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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Favorites & Reviews: Davines NaturalTech, Coastal Scents, Urban Decay & ...





In this video I talk about my favorite products recently and great deals on beauty I've stumbled across, as well as oil control in the summer!



Davines NaturalTech Vegetarian Formula Deep Conditioner

Coastal Scents Silica Powder Spheres

Milk of Magnesia oil control trick

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette - about $5 from Dresslink.com!

ELF 144 Master Eyeshadow Palette for $9.95




Sunday, May 18, 2014

Switching to Straight Talk from Verizon and Saving Money

Another thing I had planned on doing with this blog was offering tech tips and/or fixes for people like me who are trying to find answers on the vast web, but just can't quite locate the exact information they need. So for makeup junkies, sorry! You can skip this post. But for anyone looking to save some money with their smartphone, keep reading.

Let's talk about prepaid phone plans! For me, the best prepaid phone plan by far was Straight Talk. It operates off of most major networks and offers unlimited domestic talk+text with 3 GB of 4G LTE data on the AT&T network for only $45 per month, versus my unlimited domestic talk/text with 2GB of 4G LTE data on Verizon for $60 per month. It is also the least expensive, best network option that I found.

"3 GB?" I can hear you thinking. "That's not a lot." Well, no, it certainly doesn't sound like a lot. But even streaming on Pandora and using my GPS, I maybe use...hmm...about 1 GB (rounding up) a month? I've never understood the desire to watch movies on one's phone, which is what uses up the most data, so it isn't an issue for me. If you actually sit down and take stock of how much data you truly use each month, you'd be surprised at how low the figure is. Unless, of course, you're a tech worker who uses their device constantly!

So $45 per month for unlimited talk/text and 3GB 4G LTE data? I'm sold! I had been paying my mother for my share of their Verizon family line; when I decided I would switch to Straight Talk, I verified that my current phone - a Verizon based Nokia Lumia 928 - would work on Straight Talk's network by checking my IMEI number, then plugging it into their database. Once I knew it would work, I purchased the right size SIM card to fit my phone (micro-SIM). I also chose an AT&T SIM, as I wanted the 4G LTE and the AT&T SIMs were recommended for Lumia phones.

Here's where I goofed up. See, the Nokia Lumia 928 does not operate on the same LTE band that AT&T does, which is the network that Straight Talk uses for its 4G LTE. While the Lumia 928 is unlocked out of the box for GSM use, it can only get up to H+ (HSPA+) data speeds on GSM networks, which is admittedly faster than 3G, but not much so. I discovered this after extensive testing on my phone and research. Finally, in despair, I was ready to admit defeat with Straight Talk unless I was able to get a phone compatible with it. I just couldn't justify buying a whole new phone, though, with my Lumia 928 still alive and kicking.

And that's when it happened - I smashed the screen of my Lumia to bits. I've dropped my Lumia lots before. I am a walking disaster, a clutz of extreme proportions. An ex-boyfriend used to call me "Destructo" because I always seem to end up ruining everything around me with clumsiness, and when I was in high school, my mother told me someone I didn't know had approached her and told her I should go to modeling school. My ego started puffing up until she continued, "They think it would teach you how to be graceful." That is how clumsy I am - that I earned the nickname "Destructo" and that a stranger told my mother I needed classes on how to function with some kind of grace. My current boyfriend regularly asks me, "Now, how did you run into the wall again? Weren't you just standing still?"

I should be thankful that I hadn't smashed my phone earlier. Lumias, however, are total tanks of phones. They are Nokia, after all - a brand known for its resilience. I've dropped my phone on concrete, on tile, on wood floors, you name it. Not broken. This time, however, I picked up my phone and the charge cord caught on the side of my console table. The cord whiplashed my phone out of my hand and it landed on an uneven, unforgiving metal surface - the heating grate.
The screen fractured so badly that the phone was unusable. I cut my fingers attempting to use it (that's how bad it broke); in desperation, as a temporary fix, I applied a spare screen protector I had for another device, but I could still feel the cracks and breaks underneath. It was a sign. Time for a new phone! And what do you know - I could get a phone that was compatible with Straight Talk!

I admit that I was afraid to do this. Getting a new phone that met my needs that was solely Straight Talk/AT&T compatible could not only end up costing me a lot of money, but if it still didn't work on Straight Talk, I wouldn't be able to take that phone back to Verizon for use. I would have to get a new AT&T plan, which was going to cost more than my plan on Verizon originally did. Plus, as great a deal as prepaid plans are, there are not a lot of people that get them when viewed in the entire scope of smartphone users. It's certainly unfamiliar territory to me, so I had some trepidations.

I swallowed my fears and ordered myself an AT&T locked Nokia Lumia 920, blue, with a matte finish, for $199 on eBay. It was the phone I had originally wanted from the Lumia line, it was exactly the same hardware-wise as my old Lumia 928, and reading reviews on it convinced me that it was actually more advanced than many of the newer phones that had emerged. AT&T locked phones work on Straight Talk - they do not need to be unlocked - so I was able to save $200-$300 dollars by getting a locked phone versus an unlocked one.

I popped the SIM card into my new phone and can I just say...wow? Reviews on the Lumia 928 said that the phone was slower than usual and had network speeds under the norm. Using my new Lumia 920 on the AT&T 4G LTE network proved that to be true. The highest speed I was ever able to get on my old 928 on Verizon's 4G LTE network was 5 Mbps, and that was unusually fast. The highest speed I have received on my Lumia 920 was over 12 Mbps. It is shockingly fast and I have better coverage than I ever did with Verizon. My calls are clearer and my MMS picture messages send and receive with no issue, whereas my messages on Verizon always seemed to take forever and often wouldn't come in at all.

Let's break down how much I saved by switching to a prepaid network, not including the initial purchase of my Straight Talk SIM card or any taxes:


Network
Device
Per month
Per year
Two year total
Verizon
 $               199.00
 $                     60.00
 $            720.00
 $                      1,639.00
Straight Talk
 $               199.00
 $                     45.00
 $            540.00
 $                      1,279.00
Difference

 

 

 
 $                         360.00
Anyone using Verizon is probably shocked at how low I was paying for my phone. If you aren't able to get a family plan discount, with a military discount on top of that (I am a military dependent), your plan probably costs significantly more than mine does, so you would save a lot more on your plan each month than I did. Let's make it more equal for people who didn't have those discounts, as I did: for a single line with Verizon (calculated by going to Verizon and choosing the option to build an individual plan), with the same amount of 4G LTE data each month (3 GB), and assuming you wanted a mid-range new smartphone - we'll choose one that's $99 - your cost break down would be about the following, not including taxes:

Network
Device
Per month
Per year
Two year total
Verizon
 $                 99.00
 $                   100.00
 $         1,200.00
 $                      2,400.00
Straight Talk
 $               199.00
 $                     45.00
 $            540.00
 $                      1,279.00
Difference

 

 

 
 $                      1,121.00
That is a huge difference. HUGE difference.

To sum up, Straight Talk:
  • Gave me more data for less money
  • Faster LTE coverage
  • Better network coverage (in my personal experience thus far)
  • Faster MMS
  • Better call quality
  • Substantial financial savings

If you're thinking about making the leap, I can't recommend it enough. Just make sure that your phone is fully compatible and you won't have any problems!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miss Maskcara HAC Foundation Review + How-to Pick Your Contour Shade





Hey guys! Join me for a review of Miss Maskcara's HAC Foundation. If it doesn't work for you, like it didn't for me (my skin is just too bad! Argh!), stick around and I'll tell you how to find your shade for a natural, daytime contour look. You can use this technique or the previous natural contour tutorial I posted for every day contouring. Enjoy!



Miss Maskcara: http://www.maskcara.com/

Saturday, April 12, 2014

TonyMoly Egg Pore Primer & Cat's Wink Mascara Review/Demo




I'm finally back from moving for the third time in like 4 months! And I bring you a review on TonyMoly products - an excellent Korean line for broke beauty divas to try. Hear my thoughts on TonyMoly Egg Pore Primer and TonyMoly Cat's Wink Volume Mascara!

You can find them both here:

TonyMoly Egg Pore Primer

TonyMoly Cat's Wink Volume Mascara

Also, meet my new rescue kitty, Miss Blue, who makes a surprise cameo appearance! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Revlon 3D Volume vs Covergirl Bombshell Mascara

I try a Covergirl mascara - the new Covergirl Bombshell Volume - for probably the first time in my life and test it side-by-side with my current favorite mascara, Revlon Photoready 3D Volume. See the difference and hear my thoughts!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Drugstore Mascara Round-Up: What's Good & What Isn't!


On a recent mascara kick, I splurged on a bunch of mascaras to give you guys the low-down on what is worth buying and what isn't!

Mascaras listed in order from worst to best (in my opinion):

Maybelline Great Lash Big
Flower 3-in-1 Zoom-In Ultimate Mascara
ELF 3-in-1 Mascara - Lengthen, Define, and Volumize
L'Oreal Lash-Out Butterfly Mascara
ELF Lengthening & Defining Mascara
Revlon Photoready 3D Volume Mascara

My favorites are the Revlon Photoready 3D Volume, which is a dupe for Benefit They're Real mascara and the ELF Lengthening & Defining mascara, which made me look like I had baby-doll lashes.

Also previewed is my new set of StyleMaster buffing brushes that I will be reviewing soon! I got them on eBay from here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hot-Cosmetics-Foundation-Blending-Brush-Blush-Kabuki-Makeup-Set-Kit-29D1-/121152650894?ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:US:1120