Tuesday, August 30, 2016

(Long Overdue) May, June, July and August Empties

This is what four months of accumulating used-up beauty products looks like (not including bar soap, sheet masks and random packet samples). Two months ago I didn't have a lot of empties to share so I thought I'd lump them together with July and August. In the last couple of weeks I've had to fight the temptation to just chuck all this garbage in the recycling bin. I'm going to do a quick overview on some of the standout products that I used up so I can finally get this junk out the door!

It's no surprise skincare and bodycare make up the bulk of my empties. Honestly I tend to forget to include haircare empties in the mix but I should probably get better about that.... Going in no particular order:

I was really pleasantly surprised by the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. I don't think I'll need to buy Bioderma ever again because the Garnier version is so much easier to get my mitts on. The First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser is a great one for sensitive skin and, of course, their Ultra Repair Cream is a repeat purchase for me. I also really enjoyed the Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Body Lotion but their products aren't really accessible in the U.S (I purchased mine from a eco/natural products tradeshow).

A majority of my skincare is often comprised of Asian brands. The Laneige Firming Sleeping Mask* was a real nice treat for my skin once or twice a week. I liked that the scent wasn't too strong like many other Laneige skincare products. The Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence was an excellent summer skincare product because it absorbed super quickly. When I first got the Tatcha Polished Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder I really enjoyed it but the jar's opening would frequently get jammed due to the humidity in my shower - I prefer the Amore Pacific Enzyme Peel to this.

I also finished a lot of skincare minis these last few months. Some of these I brought with me on trips and sleepovers and others I just used in conjunction with my usual routine. I love the Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum* which seriously lasts forever. It makes a noticeable difference to my lashes and I've already repurchased a full size. I had a super tiny vial of the Peter Thomas Roth Oiless Oil 100% Purified Squalane and I was really impressed by how well it hydrated. If you can't get behind facial oils, I'd recommend this instead. I've used another sample of the SKII Facial Treatment Essence and I still couldn't see any results which was disappointing although not very surprising. If you're looking for skin-brightening and smoothing results, try the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel for Sensitive Skin. I get several uses just from the sample jars and every time I use this, my skin feels so much better.

I have a couple of makeup empties but most of these are things I'm destashing because they've been in my collection for too long. Can you tell I have a favorite mascara? I love the L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara although it does dry out a little faster than I'd like. I tried to take a break from it and opened a new tube of Maybelline's The Falsies Waterproof Mascara but I think I got a dud with no stopped - there was so much gooped up mascara every time I used this. I don't have the time to carefully wipe down the wand before every use so in the garbage this goes. The Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets and Softlips are things I go through regularly since they're staples in my makeup bag. 

I rarely reach for face products in stick form so unfortunately the W3ll People Narcissist Foundation didn't get much love and it smells a little odd now. For a time I did really like the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer but it's gone a bit thick now. I never really reached for theSaem's Cover Perfection Tip Concealer because the color was too light for me. The formula was thin yet high coverage but had a tendency to look dry on my skin as well. The Marcelle Golden Glow BB Cream was a favorite a few summers ago but it seems to have oxidized in the sample tube because it's really dark now. Conversely, the Dr. Jart+ Dis-A-Pore BB Cream is too light and simply past expiration at this point. It does a fantastic job at filing in pores but the shade selection is not ideal. I love the Becca Beach Tint in Fig but I only really use it in the winter and this sample has separated to the point of no return. Lastly, I did finish the Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray and do think it's good - but the DeSlick version lasts longer on my skin. I'm currently using the L'oreal one and thinking about which setting spray should be my next purchase. 

There's usually a satisfying feeling when I round up my beauty empties because it's a testament to me actually using up the things I've spent my money on. But lately I've been thinking it's so crazy how I have so much garbage. Do you have more or fewer empties than I do? I'm curious to see how much you guys go through in a similar amount of time. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Peach & Lily Sample Sale Experience, Haul and First Impressions

Yesterday Peach & Lily, a popular Korean beauty retailer, held their second annual sample sale and I dropped by to see what skincare and makeup was up for grabs with Monika. The one-day sale started at 8am so I was checking the #peachpartynyc hashtag like crazy in the morning to get a sense of what to expect. Apparently it took an hour and a half at some point to go from the end of the line to the entrance of the sale which had me pretty nervous. Monika and I had planned to meet there at noon and as I was walking to the location, I was amazed to see there was no line at all! Score! Then I was nervous that there would be nothing left to purchase but, luckily, I was wrong! 

There was still a lot of skincare to choose from and a decent makeup selection. Everything was very orderly and products were sorted by prices. Each section had a color and products were individually marked with colored stickers. All makeup was $3 a piece. I believe there were skincare products at $6, $10, $15 and $22. Although by noon much of the premium priced products had sold out. There were many staff members on hand who were very polite and eager to answer questions. 

Unfortunately there were no testers of anything so you just had to guess if a BB cream or foundation would match you. There was signage around the room discouraging people from opening the packages but I saw a couple of people who broke the safety seals anyway (not particularly surprising for a sample sale). Nontheless, it was a very smooth process overall and the steep discounts made it worthwhile. 

I didn't have a set wishlist going into the sale but I had a couple of items and brands in mind. Here's a list of all the products I purchased, the normal retail prices and the prices I paid at the sale.

Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence + Cotton Facial Pads - $42 - $15
May Coop White Water Cleanser - $30 - $10
Lagom Cellus Mist Toner - $21 - $10
May Coop Raw Moisturizer - $40 - $15
Mizon Correct Combo Pact in #23 - $25 - $3
Mizon Correct Jelly Shadow in Pink Beige - $17 - $3
Clio Lipnicure in #5 - $26 - $3

Total Retail Price - $201
What I Paid - $59

Here's everything out of their boxes in all their glory - don't you love the look of the packaging? All the skincare I purchased had reasonable manufacturing dates and aren't due to expire for years so I'm really glad these are fresh batches. I honestly purchased the Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence because I love the design of the bottle a lot (and I've seen it a handful of times on social media). I'm all out of toner so I picked up the Lagom Cellus Mist Toner because I find mist toners to be most convenient. I've never heard of the brand before but after spritzing my skin this morning, it seems to be fine. I've been very interested in trying May Coop products because their Raw Sauce (really odd name) has a cult following. It appears they ran out of the Raw Sauce by the time we got there but I was able to grab the May Coop White Water Cleanser (love the easy pump bottle packaging) and the May Coop Raw Moisturizer (that wooden cap detail is amazing).

I really should have not purchased any makeup because there's simply nothing I need - but at only $3 a pop, I couldn't help myself. Note, the makeup products all seem to be older batches that were manufactured in 2014 which is not unexpected since this is a clear out sale. I think I already regret getting the Mizon Correct Combo Pact and the Clio Lipnicure. I asked one of the sale staffers if the Correct Combo Pact was a cushion and she said it was - but it's really not. It's packaged like a cushion in that you can remove the inside refill but it has a button mechanism that dispenses product. The one already in the compact was faulty and product wouldn't come out. Luckily, it came with a refill and that one works. I haven't tested it out yet but I'll let you know if this is any good.

I've seen the Clio Lipnicures for awhile and have always been curious about them but they're quite pricey for a lip tint. I quickly tried this on yesterday after getting home and wow, this is MATTE. It is the most matte liquid lipstick formula I have tried and it makes my lips very chalky looking. I'll need to play around with this a bit before I make a final judgement but right off the bat I'm not impressed.

The saving grace in terms of the makeup portion of the haul is the Mizon Correct Jelly Shadow. I've had my eye on this ever since I saw it on the Peach & Lily website a couple of months ago. I'm a sucker for cream eyeshadows and pressed pigments and this looked like a lovely color. I haven't worn this on the eyes yet but upon first swatch, I'm digging this! Expect a full review on this eyeshadow in the next couple of weeks.

After reading some rather negative experiences from last year's sale, I was preparing myself for the worst but I'm so glad I was wrong. This was the easiest sample sale experience I've ever had and I think I got a lot of good things to try out for really affordable prices. I'm hoping Peach & Lily does these sales every year and honestly wouldn't be opposed to other beauty retailers doing the same! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In My Stash: Loose Face Powders

Having oily skin, face powder has always been a staple in my makeup routine. It recently occurred to me that nowadays I pretty much rely on loose powders to set my makeup. Pressed powder compacts still have a place in my daily makeup bag for touch-ups but I find loose powder tends to look more natural on the skin. Let's take a look at the four loose powders I have in my collection, what I like about each one and which I'd recommend.

Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder (10 grams / $37) - I've featured this powder several times in the past and it's the one I reach for the most, especially in cooler months. If you look at the powder closely in the sunlight, you'll see what appears to be microshimmers dispersed in the powder. But on the face, the shimmer is not at all detectable. This ultra smooth powder melds into my skin and I only need the tiniest amount to set my makeup. I find that tapping a bit of this powder with a fluffy paddle-shaped powder brush works best to set my base without moving anything around. Even if you apply a bit too much, it's easy to brush off the excess and not look like a cake-face. I highly recommend this powder for those with dry to combination skin. If you have really oily skin, I don't think this would be the best powder because it doesn't have great oil control properties.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation (7 grams / $36) - Unlike the other loose powders in my collection which are all pretty much translucent, this one a powder foundation. The name suggests says it's full coverage but it's really more of a buildable light to medium coverage product. I've been using this powder a lot recently because it makes getting out the door quicker and it looks very natural despite the sweltering heat. The built-in mesh cover is actually quite genius, making this by far the least messy loose powder I own. I simply swirl the Tarte Airbuki brush that is meant to be used with this powder into the jar and buff the foundation into my skin. It blends nicely without catching onto dry patches. That being said, if you have particularly flaky skin, the buffing action required for this powder might not work for you.

Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder (5 grams / $7) - This is a very budget-friendly loose powder that has somewhat of a cult following in South Korea. Yet, it's the one I reach for the least. The first reason is because whenever I open the screw top jar, a puff of white powder gets all over the place. The packaging for this powder just isn't the best. Secondly, there's mint extract in this powder so there's a bit of a herbal scent which I'm not fond of. I tend to use this powder when I'm traveling since the small size makes it easy to carry around. Oily skinned people will like this powder as it is very mattifying.

Ben Nye Luxury Banana Powder (42 grams / $18) - If you're looking for a powder that won't break the bank, I'd sooner recommend the Ben Nye Luxury Powder. I believe this powder is famed for highlighting under the eyes but I just use this as an all over face powder. If you're worried the yellow-beige powder, this comes in a few other skintone shades as well. The texture of this isn't as fine as the Nars or Innisfree powders but it seamlessly finishes my face makeup. When it comes to oil control, it's not as matte as the Innisfree powder but it holds up better than the Nars one. I've been mostly using this powder to set my BB creams, foundations and tinted moisturizers in the summer. The one downside is that the cap for this powder is rather small, making it more challenging to evenly disperse the right amount of powder on my brush. The upside is that you get a whopping 42 grams of product - it will take me years to get through this powder. 

I'm rather happy with the loose powders in my stash though I have some reservations about the Innisfree one. I think loose powder is one of those categories of makeup that not many people would necessarily obsess over, like eyeshadow or lipstick, but it's a really important step in a routine. I definitely have a couple on my mental wishlist when I'm able to use up some of these. What is your favorite setting powder? Do you prefer loose or pressed powder?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Swatches of All My Foundations, Tinted Moisturizers and BB Creams

One of the questions I get asked the most on Youtube is what shade I use for my bases as well as what color I would recommend for that person. These are very difficult questions to answer for numerous reasons. Firstly, my skin tone changes depending on what time of the year it is so it's pretty common that I'll mix a few different shades to get one that suits me at the moment. Also, I don't feel confident in recommending a shade for someone I've never seen in real life. 

While this post won't stop those questions from coming in, perhaps this will serve as a reference for those who have a similar skintone to me. This post is simply a swatch post - it will not be a review post where I compare and contrast products but I will link to previous reviews where I can. 

I had a rummage through my makeup stash and resurfaced with 12 different bases. It's a little eye opening to see that I have a dozen bases in my inventory, granted a majority were gifts, gratis or sent by companies (PR samples will be denoted with a *).

I tried to order the bases from lightest to darkest but there were some instances where I should have swapped a few shades. The above photo was taken in natural lighting whereas the one below was taken with flash. Using the numbers in the photo as a guide, here are the liquid bases I currently have in my collection along with the shade names:

1. L'oreal True Match Lumi - Porcelain Light Ivory W 1-2 
2. Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid Touch Foundation - 15 Ivory
3. Laneige BB Cushion - #21 Natural Beige (Korean version)
4. IOPE Air Cushion XP - C21*
5. IOPE Air Cushion XP - C23*
6. Missha Magic Cushion - #23
7. Shiseido Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation - Neutral 3*
8. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer - Nude
9. Marcelle BB Cream - Light to Medium 
10. Laneige BB Cushion - Medium (American version)*
11. L'oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation - 105 Natural Beige
12. Shiseido Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation - Neutral 4*

As you can see my bases run the gamut from pale ivory well into the truly medium shades. Right now I've been mixing the two Shiseido Synchro Skin Foundations (a 2:1 ratio of the Neutral 3 and Neutral 4) or using the Laneige BB Cushion in Medium or Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. I've also been mixing the L'oreal Pro Matte, which is way too yellow, with the Marcelle BB cream to get a suitable summer color match. I can also get away with using the IOPE Air Cushion XP in #23 if I set it with a slightly darker powder and bronze up the perimeters of my face. 

Let me know if you'd like me to do an in-depth review on any of these bases! How do you go about finding the right shade before you purchase? Also feel free to recommend me your current favorite foundations, tinted moisturizers and BB creams in the comments!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Finding Your Perfect Red in Shiseido's New Rouge Rouge Lineup

Red lipstick is a quintessential classic that I think every makeup-wearer should try at least once. Clearly Shiseido thinks so as well because they just launched their Rouge Rouge collection* of 16 shades of lipstick, focusing on variations of red. I was lucky enough to be provided the full collection and wanted to share swatches and my thoughts on the formula in case you're looking for a new lipstick to try.

Let's run through the basics first before we get to the swatches. The Rouge Rouge lipsticks are currently available on Shiseido's website as well as Macy's and Nordstrom but I expect they will roll out into other department store counters and places where Shiseido is sold. Each lipstick contains .14 oz and retails for $28. Packaging-wise, these are in line with the simplistic style I've come to expect from Shiseido. The black plastic packaging clicks closed with a magnet, although I wish the magnets were concealed for a cleaner look. The lipstick bullets have a very sleek design with the Shiseido imprint which I like. I wish there was some indication of the color on the outside of the packaging because it can be difficult to tell what shade you are reaching for if you have more than one of these.

There are eight true reds in the collection - four creams and four with a slight hint of very fine shimmer. The lighter four look so similar that in the swatches below you really can barely tell them apart from one another. Poppy and Ruby Copper immediately caught my attention because cool toned reds just pop against my warm skintone. Rouge Rum Punch looks like a great fall and winter burgundy red. If you haven't found that perfect shade of red for your skintone or personality, Shiseido has you covered.

The lipstick formula is supposed to be vibrant, creamy and moisturizing - all things I personally look for in a lip product. You can see from the swatches that the lipsticks are pigmented, creamy and high-shine. While these are full on swipes of color, you can easily jus dab the product on your lips and blend with your fingers for a more natural hint of color. 

In the collection there are also four shades that I would describe as rose nude colors and four true corals. There are some really gorgeous neutrals in this collection so even if you don't wear reds, you still might find your new favorite shade amongst the Rouge Rouge line.  

Despite Hushed Tones clearly being a pale nude, it still has a hint of red in it so you won't get that zombie-lip look. Sweet Desire is a wearable version of the cool toned brown pink shade that is all the rage these days. The corals look quite similar to one another though I think Burning Up and Crime of Passion would look especially amazing on deeper skintones. 

No lipstick post would be complete without lip swatches! I chose the shades that stood out to me the most from each category (cream red, shimmer red, rose nude and coral) to give you an idea of how they look on. I love, love, love how Poppy and Rose Crush look on my lips. Rose Crush is an excellent everyday lipstick and would probably be a lovely nude on deep skintones. The creamy texture was easy to apply and layer on the lips. Liaison also looked very nice and is a more toned down, daytime red. Coral Shore was a little harder to work with because it was a little more patchy and it sunk into my lip lines more than the other shades. I think it's better used as a hint of color or layered under a gloss rather than fully swiped on.  

Shiseido is known for their skincare but I think their makeup releases deserve more attention. The Rouge Rouge formula is comfortable and pigmented and the shade selection is flattering for a variety of skintones. All in all, I'm really happy to have these in my collection and I'm excited to branch out with this assortment of reds. Do any of these shades jump out to you? What is your go-to red lipstick? 

* These lipsticks were provided by PR for consideration. This is not a sponsored post and my opinions are 100% honest and my own.