opinions on beauty, culture & life

Movies: Contagion

I just saw Contagion last night and came away a little disappointed. While it was entertaining, and I do love a good outbreak story (sick, I know), the ensemble cast left a lot to be desired. Contagion is like Valentine’s Day, but with disease and body bags. Valentine’s Day was a manic, shallow romantic comedy that followed a billion different plots. Contagion is really similar: big name actors and a bunch of different plot lines. Too many, in my opinion.

I would have been so much happier if the character list had been cut dramatically, and if the movie had had a more focused plot. Give me Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow, and leave the rest. Why didn’t they just focus on Matt Damon’s story line? SPOILER ALERT: His plot was the most interesting anyway, with the revelation that his wife was cheating on him. But the film barely touched on it. And why on earth was Jude Law’s character necessary? He was so annoying, and I never got the point. Also, the movie left Marion Cotillard’s plot line completely hanging.

All of this doesn’t mean that Contagion isn’t worth the price of the movie ticket. There were moments that were exciting/suspenseful/tense. I just wish the plot hadn’t been so disjointed. And just because a movie has a ton of great actors doesn’t mean the acting will be great. Most of it was lackluster.

samantha daffodil


Miike Snow

I’m always in the mood to hear Miike Snow. Lush Swedish electronic pop…need I say more? See the (strange) video for one of my favorite songs, Black & Blue, here.

Ellie Goulding

I was late to the game on this one, but I’m loving her! Ellie Goulding has such a pretty, hollow voice, and I love how she manipulates it. Her singing style reminds me of Bj√∂rk…she enunciates in a way that’s cute and foreign (although she’s just British). See her video for Lights here.

Bright Eyes

I’m so excited to see Bright Eyes at Austin City Limits this week! Their newest album, The People’s Key, is refreshingly similar to Lifted. I love that they still sound like the same band (and the same Connor) after so many years (with a few updates, of course). See the video for my fave song on the album, Shell Games, here.

Empire of the Sun

Ridiculous album art, right? I crack up every time I see it. But I really love Empire of the Sun’s electro-pop sound. I’m still undecided on some of the songs on the album, but the good outweigh the bad. I’m also excited to see how they will be live at Austin City Limits. See the totally ridiculous video for Walking on a Dream here, and be prepared to laugh. ūüôā

Passion Pit

It’s impossible to stay in a bad mood when Passion Pit is playing. So funky and fun! See the very cool video for Sleepyhead here.

I’d love your input! What else should I be listening to?

samantha daffodil

Three New Mascaras…

I’ve been comparing three new mascaras and thought it would be great to see the results of each, side by side. The mascaras are: Benefit’s They’re Real, Buxom’s Amplified Lash, and Urban Decay’s Lush Lash.

Here are the brushes:

Benefit, $22:

Buxom, $22:

Urban Decay, $20:

They’re similar in that all have brushes with comb bristles. Benefit’s bristles cover the tip of the brush. Buxom’s brush expands and detracts. And Urban Decay’s has a curvy, hourglass shape.

So the real question is, how do these mascaras perform? I’ll break it down coat by coat…

Benefit’s They’re Real:

One coat

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Two coats…

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Three coats…

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Overall great mascara. I like the 360 degree effect given by the unique brush and tip, but I feel like the third coat gets a little spidery. (I guess I could just stop at the second coat, but what’s the fun in that?!) This might be avoided if I applied all three coats back-to-back with no wait time in between.

Buxom’s Amplified Lash:

One coat (in expanded position)…

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Two coats (in compact position)…

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Three coats (in compact position)…

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I am a little torn about this mascara. On the one hand, I love that it’s ultra-black and dramatic. But on the other hand, it takes a really long time to dry (so even the tips of my bangs turn black and goopy), and the lashes stay flexible and bendy (as in, stick together easily) long after applying. Also, it doesn’t separate as well as I’d expect. I didn’t comb out my lashes with any of the mascaras because ideally, you shouldn’t have to comb them. And one more thing…I totally disagree with the product description for this mascara, which says that the expanded position will produce more volume and the compact position will produce more definition. With this product, it’s exactly the opposite. The expanded position will give more length and separation, while the compact position will add more thickness (product) and volume.

Urban Decay’s Lush Lash:

One coat…

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Two coats…

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Three coats…

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Lush Lash is the winner in my book. Look at how beautifully fanned out the lashes are. It’s super black and buildable without getting clumpy or spidery. I’ve also worn this on my bottom lashes and had surprisingly great results. Little-to-no smudging! And at $20, Lush Lash happens to be two dollars cheaper than the others…a huge plus.

To sum up, here are the final results:

They’re Real: (purchase here)

Benefit's They're Real --- copyright samantha daffodil

Amplified Lash: (purchase here)

Buxom's Amplified Lash --- copyright samantha daffodil

 Lush Lash: (purchase here)

Urban Decay's Lush Lash --- copyright samantha daffodil

Winner! What do you think? You can buy all three at Sephora.com.

samantha daffodil



Books: Little Women

I finally read the classic, Little Women. It was given to me as a gift when I was a “little woman,” and I started it, but I wasn’t interested. I’m so glad I gave it another chance, at an age where I could actually understand it. Sure, it’s too long, and there are dull parts, but I still loved it. It’s such a tender story of friendship, family, morals, poverty, and sisterhood. I think any girl who has a sister should read this book. I¬†identified¬†with each of the sisters at some point, and I could see my little sister in them too. It gives such a good picture of how complicated sister’s relationships really are, but at the end of the day, you’re sisters, and what’s more special than that?

samantha daffodil

I haven’t watched Breaking Bad since this season’s premiere, after which I knew I would no longer be watching the show. I’ve been thinking for weeks about what bothered me so much about the premiere, and I’ve come up with two answers.

  • I can’t believe Jesse murdered the one nice guy, Gale! Sure, there have been brutal killings throughout the show. But this was just so unabashedly premeditated, and ick! He didn’t deserve it! (Not that anyone deserves it, but he definitely didn’t)
  • Walt is no longer a nice guy who makes horrible decisions for the sake of his family. Now he’s just a bad dude. A bitter, bad dude. Who apparently doesn’t have a conscience. I can’t get behind that.

Now, I’m a huge fan of Mad Men’s Don Draper because even though he’s a¬†train wreck, you can see glimmers of good in him. He tries to be good (and mostly fails, but he does try! Sometimes…). And there are times when Don is truly sorry for being a jerk and for screwing things up. Walt used to have this quality too. You used to be able to see his desperation and regret when things got out of control. But now I don’t see any good, or regret, in his character…so I’ve lost interest.

Oh well. Now I’ll just have to wait for Mad Men to come back next summer.

samantha daffodil

Ombré Manicure

After seeing this picture of Lauren Conrad’s Ombr√© Manicure, I had to try it! It’s equal parts fun and chic…

Gorgeous! An ombré mani like this is super easy to replicate. Just stay within one color family, pick five colors, and paint the darkest on the pinky, the lightest on the thumb.

And you know how you realize that you always end up buying the same color when you look at all your beauty products and see a sea of nearly identical rose-hued lipglosses? Well my nail polish collection had a plethora of coraly-red, pink and orange shades. So that was my color family, and it made for a bright and cheery mani…

Products I used: Essie’s Rock Solid (base coat), OPI’s Got the Blues for Red (pinky), Cover Girl’s Boundless Color in Candy Apple (ring), Sephora by OPI’s Go with the Flow-er (middle), Essie’s Chubby Cheeks (index), Nicole by OPI’s Fresh Squeezed (thumb), and Essie’s To Dry For top coat.

How fun! I have received quite a few compliments on my mani. Next time, though, I would try to stick even closer to one color family (like just shades of red, or just shades of pink) for a more subtle ombr√© effect. And pay attention to the finishes of your nail polish too (opaque, sheer, glittery). I think my middle finger and thumb shades were too sheer, and I like the effect of using just one polish finish. Next time I’ll do just opaque shades.

What do you think of the ombré mani?

samantha daffodil


How often do you come across a beauty product that completely revolutionizes your makeup routine? I’ll often love a new product, thinking, “I’ll use this for life!” And then two weeks later it’s buried under the next great thing. It’s very rare to stumble upon something that you’ll actually keep using.

Well, I plan on using Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm for a looooong time ‚Äď maybe even forever. Not only does it replace my tinted moisturizer and foundation, it replaces my regular AM moisturizer, my sunscreen, and my primer! I’ve literally cut my “getting-ready” time by at least ten minutes. That means I can hit “snooze” if I want!

So, what is this amazing product? “Beauty Balms,” “Blemish Balms,” or “BB Creams” are wildly popular in Asia, and finally they’re infiltrating the U.S. market. Basically, they combine a few steps into one, with a flawless complexion being the result. They contain moisturizers, pigment, high-protection sunscreen, and anti-aging ingredients. BB Creams also have pore-smoothing properties, so they can also replace your foundation primer.

Most BB Creams are pretty light in color (probably because of the high mineral SPF content), but hopefully color ranges will be expanded soon. If you are darker than an ivory shade, you will probably need to layer a bit of foundation or foundation powder over the balm to avoid looking ashy (plus your regular blush and bronzer). The beauty of these creams is that while you can wear them alone, they are also meant to go under makeup, creating a perfectly smoothed and moisturized surface for foundation. One friend wore hers under foundation, and she said it actually made her skin look healthier, and that her foundation looked better than ever.

Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm is lightweight, but still provides a great amount of coverage (even more coverage than a high-coverage tinted moisturizer like Laura Mercier’s). I’ll use one pump to even everything out, and then another half-pump or so to build up coverage on my cheeks, nose, chin, and also to blend into my neck. If I have a bad breakout or some irritated, red patches, I’ll spot conceal with a full-coverage concealer. On good to semi-good skin days, though, I won’t even need concealer. Then I finish with blush, bronzer, highlighter, and a mineral setting powder. The finish is dewy and fresh without being too wet. Powder is definitely essential to take down the dewiness in the T-zone. And if the color is too light for you, pick a pigmented foundation powder that matches your skintone and just use that to set the Beauty Balm.

The first few times I used it I got really dewy in the late afternoon. It was a little too dewy for my taste. Only later did I realize that this product is supposed to replace¬†your regular moisturizer, not go on top of it. Cutting out the extra moisture made a huge difference! And just think about the money you’ll save by cutting out extra steps and extra products.

So, to break it down, here’s what I love about Dr. Jart’s Premium Beauty Balm:

  • Perfect amount of hydration
  • Anti-aging ingredients like a Bio-Peptide Complex to promote collagen synthesis, Arbutin to brighten and even skintone, and Adenosine to improve elasticity and firmness. (I’ve actually noticed improvements in my skin’s evenness and brightness)
  • Pigment that matches my fair skin (which rarely happens with a one-size-fits all product) and covers well
  • High-protection mineral sunblock (SPF 45) which provides natural, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • All the products I don’t have to buy anymore (AM moisturizer, facial sunscreen, primer, foundation, tinted moisturizer)
  • The compliments! I’ve been getting tons of them since I’ve been using it.

Do yourself a favor and try this amazing product! Buy it here at Sephora.

samantha daffodil