Lighter Locks

Lighter Locks

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes! I can’t tell you how much your sweet comments mean to me.

This year, I decided to change up my look. Not just because I turned 30, but because I had always wanted to lighten up my dark locks. Usually, when I get to the hair salon, I chicken out. And while I may not have taken off as many inches as I had intended to, I did keep my promise and lightened my color.

I wanted to keep the length and add layers and angles to my hair, so I brought some inspiration images with me to show my stylist. I was also intent on trying the balayage because there wasn’t too much maintenance involved with keeping the color up.

Lighter Locks

I’ve been going to the same salon for years to have my eyebrows waxed, so I felt that it was only natural to have them do my cut and color as well. The staff at Spa Adriana are friendly and professional, and my stylist, Nadia, was able to work with what little direction I gave her when it came to color (which I know nothing about). She immediately got to work mixing and applying color to my hair. She suggested that because of the length, pre-cutting it and foiling it would be the best way to go. We took about three inches off up front and then spent the next hour applying the color and foiling each section — which took forever (patience is not a virtue of mine).

After the color and foil was in place, I sat under heat lamps. Once the color was set, Nadia washed my hair and I was ready for another cut.

Lighter Locks

Lighter Locks

I loved how the color looked on my wet hair, but I was blown away (no pun intended) when Nadia started styling it. The color did exactly what I had hoped it would do – it instantly brightened up my look.

While I didn’t get back to the lighter color I had as a kid, I am so pleased with how my hair turned out. It looks very natural and is virtually maintenance-free. If you are on Long Island, I highly recommend stopping in at Spa Adriana for all of your beauty needs!

Fall Beauty Buys – Part I

stila star light star bright highlighter palette

I have been on quite the beauty kick lately. It’s amazing how a new lipstick (or highlighting palette) can get me excited for the upcoming work week. Lately, the object of my affection has been Stila (surprise, surprise!).

stila star light star bright highlighter palette 2

I thought I had to wait months before the launch of Stila’s new Star Light, Star Bright Highlighting Palette…but I was wrong. When I stopped at Ulta last week, I was pleasantly surprised to see the palette in stock — and now in my beauty bag. I know, you’re probably thinking, ‘Didn’t you just buy a bunch of highlighters from Laura Geller?’ Yup, I did. And while I have enjoyed them, something about this Stila palette proved irresistible. Perhaps it was that the palette contained three shades: Transcendence, Kitten, and Bronze. Or that all three of the highlighting shades could be worn separately. But what sold me is that I could blend them together in one simple stroke for the perfect effect (I’m all about quick and easy).

I’ve been using the palette for about a week now, and it not only brightens up my complexion but also my morning routine. I love how it accentuates my cheekbones and gives me a subtle glow — which helps when you can’t get up on time and are scrambling to get out your front door on those kinds of mornings!

While I wish I could say I stopped after this purchase, on a separate visit to Ulta I was powerless to resist scooping up Stila’s Naturally Nude Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick Set. Stay tuned for a future review and to see the gorgeous trio of shades in action!

Fall Hair Inspiration

Well, it’s that time again. The time when my locks seem to be too long and the lack of an actual hairstyle starts to get to me.

Remember when I chopped almost 10 inches off my hair? I do. While I may not be brave enough to pull off the short bob that I’ve always wanted, I am excited to leave a bit of length — and adopt bangs this time around.

I haven’t had bangs since I was a child, but there is something about adding some long pieces to frame my face that I think will take my hair game from plain to polished.

Here are some styles that are giving me major hair envy:

Fall Hair Inspiration

Which hairstyles are you loving this season?

Stealing the Spotlight: Urban Decay Naked Skin

Urban Decay Naked Skin

This review is long overdue. After using a new foundation for several months, I now feel qualified to share my thoughts with you. You may remember that over the summer I was looking for a lighter foundation. I tried a couple of different ones after reading online reviews, and ultimately had success with Urban Decay’s Naked Skin. As I mentioned in previous posts, this foundation has been on my radar for a while, and I decided that this summer was the perfect time to test out a lighter makeup.

I’m always skeptical when I try a new foundation — and even more so when it comes to selecting the correct color. After many failed attempts to identify the appropriate shade on my own, I always ask that someone in the beauty department at my local Ulta help me out. After all, you are laying out $40+ on a foundation, so you might as well get it right.

When it comes to shades, I’m used to being on the low end of the spectrum, so I was surprised (and hesitant) when the color match revealed that I was a 5.0 in Urban Decay. But who am I to argue?

Urban Decay’s Naked foundation is a weightless, ultra definition, liquid makeup. A major selling point for me was that it is paraben-free and infused with peptides. At first I tried to apply this foundation with my Bare Minerals brush, which didn’t work as well as I had hoped. So the next time I applied it, I used a regular makeup sponge. To my surprise, the sponge didn’t absorb too much of the product and it gave me a flawless finish.

While this isn’t technically long-wear makeup, the foundation does a good job of getting me through the day without having to reapply. I feel confident wearing it, as there isn’t a ton of product on my face, yet it still gives buildable coverage.

I thought that I would switch back to my beloved Stila Stay All Day foundation after summer was over, but since I just purchased my second bottle from Urban Decay, I will be sticking with the latter.

If you are going to try this foundation, a little goes a long way. Don’t worry too much that it is a lighter foundation — it is very buildable and you can easily achieve your desired level of coverage.

P.S. I promise to share photos of me wearing this foundation soon — although if you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (@livinginsteil), you have seen it on me for the last few months.

The Perfect Shade of Pink…for Summer and Fall

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

With summer sadly coming to a close, it’s time to swap out those light and bright lipstick colors for more muted tones. Or is it? My lipstick game is strong — I’ve got everything from $8 drugstore finds to $30 brand buys in my arsenal. But one of my favorites is Neutrogena’s MoistureSmooth Color Stick.

I’ve posted about this line in the past and have since bought more…in a variety of shades. This is an affordable option for daily wear, and these Color Sticks leave your lips soft and glossy all day long. When I first learned about this line from Camille Styles blog, I recall running out on my lunch break and falling in love with the Warm Caramel shade.

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

A few weeks ago, after finally finishing that first Color Stick, which lasted many months, I was searching for a fun, bright shade to get me through the rest of summer. To my surprise, Neutrogena had come out with more colors, and I found myself vacillating between two pink shades. I decided on Fresh Papaya. This shade of pink is perfect for hot summer days, but it has plenty of pop to get you through fall.

If you’re looking for a great everyday lipstick, Neutrogena’s MoistureSmooth line is ideal. The line has an array of colors — from shimmer to matte finishes — and with such a reasonable price, you’ll probably leave the store with two shades…as I did.

Glowing Reviews

Laura Geller Luminous Essentials 3 Piece Highlighting Essentials

My favorite thing about summer is getting that sun-kissed glow. And when I can achieve it without having to lie under the hot sun, that’s even better.

Earlier in the summer I scored a three-piece highlighting kit from Laura Geller. It was my first purchase from the makeup brand, so I was excited to try the trial-sized illuminating products that were included in the collection.

Now that I have had plenty of time to incorporate each into my beauty routine, I’m ready to give you a breakdown of how the products performed…and let you know which one is my favorite and worthy of buying the full-sized version.

Laura Geller Luminous Essentials 3 Piece Highlighting Essentials

1. Baked Highlighter (French Vanilla): This compacted powder can be applied like an eyeshadow with either a soft brush or your fingers. While it gives a minimal glow, I found that it left a white powdery residue on my face rather than the golden hue I was expecting. Unfortunately, one hit to the floor and the compacted powder shattered into a million pieces — and is now more of a loose setting powder. While it still gets the job done, I much prefer the two other products in this set.

2. Easy Illuminating Stick (Etheral): I’ve long wanted to incorporate a highlighting stick into my beauty routine, and this one in Etheral is actually what sold me on the kit in the first place. The soft pink shade is perfect for every season and the stick applicator makes it virtually foolproof to apply. One swipe across the cheekbone and you are good to go! If you have sensitive skin, apply sparingly. A little goes a long way and too much can leave your face feeling greasy.

3. Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator (Gilded Honey): This highlighter is hands-down my favorite of the bunch. First off, the product itself is visually appealing, with a soft golden swirl and lots of shimmer to it. Don’t get discouraged by its tiny size relative to the price. This is another instance where you don’t need a lot to achieve the desired result. After sampling all three of the highlighters, this was the one I found myself using day-in and day-out. I used my regular bronzing brush and applied a small stroke along the tops of my cheekbones, the bridge of my nose, and on the cupid’s bow of my lips. If you are new to using highlighters and want just a hint of that summer sun-kissed glow, this is the product for you.

The best part about this kit is that you can use each product alone or combine them for a truly radiant look!

July Beauty Buys

July Beauty Products

Few things in life get me as excited as when I receive a notification from Ulta saying that my order is on its way. Almost immediately, I click on the tracking number included in the email — even though I know the package has yet to leave the warehouse. When the UPS delivery arrives, I then run to the door and tear open the box like a kid on Christmas morning. That’s just what happened the other day.

Still on my hunt for the perfect lightweight foundation (#makeupgate2016), I scoured web pages and customer reviews until I found what sounded like my dream makeup — lightweight…paraben free…and peptide infused. Any guess what the mystery foundation might be? Drumroll, please.

Urban Decay Naked Skin

Let me introduce you to Urban Decay’s Naked Skin. We have a long standing history dating back to 2014 — when again I was in the market for a new foundation. That time I ended up with Stila’s Stay All Day Foundation, but not after endlessly staring at the Urban Decay Naked bottle in its fancy packaging. At the time, I needed a full-coverage makeup, and the helpful sales girl at Ulta was all but certain that the Urban Decay product would be too sheer for me. But after a couple of years of trying to rescue my skin, I was finally able to buy the product that I’ve been lusting after.

When I first tried the makeup, I felt both excitement and a sense of accomplishment wash over me. Not only had my skin improved enough that I could wear a more sheer foundation, but I was impressed with how quickly the product set and how beautiful the matte finish looked. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that a professional had done my makeup — it looked that good!

I haven’t been wearing the foundation long enough to endorse it, but so far, so good. Soon I will feature a post with tips on application and wear. As for the Laura Geller products, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try all three of these highlighters (in smaller sizes, of course) for a fraction of the price of one full-sized version. What better time to have a gorgeous glow than in the summer?

I’d love to hear which beauty products you’re loving this month!

Summer Squad

Summer Squad

My summer essentials are fairly simple — light makeup, good lipstick, and an easy skincare routine. While this may sound straightforward, my desire to try new products keeps me busy at my local Ulta.

This summer, the products on my must-try list include an organic sunscreen (most leave my skin greasy, or worse, ruin the finish on my manicure — if you have any brands that you love, please let me know in the comments), a light foundation that gives me a dewy glow (here is a review of the last foundation I tried), and a toner to get my skin clean and clear before bed. Of course, a good illuminator and a nice lip stain, like the ones from Stila, are always summer staples.

I’d love to hear if you have any summer beauty staples that you can’t live without!

Stealing the Spotlight: Reviewing bareMinerals Bare Beauty Makeup Kit

BareMinerals Bareskin Review

{Left: Stila || Right: bareMinerals}

Do you remember that I told you I was trying a new, lighter makeup for summer? Well, as promised, here is the full review of the bareMinerals Bare Beauty kit I purchased from Ulta.

I’ve been using the makeup for a couple of months now, and alternating between my Stila Stay All Day Liquid Foundation (which I love) and the bareMinerals Bareskin line when it is hot and humid out.

I found the Bareskin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation (in Bare Shell) a great lightweight option and perfect for those days when you are trying to achieve the no-makeup, made-up look.

BareMinerals Bareskin Review

– The kit came with trial sizes of everything you need to get started (for a refresher of what’s in the kit, click here)
– The foundation is lightweight
– It’s not greasy or heavy and my skin reacted well to all of the products
– The makeup does a good job of staying on all day
– The shade matched my skin tone perfectly (which is rare for me)

– The foundation provides minimal coverage. My skin has improved over the years, so this was not an issue for me. However, the kit contains a great concealer, so if you want additional coverage you can try using the concealer underneath.

– I found the Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara a little flakey. I loved the exclusive ProTwist 180 Wand, which dramatically lengthened my lashes, but the staying power left much to be desired.

– The makeup has a mild fragrance to it, and while it did not irritate my skin, I found it unpleasant as it failed to dissipate during the day.

Favorite Product(s) in the Kit:
– The Correcting Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF (in Light 1). It was velvety soft to the touch and provided excellent matte coverage. I would definitely buy the regular size of this product and continue using it. It was so good that I felt that I could just dab some on and head out the door sans foundation!

– The two brushes (one for the foundation and the other for the pressed powder) were worth the price of the whole kit themselves. The pressed powder brush (soft focus face brush) was the gentlest brush I’ve ever used, and the brush for the foundation (perfecting face brush) did an amazing job applying the liquid makeup evenly.

– The Stroke of Light Eye Brightener (in Luminous 1) was something I would not have tried on my own, but I’m glad it was included in the kit. A few dabs under each eye once my makeup was in place, and it brightened up my whole look.

Least Favorite Product in the Kit:
– I received the Bareskin Sheer Sun liquid bronzer as a free gift for trying the kit and I thought it would be perfect for giving me additional color on my face once I got a tan. But it was disappointing. It added no color and I discontinued use.

Overall, the Bareskin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation is a good choice for the summer months as it doesn’t weigh your skin down. It was a bit of an adjustment after using Stila’s Stay All Day line for so long, which is a full-coverage makeup. I was happy enough with the kit and glad I could try everything in a trial size first before committing to the larger (and more expensive) versions. The sticking point for me is the fragrance of the foundation and pressed powder, which after a whole day on my face began to be overwhelming. But I would happily try other products from the bareMinerals line after my experience with the Bareskin Foundation.

Summer Polish Colors to Love

If there is one thing I love as much as wearing a cute outfit, it’s having a fresh coat of polish on my nails. During summer, a coral color works wonderfully — OPI’s Hot & Spicy is my shade of choice. But this season, I’m looking forward to trying a new fiery shade from NARS. You gotta keep it fresh, right? And in keeping with my theme this summer of changing it up, I recently purchased OPI’s Alpine Snow, a stark white that promises to be a perfect hue.

Here are a few other polishes I’ll be donning this season:

Summer Polish Colors to Love

What are some of your favorite nail polish colors for summer?