e.l.f. Lip Stain Review

elf lip stain reviewThis post contains some affiliate links. I earn a small amount of money if purchases are made after clicking links, which helps to keep the blog running!

elf lip stain review:
I decided to try out e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain after it was recommended to me by a friend. For only $2, the price is right, and the fact that all of e.l.f.’s products are vegan and cruelty-free makes it a conscientious choice as well.

I bought e.l.f. lip stain in the color Crimson Crush, which is a very dark, sort of cranberry red. The applicator is a marker tip, and very pointy, which helps with precision – you can use the side of the marker for quicker coverage. One quick layer gives you a nice, rich swash of color, or you can build it up for more drama.

The formula dries very quickly, and I recommend exfoliating your lips before applying, as it has a tendency to stick to dry skin more and appear darker. I follow up with chapstick, but I imagine you could use any sort of clear balm as a top coat for moisture.

The color really stays! It passed the kiss test and the food test and doesn’t leave a mark on glasses or mugs. I did notice that when I drank coffee, the color started to become a little runny and come off of the inner part of my lips – I think the acidity of the coffee breaks it down. So if you’re an avid coffee drinker, like me, use a straw or keep in mind that you may need to reapply for even coverage.

I liked the Crimson Crush so much that I went back and bought Nude Nectar for more subtle every-day wear. It’s a little dark to be considered a “nude”, in my opinion, but I also do a couple of layers. I wear this color a lot and I always get compliments when I do!

All in all, I totally recommend e.l.f. lip stain. They have several colors that I haven’t tried out yet, but would like to soon! At $2 a pop, what do you have to lose, really?

P.S. You might also like these posts:
e.l.f. Liquid Eyeliner Review
Dior Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer Review
My Skincare Routine

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By Kelsi Eldredge

TILT – Things I Love Thursday April 23rd, 2015

This post contains some affiliate links. I earn a small amount of money if purchases are made after clicking links, which helps to keep the blog running!

I’m so excited this week, because my hair tutorial was featured on the Paul Mitchell blog! Paul Mitchell has been my favorite hair care line inside the salon and at home since 2004, and I think they are a great and conscientious company. I am so honored to be featured on their website!
Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOut

Also, speaking of Paul Mitchell, they’re doing a campaign right now to plant 300,000 trees by the end of April, in partnership with Reforest’Action. If you’d like to help out, you can visit this link and use the code “insidersgogreen” to plant a tree for FREE!
Paul Mitchell Green Takeover

I’ve long been a fan of Rifle Paper Co. and I totally love this stationary set. Maybe I should take up writing to pen pals again?
Stationary by Rifle Paper Co.

Brontosaurus is back! At least according to this study. The favorite dinosaur of our childhoods may be a real thing after all! Crossing my fingers that Pluto is next…

Oh my god, shoes. These shoes rock.
Cute summer sandals

Hope you’re having a great week! And if you haven’t yet, go enter to win a gorgeous limited edition rose gold flat iron set (the one I’m using in the photo above). I’ll be drawing a winner on April 30th!

P.S. You might also like these posts:
Le Tote Review & $25 Off
Things I Love Thursday April 2nd, 2015
4 Ways To Tie A Scarf

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By Kelsi Eldredge

15 Must Have Tools for Style Bloggers – Build A Better Blog and Make Money Blogging

15 Must Have Tools for Style Bloggers

Lately I’ve been talking to some other bloggers about what online tools I use for my blog, and I thought I’d share those with you now! This is definitely not a comprehensive list, but they are things I use almost every day and make a big difference in my blog. This list also isn’t exclusive to style bloggers at all. There are a couple of resources that are specifically for style bloggers, but most of them are universal! I’m using some affiliate links in this post (that means I’ll get a small commission if you end up purchasing them, at no extra cost to you!) and as with all affiliate links I use on Brighter Sides, these are all things that I’m passionate about and would recommend whether I received commission or not. I hope you find this list helpful and you’ll find something new to start making your blog better, and hopefully even to make some money from blogging!

WordPress – This is, to my knowledge, the most flexible blog publishing software that you can use. WordPress itself is free, though you will have to pay for hosting. I highly recommend it, as it gives you the most control over your blog and though it offers a robust range of features, the dashboard is easy to navigate and you should quickly be able to get your blog up and running!

Hostmonster – This is the hosting service I’ve been using for my WordPress blog since 2010. It’s inexpensive and reliable, and I’ve been happy with them. I’ve only had to contact customer support once, and the response was quick and friendly. Their plans start at $3.95/mo and go up, depending on your needs. Their packages also come with 1 free domain, and you can add on as many as you like and run multiple blogs/sites from one account. If you have tons and tons of traffic on your site, you’re probably going to want to go with a more dedicated (and expensive host) but for a lot of bloggers, this is just perfect.

Genesis Framework – So you’ve got yourself a hosting account and you’ve installed WordPress and now you want your blog to look PRETTY, right? Clean layouts that are easy to navigate are essential. I recently switched from my old WordPress theme to Genesis Framework for WordPress. What the heck does that mean? It’s a little hard to explain, but they say, “Think of WordPress as the engine of your car. Genesis as the frame and body. And StudioPress themes as the paint job.” Of course, once you have installed Genesis, you don’t HAVE to use a theme by StudioPress, you can use any child theme meant for Genesis framework, and a lot of them are free. I don’t even use a child theme, I use the Demo theme that it came with and just tweaked it to my liking (see Design Palette Pro). So what’s the benefit of using Genesis framework? It’s trusted by tons of huge websites, it’s reliable, flexible, lightweight (your site will load fast!) and it makes your website RESPONSIVE. That means that it will look good and work correctly when you load it on a mobile device. This is IMPORTANT, because more and more people are looking at your blog on their phones now, AND starting April 21st, 2015, Google now takes into consideration whether a site is mobile-friendly or not, and gives search preference to those that are. In their own words, it will have a “significant impact in our search results.” So get responsive ASAP!

Genesis Design Palette Pro – I mentioned this in my section on Genesis. This is a WordPress plugin that I use to make my blog look exactly how I want it. The Genesis Demo Theme was a great basis, and it looked good right “out of the box” but I wanted to change some things, like my background color, link color, the amount of padding, font weight, etc. and I didn’t want to have to mess around with the coding in order to do it. Enter Design Palette Pro. This amazing plugin works with a ton of Genesis themes, and it allows you to control nearly every aspect of your layout visually – no coding needed! Just use their input boxes and sliders to adjust everything and you’ll see your changes in real time! Then when you’re satisfied, hit save and you’ve got yourself a beautiful blog! Genesis and Design Palette Pro are a little bit of investment, but the time and headache it has saved me have been well worth it, and I couldn’t be happier. No more struggling with the free theme that I was using before, and still not having it look right!

Blog Planner – This is the newest addition to my arsenal of tools, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. There are a ton of blog planners out there to choose from, and they can come in really handy with tracking and planning. I did a lot of searching to find something that was simple and pretty. I’m a sucker for good design. The one I finally ended up choosing is the Ultimate Blog Planner Kit from Designer Blogs. It’s beautifully designed, easy to use, and it’s free! Like all of the blog planners I looked at, it has way more pages than I even need, so I just print out the ones that I want – mainly the income and expense pages, which I have been using religiously since the last time I did my taxes. Having not really kept track of anything throughout the year, it was a total nightmare come tax season. So this year I’m keeping careful track of everything and I’m sure my future self with thank me next April!

Google Analytics – If you have a blog, you’ve probably already set up Analytics (a free tool from Google) on it. But if you haven’t, go do it now! I’ll wait…. ok, great job! You now have access to a wealth of information about your blog and its audience, including how many visitors you get daily, where they’re coming from, which pages they’re looking at, how long they’re staying, where they’re clicking, where in the world they live, etc. etc. etc. This is all really important information to look at in order to grow your blog. If you’re interested in working with sponsors, Analytics is crucial, and a lot of sponsors will even require that you have it installed so that they know your audience is a good fit for their brand. I look at my Analytics dashboard every day, actually, several times a day. And while you don’t have to be that obsessed with it, you should definitely be checking in with it periodically to see how you’re performing!

Tweetdeck – There are a lot of different tools you can use for Twitter (or just look at the plain old Twitter website), and I tried out quite a few of them when I was doing social media professionally, but my personal favorite is Tweetdeck. It seems I made a good choice because not too long ago, Twitter bought Tweetdeck and it’s now their official tool for “real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement.” Tweetdeck lets you look at multiple columns at once, with different feeds in each one. For example, I have columns for Home (my regular Twitter feed), Notifications, Mentions, Messages, Scheduled Tweets, My Tweets, Seattle area, and a couple of columns for hashtags that I’m following (a good option if you are participating in a Twitter chat, or a campaign that you want to keep track of.) You can see all of these simultaneously, without having to click around. Tweetdeck is also what I use to schedule my tweets! It’s a pretty great (and free) tool, and I can’t imagine using Twitter without it.

Passionfruit – This is what I use to sell direct ads on my site. The old way I used to do it was to have interested advertisers email me directly, download their ad, upload it to my server, install the code, and then keep track of how long each one was on my blog before I took it down. It was a pain. Passionfruit takes all the work out of it. You install a piece of code once, and you’re pretty much done. The advertiser just fills out a form on your blog, and you get an email asking you to either accept or decline the ad. If you accept it, it magically appears on your sidebar (or wherever) and Passionfruit automatically takes it down when it expires, and emails the advertiser on your behalf, letting them know their ad is expiring and asking if they’d like to buy a new ad. Easy peasy! You can change your ad specs any time at the push of a button, as well as swap ads, use discount codes, track analytics, find other blogs to advertise on, and more! It’s $3-$9/a month and well worth the price if you’re selling ads on your blog.

Google Adsense – This is another tool I use to sell ads on my blog. These are not direct ads, they’re served by Google and change on reload. You’ve definitely seen them on sites before. While you won’t make a ton of money with Adsense (unless you have a ton of traffic), they’re easy to set up, and once you do that, you’ll start seeing effortless passive income. There is a $100 threshold for you to withdraw money, so depending on how much action your blog gets, you could get payments every month, or you could be waiting a while. During the past year when I wasn’t really blogging much, it took me the whole year to reach the threshold payment, but lately I’ve been making $20-$50/mo. Bigger sites can definitely make way more than that – the potential is unlimited.

RewardStyle – This is mainly the affiliate program that I use on Brighter Sides. With affiliate sales, you refer someone to a site or product you love, and then if they buy it using your link, you get a commission on the sale. For example, I might post an outfit photo, and provide links to each item in the outfit. I would do this regardless of whether I was using an affiliate program or not, because it’s valuable to you, the reader, to know where you can buy something if you see it and like it. But if I am using an affiliate link, then it’s also valuable to me; if you end up purchasing the item I linked to, then at no extra cost to you, the company will credit me with a small commission (usually around 10%). I like affiliate links because they are win-win-win. RewardStyle is geared toward style/fashion/beauty bloggers – the products/stores they work with are mainly fashion and beauty retailers. But if you don’t talk about those types of products on your blog, there are other networks you can join. But if you DO blog about those topics, then I recommend RewardStyle, I’ve gotten more commission from them than I have any other affiliate network I’ve tried. Their dashboard is also pretty and easy to navigate, and they provide analytics, so you can see which links were the most popular, and which ones inspired sales. There is a $100 payout threshold for RewardStyle.

ShopSense – ShopSense is another affiliate network I use. This is a different model than RewardStyle, so it helps to know your audience. RewardStyle is great if your readers are ready to buy. But if your readers are just browsing, then ShopSense may be the way to go. ShopSense pays you a few cents per link clicked, regardless of whether or not the reader buys anything. So if you see that you have lots of links clicked, but no sales, ShopSense is probably a good model for you! They also offer some Analytics so you can see which products that you linked to were the most popular, what day of the week you’re getting the most clicks, etc. You may want to sign up for both programs and test the waters to see which works better for your blog and your audience. ShopSense has a $100 payout threshold as well.

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC) – I’ve been using Photoshop for years (way before I even had this blog) as my go-to graphic editing/creation software. For photos, I mainly use it for cropping, resizing, and simple adjustments like brightness and color correction. A few clicks can make a HUGE difference in the quality of your photos. I also use it to create other graphics for my blog (like my header, buttons, etc.) and to make my digital illustrations! It’s extremely powerful, professional quality software. It used to be that you had to shell out hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a version of PS, and then some years later do it again if you wanted the newer version. But now they’ve changed to “Creative Cloud”, which is their subscription service. It’s $20/mo, with no physical software to purchase and install, and you automatically update to newer versions as they are released at no extra cost. The whole Adobe Creative Suite is available via CC, and I love Illustrator too, but Photoshop is my go-to.

Afterlight – When editing photos on my phone (for Instagram, or wherever), Afterlight is my jam. I run almost all of my photos through Afterlight before posting them to Instagram. There are controls for brightness, exposure, highlights, shadows, saturation, and a ton of other stuff, as well as filters you can use. They have a lot more filters to choose from than are native in Instagram, and I like their filters a lot more – they tend to be more subtle. Afterlight is $0.99 in the App Store and so ridiculously worth the price. It will make a huge difference in your Instagram game.

Over – This is a simple app that I use to add text to photos that I want to post via my phone. They have several fonts to choose from, and you can control the size, color, placement, etc. It’s a really useful app, and at $0.99 it won’t hurt your wallet either. You can buy additional font packs for it, but I’ve never felt the need to.

Layout – This is a new app from Instagram that you can easily use to make collages of photos. I prefer this app over others that I’ve used, because it’s simple to use, it’s flexible, and it doesn’t create borders around your photos like other ones I’ve tried. It’s a really simple app, and I’ve just started using it (Instagram just released it), but I already love it! And it’s free!

Like I said, this is definitely not a comprehensive list, but these are the main tools that popped to mind when I decided to write this post. I hope you learned about some new things you can use to make your blog better and maybe even more profitable! Remember, the cost any tools you buy for your blog or services you subscribe to can be written off on your taxes! That was a huge factor for me when deciding whether I wanted to subscribe to Photoshop, or buy a new theme for my blog!

What tools, apps, or resources do you love using on your blog? Let me know in the comments! Also feel free to let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be sure to answer.

Thanks to Christina Elyse for the desktop stock photo.

P.S. You might also like these posts:
Free Printable Motivational Watercolor Art
Le Tote Review and $25 Off
How To Make Glitter in Photoshop

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By Kelsi Eldredge

Easy Hair Tutorial & “Big Night Out” Giveaway from Paul Mitchell!

This month, Paul Mitchell sent over their gorgeous, rose gold limited edition You’re Golden Express Ion Smooth+ flat iron, Sculpting Brush, and a matching compact mirror/brush, and asked if I would be interested in using them to create a style for their Big Night Out (#PMBigNightOut) collection. Um, yes! My face lit up when I opened my box of goodies and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOut

Having been a hairstylist for 10 years and using Paul Mitchell products in the salon and at home, I stand behind their products 100% and I’m excited to tell you that they have also generously offered to give away a You’re Golden Express Ion Smooth+ and Sculpting Brush combo to one styling Brighter Sides reader!

Not only is the iron the perfect color, but it heats up to 410 degrees in just 60 seconds, and has a digital readout of the temperature. The default temperature is 360 degrees (what I use), but if you have fine/damaged hair, or very coarse hair, you can adjust it to your liking! The edges are beveled, so you will never get a line in your hair while straightening and it’s conducive to creating flips and waves!

Even though I’m a hairstylist, and I originally started this blog (in 2010) to educate people about their hair, this is actually my first step-by-step styling tutorial! I hope you’ll follow along with me at home and try it out. Stick with me til the end to find out how to win your own rose gold Express Ion Smooth+ so you can recreate this look, and be ready for your next special occasion!

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutSupplies:
Paul Mitchell Hot Off The Press
Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum
Paul Mitchell Sculpting Brush
Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smooth+
Fine tooth comb
Hair pins
Hair bands

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutThis is what my hair looks like after I let it air dry and wear it up for a couple of days. I always recommend starting with “second day hair” when you’re doing an updo. If it’s too clean, it will be slippery and won’t want to stay put. You can also spray your hair with dry shampoo for a little extra grip. First, tame the beast! I brushed it out with my Sculpting Brush… I didn’t take a photo of that, but just imagine my hair 2.5 times bigger than pictured above.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutFlat iron your hair starting underneath and pinning the rest up. Let down a 1-2 inch section of hair, and spray it with Hot Off The Press thermal protection hairspray before passing the flat iron over it. This will protect your hair from the heat of the iron, as well as keep the frizz down and keep your hair straighter. You can see in this photo that I lead every section with a fine-tooth comb, followed by the flat iron. It takes a little practice, but it really helps get your hair its smoothest. My clients have remarked that this tip changed their flat iron game forever. I finished with Super Skinny Serum on the mid-shaft and ends to add some shine and make it feel smoother.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutMake a deep side part, and then french braid the sections of hair in front of your ears and secure with a hair band. They don’t need to be very tight! Pull gently at the pieces of your braids to fluff them up and make them look fuller.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutNext, backcomb the crown of your hair. You can do a little or a lot, depending on how much poof you want. I didn’t do a ton, I just wanted a little lift. But feel free to tease it to the moon if you’d like. I won’t judge, I used to be the queen of scene hair. I’m using a regular comb here, but really, a backcombing brush is the way to go. Paul Mitchell makes a great one, and it gives your hair a lot more fluff with a lot less effort.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutGently smooth your backcombing and pin the ends of your braids underneath so that they’re hidden. I like using hair pins, as opposed to bobby pins. The prongs are wider set and they’re better for holding large chunks of hair.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutPull all of your hair around to the side and secure it behind your ear with a hairband. Be sure not to pull down too hard on the crown, you don’t want to smush your backcombing job!

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutLoosely braid the ponytail you’ve just created and secure with a hairband.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutNow pull the sections of your braid to make it look fuller, starting near the hairband and working your way up, and then back down. Generally, the more you pull, the fuller it will get, but after a certain point, it will just start to look loopy. So you may need to experiment a little to find the sweet spot.

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOut

Easy Braided Hair Tutorial #PMBigNightOutVoila! You’re ready for any occasion with a style that’s chic but not fussy. Alternatively, You could pin up the part that is hanging down and go with a slightly more formal braided bun.

What do you think? Ready to win an Express Ion Smooth+ for yourself? There are two ways to enter – using Twitter or Instagram! You can choose either method to enter, or do BOTH and get two entries! (Open only to residents of the US.)

To enter via Twitter: Follow @KelsiBSides and @PaulMitchellUS on Twitter, then Tweet about the giveaway, including a link to this blog post and the hashtag #PMBigNightOut. Come back here and leave a comment letting me know that you tweeted! Be sure to include your name, email address, and a link to your tweet in the comment so that I can contact you if you’re the winner.
(Here’s a sample tweet that you can cut and paste if you’re not feeling creative: I just entered to win a limited edition rose gold flat iron from @PaulMitchellUS and @KelsiBSides! http://wp.me/p2Ae3E-2cV #PMBigNightOut)

To enter via Instagram: Follow @KelsiBSides and @PaulMitchellUS on Instagram, then repost my teaser image for this tutorial OR an image you love that represents your favorite Big Night Out look. Mention @KelsiBSides and @PaulMitchellUS and the hashtag #PMBigNightOut somewhere in your caption. Come back here and leave a comment letting me know you posted an Instagram! Be sure to include your name, email address, and Instagram handle in the comment so that I can contact you if you’re the winner.

This giveaway will run from April 11th through April 30th. All entries must be posted by midnight PST on Thursday, April 30th 2015. Open only to residents of the United States.

Want to make sure you get one of these rose gold flat iron kits before they’re gone? I don’t blame you! You can buy one here. They’re on sale right now for $104.99 and shipping is free. (This is a link to my profile on Loxa Beauty – the only online retailer approved by Paul Mitchell! I get a small commission if you purchase using this link, just like if I were selling it to you in the salon, except you’ll be paying less than you would in a salon, and the product is still guaranteed by Paul Mitchell!)

P.S. You might also like these posts:
How To Clean and Maintain Your Blow Dryer
How To Trim Your Own Bangs
How To Suicide Roll Bangs – Guest Post By Jessa

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By Kelsi Eldredge

Things I Love Thursday, April 2nd 2015

This post contains some affiliate links. I make a small amount of money when purchases are made after clicking links, which helps to keep the blog running!

Recently, Aaron and I finished watching Twin Peaks, and took a road trip to visit the locations where the show was filmed! I wrote about it here. I am in love with this paper art href="http://meganbrain.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">by Megan Brain. The way she depicted Laura is spectacular, and I could recognize Audrey Horne from a mile away! She has a ton of other beautiful paper art on her blog.
Twin Peaks paper art by Megan Brain

This skeleton dress is just the right balance of cute and creepy! The fit and flare cut of it is wonderful.
Skeleton Dress from ModCloth

I adore this tiny faceted jewelry box. I’m a sucker for glass with gilded edges like this, and at $14 it’s a steal!
Faceted Glass Jewelry Box

I saw someone post this Leslie Knope illustration a while back… I can’t remember who it was that shared it or where I saw it, but I really enjoy that sentiment. Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. Also, after searching around and finally tracking down the original source of this illustration, I was delighted to find that the artist (Emma Munger) had a veritable gold mine of pop-culture pin-up illustrations on her site! I urge you to go take a peek!
Be The Leslie Knope of Whatever You Do by Emma Munger

I’ve been seeing florals making a big comeback lately, and while most of it has been clothing, but check out this floral Crosley portable record player! I’ve been wanting a portable record player for some time, and this one’s a contender though it may be a little TOO cute for my apartment.
Floral Crosley Portable Record Player

Hope you’re having a great week! And remember, I’m going to draw a winner for my skincare giveaway tomorrow night, so go enter now!

P.S. You might also like these posts:
Things I Love Thursday, March 12th 2015
Day Trip From Seattle To Twin Peaks
Things I Love Thursday, January 22nd 2015

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By Kelsi Eldredge