Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shopping My Stash: Summer Cheek Trio

Even though summer doesn't start for another three weeks, it sure feels like it! While I'm tempted to go out and buy a bunch of glowy bronzers, coral blushes and golden highlighters, I decided to be good and shop my stash for loved-but-neglected cheek products. I emerged from my makeup collection with the Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder in 020 Deep Bronze, Illamasqua's Cream Blush in Rude and a teeny tiny Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter. I really enjoy all three products but don't use them nearly as much as I should. 

Looking back at my post history, I realized that I've had the Illamasqua blush for over four years! I've actually named it a favorite several times but you probably can't tell since a little goes such a long way so it looks like I haven't used it much. So far it doesn't smell weird and the formula hasn't separated so I'm hoping to get more use out of it this summer before it does go bad. I'm still quite heartbroken that Illamasqua isn't sold at Sephora anymore after all these years. 

The Catrice bronzer is a great budget buy that I picked up in Europe but now you can get it at Ulta for only $6.50. It looks rather warm in my swatch but of course I don't apply it as heavily on my face. It warms up my complexion nicely while adding some depth under my cheekbones. For the cream blush I use a duo fiber brush and stipple off the excess product on the back of my hand to make sure I don't look too orange. It blends super easily so it's easy to sheer out even if you accidentally apply too much. Sephora's birthday gift including Benefit Watt's Up was one of my favorites. This sample is the perfect size to swipe on the tops of the cheekbones for a noticeable yet natural glow. 

These shades are perfect for the warmer months and all of these products are great in their own right. It's like I've fallen in love with this trio all over again even though they've been in my collection this whole time. Ah, the joy of shopping your makeup stash! What's been on your vanity in terms of cheek products these days?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bonvivant Botanical Mask Packs: Aloe & Mint + Tea Tree

I admit I can be a bit of a skincare snob at times but when it comes to sheet masks, I've found many affordable ones that work even better than pricey ones. In Asia, many women (and some men) use sheet masks daily so they're way less expensive than the sheet masks being sold at Sephora or a Western department store. Case in point, the Bonvivant Botanical Mask Packs are only $2 a piece and they're pretty darn great. I purchased one each of the Aloe and Mint + Tea Tree masks in my Memebox haul because the reviews were very good and I wanted to try them out before buying a bunch.

Bonvivant is a Memebox brand so the products are made in Korea and the packaging for these masks come in a mix of Korean and English. I appreciate that the ingredients are clearly labeled on the packaging for easy reference. The design of the packaging itself is also very elegant and appealing.

The masks are made of a "botanical fiber" that is supposedly biodegradable. You'll see in the photo of the mask on my face that it fits very well. The sheet mask material is very thin and pliable yet sturdy enough to resist tears. I like the material a lot and find it superior to many sheet masks I've used in the past. Also, instead of using water as the main ingredient, Bonvivant uses aloe water and peppermint leaf water in these masks. I kept the mask on for about 30 minutes before the essense started to dry. I had about a small handful of leftover essence in the packet to pat into my skin afterward.

Both masks had a cooling effect and moisturized my skin without making it feel greasy or sticky. I felt a bit of stinging on my face but it wasn't too uncomfortable and I didn't experience any redness or issues afterward. Both masks had a slight herbally scent but nothing too overwhelming or annoying. I felt that the Mint + Tea Tree mask made my skin brighter and more calm than the Aloe mask, which is a bit counterintuitive. The Aloe mask seemed to just hydrate gently but it didn't really make a discernible difference for me. I really liked how my skin looked after using the Mint + Tea Tree mask and was surprised by how it banished redness from my cheeks and around my nose. 

I give the Bonvivant Mint + Tea Tree sheet masks two thumbs up and would repurchase them in the future. The Aloe masks were good but not as good as the Mint + Tea Tree. For $2 you really can't go wrong with these. There are a couple of other Bonvivant masks which I'm rather curious to try now. Have you tried these masks? Do you prefer sheet masks, wash-off or sleeping masks? I've been rotating through all three and trying to figure out if I like any type best. Let me know your favorites in the comments!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Clinique Eyeshadow Additions: One to Get and One to Skip

The Clinique Cheek Pop blushes put the brand back on the map in terms of makeup but it was the Lid Pop eyeshadows that caught my eye. I was particularly intrigued by the shade Petal Pop because it was reminiscent of Clinique's Strawberry Fudge, my favorite rose gold eyeshadow which I recently decluttered since it was so old. I read a few lukewarm reviews about the Lip Pop shadows because they're apparently quite sheer but Bloomingdales was having a gift with purchase of a mini Chubby Stick Shadow Tint with any Clinique purchase so I went ahead and placed my order without having swatched Petal Pop myself.

The Clinique Lip Pops are $17 and contain .07 oz (2 grams) of product. These are the kind of "gelee" powder formulas that feel stiff but silky smooth. The Lip Pop eyeshadows are housed in a clear plastic compact that snaps shut like the Cheek Pops but a bit smaller in size than the blushes. The product itself has a flower imprint which I think is typical for this kind of powder formula because it helps you pick up the pigment better. I personally love the packaging for its practicality and the cute factor is not too over the top.

When swatched on the finger, Petal Pop looks as it does in the pan, a wonderfully glowy pink with a golden sheen. I would recommend applying this shadow to the lid with your fingers because that will be the best way to get the pigment to really show up and adhere to the skin. When applied with a brush, the shadow is much more subtle. I think that's why some people were disappointed in this formula but I personally don't mind using my fingers to apply this since the effect is really gorgeous and hard to imitate. I've tried for a long time to find a close dupe for Clinique's Strawberry Fudge and this is the most spot on.

As for the free Chubby Stick, there were two shades to choose from and I ended up choosing Lots O' Latte because it looked like a very wearable taupey brown. The full size product is $17 for .1 oz which is pretty affordable compared to the Laura Mercier Caviar Eyeshadow Sticks which are $29 for .05 oz. The Chubby Stick sample is small but it contains enough product to give me a good idea of how much I like the product.

While I love the Clinique Lid Pop in Petal Pop and would recommend it to those who are looking for a beautiful golden pink eyeshadow, I'd say pass on the Chubby Stick in Lots O' Latte. The formula is not as creamy and smooth as the other cream shadow sticks in my collection and the color itself is kind of dull. I'm thinking it might be more appealing to those with more mature eyelids and don't want a lot of shimmery but even then, I think you're better off with something like Laura Mercier's Caviar Stick in Rose Gold. The chubby nature of the eyeshadow also makes it a bit awkward to apply and hard to control if you have smaller eyelids.

All in all, I'm really pleased with the Clinique Lip Pop Eyeshadow in Petal Pop and I'm tempted to get Cream Pop as well. I definitely have the blushes on my radar because I've yet to hear a bad review on them. Meanwhile, I've not had good luck with the Chubby Sticks for lips or eyes at this point so I'm steering clear of those in the future. Do you use any Clinique makeup? What are your favorites from the brand?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tarte Haul Feat. Tartelette in Bloom

When Tarte was having 30% off during their recent friends and family sale, I couldn't resist picking up the Tartelette in Bloom Palette. I've been more keen on matte eyeshadows lately and thought this was a perfect neutral addition to my steadily growing palette collection. I also picked up the Tarte Colored Clay CC Undereye Corrector so that my order qualified for free shipping but I have half a dozen concealers on rotation so this one is sitting in my backup pile for the time being. I also got two tanning product samples with my order which I guess I'll try out before the first beach day of the summer. Anyway, enough rambling and let's talk about the star of this haul! 

Ah, isn't she gorgeous? This is one of the most perfect everyday eyeshadow palettes I've seen in awhile and it's been living on my vanity since I got it. It retails for $45 but with the 30% discount I only paid $31.50. Each pan contains .05 oz of shadow, which is standard. The palette is made in the USA and is formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan and gluten.

I really like the slim packaging because it makes it easy to travel with. The plastic isn't the most luxurious material but it's sturdy and makes it easy to clean. The felt packaging of the original Urban Decay Naked Palette gathers dust like no other and the ink on the Laura Mercier Artist Palette has rubbed off on my hands before. Also the front cover has a pretty design that's not overly cutesy. One thing I was surprised to find was that the Tartelette in Bloom shadows smell a bit like chocolate. It's very reminiscent of the Too Faced Chocolate Bar scent but with a hint of a plastic smell mixed in. You can't tell unless you purposely smell the shadows though.

There are 12 shades; nine are matte and three are shimmery. The color selection is done very well because you get the lightest of shades to highlight with as well as the darkest browns to use as liner. I also like the way the shadows are arranged because it makes it easy to create a whole look with each row. The top row features cool shades, the middle is warm and the bottom leans red and plum.

Now for my favorite part of any product review, the swatches! Almost every shade swatched beautifully and evenly. The mid-tone brown mattes swatched especially easily. They have a rich, buttery texture to them. The lightest off-white matte took a couple of layers to build up the color but I'm okay with that because I don't like a super stark brow bone highlight anyway. The champagne shimmery shade is a little chunkier than the other two shimmers but it's still beautiful as an inner corner highlight.

Another close up of the swatches because why not. As with many shadows that have a creamy texture, these shadows do kick up some powder when you dip your brush in. I minimize fall out by tapping my brush off before applying the product to my eye lids. 

Overall I'm really happy with my purchase and have no qualms about adding another neutral eyeshadow palette to my already too-large-for-one-person collection. This is a palette I don't see myself getting tired of and can use it to mix and match with other eyeshadows very easily. I highly recommend it for those looking for a go-to palette! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Memebox Loot: Benton Box, Sheet Masks and More!

When I first started learning about skincare and makeup through the Internet over six years ago, I was really interested in Asian beauty products but it was difficult to find legitimate retailers that wouldn't charge an arm and a leg in markups and shipping. Thankfully a lot has changed since then and there are many Asian beauty websites that cater to shoppers in the West! I've been a Memebox Ambassador for a few months now so I've had a chance to try out a few popular products that they carry but this was my first order that I placed myself and I'm really excited to show you guys what I got.

First off, this post is not sponsored and I am not getting anything in return for writing this. But if you're interested in purchasing something from Memebox, you can use my referral link here to get 20% off your first purchase and I will get $10 in store credit. I want to be transparent about this since I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea when I rave about a company that I am an ambassador of. That being said, I do really like Memebox as a company (I wouldn't be their ambassador if I didn't approve of them) as they offer a wide range of Korean beauty brands from Innisfree to Cosrx to their in-house brand called I'm Meme.

A great thing about Memebox is that they're based in San Francisco so you don't have to wait weeks for your package to arrive from Korea like many other sellers. My package was shipped one day after I placed the order and you get free shipping on orders of $35 and up. Everything was packaged really securely. Another plus is that Memebox is really active on social media and their customer service reps are really responsive. The last point I want to talk about for now is that Memebox frequently does promotions so you can snag some really great deals. Now let's get onto what I actually got so I don't sound too much like a rambly commercial!

The main reason I made this order was for the Benton Box, a $81 value for only $30. Benton is a well-known Korean skincare brand and their Snail-Bee line gets rave reviews. Within this box, you get five full sized products (Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin, Benton Snail Bee High Content Lotion, Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence, Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream and Benton Honest TT Mist), three Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Masks and two samples (Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner and Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel). These products seem to be best for acne-prone skin. I appreciate that the product packaging has the ingredients all clearly labeled in English as well as the manufacturing and expiration dates.

I did go back and forth on ordering this box because a few years ago there were some issues with bad batches of Benton skincare which caused terrible breakouts. But I combed through the reviews on both Memebox and independent forums and blogs and the problems seem to have been resolved. Just to be safe I'll be patch testing the products on my arms before using them on my face! I have other skincare products I'm finishing up so I haven't used the Benton products yet, but I have high hopes for this line!

I also purchased six individual sheet masks from a variety of brands because I completely used up my sheet mask stash a few months ago. The only mask I repurchased was the Leaders Insolution TeaTree Relaxing Renewal Mask which I really enjoyed when I used it years ago. The five other masks are all brands that are new to me. I chose two of the Bonvivant Botanical Mask Packs in Aloe and Mint+TeaTree and also two Tosowoong Masks in Pure Green Tea and Pure Propolis. The last mask is also the strangest one and it's the Soo Ae Donkey Milk Skin Gel Mask Pack: Healing. Yes, this mask contains donkey milk. I chose all of these masks based on the positive reviews on Memebox's website as well as through additional web research so we'll see how these perform. I'm planning to do thorough reviews on each of these masks so I'll let you know how it goes!

Lastly I purchased a mini I'm Meme Fresh Cleansing Oil because it was only $1.50 and the cutest little travel size.

My order was entirely made up of skincare so I was surprised to find a full sized I'm Meme I'm Lipstick in #BC004 Angel Rose included with my order. Turns out it was a gift with purchase that I didn't even know I qualified for but Memebox was nice enough to include it in my order. I haven't tried out the lipstick yet but it's a really pretty pink shade and I like the simplistic packaging. Expect a review on this lipstick in the next few weeks as well!

Hope you guys found this haul post interesting! It was really hard not to buy half the products on the site because the prices are so affordable and there are a lot of interesting brands and products that I've never tried. I'm looking forward to testing out these items in the upcoming weeks and share my thoughts with you soon!

*A portion of this haul was paid for with Meme Points, some of which were earned through the Memebox Ambassador program.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

March & April 2016 Empties

I used up a lot of beauty products in the past two months, as evidenced by the overflowing pile of empty jars and bottles I've scurried away for this post. Let's get into an overview of what I've liked, hated or felt meh about so I can recycle these containers! 

I'm diligently making progress on my effort to use up my stash of skincare samples and a few full-sized products were used up in the process. I really enjoyed the sample of the Amore Pacific Enzyme Peel, which lasted quite a long time considering it's such a small bottle. It's a powder cleanser akin to the Tatcha one but I actually enjoy the Amore Pacific one more because the powder is finer and dissolves in water better. Also wanted to give a shout out to the Vasanti BrightenUp Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator and the Shiseido White Lucent Microtargeting Spot Corrector* for helping my skin recuperate from acne scars faster. In terms of things I wouldn't recommend, I'd say skip the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Mask because it does nothing.

For body and haircare, I loved all the full sized products I used up. The Eucerin In-Shower Moisturizer is perfect for lazy people who want to quickly moisturize their skin without having to step out of the shower. I also love the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wash because it's a really gentle shower gel. I generally use bar soap so I don't show those in my empties posts by the way. The Sabon Body Scrubs are great albeit a bit expensive but I highly recommend them if you're looking to get someone a nice gift. I finally finished the Number 4 Reconstructing Masque which lasted ages. It's a pricey hair mask that I use as a conditioner but I had short hair for most of the time I used this so I didn't need much product. It's a fantastic hair mask and I highly recommend Number 4 products.

I finished a couple of makeup products including the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm and a Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer sample. I like the Beauty Flash Balm during winter when my skin is drier because it makes my skin really supple and glowy. The Mineral Veil Primer is good but I prefer primers that fill in my pores better. I love the Beauty Blender Solid Cleanser and have already repurchased three! The Laneige Cushion Concealer* and Physicians Formula Eye Booster Liquid Liner are also makeup loves and I have backups of those in my stash. I didn't love the Etude House BB Cushion and I much prefer the ones I have from Laneige and Missha so I'm passing the Etude House one to a friend.

Another Etude House product I was going to toss was the Rose Tint Lips Liquid Lipstick because the packaging broke. But then I realized the product itself was fine and there was so much inside the tube (because I've honestly only used this once or twice) so I decanted the product into a clean sample jar. Tada! The color is beautiful and I'm looking forward to using this soon.  

Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate on any of the products I've finished recently! I'm trying to trim these posts down as much as possible so I'm not writing a thesis-length analysis every other month.