Pro Salon Manicure

I’m so in love with Ulta3. I can tolerate their gluggy consistencies in their ordinary $2 range because hey.. it’s a $2 polish, you can’t expect it to compete with nail polishes for $20, but so long as the end result looks good and you can get a massive collection without spending hundreds of dollars, that’s all I really care about. I’m reasonable like that, I have reasonable expectations, especially since Ulta3 moved production to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and quality was never the same as it once was.

But they’ve released a new range recently called “Pro Salon Manicure”, and let me tell you, for $5… it’s so worth it. Ulta3 sent me three bottles for me to review along with the pastels and the first thing I looked at was where these colours were produced. Taiwan! Interesting–hopefully better than the PRC formulas then.

I felt compelled to write reviews on these colours too simply because Ulta3 was kind enough to send them along with the pastel polishes and I felt like I should review both because they were nice to me, too, haha. They also sent me a semi-neon set, but not sure I’ll be reviewing them because they’re not “new” and most of them aren’t really neon colours either.. But I’m sure you’ll be sick of my nail polish reviews by now anyways! So here’s my take on the Pro Salon Manicure sets from Ulta3.



Truthfully, the quality is amazing. Coral Crush goes opaque with a single coat (I did two just to be thorough), and the flat-tipped brush means that each nail required like two sweeps–even the thumb. The pinkie only needed one. Sky Blue and Purple Fusion was a bit of a different story–it took three full coats for them to become opaque. The formula is smooth and the absolute perfect consistency–just on the verge of becoming slightly watery, but this is great because the glugginess is a thing of the past. And as soon as I applied Coral Crush, I started typing this review up and accidentally knocked my nails a few times. While this had resulted in denting the nail polish a lot while I was swatching the Pretty Pastels collection, I found to my great surprise and pleasure, that these colours dried VERY quickly. By the time I finished writing this, they were utterly dry.

My only question for Ulta3 is why their normal range isn’t this good?? Forget the base coat and top coat additions etc–why can’t we have such great consistency and drying time with the ordinary range? WHHHYYY?

Summer Lovin’




A few months ago, I had an awesome day of shooting with my best friend Louisa Parkinson! While she herself is a professional model and much more skilled at photoshoots than I am (as evidenced by her pro poses against my “what the hell am I doing with my hands” poses), it was still a really fun day and we got many great photos in the end. Our photographer was the talented amateur Bryan Justin, who spent the whole day shooting us and waited patiently through many an outfit change (in the back seat of Louisa’s car..),  so thank you so much for all your time spent on this shoot, Bryan!

These pictures were all shot at the Manly Marina, and it was a relatively warm day as we celebrated those last few cold snaps before the advent of Spring.

So here’s the rundown of outfits you see before you:

Louisa:

Candy Earrings – ValleyGirl, $6

Gold Cuff – Equip, $5

Orange Skater Dress – Ice, $30

Belt – Ice, $7.50

Pink Leopard Print Pumps – G-Market, $15

Total: $63.50

Demi:

Circle Choker – Equip, $5

Glamorous Peplum DressASOS, $21 (had a coupon code, woot! ..Also they were having a peplum sale when I bought it, but the price has gone up, dammit.)

Patent Waist Belt – Target, free with a dress (best wardrobe staple ever)

Wine/Gold Bangle – Rubi, $2

70D Footless Tights – Kmart, $3

Black patent Oxford pumps – Famous Footwear, $10

Total: $41!

Yikes, I’m a cheapskate.

So today I’ve won the battle of the frugalistas, but make sure you stay tuned for the next battle between me and Louisa next week!

Carbon Copies X

The cake is a lie. A big, fat one.

Little more irks me in the fashion industry than retailers trying to rip their customers off. They do it everywhere, and most of the time you have to just bite your tongue and go elsewhere, or elsewhile wait for sale time to roll around and pray your item of choice doesn’t disappear from those shelves forever. I’m not sure I used that word in the correct context. Anyways. But what if they were selling you things for double, triple, quadruple the price of an identical item that you can get elsewhere for a mere fraction of the price?

This is a special edition of Carbon Copies which will expose these retailers that do that, both in the real world and online, and give you a few tips and tricks that will prevent you from being ripped off.

We’ll first focus on the real-life retailer Hi, Beauty–a store in the Myer Centre in Brisbane. I was lured inside by the sale signs but when I flipped through a few dresses and shirts, the horrors that awaited me were more than a poor frugalista could bear.. There in the shop I saw my eBay wishlist staring right back at me! I wasn’t sure whether to cry about the prices or whether to whoop with joy that I could finally try on my wishlist items without having to purchase them first. I kind of did both, and subsequently pulled out my camera in the dressing room.




I could have posted images from the Internet instead of the images from my camera, but I really needed to show you firsthand what they’re selling. Here’s the rundown, from top to bottom (excluding my picture):

1. Patchwork Dress, $52 | eBay, $14

2. Contrast Collar Dress, $50 | AliExpress, $16 (UPDATED)

3. Orange & Blue Colour Block Dress, $35 | eBay, $14

4. Scoop Neck Yellow Dress, $40 | eBay, $18.70

5. Multi-Colour Polka Dot Dress, $50 | eBay, $16.80

I’m not done yet, though. Online retailers are the worst of the bunch, because they go about this in unethical ways. They pretend that they are exclusive, the next best thing to ASOS, and trick bloggers into supporting them, while they use the professional photos generated on the bloggers’ blogs of those items as advertising for their website. And of course, for the free clothing that they send off to that popular blogger that in reality probably only costs a few dollars to make in some cheap Chinese sweatshop, the followers of those bloggers get directed back to that website and naturally think everything there is awesome and worth the exorbitant prices that the store is charging. Meanwhile, most have no idea that you can find the exact same items (not just the replica, but the same-same items!), minus the 400% or so price hike, directly from Aliexpress or eBay.

Two big-time perpetrators are Sheinside and Romwe. Please note that I’ve chosen the following items because they were the easiest to find, not because they’re fashionable. With enough patience I could probably find most of the things they sell on their website listed for cheaper on eBay or Alibaba/Aliexpress.

Romwe

Romwe has all the cards in their hands. They only allow bloggers with over 2000 followers to participate in their affiliate program, and every time a blogger buys something from them and posts up a picture of it, it’s Romwe’s to use for free. Beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes lends to making them a beautiful website, even if the beauty is only surface-deep.  Here are a few things I spotted while perusing Romwe. Keep in mind that unlike most Carbon Copies posts where I show you where to find the replica of a particular item, all the items listed in this post are the exact same as the listings on eBay.

1. Retro Sleeveless Pleated Mustard Dress, $83 | eBay, $13

2. Multi-level Flouncing Sleeveless Orange Dress, $30 | eBay, $9.20

3. Aztek Pattern Cardigan, $52 | eBay, $19

4. Dog Print Blouse, $37 | eBay, $10

5. Multi-spike Charm Layered Necklace, $19 | eBay, $2.30

6. Retro Style Ring Suit, $13 | eBay, $1.30

7. Small Mouse Open Copper Ring, $11 | eBay, $1

8. Hollowed Carving Detachable Collar, $16 | eBay, $3.30

The differences in prices are absolutely insane. From a ring that is marked up 1000% to a dress marked up 600%. Sure you can find the odd thing on Romwe that is near impossible to find anywhere else, but for what they’re doing to their buyers’ wallets, I wouldn’t touch their company with a ten foot barge pole.

Sheinside

If it weren’t for another blogger, I wouldn’t have found this store either, which just goes to show you the power that these two online companies are harnessing! It was a lot easier to find “replicas” here and I had to cull the enormous list that I had built up, but yeah, mostly everything you see on that website you can find on eBay/AliExpress.

1. Leopard Dress, $32 | AliExpress, $10

2. White Lace Bodycon Dress, $34 | eBay, $13

3. Yellow Skater Dress with Contrast Collar, $45 | eBay, $15.30

4. Bird Print Chiffon Shirt, $32 | eBay, $16

5. Winged Ring, $14.20 | eBay, $1.35

6. Tassel Necklace, $13 | eBay, $2

7. Silver Leaves Necklace, $15.50 | eBay, $1.80

8. Bronze Octopus Necklace, $12.30 | eBay, $1

As I said, Sheinside had many, many items that I’ve seen before on eBay, but the list had to be massively culled because I didn’t want to go overboard or I’d be writing this post for hours!

Tips to avoid being sold the cake:

  • If the models on the website are mostly Asian or from ASOS or Zara (and the website you’re on is not in fact ASOS or Zara), run very far away..
  • If the clothing is photographed on coat hangers instead of real people, same as above
  • If the listings mostly contain the word “chiffon” in the titles
  • If the website is written in Engrish

All of these tips should help you avoid getting severely ripped off, but it’s no reason to leave the site prematurely either. Browse a bit, note your favorite garments, and look them up on eBay instead.

Note: All these items were researched on eBay and AliExpress on the fly–please don’t post to tell me you found a cheaper version because they probably do exist but the main purpose of this post was to show the differences in pricing between retailers, not to bring you bargains (sorry!).

Instagramification IV



McDonalds’ soft serve.. mmm.. | This peplum top was $8 on eBay! Woo! | Finished my lino prints.. thank God | Ready for Vron’s going away party in my Dotti dress! | Cheezburgar.. omg.. best junk food ever | My new dinosaur pictures–$15 for a set from the Reject Shop | Photoshoot pictures (finally) came back.. can’t wait to post about them next week | Cute little winged ring.. $1, from eBay | Subway cookies are the best. I buy three only to be economical, I swear

I’ve decided to make these a fortnightly occurance instead of weekly. The reason for this is not because I’m lazy (which, well, I sort of am to be honest), but because my life just isn’t interesting enough, really.  But yeah, these are the selections from the last few weeks–a snapshot into this frugalista’s life. All outfits you see before you are sneak peeks of what you’ll be getting over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Ulta Pretty Pastels

Hello lovelies! I know that there are a lot in the “I hate these Spring/Summer trends” camp, but I dunno, there’s something about pastels and neons that I just.. love. Being pale, pastels suit my skin tone, and being a redhead doesn’t hurt either! So to celebrate the advent of Spring (I’m a couple of weeks late, I know), I bring to my readers a review of Ulta3’s new Spring/Summer collection, entitled “Pretty Pastels”. The six shades above are the colours you get in this collection, and I tweaked them slightly from the original press release picture to more closely match the shades you’ll actually get (in the press release, they had some sort of semi-bright orange for example–which didn’t look even close to the shade you actually buy!).

Mine is a little different from other reviews in that I have a lot of different opinions–chief among these is that while lots of bloggers seem to say there is a shimmer in these polishes, I don’t see them at all, so don’t expect them when you’re purchasing because they’re too subtle. I can notice them in the bottles of hydrangea and dahlia, but not on my nails. Looking at them right now in my well-lit room at daytime, all I see is a flat colour. If you go into the sunshine and hold your nails under it and take a photo, there is a slight illusion of shimmer which I get with all of my other cremes when they’re hit by strong sunlight directly, but in ordinary light, it won’t be noticeable.

Corsican Rose

So first up is a very nice shade of mint. Application-wise, it’s probably the streakiest nail polish I own, which made applying it quite a pain (so devastating!)! This saddened me greatly because I do love me some mint. I almost didn’t want to photograph it because I simply couldn’t get the hang of trying to apply it and it ended up looking a bit blobby on my nails. It needed a full three coats to become opaque and I ended up using topcoat on it to smooth out the streaks as well. Some people also report a slight shimmer; I didn’t see it at all.

Soft Hydrangea

As far as application goes, after the Corsican Rose, this was a dream to apply. 1-2 coats to full opacity and an even coverage. I didn’t even need a top coat on these. No shimmer on this one either for me, though you can see it slightly in the bottle if you look really hard. Quick to dry as well. I like it!

Pink Peony

This is a great colour with great application. Probably the easiest to apply and it could have something to do with the fact it is the only non-pastel out of this pastel collection (a bit of an odd choice). Opaque in 2 coats and very quick to dry. I would have liked to see a cream colour in this collection instead of another bubble gum pink since I haven’t seen a cream from Ulta3, but pink is pink and I love all shades.

Lilac Bloom

Everything I said about Soft Hydrangea applies to this one as well. Except this one is definitely a creme, in and out of the bottle.

Pale Dahlia

Oh my glob you guys, I really love this one. It’s my favorite out of the lot. It’s sort of a gorgeous, frosty pink with a slight shimmer. Application is okay if maybe a tad globby, and you need 2-3 coats to reach full opacity. I have looked at other blogger posts and feel that the above colour is a lot more accurate. It’s not a warm pink in real life, more of a cold colour with very slight purple undertones.

Orange Blossom

Last out of the bunch, and I would say this is a faulty nail polish. Not only for the broken brush I found inside my bottle but because of the.. one can only describe it as “watery” and yet gluggy consistency. You have to apply 4 coats before it even begins to gain the full opacity and even then you can still see the visible nail line. As you can see by the pictures!

So to sum up..

Blue, purple and pinks are definitely worth the $2 RRP, but make sure you have a tonne of patience if you’re going to attempt the mint or the orange because they’re tricky to get the hang of! That being said, I like these shades the best–I’ve always been a fan of mint and orange, so I’m going to stick with them and see if I can frankenpolish them into better consistencies for application.

So yeah, if you’ve been hesitant about these colours, I can with full confidence say go ahead and make the investment for the oncoming months. For a limited time too, if you spend $10 on the collection, you’ll get a free designer tote with your purchase!

Which shade is your favorite of the season?

This collection was supplied to me for free by The Heat Group for the purpose of this review, but this in no way changes the outcome of this review or my opinions of these products. But it does make me love them just a little more than I already did.