Saturday, March 18, 2017

the month I stopped caring about beauty & the products that got me back into it

I'm the kind of person who actually calls in sick to work when they are sick.  In college I couldn't write my papers when I was hungover (or even a bit drunk).  I don't wear makeup when I'm really tired, and I definitely can't get myself to blog when I'm not feeling well.  Other people can, but I can't.  I'm not proud of it but I accept that about myself.  Maybe I'm weak or maybe health and healing trumps everything else for me.  And obviously life or death matters more than makeup.

Earlier this month my mom (80) was admitted to the hospital for severe pneumonia.  It was all-consuming for me.  I was at the hospital for hours and hours a day, because you know how dicey pneumonia is for the elderly.  When she eventually took a turn for the better she requested to take a shower.  I helped her shower in the shower room down the hall.  She requested a blow dryer and styling cream.  I did her hair for her.  And a week and a half in she requested I bring a little makeup for me to put on her.  It felt good to care for my mom, I was happy to help her feel better after all the many years she has taken care of me, even as an adult.  Finally, a little over two weeks later she was doing well enough and was released to go home.

Of course I still visited her at home but basically I was left with a lot of time on my hands that seemed empty.  I could have caught up on my blogging.  I could have gone to the mall to see what was new at Sephora.  I could have dived head-first into my YouTube beauty videos, but instead I binge-watched episodes of Grey's Anatomy.  You know, life and death.  Everything else felt flat and meaningless.  Maybe I should have tried to rally and apply some cheerful eyeshadow but I just didn't feel like it and I just didn't care.  I figure many women in that situation would have found solace and even distraction in their passion for beauty but to me, then, it seemed supremely unimportant.  In her hospital, my mom cared about her beauty routines, but I had lost my beauty-vixen mojo.  Was I depressed, or had my eyes opened to what was most important in life:  good health and healing?  Either way, it changed my focus.

It seemed for a very long time I didn't bother with makeup etc.  Then one day I cracked open a new bottle of sunscreen and it was like the first buds of Spring emerging after a dark barren winter.  The  La Roche-Posey Anthelios 50 Tinted Mineral Ultra Fluid Sunscreen went on like a dream and gave me creamy, smooth-looking skin, all with a high spf!   I've wanted to try LRP Anthelios for ages and had finally grabbed one at Target a few months back to use when my favorite Algenist sunscreen ran out.  I wanted the regular formula but I guess I accidentally grabbed the tinted version.  Boy am I glad I did!  It is not thick in the slightest, not like a BB cream or tinted moisturizer at all.  The color seems to dissolve into the skin and yet it does something flattering to the complexion.  All without coverage in the traditional sense.  Most importantly of all though, is that it provides serious, mineral-based protection from the sun.  Initially, the texture feels slightly oily but it absorbs well enough so that you can barely feel it on your skin at all.  It is loaded with antioxidants and is safe for sensitive skin. That means no bumps or breakouts!  Yay!

The second beauty product that nudged me out of my lethargy was the NARS Velvet Lip Glide.  These had been all over YoutTube and beauty blogs a couple months back, but charming as they sounded I figured I had enough lip products for the time being.  They just didn't jump out at me. Then I got a deluxe size sample of the Glide in my February Sephora Play! Box, but during my hibernation from beauty (and blogging) I completely forgot about it until two days ago when I spotted it and decided to try it on.  Oh heaven!  It felt so satiny, hydrating, and comforting.  The comforting of this liquid lipstick was exactly what I needed. Velvet Glide is not a long-wearing liquid lipstick that stays on forever and drys the bejeezus out of your lips.  It is more like someone melted a creamy lipstick, thinned it out with a tad bit of non-sticky gloss, then put some kind of silky moisturizer in it.  The opaque formula was such a relief to my poor parched lips.  The color I got in my Play! Box wasn't the most flattering shade for me so I want to go to the store and pick out a few shades that I truly love.  This isn't transfer-proof, and won't last all day long, but the Velvet Glide is utterly luscious.

While these two products steered me back toward my passion for beauty, I still don't feel like my usual self.  But I guess I'm just someone who would rather help my mom safely take a shower than keep abreast of the latest makeup trends.   Or who doesn't blog "monthly favorites" when I don't feel up to it.

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Thursday, March 2, 2017

comparing more mascaras

I just might be the pickiest person on earth when it comes to mascara.  And I am so fickle.  Some might even call me a mascara whore.  I always have at least three or four open and in rotation at any given time.  But honestly, half the fun is experimenting with layering different types together.  It's very creative, kinda like I get to be with my skincare, or even cooking.  I am always in search of the perfect combination, or really the perfect single mascara.  I've done a few mascara reviews (links listed below) but I haven't done one in a while so I figured I was due.  I've since tested out a good number.  But as I said, I am super picky about my mascaras so you may or may not agree with me on some of these reviews.  If you have any mascaras you want to recommend to me I would love to know, I am always on the hunt.  Does the perfect mascara really even exist?

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara gives what I like to describe as a "girl next door" look.  You know, kinda average, kinda pretty.  The formula is on the dryish side and as it ages it gets thicker and gives more volume.  I particularly like this as it matures, it just gets prettier.  And one of the best things about it is that it lasts.  It wears for hours and hours.  It's a workhorse.  The wand has a regular bristle brush that delivers no clumps.  The Sephora website describes it as having "super-saturated length for stretched-out lashes".  I'm not so sure about the lengthening bit but I would say it's a very agreeable mascara - I bet there're people out there who really do love it.

The Benefit Roller Lash Lifting & Curling Mascara took a while for me to really appreciate.  Everyone around me was raving about it, and even though I had tried it I was focusing more on other mascaras at the time.  However now I would say it is one of the better mascaras out there.  Heck, it even won an Allure Best Of Beauty 2016 Award.  The curved brush head is rubber and the bristles really grab your lashes.  They Do lift and Do curl.  Maybe not as much as an actually lash curler would, but still....
 I just think the not-too-thick, not-too-thin consistency makes for a really flattering look.  It's an easy mascara to swipe on, gives great separation, and it never flakes or smudges, or clumps, at least not on me.   Plus it comes in brown, and plus the packaging is really cute.  I highly suggest giving it a try!

IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara makes your eyes look wide open.  The formula is on the thick side and can get clumpy by the second coat, but I just tweak that with my lash comb designed specifically for such a situation.  It's an extremely sexductive mascara and is favored by many a beauty YouTuber.   The brush head is dense with regular, not rubber bristles that are very compact.   This design gives maximum volume and curl.  As with all It Cosmetics products, this mascara has conditioning skincare benefits in the formula, which is awesome although I haven't used it consistently enough to see any conditioning effects.  Superhero is in a huge container (with only the average amount of product),  so it barely fits in my mascara drawer, but that may be neither here nor there.  It is yet another one that lasts all day without flaking or smudging or wearing off.  At the same time, it gets very fibrous as it ages.  Not flaking off but not the best consistency either I don't think.  It's sexy but I'm not sure I'd buy it again.  I'd rather keep exploring.

CoverGirl by LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara separates your lashes beautifully with a dry, non-clumpy formula.  It is for those who want a natural look.  However, on me it always ends up flaking off.  I wish it didn't because I adore how it makes my lashes look and the price point can't be beat.  I know not everyone has the flaking problem that I do, but for me it was a deal-breaker.  The wand is curved and the bristles are quite small and made of rubber.  I hope you don't think I'm being snobby about this one because it's drugstore, because really I'm not.  Maybelline makes one of my all time favorite mascaras, the Lash Sensational, and in general I prefer Maybelline mascaras over CoverGirl.   But do your research on this, read the reviews, because maybe I'm in the minority with the flaking issue.  I hope so.  Otherwise, it is really a lovely mascara.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara is one of the pricier mascaras on this list but is desirable none-the-less.  The texture is very wet and very thick and tremendously luxurious, but tends to clump if you are not careful.  And don't even get me started on the packaging - it is irresistible!  So damn substantial and classy!  The bristles are standard bristles that indent in the middle in order to reach and envelope every single lash.  I prefer to use only one coat of this, or else layer a lengthening mascara (like the Benefit Roller Lash) on top of the one coat.  But for those of you who want mondo volume, and even a bit of chunkiness, this will be the right mascara for you.  It's a drama queen!

The Sephora Collection V For V.O.L.U.M.E. Mascara in Blue was a disappointment to me.  I always like to keep a bright blue mascara on hand but because I don't use it everyday I prefer not to spend a lot of money on it.  Blue mascaras have been a staple of mine for years and I like some better than others.  This one wasn't the worst by any means, but it sure wasn't the best.  The color payoff is terrific, nice and bright just how I like it, but the consistency was too wet and gloppy.  It just clumped all my lashes together.  Often I layer blue mascara on top of a coat of black and I can kind of make it work this way.  For a cheap blue mascara I way preferred the Sephora Collection Full Action Extreme Effect Mascara but unfortunately they no longer make it in blue anymore.  This one isn't so bad that I'll throw it away like I did with the CoverGirl Katy Kat Eye Mascara (so dry it hurt my eyes!).  I will grin and bear it and use it up.  It gets decent reviews on the Sephora website, so maybe I just got a bad one, or maybe the black color works better.  But I suspect a big part of the problem is that the (regular) bristles are spaced too far apart and way too stiff.  Darn.  

To read about some mascaras that I love check out:  must have mascaras 2016, and magnificent mascaras, which one is right for you?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Thursday, February 23, 2017

splurge! February 2017

I have been hardcore into skincare lately and that obsession is going to be reflected in this month's splurge! post.  It's just what's appealing to me right now, especially stuff for dry Winter skin.

After spending most of my Christmas money on beauty products (what else is new) I am currently on a no-buy.  That doesn't stop me from looking though.  Or from getting samples.  Lots and lots of samples.  For future reference, you understand.

But yeah, I love to look.  And I love the feeling of pretending I'm going to buy something outrageously expensive.  Is that weird?  Call me shallow, but I revel in the feeling I get standing in the middle of luxe department stores' beauty departments.  Bloomingdales in Chestnut Hill MA was my first love.  Harrod's was crowded and over-whelming, but what an experience.  And Barney's in San Francisco makes me feel simultaneously exclusive and hip.  Do you ever feel like that?  What is your favorite place to splurge (or pretend to splurge)?  Here is what I recommend:

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Rescue Cream has it all.  In fact, it is called an "intense firming plumping balm-elixir", and contains time-released retinol.  But not so much retinol that it disturbs my sensitive skin.  Other powerhouse ingredients include:  red algae for repairing damage and protecting from further damage, Olus oil and vitamin E, super peptides, and Winter Daphne Stem Cell Extract for firming.  Sounds incredible, doesn't it?  Its only drawback is what I love most about it, which is the super rich texture.  I feel like the texture may be too much for some, but I can't get enough of that emollient goodness.  It will probably feel like it is just sitting on your skin but believe me, it is actually penetrating and working wonders.  Anyway, I love that feeling.  I would slather real butter on my face at night if it worked.  No matter how rich a cream or oil I use, my skin always wakes up dry, parched and irritated.  Until the CT Magic Night Cream that is.  If you are extremely dry or sensitive or menopausal I think you would really adore this moisturizer.  It's pricey but is a decent size.  I say go to Nordstrom, get a free sample, and try it out for yourself.

$145 for 1.7 oz

The Les Parfums Louis Vuitton collection released last year is scent-sational!   Light and lovely, they are not the knock-you-over-the head-type like many luxury brands are.  Also the history is fascinating.  Until now, LV hasn't released any perfume since right after World War II in 1946.  It took a good five years for Jacques Cavallier Belletrud to come up with these seven beauties, and I am enamored with every single one.  If you are like me, you may want to go for the miniatures set with adorable little 10 ml bottles of all seven fragrances for $290.  Otherwise, the average 3.4 oz bottle sells for $240, and the large 6.8 oz bottle runs $350.  BUT you can bring in your empty bottle and have it refilled for only $130.  Now that's a bargain!
Surprisingly, my favorite of the collection is the Rose des Vents.  I say surprisingly because I have been so bored with rose perfumes lately.  But Rose des Vents is not your average rose.  It's not a classic rose, it's not a dark rose.  It's not even a sophisticated rose.  I would call it a fruity rose.  I really pick up the peach, and iris, and cedar.  And it's probably just my imagination because I don't find these notes listed anywhere, but I think I smell a bit of white floral thrown in.  It's divine!

$240 for 100ml

$33 really isn't all that much money, if say you were going to buy a sweater or an eye cream.  But $33 for an eyelash curler falls into the extravagant category.  Still, the surratt beauty Revelee Lash Curler is worthy of its hefty price tag.  Beauty mavens worldwide love it for several reasons.  #1 No pinching.  This is due to the long but shallow curve.   #2 It actually elongates the lashes.  I'm not quite sure how but it might have something to do with the firm yet bouncy cushion.  #3 Sturdily built.  #4 Fits well for almost every eye shape.  Again because of the long but shallow arc, and also because it opens up really wide.  If your budget can handle it, or if you are all about the lashes, then go for it - you'll love it!


Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion.  #ohmygodilovethissomuch  It goes on like a dream:  comforts and moisturizes and smells heavenly.  The only problem with it is that it is so luscious I always end up lavishing it on and thus go through the tube all too quickly.  I believe the lemon thyme extract smell is literally addictive (and I mean "literally" in the true sense of the word here, not in the over-used jargon way of late).  But here is the question you all want to know:  does it really firm the skin?   Yes, it does a bit.  Mostly if you are using it twice a day.  It doesn't get rid of cellulite.  And it works much better if you go to the effort of dry brushing before you shower, then apply the cream afterward to slightly damp skin.  As with your face skincare routine, you need to exfoliate your body's skin in order for products to penetrate better.  But honestly, I am often too lazy to do all that.  I love this cream anyway and enjoy it for its sensualness alone.

$65 for 6.7 oz

La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil is insanely expensive but if you are a millionaire it could be worth it.  I got several free samples at Nordstrom and fell head-over-heels.  I didn't even get enough product to see long-term anti-aging benefits but I appreciated the scent, the texture, and the hydration of it so much that I would buy a full bottle if I could.  It is advertised to help with the first signs of aging (lots of antioxidants!), however my already mature skin saw some excellent results from it too.
 I am all about the face oils lately, have been testing out a bunch, and this falls into my top 3 because it is majorly hydrating and very protecting.  At first I thought it was a little too greasy then realized I was using way too much of it.  A little bit goes a long way!  But despite my over-use, it actually absorbed easily.  It is quite fragrant (there is "fragrance" listed half-way down the ingredient list) which some of you may not like, but I enjoy the floral/essential oil scent, and besides it didn't seem to irritate my sensitive skin.  Bottom line:  their "rare and pure seed oils" do the trick!   

$330 for 1 oz

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil is totally hedonistic.  And sparkly - in the best possible way!  It's a very light weight oil; not much for hydrating but more for creating opulence.  And the smell, wow the smell!  It is infused with the TF Soleil Blanc scent but is smoother and less in your face than the perfume itself.  I prefer it.  And I can't decide which I like better, the sultry sun-kissed gold and platinum leaf specks, or the tuberose/coconut/amber fragrance.  But nevermind, it's a package deal, and the package is magnificent.  It probably looks best over a tan but I also like to rock its summertime vibe in the depths of winter to boost my mood and flagging morale.  Delicioso!

$98 for 3.4 oz

If you want to know what else is worth splurging on check out some of my other favorite splurge! posts:  

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Saturday, February 18, 2017

why I have come to love Clinique

It used to be that as an esthetician working with professional grade skincare I looked down upon Clinique.  I am ashamed to admit I was a snob.  Even when working at Sephora years ago I felt there were much more potent and exciting brands to recommend.  Clinique just reminded me of 1980 junior high school and my friend Lisa Adler whose mother bought her the ubiquitous toner, yellow moisturizer, and blush in the marbled green compact.  We didn't take it seriously at the time, and I still hadn't taken Clinique seriously until about a couple years ago.  It turns out I just needed to be brave enough, or open-minded enough, to try.

It started out gradually.  First I bought the Quickliner For Eyes and ended up very impressed.  It was a slow work day at Sephora and I was occupying myself by testing out and swatching random products that were located in my "zone".  This included stuff on the Clinique gondola. The Quickliner came in a gorgeous slate color that was creamy but not too soft or oily.  It drew an easy line that stayed put.  I didn't normally like retractable eyeliners but this one was unusual in that it was able to make a thin enough line.  And the rest is history....I have owned several Quickliners by now, the color choices are awesome.

Way back before the current double-cleansing with oils craze, there was Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm.  That and the REN balm were pretty much the only oily balm options at Sephora.  Of course now TTDO is all you hear about on YouTube.  And with good reason.  This gently melts and dissolves all makeup without stripping your skin or being harsh in any way.  I have never heard of it breaking anyone out either.  It is a revelation to me because I no longer have to tug at my eyes to remove my mascara, and there is no stinging involved either.  Really it's perfect.


Or for a lazy superficial cleanse the Take The Day Off Micellar Cleansing Towelettes For Face & Eye are lovely and very effective.  Definitely in my top 3 favorite wipes of all time.

After these two discoveries, I grew more confident in the brand.  My next purchases were for my increasingly dry skin.  I had been obsessed with finding the perfect hydrating spray, when I heard British beauty guru Sally Hughes mention that during her childbirth labor the constant spritzing of Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray Thirsty Skin Relief helped keep her going.  That sealed the deal for me!  Now it is, by far and away, my most used moisturizing mist.  Oil-free, alcohol-free, it is loaded with aloe and glycerin.

The other super hydrator I got was the Smart Night Custom Repair Moisturizer - Very Dry.  The technology of this cream is amazing.  While smoothing lines and wrinkles it also attracts just the right amount of moisture that your skin requires that night.  Left to its own devices my skin will wake up in the morning a parched angry red mess, but with this cream I am left plump and smooth and best of all no irritated redness.  I have unsuccessfully tried many night creams but Smart Night seems to do the trick.  It also comes in lighter weight formulas:  dry-combination, and combination-oily.

My most coveted Clinique product these days is their Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer.  I woudn't normally go for a Clinique foundation but I received a free sample of this and for some reason decided to just try it (see samples made me buy it).  I assumed the texture would be too thick and cakey and drying but it turned out smooth and satiny despite its heavy coverage consistency.  I was going to save this for special occasion makeup but in fact I love it so much I use it frequently - no special occasion required.  It's like velvet!  A very flattering velvet.

Last and best of all, Clinique makes some lesser-known perfumes.  Stuff that you can't find at Macy's or Sephora.  They almost fall into the niche category, and you could consider yourself uber cool to own them.  I discovered their Beyond Rose (a down and dirty amber rose) at Harrod's where it was an exclusive a few years back, but now is available in the states online.  I found their Aromatics in Black (dry mysterious jasmine and myrrh) at Saks, and am dying to return to get Aromatics Black Cherry (spicy green floral fruit with amber).  You can read more about these in my post huge perfume haul.

I don't know how, when, or where Clinique got such a bad rap (or really more of an indifferent rap) with us beauty snobs, but I am here to say we were wrong.  Very wrong.  Of course I still wouldn't use their Clarifying Lotions (ie. toners) because they have a lot of alcohol in them, but no brand is perfect.  As a professional, I would also recommend their Age Defence BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30Cheek Pop blush, Bottom Lash Mascara, and the Clinique For Men Non-Streak Face Bronzer (for women to use as well).  Over all, I am excited about Clinique and the direction they are going in.  I believe they are totally worth checking out!

What are your feelings about Clinique?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Monday, February 13, 2017

England vacation haul

I am a huge Anglophile - even my bf is English.  All my favorite beauty YouTubers are British too.  So when we made our yearly holiday trip to visit his family in the UK,  I jumped at the chance to buy everything (well not quite everything) I had seen on my Brit's YouTube channels.  There were a few things I really wanted but didn't buy because of my current budget, such as the gorgeous glowy Guerlain Parure Gold Fluid Radiance Foundation ($71.25) that Pixiwoo used in their video.  I by-passed Sleek MakeUP altogether because they have never appealed to me even though loads of people love their palettes.
And I have to say my biggest enjoyment (and plunder) was going to the famous British drug stores Boots and Superdrug.

Most of all I was dying to try the COlab Dry Shampoo Sheer & Invisible because it was created by the charming Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends.  I found it at Superdrug and chose the "London" ("classic yet contemporary") scent, although judging by what they had in stock "Paris" seemed to be the most popular.  That was the full size but I also got the travel size of their Extreme Volume formula in "Monaco".  Both scents were fine, nothing too offensive.

The Extreme Volume formula is no joke; it thickens up the hair like nobody's business - awesome for those especially greasy days.  Or back-combing even.  I would have returned to buy a full sized bottle of it but dithered because I worried that it kinda made my hair look dull so I didn't bother.  Still, it was so cheap I probably should have anyway.

The Sheer & Invisible formula was ok.  They claim it leaves no white residue, which is completely true, but it didn't seem to do too much for my hair.  No hardcore shampooing.  No big volume or texture. It wasn't bad per se, good for a light fluff, and besides I'm excited to own a little piece of Ruth Crilly so I'm glad I got it.

I bought a horrible mascara but it was because I was jet lagged and not paying attention.  I meant to buy the Max Factor Velvet Volume False Lash Effect but accidentally grabbed the L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes which you can easily get here in the states.  I tried it when I got home and it sucked so bad I immediately threw it out.  I was pissed!  That's why it isn't even shown in my photo.  A stupid mistake.  Oh well.

My best and biggest surprise is the Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Spot Wand.  This wasn't on my list of goodies to buy but after the long flight and climate change my skin was looking particularly heinous.  I was browsing the aisles looking for anything that might help when I happened upon this.  It turned out to work like a charm - got rid of my pimples and redness almost overnight.  This has a handy double wand, one end for daytime treatment and one end for nighttime treatment and the formula is very gentle.  I should have gone back for a few more to bring stateside.  Kicking myself!

 Bioderma Atoderm Lip Balm was something I heard about on Lily Pebbles YouTube channel.  She was experiencing severely dry and damaged lips and after much trial and error it ended up being the only thing that helped her.  I don't quite find it to be the miracle cure that she did but I love the light silky texture and the ease of applying it in its roll-up tube applicator.  It's kind of addictive, I'd probably buy it again.

During my one cherished day in London (I always wish for more time there) I made a special trip to Charlotte Tilbury's store in Covent Garden.  I was hoping they still sold their limited edition lipstick The Queen* (a quintessential matte red) but alas it was no longer available.  I tried on a couple other lipsticks and when I put on K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in Love Bite my friend Tracy and I instantly declared it a "must have".  It is a vibrant juicy red leaning a tad bit on the blue-red side.  Just right for my complexion.  And the creamy formula lasts for hours without bleeding or traveling.  A perfect souvenir.

Even many of the American beauty YouTubers have mentioned the Bourjois Healthy Mix Gel Foundation at some point, so obviously I had to get it.  They described it as being light to maybe medium coverage with a natural look.  And that is true.  But for me, I'd rather use a good tinted moisturizer or CC cream.  It didn't do anything for me but then again I'm kinda into a heavier coverage lately.  I've only used this twice so I am willing to give it another try.  After all, everyone else seems to love it.

P.S.  I just noticed on the Boots website that they seem to have reformulated it, or put out a new version.  Maybe I'm not the only one who wasn't wowed by the original formula.

Of course I had to get a perfume and Floris seemed the obvious choice.  I do love the very British Jo Malone but that is readily available in the states.  Floris, however, is harder to come by.  It is a traditional British perfume house established in 1730 and the perfume I chose, Edwardian Bouquet, was actually created in 1901.  Edwardian Bouquet is an earthy spicy floral, kind of powdery, kind of regal.  It is green hyacinth with a sandalwood base.  Many royals and celebrities wear/have worn Floris and this is the second time I bought that brand when in the UK.

So, what British brands have you heard about or tried?  What should I get next year on my annual jaunt?

* When I went to create the Charlotte Tilbury link I noticed that this was available again on their website.   I might buy it but it's not the same as getting "The Queen" actually in England.

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

January beauty favorites 2017

January and February are always rough for me as far as feeling inspired and motivated.  Thus this post is overdue because I'd much rather be hibernating like a bear.  I've been fantasizing about the "good old days" when people supposedly rose with the sun and went to bed when it got dark.  It just seems so much more natural that way, and in sync with things, but how did they get anything done?  And did they in fact really do that?  Maybe the farmers....

But I am not a farmer.  I am a beauty blogger living in an urban environment, with a crippling reliance on electricity and the internet.  So after binge-watching skincare queen Caroline Hirons YouTube videos I am finally feeling a modicum of inspiration (if you are passionate, or even just curious about skincare, you really need to check her out.  She's a "cheeky" Brit on youtube** and blog).
And just to clarify, I wasn't un-inspired about these products, it was only the writing bit that had me procrastinating.  The products themselves I LOVE!

In January I ended up buying a lot of Pixi Beauty skincare and fell hard for their Hydrating Milky Serum.   I really like their Glow Tonic glycolic toner, Glow Mist setting spray, Rose Oil Blend, and the new Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse, but to me the Milky Serum was the most amazing.  My skin had been beyond dry this Winter and nothing was helping until I bought all the new Pixi gear, however it became clear the serum was the heavy-hitter.  I tried the serum by itself first and saw some results right away, then after a few days of accumulation my skin was dramatically different.  If you haven't tried Pixi skincare you should, the price isn't too high and the products are apparently very effective.  My Target is usually sold out of a lot of their stuff so I just order online from their website.

Now that I have raved on and on about Pixi Beauty I want to rave about my mirror.  The Sanheshun 7X Magnifying Lighted Travel Mirror, Locking Suction Mount, battery Operated, Square has been my best beauty investment of 2016.  I often take it for granted so kept forgetting to put it in my favorites in 2016, but will mentioning it now.  It is a 5.2 X 5.2 inch mirror that I attached to my mirrored medicine cabinet in the bathroom.  Despite its title I don't travel with it, it stays put in my bathroom and I use it many, many times a day.  I use it to monitor my skin's hydration levels, make sure my foundation has gone on seamlessly, and apply most of my makeup using it, only double-checking it in my big mirror.  I love a constant check in throughout the day.  And for some weird reason I also like to watch myself brush my teeth up close in it.  When I bought this mirror I had no idea it would make such an impact in my life but now I can't imagine not having it.  I find it to be the perfect amount of magnifcation;  any less wouldn't be enough and any more would be too much for doing my makeup.  I got it on Amazon, who are now out of stock, perhaps permanently.  As of 2/7/2017 Walmart and ebay are currently, temporarily, out of it so my link is to Quality Beauty Supplies who I know nothing about except that they do have it in stock right now. 

My favorite impulse buy last month was the Sol de Janeiro Lip Balm Brazilian Kiss Cupuaccu Lip Butter.  I tossed it in my basket while waiting in line at Sephora without even checking the price (you know their treacherous check out aisle lined with goodies designed to do exactly that).  It was almost a dumb move because it turned out to be quite expensive ($18), but I ended up loving it so much it wasn't a regret.  Also it's a big fat .21 oz twist-up tube which almost justifies the price (Burt's Bees, Chapstick etc. run about .15 oz).  Sol de Janiero is a Brazilian brand that took the world by storm with their famous Bum Bum Cream (details in my November favorites), and this lip balm is turning out to be just as addictive.  It is all natural and the main ingredients are Cupuaccu Butter, Acai, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Beeswax.  It has a faint almost bakery scent and feels like really silky actual butter on your lips.  I keep it right next to my laptop and apply throughout the day.  Of course it is very hydrating too!

Another lip product I am loving is the Tarte Lip Facial Lip Scrub.  Tarte released this months ago, in the Summer I think, and it swiftly sold out everywhere, never to return.  Or so we thought.  But recently, like magic, it reappeared in my local Sephora and I snapped it up.  I had been kicking myself for not buying it the first time round so am very relieved to finally have a go at it.  In fact I better return and buy a few more just in case, because I absolutely adore it.  For me, it is the best lip scrub I have ever tried.  No lie. I like the chubby pencil format that is hydrating as well as exfoliating.  The minute scrubby grains aren't harsh at all (the exact right consistency) and are contained in a creamy, slightly sticky lip balm that tastes sweet.  I hope Tarte manages to keep it on the market on a permanent basis because I am recommending it to absolutely everyone.

Flower Beauty, Drew Barrymore's brainchild at Walmart, recently released some terrific new makeup.  I bought the Flower Pots Powder Blush in Sweet Pea and the Shimmer & Strobe Highlighting Palette.  Don't make the mistake I made though of assuming all Walmart stores carry the Flower Beauty brand.  I drove a half hour to go to the BIG Walmart, assuming that of course they would have the new releases, and was pissed when I got there because they didn't have any Flower products at all.  I ended up ordering my goodies on line and paying shipping.  Hmph.  But anyway it was fine because I ended up loving them.  The packaging on all the new stuff is so so pretty!

The blush looks like a smaller version of the Milani Rose Powder Blush, in other words a beautiful embossed rose.  It is a velvety texture with very good pigment and it lasted most of the day on me.  The color Sweet Pea is a muted dusty pink that looked natural and flattering if I applied it lightly; pretty bold and more bright if I applied it heavily.

The highlighting palette is on the powdery side but blended into my skin quite well.  It is just a teeny bit sparkly (not glitter, not chunky!) which may or may not be your thing.  I liked that it was easy to go for a kinda subtle look with this, but you could build it up even more if you prefer.  The palette contains three different colors of highlighter:  a true gold, a soft pink, and a light champagne.  They seemed to wear almost as long as most highlighters do on me.  Certainly for the price point they are great.  And fun!

What are your favorites so far for the new year?

** Her "Empties" videos are so much fun!

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

samples made me buy it

Sometimes shoppers complain about the 100 point perks at Sephora.  If you are part of their rewards program you rarely get discounts but you do earn free deluxe size samples or "perks" as they call them.   This may sound stingy to some but I have ended up buying quite a few full size products of the samples that I got from Sephora.  Obviously it works out well for them but I am always excited to discover new loves.

Also at Sephora they are happy to make a free sample of whatever product you request.  Or they just hand you random stuff they want to promote.  But for the purposes of this blog post I am only going to talk about unsolicited samples ie. stuff I did not ask for.  Oh with one caveat, a couple of these samples came in my Sephora Play! Box which I guess means I indirectly asked for them, but then again not, because I don't get to choose what's in my box.  So yeah, these are all going to be products I didn't specifically request, wasn't even looking for, and in some cases didn't even think I'd like.  But like them I did, in fact LOVED them, and so ended up spending my own money buying them.

Here is what I am excited about, my wonderful inadvertent discoveries:

My latest and greatest is the Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer.  I got a little sachet of this with an online order and assumed I wouldn't like it because I thought it would be thick and cakey and drying.  Something got into me one day though and I just put it on and was delightfully surprised at how flawless it made me look.  It had a nice satin finish, not dry at all, and a full coverage effect that didn't look cakey in the least.  It instantly became my most favorite foundation (and I am a foundation hoarder).

I don't remember exactly how I got a sample of Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, I think maybe it was in a Play! box, but it ended up making my Must Have Mascaras list.  It gave super great, moist, volume for an irresistible come-hither look.  A couple coats of this and I would say it is one of the most volumizing but clump-free mascaras I have ever tried.

One day at the cash register a Sephora Sales Associate tossed a handmade sample of Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask in my bag.  When I got home I was just going to throw it out because I thought it would be too harshly clarifying; more for someone with oily skin.  But I decided to try it on my T-zone and it turned out not to be too harsh at all.  In fact it gave me no redness whatsoever, but it did eliminate every last blackhead.  Amazing!  Now it's my favorite way to exfoliate (I only leave it on for 5 mins. because of my sensitive skin).

I got a travel size Ouai Wave Spray in one of my Play! boxes.  It was pretty cool but what I really fell in love with was the brand itself.  The spray enhanced a gentle wave and texture in my hair without being sticky or too dry.  Nice, but it also meant there wasn't as much hold as some other wave sprays.  However it was evident that the quality of the product was exquisite, healthy, and luscious.  Needless to say I am dying to try more from Ouai!

In another Play! box was a small size of the Sephora Collection Contour Eye Pencil 12hr Wear Waterproof in Flirting Game-Taupe.  I tried it in a what-the-hell moment and it ended up lasting all day.  And let me tell you, that is a feat because I have very watery eyes. There are a scant few eyeliners that I can wear.  The color was a lovely neutral shade (actually a bit darker than what I consider taupe to be) which went with many eye looks, and I liked how the soft creamy texture gave me a sultry expression.  

I adored the deluxe sample of Glam Glow Supermud Clearing Treatment mask against all odds.   I never would have chosen it because it was supposedly for normal to oily skin and my skin was dry and sensitive.   Who knows why I decided to try it, but it made my face look glorious.   I was all glowy!  My skin was actually hydrated and thoroughly cleaned out while all redness was reduced.  I don't know how others' dry sensitive skin would like it, but mine loved it.

I got a little card of Pinrose Merry Maker Eau de Parfum with an online order and after wearing it for only a day went and ordered a full bottle of it (partially because it turned out to be fairly inexpensive).  It even made it into my November Favorites post.  It was a sexy nectarine scent that for some reason reminded me of popular unisex fragrances of the 90s. Very nostalgic, and I became addicted to its uplifting vibe!

What samples, from Sephora or elsewhere, have caused you to buy a full size?

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. And product pictures were stolen from the link's websites. I am not financially compensated for my reviews