Sunday, September 17, 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In a Palette: Natural Beauty & Seductive Beauty

"This would be so good for travel" - probably my most used justification for unnecessary purchases. Combine that with "limited time promotion" and I'm pretty much sold. Such was the case with the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look in a Palettes in Natural Beauty and Seductive Beauty. I was interested in these palettes when they released but I couldn't swallow the $75 price tag for each. Well, at $45 a pop, I couldn't help myself.

With three eyeshadows, two blushes, a bronzer and a highlighter, this slim palette has most of your color makeup needs sorted. The inside of the compact also houses a big mirror which is very convenient for travel. I've gotten to the point where I don't bring many options with me on trips so I thought something like this would be perfect.

Though travel was my main reason for getting these palettes, I'm a bit hesitant to throw these in my carry-on because when these were delivered, the bronzer in Natural Beauty was totally smashed. The powders are pretty soft and though the packaging is sturdy, I can see the powders easily smashing if the palette makes impact with something. Not sure if FedEx was a little too rough with my package or what but I just wanted to put that out there. Thankfully, Charlotte Tilbury has amazing customer service and quickly shipped out a new palette to me, which arrived in one piece.

I'm more drawn to the eyeshadows in the Seductive Beauty palette - all three are very wearable and staple shades that everyone should have in their collection. All the shades are shimmery so you would have to pack a couple of extra matte shadows if you wanted a transition shadow for the crease. The Natural Beauty palette has a nice matte mid-tone brown but I wish there was a darker eyeshadow that I could use to set eyeliner.

The eyeshadow pans are 2 grams (.07 oz) which is larger than the standard eyeshadow pan. But they're the same size as the blushes in the palette which I think is a little odd. Your eyelids are obviously smaller than your cheek area. I would have preferred they made the eyeshadow pans smaller in size and included more colors so you could have every shade from lid to brow bone all in one palette.

I haven't really dug into Seductive Beauty much because I've been kind of obsessed with the cheek shades in Natural Beauty. The shades swatch very light on my arm but the powders are very buildable on the cheeks without looking ashy or powdery. The bronzer is a really nice tone for subtle contouring and you can't overdo the color because it's quite light. Meanwhile, the bronzer in Seductive Beauty is a bit odd because it is pretty dark, red-toned and has noticeably more shimmer in it. The highlighter has more of a pink hue rather than the warmth in the highlight in Natural Beauty. I can see myself getting more use out of the eyeshadows and highlighter in Seductive Beauty in the fall and winter but the dark bronzer kind of clashes with the look I have in mind.

The formula of the powders is nice but, honestly, nothing that you need to run out and buy now. That's kind of how I've felt about all the Charlotte Tilbury products I've tried to date. They're nice and I like having them, but they're very pricey and not much better or different than other products I have already. Are these worth $75? No, I don't think so. You're probably better off building a custom palette with Inglot, MUFE, MAC or Makeup Geek refill pans if you want the ease of having eyeshadows and cheek products all in one palette.

I don't mean to knock Charlotte Tilbury because I respect the brand and like their aesthetic. But almost all of the products I've tried from the brand have been just good, not amazing. And for the price, I'm expecting to have my heart stop a little every time I dip my brush into the product. Okay, I'm obviously exaggerating. But you get what I mean. I have a couple of other Charlotte Tilbury things on my "would love to try" list before I rule out the brand as overhyped. Again, don't want to be grumpy about the brand but I just haven't fallen in love with the products as I expected to.

What are your thoughts on Charlotte Tilbury's Instant Look in a Palettes? Or any of her other beauty products? Curious to hear if you have any favorites or if you've also been a little underwhelmed!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Buzzy Body and Haircare: Ouai, Christophe Robin, Yuni & Bum Bum Cream

Maybe it's because I've been having so many no makeup days in recent weeks but I've been more interested in testing body and haircare lately. As comfortable as I am not wearing makeup in public, I certainly feel more confident and put together when I put in the extra effort to get ready. I could rattle off a multitude of reasons why I don't wear makeup everyday but the biggest reason is time; I'd rather get 30 more minutes of sleep on many mornings....

Anyway, that's not the point of today's post. While I might not always feel pretty when I'm makeup-less, I certainly want to feel fresh and I think that's why I've been more experimental with my hair and bodycare. These are a few things I've been using from some quite trendy brands so I thought it'd be timely to give my two cents.

My scalp tends to be on the oily side and even second day hair tends to gross me out. I probably don't look as oily as I feel but that's the problem - I hate feeling icky! I've used a lot of dry shampoos but have never tried one in a foam formulation. I purchased the Ouai Morning After Kit on a whim, mostly for the hair and body oil, but the Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam might have stolen the show. I was skeptical that a foam would soak up oil and kept my fingers crossed that my hair wouldn't feel dirtier after (I think I closely relate foam anything with whipped cream). Well, I have to hand it to Ouai - they did a great job formulating this. It's so easy to use. I just pump out a bit of the foam, smoosh it between my palms and work it into my roots, combing it through my hair with my fingers. It dissipates very quickly and leaves my hair feeling cleaner in seconds. There is no white residue at all and no greasy or sticky feeling in my hair or on my hands. The one slight negative I have with this product is the perfumed scent. It's not a bad smell but it's very, very strong. If you are sensitive to scents, this might be a problem for you.

If you're into the concept of deep cleansing shampoos, you should give the Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt a try. It's extremely pricey for what is essentially salt and a coconut oil in a tub but it's great at "resetting" my hair. I like to use this after a very sweaty workout. As with the Oaui dry shampoo, this has a very strong smell. I'm not good at describing scents but this one reminds me of men's cologne. Not my favorite but it doesn't linger in my hair so I can deal. A little goes a long way - I use about the size of a small strawberry for one wash - so even this small tub will last at least a dozen washes. I bought this travel size tub ($19 for 2.7 oz) from SpaceNK because I had a $10 voucher but I'm not sure if I would buy the 8.3 oz full size one for $53. Certainly a nice-to-have but probably not a must-have.

Now onto bodycare! I had been eyeing the Yuni Shower Sheets a few months back when the brand debuted on Sephora's website and I was working out 3-4 times a week (I've since gotten lazier and not as committed to my workout schedule). The brand appeared on Gilt City for awhile and I was this close to buying a voucher for something like $40 off a $80 order or something but ended up skipping it. Then a few weeks later I needed to hit the $50 shipping minimum on so I added these to my cart. Guys, I totally regret not jumping on the Gilt voucher when I had the chance. These are really, really handy! I always work out after work, never before, and I don't like to deal with the hassle of showering at the gym or studio so these are perfect for me. These individually wrapped body wipes cleanse, refreshe and "naturally deodorize" without the use of alcohol, formaldehyde, petrolatum, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic colors or fragrances, GMOs, PABA, EDTA, or PEGs. The first ingredient is water which is nothing exciting but the second is saccharomyces ferment filtrate. If you're a K-beauty fan, you probably recognize that ingredient because it's found in cult favorite essences such as Missha's Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. The rest of the ingredients in the Yuni Shower Sheets are a blend of various plant oils and extracts (there are some unpronounceable ingredients toward the bottom of the list). These have a mild, natural-smelling scent that I find really does neutralize any B.O. and I feel clean after - no oily residue or stickiness at all. Of course I still have to shower when I get home, but these make it so much easier for me to see friends or just go to dinner after a sweat session. Oh, and I haven't mentioned the price of these. I actually think they're pretty affordable at $15 for 12 sheets, considering the impressive ingredients list. Love these and will definitely be repurchasing when I run out. I'm still bonking myself on the head for not taking advantage of the Gilt deal and stocking up on these!

Last up is a body cream that I swear Sephora has been shoving down our throats via our inboxes and their home page. It's the Sol Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream and I'm pretty sure it's the name that makes this one so enticing. I picked this up as a 100 point perk just because Sephora is so good at piquing my interest. The marketing behind this product suggests that the star ingredient, GuaranĂ  Seed Extract, "supports natural circulation, boosts energy, and smooths skin" and that it contains five times the caffeine of coffee. Well, you would think this super special seed extract might be the first, second or even third ingredient. Nope, not even 10th. It finally shows up as the 14th ingredient on the list. Everything in front of it is water, synthetic moisturizing agents and fragrance. And oh boy, did they use a lot of fragrance for this. It's a very summery scent - I brought this little tube with me to Miami for July 4th and it fit the atmosphere perfectly. The scent lingers and it also hangs onto clothing so if you shower in the morning, you might like that about this. I feel pretty meh about this cream and definitely won't buy the full size. I wasn't kidding when I said Sephora is pushing hard on this cream. Just when I finished up my 100 point perk, I received another mini in my August Sephora Play Box! My negative review aside, it's not a terrible body cream and I experienced no adverse effects from it. I always appreciate travel sized body creams (hotel lotion samples rarely cut it for me) so this will still come in handy.

Wow, this turned into a rather rambly post for just four pint-sized products! This is what happens when I've stepped away from blogging for too many weeks. Hope these reviews were helpful if you've been thinking about trying any of these products. Let me know if you've used any yourself and what you think. I'm always curious to get some different perspectives!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why Nordstrom's Gift With Purchases Are Some of the Best

I somewhat impulsively purchased the Nars Bord de Plage palette last month and one of the reasons I did was because Nordstrom had a really great gift with purchase if you spent $75 on beauty. While the offer is now long over (it ended before my package even arrived), Nordstrom does these larger gifts every few months so keep an eye out for the next one! GWP Addict and I Can GWP are great reference blogs for current gifts with purchase. 

Nordstrom's gift with purchase offers are great because the buy-in is not too high - these days $75 will not get you much in the high-end beauty market. Barneys and SpaceNK do really great gifts twice a year (spring and fall) but the buy-in is usually $200 or $250. While you do get more samples from higher end brands, you're also spending a lot more money (that you might not need to spend otherwise). Nordstrom has a really wide selection of beauty products including some mid-tier brands like Mac as well as a lot of prestige brands so you'd be hard pressed not to find something worthy of adding to your basket. 

My one complaint about this gift with purchase is the number of fragrances samples included. But then again I'm not much of a fragrance person so take that for what you will. If you like trying new scents, this would be a plus for you.

I really like that this gift bag included a lot of well known brands as well as an assortment of samples that could be used more than once. Above are the samples I'm most excited to try and the ones I personally think are the best value. I haven't tried any Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks before and this mini of So Marilyn is adorable. I've had a mini tube of the GlamGlow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment before and I love it as an overnight mask - I'll be saving this one for my Asia trip in October. I've been intrigued by Odacite's serums but they're seriously pricey. The full size of the Ac+R Serum Concentrate is only 5ml and $55! I think the Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid is quite popular so I'm interested to see how my skin reacts to this. I know Bare Minerals more for their makeup than their skincare but their Vital Power Infusion (weird name for a skincare product) is a pretty decent size. I'm not gonna lie - I know nothing about the Saturday Skin mist other than the fact that this packaging is super cute. 

Overall I'm really happy with what I got in my order. I also was able to choose 3 free foil samples at checkout and opted for Chanel, La Mer and GlamGlow samples. I can't remember the last time Sephora actually sent me the 3 free samples I actually selected. I assume their order volume is just too high and samples go out of stock too quickly but it's still incredibly annoying. Thumbs up to Nordstrom who can deliver on their free samples. I swear I'm not affiliated with Nordstrom (in my dreams) - I just think their beauty department and gift with purchases are on point! 

Are there any gift with purchases that you wait for? Which ones are your favorite?