Tuesday, December 27, 2016

November & December 2016 Empties & Last Declutter of the Year

It wouldn't be the end of the year without one final empties post of 2016. I think this was the year my empties posts became a lot more repetitive because I've repurchased a lot of products that just work for me and I see no reason to try something different. A few of those repeat-purchases include the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets, L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara, Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser and Origins Super Spot Remover.

I also think the IOPE Bio Intensive Essence should get a shout out since I've used up a few bottles of that in the past. I also really liked using the Shiseido Ultimune Eye Concentrate* at night and the Shiseido Bio Performance Glow Revival Eye Treatment* in the day. The Lagom Cellus Mist Toner was a pleasant face mist and I'm glad I bought it during Peach & Lily's sample sale. I really got into using my Beauty Blender more in the last couple of months. My only gripe with it is that I have to wash it immediately after every use, or else I find the stains very hard to remove. I have two more Beauty Blender backups from a haul I did last year but after those are looking a little worse for wear I think I'll look into some of the more affordable dupes.

As for things that was OK but nothing too impressive, the Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil was fine at removing makeup but there was nothing about it that makes me want to repurchase it. The Shiseido Pureness Cleansing Sheets were a free gift and were fine to remove a very light layer of makeup if I was super lazy but I generally don't like reaching for cleansing wipes. I mostly used these sheets to wipe swatches off my arms.

I've been hauling beauty products left and right for the last few weeks so I had to let go of things in my stash that just weren't getting any use. It's not that these things were bad but I didn't reach for them for one reason or another. I stupidly bought the L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation in a shade much too dark for me at 40% off because my actual shade was out of stock (that will be the last time I do that). Most people seem to love the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealers but I didn't see the appeal at all. It was difficult to blend and always looked patchy on my face. I successfully let go of a bunch of lip products that I never reach for as well as some eyeshadows I've been holding onto for no reason.

This will be my last post of the year so I hope all of you have a great New Years and I'll see you in 2017!

*Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration by PR. All thoughts are my 100% honest opinions. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Shiseido Skincare: New Things & Repurchases

I've been fortunate to have received many of Shiseido's launches in years past so I've been able to find a lot of things I love from the brand. I recently stocked up on a few products I was running low on and thought I'd jot down some mini reviews.

I just cracked open my third tube of the Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum because my lashes have never looked better since using this. This lash serum has lengthened my lashes a considerable amount and I just love the way my lashes look when I'm diligent about using this. I'll probably be buying this as long as they keep making it because my lashes just don't look nearly as good if I stop using this for a few days.

Another repurchase is the Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask (what a mouthful!). I bought the 12 pack box which will last me a couple of months. I've used many eye masks but these take the cake for sure. These masks plump up the under eye area and it has a pearly essence that brightens the skin really beautifully. I love using these the night before a special day.

Because I like the Benefiance Eye Masks so much and I'm also a fan of the White Lucent range, I bought a few of the White Lucent Power Brightening Masks to try. I'm happy to report these full-face sheet masks are very nice as well. The cotton is very plush and the mask does seem to help fade acne scars in conjuction with the White Lucent Serum. I would repurchase these for a special occasion if I need my skin to look especially radiant.

I've used probably every sunscreen in Shiseido's line up and they are generally the ones I recommend when people ask me which I like. I picked up a new tube of the Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40. Most of their sunscreens now have Wetforce technology, which is great if you're going to be sweating or swimming but it can be hard to remove at night. The Urban Environment Cream is water resistant but I find it to be more gentle on the skin for daily use.

The last product I want to mention isn't a repurchase but one of Shiseido's newer eye creams, the Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment*.  I use this eye cream in the mornings and I find it to be similar to the Shiseido Bio Performence Glow Revival Eye Treatment which I recently used up. The LiftDynamic Eye Treatment has a slight pearly sheen but it sinks into the skin nicely and preps the under eye area for concealer. I can't attest to the anti-aging benefits of eye creams since I don't have many fine lines or wrinkles yet but I can say these Shiseido eye care products help my concealer go on a lot nicer.

I've used up a bunch of skincare products lately and introduced some new ones so I'm planning on doing an updated skincare routine post soon. What skincare brands do you swear by? Have you tried any of these Shiseido products?

*The Bio Performance LiftDynamic Eye Treatment was provided by PR. All other products were purchased with my own money. This is not a sponsored post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Classic Mac Eyeshadow Additions: Warm Neutrals

Mac was one of the first, and for a long time probably also the most popular, brands that introduced customizable eyeshadow palettes. Every blogger and Youtuber seemed to have their own Mac 15-pan palette and for years I longed to add one to my collection. I purchased one of their quad palettes awhile back and filled it with a couple of shadows but I kind of forgot my urge to add more shades to my collection.

In recent years, many more brands including Makeup Geek, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Make Up For Ever have come out with single eyeshadows and definitely stole a lot of the spotlight from Mac. That's probably why a couple of months ago Mac did a revamp of their custom palette system, dropping the price of eyeshadow refills to $6 and adding a slew of new palette sizes and inserts. On top of that, they've introduced a reward system and frequently do discounts off everything. A couple of weeks ago they had 25% off the entire site so I took the opportunity to purchase a few highly raved about eyeshadows.

I chose four popular, albeit not very unique, shades to add to my Mac eyeshadow collection: All That Glitter, Soft Brown, Woodwinked and Wedge. It should be no surprise that they're all neutral tones because that's simply what I wear all the time. All That Glitters is the perfect peachy all-over-lid shade that is everything I wanted it to be. Wedge is a great crease and outer lid color for my skin tone as well. I've been using both those shades quite a bit. Soft Brown and Woodwinked are definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum so I haven't been wearing them as much.

I find that with Mac eyeshadows, they're just pigmented enough to get a nice look with them but they're not intensely pigmented or creamy like Urban Decay or Anastasia Beverly Hills shadows. I have a special place in my heart for both types of formulas. Mac eyeshadows are great for everyday looks and the shadows are less likely to emphasize eyelid texture. But if you want a more rich color payoff, you usually have to use a tinted eyeshadow base.

While we're on the subject of Mac eyeshadows I thought I'd just pull out my other depotted singles and do a little family photo. The other shades I have are Patina, Carbonized, Tempting and Satin Taupe. Carbonized, a rich shimmery chocolate brown, was a limited edition shade but the others are permanent. Tempting has definitely been my most used because it's a gorgeous one-and-done bronze shadow. Patina is a big disappointment because the pigmentation is quite weak and the color doesn't show up very well on my skin. I keep telling myself I need to make it work somehow but so far that hasn't been successful.

After swatching all the shadows together, they actually look like quite a nice mix of neutral tones. I have some warm tones and cool tones and both light and dark shades to do a whole eye look. I find with my older Mac eyeshadows that they have developed a bit of "hard pan" so I have to dig my brush into the shadow more to get the pigment I want. Satin Taupe and Patina, in particular, do that quite a bit and I bought them both as single refill pans at the same time - perhaps it was not a great batch.

It's really nice to see makeup companies respond to consumer feedback. We're used to brands giving us less product but charging us more so it's cool that Mac is taking steps to win back some fans. Though they don't have the kind of eyeshadows that are as satisfying to swatch, the level of pigment and the classic shade selection they have match my makeup needs well.

Have you built a custom Mac eyeshadow palette? What are your favorite shades from the brand?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach: Before and After

My sleep schedule has been out of whack for a couple of weeks so I thought it'd be a good time to try out the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach. I made a few Sephora orders during the friends and family sale and they had this little duo among the free sample options. Don't you love when brands make well-packaged samples that you can use more than once? 

When the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid launched early this year, everyone seemed to be a fan so you can say my expectations were high. The correctors come in five shades: green, yellow, peach, lavender and pink. Each tube is $28 which I think is pretty expensive for a mid-range brand like Urban Decay. 

Can we take a second to appreciate the packaging of this sample tube? I've been using this sample a couple of days over the last two weeks and I haven't needed to scrape around the tube for product yet. I love the doe foot applicator because it makes applying the concealer exactly where I need it a breeze. I usually only conceal under my eyes and around my nose and let my foundation, BB cream or tinted moisturizer take care of the rest. 

If you really wanted to, I believe you can use the peach corrector under or over your usual concealer to add more of a brightening effect. I don't have time for a two-step concealer routine so I'm glad this isn't too peachy to the point of looking weird under my eyes. You can see from the before and after that just a sheer layer of the corrector brightens my skin just the right amount. 

The corrector has light to medium coverage and the fluid is smooth and ever so slightly creamy. The coverage is less than my HG Laneige BB Cushion Concealer and is less creamy as well. I usually apply a few stripes of this under my eyes using the applicator, blend it all out with a domed concealer buffing brush and then tap everything in place with my ring fingers. The heat from my fingers really helps everything meld together and my fingers can lift off any extra product. 

Wear time is where this concealer falls a little short for me. On days that I do wear makeup during the work week, I have makeup on for over 12 hours so I need my base makeup to last. This product sinks in ever so slightly into the fine lines under my eyes, even after a dusting of powder. By the end of a long day, my under eyes don't look very corrected anymore, though they still look better than before I had put on any product. 

Overall, I like the peach toned Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid but it still doesn't top the Laneige BB Cushion Concealer. If you don't need your makeup to last more than eight hours or you intend to use this to supplement a more long lasting concealer, this is a nice corrector to have on hand. 

Do you swear by color correcting products? I think my makeup routine is long enough as it is so I don't think I have the luxury of adding another step. But I'm curious to hear how you guys incorporate them into your routine!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Gift of Glow: Bobbi Brown Strobing Eye & Cheek Set

This holiday season I wasn't really wowed by any of the flashy, limited edition palettes or special edition releases. My past experience of succumbing to cute cardboard packaging during the Christmas shopping season has resulted in disappointment or neglected products so this year I mostly went after value sets of tried-and-true beauty favorites. One such set is the Bobbi Brown Strobing Eye and Cheek Set.

In this $75 kit you get a full size Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow (.28oz./8g), a mini Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Golden Pink (0.9g), a mini Bronzing Powder in Medium (.09oz./2.55g) and a mini Face Blender Brush. The highlighter retails for $46 and the mini eyeshadow stick and bronzer are a value of $16 and $13 respectively. So you're getting pretty much exactly $75 worth of products plus a free mini brush. The regular Face Blender brush retails for $52 but I've never used it so I can't compare the quality to the mini brush. The brush that comes in this set is made in China and I believe it's made of goat bristles. It's a usable brush (I keep mine in the office for touch-ups) but the bristles can be a little scratchy and you can get superior synthetic brushes from more affordable brands.

I love cream eyeshadow sticks because they're so easy to swipe on in the mornings and the Bobbi Brown ones are indeed long-wearing. The shade Golden Pink is a warm champagne with a lot of shimmer. It's similar to Laura Mercier's Rose Gold Eyeshadow Stick but a hint more peach and more glittery.

The Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow is a lovely warm pink highlight that sparkles in all the right ways. The way the powder is pressed into the pan gives it a 3D effect and makes it all the more appealing. I like that the white and rose gold portions are not fully mixed together so that you can, in theory, dab your brush into the sections separately if you want a lighter or darker highlight. The powder is very smooth and pigmented but not too creamy that it will look too harsh on the skin.

Above is the highlighter, eyeshadow and bronzer swatched from left to right. The bronzer has a noticeable red tinge to it so I probably will save it for the summer when I'm at my tannest color. The formula was suprisingly creamy and very smooth. I think it would make a lovely eyeshadow color and the small size makes it perfect for that purpose.

As someone who hasn't tried many Bobbi Brown products, this was a great set to help me get acquainted with the brand. I went highlighter crazy these past two months and added way too many to my collection. But I can say this Bobbi Brown one fills a void in my highlighter stash because it's got the slightest hint of pink without being too cool. If you know someone who loves a glowy makeup look, this set sure won't disappoint.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Peach & Lily Good Skin Day and Reset Button Sheet Masks

As important as it is to see what beneficial ingredients your skincare products contain, it's just as pertinent to be aware of what doesn't make it into the formula. A host of ingredients can wreck havoc on your skin so it's great when companies explicitly leave out these common irritants. Case in point: the new-ish Peach & Lily sheet masks.

With three variations that address specific skin needs (hydration, soothing and plumping), these masks were specifically concocted to be gentle yet effective. Boasting what Peach & Lily calls "superskin ingredients", you won't find synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, alcohol, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil or formaldehyde in these masks.

I purchased the Good Skin Day mask and the Reset Button mask online from Macy's where you can get free shipping on all beauty products. These retail for $6 a piece ($15 if you buy a set of all three versions) which I think is quite reasonable for the U.S. market. I've seen sheet masks go into the $25 range which is a little crazy considering these are single-use products.

Peach & Lily not only did a great job selecting ingredients for these sheet masks but also sourced some really awesome mask material. The "cellulose sheet material" feels like a soft cotton and is very comfortable. It fits the contours of my face very well though your results may vary depending on your face structure.

I used these masks on consecutive back-to-back nights, starting with the Reset Button mask. I had some inflamed acne spots and healing scars at the time and the Reset Button mask did not irritate my skin at all. The mask had a very light scent which reminded me of tea tree and herbs and it wasn't overwhelming at all (big plus in my book). My skin felt really nice after using this sheet mask, though I wished it could have been a little more moisturizing for that glow factor it promised.

My skin the next day was a tad flaky due to the weather so I popped on the Good Skin Day mask to see how it would fare. This mask had a slightly different scent which I can't put my finger on exactly but I enjoyed it more than The Reset Button. This mask definitely gave my skin the drink of hydration it needed. My skin the next day was noticeably more moisturized and the flakes were gone. No pilling makeup, hurray!

I'm really pleased with these sheet masks and think Peach & Lily did an excellent job. I'm also a fan of the packaging of the masks. My only regret was not scooping up more of these during Peach & Lily's Black Friday sale this past week before they sold out. Here's to hoping these come back in stock soon but in the mean time, you can get them from Macy's like I did!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Value Breakdown: Sephora Favorites Customizable Skin Care Set

Sephora does some really great value kits throughout the year but the customizable Sephora Favorites sets take the cake for me. I love that you can pick and choose according to your personal needs and it's usually a great way to try out pricey products in small sizes before committing to the full size.

Today I wanted to break down the value of the Sephora Favorites Customizable Skin Care and Hair Gift Set, which is still available on the site. For $25, you get to choose five from 13 skin care and hair care options plus a rose gold travel pouch. None of the hair care products jumped out at me so I went with five skin care items.

The products are deluxe sample sizes so you can use most of them more than once, besides the sheet mask options. I wish Sephora would note how big each of the samples are since it is hard to tell from the tiny stock photos - that's why I thought I'd share the breakdown of the samples I chose.

COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint - 25ml - $18
Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream - 15ml - $22
Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask - 15ml - $16.50
Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist - 30ml - $4.80
Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask Soothing - 1 piece - $8

Total Value: $69.30

The combined value of the products, based on their retail prices and how much is in each sample, is really great. I didn't include the value of the travel bag but it's well-made and Sephora-branded so you could probably price it between $5-$10. I was especially impressed by the size of the Coola sample since I've seen smaller Coola samples before. I hope these products will be great for my skin as we head into the drier, cooler months - and if not, I only spent $25 to try them out. Did you pick up any of the recent Sephora Favorites kits? Let me know if you've tried any of these skincare products before!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Milani Cult Classics and My Thoughts on the Bella Eyeshadows

Over the years, the drugstore portion of my makeup collection has dwindled but I still have a soft spot in my heart (and vanity) for affordable beauty products. But I'm much more selective about the products I grab at the drugstore than I was when I started buying cosmetics. Milani is a brand that has been hyped up a lot by the blogging community but I haven't tried any of their most popular products.

That all changed when CVS had 40% off all Milani cosmetics last week and I couldn't help but pick up a few things that I've had my eye on for a long time. As you can see, I bought two of their beautiful Rose Powder Blushes as well as the cult-favorite Baked Blush in Luminoso. I haven't worn the blushes yet so that will be a review for another time - today it's all about the Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadows.

These single shadows contain .05 ounces (1.4 grams) each and retail for roughly $5 depending on where you purchase. The shadows are made in the U.S.A and many of the shades are vegan (Milani indicates on their website which shades are vegan).

I've heard positive things about the Bella eyeshadows so I went ahead and bought four to try. While there are 31 shades in the full range on Milani's website, my local CVS only carries about a dozen of the most neutral colors. As someone who wears beige and brown eyeshadows most of the time, I didn't mind the limited color selection.

I opted for (starting from top left, clockwise) Bella Sand (shimmering beige), Bella Champagne (shimmering champagne pink), Bella Caffe (ash-brown satin matte) and Bella Bronze (bronze metallic sheen). I like that the shadows have different finishes and I think the four colors I chose would make a nice everyday quad.

Milani calls these shadows "gel powder" eyeshadows and claims the formula starts off as a gel and transforms into a powder. I don't know why their marketing team came up with this gimmick because that's simply not the case. This is a powder eyeshadow from start to finish. The concave domed shape makes these look like a squishy product but the powders are firm in the pan.

Marketing gimmicks aside, these are actually quite nice eyeshadows from the drugstore. The pigmentation is not out of this world but the colors show up nicely on the skin. You can also use these shadows wet to amplify the color. But, realistically, who has time for that? Bella Caffe, which is the satin matte shadow, was the weakest in pigment but I think it makes a lovely blending out color for the crease. The shadows blend nicely and last all day over top of an eyeshadow primer.

I give these one thumb up - they didn't blow me away but they're good for the price. I can easily pop a few of these into a travel bag without having to worry about losing or breaking my more pricey shadows. I think makeup beginners will really like these because they're easy to blend. What are your favorite Milani products? Did I miss one of your must-have products from the brand?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

September and October 2016 Empties

My empties from the last two months were a mix of favorites that I've repurchased several times over as well as some disappointments. Let's go through a quick rundown of the highs and lows in no particular order.

The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads and Beauty Blender Cleanser Solid are in the love category and I've purchased both of them many times. I also really enjoy the Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation moisturizer and have a couple of jars of that in various sample and gift with purchase sizes. The IOPE Bio Essence is something I love having in my skincare routine and I'm currently using the full size. The Glam Glow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment was a surprise favorite - it smells delicious and it really plumps up the skin. I think it would be perfect for long flights. I am a huge fan of the Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector and finished the one in 01 Rose. These are really emollient sheer tinted lip balms so it's easy to finish it up. I don't often like perfumes but I Dior J'adore is one I always look forward to having a sample of.

Now for the disappointments.... Everyone but me seems to love the Nuxe Reve De Miel Lipbalm. It's a waxy balm that goes on the lips quite matte and doesn't seem to deeply hydrate them. It didn't give me a bad reaction or anything but I just don't get the hype. The Shiseido Ibuki Quick Fix Mist* had a strange watery gel consistency and the spritzer wasn't fine enough. Every time I used this I had globs of moisture on my face which did nothing for me. The Lierac Luminescence Illuminating Cream Complexion Perfector is supposed to be a brightening moisturizer but it was very unpleasant to use on the face. I ended up throwing most of this out because I've had it for close to two years. The moisturizer is heavy, thick and loaded with shimmer. I love the Fresh Sugar Lip Balms so I was excited to try the Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy but it really fell flat - it was way too thin and not moisturizing enough in the slightest. It felt like I was putting face serum on my lips and I would often end up eating it (and it didn't taste good). The 100% Pure Honey Almond Whipped Body Butter was only a disappointment because the tub was smaller than I expected for the price. I'd recommend The Body Shop's body butters over these as they're less expensive and the scent lingers for longer.

It's always good to finish up products and bid farewell to the things that didn't quite work out. At the same time it's interesting to see what products I purchase over and over again and use up fully. I've been picking out products I want to get rid of from my collection so expect a decluttering post before the year is over!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Couple of Underrated Makeup Bits You Should Check Out

As a beauty blogger, I love it when I find amazing products that haven't been hyped up to the point where there's little point in adding my own thoughts. Recently I've been reaching a lot for a couple of things that have performed exceptionally well for me and I wanted to share them with you. 

I talked about the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eyeliner in my July Favorites but I want to give it another shout out because it really blows my mind that I've never seen anyone talk about this liner. I prefer this over the famed Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencils because the Bobbi Brown liner lasts much longer. There's minimal smudging at the end of a long work day sans primer which is no easy feat on my oily skin. Bobbi Brown's Gel Eyeliners are one of her best sellers so these pencils probably get overlooked because of that. If you prefer pencil format liners over gel, definitely pick up one of these. 

Speaking of gel liners, the L'Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner is a great one from the drugstore that's less than $10. I have the shade Espresso which is a rich dark brown. The formula for this gel liner is perfect; smooth, pigmented and creamy. I can't remember exactly how long I've had this eyeliner but it's well over a year old and it hasn't dried out at all. Even without eyeshadow primer, this liner stays on for a full 12 hours with very minimal transfer. It looks almost exactly the same as when I applied it in the morning. There's no need to run out and purchase the more expensive and well known gel liners like Mac's Fluidline or even the Bobbi Brown ones because this is just as good. 

Everyone raves about the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Highlight and while I'm sure it's a beautiful highlighter, the bronzers in the same line are worthy of some love too. I got this travel size compact as part of a Sephora 500 point perk and after swatching it for the blog, promptly retired this to the depths of my makeup collection. I brought this out a few weeks ago after shopping my stash and it's been in constant use since then. It's a really great warm bronzer that doesn't look too orange on the face. The baked powder is ultra smooth and blendable so it seamlessly melds into the rest of your makeup. 

Mizon is a Korean brand well known for their skincare products but their Correct Jelly Shadow has me convinced their makeup is worth exploring. The shade I have is 01 Pink Beige and it's a really pretty shimmery pink champagne. I love using this as an eyeshadow "topper" right in the center of the lid over deeper matte tones. This shadow isn't really bouncy or gel like - I would describe it as a pressed pigment. It's not as crumbly as the L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows which I also really like, though the L'oreal ones are more metallic. The only downside is that Peach & Lily stopped stocking the Mizon shadow so you'll probably have to order it from a Korean-based web store. I was lucky enough to get this at a steal for only $3 at Peach & Lily's sample sale so I consider it a very good purchase. 

I'm one of those people that gets put off by products that people are obsessed with so it's always a nice surprise when I fall head over heels for something under the radar. It's like my own little beauty secret (as lame as that may sound). What are some of your current favorite products that don't get enough recognition?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Would You Wear BB Cream to Sleep?

One thing I'm really diligent about is thoroughly removing my makeup and cleansing my skin before sleeping. It doesn't matter if I just had a little tinted sunscreen on or came home at 4 a.m. with a full face of makeup (not that the latter happens often), I will make sure my skin is clean before plopping on my pillow. But when I laid eyes on the Dr. Jart+ Night Beauty Balm, I have to admit I was intrigued. 

Known for their array of BB creams, Dr. Jart+ says this is "a day and night, multifunctional BB to make your skin clean, bright, and hydrated with no need for cleansing". No need for cleansing?! How can this be? One of the central pillars of a Korean skincare routine is double cleansing to ensure skin is thoroughly spotless so serums and moisturizers can be properly absorbed. Despite the claims of the Dr. Jart+ Night BB, I couldn't bring myself to wear this to sleep. Instead, I tested it in the daytime over my usual skincare routine (SPF included). 

This BB cream features a clear gel formula with teeny tiny white capsules of pigment suspended throughout. The capsules "burst" when you blend the BB cream into your skin to supposedly match your skin tone. Unfortunately, this won't actually adjust to your unique skintone; it just turns a light-medium beige color. I wouldn't say this has any kind of coverage but it does give a tint to the skin and helps even out my skintone. This will be slightly problematic for people of light or darker complexions because this product only comes in one shade. I would recommend removing this the same way you would makeup because when I took a cotton pad soaked with cleansing water to my face, it came away covered in pigment. 

Gimmicks aside, I actually really like this product for that no-makeup look. The gel formula is very lightweight and easy to blend seamlessly with my fingers. You need less product than you think so a full size tube will actually last a good number of uses. Although the gel starts out looking very dewy, it has a satin-matte finish once totally blended. Being that I have oily combination skin, I dust a little bit of translucent powder to set this but that's probably not even necessary for most people. This does not get greasy throughout the day and does not melt or pool in my pores either. It not only looks incredibly natural but it feels like nothing. There's no tackiness or pore-clogging sensation. It just feels like your skin which is pretty awesome. 

If you have near-perfect light to medium skin, this actually is a pretty neat skintone corrector. It can take any redness on your skin down a notch and even things out a little, all while feeling really comfortable. But I think it's very misleading to label this as an overnight skin treatment and I would advise against keeping this on your skin without properly removing it after a certain amount of time. This was a fun product to try but not one I'd repurchase just because I tend to go bare-faced or the whole nine yards when it comes to makeup. 

Do you ever wear makeup to sleep (by accident or on purpose)? What are your thoughts on this kind of skincare/makeup hybrid product? 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Getting on the Gelee Highlighter Trend with Laura Geller's Gilded Honey

The highlighting trend has flooded the makeup aisles with new glowy powders, liquids and creams. One of the formulations I've been interested in trying is the gelee type of highlighter which I believe made its debut five years ago in the form of Estee Lauder's Modern Mercury. As many of you probably know already, gelee formulas are a very lightweight pressed powder that impart a strong, almost metallic, sheen.

On a recent trip to the Birchbox store in Soho, I built my own box and chose the Laura Geller Gilded Honey highlighter sample because I'd been eyeing it for awhile. You get to choose five samples from skincare, fragrance, bodycare, makeup and haircare categories for $15 which I think is a really great deal. If you're in the NYC area, they should still have this highlighter sample up for grabs!

I've seen many swatches of Gilded Honey and thought it might look too dark or golden on my skin. Here I've swatched it next to two other popular highlighters in my collection, Becca's Champagne Pop and the Balm's Mary Lou-Manizer. You can see that Gilded Honey is warmer and more of a distinct gold with an intense metallic finish. It does have more of a glittery look than Champagne Pop and Mary Lou-Manizer. Granted, these are heavy finger swatches so on the face it won't look as intense. A little really goes a long way with the gelee formula. You can also definitely use this as an eyeshadow since it is so pigmented.

Here's a look at Gilded Honey on my face. It's a very in-your-face highlighter that illuminates the face with just one swipe. Personally, it's a bit glittery for my everyday look and the metallic finish does accentuate the texture of my skin a bit. It's really important to blend out the edges of this powder once its on your skin or else it will look very stark. Those who are going for that Instagram makeup look will love this whereas those who favor the no-makeup makeup look will not.

After trying Gilded Honey, I'm torn between whether or not the gelee formulation is for me. On the one hand, I think it's a really cool type of powder formula and the pigmentation is great. But the finish is so intense that it doesn't complement my usual look. All that being said, I'm happy to keep the mini Gilded Honey in my collection for when I want a fierce highlight. Have you tried gelee highlighters? Which are your favorites?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trusty Exfoliants and My Thoughts on the Foreo Luna Mini

In an effort to streamline my already bulging skincare pouch for my recent week-long trip to the Pacific Northwest, I thought it would be okay to forego an exfoliator. It's only a week, I thought, and loaded up moisturizers, travel-sized shampoo and other beauty bits instead. If you're reading this and shaking your head, you'd be right to do so because my skin definitely needed a good scrub after a cross-country flight into a much drier climate. Lesson learned - I will diligently pack a good exfoliator to slough off dullness and dirt for future trips. 

It's been awhile since I've done a post on exfoliants and that's mostly because I haven't tried anything new that has wow-ed me aside from the Foreo Luna Mini. I guess it's more a cleansing tool than an exfoliator but I feel that it has a similar effect since it's supposed to expel impurities from the skin. I purchased this a couple of months ago during Nordstrom's friends and family sale and wanted to use it for some time before sharing my experiences on here. 

Before I go into the Foreo Luna Mini, I want to give a quick shout out to a few of my favorite chemical exfoliants that I've mentioned on the blog at one point or another. They are the Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel (sample version shown), Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel for Sensitive Skin (sample version shown) and the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. I've used up samples of all three in the past and can see myself purchasing the full size of all of them - they're that good. I'm a big fan of these in particular because they are gentle and really easy to use. I rotate between these and a few other exfoliants I have in my stash a few times a week and it really makes a difference in the texture and tone of my skin. 

Now let's talk about the Foreo Luna Mini which is something I've had my eye on for years but wasn't sure if it was worth the money. It's regularly $99 but Nordstrom had it for $75 during their F&F sale and offered new account members $10 off. I'm glad I didn't jump on the Clarisonic bandwagon when everyone else was raving about it because I think it would have been too harsh on my skin. Not to mention the cost of having to replace the brush heads is really expensive. With the Foreo Luna Mini, you don't have to replace anything and it lasts for months on a single charge - I haven't had to charge mine yet!

The silicone brush head uses "T-sonic pulsations" to gently cleanse the skin and this device has two modes depending on what your skin can handle. I only use the Foreo at night and only on the more gentle pulse setting. Even though the silicone nobs aren't really bristles, I find the more intense pulse setting to be too much for my skin. I use this almost every night in the shower with a foaming cleanser. If I am wearing makeup that day, I remove it first with cleansing water or cleansing oil before going in with this tool. The handy little device skips a beat to let you know to move onto another zone of your face so you don't over do it.

I usually don't believe people when they say they experienced immediate results from using a skincare product such as this one. But I did notice a difference in my skin after using the Foreo Luna Mini for only a few nights. It's by no means a life-altering change whereby I don't have acne anymore. I still definitely have breakouts and this hasn't stopped that. But I will say my pores do feel cleaner and my skin quality is ever so slightly better thanks to this little guy. I like that my skin doesn't get red or irritated at all after using this as well.

Does everyone need to run out and get this? No, but it's certainly nice to have if you aren't one for fussy skincare and want something to give you a deeper skin cleanse. It'll cost you a pretty penny but it will last you much longer than serums and moisturizers that cost about the same, or more, if the $99 price tag seems hard to swallow. I'd suggest waiting until Sephora's 20% sale which should be coming up soon to grab this if you're interested in trying it.

Have you tried the Foreo cleansing devices? What are your thoughts on these new fangled skincare devices?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lip Stash Inventory and Weekly Challenge

I finally got around to doing something I've been dreading for awhile: counting all the lipsticks, lipglosses, liquid lipsticks and lipstains in my possession. Even after several rounds of decluttering sessions where I've given away or thrown out dozens of lip products, I still have way too many for someone who doesn't wear anything more than a lipbalm on most days.

The grand total is a whopping 89 shades. I know, I know. It's insane and I'm not proud of it. Granted, this is including PR-gifted products as well as dozens of mini sizes from sets, gift with purchases and that sort of thing. Right off the bat, I picked out 4 shades that I wouldn't miss so I'm down to 85 shades at the moment. I'm planning to downsize further in the coming months so I've devised a little challenge to help me decide what I should part with.

To help me use things that I typically might not reach for, I'm currently sorting my lip products by color family rather than by brand, which is how I used to store them. I've split them into five groups: nudes, reds, brights and vampy shades, mauves and medium pink and corals. It can be a little tricky categorizing the sheer bright pinks but it doesn't have to be overly complicated. Each week, I'm going to pick one shade from each group and aim to use each shade throughout the week.

I plucked a few products that I'll be keeping in my everyday makeup bag as well. I chose my well-loved Fresh Sugar Berry Lipbalm and Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector Balm in Rose since they're almost used up. The Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector in Rosewood is a nice glossy balm that goes with everything so I'm including that as well.

I started this little challenge last week and chose my five shades at random. I was able to use every shade at least once which I'm pretty happy about. It was my first time trying the Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick in Gazpacho which I recently got for 100 Sephora points and I love the formula and color - I'll likely do a full post on it soon. I've set aside these five products in a separate box so that I won't repeat shades in the coming weeks.

This week I chose my five shades instead of blindly picking. I can already tell you I'm going to have trouble wearing some of the bolder shades this week so will likely have to carry over some of these shades into forthcoming weeks. I'll also be out of town next week and likely won't be wearing much lipstick at all. My thinking is that I'll carry forward the shades that don't get used so that eventually I use it or it ultimately has to go. I won't be updating the blog weekly with this challenge but in a few months I'll try to report back on my experience.

How many lip products do you have? Would you be interested in doing this weekly challenge with me? How many lip products do you think is too much? Very interested to hear your guys' take on this!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Face Primer Sample Stash & Mini Reviews

In the last couple of years brands have been unveiling new primers left and right. There's a primer for everything, whether you want matte, dewy, color-corrected, or poreless skin. I'm a big believer that a good primer can significantly boost the efficacy of the foundations, BB creams or powder you apply on top so I've accumulated a number of different ones. 

To get long-wearing, pore-filling properties, primers are often laden with silicones so I like to try out samples to see how my skin reacts before I purchase a full size. Here's a quick rundown of some of the primer minis I have at the moment. 

YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer* - I actually reviewed this last year after I had received the sample from Influenster. This primer claims to boost the radiance of foundations while blurring imperfections. Though the gold flecks are pretty to look at suspended in the bottle, they look like glitter particles on my face. The thin silicone texture is easy to apply onto the skin but it doesn't dramatically make my pores less noticeable. I don't find myself grabbing for this primer often which is probably a good thing since it's the most expensive of the bunch at $52 for 1 ounce. 

Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer in Mood Light - Color correcting was a huge trend this year so I happily traded 100 Beauty Insider points for this at Sephora when it was a perk a couple months ago. Mood Light is the pink toned correcting primer aimed at dull complexions but it sheers out so that it doesn't look weird on my yellow skin tone. The formula for this primer is quite unique in that it dries down; you can already see it beginning to set in the swatch. If you go for sheer base makeup and want something to counteract sallow skin, this is a nice product to cancel out dullness without being heavy. 

Shiseido Glow Enhancing Primer - If you're partial to luminous skin, this primer will provide just that. This glowy fluid adds a healthy sheen to the skin without chunks of shimmer. I like using this makeup base in the winter when my skin is drier and less prone to looking like a greasy disco ball on its own. This primer doesn't do any favors for pores so I suggest applying this to areas of the face that you want to highlight rather than all over (especially if you're oily). 

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Base - With this primer, you can bid your pores adieu. This is extremely similar to Benefit's Porefessional but a little less expensive. This is a product where you can see results immediately - pores and wrinkles are erased or diminished after you apply your base makeup. For some reason, the half size travel tube of this primer is less expensive than the standard full size (so get the .5 ounce version). 

I have a few full size and larger sample sizes of primers in my stash that I'm making my way through but I'm always keeping an eye out for new ones I want to try. Do you use a face primer regularly? Which ones are your favorite?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What's In My Post-Workout Beauty Bag?

Recently I've been taking yoga classes and I wanted to show you what I bring with me in my little beauty pouch to refresh after a sweaty session. I always work out sans makeup because I don't want to worry about foundation sliding off or my eyeliner smudging. But sometimes I have plans after and I want to look presentable instead of red-faced and oily.

I used to bring travel sized bottles of face cleanser in my workout bag but right now I find it easier to use a travel bottle of Bioderma (the one shown is for oily skin) and swipe away sweat, oil and dirt. I like that Bioderma and good cleansing waters in general don't leave my skin feeling tight or sticky. Then I spritz some of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir to tone my skin. I try to keep my skincare routine really simple after a workout so I'll just finish with moisturizer. Right now I have a mini jar of Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation so that's what I've been using. I have the larger jar on my vanity as well and I've been really liking the lightweight texture.

Even on regular days, the only place I'll use concealer is under my eyes because I don't have time to spot conceal. The First Aid Beauty Triple Eye Remedy came in a value set I purchased and it's a good concealer on light makeup days. The light salmon colored corrector is sheer but definitely perks up the under eye areas nicely. The color clashes with my summer tan so I set it with my Shiseido Sheer and Perfect Powder Foundation* which I also blend over the rest of my face for a bit of coverage. I like to bring a mini Ecotools Kabuki Brush with me to apply and touch up my powder and the brush guards are super handy to prevent frayed bristles. My eyebrows are sparse at the tail end so they need a bit of pencil to look even. I recently purchased the Pony Effect Sharping (yes, sharping) Brow Definer in Deep Brown and I like it so far. The retractable brow pencil also comes with a thin spoolie on the other side. For my lips I must have a lipbalm with SPF with me and Softlips is one of my favorites. I'm also really fond of the Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors and I'm nearly done with the Rose shade. Then I usually mist my face again with the Caudalie Beauty Elixer to get rid of any powderiness.

I also carry around a few necessities like a mini Klorane Dry Shampoo, contact lens drops, a tiny L'occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets and hand sanitizer. Aside from the dry shampoo, these are things I have in my usual day-to-day makeup bag so I just make sure to transfer them over when I'm working out.

To be perfectly honest, sometimes if I'm just heading straight home, I'll maybe wash my face and jump on the subway. I'm just not one to fuss if there's no reason to. Do you have a whole beauty routine for after the gym? What products do you bring with you?

*Products noted with an asterisk were provided by PR. This post is not sponsored and contains my honest opinions.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Taupe Eyeshadows You Should Check Out (Besides Mac's Satin Taupe)

There's something about taupe eyeshadows that I've always been drawn to. I can't help but swatch a taupe eyeshadow when I see one, which is probably why I own so many similar shades. Mac's Satin Taupe is probably the most well-known eyeshadow in this color family but if your appetite for a shimmery purple-brown shadow can't be satiated with just that, I've got a few recommendations.

Tarte's Tartelette in Bloom Palette is full of creamy neutrals and the shimmery taupe shadow, Rocker, is a stunner. Rocker has a really delicate, complex shimmer without being glittery at all. It's a really lovely shadow that complements the other shades in the palette. I'm a big fan of this palette as a whole and think it deserves a spot in any eyeshadow-lover's collection.

If you're looking for a great taupe shadow on a budget, might I suggest the Inglot Eyeshadow in Pearl 402. The Inglot shadow pans are sold individually for only $7 a piece - an extreme bargain considering how much product you get and the phenomenal quality. Pearl 402 is very similar to Rocker albeit maybe a touch less purple.

Nars eyeshadows can be quite hit or miss but the Eyeshadow Duo in Kalahari is one of my favorite products from the brand. The shade on the right is a lovely satin finish taupe that gives just enough sheen to work as a great all-over-lid color. If you're not into shimmery or metallic finishes, this is a great taupe for you.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Urban Decay's YDK which is for those who like metallic eyeshadows. I've had this eyeshadow for many, many (maybe too many) years and I named it one of my top five neutral eyeshadows awhile back. It's a great go-to lid color for me, though I do try to tap off the excess shimmer particles before applying.

I debated long and hard if I wanted to include this next shadow in this post because I don't believe you can get it anymore. I purchased the Catrice Absolute Eye Colour in My First Copperware Party when I studied abroad in Amsterdam and while I did review another shade in that line, I never got around to talking about My First Copperware Party. This is perhaps one of the best taupe eyeshadows in my collection in both formulation and color. The pigment is ultra rich and the texture is buttery smooth. The color has a hint of aubergine in it that makes it different than my other purple-toned taupes. But I honestly forget to reach for this which is why it hasn't made a debut on the blog. Unfortunately, I don't believe they sell this shade anymore (as I can't find it on the website). I'll have to make it a point to use this shadow more this upcoming fall (but I say that about everything, don't I?).

Then we have Shu Uemura's ME Brown 856 Eyeshadow which is a touch darker than the rest. If you fancy a taupe smokey eye, I think this one is a really good shadow for that. I don't often wear smokey eyes so I haven't reached for this shadow nearly enough.

Just for comparison's sake, I also pulled out Mac's Satin Taupe and swatched it next to the others. All in all, most of them look similar enough that you really don't need all of them. I would say YDK is the most different in that it has a golden warmth to it and the Nars shadow is less shimmery than the others.

I think this post is a good example of why I shouldn't add anymore eyeshadows to my collection - I have more than enough taupes to get me through a couple of years.... Though I just saw one today at Sephora by chance that really caught my eye - Giorgio Armani's Solo Eyeshadow in Tadzio (must resist!). Do you fancy taupe shadows? What are your favorites?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

In My Stash: Rose & Mauve Lip Colors

Thanks to Kylie and the revival of 90's trends, cool toned mauve and rose lip colors are having a moment. As a warm toned gal I generally don't find these colors flattering on me but, still, I felt the nagging itch to try out this trend. Instead of adding more lippies to my collection, I dug around my stash to find some rose mauve shades that I'd like to wear more as the fall season quickly approaches.

I pulled five lip colors that I think fall somewhere along the mauve-rose spectrum. On the deeper end, we have the YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in 09* which is one of my favorite products I've received from Influenster thus far. This beautiful berry rose lipstick is a beautiful shade and the Rouge Pur Couture line is one of the best full coverage lipstick formulas I've had the pleasure of wearing. I used this lipstick in a tutorial awhile back but definitely need to show it some love again.

A lot of people probably have the Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang since it's the Sephora Beauty Insider birthday gift this year. I actually got this mini with 100 Sephora points awhile back and am debating if I want to get another in December when my birthday rolls around. This is similar to the YSL lipstick but a touch more red and has a more satin finish. The pigmentation of this lipstick is really opaque so I really have to embrace the bold lip when I want to wear this.

Moving away from the berry tones, I have Shiseido's Rouge Rouge Lipstick in Sweet Desire* which is a lovely cool toned MLBB shade. I love the way this lipstick looks in the bullet and when swatched on my arm but it's definitely more cool toned than I usually go for, especially now when I have a bit of a tan. I think this would look absolutely gorgeous on people with cool undertones and I'm determined to get some wear out of this shade throughout the fall and winter. Like the other Rouge Rouge lipsticks, this has a wonderful creamy texture that feels comfortable on the lips. 

Next up is the Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Speak Your Mind which is a cool toned rose shade that is the perfect pink. Like Sweet Desire, I think this lipstick is most suited for people with cool undertones but it's such a pretty shade that I really want to make work for me. Unfortunately it appears Bare Minerals discontinued the Marvelous Moxie Lipstick line but you can still find this shade in this mini trio set. I haven't tried many products from Bare Minerals but there are some really nice everyday lip shades in their Gen Nude collection. 

For my final pick I chose the Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RS727* which is a highly pigmented liquid lipstick. But unlike a lot of the liquid lipsticks that have a matte finish, this is a high shine gloss. I'd say this is the most cool toned lip color of the bunch but it's surprisingly wearable because a hint of my natural lip color still shows through. If you're looking for a sophisticated glossy lip color, this is one you should check out. 

Are you a fan of mauve-rose lip colors? Let me know your favorites and if you've tried out any of the ones I featured in this post! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

K-Beauty Skincare Ingredients: Donkey Milk, Anyone?

Leave it up to Korean skincare chemists to surprise us with creams, lotions and masks containing ingredients we probably wouldn't normally slather on our faces. The Soo Ae Freeset Donkey Milk sheet masks have been around for a few years now but my initial thought was that these must be a gimmick. I gave one a try when I placed an order from Memebox a couple months back and, lo and behold, these turned out to be quite nice! Today I'll share my experience with the Healing version of the Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask. 

So why donkey milk? Apparently donkey milk is a very soothing to the skin and contains four times the amount of vitamin C as cow's milk. The sheet mask packaging states it has a high concentration of Omega 6 which helps prevent moisture loss as well. I was slightly worried this mask would have a musky or unpleasant smell but I'm happy to report it only has a slightly powdery scent (likely due to the added fragrance). 

Donkey milk is actually comes in at 11th on the ingredients list. Water is the main ingredient followed by glycerin and various ingredients in between such as camellia flower water, witch hazel extract and nephrite powder to name a few. 

Although this mask is called a Skin Gel Mask, the sheet mask itself is not made of a gel material. It feels more like a soft cotton mask. It's thin enough to adhere nicely to the skin but not too thin that it's easily ripped. The size and fit is also perfect for my face. The essence feels like a thin serum which I like because it won't drip off your face if you're sitting or standing. There's 25ml of essence in each mask which is plenty (I like to apply the extra quarter-sized dollop of essence in the packaging on my neck and arms). 

After using this mask, my skin feels moisturized and plump. There's a slight tackiness that dissipates within 10 minutes after removal which I can deal with since I go right to bed after sheet masking.

I liked these enough to pick up a few more of the Healing version as well as the Aqua version which I haven't tried yet. I purchased these during Club Clio's recent sample sale at their Union Square store. I was surprised to see you can purchase these from Target's online store but the best deal for these is at Memebox where they retail for $2 a piece. You can also get 20% off your first Memebox purchase with my affiliate link here (full disclosure, I get $10 in credit if you use my link).

For the price, this is a nice mask for a shot of moisture and I didn't have any negative reactions to it. I like using these masks after I've spent too much time in the sun or when my skin is recovering from a breakout. As the colder months roll in I'm looking forward to putting the Aqua donkey milk masks to the test to see if it's more hydrating than this one. Have you tried any donkey milk skincare products? What are your favorite sheet masks?