REVIEW: Cascade Platinum Action Packs


I recently received a sample pack of Cascade Platinum Action Packs to test and review. Innitially, I wasn’t too excited to write a review on this product: I’ve used the regular Cascade liquid dishwasher fluid and didn’t think there would be much difference in performance. While the action packs LOOK cool, and seem quite convenient it really just seemed like a gimmick.

In the end, I DO think that these performed better than the regular Cascade liquid detergent. HOWEVER: I’m not sure if the cost effectiveness of the product makes it worth it.

Cost effectiveness:
At Walmart:
the action packs cost $5.99/pack of 25 (or 36cents/oz)
the traditional liquid costs $5.97/75oz bottle (or 8cents/oz)

By ounce, the action packs are outrageously more expensive than the bottle of liquid detergent.

While I wasn’t surprised that the action packs cost more, I was surprised at how well they cleaned the junk I threw in my dishwasher! The test items were very much dependent on what we were eating at the time and I didn’t have any of the foods that have proven most difficult in the past in this load (mashed potatos, crusty mustard, spinach and carrot pulp). Nonetheless, there was some hard to tackle goop in this load that was cleaned off entirety!

Day old coffee rings:


Crusty day old refried beans:


Misc multiple-day-old food mess:


Normally, I would have rubbed these down with a wet sponge before shoving them in the dishwasher. I was incredibly surprised when there was no food-crud left on the dishes after just tossing them in the dishwasher AND I was so happy to not have to hand wash the dishes after pulling them.from the dishwasher.

Another note on performance is the shine and spotlessness of glasses and silverware!
Pyrex bowl and silverware:


Here in eastern Washington state, the water isn’t incredibly hard, but I have noticed a couple spots on large glassware and silverware, and with the action packs have had a noticeable impact on that.

While I like the action packs for how well they cleaned and for their convenience, I am doubtful that I would purchase them again. It seems that the action packs have pre- and post-wash fluids in them to clean and leave a spot free finish, which make up SOME of the difference in price, but at over 4x the price per ounce, I don’t think I can justify purchasing it again.


REVIEW: Cover Girl LashBlast Volume Mascara

CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
Rating: 4/5
MSRP: $7.99 on the CoverGirl website

As a monolidder, mascara has always been somewhat problematic for me: it’s a necessity if I want to open-up my eyes, BUT it is such a pain in the butt to find a good one. Until I developed my technique I would end up with (what seemed like) more product on my upper AND lower eyelids than on my lashes. Even then, until I knew what to look for in a mascara, after a while the mascara would end up brushing off on my face anyways because of the extra tissue around my eyes.

Even with added experience and knowledge, I still struggle with it from time to time, especially when im sweating under hot stage lights for dance and theatre performances. So, when CoverGirl sent me a sample of their LashBlast Volume mascara (non-waterproof) I didn’t expect much. In the end I am very happy with the product and will continue to use it. Though, I am on the fence about whether I would repurchase it when I finish the tube!



I am very picky about the type of wand my mascara has. I love that they cap the mascara and leave the brush out so that you can see the brush. It also seems cleaner to me for some reason.

Ingredients and health

Wand and application


The best I can say about this wand is that it’s OK. It’s not terrible, nor is it great, it really just somewhere in the middle. The silicone bristles apply product evenly, however they don’t do much to separate individual lashes.
As I mentioned earlier, my monolids LOVE rubbing up against my makeup applicators and attract makeup. For this fact I usually gravitate toward SMALL mascara wands, sometimes even ones meant for bottom lashes so that I can coat every little lash without smearing them on my lids. Though the wand on the CoverGirl LashBlast Volume mascara is a full sized wand it didn’t get all over the place, even when I hurriedly swept it through my lashes on my way to work.

Immediate results


All this really took was a single coat and I got a very wide-eyed yet natural look. I kept adding additional coats to see how far I could take the mascara, waiting a few seconds between each application and was able to achieve a pretty dramatic look without curling my lashes.

When applying a single coat, the mascara applies very smoothly and naturally. However if you do apply multiple coats this stuff does start to clump a bit, and the wand doesn’t help with this much. When you have a clumpy mascara formyla, a good wand with bristles that separate lashes can usually help this, and unfortunately this wand doesn’t cut it. You can, of course add the extra step of cleaning up the application by combing through the lashes with a clean brush.

Results over time

Top: immediately after application: Bottom: after a night out and sleeping with mascara on

For a non-waterproof mascara, I am seriously impressed. I have extra tissue under my eyes that can make me look like a basset hound when black mascara falls onto them. I expected this mascara to fall onto my lower eyelids very heavily, however it hardly did so at all! If anything all it did was flake a bit while I slept overnight. And any flakiness that fell to my face while i slept overnight was easily brushed off. Not that you’d want keep makeup on for this long, it was just the best way to test the longevity of this mascara.

Washing and removing
Washing this stuff off was incredibly easy using a cleansing oil, but that is the benefit of a cleansing oil, of course. My lashes don’t feel brittle at all after long wear with this mascara.

Obsessed: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi


I am a big fan of OCC Lip Tars, but I have been wanted to try different brands to see how they compare. Liquid lipsticks have been a trend for some time, so there is a huge selection to chose from. I went for a darker neutral shade from NYX- Abu Dhabi.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi

Rating: 5/5 Obsessed!!

Price: $6 MSRP

For $6 you get an 8mL (or .27 fl oz) tube with a doefoot applicator (compare to OCC RTW Lip Tars which run $15 for 4mL). Right now, OCC is working on transitioning from the original lip tar packaging to the RTW tubes, making the original packaging lip tars $6, but the doefoot is much more convenient and easy to use! I tend to be a bit heavy handed with my brushes, so I get smoother, more even coverage using a doefoot.

Light and creamy. I hate to admit it because I love OCC’s company philosophy, but the NYX lip cream feels WAY better on my lips than the OCC does. Seriously. When you first apply the NYX lip cream it does, in fact, feel creamy- a stark contrast to OCC lip tars which feel a little gooey and heavy. Additionally after a few hours of wear, OCC can dry out and the NYX while still being very matte continues to have a moisturizing feeling.

Length of Wear:
Long wear. I don’t quite feel comfortable comparing the single nude NYX shade I have to the inumerable number of seriously bright and dark colors I have from OCC. This NYX color seems to transfer less, but the color is also much more muted than the OCC colors I have, so color transfer could just be less attention grabbing.

Color saturation:
Color saturation is good. Not quite as good as OCC, but that is to be expected and I don’t mind it much. For a more nude/natural color like Abu Dhabi, the slightly less saturated pigmentation is actually kind of nice… Especially since I worry about my OCC colors staining anything that they might touch. Seriously, I’ve ruined some t-shirts and costumes with those bad boys.

I REALLY like this color, and based on my experience with this shade would consider buying more lip creams from NYX.


Thank You stickers

With Christmas only NINE days away, the gifts are coming in and the inevitable thank you letter writing campaign is getting closer and closer. Normally, I am not this far ahead of the game, but being as I will be spending the holidays with different families all miles and miles away, I kind of have to be way ahead of the game this year.

I put together some “Thank You” stickers so that I can still make my appreciation cards special, even while I am out of town… away from most of my calligraphy nibs, pen holders, wash jars, paint brushes… the list goes on (which is why I wont be lugging any of it around with me).

These ended up being fairly challenging to make using calligraphy, digital image editing, and layout making skills to complete. If anyone was interested in a tutorial please comment below and I would be happy to oblige once the holidays die down, but for now if you want any they are for purchase on my Etsy store for $5/sheet of 12 stickers.

DIY Holiday Cards & Envelopes

For a while I have been following the blog ThePostmansKnock. There, I’ve gotten a lot of great tips on developing my calligraphy and stolen some really fun project ideas for creating beautiful cards, envelopes, gift tags and stickers.

The latest inspiration I’ve taken from TPK was for DIY Christmas Cards. I loved the idea and the art is easy enough for anyone to do. I just tried my hand and emulating the lovely cards shared there. I added a twist of my own on the envelopes by making them out of tracing paper. These cards were a lot of fun to make, and if you haven’t finished your Christmas/holiday greetings yet consider giving it a try!




Challenges to note:
This worked better if I sketched everything out, then painted, then used a dip pen for the black line drawings (Nikko G) and “happy holidays” text (Brause EF66). IF you decide to follow this order of operation, erase any excess pencil lines for the ornaments or anything that will be painted over, as the pencil marks will be impossible to erase after being painted.

First Impressions: Sigma Complexion Brushes

I am kind of addicted to complexion brushes. I have been hearing a lot about Sigma, so I visited their website, found some interesting stuff, and gave it a try!

2015-12-13 14.17.28Today’s haul includes:
Sigma F55 Small Duo Fiber
Sigma F50 Duo Fiber
Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki
Sigma 3DHD Precision

First off, the brushes were packaged extremely well. Each brush was individually wrapped in plastic, then placed in a paper tube, which was then wrapped in tissue paper, which was then placed inside a box. Sigma also included a pamphlet which included photos of all of their other products (smart marketing) and tips on brush care.

Next, once unpackaged, I noticed how soft the brushes feel. In particular, the F80 and 3DHD precision brushes feel like very high quality brushes with their super densely packed and extra soft bristles. The brushes in my quiver that most closely resemble (as far as use) the F80 and 3DHD precision are the two that come on my dual-sided IT Cosmetics “Heavenly Luxe complexion perfection brush #7”, which was reviewed in my last post. For the most part, their uses are the same. While the Sigma brushes and the IT Cosmetics brushes are all soft, it seems that the Sigma brushes are even more densely packed! Totally crazy, because I thought the IT Cosmetics brushes were pretty dense. For the most part, I would use the All-Over side of the IT Cosmetics brush/Sigma F80 and the IT Cosmetics Conceal/Sigma 3DHD Precision for the same things, however there are a couple of differences I’ve already noticed.

3DHD vs IT Cosmetics Conceal
2015-12-13 14.26.03

For application of concealer underneath foundation both work very well.

For application of highlight over foundation I prefer the IT Cosmetics. With this brush, I apply highlighter directly onto my skin, and blend with the brush in a swirling motion and by rolling the brush in circles on my skin. This cannot be done with the shape of the 3DHD brush. When I tried to blend my cream highlighter with the Sigma 3DHD, the brush was so dense that I ended up pushing everything (highlighter and foundation) off my cheeks and hand to go back in with the IT Cosmetics brush to fix it.

For cleaning up lipstick I LOVE the Sigma 3DHD brush. The bristles on the Sigma 3DHD are short and dense. The angles that the brush is cut at also make it so unbelievably quick and easy to cut around your lips to clean up those lipstick lines.

For contouring around my small Asian nose, I actually use both. (My nose contouring routine is probably a little more lengthy that most being as I do not have a nose bridge).

F80 vs IT Cosmetics All-Over complexion brush

Now, these brushes are pretty different, but they are used for similar things so I am comparing them. The IT Cosmetics brush is fluffier and better used for application of powder foundations (though I still use it and think its great for liquids). The Sigma F80 is dense and better used for application of liquid or cream foundations. The IT Cosmetics brush excels at diffusing and blending product. I use the IT Cosmetics brush in swirling motions or by placing the brush on my skin and rolling the brush through my fingers to buff product onto my face. I tried the buffing technique with the Sigma F80.
Because the F80 is flat topped and ends with a sharp edge it does not diffuse product very well. This brush works better to place product down, and blend using sweeping motions. It is very thick, and like the 3DHD precision, if you are too heavy handed you run the risk of pushing product off of your face. I do kind of wish that I went for the full sized 3DHD brush instead of the F80. Since they seem to fill the same use I cannot justify owning both, and the fullsized 3DHD would be a more unique and useful addition to my make-up quiver.

Sigma Duo Fiber Brushes

I ordered the stippling brushes because I really need to replace the complete mess-of-a-stippling-brush that I own from BH Cosmetics. The BH Cosmetics stippling brush is the first of that kind that I’d ever owned. I had some trouble with it, and realizing that it may, very well, be a piece of shit, decided to give the Sigma brushes a try.

On first impression the Sigma Duo Fiber brushes are much higher quality than the BH Cosmetics brush of the same kind. I had no trouble dabbing and swirling on my foundation and powder with this. It even created a very nice diffused contour for me.

Let’s compare the BH Cosmetics duo fiber brush with that from Sigma:
2015-12-13 14.19.12

The BH Cosmetics brush is in the middle and though I’ve only had it for a month (perhaps a little more) the bristles are warped and leaning. Now, I am not sure if the bristles were like this when I initially received the brush OR if the bristles became misshapen through washing, but either way, this leaning tower of duo fiber brush should still NOT be happening. We will see what happens with the Sigma duo fiber brushes, but after the first time using them, I like them much more. When I try to stipple with the BH cosmetics brush, the bristles all contract and lean to one side, completely deleting all the benefits of a stippling brush. The Sigma brushes on the other hand had a very nice bouncy feeling as the bristles spread and kind of ballooned as I dabbed the brush onto my face. We will see how they hold-up over time and a couple of washes.

Obsessed: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7 REVIEWED

dual_airbrush_foundation_concealer_brush_black_1002_2014 IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection brush #7


Price: $48 MSRP

So, this brush is a little pricey, but I’ve tried buying large sets of make-up brushes at a low price and have always been disappointed with what I got. Usually, with those value sets I’ve spent anything from $15-45 on a handful of brushes and come out with maybe 3-5 that I actually use. After wasting all that money, I figured its more worth my money to pick a few quality brushes that I will actually use. I have to say, that I am very happy that I spent the extra money on this brush! Also, this brush is cruelty free and vegan!


The smaller end is the “Conceal” brush. I apply product either directly to the skin or dab it directly onto the brush and blend in the product in a circular motion with the brush. The brush head is compact, soft, and densely packed.
-Compact: it can get in the nooks-and crannies of my face (under eyes, the sides of my nose, and can pinpoint any problem spots I need to target with concealer.
-Soft: it feels great rubbing it on my face, especially the sensitive under-eye area.
-Densely packed: 1) to me this is a sign of quality 2) more bristles means it picks-up and spreads more product and great for full coverage concealer application 3) product is spread more evenly and helps you more easily achieve an air-brush finish. If you think about it, each bristle is a single point on which product is applied to your face, kind of like the pixels in a digital photo. The more points or pixels per square inch, the higher the quality of the photo and I think this same applies to make-up application, but that’s just my seat of the pants theory.

The larger end is the “All-Over” brush which works very well to apply, smooth, and blend bases. This is a poof-style foundation brush. In the past, I have always used the paddle style foundation brushes, and after using this I am a poof-style convert. I think this delivers a softer, better blended, and streak free finish over the paddle style foundation brushes. I have used this brush with liquid and cream foundation with great success. (I have been using OCC concealer in Y1 thinned down with a little bit of Alba Unscented original lotion) I have also used this to blend in my light-toned concealer on areas of my face that I want to highlight (the bridge of my nose, chin, brow ridge, forehead, cheeks and jawline). Like the concealer brush, it is very soft and densely packed delivering all of the benefits I listed above. One thing to note: if you are looking for lighter coverage, be cautious that this brush will apply a lot of product if you let it! For lighter coverage be sure not to apply with too heavy a hand!

So far, I have had this brush about a month. Now, I wash the brushes about once a week. After washing, rinsing and drying they’ve remained as soft as they were when I received them and haven’t shed a single bristle as far as I can tell. I’ve washed the concealer brush more, but that is entirely my own fault. The concealer brush has a tendency to pick-up and eat a lot of product. I started out mixing my weird “concealer+lotion=foundation” concoction with the concealer brush, but the brush soaked up a lot of the wet product. After two uses of doing this, it got a little too chunky in my new favorite for my comfort so I had to wash it. Now, I use what would be a throw-away concealer brush from a huge brush set from BH Cosmetics to mix the weird concoction and dab it onto the IT Cosmetics concealer brush with the BH Cosmetics brush! Most people won’t have this problem because, I realize, most people don’t do this…

Bottom Line:
GET IT, if you can afford it. In the long run, its a much better buy. It seems like a quality product that should last for years if taken care of, and works wonderfully for smooth, even application of complexion products.


Where to get it:
IT Cosmetics



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