Friday, August 18, 2017

Buzzy Body and Haircare: Ouai, Christophe Robin, Yuni & Bum Bum Cream

Maybe it's because I've been having so many no makeup days in recent weeks but I've been more interested in testing body and haircare lately. As comfortable as I am not wearing makeup in public, I certainly feel more confident and put together when I put in the extra effort to get ready. I could rattle off a multitude of reasons why I don't wear makeup everyday but the biggest reason is time; I'd rather get 30 more minutes of sleep on many mornings....

Anyway, that's not the point of today's post. While I might not always feel pretty when I'm makeup-less, I certainly want to feel fresh and I think that's why I've been more experimental with my hair and bodycare. These are a few things I've been using from some quite trendy brands so I thought it'd be timely to give my two cents.

My scalp tends to be on the oily side and even second day hair tends to gross me out. I probably don't look as oily as I feel but that's the problem - I hate feeling icky! I've used a lot of dry shampoos but have never tried one in a foam formulation. I purchased the Ouai Morning After Kit on a whim, mostly for the hair and body oil, but the Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam might have stolen the show. I was skeptical that a foam would soak up oil and kept my fingers crossed that my hair wouldn't feel dirtier after (I think I closely relate foam anything with whipped cream). Well, I have to hand it to Ouai - they did a great job formulating this. It's so easy to use. I just pump out a bit of the foam, smoosh it between my palms and work it into my roots, combing it through my hair with my fingers. It dissipates very quickly and leaves my hair feeling cleaner in seconds. There is no white residue at all and no greasy or sticky feeling in my hair or on my hands. The one slight negative I have with this product is the perfumed scent. It's not a bad smell but it's very, very strong. If you are sensitive to scents, this might be a problem for you.

If you're into the concept of deep cleansing shampoos, you should give the Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt a try. It's extremely pricey for what is essentially salt and a coconut oil in a tub but it's great at "resetting" my hair. I like to use this after a very sweaty workout. As with the Oaui dry shampoo, this has a very strong smell. I'm not good at describing scents but this one reminds me of men's cologne. Not my favorite but it doesn't linger in my hair so I can deal. A little goes a long way - I use about the size of a small strawberry for one wash - so even this small tub will last at least a dozen washes. I bought this travel size tub ($19 for 2.7 oz) from SpaceNK because I had a $10 voucher but I'm not sure if I would buy the 8.3 oz full size one for $53. Certainly a nice-to-have but probably not a must-have.

Now onto bodycare! I had been eyeing the Yuni Shower Sheets a few months back when the brand debuted on Sephora's website and I was working out 3-4 times a week (I've since gotten lazier and not as committed to my workout schedule). The brand appeared on Gilt City for awhile and I was this close to buying a voucher for something like $40 off a $80 order or something but ended up skipping it. Then a few weeks later I needed to hit the $50 shipping minimum on so I added these to my cart. Guys, I totally regret not jumping on the Gilt voucher when I had the chance. These are really, really handy! I always work out after work, never before, and I don't like to deal with the hassle of showering at the gym or studio so these are perfect for me. These individually wrapped body wipes cleanse, refreshe and "naturally deodorize" without the use of alcohol, formaldehyde, petrolatum, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic colors or fragrances, GMOs, PABA, EDTA, or PEGs. The first ingredient is water which is nothing exciting but the second is saccharomyces ferment filtrate. If you're a K-beauty fan, you probably recognize that ingredient because it's found in cult favorite essences such as Missha's Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. The rest of the ingredients in the Yuni Shower Sheets are a blend of various plant oils and extracts (there are some unpronounceable ingredients toward the bottom of the list). These have a mild, natural-smelling scent that I find really does neutralize any B.O. and I feel clean after - no oily residue or stickiness at all. Of course I still have to shower when I get home, but these make it so much easier for me to see friends or just go to dinner after a sweat session. Oh, and I haven't mentioned the price of these. I actually think they're pretty affordable at $15 for 12 sheets, considering the impressive ingredients list. Love these and will definitely be repurchasing when I run out. I'm still bonking myself on the head for not taking advantage of the Gilt deal and stocking up on these!

Last up is a body cream that I swear Sephora has been shoving down our throats via our inboxes and their home page. It's the Sol Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream and I'm pretty sure it's the name that makes this one so enticing. I picked this up as a 100 point perk just because Sephora is so good at piquing my interest. The marketing behind this product suggests that the star ingredient, GuaranĂ  Seed Extract, "supports natural circulation, boosts energy, and smooths skin" and that it contains five times the caffeine of coffee. Well, you would think this super special seed extract might be the first, second or even third ingredient. Nope, not even 10th. It finally shows up as the 14th ingredient on the list. Everything in front of it is water, synthetic moisturizing agents and fragrance. And oh boy, did they use a lot of fragrance for this. It's a very summery scent - I brought this little tube with me to Miami for July 4th and it fit the atmosphere perfectly. The scent lingers and it also hangs onto clothing so if you shower in the morning, you might like that about this. I feel pretty meh about this cream and definitely won't buy the full size. I wasn't kidding when I said Sephora is pushing hard on this cream. Just when I finished up my 100 point perk, I received another mini in my August Sephora Play Box! My negative review aside, it's not a terrible body cream and I experienced no adverse effects from it. I always appreciate travel sized body creams (hotel lotion samples rarely cut it for me) so this will still come in handy.

Wow, this turned into a rather rambly post for just four pint-sized products! This is what happens when I've stepped away from blogging for too many weeks. Hope these reviews were helpful if you've been thinking about trying any of these products. Let me know if you've used any yourself and what you think. I'm always curious to get some different perspectives!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why Nordstrom's Gift With Purchases Are Some of the Best

I somewhat impulsively purchased the Nars Bord de Plage palette last month and one of the reasons I did was because Nordstrom had a really great gift with purchase if you spent $75 on beauty. While the offer is now long over (it ended before my package even arrived), Nordstrom does these larger gifts every few months so keep an eye out for the next one! GWP Addict and I Can GWP are great reference blogs for current gifts with purchase. 

Nordstrom's gift with purchase offers are great because the buy-in is not too high - these days $75 will not get you much in the high-end beauty market. Barneys and SpaceNK do really great gifts twice a year (spring and fall) but the buy-in is usually $200 or $250. While you do get more samples from higher end brands, you're also spending a lot more money (that you might not need to spend otherwise). Nordstrom has a really wide selection of beauty products including some mid-tier brands like Mac as well as a lot of prestige brands so you'd be hard pressed not to find something worthy of adding to your basket. 

My one complaint about this gift with purchase is the number of fragrances samples included. But then again I'm not much of a fragrance person so take that for what you will. If you like trying new scents, this would be a plus for you.

I really like that this gift bag included a lot of well known brands as well as an assortment of samples that could be used more than once. Above are the samples I'm most excited to try and the ones I personally think are the best value. I haven't tried any Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks before and this mini of So Marilyn is adorable. I've had a mini tube of the GlamGlow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment before and I love it as an overnight mask - I'll be saving this one for my Asia trip in October. I've been intrigued by Odacite's serums but they're seriously pricey. The full size of the Ac+R Serum Concentrate is only 5ml and $55! I think the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid is quite popular so I'm interested to see how my skin reacts to this. I know Bare Minerals more for their makeup than their skincare but their Vital Power Infusion (weird name for a skincare product) is a pretty decent size. I'm not gonna lie - I know nothing about the Saturday Skin mist other than the fact that this packaging is super cute. 

Overall I'm really happy with what I got in my order. I also was able to choose 3 free foil samples at checkout and opted for Chanel, La Mer and GlamGlow samples. I can't remember the last time Sephora actually sent me the 3 free samples I actually selected. I assume their order volume is just too high and samples go out of stock too quickly but it's still incredibly annoying. Thumbs up to Nordstrom who can deliver on their free samples. I swear I'm not affiliated with Nordstrom (in my dreams) - I just think their beauty department and gift with purchases are on point! 

Are there any gift with purchases that you wait for? Which ones are your favorite?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What's In My Business Travel Makeup Bag?

I'm not usually one to toot my own horn but I'm pretty pleased with my ability to not overpack makeup for travel. When I was younger I would often bring several options "just in case" I needed something - only to not use half the things I brought. Last week I spent three quick nights in California for a work trip and this is all the makeup I brought with me. Even in this spread, there were a couple of things that could have been left behind at home.

When I pack for travel, I look for products that are small in size that have sturdy, functional packaging. I don't necessarily bring all my favorites but I'll more likely than not pack stuff that I know I like. Long lasting products have a special place in my heart everyday but especially when I'm traveling for work. Knowing that I would be in lots of meetings, I didn't want to test a new foundation that could potentially break out my skin or slip off my face after a few hours.

For my base, I packed a sample of the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer which I've used before - it's fine but not worth the price for me. Of course I needed my Tarte Colored Clay CC Undereye Corrector, to minimize my dark circles. I decanted a few pumps of my favorite Shiseido Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation into a small glass jar which used to house a Tata Harper sample. I still love this foundation due to its feather-light finish and natural skin look. The glass packaging makes it hard to travel with so I highly recommend saving the little jars that skincare samples come in (or just use an old contact lens case). I don't love the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder (it leaves a slight white cast) but it gets the job done and the packaging is ultra compact so I travel with this quite often. To finish off my base, I contour and add warmth to my skin with Benefit's Hoola Bronzer. Pretty much every makeup product is more appealing in miniature so I really adore this teeny Hoola. Clinique's Cheek Pop in Nude Pop is an amazing blush that goes with everything and I don't have to worry about overdoing my blush with this shade. There's shimmer in the blush, but not in a frosty way, so I didn't pack a highlighter.

My Mac customizable eyeshadow quad is one of my go-to travel picks because it's such compact and easy. This time I brought along All That Glitters, Sable, Wedge and Carbonized (LE). After applying Lorac's Behind the Scenes Eye Primer all over my eyelid, I blended Wedge in the crease. Then I apply All That Glitters from the inner corner to the middle of my eyelid and Sable from the middle to the outer portion of my lid. I set my Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Eyeliner in Dark Chocolate with Carbonized eyeshadow and this combo lasted an impressive 14+ hours. I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't have time to bother with powder eyeshadow one day so I packed Chanel's Illusion D'ombre in Mirage which looks really good on it's own all over the lid.

My eyelash combo hasn't changed in years - crimping my lashes with Shiseido's Lash Curler followed by a few coats of L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara. For my brows I brought my handy Pony Effect Brow Definer in Deep Brown (on my very last millimeter of this brow pencil) and the Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pomade.

For lips I had my Dior Baume de Rose for daytime (and lanolin for night time before bed) but I also brought the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Rosewood Shimmer. I recently rediscovered is one of my favorite nude lipglosses - it's so easy to wear, smells amazing and a single tube lasts forever. I also packed one of my new mini luxury lippies - Tom Ford's Lip Color in Indian Rose. It's a beautiful neutral pink that is very office appropriate but I didn't reach for it during my trip so I definitely could have left the lipstick at home.

My Muji makeup bag is still my travel bag of choice because it makes organizing my makeup incredibly easy. I also love the makeup brush compartment. For once, I brought a couple of my pricey Japanese-made brushes because what's the point of having nice things if I don't use 'em right? I brought my Real Techniques Buffing Brush to spread foundation all over my face and I dabbed the Beauty Blender over everything to ensure my base was all blended and non-cakey. I also brought an It Cosmetics Powder Brush, the Chikuhodo T-4 for bronzer, Wayne Goss 14 brush for blush and a handful of eye brushes.

I actually really enjoy packing for travel (unpacking is a different story) but lately I find that I'm consistently going back to certain makeup products that just get the job done when I don't want to spend a lot of time getting ready. I don't have any travel plans until October (I'll be heading to Asia for two weeks!) and actually quite looking forward to not going anywhere for a few months.

I'm incredibly nosey and love to see what beauty products other people pack for their travels. Are there any makeup products you always travel with? Do you just bring everything in your daily rotation? How many "what if" options do you allow yourself when packing for a short trip?