighted tones in it.  When the extensions arrived, I knew I made the right decision, because they blended so perfectly that it looked like I was clipping in my own hair.

Chocolate brown is a deep brown with rich, warm tones.
Chocolate brown is a deep brown with rich, warm tones.
irresistible me hair extensions review
The Royal Chocolate Brown extensions are a perfect match to my own mane.

The clip in extensions come in 10 pieces:  1 piece of 4 clips (8″ wide), 2 pieces of 3 clips (6″ wide), 5 pieces of 2 clips (4″ wide) and 2 pieces of 1 clip (1.5″ wide). They also come in different lengths (14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″ and 24″) and different weights ((100 grams, 140 grams or 200 grams, though the three longest sizes only come in 200g weight). This variety lets you get your clip-in hair extensions as long and as thick as you’d like.

I chose 20 inch extensions at 200 grams since I’m already starting with longer hair to begin with.

My natural hair without extensions.
My natural hair without extensions. 
After clipping in Irresistible Me hair extensions:  Long and glamorous!
After clipping in Irresistible Me hair extensions: Long and glamorous!

I absolutely love my new extensions, and I’ll wear them any time I feel like adding some length to my locks. And because they’re human hair, I can curl, straighten and wash them just like my own hair (while being careful with them so they last a long time).

Want your own? Check out Irresistible Me hair extensions for yourself and learn more at IrresistibleMe.com.

 

Photos:  Anne Houseman/beautyXposé
stella & dot jewelry coral cay necklace

Why You Should Attend a Stella & Dot Jewelry Party Stat

Our Stella & Dot stylist shows off the engravable collection
Our Stella & Dot stylist shows off the engravable collection

While Stella & Dot has been a fave for years with other writers here at beautyXposé, I’ve never personally experienced the brand’s jewelry (though I’ve always lusted after the pieces online). So when my friend, Lyssa, invited me to a Stella & Dot jewelry party, I was the first person on the list to RSVP.

Attending a party in person really made a big difference when it came to understanding all the cool details about the jewelry brand.

First, you have a personal stylist there to help guide you through all the pieces of jewelry, which can be overwhelming if you’re like me and want to order everything in sight. Our stylist, Andrine Coleman, helped each attendee assess her own personal style and then offered jewelry suggestions that match their tastes — whether they’re trendy or more traditional.

The layered look is big for bracelets this summer.
The layered look is big for bracelets this summer.

And a stylist can also help push you out of your comfort zone. I never would have chosen this silver Elodie Necklace ($89) for myself, but it actually looked pretty good once I tried it on.

Stella & Dot jewelry Elodie Necklace
I never would have gravitated toward this piece, but once I tried it on, I liked it a lot!

Second, you can really see the versatility of the products first-hand.  A lot of Stella & Dot jewelry pieces are convertible so you can wear them many different ways.

Take the Sutton Necklace for example. While it’s definitely steeper in price than other pieces (retails at $178), it’s really like getting at least eight necklaces in one.

Lyssa tries on the Sutton Necklace with all strands on the clasp.
Lyssa tries on the Sutton Necklace with all strands on the clasp.

You can wear it short with all the strands in place, or you can remove the fold-over clasp and loop up any of the seven single strands around your neck to wear the rest of the strands a tad longer.

Lyssa marvels at the Sutton Necklace once the clasp is removed and one of the strands loops up around her neck, creating a whole new look.
Lyssa marvels at the Sutton Necklace once the clasp is removed and one of the strands loops up around her neck, creating a whole new look.

And the “shark teeth” strand is removable as well, so you can wear that alone or layer it if you’d like. The possibilities are endless, I tell you!

Andrine converts the Sutton Necklace on Lyssa by removing the "teeth" chain.
Andrine converts the Sutton Necklace on Lyssa by removing the “teeth” chain.
This beautiful red necklace has a removable pendant.
This beautiful red necklace has a removable pendant.
Stella & Dot jewelry sardinia chandelier earrings
This earring is convertible too! It can be worn as a double chandelier, single chandelier or a stud.

Many of us at the party are allergic to products containing nickel, so it was a treat to learn that Stella & Dot jewelry is lead and nickel safe. Score!

So what did I end up buying? After a lot of head scratching and hard decision-making (#firstworldproblems), I decided to go with the Coral Cay Necklace.

stella & dot jewelry coral cay necklace
The Stella & Dot Coral Cay Necklace

 

I can't wait for my necklace to arrive in the mail!
I can’t wait for my necklace to arrive in the mail!

Of course, one of the best reasons to attend a Stella & Dot jewelry party is if you have an awesome host like Lyssa, who plies you with cupcakes.

Mmmmmm....buttercream frosting.
Mmmmmm….buttercream frosting.

While it really sucks that Lyssa didn’t invite you to her party, you can still shop her boutique online from now until July 12 here:  www.stelladot.com/ts/qw2z5.  Or get in the action yourself and host your own party, or become a stylist!

 

Photos:  Anne Houseman/beautyXposé

Orange Crush: The Perfect Bright Lip Kit by Mally Beauty

Crimson lipstick is the traditional way to glam up your look.  But for an updated twist on the classic red pout, this summer, try out an orange lipstick.

If you’re not sure where to begin among all the tangerines, corals and cantaloupes, Mally Beauty has the answer — The Perfect Bright Lip Kit in “Sexy Siren.”

orange lipstick: mally beauty perfect lip kit

For just $26, you get everything you need to create outrageously orange smackers. The kit comes with a chubby lip pencil (Lip Magnifier), a lip liner (Evercolor Shaping Lip Pencil) and a pencil sharpener.

The perfect bright lip for summer!

The Lip Magnifier  is the real winner in this trio, as it glides on super smoothly and gives a super pop of color without drying out.  According to Mally Beauty, the orange lipstick provides the benefits of seven products all rolled up into one — a lip smoother, treatment, hydrator, primer, pencil, color and gloss.  I’m not sure if I agree on all of these (like a gloss, because the color isn’t “glossy” per se), but it’s definitely a multi-tasking keeper in my book.SONY DSCAnd if you’re looking to add a little orange zest to your gel nail manicure, Mally Beauty has a color in “Melonista” that fits the bill (and only sets you back $15).

Will you be crushing on orange this summer?

Photos: beautyXposé/Anne Houseman; Disclosure

A Beautiful World: Puerto Rico Edition

Most of the time, I’m ogling some sort of lip gloss or touting my favorite new eyeshadow palette here on beautyXposé.  But it’s also nice to pause and examine the beauty of the world around us.

This past week, I had the pleasure of vacationing in Puerto Rico (my first real vacation in over two years!), and I simply can’t keep the beauty of  what I encountered to myself. I hope you enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed my trip!

We kicked off our trip at the Wyndham resort for a couple of days of R&R
We kicked off our trip at the Wyndham resort for a couple of days of R&R
I went largely makeup-free during this trip, with the exception of SPF and Pond's BB Cream.
I went largely makeup-free during this trip, with the exception of SPF and Pond’s BB Cream.
Iguanas kept us company at the pool, and pretty much everywhere on the island.
Iguanas kept us company at the pool, and pretty much everywhere on the island.
Speaking of the pool.....
Speaking of the pool…..
We enjoyed our first night gazing at a beautiful moon  framed by palm trees.
We enjoyed our first night gazing at a beautiful moon framed by palm trees.
The resort at night was breathtaking to behold.
The resort at night was breathtaking to behold.
And isn't my husband a breathtaking sight to behold too? ;)
And isn’t my husband a breathtaking sight to behold too? 😉
Next, as we made our way to Old San Juan, we stopped along the road to enjoy secluded beaches.
Next, as we made our way to Old San Juan, we stopped along the road to enjoy secluded beaches where only a few locals go.
My new happy place. Tranquility!
My new happy place. Tranquility!
Just passing by. This guy thought I was a nutso tourist for taking his pic.
Just passing by. This guy thought I was a nutso tourist for taking his pic. (Which I was.)
Then we made our way into Old San Juan. The city is encircled by a wall and old fortresses to protect it.
Then we made our way into Old San Juan. The city is encircled by a wall and old fortresses to protect it.
Another view of the water surrounding the city.
Another view of the water surrounding the city.
One of the small lookout towers on the wall.
One of the small lookout towers on the wall.
Just one of the many statues in the city, encircled by beautiful foliage.
Just one of the many statues in the city, encircled by beautiful foliage.
Old San Juan is filled with art depicting saints and other religious figures.
Old San Juan is filled with art depicting saints and other religious figures.
We never figured out what this place was, but there are marionettes hanging above the doorway.
We never figured out what this place was, but there are marionettes hanging above the doorway.
Translation: Park of the Pigeons.
Translation: Park of the Pigeons.
The reason for the park's name.
The reason for the park’s name.
The pigeons parked out in these cubby holes.
The pigeons parked out in these cubby holes.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was a common religious symbol in the city.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was a common religious symbol in the city. Fun fact: My birthday is that Saint’s Day.
A stunning fountain marked a charming square where city dwellers stopped for morning coffee.
A stunning fountain marked a charming square where city dwellers stopped for morning coffee.
An up-close look at an example of the iron work that lines virtually every building in some way or another.
An up-close look at an example of the iron work that lines virtually every building in some way or another.
Old San Juan's roads are cobblestone, making it hard on high-heel-wearers (note: I was not one of them).
Old San Juan’s roads are made of centuries-old cobblestone, making it hard on high-heel-wearers (note: I was not one of them).
No boring colors allowed in Old San Juan. All the buildings seem so vibrant!
No boring colors allowed in Old San Juan. All the buildings seem so vibrant!
The San Juan Cathedral housed the tomb of Ponce de Leon.
The San Juan Cathedral housed the tomb of Ponce de Leon.
A VERY important landmark, which clearly needed a plaque of commemoration.
A VERY important historical landmark, which clearly needed a plaque of commemoration.
This is the inner courtyard of our hotel, which used to be a convent. Fitting, because I'm so nun-like.
This is the inner courtyard of our hotel, which used to be a convent. Fitting, because I’m so nun-like.
The hotel was a really interesting mix of indoors (the rooms) and outdoors (the hallways were basically balconies overlooking the inner courtyard).
The hotel was a really interesting mix of indoors (the rooms) and outdoors (the hallways were basically balconies overlooking the inner courtyard).
When's the last time your hotel room had a legitimate metal key? This is what opened our heavy iron door.
When’s the last time your hotel room had a legitimate metal key? This is what opened our heavy iron door.
Who are these happy travelers? Oh, it's me and my hubby!
Who are these happy travelers? Oh, it’s me and my hubby!
A view of the city from our hotel's rooftop.
A view of the city from our hotel’s rooftop.
The city becomes warm and inviting at night.
The city becomes warm and inviting at dusk.
Small lizards were as common as flies.
Small lizards seem as common as flies.
The intricate old garden at the Ponce de Leon residence.
The intricate old garden at the Ponce de Leon residence.
This looked ancient...and smelled just as ancient.
This looked ancient…and smelled just as ancient.
The Ponce de Leon peeps really knew the beauty of nature!
The Ponce de Leon peeps really knew the beauty of nature!
Another vibrant view from the Ponce de Leon garden.
Another vibrant view from the Ponce de Leon garden.
We ventured out to El Yunque rainforest, which was ... rainy.
We ventured out to El Yunque rainforest, which was lush and … rainy.
A stunning waterfall in El Yunque rainforest.
A stunning waterfall in El Yunque rainforest.
Ever see a horse go swimming in the ocean? Me neither until this day.
Ever see a horse go swimming in the ocean? Me neither until this day.
I couldn't believe how happy this horse seemed to just swim along.
I couldn’t believe how happy this horse seemed to just swim along.
It was a rainy day right before we left, but it produced the most vivid, beautiful rainbow I've ever seen in my life.
It was a rainy day right before we left, but when the sun peeked back out, it produced the most vivid, beautiful rainbow I’ve ever seen in my life.  A promise that I will one day return to Puerto Rico!

 

Photos:  Anne Houseman/beautyXposé

6 Reasons Ulta is Better than Sephora

Don’t get me wrong — I love a good old-fashioned trip to Sephora. But I just can’t help but love Ulta more. (And yes, I know this is a very unpopular opinion in the land of beauty bloggers).  Here’s why I adore this store.

1.  You can get all sorts of beauty services  in the same place you buy your deodorant.*

The Shops at Park Lane in Dallas Texas

opi nails colorwheel

Because who doesn’t love getting their nails done and then stocking up on antiperspirant?

 

2.  Get rewarded for getting your hair done.

 

ultamate rewards

Not only do you rack up ULTAmate Reward points for every purchase you make, but they count when you get a service too. That means getting about $8 to put toward a future purchase every time I get my hair colored, cut and highlighted. Score.

 

3.  They have  drugstore brands right alongside higher-end “prestige” brands.

image

 

The perfect mix of aspiration without the snobbery.

 

4.  There’s virtually always a coupon or deal.

coupon salon_home_hero

For everyone.  At all times.

 

5.  Men aren’t afraid to shop there.

 

In my experience, there are 10 men in Ulta for every one man I see in Sephora. Says one male friend of Ulta, “I liked the girl that got all of the crap on my list and then took my money. She did it efficiently.”

 

6.  The salespeople don’t make you feel like a moron if you don’t know a BB cream from a CC cream.

 

Because we’re all human.

 

 

*In Ulta locations featuring The Salon

The Secret to Luxurious Hair: Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil System

Products sent for review purposes, but opinions are all Anne’s own.

You may recall my blonde ambition last spring, when I thought I would drastically lighten my locks in the hopes of emulating Marilyn Monroe. In reality, all I ended up achieving was a head full of fried hair, which I immediately died back dark before even leaving the salon.

Since then, I’ve been babying my locks and slowly clipping away the frizzed, fried ends. But recently, I was introduced to a new ultra-rich hair care collection, and now my hair feels the softest it’s been in my entire life. Seriously.

pro naturals hair repair system

So what is this magical hair potion? It’s the Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil System, which includes four products:

  • Pro Naturals Hair Shampoo
  • Pro Naturals Hair Conditioner
  • Pro Naturals Hair Mask
  • Pro Naturals Argan Hair Oil

According to the brand (see important update below), these products are made of all-natural ingredients including rare 100% pure Moroccan oil. They don’t contain oil-stripping sulfates or silicones, and by some sort of wizardry, they make your hair richly smooth as silk without weighing it down.

My hair has never felt softer!
My hair has never felt softer!
My hair is soft and smooth, but still has bounce.
Close up alert! My hair is soft and smooth, but still has bounce.

The best part is that even though the price tag is a bit high ($159.99), you can stretch your dollar because the system isn’t designed to be used every day. Simply use it for one week out of every six weeks, and you’ll maintain your newly-healthy hair. I can tell you I’ll be using all four products regularly from now on, because my hair has never felt better.

Want to learn more about Pro Naturals?  Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  

Thanks to the super sleuthing of my beauty blogging pal Kelly Gould of Gouldylox Reviews, these products are NOT all natural and they do contain sulfates. Read her post here, which shows that the brand is lying about their ingredients on their website, and after requesting and receiving a detailed list of ingredients provided by the brand (because they were missing on the packaging), it’s clear that these products barely contain any Moroccan Oil. I was duped by that, but I stand by my statement that my hair feels absolutely amazing and the softest it’s ever felt. But honesty and integrity is more important, so I can’t recommend these products in good conscience.

Photo:  Anne Houseman/beautyXposé