Friday, April 29, 2016

Is the SKII Facial Treatment Mask Worth the Money?

I gave the SKII Facial Treatment Essence a go awhile back and I'm surprised to see that I never talked about it on here. I bought the starter set that came with the famed Facial Treatment Essence and the Facial Treatment Mask but honestly wasn't wowed by the results of the essence. I vaguely remember liking the mask but not enough to purchase more. Well, recently Influenster teamed up with SKII and I was one of the lucky ones who received a small Facial Treatment Essence and Facial Treatment Mask to try out. I figured it was worth a shot to try these out again to see if my feelings have changed. It's hard to give a fair assessment of an essence or serum because I believe results take longer to develop so I'll just be sharing my thoughts on the mask. 

The SKII Facial Treatment Mask is a radiance and moisture-enhancing mask. It has a very short ingredients list of only the following:

Water, Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate (Pitera), Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Salicylate, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA

Pitera is the second ingredient in the list and is SKII's claim to fame. It's a derivative of the sake fermentation process which is supposedly rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids. I wish SKII would state what percentage of the formula is made up of Pitera as otherwise I assume water makes up the vast majority.

Each mask retails for $17 and you can purchase a pack of 6 for $95 ($15.83 each) or a pack of 10 for $135 ($13.50 each). It's definitely a splurge skincare product considering it's meant for a single use. I've used many Asian sheet masks that are under $5 and that have produced good results so I'm really expecting a lot for a mask that's more than three times the price.

The sheet mask itself is 100% cotton but it's rather thick and stiff. I found it a bit difficult to mold some parts to my face, especially in the chin area. The fit was good and the mask was saturated in essence. I kept the mask on for 30 minutes until it was dry around the edges. The liquid of the mask has a consistency of a water-based serum and absorbs into the skin easily. I had a generous amount of leftover liquid in the mask packet that I patted onto my face, neck and hands after removing the sheet mask. This mask does produce a little bit of dried-glue-like residue when it dries but it's easily washed off. 

This mask is very gentle on the skin; I accidentally got some liquid in my eye but it didn't sting at all. My skin did not feel irritated in the slightest by this mask. It simply felt soothing and gentle. Upon removing the mask I did have the impression that my skin was brightened. It felt plump and hydrated but not greasy or heavy at all. 

However, the brightening effect wasn't noticeable when I awoke the next day and my skin didn't look particularly better. That was disappointing considering how expensive this mask is. With that in mind, I think this mask is best used immediately prior to a special event. I almost never do sheet masks during the day time so this mask isn't really for me. I've also used many other sheet masks that are much less expensive and that I've had good results from, so I won't recommend you run out and spend $100 on a couple of these. In fact, I recently hauled a few new Korean sheet masks that I'm eager to test out so stay tuned for that!

*These products were sent to me from Influenster as part of a Voxbox campaign. I am not being compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Three Hot Pink Lips For Every Budget

In celebration of the amazing weather we're having this weekend in New York City, I've pulled out a few bright lip colors that I think are best suited for spring and summer. I hardly wear bright lip colors these days because they're just so much more fussy than a tinted lipbalm. I've had all three of these lip products for awhile now but honestly haven't worn them out of the house nor debuted them on the blog. It's quite convenient that there happened to be a drugstore, mid-range and high-end option so you can get one of these no matter your budget.

First up, arm swatches of all three shades to give you an idea of how they compare. The YSL Rouge Pur Couture in #19 Fuchsia* ($37) was sent to me from Influenster as part of one of their Voxbox campaigns. It's a stunning magenta shade that has a cool undertone. The Maybelline ColorSensational Lipcolor in Vivid Rose ($7.50) is an electric pink-red that's so bright that it seems to glow. The Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Melted Fuchsia ($21) is the odd one out in that it's a liquid formula but it also packs the most punch in terms of pigment. 

I remember the Maybelline ColorSensational Lipsticks were super popular once upon a time and it seemed every blogger and Youtuber had at least five of these. I think these are a good lipstick considering the price and the color selection is incredible. Vivid Rose is really pretty shade that I imagine would look lovely across skintones. I did have to apply a few layers for the color to be even though. It has a slightly slippery texture that I don't find moisturizing but when I smack my lips the color has a tendency to move. I would suggest using a lipliner with this lipstick to ensure the color stays put. 

How cool does Melted Fuchsia from Too Faced look on the lips?! I can't get over how awesome this neon pink looks on the lips. It was surprisingly not too difficult to apply this straight from the tube's sponge applicator. I wouldn't say it was easy but you can get a pretty precise application without a lot of fuss. The finish is shiny without being glossy like a lipgloss. You have to be careful not to smear the lipstick because it will stain your skin if you don't remove it quickly. Speaking of staining, even by having this on the lips for a couple of minutes, it leaves a really nice looking tint to the lips once you wipe off most of it.... 

Tada! Much more wearable pink lips! This is how my lips looked after I blotted away Melted Fuchsia, applied a generous layer of Softlips and blotted some more. There's clearly a pink stain on my lips but the color is much more natural and wearable for everyday. 

Lastly is the YSL Rouge Pur Couture which is the most purple of the three. On my lips and against my skintone, #19 Fuchsia pulls very cool and purple. It's definitely not the most flattering shade for me but the formula is so nice. The color is ultra opaque and the cream finish looks lovely. The formula is also comfortable to wear. If you're looking for a lipstick to splurge on, consider the YSL Rouge Pur Coutures because the formula is really nice. 

I really have to make an effort to wear statement lips more often. Swatching these shades for this post was a fun little exercise and hopefully will propel me to dust off the bright pinks, corals and reds. Which shade do you like the most? What are your favorite hot pink lip products?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sephora & Dermstore Haul: Must-Have Repurchases and New Skincare

I didn't go crazy during the recent Sephora sale because 15% off just doesn't justify a huge haul. I was planning to restock on my beloved Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser at Sephora but saw that Dermstore was doing a 30% off promotion so ended up buying three from that site. Definitely keep an eye out for Dermstore promotions because they seem to do the 30% every couple of months. 

I restocked on the Shiseido Full Lash Serum which I've been using on my lashes and eyebrows. It makes a noticeable difference in the length and fullness of my lashes because when I stop using it for a week, I can definitely tell my lashes are more limp, short and sparse. It's actually pretty affordable compared to other lash serums and I've not experienced irritation from using it. 

I've been purchasing the Shiseido Cotton Pads for years because the high quality cotton makes removing waterproof eye makeup much less annoying and painful. But the price is definitely up there so I'm going to see if I can switch to something else. I saw a lot of good reviews for the Sephora Soft Touch Cotton Pads so I figured it wouldn't hurt to try these. Upon first touch, these are definitely not as soft as the Shiseido ones but they feel sturdy enough so that they won't disintegrate and leave bits of fluff all over my face when I remove my makeup.  

My exciting new purchase from Sephora was the Drunk Elephant Baby Pekee Bar + Juju Bar Travel Duo. These are bar face cleansers from one of the newer natural skincare brands that I believe Sephora has started carrying recently. The Pekee Bar is meant to clarify, balance and moisturize (night) and the Juju Bar is for cleansing, exfoliating and healing (morning). I have a few cleansers to finish up but once I'm done with those I'm really excited to try out these bars from Drunk Elephant. I'm really liking the brand's aesthetic and I have my eye on a couple of their other products as well. Let me know if you've used Drunk Elephant and what you think of the brand!

Like I said, I didn't go wild for Sephora's 15% off sale but I did recently make a few other beauty purchases in the last week. Let's just say some of those purchases definitely weren't needed.... Nonetheless, I'm excited for those packages to arrive and look forward to sharing what I picked up soon!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Declutter Diaries: April 2016

Over the last couple weeks I've picked out a bunch of products that I'm decluttering from my collection and I've rounded them up here. I'm not going to go into detail on why each product is getting axed from my stash but feel free to ask me if you're curious about any of the products.

I'm doing these decluttering posts as a little reminder to myself of what I've had, what I've gotten rid of and why. This is all in the hopes of paring down my beauty collection to things I enjoy using and a reminder to myself to be more selective when it comes to purchasing products. In my defense, some of the products I declutter weren't things I picked out as they might have been PR samples, work gratis or gift with purchases. But I've definitely spent a lot of my own money on things I didn't end up liking or using.

Just thought I'd include a photo of some of the lipsticks with the caps off so you can see the colors. I managed to destash 11 lip products this time around but I still have enough to last me probably three lifetimes....

A slew of spring makeup sales are taking place and I'm going back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should get anything. I'm pretty chuffed that I was able to resist buying anything unnecessary with a 30% off Dermstore coupon, opting instead to stock up on my favorite Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser. We'll see if I succumb to any of the other sales in the coming weeks!

Monday, April 4, 2016

My 10-Step Makeup Routine for Work Days

I'm very impressed by people who are able to consistently wear a full face of makeup everyday because I certainly don't. I wear makeup between two to four days during the work week, depending on how much sleep I'm able to get and if there's some reason I would like to look a bit more presentable for. Lately I've been falling back to a few fail-safe makeup bits that I can smear and swipe on my face in about 15 minutes. This is a realistic look at my work makeup as of late but of course I change out products here and there. 

I spend a majority of my makeup time on evening out my complexion. Since I'm outside for at least 12 hours everyday, I need to do my best to keep my base makeup looking decent. I almost always use primer nowadays and switch between different ones depending on how my skin is feeling. Lately I've been using the Stila One Step Correct Skin Tone Correcting & Brightening Serum. The swirls of color sheer out into basically nothing so I don't think it really helps with evening out my skintone at all. I don't find that it magically makes my skin look better but it hasn't done anything bad so for now, I'm just trying to use it up. 

I switch between several concealers but recently I've been liking the Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer in Radiant because it brightens under the eyes and blends in nicely. I was surprised to find myself liking this because I don't like the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer that everyone else loves. The Dream Lumi Touch in Radiant has a pink tone to it, which you'll see in the swatch below, and cancels out darkness without looking too obvious. I don't like how the lettering on the packaging is already fading though. 

For my all-over face color I've been wearing the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude. I got a decent .5 oz sample of this with a Sephora 500 point perk awhile ago but only recently tried it out. When I first applied this, I didn't think I would like it because it's sheer and you need quite a bit to get some coverage. But I find that this tinted moisturizer looks a lot better once its had a couple of minutes to "set" on the skin. It has a very luminous finish and makes my skin look like skin, but better. 

To keep the shine at bay, I like to dust the Nars Translucent Light Reflecting Loose Powder over my entire face. I really like this powder because a little goes a long way but it never looks cakey or dry. It lasts a ridiculously long time too so it's definitely worth the money. 

I rarely have time for bronzer, blush and highlight so I'll usually do a bronzer or blush. I purchased the Benefit Majorette Blush during Ulta's Black Friday deal when it was only $10, but only recently tested it out. I actually really like this cream blush for both the color and the creamy, easy to blend texture. I don't see many people talking about this blush but it would be nice if it came in more than one color. 

For eyes I also like to stick to a cream product so I can skimp on priming my eyelids. To be honest, I've been really lazy about using eye primer when I'm getting ready in a hurry. The Chanel Illusion D'ombre in Mirage is the perfect cream shadow for everyday office makeup. It's a lovely shimmery brown with the finest of shimmer that reflects the light perfectly without looking overdone. It doesn't last quite all day but if I was diligent about using an eyeshadow primer, that would probably help.... 

A few years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about lining my eyes whenever I wore makeup but nowadays it's quite often that I skip eyeliner entirely. I hate doing my eyeliner under the pressure of having to rush so I just curl my lashes and apply a generous amount of L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara.

For my brows I fill them in with the Lioele Auto Eyebrow Pencil which I swear is self-replenishing. I've used this consistently for years and I still have a lot left. I don't know what type of sorcery this is but for the next few months I doubt I will need another brow product.

Lip products can be applied throughout the day so I usually don't apply anything before I leave the house. I just put some of the Dior Creme de Rose Lipbalm on for some moisture.

The final step of my makeup routine is spritzing on a generous amount of Urban Decay's All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. I think the De Slick version is better at mattifying my skin but the All Nighter is fine for getting rid of any powderiness.

There you have it - my 10 step makeup routine for work. When I have a little more time I'll apply some eyeliner or bronzer and maybe a lip color. When I have less time, I usually go bare-faced. What's your daily makeup like and how long does it take?