Friday, May 31, 2013

Some Wonderful Self-Tanners

  Since summer is almost officially here I decided I wanted to try to get and keep a healthy bronzed look this year.  It's tempting to enjoy the sunshine and tan out by my apartment pool, but I've seen too many people in their late 20s-30s with skin cancer and premature wrinkles to know that I want to protect my skin by always wearing SPF outside.  For that same reason, I won't go anywhere near a tanning salon either (unless I'm getting a spray tan ;) )

  Now, I'm usually all for loving your natural skin tone and not trying too hard to follow the beauty trend of always looking tan, but I do think that a nice golden bronze looks good for summer.  I've tried a lot of different drugstore self-tanners in the past, and none seemed to really work that well. One exception that does a decent job is the Jergens® Natural Glow line of products.  I bought the daily moisturizing lotion at Walmart and it wasn't all that expensive, I think it cost a little less than $10.  I really liked that I could just use this in place of my regular daily moisturizing lotion and build a nice even tan without much effort. However, this stains more than I'd like and the lotion takes a fairly long time to dry. Overall, this is a pretty good everyday budget-friendly choice. 

  Last month I started looking for a better self-tanner that I could use to look glowing and healthy for my college graduation pictures.  I searched on Amazon and found 2 professional grade self-tanners that I absolutely love! First, I bought Fake Bake® Flawless Self-tanning Liquid.  The 6oz spray bottle came with a nice applicator mitt, which is awesome for getting a perfectly even application! To apply, you lightly spray your body or the mitt (I sprayed directly on my body so it wasted less and wasn't as messy) and then gently rub it in with the mitt to get an even application.  I love that this dries the fastest and smells the best out of any self-tanner that I've tried so far, and it wasn't a whole lot more expensive than drugstore brands. I was able to get dressed almost immediately after applying it, and it hardly stained my bra and undies at all. The color turned out to be a nice light-medium golden tan.
  It retails for about $25 if you buy directly from the company, but I got it for around $16 from Amazon.   The only downside that I found was that it wasn't as dark as I wanted, and it faded in less than 2 days without daily reapplication. The company has darker shades though, so I may try a different shade or type once I run out of the Flawless.  

  The second self-tanner I tried was St. Moriz Self Tanning Mousse in the medium shade.  St. Moriz is basically the drugstore version of St. Tropez, but it's only available in the U.K., so you have to order it online. Once again, I got mine from Amazon and paid about $5 for it, plus another $4 or so for shipping and handling. I love that this provides a great brown-bronze color and the mousse dries a lot faster than a lotion does. I used the medium shade and it's perfect for my skin tone; it should work for just about everyone unless you have incredibly fair skin to begin with. If you are super-fair skinned, choose a lighter shade to look more natural. I do want to eventually try the dark shade, but I'm hesitant because I am afraid it may look awful with my skin tone.   
  I used a self-tanner mitt to apply the foam because I think it helps provide more even coverage, but you have to be careful when applying this to avoid streaks.  I was a little bit nervous at first because the color indicator makes your skin look almost like it's covered in dirt, but that rinses away and leaves a good bronze color the next time you shower.   The biggest drawback to this is that it does need careful application to avoid streaks, but the color and price are amazing!  
Hopefully this helps you choose the perfect self-tanner to look beach ready all summer! Also, I'll put up some real pics of what the Fake Bake and St. Moriz look like on once I get my camera working again.  

*Disclaimer: Just FYI, I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I bought and tried all of the above products with my own money, on my own volition, and liked them enough to share with my meager blog following : ) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Budget Weddings Part 3 (Beauty Essentials)

Hair and makeup for your wedding are a few things that can vary greatly in cost.  You can get either or both done at a salon, or you can get a beauty savvy friend to help out.  Depending on where you live and what you're getting done, plan to budget anywhere from $30-100 to get your hair done professionally, and $20-$50 more for make-up.  You can definitely save money by doing your own, but you'll also have to invest in tools and products if you don't already have them.  For example, I spent a little over $100 at Sephora on the make-up products I used. In retrospect, I probably should have used less expensive drugstore brands or just had it done professionally, but at least now I do have a supply of quality make-up I can use whenever I need to.   I do recommend buying the best quality make-up you can, just because it is going to have to stand up to a lot of scrutiny and stress throughout the day.  Generally, a higher quality make-up will last longer and photograph better, so you won't have to worry about touch-ups in the middle of your day! I used the LORAC PRO Palette for my eyes, and it worked great! However, it definitely was bigger than I needed because I only used 4 of the colors so I would suggest picking what colors you plan on using and buying a palette or set with only those.  Also, I recommend using a HD or photo-ready foundation that doesn't have SPF because it photographs best and ensures you don't look washed out from the white tint that SPF foundations can have.  

When I bought my make-up at Sephora, I had an employee show me what would look best and how to apply it, but lately I've been watching beauty tutorials on Youtube and I have been learning so much more! If you already have the make-up products and tools to use and are mostly adept at using them, it can be a fun and memorable experience to do your own hair and make-up with your bridesmaids.  I definitely recommend having all your supplies well in advance and practicing until you can achieve the look you want without any trouble!  You want your wedding day to be as stress-free as possible, so full practice runs for your hair/make-up are essential!

As I said before, I did my own make-up for my
wedding, but I've since learned a lot of techniques that I really wish I had known before hand.  I think my make-up looked pretty good, but it would have looked even BETTER if I had known to use some of the tips I've found on Youtube and Pinterest.  One Vlogger that has really good beauty tutorials is Jaclyn Hill.  I really love her foundation and contouring videos, like the one above

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Budget Weddings Part 2 (Flowers)

Flowers are a hugely important aspect of most weddings but they can also be hugely expensive. Nothing makes a wedding look more timeless or elegant than beautiful flowers so it is important to budget adequately for your floral needs. That being said, there are a ton of ways to have gorgeous flowers on your wedding day  even when you have a tight budget.

1) Be FLEXIBLE. I cannot stress this enough.  You may have visions of massive rose and calla lily bouquets  interspersed with dainty greenery (or whatever your fantasy floral arrangement might be) but chances are you will have to have them special ordered or they will be hard to get, and consequently you will pay more for them.  Keep a general color scheme and design in mind and go from there to decide on specifics by what fits best in your budget.  For instance, I knew that I wanted autumn-y flowers and that were maybe yellow and orange. One of the prettiest bouquets I found was at my local Kroger store. I didn't end up using it but all it needed was a few supplemental carnations and a silk ribbon to hold it together and it would have been perfect!

$9.99 Kroger bouquet

Have fun and explore different flower options. Roses are pretty, but they aren't the only flower in the world! Hydrangeas and carnations make a big impact and cost so much less than long-stemmed roses.  

2) DIY is your friend, especially if you plan on using bulk quantities of flowers.  Just make sure you give whoever is arranging them, be it you or any of your artistically inclined friends and family, enough time to make all the arrangements and be sure to have enough refrigerated space to store the flowers/finished arrangements! I found this out the hard way when I got my shipment of bulk sunflowers and greenery two days before my wedding and had to frantically remove EVERYTHING in my refrigerator in order to store them. Also worth noting is that many wholesalers offer wedding packages and bridal bouquets for much cheaper than a local florist could.

Top: Gerbera daisy corsage from
Lower: DIY sunflower bouquets
(Photos ©Polyrhythm Photography)

Some great websites to order wholesale flowers from are
Bunches Direct
Global Rose
Whole Blossoms

Note: I went with 50Flowers for my bouquets. They turned out absolutely lovely, but a few of the gerbera daisies were already wilting when I got them, and the company didn't include care or storage instructions in the package; I had to look that information up online.

Classic Red Rose Bouquet $64.95 from BunchesDirect

3) Silk flowers- my least favorite recommendation of the bunch.  Realistic silk flowers can be hard to find and oftentimes a bouquet made entirely out of silk flowers looks tacky and cheap.  However, if artfully arranged, silk flowers can be a valid alternative to a cut flower bouquet.  You can also supplement a cut flower bouquet with some silk flowers to "fluff" it up.  I should also say here that I have absolutely no problem with silk flowers being used as decorations. You decorations probably won't be photographed as closely as your bouquets so silk flowers are great to use for altar or reception decor.  Silk flowers are  usually also much easier to work with when decorating because they don't wilt and can be glued and bent in just the right way.  

Part 3 coming soon! More on saving money for your ceremony, music, dress, and more! 

Sponsored Links:
2400 Rose Petals White
from: Global Rose
200 Red Madame Delbard Rose - $165.00
from: Global Rose

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Budget Weddings Part 1 (The Engagement Ring)

*This post contains an affiliate coupon code. This simply means that I will receive a small percentage of sales completed using this code. It will not add any additional costs to your order and will greatly help me out*

SPECIAL OFFER: Use code RF92221 at to receive FREE SHIPPING on your order ($35 value)! Code good through 10/2014

I recently spent a large amount of time (14 months!) preparing and planning for my October wedding.  Trying to plan a wedding is stressful enough without budget constraints, and it seems like there are a lot of websites with some decidedly unhelpful advice on how to save money.  I found a lot of good tips, but some of them seemed like they weren't geared towards real people.

Several of my friends have been with their significant others for almost 5 years but keep putting off getting married because of the cost of a wedding.  While one option would be to simply go to a courthouse and get married in front of a judge, there are several options to have a real ceremony and reception on almost any budget.  Here are some ideas:

1) The ring:  I know, I know. Almost every girl dreams of having a big sparkly rock on her finger, but diamonds are expensive.  Additionally, the majority of diamonds are not ethically sourced.  You could always go a for a less conventional engagement ring and use a pearl, vintage (not new!) ivory, opal, etc..., or you could avoid a significant amount of expense and moral conflict and go for a synthetic or lab-created diamond or simulated diamond.

Synthetic diamonds are essentially the same as natural diamonds, but have been artificially created in a lab environment.  They have the exact same geological composition as natural diamonds but are created using technology.  Many companies specialize in lab grown diamond jewelry.  I would advise asking around and doing your own research to find the best company for you, but here are some companies to get your search for the perfect engagement ring started.
Diamond Nexus
Mia Donna

Diamond Nexus Belle Engagement

Simulated diamonds are NOT diamonds but are other stones or materials that are made to look like diamonds.  Very good diamond simulants look almost identical to diamonds at first glance and should really only be identifiable by a gemologist or jeweler.  These are by far the cheapest way to still get a sparkly diamond look for your engagement ring.  Be wary of extremely cheap rings, though, because the quality of settings and the ring itself will still affect whether or  not it looks "cheap" or "fake". Here are a few options to consider.
Carat* Jewellery

As with making any decisions about making a life change, I would recommend talking to your significant other about your feelings on not having a "real" diamond ring.  If you do decide to go the route of a lab grown or simulated diamond, do your research and find a reputable company with good reviews.  Best wishes and happy (hopefully) engagement!

Check back for more budget wedding tips including flowers, ceremony, and more!