Saturday, January 14, 2017

What I Got In My Beautylish Lucky Bag 2017


Despite saying that I wouldn't participate in another grab bag after unboxing last year's Beautylish Lucky Bag, I couldn't help myself and ordered one this year (technically last year since you have to pre-order them the day after Christmas and they ship in January). For those of you who aren't familiar with the Beautylish Lucky Bags, you pay $75 (and $7 shipping) for an assortment of mystery products worth over $150. Some bags are "extra lucky" and contain things ranging from an entire set of Wayne Goss brushes to the 12-pan Viseart eyeshadow palettes. I had a $20 off voucher from the Beautylish holiday event (spend $100 get a $20 off voucher for your next purchase) so I only paid $62 altogether.

Once again, I was in a state of anxiety over what would be in my bag. I was constantly refreshing Instagram and checking on Sephora's community board to see what everyone else was getting. I saw some amazing items (By Terry face palettes, Viseart palettes, ABH Modern Renaissance palette, Wayne Goss face brushes, you get the idea) as well as some extremely underwhelming ones (an unlabeled brush that Beautylish claims is a special-edition Chikuhodo and the Jeffree Star Beauty Killer palette). Lo and behold, I got an okay bag, again. Here's the value breakdown of what I got:

Wayne Goss Brow Set $55 (I got this in my lucky bag last year - see the individual brushes here)
Makeup Atelier Paris 5 Eyeshadow Palette in Natural Chestnut $35
Natasha Denona Blush Duo Palette in #8 Toutou/Peach $38
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Dark Like Me $18
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray Travel Size $22
Bioderma Sensibio H2O 100 ml $6.90

Total retail value: $174.90

I still think the Wayne Goss brow set is very overpriced, though I have been using at least two of the brushes from the set every day I've worn makeup in the last year. I wish I had gotten the Wayne Goss eye brush instead. Nonetheless, brow brushes are an essential so at least I have a backup.

I was hoping for a Viseart or Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette but the Makeup Atelier Paris one isn't bad. All five shadows are matte neutrals so I'm sure this palette will come in handy for travel. The three lighter shades look very similar so I wish they could have replaced one with a shimmery pop of color.


Out of everything in the bag, I'm most excited to try the Natasha Denona blush duo. The lighter shade can probably work as a highlight when I'm more tan. I like that you can easily use each shade on its own or mix the two for the perfect flush. Both shades have a bit of shimmer but the powders feel ultra smooth and not glittery at all.

I've been wanting to try a polish from Smith & Cult so I was happy to see this in my bag. The vampy shade looks great for this time of year. If I like the formula, I'll consider picking up more shades in the future.

The Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is a cult-favorite hair product but I just don't seem to understand why. It's not really a dry shampoo though it does help cut down on the oily-scalp feeling and provide a bit of volume. It leaves a strange texture to my hair that I can't quite explain. I guess I can consider it a good thing that I wouldn't purchase this again since it's so pricey.

The baby bottles of Bioderma are adorable to look at and convenient for travel or keeping in your gym bag - my only gripe is that they aren't refillable. I used to be a big fan of Bioderma but I've since found that the Garnier Micellar Water is just as good and quite a bit cheaper.

Was this all worth $62? Probably. I'm thankful that I didn't get any of the items I absolutely wouldn't get use out of. But at the same time I really didn't need any of the things I received. Will I partake in next year's lucky bag? I'm not a gambler at all - I've never bought the lottery for myself nor do I have any interest in casinos - but I'd be lying if I said I'm not tempted by the "what if" factor of lucky bags.

This was my last purchase of 2016 to end a year of some crazy beauty spending and I'm dialing my beauty spending way down this year. Just don't be surprised if you see a lot of new products here since I've yet to swatch and review the mountain of eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters and other makeup I've accumulated!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My 2017 Beauty Resolutions


I'm usually not one for resolutions at the beginning of the year - my main reason being that I'm terrible at following through on them. But this year I'm hoping it will be a little different.

Without going into details, last year majorly sucked. I'm not talking about the macro world issues that took place, although those were pretty bad, but about my little corner of the universe. I bring this up because you might have noticed a decrease in the number of blog posts I've published in the past year. Or if you look at my Instagram feed, you might have seen my unusually high number of beauty purchases in recent months. Let's just say I've been using beauty shopping as a coping mechanism and that I need to stop this habit right now.

I looked back at my post from the beginning of last year where I loosely laid out the guidelines I had in mind. I acknowledged my poor resolution-keeping skills and said I wouldn't do any project pan or make a dent challenges. I didn't embark on any of those but I did try a lip stash challenge... which I promptly abandoned a few weeks later (which is why you never saw an update). I got better at de-stashing makeup I wasn't using last year and gave away a lot of things to friends.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the goals I'll be trying to accomplish with regards to my beauty habits:

Cut back significantly on makeup purchases - This especially goes for eyeshadows, cheek products and lip products. I have amassed so many eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters, bronzers and lippies that there's no way I can use up even a fifth of my stash before it goes bad.... I guess I've always known that but writing it out makes it that much worse. The allure of "limited edition" sometimes trips me up but I'm going to try to resist them all for at least the first half of 2017.

Spend less time researching beauty products - From keeping up on new launches to finding out when the best deals are, I spend a lot of my free time researching about beauty. This year, I'm dedicating more time to learning about other things I care about rather than enticing myself with more things I want to purchase.

Use my expensive makeup products more - I want to get better at treating my pricey makeup items less like pretty things to look at and more like, well, makeup. I often hesitate to travel with my high end products for fear of losing or breaking them. But that's quite silly because they were made to be used. I did not shell out $50 for a highlighter only to use it in a flatlay....

Hit pan on at least six shades in my Urban Decay Naked Palette - This is one of the oldest high end eyeshadow palettes I have in my collection and also one of my most versatile. I can do a whole look with just this palette and it's very easy to mix-and-match other shadows with this palette as well. I already see a bit of a dip in Naked (the lighter of the two matte browns) but I think this particular goal could take the entire year to complete.

Share more looks and FOTDs - A lot of my blog content depends on new purchases which gives me an excuse to purchase something. That's just silly since this isn't a job for me (and I don't intend on making it so). I want to share more makeup combinations and ideas with you guys, even if they're simple neutral looks (since that's what I go for 90% of the time).

Continue investing in high quality brushes and rotating out less-used ones - I've been steadily adding to my collection of luxury Japanese-made makeup brushes. But doing a less good job of giving away brushes I don't use as much. I want to continue slowly adding in unique, functional brushes to fill gaps in my collection while passing on the older brushes I don't reach for anymore to someone who would be able to use them.

Most of my beauty resolutions are more akin to guidelines, apart from panning the Naked Palette, because I've found that works better for me. I have more concrete resolutions for the non-beauty parts of my life that I'm a lot more excited about. Here's to hoping I can accomplish those (and we'll see how the beauty ones fare).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

November & December 2016 Empties & Last Declutter of the Year


It wouldn't be the end of the year without one final empties post of 2016. I think this was the year my empties posts became a lot more repetitive because I've repurchased a lot of products that just work for me and I see no reason to try something different. A few of those repeat-purchases include the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets, L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara, Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser and Origins Super Spot Remover.

I also think the IOPE Bio Intensive Essence should get a shout out since I've used up a few bottles of that in the past. I also really liked using the Shiseido Ultimune Eye Concentrate* at night and the Shiseido Bio Performance Glow Revival Eye Treatment* in the day. The Lagom Cellus Mist Toner was a pleasant face mist and I'm glad I bought it during Peach & Lily's sample sale. I really got into using my Beauty Blender more in the last couple of months. My only gripe with it is that I have to wash it immediately after every use, or else I find the stains very hard to remove. I have two more Beauty Blender backups from a haul I did last year but after those are looking a little worse for wear I think I'll look into some of the more affordable dupes.

As for things that was OK but nothing too impressive, the Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil was fine at removing makeup but there was nothing about it that makes me want to repurchase it. The Shiseido Pureness Cleansing Sheets were a free gift and were fine to remove a very light layer of makeup if I was super lazy but I generally don't like reaching for cleansing wipes. I mostly used these sheets to wipe swatches off my arms.


I've been hauling beauty products left and right for the last few weeks so I had to let go of things in my stash that just weren't getting any use. It's not that these things were bad but I didn't reach for them for one reason or another. I stupidly bought the L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation in a shade much too dark for me at 40% off because my actual shade was out of stock (that will be the last time I do that). Most people seem to love the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealers but I didn't see the appeal at all. It was difficult to blend and always looked patchy on my face. I successfully let go of a bunch of lip products that I never reach for as well as some eyeshadows I've been holding onto for no reason.

This will be my last post of the year so I hope all of you have a great New Years and I'll see you in 2017!

*Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration by PR. All thoughts are my 100% honest opinions. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shiseido Skincare: New Things & Repurchases


I've been fortunate to have received many of Shiseido's launches in years past so I've been able to find a lot of things I love from the brand. I recently stocked up on a few products I was running low on and thought I'd jot down some mini reviews.

I just cracked open my third tube of the Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum because my lashes have never looked better since using this. This lash serum has lengthened my lashes a considerable amount and I just love the way my lashes look when I'm diligent about using this. I'll probably be buying this as long as they keep making it because my lashes just don't look nearly as good if I stop using this for a few days.

Another repurchase is the Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask (what a mouthful!). I bought the 12 pack box which will last me a couple of months. I've used many eye masks but these take the cake for sure. These masks plump up the under eye area and it has a pearly essence that brightens the skin really beautifully. I love using these the night before a special day.

Because I like the Benefiance Eye Masks so much and I'm also a fan of the White Lucent range, I bought a few of the White Lucent Power Brightening Masks to try. I'm happy to report these full-face sheet masks are very nice as well. The cotton is very plush and the mask does seem to help fade acne scars in conjuction with the White Lucent Serum. I would repurchase these for a special occasion if I need my skin to look especially radiant.

I've used probably every sunscreen in Shiseido's line up and they are generally the ones I recommend when people ask me which I like. I picked up a new tube of the Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40. Most of their sunscreens now have Wetforce technology, which is great if you're going to be sweating or swimming but it can be hard to remove at night. The Urban Environment Cream is water resistant but I find it to be more gentle on the skin for daily use.

The last product I want to mention isn't a repurchase but one of Shiseido's newer eye creams, the Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment*.  I use this eye cream in the mornings and I find it to be similar to the Shiseido Bio Performence Glow Revival Eye Treatment which I recently used up. The LiftDynamic Eye Treatment has a slight pearly sheen but it sinks into the skin nicely and preps the under eye area for concealer. I can't attest to the anti-aging benefits of eye creams since I don't have many fine lines or wrinkles yet but I can say these Shiseido eye care products help my concealer go on a lot nicer.

I've used up a bunch of skincare products lately and introduced some new ones so I'm planning on doing an updated skincare routine post soon. What skincare brands do you swear by? Have you tried any of these Shiseido products?

*The Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment was provided by PR. All other products were purchased with my own money. This is not a sponsored post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Classic Mac Eyeshadow Additions: Warm Neutrals


Mac was one of the first, and for a long time probably also the most popular, brands that introduced customizable eyeshadow palettes. Every blogger and Youtuber seemed to have their own Mac 15-pan palette and for years I longed to add one to my collection. I purchased one of their quad palettes awhile back and filled it with a couple of shadows but I kind of forgot my urge to add more shades to my collection.

In recent years, many more brands including Makeup Geek, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Make Up For Ever have come out with single eyeshadows and definitely stole a lot of the spotlight from Mac. That's probably why a couple of months ago Mac did a revamp of their custom palette system, dropping the price of eyeshadow refills to $6 and adding a slew of new palette sizes and inserts. On top of that, they've introduced a reward system and frequently do discounts off everything. A couple of weeks ago they had 25% off the entire site so I took the opportunity to purchase a few highly raved about eyeshadows.


I chose four popular, albeit not very unique, shades to add to my Mac eyeshadow collection: All That Glitter, Soft Brown, Woodwinked and Wedge. It should be no surprise that they're all neutral tones because that's simply what I wear all the time. All That Glitters is the perfect peachy all-over-lid shade that is everything I wanted it to be. Wedge is a great crease and outer lid color for my skin tone as well. I've been using both those shades quite a bit. Soft Brown and Woodwinked are definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum so I haven't been wearing them as much.

I find that with Mac eyeshadows, they're just pigmented enough to get a nice look with them but they're not intensely pigmented or creamy like Urban Decay or Anastasia Beverly Hills shadows. I have a special place in my heart for both types of formulas. Mac eyeshadows are great for everyday looks and the shadows are less likely to emphasize eyelid texture. But if you want a more rich color payoff, you usually have to use a tinted eyeshadow base.


While we're on the subject of Mac eyeshadows I thought I'd just pull out my other depotted singles and do a little family photo. The other shades I have are Patina, Carbonized, Tempting and Satin Taupe. Carbonized, a rich shimmery chocolate brown, was a limited edition shade but the others are permanent. Tempting has definitely been my most used because it's a gorgeous one-and-done bronze shadow. Patina is a big disappointment because the pigmentation is quite weak and the color doesn't show up very well on my skin. I keep telling myself I need to make it work somehow but so far that hasn't been successful.


After swatching all the shadows together, they actually look like quite a nice mix of neutral tones. I have some warm tones and cool tones and both light and dark shades to do a whole eye look. I find with my older Mac eyeshadows that they have developed a bit of "hard pan" so I have to dig my brush into the shadow more to get the pigment I want. Satin Taupe and Patina, in particular, do that quite a bit and I bought them both as single refill pans at the same time - perhaps it was not a great batch.

It's really nice to see makeup companies respond to consumer feedback. We're used to brands giving us less product but charging us more so it's cool that Mac is taking steps to win back some fans. Though they don't have the kind of eyeshadows that are as satisfying to swatch, the level of pigment and the classic shade selection they have match my makeup needs well.

Have you built a custom Mac eyeshadow palette? What are your favorite shades from the brand?