Frugal Femme

One Femme's thoughts on the things we buy every day, and how to make the most of every dollar we spend on being fabulous!

 

Good morning my darlings, I only wish I had time to regale you with the details of what turned out to be quite a shopping spree yesterday! As it stands though, I’ve only moments before I must rush off to work, so, as I don’t want to leave you with nothing from me today, here’s this – Avenue’s “drop a dollar a day” online sale continues through Monday, and with coupon code 71222, you can receive 20% off of your entire online order, including items already on sale. Inventory is diminishing, so see what items have made it to their $9.99 bottom line, and grab them up!

If you are able to go into a brick and mortar Avenue store, I do recommend it; their semi-annual sale has items at prices half below the ones currently listed on the web, as well as items not found online. As noted by a reader in the comments on the Avenue Bike Short Panty, the bike shorts do work out to $10 a pair (50% off the retail price), but you need to buy a total of 4 pair, as they’re buy two, get two free in-store. A great deal, and not the only one worth the trip to an Avenue store this weekend.

That’s the super-short scoop; I’ll have more details on some of my purchases in the week to come. Next up will be Sally Hanson’s Diamond Lip Treatment – compare to Chanel’s Glossimer for quality and shades, and I’ll tell you where to find them for a tenth of the price, plus buy-one-get-one – stay tuned!

Have a grand weekend, all!

~Frugal Femme

 

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Product: Electric Cosmetics Eye Shadows (Pictured above, starting in upper left hand corner and moving clockwise: Deep Black, Creek, Frost, Bronze Shimmer, Soft Red, Grapette)
Use: Loose powder for eyelids; can also be added to clear lip glosses, nail polishes, etc.
SRP: $5 for 5g, $1.50 for 1/4 tsp. sample bag
Best Price: Sign up for the newsletter at http://www.electriccosmetics.com to receive notices of sales Many years passed from the time I first picked up a sponge-tipped applicator and made my inaugural foray into the world of eye makeup to the day I resolved to up the ante and start taking the stuff seriously. For a while, I balked at bright colors, felt that all makeup should look “natural”, and immediately removed any mix of colors that I felt was too attention-getting.¬† My, how things have changed…

Today, when I get ready for a date with my partner, have an event to attend, or just feel like giving people something to talk about, the many brushes and color pots are laid out, my mirror is cocked to the perfect angle, and not a bit of my lid is left untouched by vivid shades that would have made my former self gasp aloud. And when this happens, you will find that many of the hues I choose are from Electric Cosmetics.

Dez, the young woman who started the company with her hand-crafted eye shadows, is a brilliant entrepreneur for her age (19) and strives to meet the needs of her ever-growing client√®le. She even offers to create a custom color for you, asking for details such as matte versus metallic, glitter versus shimmer, and whether the color you’re envisioning is comparable to another shade she can use as a guideline. Her products are all cruelty-free, and contain a very small number of ingredients, making them a good bet for those with allergies or aversions to certain items often used in makeup.

I have purchased from Electric Cosmetics on two occasions, and have a total of twenty-seven colors of EC eye shadow. Each color is unique and blends well with other shades using any basic technique. While I definitely recommend the use of a primer to bring out the intensity and longevity of the loose powders, once they are applied, they stay put and stay vivid for hours. Without a primer, as with most mineral shadows, the colors are a bit lackluster and tend to slide.

The process of purchasing from Electric Cosmetics was a bit bumpy; I placed both of my orders during sales Dez has promoted heavily, and I found that it was difficult for her to keep up at the rate necessary to provide timely production and shipping. The first order was significantly delayed, and I received a page of coupons to be used on future purchases by way of apology. One of the lids in my second order was broken apart, though none of the product was lost thanks to the paper seal inside each jar. When I brought it to Dez’s attention, she responded that she would replace it, but I didn’t hear from her again. Considering that the shadow itself was still perfectly usable and that I’d just scored 25 shadows for $20, I didn’t follow up; I knew she was likely still overwhelmed with the sale, and it just wasn’t that big a deal to me.

I know that Dez, like any small business owner, is working hard to streamline her processes and get her product line out there for the world to see. Rather than waiting until Electric Cosmetics blows up on the makeup scene – which it will – check this stuff out now. Go fill up your virtual shopping cart, have bit of patience and understanding, and you will be rewarded with high-quality shadows in colors that rival the big name brands’ offerings at a fraction of the cost.

Have you tried this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want
your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 

I wanted to take a moment to say hello to and welcome the new friends to my page; I’m so very glad to have each of you!

Blogging is such a different method of writing from that of preparing print articles; it gives us the opportunity to instantly engage with our readership, makes us available and approachable, and keeps us accountable – I can slack off a day on actually writing new posts, but what about the comments I would then have to leave unanswered? Or answer, then have people wonder why I’m not writing a new review? Do I ignore the folks who take time out of their day to encourage my project? Of course not. And certainly, if I’ve got time enough to return comments, I’ve got time enough to pick an amazing product, ANY amazing product, in my household to share with them, haven’t I? Yes, I have. And I will. There will likely be days when I just can’t get to the computer for personal efforts, or when I am out learning my way around San Francisco, or when I am taking a vacation, but I can promise you this – a day spent entirely away from the computer means a day spent out in the world of ads and marketing, of wanting and weighing, of trying and buying, and I will always report back to you, my dears. You are what make this blog worthwhile.

With Gratitude,
The Frugal Femme

 

Site: http://www.goldstarevents.com
Service: Tickets to events in many major cities for 50% off the going rate

Gift-giving is hard when your partner is of the “person who has everything” variety. Mine in particular prefers to keep the cool new products in mind and buy them herself when the opportunity arises, making my job of finding surprises for her much more difficult than it might otherwise be. So when her birthday came around, I was in a bit of a panic – I’m new to the city, so my knowledge of local must-sees is a bit lacking, and what with ours being a one-vehicle household, I didn’t have much opportunity to go scouting for presents on my own. After racking my brain and imploring friends to throw some ideas my way, I figured I would take a look around for a “date night” experience so we could get dolled up and go out on the town. I came across Gold Star Events and, as with so many online ticket sites, started wondering, “What’s the catch?” How is it that they can offer such discounted rates for shows and services that most people would pay top dollar for without thinking twice?

Gold Star’s Media Inquiries Page and the linked New York Times article revealed everything I wanted to know, from where they get the tickets (surplus seats to popular shows, and venues looking to attract new business) to how they make their money (reasonable per-ticket service charges) to how they keep it from harming full-priced ticket sales (limited marketing, resorting to word of mouth to bring in new members and venues). I decided to go for it, and purchased tickets to see Kiki & Herb, who brought their Tony-nominated cabaret act to San Francisco this month.

The payment process was quick and simple, with the option of sending the tickets as a gift with accompanying e-card which I could fill out with my own message. I was also given the choice of dates on which the tickets could be sent, so I didn’t need to worry about following up on my partner’s actual birthday. I received notification when my order was processed, and again when the gift email was sent, along with information about the venue, parking, and how to retrieve the tickets when we arrived. We got to the show and flashed ID at the will-call desk, and that was all there was to it. The seats were wonderful, the show hysterical, and the price not to be beat.

Gold Star Events currently lists events in eight metropolitan areas with an option to search by zip code, and they also offer a search by genre. Outdoor events are available as well, including major league baseball games, walking tours, and more. You can sign up to receive emails with your top genres highlighted, or merely bookmark the site to visit when you’re interested in a live show. While the number of cities is still limited, I’d keep an eye on Gold Star even if they’re not yet in your neighborhood; who knows when you’ll be in New York, San Francisco, or Chicago, and want to take in a show without taking out your budget?

Have you tried this service? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 


Product: Seamless Bike Short Panty from the Avenue
Use: Foundation Garment
SRP: $20
Best Price: on sale at www.avenue.com, $16, or buy two get two free in store (through 7/23; call your local store for details)

I love summer – the events, the sun, the backyard barbecues, and especially the fashion. Nothing makes me happier than to slip on a flowy skirt, a spaghetti-strap top, and my flavor-of-the-week sandals before heading out to explore my new city. Conversely, nothing is more debilitating than the heat rash that comes with the territory of donning said skirts when you’ve got ample thighs. While there are products that can be applied to your skin and are helpful in fighting the “chub rub”, many of them are unsuitable for upwards of a couple of hours of activity. Thanks to a tip from a friend, I’ve found the perfect combatant in my fight against the friction – Avenue’s Bike Short Panty.

Let me start with this note – this product is NOT shapewear. It does not push, prod, suck, or tuck – it’s just *there*, and that’s all it needs to be for me. The nylon/spandex blend is a perfectly breathable alternative to the primarily nylon shapers that are currently on the market, and the legs stay comfortably in place rather than rolling or bunching as you move through your day. The garment runs true to size, and is available in black and champagne, the second of which is close enough to my skin tone that, should a gust of wind carry my skirt to unseemly heights, the shorts are not blatantly visible.

In addition to giving me the freedom to wear skirts and dresses as often as I please, the shorts are great for slipping on under slacks or trousers, where the fabric of the pants tends to lose its straight-outta-the-dryer fit over the first hour of wear. The hems are unobtrusive and don’t show through even moderately clingy clothing, giving your inner thighs relief from excess contact and moisture without ruining the line of the outfit you’ve crafted.

So thick-thighed girls of the world, stop looking longingly at your sassy sun dresses and pushing them aside in favor of jeans – use promo code 71209 at http://www.avenue.com now through this Friday, July 20th, to receive $15 off your online purchase, or spend $75 or more and save 20%. For the flirty femme who loves to give her gams some air time, these shorts are your ticket to skirt-wearin’ freedom!

Have you tried this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 


Product: Origins lip sticks in Shimmer and Matte
Use: Lip liners and colors in complementary shades
SRP: $12 ea.
Best Price: in-store at Origins, clearance gift trio for $10

While gallivanting in a new mall yesterday, which is always a treat, I wanted to pop into Origins so I could test out their version of the eye bright stick by benefit that I reviewed the other day. I scanned the makeup displays for a minute, found what I was looking for, and gave it a shot. The consistency was very similar, but their stick is baby blue, which proved to be too much of a contrast for my rosy-undertoned skin. Were the product available in more shades, however, I’d recommend it as a less expensive ($13) alternative to the benefit stick.Of course, once I was in the store, I had to take a good look around; I’d only ever shopped Origins online, so I wanted to give things a good once-over. Most of the items were your bog standard apothecary offerings, and while I’m all for finding the right skin care items, that wasn’t on my list for yesterday. What I wanted to see were some red lines, and I did – a good-sized rack of clearance priced products, from soaps to candle holders to lip sticks. In a stroke of marketing genius, they had not only selected my best shades to put in a box of three lip colors, but they had a tester set out of the box for me to check out up close. Sold!

The matte shades (Malt and Berry) are multidimensional without being light-refracting, and the shimmer stick (Pearly Jam) is a beautiful, deep shade that shines without being sticky or sticky-looking. All three are infinitely creamy thanks to a touch of shea butter, and of course, the three blend and work over one another flawlessly for several additional looks. The staying power is surprising, and the size perfect for your smallest handbag. The trio is not available online, but if you don’t live near an Origins store, consider these a reasonable purchase at their retail price; I know they’re going to top my list of lip colors until the next time I hit a pot of gold like this one!

Have you tried this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 


Product: Bath and Body Works’ Manicure Kit
Use: mani/pedi tools in a convenient carry-case
SRP: $18
Best Price: $10 with any $20 purchase at Bath and Body Works

I’m a big ol’ sucker for anything that comes free or discounted with purchase of other items; I can’t tell you how many of these products languish in the deepest corners of my vanity drawers, having been used once, never again to see the light of day. Once in a while though, one of these deals makes up for the other foolish add-on sales to which I consistently succumb. The Manicure Kit from Bath and Body Works is such a find.While the file remains untouched, it’s the only item I’ve not used for every manicure and pedicure I’ve done at home in the weeks since I first picked up the kit. The tools are conveniently sized for traveling in a medium to large handbag, but not unmanageably small, and the case itself is cute and functional.

The real prize, however, is the one item for which I still can’t imagine a reason it’s in the kit in the first place – the tweezers. Oh, the tweezers. I would buy the kit again, at *full price*, for the tweezers alone.

It took several times making the same mistake over and over again for me to realize that waxing my eyebrows would never bring me anything but pain and suffering. I have very sensitive skin, and no matter what solutions my well-meaning friends offered, I always, every time, broke out after a waxing. Finally, I decided it was time to take my brows into my own hands, and I started tweezing. Pair after pair of tweezers came home with me, from the el-cheapo to the biggest, baddest, highest-priced pair in the health and beauty aisle. While they all, to some degree, served their purpose, the pair that came in this nail care kit are pure gold. Precision and as much painlessness as is possible are the keys to a good pair of tweezers in my book, and this kit’s offering rocks my world on both counts.

I won’t go away for a weekend without this handy little case of tools, and there’s room enough to throw in any other essentials that are tiny enough to get lost in a purse, train case, or carry-on. Next time you find yourself aching for a good bargain but don’t want to be duped into something you’ll sadly surrender to your pile of beauty busts, head to Bath and Body Works for an add-on you can really use.

Have you tried this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 


Product: Benefit Eye Bright
Use: “waking up” your eyes
SRP: $18
Best price: Macy’s Online, $16

One of the perks to having an adopted “son” at home is that he loves to give “mom” presents! A recent gift has proven to be a great addition to my makeup collection; Eye Bright by benefit.My morning regime is often hurried and harried, consisting of little more than a spot of mascara, a swift sweep of finishing powder, and a touch of gloss before I grab my coffee cup and hit the door at a run. I never knew how much of a pick-me-up my eyes could use on those mad dash mornings until I tried the eye bright stick.The color is a muted pink with a hint of shimmer, and the consistency a perfect balance of cream and powder. It doesn’t take precision or practice to apply – just a pea-sized dot under the inner corner of the eye and then trace the outer “V” – with a few dabs of a fingertip to blend, you’re done. Your eyes appear brighter, more engaging, and larger in seconds. It blends easily into foundation or bare skin, and doesn’t detract from a complete eye look, though application needs to be more precise and deliberate if working around shadow colors.

I tried a few other more affordable products in an attempt to recreate the effects; loose powder applied wet and blended, a white eyeliner crayon, even a similar pink to the eye bright in Burt’s Bees lip shimmer, but nothing compared. The powder reflected too much light and wasn’t subtle enough, the white liner was stark against my skin and didn’t blend well, and the lip shimmer, well, that was a bit of a sticky mess that I don’t recommend to anyone. I’d be curious to hear from people of color to find out if the shade works well on skin tones besides my own fair complexion.

So there’s the scoop on eye bright – if you need something to perk up your eyes after a late night, or to freshen them up before one, this is a product you should definitely keep on hand.

Have you tried this product? Would you like to add your thoughts on this or a similar one? Comment here for others to hear!

Have a product you want your Retail Private Eye to investigate before you buy? Email me!

 

For my first foray into the land of LJ, I’d like to say thank you to anyone who joins me in my quest for beauty on a budget. While the topic may seem vapid or superficial, it’s one that the Frugal Femme thinks about on a daily basis, and I bet that if you’re reading this, you do, too. After all, every day we are confronted with emails, advertising banners, news articles and more, all alerting us to the hot new item, the huge sale, the never-before-seen clearance. If we weren’t discerning consumers, we would spend three quarters of our day – and *ALL* of our time on the internet – purchasing some thing or another. So there must be a part of our brain that’s already trained to extract the important bits – what is the product, is it something I could use or want, and what will it cost? – in the briefest of glances. What I plan to do is take it a step farther for you, and for me.

There are items on the market that are knocked off at every turn, the imitations barely discernible to the layperson on the street. There are products that you can’t seem to find for a price that doesn’t rival your weekly income no matter where you search. There are people in every store, at every mall kiosk, and at the other end of every customer service phone line, trying to make a buck. Product reviews are all over distributors’ websites, testimonials grace every product’s main page, colored-in stars accompany each sparkling photo and gleaming report. What we need is a single source, a Retail Private Eye, who is going to do the work for us and weed out the truth – tell us what’s really worth sticking with the name brand and which imitations beat it hands-down, give us honest reviews of products that have failed to deliver the promised result, tell us what store is more likely to give us one-stop-happy-shopping if X,Y, and Z are on our list.

This is my plan, and I want to do it specifically for the items, stores, and brands that you want me to cover. I’m going to start off with my own finds, my own rants, my own warnings and gushings. My goal, however, is to eventually write all of my reviews based on queries from readers. Are you wondering how a $4 drug store brand eye shadow compares to your beloved $15 pot of the same color from the high-end counter? Have you always wanted to try straightening your hair, but don’t know if the hype about that one company’s iron is to be believed? Do you wonder if the dress that looks like the one you want but at half the price will stand the test of time and laundering? This is where to ask!

The journal will always be public, comments will always be enabled, and my email will always be read regularly – write me and request your product review today!

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