ELF Makeup Haul

my mini ELF makeup haul

As an glam girl on a budget, I love ELF makeup. Being in New York City this summer, I spend a lot of time walking around, and I actually stumbled upon a full ELF store. This was extremely excited to me because in the past, I have only really ordered online, and it was so nice to be able to test and see the products in person. Plus there was no free shipping minimum, which is always good!

ELF Makeup

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Makeup is always a good idea. Two of the three products I purchased have worked their way into my daily routine already.

  • Blush and Bronzer Duo in Fiji-matte: The other duos I have tried from E.L.F had so much glitter in them, so I was thrilled to find a matte palette.
  • Brow Pencil in Neutral Brown: Wow. Brow pencils NEVER match for me, but this one was only $2, so I gave it a tried. I am so happy that I did, because it is smooth with intense coverage that blends very well.
  • Corrective Concealer Palette in Neutralize and Conceal: I am still waiting to figure out the best way to use this product, but I love the color options. It is a little creamy, making me think it will be better for the upcoming winter months.

ELF Brushes

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I have always loved the brushes, but Target never has the widest selection, so I picked out three to add to my collection.

  • Blending Brush: I have been using this brush for to blend my eyelid crease. It has a similar shape to my Simga blending brush, and while it isn’t quite as soft, is does as good of a job. If you are looking for an affordable eyelid BFF, this is a great option.
  • Selfie Ready Powder Brush: Let’s be honest…half the reason I bought this was the name. That said, this brush is amazing. I use it to buff in my powder, and find that it gives me a very even application.
  • Sculpting Face Brush: I have been using a weird variety of brushes for my contour, so I had to snag this brush to try it out. It has a curved/sloped top, which I find works really well for bronzer. The bristles are a bit dense, so I have been using other brushes to blend after the initial applications.


As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get the most out of life during your college years and early twenties. Certain things are worth splurging on—hey, Fall textbook order—but others aren’t. I hope that this post showed you some new products that you can incorporate into your daily routine without breaking the bank!

~Alana Robin

August 10, 2016

5 Best Ice Cream Places in NYC

5 Best Ice Cream Places in NYC

Every time I see a yummy looking ice cream on Instagram, I take note. At this point in the summer, I have probably had more ice cream than anything else in New York City. Don’t worry—I’m not sad about it. My physical gain can be your gain too because today I am rounding up the best of the ice cream places in NYC.

Trust me—you want to try them all!


Chickalicious Ice Cream Places in NYC

Chickalicious was by far my favorite ice cream place. It is soft serve inside a churro cone that is lined with nutella. I know. I found heaven and you need to go also. Make sure to bring a friend with you because this $10 cone is quite large and perfect to share! Plus, sharing makes saving a few dollars.


Milk Ice Cream Places in NYC

Milk is easily one of the places I have seen on Instagram the most, and for good reason. It was delicious. It tastes exactly like…you guessed it…MILK! I would highly recommend getting the crunch topping. I have gone twice and once got the sprinkles, as shown above, and I think the crunch was much tastier. It gives you the exact taste of enjoying a big old bowl of cereal. Only better and sweeter!

Black Tap

Black Tap: Ice Cream Places in NYC

Not exactly ice cream, but I would consider milkshakes one in the same. Black Tap has a line that goes around the block, but it is worth it for the experience (and the photo). The milkshake it self is pretty basic in flavor; however, the toppings, especially the chocolate circles, are amazing. They have a unique flavor that really makes the milkshake worthwhile!

This is another ice cream I would recommend sharing. It is huge and $15 dollars, so splitting it will save your wallet some pain.

As far as the wait goes, the key to getting in quickly is to be flexible. A man came out because there were two spots available at a table. The only catch? You had to order food in addition to the milkshake. My friend and I quickly volunteered and were able to cut the entire. Making our wait a 45 minutes instead of two hours…


Amarillo: Ice Cream Places in NYC

If you like gelato, you will LOVE Amorino. You can pick any flavors and have them constructed into a beautiful flower. I choose tiramisu and pistachio, so the colors are a bit dull, but it was amazing.

Big Gay Ice Cream

I completely forgot to take a picture of my ice cream here because I was way too excited, but trust me. It was good. I ordered the Salty Pimp, which is vanilla soft serve with dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip. It was absolutely amazing and honestly quite different than most other soft serves I have had. There are two locations, so

Know More Ice Cream Places in NYC?

If you know of other Ice Cream places in NYC that I need to try, please let me know!

Love food? Me too! Follow all my food (and fashion) adventures on Instagram.

~Alana Robin

July 31, 2016

Sneaker Trend Done Cheap

Sneaker trend on a budget

As a girly girl growing up, I was never one to wear sneakers. When they became trendy last fall, I continued my habit and avoid the trend. Well…I finally embraced the sneaker trend, and I love it. Nothing has every been so comfortable and so stylish at one time.

If you’re like me, you like good deals on trendy items. Today’s post is a big round up of the trendiest sneakers I could find for under $50 each.

Sneaker Trend for Under $50

Sneaker Trend for Under $50


If you are looking for some bold statement sneakers that fit into your budget, these are some great finds!

Sneaker Splurge

Sometimes, you need to splurge. I did on a pair of New Balance sneakers, and I haven’t regretted it for a minute. They are easily the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn and are perfect for long days exploring New York City!

Here you can shop all my favorite everyday trendy sneakers:



As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get great deals and manage your college life! While some of these sneakers are a little more expensive, you can easily find a pair that fits your budget and style needs. As a college student, I know the budget struggle, so I always want to share ways to maximize your dollar, so you too can be like me—ballin’ on a budget. 

~Alana Robin


July 21, 2016

Build Your Own Birchbox Day!

build your own birch box

The other day I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Mostly Morgan, and stumbling upon a post about a brick and mortar Birchbox store. I had never heard of them having their own stores before, so I instantly texted my roommate to see if she would be up for an adventure to build your own Birchbox! No one can really turn down a trip to look at makeup, so off we went the following day.

First things first: this store is more than just a Birchbox store. It is a candy store for adults. I kid you not, we spent over an hour looking through samples and picking the perfect ones to fill our boxes.

It was much longer than I ever spent at Dylan’s Candy Bar growing up…

What I Got

Birchbox Unboxing

My friend Amy and I were looking at the fifteen dollar box, which was five items with one from each category, and were not impressed. When it came time to pick a fragrance, I was instantly unimpressed. I was an Ipsy subscriber for years, and fragrance samples were always the worst. I, personally, just don’t see the value with them.

That lack of value…was able to convince me to spend an extra $10 to upgrade to any products I wanted. You all know I hate to waste money, so that’s saying a lot!

I ended up picking out:

  • Two Stila Liquid Lipsticks
  • Mally Eyeshadow Stick
  • Malin & Goetz Clarifying Clay Mask
  • Party Proof Matte Lipstick

So far, I am extremely impressed with all of the products. I’ve never fully finished a lip product, aside from chapstick, so I think the money was well worth it! If you want a full review on anything, please let me know in the comments!


As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get great deals and manage your college life! While a “build your own birchbox” isn’t as cheap as the subscription, you are able to get five products you will use and love, so I think it is well worth it. As a college student, I know the budget struggle, so I always want to share ways to maximize your dollar, so you too can be like me—ballin’ on a budget. 

~Alana Robin

July 11, 2016