Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Suncare Hits and Misses Feat. Shiseido & SunBum

I am that friend who is always reminding everyone to pack sunscreen for beach trips and long outdoor weekends. Sunburns not only suck in the few days after when you're as red as a lobster and shedding skin but they increase your risk for skin cancer as well. Unfortunately there seem to be more icky sunscreens than pleasant ones so I have a personal vendetta to find the best lotions, sprays, oils and whatever other forms sun protection comes in.

Shiseido has been a long time brand favorite when it comes to suncare. Their Ultimate Sun Protection Cream in the dark blue packaging was probably the first sunscreen I enjoyed using years ago and helped me incorporate sunscreen into my morning skincare routine. Right now I'm using the Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40 ($33) for my face and I'm really enjoying it. It's easy to spread on the skin and it doesn't leave a major white cast. It does have a bit of glow to it, more so than the aforementioned Ultimate Sun Protection Cream, but it still wears well under makeup. The scent is lightly fragranced and I generally like the scent of Shiseido suncare products, although your preferences might be different. For me this product is definitely a hit!

Admittedly I'm not always great about wearing sunscreen when I'm in a rush in the morning but still want to wear a bit of makeup. That's what led me to purchase the Shiseido Sports BB SPF 50+ ($38). This BB cream is billed to be long wearing and transfer resistant while giving a touch of coverage. I like this tinted sunscreen because I can apply it with my fingers for a streak-free finish and it really does last throughout the day. I usually go makeup-free when I'm working out or outdoors for a long period of time but on days where I want to go a bit more glam, this is perfect. I have the shade medium which is just right for my summer skin tone but unfortunately this only comes in three shades so not everyone will find a match. The downside to this product is that there is a noticeable white cast in flash photography and under fluorescent light this makes me look very gray and just plain odd. Despite these downsides, the reason I purchased this was to mainly wear it outdoors and in natural lighting so for me, this is another hit.

The last Shiseido sunscreen I have in my possession right now is the Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+  for Sensitive Skin and Children ($42). This was gifted to me by PR awhile back when it first launched and I was really excited to try it. I had issues with some of the Shiseido sunscreen lotions in the past because they contained a lot of alcohol in the formula to make the consistency very fluid and lightweight. Thankfully this formulation does not contain alcohol or fragrance so it does not irritate my skin at all. I also found that it protects very well due to the Wetforce technology which is supposed to increase the sunscreen's efficacy when exposed to water or perspiration. Unfortunately this is also where my issue with this product lies. This is so hard to get off your skin! In addition to having a major white cast even in natural lighting, this sunscreen stays put even after an hour in salty beach water followed by a shower. When I wear this sunscreen I can be assured my skin is being protected but it's very visible and just not a flattering look.

Being a long time Shiseido sunscreen user, I'm a bit of a suncare snob. But I'm happy to report that I've found a good and affordable line that I enjoy. If you're not interested in shelling out over $30 for a sunscreen, check out Sun Bum. I bought their Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 30 and SPF 50 ($10 for 3 oz. travel tube) for my Tulum vacation back in April and both were great. I can't really tell a difference between the two honestly so I would suggest getting either. The lotion is lightweight and easy to smooth over my skin. The scent reminds me of a sweet banana bread pudding or something of the sort and I don't find it too cloying. I like this sun lotion because it's really easy to reapply. While it doesn't have the staying power of the Shiseido lotion, I can reapply the Sun Bum ones several times a day without feeling like I have a thick layer of product on me - and there's no awful white cast either. This affordable sunscreen gets a thumbs up from me! I want to try their spray-on formula at some point as well.

I also brought a tube of the Sun Bum Cool Down After Sun Lotion ($8 for 3 oz. travel tube) with me to Tulum as my body lotion. It has a slightly lighter consistency than the sunscreen and it appears to have some kind of very subtle shimmer in the formula, though I don't see mica or any shimmer additive in the ingredients list. The same banana scent is present in this lotion. My boyfriend got a pretty nasty sunburn on our first full day in Tulum and he felt that this lotion helped him feel a little less sore so I guess you can take his word for it. I hope you don't find yourself in that predicament. I personally don't see this after sun as a must have but it's a good summer body lotion so if you like the scent, give it a shot.

I'm heading to Miami for Fourth of July weekend so I'll be using up what's left of the Shiseido lotion and Sun Bum tubes. I  also just bought a travel size of the Supergoop Super Power Sunscreen Mousse to bring with me which I'm pretty pumped about. I've never used a mousse sunscreen before and the reviews for this one are really positive. I'll report back on whether or not I like it and if it's better than traditional lotions and sprays. What are your favorite sunscreens for face and body? Are you forever looking for the latest and greatest in suncare or do you stick to tried and true favorites?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lip Mini Swatches: YSL, Chanel, Bobbi Brown, Bite Beauty & More

I was originally planning to title this post "why I no longer purchase lip products" but then I decided not to because it seemed a little click-baity. Over the last year or so I've probably given away or thrown out about a third of my lip products but what I have left is still way more than necessary. I very rarely wear lipstick nowadays, preferring long lasting and natural looking lip stains or tinted balms instead. That's why I haven't done a lip swatch or review post in ages....

I haven't been very tempted to purchase new lippies is because I've accumulated so many minis from recent gift with purchases. One way I do this is by saving up my Sephora Beauty Insider points for the best 100 point perks. The Hourglass Lip Stylo, Bobbi Brown lipstick, Too Faced gloss, Urban Decay lipstick and Bite lipsticks were all point perks from the past few months. The YSL lipstick and Kat Von D liquid lipstick were acquired with Sephora offer codes and the other samples are from other gift with purchases. For someone like me who never uses up full size lip products, this is a great way of seeing which formulas and colors I like (or don't like) without breaking the bank.

Around the time I started wearing makeup, baby pink nude lips were all the rage but now I can't seem to go any lighter than maybe two shades of my natural lip color. I'm currently loving a sheer semi-glossy finish for my lipsticks. The Hourglass Girl Lip Stylo in Peacemaker is a really wearable and comfortable lip color. I tend to associate lip products packaged like chubby lipbalms with the Clinique Chubby Sticks (which I don't like at all) but the Hourglass one is more nourishing and pigmented. The YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick range is amazing and I love the shade Le Nu. It's the perfect neutral pink shade that makes my lips look defined yet natural. Bobbi Brown's Sandwash Pink lipstick has less shine than the first two and is a lot more pink and cool toned. It's not my personal favorite but I can see it being a popular pick. The Kat Von D Everlasting liquid lipsticks are one of my favorite matte liquid lipsticks but I'm over the dry matte lip look. I also find it much harder to pull off neutral liquid lipstick colors so Lolita II is a difficult one for me. I had high hopes for the Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Peach Oil lip gloss in Pure Peach. The color is really girly and fun and the lip oil marketing factor was intriguing. Unfortunately this lipgloss gives me that horrid white outline where my lips touch which I hate. I also don't like the very strong artificial candy scent. It's a pretty color but this lipgloss isn't worthy of a full size purchase.

I don't wear bright lip colors as much anymore but my heart still beats a little faster when I find an amazing red lipstick. Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick in Arthur is a gorgeous semi-sheer orange red. This is a gorgeous summer lipstick shade and would look fabulous on tanned skin. Bite Beauty knew what they were doing when they reformulated their lipstick range. Their Amuse Bouche lipstick in Gazpacho is one of the most intense, creamy blue-based reds I have. It is divine! It applies like a dream and feels incredible on the lips as well. Bite Beauty's Amuse Bouche lipstick in Beetroot is just as beautiful in terms of formulation and it's a great fall red lipstick because it has a hint of plum. Bobbi Brown's Art Stick liquid lip in English Rose is a really sophisticated and demure shade. Even though it looks shiny in the swatch, you can pat it into the lips for a more natural finish. I really like putting just a little of this on the inner part of the lips and feathering the color outwards with my fingers for a subtle tint. Last but not last is Urban Decay's Vice lipstick in Venom, a bold berry magenta. The formula is nice for one of the most affordable mid-end lipsticks on the market at only $17 but this particular shade is hard for me to wear on a regular basis.

Even though these minis are maybe a third of their regular sized counterparts, I know it'll be ages before I use one up. I love having different options and hope to get into wearing some brighter and bolder lip colors again soon. Do you have to remind yourself to wear lipstick and reapply throughout the day or do you naturally gravitate towards lip colors? Any tips for getting more use out of your lippie stash would be very appreciated!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Synthetic Brush Haul: Sephora X Hakuhodo, MAC and Sigma

When I'm looking at makeup brushes, one of the things I pay very close attention to is the type of hair that is used for the bristles. While I'm all about beautiful natural hair brushes made of goat and squirrel for most of my eyeshadow and cheek powder brushes, I have several (ok, maybe more like a dozen) synthetic brushes that I use regularly. I almost always turn to synthetic brushes to apply liquid foundation, concealer and eyeliner because I usually wash the product off after every single use. While I can go a week or maybe two before washing a blush brush, I can't apply gel eyeliner with a brush that already has caked on liner.

For the last few years I've been caught up buying natural haired brushes and building up my luxury brush collection. But I recently realized I needed to update some of my well-loved synthetic brushes that have seen better days. A couple of well-timed deals ultimately led to these purchases.

Sephora and Hakuhodo's brush collaboration is still on sale so I took the opportunity to acquire two more. I already had the Otsubu Large Teardrop Pointed Powder Brush, which made it to a favorites roundup, and the Kusabi Wedge Sloping Powder Brush which I purchased at the end of 2015 and still use often. This time I picked up the Ougi Fan Cheek Brush and the Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush. Both are currently sold out but the Otsubu and Kusabi are available. I like small cheek brushes so the size of the Ougi was very appealing. The shape is a little odd for blush but time will tell if I get the hang of using it. Both brushes are very soft and well made; I honestly expect no less since they are handmade by Chikuhodo.

Do you guys remember when MAC dominated the brush rolls of every blogger and YouTuber? Those days seem to be long gone as there are so many more brush companies now. The 217 still holds a special place in my heart though mine is looking a little worn after many years of frequent use. I picked up the Mac 159 Brush to use with cream cheek products. It's a duo fiber brush that is pinched so that you have wide flat sides which I like for patting on product. I have a similarly shaped Coastal Scents brush that I still adore and I wanted to have a nice backup for when I haven't had time to wash that brush. I also added the Mac 170 Brush to my cart because my Real Techniques and Zoeva foundation brushes are stained and they just don't perform as well as when I first got them. The Mac 170 generally has pretty good reviews so I think it will do the job fine (if it's a total flop, I'll be sure to update you guys).

Does anyone still use their Sigma brushes? Sigma was one of the first beauty companies I remember that used digital influencers to catapult their brand. Seems that hype didn't last though. I have an eyeliner brush from them that I got as a freebie at IMATS a few years ago which I really like so I decided to get a few more from their sale section. I always need clean eyeliner brushes so I picked up several of the E65 and E05. The E05 is so good for gel eyeliner. If you struggle with gel liner, try this brush! I also picked up their Concealer Blend Kabuki Brush because the tapered shape looked pretty unique. This brush wasn't particular cheap at $23 and it's not as soft as I hoped it would be. So I'm a little disappointed already. I haven't used it yet so don't want to totally dismiss it. I'm thinking it might also make a good cream contour buffing brush.

That's it for my rambly brush haul. I've yet to test out these guys (besides the Sigma E05) but can't wait to use them. Let me know if you've tried any of these and how you like them in the comments!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dior DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion: The $82 Cushion

After hearing major raves about the Dior DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion, I wanted to see what all the hype was about for myself. This was no lighthearted purchase because this is is most definitely a luxury-priced cushion. The compact with a refill (two 15 ml cartridges and the casing) is $82. Yes, you read that right! Each individual refill is $42 - you can easily get two cushion refills from other brands at that price point. Given the high price, I obviously had very high expectations for this cushion. 

Dior brands the DreamSkin cushion as "tinted skincare" and claims it will improve the appearance of redness, shine, and pores. While I can't vouch for the skin health benefits this might provide, it does have SPF 50 to give your face a little extra protection. I personally view all tinted face products as more makeup than skincare (because eventually you're going to have to remove it and properly cleanse). 

Packaging-wise, it's a standard cushion compact with plastic casing. The product is made in Korea so I wouldn't be surprised if it was made in the same places as many other brands. The refills for these do not fit into the Laneige compacts (since I get that question quite a lot). This cushion has the same scent as the Dior DreamSkin skincare products, a light floral scent. It's not overpowering and not detectable on my skin after application. As far as I can tell, the applicator puff is the standard kind of puff that comes with every cushion.  

This imparts very light coverage but you can definitely see that it evens out my skin tone and makes my face much brighter and awake. Problem areas like my chin look significantly better and my dark under eyes are diminished. The cushion does not completely erase my redness and you can still see some scars and spots but I don't mind that. I use the shade 020, the second lightest of four total shades and while it's a little on the pink side, it's sheer enough that I don't think the match is too bad.

The DreamSkin Cushion feels weightless on the skin and has surprisingly good lasting power. It doesn't transfer to other surfaces and even after 12 hours it looks pretty good on my combination skin.

My preferred way of applying this is with the included puff because it's so quick. The product blends in seamlessly with just a few pats. For day to day wear, I like to set this with a translucent powder for a natural look. If I want more coverage, this looks really good under a light dusting of the Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Compact Foundation. I've read that other people apply another liquid foundation over this cushion but I haven't felt the need to do that.

I really like this cushion for it's "my skin but better" effect but, alas, the cost is tough to swallow. I don't think this cushion is particularly unique that I need to spend $42 on each refill. I've used this cushion perhaps a dozen times and I already feel like it's starting to run out (but once I flip the sponge, I'm sure I'll be able to get many more applications). If you have the extra cash, are interested in makeup with skincare benefits, and like the no-makeup makeup look, this is worth a look. If you prefer at least medium coverage and don't have $82+ to spend on a product that will last you perhaps two months with daily use, there are other cushions for you.

Have you tried the Dior DreamSkin Cushion? Dior also released a Forever Perfect Cushion in Asia and Europe which has much more coverage and that I'm quite interested in. I have a few international travels planned for later this year so I'll try to scope out that cushion to test out!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

High-End Makeup Declutter: Nars, YSL, Bite, Shiseido

It's been awhile since I poked around my makeup stash looking for unloved products to give away. Since I regularly started doing these declutters and documenting them, it's gotten a lot easier for me to pick out things I never reach for. It took me too long to realize that there's no point in hoarding makeup that doesn't work for me.

A lot of the things from this pile were PR gifts or free samples. Most of these aren't bad products but they just didn't work out for me. Mostly, it's a color issue. Let's go through some of my thought processes.

How often do I wear bright fuchsia lipstick? Pretty much never. How often do I wear glittery purple eyeliner? Almost never. Would I be sad to part with these products? Nope. If I lost this blush would I even notice or care? Not really. Do I have a lot of other stuff that I actually want to use? You bet.

The Nars blush in Oasis is something I bought myself and I've only used it a handful of times. It used to be hard to think about giving away a $30 blush but the shimmers in Oasis and the color just don't flatter me. I know someone else could get a lot more enjoyment out of this blush and I'd rather they have it than let it go to waste just so it can sit with my other Nars compacts. I used to like Nars Albatross a lot and I remember there was a point in time when it was quite popular. I had an E.L.F dupe that I used all the time and funnily enough I used it a lot more than the Nars one. I guess I wanted to "save" the Nars highlighter for special occasions. Now I realize how stupid that way of thinking is. The yellow hues in Albatross aren't to my taste anymore and I have so many more lovely highlighters to choose from now.

As someone who barely wears lipsticks, I think I'll be getting rid of a lot of them in the coming months. Honestly, I could probably give away more than half of what I currently have and not miss them. But let's not get too carried away.

In my next round up, I should go through my eyeshadow stash and pick out what I never reach for anymore. I have a ton of drugstore eyeshadows that I used to collect back in my college days that I've barely touched. I'm not looking forward to confronting that part of my stash but I know I'll feel a lot better after finding those products some new homes (although some probably just need to be chucked into the bin).

Are you decluttering your stash? Do you have an all-in-one-go approach or are you taking it month by month like me? Any tips to share for a recovering makeup hoarder?