Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup Haul

I spent a couple of hours on Black Friday in a single store, Sephora. If you’re a girly girl this place really can feel like heaven on earth and it is EASY to spend HOURS mulling over the thousands of beauty products at your fingertips. My goal here is to not talk so much about what I purchased (although I will share that); rather, I want to explain the PROCESS I use to identify and select my items BEFORE I even step a  foot into the store. So, let’s get started!

top-cosmetics-brands-in-pakistan-their-product-rate-price-imagesThere are so many makeup lines and products out there. Some great, some not so great. My theory is that every brand is not good at everything. So when shopping for makeup, my strategy is ALWAYS the same: identify the brand with the best concealer, the brand with the best foundation, the brand with the best lipsticks, and so forth. At the end of all this identifying, the result is a diverse makeup portfolio from many different lines. I never go all in with one makeup line, it just simply is not always the best choice.

My first step is RESEARCH. I will go to (mainly) AND, search for a keyword and then sort the results by Best Sellers. You can search for “concealer” or “lipstick” or “face wash” or “foundation” or “blush” or “lip liner” or “eye liner” or “eye shadow (palette)” or whatever you need. This method is tried and true and you can VERY EASILY find out what most people are buying. Take note of each brand. I mean like literally, write it down in your planner or start a note on your phone and call it Beauty. Also read the reviews (from multiple sites) to gain maximum insight. If you REALLY want to be thorough add in searches on additional sites like and <== comments are most valuable!!!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-25-03-amNow you have a list of brands to investigate. Step two is YouTube. If you determine that lip gloss by Anastasia Beverly Hills is something you want to try, search for “Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss swatches” or “review of Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss”. There are TONS of videos with people demo’ing each and every shade 😳 for every company and talking about the product itself. I’m not joking here – Urban Decay has 100 shades of lipstick and Youtuber sonjdradeluxe has a 7 minute review of them all, watch here. Urban Decay also has an awesome app to try on all 100 shades (iOS). This is NOT uncommon! You can find swatch videos for Nars, Kylie, Urban Decay, Kate Von D, MAC, Bite and many more brands. This an important step as it will allow you to get a quick preview of all the shades in a collection to identify ones that tickle your fancy.

By this time you will have a narrowed down list of list of potentials (brands, products, shades/colors). Head on over to the Virtual Artist on Sephora’s app (iOS only). Snap a pic of yourself and try on the shade(s) you picked. This is the fun part! and time can get away from you while you’re at play. (check out the app in action below).


screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-44-37-amNow it’s time to hit the store and you, my friend, will be on a mission to try out, in person, the brands and shades you selected. There will be no wondering around the store aimlessly because you have done your homework and will have a better chance coming out feeling like a #winner. Why? Because it’s in the store that you will (in) validate what you think you like. While you’re there, get one of the workers to find your ColorIQ – it will recommend foundation, concealer, lipstick and more all based on your skin tone! You can even view recommendations on the Sephora app! #trulywinningnow


Few additional tips (sorry so many, I got excited 😩):

  1. If your budget does not support a particular brand, there’s an easy fix for that. Simply Google the Brand and color followed by the word dupe. You’ll find lost of suggestions for a color that will give you a close match at a fraction of the cost. Here is one of the results that came up when I searched for “MAC lipstick dupes”
  2. I mostly stay away from product placements in magazines, like this one in InStyle. (I believe) They are almost always paid advertisements and thus, may not be your best bet. If you take a suggestion be sure to also do your homework.
  3. You can and should use this approach for any product: shoes, refrigerators, clothes, makeup, handbags, cars, you name it! Go into a purchase, especially an expensive one, as an informed shopper.
  4. If you go into a department store (i.e. Macy’s, Dillards), find the the makeup artists who DO NOT work for a particular brand, like MAC, and ask for their opinion/suggestions. They have no allegiance to a particular brand and all they need to do is sell (anything). From personal experience, they are the most objective. I know Macy’s and Dillards have these type of in-store pop-up like shops.
  5. Instagram, like YouTube, is your friend. Do watch other people trying on and talking about the thing you want to buy. You may save yourself time and money by finding out (in advance) that a lipstick is super sticky or the opening on that handbag is super small.
  6. If, after doing all your homework, you’re still unsure, ask for a sample. ESPECIALLY WITH PERFUME at Department stores.
  7. Know the store’s return policy for beauty products. In many cases, if you’re unhappy with your purchase (just like with most other items), you can return/exchange it for something else. This is why I almost always prefer to shop at Nordstrom. I know their return policy like the back of my hand!
  8. Finally, even if you have not done your homework, don’t be afraid to still hit the store anyway! Find people who look like you and ask“what brand has the best foundation?” Or whatever other question is on your mind. It’s their job to know these things!

img_0198So now on to what I bought during my Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup haul at SephoraA grand total of 4 items: 2 lip glosses from Anastasia Beverly Hills, 1 lipstick from Urban Decay and 1 concealer from Nars – all after doing my research and all of which showed up on my ColorIQ #proudmoment. Earlier in the day I also purchased Philosphy’s Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser to be used with my Clairsonic. Philosophy was 40% off! and Clairsonics are still 20% off, including free engraving.) #thatisall Happy researching and trying on and testing and shopping and #winning. 💁🏽💄


Apple makes it very difficult to not to immerse yourself in its ecosystem. I can’t tell you how  many times I’ve switched to Google’s services (mail, calendar, chrome) on my iPhone, hoping something would be different, better. In the end seamless integration always wins and I’m back to Apple. As a newly certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (queue the trumpets), simplicity runs deep in my veins and Apple is definitely THE master in this area. One of the latest features Apple announced (Fall ’14) is HomeKit.

homekit-heroHomeKit is a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user’s home. Apps can enable users to discover devices in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri.”

The possibilities are endless, not because Apple is set on developing apps to control your coffee machine or thermostat, but because it knows that other genius companies/individuals will continue to do that and flock to iOS as the single controlling point / hub for the automated home. While they’re at it, why not CarKit? iOS is already inside cars (see CarPlay) why not build a central hub that car companies like Ford (and others) can leverage for their self driving cars and position itself to compete with Google. Or how about SchoolKit – similar to the service BlackBoard tried to offer.

When it comes to innovation in various industries, there’s no way Apple or any company can keep up. What it can do is take note of ideas/trends that take off and insert itself right in the middle to be the “controller” of or gateway to the consumer. In case you didn’t notice, Apple is becoming the quintessential connector between new business models and consumers.

Aunt Flo

Bri Alys is a blog for women, so naturally we talk openly about All Things Women… If you’re not a woman and chose to continue reading, send this over to your wife for girlfriend (she’ll thank you later).

First, There’s An App For That called Clue. The  New York Times describes Clue as, “An all-purpose life tracker, one that documents a women’s relationship to her body throughout her life, from the beginning of menstruation to menopause.” I’ve used the app (iOS only) as well as others; but, this one is fairly simple and clean, no clutter. And best of all the app has no ads (knocks on wood). Be sure to approve it in Notifications if you want the alerts. Check out the video below.

Secondly, You Absolutely MUST use a Diva Cup. Yes, I know the initial thought freaks you out but TRUST AND BELIEVE me when I say you will not regret it. It’s a little slice of heaven on earth and you will not even feel it, at all. I’ve been using it a little over a year now and have not bought a single one of those “other” products since! Save yourself a few bucks and buy it online.

Nail Heaven

photo 1I never intended to do product reviews on this blog. That’s until I tried a new nail system from L’Oreal called Extraordinaire Gel-Lacque 1-2-3. And there’s just one takeaway: no more bi-weekly trips to the nail salon for me! No is lamp required and my nails were completely dry in less than 5 minutes! Just as you’d expect from gel nails, they are very shiny!

The process is very simple:

STEP 1: Apply 1 coat of  GEL PRIMER
STEP 2: Apply 2 coats of GEL COLOR
STEP 3: Apply 1 coat of GEL GLAZE

photo 5If you’ve considered yourself a poor nail polisher like I always have, this system will help you out. That’s because the gel color goes on very smooth and almost soaks into your nail as you polish. For about $20 at Wal-Mart I purchased the Gel-Lacque Kit (Steps 1 & 3) and 2 gel colors: 707 (Diamond in the Buff) and 712 Lacque-Red (pictured). (You can probably get an even better deal at places like CVS that often run Buy 1 Get 1 50% Off specials on beauty products.)

I can hardly wait to purchase more colors! You can view the entire collection of 20+ colors on L’Oreal’s website.