Saturday, January 20, 2018

Thoughts On Self Care and May Lindstrom's The Honey Mud

Happy Saturday everyone! I, for one, am so glad for this weekend. I have a million and one things to do (mostly fun things I'm looking forward to, though) and on top of that I've caught a cold. This is my first proper weekend since coming back from five days in Paris with my Mom and family friends so I have a mountain of chores to take care of as well. Expect a separate post with my Paris beauty haul and some photos from my trip. I also made a very cheeky handbag purchase that I still can't really wrap my head around - keep an eye on my Instagram because I'll probably share it there first.

Now that I've gotten that quick catch-up out of the way, let's segue into the point of this post. Self care! It's a term that keeps popping up everywhere and, I personally think, for good reason. I'll also have a review of May Lindstrom's The Honey Mud in the second half of this post so if you don't care about my waxings on self care, feel free to skip ahead.

The term "self care" used to make me uncomfortable. It conjured feelings of indulgent vanity and I didn't grow up in a household where that was really a thing. I equated self care with luxurious (read: out of my salary bracket) spa treatments and bubble baths with rose petals. Lately I've been turning the idea of self care around in my head and I realized something.

True self care isn't about how many Byredo candles you have on your vanity or how often you get a facial. Yes, I'm all for sensory niceties but a lot of self care happens internally and goes so much further below the surface of your skin. The following are a couple of ways to practice (I am a firm believer that self care is an ongoing activity that actually takes practice) a little bit of self care.
  • Make time to eat a delicious, healthy meal. Notice that I said delicious - if you don't love kale, don't force yourself to eat it. There are plenty of other yummy things that are good for you. Try to sit down (or stand up) away from distractions and really notice your food and enjoy it. 
  • Find exercises you look forward to doing. I personally don't feel inspired at the gym. I much prefer yoga, spin and certain types of HIIT workouts. I always feel so much better physically, mentally and emotionally after I sweat and stretch out my muscles. Those post-workout endorphins are real, ya'll.
  • Accept your body and age. Notice I didn't say "love". Hey, if you're already at that level, congratulations and more power to you! But for me and I think many people out there, we're constantly hung up over not being able to fit into jeans we haven't worn since high school or comparing ourselves to our younger colleagues. Our time in the world is short and it's silly to waste it stressing out about something inevitable that doesn't necessarily have to be bad! 
  • Give yourself a pat on the back and don't sweat the small stuff. A lot of us beat ourselves up over so many little things. I had some crushing bouts of anxiety during my school years. Looking back, most of that stuff didn't even matter. I know that because I can't even remember half of the things that kept me awake at night back then. From first hand experience I know how hard it is to "stop worrying" because you end up worrying about how much you worry. 
Maybe instead of focusing so much of our energy into "bettering" ourselves, we should spend a little more time being kind to ourselves. Just some food for thought that I'm still grappling with. On a lighter, less existential note, let's get onto the product review!

I'll tell you right off the bat that I love The Honey Mud - it's right up there with Blue Cocoon in terms of my favorites from May Lindstrom. The Honey Mud is described as a gentle cleanser or a nourishing enzyme mask but I only use this is as a mask because I like to savor the experience for once or twice a week. The reason I chose to couple this review with my self care babbling is because this is the most comforting and indulgent mask I've probably ever used.

Everything about this mask is delectably pleasant. The texture, first and foremost, is incredible. May Lindstrom describes it as pudding-like but I think it's more like melted marshmallow. It's thick yet easily spreadable and smooth. It's the perfect consistency that stays on your skin without dribbling everywhere and it emulsifies when you rinse with water so it's not difficult to wash off. I wish more masks had this consistency. The scent is very warm and yummy - it reminds me of spiced hot cocoa with a tinge of something earthy. The black glass jar packaging is simple but gets the job done and it has a nice weight to it.

Let's take a glance at the ingredients:

*** Raw Honey with Bee Pollen and Propolis, Kaolin (White Halloysite) Clay, * Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, * Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Colloidal Silver, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Oleoresin, * Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang) Oil, * Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Co2 Total Essential Oil, * Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Oil, **Boswellia Serrate Gum (Frankincense) Oil, ** Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Oil.

* Certified organic ** Wild harvested *** Collected from unsprayed & unfertilized local California wildflowers

Notice how there's no water in the formula? Love that this mask is super concentrated and you're getting the real deal. The only ingredient that is a bit controversial is colloidal silver - apparently it's toxic in large amounts when ingested and there's no conclusive evidence that it has any benefits.

My favorite way to use The Honey Mud is slathering it on all over my face during a bath. Then I just lay back and inhale the beautiful aroma. The mask doesn't dry down and doesn't sting or anything of the sort. It feels nourishing without being greasy or heavy. After washing this off my skin doesn't feel dry or too clean either. I will say there's no miraculous difference in my skin after using this but I don't mind. I love this mostly for it's soothing properties and it just makes me feel calm.

Another way I use this is by mixing a bit of May Lindstrom's The Problem Solver into the mask in the palm of my hand. The Problem Solver is a powder mask meant to mixed with water or some kind of liquid. The problem I have with it is that it's really strong for my skin and it burns. To balance it out and make it more tolerable for my skin I mix a bit of the powder with The Honey Mud and I'm golden.

The Honey Mud is one of my favorite face masks of late which is kind of crazy seeing that I don't get incredible results after using it and it's expensive at $90 for 100ml. My love for this mask comes down to the wonderful experience of using this and the general feeling I get while having this on my face. If you love a moisturizing, soothing face mask and don't mind paying a pretty penny for one, I highly recommend The Honey Mud. I know I'll have this on my repurchase list once I run out.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Samples I Loved So Much I Bought The Full-Size

First off, I suppose I should start this post off by saying happy new year! It feels strange to be in a new year - 2017 felt incredibly drawn out yet it seemed to get away from me in a blink of an eye. Funny how time works, I suppose.

While most bloggers are doing yearly favorites roundups, I don't really have the mental capacity to go through all my receipts and see what I bought in 2017. A lot of times I'll rediscover something I used to love and forgot about or finally use something new I had been hoarding for months. My beauty cycles don't really go by year so it doesn't make sense for me to do a post like that.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to show you a handful of products that I like a lot. You can tell I was really impressed by these products because I purchased them after falling smitten with the sample versions. I'm a real believer in sampling - maybe it was because I worked at Birchbox for a time and really believed in that portion of their business model. I'm always curious about new launches - samples and minis are my gateway to try something without having to dole out the dough for the full size product. I would say 90% of the time I won't purchase something after trying the sample or travel size and I try a lot of things.

The first product I want to talk about you'll already have seen coming if you read my most recent post on the third edition of the Cult Beauty X Caroline Hirons box, the May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm Concentrate. Back in November I placed a rather spendy order with May Lindstrom and received two deluxe samples of their famed Blue Cocoon balm in my package. I've been interested in the brand for years but always held back due to the price. This balm alone costs $180 so I was both skeptical that it could really be that amazing to warrant the price and also a little worried I'd fall in love and be tempted to drop nearly $200 on essentially a moisturizer. Well, what can I say? I can see why people love Blue Cocoon. It's a solid balm in the pot but melts luxuriously when you rub a bit between your fingers. It sinks into the skin nicely and doesn't leave a greasy residue like some oils. Though shea butter and cacao seed butter are the second and third ingredients, I don't find this heavy or acne-inducing for my skin. While it has a strong herbal scent, it's not irritating for me and seems to be true to its irritation-calming claims. I think this is a lovely winter skin treatment and I use it several times a week, mostly at night before bed. I'm still using my sample jar because a little goes a long way and I think the full size tub will likely last me into 2019.

Another popular "green" skincare brand that I've had my eye on is Tata Harper. I picked up a mini of her Resurfacing Mask as a Sephora 100 point perk and really enjoyed it as a gentle exfoliant. This relies on two types of BHAs and fruit enzymes to gently turn over skin cells. Unlike many chemical exfoliants I've used, this one doesn't burn at all. In fact, I hardly feel it working but once I rinse it off, I definitely see and feel a difference in my skin. I like that I can use this multiple times a week without irritating my skin.

I actually mentioned the Fresh Rose Face Mask last January because I received the sample as the 2016 Sephora birthday gift. I didn't purchase the full size until the recent October VIB sale because it was part of a set of three Fresh masks which was a pretty good value. While I think it's overpriced for what it is, I really enjoy the texture of this mask. It's a lovely spreadable jelly mask that has a lovely rose scent. My skin is always calm and toned after 20 minutes with this on. This is the kind of wash-off mask I love for evenings when you're over-exfoliated and parched and no other mask will do.

For over a year I've been using a tube of plain old Lansinoh lanolin from the Mom & Baby section of Target as my night time lip balm - it's seriously the best affordable lip balm out there. But I decided to give the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask a shot anyway because so many people enjoy it. I bought a set of three mini Bite lip care products which included this "mask", the tube lip balm and the lip scrub. Of the three products, I liked the lip mask the best. It's not really a mask - it's just jazzed up, flavored lanolin. It's also several times the price of plain lanolin. BUT I liked it enough to buy a full-size tube for a few reasons. First off - it works. It doesn't work better than lanolin at keeping my lips moisturized but it's pretty much the same. It also tastes infinitely better. Lanolin doesn't taste bad but perhaps it's the agave that makes the Bite version sweet and yummy. I also like the small, portable metal tube that makes this easy to slip into your makeup bag. It's silly but I feel very self conscious when traveling with a tube of Lansinoh because it literally says "soothes, heals & protects sore nipples" right on the packaging. I'll probably repurchase the plain lanolin just because it's so economical and keep it at home. But the Bite Beauty lip mask will have a place in my makeup bag for now.

Besides dabbing on some undereye concealer, I haven't really used concealer much in the last year or so. That's why I was incredibly surprised to find that I really liked the sample of Nars Soft Matte Concealer that I tried. A little goes a very long way with this - it gives the perfect amount of coverage to conceal acne scars and spots but blends seamlessly into my skin. Seriously, this looks so natural on the skin. It also feels very lightweight and doesn't cake up on my skin. I used the small sample pod more than half a dozen times and barely put a dent into it. Nars might have turned me back into a spot concealer believer with this product.

Here's to hoping 2018 introduces me to more awesome samples that will convert to full size loves! What was the last sample you tried and loved enough to buy?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Budget Breakdown: The Cult Beauty Box by Caroline Hirons Volume 3

I'm going to be totally upfront with you all now that I haven't used a majority of the things in the latest Cult Beauty Box curated by Caroline Hirons. Nonetheless, I wanted to get this post up stat because this box is still available here and it is one heck of a steal. I'm not being sponsored in any way and I purchased this all with my own money but I really do think it's a great selection of skincare brands for a great price.

I came across this box on a whim and purchased it with barely any hesitation because I've been using a sample of May Lindstrom's Blue Cocoon and really, really enjoy it. Sidenote, I'm planning to do a post soon on products I've purchased the full size of after loving a sample of it (now you know one of the products that will be mentioned in that post).

I've heard many British bloggers and YouTubers talk about Cult Beauty but I had never ordered from them before. I always get nervous ordering things from overseas because I'm not sure of how the shipping will turn out. I was very pleasantly surprised by how fast my order flew from the U.K. to New York. I placed my order on a Saturday and received my package by Wednesday - it actually would have arrived sooner but I had to change my delivery address since DHL required a signature and so it came a day later. The best part? Shipping was free! Super impressed by Cult Beauty's turn around time.

While I say this box is a really great value, that doesn't mean it's exactly cheap. It retails for £220 (~$293) but the amazing thing for those not living in the EU is that the tax gets removed automatically at checkout. I only paid £183.33 (~$245). Once you look at how much each of the six products retails for, the price is very reasonable. Note that all the products are full size. Let's break down the prices, shall we?

Omorovicza's Moor Cream Cleanser (150ml) - $80
Oskia’s Renaissance Mask (50ml) - $73
DCL’s Multi-Action Penta Peel (50 pads) - $65
NIOD’s Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate (15ml) - $68
Leahlani’s Champagne Serum (30ml) - $32
May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm Concentrate (50ml) - $180

Guys, that's a total of $498! That's a discount of 50% on luxury skincare brands that hardly ever go on sale. It's important to note that these aren't discounted because they're old stock or SKUs that can't sell. These are top skincare brands and, in many cases, star products for the brand. I've seen past Caroline Hirons for Cult Beauty boxes and I've always been impressed with them (but hadn't taken the plunge in the past). I think Caroline did a fantastic job of culling together products for various purposes and I'm so excited to test these out.

Since I haven't tested out most of these goodies, I'll report back in a couple of weeks once I've had a feel for the products. I'm so, so thrilled to have the full size May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon - expect my thoughts on that one sooner in my sample-to-full-size post coming soon!

Have you ever ordered any of the Cult Beauty by Caroline Hirons boxes? Have you tried any of the items in this particular box? Are you tempted to nab a box to try for yourself?