Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask | Review

The Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is a great and affordable at-home mask you can use to help dry up acne/pimples, shrink pores, and draw dirt/impurities/blackheads from your skin.

It's fairly simple to use: just clean your skin with your usual face cleanser, pat dry, then apply a thin layer all over your face and wait for it to dry (15-20 minutes). Then just wash it off thoroughly with warm water and continue with your usual skincare regimen (serum, lotion, eye cream, etc).  It also works well for spot treating inflamed acne spots if you leave it on the problem spot overnight and wash it off in the morning.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Kaolin, Bentonite, Glycerin, Zinc Oxide, Propylene Glycol, Sulfur, Chromium Oxide Greens, Fragrance, Methylparaben

- extremely affordable (8 oz tube $3.99, 12 oz jar $7.23)
- one tube (8 oz) lasted me about a year (used ~1 time per week)
- visibly shrinks pores (you see the effect immediately after washing off the mask)
- helps reduce inflammation from acne
- helps dry out pimples
- reduces sebaceous oil / helps mattify skin
- makes skin feel more firm/smooth
- temporarily reduces redness
- leaves skin feeling fresh and clean

- leftover product gets stuck in the tube so you have to cut the tube open to scrape out leftover product. You can avoid this by buying the 12 oz jar ($7.23).
- fragranced (minty smell; personally, the smell doesn't bother me at all)
-  can be drying if you have very sensitive/dry skin
- takes a lot of rinses to completely rinse off the mask (I find the best way to remove the mask is with warm water and a soft silicone facial cleansing pad - see photo below). You may also opt to apply it before you shower so you can wash it off in the shower as opposed to making a mess over the sink.

Sidenote: I've tried other masks such as the Aztec Secrets Indian Clay Healing Mask ($7.79 for 1 pound!), which I felt worked well but it was not only a bit more harsh, but kind of a pain to mix up as it comes in a powder and you have to mix it yourself (suggested as working best mixed in a wooden/clay/glass container with apple cider vinegar -- a bit more time consuming). Anyway, I'll save my review of that mask for another post. I've also tried the Origins Charcoal Mask (barely does anything + expensive) and the Boscia Black Mask (barely does anything + very very expensive).  Yup. The Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is the clear winner in my book.

Overall, I feel this Mint Julep Masque is the best bang for your buck!  My biggest skin issues are enlarged pores and redness -- and this mask does a great job battling both those problems. I don't have many issues with blackheads, so I can't really say how well it works for removing blackheads.  I've also used it for spot treatment before and it definitely helps reduce the inflammation with those painful acne spots.

More Photos:
What the mask looks like in the tube

The Mint Julep Masque applied & dried on my face

The cleansing pad I use (+ warm water) to help remove the mask more easily.

What are your experiences and thoughts regarding this mask? 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tory Burch Caroline Flats | Review

The Tory Burch Caroline flat is beautiful, leather ballet style shoe with an elastic trim. These flats are available in many different color combinations and finishes (glossy patent leather, matte leather, metallic, snake embossed leather).  The Caroline flat is pretty much the cousin of the ever so popular Tory Burch Reva flat (click here for the review on the Revas). The Carolines are more comfortable, but also more expensive--retailing at $225 (ouch). You'll also notice the Tory Burch logo emblem is smaller compared to the Revas. The particular pair I have (sand/black, matte leather) has a dual color emblem that is black outlined with gold.

I bought these Caroline flats from Bloomingdales about 1.5 years ago during their friends and family sale. Since then, I've probably worn them about once a week on average during the warmer months (where I am, ~7 months out of the 12). I've included photos below of the flats out of the box as well as their current condition after some wear and tear. I hope you find my review helpful!

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Money saving tipEbates cashback program offers from 3-10% cash back for a lot of retailers I buy my clothes/shoes from, including (15% cash back for a limited time). This is a great opportunity to snag a pair of TB flats at a discount!  If you don't already have an Ebates account, you can sign up free here -- they have so many different retailers! I have used them for years to save a lot of $$$ via cash back.
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- lovely, elegant style
- versatile; easily dressed up or down (pairs well with skinny jeans, work trousers, or even a cute skirt)
- elastic allows for a snug and secure fit so your foot does not slip while walking 
- requires minimal break in period (for me personally, just a few days)
- I really love the color combination of the sand/black pair that I ordered. 

- pricey! (retail $225)
- leather is thin and easily scuffed (the patent leather seems more durable)
- very thin sole (barely any support/padding)
- not comfortable if you'll be walking for hours or for long distances, as you can feel the ground through the thin sole and the logo imprint on the inside of shoe (see photo below) becomes bothersome

My general opinion:
Although I think these flats are gorgeous and chic, I personally do not feel they are worth their full price tag of $225 per pair. I would only recommend these if you're able to get them at a discounted price during a friends & family sale or other promotion. They definitely feel more comfortable than the Reva flats and require far less time to break in.
For the price tag of $225, you can find a better flat with more substantial padding. I find that Vince Camuto makes a lot of cute flats that feel comfortable; you can probably score a pair of Vince Camuto flats from Nordstrom Rack at a discounted price.

More Photos:

Tory Burch Caroline Flats (out of the box)

Caroline Flats in sand/black matte leather (new, out of box)

After over a year of wear and tear; notice the scuffing at the toes.

The bottom of the flats (after over 1 year of wear).

The rest of the flats held up pretty well after over a year of wear.

Flats worn in indoor lighting

The imprint on the inside of the flats become uncomfortable after a bit of walking.

The sand/black Carolines in natural lighting outside.
I have relatively wide feet with no arch (you can notice this especially in my left foot). - Free Shipping Free Returns Everyday

What is your personal experience with these flats?
Tell me your favorite ballet style flats in the comments!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Everlane Weekender Bag | Review

The Everlane Weekender is a sturdy yet lightweight travel bag that is a perfect size to pack necessities for a weekend getaway or to use as a carry-on to supplement your luggage for a longer trip. This functional, minimalistic, stylish bag is sold on the Everlane site for $95 and measures 22" length x 12" height x 8.5" width with a 12" shoulder drop. It has one large compartment, a small zippered pocket inside, and one exterior open side pocket.

The $95 canvas weekender is available in 6 different color varieties; there are also $135 suede weekenders in 3 color choices.  I bought the "Reverse Denim" weekender and absolutely love the style.

- Lightweight
- Durable canvas exterior
- Lined interior
- Structured base
- Long enough to wear over shoulder, short enough to carry without dragging (for me; I'm 5'4'')
- Shoulder straps are a good width
- Variety of colors available
- Unisex (in my opinion); color/style is appropriate for both males/females
- Carry-on appropriate (fits in overhead compartments)

- No option to wear it across the body. It'd be nice if there was a removable shoulder sling.
- Leather straps are not lined (will wear & tear lead to fraying? TBD.)

If interested: My Everlane T-Shirt Review Post

More Photos:

The bag is shipped folded like this. I didn't have issues with creasing.

I love the look/texture of the reverse denim in contrast to the brown leather straps.

Zipper detail.

Details of the leather straps.

Underside of the leather straps.

Exterior side pocket (only on one side).

Interior zippered pocket (measures 10" x 9").

Some clothes packed in the Everlane Weekender bag.

When looking to buy a travel bag, I also considered the Cuyana Weekender ($120) and Cuyana Overnight bag ($165). In the end, I chose the Everlane Reverse Denim Weekender because of the price and the style/color.

** This is my first impressions review of the bag. I will have to give it a few uses before I can come back with an update on how sturdy the bag is and how the leather straps hold up. I have a few trips in the horizon, so stay tuned!

Which bag do you carry and love for overnight/weekend trips?

If interested: My Everlane T-Shirt Review Post
My Everlane Short Sleeve Sweatshirt Review

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Style Harem Pants

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Money saving tipEbates cashback program offers from 3-10% cash back for a lot of retailers I buy my clothes/shoes from, including (2-5% cash back if you shop through ebates). This is a simple way to keep some extra cash in your pocket.  If you don't already have an Ebates account, you can sign up free here -- they have so many different retailers! I have used them for years to save a lot of $$$ via cash back.
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Harem pants (aka harem trousers or woven joggers) are baggy at the hip/thigh but taper and become fitted at the ankle. I used to think this style was horrendous, but the more subtle "harem" styles have really grown on me. These pants are available in various different styles, prints, and materials. Forever 21 sells harem pants in various styles/prints for an affordable price; check out their harem pants stock here
I think a simple solid black pair of harem pants can offer so much versatility -- ranging from casual comfortable to classy & chic. I own two pairs that I really love: a $6.99 pair from eBay (shown on the left) and a $15 pair I found on sale at TJMaxx (shown on the right). 
* side note: the eBay pants (left) are a bit sheer so I wear thin cotton biker shorts underneath.

There are 4 main aspects I look for when searching for the perfect versatile harem pant:
(1) Bagginess: For a clean, chic fit: look for pants that are loose around the thigh area, but not too baggy at the crotch or butt.  The taper should start at the knee and continue down to the ankle. 
(2) Material: I try to avoid any material that makes the pants look like sweatpants or pajamas; so I generally look for materials that have a bit of a sheen (polyester, rayon, etc). It's also nice to have a blend of spandex or elastane for a more stretchy/comfortable fit. 
(3) Waist: I am definitely a fan of the high waisted fit for these types of pants. I try to avoid a drawstring waist as it gives off a sweatpants/pajama feel. Look for a plain elastic waist. Belt loops are a plus.
(4) Pockets: I prefer my harem pants to have pockets at the hips for that extra detail. I really like the look of draped pockets.

Here is the YouTube video I put together with some outfit ideas:

OUTFIT 1: Polka Dotted Button Down
polka dot chiffon button down (Forever 21, old) similar here
gold collar necklace (Forever 21, past season) similar here
nude belt w/ gold bow detail (F21, past season) similar here
dusty pink cross body (F21, past season) similar here
rose gold watch (Michael Kors) see here
harem style pants (eBay, $6.99)
black ankle cuff pumps (BCBG, past season) similar here & here

OUTFIT 2: Patterned Peplum
patterned peplum top (F21, past season) other peplums here 
dainty black triangle necklace (F21, past season) similar here
white quilted clutch/cross body (F21, old) similar
rose gold watch (Michael Kors)
harem style pants (eBay, $6.99)
black ankle cuff pumps (BCBG, past season) similar here, here here
also shown: 
black/cream handbag (Kate Spade 'Laurel') see here

OUTFIT 3: All Black Everything
black chiffon pintucked sleeve top (F21, $11.80)
nude belt w/ gold bow detail (F21, old) similar
gold spiked necklace (local Burlington Coat Factory)
black/gold pyramid stud bag (F21, past season)
harem style pants (eBay, $6.99)black ankle cuff pumps (BCBG, past season) similarhere here
aviator sunglasses (D&G)

OUTFIT 4: Comfy Cardigan
beige lace back cardigan (local Burlington Coat Factory)dusty purple jersey top (H&M, $5.95
long faux stone pendant necklace (F21, old) similar:
black faux leather satchel bag (H&M, old) similar:
rose gold watch (Michael Kors)
harem style pants (eBay, $6.99)

'Coreline' Suede Booties (Guess)

OUTFIT 5: Comfy Casual
dusty pink loose t-shirt (F21, past season) similar
long gold charm cluster necklace (F21, old) similar:
aviator sunglasses (D&G)
dusty pink cross body (F21, past season) similar
rose gold watch (Michael Kors)
harem style pants (eBay, $6.99)

nude braided sandals (Forever 21, $12.80)

What's your favorite way to style harem pants?