Friday, June 29, 2012

Monthly Must-Reads: June 2012

Question of the month (from Noelle): Why do you blog? Has the reason changed over time, and if so, in what ways?

My motivation to blog is reflected in the quote in my header: "The unexamined life is not worth living". This is slightly tongue-in-cheek as the original quote relates to a deeper analysis of your actions in life, while my blog discusses fluffy, fun things like make-up, fashion and decor. However, the meaning is still relevant: by examining the various factors (even the superficial ones) that make up my life,  I give them importance and make them worthwhile. My blog inspires me to find beauty in my everyday surroundings and to aim for constant improvement.
Evolution of Ella Pretty
 I've been blogging for 3 years now (check out my first posts here!).

Things that haven't changed:
-My love for researching and sharing beauty secrets - Writing down the products, tips & techniques I've learned about gives me something to constantly refer back to.
-My enthusiasm - I've chosen quality over quantity and generally aim for one post per week. This ensures that I only write when I have something interesting to share - and it's never a chore.

Things that have evolved:
-Interactions with the blogging community - Meeting other bloggers is something I never anticipated when I started blogging - yet I now consider it one of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging. I love finding people who share my interests and getting to know them online and in person. 
-My comfort/privacy levels - although I love sharing my thoughts, I'm very protective of my privacy. I don't feel comfortable having my name and pictures all over the internet (which is why a lot of my photos have my face blocked out). However, going to blogger events and interacting with other bloggers has changed a lot of my perceptions, and I'm slowly sharing even more of myself through my blog.

I'd love to know your answer to Noelle's question as well - why do you blog?



Monday, June 25, 2012

My Favorite Annabelle & Marcelle Products AND Giveaway

As I mentioned in my Beauty Unveiling post, I'm holding a giveaway for some AMAZING products from Annabelle & Marcelle.

I'm a huge fan of Annabelle & Marcelle products - 2 of the items from the last event have become part of my everyday make-up routine - the Obsession lipstick is smooth, creamy and long-lasting - and I can't live without the gold-pink eyeliner - I apply it to highlight the inner-corner of my eyes and on my Cupid's bow - and it stays in place ALL DAY!
(not included in giveaway)
However, I'm using prescription acne treatment products at the moment, and rather than putting the  new goody bag items in storage, I thought I'd share them with my lovely readers - especially those who haven't had a chance to try these brands yet.

In this giveaway you'll receive these 5 items:
1) Marcelle New Age Day Cream
2) Marcelle New Age EYE+LIP Contour Cream
3) Marcelle New Age Night Cream
Source: Annabelle/Marcelle PR
4) Annabelle TWISTUP Lipstick Crayon in ABSOLUTE
Source: Annabelle/Marcelle PR
 5) Annabelle Eyeshadow in GODDESS
Source: Annabelle/Marcelle PR
The contest is open internationally and is open until July 6th. Please enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below - you must follow me through Google Friend Connect to enter. Following my Facebook page and Tweeting about this giveaway will earn additional entries. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Best Mineral Make-up for Acne-prone Skin?

I'm a HUGE fan of full-coverage mineral foundation for my day-to-day make-up. Here's why:

Which Mineral Makeup to use on Acne Prone Skin
Some of my mineral make-up - the packaging gets grubby easily...
-Ingredients: I prefer its relatively simple ingredients compared to some of the scary chemicals (parabens and preservatives) found in other foundations.
-Sensitivity:  Mineral make-up can often be used by the most sensitive skin (even ones that have undergone intensive beauty treatments like chemical peels). Since it's non-irritating, it's perfect for acne-prone skin (like mine!)
-Simplicity: with full coverage, I don't need to use a separate concealer to mask my blemishes. I just increase the intensity of powder over blemished areas.
-Application: Some people find loose powders hard to work with - however, I find it easier and neater than liquid foundation. The "swirl, tap, buff" method is super easy - and with the right brushes (I HIGHLY recommend this one for dense coverage and this one for a glowing finish), it only takes me three minutes to get an even finish.
-Portability: Powders can have bulky containers and if they don't close properly, you could end up with powder EVERYWHERE! However, most companies have improved their packaging, offering secure closures and pressed compact versions. Furthermore, I usually don't need to carry my make-up around, as I find one application lasts the whole day, and I only need to use blotting papers to touch up.

I'm currently using Everyday Minerals Pressed Powder in Olive Medium (previously reviewed here). I adore it - full coverage and completely non-irritating BUT it's been discontinued, and I don't like its replacement - so I'm on the hunt for new mineral make-up. (For shade reference, I'm NC35 in MAC).


1) Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals Foundation ($27 for 0.3 oz)
MUA rating: 2484 reviews (2.9/5) 
My shade: Golden Medium or Medium Beige 
Potential irritant: Bismuth Oxychloride in the original formula 
My thoughts:  Great color range - with over 20 shades to choose from. While this is one of the most popular and easily found mineral brands, it doesn't work for me. The original formula makes my face irritated (due to the Bismuth) while the matte formula doesn't provide enough coverage to mask my blemishes. I do love this brand though - my must-haves include the Tinted Mineral Veil, Well-rested Eye Brightener and the Handy Buki Brush.

2) Everyday Minerals Semi-Matte Formula ($12.99 for 0.19 oz)
MUA rating: 506 reviews (3.9/5)
My shade: Buttered Tan or Golden Medium
Potential irritant: reformulated with Lauroyl Lysine (derived from Coconut oil)
My thoughts:  My current pressed powder foundation is perfection - it provides full, long-lasting coverage without looking powdery or cake-y. As my compact is running low, I recently ordered foundation sample kits - and found that they did not provide the same coverage or finish as before. After googling reviews, I discovered that EM changed their foundation formula (adding Lauroyl Lysine) - leaving many former fans wondering why they replaced a star product with an inferior and irritating one.

3) Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 ($35 for 0.34 oz)
MUA rating: 487 reviews (4.0/5)
My shade: Classic Beige 
Potential irritant: Also contains some Bismuth Oxychloride but reportedly not as much as Bare Minerals 
My thoughts: Love the finish of this foundation - it contains Pearl Powders that make your skin look airbrushed and glowing- it is seriously amazing! However, it doesn't provide adequate coverage and my hyperpigmented acne scars show through. Would highly recommend it if you already have blemish-free skin, but I can't use it at the moment.


1) Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Base ($50 for 9.9g)
MUA rating: 558 reviews (4.0/5)
My shade: Unknown 
My Thoughts:  I'm SO attracted to this because of the pressed formula and reviews of full-coverage (highly pigmented with no need of a separate concealer!) - although it is the most expensive mineral foundation I've researched.  It is only stocked in salons or online, so I'm going to have to find a local salon and try it on in person to find my shade. (Update: Reviewed here)

2) Cover fx Powder FX Mineral Powder Foundation ($35 for 0.12 oz)
MUA rating: 11 reviews (4.5/5)
My shade: Unknown
My Thoughts: I've heard that Cover FX is a great brand for easily irritated skin. However, according to the brand's website, this product only provides medium (not full) coverage. It's easy to find - my Shoppers Drug Mart stocks it - if they give samples, I'm definitely going to give this a try.

3) Alima Satin Matte Mineral Foundation ($25 for 0.24 oz)
MUA rating: 390 reviews (4.1/5)
My shade: Unknown 
My Thoughts:  A lot of former Everyday Minerals users are switching to this brand - on the plus side, it's creamy and non-irritating - unfortunately, it reportedly only provides light to medium coverage. I may order sample sizes from the brand's website to see how this works for me.

4) Pur Minerals Pressed Powder Foundation ($26 for 0.28 oz)
MUA rating: 536 reviews (3.9/5)
My shade: Tan
My Thoughts: Another mineral brand stocked at my local Shoppers Drug Mart (love easy to find make-up). Am a little hesitant about it's ingredients (which include Bismuth Oxychloride and Shea Butter) - but apparently it works for others with acne-prone skin, so I may give it a try.

Do you have any suggestions for full-coverage mineral make-up? 

Which Mineral Makeup to use on Acne Prone Skin

Monday, June 18, 2012

How I Style My Hair

Just thought I'd do a quick post putting together all the different ways I like wearing my hair - along with the relevant tutorials.

My default hair style is down and parted to the side. Since I have fine, straight hair - this hardly requires any styling - just some Aveda Volumizing Tonic and Moroccan Oil.

My default everyday hairstyle
Another easy hairstyle is parted (either to the middle or the side) and pulled back:
Sides pulled back hairstyle
I also like braiding the front of my hair and tying it to the side while leaving the rest free - this is my favorite way to wear my hair:
Braided and tied on the side
For special occasions, I blow-dry my roots and curl my hair (either using a flat iron or a Hot Tools curling iron - the ONLY curling iron that creates a lasting curl in my hair!)
Blow-dried and curled
I use a lot more products for this style. I start with a volumizing mousse before blow-drying, followed by a heat protectant spray before curling and a hair spray after.

On bad hair days, I either put my hair in a side braid, parted to the side in a ponytail or in a ballerina bun (If you're doing a bun, you NEED to use spin pins!)...Funny how I don't have many pictures of my hair in these styles...believe me - I looked!

In a ponytail
Zoe Saldana with her hair in a side braid

Jamie Chung in a ballerina bun
I'm SO grateful for these amazing tutorials on youtube - they taught me all I know about doing my hair!

Blowdrying technique by Nurberxo - a vented brush is key. I'm using a Conair one - but this Brushlab one is on my wishlist.

Curling with a curling iron by MakeupByTiffanyD:

Curling with a flat iron by FrmHeadToToe:

Twisted Rope Braids by FrmHeadToToe: (I use this technique when braiding the front of my hair)

How do you usually style your hair? Any must-have tips or products to share?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beauty Unveiling Event with Annabelle & Marcelle

Last night Annabelle & Marcelle Cosmetics hosted another amazing evening to present some of their latest offerings (read about their previous event here).

Here are the products that caught my eye:

Gorgeous pressed eyeshadow quads reminiscent of the Givenchy Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartets. The shadows on the left are so unique - they are all the SAME COLOR, just with varying degrees of shimmer & texture!
Marcelle expanded their popular BB cream line to include: additional shades, added SPF, anti-aging benefits, and a cream-to-powder formula!  I was SO excited because I discovered these BB creams were oil-free, which means I can actually use them!
Annabelle debuted their BB range - along with a skin-retouching crayon that brightens on one end, and fills in fine lines on the other! I love skin-highlighting pencils - but have never used one to fill in lines before - I'm intrigued...

I also fell in LOVE with Annabelle's TWISTUP Lipstick Crayons - they are so light and glossy.
Check out the gorgeous swatches - I'm seriously craving the fuchsia and the red ones.
 The event was also a great excuse to catch up with my favorite Toronto Beauty Blogger friends (I'm in the front row wearing aqua):
Source: Annabelle Cosmetics Facebook page
I loved hanging out with glowingly gorgeous mommy-to-be Farah (love her pink blazer):
Also met up with Rica back from her Hong Kong trip (lucky girl!) and made many new friends including the lovely Youtuber JustEnufEyes and blogger Linerglttrgloss.

As we left the event, we were totally SPOILED by an incredible goody bag - here's mine:
I was so excited to see the skin-retouching pencil and BB creams in there. And how did Annabelle know I needed a new bronzer? As my skin is quite sensitive at the moment (go away acne - sob sob!) I'm going to do a giveaway of the amazing NEW-AGE skincare line - it's too good to keep in storage! Check back soon for more details.

Have you tried Annabelle or Marcelle products before? Have you used BB creams?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's in my Bag

I've been LOVING my Marc Jacobs Single bag - it's my everyday bag - and it puts a smile on my face whenever I look down at its quilted cuteness!
However - as you can see, it's a teeny TINY bag - quite similar to Chanel's WOC. I've had to downsize a LOT so that I could use this bag - I guess it's true love when you're willing to make sacrifices ;-)

There are 3 compartments inside the bag. The back has a row of card slots, so you can keep your credit cards in the bag instead of in a separate wallet. I prefer using my own wallet as it makes it easier to switch out to a bigger bag on the weekends. The cupcake sticker shows where I keep my iPhone (since I was using it to take pictures).
Inside my bag:
-blue wallet (the smallest wallet I on the hunt for a cuter one)
-Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene 6-keyholder
-Wet Ones travel wipes
-ELF blotting papers
-mini BALMSHELL lipgloss
-garage door opener
-iPhone 4s (pictured below)

Things I had to give up carrying: (I carry them in my bigger bag on the weekends)
-extra wallet containing store cards/gift cards
-tylenol & gum
-hand cream & cuticle cream
-more toiletries (lipliner, nail file, hairbrush)
-sunglasses (I keep them by the door and wear them out)

Down-sizing was hard because I like being prepared, but when I looked at what I needed on a day-to-day basis (basically the school run) I realized I didn't need to carry so much stuff. If I am going to be out longer during the week - it's easy enough to switch to a bigger bag...but for now, my shoulders are thanking me!


What's your favorite bag right now? Do you carry a lot of stuff or do you travel light?


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