Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sephora & Nail Polish Haul

Hey everyone! Tiny beauty haul for you today. Reviews to come!


The "Give Me Some Lip" set retails for $30 and contains 5 deluxe sample sized lip products, as well as one full-sized product (Tarte lip surgence in Glitzy). It's a great value because the full-sized product retails for $29, so you basically get the other 5 products for $1. I've quickly swatched them all and some early favorites are the Buxom gloss and the Tarte lip surgence!

The coupon code I used when getting the lip products off of Sephora.com allowed me to grab this Shaveworks shave gel which I'm really excited to try out. It's supposed to "treat ingrown hair, razor bumps, razor burn, and redness" and I'm pretty sure I'm prone to all those things, so hopefully it works! I tend to allow myself one new OPI nail polish per collection, so I chose Haven't The Foggiest from their new San Francisco collection. It's a lovely pewter foil - NOTD to come. I also picked up a new OPI Matte Nail Envy which I've been using consistently for about 8 months now. Let me know if you'd like a review on this! And I got a new bottle of the Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray (review HERE).

Does anyone else have a burning hatred for packet samples? I'll probably use the Bumble & Bumble shampoo/conditioner but that's about it, because these things seriously annoy me lol.

Anything here that tickles your fancy?

Anniversary Giveaway Winner!

Hey everyone! The winner of the 1-Year Abundance of Erica Anniversary giveaway has been picked... *drumroll*


Congratulations Danni Young!


Danni, please reply to the e-mail I sent you as soon as possible so that I can ship your prize!

Thank you all so much for entering. It really means a lot to me! I read every single one of the comments (which you won't find at the moment because I'm having blog issues, argh) and had so much fun interacting with all of you. It's great to see that people all around the world have discovered my little slice of web. I hope you all will stick around because there are bigger and better things to come!

PS. Advice for future blog enterers: I had the rules of the giveaway very clearly delineated on the giveaway page. Stated was that no giveaway-only blogs/Twitters/Facebooks etc were allowed to enter. I wanted this giveaway to be just for my readers. I had to sift through MANY winners because a lot of you didn't adhere to these rules. It would be in your best interest to read the terms & conditions before going on a giveaway entering spree.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What Bothers Me About Sephora (Canada)

Hey everyone! I have a bit of a rant for you guys today. I guess I'll be the first to admit that I don't always love shopping at Sephora. During the past few trips I've made, I've come to realize that I have more than a few problems with the store. It has absolutely nothing to do with the brands or products. All of their items are top notch for me, which is pretty much the only reason I continue to shop there.

My number one problem is that it's very clear that the Canadian branch of Sephora is poorly developed and managed in comparison to the American one. First of all, the prices are marginally more expensive than the US Sephora. Why? I'm not a business major so I can't rationalize this, but when I have to pay more than $15 extra in comparison to the US price, I get seriously turned off. We pay an extortionate amount of taxes in Quebec, so a trip to Sephora can really make a dent in your wallet.

Another problem I have with Sephora is their marketing tactics, which are clearly directed towards American customers. On multiple occasions I've received e-mails containing promotions that I could not take advantage of because they are only valid in the US. Also, their website is designed for American shoppers. The Canadian online Sephora store is the same website as the American one, except in choosing "Country: Canada" the prices are simply changed into their Canadian equivalents. You can imagine this might be problematic when I want to apply coupon codes to my order, or when shipping charges get mixed up, or when I add something to my cart that, oops!, isn't available in Canada. Additionally, Canadians do not have the option of applying a gift card to their order: what's up with that? All in all, the site is super glitchy and really unpleasant to use.

I guess this brings me to my main point of complaint. Yesterday night I came across an offer on their website that I couldn't pass up: the Sephora Favorites Give Me Some Lip box set. Let us all bask in the glory of this little bundle for one moment...

Image source
And for only $30! The Tarte LipSurgence costs $29 on its own, so basically you get the rest for $1. Honestly, I was genuinely surprised to see this available to Canadians at this time of the year. Usually these sets come out around Christmas time, but if I can recall last time this set was out it didn't include NARS Turkish Delight. ANYWAY. That's not my point :)

With shipping and taxes, the entire order would come out to $42... $12 more than anticipated. At that point, is it even a deal anymore? So I scoured the internet for a promo code that might help lower the shipping charge. Usually the deal is free shipping if you spend $75 (vs. $50 on the American site, just saying). Much to my surprise, I found a promo code that enabled free shipping after $50, and a deluxe sample! I was out of B&B Surf Spray so I added a new one to my cart and, with shipping, the order came to ~$64, so I punched in the promo code and right away, it added the deluxe sample, and reduced my order total to $49.50! Great.

You might notice the shipping & handling still said $7.95 (and taxes = $7.41), but I thought it was just being glitchy and not changing it. I refreshed a few times, no difference. Still $7.41 shipping and $49.50 order total. Weird, but I mean, it added the deluxe sample so the promo code must have worked, right? Wrong, of course. Wrong, wrong, wrong. When I got my receipt in the e-mail, my order total was in fact $64.88 (what you see in the yellow box).

And then I noticed that I didn't get my double points, which a recent promo email had promised me. Hell no. I called customer service and, of course, they didn't believe me when I said my order total was $49.50, not $64.88. "Ma'am, you're looking at the merchandise subtotal." No, no I'm not, sir. And then apparently the 2x points only kick in on October 15th (wtf?). AND as I was just back on their website to verify the prices as I was writing up this post, I noticed that they added a full-sized Deborah Lippmann nail polishes as a 100 point perk which is an absolute steal... I mean, totally not their fault, but way to dig the knife deeper, ya know?

All in all, I'm over shopping online at Sephora. Their awful website and poor Canadian marketing is frustrating at best. Maybe I'm a retail snob in the sense that I expect quality service. Or maybe I'm just a sensible shopper. I can't tell sometimes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

NOTD: Revlon Nail Art Moon Candy - Orbit

Hey everyone! These Revlon Moon Candy nail polishes have intrigued me ever since they were released, so a couple months ago I finally decided to pick one up for myself. I chose Orbit - a dark purple-blue with light blue and lavender flecks.

The idea is that you apply the solid colour first, and then follow up with the sparkly side, resulting in a super quick "galaxy" manicure.

Note that this nail polish was sooo hard to capture on camera haha. I would say in person it's much less black and a lot more vibrant!
The overall formulation of the polish was really nice. The consistency of the solid shade is thick enough to avoid streakyness, and it's very easy to apply. The glittery side is a little trickier. The flecks are finicky to work with sometimes because they don't apply smoothy - you kinda have to play around a bit before you get the amount of glitter and the smoothness you want. They tend to stick up on application.  A generous layer of top coat will go a long way on this polish.

Overall, the manicure does require a little more patience than usual but I think the result is totally worth it! It's fun to see light catch in the flecks at different points throughout the day. And in terms of the "galaxy manicure" trend, it's relatively simple to achieve.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DIY Summer Coconut Coffee Scrub

Hey everyone! Just as I ran out of my favourite scrub from Lush, Michelle from Skana spa in New York contacted me and asked if I was interested in sharing a DIY scrub recipe on my blog, so naturally I agreed and the results were great! I have since learnt that Skana Spa has been reaching out to bloggers everywhere in order to share their awesome scrub recipes - a quick Google search will help you find the scrub you might be looking for in case this one doesn't suit your needs.

The scrub I will be sharing is ideally used in the summer because it contains all-natural ingredients that soothe and moisturize the skin after being out in the sun. Although fall is just around the corner, I figured some of my readers might be returning home from their last-minute vacations and could still benefit! Here is an explanation that Michelle sent me...

"The summer is a great time to become more active and participate in outdoor fun. 

However, the skin requires extra care when the days become longer and sunnier 

and the outdoor temperature rises. Warm weather can leave skin dehydrated more 

easily, and increased sun exposure may call for a regular treatments that nourish 

and exfoliate the skin. The experts from Skana spa of the New York resort Turning 

Stone have provided us with a recipe for an all-natural scrub that will lift away dead, 

rough skin while revealing smoother skin that has a healthier glow."

I tried the scrub out for the first time yesterday and, let me tell you, it actually works. The coffee grinds are the perfect exfoliant - not too abrasive, just right. The coconut oil is incredibly moisturizing, and the aloe has a great cooling effect on the skin.

Ingredients:

- 1/4 cup coffee grinds from coffee maker
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (I picked up mine at Tau, a health food store near my house - you may have difficulty finding it at your regular grocery store)
- 1/2 cup aloe vera gel (easily found at your nearest drug store & great product to have around the house during the summer)

Unfortunately this isn't the most appealing scrub, LOL, but the results are effective - trust me.


Directions:

1) Strain the coffee grinds fairly well. Note: Completely drying the grains is not necessary.
2) Melt the coconut oil, and pour it over the coffee grinds. Stir the mixture with a spoon.
3) Add in aloe vera gel, and leave the mixture aside to set. The mixture can be refrigerated or simply left at room temperature to set.

* My observation: If your home is unairconditioned like mine at the moment, putting it in the refrigerator is your best choice, otherwise the coconut oil will not properly combine with the rest of the ingredients. Note that the coconut oil will harden once refrigerated for too long, so remove it from the fridge about 10 minutes before you intend on using it.

Other important indications/tips:

- Use the scrub in the shower to scrub the entire body, paying close attention to rough skin on the elbows and feet.
- Also apply to areas that are prone to developing cellulite and may need a little firming action such as the belly, thighs and bum. The coffee has properties that reduce cellulite and inflammation!
- Rinse with cool water.
- Using the scrub on your face is not recommended because it might be too rough.
- Using the scrub about once a week is more than enough.

And that's about it! I used the scrub in the shower before bed and noticed a difference immediately. Then, once I woke up, the coconut oil had completely soaked into my skin leaving everything super smooth :) All in all, I would definitely remake this scrub whenever I feel like my skin needs some extra exfoliation!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

NCLA Nail Wraps: Demo & Review

Hey everyone! A little while ago I posted my Little Black Bag haul/review, and I showed you guys that I got a pack of NCLA nail wraps in that order. I ended up really loving them so I thought I'd share my tips on how to apply them effectively. The set that I got is called "Electric Gradient". It comes with two manicure options: a blue-green gradient and a pink-red gradient. I tried different techniques both time I used them so I'll explain which one worked best!

You can purchase these nail wraps on nailpolishcanada.com for $16, and they come in a variety of patterns and colors :)

What you'll need:

  • Nail wraps
  • Base coat of your choice
  • Top coat of your choice
  • Nail file (there's one that comes in the pack that works fine)
  • Scissors
First, you'll need to remove any nail polish you have on your nails. Then, cut & shape them any way you like. The nail wraps work better on a straight cut nail, but if you're dead-set on having round nails it will also work. I wouldn't cut your nails too short because you want to incorporate as much of the pattern as you can! Also, applying a base coat at this point is super important. The adhesive on the stickers is very strong and will damage your nails if you skip it! 

Next, pick a sticker that fits the size of the nail you're applying it on. When in doubt, use a smaller size rather than a larger one. If you use one that's a little too big, you'll have a hard time smoothing it down around your cuticle area. Smaller sizes might not fit as snug and there might be some space left between the sticker and your cuticle, but they'll apply much better. In the photo above, I chose a size that was too large and as you can see, there were some air bubbles left on the sides.

If you have shorter nails, the sticker will be much too long. I find them easier to work with if you trim them at this point. 

Bend the sticker over your nail. Try your best to avoid air pockets and smooth out any bumps. This will result in a clean finish. Also, bumpy nails will annoy the heck out of you (at least they did for me haha!). Again, if you pick a size that is slightly smaller than your actual nail you will have an easier time avoiding ridges like the one in the photo above. Once you're happy with how the sticker is placed, use your nail file to remove the excess sticker.

Done! Super cool gradient nails. If the white part of the sticker that came from filing it down annoys you, pick a similar color nail polish and run it along the tip of your nail to cover it up. 

If you have clubbed thumbs like I do, no worries! The largest size sticker that comes in the pack will fit. Generally, though, if you need to customize some of the sizes with a pair of scissors, don't be afraid to do so. These nails should last you a really long time, especially if you don't pick it off. Chipping is very minimal. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this product and will surely purchase more in the future!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

July Favourites 2013

Hey everyone! So I'm finally getting around to posting my July Favourites :) I was debating even posting them at all since I haven't been wearing much makeup this month, but I thought I'd share them anyway.



My only makeup-related favourite this month is this lipliner+lipstick combination. I discovered that dabbing a red lipstick over a light pink lipliner results in a really nice rosy pink color. On days when my eye makeup was super minimal (I'm talking mascara only), I would throw on this combination to add some colour to my face!

This month's book favourites were "Divergent" and "Insurgent" by Veronica Roth. There has been a ton of hype around this book series, especially since the movie based on the books is coming out soon & is said to rival The Hunger Games. I can't tell if I like these or Hunger Games better, but I will say they were equally captivating. I would definitely have to say that Divergent was better than Insurgent, its sequal, because the plot was more coherent. Insurgent was really long and the story was kind of muddy in terms of details. I was also a huge nerd and took some faction quizzes online, and I am definitely Erudite. Take that from that what you will!





In addition to the TV shows I already discussed in THIS post, I've also really been into Orange Is The New Black, a Netflix exclusive series about prison. It's really clever and raunchy and entertaining and perfect. If you're sensitive to adult content I would not recommend it, but if you want some fun and meaningful television in your life, give this a go.




My fashion favourite this month is this awesome multicoloured top that I picked up from TJ Maxx. I just find it really pretty and colourful and flattering :) I love a good TJ Maxx bargain because it feels like finding treasure. The clothes section is super hit-or-miss and you really have to dig through the racks, but it's satisfying when you find something you like!

To people that know me IRL this may come as a surprise, but I've got some health & fitness favourites this month! My fitness favourite are my Nike running shoes. I never realized how necessary a good pair of running shoes is when you work out but these are like, my saviours. They're so comfortable and it's motivating to know that your feet won't start randomly aching in the middle of a workout. My health favourites are hemp hearts and chia seeds. These are great to sprinkle on basically anything you eat. They keep you nice and full until your next meal, and they prevent random eating throughout the day!


My favourite beauty YouTuber of the month is Shaaanxo. She's from New Zealand and is overall super knowledgeable and fun to watch. Her "Get Ready With Me" videos are my obsession! I also enjoy watching her vlog channel because she posts healthy recipe videos and other good stuff. Check her out!


My favourite vlogger of the month is Shane Dawson. While I'm not always a fan of his main channel videos, his second channel kills me. Shane unscripted is absolute perfection. I always look forward to one of his daily vlogs because he never fails to make me laugh. I've also been loving his weekly podcast, Shane and Friends, which you can download for free on iTunes.

So that concludes my monthly favourites for July! Again, sorry for not really including many beauty-related things. And thanks to everyone who has entered my 1 Year Blogiversary giveaway! Good luck!