All posts by Laura

Review it! Dove body scrub

When the oppressive summer heat hits a solid stride, that makes me reach for body scrubs.  Something about the weather being all hot and sticky makes the idea of exfoliating extra appealing.   Whatever the reason, Dove’s new body scrubs arrived on the scene just in time for me.

These scrubs come in three scents: Kiwi seeds and Aloe, Pomegranate seeds and Shea butter and Crushed Macadamia and Rice Milk. I was fortunate enough to receive all three of these to try out.

Honestly? I love these. Each scent is pleasant and fresh, and not overpowering. The texture is very nice, its almost totally opaque when you first smooth it on; it does start to thin out as you scrub, but it doesn’t dissipate too quickly.

See that rich texture?

The packaging on these is also very good. The  lids on the jars have just enough grip to make opening them in the shower easy, and the protective inner lid keeps things tidy and pops out easily, there’s even a little pull-tab. I have also noticed that the open jar sits quite steadily inside the outer lid, which is great when you don’t have a lot of shelf space.

Close up detail of the inner lid

So I have to say, these scrubs are a total win for me. All of the scents are nice, the texture is totally luxurious, and it’s consistent between the different scents.  For a drugstore item, I think these are totally worth it, even at a higher price point, I think these would still be worth it to me. The hardest decision here is which scent to use next!

 

 

Disclaimer: I received these from a promotional giveaway, with no obligation or compensation.

Beauty Box Battle: July!

Its that time again!

Mail’s in!

Last month, I called the winner as Sephora Play! so lets start there:

Goodness, apparently!

Sephora Play contained:

Tarte Amazonian Clay 14-hour blush in Paaarty

I actually have several of these tarte blushes, all of them from sample boxes actually. They are good quality, and very easy to use, and I never have gotten the same shade twice, so its always nice to add to my collection. Also, despite the packaging making me think this would be more of a bronzey color, when I swatched it (as you can see here), the color is a lovely natural pink flush.

 

 

 

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment in Dream

As you can see, this is a very subtle tint, as its more of a lip treatment than a makeup item. I have had lipbalms from Fresh before, but never one of the Advanced Therapy ones, so I look forward to seeing if this makes any difference in the fine lines I get around my lips, as their copy promises it will do!

 

 

 

Next item is Youth To the People’s Superfood Air-Whip Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Cream , which is quite the mouthful for this little tub! I have actually received this moisturizer before, possibly from Allure’s box, and I found it felt nice enough, but I remember that I actually needed quite a bit to cover my entire face, so the tiny sample did not last very long. So its nice to have some extra moisturizer on hand, but this one isn’t very exciting.

Tarte Deep Dive Cleansing gel (rainforest of the sea collection) –  My second skin care item is another one I’ve had before, but I got that one from a 500-point sephora reward kit that I selected. This is a nice cleanser that I liked using, not too drying or anything, so its nice to have more of it.

Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen the final skin care item in the box is not only new to me, but a fairly high end item, as I see that the full size bottle (one ounce/30ml) goes for about $115. The sample tube is .13 ounces, or 3.7 ml, which seems like a fairly decent size for a serum sample. I’m always happy to try some fancy skincare, and I love a nice hydrating serum so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one!

The final item in the box is specifically cited as being the “bonus” item, but even so I find it disappointing. The Rahua Freestyle Texturizer is a foil packet containing 5ml of product, and the product itself is for creating a “voluminous, tousled look.” With my hair down to the small of my back, texturizers aren’t really something I reach for. So with the one-time use packaging, and the fact that its a miss for my hair type/style, this one is a bit of a let-down.

Overall this is not a bad selection, 4 out of the 6 items I’m quite pleased about. I would give this box a solid B.

Next up, Ipsy!

FEEL Restored Warming Clay Mask I love trying new face masks, and I especially love masks that warm up on your face as you use them, but I’m kind of suprised to get one in a summer bag, it feels like more of a cool weather item?  But I do enjoy that in a face mask, so I’m delighted to try this one, totally new brand for me too!

AHAVA Facial Mud Exfoliator – this promises to be a gentle and moisturizing facial exfoliant, which is the only kind my skin seems to tolerate lately! I’ve tried a few things from AHAVA already and been happy enough with them, so I’m glad to try this one next.

LORD & BERRY Ultimate Lipliner in Mandarin – this lipliner feels very smooth and easy to apply, but the orangey tone is not my usual thing. But it is summery so I guess it makes sense for a July bag, and I’ll give it a try.

Easy to swatch too

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFRA COSMETICS Eyeshadow in Exquisite I have gotten some OFRA products before, some highlight and blush, so I know they make good powder products, but I was quite happy to get this sparkly black shadow, as I don’t have a lot of colors like it:

 

As you can see, the swatch is kind of light, so this winds up being more of a charcoal color than a black, but I’m happy with that because I think that is a more versatile, wearable option. I can see myself using a damp brush to wear this powder as an eyeliner for sure!

 

 

 

SUGAR COSMETICS Stroke of Genius Heavy-Duty Kohl in 02 Purple Rain the final standard item in this box was this lovely full size eyeliner:

 

As you can see, this is a deep rich purple, which I was totally delighted to get. The formula glides on very smooth, and I can’t wait to use it!

 

 

Anyone who has gotten a beauty subscription for a while can tell you, its SO great to get a colorful liner instead of a black! Black eyeliner is useful, and a common standard for sure, but subscription boxes tend to send them far too often, so you can easily wind up with a larger supply than you need. I think Ipsy must have heard this feedback, because this item was only sent out to subscribers in purple or green, nice one Ipsy!

This month, I also redeemed some of the points I’ve accumulated on Ipsy. I dont’ really count this along with the rest of the bag, as I chose this item myself from a list of options. You get points by giving them feedback on your monthly items, and I chose to redeem mine in the form of a lip scrub:

The lipscrub is from Naked Cosmetics, and its their Vanilla Creme lipscrub. the scent is a nice rich vanilla without being super strong, and the sugar texture is present enough to exfoliate without being overly harsh,so I’ll definitely make use of this.

 

 

 

 

Overall I’m pretty happy with Ipsy this month. The makeup items are fun interesting colors (of good quality) and the skin care items look useful and are large enough samples to really get an idea of the products. While I don’t really include the lipscrub among the items they send since I chose it, I DO consider that Ipsy has a reward program generous enough that I can get a bonus item a handful of times each year.  I’d give this bag an A!

Finally, lets look at the little red box:

No really – EIGHT items!

Wow, Allure kind of went ham this month! I am not complaining, so lets take a look!

Ouai Haircare Leave-In Conditioner – I have tried Ouai before, but not this particular product (I got the wave spray previously). I am delighted to see that this has the same fresh, gently floral scent as their other product I’ve used, and I can’t wait to see if I like this as much as their wave spray!

Derma-E Essentials Mineral Powder (SPF 30) This powder can be used to set your makeup, or simply combat shine, and as a bonus contains SPF. I usually wear a sunscreen under my  makeup, but its nice to get a little extra SPF boost in your finishing product, so I’ll definitely try this out.

Feel Harmony Rose Petal Facial Mask  Ok guys, this is funny. I’ve got a second product from  Feel! I’ve gotten doubles from different boxes before, but this time I got two different items from the same line in the same month, and i’m amused! This mask looks like its right up my alley. Its super hydrating AND reduces redness according to their copy. They even recommend putting this gel formula in the fridge to make it extra refreshing in the summer weather, so I cannot wait to try this out on a hot day.

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil I am so excited! I have tried several Sunday Riley products before, including a full size of their vitamin C serum from a prior Allure box. This has been one of the most talked about items in their line, so I’m super excited to try it out, this is a hydrating retinol oil that is supposed to alleviate fine lines and wrinkles, and dryness and rough texture, all things that I have been dealing with.

Olay Regenerist Whip Moisturizer – I’ve been familiar with Olay products since I was a teen, and they’ve always had nice lightweight moisturizers. This new “whipped” line promises a super light finish, but with powerful moisturizers and anti-aging, so I’ll definitely give this a go and see if they’re as good as I remember.

The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Lip Balm – This is a new brand to me, but I always like getting another lip balm, I keep them everywhere! This one has some excellent ingredients, like shea butter and rosehip seed oil, with a light texture that doesn’t feel too greasy, and little to no fragrance, so I will definitely make use of it.

Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil in Full Red – At first glance this may look like a lipliner, but to my delight its far more interesting than that:

According to Make Up For Ever, the Artist Color Pencils are safe for use anywhere on the face, so it can be eyeliner, eyebrows, lip liner… anything you decide! I’m curious to see how well it serves these different jobs, so I will definitely have to play with this.

 

 

Doucce Ultra Precision Eyeliner in Blue – I guess Allure was tipped off to black eyeliner overload too, because here’s a bright royal blue liner!

This is a nice rich, bright blue color, in a lovely smooth formula. I am again delighted to get a fun bright color over having another black eyeliner, so this does not disappoint.

 

 

Guess what? Allure didn’t stop there. They emailed me a week before the box came to alert me that there was a “loyal subscriber” gift on the way, and it was included with the regular box:

A lovely set of earrings! These are a genuinely fun surprise, and I like them a lot! Also included  was a $20 off coupon for Bauble Bar, but I’m not sure if that came along with the earrings, or if it was part of the regular box.  Either way, little surprises like this are an awesome part of getting the allure beauty box. I’ve gotten surprise gifts from them at least two other times prior since becoming a subscriber.

 

 

Honestly, not a single item in this box was a disappointment.  I’m floored at the sheer amount of products, usually its between 5-7, but to get EIGHT samples and a bonus gift? I can’t help but wonder if they saw my C-grade review of last month’s box!

Considering everything in the box, I think I have to give the Allure box an A+, winning the July battle! Quite the upset from them being my least favorite last month. This is exactly why I like getting a few different ones, I never know which one is going to be the best.

Beauty Box Battle: Allure Beauty Box, Ipsy and Sephora Play

Shiiiiiny

One of the most common questions I see regarding subscription boxes is “which is the best one?”  I always think the best way to make that determination is to compare the contents. They vary month to month, so lets compare Ipsy, Allure Beauty Box, and Sephora Play, and see which box was the best for June!

Ipsy:

Love that pride shout out <3

Doucce Lucious Lipstain in Passion Peach, which is an incredibly bright coral color. This color is outside my normal comfort zone, but does seem summery. I have seen this brand before but previously had only tried their eyeshadow. Also it was really hard to get this swatch entirely off my  hand, so I can see this formula really stays put!

O_O  HAI CORAL

Firma Beauty 102 Elite Blush Brush  -this brush seems well constructed, and densely packed while still having a soft feel and good movement. The brand is new to me but I’m happy with the brush.

Soo Ae Charcoal Clay Bubble Mask  –another new-to-me brand, but it is packed with both trendy and well established skincare ingredients, such as charcoal, green tea, and kaolin clay and bentonite. And a bubble mask is always fun! I’m also pleased that they sent two packets, since each one is a one-time use item.

KVOSSNYC Macaroon lip balm – another new brand for me, this seems like a standard tub of lip balm, but doesn’t have much scent or flavor, which is a little disappointing. Given that its called macaroon, I was hoping for a vanilla or almond scent, or at least something more cookie-like, and the balm itself is a bit thin, so not my favorite.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizing Hydrating Primer – now here is a brand I know! I have gotten samples from them before, but never this item. I’ve been having a lot of dry skin issues lately, so I’m rather please to get this hydrating version of their primer!

Overall the ipsy bag is ok. Its a nice variety of products, a tool, some skin care, some color makeup, but nothing that really excited me. I’d say the bag overall is maybe a B.

Allure beauty box (Kat Von D collab)

A special box!

I know, you’re thinking, “when did Allure Beauty Box go goth??” As I mentioned above, this month’s Allure box was a special collaboration with Kat Von D cosmetics, so not only are four of the five products from Kat Von D, we even get a unique box design, very removed from the usual bright red with Allure logo. This was not a special edition box, this came with a normal subscription.

Kat Von D: Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black, Studded Kiss Creme Lipstick in Double Dare, Everlasting Lip Liner in Lolita, Wax Seal Travel Mirror – (not available on her site,but they do have a full size version)

Lolita liner and Double Dare lipstick

Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub

Honestly this selection was a little underwhelming. I have multiple samples of the Kat Von D tattoo liner in trooper (black), and the mirror felt like a bit of a cheap-out. I got a similar mirror to this in a 500 point reward from Sephora. The lipstick and liner are nice, and the full size of the Henriksen face scrub is definitely a cool item, but the super common liner, and the mirror left this box feeling a bit meh, so maybe a C.

Sephora Play for June:

Loving that neon style bag

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara in Boom Black – this mascara has some interesting claims. It states that it contains cannabis oil, and that it has heart shaped fibers.  The fibers apparently prevent the spidery look that more cylindrical fibers can cause, and are supposed to help provide length and volume. The hemp-derived oil is supposed to provide hydration, and help make your lashes healthier over time.  I’m always wary of hydrating mascara formulas, as most tend to smudge or transfer on me rather quickly, but I’m always willing to try a new mascara.

Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover – this is not only a familiar brand for me, but a solid product. Getting a trial size of an effective makeup remover is always great, good for travel, or for keeping by my makeup for quick corrections. Always great to have!

Too Faced Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Queen B. This is a familiar brand but a new product for me, and I have to say I’m impressed. Its a lovely color, dries quick, and stays put and stays comfortable! Plus I think this color is wearable for a lot of skin-tones, so I appreciate that consideration for inclusion in a sample box.

Queen B! bzzzzz…i’ll stop now.

Belif the True Cream Aqua Bomb  -I have tried this before, but I am not mad to get a new sample! This is a really nice moisturizer that has a light feel but is still powerful enough to provide some serious hydration, happy to get more of it!

Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Miracle Multiplying Volume Mist funny enough, i’ve gotten this before too, I still have a bottle with my hair products! It has a nice scent, and I think it does give my hair a bit of a boost, so I definitely don’t mind more of this one!

Prada Candy Sugar Pop  this is considered the “bonus” item, but most Sephora boxes include a perfume sample.  I do appreciate that this one came fully sealed in a plastic packet, which protects your other items from leaks.  However, this scent confuses me.  According to their own copy, its key notes are Green Bergamot, Apple and Vanilla. And the scent is a “powdery floral,” something I wouldn’t expect from the name Candy Sugar Pop. But further into their description, I see them referring to the scent as having an “ironic twist”.  This is not a bad scent, but it was so far removed from what the name and packaging made me expect, that I really think its misleading, and could be a very unpleasant surprise for someone.

Overall, I like the products from Play! this month, although only 3 of the six products are new to me, everything I got is pretty good. I do love the cloth bag they sent with the fun 80’s neon design too. So this box didn’t deliver too many exciting new things, but it did deliver some good products, so I’d say it’s a B+.

 

Looking at my grades, looks like Sephora Play! had my favorite collection this month, but it was pretty close! One of the reasons I get each of these is that often times, they are very similar in quality, like this month, and I find it hard to choose a clear favorite.  But I look forward to comparing them month to month to see what major differences and similarities become apparent about them.

 

Esqido Lashes: Made to Lash

This post is rather special to me.  Why is that? Because this is the first time I was independently contacted by a company to be sent their product to review. While I have been sent a product to review before (and they are STILL a favorite, believe me!), I got connected to that company through a supportive friend.  So unless someone at this other company is secretly a friend of mine, this is solely based on my online presence.

 

What was I sent to review?

Ta Da!

Esqido lashes – and they were kind enough to include a full size tube of their lash glue! I was given my option of their various styles of lashes, and after trying the guide on their site, I opted for the style, “Starlet”*.

As you may recall, I’ve only just gotten into lashes,  so you can imagine how pleased I was at the timing on this. I just figure out how to wear the darn things, and here comes a high end pair for me to try!

They arrived packed neatly and compactly in a padded mailer – no excess shipping material- and the packaging is quite nice. the lash container has a magnetic closure. They also included their lash glue, which comes in a hard tube with a brush applicator.

These lashes have a nice cotton band, and while I know for many, the preference tends to be for a thinner and less detectable band, as someone newer to false lashes I quite like the band. It helps a great deal not only with have a solid place to put the glue, but with positioning them on the eye. They were very comfortable to wear too. I didn’t find the  band cumbersome at all, and once I got them in place I didn’t find it that obvious either, as you can see.

That volume though! <3

 

The glue that they sent was so easy to use, I nearly forgot to include it when I was making notes for this article! Lash glue is one of those things where, if it works well, you barely think about it. The brush was super easy to work with, and the formula was a nice even consistency that was easy to get exactly where you want it without making a mess. Their formula is latex and formaldehyde free, and is $10, not unreasonable for the 5.5ml you get in the tube. It also doesn’t take forever to dry, and held until I used remover to take the lashes off at the end of my day.

One thing I’m getting used to is how dramatic a difference false lashes makes on my appearance.  The difference is quite striking, and I felt it was worthy of a side-by-side comparison:

yes I know the lighting is weird.

If you are trying to make your eyes stand out, I have to say false lashes are a great way to help you get there. I think anything that makes my smaller eyes look bigger and pop is a marvel.  And don’t think glasses are a barrier to them either! I was a little concerned, given how bold these lashes seemed when I got them, but they don’t touch my glasses at all, and look totally fine with them:

After another look at Esqido’s line, I discovered that these are considered a “medium volume” lash. They also have light and full volume, so they really have a wide variety of styles to choose from.

While these are great, they are definitely a higher end item, at $29.00 a pair for the Starlett style I am wearing.  So if you’re looking to spend a little bit of money, and want something high quality, these are definitely worth it, they are soft and lush, but also very well constructed and comfortable to wear, and they will definitely hold up through multiple wearings. The packaging is nice as well, so you can hold onto it and store your lashes in it for as long as you have them.

*at the time when I was selecting my option for review, they had not yet released their synthetic line, Unisyn, which is now available on their site. The lashes I received and tested are mink hair. 

 

Disclosure: This product was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

Under the Influence(r)

Last week I was delighted to get an invitation to a new product launch party. Sunday Riley is coming out with a foundation, and I got an invitation to their “Influencer” Launch Party?? You BET i was excited!

Sounds so FANCY

The site told me to RSVP, so I quickly did so, noting that I could have a +1, which I accepted, so that I could bring my sister along – obviously something like this is way more fun when you bring a friend.

Oh Good! I AM going the right way, thank you sidewalk!

When we arrived, there was already a fairly long line, but since I had gotten confirmation of my RSVP, I wasn’t too concerned. Eventually the line started to move and when we got closer, we saw some staff moving through the line with wrist bands. We then discovered they were merely checking ages (there were free drinks to be had!), and everyone got a wrist band. So…not checking anyone in. This concerns me a little, mostly because huge crowds aren’t my favorite thing. But we were nearly in by that point, so we got excited again. As we got through the main door, we spotted a cute display with what I found out is the total range, twenty colors:

Not a bad range!

We passed into another room with a glitter confetti booth in one corner, a bathtub full of white balls, and opposite that, a giant rubber duck. I also realized about this point that the NAME of the foundation was Influencer, and the implication that this was any sort of exclusive launch party was apparently unfounded. Lots of people seemed to be stopping here in order to get a cute picture, but I was focused on checking out the products so we continued into the main event.

Wow.

When I said I wanted to rub shoulders with other beauty enthusiasts, this isn’t what I meant!

It was SO Crowded. I realize the foreground doesn’t look too bad here, but this is right near the exit. I didn’t take any photos in all of the rest of the rooms because I could barely raise my arms while we were inside, for fear of hitting other party goers. I took this as we were leaving later, but it was about the same:

Barely room to move!

See that pink sign on the right? That is the vending machine that was supposed to dispense your shade of foundation for you, with its door hanging open. More on that later. Just under the slide on the left there was a table where you could get one of a few different signature cocktails. We made our way over on arrival, and the drink wasn’t bad, but it was too crowded to try and get back for seconds. Just above the pink sign on the right led to another room, where we quickly identified two makeup artists who were providing sample applications of the foundation and expert shade matches. There was also a long table with mostly empty clear plastic bins. We found that these were meant to be holding both candy and samples of other Sunday Riley products – which I will note, the staff fought to keep stocked the entire time we were there, to little success. We found the free tote bags in some cute pink cans, and picked one of the long lines for the shade matching. While we were waiting, they replenished the samples, so I braved the sample counter while my sister kept our place in line – and we managed to get one each of all the samples available:

Tote bag and samples!

Honestly, it was not easy to get these. As I mentioned, the bins kept getting cleared out. This was likely due to the many people I saw grabbing handfuls of each one. This really bummed me out. I know what it is to be excited about samples, but I always try to be considerate. Would I have loved to get ten sample bottles of Good Genes? Of course! That’s a very expensive product and it would be awesome to have a large supply of it for free; but I also knew everyone else there would like to get a sample of it, so I got one. It’s not so uncool to be considerate of your fellow enthusiasts is it? So much of the online beauty community I’ve experienced is so welcoming, positive and friendly. Everyone is always ready to share a tip or alert others to an amazing sale, I always find the best comment sections are the ones where people are talking beauty & skincare! I guess I was really expecting that “we’re all friends here” sort of feel to translate, and seeing this everyone-for-themself sort of behavior was a real let down for me.

I was actually pretty excited to get these samples! I have actually already tried the orange tube, that is the CEO Vitamin C Brightening Serum, because I got a full size sample from Allure Beauty Box. (Seriously, isn’t that awesome? I think the Allure box is very underrated, but this is a tangent). I love it and having a little travel size of it is great. The U.F.O. oil is a clarifying treatment that helps clear pores and acne, which is a very welcome item- nothing like fighting wrinkles and acne at the same time am I right? Finally is the Good Genes Lactic Acid treatment, which seems to be quite the workhorse; according to its label it’s exfoliating, clarifying, brightens dark spots and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. I can’t wait to see if these all live up to the hype they’ve been getting.

After our continued wait (which was rather uncomfortable – our line was blocking the caterer’s exit door, so the poor wait staff kept having to fight their way in and out), we finally got to the makeup artist. This woman was incredible, super friendly and knowledgeable. Despite the crazy conditions, she didn’t make us feel rushed, and she practically guessed our correct color on sight. (She did swatches and some partial application to confirm.) She gave us little slips with our foundation shade numbers on them and let us know we could get a tube from the pink vending machine by the exit.

There were supposedly a few more fun areas in the back, but after waiting nearly an hour for our shade match, we looked at the densely packed crowd in that direction and gave up. We decided to pick up our foundation and leave more space in the tiny venue for other hopeful fans. By the time we got to the vending machine, the front of it was swung open, and several (rather harried looking) staff members were manually handing out bottles, I told them our shade (my sister and I are the same shade in most foundations) and was promptly informed they were out of our shade, 130.

My sister gestured for me to make the call, and I accepted the next shade lighter, 120 for us. We finally had the new foundation, and after a brief conference, we decided to get out.

TA DA! The packaging is nice, a soft tube with a pump(1.08oz), and a swatch of #120

Overall, I am excited to have this new foundation to try, it has a lovely texture and it really does seem to cover redness well. However, I hope most launch events are better organized than this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Sunday Riley, I think their products are beautifully designed, and the things I’ve tried so far have been wonderful. But the layout of this event was very frustrating, and the lack of crowd control made us feel very disregarded. There wasn’t any sense of structure, not much in the way of a formal welcome- even some sort of floor plan indicating all the areas could have proved helpful. I think a lot of people used the vending machine as soon as they arrived, without receiving a shade consultation, since there were no signs or other instructions. We found the tote bags by luck, and pretty much had to figure things out for ourselves. Not what I expected from a luxury brand’s launch party.

All in all, my favorite part of the evening was probably spending time with my sister, because ultimately when you’re going to any sort of crowded event you should bring someone who can make standing in line fun.

A FAB Moisturizer!

Honestly I’m not sure how I didn’t write about this  sooner.  I’m not even going to keep you guessing. This isn’t so much a review as me extolling the virtues of a fantastic product. And yes, this is skincare, not makeup, but the first step to making your makeup look good is taking good care of your skin.

I found this product as a result of research, believe it or not.  A few years back, during a rather brutal winter, both my husband and I were suffering some skin trauma from the bitter wind, particularly on our faces. The moisturizer I’d been using at the time (long since forgotten!) simply wasn’t enough to protect either of us, and we were not only uncomfortably dry, but our cheeks were getting very red, and neither of us really cared for that look.

At this point in my life, my knowledge of skin care was fairly basic; Wash face, moisturize face, exfoliate face sometimes, use face masks to feel…fancy?  So I started reading up on skincare. Looking into the whats and hows of what makes a moisturizer effective, learning about emollients and moisture barriers; learning about ceramides and Hyaluronic acid. Then I looked for information on relieving persistent redness, and found marshmallow root and Feverfew. So armed with a list of ingredients I started googling, and one of the first ones I found contained all the best things I was seeking out! Initially I was a little put off by the price tag – a 6oz tub for $30!

However, to my delight, it was also available in a travel size (a nice 2 ounce tube) for only $12. Having only purchased drugstore skin care prior to this, I was a little wary of stepping up to the higher end level, and being able to start with a smaller size took some sting out of the process.

The difference this stuff made nearly had me singing. My face actually still felt moisturized when I woke up the next morning. And no dryness during the day either! Over a week or two I was pleased to note that the redness in my cheeks started to fade as well. My husband and I noted some other welcome ingredients, such as tea tree oil, and we were quite pleased to have found something chock full of useful ingredients.

Just this month, I discovered another thing this moisturizer could do for me. I was only just starting to feel better from a cold, and I’d run out of lotion tissues (which is how i normally avoid red  & chapped “sick person” nose). I noticed my nose was just starting to chap; something that always frustrates me. It takes forever to heal and you end up looking sick long after you’re feeling better! I looked at some of my various skin products and considered what to do, before picking up the FAB repair cream and applying it to the area.

For a few minutes? Thought I’d made a GRAVE, GRAVE mistake. It tingled….no, it STUNG. I thought to myself – Oh NO, I thought: I have gravely irritated my skin, it will look awful! – But soon after, the sting died right out. I took a look in the mirror, and it wasn’t red. I gingerly touched the area that had felt chapped earlier to see how it was, and i found SMOOTH skin.  Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this if the skin is already broken, but if you can get yourself to remember to treat your skin while tending to a cold, the recovery process can be less frustrating. 

Since that first purchase of this stuff, in the 2oz tube, I now happily hand over $36 for the value sized 8oz tube. (I also prefer the tube format to a tub, less opportunity for contamination) While that might seem like a lot for some moisturizer, this is hard working stuff that we use on any stubborn dry skin, not just our faces, and that 8oz tube lasts for months and months.

The glorious 8oz tube!

Is there a never-fail product in your arsenal that you always keep in stock? So dependable you might forget about it sometimes? Tell me about it in the comments!

Scary Skincare? The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask

Nothing like dull, cold winter to make me look for face masks with words like “glow” and “purifying” in their names.  It made this one feel like a no-brainer: The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask.

And I’ve hit my word count on just the title. Kidding! (also, no one’s paying me for this, why would I have a word count minimum?)

Sometimes I want to treat my skin but I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll check the wear times of various masks in my stash. This one (which I received as a bonus in-store sample when I made a purchase) boasted a 5-10 minute wear-time, so I picked it out on a weeknight when my skin felt a bit rough and looked a bit dull.

Le Package

This packaging, while it made getting this picture simple,and reading the directions easy enough, made accessing the actual mask rather difficult. This is a thin, grainy mask, and it was very hard to squeeze out of the packet, so it took awhile to put on. By the time I was done, it had already started drying, feeling tight and yet also lumpy somehow? And I was wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake.

What have i DONE?

But, since I already had it on, and it washed off of my fingers easily enough,  I figured I may as well finish it out. The directions indicated that for removal you should apply some warm water, and scrub in circular motions before rinsing it off. That sounded like it could get messy, so I opted to take this off while showering. I got my shower ready while I waited for it to finish drying.  Once it dried, it seemed to be more like other masks, which was reassuring.

Calmer…but still skeptical!

Once I got it wet and started scrubbing (gently! please don’t ever exfoliate roughly, your face just wants to be loved!) it broke down pretty quickly, and then it rinsed away very easily, without feeling overly dried out.

While I didn’t feel like there was any special sort of visual result or “glow” after I dried off, my face did feel very smooth, and applying my usual skin care afterward went very easily, and my face did definitely feel refreshed. The lumpy, grainy texture that alarmed me initially was probably mostly due to the exfoliating ingredients in the mask, and I probably should have thought of that at the time,  but…yeah. I could probably write an entire post about scaring myself with beauty product mishaps. Please leave a comment if you want to see that!

Overall this mask definitely works, and I imagine the full size product (which comes in a jar) would be far easier to apply, which was the biggest problem I encountered with this sample.  I think this is a perfectly good mask, but it wasn’t anything ground-breaking for me. The Body Shop sells this mask for $28.00, and that is honestly not a bad price considering you get a 3 ounce jar for that. I’ve had 1oz masks that have lasted me four or more uses, so the per-mask usage would probably work out fairly reasonable.  If I was looking for a small splurge and felt like my face needed a treat, I might buy the full size of this one.

What kind of face masks do you like best? Is there a weird face mask you want to see me try? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Secret to Lashes??

One thing that I have found mystifying in my time, is false lashes, and if my observations from friends and the internet are correct, I am not alone at ALL.  But some people swear by these little accessories, and as someone who is always trying to make my lashes longer and curlier and just overall BIGGER, I have always been curious.  Could there be a secret to applying these tiny treasures? I had to know!

So, last October I attended a False Lashes class at a Sephora store near my office.  I’d been trying to find a convenient session of this class, and this one happened to fall on a Friday, half an hour after my workday ended, when I had nothing going on. Clearly, I was meant to be there! I was ready. PUMPED even. I was going to uncover the secrets of these baffling little things!!

I…am not very cool. But I am ENTHUSIASTIC!

I never attended one of these before, but signing up is fairly easy. You get an email confirmation from their website, but no reminders of any sort were sent, so its on you to remember to get over there.

I arrived a few minutes early, and found I was the first. The employees running the class were an absolute delight. They clearly love what they do and were stoked to have an early arrival. One brought over a basket of lashes for me to choose from (to purchase, which is a totally reasonable expense for a class like this, and the only expense incidentally) and asked me questions about what I wanted out of them to help me make a good selection. I wound up with this nice pair from the Sephora Collection, in the style “Quill”:

Sephora Collection lashes – Quills

Then I chose a seat. The class area is well suited, each station has a chair, a lighted mirror, a hand mirror, a small cup for the appropriate tools for the session, and a recessed well in front of the mirror where the necessary products for the class had already been placed.

Once everyone had selected their lashes, the demo began. One attendee volunteered to have a lash put on her as a demo, and they walked us through the basic steps and tips, and once it was on, it was our turn to try and do them.

First step was to measure the lash against your eye, to see if you need to trim it; I determined I should take a small portion off, and one of the instructors handled the trimming for us (Maybe scissors are an insurance liability? or maybe they knew it would be nerve wracking for us noobs.)

Next, I curled my lashes and applied mascara (recommended for people with straight lashes such as myself), and applied some eyeliner just along the lash line, which serves to hide any glue and give you a clearer target for the lash.

We were each provided with a lash applicator tool, which is basically a specialized tweezer, but the instructors noted that some people prefer to just use their hands to apply the lash to the lid, and then use the applicator to finish up and make small adjustments; and this is what wound up working best for me.

I got in as close as i could to the provided mirrors (since my glasses had to be off, I needed to zoom in!)  and focused on the task, repeating the steps to myself and reviewing the recommended motions from the instructors in my head.  Even applying the glue, I found myself feeling very anxious and worried about it  – and I think this must be common, because those instructors were on it, checking on each of us constantly and telling us how great we were doing or offering advice to help us along.

So, lids & real lashes prepped, fake lashes trimmed, I applied glue to the first one and used the drying time to try and remind myself this is just for fun and to stop being nervous.  Once the lash glue changed color, I went in.

And? the first time? I totally borked it. It was a full on miss. So, I laughed it off and tried again, and then? It looked like it might be ok? So i grabbed the applicator to go in and fix the edges more precisely, and sat back a little to check my work. And one of the instructors looks over right then and goes “WOW! you nailed it girl! You’re a natural!!”

So naturally I try to figure out who she’s actually talking to.  But no, looking directly at me! I thanked her and set about the second lash, and honestly I had that same false start, which had me a little worried, but I kept on going. Once I got them on and fixed the edges? The instructors were back  – “You GOT this girl!?!!” “You really never wear lashes? You did awesome!” So I sat back and had a look at the results:

Dem Lashes Tho!

And a close up, just for fun:

Would an “I, Claudius” joke be too obscure?

Just for comparison’s sake – here’s a picture with me in roughly the same makeup, but without false lashes:

TINY LASHES

Then I realized everyone else in the class was still struggling, some even still on their first lash- I was the first one done.  Honestly, this was a mind-blowing moment for me.  And that moment helped me realized I HAD found the secret to using false lashes!

Despite the amount of my friends who think I’m a genius with makeup (some of whom have actually HIRED me to do their makeup. I am baffled but DELIGHTED), I tend to think of myself as, at best, an enthusiastic novice.  But in attending this class, I had the realization that, hey, I may not be a professional Makeup  artist or know everything there is to know about makeup, but I definitely know a lot, and I should be confident in my skills and knowledge. (So if my posts start to sound a little more confident? You’ll know why.)

So by the end, I realized that the secret to figuring out fake lashes is? Not giving up. They take a little time to figure out, even with help.  Forgive the somewhat cliched answer but its the truth.  Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for the ultimate secret trick, but sometimes there IS no trick except rolling your sleeves up and doing the work.

Overall, I have to say, the Sephora class was excellent.  The instructors were really encouraging and supportive, and genuinely want you to succeed. If I see another topic that interests me I would definitely attend another!

Do fake lashes terrify you? Is there another beauty item you have never figured out but  want to? Something else you’ve conquered?? I want to know about it! Tell me in the comments!

Amazing skin treatment for $2?

Is that headline a little gimmicky? Maybe. But honestly? I am too excited about this find to care. ARE YOU READY?

Actual images of me right now.

So an awesome friend of mine sent me a little care package recently and among the other goodies were two packets of face mask. This one here:

I’ve passed masks like these in the drugstore plenty of times, haven’t you?

Looks pretty unassuming right? But we always send each other fun little items so I figured I’d give it a shot.

But its a face mask so you know what that means….

GLAMOUR SHOT!

Shiny yet terrifying!

(i’m probably the only person that is amused by those…and yet i continue to post them…)

So when i was younger (just after the earth’s crust cooled) peel-off masks were around, but I don’t think they were terribly popular. I tried them, but I stopped buying them because they always seemed damn near impossible to remove, and i’d wind up scratching up my face trying to remove them. So honestly I was a little nervous going in, and definitely made sure to apply this generously.

The removal process was so simple it was even kind of fun! This mask peeled off quick and easy and nearly stayed in a complete piece! I would have tried to take a picture of it but I managed to destroy it almost immediately after removal, because I am so graceful.

After I peeled it off, i put on my usual nighttime moisturizer and went to bed, noting that my skin was not at all irritated, so I was happy enough. In the morning, when I washed up, I noticed my skin was SUPER soft, and in fact, looked clearer too.  Since my friend was awesome enough to send me two packets of this mask, I tried it again about a week later and found that my skin was amazingly soft and clear again.

Finding that I was a little sad that I had no more packets of this mask, I ventured onto the internet to see if I was able to order it and what the damage would be.  So imagine my DELIGHT when I found it at Ulta for $1.99 each!

I may have celebrated like this in front of others. I think I take this stuff too personally.

So I have to say, this is a fantastic mask. I have tried a lot of face masks in recent history, and this one gave me such great results, for it to be so cheap I am definitely excited. Especially since this line apparently has a TON of different masks, and yes, some more peel-off ones! So I’m calling this a total rave, because for such quality results and low price, where could the downside possibly be?

Do you get overly excited about bargain products that work well too? Do you have a face mask that you think beats this one? Let me know in the comments!