Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Get The Sunkissed Glow With This Sephora Favorites Set

I always pick up a few of the Sephora Favorites sets every year because it's a great way to try out products without committing to the full size. As someone who rarely finishes products, travel-sized beauty bits are perfect. This year there haven't been that many Sephora Favorites sets that I've been coveting with the exception of the Sunkissed Glow set. I have more bronzers and highlighters than I have fingers and toes but there's something about shimmery, glowy champagne skin and warm, sculpted cheekbones that I can't resist.

For $40 you get the following products:

  • 0.08 oz/ 2.4 g BECCA Sunlit Bronzer in Capri Coast (worth ~$12.84)
  • 0.1 oz/ 3 g Benefit Cosmetics Hoola in Natural Bronze (worth ~$10.87)
  • 0.17 oz/ 5 mL Ciaté London Dewy Stix Luminous Highlighting Balm (full size; worth $26)
  • 0.05 oz/ 1.4 g Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick in Champagne Flash (worth ~$9.64)
  • 0.06 oz/ 1.8 mL Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01 (worth ~$10.36)
  • 0.23 /oz/ 6.8 mL MILK MAKEUP Highlighter in Lit (worth ~$5.82)
  • 0.11 fl oz/ 3 mL tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer in Park Ave Princess (worth $10)

All in all, you're getting about $85 worth of product in the set if you calculate the prices based on the full size retail price. That's a good deal to me, especially if you don't often finish makeup products like me. It's interesting to note that even though the Milk product is the full sized one, the Milk highlighter actually contains more product.

Aside from Hoola, all the other products are new to me. In particular, I wanted to try the Hourglass highlighting stick and the Laura Mercier matte radiance powder which seems to be a blogger and YouTuber favorite. I haven't tried a majority of these products on my face yet but I wanted to post some swatches in case you were interested in picking this set up for yourself.

They weren't kidding about the glow aspect of this kit - Benefit's Hoola is the only product with a matte finish. The Hourglass highlighting stick has the strongest shimmer effect and it's so insanely gorgeous. I haven't worn it on my face yet but I could just look at it on the back of my hand all day. The Milk Makeup and Ciate highlighters have a more wet texture and neither seem to fully set on the skin. I tried the Milk one on my face over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the natural yet noticeable glow it gave my skin. The verdict is out on the Ciate Dewy Stix.... Perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised once I use it on my face but it looks more like a solid stick of gloss than anything else. I can say I was pleasantly surprised by how pigmented the Laura Mercier powder highlight is. The powder is creamy and dense so it swatches nicely with fingers.

The Tarte and Becca bronzers are ones I would probably use exclusively in the summer. They have a good amount of shimmer when swatched with your finger but on your cheeks the effect is more subtle. I buffed the Tarte one onto my skin the other day and I thought it looked quite natural. I can't wait to take these with me on my summer travels this year. Benefit Hoola is a nice staple matte bronzer that I don't mind having an extra back up of.

Here is another look at the highlighters in natural lighting. You can see how fine the shimmers are in the Hourglass highlighting stick. It definitely gives the most in-your-face shine out of the four highlighters in this set. It's also very gold-toned whereas the Milk one leans a little bronzey and the Laura Mercier powder is clearly cool toned. It's nice having a set of minis to play around with undertones that you might not necessarily know if you like on your skin tone.

The bronzers look quite orange in my swatches but I think my arm is just really pale right now. On my face I didn't find the Tarte bronzer to be too oompa-loopa-esque. It would have been nice for them to throw in a more neutral bronzer but I suppose Sephora is assuming we'll be getting a few shades darker come the summer months so the warm tones will look more natural then.

If you're heavy handed with your bronzers and highlighters, this set might not be the best just because the samples are pretty tiny. But if you're just looking for a few travel-sized bits to try for the next few months, I think this is a nice set. Even if I subtract the cost of the Ciate stick which I'm not exactly sure I'll find useful, the value of this set is still more than what I paid.

Do you have your eye on any of the Sephora Favorites kits? What are your favorite products to help you achieve a sunkissed glow? 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

I Spent $85 On A Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad - Was It Worth It?

For years I lusted after the Tom Ford eyeshadow quads but the price was exorbitant - how good could a $85 quad be? After much deliberation, my curiosity got the best of me and I purchased Nude Dip during the Sephora 20% off sale at the end of last year. So I guess the title of this post is a little misleading.

I took photos of the quad in pristine condition when I first got it but I deleted a lot of files from my computer recently in an effort to declutter and I must have accidentally wiped those. So here you see the current state of my quad which I keep on my vanity front and center. I figure that I should try to use it a lot since I spent so much money on it.... So what's the verdict?

Right off the bat I'll tell you that for the regular makeup-wearer this quad is worth $85. By that I mean that you can find beautiful eyeshadows that cost much less. I haven't bought new eyeshadow in quite some time but judging from swatches I've seen online, you're able to get top notch shadows from brands like Colourpop for only a few bucks. By no means am I saying the Colourpop shadows are better (I haven't tried them), but if you just want great eyeshadows and don't need luxurious packaging, you should probably pass on the Tom Ford ones.

By no means am I saying the Tom Ford shadows aren't good. In fact, they're very good if you like super shimmery, finely milled eyeshadows. The shadows in Nude Dip have a gelee texture so when you swatch the shades with your finger, it glides onto your fingertips. I find that applying these with a very soft squirrel hair shadow brush really helps the nuances of the shimmer stand out. I personally get the most use out of the three darker shades. Usually I'll apply the second peachy shade all over my lid and then the darkest shadow close to my lash line. The darkest color isn't as shimmery as the other shades but I wish they had made it a full on matte with a more creamy texture. My biggest gripe with this palette is that the there isn't a good crease definition shade. I usually have to reach for another palette to grab some matte shadows.

Call me crazy but even though I'm not head over heels in love with Nude Dip, I'm tempted to add some of the other Tom Ford quads to my collection. Some of their other quads that do not made with the gelee formula have more variances in finish. Cocoa Mirage has always been on my wishlist and looks like the perfect quad of cream and browns that will complement anything.

All in all, based on this one quad that I have from the brand, I'd say they're definitely a luxe nice-to-have but by no means the absolute best shadows to have ever graced my eyelids. Do you have any Tom Ford eyeshadows? Are they a must-have in your book?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Three Simple Steps To Soothe Flaky, Irritated Skin

Ever since I came back from a weekend trip to Boston a few weeks ago, my skin has been insanely dry. My face was so dry that there were small cracks throughout the outer layer of my skin which allowed dirt and germs to seep in and cause breakouts. On top of all the red acne bumps on my face, the dryness made my skin itchy and uncomfortable.

To help my skin recover and reset, I decided to stop using the acids and other products that were potentially irritating my skin. I stuck to this super simple routine for a week and it helped my skin tremendously.

Cleanse - I've been using the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Foaming Facial Wash consistently and I really like it for morning and night. It's a popular Japanese drugstore cleanser and I can see why people like it so much. The foam is the perfect consistency - neither too dense nor too airy. It's unscented and not stripping at all so it's perfect for when your skin is already feeling tight and irritated.

Tone - There are a lot of fancy glycolic toners or "beauty water"-type toners on the market right now but my favorite one at the moment is a simple alcohol-free toner that simply calms the skin. It's the Kiehl's Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner. After cleansing, I douse a good amount of this onto a cotton pad and swipe it all over my skin in the morning and night. I like the faint smell which reminds me of chrysanthemum tea (calendula and chrysanthemum are apparently in the same plant family) and my skin feels balanced afterward.

Moisturize - I've gone back to La Roche Posay moisturizers which always seem to do the trick when my skin is being finnicky. In the morning I'll use my favorite La Roche Posay Toleriane Moisturizer. I've talked about this numerous times on the blog and I've gone through several tubes of this. It's a lightweight moisturizer that sinks it really quickly and provides just the right amount of hydration without feeling greasy or heavy. At night I've been using the La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 which is very thick, almost to the point where it feels like a hand cream. I warm up a generous nickel size drop between my hands and then press it onto my face. It leaves a scary white cast at first because it's a heavy moisturizer and takes time to sink in. But after 10 minutes the white cast dissipates and by morning, my skin is super hydrated and happy.

I'm still using my usual makeup removers and sunscreen but I've simplified the general three steps (cleanse, tone and moisturize) by a lot. It's proven to be super effective and my skin is almost completely healed. Now I'm wondering why I have a cabinet and drawer full of various skincare products when this super simple routine works just fine.... I'm also wondering why I didn't stock up on the cleanser and moisturizers when I was abroad because the mark up is so much higher for these products in the States. Making a mental note to pick up backups of these on my future trips.

How do you adjust your skincare routine when your skin is acting up? How many steps is your usual skincare routine? Does anyone else not have a set routine like me and reach for whatever they feel like it that day?