Spurge vs. Steal: Living Proof Root Lifting Spray & Samy Fat Hair "0" Calories Root Lifter Spray

My locks always need a little help in the volume department, which is why I fell pretty hard for Living Proof’s Full Line. The line dominated our “best of” list for hair care in 2010 for good reason — it really does amp up your strands. In particular, Living Proof’s Root Lifting Spray boosts hair at its base using a blend of resins that give a flexible, long-lasting lift. I really notice a difference in my look when I use this before blow-drying, especially as my hair gets longer and needs even more help being lifted. But at $26, this isn’t always a budget-friendly option.

Coming in at nearly a quarter of the price is Samy’s Fat Hair “0” Calories Root Lifter Spray. I found that this little $7 wonder works just as well as my beloved Living Proof. Just spritz this on your crown when hair is damp or wet and blow out to maximize volume. I do think this formula is a tiny bit drying, and while it really hasn’t had an effect on my hair, be sure to only use it on the roots to help prevent any damage or breakage. To help mitigate, I always massage a droplet of oil into the ends of my hair — a habit I’ve carried with me from this previous winter. Healthy hair = less haircuts = long, voluminous locks! What I do love about Samy’s formula is that it is lightweight, long-lasting and leaves no sticky residue behind. This is a steal!

Splurge vs. Save: NARS Orgasm Blush vs ELF Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder

I know there are some out there that are so over the whole NARS Orgasm trend, however, I am not one of them! As a fair skinned woman (and sometimes girl), I seriously can’t get enough of that perfect pinky gold. It is just a wonderfully flattering shade on me, it is my go-to blush.

Cut to ELF, my new discovery, and their Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder with a similar shade to Orgasm as well as a great bronzer too practically identical to the NARS Orgasm/Laguna duo. Is it exactly the same? No. BUT, it is pretty close. The ELF blush is not as pigmented as the NARS color, but by using just a little bit more of a heavy hand when applying and building the color, you can get an almost identical look to the NARS product. The bronzer, a semi-shimmery very wearable shade is good for contouring since it is not too shimmery but, I usually prefer a totally matte bronzer for contouring. It is similar to NARS Laguna, but a bit darker. I have read that this is too “powdery” of a blush, but I always tap the brush in and do not swipe across, and I have had no problems at all with it.

For me, this is one of those steal deals, like, can it really only cost 3 bucks? Totally worth it in my opinion, also, the bronzer in here makes a great natural eyeshadow contour for your crease as well. I found my Duo at Target, which usually sells select ELF products, as well as Kmart, if there is one of those still open around you. The full product line is also available online.

Have any of you beauty mavens out there used this? What are your thoughts on it? The ELF line?

Splurge vs. Save: Sara Happ & Lush Sweet Lips Lip Scrubs

I am a big fan of lip scrubs, keeping my lips smooth and flake free for whatever lipstick shade seems to brings out the worst in my lips, is an obsession of mine. I have a quite a few of these but I usually reach for the ones that have a stronger grit to them, the ones that really go to work on my lips are my favorites.

Sara Happ’s The Lip Scrub has been out for ages but the $24 price tag kept me away for a long time. When I finally bit the bullet and gave in to the price tag, I found a lip scrub that is rich, gritty and effective. One of my pet peeves with some lip scrubs is texture. Some do not have enough grit to them, there’s too much oil or a carrier in them to use the sugar crystals effectively but that’s not the case with Sara Happ’s Lip Scrub. What you get is a dense paste with plenty of brown sugar to take care of flaky lip syndrome and keep it in check for good. A pot has 30ml of product and this scrub is now available in 6 other flavors.

On the right you have Lush’s Sweet Lips Lip Scrub retailing for $8.95 a pot. While it has slightly less product, it also costs much, much less and is just as effective. It does not have the same paste link consistency as Sara Happ’s Lip Scrub but it has a healthy dose of castor sugar crystals to keep lips soft and smooth just as well. I actually reach for this one more often than the other because Lush’s Lip Scrub is not as dense and spreads a little easier on the lips. Lush also has two other flavors available; Mint Julip and Bubble Gum, both of which I have just in case I feel the urge to mix it up a little.

Both of these lip scrubs are fantastic and are both eligible for holy grail status. I will tell you this, I do reach for these Lush lip scrubs more often simply because I do not worry about replacing them since they are much cheaper. I do understand that sometimes a splurge is necessary though. Either way, you’re in good hands with these lip scrubs.

Just Another Mani Monday: Zoya Caitlin

How’s everyone doing this Monday? Chicago got a burst of summer weather yesterday, too short-lived for my liking, so I’m having a hard time adjusting to the weekday grind. But a beautiful day truly is good for the soul. This week’s manicure, Zoya Caitlin, feels appropriate given the ups and downs in the mercury. The polish, courtesy of Zoya’s Spring Collection, is part spring, part murkey, described as a smokey, purple-tinged medium gray. I think it’s probably the younger sister of Zoya’s Kelly.

I know I’ve picked out a good color for the week when I get comments on it, and this one is a hit with the ladies I work with. This may be one of my favorite polishes I’ve seen all year. Tied with Chanel Black Pearl for that top spot.

What’s everyone wearing on the tips this week?

Splurge vs. Save: Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains and Mark Berry Grand

Besides having a thing for lip stains and highlighters, I also love exfoliators. When Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains for the Face came out, I thought it was genius. What a unique concept to add exfoliation to a cleanser you already love, plus the ability to control how much or how little exfoliation you get from it. I was sold but I was not happy about the $40 price tag for what is really just grains. When I came across these Mark Berry Grand Super Exfoliating Beads on the Mark website, I thought I had just found a replacement at a fraction of the cost for roughly the same amount.

The main difference between these two products beside the price tag is the texture of the grain in each jar. Bobbi Brown’s is not quite as thick as Mark’s, it consists of Japanese adzuki bean powder to help get rid of dry patches while Mark’s has cranberry and pomegranate sees along with apricot seed and rice powder. Mark’s has some chunkier grains in it but it also has the fine powder that Bobbi Brown’s has as well. Perhaps it is a different caliber of ingredients in each product but both are effective at exfoliating skin without being harsh or abrasive, the grains are not thick or sharp enough to do that. In my testing, I didn’t see anything that made one product better than the other.

I’ve certainly caved on my share of more expensive products when a cheaper dupe was available, but sometimes it just comes down to which brand you prefer or trust more. I am a sucker for packaging though and have to admit that Bobbi’s jar looks rather sleek on my bathroom counter. Mark’s container has handy function though, like some of its makeup, it  “hooks up” to the tops of their cleansers. If you already use them, I admire your available bathroom counter space! 🙂

Splurge vs. Steal: Trish McEvoy Lash Enhancing Eyeliner & Physicians Formula Lash Boosting Eyeliner

Looking back, 2010 was all about lashes. We were flooded with products meant to condition and lengthen the appearance of lashes, from serums to mascaras, and now eyeliners.  I’m all for increasing lash fullness, so this is a welcoming innovation from where I’m sitting. The two products we’re highlighting here, Trish McEvoy Lash Enhancing Liner and Physicians Formula  Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum, both boast the same value prop: enhance eyelashes and improve lash fullness, but have a price difference of $80+. An incredible difference, which begs the question: if they do the same thing, why on earth would one pay more? Here’s our thoughts.

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