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?