Saturday, November 28, 2015

When Less is More: Rethinking Fashion Consumption

Over the last few months I've been slowly weeding out makeup but also clothing and accessories that I no longer want. In doing so, I saw how much money I wasted on things I wore only a handful of times. For 2015 I had told myself that I would limit myself to only 10 clothing and accessory purchases and I was sticking to it relatively well for a couple of months but by now I've lost count of what I've bought. I definitely purged more than I purchased though and I think that's a start.

Yesterday was Black Friday, the most consumer-driven, materialistic day of the year. I looked for sale codes and pinned the things I wanted well in advance. But somewhere in the span of the last week I became inundated with offers and promotions telling me to BUY BUY BUY. Seeing all these brands vying for my attention and money made me anxious.

In the end, I only purchased one thing I've been wanting for a very long time that I will use for years to come: the Larsson & Jennings Liten Chain Metal Watch in Silver. This purchase was inspired by Erica Choi, aka Egg Canvas, whose Instagram I adore. The brand rarely has sales so I was stoked to see they were having 15% off yesterday and after looking around on Instagram, I realized they just recently opened a store in Soho. I popped into the small boutique, chatted with the friendly sales staff at Larsson & Jennings and purchased my new everyday essential.

Going forward, I'm not giving myself numerical limits on purchases or even instituting strict budgets. I'm already good at saving and I never follow the outlines I set out for myself so there's no point in that. My guidelines will be simple and they will be not only be temporary fixes but lifelong beliefs. Focus on fewer, better things to lead a more happy and meaningful life. Yes, it's pretty much what Cuyana's mission statement is. But I'm okay with that.

For some reason turning away from fashion sales are a lot easier than ignoring beauty offers for me. I'm going to be honest and let you know I made an Ulta order on Thanksgiving evening which I'm slightly ashamed about. But I'm still excited about what I got! As I declutter my closet and my life in general, I think I'll eventually get my beauty buying habits under control.

How are you approaching the holiday sales? Are you thinking of any spending resolutions for the year ahead?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tarte Gift or Get Set: First Impressions and Swatches

First off, happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! I have so much to be thankful for and I hope you all are having a great day. I debated writing this post today as I hope everyone is spending lots of time with family and friends instead of combing through blogs. But I have some time on my hands and Tarte is having a 25% off promotion through tomorrow so I thought this might be helpful.

A few weeks ago Tarte had a Gift or Get Set promotion: six full size items, a cosmetics bag and a mini lip creme and foil packet sample for $59 + tax. What drew me in was that you could choose from a variety of shades in each category as well as the brush. I've had my eye on the Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation and the accompanying Airbuki brush which are normally $36 and $28 respectively. So I thought it was a good deal that i was essentially getting both of them in addition to four full sized products.

I wasn't impressed by Tarte's holiday blush palette so I was curious about how I'd like their full sized blushes that are manufactured in the U.S. instead of China. I chose the shade Peaceful which is a very shimmery coral. On Tarte's website Peaceful is described as a soft nude peach and the stock picture has no shimmer but the one I received has tons of golden shimmer. These retail for $28 which I think is a lot for a midrange brand like Tarte. Just my two cents.... The blush is pigmented and if I tap off my brush I can minimize the amount of shimmer on my cheeks. It's not the most blendable blush and this shade is definitely not a "soft nude". I'm still not entirely sold on these blushes so I won't be getting more of these in the future.

I chose the shade Fair-Light Neutral for the powder foundation and it matches me well. I've been trying to minimize my everyday makeup routine and this gives me enough coverage to minimize redness and discoloration in one step. I wouldn't bill this as a full coverage foundation and it can highlight dry patches. You definitely want t moisturize well beforehand and I still prefer to use concealer under my eyes and on blemishes. I really like the unique mesh packaging because it prevents powder from flying everywhere and it works perfectly with the Airbuki brush.

The Airbuki brush works great with the packaging of the Amazonian Clay Foundation but it's not worth $28. It's a reasonably soft and very dense synthetic brush but not anywhere close in softness to natural fibered Japanese brushes. The Airbuki works well for buffing loose powder in small circular motions but the short bristles and density make it hard to blend out large areas quickly.

For the full sized LipSurgence Lip Tint I chose the shade Grateful, a natural nude that I can wear with anything. I like the Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tints but not the glittery nor matte ones. The complimentary mini is a LipSurgence Lip Creme in Stunning which is also a nude but with much more pigmentation as you'll see in the swatches.

I was excited to see that one of the mascara options was the Lights, Camera Splash Waterproof Mascara as I only use waterproof formulas. Unfortunately I tried this once and found it wasn't good at holding a curl and didn't provide much volume or length. I've already passed this on to my cousin and am making a mental note to just stick to my beloved L'oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara. Lastly there was a choice of a few SmolderEyes eyeliners. I chose the Golden Black shade because I thought the pencil was the size of a regular eyeliner but it's actually more like a chubby eyeshadow crayon. I'm going to try using it to do a smudgy smokey eye but if it doesn't work out I'll be passing this on. I will give credit to Tarte for including a sharpener with the pencil which is always helpful.

Here are the swatches of all the products. From left to right is the foundation, blush, lip tint, lip creme and eyeliner. The foundation pulls a bit pink but once on my face and blended out, it matches well. The blush swatch is obviously a heavy swatch but it's still rather bright on my skintone. The two lip products look similar from the tube but once swatched you can see the tint is a sheer nude whereas the lip creme looks like a pink lipstick. The eyeliner is loaded with glitter but could be fun for nights out (not like I have many of those).

All in all, I like the foundation enough to not be disappointed in this purchase but I'm still not blown away by Tarte. There's a lot of hype around the brand on social media and I admit their palettes are very tempting. But given the price point, I think I'll be holding off on adding anymore Tarte to my collection for the time being. What do you think about Tarte? Do you have any favorites from the brand?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Only Purchase From Sephora's VIB Sale

This was my first year making the Sephora VIB cut so I was looking forward to the 20% sale, making my list and checking it twice. I went back and forth several times thinking about what I wanted, what I needed and caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress. When the thought of spending money on beauty products causes you stress, it's probably a sign you need a new hobby. That's what I told myself and in the end I just chose one luxurious brush to use my 20% discount on: the Surratt Artistique Sculpting Brush.

Surratt brushes aren't highly talked about but they're hand made in Japan like the popular Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Wayne Goss and Suqqu brushes. The Artistique Sculpting Brush is made of natural hairs which I presume are blue squirrel as it is oh-so-soft. This is the least expensive face brush in the Surratt line, priced at $90. Yes, it is remarkably expensive but if you're looking for an incredibly silky, soft brush and are willing to take care of your tools, this is a brush you should consider.

The brush handle is lightweight and the overall length of the brush is on the short side. It's about the same height as my Chikuhodo brushes. I prefer brushes of this size as they're easy to hold and are good for traveling (although I rarely take my pricey brushes on trips with me). The black handle fades into a shimmery purple and teal shade which is rather unique.

Compared to other angled face brushes in my collection, the Surratt brush is the smallest. It's also definitely the most soft and high quality without a doubt. The middle brush is by Zoeva and the one on the right is one from Walmart. While the other two brushes are a bit fluffy and fan out, the Surratt brush holds together better so you can get more precise powder placement.

I plan on using this brush mostly with bronzers and contour powders but perhaps blush as well. It's a bit too large to use for highlight but I can see this working with something like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders since they're not straight-up sparkle. So far I'm beyond pleased by this brush and I'm so happy that Sephora stocks the Surratt line. I've felt all the brushes at Barneys and can confirm they all feel wonderful. I already have plans to purchase several more of the brushes but am biding my time....

Monday, November 16, 2015

September and October 2015 Empties

Did you think I forgot about my September and October empties? Comprehensive reviews of each product are really tedious to write but I still like to document what I've used up. If anything these posts serve as a personal reminder of what I've tried, liked and disliked. If you spot something interesting, leave a comment and I'll try to be as helpful as I can in answering any questions. 

Out of that pile of products, these are the ones that left a very good impression on me. Most of these are items I've used the full sized of or have repurchased. The Alba Botanica Hawaiian Body Scrub is an awesome budget buy. The Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate makes my skin look incredibly glowy and smooth when I use it once or twice a week. The small sample lasts me ages. The Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate improves my skin texture and has a very pleasant formula. Shiseido's White Lucent Serum is the best brightening skincare product I've ever used to fade dark spots. The Number 4 Volumizing Condition smells awesome and smooths my hair without weighing it down. Recommended to me by Monika, INM Out the Door is my top coat of choice

These are all makeup empties or things that have gotten so old I'm worried to put them on my face. Most of the products fall into the latter category.... I have a couple of high-end mascara samples that I used once or twice before I realized I simply don't need high-end mascara. I just need a waterproof mascara to hold a curl. If it's not waterproof, there's no point in using it. I had a few high-end mascaras in my backup stash and I just gave them to Monika because there's no point in me trying them out. 

As for things I did use up, I finished the sample of Benefit's Porefessional and really liked it. It didn't clog my pores like I had thought it would and my pores really did seem to disappear. I also pretty much used up the Laneige BB Cushion which is a firm favorite in my base makeup stash. I have a refill of that which I'm using at the moment. I wore the Ruffian Nail Polish in Naked about four manicures in a row because I loved the color. It's a smaller than average bottle which meant it dried up a lot faster unfortunately. I used more than half of the bottle though. As for all the lip products, they're mostly all ones I enjoyed using. But they're just quite old and the texture of some had changed so much that I didn't feel safe applying the product onto my lips. 

One more empties post to look forward to before the end of the year! I always like seeing all my empties posts from the past 12 months at the end of the year. It's almost as satisfying as looking through my haul posts if not more so!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dior Addict Lip Maximizer and Lip Glow: My Lips But 10 Times Better

I was pretty excited that Sephora recently had samples of the Dior Addict Lip Maximizer and Dior Addict Lip Glow at checkout because I had always wanted to try these out. The little foil pods contain enough product for about four or five applications each which is pretty nice. The Dior Addict Lip Glow is essentially a $33 tinted lip balm and the Dior Addict Lip Maximizer is a $33 clear lipgloss. If you bought both you'd be spending over $70 including tax which is kind of mind boggling.

The Dior Addict Lip Glow is an interesting product because it transforms from a very pale pink to a brighter pink once it touches your skin. I believe it reacts to the warmth of your skin to create a very pleasant pink shade. The balmy texture feels moisturizing and comfortable and I like that there is SPF 10 in the formula. I really loved layering nude lipstick over this because the pink color and shine could still shine through. The balm has a distinct minty scent which surprised me since the Dior Addict lipsticks don't have a scent. I can definitely imagine this being a handbag staple because it is so easy to use and nice on the lips.

The Dior Addict Lip Maximizer is a plumping lipgloss with a minty tingle which I personally love. I don't find it to be sticky but you won't forget you're wearing it due to the tingling sensation. Unlike the Lip Glow, this has no color at all. If you look closely you can see some iridescent specks but on the lips you won't notice any shimmer. I don't think my lips need to be any fuller than they already are but the gloss does fill out my lip lines slightly and makes everything look even and plump. The gloss is super shiny and very comfortable to wear. My lips feel very moisturized when I wear this gloss so I'd even go so far as to call it a lip balm in lipgloss form.

I really enjoyed trying the Dior Addict Lip Glow and Dior Addict Lip Maximizer and am actually quite sad that they're so pricey. They're definitely on my wishlist as I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of both of these lippies. I can see why these are cult favorite products that have been around for quite some time. Have you tried either of these products? Should I bite the bullet and buy them?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Haircare, Skincare and Makeup Declutter

Despite what Marie Kondo says, I'm not someone who wants to let go of all my unwanted belongings in one go. I'm getting into the habit of decluttering in waves and while that is probably not a very effective way to downsize, it's working for me so far. I mentioned in my last post that I'm most successful in parting with things late at night. I'll open all my drawers and pluck unloved items from their place and toss them into a shopping bag for my cousins to rummage through.

I'm not going through each product because I'm too lazy to type out all these words that nobody has time to read. I'm getting rid of a slew of hair products I never really use because I'm generally very low maintenance with my hair. All of those hair products were gift with purchase samples, gratis or something that was sent to me.

The amount of skincare clutter on my vanity is alarming and I had quite a few things I never reached for. It was time to pass on some unloved eye creams before they went bad.

I'm getting rid of a lot of makeup that isn't bad but it's stuff I never reach for because I simply have so much. I've raved about some of these things before like the NYX Stick Blushes and the Stila Palettes in Merry & Bright and Sensational in Sydney but I have so many similar products that it's not worth keeping these. My younger cousins who have less makeup can appreciate these things more than me.

I'll probably do another declutter before the end of the year. Let me know if you think these posts are interesting!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Introduction to Burberry Beauty

Since its launch, I've had my heart set out on Burberry's beauty line. All the reviews were superb and every detail from the packaging to the shades was carefully thought out. I was ecstatic when Sephora began carrying Burberry beauty earlier this year. Sephora and Burberry put together a wonderful set of miniatures from their permanent line which I was fortunate enough to nab before it went out of stock. Hopefully they'll bring it back at some point because it's a great way to try out a few brand favorites for $32.

The reason I felt compelled to purchase this set was because of the mini Burberry Light Glow Natural Blush in Earthy. I've wanted this blush for ages because it's apparently a wonderful contour shade for fair skin. I can attest to the fact that is in fact a beautiful shade in the hollows of the cheeks. It has a hint of pink to it so I blend this onto the apples of my cheeks ever so slightly and I can skip a more blushier blush altogether. The blush is packaged the way Burberry eyeshadows are, magnetic closure and all, and you get 2.5 grams. This is a shade you can definitely use in the crease for blending which I'm very happy about. I love multi-use makeup products!

You get a mini Burberry Kisses Hydrating Lip Colour in Military Red as well. I love the embossed details on the bullet but unfortunately the packaging is not magnetic like the full sized lipsticks. More on the formula and wear later on in the post....

Here I've swatched Burberry's Earthy along with some bronzers and eyeshadows in my collection. As you can see, nothing comes quite close to Earthy. It's a rather unique shade because it's not really a bronzer but not a blush nor your typical brown eyeshadow. The powder is very soft and almost creamy to the touch.

Now let's get back to the lipstick! Burberry has two lipstick formulas and the Kisses formula is the sheer and hydrating one. As you can see, with one swipe Military Red is rather sheer and looks more like a tinted balm. But it builds up nicely and you can get good color payoff along with the comfortability of a moisturizing lipstick. The shade is a classic red that isn't anything special but it's lovely nonetheless.

I wore this lipstick for an entire day and was pleased with the wear time and comfortability. I had to reapply after every meal but my lips didn't feel dry or irritated at all. The lipstick isn't creamy to the point where it slides around so I didn't have to worry much about getting smudges all over my face.

The Burberry Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in Nude Radiance is one of the best multitasking liquid highlighters I've had the pleasure of trying. A tiny drop is all you need to have dewy cheekbones. Other liquid highlights tend to accentuate dry skin or look overly glittery. Not this one. This fluid is very easy to blend with the fingertips and is simply foolproof. I didn't think I would like this as much as I do!

The last thing in the Beauty Box is a mini kabuki brush which, to be totally honest, is simply okay. It's usable but definitely not a high quality brush by any means. It's a bit scratchy on the face but it'll get the job done if you're on the go. I calculated the value of all of the products based on the amount you get and the retail value of the full sizes and the mini blush, lipstick and highlight come out to pretty much $32. So you're essentially getting the brush as a free add-on. Considering the fact that I rarely ever finish makeup, I'm happy to pay $32 for minis rather than $123 for the full sized blush, lipstick and highlight.

I was pleased with my first dabble into Burberry beauty and I'm carefully considering my wishlist for this upcoming Sephora VIB sale....

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Take On: To Quit or Not to Quit Blogging

Hey guys, it's been awhile. I haven't posted in two weeks which is one of the longest hiatuses I've taken from blogging. I could tell you that I was busy with "real" life because that's a major part of my absence. I changed jobs three weeks ago and have been spending more of my time doing non-blog related things. But that's not the sole reason why I haven't been blogging.

For the last few months or so I've been in a blogging funk. I had trouble finding inspiration for content and I was relying on a formulaic process. Blogging became more of an obligation rather than a passion. It felt like work more than a hobby. I hesitated to write this post because I don't have an image to post with it.... But I figured this kind of thinking is part of the problem. Instead of forcing myself to crank out posts I wasn't totally happy with, I decided to take a short break and reevaluate why I blog and what about beauty blogging brings me joy.

I've said it before but I'll say it again. The most rewarding thing has been the friendships I have made in the beauty blogging community. I've met up with several New York City based bloggers and formed lasting friendships with them. I chat with others who are farther away on Twitter. Some of my blogging friends know me better than people I've known longer in real life. If I stop blogging, will it be more difficult to communicate with other bloggers?

Many bloggers have taken long breaks from blogging or have stopped altogether. I understand their reasons and I've definitely thought about when I should throw in the towel. That being said, I don't plan on quitting my blog right now. It's brought me more joy than negativity and I still have a lot of opinions I want to share. I plan on scaling back my posts as to not feel burdened with having to post a certain number of times a week.

Bloggers, have you ever contemplated quitting? How do you find inspiration to continue blogging? In relation to your "real" life, how much time and thought does your blog occupy?