Samples I Loved So Much I Bought The Full-Size

First off, I suppose I should start this post off by saying happy new year! It feels strange to be in a new year - 2017 felt incredibly drawn out yet it seemed to get away from me in a blink of an eye. Funny how time works, I suppose.

While most bloggers are doing yearly favorites roundups, I don't really have the mental capacity to go through all my receipts and see what I bought in 2017. A lot of times I'll rediscover something I used to love and forgot about or finally use something new I had been hoarding for months. My beauty cycles don't really go by year so it doesn't make sense for me to do a post like that.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to show you a handful of products that I like a lot. You can tell I was really impressed by these products because I purchased them after falling smitten with the sample versions. I'm a real believer in sampling - maybe it was because I worked at Birchbox for a time and really believed in that portion of their business model. I'm always curious about new launches - samples and minis are my gateway to try something without having to dole out the dough for the full size product. I would say 90% of the time I won't purchase something after trying the sample or travel size and I try a lot of things.

The first product I want to talk about you'll already have seen coming if you read my most recent post on the third edition of the Cult Beauty X Caroline Hirons box, the May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm Concentrate. Back in November I placed a rather spendy order with May Lindstrom and received two deluxe samples of their famed Blue Cocoon balm in my package. I've been interested in the brand for years but always held back due to the price. This balm alone costs $180 so I was both skeptical that it could really be that amazing to warrant the price and also a little worried I'd fall in love and be tempted to drop nearly $200 on essentially a moisturizer. Well, what can I say? I can see why people love Blue Cocoon. It's a solid balm in the pot but melts luxuriously when you rub a bit between your fingers. It sinks into the skin nicely and doesn't leave a greasy residue like some oils. Though shea butter and cacao seed butter are the second and third ingredients, I don't find this heavy or acne-inducing for my skin. While it has a strong herbal scent, it's not irritating for me and seems to be true to its irritation-calming claims. I think this is a lovely winter skin treatment and I use it several times a week, mostly at night before bed. I'm still using my sample jar because a little goes a long way and I think the full size tub will likely last me into 2019.

Another popular "green" skincare brand that I've had my eye on is Tata Harper. I picked up a mini of her Resurfacing Mask as a Sephora 100 point perk and really enjoyed it as a gentle exfoliant. This relies on two types of BHAs and fruit enzymes to gently turn over skin cells. Unlike many chemical exfoliants I've used, this one doesn't burn at all. In fact, I hardly feel it working but once I rinse it off, I definitely see and feel a difference in my skin. I like that I can use this multiple times a week without irritating my skin.

I actually mentioned the Fresh Rose Face Mask last January because I received the sample as the 2016 Sephora birthday gift. I didn't purchase the full size until the recent October VIB sale because it was part of a set of three Fresh masks which was a pretty good value. While I think it's overpriced for what it is, I really enjoy the texture of this mask. It's a lovely spreadable jelly mask that has a lovely rose scent. My skin is always calm and toned after 20 minutes with this on. This is the kind of wash-off mask I love for evenings when you're over-exfoliated and parched and no other mask will do.

For over a year I've been using a tube of plain old Lansinoh lanolin from the Mom & Baby section of Target as my night time lip balm - it's seriously the best affordable lip balm out there. But I decided to give the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask a shot anyway because so many people enjoy it. I bought a set of three mini Bite lip care products which included this "mask", the tube lip balm and the lip scrub. Of the three products, I liked the lip mask the best. It's not really a mask - it's just jazzed up, flavored lanolin. It's also several times the price of plain lanolin. BUT I liked it enough to buy a full-size tube for a few reasons. First off - it works. It doesn't work better than lanolin at keeping my lips moisturized but it's pretty much the same. It also tastes infinitely better. Lanolin doesn't taste bad but perhaps it's the agave that makes the Bite version sweet and yummy. I also like the small, portable metal tube that makes this easy to slip into your makeup bag. It's silly but I feel very self conscious when traveling with a tube of Lansinoh because it literally says "soothes, heals & protects sore nipples" right on the packaging. I'll probably repurchase the plain lanolin just because it's so economical and keep it at home. But the Bite Beauty lip mask will have a place in my makeup bag for now.

Besides dabbing on some undereye concealer, I haven't really used concealer much in the last year or so. That's why I was incredibly surprised to find that I really liked the sample of Nars Soft Matte Concealer that I tried. A little goes a very long way with this - it gives the perfect amount of coverage to conceal acne scars and spots but blends seamlessly into my skin. Seriously, this looks so natural on the skin. It also feels very lightweight and doesn't cake up on my skin. I used the small sample pod more than half a dozen times and barely put a dent into it. Nars might have turned me back into a spot concealer believer with this product.

Here's to hoping 2018 introduces me to more awesome samples that will convert to full size loves! What was the last sample you tried and loved enough to buy?


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