Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog: December 2013

31 December, 2013

Use It Or Lose It: December 2013 Sample Edition

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I can't believe it but... this will be my last post of 2013! Whoa! It's been an interesting year for me here on the internet, so let's try to keep that up in 2014. I won't be doing an empties post for December because I'm trying to save up a bunch of interesting stuff for my next one, whenever that may be (difficult to predict when you have a thousand half-used products). As for favorites, I'm not doing that this month either. Perhaps next month.

Now onto the actual topic of today's post. Just in case you're not familiar with my "Use It Or Lose It" series, here's the deal:

"I've decided that from now on, at least once a month, I am going to force myself to try at least a few of the samples that have been lingering around in my collection for a long time, or else throw them away!"

30 December, 2013

Christmas Gift Highlights 2013

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Greetings Earthlings! How are you? I took a little blogging break this weekend. Did ya miss me? (Did you even notice I was gone?)

Today (by request) I'll be sharing some of the gifts I got for Christmas this year. I was hesitant to do so at first because I didn't really receive a lot of beauty stuff and wasn't sure if it would be interesting to the people who read my blog, but a few of my Twitter pals convinced me it was a good idea so here you go. If this post bores you then go blame the internet!

Our pitiful Christmas tree, which has nowhere to live except on top of our record turntable.

27 December, 2013

Indie Christmas: Notoriously Morbid's "A Dark Christmas Dream"

Bought It

Attention: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you Indie Friday: The Christmas Edition! A bit late for the big day, but 'tis basically still the season, right?

For this extra-Christmassy edition of Indie Friday I thought I'd spotlight Notoriously Morbid's new "A Dark Christmas Dream" collection, which I got some sample baggies of during their Black Friday sale.

Notoriously Morbid A Dark Christmas Dream sample bags

26 December, 2013

Beauty Box Five (December 2013) Subscription Box Review

Affiliate Links PR Sample

Hello everyone! How was your Christmas? Are you going insane shopping the post-Christmas sales or still recovering from that food coma? I'm just being nosy, sorrynotsorry.

Today I thought I'd get back into the (semi) normal swing of things and do a review of a beauty subscription I just received for the first time, Beauty Box Five! I've seen a few people mention BB5 as an alternative to Birchbox and Ipsy in the comments on my site, so I've been curious to find out what it's all about.

Beauty Box Five (December 2013) Subscription Box Review

25 December, 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate, and a very merry Wednesday to those of you who don't!

Image source: photoraidz on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I won't be doing a poll question this week because I'm sure a lot of people will be busy doing holiday stuff offline today, but if you're bored (and/or avoiding certain family members) feel free to share what you'll be doing for the holiday in the comments. Personally I'll be cooking a massive meal with my boyfriend and watching stupid movies... oh, and in case anyone was wondering, the tinsel surprise was a success. :)

Enjoy your day!

23 December, 2013

Ramblings on non-traditional Christmas traditions

Note: Buckle up, personal post ahead.

Happy almost-Christmas eve, everybody! Coincidentally it's also my sister's birthday today, but I don't think she knows about my blog... happy birthday if you accidentally found me on Google, sister!

Blurry phone-cam action of some Christmas lights in my neighborhood.

I've been seeing a whole lot of blog posts and tags lately about Christmas traditions, and they got me thinking about my own. Here's the thing though... I don't really have any. I've ended up doing something different pretty much every year since my parents split up (about 18 years ago now), and even before that, our Christmas traditions were a bit strange. Let me elaborate a little bit:

21 December, 2013

Influenster Jolly Vox Box 2013 Review

PR Sample

Hey y'all! I had planned on taking a blogging break today, but when the Influenster Jolly Vox Box showed up in my mailbox this afternoon I couldn't resist sharing it with you right away. BLOGGER 4 LYFE.

Influenster Jolly Vox Box December 2013

In case you've never heard of Influenster, it's an internet community for savvy social media folks to share reviews and opinions, and active participants will occasionally get selected to receive boxes of products or samples to try... for free! If you're a blogger or heavy social media user in the US/Canada I highly recommend signing up.

Anyway, let's take a look at what was inside the Jolly Vox Box:

20 December, 2013

VO5 Salon Series Haircare (Review & Giveaway)

Affiliate Links PR Sample Sponsored Giveaway

*** Note: This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been selected and confirmed. ***

It seems that holiday party season is officially upon us. Whether you've got an afternoon Christmas work luncheon or a swingin' New Year's Eve party to attend in the next couple of weeks, I'm sure you've been thinking about how you can look your best. (Yeah, I said swingin'. Deal with it.)

VO5 Salon Series

Today I'll be sharing some hair tips and mini reviews of Alberto VO5's Salon Series haircare products, which are a great budget-friendly option for getting that SWINGIN' holiday hairstyle on. Oh, and the best part? One lucky reader will win a set of the styling products featured in this post! (USA only.) You can find info about the giveaway at the bottom of the page, but first let's take a closer look at some of the products...

19 December, 2013

My Weird Wishlist: Unusual Wrapping Paper

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I know most of you are probably holiday shopping and wishlisted out, but now that you've bought All The Things have you given any thought to how you'll be wrapping them?

Today I thought I'd share a few extra-special gift wrap options I stumbled across whilst internet gift shopping. Because snowflakes are just sooooo passé (cough).

Archie McPhee Creepy Wrapping Paper Book:

The product description for this wrapping paper collection says "Each [sheet] decorated with disturbing creepiness" and "Probably not good for a baby shower". Well, since it's Christmas this should be fine then, right? Nothing gets my heart racing faster than the sight of cockroaches, so of course it's a logical choice for any exciting holiday gift.

18 December, 2013

Weekly Poll: Your Top Beauty Discovery of 2013

It's Wednesday morning! Who's ready to PARTY?! No? Well, how about just partaking in the weekly poll then?

This week's question goes out to all the beauty lovers out there - yeah, you! As the year draws to a close we're bound to see "Best of 2013" lists popping up from all over the internet, which brings me to my question for you:

What is your favorite beauty discovery of 2013? It doesn't have to be something that came out this year, just something you tried for the first time!

After thinking about it a bit I guess mine is Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil - you can read my full review here. In case you don't have time to read the review, let me summarize: It's a cleansing oil that's very effective for makeup removal and it smells AMAZING. I can be sort of fickle when it comes to skincare products, so the fact that I still feel loyal to it after several months really says something.

How about you, lovelies? What's your top beauty treasure of 2013?

17 December, 2013

Review & Swatches: e.l.f. Studio Moisturizing Lipstick

Affiliate Links Bought It

Hello holiday shoppers! Have you spent all of your money yet? Well, if you've got $3 left to spend on yourself perhaps you might be interested in a review of e.l.f.'s new Studio Moisturizing Lipsticks, which are - you guessed it - only three bucks each.

Today I'll be reviewing/swatching these lipsticks in three shades: Coral Cutie, Party in the Buff, and Flirty & Fabulous.

e.l.f. Studio Moisturizing Lipstick

16 December, 2013

Current Fave: Tony Moly Intense Care Dual Effect Sleeping Pack

Affiliate Links Bought It

Fun Fact: My apartment is ROASTING HOT right now. I'm sure I've complained about this before, but since the landlord controls the heat in our building it's often way too hot and dry in here. So here I sit in December, with the windows open and shorts on, pretending I'm at the beach and lamenting the dryness of my winter skin.

Unusually hot apartment aside, I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience dry skin in the winter, so I thought I'd talk about a moisturizing product I've really grown to love over the past year: Tony Moly's Intense Care Dual Effect Sleeping Pack.

Tony Moly Intense Care Dual Effect Sleeping Pack

15 December, 2013

Six Months of Hello Pretty Bird: My Blogging Mistakes

It's happened you guys: I've been updating this website regularly for six whole months. Well, more or less - I deleted my introductory post when I changed the name of the site because it no longer made sense (more on that later). But we're right around the six month mark in any case.

Six months is not enough time for me to claim expertise on all things beauty blogging, but it has been enough time for me to sort of get into my stride and figure out the basics. I haven't had any major problems during my relatively short time in this corner of cyberspace, but of course there have been a few small missteps here and there. Being the self-deprecating fool that I am I thought I'd share those things with you - perhaps if you're a new-ish blogger you can learn from some of my mistakes? Or at the very least you might be able to commiserate and/or laugh at me.

Accidental bad hair selfie: also a mistake.

14 December, 2013

December 2013 Ipsy Bag (Review & Photos)

Affiliate Links Bought It

Is it just me, or does it seem like all the subscription boxes are coming really early this month? Maybe the companies are trying to beat the holiday rush, or maybe it's just MAGIC. In any case, I got my Ipsy glambag yesterday. The theme of this month's bag is "Celebration" - wanna see what's in it?

13 December, 2013

Update to Comment System on HelloPrettyBird + Social Media Stuff

Hey folks!

This is just a quick update to let you know that I've switched from the standard commenting system on Blogger to Disqus in order to make my posts more discussion-friendly. I'm sure most of you already use Disqus on other sites, but in case you've never encountered it before here are a few pointers:

I <3 stock photography. Image source: twobee @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • You have to sign up for an account to use Disqus, but it takes like three seconds and you don't even have to leave the page. Just click on the commenting field, click the part where it says "Register with Disqus", enter your info, hit the little arrow and you're all set! You might want to verify your e-mail address at some point for security reasons, but you don't have to do that to leave your first comment.
  • If you're also a blogger or website owner, make sure to fill out your Disqus profile so people can easily find your site info when they click on your name. To do that quickly, click the arrow next to your name at the bottom right-hand side of the widget, select "Your Profile", and when it pops up hit the "edit" button and it will open your dashboard page. Once you're there you can add a website and bio under the "profile" tab and a picture under the "avatar" tab.

The biggest change to come from all this is that you won't be able to comment anonymously anymore - though if you sign up for Disqus with a bogus name it's not like I'm going to know. :P

I've tested Disqus on my mobile devices and it seems to work, but I'm not sure how well it will play with older phones and such - if you have any problems feel free to e-mail or tweet me. The widget is in the process of importing the old comments from Blogger now, so hopefully all your old nuggets of wisdom will be back in their rightful places shortly. Hopefully.

Indie Friday: Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter & Perfume Oils Review

Bought It

Alrighty then, who wants to read about some delectable-smelling bath and body treats from an awesome indie company? Today I'll be writing about a few things I picked up from Haus of Gloi recently - more specifically, a couple of their body butters (aka "Pumpkin Butters") and perfume oils.

Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butter

Review: Crown Brush 6-Piece HD Makeup Brush Set

PR Sample

I don't know about you, but one of the first things I think when I purchase a new makeup or skincare item is "Is this travel-friendly?!" I'm sure that's a result of my former career in the travel industry (or perhaps my former former "career" as backpacking bum on a semi-permanent vacation from real-life responsibilities), but in any case, I like things that are both functional and compact.

Today I'll be reviewing a product that ticks both of those boxes: The Crown Brush 6-Piece HD Brush Set. Because when you go on that next backpacking trip through Central America you're totally going to bring some makeup brushes with you, right?

Crown Brush 6-Piece HD Makeup Brush Set with mirror and Tweezers in Orange, Set 525

11 December, 2013

How I'll Be Stuffing My Boyfriend's Stocking This Christmas

Affiliate Links Bought It

Now that I've got your attention with that saucy post title, would you like to see what I bought for my boyfriend's Christmas stocking? All of the responses to my gifts for men poll and male gift guides floating around the blogosphere lead me to believe I'm not the only one who finds their significant other difficult to shop for, so perhaps this post will provide some inspiration.

Please note: I will be using stock images in this post because I already have some of this stuff wrapped/bundled up! Also, a lot of the things I bought came from ASOS because I happened to be shopping on there anyway, but many of them have equivalents on other websites or even at a store near you, GASP.

Weekly Poll: Website Design Pet Peeves

What's up, everybody? I can't believe I'm saying this but it's already Wednesday... where has all time time gone? Anyway, Wednesday is reader poll day so get those opinions ready!

Today's question is for anyone who looks at websites on a regular basis. If you're reading this right now that probably means you, unless this is your first time visiting the internet, in which case welcome and sorry about the animals with bad grammar memes!

Does bad design ever deter you from spending a lot of time on a website? Are there any design elements on the websites or blogs you visit that you find particularly frustrating?

This topic has been on my mind lately because I've noticed a lot of people asking questions like "Is good design important?" in blogger chats on Twitter (yes, I'm doing those now). Obviously there are varying opinions on that as a general concept, but personally I value good writing and interesting topics over fabulous designs and magazine-perfect photos. That's not to say I don't appreciate those things, but for me the quality of the writing will always win out in the end. However, there are certain design choices that can turn me off even before I get into the meat of the written content: Just as an example, I find "handwriting" fonts sort of difficult to read when they're used on large blocks of text, so when entire blog posts are written in that sort of typeface I kind of want to give up as soon as I see it.

How about you? What design elements (if any) will put you off a website from the get-go?

10 December, 2013

Review: Save The Blow Dry (The *Queen* of Shower Caps)

PR Sample

I have a question for you... how many of you use shower caps for activities other than dyeing your hair?

I'm one of those crazy people who doesn't wash their hair every day. Wacky, I know. While my hair doesn't always need a bath my body usually does, and thus shower caps come into play. Combing and blowdrying hair can be a chore, so it's better to just keep it dry whilst showering, right? Here's the thing though: Most shower caps are not awesome. Many of them are flimsy and allow moisture to get in, making your hair frizzy and damp and leaving you wondering why you bothered with a shower cap in the first place.

Today I'll be reviewing Save The Blow Dry™, a product that professes to be the "Moisture eliminating QUEEN of shower caps!" Well hello, Your Majesty.

Save The Blow Dry

09 December, 2013

December 2013 Birchbox (Review & Photos)

Affiliate Links Bought It

Today's scheduled review has been preempted by the arrival of an unexpected guest: December's Birchbox! According to various people I've chatted with on the internet (always a reliable source) this is unusually early, so... thanks Birchbox?

December 2013 Birchbox

Just in case you're like "WHAT'S A BIRCHBOX?" let me explain: Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box. Every month you get 4-5 "generously sized" (their words) beauty and lifestyle samples, which seem to be mostly from mid-range to high-end brands. It costs $10 (shipped) for the women's box and $20 for the men's box.

I found last month's box to be a bit lackluster so here's hoping they do better this time... let's take a look, shall we?

08 December, 2013

Four Weeks of Munchit: A Review

Bought It

So how many of you beauty box addicts out there also love snack subscription boxes? Because I know I do. What can I say, having food sent directly to my mailbox appeals to my overdeveloped sense of laziness. Today I thought I'd review Munchit, which is a budget-friendly weekly snack box I've been receiving for about a month now. Since four weeks = four boxes I thought I'd show you what I got in each of them, in case you're thinking of subscribing and wondering what to expect.

07 December, 2013

Review: e.l.f. Studio BB Cream SPF 20 (Fair)

Affiliate Links Bought It

I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for novelty. Whenever a company I buy makeup from regularly releases something in a new format I'm like OMGMUSTTRY. Which is great for blogging material, but not so great for my wallet. Anyway, between e.l.f.'s regular low prices and frequent 50% off sales I felt like I didn't have much to lose by trying their new BB cream, so I thought I'd share my results with you... for science!

e.l.f. Studio BB Cream SPF 20 fair

06 December, 2013

Indie Friday: Portland Black Lipstick Company (review & swatches)

Bought It

So today I'm really excited to introduce a new series on HelloPrettyBird: Indie Fridays! I haven't decided yet if this will become a weekly or fortnightly feature, but going forward I'll being doing regular posts focusing on smaller, independent purveyors of goods and their wares (or just general information about indie cosmetics). You can expect to see a lot of makeup and fragrance in particular because that's what I tend to buy for myself, but perhaps I'll branch out a bit if another type of indie company strikes my fancy. :P

For my first-ever Indie Friday (yay!) I'll be talking about Portland Black Lipstick Company, which makes "All-Natural Makeup For That Un-Natural Look."

05 December, 2013

Review: Shara Shara Fresh Girl's Heating Pore Clear (Mask)

Affiliate Links Bought It

Today's review was requested by YOU! Well, some of you. When I posted a picture of my last TesterKorea haul a few people suggested that I review Shara Shara Fresh Girl's Heating Pore Clear, so review I shall.

Shara Shara Fresh Girl's Heating Pore Clear sample sachet

Fresh Girl's Heating Pore Clear claims to be a self-heating, blackhead-busting treatment. I got a bunch of sample sachets of this product, but the full size looks a little something like this:

10 Holiday Gifts Under $50 I'd Actually Want to Receive

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Hey guys - I don't know if you heard, but the holidays are coming up. Yeah, really. Have you bought all the stuff yet?

Image source: Grant Cochrane @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Personally I'm still second-guessing some of my gift ideas. I have no trouble thinking of stuff that I would want, but I'm not shopping for myself, now am I? Well, sometimes I am. But not right now. Today I thought I'd share a few things that I've been coveting, because if I'd enjoy receiving them as gifts that means somebody else probably would too, right?

04 December, 2013

Weekly Poll: Your Desert Island Makeup Brand

It's Wednesday... do you know where your children are? (Do they still use that tagline in PSAs? If not, I probably sound really creepy right now.)

Aaaaaanyway, Wednesday means it's time for another reader poll!

This week's question goes out to anybody who wears makeup - I'm guessing that's most of you?

If you were allowed to buy one and only one makeup brand for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?

Personally I would choose Revlon, which is interesting because they don't usually crack my list of HG or favorite products. But if we're talking about products for the ENTIRE FACE (and nails) they have reasonably good offerings throughout their line, including foundation that doesn't make me look ridiculously orange. And it doesn't hurt that they're affordable - if I'm stuck on this hypothetical deserted makeup island I'm still going to be watching my pennies, because that's just how I am.

Which brand would you guys choose? There can only be ONE!!!

03 December, 2013

Review: em Michelle Phan Lash Gallery Dramatic Volume Mascara

Bought It

Today's review may be of interest to those of you who have eyelashes you wish to accentuate! I received em Cosmetics' Lash Gallery Dramatic Volume Mascara in my last Ipsy bag, and since em is a relatively new brand I thought it might be helpful to do a review.

em Michelle Phan Lash Gallery Dramatic Volume Mascara

Coming To A Blog Near You: The Dreaded 60-Day Spending Ban

Warning: Personal post ahead. Take the necessary precautions.

So if you read through the "30 Before 30" list I posted the other day you might have noticed that #17 was "Do a beauty spending ban for 60 days". Since my 30th birthday is less than three months away I guess I should be starting that soon... how about right now?

I "needed" to buy this hat.

02 December, 2013

Review & Swatches: Studio Gear Cosmetics Holiday Smokey Eye Palette

PR Sample

This may shock you, but I like eyeshadow. A lot. So naturally I was delighted when I got the opportunity to try Studio Gear's Holiday Smokey Eye Palette.

The net weight of this palette is 0.42oz and it currently sells for $25. Here's the official product description from Studio Gear's website:

Be radiant on any occasion with this sultry, shimmery palette of dramatic shades – perfect for creating a classic smoky eye look, with a hint of unexpected golden glimmer. This collection of four complimentary eye shadows with matching blush deliver several day to night options that are both seductive and wearable. With pure color, pigment-rich formulations, you’ll be sure to smolder all night!

Ooh, steamy. Let's take a peek inside:

Cyber Monday Beauty Deals 2013 (sorry in advance to your wallets)

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Just in case your wallet isn't totally exhausted from Black Friday, I've compiled a list of some of the Cyber Monday/online holiday beauty deals I found especially interesting. Most of these deals run through today only, but I'll make note of it if they have a later expiry date.

Image source: OpenClipArt

Personally I'm eyeing the deals from Ulta and Wantable pretty hard... how about you?

01 December, 2013

30 Before 30: Lightning Round

Note: This is a personal post. If you don't like that sort of thing then... well... don't read it.

OK guys, fun fact: I'll be turning 30 at the end of February. Well, sort of: Birthdays can get a bit confusing for us leap year babies. I've come up with a little list of interesting things to do before my birthday because doing interesting things is... interesting.

I feel like most people tend to come up with these "30 Before 30" things a few years before they actually turn 30, but I guess bucket lists aren't really my style. My 20s has been quite a time... I've received some semblance of a formal education, traveled a lot, and made some poor decisions that thankfully didn't kill me. So please excuse me if this list seems rather tame: Time is running short and I've used up all my Grand Adventure vouchers at the moment.

Without further ado, here's my list:

Giveaway: Korean Beauty Sample Mystery Pack

**ATTENTION: This giveaway is now closed. The winner has been announced below.**

Happy December, everybody! First things first, I have a quick announcement: The winner of my Innisfree Apple Juicy Giveaway has been selected and confirmed. Congratulations, Brittnee! For those of you who didn't win, don't be sad, because I'm launching another giveaway today and the winner could be YOU! Woo-hoo!

If you've been following my blog for a while you probably know that I like picking up 10-packs of Korean skincare and BB cream samples on eBay and TesterKorea. It's good to try before you buy, right? Anyway, rather than hoard all of them for myself I thought I'd share the love and give away a mystery pack of some of the various samples I've collected. Read on for info on how to enter!

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