Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Peach & Lily Good Skin Day and Reset Button Sheet Masks

As important as it is to see what beneficial ingredients your skincare products contain, it's just as pertinent to be aware of what doesn't make it into the formula. A host of ingredients can wreck havoc on your skin so it's great when companies explicitly leave out these common irritants. Case in point: the new-ish Peach & Lily sheet masks.

With three variations that address specific skin needs (hydration, soothing and plumping), these masks were specifically concocted to be gentle yet effective. Boasting what Peach & Lily calls "superskin ingredients", you won't find synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, alcohol, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil or formaldehyde in these masks.

I purchased the Good Skin Day mask and the Reset Button mask online from Macy's where you can get free shipping on all beauty products. These retail for $6 a piece ($15 if you buy a set of all three versions) which I think is quite reasonable for the U.S. market. I've seen sheet masks go into the $25 range which is a little crazy considering these are single-use products.

Peach & Lily not only did a great job selecting ingredients for these sheet masks but also sourced some really awesome mask material. The "cellulose sheet material" feels like a soft cotton and is very comfortable. It fits the contours of my face very well though your results may vary depending on your face structure.

I used these masks on consecutive back-to-back nights, starting with the Reset Button mask. I had some inflamed acne spots and healing scars at the time and the Reset Button mask did not irritate my skin at all. The mask had a very light scent which reminded me of tea tree and herbs and it wasn't overwhelming at all (big plus in my book). My skin felt really nice after using this sheet mask, though I wished it could have been a little more moisturizing for that glow factor it promised.

My skin the next day was a tad flaky due to the weather so I popped on the Good Skin Day mask to see how it would fare. This mask had a slightly different scent which I can't put my finger on exactly but I enjoyed it more than The Reset Button. This mask definitely gave my skin the drink of hydration it needed. My skin the next day was noticeably more moisturized and the flakes were gone. No pilling makeup, hurray!

I'm really pleased with these sheet masks and think Peach & Lily did an excellent job. I'm also a fan of the packaging of the masks. My only regret was not scooping up more of these during Peach & Lily's Black Friday sale this past week before they sold out. Here's to hoping these come back in stock soon but in the mean time, you can get them from Macy's like I did!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Value Breakdown: Sephora Favorites Customizable Skin Care Set

Sephora does some really great value kits throughout the year but the customizable Sephora Favorites sets take the cake for me. I love that you can pick and choose according to your personal needs and it's usually a great way to try out pricey products in small sizes before committing to the full size.

Today I wanted to break down the value of the Sephora Favorites Customizable Skin Care and Hair Gift Set, which is still available on the site. For $25, you get to choose five from 13 skin care and hair care options plus a rose gold travel pouch. None of the hair care products jumped out at me so I went with five skin care items.

The products are deluxe sample sizes so you can use most of them more than once, besides the sheet mask options. I wish Sephora would note how big each of the samples are since it is hard to tell from the tiny stock photos - that's why I thought I'd share the breakdown of the samples I chose.

COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint - 25ml - $18
Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream - 15ml - $22
Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask - 15ml - $16.50
Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist - 30ml - $4.80
Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask Soothing - 1 piece - $8

Total Value: $69.30

The combined value of the products, based on their retail prices and how much is in each sample, is really great. I didn't include the value of the travel bag but it's well-made and Sephora-branded so you could probably price it between $5-$10. I was especially impressed by the size of the Coola sample since I've seen smaller Coola samples before. I hope these products will be great for my skin as we head into the drier, cooler months - and if not, I only spent $25 to try them out. Did you pick up any of the recent Sephora Favorites kits? Let me know if you've tried any of these skincare products before!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Milani Cult Classics and My Thoughts on the Bella Eyeshadows

Over the years, the drugstore portion of my makeup collection has dwindled but I still have a soft spot in my heart (and vanity) for affordable beauty products. But I'm much more selective about the products I grab at the drugstore than I was when I started buying cosmetics. Milani is a brand that has been hyped up a lot by the blogging community but I haven't tried any of their most popular products.

That all changed when CVS had 40% off all Milani cosmetics last week and I couldn't help but pick up a few things that I've had my eye on for a long time. As you can see, I bought two of their beautiful Rose Powder Blushes as well as the cult-favorite Baked Blush in Luminoso. I haven't worn the blushes yet so that will be a review for another time - today it's all about the Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadows.

These single shadows contain .05 ounces (1.4 grams) each and retail for roughly $5 depending on where you purchase. The shadows are made in the U.S.A and many of the shades are vegan (Milani indicates on their website which shades are vegan).

I've heard positive things about the Bella eyeshadows so I went ahead and bought four to try. While there are 31 shades in the full range on Milani's website, my local CVS only carries about a dozen of the most neutral colors. As someone who wears beige and brown eyeshadows most of the time, I didn't mind the limited color selection.

I opted for (starting from top left, clockwise) Bella Sand (shimmering beige), Bella Champagne (shimmering champagne pink), Bella Caffe (ash-brown satin matte) and Bella Bronze (bronze metallic sheen). I like that the shadows have different finishes and I think the four colors I chose would make a nice everyday quad.

Milani calls these shadows "gel powder" eyeshadows and claims the formula starts off as a gel and transforms into a powder. I don't know why their marketing team came up with this gimmick because that's simply not the case. This is a powder eyeshadow from start to finish. The concave domed shape makes these look like a squishy product but the powders are firm in the pan.

Marketing gimmicks aside, these are actually quite nice eyeshadows from the drugstore. The pigmentation is not out of this world but the colors show up nicely on the skin. You can also use these shadows wet to amplify the color. But, realistically, who has time for that? Bella Caffe, which is the satin matte shadow, was the weakest in pigment but I think it makes a lovely blending out color for the crease. The shadows blend nicely and last all day over top of an eyeshadow primer.

I give these one thumb up - they didn't blow me away but they're good for the price. I can easily pop a few of these into a travel bag without having to worry about losing or breaking my more pricey shadows. I think makeup beginners will really like these because they're easy to blend. What are your favorite Milani products? Did I miss one of your must-have products from the brand?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

September and October 2016 Empties

My empties from the last two months were a mix of favorites that I've repurchased several times over as well as some disappointments. Let's go through a quick rundown of the highs and lows in no particular order.

The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads and Beauty Blender Cleanser Solid are in the love category and I've purchased both of them many times. I also really enjoy the Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation moisturizer and have a couple of jars of that in various sample and gift with purchase sizes. The IOPE Bio Essence is something I love having in my skincare routine and I'm currently using the full size. The Glam Glow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment was a surprise favorite - it smells delicious and it really plumps up the skin. I think it would be perfect for long flights. I am a huge fan of the Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector and finished the one in 01 Rose. These are really emollient sheer tinted lip balms so it's easy to finish it up. I don't often like perfumes but I Dior J'adore is one I always look forward to having a sample of.

Now for the disappointments.... Everyone but me seems to love the Nuxe Reve De Miel Lipbalm. It's a waxy balm that goes on the lips quite matte and doesn't seem to deeply hydrate them. It didn't give me a bad reaction or anything but I just don't get the hype. The Shiseido Ibuki Quick Fix Mist* had a strange watery gel consistency and the spritzer wasn't fine enough. Every time I used this I had globs of moisture on my face which did nothing for me. The Lierac Luminescence Illuminating Cream Complexion Perfector is supposed to be a brightening moisturizer but it was very unpleasant to use on the face. I ended up throwing most of this out because I've had it for close to two years. The moisturizer is heavy, thick and loaded with shimmer. I love the Fresh Sugar Lip Balms so I was excited to try the Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy but it really fell flat - it was way too thin and not moisturizing enough in the slightest. It felt like I was putting face serum on my lips and I would often end up eating it (and it didn't taste good). The 100% Pure Honey Almond Whipped Body Butter was only a disappointment because the tub was smaller than I expected for the price. I'd recommend The Body Shop's body butters over these as they're less expensive and the scent lingers for longer.

It's always good to finish up products and bid farewell to the things that didn't quite work out. At the same time it's interesting to see what products I purchase over and over again and use up fully. I've been picking out products I want to get rid of from my collection so expect a decluttering post before the year is over!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Couple of Underrated Makeup Bits You Should Check Out

As a beauty blogger, I love it when I find amazing products that haven't been hyped up to the point where there's little point in adding my own thoughts. Recently I've been reaching a lot for a couple of things that have performed exceptionally well for me and I wanted to share them with you. 

I talked about the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eyeliner in my July Favorites but I want to give it another shout out because it really blows my mind that I've never seen anyone talk about this liner. I prefer this over the famed Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils because the Bobbi Brown liner lasts much longer. There's minimal smudging at the end of a long work day sans primer which is no easy feat on my oily skin. Bobbi Brown's Gel Eyeliners are one of her best sellers so these pencils probably get overlooked because of that. If you prefer pencil format liners over gel, definitely pick up one of these. 

Speaking of gel liners, the L'Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner is a great one from the drugstore that's less than $10. I have the shade Espresso which is a rich dark brown. The formula for this gel liner is perfect; smooth, pigmented and creamy. I can't remember exactly how long I've had this eyeliner but it's well over a year old and it hasn't dried out at all. Even without eyeshadow primer, this liner stays on for a full 12 hours with very minimal transfer. It looks almost exactly the same as when I applied it in the morning. There's no need to run out and purchase the more expensive and well known gel liners like Mac's Fluidline or even the Bobbi Brown ones because this is just as good. 

Everyone raves about the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Highlight and while I'm sure it's a beautiful highlighter, the bronzers in the same line are worthy of some love too. I got this travel size compact as part of a Sephora 500 point perk and after swatching it for the blog, promptly retired this to the depths of my makeup collection. I brought this out a few weeks ago after shopping my stash and it's been in constant use since then. It's a really great warm bronzer that doesn't look too orange on the face. The baked powder is ultra smooth and blendable so it seamlessly melds into the rest of your makeup. 

Mizon is a Korean brand well known for their skincare products but their Correct Jelly Shadow has me convinced their makeup is worth exploring. The shade I have is 01 Pink Beige and it's a really pretty shimmery pink champagne. I love using this as an eyeshadow "topper" right in the center of the lid over deeper matte tones. This shadow isn't really bouncy or gel like - I would describe it as a pressed pigment. It's not as crumbly as the L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows which I also really like, though the L'oreal ones are more metallic. The only downside is that Peach & Lily stopped stocking the Mizon shadow so you'll probably have to order it from a Korean-based web store. I was lucky enough to get this at a steal for only $3 at Peach & Lily's sample sale so I consider it a very good purchase. 

I'm one of those people that gets put off by products that people are obsessed with so it's always a nice surprise when I fall head over heels for something under the radar. It's like my own little beauty secret (as lame as that may sound). What are some of your current favorite products that don't get enough recognition?