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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects Review

I've always wanted to whiten my teeth, but the price tag of most professional dental treatments has always deterred me from doing so. I've eyed Crest's 3D Whitestrips for a long time and finally splurged (and I use that term lightly because it is cheap for a whitening treatment...around $50). There are many different types of Crest Whitestrips but I chose the Professional Effects version with 20 treatments.

Each treatment comes with two strips, one for the bottom set of teeth and one for the top set of teeth. The strip is only long enough to cover your most front teeth (fang to fang), so don't expect to get your molars whitened too. You should apply the bottom strip first. To apply the strips, peel them and stick them on your teeth starting where the teeth meets the gum. Press over the strip until it sticks onto your teeth and into all crevices (this is important to get an even distribution of bleach) and fold over the rest of the strip behind your teeth. You use one treatment per day and leave them in for 30 mins each time. I believe you're also not supposed to use this more than twice a year.

Immediately upon application, the strips were a lot longer than I expected them to be. I already have a small mouth so these strips really stretched far back to my mouth, covering almost two of my molars. It was also more slippery than I expected them to be. These strips are meant to be "strong grip, no slip" but I felt like it wasn't as sticky as it could've been on my teeth, especially near the later treatments. In fact, when I applied the strips, it reacted with my teeth immediately and formed a foamy, white substance. All the application videos I watched on this product never mentioned this so maybe it was just a chemical reaction to my teeth. Either way, it was really unexpected. It was almost hard pressing down on the strips for them to stick because the foam wasn't helping them grip.

For some background, I have pretty sensitive teeth. I can't even bite into popsicles or ice cream. These aren't supposed to hurt but if you do experience pain, reviewers have suggested to take a one day break between treatments. I did experience some days with painful throbbing but it wasn't unbearable. I just waited a day until my next treatment and it was perfectly fine. 

Results are meant to be seen within a few days of treatment and many reviewers had corroborated this. Unfortunately, I didn't exactly see results until around the sixth day. The whitening was definitely more prominent in my two buck teeth than my other teeth, perhaps because they stick out more than the others. 

Sorry for the dry lips!
As a disclaimer, I drank a lot of teeth-staining substances (Coke, tea, coffee, etc.) near the end of the treatments, which definitely hindered the whitening process. Even so, I saw great results in the middle of my treatment but started to see more teeth staining, especially in between my teeth, near the end. After finishing the treatment, I've noticed my teeth is slowly going yellow again.

All in all, this treatment wasn't as effective as I had hoped. To be fair, I did drink a lot of teeth staining substances (bad Emily!). I still don't regret buying this relatively inexpensive product and would use it again if my teeth became really yellow again. However, don't expect extremely gorgeous pearly whites from this product. For that, you might just want to go to a professional.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Day in San Diego: Zoo, Food, and Sunset(?)

Hello! So I recently went on a mini road trip with my best friends to San Diego. We really wanted to stay there overnight, but it was just too expensive and difficult to plan. We still had a great one day trip there and wanted to share my day there.

Our first stop was the San Diego Zoo. It is a really well known zoo and I haven't been to a zoo since I was a little girl so I was super excited. Side note, Triple A members get a 10% discount so bring your card if you decide to go. 

I think tigers are absolutely majestic. I'm pretty sad about their dwindling population.
Absolutely adorable
Pandas are so lazy and useless. I'm rather convinced pandas are my spirit animals.

We stayed for around four hours before leaving the attraction. We had a pretty good time, but my only complaint was the polar bear/frozen exhibit, where the only ice was the fake playpens for kids. Even the polar bear exhibit was just melted water with desert rocks. Plus, the polar bears were outside in the blistering heat. It's already bad enough this species is about to become extinct, but choosing to not invest in a better cold facility for them? Shame. 

Our next stop was the renowned Phil's BBQ. We arrived there at an odd time (2:50 p.m.) in hopes to avoid the notoriously super long line. When we arrived, we still saw a super long line out the door! We waited for approximately 50 minutes. I was surprised to see it as an order-and-seat-yourself type of restaurant rather than a serving one. 

I got the baby back ribs with a side of fries and cole slaw. The meat was so succulent and tender. The marinade definitely had a slight kick to it. I could tell the rub was so flavorful and was so different from the sweet honey bbq I was used to eating at other bbq restaurants like Lucille's. The ribs were absolute perfection. On the other hand, the fries were a different story. They were bland and soggy, the opposite of what french fries should be. The cole slaw tasted delicious though. Phil's is also more affordable than I expected, with a full rack being around $20. All in all, Phil's was worth the wait and I highly recommend you try to go here if you're in the SD area.

My friends and I really wanted to see the sunset, so we decided to visit Sunset Cliffs. We were really disappointed though because the sky was full of clouds so we couldn't see a proper sunset. We still had a good time and you couldn't really beat the view. 

We also planned on going to Extraordinary Desserts but were too pooped and decided to go back home and grab some dessert. 

I'm so glad I got to share this mini adventure with my closest friends in San Diego. We're all going to be significantly far away from each other for college, but I'm not too sad about it because I know we'll be friends for life anyways. 

I hope you enjoyed this little travel blog post and let me know what places you love in San Diego if you've ever been. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Beauty Favorites

I know everybody always says this month flew by, but I genuinely felt that with July. I found myself pretty busy this month trying to balance work, appointments, and hanging out with as many people as I can before I leave for college. Even so, I still found time to acquire some make up along the way and stumbled along some great finds. However, I also rediscovered some old favorites. Since I had so many products to show, I decided to write a cumulative beauty favorites. 

Milani Baked Blush in 'Luminoso'

This well-known drugstore blush has been on my wishlist for a long time. I ended up purchasing this at CVS for around $10. Well known as being a dupe for Nars' Orgasm Blush, Milani's Luminoso didn't disappoint in color or quality. Most of my blushes are more on the pink side so to finally have one on the peachier/corally side was so satisfying. One swatch of this gorgeous peachy color easily proves it to be the most pigmented blush I own. There is a slight satin sheen to it but nothing on the shimmery end. It is such a perfect color for all skin tones--especially during the summer. This definitely makes me want to try more of the colors from this line.

Elf Eyebrow Kit in 'Dark'
I don't want to delve too much into this product as I raved about it in my E.l.f. haul. But basically, I've never filled in my eyebrows before due to the stark difference between my naked brows and my filled in ones. Yet, this palette doesn't give an exorbitant amount of color in each application. It is easy to use and does the job perfectly, an A+ in my book. If you haven't tried this product yet, I recommend purchasing this...not like you'll be losing too much---it's only $3!

Wet n' Wild's Icon Trio Eyeshadow in 'Walking on Eggshells'

Wet n' Wild's Icon Trio Eyeshadows are nothing new to the beauty world. They've been raved about practically since their inception, especially 'Walking on Eggshells'. I was lucky enough to be gifted this from an awesome friend (thanks if you're reading this :])and I practically screamed when I saw it. I haven't had much time to use them too much but I'm already in love with these shadows. Like most Wet n' Wild's powder products, they're extremely pigmented and so easy to use. Even if you're new to makeup, they label each shadow with the corresponding suggested location. The shimmery white is for the brow bone (and inner corners), the dark brown one is for the crease, and the shimmery champagne color is for the eyelid. For an eyeshadow novice like me, this palette was so easy to use. Putting this on immediately boosted my self-confidence 90%. Long story short, you MUST have this product!

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara 
I bought this mascara a while ago to keep my furry, unyielding brows in check. Though it did a good job combing and setting my brows, I neglected any brow grooming in my daily routine and hardly ever used it. I've only recently begun using it on a more frequent basis and I fell in love with it once again. This clear mascara truly sets your brows in place, which is so necessary for those who wake up and their brow hairs are going in different directions. It also darkens your lashes to make them look a tad more filled. With just a couple swipes of this product on my brows, I already feel more put together.

What were some of your July beauty favorites?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

E.l.f. Haul and Reviews

As much as I'd love to splurge on expensive makeup, it just realistically isn't practical for me. Although I've purchased from the extremely inexpensive makeup brand "E.l.f." before, I never really delved into the brand as much as I have this week. In fact, I purchased 7 products this week alone. I bought four brushes and three products: the Elf Makeup Mist & Set, Elf Baked Highlighter in 'Moonlight Pearls' and the Elf Eyebrow Kit in 'Dark'. All of them were part of the studio line and were $3...what a steal! 

E.l.f. Makeup Mist & Set Spray
I always wanted Mac Fixed Plus or Urban Decay's All Nighter setting spray, but I could never bring myself to spend so much money for a squirt bottle. I ended up trying out this spray as a cheaper alternative to those high-end products. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed by this product. My problem isn't necessarily with the product itself but with its packaging. As a setting spray, I expected the nozzle to spray an even fan of mist all over my face. Instead, I got a forceful squirt of a stream of liquid. The nozzle literally squirts like a water gun, in one streamlined motion. I couldn't even test whether it set my makeup or not, because I couldn't get the product over my face! I felt like I was just shooting my face in different points with a water gun. I was very disappointed and threw it out after just a couple of sprays.

Elf Eyebrow Kit (Dark)

Many beauty gurus have said great things about the Elf Eyebrow Kit. I never fill in my eyebrows because I am terrified by how different I look after each attempt. Yet, I decided to pick this product up on a whim. After all, it was only $3! I got the darkest shade, fittingly named 'Dark'. There is also a 'Medium' and 'Light'. The kit comes in a sleek compact, the usual packaging of many E.l.f. products, and includes a gel and a powder.

When I put this on, I think I heard angels singing. The color was a perfect match for my eyebrows because it wasn't too dark or light, a problem I've had with other brow products. My brows didn't have the stark contrast I always cringed at. I think the best thing about this product is that you don't pick up too much of the color, so your brows don't look ridiculously dark. Even the tiny dual-ended brush that comes with this kit works well, although I go for my angled Sonia Kashuk brush. I mainly use the powder but the gel works just as great. I usually end up using both! As a person who never filled in her brows, this product has changed my life. I can finally fill in my eyebrows with confidence and more importantly, I can finally say my eyebrows are on fleek (sorry...I had to).

Elf Baked Highlighter in 'Moonlight Pearls'

I've been dying to try this product since KathleenLights raved about the Elf Baked Highlighters on her channel. The reviews and swatches of this product seemed to corroborate her opinion, so I decided to purchase this. The baked highlighters weren't available at Target so I ended up purchasing this on Amazon.

I absolutely love highlighting. I have extremely dry skin, so any glow to my face is greatly appreciated. I have the Dior Shimmerstar in 'Amber Diamond' and I absolutely adore it (though I think it's been discontinued). I also own Benefit's High Beam, which works just as nicely. However, I wanted to see if there was a good drugstore highlighter and had high expectations for this one after all the rave reviews. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the poor color payoff. 

'Moonlight Pearls' is a nice shimmery highlighter but I was disappointed by the pigmentation, especially because online pictures and reviews made it seem like it was very pigmented. I found myself having to rub the product several times to get significant color payoff. I used the E.l.f. fan brush to apply this product to the top of my cheekbones and was delighted and surprised to see a nice glow. Perhaps this product isn't as 'swatch-able' but still functions well as a highlighter. Even so, I'm pretty ambivalent on how I feel about this product. I think I'll continue to use it but not repurchase it. My search for a drugstore highlighter continues. I'm thinking I'll try Physician's Formula's Shimmer Brick next. 

I guess I scored 1.5/3 with my purchases, but I fared a lot better with the brushes. Maybe I'll do an upcoming post featuring all my e.l.f. brushes...or just a makeup brush collection post in general. I'll see how I feel. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if there are any good e.l.f. products I should try.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Revlon Colorstay Foundation Review

I must admit I'm far too lazy to ever use foundation, and it is definitely one of the products I almost never wear. I find that hardly anything works well with my dry skin. Everything just ends up patchy and settles in fine lines, contributing to "cake face". But because my acne has gotten particularly bad recently and I have a lot of acne scars and red spots, I finally pushed myself to purchase the famous Revlon Colorstay foundation. I used my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush to buff it in. Though I was worried about the matte finish (I always prefer dewy foundations because of my dry skin), it didn't look as cakey or patchy as I expected. Instead, it blended rather seamlessly. The coverage is medium to heavy, which is good for covering my acne. However, it doesn't feel heavy on my skin at all. 
Revlon Colorstay Normal/Dry Skin in 150 Buff
The only foundation I've ever really liked is the incredibly dewy Maybelline Fit Me Foundation, because it was light yet buildable and didn't patch up on me. Revlon Colorstay beats that because the tone is not as orangey as Fit Me and is more of a neutral tone, suiting all skin types. Its coverage is also significantly better than the Fit Me foundation and did a good job covering up my acne spots. I also have some really bad acne scars, which was covered well by this foundation.

The only bad thing about this foundation was the fact that it sometimes settled into my fine lines and dry patches. It definitely isn't a bad as other foundations I've tried and unless you take one of those zoom-in mirrors to your face, the settling is dismissive. The foundation in 150 Buff was also a little too light for me, but that's on me. 

All in all, this inexpensive foundation definitely lived up to its expectations and made me smile looking at my near flawless skin--a feeling I haven't felt in a long time.

Friday, July 3, 2015

NOTD: Essie Turquoise and Caicos

One of my favorite colors is the mint/turquoise genre (as you can tell by my blog). So when I saw Essie's Turquoise and Caicos, I knew this would be the perfect color for my nails. This color is more muted than Essie's Mint Candy Apple,which I always found to be too bright for my liking.
This color is much bluer in person!
My pictures made the color look a lot greener than it actually is. Trust me when I say the color is much bluer in real life (think Tiffany Blue or Robin Egg). I also used two coats.
This is one of my go to nail polishes and if you want a more muted minty blue nail polish, I suggest Essie's Turquoise and Caicos.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June Favorites

June was my first month off of school, so I really had a lot of down time (which is why I revived this blog). To occupy myself, I immersed myself in random leisure activities (aka being a couch potato and eating). Therefore, I have quite a bit of favorites to share from this month!

Favorite TV Show: Law and Order SVU

I can't even tell you how OBSESSED I've become with Law and Order: SVU.  Hearing the duh-dun sound apparent in all the Law and Order episodes gets me all excited. Cable television usually has a marathon of reruns on several channels and the few I watched previously didn't really seem like my cup of tea. The only crime show I watched was NCIS, which I absolutely adored and SVU seemed to lack that continuous character development and quirks that I loved so much in NCIS. However, I recently started getting into SVU and I fell in love with the brilliant writing and superb filming. The harsh cases shed light on the atrocities that happen in front of our blind eyes. I love the way the show makes me feel so passionate for justice yet so betrayed by the justice system. Sometimes, this show makes me want to pursue a career as an ADA. Plus, the writers manage to make each episode unpredictable. Even if I tune in for the last 10 minutes of an episode, I'm always sucked in until the end. And there is actually some continuous character development, making me attached to some of the characters, who are portrayed by exceptional actors. Though I'm usually not a fan of somber shows, SVU is so worth the watch. If I don't convince you, SVU is even one of Taylor Swift's favorite shows...she even named her cat after Olivia!

Favorite Beauty Product: Loreal Lineur Intense Carbon Black Liquid Eyeliner

I've never been a huge fan of liquid liner, but the Loreal Lineur Intense Carbon Black Liquid Eyeliner I picked up on a whim has converted me. This product is so opaque and easy to apply. I love how the tip is flimsy, making it much easier to maneuver across my eyelid. This eyeliner is perfect for winging to make a cat eye as well. On my lazy days (which is almost every day), I find myself only applying this and leaving the house. The only drawback I find with this product is that it is definitely not waterproof and wipes away quite easily when just a little bit of water gets on your eyelids. Just make sure you don't wear this when you know you're going to cry. Though I have sweaty eyelids, this eyeliner still stays on pretty well throughout the day. 

Favorite Food: Taco Bell

My brain says no but my heart says yes

This is pretty embarrassing but I've become obsessed with Taco Bell. I never really ate there until this year, which is ironic because I live within a minute driving distance of one, Yet, now I find myself going there at least once a week. I realize their food is essentially toxic to your health but I really just can't help it. Their Doritos Locos Taco, Beefy Nacho Grillers...washing it down with a Baja Blast...mmm. Fake Mexican food heaven. I wasn't going to share this, but I've learned to be PROUD of my Taco Bell addiction. 
**Disclaimer: not recommending you eat Taco Bell as often as me...for your own health's sake***

Favorite Drink: Starbucks S'mores Frappucino

This heavenly concoction came out a while ago, but I still feel obligated to include it in my favorites because I'm so in love with it. It is a frappucino with a bottom layer of marshmallow whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, frappucino (coffee flavored?) topped with more marshmallow cream and finished with a graham cracker crumb sprinkle. Whoever invented this drink was a godsend because this drink brings tears to my eyes with every sip I take (only half joking). There was even a period when I ordered this at least 3x a week. It is on the sweeter side, which is great for my insatiable sweet tooth. If you love s'mores, I highly recommend you try this drink. It WILL change your life.

And that's my June Favorites! What did you love this month? 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

'Orange is the New Black' Is Back and NOT Better Than Ever

The start of my summer started on a rather exciting note with the release of Season 3 of "Orange is the New Black" (can we say FINALLY). Being the professional binge-watcher I am, I successfully finished the season within a week. Although each episode was interesting and humorous as ever, I felt the season culminated in a disappointing finale that left me going "That was it?". 

To be fair, I enjoyed each episode individually but I felt the overarching storyline of season 3 just didn't do it for me. I was especially disappointed my character and plot developments. To organize my scattered thoughts, I'm going to break down the season into the parts I liked/didn't like.

Piper and Alex

Though Piper and Alex may have been the protagonists in the first two seasons, they turned out to be the two most boring characters in the latest season. Not only has their relationship fizzled out, their storylines have as well. Piper's innocent persona transformed into an obnoxious ring leader, and Alex's paranoia over Kubra became overplayed and annoying. I missed the old Piper and I just didn't buy her turning into a twisted, cruel badass. Even actual badass Alex couldn't stand her anymore. Piper also seemed to have lost her moral compass and sanity, leading her to backstabbing, vengeance, and gangster-related leadership. However, I will concede that I thought the whole black market of prison-worn panties to be a pretty funny side plot. Yet, it still couldn't save from the yawns that occurred every time Piper was focused on the show (noticeably less this season than the past...thank goodness). 


This photo just does NOT do her justice
I already saw social media going "lesbian" for Ruby Rose before the season was even released. Therefore, I've been looking forward to her arrival for quite some time and was surprised by her delayed appearance (around ep. 4? can't remember) and even more surprised by her lack of character development. Sure, she was absolutely stunning and even Piper couldn't resist her, but I felt like Stella had so much potential to grow on the viewers until she was backstabbed by Piper and whisked away to Max (CURSE PIPER!). Other than a few snarky remarks, Stella's characterization wasn't developed whatsoever. She was just some mysterious, snarky, hot chick who Piper cheated with. I really hope she comes back for season 4 so we can learn more about her past.

The Latinas

Perhaps the most annoying ethnic group this season was The Latinas. Although their sassy retorts are always amusing fodder, I couldn't stand the attitudes of some of the women, especially Aleida (Daya's mom) and Gloria. I've never been a fan of Aleida because she is such a horrible mother and despicable human being but season 3 really took the cake for me. I scoffed at her self-profiting scheme masked by phony concern for her pregnant daughter's well-being and was particularly mad when she told Mendez's mom the baby died. I get it was her trying to right a wrong with her daughter but the finale clearly showed it was the wrong move when Cesar got busted by the DEA. Who knows where Daya's baby will end up? In addition, Gloria's self-entitled attitude was beyond aggravating the entire season. Whether it was her assertion in the kitchen to her selfish response to Sophia, she was (excuse my french) a crazy bitch this season. I'm glad Red eventually took over the kitchen. The fact that Sophia had to suffer so brutally due to Aleida and Gloria's juvenile personalities made me dislike them even more. On the other hand, I absolutely loved Daya this season and my heart broke for her when Bennet (damn you Bennet!) left her. I also felt bad for the air-headed Flaca, who has shown some aspiration (poorly thought out ones but still admirable) in the prison. 

Litchfield Takeover
The worst part of this entire season was the Litchfield takeover. I'm glad the prison was saved, but I couldn't stand the new correctional officers (other than the new counselor) and corporate overhauling. All of the new employees were so idiotic that I couldn't stand watching them at some points. Pennsatucky's rape angered me so much and I felt so bad for the character I used to hate so much. I hope that correctional officer meets a sufficient punishment in the next season. And when Sophia was being beaten by those women, the female CO who did nothing but run to Caputo was so idiotic...I wanted to slap her through my computer screen. I genuinely felt bad for the former employees and Caputo, who is morally conflicted. Though I understand where they were coming from, I'm sad they all left and hope they will come back for their old jobs. 

The finale itself was filled with little plot twists that didn't surprise me as much as I assume the directors were hoping for. For instance, the only unpredictable event was when Piper turned on Stella (and of course, Stella turning on Piper before...which made me believe their relationship was a lie). It made me mad because it meant we might never see Stella again and Piper has turned into the cruel bitch I never thought she'd be--and in a bad way. Possibly the only loose end I look forward to is the fate of Alex, who has been tracked down by presumably one of Kubra's spies, who was hired as a CO. The stupidest plot turn in the finale was the gaping hole in the fence, allowing all the prisoners to a seemingly confined lake. That scene was so anti-climatic and disappointing. The ending scene, which showed A LOT of new prisoners, also didn't have the POW I was looking for. I could honestly care less about doubling the cast of this show. If anything, it makes me mad because I don't want to care about any more characters. But season 4 might prove me wrong.

Overall, I was disappointed by the stupidity of some of season 3's plot turns (like Norma's "cult"). I did love the different back stories, but OITNB lost a little bit of its charm and ingenuity that were apparent the past two seasons. I hope season 4 will be much better.

What did you think of the new season?

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Blog Got Plastic Surgery and a New Identity

I'm really sorry for disappearing off the face of the earth the past year or so. In addition to my empty chamber of blog post ideas, a lot of eventful things happened this year and my blog was sort of pushed aside/forgotten. Nonetheless, I'm back with an all new look and name! 

To be fair, I never really gave much effort into the design of my blog. It was always a template of which I customized only the color scheme and fonts. Creative, I know. But lately, I've been really trying to go for a more aesthetic design and although it's not perfect, I am content with what I have so far. I had to do a lot of Google searches and explore the world of CSS and HTML (what is this evil yet magical sorcery and why do people study this?!) to come up with what I have now. 

In addition, I also changed my blog name. I was never content with the vague "my endless imagination" and decided to play a little rhyme with "Em's Gems". I hope this doesn't come across as too self-absorbed, as if everything I own is a gem. I just wanted a catchy title and only so many things go together with my name. However, if you can think of something better, please comment below. I'd love to hear other people's ideas. My URL also changed to I cringe at the thought of those two grammar errors in my URL but what can you do. Sigh. 

Something else I've pondered is the direction I want my blog to go in. I generally like to keep things private because that's just who I am, but I do want to write less beauty/tv reviews and more personal/lifestyle posts. I personally love reading personal blog posts because it makes me feel closer to the blogger, even if I never met them. Plus, more personal blog posts might serve as a catharsis for my emotional self. What do you guys think? Yay or nay? 

I'm so glad to be back in the blogosphere and can't wait to write whatever rambling I can think of. For anybody who is reading my blog, I hope you enjoy it :).