Friday, November 29, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: Spa Sensations

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday if you participated in the shopping frenzy. I chose to stay at home to digest my massive Thanksgiving meal and opted to add items to an online cart from the comforts of my bed. Thank you internet shopping! Thanksgiving has come and gone and that means Christmas shopping has officially begun. Here's the next installment of my 2013 gift guide!

Luxurious spa gifts are perfect for reminding loved ones and special people in your life that they deserve a pamper session every once in awhile. I for one love relaxing in the comforts of my own home, taking a nice long bath or steamy shower and slathering on beautiful body butters before treating my skin to a moisturizing mask. Here are some ideas that are sure to please those who crave a spa experience!

Lush Jolly Hollydays ($49.95) - Lush had a multitude of brilliantly wrapped gifts for the holidays every year and Jolly Hollydays is definitely my favorite gift out of the lot this year. This set is perfect for someone who's never experienced Lush or a seasoned Lushie because it has a wide variety of top sellers and scents. I am head over heels in love with Rose Jam Shower Gel and Buffy is a great body scrub.

My Beauty Diary Yellow All In One Pack (15pcs+ 1 eye mask) ($19.50) - I'm all for a sheet mask before bed two to three times a week and the My Beauty Diary sets are a great way to try several "flavors". This set contains the Bird's Nest Mask which is one of my favorite sheet masks of all time. At less than $2 per mask, this is a very affordable yet luxe gift.

Rituals Yogi Flow Foaming Shower Gel Sensation ($15) - This is a product I thought I wouldn't be able to get outside of Europe as Rituals doesn't have any freestanding stores in the U.S. I was browsing Barneys' website and stumbled upon Rituals and did a little happy dance! I featured the Yogi Flow Shower Gel in my May Favorites and have been saving my full sized bottle. This is such a unique product that transforms from a gel to a foamy wash and smells amazing. This is another awesome add-on to any gift!

Laura Mercier 'Crème Brûlée' Bath & Body Luxe Set ($80) - I've never tried the Laura Mercier bath and body care products because they're quite pricey but I've smelled the entire line and loved every single scent. This set contains everything you need to transform your bathroom into a spa, including a candle! Really, how can you say no to this amazing set of bath formula, body scrub and body cream?

Clarins 7 Wonders Skincare Set ($49.50) - This Clarins offering is chock full of goodies from the popular lip conditioner to a body lotion to an eye makeup remover. While I haven't tried all of the products from this set, I certainly wouldn't mind receiving this as a gift! It's a nice way to sample various Clarins favorites and take care of every bit of your body from your face to your hands.

The Body Shop Honeymania Body Butter ($20) - As you could probably tell from my previous post of all my The Body Shop loot, I'm really in love with the products I bought this time around. The Honeymania Body Butter smells great and moisturizes really well. If you want to construct your own mixed bag of spa goodies, definitely include a tub of this!

Are you a fan of spa themed gifts for the holidays? Did you purchase anything for Black Friday or are you waiting for Cyber Monday? I'd love to read all about your shopping adventures thus far in the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Body Shop Haul: Great Gift Ideas!

The Body Shop was doing a Buy Three Get Three Free offer and I couldn't resist ordering a few products I've been longing to try for awhile. I spent a few hours adding and removing things from my cart (while making first world problem complaints to my boyfriend) and finally settled on three bodycare and three skincare items. Woohoo, no makeup made it into the cart! Let's take a peak at what I purchased and my initial impressions of the products I've tried once or twice. In-depth reviews will definitely follow in the weeks to come once I've tested each item a bit more but I wanted to get this post up in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!


Honeymania Body Butter ($20) - The new Honeymania line smells sweet and amazing but not really like other honey scents I've smelled in other beauty ranges. Nonetheless I really love this one and I don't think you can go wrong with the Body Shop's body butters. I've had the Lemon Body Butter before and really enjoyed that so I have high hopes for this one. The Honeymania Body Butter has a very thick consistency so I'm hoping it will nourish my parched skin throughout winter.

Honeymania Bubble Bath Melt ($14) - I have yet to try this product but I've been really into baths lately (20 years a shower girl and now I've finally realized how nice a bath is once a week or so!) and the scent of this is heavenly. The bath melt really looks like honey and for the price, you get a generous amount. I can't wait to try this out!

Brazil Nut Beautifying Oil ($14) - It was between another body butter or a body oil and I went for the oil mostly because it was a bit cheaper. The Brazil Nut line is geared toward very dry skin which is what I have on my body. Surprisingly, this oil is very light so I'm not covered in grease after moisturizing. I probably should have gone for the body butter if I wanted a more intense hydrated feeling but the body oil is also multipurpose and can be used on the face and hair. While I won't be using this on my face, I've applied it to my hair after a shower and it didn't weight it down at all. This is a great product to travel with and the scent is gorgeous!


Moisture White Shiso Cleansing Oil ($15) - I swear by cleansing oils to remove my makeup so I was excited to learn from a reader that the Body Shop actually carries two cleansing oils. I opted for the Shiso Cleansing Oil which is supposedly developed for Asian skin. While I doubt that it's actually more beneficial for Asian skin than any other skin ethnicity, I've used this once and it got the job done. I'm happy with this cleansing oil and think it's a nice option in the Western market.

Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter ($15) - In the winter my skin can get quite dry so I thought I'd look into trying a cleansing balm as a more moisturizing makeup remover. The cleansing butter seemed to have positive reviews so I took a chance and added it to my cart. Like the cleansing oil, I've only used this once but really liked the outcome as well. It works similarly to the cleansing oil after I warm up the balm in my hands a bit and I like that it emulsifies upon contact with water without the need for a muslin cloth to remove the excess.

Warming Mineral Mask ($17) - This purchase was a rather impromptu addition to my basket but I figured I could use another cleansing mask in my skincare routine as I only have one at the moment.... Yes, I have skincare hoarding issues. This mask contains kaolin to draw out impurities and is unique in that it heats up after you apply it to the skin. I've used this once so far and the heating sensation was soothing yet mildly alarming. I definitely need to use this product a few more times before I can say much more about it but so far, it's decent!

So far, I'm loving every product that I chose and am so tempted by the ongoing deals that The Body Shop has been churning out. Are you going to get any gifts from The Body Shop for friends and family? Any gifts for yourself? Let me know what your favorite The Body Shop products are!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: Color Theory

Beautysets - Gift Guide 2013: Color Theory

Any of these gifts will be perfect for someone who loves makeup and beautiful colors. Bright pops of color will certainly dazzle while some of these gifts already come color coordinated to have you party ready in a pinch.

Nars Guy Bourdin One Night Stand Cheek Palette ($65) - Nars blushes are one of my all time favorite formulations and I'm lemming so hard for the Guy Bourdin One Night Stand Cheek Palette. The palette includes cult favorites such as Orgasm, Laguna and Deep Throat so it's perfect for those who don't have any of these shades. If you travel a lot, this handy palette has four different blushes shades, a bronzer and highlight to complement any look.

Stila Masterpiece Series Eye & Cheek Palettes ($39) - How cute is the packaging of this set of three eyeshadow and blush palettes from Stila? You get a handy neutral palette, a plum taupe palette that's perfect for the cooler seasons and a smokey purple palette. I've great luck with Stila palettes in the past (Merry & Bright and Sensational in Sydney) so I have faith that this would make an amazing gift.

Kevyn Aucoin Lips Well Red ($79) - If royal reds aren't perfect for the holidays, I don't know when you'd want to wear them. Although I've yet to try anything from Kevyn Aucoin, I've heard so many raves about the brand that I'm sure at least one of the four rich reds in the set has to be a winner.

Zoya PixieDust Summer 2013 Sampler ($54) - I've reviewed several of the Zoya PixieDust polishes and I usually love every one that I've tested. The sparkly neon colors brighten up my day and the formula is such a breeze to work with. I always reach for these polishes because I'm pressed for time and can't be bothered with a base and top coat!

Jouer Everyday Must Haves Signature Palette ($70) - This beautiful snap-together palette is perfect for someone who wants to play with neutral colors (caramel browns and baby pinks are colors too!). I really enjoy the Jouer lipgloss formula and have heard amazing things about their bronzer. This set takes the thinking out of everyday makeup and is perfect for that multitasking superwoman in your life.

What do you think? Any of these gifts making it into your cart? Share some of the colorful gifts that you've been eyeing this year!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

KIKO Water Eyeshadow in Champagne: Sparkle for the Holidays

KIKO's Water Eyeshadows are some of the most metallic, pigmented eyeshadows I have ever had the pleasure of swatching. The Italian brand is widely available throughout Europe but hasn't made it's way to North America yet which is a shame since they have pretty amazing products. The Water Eyeshadow in 200 Champagne is a gorgeous super pale gold that gleams on the eyelids and will look stunning during the holiday season.  

KIKO's packaging is usually very basic and chic and these eyeshadows come packaged in a square flip top casing. The brand concept reminds me of Mac but comes at a lower price point. The Water Eyeshadows retail for € 8.90 ($12) which is mid-range but a fair price for a unique product.

For the price you also get a lot of product, 3 grams or .11 ounces (that's double the size of a regular Mac eyeshadow). One of the cons to KIKO's products is that they only label the number name on the packaging but on their website they have actual shade names. It's quite difficult to remember numbers as shades, especially if you have several of the same kind of product.

The Water Eyeshadows have an interesting pattern and look almost like a rippling wave in the pan. The shadow protrudes out of the pan so it's wise to be cautious when opening the compact. The texture of the shadow is very smooth and almost creamy like a L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow. As you can see above, the shadow is really vibrant and eye catching. The shadows adhere nicely over primed eyes and last well throughout the day with minimal fading.

I absolutely love the formula of the KIKO Water Eyeshadows and think the metallic finish is perfect for parties and special occasions. Due to the highly metallic, frosty finish, it's not a shadow I reach for very often but I can get away with using it on the inner corners of my eyes. It's definitely a keeper and one I would recommend you check out if you ever happen upon a KIKO store. There are a whopping 32 shades to choose from in the line up from smokey grays to a vibrant periwinkle. You're bound to find a Water Eyeshadow color that suits you. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gift Guide 2013: Bargain Beauty Beginnings

The holidays are around the corner and gift shopping is already underway! I was inspired by Tiffany of WillWorkForMakeup to do a series of gift guides to help you guys find great gifts to impress your loved ones (or even just yourself!). The first part of the series revolves around inexpensive makeup treats for people who are just starting to build their collections. These gifts are great for Secret Santas and great if you have a lot of young girls (or boys) to shop for. I know I would have appreciated any of these items when I was just beginning on my beauty journey!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Go Brow Kit ($16) - Brows are usually neglected by makeup beginners but they really do make a huge difference in the overall look. This inexpensive kit will tame unruly brows and fill in any gaps so that your giftee can complete their makeup look. 

Birchbox Subscription ($30 for 3 Months) - I used to look forward to getting a Birchbox every month and it's a great way add little surprises to your collection. One month you might get a fun teal liquid liner from Stila and another box might include theBalm's Stainiac. You just never know with Birchbox!

NYX Love In Florence Eyeshadow Palette in Met My Romeo ($8) - NYX is a popular affordable brand for a reason; their products are generally great for the price! I swatched their Love in Florence Eyeshadow Palette in Met My Romeo recently and fell head over heels. The beautiful taupe shadows were buttery and soft and the mattes were a dream to work with. This palette contains all the basic shadows necessary for a winter smokey eye!

Ecotools Bamboo Brush Set ($12) - My first makeup brushes consisted of this set from Ecotools and although they've repackaged the kit since then, the brushes are all the same. I still use the blush brush that comes in this set a few times a week and the angled liner brush is a staple. This is one of the best affordable makeup brush sets for beginners.

Too Faced New Year New You ($25) - Too Faced has some of the most darling cosmetics packaging that appeals to everyone's inner princess but their products are quite good too! While I haven't tried their mascaras, I can vouch for their smooth, pigmented blushes and eyeshadows and Glamour Gloss is one of my favorite all time lipgloss formulas!

Stila Portrait of a Perfect Cheek Palette ($16)I'm kind of convinced this little cheek palette has to be mine this holiday season but my blush drawer begs to differ. If the person you're gifting doesn't have many blushes to play with, this incredibly affordable palette has all the perfect shades to start their collection! I love that you can mix and match shades to create a unique, custom color as well. 

With just a few more weeks to shop, I'll be hard at work putting together some more gift guide suggestions! In the works are spa themed gifts, color makeup extravaganzas and stocking stuffer favorites. What are you wishing for this holiday season?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Innisfree It's Real Rice Mask: What's the Deal?

Innisfree has an extensive range of sheet masks under the "It's Real" line and features "natural" key ingredients such as rice and green tea. I received one of the It's Real Rice Masks with my purchase from the Innisfree Hong Kong shop and recently put it to the test. I was pretty excited about this mask as Innisfree is such a popular Korean brand but was disappointed.

The mask itself is made of thin cotton and there is only 20 ml of serum whereas other popular masks from My Beauty Diary and My Scheming contain at least 23 ml. The thin nature of the mask means that less serum is absorbed and the mask dries quite quickly on the skin. The serum is a light white-ish gel and not a clear serum. The mask fits pretty well on my face but felt a bit small which might pose a problem for people with bigger faces or just more pronounced features. An interesting bit about the cut of the mask is that there are eye flaps instead of just holes where your eyes are which means you can cover your eyelids with the mask as well. The scent of the mask is a pleasant scent that is quite powdery and light. 

The It's Real Rice Mask is supposed to offer brightening but I honestly did not notice any improvements in my skin. My skin did not feel particularly hydrated or repaired either. Overall the mask was quite ineffectual and not worth a purchase. I am especially underwhelmed because I have had good results from the other masks I hauled recently and would repurchase some of those. Skip the Innisfree It's Real Rice Mask and probably the rest of the line too. Something about the "It's Real" concept makes me wary that there's nothing really authentic about it. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How I: Remove Makeup

Removing makeup and cleansing the skin thoroughly is probably the most important step in one's skincare routine. Without removing all the pore clogging makeup and impurities, how will any of your serums or moisturizers effectively absorb into the skin? When I come home after a long day at work or school, usually the first thing I do is dash to the bathroom to cleanse my skin and let it breathe. Here are some great products I've been turning to lately:

Up&Up Eye Makeup Remover - This Target brand eye makeup remover works like Neutrogena's dual phase eye makeup remover or Lancome's Bifacil for a fraction of the price. I always go back to this and have went through numerous bottles. I always prefer to remove my eye makeup before my face makeup because I almost always wear waterproof mascara that doesn't come off easily with other makeup removers.

Suzuran Attirer Puff - I failed to include these cotton puffs in the photo above but you can see the packaging and design of them in the video below. I bought a pack of these Japanese cotton pads and absolutely love them. They're only $3 on and are super soft and high quality. Japanese cotton pads are way better than American drugstore cotton!

Biore Cleansing Oil - This is an Asia exclusive cleansing oil which I picked up in Singapore for about $10. I fully reviewed this cleansing oil recently and proclaimed it one of my favorite cleansing oils to date. When I'm wearing foundation, BB cream or any kind of heavier face makeup, I always reach for a cleansing oil to remove it.

Bioderma Crealine H20 - When I'm wearing just concealer and powder and lighter face makeup, I'll reach for a cleansing water. A few squirts of cleansing water on two Suzuran cotton pads and all my makeup is removed. I have to say I really like Bioderma like just about every other person on the planet. This stuff is golden! It's just incredibly difficult to get my mitts on this in the states for a reasonable price. I paid about $10 for this huge 500 ml bottle in Paris and refuse to pay more than $15 per bottle now. I have another huge bottle back stocked but I'll have to stock up again next time I'm in France... not like that's happening anytime soon....

Avene Micellar Lotion - A good alternative to Bioderma is Avene's cleansing water that is more readily found in the states but is a bit pricier. I really enjoy this cleansing water and use it when I travel due to the convenient little bottle I bought it in.

Shiseido Perfect Whip - After I remove my makeup with the cleansing oil or cleansing water, I go in with my normal foaming cleanser to really cleanse my pores. Right now I usually grab the Shiseido Perfect Whip cleanser which is from the same line as the Perfect Oil Cleansing Oil that I loved. Perfect Whip foams up really well and a little goes a long way. My skin feels very clean and fresh afterwards but not dry.

What's your makeup removal routine? What are your favorite products to get your skin clean and ready for the other steps of your skincare routine?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Silk Whitia Whitening Essence Mask: Luxury in a Mask

Silk Whitia is a popular sheet mask brand that I first heard about from Fuzkittie, a super popular beauty blogger and vlogger who left the community a few years ago. Fuz was a skincare expert; she tried and tested just about everything worth looking into and she highly recommended the Silk Whitia masks. I picked up two packs of Silk Whitia masks while I was in Hong Kong and was so excited to finally try them out. The first mask I have to review is the Whitening Essence Mask, a promising product that I hoped would lighten my acne scars. Did it live up to the hype?

Silk Whitia masks are made in France but I believe the company is Hong Kong based as I've only seen it sold through Sasa. I can't remember how much I paid for the box of five masks but there was some kind of buy one get one offer going on. Silk Whitia masks are more expensive than My Beauty Diary and My Scheming Masks and are going for $18 for a box of five on Sasa's website at the moment. The ingredients are very short and seem to contain many potent ingredients instead of fillers like most other sheet masks. 

The mask material is very thick, soft and luxurious. It's the thickest and softest sheet mask I have ever tried so far. There is a faint scent but not too strong at all. The serum is very thick and feels almost like jelly whereas most other sheet masks I've tried have more watery serums. The Whitening Essence Mask dries pretty quickly and the formula sinks into the skin within 15 minutes. My skin instantly feels firmer and tighter after the serum dries. I do not rinse my face and go to bed with the mask serum on my skin. The next morning when I wash my face, the serum seems to be rehydrated and the jelly feeling comes back. My skin looks smoother and feels bouncy to the touch. The areas of my face that did not have active acne bumps looked more clear and better overall. Pores and lines were less noticeable although this is not a lasting improvement. 

Unfortunately, there was no noticeable different in the look of my acne scars and my skin did not look brighter. The My Beauty Diary Sake Yeast Mask did a much better job of brightening and at a fraction of the cost. Perhaps you have to use the Silk Whitia Whitening Essence Mask daily to get the whitening effect but considering the price, that would not be very economical. I tend to use masks once or twice a week to give my skin a boost rather than to rely on them for primary skincare. The Silk Whitia Whitening Essence Mask was definitely a treat due to the luxurious feel of the mask cotton and the nice firming and hydrating effects but for whitening, it missed the mark. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bourjoise Little Round Pot Blushes: Rose Coup de Foudre & Lilas d'Or

For years I've longed to add a few of the Bourjois Little Round Pot Blushes to my makeup collection as just about every British beauty bloggers has a few of these buggers. Imagine my delight when I found out these were available in Dutch drugstores (no, I'm still not finished reviewing products I bought in Europe). A lot of the shades seemed quite similar, shimmery and flattering pinks and peaches. I settled on 16 Rose Coup de Foudre (Love Struck Rose) and 33 Lilas d'Or (Golden Lilac).

The cute baked blushes are 2.5 grams or .08 ounces which is quite small. They retail for around €10-12 from what I can vaguely remember but Bourjois does go on offer sometimes so I bought both of these blushes for slightly less. Americans don't have easy access to Bourjois but you can find Lilas d'Or and four other shades on for $14. The blushes are all highly fragranced which some may love and some may hate. I personally like the fragrance but find it a bit overpowering. The packaging is a simple round pot as the name suggests with a magnetic closer and a tiny mirror on the inside. The brush that comes with the blush is absolutely useless and went straight to the trash. The plastic casing of each blush matches the shade within which is very handy if you have quite a few of these in your stash.

Rose Coup de Foudre is a pale peachy pink shade with fine, subtle shimmer. The baked blush is highly pigmented and smooth. When swatched on a finger, the blush seems intensely shimmery but once applied, the shimmer is really toned down and you get a lot of color. Be warned, a little goes a long way so it's best to build up the color slowly rather than to get a ton of product on your brush.

Rose Coup de Foudre has a lovely glow to it that looks stunning on the cheeks. The color looks light in the pan but shows up very well on my light to medium skintone. The blush is easy to blend and lasts a full work day. 

Lilas d'Or is a bit darker than Rose Coup de Foudre and has a slight purple, mauve tone. The picture above was taken under very strong sunlight so the golden shimmer in the blush really stands out. The golden shimmers are bigger and more apparent in this blush than in Rose Coup de Foudre. I like to tap off my brush a bit before applying straight to my cheek to avoid major glitter. 

The sheen on Lilas d'Or is less apparent than Rose Coup de Foudre but the golden shimmer still reflect light. The deeper color is also great for fall and gives the cheeks a natural flushed effect. 

I have heard that the Bourjois Little Round Pot Blushes tend to harden and develop an impenetrable crust over time which makes using them all but impossible. I have not experienced this phenomenon yet but then again I haven't used these blushes quite enough times to know for sure. So far, these are great little cheek products and I'm really happy I got my hands on them. The colors are so pretty and a little goes a long way which justifies the slightly high price. Have you tried any Bourjois products? Do you like baked blushes?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tree Hut Olive & Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Hawaiian Kukui

Body scrubs are great for keeping skin smooth because they get rid of dead skin cells and often contain moisturizing ingredients that can then sink in effectively. I ran out of my last body scrub awhile ago and wasn't impressed with it so I wanted to try something new without breaking the bank. I found the Tree Hut Olive & Shea Sugar Body Scrub at Target for about $6-7 so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try it out. Even if I didn't like it, at least it didn't cost me a pretty penny. 

The main ingredient in the scrub is sugar followed by a few chemical components and then kukui seed oil. There are a few other good-for-your-skin ingredients such as safflower seed oil, evening primrose oil, sweet almond oil, and avocado oil. However, I am not sure which percentage of the scrub is filler (glycerin and other chemicals) versus moisturizing oils. The scent of the scrub is pleasant and not too overwhelming for my taste. It comes across as floral with the slightest touch of refreshing citrus that makes me feel like I'm in on an exotic island. The scent and color of the scrub complement the name of it and embodies a tropical feel.

This scrub has a good consistency that allows you to easily scoop out product but it's thick enough to not slip and slide over your body. The sugar particles buff gently and soften my skin by way of removing dead skin cells. I would not say this scrub is moisturizing in that it doesn't leave a greasy residue on the skin during or after use. Personally, I like it when my scrubs have a noticeable oil content which remains on the skin after rinsing because I have ultra dry skin on my body. I would have enjoyed this product a lot more had it been more oily (yes, I am aware I am probably a minority with this opinion). 

For the price, the Tree Hut sugar body scrub is a nice scrub to have in your shower if you're not looking for something very abrasive or moisturizing. The scrub includes quite a few interesting oils which comparably priced drugstore scrubs probably omit but still has a long list of ingredients that hardcore organic and "natural" proponents might not like. Am I happy with my purchase? Yes, I guess I'm satisfied. Will I repurchase this product? Nope, it didn't exceed my expectations and I'm sure there's something better out there for my dry skin!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Zoya PixieDust in Stevie: Pretty Pastel Purple

Zoya's PixiDust in Stevie was one of the colors I was most drawn to when I received the press samples from the brand. I love purples, especially light lavender shades, due to their wear-ability on any skintone. For those of you who might not know, Zoya's PixieDust formulation is a unique nail color that is meant to be applied directly to the nail sans base or top coat. The polish dries down to a sandy texture and is essentially a matte finish with suspended sparkle. To me, the finish looks like crushed precious gem stones and is always stunning!

Stevie was a sheer PixieDust which was kind of disappointing. I had to layer three, sometimes four times to get an opacity that I liked. This makes dry time a lot longer and there's more chance of smudging or messing up the nails. In my experience, the pigmented two-coater PixieDusts always look the best and give off more shine.

Nonetheless, Stevie is a pretty shade and would look nice on a variety of skintones. The shade reminds me of princesses and fairies and would look best in the winter and spring seasons. Of course, that's all personal opinion and you could definitely rock Stevie any way you like. What do you think of Stevie?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

September and October 2013 Empties

Another two months have passed and a fair bit of empties have been accumulating in the corner of my room. Lots of skincare was finished up recently and only a handful of body care and makeup products bit the dust. Let's dive into this mess!

I finally used up the giant bottle of c. Booth's Walnut Shell Body Scrub & Cleanser which was a cheap and halfway decent scrub. It was too light and didn't moisturize at all whereas I prefer a thicker scrub that leaves some oil on my skin (yes, I'm probably the minority in this respect). My boyfriend and some friends who have smelled this product in my shower love the sweet, baked goods scent although it's nothing to write home about for me. The L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil is a really popular product and I can see why. The creamy oil is very luxurious and heats up when it mixes with water and foams. Sadly I didn't like the scent much at all and will not be purchasing a full size. I thoroughly enjoyed the L'Occitane Peony Shower Gel because it's one of my favorite scents from the brand. While I'm more of a bar soap kinda gal, I'd definitely purchase the Peony Body Milk again one day. I'm happy to bid goodbye to the Yves Rocher Hydra Vegetal Gel Cream Moisturizer which wasn't do anything for my skin. I ended up using the last quarter of the jar on my hands before bed.

The Yves Rocher Pomegranate 3 Minutes Mask was quite bleh and I'm not sure why I wasted my money on it. I used it on my body instead as a moisturizer just to get rid of it. I actually have another one in a grape flavor which I need to use up as well.... I always go through the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream because it's one of my favorites and the brand regularly has free offers. The Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream is less moisturizing but has a nice light, scent. I used up a Softlips Lipbalm in Raspberry but the packaging has completely worn off so you can't really tell what it is. Many times my boyfriend thought I had pulled out a cigarette when it was actually just my Softlips.... I'm totally against smoking, just so you know. I also finished a mini Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment from last year's Sephora birthday gift and I really enjoyed it. The high price tag means I won't be repurchasing though. My tube of Essence's All Eyes on Me Waterproof Mascara was getting kind of dry so into the garbage it goes.

I also used up a few base makeup samples and these usually last me ages so I'm counting these in my empties (not sure why I threw out on of the sample containers...)! I used up a sample of the Origins CC Cream which was okay in that it didn't oxidize and evened out my skin alright but it had very poor oil control. The YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation was a really good coverage, dewy foundation which I enjoyed using. But my favorite sample had to be the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation. The Hourglass foundation is holy grail stuff and ticks all the right boxes. It gives medium to high coverage with the smallest drop of product and blends seamlessly into the skin. I wore it to Electric Zoo and through more than 10 hours of dancing and sweating in the summer heat, my foundation still looked freshly applied! So far, this is my favorite foundation that I have ever tried and am really interested in purchasing the full size.

I really enjoyed the Bourjois Express Eye Makeup Remover which I bought in Amsterdam but can no longer buy in the states. The Oscar Blandi Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray is decent but not as great at cleaning my hair as the Klorane Oat Milk Dry Shampoo. The Korres Pomegranate Mask is too heavily scented for my liking but it is quite gentle and seems to soften and tighten my skin ever so slightly. I have liked all the Avene products I've tried so far and the little sample of the Avene Rich Hydrating Cream was no exception. If you seek no-frills skincare for sensitive skin, Avene is a good choice. I really loved the Origins Plantscription Eye Cream because it was ultra hydrating yet easily absorbed into my skin. This is my favorite eye cream that I have tried so far and I would consider buying the full size.

I used up two tiny samples of the Innisfree Soybean Energy Essence, a slightly sticky serum that didn't make a whole lot of difference in my skin. I couldn't wait to finish The Face Shop's White Mud Nose Pack because I wanted to try something new but now I can't wait to repurchase it. The peel off mask is really affordable (around $6-7?) and works so well at removing gunk from pores. I really like the Origins Checks and Balancing Cleanser, especially in the summer, and would repurchase this. The Olay Fresh Effects Shine, Shine Go Away Cleanser came in my Influenster SweetHeart VoxBox and I highly disliked it. The scent is akin to drugstore shampoo and the formula left a weird residue on my skin after rinsing.

Watch the video below to hear more about what I've used up!

Since announcing my spending ban at the end of September, I have not purchased any new makeup items so I pat myself on the back for that. I'm glad I'm getting through a lot of the products in my beauty stash and my bodycare shelf is actually really empty now. But using up makeup is still a huge challenge and try as I might, it's so hard to get a dent into anything! Hopefully I'll have some more used up makeup products to show you before 2013 is over!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Biore Cleansing Oil: New-Found Favorite Makeup Remover

Cleansing oils are my go-to way of removing heavy duty face makeup in a jiffy. In the western hemisphere, cleansing oils have only recently gained traction as many people still think slapping oil on their faces will make them oily or cause break outs (both of which are false). But in Asia, almost every beauty brand has at least one cleansing oil in their line and it's one of the most common ways of cleansing the skin. In my experience I've never met a cleansing oil that didn't cleanse my skin well but I've liked some more than others based on things like texture and scent. The Biore Cleansing Oil is a winner in all three respects!

I purchased this cleansing oil in a Watson's in Singapore and it was on offer for around $10. Although Biore is commonly found in the United States, the western offerings are very different from the Asian product lines. Luckily you can find this particular cleansing oil on for about $11, which is not bad at all for 150 ml of product.

For those who have never used cleansing oil, you simply squirt two pumps of oil into dry hands and massage it directly onto your dry, made up face. Gently rubbing will lift the makeup off your skin. I like thinner cleansing oils because they are easier to spread on the skin and feel less heavy than thicker oils. The Biore version is not particularly thin or thick but a happy medium. After about 30 seconds or a minute of massaging, you can proceed to wet your hands and massage the oil which will emulsify into a milky liquid. On the packaging, Biore claims that the oil does not emulsify when it comes into contact with water but I find that untrue. The oil turns milky like any other cleansing oil however it seems to thicken after water is added, something I have never experienced with other oils. Splashing water on your face and continuing to massage will eventually remove all the makeup and oil, leaving you with clean, never-greasy skin. This sounds a lot more time consuming in writing but, trust me, it's one of the easiest and most relaxing parts of my skincare routine.

The ingredients are clearly listed on the packaging and mineral oil is the main component of the makeup remover. This is common in cleansing oils and there are people who are staunchly against mineral oil whereas others claim the molecules are too big to penetrate the skin anyway. I have never had a problem using mineral oil based cleansing oils but it's something for others to note.

The last thing I want to mention is perhaps my favorite aspect of this cleansing oil: the scent! The fragrance of this cleansing oil is a sweet, candy-like smell that I adore. It reminds me of something in my childhood and just puts me in a good mood. This is tied with the Shiseido Perfect Oil as my favorite cleansing oil at the moment. I've used and finished several bottles of other brands but these two are by far my favorite (mainly because of the scent...). I would happily repurchase this cleansing oil once I run out and highly recommend it. I'll have a post all about how I remove my makeup coming up soon!