Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Suncare Hits and Misses Feat. Shiseido & SunBum

I am that friend who is always reminding everyone to pack sunscreen for beach trips and long outdoor weekends. Sunburns not only suck in the few days after when you're as red as a lobster and shedding skin but they increase your risk for skin cancer as well. Unfortunately there seem to be more icky sunscreens than pleasant ones so I have a personal vendetta to find the best lotions, sprays, oils and whatever other forms sun protection comes in.

Shiseido has been a long time brand favorite when it comes to suncare. Their Ultimate Sun Protection Cream in the dark blue packaging was probably the first sunscreen I enjoyed using years ago and helped me incorporate sunscreen into my morning skincare routine. Right now I'm using the Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream SPF 40 ($33) for my face and I'm really enjoying it. It's easy to spread on the skin and it doesn't leave a major white cast. It does have a bit of glow to it, more so than the aforementioned Ultimate Sun Protection Cream, but it still wears well under makeup. The scent is lightly fragranced and I generally like the scent of Shiseido suncare products, although your preferences might be different. For me this product is definitely a hit!

Admittedly I'm not always great about wearing sunscreen when I'm in a rush in the morning but still want to wear a bit of makeup. That's what led me to purchase the Shiseido Sports BB SPF 50+ ($38). This BB cream is billed to be long wearing and transfer resistant while giving a touch of coverage. I like this tinted sunscreen because I can apply it with my fingers for a streak-free finish and it really does last throughout the day. I usually go makeup-free when I'm working out or outdoors for a long period of time but on days where I want to go a bit more glam, this is perfect. I have the shade medium which is just right for my summer skin tone but unfortunately this only comes in three shades so not everyone will find a match. The downside to this product is that there is a noticeable white cast in flash photography and under fluorescent light this makes me look very gray and just plain odd. Despite these downsides, the reason I purchased this was to mainly wear it outdoors and in natural lighting so for me, this is another hit.

The last Shiseido sunscreen I have in my possession right now is the Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+  for Sensitive Skin and Children ($42). This was gifted to me by PR awhile back when it first launched and I was really excited to try it. I had issues with some of the Shiseido sunscreen lotions in the past because they contained a lot of alcohol in the formula to make the consistency very fluid and lightweight. Thankfully this formulation does not contain alcohol or fragrance so it does not irritate my skin at all. I also found that it protects very well due to the Wetforce technology which is supposed to increase the sunscreen's efficacy when exposed to water or perspiration. Unfortunately this is also where my issue with this product lies. This is so hard to get off your skin! In addition to having a major white cast even in natural lighting, this sunscreen stays put even after an hour in salty beach water followed by a shower. When I wear this sunscreen I can be assured my skin is being protected but it's very visible and just not a flattering look.

Being a long time Shiseido sunscreen user, I'm a bit of a suncare snob. But I'm happy to report that I've found a good and affordable line that I enjoy. If you're not interested in shelling out over $30 for a sunscreen, check out Sun Bum. I bought their Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 30 and SPF 50 ($10 for 3 oz. travel tube) for my Tulum vacation back in April and both were great. I can't really tell a difference between the two honestly so I would suggest getting either. The lotion is lightweight and easy to smooth over my skin. The scent reminds me of a sweet banana bread pudding or something of the sort and I don't find it too cloying. I like this sun lotion because it's really easy to reapply. While it doesn't have the staying power of the Shiseido lotion, I can reapply the Sun Bum ones several times a day without feeling like I have a thick layer of product on me - and there's no awful white cast either. This affordable sunscreen gets a thumbs up from me! I want to try their spray-on formula at some point as well.

I also brought a tube of the Sun Bum Cool Down After Sun Lotion ($8 for 3 oz. travel tube) with me to Tulum as my body lotion. It has a slightly lighter consistency than the sunscreen and it appears to have some kind of very subtle shimmer in the formula, though I don't see mica or any shimmer additive in the ingredients list. The same banana scent is present in this lotion. My boyfriend got a pretty nasty sunburn on our first full day in Tulum and he felt that this lotion helped him feel a little less sore so I guess you can take his word for it. I hope you don't find yourself in that predicament. I personally don't see this after sun as a must have but it's a good summer body lotion so if you like the scent, give it a shot.

I'm heading to Miami for Fourth of July weekend so I'll be using up what's left of the Shiseido lotion and Sun Bum tubes. I  also just bought a travel size of the Supergoop Super Power Sunscreen Mousse to bring with me which I'm pretty pumped about. I've never used a mousse sunscreen before and the reviews for this one are really positive. I'll report back on whether or not I like it and if it's better than traditional lotions and sprays. What are your favorite sunscreens for face and body? Are you forever looking for the latest and greatest in suncare or do you stick to tried and true favorites?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lip Mini Swatches: YSL, Chanel, Bobbi Brown, Bite Beauty & More

I was originally planning to title this post "why I no longer purchase lip products" but then I decided not to because it seemed a little click-baity. Over the last year or so I've probably given away or thrown out about a third of my lip products but what I have left is still way more than necessary. I very rarely wear lipstick nowadays, preferring long lasting and natural looking lip stains or tinted balms instead. That's why I haven't done a lip swatch or review post in ages....

I haven't been very tempted to purchase new lippies is because I've accumulated so many minis from recent gift with purchases. One way I do this is by saving up my Sephora Beauty Insider points for the best 100 point perks. The Hourglass Lip Stylo, Bobbi Brown lipstick, Too Faced gloss, Urban Decay lipstick and Bite lipsticks were all point perks from the past few months. The YSL lipstick and Kat Von D liquid lipstick were acquired with Sephora offer codes and the other samples are from other gift with purchases. For someone like me who never uses up full size lip products, this is a great way of seeing which formulas and colors I like (or don't like) without breaking the bank.

Around the time I started wearing makeup, baby pink nude lips were all the rage but now I can't seem to go any lighter than maybe two shades of my natural lip color. I'm currently loving a sheer semi-glossy finish for my lipsticks. The Hourglass Girl Lip Stylo in Peacemaker is a really wearable and comfortable lip color. I tend to associate lip products packaged like chubby lipbalms with the Clinique Chubby Sticks (which I don't like at all) but the Hourglass one is more nourishing and pigmented. The YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick range is amazing and I love the shade Le Nu. It's the perfect neutral pink shade that makes my lips look defined yet natural. Bobbi Brown's Sandwash Pink lipstick has less shine than the first two and is a lot more pink and cool toned. It's not my personal favorite but I can see it being a popular pick. The Kat Von D Everlasting liquid lipsticks are one of my favorite matte liquid lipsticks but I'm over the dry matte lip look. I also find it much harder to pull off neutral liquid lipstick colors so Lolita II is a difficult one for me. I had high hopes for the Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Peach Oil lip gloss in Pure Peach. The color is really girly and fun and the lip oil marketing factor was intriguing. Unfortunately this lipgloss gives me that horrid white outline where my lips touch which I hate. I also don't like the very strong artificial candy scent. It's a pretty color but this lipgloss isn't worthy of a full size purchase.

I don't wear bright lip colors as much anymore but my heart still beats a little faster when I find an amazing red lipstick. Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick in Arthur is a gorgeous semi-sheer orange red. This is a gorgeous summer lipstick shade and would look fabulous on tanned skin. Bite Beauty knew what they were doing when they reformulated their lipstick range. Their Amuse Bouche lipstick in Gazpacho is one of the most intense, creamy blue-based reds I have. It is divine! It applies like a dream and feels incredible on the lips as well. Bite Beauty's Amuse Bouche lipstick in Beetroot is just as beautiful in terms of formulation and it's a great fall red lipstick because it has a hint of plum. Bobbi Brown's Art Stick liquid lip in English Rose is a really sophisticated and demure shade. Even though it looks shiny in the swatch, you can pat it into the lips for a more natural finish. I really like putting just a little of this on the inner part of the lips and feathering the color outwards with my fingers for a subtle tint. Last but not last is Urban Decay's Vice lipstick in Venom, a bold berry magenta. The formula is nice for one of the most affordable mid-end lipsticks on the market at only $17 but this particular shade is hard for me to wear on a regular basis.

Even though these minis are maybe a third of their regular sized counterparts, I know it'll be ages before I use one up. I love having different options and hope to get into wearing some brighter and bolder lip colors again soon. Do you have to remind yourself to wear lipstick and reapply throughout the day or do you naturally gravitate towards lip colors? Any tips for getting more use out of your lippie stash would be very appreciated!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Synthetic Brush Haul: Sephora X Hakuhodo, MAC and Sigma

When I'm looking at makeup brushes, one of the things I pay very close attention to is the type of hair that is used for the bristles. While I'm all about beautiful natural hair brushes made of goat and squirrel for most of my eyeshadow and cheek powder brushes, I have several (ok, maybe more like a dozen) synthetic brushes that I use regularly. I almost always turn to synthetic brushes to apply liquid foundation, concealer and eyeliner because I usually wash the product off after every single use. While I can go a week or maybe two before washing a blush brush, I can't apply gel eyeliner with a brush that already has caked on liner.

For the last few years I've been caught up buying natural haired brushes and building up my luxury brush collection. But I recently realized I needed to update some of my well-loved synthetic brushes that have seen better days. A couple of well-timed deals ultimately led to these purchases.

Sephora and Hakuhodo's brush collaboration is still on sale so I took the opportunity to acquire two more. I already had the Otsubu Large Teardrop Pointed Powder Brush, which made it to a favorites roundup, and the Kusabi Wedge Sloping Powder Brush which I purchased at the end of 2015 and still use often. This time I picked up the Ougi Fan Cheek Brush and the Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush. Both are currently sold out but the Otsubu and Kusabi are available. I like small cheek brushes so the size of the Ougi was very appealing. The shape is a little odd for blush but time will tell if I get the hang of using it. Both brushes are very soft and well made; I honestly expect no less since they are handmade by Chikuhodo.

Do you guys remember when MAC dominated the brush rolls of every blogger and YouTuber? Those days seem to be long gone as there are so many more brush companies now. The 217 still holds a special place in my heart though mine is looking a little worn after many years of frequent use. I picked up the Mac 159 Brush to use with cream cheek products. It's a duo fiber brush that is pinched so that you have wide flat sides which I like for patting on product. I have a similarly shaped Coastal Scents brush that I still adore and I wanted to have a nice backup for when I haven't had time to wash that brush. I also added the Mac 170 Brush to my cart because my Real Techniques and Zoeva foundation brushes are stained and they just don't perform as well as when I first got them. The Mac 170 generally has pretty good reviews so I think it will do the job fine (if it's a total flop, I'll be sure to update you guys).

Does anyone still use their Sigma brushes? Sigma was one of the first beauty companies I remember that used digital influencers to catapult their brand. Seems that hype didn't last though. I have an eyeliner brush from them that I got as a freebie at IMATS a few years ago which I really like so I decided to get a few more from their sale section. I always need clean eyeliner brushes so I picked up several of the E65 and E05. The E05 is so good for gel eyeliner. If you struggle with gel liner, try this brush! I also picked up their Concealer Blend Kabuki Brush because the tapered shape looked pretty unique. This brush wasn't particular cheap at $23 and it's not as soft as I hoped it would be. So I'm a little disappointed already. I haven't used it yet so don't want to totally dismiss it. I'm thinking it might also make a good cream contour buffing brush.

That's it for my rambly brush haul. I've yet to test out these guys (besides the Sigma E05) but can't wait to use them. Let me know if you've tried any of these and how you like them in the comments!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dior DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion: The $82 Cushion

After hearing major raves about the Dior DreamSkin Perfect Skin Cushion, I wanted to see what all the hype was about for myself. This was no lighthearted purchase because this is is most definitely a luxury-priced cushion. The compact with a refill (two 15 ml cartridges and the casing) is $82. Yes, you read that right! Each individual refill is $42 - you can easily get two cushion refills from other brands at that price point. Given the high price, I obviously had very high expectations for this cushion. 

Dior brands the DreamSkin cushion as "tinted skincare" and claims it will improve the appearance of redness, shine, and pores. While I can't vouch for the skin health benefits this might provide, it does have SPF 50 to give your face a little extra protection. I personally view all tinted face products as more makeup than skincare (because eventually you're going to have to remove it and properly cleanse). 

Packaging-wise, it's a standard cushion compact with plastic casing. The product is made in Korea so I wouldn't be surprised if it was made in the same places as many other brands. The refills for these do not fit into the Laneige compacts (since I get that question quite a lot). This cushion has the same scent as the Dior DreamSkin skincare products, a light floral scent. It's not overpowering and not detectable on my skin after application. As far as I can tell, the applicator puff is the standard kind of puff that comes with every cushion.  

This imparts very light coverage but you can definitely see that it evens out my skin tone and makes my face much brighter and awake. Problem areas like my chin look significantly better and my dark under eyes are diminished. The cushion does not completely erase my redness and you can still see some scars and spots but I don't mind that. I use the shade 020, the second lightest of four total shades and while it's a little on the pink side, it's sheer enough that I don't think the match is too bad.

The DreamSkin Cushion feels weightless on the skin and has surprisingly good lasting power. It doesn't transfer to other surfaces and even after 12 hours it looks pretty good on my combination skin.

My preferred way of applying this is with the included puff because it's so quick. The product blends in seamlessly with just a few pats. For day to day wear, I like to set this with a translucent powder for a natural look. If I want more coverage, this looks really good under a light dusting of the Shiseido Sheer & Perfect Compact Foundation. I've read that other people apply another liquid foundation over this cushion but I haven't felt the need to do that.

I really like this cushion for it's "my skin but better" effect but, alas, the cost is tough to swallow. I don't think this cushion is particularly unique that I need to spend $42 on each refill. I've used this cushion perhaps a dozen times and I already feel like it's starting to run out (but once I flip the sponge, I'm sure I'll be able to get many more applications). If you have the extra cash, are interested in makeup with skincare benefits, and like the no-makeup makeup look, this is worth a look. If you prefer at least medium coverage and don't have $82+ to spend on a product that will last you perhaps two months with daily use, there are other cushions for you.

Have you tried the Dior DreamSkin Cushion? Dior also released a Forever Perfect Cushion in Asia and Europe which has much more coverage and that I'm quite interested in. I have a few international travels planned for later this year so I'll try to scope out that cushion to test out!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

High-End Makeup Declutter: Nars, YSL, Bite, Shiseido

It's been awhile since I poked around my makeup stash looking for unloved products to give away. Since I regularly started doing these declutters and documenting them, it's gotten a lot easier for me to pick out things I never reach for. It took me too long to realize that there's no point in hoarding makeup that doesn't work for me.

A lot of the things from this pile were PR gifts or free samples. Most of these aren't bad products but they just didn't work out for me. Mostly, it's a color issue. Let's go through some of my thought processes.

How often do I wear bright fuchsia lipstick? Pretty much never. How often do I wear glittery purple eyeliner? Almost never. Would I be sad to part with these products? Nope. If I lost this blush would I even notice or care? Not really. Do I have a lot of other stuff that I actually want to use? You bet.

The Nars blush in Oasis is something I bought myself and I've only used it a handful of times. It used to be hard to think about giving away a $30 blush but the shimmers in Oasis and the color just don't flatter me. I know someone else could get a lot more enjoyment out of this blush and I'd rather they have it than let it go to waste just so it can sit with my other Nars compacts. I used to like Nars Albatross a lot and I remember there was a point in time when it was quite popular. I had an E.L.F dupe that I used all the time and funnily enough I used it a lot more than the Nars one. I guess I wanted to "save" the Nars highlighter for special occasions. Now I realize how stupid that way of thinking is. The yellow hues in Albatross aren't to my taste anymore and I have so many more lovely highlighters to choose from now.

As someone who barely wears lipsticks, I think I'll be getting rid of a lot of them in the coming months. Honestly, I could probably give away more than half of what I currently have and not miss them. But let's not get too carried away.

In my next round up, I should go through my eyeshadow stash and pick out what I never reach for anymore. I have a ton of drugstore eyeshadows that I used to collect back in my college days that I've barely touched. I'm not looking forward to confronting that part of my stash but I know I'll feel a lot better after finding those products some new homes (although some probably just need to be chucked into the bin).

Are you decluttering your stash? Do you have an all-in-one-go approach or are you taking it month by month like me? Any tips to share for a recovering makeup hoarder?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Skincare Standouts: Bar Cleanser, Instant Gratification Masks and A Lovely Face Oil

I don't really have a set skincare routine at the moment - it's been kind of a touch-and-go situation for the past few months. Face feeling dry? Pop on a hydrating sheet mask. Under eyes looking a little blah? Dab on some eye cream and rely on good ole' concealer the next morning. Too tired to bother with skincare after removing my makeup and double cleansing (Yes, I always ALWAYS double cleanse after wearing makeup. I'm not an animal!)? Hit the sack au naturale. Whatever, I'm human. I'm not going to guilt myself about not wearing sunscreen everyday (even though you should a la the Glossier promos that are EVERYWHERE). Moving on....

Despite not being very dedicated to any specific routine, I've found a few skincare bits that I really quite enjoy and that I thought would be worth sharing with you guys.

Let's start with that little block of gray soap. It's actually the Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar, an "ultra-mild, three-in-one bar that deeply cleanses, subtly exfoliates, and heals skin." My combination-slightly oily skin likes this cleanser and I use it a few times per week instead of a regular cleanser to give my skin a deeper cleanse. It probably is gentle enough for daily use but, like I said, I've just been so all over the place with my skincare that I don't have a set routine. I purchased a mini size of this in a set with the Pekee Bar, the more moisturizing cleanser, and I'm excited to try that out after I'm done with JuJu.

Leaders Insolution has been one of my favorite sheet mask brands for a few years (beginning of 2014 if you want to get into specifics) and they've only cemented their place at the top with the 7 Wonders Mediterranean Olive Brightening Mask. I purchased a box of these on a whim from Besfren Beauty, a beauty boutique in Manhattan's K-Town, because they were having a crazy good special on their masks. Something like 3 boxes of 10 for $35. These masks usually retail for $6 a piece at Ulta but the Leaders Insolutions website often has 50% off deals. Anyway, my point about the price is that these are definitely worth a try. The bio-cellulose sheet mask is very thin and comfortable and there is a lot of essence to plump up your skin. I do notice a slight brightening effect with this mask and I just love the way my skin looks after using it. After a stressful day, I usually try to make a point to treat my skin to one of these masks before going to bed.

I'm kind of wary of clay-based masks because my skin tends to feel too tight and dry after using them or the masks are a huge pain to wash off. The Tula Exfoliating Treatment Mask does none of those things and that's why I like it a lot. I got this in the SpaceNK spring GWP (the full size tub is $54 - eek!) and I'm dreading the day is runs out. I like that this mask has biodegradable beads that give you a gentle exfoliation when you're rinsing this off too. After using this, my skin looks more toned and my pores appear smaller. The effects are, sadly, temporary but I like to think of it as giving my pores a hard reset.

The Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil is so underrated! I never heard about this face oil until I got a sample of it in a Ole Henriksen GWP (they do an awesome mega-GWP bi-annually). Yes, this oil is bright orange and yes, it will tint your skin ever so slightly right after you put it on if you're really fair. BUT it makes my skin glowy and hydrated immediately after I apply it. If you want instant results, this will give you them. I wake up the next day and my skin is supple without a hint of grease. I'm down to my last few drops of this sample and I'm highly considering buying a full size of this next winter.

Have you guys tried any of these products? What skincare have you been loving? I'm really curious to try The Ordinary which recently debuted on Beautylish and First Aid Beauty has a couple of new chemical exfoliants that look really appealing.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What's Living on My Vanity A.K.A My Current Makeup Routine

So right after I uploaded these photos into this post I realized I totally forgot to include my loose powder. Oh well, it's just the translucent Nars Light Reflecting Loose Powder that I've mentioned a bunch of times so you're not missing anything too exciting. Let me back up a few steps and start from the beginning....

After several weeks of wearing minimal makeup or not wearing any at all, it seems I've finally gotten back into the beauty groove. It honestly feels so good to be back. There's a very big difference between wearing makeup because you feel like you have to and wearing it because you enjoy playing with colors and textures and giving yourself that extra oomph to tackle the day.

For the last few days this has been my workday makeup routine and, even though it looks like a lot, I've got it pretty down pat. For my current post-tropical vacation skin tone, this warm toned look is very flattering and hard to mess up at the same time.

First up, I always prep my lips with the Dior Baume de Rose which I recently repurchased. I feel like I'm going through this faster than my first one for some reason. On most days, this is the only lip product I wear. It's such a shame because I have so many gorgeous lip products in my collection but I just don't like to fuss to much with my lips. If I have time, I dab a bit of the Shu Uemura Laque Supreme in CR01 on my lips to brighten them up a bit. I got two samples of these Laque Supremes and they remind me a lot of the discontinued L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses.

For my face makeup i've been really preferring a flawless medium coverage look. The first step that really helps with that is the Benefit The Porefessional primer. The tiniest little bit blurs my pores really well and creates a nice smooth canvas for my foundation and concealer. For concealer I've been using either the Tarte Colored Clay CC Undereye Corrector or the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid. When I have time I'll use both to get more coverage but on most days I just use one. I've fallen back in love with the Shiseido Synchro Skin Foundation because it gives the most beautiful natural finish and has medium coverage without feeling heavy at all. I've been applying that with my new Artis Oval 7 brush which sheers out the foundation really evenly without any streaking. I waited a while to pick up one of the Artis brushes but I definitely see their appeal. The bristles are super soft and make base makeup application very quick and easy. To set my foundation, I dust a bit of the Nars Light Reflecting Loose Powder all over my face.

I totally get the hype around the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer. I've been using it nonstop because it gives the perfect amount of warmth and definition. The powder has the faintest sheen to it but it never looks shimmery on the skin. I dug out my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush because it's a beautiful spring and summer shade and it doesn't get enough love from me. This is an incredibly flattering blush and a little goes a long way. The lasting power of this blush it also phenomenal and by the end of the work day I can still see it on my cheeks. I've been consciously reaching for my Dior Nude Air Luminizer Powder in 01 because it's too expensive not to use. It's very shimmery, almost metallic, but also very wearable for every day.

Surprisingly the eyes are probably the easiest part of my routine. I've been putting Buck, the darker of the two matte brown shades in the Urban Decay Naked Palette, all over my lid and blending it out with Naked, the lighter matte brown shade. Then I line my eyes with the Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Highline Eyeliner in Dark Brown and smudge it out with an eyeliner brush and a mix of Dark Horse and Creep from the Urban Decay palette. Then I just curl my lashes and apply my go-to L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara which I've repurchased for two and a half years and have yet to find something better.

For once I actually like my brow routine and it's really really easy. I've been filling in my brows with the Pony Effect Sharping (no typo, it's actually Sharping) Brow Definer in Deep Brown which is probably very similar to the Anastasia Brow Wiz but it costs only $13. The super thin pencil allows me to fill in my brows very precisely and the shade is neither too warm or dark. I've also been sitting my brows with the Surratt Expressioniste Brow Pomade which is constantly sold out at Sephora. The pomade has the consistency of Elmer's Glue but the brush makes it really easy to comb through the brows and add a lot of texture. I like how this pomade makes my brows look fuller and keeps them in place for the whole day without making them crispy.

The final step is setting everything with a few spritzes of the Laura Geller Spackle Mist which I don't love or hate. It's a decent enough setting spray but I think everything I use is pretty long lasting on its own. The spray mostly helps meld all the powders together ever so slightly, pulling the look together.

I think my routine is a good mix of old favorites (Naked Palette, L'Oreal mascara, Shiseido Synchro Skin) as well as new additions (Artis Oval 7, Surratt brow pomade, Dior luminizer). Even though I love this look, I know it won't be long before I feel bad for neglecting my other makeup bits and switch everything up. How often do you swap out products on your vanity? Every day? Every week? Never? I'm always fascinated by people who can use the same products until there's literally nothing in the pan!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

High-End/Low-End Bodycare Combo For Smooth Summer Skin

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I recently went to Tulum for some much needed R&R. I had been planning this trip for a couple of months and one of the things on my list of to-dos was to get my skin in check. For this tropical trip where I knew I'd be spending most of my time in a swim suit, that not only meant paying more attention to my face but my body as well.

When SpaceNK had their spring beauty GWP, I splurged on the Cane + Austen Retexturizing Body Pads. These little pads are saturated with a 10% glycolic acid solution and claim to "reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, even pigmentation, and restore skin luminosity and vitality." Each jar comes with 60 single use pads and retails for $70. I know, it's a hefty price to pay for a bodycare product.

The directions say to use one pad in the morning and another at night but, honestly, I only use this at night. I also don't use these daily all the time. Instead, I use about one pad every two or three days and in two weeks leading up to my vacation, I used these every night. The pads are quite small and one pad only has enough product for both my legs or my arms and chest area. If I want a more complete treatment, I'll use two pads in one go.

The pads are gentle in that I don't feel any stinging or discomfort but they do a really nice job of exfoliating and prepping the skin for moisture. The treatment doesn't leave any residue but it also doesn't provide any hydration so you need to follow up with a lotion or cream. The body lotion I like using the most with these pads is the Eucerin Intensive Repair Rich Lotion, which you can find at the drugstore. Using this lotion right after the Cane + Austen pads leaves my skin very shiny, supple and smooth. It looks and feels like I used a really lovely body oil. I wouldn't recommend this combo if you are a morning shower person but if you tend to shower right before bed like me, this is great.

Even with my sporadic use, the Cane + Austen treatment faded some old sun spots on my shoulders and generally evened out my skin tone. Unfortunately this isn't strong enough to get rid of more significant marks. I have a burn mark that I was hoping this would fade but it's still very apparent.

If you want an effective body exfoliant and don't like dealing with the mess of physical body scrubs that get all over the shower, this is a nice option. I don't regret my purchase at all but the high price tag prevents me from using this every day as suggested. Although if you think about spa treatments and scrubs, this is only a fraction of a price for those! I can see myself buying this again in preparation for summer (I still have probably at least 20 pads for the rest of the summer). Do you spend big bucks on bodycare? Have you tried anything from Cane + Austen? I'm a loyal fan of the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads but perhaps I should try the Cane + Austen pads for the face. Let me know if you've tried them!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Cheek Picks: Blushes, Bronzers and Highlights

It's been a hot minute since I last blogged but I haven't forgotten about this space! It weighs on my mind quite frequently that I haven't been as "good" of a blogger recently. The excuse is pretty much the same as always - life. I also haven't been wearing as much makeup as I used to and when I do, I reach for things I know will work.

Anyway, my long-winded excuses for my absence could be a whole separate blog post. Today I swatching some of the blushes, bronzers and highlights that have been gracing my cheeks recently. Some of these are old standbys and others haven't been featured on the blog yet so it's a nice mix of what has stood the test of time for me as well as a way for me to review some of my newer acquisitions. Most of these are on the higher end of the beauty spectrum but there are a couple of affordable loves too.

Highlight is one of the things I neglect the most (along with lip color) when I'm getting ready in a rush. But when I make time for it, I see a huge difference and I think to myself that I should wear it more often. The Diorskin Nude Air Luminizer in 001 was something I wanted since the first limited edition release but I waited until last year's year-end VIB $20 off coupon before purchasing it. It's stunning both in the compact and on the cheekbones. It has a lovely ever-so-slightly-peach champagne sheen that is so unique. It's pigmented but not frosty at all on the skin. I like to apply it with my Wayne Goss fan brush. 

The highlighter in the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow is similar in base color to the Dior highlighter but with less shimmer. Whereas the Dior one has a gelee texture, the Charlotte Tilbury one has a regular powder formulation. It's a pretty highlighter but not one I specifically reach for - I mostly use it if I'm grabbing for the contour shade in the palette. I'll get to that in a bit. 

The last highlighter is also in a contour/highlight duo and it's the Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow Duo in Sculpting Candlelight. This cream highlight is very subtle and reminds me of RMS' Living Luminizer. The Living Luminizer is a cult favorite but it's just too subtle for me. I like a lot of glow if I'm going to take the time to apply a highlight. Again, I really only reach for this if I'm using the contour in the duo (and even then, I usually skip the highlight entirely or reach for another one). 

I find myself reaching for bronzers and contours more often than highlighters because it slims down my face. I've gained quite a few pounds over the last couple of months and chiseling out some cheekbones gives instant satisfaction (for the record, I have been exercising a lot more though). The Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow bronzer, or should I say "sculpt", is nice. That's it. Just nice. I'm not sure what I was expecting from a $68 bronzer and highlighter but I don't consider this an amazing holy grail product. The bronzer is a good color for when I'm more fair because it doesn't pull orange and I think I can still get away with using it in the summer to deepen my tan. There is shimmer in the powder but it doesn't translate obviously on the skin. I must admit the packaging for this product is beautiful and perfectly functional. The rose gold casing is classy and the mirror is a great size for makeup application on the go.

A contour I do happen to love is the one from the Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Glow Duo in Sculpting Candlelight. It's teeny tiny but a little goes a long way. I've had this for awhile and have used it many times but only just hit pan on this the other day. This cream blends out so easily with a duo fiber stippling brush and is the perfect contour shade that doesn't look too warm or cool. I bought the Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining Volume II (bleh what a long name) during the VIB sale last year and haven't really touched it yet. But once I use up this small duo, I think the contour book will be a staple on my vanity. It's a phenomenal value and I think it's now permanent at Sephora so definitely check it out. 

Last up in the bronzer category is the Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer which seemed like a big hit in the beauty blogging/YouTube community. I debated on getting this because I heard the scent is very strong (and it is) but ultimately my curiosity around the buttery formula won me over. It is a very dense, almost creamy-feeling powder and I like this a lot. The shade I got is called Bronze, which is the darker of the two options. The other shade is called Light Bronze, though both are quite light already.... All in all, it's a great budget option. I always wait for a BOGO Physicians Formula deal because they have some of the highest prices in the drugstore. 

Maybe all the cherry blossom photos I've been seeing on Instagram influenced my blush selection. All three of these scream girly and spring to me but I think these shades generally look nice year-round. First up is a newer blush in my collection: Laura Geller's Baked Blush in Bora Bora. This is the prettiest cotton candy baby pink that has the tiniest hint of warmth to it that makes it wearable on my skin tone. The pastel shade gives a nice pop of radiance to my cheeks and the shimmer isn't too garish. I really like Laura Geller's baked powders and would be tempted to collect many more if I was more drawn to the packaging (the black plastic compact is functional but it's simply not cute, sleek or luxe.

I believe I've featured the Becca Beach Tint Shimmer Souffle in Fig/Opal in a couple of travel makeup bag posts and it's one of those things I have to consciously try to not bring on vacation for the sake of switching things up. In the end I've given up on that notion because this little pot of blushing goodness is coming with me in a few days' time to Tulum. This is one of the few cream cheek products I can apply with my fingers and not feel like I need a brush. The color is subtle enough to not look overdone but it gives me some extra dimension. The packaging is also super compact and looks clean and chic without unnecessary frills. Sadly, I think these have been discontinued so I'll have to look for a new favorite once I run out of this or when this one goes bad (hopefully the former).

Another drugstore gem is the Milani Powder Blush in Tea Rose. I was very late to hop on the Milani rose blush bandwagon but look how pretty these are! The presentation is so nice, especially considering these are only a few dollars. This is an entirely matte blush that swatches quite patchy on your arm but they go onto the cheeks very nicely with a brush. The best thing about this blush formula is the longevity. This color stays vibrant on my cheeks from morning 'til the end of a long work day. The one complaint I have about this blush is the smell - it smells like old lady makeup.... I've read a couple of reviews that say the same thing but so far, it doesn't seem like this blush has gone past its expiration date. The smell doesn't bother me as long as I don't purposely sniff the blush directly so I can get past this one gripe.

Of course with dozens of blushes, bronzers and highlighters in my collection to choose from, I won't be limiting myself to just these few. These are just ones that have been rotating through my vanity recently and ones I wanted to give you my two cents on. Perhaps in a couple of months I'll share a few picks for the summer time!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

January, February and March 2017 Empties

My pile of bottles, tubes and other empties has been growing in the corner of my room and I knew I had to make a point to recap the things I've used up soon. The end of February came and went and I didn't have time to do my usual bi-monthly update so here it is a month late. At this point I might as well do empties posts quarterly instead of bi-monthly. We'll see if I can stand the huge pile of garbage accumulating every three months....

I'm definitely seeing a pattern when it comes to certain products. I've used up many a tub of First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream and Shiseido sunscreens are something I always go back to. I finally used up pretty much all of my Malin + Goetz Deodorant (what little that was left fell out of the tube and onto the floor so I just chucked it) and I've already repurchased it. Another repurchase I've already made is the Dior Creme de Rose Lipbalm which I originally said was too expensive but it's actually the perfect daytime lipbalm. I also love the Shiseido Full Lash Serum which I also have repurchased and need to buy another backup soon.

Now let's talk about a couple of things I tried for the first time and enjoyed. The Bobbi Brown Instant Long-Wear Makeup Remover is the best eye makeup remover I've ever used. It just takes everything, including waterproof mascara, off so easily. It's very expensive for how much you get (and eye makeup remover is something I run out of pretty quickly) which is the only reason I wouldn't repurchase this in a heartbeat. I have a pretty problematic scalp so I bought the 100% Pure Burdock and Neem Shampoo which is supposed to help with dandruff. I think it helped somewhat and I would consider repurchasing it in the future. I also really liked the Beautiful Nutrition Healthy Hair Diet Shampoo and think that might be my next shampoo purchase after I finish my current one.

As for things I really didn't care for, the super hyped up Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist failed to impress me. The full size mist retails for $48 but I just don't see what everyone loves about it. I'm actually a little glad I didn't like it because that saves me $48. The Lierac Cleansing Gel, which I received as a press sample, has been in my bathroom cabinet for a long time and I'm glad it's used up. I used about half the bottle to wash my face but found the strong fragrance off-putting and it was somewhat harsh on my skin. I used the rest of the product to wash some of my makeup brushes.

I have a couple of makeup empties this quarter which is nice to see. I finally finished the Stila One Step Correct Primer which is the clear one with the different colored swirls. It was a meh primer that didn't really do much for my skin besides adding another layer to separate my skin from my base makeup. I received it as gratis from when I worked in the beauty industry which is the only reason I had this primer. I finished another Laneige BB Cushion Concealer which has been my go-to under eye concealer for several years. It's no surprise I went through two more tubes of L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara since it's my favorite mascara. I've probably gone through at least 10 tubes by now. Every time the drugstore has a 40% off promotion on L'Oreal, I make sure to stock up on a couple of tubes of this mascara. I finally finished the Lioele Eyebrow Pencil that I bought in Hong Kong back in 2013. More than once I questioned what sorcery was behind this eyebrow pencil that never seemed to end. Towards the end I realized this eyebrow pencil was a touch too dark for my liking and so I won't be repurchasing it. I also used up a Mac Pro Longwear Brow Set which was decent but the color was too warm for my brows. I'm currently pretty happy with the brow products I'm using so I'll have to do an update on that soon.

The only products that aren't used up that I'm tossing are the Soap & Glory Kick Ass Concealer and the Maybelline Colorsensational Lipgloss in Mirrored Mauve. The concealer is from 2013 and while it's still usable, the packaging is utterly broken and it's a pain in the butt to use. I did like the salmon shade for under my eyes so at least I hit pan on it. I didn't care for the other concealer shade nor the powder at all. The Maybelline lipgloss is actually one of my favorite lipglosses ever but it's starting to smell a little different so in the bin it goes. Unfortunately it looks like they've discontinued that line of lipglosses so I won't be able to replace it with a new one. 

Being away from this space has made me quite a rambler, eh? Hopefully I didn't put any of you to sleep (unless you're reading this before bed, in which case, you're welcome). I have a couple of post ideas floating in my head but, to be honest, not enough drive to follow through on photographing and writing everything. I've been keeping pretty busy in pretty much every facet of my life other than my blog presence. I'm hoping I get bitten by the blogging bug again soon so I can muster up something worth posting! If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to shout them out on Twitter or Instagram (@Karyi12)!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Singles: Chase and Lost

Urban Decay eyeshadows hold a special place in my heart because they were one of my first forays into the world of higher end shadows. I looked forward to their yearly Book of Shadows which launched around the holidays, saving up my weekend tutoring money until the launch. Of course, the Naked Palette is a makeup must-have and it's been getting a lot of use due to my goal to pan six shades

You'll get more bang for your buck when you purchase a palette but while some shades get featured over and over (Half Baked, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Smog), others you'll rarely see in palettes. The single eyeshadows are $19 a pop so they're pretty pricey. If you sign up for Urban Decay's rewards programs, you'll be able to get a free single eyeshadow with any purchase so I just bought one eyeshadow to get one free. 

The two shades I chose were Lost and Chase. Lost is described as a medium metallic brown and Chase is a bright bronze. Both have a lovely shimmery finish but are not glittery at all. I love Urban Decay eyeshadows for their ultra smooth, buttery texture. The metallic shadows like these are my favorite because they apply onto the eyelids very easily and blend out beautifully with other shades.

I would say Lost is a dark metallic brown rather than a medium metallic brown. Of course you can blend it out to make it less intense - I personally use it most as an outer corner shade to add depth. This would also make a super easy one-and-done smokey eye. Chase is a very rich gold but it leans a bit more neutral compared to Half Baked, which is more of a yellow gold. I'm really excited to use Chase as an all over lid color in the summer time when I have more warmth to my skin.

Urban Decay single eyeshadows don't get a lot of love because their palettes are the main attraction. But if you can't find a palette that works for you or you just prefer single shadows, definitely check out what Urban Decay has to offer!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Growing Stash of Clinique Cheek Pops & Lid Pops

I've taken a bit of a blogger break but I have every intention to make a comeback. There's been some technical difficulties, personal life stuff and I've been spending a lot more time doing things other than planning out my beauty purchases and holing myself in my room taking photos of lipstick. Not that there's anything wrong with the last bit but I just needed to take a step back and pursue other interests. But, trust me, I miss blogging and hope to put my blogging cap back on in a few weeks.

I've been itching to write a post on my new-ish Clinique additions. Ever since I raved about their Lid Pop in Petal Pop last year, I've wanted to get some more shades. I'm a little late to the Cheek Pop bandwagon but no matter - these are beautiful! I ordered Nude Pop and Melon Pop as well as another eyeshadow in Cream Pop.

When I saw Nude Pop in the pan I was a little worried it might look too muddy or too light to even show up on my skin. But on the skin it's the loveliest, natural peach nude blush for fair skin tones. I love, love, loveeee it! It gives my cheeks color without looking obvious at all. These powders have that special texture so they feel quite hard to the touch. That means when you swirl your brush in the pan, you'll never end up with too much product. Honestly, I haven't worn Melon Pop on my cheeks yet but it's a very pretty bright coral that will be a nice flush for spring and summer.

Cream Pop was the only other eyeshadow in the range that interested me besides Petal Pop. Cream Pop is a lovely shimmery beige that is the perfect all over lid color. It's the kind of shade you don't have to think about that imparts a pretty sheen on your eyes. It's not a must have just because there are so many potential dupes for it but I really like applying the Lid Pops with my fingers for a quick look.

The Lid Pops are a nice-to-have if you are okay with a semi-sheer eyeshadow (which I love for everyday office looks) but the Cheek Pops are really something you should consider for your stash. There are so many shades to choose from so you're bound to find one that suits your fancy. I'd love to add some of the more daring shades like Cola Pop to my growing collection but for now I can't put Nude Pop down.

I think Clinique really hit it out of park with their various Pop products. From the blushes to the lipsticks, I've heard rave reviews nearly all around. Have you tried the Clinique Pop line? What are your favorite products from the collection?

Monday, February 6, 2017

In My Stash: Anastasia Beverly Hills Single Eyeshadows

Months ago during Black Friday, Cyber Monday or one of those post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas promotions, Anastasia Beverly Hills put all their single eyeshadows on sale for 70% off retail price. I had been biding my time to add a few of her shadows to my collection because I had read nothing but raves about the formula. They're usually $12 a piece but with the discount, I got mine for less than $5 each. When you purchase four or eight shadow pans, you get a free palette to hold your shadows as well, which is pretty awesome. Let's take a look at the shades I picked out, check out some swatches and see what I think about these single shadows.

Each shadow pan is packaged in its own cardboard sleeve and I really appreciate how all the information from the shade name to the amount of product is neatly printed on the back of the pan. It drives me insane when brands have no labeling on the back of the pans of individual eyeshadows. If I ever mix these shadows in a free-form palette like a ZPalette or Make Up For Ever Metal Palette, I know exactly what this is. I believe all of these eyeshadows are made in the U.S.A. as well (some Anastasia palettes are made in China).

There should be no surprise that I picked out mostly warm neutral shades. I tried to pick a mix of different finishes to get a feel for how each performed. On the Sephora website the finishes are listed as matte, satin, shimmer, metallic or glitter.

Rose (metallic) is a warm mid-tone pink. It has nice pigmentation but it also contains some slightly large shimmer particles that make this less creamy than the other metallics. If you like rose gold and pink-bronze shades, you'll like this color a lot.

Belize (satin) is grouped with the metallic shadows on Sephora's website but it's definitely a satin shade. It's a dark tan with the slightest sheen. I chose this shade thinking it would make an easy all-over lid color but I'm not entirely smitten with it. The lasting power could be better for this shadow - I find that it fades noticeably over the course of a day. I think this would be best used as a transition crease shade for those with tan to deep skin tones.

Warm Taupe (matte) is the more cool-toned of the two medium brown mattes I picked up. The mattes have good pigmentation but can be quite powdery when you dip your brush into the pan. Actually, across the board the Anastasia shadows are quite powdery. I always have to make sure to tap my brush off because applying shadow to my eyes, or else I get loads of fall out on my cheeks. Anyway, back to Warm Taupe - it's a very handy color to have for everyone's collection and I would recommend it.

Fawn (matte) is the much warmer matte shadow - here it looks almost orangey next to Warm Taupe. Again, same deal as with Warm Taupe. I think it's a good staple transition color if you wear a lot of bronze and gold eyeshadows.

The other four eyeshadows I chose were a little more exciting. Now we're verging into some color but still within the neutral family.

Topaz (satin) is the quintessential shimmery bronze that I think everyone needs to have in their makeup stash. I don't know why this is categorized as a satin because it definitely is shimmery enough to constitute as a shimmer finish. This shadow had a really nice buttery texture and applied really well on the eyelids.

Comfort (satin) is a red wine shade with some shimmer as well. This shadow did not kick up a lot of loose powder like the other shadows which I appreciated. I haven't worn Comfort all that much but I think it will look lovely in the summer and fall over a dark brown cream shadow base. A more subtle way to use this would be to take it on a pencil brush and define the outer corner of the eyes to add some depth to a warm neutral eyeshadow look.

Chiffon (metallic) is one stunning shadow. It is a rich golden green eyeshadow with very complex and multidimensional, yet fine, shimmers. Swatched on my arm it looks more neutral and golden, but on my eyelids it looks very green. Either way, it's gorgeous and not one to miss from this range.

Chocolate Crumble (metallic) is another stunner. It reminds me of Laura Mercier's Caviar Stick in Amethyst but in powder form. It is a taupey purple with very fine, multidimensional shimmer. In the sunlight, this shadow sparkles like a glitter. This is another shadow that really pops if you layer it over a colored cream shadow base. I like applying this shadow with my finger because it helps the shimmers translate and stick onto my eyelids better.

I like the Anastasia Beverly Hills single eyeshadows but they aren't my favorite shadows in my collection. Some of the shades like Chiffon and Chocolate Crumble are pretty unique and I would recommend those. But the mattes could be more buttery and all of the shadows could be less powdery. Also, these aren't exactly budget shadows if you want to make a whole palette because eight shadows at retail price will set you back $96. Anastasia's pre-made palettes are a much better bang for your buck but if you have your heart set on a particular shade, it might be worth it to just get one or two (or just wait for another epic sale).

Have you tried the Anastasia Beverly Hills single shadows? If you have, let me know what your favorite shades are!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Recent Favorites & Go-Tos: January 2017

I'm back with my latest installment of new things I'm loving and old products I've rediscovered in my stash. Recently I found a few skincare bits that really impressed me upon first use as well as a lot of makeup basics that make getting ready easier in the morning. 

On the skincare front, I've gotten back into sheet mask mode because my skin has been really dry and quite flakey. The Too Cool For School Egg Cream Masks were a really nice surprise. The sheet mask is a thick, yet ultra soft cotton-like material and the gel-like essence feels super refreshing. The Hydration and Pore Tightening versions are my favorite, though the Firming variation is also good. 

About once a week I've been using the Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment and it makes such a difference in my skin the next day. The gel has a mix of glycolic, lactic and citric acids to eat away at dead skin and reveal a smoother complexion. The first time I used this I did feel a strong tingly sensation that hurt a bit but every time afterward, it hasn't irritated my skin. I got a small sample jar from an epic Ole Henriksen GWP and would consider buying a full size bottle.

A mask I didn't expect to like as much as I do is the Fresh Rose Face Mask. I rarely see a difference after using wash-off masks but this one left my skin looking more firm and healthy. The scent is intoxicating and the texture of the mask is very luxurious. 

As for makeup, I've been mostly shopping my stash but I've found a few new gems as well. I got a sample of the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer and it's amazing at filling in my pores and making my skin look airbrushed. It's very comparable to Benefit's The Porefessional. A tiny little bit goes a long way so I've gotten a lot of uses out of this tiny tube. 

I'm on the last bits of my favorite Laneige Cushion Concealer so I've been rotating in the Tarte CC Undereye Corrector in Light/Medium and it's great for canceling out my under eye circles without looking like a mask. It reminds me of Benefit's Erase Paste but not as pink and not as sticky so it's easier to blend out. The packaging is also super slim and lightweight, making it a perfect travel makeup product.

Many years ago I expressed my disappointment in the Benefit boxed powders but I ended up liking the color of Hoola bronzer and Coralista makes an easy everyday blush. While I still think there are way better blushes, I managed to hit pan on Coralista and I'm almost done with Hoola. The two shades look really nice together and they've made a really easy cheek combo. I'm still not crazy about Bella Bamba but I think I can manage to make a dent in it when my skintone is darker. 

Hoola is starting to look a bit too warm on me in the last two weeks so I've transitioned into using Burberry's Earthy Blush as a contour. I've rediscovered how much I love using this as a contour shade in the winter. Earthy has a hint of pink so sometimes I'll blend this up higher than I would a more warm bronzer and skip blush. I would consider getting the full size of this powder if I run out of this mini compact. 

I had never really been interested in the Dior Fusion Mono Eyeshadows but their limited edition shade Infinity from this past holiday collection caught my eye. It is gorgeous. So gorgeous that I bought it at full price in the store (if you know me well, you'll know I rarely do that when it comes to beauty products). It's a beautiful golden brown taupe that is perfectly neutral - not too cool and not too warm. It's lovely! The texture is very interesting in that it's kind of a dense mousse. The one downside about this is that shimmer particles fall out onto my cheeks somehow.... But it's such a gorgeous shade that I can live with a little extra sparkle (I'm going to figure out a way to minimize the fall out). It's still available on the Bloomingdales website so I would highly recommend you pick this up while you can. 

What beauty items have made the top of your list this month? I have a ton of products that I purchased in November and December that I haven't tested, much less shared on the blog. So I have a feeling I'll be finding at least a handful of new favorites soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What I Got In My Beautylish Lucky Bag 2017

Despite saying that I wouldn't participate in another grab bag after unboxing last year's Beautylish Lucky Bag, I couldn't help myself and ordered one this year (technically last year since you have to pre-order them the day after Christmas and they ship in January). For those of you who aren't familiar with the Beautylish Lucky Bags, you pay $75 (and $7 shipping) for an assortment of mystery products worth over $150. Some bags are "extra lucky" and contain things ranging from an entire set of Wayne Goss brushes to the 12-pan Viseart eyeshadow palettes. I had a $20 off voucher from the Beautylish holiday event (spend $100 get a $20 off voucher for your next purchase) so I only paid $62 altogether.

Once again, I was in a state of anxiety over what would be in my bag. I was constantly refreshing Instagram and checking on Sephora's community board to see what everyone else was getting. I saw some amazing items (By Terry face palettes, Viseart palettes, ABH Modern Renaissance palette, Wayne Goss face brushes, you get the idea) as well as some extremely underwhelming ones (an unlabeled brush that Beautylish claims is a special-edition Chikuhodo and the Jeffree Star Beauty Killer palette). Lo and behold, I got an okay bag, again. Here's the value breakdown of what I got:

Wayne Goss Brow Set $55 (I got this in my lucky bag last year - see the individual brushes here)
Makeup Atelier Paris 5 Eyeshadow Palette in Natural Chestnut $35
Natasha Denona Blush Duo Palette in #8 Toutou/Peach $38
Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Dark Like Me $18
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray Travel Size $22
Bioderma Sensibio H2O 100 ml $6.90

Total retail value: $174.90

I still think the Wayne Goss brow set is very overpriced, though I have been using at least two of the brushes from the set every day I've worn makeup in the last year. I wish I had gotten the Wayne Goss eye brush instead. Nonetheless, brow brushes are an essential so at least I have a backup.

I was hoping for a Viseart or Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette but the Makeup Atelier Paris one isn't bad. All five shadows are matte neutrals so I'm sure this palette will come in handy for travel. The three lighter shades look very similar so I wish they could have replaced one with a shimmery pop of color.

Out of everything in the bag, I'm most excited to try the Natasha Denona blush duo. The lighter shade can probably work as a highlight when I'm more tan. I like that you can easily use each shade on its own or mix the two for the perfect flush. Both shades have a bit of shimmer but the powders feel ultra smooth and not glittery at all.

I've been wanting to try a polish from Smith & Cult so I was happy to see this in my bag. The vampy shade looks great for this time of year. If I like the formula, I'll consider picking up more shades in the future.

The Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is a cult-favorite hair product but I just don't seem to understand why. It's not really a dry shampoo though it does help cut down on the oily-scalp feeling and provide a bit of volume. It leaves a strange texture to my hair that I can't quite explain. I guess I can consider it a good thing that I wouldn't purchase this again since it's so pricey.

The baby bottles of Bioderma are adorable to look at and convenient for travel or keeping in your gym bag - my only gripe is that they aren't refillable. I used to be a big fan of Bioderma but I've since found that the Garnier Micellar Water is just as good and quite a bit cheaper.

Was this all worth $62? Probably. I'm thankful that I didn't get any of the items I absolutely wouldn't get use out of. But at the same time I really didn't need any of the things I received. Will I partake in next year's lucky bag? I'm not a gambler at all - I've never bought the lottery for myself nor do I have any interest in casinos - but I'd be lying if I said I'm not tempted by the "what if" factor of lucky bags.

This was my last purchase of 2016 to end a year of some crazy beauty spending and I'm dialing my beauty spending way down this year. Just don't be surprised if you see a lot of new products here since I've yet to swatch and review the mountain of eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters and other makeup I've accumulated!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My 2017 Beauty Resolutions

I'm usually not one for resolutions at the beginning of the year - my main reason being that I'm terrible at following through on them. But this year I'm hoping it will be a little different.

Without going into details, last year majorly sucked. I'm not talking about the macro world issues that took place, although those were pretty bad, but about my little corner of the universe. I bring this up because you might have noticed a decrease in the number of blog posts I've published in the past year. Or if you look at my Instagram feed, you might have seen my unusually high number of beauty purchases in recent months. Let's just say I've been using beauty shopping as a coping mechanism and that I need to stop this habit right now.

I looked back at my post from the beginning of last year where I loosely laid out the guidelines I had in mind. I acknowledged my poor resolution-keeping skills and said I wouldn't do any project pan or make a dent challenges. I didn't embark on any of those but I did try a lip stash challenge... which I promptly abandoned a few weeks later (which is why you never saw an update). I got better at de-stashing makeup I wasn't using last year and gave away a lot of things to friends.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the goals I'll be trying to accomplish with regards to my beauty habits:

Cut back significantly on makeup purchases - This especially goes for eyeshadows, cheek products and lip products. I have amassed so many eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters, bronzers and lippies that there's no way I can use up even a fifth of my stash before it goes bad.... I guess I've always known that but writing it out makes it that much worse. The allure of "limited edition" sometimes trips me up but I'm going to try to resist them all for at least the first half of 2017.

Spend less time researching beauty products - From keeping up on new launches to finding out when the best deals are, I spend a lot of my free time researching about beauty. This year, I'm dedicating more time to learning about other things I care about rather than enticing myself with more things I want to purchase.

Use my expensive makeup products more - I want to get better at treating my pricey makeup items less like pretty things to look at and more like, well, makeup. I often hesitate to travel with my high end products for fear of losing or breaking them. But that's quite silly because they were made to be used. I did not shell out $50 for a highlighter only to use it in a flatlay....

Hit pan on at least six shades in my Urban Decay Naked Palette - This is one of the oldest high end eyeshadow palettes I have in my collection and also one of my most versatile. I can do a whole look with just this palette and it's very easy to mix-and-match other shadows with this palette as well. I already see a bit of a dip in Naked (the lighter of the two matte browns) but I think this particular goal could take the entire year to complete.

Share more looks and FOTDs - A lot of my blog content depends on new purchases which gives me an excuse to purchase something. That's just silly since this isn't a job for me (and I don't intend on making it so). I want to share more makeup combinations and ideas with you guys, even if they're simple neutral looks (since that's what I go for 90% of the time).

Continue investing in high quality brushes and rotating out less-used ones - I've been steadily adding to my collection of luxury Japanese-made makeup brushes. But doing a less good job of giving away brushes I don't use as much. I want to continue slowly adding in unique, functional brushes to fill gaps in my collection while passing on the older brushes I don't reach for anymore to someone who would be able to use them.

Most of my beauty resolutions are more akin to guidelines, apart from panning the Naked Palette, because I've found that works better for me. I have more concrete resolutions for the non-beauty parts of my life that I'm a lot more excited about. Here's to hoping I can accomplish those (and we'll see how the beauty ones fare).